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wise glad that he had preserved this gentlewoman from wilfulf famine, and gave judgment on the other in this manner :- -That he should restore the money treble which he had wrongfully got from him; and so was to have a yeere's imprisonment. So this gentleman and his wife, went with the king's leave, lovingly home, where they were kindely welcomed by George, to whom for recompence he gave the money which he received: so lived they ever after in great content. MALONE.
See p. 31, 32, n. 7. “ - If she went before others I have seen, as that diamond of yours out-lustres many I have beheld, I could not but believe she excell'd many: but I have not seen the most precious diamond that is, nor you the lady." The old copy reads— I could not believe she excell'd many. Dr. Warburton very properly asks, What, if she did really excell others, could he not believe that she did excell them?" To restore therefore the passage to sense, he omits the word not, and reads-" I could believe she excell'd many," which undoubtedly affords a clear sense.
"The old reading, (says Mr. Steevens,) may very well stand. If, says Iachimo, your mistress went before some others I have seen, only in the same degree your diamond out-lustres many I have likewise seen, I should not admit on that account that she excelled many; but I ought not to make myself the judge of who is the fairest lady, or which is the brightest diamond, till I have beheld the finest of either kind which nature has hitherto produced."
To this paraphrase I make the same objection that I have done to many others in revising these plays; namely, that a meaning is extracted from the words that they in no sort warrant. In the first
place Mr. S. understands the word as to mean only as, or as little as; and assumes that lachimo means, not merely to deny the supereminent and unparallel'd value of the diamond of Posthumus, but greatly to depretiate it; though both the context, and the words
went before, most precious, and out-lustres, must present to every reader a meaning directly opposite. 2dly. According to this interpretation, the adversative particle but is used without any propriety; as will appear at once by shortening Mr. Steevens's paraphrase, and adding a few words that are necessary to make the deduction consequential :
66 If your mistress went before others I have seen, only in the same degree your diamond out-lustres many I have likewise seen, I should not admit on that account that she excelled many, [for your diamond is an ordinary stone, and does not excell many :] But I have not seen the most precious diamond in the world, nor you the most beautiful lady: and therefore I can not admit she excells all."
Here after asserting that "he could not admit she excelled
many," he is made to add, by way of qualification, and in opposition to what he has already said, that "inasmuch as he has not seen all the fine women and fine diamonds in the world, he cannot admit that she excells all." If he had admitted that she excelled many, this conclusion would be consistent and intelligible; but not admitting that position, as he is thus made to do, it is inconsequential, if not absurd.
I agree therefore entirely with Dr. Warburton and Dr. Johnson in thinking that the passage as it stands in the old copy, is nonsense, and that some emendation is necessary.
Dr. Warburton, as I have already observed, amended the passage by omitting the word not; but of all the modes of emendation this is the most exceptionable. I have often had occasion to observe that one of the most frequent errours of the press is omission, and consequently the least exceptionable of all emendations is the insertion of a word that appears from the context, or from the metre, to have been omitted. In the first folio edition of Love's Labour's Lost, we find—
"O, that your face were full of oes -." Instead of the true reading, which is furnished by the quarto, 1598 :
“O, that your face were not so full of oes —.” Again, in Timon of Athens, Act V. edit. 1623:
Nothing can you steal
"But thieves do lose it.
Steal less; for this,-"
All the modern editions here rightly read-" Steal not less; for this."
they stand so ease on the old Again, in The good gentle
- let him not
Again, in Romeo and Juliet, folio, 1632: " much on the new form, that they can sit bench:" instead of " they can not sit," &c. Merry Wives of Windsor, folio, 1623, 55: p. men, let him strike the old woman;" instead of “ strike the old woman." Again, in King Lear, 1623, folio: the observation we have made of it hath been little ;" instead of the true reading which is found in the quarto,-" hath not been little." I could easily add twenty other instances of the same kind.
In the passage before us, I am persuaded that either the word but was omitted after not, by the carelessness of the compositor or transcriber, or, that not was printed instead of but: a mistake that has often happened in these plays. See vol. vi. p. 379.
Of the latter opinion is Mr. Heath, who proposes to read, "I could but believe," and this affords nearly the same meaning as the reading now adopted. I rather incline to the emendation which I proposed some years ago, and which is now placed in the text, because the adversative particle in the next clause of the sentence is thus more fully opposed to what pre
cedes; and thus the reasoning is clear, exact, and consequential. "If, says Iachimo, she surpassed other women that I have seen in the same proportion that your diamond out-lustres many diamonds that I have beheld, I could not but acknowledge that she excelled many women; but I have not seen the most valuable diamond in the world, nor you the most beautiful woman: and therefore I cannot admit she excells all."
It is urged, that "it was the business of Iachimo on this occasion to appear an infidel to beauty, in order to spirit Posthumus to lay the wager." He is so far an infidel as not to allow Imogen transcendent beauty, surpassing the beauty of all womankind. It was by no means necessary, in order to excite the adoring Posthumus to a wager, to deny that she possessed any beauty what
For the length of this note I shall make no apology. Whenever much has been already said by ingenious men on a controverted passage, in which emendation is absolutely necessary, every objection that can be made to the reading adopted should, if possible, be obviated. No one can be more an enemy to long notes, or unnecessary emendations, than the present editor. MALONE.
See page 169, note 8.
SUNG BY GUIDERIUS AND ARVIRAGUS OVER FIDELE,
SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD.
BY MR. WILLIAM COLLINS.
"To fair Fidele's grassy tomb,
"Soft maids and village hinds shall bring
"Each opening sweet, of earliest bloom,
"And rifle all the breathing spring.
"No wailing ghost shall dare appear
"But shepherd lads assemble here,
"And melting virgins own their love.
"No wither'd witch shall here be seen,
"The red-breast oft at evening hours
"When howling winds, and beating rain,
"Each lonely scene shall thee restore;