« AnteriorContinuar »
Their French is as bad as their Latin, both in | The whole number of genuine plays, which we construction and spelling : their very Welsh is have been able to find printed in his life-time, false. Nothing is more likely than that those amounts but to eleven. And of some of these, palpable blunders of Hector's quoting Aristotle, we meet with two or more editions by different with others of that gross kind, sprung from the printers, each of which has whole heaps of same root : it not being at all credible that these trash different from the other : which I should could be the errors of any man who had the fancy was occasioned by their being taken from least tincture of a school, or the least conver- different copies belonging to different playsation with such as had. Ben Jonson (whom houses. they will not think partial to him) allows him The folio edition (in which all the plays we at least to have had some Latin; which is now receive as his were first collected) was ntlerly inconsistent with mistakes like these. published by two players, Heminge and ConNay, the constant blunders in proper names of dell, in 1623, seven years after his decease. persons and places, are such as must have pro- They declare, that all the other editions were ceeded from a man, who had not so much as stolen and surreptitious, and affirm theirs to be read any history in any language ; so could not purged from the errors of the former. This be Sbakspeare's.
is true as to the literal errors, and no olher; I shall now lay before the reader some of those for in all respects else it is far worse than the almost innumerable errors, which have risen quartos. from one source, the ignorance of the players, First, because the additions of: trifling and both as his actors and as his editors. When the bombast passages are in this edition far more nature and kinds of these are enumerated and numerous. For whatever had been added, considered, I dare to say that not Shakspeare since those quartos, by the actors, or had stolen only, but Aristotle or Cicero, bad their works from their mouths into the written parts, were undergone the same fate, might have appeared from thence conveyed into the printed text, and lo want sense as well as learning.
all sland charged upon the author. He himself It is not certain that any one of his plays was complained of this usage in Hamlet, where he published by himself. During the time of his wishes that those who play the clowns would employment in the theatre, several of his pieces speak no more than is set down for them. (Act were printed separately in quarlo. What makes III. sc. ii). But as a proof that he could not me think that most of these were not published escape it, in the old editions of Romeo and by bim, is the excessive carelessness of the Juliet there is no hint of a great number of the press: every page is so scandalously false spelled, mean conceils and ribaldries now to be found and almost all the learned and unusual words there. In others, the low scenes of mobs, so intolerably mangled, that it is plain there plebeians, and clowns, are vastly shorter than either was no corrector to the press at all, or at present : and I have seen one in particular one totally illiterale. If any were supervised (which seems to have belonged to the playby himself, I should fancy The Tiro Parts of house, by having the parts divided with lines, Henry the Fourth, and Midsummer-Night's and the actors' names in the margin), where Dream might have been so : because I find no several of those very passages were added in a olber printed with any exactness; and (contrary written hand, which are since to be found in to the rest) there is very little variation in all the folio. the subsequent editions of them. There are
number of beautiful
pasertant two prefaces to the first quarto edition sages, which are extant in the first single ediof Troilus and Cressida in 1609, and to that lions, are omitted in this ; as it seems, without of Othello; by which it appears, that the first any other reason, than their willingness to was published without his knowledge or con- shorten some scenes : these men ( as it was said sent, and even before it was acted, so late as of Procrustes) either lopping, or stretching an Seven or eight years before he died : and that author, to make him just fit for their stage. the latter was not printed till after his death. This edition is said to be printed from the
original copies; I believe they meant those
which had lain ever since the author's days in appears to be of Mr. Pope's own invention. It is the playhouse, and had from time to time been not to be found in any one of the four folio copies
Macbeth, and there is no quarto edition of it cut, or added to, arbitrarily. It appears that estaat. STEEVENS.
