« PreviousContinue »
This avoids supplying too many words to the poet, which is always extremely delicate and dangerous ground. There is a considerable degree of self sufficiency in the individual who ventures to assume that he can divine what he would have written !
P. 175. We have here again an impertinent and uncalled for alteration in the Clown's Song of the words “ stay and hear,” to“ stay for here."
P. 176. The change of “humour of state,” to “ honour of state” in Malvolio's soliloquy is a very doubtful interference with the old text; and certainly the former word is more in keeping with the usual language of Shakespeare, not to say of Malvolio, and is therefore unnecessary meddling.
P. 176. “ Fabian is enforcing silence in order that Malvolio, while they are watching him, may not discover them, and says in the folio, 1623, Though our silence be drawn from us with cars, yet peace !' The folio, 1632, printscars' cares, and many proposals have been made to alter cars' to cables, carts, &c.; but ' with cars' turns out to be an error of the press for by th' ears, or by the ears, and the meaning is perfectly clear when we read, “Though our silence be drawn from us by th' ears, yet peace !'”
A most improbable phrase, and one which, in such a case, the poet could not have used; and what resemblance, supposing to be an error of the press, has with cars to by th' ears? There seems to me good reason to think that we should read " Though our silence be drawn from us with tears, yet peace !” Their risible faculties were so excited by the ridiculous conduct of Malvolio, that to suppress loud laughter brought tears into their eyes-i. e. they laughed till they cried in the effort to suppress it, in the endeavour to stifle its audible expression. I give this as the most likely solution of the press error, in which the t had been accidentally omitted. That Mr. Collier, in a note on the passage in his edition of Shakespeare, had suggested ears for cars is another most remarkable instance of coincidence.
It may be useful here to cite a passage at the opening of this Act, with Mr. Collier's note upon it, as it may serve to explain some of the singular misconceptions of similar humorous passages, in his recent book, which the intelligent reader might otherwise be at a loss to account for :
Enter Viola, and Clown. Vio. Save thee, friend, and thy music. Dost thou live by thy tabor ? Clo. No; Sir, I live by the church. Vio. Art thou a churchman?
Clo. No such matter, Sir: I do live by the church; for I do live by my house, and my house doth stand by the church.
Vio. So thou may'st say, the king lives by a beggar, if a beggar dwell near him: or the church stands by the tabor, if thy tabor stand by the church.
In his edition of Shakespeare, vol. iii. p. 372, Mr. Collier has the following note:-“ Dost thou live by thy tabor ? Theatrical fools often appeared with a tabor, and in the representation of Tarlton (see the Bridgewater Catalogue, p. 300), he is furnished with one. The clown's reply,' No, sir, I live by the church,' is not intelligible, if we do not suppose him to have wilfully misunderstood Viola to ask whether he lived near the sign of the tabor, which might either be a musicshop or a tavern.” !!!
We can now comprehend the sympathetic support Mr. Collier gives to the corrector's attempts to get rid of similar passages of playful banter, which he had not capacity to understand !
P. 177. The suggestion of not for and in Viola's speech had already been made by Johnson.
Of the next proposed substitution of shamefac'd for" shameful,” although the corrector tells us it is “the poet's original language,” Mr. Collier says, “ The fitness of this emendation seems disputable.”!
The old copy reads in Sebastian's speech
And thanks : and ever oft good turns,
The corrector would have it:
And thanks, still thanks; and very oft good turns
Are shuffled off with such incurrent pay. Steevens's reading with a much less violent departure from the old text is far superior,
And thanks, and ever thanks: Often good turns
Scene IV. P. 178. “ The moment the following misprint is pointed out it will probably be admitted. Antonio, seized by the officers, appeals to Viola, thinking her Sebastian, and to his grief and disappointment is repelled as a stranger. He then reproaches the supposed Sebastian with the services he had rendered to him, and with the affection he had borne him, adding these lines,
And to his image, which, methought, did promise
Most venerable worth, did I devotion. “The corrector places the letters in the margin, which convert
venerable' (an epithet hardly applicable to persons like Viola or Sebastian) to veritable."
The word devotion would at once determine that venerable was the poet's word. Mr. Collier himself is constrained to admit that “. venerable, in a certain sense, answers the author's purpose.”-But strangely adds, “ though his own word must have been veritable." !!!
ACT IV. Scene I. P. 179. To change “this great lubber the world ” to “ lubberly world,” is at least supererogation. The personification adds to the humour, and was evidently intended.
SCENE II. P. 179. The adoption of drivel instead of devil, as Farmer and Steevens had done, was judicious, and is one more of the myriad of coincidences.
ACT V. Scene I.
Ib. “ For The triplex, sir, is a good tripping measure,' said by the Clown when he wishes the Duke to give him a third piece of money, the manuscript-corrector gives the triplet,' the allusion apparently being to the triplet, or triple mode of rhyming in poetry.”
The Clown in this play is musical, witness his songs and his tabor, and he uses musical phrases correctly. The “ triplex (i. e. tempus triplex) is a good measure” counted like the bells of St. Bennet's 1, 2, 3. But it is incorrect to say a triplet is a measure; it is only part of a measure, and may be part of a measure in Common Time as well as Triple. The substitution therefore would convert a proper word to one that is erroneous, and this is another instance of impertinent interference.
P. 180. “ The resemblance in sound between true and'drew,' may have misled the copyist of this play in the second of the following lines :
So comes it, lady, you have been mistook ;
But nature to her bias drew in that. The old corrector converts' drew’into true, by merely striking out d, and inserting t in the margin; nature was true to her bias, although Olivia had been mistaken in supposing herself contracted to Viola."
Surely DREW is the better word as applied to bias, which may be anything but a true inclination : and we see that in Olivia's case it is peculiarly applicable, she was drawn toward Viola on account of her resemblance to her brother. What could possibly be the motive for interference here? It will not do to plead better authority.
Ib. “ The Duke, sending for Malvolio, checks himself,
And yet, alas, now I remember me,
“The printer of the folio, 1632, converted' extracting,' which could hardly be right, into exacting, which is more wrong; for the corrector of that edition informs us that exacting ought to be distracting, inasmuch as the Duke is representing himself as in the same condition with Malvolio. Malone persuaded himself that extracting' was Shakespeare's word, but here we have strong evidence to the contrary.
It is not the Duke but Olivia who says this. The reading of the first folio, extracting, gives the appropriate sense of absorbing, and therefore should not be disturbed, it is as well suited to the context as distracting.
P. 181. The next two alterations of thou for then, and presupposed for preimposed, are not at all required; and the old text is quite satisfactory, although Mr. Collier pronounces the latter to be “ little less than nonsense.” From the dissimilarity of the words it could hardly be a misprint. Pre-supposed signifies previously passed off upon you in the supposititious letter; by which Malvolio had been deceived.
Ib. “ Olivia adds insult to injury when she thus laments Malvolio's ill-treatment :
Alas, poor fool, how have they baffled thee!”
The corrector would substitute soul for fool; but fool was much more likely to have been the word used by Olivia. In the Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act iv. Sc. 4, Julia says of her Proteus : “ Alas, poor fooll why do I pity him, that with his very heart despiseth me?” In either case, it is rather an expression of commiseration than contempt.
Ib. For the addition of the pronoun I in the song, we ought no doubt to be grateful, although those who had corrected the other errors did not deem the omission of importance.