Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

He sets the whole matter right thus : I am joined with no foot land-rakers, &c. but with nobility and sanguinity ; burgomasters, and great onesyes, such as can hold in,' &c. The first error seems to have arisen from mishearing, and the last from misprinting.”

This is only one more of the absurd attempts to alter characteristic language; to reduce the intended slang of Gadshill to the rule and square of ordinary speech! I am not surprised at this folly in the corrector, but at Mr. Collier's serious comment upon it. Johnson had a glimpse of the truth. In a note on this passage, in my edition of Shakespeare, in 1826, I observed that “ The ludicrous nature of the appellations which Gadshill bestows upon his associates, might have sufficiently shown the commentators that such attempts must be futile.”

The corrector's idle attempts are here, therefore, quite out of place, and supererogatory.

SCENE III.

P. 232. There is an impertinent interpolation of four words in the first line of Hotspur's speech to his wife,“ Come; wilt thou see me ride?” which are not only improbable, but out of character. And yet Mr. Collier says, “ They are of little import, excepting as they serve to prove that our great dramatist did not leave the line imperfect.”!

P. 233. Here are two or three more trifling meddlings with the text, none of them improvements. One deserves notice, in Mr. Collier's own words: “ The Prince calls Falstaff, according to the old corrector of the folio, 1632, not that trunk of humours, but that hulk of humours,' against all known authorities, but it may very likely be right.!

ACT III. SCENE I. P. 234. We have here again more interpolations, quite uncalled for, upon any other ground than the pragmatical notion that the corrector everywhere evinces, that he could improve upon the language of the poet !

P. 234. In faith, my lord, you are too wilful-blame.

“ The epithet. wilful,” ” says Mr. Collier, “in some way became misplaced, and 'too' for ' to,' and vice versa, was a very common error. The old corrector tells us it was,

In faith, my wilful lord, you are to blame.” And so we are to twist and turn about the phraseology of the poet according to our own caprice! It has been well observed, that “phrases are not always to be construed grammatically; a phrase is an abridgment of a sentence, and comprehends essentially the whole meaning." This phrase is like others in Shakespeare, where the first adjective has the power of an adverb; and signifies, “ You are wilfully to blame.” Tyrwhitt has pointed out similar compounds in K. Richard III. where we have childish-foolish, senseless-obstinate, and mortal-staring.

SCENE II.

P. 235. “ The old printer took more pains than usual with the great scene between Henry IV. and the Prince, but still, if we may rely upon the corrector of the folio, 1632, introduced several important blunders. One of them applies to the words carded his state, which Warburton, with great sagacity, proposed to read, discarded state:' such is the emendation proposed in manuscript.”.

Warburton's “ sagacity” here is about equal to that of the corrector. The text undoubtedly needs no “emendation.” To card is to mix, to mingle, or debase by mixing. The metaphor is most probably derived from the mingling of coarse wool with fine and carding them together, thereby diminishing the value of the latter. The phrase is used by other writers for to mingle or mix. Thus in Beaumont and Fletcher's « Tanier Tamed :”.

But mine is such a drench of balderdash,

Such a strange carded cunningness. And in Greene's “ Quip for an Upstart Courtier:" _“You card your beer (if you see your guests beginning to get drunk) half small, half strong.” It is also mentioned by Nash, by

Skelton, and by Fletcher, in Hakluyt, vol. ii. p. 489, “ they drinke milke, or warm blood, and for the most part card them both together.” Shakespeare himself affords an illustration of the term in All's Well that Ends Well :-“The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.” But the context shows clearly that this is the meaning, “ carded his state, mingled his royalty with carping fools.” And Mr. Collier himself, in 1842, thought this reading and explanation preferable to Warburton's “ sagacious" conjecture.

SCENE III. P. 236. The introduction of not in Falstaff's speech,“ Thou art our Admiral, thou bearest the lantern in the poop,-but it is in the nose of thee,” is quite unnecessary, but is adversative and not would be quite superfluous.

ACT IV. SCENE I. The notice taken of the two next corrections, both of them long set right in all editions, serves only to swell the list of the corrector's coincidences with all improved readings !

P. 237. “ Worcester observes, in the folios,

The quality and heire of our attempt

Brooks no division. “ In the quartos of 1598 and 1599,' heire' was haire,' the old mode of spelling hair ; and this, the old corrector assures us, was the true word, the meaning of the speaker being as suggested in note 1,” (Collier's Shakesp.) “ that the power he, and the other revolted lords could produce, was too small to allow of any division of it”!

This is a strange exposition of the passage, which I cannot comprehend ! does Mr. Collier think of splitting a hair ?“ The hair of our attempt” is the nature or complexion of it. To be “ of the same hair” was to be of the same grain, texture, character or complexion. Hair is the reading of all modern editions; and no discovery of the corrector.

Ib. “ An old faced ancient” is quite as intelligible as old pieced one,” which the corrector would substitute. The reading but a shirt and a half," instead of not, is Rowe's,

an

and needed no mention here, for it has long been the received text.

P. 238. The omission of this day, on account of the metre, in the following lines,

I hold as little counsel with weak fear,

As you, my lord, or any Scot that this day lives. was long since made by Steevens, and restored by Mr. Collier in his edition !

Two other substitutions of with for and, and due for well, are mere capricious alterations of the text, without the slightest warrant or necessity.

ACT V. SCENE I. Of the insertion of say in Worcester's speech the same may be said, and the restoration from the 4to of the deficient word your, in the last line of the King's speech, had been made time out of mind in all editions.

SCENE II. P. 239. The palpable error of supposition for suspicion has also been corrected in all editions since Pope's time, as well as the evident misprint of he for we. Surely these trifles were scarcely worthy of notice but to swell the catalogue of happy coincidences !

Ib. “ The last four lines of Percy's address are these, as always hitherto printed :

Sound all the lofty instruments of war,
And by that music let us all embrace ;
For, heaven to earth, some of us never shall

A second time do such a courtesy. “ Warburton was of opinion that the poet meant that the odds were so great, that heaven might be wagered against earth, that many present would never embrace again. This is a mistake, according to the manuscript-corrector: Hotspur calls heaven and earth to witness to the improbability that some of those present would ever have an opportunity of regreeting each other :

Fore heaven and earth, some of us never shall
A second time do such a courtesy."

I must confess I cannot see what we gain by this alteration. The objection still remains of an idle imprecation, which would not have entered Hotspur's mind at such a solemn moment.

In May 1852, I suggested the following reading, which I have reason to know has been admitted, by many competent judges, to redeem this fine passage, and restore to it the true expression of heroic pathos which it was intended to breathe,

Sound all the lofty instruments of war,
And by that music let us all embrace ;
For here on earth some of us never shall

A second time do such a courtesy. The words heaven to earth and here on earth were easily mistaken for each other in old manuscript, and the page preceding that on which the error occurs in the folio has a much stranger misreading

P. 239. For,

The King hath many marching in his coats : the corrector would read :-

The King hath many masking in his coats. This is specious; but, as Mr. Collier himself says, “ The old reading is intelligible, and does not positively require change.” Why then propose it?

P. 240. The reading of the quartos “ earthy" instead of the earth of the folios, has been that of all editions, time out of mind, and therefore nothing new; and the substitution of which for since, and the omission of it in the line of Worcester's last speech, were neither of them called for.

P. 241. The following lines are not in the folios. The corrector writes them in the margin

I thank your grace for this high courtesy,

Which I will give away immediatelybut with this substitution,

Which I shall put in act without delay. Upon which Mr. Collier observes, “This variation may induce

« ÎnapoiContinuați »