this edition, as well as the quartos, was printed
are | In the next place a
(at least partly) from no better copies than the governing player, to have the mouthing of prompter's book, or piece meal parts written some favourite speech himself, would snatch it out for the use of the actors : for in some places from the unworthy lips of an underling. their very* names are through carelessness set Prose from verse they did not know, and down instead of the Personæ Dramatis ; and they accordingly printed one for the other in others the notes of direction to the property- throughout the volume. men for their moveables; and to the players Having been forced to say so much of the for their entries, are inserted into the textt players, I think I ought in justice to remark, through the ignorance of the transcribers. that the judgment, as well as condition of that
The plays not having been before so much class of people was then far inferior to what it as distinguished by Acts and Scenes, they are is in our days. As then the best play-houses in this edition divided according as they played were ions and taverns (the Globe, the Hope, them; often where there is no pause in the the Red Bull, the Fortune, &c.) so the top of action, or where they thought fit to make a the profession were then mere players, not breach in it for the sake of music, masques, or gentlemen of the stage : they were led into the monsters.
buttery by the steward;* not placed at the Sometimes the scenes are transposed and lord's table, or lady's toilette : and consequently shuffled backward and forward; a thing which were entirely deprived of those advantages they could no otherwise bappen, but by their being la- now enjoy in the familiar conversation of our ken from separate and piece-meal written parts. nobility, and an intimacy (not to say dearness)
Many verses are omilled entirely, and others with people of the first condition. transposed; from whence invincible obscurities From what has been said, there can be no have arisen, past the guess of any commentator question but had Shakspeare published his to clear up, but just where the accidental glimpse works himself (especially in his latter time, of an old edition enlightens us.
and after his retreat from the stage) we should Some characters were confounded and mixed, not only be certain which are genuine, but or two put into one, for want of a competent should find in those that are, the errors lessnumber of actors. Thus in the quarto edition ened by some thousands. If I may judge from of Midsummer Night's Dream (Act V.) Shak- all the distinguishing marks of bis style, and his speare introduces a kind of master of the revels manner of thinking and writing, I make no called Philostrate; all whose part is given to doubt to declare that those wretched plays, another character (that of Egeus) in the sub- Pericles, Locrine, Sir John Oldcastle, Yorksequent editions : so also in Hamlet and King shire Tragedy, Lord Cromwell, The Purilan, Lear. This too makes it probable that the London Prodigal, and a thing called The prompter's books were what they called the Double Falshood, * cannot be admitted as his. original copies.
And I should conjecture of some of the others From liberties of this kind, many speeches (particularly Love's Labour's Lost, The Winter's also were put into the mouths of wrong persons, Tale, Comedy of Errors, and Titus Andronicus), where the author now seems chargeable with that only some characters, single scenes, or making them speak out of character ; or sometimes perhaps for no better reason, than that a
• Mr. Pope probably recollected the following lines in The Taming of the Shrew, spoken by a
lord, who is giving directions to his servant con. Much Ado about Nothing, Act II: “Enter cerning some players : Prince Leonato, Claudio, and Jack Wilson,” in
* Go, sirrah, take them to the buttery, stead of Balthasar. And in Act IV. Cowley and And give them friendly welcome, every one." Kemp constantly through a whole scene.
But he seems not to have observed that the Edit. fol. of 1623, and 1632. POPE. players here introduced were strollers; and there + Such as
is no reason to suppose that our author, Hemiage, "My queen is murder'd! Ring the little bell." Burbage, Lowin, &c. who were licensed by king
MALONE “-iis nose grew as sharp as a pen, and a table James, were treated in this manner. of green fields ;" which last words are not in the † The Double Falshood, or The Distressed Loquarto. Pope.
vers, a play acted at Drury Lane, 8vo. 1727. This There is no such line in any play of Shakspeare, piece was produced by Mr. Theobald as a peras that quoted above by Mr. Pope. Malone, formance of Shakspeare's. But it is not mentioned Nor are these two lines quoted by Pope in any in any of the old editions of Mr. Pope's Preface. edition of his preface which has fallen in our It is not in Warburton's edition, and when it erept
in, I have not been able to discover. C.
