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A LIFE OF THE POET, EXPLANATORY FOOT-NOTES, CRITICAL
REV. HENRY N. HUDSON,
PROFESSOR OF SHAKESPEARE IN BOSTON UNIVERSITY.
IN TWENTY VOLUMES.
PUBLISHED BY GINN & HEATH.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1881, by
HENRY N. HUDSON,
in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
GINN & HEATH:
J. S. CUSHING, PRINTER, 16 HAWLEY STREET,
IRST printed in the folio of 1623. On the 8th of November, that year, it was registered at the Stationers' by Blount and Jaggard, as one of the plays "not formerly entered to other men."
The text of this drama has come down to us in a state far from satisfactory. Though not so badly printed as some other plays in the same volume, for instance, All's Well that Ends Well and Coriolanus, still it has a number of very troublesome passages. In several cases, the errors are of such a nature that we can hardly refer them to any other than a phonographic origin. On this point, the learned editors of the Clarendon edition observe as follows: "Probably it was printed from a transcript of the author's manuscript, which was in great part not copied from the original, but written to dictation. This is confirmed by the fact that several of the most palpable blunders are blunders of the ear, and not of the eye."
The minute and searching criticism of our time has made out, almost, if not altogether, beyond question, that considerable portions of Macbeth were not written by Shakespeare. I have been very slow and reluctant to admit this conclusion; but the evidence, it seems to me, is not to be withstood. It is, moreover, highly probable, to say the least, that few of the scenes, perhaps none, have reached us altogether in the form they received from the Poet's hand. But, as this matter is to be discussed under the heading "Shakespeare and Middleton," and as the lines judged not to be Shakespeare's are asterized in this edition, it need not be enlarged upon here.
The date of the composition has been variously argued and concluded. Until a recent period, there was nothing but internal evidence at hand for settling the date. Proceeding upon