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obvious errors of the press I, the reader is apprized by a
2. “ 'Tis too respective, and too sociable.
“ For your conversing." P. 14. .
“ For your conversion.” P. 456.
“ Thus leaning on mine elbow,- P. 457.
“ With them a bastard of the king's deceas d.” P. 464. 5." That thou hast under-wrought its lawful king" P. 26.
“ That thou hast under-wrought his lawful king." P.465. 6. “ Say, shall the current of our right run on?”. P. 37.
Say, shall the current of our right roam on?” P. 476. 7.“ And now he feasts, mouthing the flesh of men,-."
P.38. “ And now he feasts, mousing the flesh of men,
P. 477. 8.“ A greater power than ye" P. 39. “ A greater power
P.478. 9. “ For grief is proud, and makes his owner stoop." P. 52. “ For grief is proud, and makes his owner stout."
P. 492. 10.“ O, that a man would speak these words to me!"
P. 52. “ O, that a man should speak these words to me !"
P. 497. 11. “ Is't not amiss, when it is truly done?” P. 64.
“ Is not amiss, when it is truly done." P. 504.
P. 72. “ Then, in despight of brooded watchful day," P.512. 13.“ A whole armado of collected sail." P. 74.
A whole armado of convicted sail.” P. 514. 14. “ And bitter shame hath spoild the sweet world's taste." “ And bitter shame hath spoil'd the sweet word's taste.”
P. 519. 15.“ Strong reasons make strong actions.” P. 81.
“ Strong reasons make strange actions.” P. 522. -16. “ Must make a stand at what your highness will."
P. 89. “ Doth make a stand at what your highness will.".
note; and every emendation that has been adopted, is
17.“ Had none, my lord! why, did not you provoke me?"
P. 96. “ Had none, my lord! why, did you not provoke me?”
P. 536. 18.“ Mad'st it no conscience to destroy a king.” P.97.
“ Made it no conscience to destroy a king." P. 537. 19. “ Sir, sir, impatience has its privilege." P. 102.
“ Sir, sir, impatience has his privilege." P. 541. 20.“ Or, when he doom'd this beauty to the grave,”
P. 102. “ Or, when he doom'd this beauty to a grave,"
“ To the yet-unbegotten sin of times.” P.541.
“ And breathing to his breathless excellence, P.542.
P.121. “ And your supply, which you have wish'd so long,"
P. 561. 24.“ What's that to thee? Why may I not demand—”
P. 122. “ What's thát to thee? Why may not I demand—”
P. 562. 25.“ O, my sweet sir, news fitted to the night." P. 123.
“O, my sweet sir, news fitting to the night.” P.563.
si Leaves them; invisible his siege is now
“ Against the mind,-" P. 565.
« The salt in them is hot." P. 568.
Act II. Sc. II. “ Be these sad signs confirmers of thy word."
Act III. Sc. I. because. I pointed them out on a former occasion.
It may perhaps be urged that some of the variations in these lists, are of no great consequence; but to preserve our poet's genuine text is certainly important; for otherwise, as Dr. Johnson
ascribed to its proper author. When it is considered that
has justly observed, “ the history of our language will be lost;" and as our poet's words are changed, we are constantly in danger of losing his meaning also. Every reader must wish to peruse what Shakspeare wrote, supported at once by the authority of the authentick copies, and the usage of his contemporaries, rather than what the editor of the second folio, or Pope, or Hanmer, or Warburton, have arbitrarily substituted in its place.
Let me not, however, be misunderstood. All these variations have not been discovered by the present collation, some of them having been pointed out by preceding editors ; but such as had been already noticed were merely pointed out: the original readings are now established and supported by the usage of our poet himself and that of his contemporaries, and restored to the text, instead of being degraded to the bottom of the page.
# That I may be accurately understood, I subjoin a few of these unnoticed corrections : In King Henry VI. P. I. Act I. Sc. VI:
“ Thy promises are like Adonis' gardens,
“ That one day bloom'd and fruitful were the next." The old copy reads-garden. In King John, Act IV. Sc. II:
that close aspect of his “ Does shew the mood of a much-troubled breast." The old
reads-Do. * Ibidem, Act I. Sc. I:
“ 'Tis too respective, and too sociable," &c. The old copy,—'Tis two respective,” &c. Again, in the same play, we find in the original copy:
Against the inuoluerable clouds of heaven. In King Henry V. Act V. Sc. II:
“ Corrupting in its own fertility.” The old copy reads—it. In Timon of Athens, Act I. Sc. I:
6 Come, shall we in?" The old copy has—Comes.
Ibidem : “ Even on their knees, and hands,"
« The handmaids of all women, or, more truly,
$6 Woman its pretty self.” The old copy has-it.
