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styled his, her, or its entrance, I shall be satisfied. Such a mode of expression, it appears to me, would at once destroy the personification. We speak, indeed, of the entrance of a cavern, for the mouth of a cavern; but here we are not calling a mouth an entrance, but an entrance a mouth : the proper prosaic name of the aperture by which we enter the cave is its entrance, which, when we animate the cave, we change into its mouth; but the opposite process is, I apprehend, unknown either in prose or in verse, in written eloquence or in the loosest colloquial speech. Any one who should talk of the entrance of a man, or of a lion, or of a dog, meaning the mouth, would 110t be understood. So in Latin we have the entrance to river
very often called its os, but nowhere the mouth of any living creature, or of any poetical personification, ever spoken of as its ostium.*
Nothing, also, can be more indisputable than that the two hers—“her lips” (or herself) and“ her own children's blood”-must have the same reference. This is what syntax and common sense alike imperatively demand. Steevens’s notion, therefore, that by “her lips” may be meant the lips of peace, mentioned four lines before, would be untenable, were there no other objection to it than that it would, apparently, give the her of “ her lips” one reference and the her of “ her own children” another.
The lips and the children must plainly be understood to be either those of the soil, or those of that, whatever it may have been, the designation of which has given rise to the various readings, entrance, entrails, entrants, as proposed by Steevens, bosom, &c. One's first inclination is to suppose some personage animating or presiding over
* The only interpretation of entrance having the least plausibility appears to me to be that thrown out by Theobald :—“I presume the sense is, 'blood-thirsty invasion of this country shall no more stain it with its own children's gore. But is this idea conveyed by thirsty entrance ?” Letter to Warburton, dated 13 January 1730, in Nichols's Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth Century, II. 402.
the soil; and hence such conjectures as that of Monk Mason,-"the thirsty Erinnys of this soil,"—which has been adopted in many editions, and which might mean that the Spirit of Discord should no more daub either her own lips with the blood of her own children, or the lips of the soil with the blood of the children of the soil. The circumstance of the word Erinnys being a Shakespearian anat deyópevov, or not elsewhere found, would make it more likely to have been mistaken by the printer. So also might be interpreted “the thirsty Genius of this soil,” as proposed in the First Edition of the present work.
But to both these readings there is this objection, which I apprehend must be held to be fatal. On the one hand, the epithet thirsty, standing where it does, seems clearly to bind us to understand that the lips described as to be no more daubed, or moistened, were those, not of the soil, but of the imaginary personage (the Erinnys or the Genius) to whom the performance of the act of daubing is attributed; on the other, the people could not be called the children of either the one of these personages or the other. And I do not think it would be possible to find any other mythological personage who could, more than either of these two, be represented as at once the owner of the lips and the parent of the children. It may be added that against "the thirsty Genius" this ob
“” jection is of double force; inasmuch as, Genius being always conceived to be a male, the "her lips” (as well as “her own children”) would in that case have of necessity to be understood as signifying the lips (and children) of the soil,—which would leave the epithet “thirsty” without meaning
I do not think, therefore, that there is any other known reading which can compete with that of the Dering MS. The bosom of the soil, or ground, or earth, is one of the commonest and most natural forms of figurative expression, and is particularly natural and appropriate
when the soil or ground is represented, as here, under the personification of a mother with her children. So Friar Lawrence says, in Romeo and Juliet, when setting out from his cell, basket in hand, at the dawn of day, to gather his "baleful weeds and precious-juiced flowers”
“ The earth, that's nature's mother, is her tomb;
We, sucking on her natural bosom, find.” Then for the authority on which this reading rests, the probability surely is that the deviation from the common printed text was not made on mere conjecture; great pains appear to have been taken with the MS.; it is carefully corrected throughout in the handwriting of Sir Edward Dering, who died in 1614; and he may very well be supposed to have had access to other sources of information, both documentary and oral, in addition to the printed books. A strong case might be made out for such a MS. as being entitled to quite as much deference as any of the early printed copies, quarto or folio.
