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the means of collating it with and correcting it by a trustworthy manuscript. And, when we come to examine the new readings, we find everything in sufficient correspondence with this hypothesis ; some things almost, we may say, demonstrating it. Some of the alterations are of a kind altogether transcending the compass of conjectural emendation, unless it had taken the character of pure invention and fabrication. Such in particular are the entire lines inserted in various passages of which we have not a trace in the printed text. The number, too, of the new readings which cannot but be allowed to be either indisputable, or, at the least, in the highest degree ingenious and plausible, is of itself almost conclusive against our attributing them to nothing better than conjecture. On the other hand, some of his alterations are in all probability mistaken, some of his new readings apparently inadmissible,* and
* Among such must be reckoned, undoubtedly, the alteration, in Lady Macbeth's passionate rejoinder (Macbeth, i. 7), –
What beast was't then, That made you break this enterprise to me? of beast into boast. This is to convert the forcible and characteristic not merely into tameness, but into no-meaning; for there is no possible sense of the word boast which will answer here. But in this case the corrector was probably left to mere conjecture in making his selection between the two words; for in the handwriting of the earlier part of the seventeenth century the e and o are frequently absolutely undistinguishable. In the specimen of the annotator's own handwriting which Mr. Collier gives, the two e's of the word briefely are as like o's as e's, and what Mr. Collier reads bleeding might be equally well read blooding, if that were a word. Would Mr. Collier thus correct Tennyson's (Edwin Morris), —
Were not his words delicious, I a beast
To take them as I did ? There cannot, I conceive, be a question that a celebrated
many passages which there can hardly be a doubt are corrupt are passed over by him without correction. All this becomes intelligible upon our hypothesis. Working possibly upon the same manuscripts (whether those of the author or not) from which the printed text had been set up, he would with more deliberation, or by greater attention and skill, succeed in deciphering correctly much of the difficult or faded writing which had baMed or been misread by the printer. In other places, again, he was able to make nothing of it, or it deceived him. In some cases he may have ventured upon a conjecture, and when he does that he may be as often wrong as right. The manuscripts of which he had the use — whether the author's original papers or only tran-. scripts from them - probably belonged to the theatre; and they might now be in a much worse condition in some parts than when they were in the hands of Heminge and Condell in 1623. The annotator would seem to have been connected with the stage. The numerous and minute stage directions which he has inserted look as if it might have been for the use of some theatrical Company, and mainly with a view to the proper representation of the Plays, that his laborious task was undertaken.*
passage in another Play has been seriously injured by the same mistake which the annotator has made in the instance under consideration. Is it not self-evident that the speech of Polixenes in the Third Scene of the Fourth Act of the Winter's Tale should run as follows?
Nature is made better by no mean
The art itself is nature. The “ o'er that art” of the modern editions is over that art” in the old copies. In other cases, again, the ever and the even have evidently been confounded; as in The Merry Wives of Windsor, iv. 6, where Fenton describes Mrs. Page as “even strong against” the marriage of her daughter with Slender, “and firm for Doctor Caius.” The error here, if it be one, however, has apparently been left uncorrected by Mr. Collier's MS. annotator.
[For a concise account of the controversy which
* I do not remember having seen it noticed that the theatres claimed a property in the Plays of Shakespeare, and affected to be in possession of the authentic copies, down to a comparatively recent date. The following Advertisement stands prefixed to an edition of Pericles, in 12mo, published in 1734, and professing to be “printed for J. Tonson, and the rest of the Proprietors :" - " Whereas R. Walker, and his accomplices, have printed and published several of Shakespeare's Plays, and, to screen their innumerable errors, advertise that they are printed as they are acted; and industriously report that the said Plays are printed from copies made use of at the Theatres; I therefore declare, in justice to the Proprietors, whose right is basely invaded, as well as in defence of myself, that no person ever had, directly or indirectly, from me any such copy or copies; neither would I be accessary, on any account, to the imposing on the public such useless, pirated, and maimed editions, as are published by the said R. Walker. W. CHETWOOD, Prompter to His Majesty's Company of Comedians at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane.” On the subject of this Chetwood see Malone's Inquiry into the Shakespeare Papers, pp. 350 -352. In Tonson's similar editions of The History of Sir John Oldcastle and The Tragedy of Locrine (both declared on the title page to be “By Mr. William Shakespear"), he speaks in like manner of himself " and the other Proprietors of the Copies of Shakespear's Plays,” and complains that “one Walker has proposed to pirate all Shakespear's Plays, but through ignorance of what Plays were Shakespear's, did in several Advertisements propose to print Edipus King of Thebes as one of Shakespear's Plays, and has since printed Tate's King Lear instead of Shakespear's, and in that and Hamlet has omitted almost one half of the genuine editions printed by J. Tonson and the Proprietors.” It would appear from Nichols's Illustrations, II. 199, that Theobald, in the Preface to the Second Edition of his Play of The Double Falsehood, which he pretended was written by Shakespeare, spoke of private property perhaps standing so far in his way as to prevent him from putting out a complete edition of Shakespeare's Works. The passage, which does not occur in the first edition (1728), is retained in the third (1767).
the Collier Folio has caused, and a very satisfactory review of the results, see White's Shakespeare, vol. i. pp. cclxxx-ccxcvi.]
IV. THE SHAKESPEARIAN EDITORS AND
COMMENTATORS. 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 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 twenty-one volumes 8vo, in 1803. This was followed in 1821 by what is now the standard Variorum edition, also in twenty-one 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, by Mr. Staunton, and by Mr. Dyce, have also appeared within the last few years; and there are in course of publication the Cambridge edition by Mr. Clark and Mr. Wright (completed Sept., 1866], and the magnificent edition by Mr. Halliwell, which is to extend to twenty volumes folio. [Of American editions may be mentioned that by the Hon. Gulian C. Verplanck, three vols., 1847; that by Rev. Henry N. Hudson, eleven vols., 1855; and that by Mr. Richard Grant White, twelve vols., 1857–1865.]
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 Shakespear'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, — “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 [“ Remarks Critical and Illustrative on the Text and Notes of the last * Edition of Shakespeare,” 1783],