« PreviousContinue »
So, in Titus Andronicus, Act II. Sc. I.:
"Better than he have worn Vulcan's badge."
This editor, not knowing that worn was used as a dissyllable, reads:
"Better than he have yet worn Vulcan's badge.
Again, in Cymbeline, Act II. Sc. V.:
"All faults that name, nay, that hell knows, why hers,
These lines being thus carelessly distributed in the original copy,
"All faults that name, nay, that hell knows,
'Why hers, in part, or all; but rather all :" &c.
the editor of the second folio, to supply the defect of the first line, arbitrarily reads, with equal ignorance of his author's metre and phraseology,
"All faults that may be named, nay, that hell knows,
In King Henry IV. P. II. Act I. Sc. III. is this line :
"And being now trimm'd in thine own desires-."
instead of which the editor of the second folio, to remedy a supposed defect in the metre, has given us
"And being now trimm'd up in thine own desire-." Again, in As You Like It, Act II. Sc. I.:
"The body of city, country, court—.”
instead of which we find in the second folio, (the editor not knowing that country was used as a trisyllable,)
he pierceth through
"The body of the city, country, court."
In like manner, in The Winter's Tale, Act I. Sc. I. he has given us :
-we knew not
"The doctrine of ill-doing, no nor dream'd
"The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream'd," &c.
doctrine being used as a word of three syllables.
"Pay him six thousand," &c. says Portia in The Merchant of Venice,
"Before a friend of this description
"Should lose a hair through Bassanio's fault."
the word hair being used as a dissyllable, or Bassanio as a quadrisyllable. Of this the editor of the second folio was wholly ignorant, and therefore reads:
“Should lose a hair through my Bassanio's fault."
In The Winter's Tale, Act IV. Sc. III. Florizel, addressing Perdita says,
"Run not before mine honour; nor my lusts
"Burn hotter than my
To complete the last hemistich, Perdita is made to reply,
Here again this editor betrays his ignorance of Shakspeare's metre; for not knowing that burn was used as a dissyllable, he reads→→
"O but, dear sir," &c.
Again, in King Henry VIII. Act II. Sc. III. the Old Lady declares to Anne Boleyn,
"'Tis strange; a three-pence bow'd would hire me,
"Old as I am, to queen
But instead of this, hire not being perceived to be used as a word of two syllables, we find in the second folio,
"'Tis strange; a three-pence bow'd now would hire me," &c.
This editor, indeed, was even ignorant of the author's manner of accenting words, for in The Tempest, where we find,
he exhibits the second line thus :
"I have from all their cónfines call'd to enact," &c. Again, in King Lear, Act II. Sc. I. instead of―
"To have the expence and waste of his revénues,—”
the latter word, being, I suppose, differently accented after our poet's death, the editor of the second folio has given us,
"To have the expence and waste of révenues."
Various other instances of the same kind might be produced; but that I may not weary my readers, I will only add, that no person who wishes to peruse the plays of Shakspeare should ever open the Second Folio, or either of the subsequent copies, in which all these capricious alterations were adopted, with many additional errors and innovations.
It may seem strange, that the person to whom the care of supervising the second folio was consigned, should have been thus ignorant of our poet's language: but it should be remembered, that in the beginning of the reign of Charles the First many words and modes of speech began to be disused, which had been common in the age of Queen Elizabeth. The editor of the second folio was probably a young man, perhaps born in the year 1600. That Sir William D'Avenant, who was born in 1605, did not always perfectly understand our author's language, is manifest from various alterations which he has made in some of his pieces. The successive Chronicles of English history, which were compiled between the years 1540 and 1630, afford indubitable proofs of the gradual change in our phraseology during that period. Thus a narrative which Hall exhibits in what now appears to us as very uncouth and ancient diction, is again exhibited by Holinshed, about forty years afterwards, in somewhat a less rude form; and in the chronicles of Speed and Baker in 1611 and 1630, assumes a somewhat more polished air. In the second edition of Gascoigne's Poems printed in 1587, the editor thought it necessary to explain many of the words by placing more familiar terms in the margin, though not much more than twenty years had elapsed from the time of their composition: so rapid were, at that time, the changes in our language.
My late friend Mr. Tyrrwhitt, a man of such candour, accuracy, and profound learning, that his death must be considered as an irreparable loss to literature, was of opinion, that in printing these plays the original should be adhered to, and that we never could be a perfectly faithful edition, unless the first folio copy was made the standard, and actually sent to the press, with such corrections as the editor might think proper. By others it was suggested, that the notes should not be subjoined to the text, but placed at the end of each volume, and that they should be accompanied by a complete Glossary. The former scheme (that of sending the first folio to the press) appeared to me liable to many objections: and I am confident that if the notes were detached uninformed, rather than undergo the trouble occasioned by perpetual references from one part of a volume to another.
from the text, many readers would rema were detached
In the present edition I have endeavoured to obtain all the advantages which would have resulted from Mr. Tyrrwhitt's plan, without any of its inconveniences. Having often experienced the fallaciousness of collation by the eye, I determined, after I had adjusted the text in the best manner in my power, to have every proof-sheet of my work read aloud to me while I perused the first folio, for those plays which first appeared in that edition; and for all those which had been previously printed, the first quarto copy, excepting only in the instances of The Merry Wives of Windsor, and King Henry V. which, being either sketches or imperfect copies, could not be wholly relied on; and King Richard III.* of the earliest edition of which tragedy I was not possessed. I had at the same time before me a table which I had formed of the variations between the quartos and the folio. By this laborious process not a single innovation, made either by the editor of the second folio, or any of the modern edítors, could escape me. From the Index to all the words and phrases explained or illustrated in the notes, which I
* At the time the tragedy of King Richard III. was in the press, I was obliged to make use of the second edition printed in 1598; but have since been furnished with the edition of 1597, which I have collated verbatim, and the most material variations are noticed in the appendix.
have subjoined to this work *, every use may be derived which the most copious Glossary could afford; while those readers who are less intent on philological inquiries, by the notes being appended to the text, are relieved from the irksome task of seeking information in a different volume from that immediately before them.
If it be asked, what has been the fruit of all this labour, I answer, that many innovations, transpositions, &c. have been detected by this means; many hundred emendations have been made †, and, I trust, a genuine
*If the explication of any word or phrase should appear unsatisfactory, the reader, by turning to the Glossarial Index, may know at once whether any additional information has been obtained on the subject. Thus, in Macbeth, vol. iv. p. 392, Dr. Warburton's errroneous interpretation of the word bloodbolter'd is inserted; but the true explication of that provincial term may be found in the Appendix. So of the phrase, “Will you take eggs for money in The Winter's Tale; and some
Lest this assertion should be supposed to be made without evidence, I subjoin a list of the restorations made from the original copy, and supported by contemporary usage, in two plays only: The Winter's Tale and King John. The lines in the former instance are exhibited as they appear in the edition of 1778, (as being much more correctly printed than that of 1785,) those which follow as they appear in the present edition (i. e. Mr. Malone's, in ten volumes 1790.)
"The doctrine of ill-doing, no, nor dream’d—”
"The doctrine of ill-doing; nor dream'd-."
3. "As o'er-dyed blacks, as winds, as waters;-" "As o'er-dy'd blacks, as wind, as waters
4. “ As ornament oft does.” P. 302.
"As ornaments oft do." P. 130.
The original copy, with a disregard of grammar, reads—“ As ornaments oft does." This inaccuracy has been constantly cor