It cannot be expected that the page should be encumbered with the notice of such obvious mistakes of the press as are here enumerated. With the exception of errors such as these, whenever any emendation has been adopted, it is mentioned in a note, and ascribed to its author.
there are one hundred thousand lines in these plays, and that it often was necessary to consult six or seven 'volumes, in order to ascertain by which of the preceding editors, from the time of the publication of the second folio, each emendation was made, it will easily be believed, that this was not effected without much trouble.
my notes play be one originally printed in quarto," mean the first quarto copy; if the play appeared originally in folio, I mean the first folio ; and when I mention the old copies, I mean the first quarto and first folio, which, when that expression is used, it may be concluded, concur in the same reading. In like manner, the folio always means the first folio, and the quarto, the earliest quarto, with the exceptions already mentioned. In general, however, the date of each quarto is given, when it is cited. Where there are two quarto copies printed in the same year, they are particularly distinguished, and the variations noticed.
The two great duties of an editor are, to exhibit the genuine text of his author, and to explain his obscurities. Both of these objects have been so constantly before my eyes, that, I am confident, one of them will not be found to have been neglected for the other. I can with perfect truth say, with Dr. Johnson, that “ not a single passage in the whole work has appeared to me obscure, which I have not endeavoured to illustrate." I have examined the notes of all the editors, and my own former remarks, with equal rigour; and have endeavoured as much as possible to avoid all controversy, having constantly had in view a philanthropick observation made by the editor above mentioned: “I know not (says that excellent writer,) why our editors should, with such implacable anger, persecute their predecessors. Oi vexpoi un experiy, the dead, it is true, can make no resistance, they may be attacked with great security; but since they can néither feel nor mend, the safety of mauling them seems greater than the pleasure: nor perhaps would it much misbeseem us to remember, amidst our triumphs over the nonsensical and the senseless, that we likewise are men; that debemur morti, and, as Swift observed to Burnet, shall soon be among the dead ourselves.”
I have in general given the true explication of a passage, by whomsoever made, without loading the page with the preceding unsuccessful attempts at elucidation, and by
this means have obtained room for much additional illustration: for, as on the one hand, I trust very
superfluous or unnecessary annotations have been admitted, so on the other, I believe, that not a single valuable explication of any obscure passage in these plays has ever appeared, which will not be found in the following volumnes.
The admirers of this poet will, I trust, not merely pardon the great accession of new notes in the present edition, but examine them with some degree of pleasure. An idle notion has been propagated, that Shakspeare has been buried under his commentators; and it has again and again been repeated by the tasteless and the dull, " that notes, though often necessary, are necessary evils.” There is no person, I believe, who has an higher respect for the authority of Dr. Johnson than I have; but he has been misunderstood, or misrepresented, as if these words contained a general caution to all the readers of this poet. Dr. Johnson, in the part of his preface here alluded to, is addressing the young reader, to whom Shakspeare is new; and him he very judiciously counsels to "read every play from the first scene to the last, with utter negligence of all his commentators.-Let him read on, through brightness and obscurity, through integrity and corruption; let him preserve his comprehension of the dialogue, and his interest in the fable.” But to much the greater and more enlightened part of his readers, (for how few are there comparatively to whom Shakspeare is new?) he gives a very different advice: Let them to whom the pleasures of novelty have ceased, " attempt exactness, and read the commentators.”
During the era of conjectural criticism and capricious innovation, notes were indeed evils; while one page was covered with ingenious sophistry in support of some idle conjecture, and another was wasted in its overthrow, or in erecting a new fabrick equally unsubstantial as the former. But this era is now happily past away: and conjecture and emendation have given place to rational explanation. We shall never, I hope, again be told, that
as the best guesser was the best diviner, so he may be said in some measure to be the best editor of Shakspeare*.” Let me not, however, be supposed an enemy to all conjectural emendation; sometimes undoubtedly
* Newton's Preface to his edition of Milton.