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In editing the book I have omitted some portions of it; but I believe I have sacrificed nothing which may not be readily found in other books, especially in the last revised edition of Webster's Dictionary, to which I have rarely referred the reader, but which he will do well to consult on all points of etymology, discussed by Prof. Craik. Whatever may be its other merits or demerits, it is the first English Dictionary yet published that may be safely taken as an authority on the etymology of the language.
The portions of the original work which I have retained, I have thought it best to give precisely as the author 'wrote them. Here and there I have abridged a paragraph, and in two or three instances I have changed a word or phrase ; but none of these variations from the rule I had laid down for myself are of any importance. Where I could not accept the author's explanation of a passage, I have generally given his views as well as my own, since the reader might prefer the former to the latter. My own notes are in all cases enclosed in brackets. The cases in which the author (as on pages 49, 161, and 270) has put an explanatory word or remark in brackets, are very few and wholly unimportant.
The text of the play also I have left as Prof. Craik gives it. In seven instances, however, I have corrected obvious misprints. In 66 I give " He is a noble Roman" instead of “ He is noble Roman”
PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.
(see note on 155); in 256, “further” for “farther" (see note on 45); in 309
66 true-fixed” for “ true fixt;
in 401 “masters” for “ master” (see note on the passage); in 412 “o'ershot” (First Folio, “o’reshot”) for “overshot;” in 745 “ere” (as in First Folio) for “ e'er;" and in 775 “ than” for “then.” I have also changed the spelling of a few words (as “deckt," "pluckt," etc.) in which Prof. Craik follows the Folio.* The punctuation, too, I have sometimes changed, but in no case where the interpretation of the passage depended upon it (see note on Even by the rule, etc., 708).
As far as possible, I have verified the references to other Plays and to other authors, and have corrected many little errors, the majority of which were either slips of the pen or misprints. Quite likely I have overlooked similar errors of my own; if so, I shall esteem it a favor to be informed of them.
In revising the notes I have made use of Dyce's edition of Shakespeare, Collier's Second edition, † Singer's, Staunton's, Hudson's, White's, and Clark and Wright's “ Cambridge Edition ;” carrying out
* I have retained the -our in all words like valour, favour, etc., except honor and its derivatives. I changed that word (perhaps not wisely, on the whole) because I found that the Folio had honor in the majority of cases, and even in "honor for his valour" in 374.
+ Craik's references are to the First edition. In the Second Collier has adopted many of Craik's suggestions.
as well as I could Prof. Craik's plan of giving the readings adopted by the different editors, and their comments on difficult or disputed passages.
I have added largely to the references to Bible passages illustrating Shakespeare's English. I had done a good part of this work some months before I met with The Bible Word-Book, by Eastwood and Wright (London, 1866); but in revising my notes for publication I made free use of that admirable little book, and drew from it considerable additional matter.
To Prof. F. J. Child, of Harvard College, for the encouragement he has given me in my work, and for many valuable criticisms and suggestions, I am under especial obligations.
W. J. R. CAMBRIDGE, Feb. 15, 1867.
THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE.
In this attempt to illustrate the ENGLISH OF SHAKESPEARE, I would be understood to have had a twofold purpose, in conformity with the title of the volume, which would naturally be taken to promise something of exposition in regard both to the language or style of Shakespeare and to the English language generally.
My first business I have considered to be the correct exhibition and explanation of the noble work of our great dramatist with which the volume professes to be specially occupied. I will begin, therefore, by stating what I have done, or endeavored to do, for the Play of Julius CÆSAR.
I have given what I believe to be a more nearly authentic text than has yet appeared. Julius Cæsar is, probably, of all Shakespeare's Plays, the one of which the text has come down to us in the least unsatisfactory state. From whatever cause it has happened, the passages in this Play as to the true reading of which there can be much reasonable doubt are, comparatively, very few. Even when anything is wrong in the original edition, the manner in which it is to be set to rights is for the most part both pretty obvious and nearly certain. There
are, perhaps, scarcely so many as half a dozen lines of any importance which must be given up as hopelessly incurable or even doubtful. It is, I should think, of all the Plays, by much the easiest to edit; both the settlement of the text and its explanation are, I conceive, simpler than would be the case in any other; and it is for that reason partly that I have selected it for the present attempt.
The alterations which I have found it necessary to make upon the commonly received text do not amount to very many; and the considerations by which I have been guided are in every instance fully stated in the Commentary. The only conjectural innovations which I have ventured upon of my own are, the change of “What night is this?” into “What a night is this !” in the speech numbered 117; the insertion of " not” after “Has he,” in that numbered 401 ; and the transposition of the two names Lucilius and Lucius in that numbered 520. The first and second of these three corrections are of little moment, though both, I think, clearly required; the third I hold to be both of absolute certainty and necessity, and also of considerable importance, affecting as it does the whole course of the Fourth Act of the Play, restoring propriety and consistency to the conduct of the action and the parts sustained by the various personages, and vindicating a reading of the First Folio in a subsequent speech (570), which, curiously enough, had never been previously noticed by anybody, but has been silently ignored and departed from even by those of the modern editors who have professed to adhere the most scrupulously to that original text.