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)
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.
Based on date of publication, this material is presumed to be in the public domain.| For information on re-use, see http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright