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HAD I committed to paper all the remarks which occurred to me during a careful perusal of Mr. Collier's and Mr. Knight's editions of Shakespeare, they would have far exceeded the limits of a single volume, -for the passages both of the text and notes, to which I found weighty objections, were, like the afflictions of Dicæopolis, ψαμμακοσιογάργαρα: even those remarks now printed form only a part of what I had actually written down; but the Publisher very reasonably disliking a bulky book, it became necessary to make the present selection, and consequently to weaken the force of my protest against those two editions.
I must not be understood as if I meant to say that the same faults are always common to the editions of Mr. Collier and Mr. Knight; for, though it is my deliberate opinion that Shakespeare has suffered greatly from both, yet the one appears to me to be sometimes right where the other is wrong, and
Some of my remarks apply to the modern editors generally.
The censure which I presume to pass so decidedly on those two editions does not extend to the biographical portions. Mr. Collier's Life of Shakespeare exhibits the most praiseworthy research, a careful examination of all the particulars which have been discovered concerning the great dramatist, and the most intimate acquaintance with the history of our early stage. Mr. Knight's Shakspere, a Biography, I have not read.
The few notes on Gifford's edition of Ben Jonson will hardly be considered as out of place in a volume of this description.
Page 3, 1. 25, for "the barge she rode in" read "the barge she sat in."
[Vol. i. COLLIER; vol. iv. KNIGHT.]
SCENE 1.-C. p. 9; K. p. 139.
"Alon. Good boatswain, have care. Where's the master? Play
Boats. I pray now, keep below.
Ant. Where is the master, boatswain ?”
Mr. Knight gives the last of these speeches thus;
"Ant. Where is the master, boson ?"
and with the following note;
In the first edition (1623) Antonio here uses the sailor's word boson, instead of the more correct boatswain,' which is put in the mouth of the King of Naples. The modern editors have made no distinction; although the language of the king, throughout the play, is grave and dignified, and that of the usurping duke, for the most part, flippant and familiar. The variation in the first edition could scarcely be accidental."
The "variation" arose merely from the unsettled state of our early orthography.
In Taylor's prose tract called The Dolphins Danger and Deliverance, &c., we find; " Fran. Constable, Boatswaine . . . Hump. Lee, Boatsons mate." p. 32; "and the Boson (seeing them flye) most vndantedly with a whistle blourd them to the skirmish, if so they durst." p. 35,- Workes, ed. 1630. Here we have the word spelt in three ways.
I may notice, that an expression which immediately precedes the present passage, "Blow, till thou burst thy wind," occurs (slightly varied) in Taylor's description of a