Page images

was, in fact, the younger, and not the elder.' For this the corrector provides a remedy, and writes later in the margin forelder,' which was, perhaps, a misprint. The line that follows is far from intelligible, for to what does' them in it apply?—

And make them dread it to the doer's thrift.

"The last antecedent was ills,' but them' cannot refer to the crimes committed. This appears to be another instance where' them' has been misheard for another word, the adoption of which, on the testimony in our hands, makes a clear meaning out of an obscure line. The passage, therefore, stands thus, as amended in the folio, 1632:—

You some permit
To second ills with ills, each later worse,
And make men dread it, to the doer's thrift.

"The doer of ill deeds profited by the fears produced in men by still-increasing enormities. Later, therefore, was misprinted ́ elder,' and men misheard them.' The word men is only just legible in the margin, in consequence of a stain and the abrasion of the paper."

The correctors have entirely missed the mark in their aim at emendation here. The passage is very incorrectly printed in the folios, and I think there is no doubt that it should stand thus:

Gods! if you

Should have ta'en vengeance on my faults, I never
Had liv'd to put on this: so had you saved

The noble Imogen to repent; and struck

Me wretch, more worth your vengeance. But alack!
You snatch some hence for little faults; that's love,
To have them fall no more: you some permit

To second ills with ills, each alder-worst ;
And make them dreaded, to the doer's shrift.

Here there is but the slight correction of three misprints, which would easily occur. "Each alder-worst" is each as bad as it could be. Shakespeare has alder-liefest, in K. Henry VI. pt. 1.; dreaded for "dread it" is necessary, otherwise we have a relative without an antecedent substantive; and shrift is

easily mistaken for "thrift." Posthumus is intended to say: "How various are the dispensations of Providence: Some, as in the case of Imogen, are taken away for little faults, in mercy that they may fall no more. Others are allowed to add ill deed to ill deed, each as bad as it could be, to promote a horror of their condition; that by penitence and sorrow they may obtain absolution or shrift. Such, continues Posthumus, is my case; Imogen is happy under the former dispensation; do your best wills, and make me also happy by my future obedience." Shrift is elsewhere used by Shakespeare for absolution.


C. Whittingham, Tooks Court, Chancery Lane.

Preparing for immediate Publication, in 10 Volumes, fcp. 8vo. size,







HE Edition of Shakespeare given by me in the year 1826 has been for some time out of print; and I am induced at the earnest solicitation of several friends to undertake a New Edition in the same form, but with such changes and improvements as have resulted from much attention to the text and its illustration since that time. Duly appreciating the zeal and labours of his latest editors, Mr. Collier and Mr. Charles Knight, I have elsewhere expressed regret that the editions of our great Poet given to the world by those gentlemen should have been disfigured by the retention of obvious errors and corruptions of the old copies, many of which had long since been rectified judiciously by some of their predecessors, who were sufficiently tenacious of adhering to the old text whereever it was possible to do so without injury to the sense and meaning of the Poet.

But we are now, it seems, in danger of running into the opposite extreme! Mr. Collier has put forth a volume of Notes and Emendations founded on the manuscript-corrections of an anonymous writer, in a copy of the folio edition of 1632, in which such extreme license in altering the text is taken, as would make any edition in which such changes were admitted

no longer Skakespeare. Still, a few corrections of apparent typographical errors in the old copies which had escaped observation, are suggested by the anonymous annotator, these shall have the attention due to them in the thoroughly revised text now printing ; and I trust it will be found that much has been done towards its purification and amendment.

The notes will contain all that is necessary to the elucidation of the Poet, either in the explanation of obsolete words, phrases, obscure sentences, or allusions to manners and customs, incidents and literature, of the Poet's times; avoiding alike prolixity and unsatisfactory conciseness. All variations from the old copies will be noticed, and the reasons for such variation stated. A Critical Essay from the pen of a learned and highly gifted friend will be appended to each play.

I have the satisfaction of knowing that the utility of my former Edition has been appreciated by our Transatlantic brethren, and that it has long been a favourite book in America, where, as well as in Germany, it has received the honour of more than one re-impression.

The accumulated experience of nearly thirty years will, I trust, enable me to render the New Edition still more worthy of public favour; but, above all, I hope to have the gratification of leaving the text of Shakespeare in a much more satisfactory state than I found it.

S. W. SINGer.

Mickleham, March 1853.

« PreviousContinue »