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From that moment our ancient and easy familiarity began to stiffen and formalize, and unwonted reserve followed; but,
my edition was published in successive volumes, I sent them to him as they came out, hoping that in the progress of my work he would furnish me with a few notes or observations. Had he done so, and had I committed any serious mistakes (of which I was as likely as any body to be guilty), I could have corrected in the current volume the errors of its predecessor; but instead of taking this friendly course, what did he do ?—He kept all such matters (with the exception of one or two points explained at my earnest request) to himself, printed them gradually as I proceeded with my work, and, almost as soon as I had completed my last volume, he was ready with his “Remarks?:" it trod on the very
heels of my Shakespeare; and, if he had wished it, Mr. Dyce could not have pursued a more effectual course to find fault with what I had done, and to show how much more competent he was to such an undertaking.
From these circumstances may be gathered the reason why I did not, in the very outset, call upon Mr. Dyce with my corrected folio, 1632, in hand, in order to consult him regarding its contents : hence, in part perhaps, the slight and disrespect with which he affects to treat it in his recent edition of Shakespeare, in nearly every case where he is not compelled either to follow it in his text, or to mention its irrefragable improvements in his notes. In, I may say, hundreds of places, where he does not absolutely adopt an emendation, he has been unable to pass it over in silence ; and in nearly all these instances his readers may safely conclude that he would fain have sanctioned the change, but for the mortal ill-will he bears to the old corrector.
To return to Mr. Dyce's “ Remarks,” which followed in 1844 so hard upon the publication of the last volume of my
'The full title of the volume is as follows: " Remarks upon Mr. J. P. Collier's and Mr. C. Knight's Editions of Shakespeare. By the Rev. Alexander Dyce," 8vo. London, 1844.
Shakespeare of 1843, that he almost forced upon me the opinion, that he would fain have tripped it up in the very commencement of its run. In this respect, at least, it was a failure.
He had presented me with copies of every book he had theretofore published, but his “Remarks " he withheld; and I never read one line of it, until, having entered into a contract for a new impression of my former edition of Shakespeare, I felt it my duty to take care that nothing escaped my attention: I had printed two editions of “Notes and Emendations" before it came in my way.
In the mean time, seven or eight years had elapsed, my vexation had in a considerable degree passed away, friends had interposed, and my intercourse with the Rev. Mr. Dyce had been partially renewed. With reference to the preparation of "Notes and Emendations," I ought to state that it was completed in 1852 under several disadvantages : in consequence of most severe illness in my family, I was obliged to visit the southwest coast of England, and could carry with me but few books, excepting the Variorum Shakespeare of 1821. took from that alone the representation of the suggestions of different commentators; and for this reason I omitted, in several important instances, to point out where various editors, from Rowe downwards, had guessed at the very same emendations that made their appearance, as I believed for the first time, in my corrected folio, 1632.
This brings me to remark that some of my opponents have commented upon the number of places where Theobald or Hanmer hit precisely on the same changes of text, as those supported by my corrected folio, 1632. No doubt of it: the better their conjectures, the more likely it was that they should be found confirmed; and as Theobald and Hanmer are unquestionably the happiest speculative emendators, it was inevitable that in many passages they should agree with the old corrector. This is the very circumstance that ought to have given weight to the manuscript emendations : if two men, quite independently of each other, concur in the
same change of text, what is the natural inference? That they are right; or, at all events, that such an alteration ought not to be lightly rejected. Any person, wishing to foist
upon the world modern guesses as ancient emendations, would of all things have avoided these coincidences, wherever they could possibly be avoided; but here we find an individual, who lived two hundred years ago, telling us that such and such words have been perpetually misprinted, and if Theobald or Hanmer, or both, come to the same conclusion, and if that conclusion, moreover, be consistent with sound sense and right reason, who can say less than that every probability is on the side of the proposed alteration'?
• I have already mentioned Mr. Singer's corrected folio, 1632, and its various welcome concurrences with my corr. fo. 1632; but the Rev. Mr. Dyce, as if to disparage my volume, sometimes puts in a claim for emendations in Mr. Singer's folio not borne out by the fact: I will only trouble the reader with one instance, and it applies to a passage in “
Henry IV. Part II.,” A. i. sc. 2, where Falstaff says,
“And so both the degrees prevent my curses, as the words have been invariably printed from 1623 to 1857. What, then, is the emendation in my corr. fo. 1632? This :
“And so both the diseases prevent my curses ;" a change that even Mr. Dyce could not refuse ; and wat is his note upon it? “The old copies (says he) have 'the degrees prevent,' from which it seems impossible to elicit a tolerable sense. The two MS. correctors, Mr. Collier's and Mr. Singer's -('the Percy and Douglas both together ') agree in the reading wbich I have adopted,” viz. diseases. This is a total mistake : Mr. Singer's MS. corrector makes no such proposal ; and Mr. Singer, in bis “Shakespeare," Vol. v. p. 179, actually retains " degrees " in his text, observing in bis note,—“ It bas been proposed to change degrees to diseases. But there is wit in speaking of a diseased sinner graduating in honours." Mr. Dyce can elicit “no tolerable sense" from “degrees," while Mr. Singer pronounces that there is “ wit” in the word, never pretending that his MS. corrector suggests diseases. The above is only one case in which Mr. Dyce attributes to Mr. Singer's MS. corrector what Mr. Singer does not claim for him, for the purpose of showing that an emendation in my corrected folio, 1632, is obvious, although it was never dreamed of by Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, Warburton, Steevens, Malone, or any other editor, from the day when criticism on Shakespeare commenced to the present hour.
