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Carving, says Mr. Hunter, “would seem to mean some form of action which indicated the desire that the person to whom it was addressed should be attentive and propitious.” Whatever was its exact nature, it would appear, from the three passages last cited, to have been a sort of salutation which was practised more especially at table. *
To return, for a moment, to the Manuscript-corrector's emendation. Does Mr. Collier see nothing absurd in “Mrs. Ford craving (i.e. having a craving for) Falstaff?”—(she might have had a craving for a Windsor pear.) Is he sensible of no impropriety in “ craving" (a word which expresses not an action, but a feeling) being interposed between “she discourses” and “she gives the leer of invitation ?"
" Warburton suggested “heris, the old Scotch word for master ;' Steevens, hearts ; Malone, hear us; Boaden, cavaliers, &c. The manuscript corrector of the folio, 1632, merely changes one letter, and omits two, and leaves the passage, “Will you go on, here ?' * * * It is singular that nobody seems ever to have conjectured that on here might be concealed under . An-heires.'” Collier's Notes and Emendations, &c. p. 33.
* Mr. Halliwell, in his Dict. of Arch. and Prov. Words, has ; “ Carve. To woo. Mr. Hunter, Illustrations, i. 215, has the merit of pointing out the peculiar use of this word, although he has not discovered its meaning, which is clearly ascertained from the use of the substantive carver in Lilly's Mother Bombie, neither father nor mother, kith nor kinne, shall bee her carver in a husband ; shee will fall too where shee likes best.'”—I cannot agree with Mr. Halliwell in thinking that the meaning of curve is ascertained by this passage from Mother Bombie : in fact, Lilly there uses “ carver”in its common acceptation, as is manifest from the conclusion of the passage,—"shee will fall to where shee likes best.” Compare Don Quixote ; “«Why, an't please you,'quoth Sancho, “Teresa bids me make sure work with your worship, and that we may have less talking and more doing; that a man must not be his own carver ; that he who cuts does not shuffle,'" &c. Vol. iii. 200, ed. Edin. 1822. (Motteux's trans.).
To me it appears altogether unlikely that two such common words as “ on here" should have been mistaken, either by copyist or compositor, for." An-heires;" and I apprehend that, when the Manuscript-corrector altered the vox nihili by “merely changing one letter and omitting two,” he at the same time was far from feeling confident that “on here" was “concealed under An-heires.”
There is a passage in act ii. sc. 3 of Fletcher's Beggars' Bush, as exhibited in the folio, 1647, which, unless I am much deceived, enables us to determine positively what word ought to take the place of “ An-heires” in the text of the great dramatist. For my own part at least,—since I find in that folio, p. 80,
“ Nay, Sir, mine heire Van-dunck
Is a true Statesman,"—
I can no longer doubt that “ An-heires” is a misprint for “ Min-heires," and that Hanmer (whose emendation Mr. Collier does not even notice) restored the genuine reading, when he altered “ Will you go, An-heires ?” to “ Will you go, Mynheers ?”
We have no reason to suppose that the word Mynheer (which, as we have just seen, is used by Fletcher) was less known in England when Shakespeare wrote The Merry Wives of Windsor than it is at present (perhaps, indeed, by means of the soldiers who returned from the wars in the Netherlands, it was formerly better known than now); nor is there any reason why it should not have been in the Host's vocabulary as well as bully-rook.*
* I may just observe that “ Bully-rock” (which is only another form of the word) occurs over and over again in Shadwell's Sullen Lovers : see his Works, vol. i. pp. 26, 37, 45, 46, 62, 69, 74, 83, 84, 101, 102, 108.
MEASURE FOR MEASURE.
Act i. sc. 2.
“ Bawd. What's to do here, Thomas Tapster?” “Why,” says Douce, “ does she call the clown by this name, when it appears from his own showing that his name was Pompey? Perhaps she is only quoting some old saying or ballad.”
Because Thomas or Tom was the name commonly applied to a Tapster; for the sake of the alliteration, it would seem. See the passage cited from Greene, at p. 18.
Act ii. sc. 2.
“How would you be, If he, which is the top of judgment, should But judge you as you are ?”
“We meet,” says Mr. Collier, “ with a bold and striking emendation in one of Isabella's noble appeals to Angelo ..... The amended folio, 1632, has it,
How would you be,
This is not to be considered at all in the light of a profane use of the name of the Creator, as in oaths and exclamations; and while top may easily have been misheard by the scribe for God,'the latter word, though the meaning is of course the same, adds to the power and grandeur of the passage.” Notes and Emendations, &c. p. 45.
What Mr. Collier calls “a bold and striking emendation,” deserves rather to be characterised as rash and wanton in the extreme.
That very expression, which did not suit the taste of the Manuscript-corrector, occurs in another mighty poet,one whose fame is as imperishable as Shakespeare's. In the sixth Canto of the Purgatorio, Dante, having met with certain spirits who were anxious to obtain the prayers of the living, thus addresses his conductor;
“E' par che tu mi nieghi,
Che decreto del Cielo orazion pieghi:
Sarebbe dunque loro speme vana?
“La mia scrittura è piana,
Se ben si guarda con la mente sana;
Perchè foco d'amor compia in un punto
v. 28, sqq.
Act ii. sc. 2.
“ Not with fond shekels of the tested gold,” &c.
“ It is spelt sickles in the old copies, but the true word may be circles; and the manuscript corrector of the folio, 1632, has altered ‘sickles' to sirkles, paying no other attention to the spelling of the word. Nevertheless ‘shekels' may be right, and it is used, exactly with the same spelling, by Lodge in his 'Catharos,' 1591, sign. C, where we read,