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derstand “why then is it.” The same may be said of reading ill deeds, for deeds ill. The transposition was made by Mr. Knight, in his edition, and suggested to Mr. Collier, but rejected by him!
P. 208. But thou did'st understand me by my signs,
And did'st in signs again parley with sin. “ The last word is spelt sinne in the old copies, and ought undoubtedly, as we are instructed in manuscript, to be sign, formerly signe."
Although this is specious, the reading of the old copy is perfectly intelligible, and in some respects preferable, and must not be disturbed for a fanciful conjecture.
“We here meet with an error of the press, which shows how the letters m and w were again mistaken by the old printer. Pembroke asks,
Who brought that letter from the cardinal ? " and Salisbury's answer relates to a private communication he had received at the same time. The words of the folios have always been taken as the true text, viz.-
The count Melun, a noble lord of France,
Is much more general than these lines import. “ The notes upon this passage have all referred to the word private,' when the blunder lies in with me :'
Whose private missive of the Dauphin's love. “ is the way in which the corrector says that the line should have been printed : The Count of Melun had, at the same time that he conveyed the Cardinal's letter, brought to Salisbury a private missive, or communication, containing assurances of the Dauphin's regards. This correction seems to imply resort to some original, such as that which the printer of the folio, 1623, had misread.”
It is very improbable that the words “ with me” should have been a misprint for missive! Every one familiar with the diplomatic correspondence of the reign of Elizabeth, would at once recognise this as a common form of expression for the oral communication confided to a trust-worthy messenger who carried despatches; and some of the numerous volumes of State Papers of that time would no doubt furnish the express words of the poet. Allusions to this private oral communication are perpetual. “ Haynes' Burleigh Papers” afford many examples. Thus in minutes of Queen Elizabeth's letters to Lord Scrope and others : “ Of which matters we have somewhat more largely imparted our mind to this bearer,” p. 571. “ As for all other things, we remit you to the declarations of our mind by Sir P. Carew,” &c. “ The present time giveth us occasion to send unto you our trusty servant Thomas Warcop, this Bearer, to th' intent that you may be at good length better informed by him,then conveniently is to be now don by writing,” p. 555.
The words of the folio must still, therefore, continue to “be taken as the true text,” until we have better “ authority" than that of the corrector for interference.
The king hath dispossessed himself of us :
The corrector reads “ sin-bestained,” which is, doubtless, a good and probable conjectural emendation.
P. 209. The reading,
“ Till I have set a glory to this head,"
was long since suggested by Pope, and Dr. Farmer tells us that Gray was much pleased with it; yet, from the perversity of Malone, it did not find a place in the variorum text. I adopted it in my edition, in 1826, but it was rejected by Mr. Collier, as well as Mr. Knight.
ACT V. SCENE I. Ib. The wanton arbitrary changes of " sad distrust" to “ blank distrust," and meet for be, are, as Mr. Collier feels constrained to acknowledge, “not forced upon our adoption by anything like necessity.”
P. 210. The two readings proposed of “ courage instead of “ forage and run,” and “send fair-play offers,” instead of “orders,” have both some show of plausibility, but the first is by no means a necessary correction.
Ib. The same may be said of the correction in Salisbury's speech,
I must withdraw, and weep
Upon the spot of this enforced cause. The corrector would substitute thought for “spot;" but the latter may be right, and signify stain or disgrace. In a former passage we have :
“ To look into the spots and stains of right.”;
P. 211. The corrector would change,
To thrill, and shake,
to“ the crowing of your nation's cock," but there is no necessity for change. Mr. Collier misrepresents my friend Mr. Douce's note, which is “your nation's crow," i.e. at the crowing of a cock; gallus meaning both a cock and a Frenchman.”
SCENE IV. Ib. For
Unthread the rude eye of rebellion the corrector would substitute
Untread the road-way of rebellion Mr. Collier says, “To misprint untread the road-way, “unthread the rude eye,' seems an excess of carelessness, which we cannot in any way explain.'
I should wonder if it could be explained; for never was a more improbable conjecture, though Theobald had stumbled on it, and perhaps the corrector derived it from him ? To unthread the rude eye of rebellion, is merely a metaphor for to undo what you have done, and return to your allegiance to the king. It is impossible to consider it a typographical error, and of this Mr. Collier seems to be conscious.
For I do see the cruel pangs of death
The corrector reads " Bright in thine eye.” This is plausible, but not necessary. The old text is perfectly intelligible.
P. 212. “ For the line, as it stands in the folios,
And wound our tottring colours clearly up. " the corrector has,
And wound our totť red colours closely up.
“ Tattered was then usually spelt' tottered,' and he preferred the passive to the active participle, though we may doubt if Shakespeare exercised any such discretion. Neither are we prepared to say that we like closely better than clearly; the latter, perhaps, indicating the winding up of the colours without obstruction from the enemy.”
Mr. Collier, in a note on the passage, in his edition of Shakespeare, also defends tattering, and informs us that “ Steevens altered it to tatter'd, against all the authorities.”
Ignorance of the true language of the poet has, on all hands, here caused this unnecessary interference with the text. Totťring, as it stands in both the folios, is the poet's word, and does not signify, as Mr. Collier explains it, (but without adducing any authority,) tattered, but wavering, shaking. Thus Baret : “to tottre, nutare, vacillare- see shake and wagge." The Dauphin means to put the best face on a drawn battle, and says: Our colours that were tott'ring, and like to have gone down in the action, were fairly furled up at its close without disaster. Though not lords of the field, we were the last to quit it. It is obvious that this is the true meaning of Shakespeare, for how could tatter'd colours be clearly wound up? We may, therefore, safely follow the reading of the old copies, and read tottring and clearly, in despite of the authority of the corrector, and the argument of his editor.
P. 212. “ Much contention has arisen upon a question, which the amended folio, 1632, will set at rest, founded upon this passage, where Prince Henry refers to the King's fatal ill
Death, having prey'd upon the outward parts,
Against the mind. “ In the old copies 'mind' is misprinted wind; and besides setting right this obvious blunder, the corrector remedies another defect of greater importance. It has been suggested by different annotators that 'invisible' ought to be insensible, invincible, &c. There is no doubt that 'invisible' is wrong, and the corrector converts it into unvisited, which may, we think, be adopted without hesitation-death has abandoned the king's external form, and has laid siege to his understanding :
Death, having prey'd upon the outward parts,
Against the mind.” Mr. Collier, in his edition of Shakespeare, retains the corruption“ invisible" of the old copy, and says that the adjective stands for the adverb invisibly; that “ Death, after he has preyed upon the outward parts, invisibly leaves them—and that alteration is quite unnecessary.”!
As this passage has had a pretty large discussion, it may be as well to take the whole context together, and see to what it leads.
P. Hen. O vanity of sickness ! fierce extremes,
In their continuance, will not feel themselves.
Now, that invisible and unvisited would be absurd and senseless in this passage, who can doubt? The correction of it to insensible is so obvious, so near to the form of the old word,