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unaccented syllable. The following we quote as they appear in F1, in the opening of the Two Gentlemen of Verona:

No, I will not, for it boots thee not. I. 1. 28.

Fire that's closest kept burns most of all.
Is't near dinner-time? I would it were.

I. 2. 30.

I. 2. 67.

These lines are all corrected by editors; and it is evident that there would be little trouble in altering all such lines wherever they occur: or they may be explained away, as for instance in the second cited, 'fire' doubtless is sometimes pronounced as a dissyllable. Yet to attempt correction or explanation wherever such lines occur would be ill-spent labour. A very impressive line in the Tempest is similarly scanned:

Twelve year since, Miranda, twelve year since. I. 2. 53. Where we are rightly told that 'year' may be a dissyllable. Yet that one word should bear two pronunciations in one line is far more improbable than that the unaccented syllable before 'twelve' is purposely omitted by the poet; and few readers will not acknowledge the solemn effect of such a verse. As another example with a contrary effect, of impulsive abruptness, we may take a line in Measure for Measure:

Quick, dispatch, and send the head to Angelo. IV. 3. 88. This last example is also an instance of another practice, by modern judgement a license, viz. making a line end with two unaccented 'extrametrical' syllables.

Two very effective lines together, commencing similarly to the last, are in the same Play:

Take him hence; to the rack with him! We'll touse you
Joint by joint, but we will know his purpose. v. 1. 309, 310.

Another irregularity is a single strong syllable commencing a line complete without it. This might often be printed in a line by itself. For example:


And we're betrothed: nay more, our marriage-hour

Two Gentlemen of Verona, II. 4. 175.

Another irregularity is the insertion of syllables in the middle of lines. The dramatic verse is doubtless descended from the Old English decasyllables of Chaucer, and that his verse was divided actually into two sections is evinced by the punctuation of some MSS. The licenses accorded to the beginnings and endings of the whole verse were also allowed, with some modification, to the end and beginnings of these sections, and accordingly, in early poetry, many verses will appear to a modern reader to have a syllable too many or too few in the part where his ear teaches him to place a cæsura. Exactly similarly, but more sparingly, syllables are omitted or inserted at the central pause of Shakespeare's verse, especially when this pause is not merely metrical, but is in the place of a stop of greater or less duration; and most freely when the line in question is broken by the dialogue.

The following examples of a superfluous syllable at the middle pause are taken out of the beginning of the Tempest:

I. 2. 38.

Obey, and be attentive. Canst thou remember?
But blessedly holp hither. O, my heart bleeds. I. 2. 63.
Without a parallel; those being all my study. 1. 2. 74.

With all prerogative:—hence his ambition growing. 1. 2. 105.

The extra syllables may be at the commencement of the second section:

He was indeed the Duke; out o' the substitution. I. 2. 103.

And the following are defective of a syllable:

Dashes the fire out. O, I have suffered. I. 2. 5.

Make the prize light. One word more; I charge thee. I. 2. 452. To these 'licenses' we may add verses sometimes with one and sometimes with two additional feet, and many half verses, and some a foot too short. When these inequalities are allowed, the reader will perceive much simpler and more general methods of scanning some lines supposed to be

unmetrical than the Procrustean means adopted by Sidney Walker for reducing or multiplying the number of syllables in words.

E. Punctuation.

We have now to state our practice of punctuation. The Folio and other editions, starting with very different principles from those that guide the punctuation of this day, have acted on those principles with exceeding incorrectness. Questions are marked and unnoticed almost at random; stops are inserted in the ends of lines fatal to the sense. In fact, in many places, we may almost say that a complete want of points would mislead us less than the punctuation of the Folios. The consequence is, that our punctuation is very little dependent upon the Folios and Quartos, but generally follows the practice which has taken possession of the text of Shakespeare, under the arrangement of the best editors, from Pope to Dyce and Staunton. Only for an obvious improvement have we altered the punctuation on our own judgement, and in most cases the alteration is recorded in

the notes.

One thing remains to be said in reference to our text. It is well known, that in James the First's reign, a statute was passed for exscinding profane expressions from plays. In obedience to this many passages in the Folios have been altered with an over-scrupulous care. When we have seen the metre, or, as is sometimes the case, even the sense marred by these changes, and the original contains no offensive profanity, we have recalled Shakespeare's words.

Our object in the foot-notes has been (1) to state the authority upon which a received reading rests, (2) to give all different readings adopted into the text by other editors, and (3) to give all emendations suggested by commentators.

When no authority is mentioned for the reading of the

text, it must be understood that all the Folios agree in it, as well as all editors previous to the one mentioned, as authority for an alteration. Thus, in the Comedy of Errors, III. 1. 71, 'cake here] cake Capell' indicates that 'cake here' is the reading of the four Folios, of Rowe, Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, Warburton, and Johnson.

Mere differences of spelling are not noticed, except (1) in corrupt or disputed passages, where the 'ductus literarum' is important as a help towards the determination of the true text, and (2) when the variation is interesting etymologically or characteristic of a particular edition.

In the same way, differences of punctuation are recorded only when they make a difference in the sense, or when they may serve as a guide to the restoration of some corrupt, or the explanation of some difficult, passage.

Misprints also are passed over as a general rule. We have noticed them occasionally, when they appeared to be remarkable as indicating the amount of error of which the old printers were capable.

We have endeavoured faithfully to record any variation of reading, however minute (except, as before said, mere differences of spelling or punctuation), adopted by any editor, and to give that editor's name. Sometimes, however, we have passed over in silence merely arbitrary re-arrangements of the metre made in passages where no change was required and no improvement effected.

In recording conjectures, we have excepted only (1) those which were so near some other reading previously adopted or suggested, as to be undeserving of separate record, and (2) a few (of Becket, Jackson, and others) which were palpably erroneous. Even of these we have given a sufficient number to serve as samples.

We will now proceed to explain the notation employed in the foot-notes, which, in some cases, the necessity of compressing may have rendered obscure.

The four Folios are designated respectively by the letters F1, F2, F., and F, and the quarto editions of separate plays, in each case, by the letters Q,, Q2, Q3, &c.

When one or more of the Quartos differ so widely from the Folios that a complete collation is impossible, the letters which designate them are put between brackets, for the sake of keeping this difference before the mind of the reader. Thus, in the Merry Wives of Windsor, the two earliest Quartos differ widely from the Folios, while the third Quarto (1630) is printed from the first Folio. Hence, they are designated thus: I. 4. 20, Cain] F,F. Kane (Q1Q2). Caine F, QF,


When no authority is given for the reading in the text, it is to be understood that it is derived from such of the

Folios as are not subsequently mentioned. Thus, in the Comedy of Errors, II. 2. 203, the eye] thy eye FF, indicates that F, and F agree in reading 'the eye'.


In the same scene, line 191, the note 'or] and Theobald' means, that the four Folios, followed by Rowe and Pope, agree in reading ‘or'.

When the difference between the reading adopted and that given in one or more of the Folios is a mere difference of spelling, it has not been thought worth while to record the name of the first editor who modernized it: for instance, in the Two Gentlemen of Verona, II. 6. 35, the note is: counsel] counsaile F,F,. councel F. council F.


We have given at full the name of the editor who first introduced a particular reading, without recording which of his successors adopted it. Thus, in Measure for Measure, III. 1. 143, 'grant' for 'shield' is read by Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, Warburton, and others, but the first only is mentioned: 'shield] F1. shield: FF,F grant Pope.'

The conjectures made by annotators or by editors, but not introduced by them into the text, are distinguished by the addition of 'conj.', as 'Farmer conj.', 'Johnson conj.' &c.

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