In the longest LH thread ever, AJP asked about the meaning of “literals” in “However, there are a number of literals in here, which is a shame. What has become of editing within publishing houses?” I explained that it was an old-fashioned (though evidently not obsolete) word for, as the OED puts it, “A misprint of a letter.” (See this Log thread for more.) I also provided a couple of citations, the first of which was “1622 R. HAWKINS Voy. S. Sea  Errata sic corrige… The litteralls are commended to favour.” Whereupon marie-lucie said “even after seeing the definition I am not sure what this means: The litteralls are commended to favour.” I responded “I don’t understand it either, and it’s not in any of the editions of Hawkins’s Voyage into the South Sea accessible through Google Books (the 1622 edition isn’t available, presumably because it was reprinted in 1968, but without this text!).” Then it occurred to me that 1) not that many people were reading the thread any longer, and 2) there was no point adding to its length with this particular derail. So I’m giving it its own post. Any ideas about what “The litteralls are commended to favour” might mean? And while we’re on the subject, are you familiar with this sense of literal?
Update. I should have known better than to allow myself the indulgence of eating dinner before posting this; Noetica has already solved the mystery in the other thread:
The expression to commend to favour is not well covered in OED, though we get the usual meaning well enough. It means “to recommend for favourable acceptance or consideration”.
Now consider a certain sense of favour, in OED:
3. Kind indulgence. a. Leave, permission, pardon. Chiefly in phrases, by, with (your, etc.) favour; by the favour of. Also, under favour: with all submission, subject to correction. Obs. or arch.
1580 Baret Alv. F255 Sauing your displeasure.. or, with your fauour. […] 1613 Shakes. Hen. VIII, i. i. 168 Pray giue me fauour Sir. […] 1699 Bentley Phal. 135 Under favour, I say it’s an Anapæst. […] 1823 Scott Quentin D. xv, Under favour, my Lord.. the youth must find another guide.
That seems to explain our problematic sentence. It means “the literals are submitted to your indulgence and pardon”.
(I have cut some of the citations to leave the most pertinent ones.) Ah well. I’m still curious about how many people are familiar with the meaning.