COLLIER'S TRILOGY[J. P. Collier printed for distribution among his private friends in 1874 a treatise in three parts entitled ‘Trilogy’; it was cast in the form of Conversation between himself and two other fictitious characters on the subject of the MS. Emendations in his Folio of 1632 and the treatment accorded these corrections by recent editors. In his Preface he says: ‘If the asperity of the notes and criti- cisms of my adversaries have here and there tinged my style, or led me astray from the narrow line of mere vindication, I am heartily sorry for it.’ This refers to the sharp attacks made on him by Dyce and Singer. The many MS. corrections in Coriolanus form the subject of one of the Conversations, and for that reason alone I have thought it of interest to include this ensuing extract in the discussion on the text of this Tragedy.—Ed.] Alton.
It is now more than a quarter of a century since you bought from Rodd, the bookseller, the corrected copy of the Folio Shakespeare dated 1632; and about twenty years since you published your volume of ‘Notes and Emenda- tions’ derived from it. Have you since had any reason to doubt their genuineness, or to alter your opinion of their value? Collier.
None to doubt their genuineness, but some for altering my opinion as to the value of a few of the manuscript emendations. In my joy at my dis- covery I was here and there disposed to give some of the proposed changes an importance and a value which I now think does not really belong to them. Newman.
I am not at all surprised at that: it was natural, and to be expected; but, surely, as to the great majority of them, and especially of those affecting the sense of remarkable passages in the text, you have not altered the opinion in some cases so emphatically expressed in your volume of ‘Notes and Emendations’ published in 1853. Collier.
Certainly not. I am more than ever confirmed in my judgment as to the value of a good many of them, if only by the use which subsequent editors of Shakespeare have made of them. Newman.
True; not a small number of the emendations have found their way into the text of, I think, all impressions of Shakespeare since the year 1853. Alton.
But some of them have been most violently resisted; and all sorts of injurious epithets applied to them, and even to yourself personally. Newman.
But the changes have been adopted nevertheless, so that they can never again be excluded; they are now admitted to be the true language of the poet. Collier.
Seeing how my volume of ‘Notes and Emendations’ has been treated, some editors and would-be editors inveighing furiously, and without common decency, against them, and yet after all most grudgingly admitting them, I have sometimes thought that my better course would have been, first to print the changes as mere suggestions on my part, and then afterwards to produce my old corrected copy of the Folio 1632 in the justification. Newman.
Or better still: if you had condescended to play the rogue, you might have produced, as your own, all the indisputable improvements of Shake- speare's text—improvements that now are sanctioned by the approbation of everybody, readers or rival editors; and having thus been acknowledged as the most gifted speculative annotator that ever existed, you might have destroyed your corrected copy of the Folio 1632, and left your enemies to wonder how it had happened that you alone had guessed at what, beyond all cavil, was the true language of our great dramatist in some of his most notorious and admired passages. Alton.
Such, for instance, as which? Newman.
Well, I hardly know where to choose; but take the grand speech in ‘Coriolanus’ (Act III, sc. i.), where the hero is furiously blaming the patricians for yielding to the claims of the plebeians by giving them the contents of the public granaries:
The words ‘bosom multiplied’ instead of bisson multitude (as the text must now forever stand) have puzzled every editor of Shakespeare from the time of Rowe to our own day; even Theobald was obliged to reprint ‘bosom multiplied’ without an attempted change; later endeavours, such as that of Malone, to explain ‘bosom multiplied’ as bosom multitudinous, have utterly failed; but the old Corrector of the Folio 1632 puts the passage right at once, and shows that bosom was a mis- print for ‘bisson’ (the old word for blind), and multiplied a misprint for ‘multi- tude.’ The passage can never again be printed in any other words than those substituted in his margin by the old Corrector of the Folio 1632. Alton.
“‘Well, what then?
How shall this bisson multitude diges
The Senate's courtesy?’
