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The sharp'st knife of justice is much less probable than the old reading, kind, and there is not the least reason to suspect the integrity of the established text. If we were to indulge in the liberty of changing any word which fully answers its purpose, there would be no end to capricious improvement of the poet's language.

P. 323. “ In the fourth folio, and in all the modern editions,” says Malone, defer is substituted for desire," and from some one of these editions the correctors doubtless took it. But it is a doubtful IMPROVEMENT, and Mr. Collier himself prints desire! To desire, or pray, for a longer day, is yet the language used in criminal trials.

ACT. III. Scene II.

Ib. “ Now may all joy trace the conjunction," instead of “ Now all my joy,” is a good conjecture, and may, I think, be safely adopted.

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P. 324. The change of leisure to labour, in the King's. address to the Cardinal,

You have scarce time
To steal from spiritual leisure a brief span

To keep your earthly auditis more doubtful. Spiritual leisure seems to be a figurative expression for leisure from spiritual occupations; or the King may use the word leisure ironically. We must have better ground and authority for the change, than the supposition that “ the two words were confounded by the ear of the scribe.”

I may here be indulged in pointing out a passage in this scene which has escaped Mr. Collier's corrector, but which has long called for amendment. The Cardinal is professing his devoted attachment to the King's service, and the old copies have the following reading :

I do professe
That for your Highnesse good I ever labour'd
More than mine owne: that am have and will be
(Though all the world should crack their duty to you,


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Upon this Mason observes, “ I can find no meaning in these words (that am have and will be), or see how they are connected with the rest of the sentence, and should therefore strike them out."

There have been attempts by Malone, by Mr. Collier, and by Mr. Knight, to extract a meaning from the passage, and conjectures that something may have been lost, but all to no purpose. Mr. Collier indeed goes so far as to say

that Wolsey had forgotten how he commenced his sentence !” But who could possibly believe that the poet would have put a short speech into the Cardinal's mouth, making him forget how he commenced it? Nor do I believe that anything has been lost, except the slender letter I preceding am. The printer or transcriber made the easy mistake of taking the word true for have, which, as written of old, would readily occur ; and having thus confused the


had recourse to the unconscionable long mark of a parenthesis. The passage should undoubtedly stand thus : Car.

I do profess
That for your Highness' good I ever labour'd
More than mine own: that I am true, and will be,
Though all the world should crack their duty to you
And throw it from their soul: though perils did
Abound, as thick as thought could make them, and
Appear in forms more horrid; yet my duty
(As doth a rock against the chiding flood)
Should the approach of this wild river break,
And stand unshaken yours.


Here all is congruous and clear; this slight correction of a printer's error redeems a fine passage hitherto entirely unintelligible. Yet such is the proper jealousy of any interference with the old text, where it is possible to extract a meaning from it, that even this simple change of a misprinted word, has found an opponent, who on other occasions has manifested great acuteness, and has himself suggested some very ingenious emendations. We may, therefore, hope for his aid in repelling the extensive innovations with which we are now threatened.

P.324. As Mr. Collier very properly abandons the next unnecessary interference with the text, in substituting lightly for

gently,” it calls for no remark, but that it is evidence of the propensity of his corrector to interfere unnecessarily with the old text.

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P. 325. The correction of the punctuation in the passage where Griffiths characterizes Wolsey, which, says Mr. Collier, “ had been erroneously given over and over again, from the year 1623 to our own day,” was properly made in my edition in 1826, with a note showing the absurdity of the old pointing. So that this is one more of the numerous coincidences.

Ib. “Lower down,” (p. 581, Collier's Shaksp. vol. v.)

occurs a line that has occasioned discussion, relating to Wolsey's foundations at Ipswich and Oxford :

One of which fell with him,
Unwilling to outlive the good that did it.


The good that did it has been construed, 'the virtue that raised the edifice;' but a note in the folio, 1632, has the pas. sage in a form which clears away all difficulty, and is in all probability the true reading :

Unwilling to outlive the good man did it. “i. e. the good man (for such Griffith represented Wolsey) who laid the foundation."

This would be to introduce an awkward elliptical phrase, not at all clear, for the undoubted language of the poet. Good here is put for goodness, as in the passage just above,

May it please your highness

To hear me speak his good now [i.e. his goodness.]
Had the corrector paid attention to what he was reading, or

been able to comprehend it, we should not have been troubled with this erroneous piece of meddling.

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P. 325. The addition of the syllable ness, in the following passage, may perhaps make it accord with modern notions; but had there been any doubt that the poet wrote“ of an earthy cold,” it would not have escaped the editor of the second folio, who frequently adds a syllable or word on account of the metre. We may, therefore, confidently continue to read :

How long her face is drawn ! How pale she looks,
And of an earthy cold! Mark her eyes.

The reader will no doubt recollect—" the earthy and cold hand of death,” in Hotspur's last speech. In the phraseology of Shakespeare we have similar substitutions frequently elsewhere.

ACT V. SCENE I. P. 326. The meddling change of to for “you" is abandoned by Mr. Collier himself; and the substitution of ground for“ good,” in the line of Cranmer's speech,

The good I stand on is my truth and honesty—, is Johnson's proposition revived, which had long since been properly repudiated both by Steevens and Malone, but it serves with the next to swell the list of coincidences.

SCENE II. Ib. The adoption of Monck Mason's suggestion of culpable for capable,” in the passage,

But we are all men,
In our own natures frail, and capable

Of our flesh, is another coincidence, which Mr. Collier now thinks is “what was necessary,” although, in 1842, he found the old reading perfectly intelligible !

Ib. The substitution of strives for stirs," in Cranmer's speech, would be high treason against a nervous Shakesperian expression. Strives against would be poor in place of stirs against, which occurs elsewhere, as in K. Richard II.

To stir against the butchers of his life. The old reading had never yet been questioned.

SCENE III. P. 327. The last of the corrector's doing in this play is ingenious, if it should be thought necessary to diminish the quaint and humorous rhodomontade of this would-be popular wit, and make him speak consistently in sober sadness. But I must confess I should part with the chine unwillingly, although I have no objection to the crown. Let any impartial judge read the Porter's-man's next speech, and decide whether that acute nonsense, which Barrow has told us is one species of wit, may not be here intended by Shakespeare ?



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P. 329.

THE adoption of “ sparre up the sons of Troy," from

Theobald, instead of the misprint stirre,” is, of course another coincidence; but Mr. Collier's assertion, that “ the proper orthography is sperr," is quite wrong, and Spenser doubtful authority. The word is from the A. s. sparran, and is properly sparre or spar, as given by Skelton, Warner, and most old authorities ; among others, in the lines from The Cobbler of Canterbury, 1590, cited by Mr. Collier himself, and from whence he imagines Shakespeare may have received the hint for the use of it.

ACT I. SCENE I. P. 330. The adoption of Rowe's corrections of when for “ then," and storm for “scorn,” are more coincidences, and but for this might have been passed over unnoticed.

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