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lity, and some complaint of injury done to them and the author by stolen and maim'd copies; giving withal an advantageous, if just, idea of the copies which they have follow'd: but see the terms they make use of. "It had bene a thing, we confesse, worthie to have bene wished, that the author himselfe had liv'd to have set forth, and overseen his owne writings; but since it hath bin ordain'd otherwise, and he by death departed from that right, we pray you do not envie his friends, the office of their care, and paine, to have collected & publish'd them; and so to have publish'd them, as were (before) you were abus'd with diverse stolne, and surreptitious copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds and stealthes of injurious imposters, that expos'd them: even those, are now offer'd to your view cur'd, and perfect of their limbes; and all the rest, absolute in their numbers, as he conceived them. Who, as he was a happie imitator of nature, was a most gentle expresser of it. His minde and hand went together: and what he thought, he uttered with that easinesse, that wee have scarse received from him a blot in his papers." Who now does not feel himself inclin❜d to expect an accurate and good performance in the edition of these prefacers? But alas, it is nothing less: for (if we except the six spurious ones, whose places were then supply'd by true and genuine copies) the editions of plays preceding the folio, are the very basis of those we have there; which are either printed from those editions, or from the copies which they made use of: and this is principally evident in "First and Second Henry IV, Love's Labour's Lost, Merchant of Venice, Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado about Nothing, Richard II, Titus Andronicus, and Troilus and Cressida;" for in the others we see somewhat a greater latitude, as was observ'd a little above: but in these plays, there is an almost strict conformity between the two impressions: some additions are in the second, and some omissions; but the faults and errors of the quarto's are all preserv'd in the folio, and others added to them; and what difference there is, is generally for the worse on the side of the folio editors; which should give us but faint hopes of meeting with greater accuracy in the plays which they first publish'd; and, accordingly, we find them subject to all the imperfections that have been noted in the former: nor is their edition in general distinguish'd by any mark of preference above the earliest quarto's, but that some of their plays are divided into acts, and some others into acts and scenes; and that with due precision, and agreeable to the author's idea of the nature of such divisions. The order of printing these plays, the way in which they are class'd, and the titles given them, being matters of some curiosity, the table that is before the first folio is here reprinted: and to it are added marks, put between crotchets, shewing the plays that are divided; a signifying-acts, a & s acts and scenes.
these books, under their respective years; but to whom the transcript says not. Q 2
TABLE of Plays in the folio.t
The Tempest. [a & s.]
The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Measure for Measure. [a & 8.]
Loves Labour lost.*
The Merchant of Venice.* [a.]
The Winters Tale. [a & s.]
The Life and Death of King
The Life of King Henry the Fift. The First part of King Henry the Sixt.
The Second part of King Hen. the Sixt.
The Third Part of King Henry the Sixt.
The Life & Death of Richard the
The Life of King Henry the Eight.. [a & 8.]
[Troylus and Cressida] from the
secand folio; omitted in the first.
The Life and death of Julius Ca-
The Tragedy of Macbeth. [a & 8.]
Antony and Cleopater.
The plays, mark'd with asterisks, 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 same 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 first acted. In the paragraph immediately preceding, he speaks 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 same author, at p. 283, mentions too a Richard the Third, written by Doctor Leg, author of another play, called The Destruction of Jerusalem. And there is in the Museum, a manuscript Latin play upon the same subject, written by one Henry Lacy in 1586: which Latin play is but a weak performance; and yet seemeth to be the play spoken of by Sir John Harrington, (for the author was a Cambridge man, and of St. John's,) in this passage of his Apologie of Poetrie, prefix'd to his
Having premis'd thus much about the state and condition of these first copies, it may not be improper, nor will it be abso. lutely a digression, to add something concerning their authenticity: in doing which, it will be greatly for the reader's ease,and our own, to confine ourselves to the quarto's: which, it is hop'd, he will allow of; especially, as our intended vindication of them will also include in it (to the eye of a good observer) that of the plays that appear'd first in the folio: which therefore omitting, we now turn ourselves to the quarto's.
We have seen the slur that is endeavour'd to be thrown upon them indiscriminately by the player editors, and we see 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 assert confidently in his preface, that they are printed from "piece-meal parts, and copies of prompters;" but his arguments for it are some of them without foundation, and the others not conclusive; and it is to be doubted, that the opinion is only thrown out to countenance an abuse that has been carry'd to much too great lengths by himself and another edi. tor,-that of putting out of the text passages that they did not like. These censures then, and this opinion being set aside, is it criminal to try another conjecture, and see 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 so nume. rous, that, when we take a survey of thef, they seem the productions of a life of twice that length: for to the thirty-six plays in this collection, we must add seven, (one of which is in two parts) perhaps written over again;* seven others that were publish'd some of them in his life-time, and all with his name; and another seven, that are upon good grounds imputed to him; making in all, fifty-eight plays; besides 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 prose productions were, we know not: but it can hardly be suppos'd, that he, who had so considerable a share in the confidence of the Earls of Essex and Southampton, could be a mute spectator only of controversies in which they were so much interested; and his other poetical works, that are known, will fill a volume the size of these that we have here. When the number and bulk of these pieces, the shortness of his life, and the other busy employments
translation of Ariosto'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. would move (I thinke) Phalaris the tyraunt, and terrifie all tyrānous minded men, frō following their foolish ambitious humors, seeing how his ambi tion made him kill his brother, his nephews, his wife, beside infinit others; and last of all after a short and troublesome raigne, to end his miserable life, and to have his body harried after His death."