perhaps a few particular passages, were of his proof of my willingness and desire, than of my band. It is very probable what occasioned ability, to do bim justice. I have discharged some plays to be supposed Shakspeare's, was the dull duty of an editor, to my best judgment, only this; that they were pieces produced by with more labour than I expect thanks, with a anknown authors, or fitted up for the theatre religious abhorrence of all innovation, and while it was under bis administration; and no without any indulgence to my private sense of owner claiming them, they were adjudged to conjecture. The method taken in this edition bim, as they give strays to the lord of the will show itself. The various readings are mador : a mistake which one may also observe) fairly put in the margin, so that every one may it was not for the interest of the house to re- compare them; and those I have preferred into move. Yet the players themselves, Heminge the text are constantly ex fide codicum, upon and Condell, afterwards did Shakspeare the authority. The alterations or additions, which justice to reject those eight plays in their edi. Shakspeare himself made, are taken notice of tion; though they were then printed in his as they occur. Some suspecled passages, wbich name,' in every body's hands, and acted with are excessively bad (and which seem interposome applause (as we learn from what Ben lations by being so inserted that one can enJonson says of Pericles in his ode on the New tirely omit them without any chasm, or defiInn). That Titus Andronicus is one of this cience in the context), are degraded to the class I am the rather induced to believe, by botlom of the page, with an asterisk referring finding the same author openly express his to the places of their insertion. The scenes contempt of it in the Induction to Bartholomew
are marked so distinctly that every removal of Fair, in the year 1614, when Shakspeare was place is specified; which is more necessary in Jet living. And there is no better authority this author than any other, since he shifts them for these latter sort, than for the former, which more frequently : and sometimes, without atFere equally published in his life-time.
tending to this particular, the reader would If we give into this opinion, how many low have met with obscurities. The more obsolete and vicious parts and passages might no longer or unusual words are explained. Some of the reflect upon this great genius, but appear un- most shining passages are distinguished by worthily charged upon him ? And even in
commas in the margin; and where the beauty those which are really his, how many faulls lay not in particulars, but in the whole, a star is may bave been unjustly laid to his account prefxed to the scene.
This seems to ine a from arbitrary additions, expunctions, transpo- shorter and less ostentatious method of performsitions of scenes and lines, confusion of cha- ing the better half of criticism (namely, the facters and persons, wrong application of pointing out an author's excellencies) than to speeches, corruptions of innumerable passages fill a whole paper with citations of fine pasby the ignorance, and wrcag corrections of sages with general applauses, or empty exelathem again by the impertinence of his first mations at the tail of them. There is also editors ? From one or other of those conside- subjoined a catalogue of those first editions, by rations, I am verily persuaded, that the greatest which the greater part of the various readings, and the grossest part of what are thought his and of the corrected passages, are authorized; errors would vanish, and leave his character most of wbich are such as carry their own eviin a light very different from that disadvanta-dence along with them. These editions now geous one, in which it now appears to us.
hold the place of originals, and are the only This is the state in which Shakspeare's materials left to repair deficiencies or restore the writings lie at present; for since the above corrupted sense of the author : I can only wish mentioned folio edition, all the rest have im- that a greater number of them (if a greater plícily followed it, without having recourse to
were ever published) may yet be found, by a any of the former, or ever making the com
search more successful than mine, for the belter parison between them. It is impossible to re- accomplishment of this end. pair the injuries already done him; too much
I will conclude by saying of Shakspeare, that time has elapsed, and the materials are too few.
