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This expletive, we shall presently find, when I come to speak of our poet's metre, was his constant expedient in all difficulties.
In Measure for Measure be printed ignominy instead of ignosny, the reading of the first folio, and the common language of the time. In the same play, from his ignorance of the constable’s humour, he corrected his phraseology, and substituted in. stant for distant; (“ – at that very distant time:") and in like manner he makes Dogberry, in Much Ado about Nothing, exhort the watch not to be vigitant, but vigilant.
Among the marks of love, Rosalind, in As you Like it, men. tions
a beard neglected, which you have not;-but I pardon you for that; for, simply, your having in beard is a younger bro. ther's revenue.” Not understanding the meaning of the word having, this editor reads—“your having no beard,” &c. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Pyramus says,
“I see a voice; now will I to the chink,
“To spy an' I can hear my Thisbe's face.” Of the humour of this passage he had not the least notion, for he has printed, instead of it,
“I hear a voice; now will I to the chink,
“To spy an' I can see my Thisbe's face." In The Merchant of Venice, Act I, sc. i, we find in the first folio,
“ And out of doubt you do more wrong -—" which the editor of the second perceiving to be imperfect, he corrected at random thus:
“ And out of doubt you do to me more wrong." Had he consulted the original quarto, he would have found that the poet wrote
“ And out of doubt you do me now more wrong.” So, in the same play,—"But of mine, then yours," being corruptly printed instead of –“But if mine, then yours," this edi. tor arbitrarily reads--“But first mine, then yours.” Again, ibidem:
“ Or even as well use question with the wolf,
“ The ewe bleat for the lamb." the words “Why he hath made" being omitted in the first folio at the beginning of the second line, the second folio editor supplied the defect thus absurdly:
“ Or even as well use question with the wolf,
“ The ewe bleat for the lamb when you behold." In Othello the word snipe being misprinted in the first folio,
“If I should time expend with such a snpe.” the editor not knowing what to make of it, substituted swain instead of the corrupted word. Again, in the same play,
“For of my heart those charms, thine eyes, are blotted." being printed in the first folio instead of—“Forth of my heart," &c. which was the common language of the time, the editor of the second folio amended the error according to his fancy, by reading
“ For off, my heart those charms, thine eyes, are blotted.” Again, in the same play, Act V, sc. i, not understanding the phraseology of our author's time,
« Who's there? Whose noise is this, that cries on murder!” he substituted
“ Whose noise is this, that cries out murder?" and in the first Act of the same play, not perceiving the force of an eminently beautiful epithet, for “desarts idle," he has given us “desarts wild.” Again, in that tragedy we find
“I won his daughter." that is, I won his daughter with; and so the editor of the second folio reads, not knowing that this kind of elliptical expression frequently occurs in this author's works, as I have shewn in a note on the last scene of Cymbeline, and in other places.*
In like manner he has corrupted the following passage in A Midsummer Night's Dream:
“So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
Ere I will yield my virgin patent up
My soul consents not to give sovereignty.” i. e. to give sovereignty to. Here too this editor has unnecessarily tampered with the text, and having contracted the word unwished, he exhibited the line thus:
“ Unto his lordship, to whose unwish'd yoke
"My soul consents not to give sovereignty.” an interpolation which was adopted in the subsequent copies, and which, with all the modern editors, I incautiously suffered to remain in the present edition.t
The grave-digger in Hamlet observes “that your tanner will last you nine year," and such is the phraseology, which Shak. speare always attributes to his lower characters; but instead of this, in the second folio, we find—“nine years."
“ Your skill shall, like a star i' the darkest night,
* See Yol. XI, p. 341, n. 2; and Vol. XVI, p. 229, n. 6. + See Vol. II, p. 247, n. 4.
says Hamlet to Laertes. But the editor of the second folio, con. ceiving, I suppose, that if a star appeared with extraordinary scintillation, the night must necessarily be luminous, reads “i' the brightest night:" and, with equal sagacity, not acquiescing in Edgar's notion of " four-inch'd bridges,” this editor has furnished him with a much safer pass, for he reads "fourarch'd bridges.” In King Henry VIII, are these lines:
If we did think “ His contemplation were above the earth Not understanding this phraseology, and supposing that were must require a noun in the plural number, he reads:
If we did think “ His contemplations were above the earth,” &c. Again, in Troilus and Cressida, Act IV, sc. ii:
“With wings more momentary-swift than thought.” This compound epithet not being understood, he reads:
“With wings more momentary, swifter than thought." In The Taming of the Shrew, Act I, sc. ii, Hortensio, describing Catherine, says,
“Her only fault (and that is faults enough)
“Is,—that she is intolerable curst; meaning, that this one was a host of faults. But this not being comprehended by the editor of the second folio, with a view, doubtless, of rendering the passage more grammatical, he substituted—"and that is fuult enough.”