They certainly cannot be disputed; and you will see that Dyce (VI, 255, edit. 1864), without hesitation, calls it ‘an excellent emendation.’ Singer, too, says it is ‘happy,’ and there can be no doubt about it. Collier.
Singer so often inserts in his text important changes of the kind with- out acknowledgment that his avowed consent to accept ‘bisson multitude’ is perhaps the more remarkable. However, we can hardly consider him in the rank of an independent editor. It is quite certain that ‘bosom multiplied’ will never again make its appearance in any impression of Shakespeare to the end of time. Newman.
I only produce it as a short and decisive proof of, I may say, the inestimable value of some of the changes in the corrected Folio 1632, in answer to Alton's demand for an instance. Alton.
I admit the answer; and, were it wanted, we might confirm it by another authority, if we may so call it. Of course you know what is entitled ‘the Globe Edition of the Works of Shakespeare,’ of which it is generally said that twenty or even thirty thousand copies have been sold; and we need not wonder at it, con- sidering its beauty and extraordinary cheapness: there we see ‘bisson multitude’ given as if it had always been Shakespeare's text, and ‘bosom multiplied’ never heard of, though it had been invariably printed ‘bosom multiplied’ during the course of two hundred and fifty years. Newman.
I have not till now seen, though I have heard of, the ‘Globe Shake- peare.’ Do they not give any information that the old reading was bosom mul- tiplied, and the new reading ‘bisson multitude’? Alton.
Nothing of the sort; and it is the more surprising because they state in the pref'ace that they mark by an ‘obelus’ (†) such corrections as they intro- duce in the text of the poet as it has been usually handed down to us. They some- times keep their word in this particular, but by no means always; and only two lines above that in which ‘bisson multitude’ occurs they very properly alter native to ‘motive,’ yet give no hint of the change. This looks unfair, though I dare say it was not meant so; but recollecting the enormous sale of ‘the Globe Edition,’ it was the more important that this and other emendations should be clearly distinguished; we could not expect them to state that ‘bisson multitude’ was derived from ‘Mr Collier's corrected Folio 1632,’ but they ought to have in- formed the reader by the obelus that it was a new reading. (Part iii, p. 11) Newman.
There are many trifling points adverted to by various editors that might be passed over entirely or, at all events, dismissed summarily. Dyce has no fewer than 257 notes upon this drama, occupying nearly forty closely printed pages, at least two-thirds of which might have been advantageously omitted; and why are we to waste time upon them? Collier.
And many of them are beyond the pale of our inquiry; we ought to limit ourselves to those notes only which illustrate the manner in, and the extent to, which he, in particular, has been indebted to the old Corrector of my Folio 1632. Newman.
There are scores of places in his notes on ‘Coriolanus’ where Dyce has been compelled to mention and quote that surprising and, to many, unwelcome volume. Alton.
And of not a few of those we need say nothing, but, on the other hand, there are nearly twenty places in which he has most unwillingly been driven to admit his obligations to the old Corrector, having actually derived his text from him, and from him only. In all those instances, and on that authority merely, he has made his edition different from any that preceded it, excepting always your own. Newman.
How often does he not say ‘I here give the text of Mr Collier's MS. Corrector’—‘So Mr Collier's MS. Corrector’—‘I adopt the reading of Mr Collier's MS. Corrector’—‘This is the excellent emendation of Mr Collier's MS. Corrector,’ etc. Collier.
Besides the numerous places where he couples the old Corrector with Hanmer, Mason, Ritson, Capell, and others, always taking care to put the Cor- rector last, as if in truth they had all preceded him and he was merely a follower. This is a course unworthy of Dyce, who had previously admitted, incautiously perhaps, that the MS. Corrector had ‘lived long before’ Pope, Theobald, Capell, or any of the modern commentators. Alton.
Dismissing that really trifling matter, let us look at the first emenda- tion, of any importance, that he derived from your corrected folio. Collier.
