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Arviragus lead in the woods and mountains with that at court, observes, in the ordinary text,
O! this life
"The old copies give the third line,— Richer than doing nothing for a babe,
"and Hanmer substituted 'bribe,' though bribe's are seldom given for doing nothing, while Warburton has bauble, and Malone adhered to babe. All three are unquestionably wrong: the second line supposes a courtier to dance attendance, and only to obtain a check,' or reproof, for his pains; and the third line follows up the same notion, that he does nothing, yet is rewarded with a blow: Shakespeare repeatedly uses bob (the word in manuscript in the margin of the folio, 1632) in this way; and babe, then pronounced with the broad open a, was miswritten for it: therefore, the passage, properly printed, appears to be this:
O! this life
Is nobler, than attending for a check,
The correctors here, like the old printer, from ignorance of an archaism, have made sad work with their bob. The word should be a brabe, i. e. a contemptuous or proud look, word, or gesture. Speght, in his Glossary to Chaucer, interprets the more obsolete word Heth [or hething] brabes, and such like, that is, scornful or contumelious looks, or words.
P. 495. What possible reason but that of a desire to improve, where no interference was necessary, could have induced the correctors to substitute vigour for "figure" in the following passage?
Strains his young nerves and puts himself in posture
Ib. "We here arrive at a most singular instance of mishearing, which we must impute wholly to the writer of the manuscript used by the compositor. It is in a speech by Imogen, where she supposes that Posthumus has been seduced by some Italian courtezan :
Some jay of Italy,
Whose mother was her painting, hath betray'd him:
Now, for whose mother was her painting,' of all editions, we are told by the amender of the folio, 1632, to read,―
Some jay of Italy,
"We fairly admit it to be possible that the old corrector, not understanding the expression, Whose mother was her painting,' as it was recited before him, might mistake it for Who smothers her with painting;' but it is much more likely that in this place, where Imogen was to give vent to her disgust and anger, she would not use a metaphor, especially so violent a one, as to call the daubing of the face actually the 'mother' of a courtezan."
This specious but erroneous substitution has been so fully discussed, and shown to be improbable, by Mr. Halliwell, that I must content myself with referring to his pamphlet, and a note by a most intelligent and acute correspondent of Notes and Queries, vol. v. p. 484. Merely remarking that "Some jay of Italy" would naturally bring to the mind the fable of the jay dressed in the painted feathers of the peacock.
P. 497. The substitution of followers for "fellows" is entirely unnecessary; by "princely fellows" Imogen means, as Mr. Collier himself formerly perceived, means noble suitors, her equals in rank.
Ib. To change, I'll wake mine eyeballs into I'll crack
mine eyeballs, would be a far less intelligible reading than that which has long been the established text—
I'll wake mine eyeballs blind first.
The word wake is evidently right from the preceding—
I have not slept one wink.
and Imogen's reply :—
Do't and to bed then.
The corrector's crack was most probably suggested by the long-ago rejected reading break.
P. 497. The interpolation of empty in the line
With that harsh, noble, simple nothing
is entirely an unnecessary and unlicensed liberty. The line is quite as harmonious and more effective without it.
P. 498. The alteration of "pretty" to privy is plausible, and as a likely misprint therefore admissible.
We should probably read mien instead of "mind," in a preceding part of this speech,—
Now if you could wear a mind
mien being often written mine, may have been mistaken for mind. Warburton justly remarks, "What had the darkness of mind to do with the concealment of Imogen's person?"
Ib. Of the substitution of carriage for " courage," Mr. Collier himself remarks, that it may be contested, and inasmuch as "courage" answers its purpose, perhaps it would be unwise to displace it. Authority, therefore, is here tacitly abandoned.
ACT IV. SCENE I.
P. 499. "The word 'imperseverant,' as it stands printed in the folios, has naturally given trouble to the commentators,
who have not known what to do with it. Hanmer altered it to ill-perseverant,' meaning persevering in ill, while Steevens argued that it was to be understood as perseverant. It appears, on the authority of an emendation in the folio, 1632, that the compositor blundered by combining two words, one of which had relation to the obstinacy of Imogen, and the other to the wandering life to which she had taken. It is Cloten who speaks, and who is complaining of the perverseness of the heroine, who absurdly preferred Posthumus to him, and ran away from court in order to avoid him. Very probably the manuscript was here confused and illegible, which led to the printing of 'imperseverant' for perverse errant, as it is amended, and as we may be confident it ought hereafter to be printed-Yet this perverse, errant thing loves him in my despite.' Cloten had come to Milford Haven in search of this 'perverse, errant thing,' and to destroy Posthumus."
If Mr. Collier had looked into Mr. Dyce's Critique of Knight and Collier's Shakespeare, which he might have consulted with advantage, he would have found that perseverance was used by our ancestors for discernment, and that “imperseverant" here was doubtless the poet's word, and simply meant undiscerning. The Rev. Mr. Arrowsmith (in Notes and Queries, vol. vii. p. 400) has adduced such numerous instances of the use of perseverance for discernment, that it argues but an imperfect acquaintance with our old phraseology on the part of the correctors to have been unacquainted with it. Mr. Arrowsmith has truly said that " the noun substantive, perseverunce, discernment, is as common a word as any of the like length in the English language."
This is one more instance of the danger of discarding or altering a word in the poet because we happen not to understand it. Yet had it not been for the evidence adduced, the specious perverse errant would probably have supplanted the true reading, for Mr. Collier tells us we may be confident it ought hereafter to be printed perverse errant !
P. 500. What great merit was there in adopting Theobald's
correction of "honour" to humour? It wanted not the very suspicious" authority" of the correctors to decide any one who looked at the context, that it was a misprint. But this is one more coincidence.
P. 500. "An emendation in the folio, 1632, changes 'the leaf of eglantine,' very naturally, but not necessarily, into 'the leafy eglantine." Why "very naturally" if “not necessarily ?” Unless we can show the necessity of an alteration in the poet's language, interference is the over-busy meddling of conceit, and very mischievous. mischievous. We have had too much of this.
Ib. The conjecture of winter-guard for winter-ground is evidently suggested by Warburton's winter-gown; but to winter-ground" may have been the technical phrase for protecting a tender plant from the inclemency of winter, as practised by gardeners, by covering it with some light material. The conjecture, however, deserves attention.
Ib. The substitution of lasses for "girls" necessitates the omission of "all;" and, as Mr. Collier himself confesses, that "Shakespeare here perhaps purposely avoided the repetition" of a common-place, and that it" by no means forces adoption upon us," we may be sure it ought to be rejected as superfluous and impertinent.
P. 501. The " trifling change" of so to lo is admissible as a probable misprint.
P. 502. "The last emendation we have to notice-is in the soliloquy of Posthumus, and it relates to a passage which has been much discussed, but never clearly understood: the old text has been this :
You some permit
Here, in the first place, is an admitted inaccuracy, because, as Malone remarked, the last ill deed, which was the 'worse,'