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their justly acquired fame, from the exquisite and powerful writings of the bard of Avon. Whilst the one may be considered as the creator of thought and inventor of character, the others have personified and given “local habitation” and existence to the poetical vision. The painter has also been usefully and honourably employed in delineating incidents, and portraying characters from the poet: whilst the engraver has translated these designs into a new language, and given them extensive circulation and permanent record. It may thus be said that the works of Shakspeare have conferred a literary and dramatic immortality on Great Britain, which nothing less than annihilation can destroy.
It may be both useful and amusing to close this essay with an account of the principal editions of Shakspeare's plays and poems, and also with an enumeration of the most considerable volumes and pamphlets that have been expressly devoted to comment on, elucidate, or perplex the original writings.
The first collection of Shakspeare's plays was pobJished in 1623, with the following title: "Mr. William Sbakspeare's Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true original copies. London: printed by Isaac Jaggard and Ed. Blount, 1623," folio. This volume was edited by John Hemynge and Henry Condell, and was dedicated to the most incomparable pair of brethren” William, Earl of Pembroke, and Philip, Earl of Montgomery. In the title page is a portrait, said to be a likeness of the author, with the engraver's name, “ Martin Droeshout, Scalspit, London;" and on the opposite page are these linės by Ben Jonson, addressed "To the Reader."
“This figure that thou here sees't put,
The above volume was carefully reprinted in close imilation of the original, a few years back, by J. Wright, for Vernon and Hood, London.
A second edition of Shakspeare's plays was published in folio, in 1632; a third in 1664, and a fourth in 1685. These several impressions are usually denominated “ ancient editions," because published within the first century after the death of the poet, and before any comments or elucidations were employed to expound the original text.
Of those editions which are distinguished by the title modern, the earliest was published by Nicholas Rowe in 1709, in vols. 8vo. This was followed by an edition in 12mo. by the same author in 1714; and to both were prefixed a biographical memoir of the illustrious bard. In 1725 Pope, who first introduced critical and emendatory notes, published his edition in 6 vols. 4to. with a preface, which Johnson characterizes as valuable alike for composition and justness of remark. A second edition by the same editor was published in 10 yols. 12mo. with additional notes and corrections, in 1728. The successor of Pope was Theobald, who produced a very elaborate edition in 7 vols. 8vo. in 1733; and a second, with corrections and additions, in 8 rols. 12mo, in 1740. Sir Thomas Hanmer next turned his attention to the illustration of Shakspeare, and in 1744 gave the world an edition of his plays in 6 vols. 4to. Warburton published his edition in 8 vols. 8vo. in 1747 ; from which time no critic attempted the task, till the year 1765; when Dr. Johnson's first edition made its appearance, in 8 vols. 8vo. It was preceded by an able and ingenious preface, in which the character of Shakspeare's writings, and the merits of his commentators, are discussed with that perspicuity and critical judgment for which this renowned author was so much distinguished. In 1766, Steevens's edition was published in 4 vols. 8vo. This was followed in 1768, by an edition in 10 vols. crown 8vo. by Mr. Capell. Next came out, in 1791, a second and improved 4to. edition by Sir Thomas Hanmer, which was succeeded by an edition in 10 vols. 8vo, in 1773, by Johnson and Steevens, conjointly. Of this last, a second edition was published in 1778; a third, revised and corrected by Reed, in 1785. In the year following was produced the first volume of the dramatic works of Shakspeare, with notes by Joseph Rann, A.M. which work was completed in 6 volš. 8vo. 1794. In 1784 was published, in 1 vol. royal 8vo. an edition printed for Stockdale, with a very copious verbal index, by the Rev. Mr. Ayscough. Bell's edition appeared in 1788, in 20 vols. 12mo.; and in 1790, Malone's was ushered into the world, in 10 vols. crown 8vo. In 1793 a fourth edition, by Johnson and Steevens, &c. “revised and augmented,” in 15 vols. 8vo. was edited by Reed. A fifth edition, in 21 vols. 8vo, was published in 1803; and another edition, with corrections, &c. appeared in 1813.
Many other impressions of our author's plays have been published by different booksellers, in different sizes, and of various degrees of typographic merit. Most of them however are unauthenticated reprints : but many of them have the popular attraction of embellishments. The most splendid of this class was published by Boydell, in 9 vols. folio. embellished with 100 engravings, executed by, and from artists of the first eminence. The same work was also printed in 4lo. In 1805, was published an edition of Shakspeare's plays in 10 vols. 8vo. with a prefatory essay, by Alexander Chalmers, F.S. A. and a print to each play from a design by Henry Fuseli, Esq. R. A.
LIST OF DETACHED ESSAYS AND DISSERTATIONS
WRITINGS OF SHAKSPEARE. 1. A short View of. Tragedy; its original Excellency and Corruption; with some Reflections on Shakspeare and other Practitioners for the Stage. By Mr. Rymer, Servant to their Majesties. 8vo. 1693.
2. Remarks on the Plays of Shakspeare. By C. Gildon, 8vo. Printed at the end of the seventh volume of Rowe's edition, 1710.
3. An Essay on the Genius and Writings of Shaka speare, with some Letters of Criticism to the Spectator. By Mr. Dennis. 8vo. 1712.
4. Shakspeare Restored: or a Specimen of the many Errors, as well committed as upamended, by Mr. Pope, in his late Edition of this Poet. Designed not only to correct the said Edition, but to restore the true Reading of Shakspeare in all the Editions ever yet published. By Mr. Theobald. 4to. 1726.
5. An Answer to Mr. Pope's Preface to Shakspeare, in a Letter to a Friend; being a Vindication of the old Actors, who were the Publishers and Performers of that Author's Plays. Whereby the Errors of their Edition are further accounted for, and some Memoirs of Shakspeare and the Stage History of his Time are inserted, which were never before collected and pubJislied. By a Strolling Player (John Roberts.) 8vo. 1729.
6. Some Remarks on the Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, written by William Shakspeare, Printed for W. Wilkins. 8vo. 1736.
7. Explanatory and critical Notes on divers Passages of Shakspeare's Plays. By Francis Peck. Printed with his new Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Mr. John Milton. 4to. 1740.
8. An Essay towards fixing the true Standards Wit and Humour, Raillery, Satire, and Ridicule: to which is added, an Auralysis of the Characters of a Humourist, Sir John Falstaff
, Sir Roger de Coverley, and Don Quixote. (By Corbyn Morris.) 8vo. 1744.
9. Miscellaneous Observations on the Tragedy of Macbeth, with Remarks on Sir Thomas Hanmer's Edition of Sbakspeare. To which is affixed, Proposals for a new Edition of Shakspeare, with a Specimen. (By Dr. Samuel Johnson.) 12mo. 1745.
10. A Word or two of Advice to William Warburton,
with Remarks on several Passages of his Plays. In
with a long String of Emendations, borrowed by the
Preface, in his Edition of Shakspeare; together with