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ACT IV. SCENE I.
Ib. “At the end of Mowbray's speech," the corrector“ points out a curious blunder, arising, in all likelihood, from mishearing on the part of the scribe, which has been the occasion of several notes. In old and modern impressions, the line has thus been printed :
Let us sway on, and face them in the field. “ Johnson truly says, that he had never seen 'sway' used in this sense, and Steevens takes the trouble to insert several quotations in which sway is found, but always in its ordinary meaning, so that they prove nothing. The plain truth is, that the copyist ought to have written different words, that have exactly the same sound, viz. :
Let's away on, and face them in the field.
We need have no hesitation in at once admitting this change of the received text.”
I do not hesitate to say, that to change “ Let us sway on," for “ Let's away on," would be to substitute a pedestrian phrase for a poetical one. But Mr. Collier misrepresents Dr. Johnson, whose note is confirmatory of the old reading; he says,
“ I know not that I have ever seen sway in this sense; but I believe it is the true word, and was intended to express the uniform and forcible motion of a compact body. There is a sense of the noun in Milton kindred to this, where, speaking of a weighty sword, he says, “ It descends with huge twohanded sway. And the quotations of Steevens are quite confirmatory. Thus Holinshed, “ The left side of the enemy was compelled to sway a good way back, and to give ground,'” &c. And in K. Henry VI. Part 111. Act ii. Sc. 5:
Now sways it this way, like a mighty sea,
sways it that way, like the self-same sea,
Every one who is anxious to preserve the text of the poet uncorrupted, would therefore hesitate to admit this innovation.
P. 248. Led on by bloody youth guarded with rags, instead of rage, is a specious but not an undoubted correction. If“ bloody youth" is the true reading, it rather makes against it; but Warburton thought we should read “ heady youth.” My copy of the second folio also makes this correction, to which, upon the whole, I incline. Warburton's correction of glaives, for graves, has been adopted by the corrector, yet the reading of Steevens, greaves, is at least equally probable, and nearer to the old word.
Ib. “ The last line of what Westmoreland says, is thus given in the folio, 1623–
To a loud trumpet and a point of war. “ The folio, 1632, makes the matter worse, by putting low for loud." The corrector would read
To a loud trumpet and report of war. But it is most probable that the poet wrote
To a loud trumpet and a bruit of war. bruit might easily be misprinted point. The preceding words
The harsh and boisterous tongue of warvery much favours this reading.
P. 249. The substitution of “her man,” for “him on,” in the lines at the end of Scroop's speech, is a very plausible correction, and is evidently called for. This may be considered one of the corrector's few admissible conjectures.
P. 249. The same may be said of the correction of zeal to seal, in the line at the close of Prince John's speech,
Under the counterfeited seal of heaven
The subject of heaven's substitute, &c. The quarto has :
Under the counterfeited seal of God
The subjects of his substitute, &c. Which reading Mr. Collier adopted in his edition, although he now says seal“ must be the true reading."!
SCENE III. Ib. The substitution of dull for place, twice in Falstaff's speech, is hardly necessary, and the words could not well have been mistaken for each other.
P. 250. Surely, to change rigol to ringol, was superfluous meddling, for Shakespeare has it again in his Lucrece; and Mr. Collier has shown that rigol-eyed is used by Middleton for round-eyed. Its etymology is uncertain, but Mr. Nares says it is from the old Italian Rigoletto, a little wheel. I
nay here take occasion to notice that Mr. Collier, following others, in his edition of Shakespeare, vol. iv. p. 428, has mistakingly pointed a speech of the King, thus : K. Hen. 'Tis seldom, when the bee doth leave her comb
In the dead carrion. And has fallen into the same error in Measure for Measure, Act. iv. sc. 2, by printing
Seldom, when The steeled gaoler is the friend of man ; where the comma is wanting in the folio. Seldom-when is a compound word, signifying rarely, not often. Thus, in Chaucer, we have selden-time in The Clerke's Tale, v. 7958,
I me rejoiced of my lybertie
That selden-tyme is founde in mariage. And Palsgrave has a similar compound,“ Seldom-what, Gueres souvent, and Other-whyles, Aulcunes foys, or Parfoys.” Anywhen, of the same construction, is still current provincially in familiar language.
Ib. The corrector adopts the reading win, instead of the misprint joyne from the quartos, or some later authority, which is more probable.
P. 250. “ The expression, 'for what in me was purchas’d,' the corrector changes to 'for what in me was purchase,' i. e. booty, a meaning constantly given to the word by our poet and his contemporaries; the verb, to purchase, was, we believe, never used in this sense.”
This is another needless interference with the old text; Mr. Collier has here, and elsewhere, entirely mistaken the meaning of the word. In our poet's time, and long before, to purchase was to get, or obtain, especially by eager pursuit. It had the same sense as the old French pourchas, from which it is derived. “POURCHAS S. m. du Latin proquassus (grand secousse), vieux mot qui signifiait chasse, longue poursuite. Il nous reste le verbe pourchasser, poursuivre, rechercher avec obstination.” Noel et Carpentier Dict. Etymol.
Bishop Hall, in his 2nd Satire, B. 1, speaking of the fruitless pursuit of literature, says:
Long would it be ere thou hast purchase bought,
Shakespeare himself would have shown that the signification Mr. Collier attaches to it, is a perversion of the true sense of the word. Thus, in K. Henry V. Act iii. sc. 2," they will steal anything, and call it purchase.” So, in the prophecy attributed to Chaucer :
Whan roberie is holdin purchas,
Gadshill, in 1st Part of K. Henry IV. Act ii. sc. 1, says“Give me thy hand, thou shalt have a share in our purchase, as I am a 'true man.” What K. Henry means to say by “what in me was purchas’d, falls upon thee in a more fairer sort,” is “ what I obtained by eager pursuit, you obtain by succession." Hear Minsheu,-“ POURCHAS (perquisitum) commeth of the French (pourchasser, i. solicitare, ambire, eagerly to pursue or follow).” It signified acquiring or obtaining by any other means than title or descent. Rosalind says to Orlando, in As You Like It, “ Your accent is something finer than you could purchase in so removed a dwelling. And Ben Jonson, in The Devil is an Ass, Act i. sc. 1:
“ I will share, sir,
That is, what you get in the pursuit.
ACT V. SCENE I. P. 251. We have here the restoration of the word without, the reading of the quarto, which had long since been that of all editions, and certainly required no notice.
SCENE III. The alteration in the last line of Pistol's speech is uncalled for. The line preceding, “Where is the life that late I led, say they,” is all that can be considered a quotation from a ballad, occurring again in the Taming of the Shrew.
P. 252. Why notice the correction of the error, peculiar to the second folio, of forgotten for forgiven, which had also been set right in all editions ? But none of the minutest deeds of the correctors are to be passed over.
KING HENRY V.
CHORUS. P. 253. We have happily escaped from the meddling of the corrector in respect to the word imaginary in the Prologue of the Chorus. It is used for imaginant. The active for the passive, according to the practice of the poet and some of his cotemporaries.
ACT I. SCENE II.
To find his title with some show of truth
“ Is not altered,” says Mr. Collier, “ to 'to fine his title,' as in Malone, &c. but to 'to found his title,' which, on some accounts may be considered the better reading of the three."
Can Mr. Collier possibly think so ? Both to find and to found are equally wrong. Mr. Collier should have told us that to fine is the undoubted reading of the quartos, and signifies to adorn, decorate, set off, or embellish, like the French embel