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degree dependent upon the exercise of his own powers of ingenuity and judgment, or materially to modify the impression made by those of another kind in favour of his having probably had, either throughout his revision, or at least for some part of it, the guidance of authoritative documents. ' And, on the other hand, some of those of the 20,000 manuscript corrections which have been deemed by Mr. Collier not worth noticing or producing might not be held to be equally insignificant or valueless by others.
The right course for Mr. Collier to take would be to print, without note or comment, merely every line of the text that has been retouched by the annotator, distinguishing the new readings by italics. Supposing the alterations to extend over 10,000 lines, they might all be in this way distinctly exhibited in the fifth part of the space taken up, in a manner so “ weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable,” by the Notes and Emendations. And possibly the lines affected by them may not amount to half that number. *
IV. THE SHAKESPEARIAN EDITORS AND COMMEN
TATORS. The four Folios were the only editions of the Plays of Shakespeare brought out in the seventeenth century; and, except that the First, as we have seen, has a Dedication and Preface signed by Heminge and Condell, two actors belonging to the Blackfriars Theatre, nothing is known, and scarcely anything has been conjectured, as to what superintendence any of them may have had in passing through the press. The eighteenth century produced a long succession of editors :
* I am happy to find, as these sheets are passing through the press, nearly the same views in most respects which I announced in the North British Review in 1854, both on the subject of the Shakespearian text and on that of the new readings supplied by Mr. Collier's MS. annotator, ably advocated in an article in the Edinburgh Review, No. 210, for April, 1856. The writer refers to a paper, which I have not seen, in “the North American Review for last year,” as containing “by far the best and most thoroughly reasoned discussion" of the subject with which he had met.
-Rowe, 1709 and 1714 ; Pope, 1725 and 1728; Theobald, 1733 and 1740; Hanmer, 1744; Warburton, 1747; Johnson, 1765; Steevens, 1766 ; Capell, 1768; Reed, 1785 ; Malone, 1790; Rann, 1786–1794. The editions of Hanmer, Johnson, Steevens, Malone, and Reed were also all reprinted once or oftener, for the most part with enlargements; and all the notes of the preceding editions were at last incorporated in what is called Reed's Second Edition of Johnson and Steevens, which appeared, in 21 volumes 8vo, in 1803. This was followed in 1821 by what is now the standard Variorum edition, also in 21 volumes, which had been mostly prepared by Malone, and was completed and carried through the press by his friend Mr. James Boswell. We have since had the various editions of Mr. Knight and Mr. Collier, from both of whom, in addition to other original research and speculation, both bibliographical and critical, we have received the results of an examination of the old texts more careful and extended than they had previously been subjected to. And there are now in course of publication the magnificent edition by Mr. Halliwell, which is to extend to 20 volumes folio, and that which has been since commenced by Mr. Singer.*
* An edition, of which great expectations may be entertained, has also been announced by Mr. Dyce.
The list of commentators, however, includes several other names besides those of the editors of the entire collection of Plays; in particular, Upton, in “ Critical Observations,” 1746; Dr. Zachary Grey, in “ Critical, Historical, and Explanatory Notes,” 1755 ; Heath, in “A Revisal of Shakespeare's Text,” 1765 ; Kenrick, in a “Review of Johnson's Edition,” 1765, and “Defence of Review," 1766 ; Tyrwhitt, in “ Observations and Conjectures,” 1766; Dr. Richard Farmer, in “Essay on the Learning of Shakespeare,” 1767; Charles Jennens, in annotated editions of “ King Lear," 1770, -“Macbeth,” 1773,—and “Julius Cæsar,” 1774; John Monck Mason, in “ Comments on the Last Edition of Shakespeare's Plays," 1785, and “Further Observations,” 1798; A. Beckett, in “A Concordance to Shakespeare, to which are added three hundred Notes and Illustrations,” 1787 ; Ritson, in “The Quip Modest,” 1781, and“ Cursory Criticisms,” 1792; Whiter, in “ A Specimen of a Commentary,” 1794; George Chalmers, in “Apology for the Believers in the Shakespearian Papers," 1797, and “Supplemental Apology," 1799; Douce, in “Illustrations of Shakespeare and of Ancient Manners,” 1807 ; Reverend Joseph Hunter, in “Illustrations of the Life, Studies, and Writings of Shakespeare,” 1844 ; and Reverend Alexander Dyce, in “Remarks on Mr. Collier's and Mr. Knight's Editions,”' 1844, and “A Few Notes on Shakespeare," 1853. To these names and titles may be added the Reverend Samuel Ayscough's “Index to the Remarkable Passages and Words made use of by Shakespeare,” 1790; “A Complete Verbal Index to the Plays of Shakespeare,” in 2 vols., by Francis Twiss, Esq., 1805 ; and Mrs. Cowden Clarke's “ Complete Concordance to Shakspere,” 1847. Finally, there may be mentioned Archdeacon Nares's “Glossary of Words, etc., thought to require Illustration in Shakespeare and his Contemporaries,” 1822.
V. THE MODERN SHAKESPEARIAN TEXTS. No modern editor has reprinted the Plays of Shakespeare exactly as they stand in any of the old Folios or Quartos. Neither the spelling, nor the punctuation, nor the words of any ancient copy have been retained unaltered, even with the correction of obvious errors of the Press. It has been universally admitted by the course that has been followed that a genuine text is not to be obtained without more or less of conjectural emendation; the only difference has been as to the extent to which it should be carried. The most recent texts, however, beginning with that of Malone, and more especially those of Mr. Knight and of Mr. Collier (in his eight volume edition), have been formed upon the principle of adhering to the original copies as closely as possible; and they have given us back many old readings which had been rejected by preceding editors. There has been some difference of opinion among editors of the modern school in regard to whether the preference should be given in certain cases to the First Folio or to some previous Quarto impression of the Play produced in the lifetime of the author; and Steevens latterly, in opposition to Malone, who had originally been his coadjutor, set up the doctrine that the Second Folio was a safer guide than the First. The latter heresy, however, has probably now been abandoned by everybody.
But, besides the correction of what are believed to
be errors of the Press in the old copies, the text of Shakespeare has been subjected to certain modifications in all the modern reprints :
1. The spelling has been reduced to the modern standard. The original spelling is certainly no part of the composition. There is no reason to believe that it is even Shakespeare's own spelling. In all probability it is merely that of the person who set up the types. Spenser may be suspected to have had some peculiar notions upon the subject of orthography; but, apparently, it was not a matter about which Shakespeare troubled himself. In departing from the original editions here, therefore, we lose nothing that is really
2. The actual form of the word in certain cases has been modernized. This deviation is not so clearly defensible upon principle, but the change is so slight, and the convenience and advantage so considerable, that it may fairly be held to be justifiable nevertheless on the ground of expediency. The case of most frequent occurrence is that of the word than, which with Shakespeare, as generally with his contemporaries and predecessors, is always then. “Greater then a king” would be intolerable to the modern ear. Then standing in this position is therefore quietly converted by all the modern editors into our modern than. Another form which was unquestionably part of the regular phraseology and grammar of his day is what is sometimes described as the conjunction of a plural nominative with a singular verb, but is really only a peculiar mode of inflecting the verb by which the plural is left undistinguished from the singular. Shakespeare and his contemporaries, although they more usually