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The violent and unauthorised substitution of “These my rude mates,” for “ These are my mates,” has no probability in its favour.
Scene IV. P. 27. There is not the slightest necessity for changing “ We will include all jars ” to We will conclude. Include is a Latinism having nearly the same sense; to shut up, to close up. The insertion of the words Valentine and stripling on account of the metre, is to rewrite the Text. The same remark applies to the alterations to rhyme throughout this play.
MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.
ACT I. SCENE III.
craves, has occasioned some difficulty in the passage where Falstaff, speaking of the expected result of his enterprise against Mrs. Ford, observes, as the words have been invariably given, “I spy entertainment in her; she discourses, she carves, she gives the leer of invitation.' A note in the margin of the corrected folio, 1632, shows that we ought to read she craves, she gives the leer of invitation. There seems no sufficient reason for supposing that'carves' ought to be taken in the figurative sense of wooes ; and although ladies might now and then 'carve' to guests, in the literal meaning of the word, yet carving was undoubtedly an accomplishment peculiarly belonging to men. Falstaff evidently, from the context, intends to say that Mrs. Ford has a craving for him, and therefore gave the leer of invitation.'”
I cannot see the evidence in the context at all; and it is quite certain there is not the slightest reason for disturbing the text. To carve is not to be taken in its literal sense, but in a conventional one which may be gathered from Torriano's explanation in his Proverbial phrases : -“ Trinciarla alla grande, to carve it magnificently, viz. to spend like a prince; to lay it on, take it off who will.” But for this happy illustration of Falstaff's meaning, Shakespeare's text might here again
have suffered, and an expressive old colloquial phrase have been lost to us. It should be remembered that Torriano had
ACT II. SCENE III.
P. 35. “ I will bring thee where Mistress Anne Page is, at a farm-house a feasting, and thou shalt woo her. Cried game, said I well ?”
“ The difficulty has been,” says Mr. C.“ how to make any sense out of ‘Cried game;' but the truth seems to be, that the Host, having said that Anne Page was feasting at a farm-house, in order still more to incite Dr. Caius to go there, mentioned the most ordinary objects of feasting at farm-houses at that time, viz. curds and cream. This in the hands of the old compositor became strangely metamorphosed into cried game.”
A strange metamorphose indeed ! Perhaps a more absurd conjecture was never entertained. There can be no doubt that Mr. Dyce's suggestion of “ Cried I aim”[i. e. did I give you encouragement?] “Said I well?” is the true one. Warburton was near the mark but missed it. Ford, in a previous scene, says :-“To these violent proceedings all my neighbours shall cry aim” [i. e. give encouragement].
ACT IV. SCENE V. P. 38. I must here give the whole of Mr. Collier's argument in order to do it justice.
“ Modern editors have needlessly changed the prefixes of the folios in this part of the scene: the corrector of that of 1632 has altered two small words, and made the dialogue run quite consistently. Simple tells Falstaff and the Host that he had other things to have spoken on behalf of his master to 'the wise woman of Brentford :'
Fal. What are they? let us know.
Host. Conceal them, and thou diest. The common method has been to put ' I may not conceal them, Sir,' into the mouth of Simple, followed by a mark of interrogation; and the Host's next speech has been invariably
printed · Conceal them, or thou diest !''The Host was desirous that Simple should reveal, and would not, therefore, threaten death if he disclosed them. Dr. Farmer wished reveal to be substituted for conceal, but the only alteration here required is and for or,' -' Conceal them and thou diest.' Such is the emendation of the corrector of the folio, 1632.”
It is not the only alteration, for we have also you substituted for I in Simple's speech, in order to accommodate it to Falstaff!
I turn to Mr. Collier's edition of Shakespeare (Vol. i. p. 258) and find, to my great surprise, that he is one of the modern Editors who have made the “ needless” change in the prefixes to which he alludes, and what is more singular, contrary to his usual custom, he has not noticed the deviation from the old copy! taking it for granted, I presume, that it could never be disputed !
That the modern editors were right is beyond a doubt. In the folios the passage stands thus :
Fal. What are they ? let us know.
Host. Conceale them or thou diest. Now the most obtuse understanding would, I should think, perceive at once that the line “I may not conceale them, Sir," could not belong to Falstaff, but that it belongs to Simple, and that the whole spirit and humour of the passage depends upon poor Simple mistaking conceal for reveal. Mine Host with his accustomed waggery mistifies him by using his own mistaken word:-" Conceal them or thou diest!
That the corrector should not have entered into the humour of the passage does not surprise us, for it is possible he may not have seen the simple transfer of the line, erroneously given to Falstaff, to its right owner; and he has shown himself elsewhere incapable of entering into the playful humour of a like kind in which Shakespeare delights to indulge. But that Mr. Collier should, when it had been clearly pointed out, and even adopted by him, for a moment deem the impertinent and absurd substitutions of the corrector of his folio preferable, must shake one's faith in his consistency at least. I hope this is not one of the passages considered as resting on better authority than we possess !
MEASURE FOR MEASURE.
ACT I, Scene I.
Would seem in me t'affect speech and discourse ;
And let them work.
Since I am apt to know, that your own science
And let them work.
“ I am apt to know" is a mischievous deviation from Shakspeare's language, for he uses the same phrase several times elsewhere, for I am constrained or obliged to know; and to leave out the word able after worth, and substitute add for that, is a very violent departure from the old text which is certainly not required. I read with a very slight deviation from the old copy :
Since I am put to know, that your own science,
And let them work. The compositor mistook th:to for thto, which rectified, all is clear. The sense of the whole passage is, “ since I must acknowledge that you are better skilled in the nature of government than I am, it would be idle in me to lecture you on the subject. Then nothing more remains [is wanting] but thereto your sufficient authority [i. e. to govern) as you have the ability, and let them [your skill and authority] come into operation. The authority is the commission the Duke just afterward gives him.
SCENE II. P. 42. The insertion of bawdy before houses in the Clown's speech is entirely uncalled for ; by all houses, the Clown of course means all such houses; but it is a common form of speech, in use every day, to say houses where public houses, or any other houses of business are meant.
SCENE III. P. 43. The substitution of pronunciation for denunciation is again over-busy meddling : denunciation is used for pronuncia tion; as in K. John, Act iii. Sc. 1, Pandulph says, “I will denounce a curse upon his head.” So Baret, “ To denounce openly, and tell before hand.” And Philips, “ Denunciation a proclaiming or denouncing.” Propagation is also used by the poet for getting or increasing ; and no change of the old text is necessary.
SCENE IV. Ib.
In time the rod Becomes more mock'd than fear'd, so our decrees, &c. Pope supplied the word Becomes to complete the sense and metre. The corrector adds two words and alters another for the same purpose, but with less effect; thus :
In time the rod's
Dead to infliction, &c.
To do in slander. This is the reading of the old copy. The corrector would substitute
And yet my nature never in the sight
To draw on slander. The true reading is
And yet my nature never in the fight
To do it slander.
ACT II. SCENE I. P. 44. The foolish constable, master Froth, is made to say “ I have so; because it is an open room and good for winter; the corrector, not comprehending the humour of the scene, would, in sober sadness, read, “I have so; because it is an