Just turn to Act I, sc. iii, and to the words ‘at Grecian swords con- temning.’ So I printed it conjecturally in my first edition of 1844, but Dyce, in his first edition of 1857, at once refused ‘contemning’ and printed contending from the Second Folio, quoting in his support a writer in ‘Blackwood's Magazine.’ But what did he do in his second edition of 1864? He saw that I persevered in favour of ‘contemning,’ and that it was the emendation of the old Corrector of my Folio 1632, and on that authority alone, in his own teeth and in spite of Blackwood, he adopted ‘contemning,’ adding, fairly enough, the real source of the emendation. Newman.
A remarkable instance of his absolute reliance upon that book which has been the source of so many other improvements. Alton.
But you had preferred ‘contemning’ ten years before you discovered it in your contemned and despised corrected folio, 1632. Now it must be the text as long as Shakespeare is admired and reprinted; even the Globe Shakespeare adopts the word, tho' as usual, and consistently with its plan perhaps, it gives no notice of the improvement, or of the cause of it. Collier.
In the next scene we have a strong proof of Dyce's irresolution; he believed that
was what the poet might have written, and yet Dyce dared not remove the cor- ruption, though censuring Singer for declaring that it was ‘very improbable.’ Alton.
“‘Unheard of boils and plagues
Plaster you o'er’
What say you to the expression ‘To the pot, I warrant him’? Collier.
I admit that I was wrong in printing ‘to the port’; for I have since found many good authorities for the vulgarism. Look at this from B. R.'s (Barnabe Rich?) ‘There is no remedy that one of you both must to the pot, either the mayster or the man’; and in G. Whetstone's ‘Rock of Regard,’ 1576, ‘Their enemies soe did flie, or go to pott.’ Dyce is right there. Newman.
It was your oversight; but in the passage ‘Thou art lost Marcius,’ Dyce says that ‘lost,’ instead of left, was an emendation by Mr Grant White, when he might have seen it with a note in your edition of 1844. Collier.
It is a trifle of no moment; and Dyce gives me credit for ‘More than thy fame I envy,’ in the eighth scene, and for ‘coverture for the wars’ instead of overture; but they are both in the Corr. Fo. 1632. Newman.
Then this brings us to Act II, sc. i, where in the speech of Menenius we meet with some singular corruptions, and particularly the important word first for thirst—‘the thirst complaint.’ Collier.
For this correction I would willingly rely upon the common sense of any reader; it is a misprint that, in truth, corrects itself. What can be the objec- tion to these words from the mouth of the merry old man, descriptive of his own character: ‘I am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that loves a cup of hot wine, with not a drop of allaying Tyber in't, and to be something imperfect in favouring the thirst complaint.’ Only substitute first for ‘thirst’ and what nonsense is made of it. The words ‘thirst’ and first were so easily misheard, and therefore misprinted; ‘a-first’ for a-thirst is a very old corruption in the ballad of ‘The Friar and the Boy,’ and Mr Wright, the editor of a reprint of it in 1836, quotes various instances in which a-first is put for ‘a-thirst’; while in Lazarus Piot's ‘Silvayn's Orator,’ 1596, containing the speech of the Jew on the pound of flesh, the word ‘thriftie’ is misprinted thirstie—‘Wherewith the father being dis- pleased disinheriteth the thirstie son of his patrimonie’ (p. 202). Nothing could be more likely than that ‘thirst’ should be misprinted in various ways; and in Tarlton's ‘Tragical Discourses,’ 1567, Fo. 135, he speaks of ‘glutting the lascivious thrust of this ravynous apostat,’ viz., the monk to whom the story relates. Alton.
Surely we may dispense with other proofs not merely because those you have brought forward are so convincing, but because the error is so self- evident. The word ‘bisson,’ which occurs in the same speech, and afterwards in a more remarkable passage, I see is spelt ‘blisson’ by your favourite translator Holland, on p. 334, of his ‘Livy,’ where he tells us that Appius Claudius, the Censor, was surnamed Cæcus, that is, blisson or blind. Collier.
