« PreviousContinue »
and agreeable to the author's idea of the nature of fuch divifions. The order of printing these plays, the way in which they are class'd, and the titles given them, being matters of fome curiofity, the Table that is before the first folio is here reprinted: and to it are added marks, put between crotchets, fhewing the plays that are divided; a fignifying-acts, a & facts and scenes.
TABLE of Plays in the folio.
The Tempest. [a & f.].
Measure for Measure. [a & f.]
The Comedy of Errours.*
Much adoo about No-
The plays, mark'd with afterisks, are spoken of by name, in a book, call'd-Wit's Treasury, being the Second Part of Wit's Commonwealth, written by Francis Meres, at p. 282: who, in the fame paragraph, mentions another play as being Shakspeare's, under the title of Loves Labours Wonne; a title that seems well adapted to All's well that ends well, and under which it might be firft acted. In the paragraph immediately preceding, he fpeaks of his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, and his Sonnets: this book was printed in 1598, by P. Short, for Cuthbert Burbie; octavo, small. The fame author, at p. 283, mentions too a Richard the Third, written by Doctor Leg, author of another play, called The Destruction of Jerufalem. And there is in the Mufæum, a manuscript Latin play upon the fame fubject, written by one Henry Lacy in 1586: which Latin play is but a weak performance; and yet feemeth to be the play spoken of by Sir John Harrington, (for the author was a Cambridge man, and of St. John's,) in this paffage of his Apologie of Poetrie, prefix'd to his tranflation of Ariofto's Orlando, edit. 1591, fol:
-and for tragedies, to omit other famous tragedies; that, that was played at S. Johns in Cambridge of Richard the 3.
The Life and Death of King John.* [a & f.] The Life & Death of Richard the fecond.* [a & f.] The First part of King Henry the fourth. [a & S.] The Second Part of K. Henry the fourth.* [a & f.] The Life of King Henry the Fift.
The First part of King
The Third part of King
The Life & Death of Richard the Third.* [a & f.]
The Life of King Henry the Eight. [a & f.]
[Troylus and Crefsida] from the fecond folio ; omitted in the first. The Tragedy of Coriolanus. [a.] Titus Andronicus.* [a.] Romeo and Juliet.* Timon of Athens. The Life and death of Julius Cæfar. [a.] The Tragedy of Macbeth, [a & f.] The Tragedy of Hamlet. King Lear. [a & f.]
would move (I thinke) Phalaris the tyraunt, and terrifie all tyrānous minded men, fro following their foolish ambitious humors, feeing how his ambition made him kill his brother, his nephews, his wife, befide infinit others; and last of all after a fhort and troublefome raigne, to end his miferable life, and to have his body harried after his death."
Othello, the Moore of Ve-
Cymbeline King of Britaine. [a & f.]
Having premis'd thus much about the ftate and condition of these firft copies, it may not be improper, nor will it be abfolutely a digreffion, to add fomething concerning their authenticity: .in doing which, it will be greatly for the reader's eafe, and our own, to confine ourfelves to the quarto's which, it is hop'd, he will allow of; efpecially, as our intended vindication of them will alfo include in it (to the eye of a good obferver) that of the plays that appear'd firft in the folio: which therefore omitting, we now turn ourselves to the quarto's.
We have feen the flur that is endeavour'd to be thrown upon them indifcriminately by the player editors, and we fee it too wip'd off by their having themselves follow'd the copies that they condemn. A modern editor, who is not without his followers, is pleas'd to affert confidently in his preface, that they are printed from " piece-meal parts, and copies of prompters :" but his arguments for it are fome of them without foundation, and the others not conclufive; and it is to be doubted, that the opinion is only thrown out to countenance an abufe that has been carry'd to much too great lengths by himself and another editor,-that of putting out of the text paffages that they did not like. Thefe cenfures then, and this opinion being fet afide, is it criminal to try another conjecture, and fee what can be made of it? It is known, that Shakspeare liv'd to no great age, being taken off in his fifty-third year; and yet his works are
fo numerous, that, when we take a furvey of them, they feem the productions of a life of twice that length for to the thirty-fix plays in this collection, we must add seven, (one of which is in two parts,) perhaps written over again; feven others that were publifh'd fome of them in his life-time, and all with his name; and another feven, that are upon good grounds imputed to him; making in all, fifty-eight plays; befides the part that he may reasonably be thought to have had in other men's labours, being himself a player and a manager of theatres what his profe productions were, we know not but it can hardly be fuppos'd, that he, who had fo confiderable a fhare in the confidence of the Earls of Effex and Southampton, could be a mute fpectator only of controverfies in which, they were fo much interested; and his other poetical works, that are known, will fill a volume the fize of these that we have here. When the number and bulk of these pieces, the shortness of his life, and the other bufy employments of it are reflected upon duly, can it be a wonder that he fhould be fo loose a transcriber of them? or why fhould we refufe to give credit to what his companions tell us, of the fate of thofe tranfcriptions, and of the facility, with which they were pen'd? Let it then be granted, that these quarto's are the poet's own copies, however they were come by; haftily written at first, and iffuing from preffes moft of them as corrupt and licentious as can any where be produc'd, and not overfeen by himself, nor by any of his friends and there can be no ftronger reafon for fubfcribing to any opinion, than may be drawn in favour of this from the condition of
Vide, this Introduction, p. 327.
all the other plays that were firft printed in the folio; for, in method of publication, they have the greatest likeness poffible to thofe which preceded them, and carry all the fame marks of hafte and negligence; yet the genuineness of the latter is attefted by those who publifh'd them, and no proof brought to invalidate their teftimony. If it be still afk'd, what then becomes of the accufation brought against the quarto's by the player editors, the answer is not fo far off as may perhaps be expected it may be true that they were "ftoln;" but ftoln from the author's copies, by tranfcribers who found means to get at them :" and "maim'd" they muft needs be, in refpect of their many alterations after the first performance: and who knows, if the difference that is between them, in some of the plays that are common to them both, has not been studiously heighten'd by the player editors,who had the means in their power, being matters of all the alterations,-to give at once a greater currency to their own lame edition, and fupport the charge which they bring against the quarto's ? this, at least, is a probable opinion, and no bad way of accounting for those differences.3
2 But fee a note at p. 330, which seems to infer that they were fairly come by which is, in truth, the editor's opinion, at least of fome of them; though, in way of argument, and for the fake of clearness, he has here admitted the charge in that full extent in which they bring it.
3 Some of these alterations are in the quarto's themselves (another proof this, of their being authentick,) as in Richard II: where a large scene, that of the king's depofing, appears first in the copy of 1608, the third quarto impreffion, being wanting in the two former: and in one copy of 2 Henry IV. there is a scene too that is not in the other, though of the fame year; it is the first of Act the third. And Hamlet has fome still more confiderable; for the copy of 1605 has these words :