The first or outside page of the manuscript from which this Play had been originally set up may very probably have been in a somewhat dilapidated state when it was put into the hands of the printer. In addition to the five variations in the two lines that have been quoted, it is doubtful whether in the first line of the speech we ought to read " wan with care" or worn with care;” the latter is the correction of Mr Collier's MS. annotator, and certainly it would seem to be more natural for the King to speak of his anxieties as wearing him down and wasting him away than as merely blanching his complexion.
It is only upon this supposition of the old text of the Plays having been printed from a partially obliterated or otherwise imperfectly legible manuscript, which, as we see, meets and accounts for other facts and peculiar ap
pearances, while it is also so probable in itself, that the remarkable collection of emendations in Mr Collier's copy of the Second Folio can, apparently, be satisfactorily explained. The volume came into Mr Collier's hands in 1849, and was some time afterwards discovered by him to contain a vast number of alterations of the printed text inserted by the pen, in a handwriting certainly of the seventeenth century, and possibly of not much later date than the volume. They extend over all the thirtysix Plays, and are calculated to amount in all to at least 20,000. Here is, then, a most elaborate revision-an expenditure of time and painstaking which surely could only have been prompted and sustained by a strong feeling in the annotator of admiration for his author, and the most anxious and scrupulous regard for the integrity of his text. Such motives would be very inconsistent with the substitution generally for the old words of anything that might merely strike him as being possibly a preferable reading. The much more probable presumption is that he followed some guide. Such a labour is only to be naturally accounted for by regarding it as that of the possessor of a valued but very inaccurately printed book who had obtained the means of collating it with and correcting it by a trustworthy manuscript. And, when we come to examine the new readings, we find everything in sufficient correspondence with this hypothesis ; some things almost, we may say, demonstrating it. Some of the alterations are of a kind altogether transcending the compass of conjectural emendation, unless it had taken the character of pure invention and fabrication. Such in particular are the entire lines inserted in various passages of which we have not a trace in the printed text. The number, too, of the new readings which cannot but be allowed to be either indisputable, or, at the least, in the highest degree ingenious and plausible, is of itself almost conclusive against our attributing them to nothing better than conjecture. Upon this supposition this un
known annotator would have outdone all that has been accomplished in the way of brilliant and felicitous conjecture by all other labourers upon the Shakespearjan text taken together. On the other hand, some of his alterations are in all probability mistaken, some of his new readings apparently inadmissible ;* and many pas
* Among such must be reckoned undoubtedly the alteration, in Lady Macbeth's passionate rejoinder (Macbeth, i. 7),
“ What beast was't, then, That made you break this enterprise to me?”of beast into boast. This is to convert the forcible and characteristic not merely into tameness but into no-meaning; for there is no possible sense of the word boast which will answer here. But in this case the corrector was probably left to mere conjecture in making his selection between the two words ; for in the handwriting of the earlier part of the seventeenth century the e and o are frequently absolutely undistinguishable. In the specimen of the annotator's own handwriting which Mr Collier gives, the two e’s of the word briefely are as like o's as e's, and what Mr Collier reads bleeding might be equally read blooding, if that were a word. Would Mr Collier thus correct Tennyson's
“Were not his words delicious, I a beast
Edwin Morris. There cannot, I conceive, be a question that a celebrated passage in another Play has been seriously injured by the same mistake which the annotator has made in the instance under consideration. Is it not self-evident that the speech of Polixenes in the Third Scene of the Fourth Act of the Winter's Tale should run as follows ?
“Nature is made better by no mean
The art itself is nature." The “ o'er that art” of the modern editions is “ over that art” in the old copies.-In other cases, again, the ever and the even have evidently been confounded; as in The Merry Wives of Windsor, iv. 6, where Fenton describes Mrs Page as “even strong against” the marriage of her daughter with Slender, “ and firm for Doctor Caius.” The error here, if it be one, however, has apparently been left uncorrected by Mr Collier's MS. annotator.