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Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume V (1877-1881)

Butler, James D.
The Απαξ Λεγὁμενα in Shakspere[Shakespeare],   pp. 161-174 PDF (3.7 MB)


Page 173


               The "'1,,  zi 6-s;-opwri in Shakspjere.     173
continue so to think who has once perceived how much pains our
dramatist takes in delineating every one of his fools, and that in
showing forth their minutest follies he works by wit and noD by
witchcraft.
  The result of Shakspere's curious verbal felicity, is that while
other authors satiate and soon tire us, his speech forever breathes
an ind scribable freshness.
                         "Age cannot wither
                Nor custom stale his infinite variety."
  In the last line I have quoted there is a "A-ralq' 2sro(ee.oP,
but
it
is a word which I think you would hardly guess.   It is the last
word,- namely, " variety."
  In order to make sure of the thing he refused to repeat the
word. Indeed, he calls " iteration damnable."
  On every average page of Shakspere you are greeted and glad-
dened hby at least five words that you never saw before in his
writings and that you will never see again, speaking once and
then forever holding their peace,- each not only rare but a none-
such,- five gems just shown, then snatched away. Escb page is
studded with five stars, each as unique as the century flower, and
like the night-blooming cereus,
              "The perfume and suppliance of a minute."
   The mind of Shakspere was bodied forth as Montezuma was
 appareled, whose costume, however gorgeous, was never twice the
 same, and so like Shakspere's own " robe pontifical, ne'er seen
 but wondered at."
   Hence the Shaksperian style is fresh as morning dews and
 changeful as evening clouds, so that we remain forever doubtful
 in relation to his manner and his matter, which of them owes the
 greater debt to the other.
 'Though this instance [Ant. and Cleop., 2, 2, 241] is the only occurrence
of
 variety in the plays, we meet the word once more in Shakspere's poems,
 namely, in the twenty.first line of Venus and Adonis:
             "Making them red and pale in endless variety."
  Not a few other words which appear once only in the plays are also re-
  Peated in the poems But it was the 7rantyb 6~,Yct in the plays, and not
in
  Other Shaksperian writings, of which it was my aim to treat.


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