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the belief that the corrector had access to some authority independent of any of the printed copies of this play, whether in quarto or folio; although not a few of his emendations, as we have seen, correspond with the earliest and some other quartos, which had been abandoned by the folios."
The variation induces no such belief; for the corrector shows on all occasions that he thought he could improve upon the language of Shakespeare." Not a few" indeed of the so called emendations of the corrector are adoptions of such readings as have been supplied by successive editors from the earlier quartos. It would be wonderful, truly, if he should have fortunately hit upon the very copies which furnished these readings on all occasions. It leads to the conclusion that we owe these corrections to some comparatively recent hand, who adopted them from one of the variorum editions.
SECOND PART OF KING HENRY IV.
P. 242. The very first two corrections in the Induction to this play, mentioned by Mr. Collier, are merely the readings of misprints, which have been adopted silently in all editions, even Mr. Collier's and Mr. Knight's. In fact, the first folio has surmises. Why it was necessary to mention these, but for the purpose of swelling the catalogue of the corrector's coincidences, I cannot conceive.
Mr. Collier judiciously says, "We may doubt the fitness of changing peasant-towns, as printed with a hyphen in the folios, to pleasant towns." He adds, however, "but it may be right, and it ought, therefore, to be mentioned!" Does Mr. Collier think it necessary to mention all the crudities of the corrector? His book would have consisted of but few pages, but would have been much more valuable, had he confined himself to the few corrections of evident errors, which were new to the world.
ACT I. SCENE I.
P. 243. Again! Why mention at all the correction of the
palpable misprint of the folio able for armed; which had been set right from the 4to long since, in all editions, even in Mr. Knight's, who says very truly, that "the compositor caught the word able from the preceding line." But Mr. Collier's notion-" that if the corrector did not obtain the word from the quarto, he might have heard the passage accurately recited on the stage in his day, or possibly he used some independent but concurrent authority," explains his motive.
Ib. The adoption of Theobald's reading of " rugged'st hour" for ragged'st hour, which had long been rejected, was not perhaps very judicious in the corrector, but may serve to show that he was acquainted at least with Theobald's edition, or some later one that adopted his reading, or mentioned it.
P. 243. The reading costermonger days," instead of costermonger times, and " about three of the afternoon," instead of "about three o'clock in the afternoon," are certainly no improvement upon the received reading of the quartos, adopted in all editions, but a capricious variation; perhaps Mr. Collier would say, " on authority unknown to us."!
P. 244. The substitution of diseases for degrees in Falstaff's speech is a good and legitimate correction; which has also been made in my copy of the second folio. It was one which, although it has escaped the commentators, would be very likely to suggest itself to any one whose attention was especially directed to the numerous typographical errors that disfigure that book.
P. 244. "Farther on, Lord Bardolph draws a parallel between the building of a house and the carrying on a war, which is obscured by the omission of a whole line, fortunately inserted in the margin by the old corrector. Our first extract is as it stands in the folios, and we will follow it by the same quotation as amended. The speaker is supposing that a man
purposes at first to construct a dwelling, which he afterwards finds beyond his means:—
"As amended by the old corrector, the same passage runs as follows:
What do we then, but draw anew the model
In fewer offices; or at last desist
To build at all? Much more in this great work,
A careful leader sums what force he brings
"That the furnishing of this new connecting line (to say nothing of verbal emendations, the first of which Steevens speculated upon) between Lord Bardolph's simile and its application, is an important improvement, although the question still returns upon us, from whence was it derived?"
I unhesitatingly answer this question-Certainly from the perverse misapprehension of the passage by the corrector, whoever he may have been, and from his conceit that he could improve the language and thoughts of the poet. His interpolation mars entirely the integrity of the poet's simile, by introducing a new element, and interrupting its course; making what was before perfectly simple and consecutive, involved. The reading last for "least" may have been adopted
from Steevens. The only other correction which the passage requires, if indeed that be necessary, is to read "this opposite," instead of his. "Much more in this great work," says Lord Bardolph," should we examine our plan, our situation, and the frame of it. Agree upon a secure foundation of it. Question lookers-on, know our position; how far we are able to undertake such a work, and preponderate against this adversary." There is no necessity for further deviation from the old copy.
P. 244. "The first twenty lines of Lord Bardolph's second speech are only in the folio impressions, and the corrector of that of 1632 shows that they have been most corruptly printed, probably from defects in the manuscript in the hands of the compositor. Malone and others set right one error in the first line, by converting if' to in, but the second line appears to be even more strangely blundered, for instead of—
Indeed the instant action, a cause on foot, &c.
we ought to read the whole passage thus: it is in answer to Northumberland's question, whether it could do harm to hope?—
Yes, in this present quality of war:
Indeed the instant act and cause on foot
Lives so in hope, as in the early spring
"Thus the measure is amended, and the sense cleared."
But surely act and for action, is anything but an improveThere have been numerous suggestions for the correction of this passage, none of them more satisfactory than this conjecture of the corrector. The reading of the old copy, merely substituting in for " if," as Johnson suggested, will bear this construction :
It never yet did hurt (says Hastings) to be sanguine. To which Lord Randolph replies :
Yes, in this present quality of war-(it has done hurt)
To be over sanguine, has been and is most injurious in that particular crisis we are now arrived at; on the point of committing ourselves irrevocably :—false hopes at this time are as treacherous as early blossoms.
ACT. II. SCENE I.
Pp. 245-246. To substitute score for loan, in Dame Quickly's speech, is again to interfere with her characteristic language and the insertion of red and but, next noticed, entirely supererogatory.
P. 246. The substitution of pure for "poor virtue," in Falstaff's speech to Doll Tearsheet, is a good and probable conjectural emendation.
ACT III. SCENE I.
P. 247. The substitution of "high canopies," for the canopies, was not at all necessary. The alteration of clouds to shrowds is nothing new, and may have been suggested by some edition of recent times; it was rejected by Steevens, who observes, that "A moderate storm would hang the waves in the shrowds of a ship; a great one might poetically be said to suspend them on the clouds, which were too slippery to retain them." There is no valid reason for departing from the old text: the poet himself is evidence in its favour. Thus, in Julius Cæsar :—
I have seen
The ambitious ocean swell, and rage, and foam,
I do not think that Mr. Collier will find "This emendation to settle the question."