Page images

has means of coming at, and can have patience to examine, will fee evident tokens of a fashion then prevailing, which occafion'd all these plays to be caft in the fame mold. Now, Shakspeare, whatever motives he might have in fome other parts of it, at this period of his life wrote certainly for profit; and feeing it was to be had in this way, (and this way only, perhaps,) he fell in with the current, and gave his forry auditors a piece to their tooth in this contested play of Titus Andronicus ; which as it came out at the fame time with the plays above-mention'd, is moft exactly like them in almost every particular; their very numbers, confifting all of ten fyllables with hardly any redundant, are copy'd by this Proteus, who could put on any fhape that either ferv'd his intereft or fuited his inclination: and this, we hope, is a fair and unforc'd way of accounting for " Andronicus;" and may convince the most prejudic'd—that Shakspeare might be the writer of it; as he might also of Locrine which is afcrib'd to him, a ninth tragedy, in form and time agreeing perfectly with the others. But to conclude this article, However he may be cenfur'd as rafh or ill-judging, the editor ventures to declare-that he himself wanted not the conviction of the foregoing argument to be fatisfy'd who the play belongs to; for though a work of imitation, and conforming itself to models truly execrable throughout, yet the genius of its author breaks forth in fome places, and, to the editor's eye, Shakspeare ftands confefs'd: the third act in particular may be read with admiration even

diately after them, and of Shakspeare amongst the reft; and by their ridicule the town at last was made fenfible of their ill judgment, and the theatre was purg'd of these monsters.

by the most delicate; who, if they are not without feelings, may chance to find themselves touch'd by it with fuch paffions as tragedy fhould excite, that is-terror, and pity. The reader will pleafe to obferve-that all thefe contefted plays are in the folio, which is dedicated to the poet's patrons and friends, the earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, by editors who are seemingly honeft men, and profefs themfelves dependant upon thofe noblemen; to whom therefore they would hardly have had the confidence to prefent forgeries, and pieces fuppofititious; in which too they were liable to be detected by those identical noble perfons themselves, as well as by a very great part of their other readers and auditors: which argument, though of no little strength in itself, we omitted to bring before, as having better (as we thought) and more forcible to offer; but it had behov'd thofe gentlemen who have queftion'd the plays to have got rid of it in the first instance, as it lies full in their way in the very entrance upon this difpute.

We shall close this part of the Introduction with some obfervations, that were referv'd for this place, upon that paragraph of the player editors' preface which is quoted at p. 330; and then taking this further liberty with the reader,-to call back his attention to fome particulars that concern the prefent edition, difmifs him to be entertain'd (as we hope) by a fort of appendix, confifting of those notes that have been mention'd, in which the true and undoubted originals of almost all the poet's fables are clearly pointed out. But first of the preface. Befides the authenticity of all the feveral pieces that make up this collection, and their care in publishing them, both folemnly affirm'd in the paragraph refer'd to, we there find thefe honest

editors acknowledging in terms equally folemn the author's right in his copies, and lamenting that he had not exercis'd that right by a publication of them during his life-time; and from the manner En which they exprefs themselves, we are ftrongly nclin❜d to think-that he had really form'd fuch a lefign, but towards his laft days, and too late to but it in execution: a collection of Jonfon's was at hat inftant in the prefs, and upon the point of coming forth; which might probably inspire fuch thought into him and his companions, and proluce conferences between them-about a fimilar ublication from him, and the pieces that should ompofe it, which the poet might make a list of. t is true, this is only a fuppofition; but a fuppotion arifing naturally, as we think, from the inident that has been mention'd, and the expreffions f his fellow players and editors: and, if suffer'd o pafs for truth, here is a good and found reason or the exclufion of all thofe other plays that have een attributed to him upon fome grounds or ther; he himself has profcrib'd them; and we annot forbear hoping, that they will in no fuare time rife up against him, and be thruft into his orks: a difavowal of weak and idle pieces, the roductions of green years, wantonnefs, or inatntion, is a right that all authors are vested with; nd fhould be exerted by all, if their reputation is ear to them; had Jonfon us'd it, his character ad ftood higher than it does. But, after all, they ho have pay'd attention to this truth are not alays fecure; the indiscreet zeal of an admirer, or arice of a publisher, has frequently added things at difhonour them; and where realities have been anting, forgeries fupply the place; thus has omer his Hymns, and the poor Mantuan his Ciris VOL. I. Bb

and his Culex. Noble and great authors demand all our veneration: where their wills can be difcover'd, they ought facredly to be comply'd with; and that editor ill difcharges his duty, who prefumes to load them with things they have renounc'd: it happens but too often, that we have other ways to fhew our regard to them; their own great want of care in their copies, and the still greater want of it that is commonly in their impreffions, will find fufficient exercife for any one's friendship, who may wish to fee their works set forth in that perfection which was intended by the author. And this friendship we have endeavour'd to fhew to Shakspeare in the prefent edition: the plan of it has been lay'd before the reader; upon whom it refts to judge finally of its goodness, as well as how it is executed: but as feveral matters have interven'd that may have driven it from his memory ; and we are defirous above all things to leave a strong impreffion upon him of one merit which it may certainly pretend to, that is-it's fidelity; we shall take leave to remind him, at parting, thatThroughout all this work, what is added without the authority of fome ancient edition, is printed in a black letter: what alter'd, and what thrown out, confiantly taken notice of; fome few times in a note, where the matter was long, or of a complex nature;4 but, more generally, at the bottom of the

4 The particulars that could not well be pointed out below, according to the general method, or otherwife than by a note, are of three forts;-omiffions, any thing large; tranfpofitions; and fuch differences of punctuation as produce great changes in the fenfe of a paffage: inftances of the firft occur in Love's Labour's Loft; p. 54, and in Troilus and Creffida, p. 109 and 117; of the fecond, in The Comedy of Errors, p. 62, and in Richhard III. p. 92, and 102; and The Tempeft, p. 69, and King

page; where what is put out of the text, how minute and infignificant foever, is always to be met with; what alter'd, as conftantly fet down, and in the proper words of that edition upon which the alteration is form'd: and, even in authoriz'd readings, whoever is defirous of knowing further, what edition is follow'd preferably to the others, may be gratify'd too in that, by confulting the Various Readings; which are now finifh'd; and will be publish'd, together with the Notes, in fome other volumes, with all the speed that is convenient.


All's well that ends well.

The fable of this play is taken from a novel, of which Boccace is the original author; in whose Decameron it may be feen at p. 97.b of the Giunti edition, reprinted at London. But it is more than probable, that Shakspeare read it in a book, call'd The Palace of Pleafure: which is a collection of novels tranflated from other authors, made by one William Painter, and by him first publish'd in the years 1565 and 67, in two tomes, quarto; the novel now spoken of, is the thirty-eighth of tome the first. This novel is a meagre tranflation, not (perhaps)

Lear, p. 53, afford inftances of the laft; as may be seen by looking into any modern edition, where all thofe paffages ftand nearly as in the old ones.

[All these references are to Mr. Capell's own edition of our author.]

« PreviousContinue »