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exactness; and (contrary to the rest) there is very little variation in all the subsequent editions of them. There are extant two prefaces to the first quarto edition of Troilus and Cressida in 1609, and to that of Othello; by which it appears, that the first was published without his knowledge or consent, and even before it was acted, so late as seven or eight years before he died: and that the latter was not printed till after his death. The whole number of genuine plays, which we have been able to find printed in his life-time, amounts but to eleven. And of some of these, we meet with two or more editions by different printers, each of which has whole heaps of trash different from the other: which I thould fancy was occasioned by their being taken from different copies belonging to different playhouses.
The folio edition (in which all the plays we now receive as his were firft collected) was published by two players, Heminge and Condell, in 1623, seven years after his decease. They declare, that all the other editions were stolen and surreptitious and affirm theirs to be purged from the errors of the for
This is true as to the literal errors, and no other; for in all respects else it is far worse than
First, because the additions of trifling and bombast passages are in this edition far more numerous. For whatever had been added, since those quartos, by the actors, or had stolen from their mouths into the written parts, were from thence conveyed into the printed text, and all stand charged upon the author. He himself complained of this asage in Hamlet, where he wishes that those who play the clowns would speak no more than is set down for them.
(A& III. sc. ii.) But as a proof that he could not escape it, in the old editions of Romeo and Juliet there is no hint of a great number of the meani conceits and ribaldries now to be found there. In others, the low scenes of mobs, plebeians, and clowns are vastly shorter than at present: and I have seen one in particular (which seems to have belonged to the play-house by having the parts divided with lines, and the actors námes in the margin) where several of those very passages are added in a written hånd, which are fince to be found in the folio.
In the next place à number of beautiful passages, which are extant in the first single editions, are omitted in this: as it seems, without any other reason, than their willingness to shorten some scenes : these men (as it was said of Procrustes) either lopping, or stretching an author, to make him just fic for their stage.
This edition is said to be printed from the orii ginal copies; I believe they meant those which had lain ever since the author's days in the play-house, and had from time to time been cut, or added to, arbitrarily. It appears that this edition as well as the quartos, was printed (at least partly) from no better copies than the prompter's book, or piece-meal parts written out for the use of the actors: for irt some places their very' names are through carelessness set down instead of the Perfonæ Dramatis; and in others the notes of direction to the propertymen for their moveables, and to the players for their
; Much Ado about Nothing; Ac II. 6. Enter Prince Leonato, Claudio, and Jack Wilson, instead of Balthasar. And in Act IV. Cowley and Kemp constantly through a whole scene.
Edit, fol. of 2623, and 1632. POPE.
entries, are inserted into the text through the iga norance of the transcribers.
The plays not having been before so much as diftinguished by Acts and Scenes, they are in this edition divided'according as they played them; often when there is no pause in the action, or where they thought fit to make a breach in it, for the sake of musick, masques, or monsters.
Sometimes the scenes are transported and shuffled backward and forward; a thing which could no otherwise happen, but by their being taken from separate and piece-meal written parts.
Many verses are omitted entirely, and others transposed; from whence invincible obscurities have arisen, past the guess of any commentator to clear up, but just where the accidental glimpse of an old edition enlightens us.
Some characters were confounded and mixed, or two put into one, for want of a competent number of actors. Thus in the quarto edition of Midsummer Night's Dream, Ad V. Shakspeare introduces a. kind of master of the revels called Philostrate; all whose part is given to another chara&ter (that of Egeus) in the subsequent editions: so also in Hamlet and King Lear. This too makes it probable that the prompter's books were what they called the original copies.
From liberties of this kind, many speeches also were put into the mouths of wrong persons, where
A Such as,
66 My queen is murder'd! Ring the little bell.')
His nose grew as sharp as a pen, and a table of greena fields ;" which last words are not in the quarto. Pope.
There is no such line in any play of Shakfpeare, as that quoted by Mr. Pope. MALONE.
the author now seems chargeable with making them speak out of character: or sometimes perhaps for no better reason, than that a governing player, to have the mouthing of some favourite speech himfelf, would snatch it from the unworthy lips of an underling
Prose from verse they did not know, and they accordingly printed one for the other tliroughout the volume.
Having been forced to say so much of the players, I think I ought in justice to remark, that the judgment, as well as condition of that class of people was then far inferior to what it is in our days. As then the best playhouses were inns and taverns, (the Globe, the Hope, the Red Bull, the Fortune, &c.) so the top of the profession were then mere players, not gentlemen of the stage: they were led into the buttery by the steward:' not placed at the lord's table, or lady's toilette: and consequently were entirely deprived of those advantages they now enjoy in the familiar conversation of our nobility, and an intimacy (not to say dearness with people of the first condition.
From what has been said, there can be no question but had Shakspeare published his works himself (especially in his latter time, and after his retreat from the
* Mr. Pope probably recollected the following lines in The Taming of the Shrew, spoken by a Lord, who is giving directions to his fervant concerning some players:
66 Go, firrah, take them to the buttery,
66 And give them friendly welcome, every one.rs But he seems not to have obferved that the players here in. troduced were strollers; and there is no reason to suppose that our authos, Heminge, Burbage, Lowin, &c. 'who were licenfed by K. James, were treated in this manner. MALONE.
Nage) we should not only be certain which are genuine, but should find in those that are, the errors Jeffened by some thousands. If I may judge from all the distinguishing marks of his style, and his man: ner of thinking and writing, I make no doubt to de clare that those wretched plays, Pericles, Locrine, Sir John Oldcastle, Yorkshire Tragedy, Lord Cromwell, The Puritan, London Prodigal, and a thing called The Double Falshood, cannot be admitted as his. And I should conjecture of some of the others, (par, ticularly Love's Labour's Loft, The Winter's Tale, Comedy of Errors, and Titus Andronicus,) that only fome characters single scenes, or perhaps a few particular passages, were of his hand. It is very probable what occafioned fome plays to be fupposed Shakspeare's, was only this; that they were pieces produced by unknown authors, or fitted up for the theatre while it was under his administration; and no owner claim. ing them, they were adjudged to him, as they give strays to the lord of the manor: a mistake which (one may also observe) it was not for the interest of the house to remove. Yet the players themselves, Heminge and Condell, afterwards did Shakspeare the justice to reject those eight plays in their edițion; though they were then printed in his name, in every body's hands, and acted with some applausę (as we learned from what Ben Jonson fays of Pericles in his ode on the New Inn). That Titus Andronicus is one of this class I am the rather induced to believe, by finding the same author openly express his contempt of it in the Induction to Bartholomew
, Fair, in the year 1614, when Shakspeare was yet
6 His name was affixed only to four of them. MALONE,