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and affords such excellent sense, that few, I think, would for a moment entertain the corrector's unvisited. It
be observed that—" that last hold,” is the last place where sensation remains. I hope Mr. Collier would not assume, that the corrector's reading “may have been obtained from some better manuscript than that in the hands of the old printer.”
T the very beginning of Bolingbroke's first speech, a
word has dropped out, the absence of which spoils the metre; it is found in a manuscript correction of the folio, 1632.”
So, then, we are to insert or omit words ad libitum, when the metre does not suit us! Let us hear what Mr. Collier
of others, on a like occasion. “ Malone and the modern editors silently omit an, probably under the notion that they had a right to correct Shakespeare's metre.”! (Shaksp. Vol. iv. p. 55.)
Ib. Of the next piece of meddling, the substitution of wrath or” for “ other,” Mr. Collier himself confesses, “ We may question the necessity for this change.” Truly we may !
Ib. To the substitution of " clear account” for a dear account, in Mowbray's speech, there appears no objection; it bears the marks of a probable misprint, cl and d are easily mistaken for each other.
SCENE II. P. 215. “ We may feel assured that the word ' farewell' was repeated in the following line, and we find it in manuscript in the margin of the folio, 1632, though not in any extant copy of the play :
Why then, I will. Farewell, farewell, old Gaunt."
In a note on this passage, in his edition of Shakespeare, Mr. Collier says, “ Sir T. Hanmer, Steevens, and Ritson consider this line defective, inasmuch as it has only eight syllables. All the old copies are uniform in giving it as in our text (i. e. without the second farewell), and probably Shakespeare meant so to leave it. The time is amply made up by the pause after Why then, I will,' before the Duchess continues, "Farewell, old Gaunt.' Shakespeare has many lines of eight syllables.” What then becomes of Mr. Collier's assurance that it was repeated ?
Ib. To change
Desolate, desolate, will I hence and die
Desolate, desperate, will I hence and die
is of a piece with the other wanton innovations on the language of the poet which offend us in every page.
ACT II. SCENE I.
P. 216. “On the entrance of the King, Queen, &c. York says to Gaunt, as the passage has always stood :
The King is come: deal mildly with his youth ;
which is nothing better than a truism, that young hot colts rage the more by being raged. This defect has arisen from a misprint, which seems very obvious as soon as it is pointed out by the corrector of the folio, 1632, who alters the second line as follows:
For young hot colts, being urg', do rage the more. “ This is beyond controversy an improvement.”
I must say this is disingenuous on the part of Mr. Collier, for he would evidently lead us to believe that this was first
pointed out' by the corrector, whereas Ritson had long since proposed what I consider a better and more probable reading,
For young hot colts, being rein'd, do rage the more.
York means to say, do not thwart him or irritate him, for young hot colts fret and rage when they are restrained by being rein'd. The corrector's urg'd is as much a truism as Mr. Collier represents rag'd to be.
P. 216. The substitution of wives for lives in Northumberland's speech is plausible, but not necessary.
P. 217. The substitution of our for as in Ross's speech is very plausible, and is borne out by the context, which seems to require the correction.
Ib. “ More than one passage in the scene between the Queen, Bushy, and Bagot, in which she states that she feels that some unknown calamity is hanging over her, has occasioned difficulty. The first place in which the corrector of the folio, 1632, offers us any assistance, stands thus in the folios :
So heavy sad,
Makes me with heavy nothing faint and shrink. “Here perplexity has been produced by misprinting the word unthinking as two words, on thinking :' the Queen was so sad, that it made her faint and shrink with nothing, although she was so unthinking as not to think. Malone and others have 'in thinking, which seems just the opposite of what was intended."
In his note on the passage, in his edition of Shakespeare, Mr. Collier says,
“ It seems necessary, with Johnson, to alter on to in ; the meaning being, that the queen in reflecting can fix her thought upon nothing.” Mr. Collier may be assured that the old text is right, and does not require even Johnson's alteration of on to in; and that his own explanation of the old reading is nearly right. The queen means “ though musing on, I fix my thoughts on nothing definite, yet I faint and shrink with this heavy nothing." As Johnson has well observed, “The involuntary and unaccountable depression of mind which every one has sometimes felt, is here very forcibly described.” To be “ so unthinking as not to think” could hardly make her sad. It was her too busy, but indefinite, thoughts conjuring up forebodings of evil, that weighed her down with grief.
P. 218. “Bushy assures [the Queen] that her sadness was merely conceit,' to which she replies in five lines, which have still more puzzled commentators :
'Tis nothing less : conceit is still deriv'd
'Tis in reversion that I do possess, &c. “The old corrector shows that the four last lines ought to be rhyming-couplets, which the scribe seems to have written at random, and has thus made utterly unintelligible what, at the best, is difficult. In the corrected folio the lines are thus given, we may presume upon some authority :
'Tis nothing less : conceit is still deriv'd
'Tis in reversion that I do possess, &c. “i.e. the nothing that the Queen guessed, had some woe in it, and she possessed it in reversion, before it actually came upon her. The scribe blundered from not at all understanding what he was putting upon paper, and the compositor made it worse by knowing nothing of the meaning of what he was putting in print. The proposed changes, woe for grief, and guess for
grieve, besides receiving support from the rhyme, at all events, supply a meaning to words which some commentators gave up in despair.”
I am afraid there are other scribes who are in the same predicament that Mr. Collier figures to himself. Does Mr. Collier mean to say that the licentious changes indulged in by his corrector have elucidated the passage? Why should woe be more intelligible than grief? Or the Queen guess nothing ? Every day's experience affords instances of grieving by anticipation for nothing, i. e. some dreaded but unknown event to
come, and this was the Queen's case.
She makes no guess, but anticipates some uncertain calamity. Are Shakespeare's words to be changed at the caprice of such a lover of rhyming verses, as the corrector manifests himself to be? What scribe or what printer could mistake grief, as written, for woe, or even grieve for guess !
P. 218. The insertion of near in York's speech is a gratuitous piece of meddling for the sake of the metre, forsooth! A plague on all these metre-mongers !
P. 219. “ The epithet used by the Duke of York, in his reproof of Bolingbroke, when he asks him,
But then, more why, why have they dar'd to march
“Despised arms' would not fright by their ostentation ;' and Warburton recommended disposed, not a very happy suggestion; and Sir T. Hanmer, despightful; while Monck Mason fancied that York meant that the arms were despised' by himself. A misprint misled them; for, according to the corrector of the folio, 1632, we ought to read :
With ostentation of despoiling arms : “ villages might well be frighted by the despoiling arms of Bolingbroke."
The misprint has misled the corrector as well as his predecessors. His epithet is quite as unhappy. The word displaied has been mistaken for despised, and we may with some degree of certainty read,
With ostentation of displayed arms. The rash and uncalled for substitution of But more than that' for the effective ' But then more why?' three lines above, is only another instance of the impertinent conceit of this would-be improver of the poet's language."