* Vide, this Introduction, p. 171.
of it are reflected upon duly, can it be a wonder that he should be so loose a transcriber of them? or why should we refuse to give credit to what his companions tell us, of the state of those transcriptions, 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; hastily written at first, and issuing from presses most of them as corrupt and licentious as can any where be produc'd, and not overseen by himself, nor by any of his friends: and there can be no stronger reason for subscribing to any opinion, than may be drawn in favour of this from the condition of all the other plays that were first printed in the folio: for, in method of publication, they have the greatest likeness possible to those which preceded them, and carry all the same marks of haste and negligence; yet the genuineness of the latter is attested by those who publish'd them, and no proof brought to invalidate their testimony. If it be still ask'd, what then becomes of the accusation brought against the quarto's by the player editors, the answer is not so far off as may perhaps be expected: it may be true that they were "stoln;" but stoln from the author's copies, by transcribers who found means to get at them:* and "maim'd" they must needs be, in respect 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 masters of all the alterations,-to give at once a greater currency to their own lame edition, and support 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.t
* But see a note at p. 172, which seems to infer that they were fairly come by: which is, in truth, the editor's opinion, at least of some of them; though, in way of argument, and for the sake of clearness, he has here admitted the charge in that full extent in which they bring it.
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 deposing, appears first in the copy of 1608, the third quarto impression, 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 same year; it is the first of Act the third. And Hamlet has some still more considerable; for the copy of 1605 has these words:-" Newly imprinted and enlarged to almost as much againe as it was, according to the true and perfect Coppie:" now though no prior copy has yet been produc'd, it is certain there was such by the testimony of this title-page: and that the play was in being at least nine years before, is prov'd by a book of Doctor Lodge's printed in 1596; which play was perhaps an imperfect one; and
It were easy to add abundance of other arguments in favour of these quarto's ;-Such as, their exact affinity to almost all the publications of this sort that came out about that time; of which it will hardly be asserted by any reasoning man, that they are all clandestine copies, and publish'd without their authors' consent: next, the high improbability of supposing that none of these plays were of the poet's own setting-out: whose case is render'd singular by such a supposition; it being certain, that every other author of the time, without exception, who wrote any thing largely, publish'd some of his plays himself, and Ben Jonson all of them: nay, the very errors and faults of these quarto's,-of some of them at least, and those such as are brought against them by other arguers,-are, with the editor, proofs of their genuineness; for from what hand, but that of the author himself, could come those seemingly-strange repetitions which are spoken of at p. 172? those imperfect exits, and entries of per sons who have no concern in the play at all, neither in the scene where they are made to enter, nor in any other part of it? yet such there are in several of these quarto's; and such might well be expected in the hasty draughts of so negligent an author, who neither saw at once all he might want, nor, in some instances, gave himself sufficient time to consider the fitness of what he was then penning. These and other like arguments might, as is said before, be collected, and urg'd for the plays that were first publish'd in the quarto's; that is, for fourteen of them, for the other six are out of the question: but what has been enlarg'd upon above, of their being follow'd by the folio, and their appa rent general likeness to all the other plays that are in that collection, is so very forcible as to be sufficient of itself to satisfy the unprejudic'd, that the plays of both impressions spring all from the same stock, and owe their numerous imperfections to one common origin and cause, the too-great negligence and haste of their over-careless producer.
But to return to the thing immediately treated,—the state of the old editions. The quarto's went through many impressions, as may be seen in the Table: and, in each play, the last is generally taken from the impression next before it, and so onward to the first; the few that come not within this rule, are taken notice of in the Table: and this further is to be observ'd of them: that, generally speaking, the more distant they are from the original, the more they abound in faults; 'till, in the end, the corruptions of the last copies become so excessive, as to make them of hardly any worth. The folio too had it's re-impressions, the dates and notices of which are likewise in the Table, and they tread the same round as did the quarto's: only that the third of them has seven plays more, (see their titles below,*) in which
not unlike that we have now of Romeo and Juliet, printed the year after; a fourth instance too of what the note advances.
* Locrine; The London Prodigal; Pericles, Prince of Tyre;