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“ Camillo. 'I dare not know, my lord.” Such is the common punctuation of this passage. Perhaps it should be thus:
"A lip of much contempt, speels from me, and
“Swear this thought orer.” The old reading is, “Swear his thought over;" which does not cohere at all with what goes before. The change ought to have been received at Theobald's suggestion, without waiting for Cole Lier's discovery. We have frequent instances of his and this misprinted for each other. The present reading, though perhaps not altogether clear of objections, seems to us much better than another that has been proposed: "Swear this, though, over."
"Do not receive affliction, At my petition, I beseech you, rather
Let me be punish'd." Such is clearly the right punctuation of this passage. It is commonly given without any point after “affliction." and with a (;) after “I beseech you." "Do not receive affliction at my petition,” is very strange English. Besides, Paulina has not petitioned, and does not petition, to have the King afflicted: she here merely begs that at her own request punishment may rather light on herself. The awkwardness of the text with the common punc. tuation has caused several changes to be proposed. Collier's folio alters petition to repetition, and Singer suggests relation. Surely do change is needed but the one here pointed out.
Page 74. “Mercy on's, a barn; a very pretty barn! A god, or a child, I wonder?" Instead of god, the original has boy, which has been a standing puzzle to the commentators; and their explanations even more puzzling than the reading itself. The change of boy to god was suggested, and is fully approved, by the corresponding passage of Greene's novel: “ The sheepeheard, who before had never seene so faire a babe nor so riche jewels, thought assuredly that it was some little god, and began with great devocion to knock on his breast. The babe, who wrythed with the head to seek for the pap, began againe to cry afreshe, whereby the poore man knew it was a childe.” This is strictly a first-class emendation, at once bold, legitimate, and unobvious; like Theobald's change of "a Table of green fields" to "'a babbled of green fields." Mr. R. G. White is the author of it; and we thank him for it; yes, heartily.
Page 94. “And where some stretch-mouthed rascal would, as it were, mean mischief, and break a foul jape into the matter." The original has gap here instead of jape, which is the reading of Collier's folio. Jape means jest, and exactly fits the sense. The emendation is a very happy one. Yet we need not suppose a misprint in the original; for in the Poet's time Eng'ish spelling was to a great extent phonographic, and the sound of certain consonants, as c, 9, and th, unsettled; so that jape may well have been spelt gap.
True, too true, my lord." Such, after all, is clearly the right ordering of the passage, the first true having in the original got misplaced from the beginning of Paulina's speech to the end of Leontes'. So the Editor fairly backs down from the foot-note in loco.
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS.
" Though gold 'bides still The triers' touch, yet often touching will
Wear gold." Instead of “ The triers' touch," the original has, " That others touch." The whole passage is exceedingly difficult, being so shabbily printed in the old copies, that nothing can be made of it. See foot-note in loco. The present reading was lately proposed by Singer.
Page 174. * Thou would'st have chang'd thy face for a name, or thy name tur a face." The original reads an ass instead of a face. Both sense and rhyme are all in favour of the change, which is made in Collier's folio
Page 179. "And as a bride I'll take thee, and lie there." Instead of bride, the original has bud, which has sometimes been changed to bed. The credit of the present reading belongs to Mr. Howard Staunton.
Page 209. “ To scotch your face, and to disfigure you." The original has scorch instead of scotch. Mr. Dyce, who proposes the change, points out that the folio has the same misprint in “Macbeth," Act iii., Scene ii.: “We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it."
Page 216. “And thereupon these errors all arose." The old reading is, “ These errors are arose." The change is made in Collier's folio, but had been hit upon before the discovery of that volume.
Page 217. “After so long grief, such festivity." Festivity is the apt suggestion of Singer, for nativity, of the pla copies. The change is fully justified by the context, with which nativity cannot be made to fadge.
THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH.
Page 243. “And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling." The original reads quarry, which has commonly been retained, with an explanation which, after all, does not accord with the meaning of the passage. The present reading, which was proposed by Johnson, is sustained by the corresponding passage of Holinshed: "Out of the western isles there came to Macdowald a great multitude of people to assist him in that rebellious quarrel." Quarrel was sometimes used in the sense of cause. Thus, in Bacon's Essay of Marriage and Single Life: “A man may have a quarrel to marry, when he will."
Ibid. * And ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him." Instead of And, the original has Which, the word having probably got repeated from the fourth line above. And accords perfectly with the thought of the passage; which does not. The former ought to have been generally adopted long ago.
“Give me your favour." The arrangement of the verse in this and the four following linog ought to be thus:
“Give me your favour: my dull brain was wrought
With things forgotten. — Kind gentlemen, your pains
It were done quickly: if the," &c. Such is the punctuation of the original, and also of most of the modern editions. A change has been proposed, thus:
“If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well.
It were done quickly if the assassination," &c.
This punctuation has received the sanction of so high an authority as Mr. R. G. White; nevertheless the Editor feels bound to protest against it; and he ventures to think that Mr. White got somewhat entangled in his own subtleties of thought. At all events, instead of saving or serving either the logic or the dignity of the passage, as he urges, it seems to the present Editor that the change only mars the former without helping the latter. The meaning of the passage as it stands, may be rendered something thus: “ If the mere doing of the deed were to be the end of it, then the quicker it were done the better." The speaker then goes on to repeat, in other language, the concessive part of his proposition: “If the murder could stop with itself, could stand free from the entail of consequences, and find success in the mere fact of Duncan's decease." But now, instead of coming at once to the concluding part, he proceeds to intensify his thought still further by another variation of statement: “If only this one blow might be the last of it, and I could be assured its violence would not recoil upon the smiter, here, in this life." Here we have a natural, forcible, and every way dignified amplification of the thought; and the speaker now comes to the concluding part: "If all this could be, then I would jump the life to come;" that is, risk the future consequences of his act. At first, the advantages of instant action seem to be uppermost in Macbeth's thoughts; but then, no sooner has he said this, than, by a natural rebound, he starts off upon the reasons against acting at all; apprehensions, both moral and prudential, forth with begin to swarm upon him; and his mind, gathering momentam as it proceeds, becomes more and more engrossed with these; till at last the thought with which he started is fairly beaten down by the natural and providential hazards of the undertaking. Thus the ethical sense of the passage lies much in this, that the very effort to clinch his resolution just excites