That, I apprehend, is merely an error of the press in a book that has very few blemishes of the kind. Your mention of Holland and his ‘Livy’ reminds me of a mistake I made in the next speech of Menenius, where I said, in my last edition, that ‘dismiss the controversy bleeding’ ought to be pleading. I was wrong; the expression was almost technical in Shakespeare's day in reference to unfinished lawsuits. Newman.
How do you establish that? It has always seemed to me that to ‘dismiss the controversy pleading’ was the exact meaning of the poet. Collier.
However unwilling I may be, I must convict myself of being wrong there. In Dr Wilson's ‘Arte of Logicke,’ first printed in 1551, we read as follows: ‘The Judges seeing the matter so doubtfull and so hard to determine for either partie, fearing to doe amisse, left the matter raw,’ i. e., ‘bleeding,’ as in Shakespeare. The passage I have in my mind from Holland's ‘Livy’ runs thus when a lawsuit was undecided: ‘for all now lieth bleeding, and in extreame hazard.’ Dyce does not say I was mistaken, he only observes that ‘Mr Collier's MS. Cor- rector substitutes pleading.’ He had no authority on the point or he would cer- tainly have adduced it. I only want to be just and to correct myself as well as other people. As to ‘the thirst complaint’ there cannot be a doubt. Alton.
So I say of ‘empyric phisique,’ often spelt so of old, while the com- positor could make nothing of it but emperickquitique. It converts pure nonsense into a very plain meaning. Newman.
Next we come to ‘the napless vesture of humility,’ printed in the folios ‘Naples vesture of humility,’ as if it had been brought from Naples to be worn in Rome, and regarding which, and Mr Dyce's droll blunder in his edition of ‘Middleton’ (IV, 425), we have perhaps already said enough. Alton.
Which may, however, properly introduce us to the ‘woolvish tongue,’ as it stands in the First Folio, while in the Second, tongue is altered to gowne. What infinite trouble these two words ‘woolvish tongue’ have given the commentators! There can be no doubt, however, that tongue must be read togue or toge, i. e., toga; but what could they make of ‘woolvish’? Collier.
Johnson tells us that it means hirsute, and Steevens says a great deal about wolf in sheep's clothing. Dyce did not know what to do with the word, and in his first edition of 1857 simply reprinted wolvish, although in 1853 my volume of ‘Notes and Emendations,’ founded upon the Corr. Fo. 1632, had offered him the admirable word ‘woolless,’ in entire consistency with ‘napless,’ in an earlier part of the tragedy. In 1857 he could not bring himself to adopt ‘woolless’ on the unwelcome authority of the old Corrector, and was content with wolvish, though everybody but himself saw it was wrong. Newman.
That was four years after your Vol. of ‘Notes and Emendations’ came out. What did Dyce do in 1864, when his second edition appeared? Collier.
In the meantime my second edition of 1858 had been published with ‘woolless’ instead of wolvish, as applied to the ‘togue,’ or toga, worn by Coriolanus; and impartial people saw that was the very word wanted; even Dyce's ‘afflictive friends’ could not dispute it; and in consequence of this defect and others, to some of which we have already adverted, he called in his edition of 1857, did what he could to stop the circulation of copies that had got out into the world, and pub- lished his edition of 1864. In 1864 he obliterated ‘wolvish togue,’ and substituted the very word he had before utterly rejected. Alton.
Avowing fairly, however, that he was indebted for it to your old volume of 1632. Newman.
He could not well do otherwise, for even his friends deserted him; and now, owing solely to your corrected and much abused folio, ‘woolless togue’ must inevitably stand as the language of Shakespeare. Collier.
