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ever, as originally stated (see Notes and Emendations, Introduction, p. iv.), the alterations here enumerated cannot much exceed 3000. Those omitted are probably (though nothing to that effect is said) only corrections of what are called literal errors, or such misprints as rather disfigure than injure the sense. Among them, however, are such as the alteration of dambe into daub in the passage quoted above from the beginning of the First Part of Henry the Fourth, which is mentioned in the Notes and Emendations, though passed over in the List. It would be more satisfactory if everything were given.*
IV. THE SHAKESPEARIAN EDITORS AND
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 :-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
* Nearly the same views in most respects which I had announced in the North British Review in 1854, both on the Shakespearian text and on the new readings supplied by Mr Collier's MS. annotator, are 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 a number of the North American Review for the preceding year, as containing “by far the best and most thoroughly reasoned discussion" of the subject with which he had met.
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. New critical editions by the late Mr Singer and by Mr Staunton have also appeared within the last few years; and there are in course of publication the Cambridge edition by Mr Clark and Mr Wright, and another since commenced by
Mr Dyce, besides the magnificent edition by Mr HalliY well, which is to extend to 20 volumes folio.
The list of commentators, however, includes several other names besides those of the editors of the entire di collection of Plays; in particular, Upton, in “Critical fan Observations,” 1746; Dr Zachary Grey, in " Critical, His
torical, 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 Conjec* tures," 1766; Dr Richard Farmer, in “Essay on the
Learning of Shakespeare,” 1767; Charles Jennens, in annotated editions of" King Lear," 1770,—“Othello,” 1773, —“Hamlet,” 1773,—“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 X Concrete e indbrot...
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 Tuiss, 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
* Of this important work a new edition, with large additions, has lately been announced as in preparation.
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. This 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 his.
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 there
fore 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 said, as we do, “ words sometimes give offence,” held themselves entitled to say also, if they chose, “words sometimes gives offence." But here again so much offence would be given by the antiquated phraseology to the modern ear, accustomed to such an apparent violation of concord only from the most illiterate lips, that the detrimental s has been always suppressed in the modern edi. tions, except only in a few instances in which it happens to occur as an indispensable element of the rhyme -as when Macbeth, in his soliloquy before going in to murder the sleeping King (ii. 1) says,
" Whiles I threat he lives : Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives ;” or, as when Romeo says to Friar Lawrence (ii. 3),
“Both our remedies Within thy help and holy physic lies.” A few contractions also, such as upon't, on's head, etc., which have now become too vulgarized for composition of any elevation, are usually neglected in constructing the modern text, and without any appreciable injury to its integrity.
3. In some few cases the editors have gone the length of changing even the word which Shakespeare may very possibly have written, or which may probably have stood in the manuscript put into the hands of the original printers, when it has been held to be palpably or incontrovertibly wrong. In Julius Cæsar, for instance (ii. 1), they have upon this principle changed “the first of