Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 Catharine, says,

"Her only fault (and that is-faults enough)
"Is,—that she is intolerable curst;-

But

meaning, that this one was a host of faults. 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 fault 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 this nobleman?"

..

In Measure for Measure, Act II. sc. i. Escalus, addressing the Justice, says, "I 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 evaded 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

"Would not have touch'd, would not have stain'd with blood."

These lines being thus carefully arranged in the first folio:

"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 Caesar, 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 pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
"And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn

"As you 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:

[ocr errors]

So sighs, and tears, and groans,
"Show minutes, times, and hours: but my time
"Runs posting on," &c.

he gives us

66

So sighs, and tears, and groans,

"Show minutes, times, and hours: O 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:

[ocr errors]

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:

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

"Thou rather, with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt,
"Split'st the unwedgeable and gnarled oak,

"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:

[ocr errors]

"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, O, 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.

"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

"Orleans the bastard, Charles, Burgundy,-".

he has printed (not knowing that Charles was used as a word of two syllables,)

"Orleans the bastard, Charles, and Burgundy."

So, instead of the original reading,

"Divinest creature, Astræa's daughter,-"

(Astræa being used as a word of three syllables,)

he has printed

"Divinest creature, bright Astræa's daughter."

Again, ibidem:

"Whereas the contrary bringeth bliss."

« PreviousContinue »