Page images
PDF
EPUB

"Prick'd from the lazy finger of a woman."

Again:

"Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say, ay:"

The word me being omitted in the first folio, the editor of the second capriciously supplied the metre thus:

being erroneously printed in the first folio, instead of " And let no comforter," &c. the editor of the second folio corrected the error according to his fancy, by reading

"And let no comfort else delight mine ear."

So, in Love's Labour's Lost, Vol. VII. p. 96: "Old Mantuan, who understands thee not, loves thee not." The words in the Italick character being inadvertently omitted in the first folio, the editor of the second folio, instead of applying to the quarto to cure the defect, printed the passage just as he found it: and in like manner in the same play implicitly followed the error of the first folio, which has been already mentioned,—

"O, that your face were so full of O's-"

though the omission of the word not, which is found in the quarto, made the passage nonsense.

So, in Much Ado about Nothing:

"And I will break with her. Was't not to this end," &c. being printed instead of

"And I will break with her and with her father,

"And thou shalt have her. Was't not to this end," &c. the error, which arose from the compositor's eye glancing from one line to the other, was implicitly adopted in the second folio. Again, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream:

"Ah me, for aught that I could ever read,

"Could ever hear," &c.

the words Ah me being accidentally omitted in the first folio, instead of applying to the quarto for the true reading, he supplied the defect, according to his own fancy, thus:

"Hermia, for aught that I could ever read," &c. Again, in The Merchant of Venice, he arbitrarily gives us"The ewe bleat for the lamb when you behold," instead of

"Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb." See p. 454. Innumerable other instances of the same kind might be produced.

"Dost thou love? O, I know thou wilt say, ay."

This expletive, we shall presently find, when I come to speak of the poet's metre, was his constant expedient in all difficulties.

In Measure for Measure he printed ignominy instead of ignomy, 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 instant 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, mentions" a beard neglected, which you have not;-but I pardon you for that; for, simply, your having in beard is a younger brother'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 Thisby's face."

Of the humour of this passage he had not the least notion, for he printed, instead of it,

"I hear a voice; now will I to the chink,
"To spy an' I can see my Thisby'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 editor 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

66

what charms,

"What conjuration, and what mighty magick,
"(For such proceeding I am charg'd withal,)
"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 shown 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
"Unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke

66

My soul consents not to give sovereignty."

i. e. to give sovereignty to. Here too this editor has unnecessarily tampered with the text, and

* See Vol. XVIII. p. 647, n. 2; Vol. XV. p. 196, n. 4; Vol. XIX. p. 266, n. 7.

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."

The grave-digger in Hamlet observes" that your tanner will last you nine year," and such is the phraseology which Shakspeare 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,
"Stick fiery off indeed.—"

says Hamlet to Laertes. But the editor of the second folio, conceiving, 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—“ four-arch'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:

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »