« PreviousContinue »
stone's speech upon horns, which, we think, has hitherto not been suspected, but the correction of which makes an obscure passage quite clear. It is given in the four folios in these terms:
Many a man has good horns and knows no end of them. that is the dowry of his wife : ’tis none of his own getting; horns, even so poor men alone: No, no, the noblest deer hath them as huge as the rascal.”
Malone and others printed, “ Horns ? even so :-Poor men alone ?
The corrector would have us read, “ Are horns given to poor men alone?” A very large licence to take with the old text, which may be set right by a much slighter correction of two words only. It appears to me that the printer has mistaken neuer for for euen so. We should therefore read, in the Clown's soliloquy: “ Horns ! never for poor men alone ? No, no, the noblest deer hath them as huge as the rascal.”
The probability of this typographical error, and the effective sense its correction affords, are sufficient to render it, if not doubtless, at least highly probable.
Will you sterner be
“Silvius is asking Phebe whether she will be more cruel than the common executioner. If we may read kills for dies,' the difficulty upon which the commentators’ have dwelt is at an end. Can dines have been the true word?”
Surely Mr. Collier cannot be serious in his last proposition! but I have no wonder he should be dissatisfied with the corrector's kills. Nothing more is necessary than the transposition of the words dies and lives. To live and die by a thing is merely a phrase for, to be constant to it, to persevere in it to the end. And Silvius means to say to Phebe,“ Will you be sterner than the executioner, whose constant course
of life familiarizes him with blood.” “ Whose heart the accustom'd sight of death makes hard.”
Lean but on a rush,
Thy palm some moment keeps. Here I must necessarily approve the corrector's change of capable to palpable, having myself made that palpable substitution in my edition of Shakespeare in 1826. Mr. Collier has mentioned elsewhere the happy coincidence. But capable has still its advocates, and may yet prove to be the true reading.
I will here mention, that in Rosalind's invective against Phebe's heartless conduct to her lover, the passage
Who might be your
mother? That you insult, exult and all at once Over the wretched
we should evidently read, as Warburton suggested, “rail at once.”
P. 135. In Rosalind's speech: “Marry, that should you, if I were your mistress, or I should think my honesty ranker than my wit,” the corrector would read, “or I should thank my honesty rather than my wit.” This would be very far from an improvement on the poet's language. Rosalind means to say, that if she did not put him out she should think her simple honesty greater than her wit. Shakespeare's use of the word in Hamlet, Act iv. Sc. 4, is in point:
Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole
A ranker rate. That is, a greater rate.
Yet Mr. Collier says, “This is a singular restoration of Shakespeare's text, which could scarcely have arisen from any ingenious guess at the author's meaning!” Restoration indeed !
Ib. The correction of chroniclers to coroners is legitimate, as appears by the technical word found, but this had been long since set right by Hanmer. It is therefore one more of the numerous coincidences.
Ib. “ Sir Thomas Hanmer made a tolerable guess, when he
altered occasion, in the following sentence, to accusation,-'0, that woman that cannot make her fault her husband's occasion, let her never nurse her child herself, for she will breed it like a fool. It is accusing in the corrected folio, 1632; no doubt, Shakespeare's word.” Is this another tolerable guess, or a happy coincidence? But accusation is the more likely word to have been mistaken for occasion.
ACT V. SCENE II. There are two or three more coincident corrections in this scene, but as they have been long since admitted into the text, the mention of them would be superfluous, but for the frequent occurrence of such wonderful sympathy between the corrector and those who are supposed to have come after him.
P. 138.“ A misprinted line in Orlando's first speech has produced much doubt, and many proposals for emendation. It stands as follows in all the old copies :
As those that fear they hope, and know they fear. It seems strange that nobody should yet have suggested the right change; for the mere substitution of to for they, in the first instance, gives a very intelligible and consistent meaning. The Duke asks if Orlando believes Rosalind can do what she has promised, and Orlando replies :
I sometimes do believe, and sometimes do not,
He was afraid to hope that she could be as good as her word, and knew that he was afraid.”
This is precisely the exposition Mr. Collier gave of the passage as it stands in the old text, in his edition of Shakespeare, so that in his opinion change was not necessary to elucidate it. But the opinions have been very discordant. I know of at least twelve various readings attempting to amend the passage. The following explanation of the old text is by a friend : “ As those who are alarmed at their own tendency to be sanguine—(fear that they are harbouring secret hopes which will lead to disappointment) and are quite aware that they fear. Hope and Fear alternating, they are not quite certain whether they hope, but fear they do. They fear, because to hope is imprudent:—they are quite certain that they fear.
Ib. “ In the next line but one Rosalind observes,
Patience once more, whiles our compact is urg'd.
Urg'd' seems a word not well adapted to the place, and the corrector informs us that it is another error of the press, and that we ought to read,
Patience once more, whiles our compact is heard ; and then she proceeds, orderly and audibly, to recapitulate to the party the several articles of the compact.”
“ To recapitulate” certainly, but in recapitulating to urge them home to each party to the compact. Rosalind could hardly say, “ while our compact is heard. The propriety of the word in the old authentic text is so undoubted, that it seems wonderful any busy meddling emendator should think he could improve it. There are some minor alterations which I
pass over, because some of them are superfluous, and others have already been corrected as evident errors; and some verses made to rhyme, obviously with a view to stage effect, according to the fancy of the old players, who liked to make their exit with a couplet, but these would require better authority than that of the corrector to be considered for a moment improvements of the text.
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.
are entirely superfluous.
INDUCTION. SCENE II.
Heaven cease this idle humour in your honour.
The corrector strikes out idle and inserts evil, for what
reason we are at a loss to imagine, except the busy desire of improving upon the language of the poet, and a conceit that the corrector could write more correctly than Shakespeare !
“ Sheer ale” is altered to “ Warwickshire ale," an unwarrantable licesne, and a very improbable name to have been given to Sly's liquor. Sheer ale was most likely ale which the Tinker had drunk at his own charge on Sheer Tuesday, a day of great comfort to the poor from the doles or distribution of clothes, meat and drink, made to them by the rich on that day. But, should this conjecture be unfounded, we may perhaps satisfy ourselves that Sheer ale was the name of a pure and potent liquor, as we have stark beer for stout and strong beer in Beaumont and Fletcher.
Sly is made to rhyme in the concluding speech by transposition and changing a word; while all that he says elsewhere is prose!
ACT I. SCENE I. P. 144. “ Recollecting how many learned hands our great dramatist's works have passed through, it is wonderful that such a blunder as that we are enabled now to point out, should not have been detected and mentioned in print at least a century ago. Our quotation is the same in all impressions, ancient and modern :-
Let's be no stoics nor no stocks, I pray ;
As Ovid be an outcast quite abjur'd. What are ‘Aristotle's checks ?' Undoubtedly a misprint for Aristotle's Ethics, and hence the absurd blunder. The line stands authoritatively corrected in the margin of the folio, 1632."
Will it be believed possible that Mr. Collier, who is so well acquainted with the variorum Shakespeare, should not have known that this correction was proposed nearly a century since by Sir W. Blackstone, whose note has been since that time properly preserved in subsequent editions ; thus :-“Tranio is descanting on academical learning, and mentions by name six of the seven liberal sciences. I suspect this to be a misprint, made by some copyist or compositor, for ethics. The sense confirms it."