I just wrote the following to Project Gutenberg:
I just encountered an interesting possible problem in your edition of Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen.
In chapter 9, the following line appears:
so, with sniffles of most exquisite misery, and the laughing eye of utter despondency
However, in my Signet Classic printed edition, the phrase is "smiles of most exquisite misery".
I assumed at first that there had been a character-recognition error when scanning the book. But when I searched online for the phrase ["exquisite misery"], I discovered that the word "sniffles" appears in that sentence in quite a few online editions, and in one or two printed editions.
However, the majority of printed editions (especially the older ones) say "smiles"; see Google Book Search results for details. Note that editions from 1882, 1903, and 1915 all say "smiles", while a 2004 edition says "sniffles".
Also note that "smiles" fits the sentence better--"smiles of exquisite misery" matches the seemingly paradoxical structure of the subsequent phrase, "the laughing eye of utter despondency".
My printed Signet Classic edition says that its text "is based on the first edition, published by John Murray, London, in 1818."
So ... it's not inconceivable that the word really is supposed to be "sniffles." But I strongly suspect it's supposed to be "smiles."
Could you take a look, and, if you feel it's warranted, make the correction?
So, yeah, I do know that it's not always clear whether a given item is really an error or not. And there are dozens of online copies of this book that say "sniffles" (I suspect many of them got their text from Gutenberg, but none of them say so--the Gutenberg terms of service are such that, last I checked, in some contexts you're not allowed to say you got the text from them), so even if I'm right, fixing the mistake webwide would be a pretty big undertaking at this point.
Added later: I just sent them a followup note.
I've discovered further evidence:
I just looked in every Gutenberg etext of every Jane Austen novel. Unless I made a mistake, the words "sniffle" and "sniffles" don't appear anywhere else in any of her books. In fact, the word "sniff" also doesn't appear anywhere in any of her books.
Whereas the word "smiles" appears at least twice in every one of her books. [I forgot to add: and sometimes more like 10 or 15 times.]
So although the word "sniffle" did appear in English as early as the 1630s, it doesn't appear to have been part of Austen's writing vocabulary.
Thus, I'm pretty sure that the word "sniffles" in the etext of Northanger Abbey ought to say "smiles".
(See what I mean about spending too much time and energy on this stuff? But this is Austen! Someone might write a scholarly paper about her use of the word "sniffles"!)