“ Diseases" for degrees is a most happy emendation of a blunder originating in mishearing.
may just add, that if the reader will take the trouble to turn to “Troilus and Cressida,” A. ii. sc. 3, he will notice another striking proof of the same species of detraction where “mirror'd” has always been misprinted married, until the change was brought forward in my corr. fo. 1632: Mr. Singer's MS. corrector says
But in this respect, as in others, the corrector of my folio, 1632, has never been treated fairly, and I will take this opportunity of introducing one proof, and one only, of the sort of unfairness of which I here complain. I now advert merely to Mr. Singer's Shakespeare, published in 1856, for the Rev. Mr. Dyce has no note upon the passage: I presume that it embodies Mr. Singer's editorial views as contained in a separate production, which to this day I have never looked at, but which Mr. Dyce often quotes under the title of “Shakespeare Vindicated.”
.” In Vol. iv. p. 367 of Mr. Singer's Shakespeare a line occurs where the dying Melun (“King John," A. V. sc. 4) urges Salisbury, and the other revolted English, to return to the path of loyalty: the words in all the folios are,
“ Untbread the rude eye of rebellion," as if rebellion had an eye to be threaded, like that of a needle. Salisbury just afterwards says,
“We will untread the steps of damned flight;" and in fact he has in his ears and
words of Melun, as properly represented, viz.
“ Untread the road-way of rebellion." Such is the emendation in the corrected folio, 1632, which, with all due deference, must be right, and makes the unmeaning corruption "Unthread the rude eye" undeniably manifest. What, however, is Mr. Singer's note upon the passage? It is, " Theobald proposed to read
• Untread the road-way of rebellion,' and is followed by the corrector of Mr. Collier's folio, but there is not the slightest reason for the change.”
Now, here are two mistakes : first, Theobald did not propose road-way but “rude way;" and next he was not “followed " by Mr. Collier's corrector, but Mr. Collier's corrector preceded Theobald by about a century'. There is as much difference
nothing about it, although the Rev. Mr. Dyce, I dare say inadvertently, states the contrary. I could easily weary the reader with similar examples.
• In order to give a more perfect notion of the hand-writing of the old corrector,
in point of meaning between road-way and “rude way,” as there is difference in point of time between 1652, when we may reasonably believe the old corrector was living, and 1752, when Theobald's Shakespeare was published. As for Mr. Singer's statement that “there is not the slightest reason for the change,” we may measure the value of it by his opinion about the “wit” he discovered in the word “ degrees,” out of which Mr. Dyce could extract “no tolerable sense,” and was therefore driven to accept diseases from my corrected folio, 1632. Mr. Dyce does not attempt to say one word about the old corrupt text of "unthread the rude eye of rebellion," and the true language of Shakespeare, we may be sure, is what I have printed, Vol. üi.
"Fly, noble English; you are bought and sold:
Untread the road-way of rebellion,
And welcome home again discarded faith.” This is one of the cases in which Mr. Dyce did not run the risk of noticing the emendation, lest in the first place he should have to correct his friend Mr. Singer's mistake, and secondly, and more importantly, lest his readers should chance to ask “Why did you not adopt such an easy, probable, and sensible emendation ?”
Mr. Singer constantly ignores my corrected folio, 1632, in the most unceremonious way: he takes care to insert emendations in his text, but takes equal care to say no syllable of the
source of them. Thus he accepts such changes as it safely for “in safety” of the old copies ; convented for“convicted ;" offers for “orders;" feeble for "female ;” mirror'd for “married;" enjoy for “convey,” and many others (of some of which I shall speak presently) without the slightest acknowledgment,
from as many
besides the fac-simile page which accompanied the two editions of “ Notes and Emendations," and the one-volume " Shakespeare,” I caused eighteen other facsimiles to be made by Mr. Netherclift (whose skill and fidelity are undoubted)
parts of my folio, 1632, and I distributed copies among my friends. They show still farther the mode in which the old corrector proceeded, and the probable period when he exercised his critical skill and patience on my copy of the folio, 1632.