with all his faults, and with all the irregularity la what I have done I have rather given a of his drama, one may look upon bis works,
in comparison of those that are more finished His name was affixed only to four of them. and regular, as upon an ancient majestic piece
of Gothic architecture, compared with a neat
modern building: the latter is more elegant not communicate during the time wherein that and glaring, but the former is more strong and edition was preparing for the press, when we, by more solemn. It must be allowed that in of all lovers of this author), we have inserted, in
public advertisements, did request the assistance one of these there are materials enough to make this impression, as many of 'em as are judgʻd of many of the other. It has much the greater any the least advantage to the poet; the whole variety, and much the nobler apartments; amounting to about twenty-five words.” though we are often conducted to them by himself, we have annexed a compleat list of the
“But to the end every reader may judge for dark, odd, and uncouth passages. Nor does rest; which if he shall think trivial, or erroneous, the whole fail to strike us with greater reve- either in part, or in whole; at worst it can spoil rence, though many of the parts are childish, but a half sheet of paper, that chances to be left ill-placed, and unequal to its grandeur. *
vacant here. And we purpose for the future, to
do the same with respect to any other persons, * The following passage by Mr. Pope stands who either thro' candor or vanily, shall commuas a preface to the various readings at the end of nicate or publish the least things tending to the the 8th volume of his edition of Shakspeare, 1728. illustration of our author. We have here omitted For the notice of it I am indebted to Mr. Chalmers's nothing but poinlings and mere errors of the press, Supplemental Apology, p. 261. Reed.
which I hope the corrector of it has rectify’d; if “Since the publication of our first edition, there not, I cou'd wish as accurate an one as Mr. Th. having been some attempts upon Shakspeare pu: Mr. Tonson to solicit him to undertake. A. P.”
[if he] had been at that trouble, which I desired blished by Lewis Theobald (which he would
That praises are without reason lavished on perly call a river deep, or a mountain high, the dead, and that the honours due only to without the knowledge of many mountains, excellence are paid to antiquity, is a complaint and many rivers; so in the productions of likely to be always continued by those, who, genius, nothing can be styled excellent till it has being able to add nothing to truth, hope for been compared with other works of the same eminence from the heresies of paradox; or kind. Demonstration immediately displays its those, who, being forced by disappointment power, and has nothing to hope or fear from upora consolatory expedients, are willing to the flux of years; but works tentative and exhope from posterity what the present age re- perimental must be estimated by their proporfuses, and flatter themselves that the regard tion to the general and collective ability of man, which is yet denied by envy, will be at last as it is discovered in a long succession of enbestowed by time.
deavours. Or the first building that was raised, Antiquity, like every other quality that at- it might be with certainly determined that it tracts the notice of mankind, has undoubtedly was round or square; but whether it was spavolaries that reverence it, not from reason, but cious or lofty must have been referred 10 time. from prejudice. Some seem to admire indis- The Pythagorean scale of numbers was at once criminately whatever has been long preserved, discovered to be perfect; but the poems of without considering that time has sometimes Homer we yet know not to transcend the com09-cperated with chance; all perhaps are more mon limils of human intelligence, but by reFilling lo bonour past than present excellence : marking, that nation after nation, and century and the mind contemplates genius through the after century, has been able to do little more shades of age, as the eye surveys the sun than transpose his incidents, new name his through artificial opacity. The greater con- characters, and paraphrase his sentiments. tention of criticism is to find the faults of the The reverence due to writings that have long moderns, and the beauties of the ancients. subsisted arises therefore not from any creduWbile an author is yet living, we estimate his lous confidence in the superior wisdom of past powers by his worst performance, and when he ages, or gloomy persuasion of the degeneracy of is dead we rale lhem by his best.
mankind, but is the consequence of acknowTo works, however, of wbich the excellence ledged and indubitable positions, that what has is not absolute and definite, but gradual and been longest known has been most considered, comparative; to works not raised upon prin- and what is most considered is best understood. ciples demonstrative and scientific, but appeal- The poet, of whose works I have undertaken ing wholly to observation and experience, no the revision, may now begin to assume the other test can be applied than length of dura- dignity of an ancient, and claim the privilege tinn and continuance of esteem. What mankind of established fame and prescriptive veneration. have long possessed they have often examined He has long outlived his century,* the term and compared, and if they persist 10 value the commonly fixed as the rest of literary merit. possession, it is because frequent comparisons Whatever advantages he might once derive have confirmed opinion in its favour. As from personal allusions, local customs, or temanong ibe works of nature, no man can pro
* “Est vetus atque probus, centum qui perficit * First printed separately in 1765. annos.” Hor. STEEVENS.