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the Collier Folio has caused, and a very satisfactory review of the results, see White's Shakespeare, vol. i. pp. cclxxx-ccxcvi.]



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 bibliographi

cal 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],


* Steevens's.


“ The Quip Modest” (1788], 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 two 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. [Of this valuable work a new edition with many additions both of words and examples, by J. O. Halliwell and Thos. Wright, appeared in 1859.]


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. 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 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 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 editions, 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),

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