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names are thro' carelessnefs fet down inftead of the Perfonæ Dramatis: And in thers the notes of direction to the Property-men for their Moveables, and to the Players for their Entries, tare inferted into the Text, thro' the ignorance of the Tranfcribers.

The Plays not having been before fo much as diftinguifhed by Acts and Scenes, they are in this edition divided according as they play'd them; often where there is no pause in the action, or where they thought fit to make a breach in it, for the fake of Mufick, Mafques, or Monsters.

Sometimes the fcenes are transposed and fhuffled backward and forward; a thing which could no otherwife happen, but by their being taken from feparate and piece meal-written parts.

Many verfes are omitted intirely, and others tranfpofed; from whence invincible obfcurities have arisen, past the guess of any Commentator to clear up, but juft where. the accidental glympfe of an old edition enlightens us. Some

Enter Prince

* Much ado about nothing. Act 2. Leonato, Claudio, and Jack Wilfon, inflead of Balthafar. And in Act 4. Cowley and Kemp, conftantly thro'a whole Scene. Edit. Fol. of 1623, and 1632.

+ such as,

My Queen is murder'd! Ring the little BellHis nofe grew as fharp as a pen, and a Table of Greenfields, &c. which laft words are not in the first quarto edition,

Some Characters were confounded and mix'd, or two put into one, for want of a competent number of actors. Thus in the Quarto edition of Midfummer-Night's Dream, A&t. 5. Shakespear introduces a kind of Mafter of the Revels called Philoftratus; all whofe part is given to another character (that of Egeus) in the fubfequent editions. So alfo in Hamlet and King Lear. This too makes it probable that the Prompter's Books were what they call'd the Original Copies.

From liberties of this kind, many speeches also were put into the mouths of wrong perfons, where the Author now seems chargeable with making them speak out of character: Or fometimes perhaps for no better reason, than that a governing Player, to have the mouthing of fome favourite fpeech himself, would fnatch it from the unworthy lips of an Underling.

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infonter) for Profe from verfe they did not know, and trans, they accordingly printed one for the other tion throughout the volume.

Having been forced to fay fo much of the Players, I think I ought in juftice to remark, that the Judgment as well as Condition of that clafs of people was then far inferior to what it is in our days. As then the best Play-houses were Inns and Taverns (the Globe, the Hope, the Red Bull, the Fortune, &c.) fo the top of the profeffion


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were then meer players, not Gentlemen of the stage: They were led into the Buttery by the Steward, not plac'd at the Lord's table, or Lady's toilette: and confequently were intirely depriv'd of thofe advantages they now enjoy, in the familiar converfation of our Nobility, and an intimacy (not to fay dearness) with people of the first condition.


From what has been faid, there can be no question but had Shakespear published his works himfelf (especially in his latter time, and after his retreat from the stage) we fhould not only be certain which are genuine; but should find in thofe that are, the errors leffened by fome thousands. If I may judge from all the diftinguishing marks of his style, and his manner of thinking and writing, I make no doubt to declare that those wretched plays, Pericles, Locrine, Sir John Oldcastle, Yorkshire Tragedy, Lord Cromwell, The Puritan, London Prodigal, and a thing call'd the Double Falfhood, cannot be admitted as his. And I fhould conjecture of fome of the others, (particularly Love's Labour's Loft, The Winter's Tale, Comedy of Errors, and Titus Andronicus) that only fome characters, fingle scenes, or perhaps a few particular paffages, were of his hand. It is very probable what occafion'd fome Plays to be fuppofed Shakespear's was only this; that they were pieces produced by unknown authors, or fitted up VOL. I.



for the Theatre while it was under his Administration; and no owner claiming them, they were adjudged to him, as they give Strays to the Lord of the Manor. A miftake, which (one may also observe) it was not for the intereft of the Houfe to remove. Yet the Players themselves, Hemings and Condell, afterwards did Shakespear the justice to reject those plays in their edition; tho' they were then printed in his name, in every body's hands, and acted with fome applaufe; (as we learn from what Ben Johnson 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 fame Author openly exprefs his contempt of it in the Induction to Bartholomew-Fair, in the year 1614, when Shakespear was yet living. And there is no better authority for thefe latter fort, than for the former, which were equally published in his life-time.

If we give into this opinion, how many low and vicious parts and paffages might no longer reflect upon this great Genius, but appear unworthily charged upon him? And even in those which are really his, how many faults may have been unjustly laid to his account from arbitrary Additions, Expunctions, Tranfpofitions of fcenes and lines, confufion of Characters and Perfons, wrong application of Speeches, corrupti


ons of innumerable Paffages by the Ignorance, and wrong Corrections of 'em again by the Impertinence, of his firft Editors? From one or other of thefe confiderations, I am verily perfwaded, that the greateft and groffeft part of what are thought his errors would vanifh, and leave his chara&ter in a light very different from that dif advantageous one, in which it now appears to us. Billab S

This is the ftate in which Shakespear's writings lye at prefent; for fince the abovementioned Folio Edition, all the reft have implicitly followed it, without having recourfe to any of the former, or ever making the comparison between them. It is impoffible to repair the Injuries already done him; too much time has elaps'd, and the materials are too few. In what I have done I have rather given a proof of my willingnefs and defire, than of my ability, to do him justice. I have discharg'd the dull duty of an Editor, to my best judgment, with more labour than I expect thanks, with a religious abhorrence of all innovation, and without any indulgence to my private sense or conjecture. The method taken in this Edition will fhow it felf. The various Readings are fairly put in the margin, fo that every one may compare 'em; and those I have prefer'd into the Text are conftantly ex fide Codicum, upon authority. The Alterations


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