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If you continue true unto yourself,
Works, p. 544. ed. 1679.
“ 1 Gent. Why, 'twas a commandment,” &c.
SCENE 2.-C. p. 14; K. p. 387. “ Clo. Here comes signior Claudio, led by the provost to prison ; and there's madam Juliet.
[Exeunt. SCENE III.
Gentlemen.” As there is no change of place here, a new "Scene" ought not to have been marked. This impropriety occurs frequently in all the modern editions of Shakespeare: see, for instance, The Merchant of Venice, act ii.“ Scene vi.;" Pericles, act v. “ Scene ii.”
SCENE 4.-C. p. 18; K. p. 391.
(The needful bits and curbs to head-strong weeds,)
That goes not out to prey.” “ In the folios, slip is printed, in all probability, for 'sleep ;' the simile which follows seems to correct the error; and in the next act Angelo says that the law. hath slept.'” COLLIER.
Mr. Knight, - who retains "slip,” and says that “the Duke compares
himself with the animal ' that goes not out to prey,'”- supposes that “sleep” was first introduced into the passage by Theobald ; but long before Theobald's time, that alteration was made by Davenant in The Law against Lovers (a drama founded on the present play and Much ado about
Nothing), Works, p. 279; and I agree with Mr. Collier in thinking it the right reading.
Both Mr. Collier and Mr. Knight state that the word “ Becomes," which occurs a little after, was supplied by Pope: in Davenant's alteration of the passage, ubi supra, Pope found 66 become.”
SCENE 1.-C. p. 23; K. p. 397.
That justice seizes : what know the laws,
That thieves do pass on thieves ? 'Tis very pregnant,” &c. The passage ought certainly to be arranged (as Steevens suggested) thus;
“ Guiltier than him they try : what's open made
To justice, that justice seizes : what know the laws,
SCENE 1.-C. p. 24 ; K. p. 398.
Some run from breaks of ice, and answer none,
And some condemned for a fault alone.” “ Thus the text stands in the old copies, which seems right; the meaning being, that some escape without responsibility, even though the danger seem as imminent as when the ice breaks under them; but Malone and others would change the expression into 'brakes of vice,' and it would be an easy corruption, if there were any necessity for a change. It is certain, as Steevens shows at large, that an old instrument of torture was called ' a brake,' but not by any means certain that Shakespeare intended a reference to it.” COLLIER.
Here Mr. Collier has silently made an alteration (“breaks"), which was originally proposed by Steevens, but which that commentator afterwards repudiated. The old copies have 6 brakes of Ice."
Mr. Knight retains the original reading, but observes;
images which we find in this play a double image may not have been intended;
• Some run from brakes, off ice, and answer none : a conjecture which no one will approve.
For my own part, I feel convinced that Shakespeare wrote brakes,” i. e. instruments of torture: the word in that sense is by no means uncommon; for instance, Palsgrave has,
“I brake on a brake or payne bauke, as men do mysdoers to confesse the trouthe, Ie gehynne.” Lesclarcissement de la Lang. Fr. 1530, fol. clxxi. (Table of Verbes).
I am equally confident that “ Ice" is a typographical error for “ vice :" our early printers had a remarkable proneness to blunder in words commencing with the letter v; so in both the folios of Beaumont and Fletcher we find ; “And run like molten gold through every sin [read vein)."
The Coxcomb, act ii. sc. 4. • If that the least puff of the rough north wind Blast our times [read vines'] burden, rendering to our palates The charming juice less pleasing."
The Fair Maid of the Inn, act i. sc. 1. where Mason absurdly defends, and Weber adopts, the reading of the old eds.
Credit me, loving boy,
possession) in him, that, to that end,
The Honest Man's Fortune, act iv. sc. 1. and in the first folio; • Would she make rise of 't so, I were most happy."
The Little French Lawyer, act i. sc. 2. the ms. from which the play was printed in that folio having doubtless had " vse;" and the second folio rightly gives “use.
When Weber published (from a Ms. which is now in my possession) The Faithful Friends, a play attributed to Beaumont and Fletcher, he gave a passage in act iii. sc. 3, thus;
“ The chief
I must play, and till my bones And sinews crack," &c. mistaking the reading of the ms. (where the tall v looks, at the first glance, very like a b)“ vaines” (veins) for “bones.”
Again, in The Comedy of Errors, act ii. sc. 2, we meet with the following line;
“I live disstain'd [all the old eds. distain'd], thou undishonoured.” where Mr. Collier
"i. e, unstained. The use of the word in this sense is, if not solitary, very uncommon;" and where Mr. Knight gives the gloss "unstained” without farther comment.-Now, the verb distain, meaning—to stain, blot, sully, is a word of very frequent occurrence in the writings of Shakespeare's contemporaries; and can we suppose for a moment that he would use it in a sense directly opposite to that in which it was universally employed? The fact undoubtedly is, that in this passage of The Comedy of Errors, the ms. having “ vnstain’d,” the original compositor mistook the initial v for a d, and the first half of the n for an i.
SCENE 2.-C. p. 34; K. p. 407.
Become them with one half so good a grace
mercy does. If he had been as you, and you as he,
Would not have been so stern.” This arrangement of the verse is very objectionable. The passage ought to stand either as Davenant (who altered a few words) gave it in The Law against Lovers (Works, p. 286);
“The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe,
But he, like you, would not have been so stern.” or, as Mr. Knight regulates it;
“ The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe,
You would have slipt like him; but he, like you,
SCENE 2.-C. p. 35.
But here they live to end.” “This is the reading of all the folios : Sir Thomas Hanmer altered the text to ere they live, to end;' and Malone to 'where they live, to end.' There is no need of alteration. Angelo is referring to the place of his own rule, and contrasts what the state of the law there had been with what it then was : formerly it slept, and criminals escaped, but now it is awake, and resolves to punish crimes—' but here they live to end;' here crimes live only that they may be brought to an end.” COLLIER.
In a note on the words “ Where? in Genoa ?” Merchant of Venice, act iii. sc. 1, vol. ii. 518, Mr. Collier observes that “all the old editions have 'here, in Genoa,' which is evidently wrong.” Again, in a note on the line, " Where is the best and safest passage
in.” First Part of K. Henry VI. act iii. sc. 2, vol. v. 56. he remarks, “ The old copies have 'Here;' an obvious error corrected by Rowe.”
How could Mr. Collier fail to see that the same misprint had taken place in the present passage ?
SCENE 2.-C. p. 37.
I have some difficulty in believing that this conjecture was seriously proposed.