In Reply to: Whistle down the wind posted by Vair on December 01, 2009 at 10:16:
: : Whistle down the wind. If those who know better think the phrase connects, you might like this citation and explanation for your collection - Othello III.iii.262 "... If I do prove her haggard, / I'd whistle her off and let her down the wind, / To prey at fortune....".
: : Note in The Yale Shakespeare, Rev'd Tucker Brooke (copyright 1918, 1947): "...'The falconer always let the hawk fly [whistle her off = start her] against the wind; if she flies with the wind behind her, she seldom returns. If therefore a hawk was for any reason to be dismissed, she was "let down the wind," and from that time shifted for herself and "preyed at fortune" ' (Johnson)".
: Just to be complete, after "let the hawk fly", the quoted scholar noted "[whistle her off = start her]". I imagine that [note] appeared to be mine, rather than the scholar's, and so was omitted in the post. How ought a quoter of a quoter handle such a situation, to make things clear?
I didn't think I was confused until I read Vair's last paragraph. The annotation by Tucker Brooke seemed clear enough, although a modern editor might have preferred parentheses to brackets. I wasn't sure exactly which part of what he said was owing to Johnson, and perhaps I was wrong in assuming he meant Samuel Johnson.
But if you really want to quote a quoter who unexpectedly uses brackets ambiguously, you have two or three options. If you are writing for publication, you can consult your editor. Or you can consult any respectable style manual that covers the situation. Or you can place a footnote call and follow up with a footnote. Or you can place your own comment in brackets, and begin the comment with [Vair: ....]. If the quoted material is bounded by quotation marks, you can comment after it, clariflying, if you think you need to, the authorship of the bracketed material.
I found the information based on falconry interesting and useful. Thanks.