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book-purchases, I had consulted him upon all my literary undertakings; and he had often resorted to me, when he was in a difficulty, for the improvement or completion of his reprints. I had furnished him with original manuscripts for his edition of Peele ; I had procured him the use of unique Pageants for his Webster, and for his Middleton I lent him two tracts from my own shelves that, as far as I know, do not exist elsewhere in Europe. It seems ungracious to allude to these mere trifles in friendship, and I only notice them in order to show the terms that subsisted between us. When, in 1841, I undertook the supervision of an edition of Shakespeare, Mr. Dyce was the first person (including even the members of my own family) to whom I stated the fact. The announcement did not seem very satisfactory to him: he said that, at some time or other, he had contemplated such an undertaking himself; but he warned me of the difficulty of the task, and added that, in the then state of his information, he should be afraid of attempting it. To my surprise and, I may add, vexation he never proffered me assistance until I asked for it; and then he informed me, that for nearly all his notes he had trusted to his memory, and to jottings in his Variorum Shakespeare.
The gates of Milan; and in the dead of darkness,
Me and thy crying self.”—See this Vol. p. 20. It is just as proper to alter “purpose ” to practice (meaning treachery) in the first instance, as it would be improper to do it in the second instance; and yet the Rev. Mr. Dyce, apparently in bis haste to condemn the old corrector of the folio, 1632, charges him with an absurdity of which he never was guilty. Neither is the above the only example of the same sort of treatment; but I never can be made to believe, that there has been any “careful concealment” on the part of the Rev. Mr. Dyce. Recurring to Webster, it is rather surprising that among all the mistakes committed by Mr. Dyce and pointed out in the “preface to which he adverts, he can only fix upon the solitary error, on my part, of printing w for r. I wish he could relieve himself from the load I laid upon his shoulders,—and upon my own, for I pointed out my own blunders also. Can he show, for instance, that he did not print "plum" for plume, “martins " for martyrs, “usher” for issue, "action" for axiom, “ sectious" for factious, “funeral” for several, “ ring” for rug, “loveless” for lawless, “ram " for raven, “plulantia " for philautia, &c. ? I hope he can show it.
From that moment our ancient and
easy familiarity began to stiffen and formalize, and unwonted reserve followed ; but, as 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 sanetioned 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 públication of the last volume of my
7 The full title of the volume is as follows: “Remarks apon 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. I 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 ту 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?
8 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 ariably 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 what 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 which I have adopted,” viz. diseases. This is a total mistake : Mr. Singer's MS. corrector makes no such proposal ; and Mr. Singer, in his “Shakespeare,” Vol. v. p. 179, actually retains “ degrees ” in his text, observing in his note,—“It has 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. I may just add, that if the reader will take the trouble to turn to “ Troilus and Cressida,” A. iii. 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,
“ Unthread 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 memory the very 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,