That, I take it, is quite certain. And now we may go on, without noticing minor points, to the scene (Act III.) where Coriolanus in his fury against the mob calls upon the Senators to ‘revoke their dangerous bounty,’ as the Corr. Fo. 1632 has it, and as the text must hereafter stand, in spite of all the poor de- fences of the old reading, which Dyce upholds, though the new reading only requires us to admit that ‘revoke’ has been misprinted awake, and ‘bounty’ lenity, two very easy errors with the old compositor. Newman.
Yes, something more must be done; for ‘impotence’ must be sub- stituted for ignorance, where the hero urges the Senators to conceal their want of power. Alton.
No very unlikely mistake we must also allow; seeing that the printer of 1623 could just before compose woolvish instead of ‘woolless,’ surely we may suppose that he was careless enough to make the other mistakes, especially when the corrections most aptly fall in with the whole spirit of the angry address of Coriolanus. Collier.
At the same time nobody is to be blamed for adhering to the old text in every case where it can be fairly understood without the grossest violence to our language. In this part of the tragedy, possibly, the original manuscript was very corrupt, or the compositor of it unusually inattentive, because only a few lines onward he presents us with what everybody, even Dyce and his coad- jutors, allow to be a most egregious blunder. Alton.
And which egregious blunder would have been preserved to the end of time but for the old Corrector; you allude to bosom multiplied, instead of ‘bisson multitude,’ the indisputable language of the poet. Collier.
I do; everybody has seen that the old text could not be right, yet no- body, with all the ingenuity of all the commentators, could discover the true words until I found them in my old despised and maligned folio of 1632. On that authority I printed them in 1853, and even my bitterest opponents have ever since been compelled to welcome them as ‘an excellent emendation.’ Newman.
Must it not ever appear strange, I might say unaccountable, that when we see so many invaluable emendations by the old Corrector, we cannot give him credit for a few others not quite so palpable? Alton.
That, to my mind, is an unanswerable logical inference. Collier.
Irresistible. Thus, in the second scene of this very Act, is it not more likely that Volumnia (whose entrance, by the way, Dyce alters at the sole instance of the old Corrector) should impatiently address Coriolanus as ‘O, son, son, son!’ than as ‘O, sir, sir, sir!’? Alton.
And we may feel even more certain about the inserted line,
not merely because it is found in the margin of my Folio 1632, but because common sense requires the addition. Newman.
“ ‘To brook control without the use of anger,’
Dyce admits that ‘the passage is obscure,’ and that the additional line makes it clear, yet, with childish obstinacy, I must say, rejects it. As to the change of carriage for ‘courage’ in Act III, sc. i, we need here say nothing, having already shown the blunder into which Dyce fell regarding it when we were exam- ining Henry VI, Part 3. Collier.
Dyce cannot refuse the important change in Act IV, sc. i, ‘Whose house, whose bed, whose meal,’ etc., simply adding ‘So Mr Collier's MS. Cor- rector.’ All the rest of his notes are comparatively trifling, now adopting and now rejecting small improvements, and in one case absolutely recalling an emenda- tion he had inserted in his first edition, acting throughout upon no intelligible principle. Newman.
Only remark the difficulty in which he involves himself as to ‘cheer’ or chair, five lines from the end of Act IV.; he owns that the text is very much cor- rupted, quotes various suggestions by as many editors, and ends by refusing the very word (only cheer instead of ‘chair’) which clears away all obscurity. Alton.
But that word, you must remember, was contained in the odious volume upon the representations of which you so much and so justly rely. Collier.
Dyce's later notes to this tragedy merit no particular comment; he is generally at variance with other editors, and sometimes with himself, and resorts to any authorities rather than to the Corr. Fo. 1632. We may just remark, as to the words (Act V, sc. v.) ‘Which he did end all his,’ that nobody seems aware that ‘end,’ in Dyce's extracts from the Hereford Times (note to what authorities he is driven), means that a wheat-rick is ‘well-ended’ because the end, top, or apex of it is not made up, as it sometimes was, of stubble or stover, but of as good sheaves of corn as the whole body of the stack.