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changes Mr. Collier cannot avoid confessing “ seem scarcely required.”
ACT IV. SCENE II. P. 62. As in this play there was little legitimate correction to make, the corrector indulges largely in his vagaries, he would substitute swift for sweet in Dromio's speech when he comes for his master's purse, as too familiar a word ! according to Mr. Collier, but Dromio is familiar enough in all the rest of his speeches.
The impertinent additions, even to a whole unnecessary line in another doggrel of Dromio's, implies that the corrector thought he was warranted in rewriting the text ad libitum. We know what liberties are sometimes taken for supposed dramatic effect, but they are not the less objectionable where the printed text of the poet is concerned.
ACT V. SCENE I. ..P. 63. “ The line in the Merchant's speech, as it is given in the folios,
The place of depth and sorry execution, is amended” by the corrector to
“ The place of death and solemn execution.” The first correction is Rowe's; of which Mr. Collier has said, in a note to his Edition of Shakspeare, “ We doubt much whether in this instance, where sense can be made of depth, the word in the original copy, we ought not to have adhered to the text.” Mr. Hunter is of opinion that the old reading is right, and that “in this Greek story, the Barathrum, the deep pit into which offenders were cast” is meant by the place of depth. And the second ought never to have been made: sorry, i. e. sad is the poet's expressive word.
P. 64. They fell upon me, bound me, bore me thence,
And in a dark and dankish vault at home
There left me, &c. “ The corrector of the folio, 1632,” says Mr. Collier, “alters it to,' They left me,' which is clearly right.” WHY CLEARLY RIGAT?
P. 64. “ Ægeon, astonished at not being recognized by Antipholus of Ephesus, exclaims, in the reading of the folios, -
0, time's extremity! Hast thou so crack’d and splitted my poor tongue ? &c. but we learn from the manuscript-corrector that the last line ought to be, as seems natural,
O, time's extremity! Hast thou so crack'd my voice, split my poor tongue?” Why? again,-more natural than the reading of the old
Are we to change the poet's language to suit our own fancies?
Ib. "All copies agree in what appears to be a decided though a small error in reading,
And thereupon these errors are arose. “These errors all arose’ has been suggested as the poet's words ; and we find all in the margin of the corrected folio, 1632, while are is erased in the text.”'
When Mr. Collier published his edition of Shakespeare, how entirely at issue was his opinion. He then said “ there is, however, no warrant for alteration."
Ib. In the following lines Mr. Collier says, “ The corrector makes the slightest possible change in the second line, and at once removes the difficulty.”
Thirty-three years have I been gone in travail
My heavy burdens are delivered. In the first line but is in the first folio, been in the second. I read the passage many years since thus :
Twenty-five years have I but gone in travail
My heavy burden ne'er delivered. Thus conforming to the text of the first folio, with the exception of the necessary rectification of the number of years, and the substitution of ne'er for are. A much more probable misprint than at for till. I may here venture to add that the two lines just following,
Go to a gossip's feast, and go with me
which are evidently corrupt, are passed over both by Mr. Collier and the corrector in silence. Perhaps they should be read thus :
Go to a gossip's feast and joy with me
After so long grief such festivity. These readings are suggested by Heath and Johnson, and have my entire concurrence, notwithstanding the dissent of Steevens and Malone. The word nativity, in the last line, had evidently been caught by the eye of the compositor from the preceding line.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
ACT III. SCENE I.
because they have already been suggested and some of them adopted. The coincidences are too numerous to admit for a moment that they are fortuitous. Others are doubtful improvements; I may possibly have to deal with them in another place.
P. 71. What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?
Stand I condemn’d for pride and scorn so much?
No glory lives behind the back of such. Mr. Collier says, “ Nobody has explained what is meant by the words 'behind the back of such,' nor need we inquire into it, since they are merely one of the perversions arising out of the mishearing of the scribe of the copy of the play used by the printer: the real words of the fourth line appear to be,
No glory lives but in the lack of such.” We must conclude, therefore, that the corrector had access to the original MS. of the poet, or that this is one of his own conjectures! Mr. Collier would probably favour the first of these conclusions? But as the text is perfectly intelligible as we have it in the old authentic copies, it cannot but be deemed a rash and uncalled for substitution. “ Behind the back of such as are condemned for pride, scorn, and contempt, their reputation suffers, their glory dies.” When we can make perfectly good sense of the old text, such sweeping changes come under the category of impertinent assumption. The corrector thought he could improve upon Shakespeare !
ACT IV. SCENE I.
P. 72. Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame. “Frugal nature's frame,” says Mr. C., "puzzled the commentators, and they endeavour to reconcile us to the word frame in various ways; but they never seem to have supposed, as now appears to be the case, that frame had been misprinted for frowne.”
I should have much wondered if they had ; frame stands here for framing, contrivance, order, disposition of things, as Steevens has well observed. “ The frugality of nature that so ordained it.” Frown is a much less likely word to have been used by the poet; and here, as elsewhere, the meddling of the corrector is mischievous.
P. 73. And salt too little that may season give
To her soul-tainted flesh.
“ Hero's flesh,” says Mr. Collier," was tainted to the soul by the accusation just made against her”!
The original has " foul tainted flesh.”.
How her flesh could be tainted to the soul requires a stretch of imagination beyond the comprehension of common sense! I have no objection to the change of foul for soul, as it is a probable error of the printer, but it must have a better expositor than Mr. C. has here shown himself to be.
P. 74. Whose spirits toil in frame of villanies. “ The corrector changes frame of to fraud and :
Whose spirits toil in fraud and villanies, which seems a much more easy and natural expression than frame of villanies ; but in this way the commentators have sometimes vindicated one corruption by another.”
Nothing can be clearer than the old text. Frame is here again used for framing, contrivance, and the interference of the corrector in both instances is impertinent and uncalled for. Mr. C. is obliged himself to admit that “the fabrication of villanies may be meant !”
But they shall find, awak'd in such a kind,
The corrector would substitute,
But they shall find awak'd in such a cause.
Mr. Collier’s exposition is, “ The cause in which his strength and policy were to be awaked, was, of course, that of his daughter, should it turn out that she had been traduced. The taste of the corrector may here have come in aid of the change.”
I do not hesitate to pronounce it very bad taste, and such as must tend to throw suspicion around all that he does. Kind is nature, and this is Shakespeare's common use of the word.
The whole tenor of Leonato's speech shows that he means to say, Time hath not so dried this blood of mine; nor age impaired my faculties;
But they shall find awak'd in such a kind [i. e. nature].
SCENE II. P. 75. When Dogberry, to show his importance, says that he is “a rich fellow enough, go to; and a fellow that hath had losses,” it has naturally puzzled some persons to see how his losses could tend to establish that he was rich. Here in truth we have another misprint: leases was often spelt of old -leasses, and this is the origin of the blunder; for according to the corrector of the folio, 1632, we ought to read," a rich fellow enough, go to; and a fellow that has had leases.” To have been the owner of leases might very well prove that Dogberry was" a rich fellow enough.”
If anything more were wanted to show how utterly incapable the corrector, whoever he may have been, was to enter into the spirit of Shakespeare, this might suffice. To make poor Dogberry speak consistently, would be to destroy the very spirit of this humorous scene. But still to have had losses, he