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interpolations of his own, foisting in rhymes and whole lines without reserve or scruple.
It would not be the first time that such knavish ingenuity has misled a well-trained Shakespearian antiquary and commentator; witness the Ireland forgeries, which, clumsy as they were, had numerous believers and apologists. I am in possession of several written sheets of a strenuous defence of them by one of the learned antiquaries of the time, who afterwards became convinced of the fraud.
That this is the true state of the case I have no doubt, for chance has furnished me with a similar tattered copy of the third folio edition of Shakespeare, (which, like Mr. Collier's book, has belonged to some theatre or dramatic corps,) in which the plays most frequently acted have been similarly treated. In The Merry
Youthful Dream, has put into the mouth of Puck the following valedictory lines to the dreaming Boy :
Must I depart, and nothing leave with thee?
Shall grow the light of thy world-wide renown. Puck is therefore still at work, and we have in Mr. Collier's book one of his promised vagaries. I owe the above version of the German to a fair friend, who has admirably rendered the spirit of the whole poem. While I write this I learn that Tieck, celebrated for his enthusiastic love of Shakespeare no less than for his own highly poetical dramatic talent, has paid the last debt of nature, full of years as of fame.
Wives of Windsor, The Comedy of Errors, MidsummerNight's Dream, Twelfth Night, the two Parts of K. Henry IV. K. Henry VIIIth, Julius Cæsar, Macbeth, Hamlet, K. Lear, and Othello, the greatest liberties have been taken. Not only are passages deemed too long for recitation, or otherwise unfit for the stage, crossed out, but interpolations and alterations of the language frequently occur. One passage from Macbeth is thus altered, in the style of Mr. Collier's corrector. It is in the scene of the Apparitions, where we have a stage-direction “ Horrid Music,” and, when the third spectre rises, the witches say :
Listen, but speak not to it.
Who chafes, or frets, or where conspirers are;
Shall come against him.
Be Lion-hearted, proud, and take no care,
The volume would afford many more interpolated and altered lines and passages, about equal in value to the boasted nine in Mr. Collier's book; but we have surely already enough. Very numerous and minute stagedirections are also added, many of them even more circumstantial than those in Mr. Collier's second folio. The names of the players representing the different characters are also frequently added. The hand-writing is not always the same; but the oldest in the volume bears such a striking similarity to that in the fac-simile given by Mr. Collier, that one very like it might have been made from this third folio, had I thought it desirable. The volume, too, like Mr. Collier's, has subsequently passed into other hands, who have made numerous corrections of evident typographical errors, and also given various conjectural readings.
Of the very little value of such corrections of the text on the ground of authority there can surely be but one opinion, for Mr. Collier himself must be aware at how very early a period it was the practice to tamper with the text, and to solve a difficulty not understood by altering the language, changing a word, or interpolating one. Mr. Halliwell has justly observed, that even “ the editor of the second folio, whoever he was, altered the original text without the slightest reference to proper authority, in many cases adapting the idiom to the changes which had been made in English phraseology, during even that brief period” which had elapsed since the death of
How little the genuine productions of Shakespeare, as they issued from his pen, were appreciated at the time when these manuscript innovations were made, will appear from the license used by Shadwell, Durfey, Crowne, Davenant, and Dryden, in adapting them to the depraved and altered taste of the town; and in a manuscript copy of verses I found written on the flyleaf of a copy of the fourth folio, it is thus adverted to:
TO THE MEMORY OF THE LEARNED AND FACETIOUS AUTHOR.
Hail learned dust! the once renowned case
Whose paltry fustian, and base flashing wit,
1691. The lines are not of much value, but may deserve preservation as individual testimony to the little respect with which the precious remains of our poet were treated for a long period. This, perhaps, did not apply to poetical readers; yet the fourth edition, printed in 1685, has numerous corruptions, and it is evident, from the slashing performances of Mr. Collier's expurgator as well as mine, what liberties were deemed allowable, and even necessary, to accommodate the language to the notions of those connected with the stage.
In June, 1852, I purchased from Mr. Willis, the bookseller, a copy of the second folio edition of Shakespeare, in its original binding, which, like that of Mr. Collier, contains very numerous manuscript corrections by several hands; the typographical errors, with which that edition abounds, are sedulously corrected, and the writers have also tried their hands at conjectural emendation extensively. Many of these emendations correspond with those in Mr. Collier’s volume, but chiefly in those cases where the error in the old copy was pretty evident, but the readings often vary, and sometimes for the better. It seems to me that the correctors, like Mr. Collier's, have often availed themselves of some edition with notes, and, as Mr. Collier says of the corrections in his volume, “ In many cases the older conjectures of Pope, Theobald, Warburton, and Hanmer are remarkably confirmed." These Mr. Collier would treat as coincident anticipations, but, as they form the greater bulk of the corrections, they are far too numerous to have been fortuitous, and there can be no doubt that they have been engrafted in his book by some later hand than that of the earlier theatrical possessor, to whom the stage directions and striking out of passages, with some few of the alterations of the text, can alone be fairly attributed. A few fortuitous coincidences we might admit, but it is not within the doctrine of probabilities that two writers, at distant periods, without any communication or knowledge of each other, should in hundreds of instances coincide so exactly as we find the major part of the corrections in Mr. Collier's volume do with the later emendations, slowly elaborated by a succession of commentators, and many of them far from obvious. Where the error, as in some cases, is what Mr. Collier calls “self-evident,” coincidence would be possible, but where, as in many instances, the corrections take the form of acute and happy conjecture, such extraordinary sympathy would be something miraculous. Mr. Collier's first impression that the ink being of various shades) two distinct hands have been employed on these corrections, is undoubtedly correct; for in the case of both the second and third folios with manuscript corrections which I possess, this is evidently the case. There is a temptation to add to manuscript notes, when a volume has once been invaded in this manner, which is very frequently indulged by successive possessors.