So, in King Lear, we find—“Do you know this noble gentleman ?" But this editor supposing, it should seem, that a gentleman could not be noble, or that a noble could not be a gentleman, instead of the original text, reads-“Do you know thiş nobleman.?"
In Measure for Measure, Act II, sc. i, Escalus, addressing the Justice, says,
pray you home to dinner with me:" this familiar diction not being understood, we find in the second folio, “I pray you go home to dinner with me.” And in Othello, not having sagacity enough to see that apines was printed by a mere transposition of the letters, for paines,
“Though I do hate him, as I do hell apines,” instead of correcting the word, he evades the difficulty by omitting it, and exhibited the line in an imperfect state.
The Duke of York, in The Third Part of King Henry VI, exclaims,
“That face of his the hungry cannibals
That face of his
* The hungry cannibals would not have touch'd,
“ Would not have stain'd with blood the editor of the second folio, leaving the first line imperfect as he found it, completed the last line by this absurd interpolation:
“Would not have stain'd the roses just with blood." These are but a few of the numerous corruptions and interpolations found in that copy, from the editor's ignorance of Shakspeare's phraseology.
II. Let us now examine how far he was acquainted with the metre of these plays. In The Winter's Tale, Act III, sc. ii, we find
“ What wheels? racks? fires? what flaying? boiling?
“ In leads, or oils?”. Not knowing that fires was used as a dissyllable, he added the word burning at the end of the line: “What wheels? racks? fires? what flaying? boiling?
burning ?” So again, in Julius Cæsar, Act III, sc. ii, from the same ignorance, the word all has been interpolated by this editor:
“ And with the brands fire all the traitors' houses." instead of the reading of the original and authentick copy,
“And with the brands fire the traitors' houses." Again, in Macbeth:
“I would, while it was smiling in my face,
have done to this." Not perceiving that sworn was used as a dissyllable, he reads “had I but so sworn."
Charms our poet sometimes uses as a word of two syllables. Thus, in The Tempest, Act I, sc. ii:
“ Curs'd be I, that did so! All the charms,” &c. instead of which this editor gives us,
“Curs'd be I, that I did so! All the charms,” &c. Hour is almost always used by Shakspeare as a dissyllable, but of this the editor of the second folio was ignorant; for instead of these lines in King Richard II:
So sighs, and tears, and groans,
“Runs posting on,” &c. he gives us
So sighs, and tears, and groans, "Shew minutes, times, and hours: 0 but my time,"* &c.
So again, in The Comedy of Errors:
"I'll meet you in that place, some hour, sir, hence," instead of the original reading,
"I'll meet you in that place some hour hence.” Again, in The Winter's Tale, Act I, sc. ii :
wishing clocks more swift? Hours, minutes? the noon, midnight? and all eyes,” &c. instead of the original reading,
“Hours, minutes? noon, midnight? and all eyes,” &c. Again, in All’s Well that Ends Well, Act II, sc. iii:
“Which challenges itself as honours born,
“And is not like the sire. Honours thrive,” &c. This editor, not knowing that sire was used as a dissyllable, reads:
“ And is not like the sire. Honours best thrive,” &c. So, in King Henry VI, P. I:
“Rescued is Orleans from the English.” Not knowing that English was used as a trisyllable, he has completed the line, which he supposed defective, according to his own fancy, and reads:
“Rescu'd is Orleans from the English wolves." The same play furnishes us with various other proofs of his ignorance of our poet's metre. Thus, instead of
* In Measure for Measure we find these lines:
“ Than the soft mirtle ;-But man, proud man," &c. There can be no doubt that a word was omitted in the last line; perhaps some epithet to mirtle. But the editor of the second folio, resorting to his usual expedient, absurdly reads:
“ Than the soft mirtle. O but man, proud man, -" So, in Titus Andronicus, Act III, sc. ii: complaynet being corruptly printed instead of complayner,
"Speechless complaynet, I will learn thy thoughts, this editor, with equal absurdity, reads:
“Speechless complaint, 0, I will learn thy thoughts.” I have again and again had occasion to mention in the notes on these plays, that omission is of all the errors of the press that which most frequently happens. On collating the fourth edition of King Richard III, printed in 1612, with the second printed in 1598, I found no less than twenty-six words omitted.