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accompany The School of Shakspeare; and fomething the School itfelf will afford, that may contribute to the fame fervice: but the corner-ftone of all, muft be the works of the poet himself, from which much may be extracted by a heedful peruser of them; and, for the fake of fuch a perufer, and by way of putting him into the train when the plays are before him, we fhall inftance in one of them; -the time in which Henry V. was written, is determin'd almost precisely by a paffage in the chorus to the fifth act, and the concluding chorus of it contains matter relative to Henry VI. other plays might be mention'd, as Henry VIII. and Macbeth; but this one may be sufficient to answer our intention in producing it, which was-to spirit some one up to this task in fome future time, by fhewing the poffibility of it; which he may be further convinc'd of, if he reflects what great things have been done, by criticks amongst ourselves upon subjects of this fort, and of a more remov'd antiquity than he is concern'd in. A Life thus conftructed, interfpers'd with fuch anecdotes of common notoriety as the writer's judgment fhall tell him-are worth regard; together with fome memorials of this poet that are happily come down to us; fuch as, an inftrument in the Heralds' Office, confirming arms to his father; a Patent preferv'd in Rymer, granted by James the First; his laft Will and Teftament, extant now at Doctors Commons; his Stratford. monument, and a monument of his daughter which is faid to be there alfo;-fuch a Life would rife quickly into a volume; especially, with the addition of one proper and even neceffary episode-a brief hiftory of our drama, from its origin down to the
poet's death even the flage he appear'd upon, it's form, dreffings, actors fhould be enquir'd into, as every one of those circumftances had fome confiderable effect upon what he compos'd for it: The fubject is certainly a good one, and will fall (we hope) ere it be long into the hands of some good writer; by whose abilities this great want may at length be made up to us, and the world of letters enrich'd by the happy acquifition of a mafterly Life of Shakspeare. CAPELL.
RE A DE E R.
THE want of adherence to the old copies,
which has been complain'd of, in the text of every modern republication of Shakspeare, is fairly deducible from Mr. Rowe's inattention to one of the first duties of an editor.3 Mr. Rowe did not print from the earliest and most correct, but from the moft remote and inaccurate of the four folios.
Firft printed in 1773. MALONE.
3 66 I must not (fays Mr. Rowe in his dedication to the Duke of Somerfet) pretend to have reftor'd this work to the exactness of the author's original manufcripts: thofe are loft, or, at least, are gone beyond any enquiry I could make; fo
Between the years 1623 and 1685 (the dates of the firft and laft) the errors in every play, at least, were trebled. Several pages in each of these ancient editions have been examined, that the affertion might come more fully fupported. It may be added, that as every fresh editor continued to make the text of his predeceffor the ground-work of his own (never collating but where difficulties occurred) fome deviations from the originals had been handed down, the number of which are lef fened in the impreffion before us, as it has been conftantly compared with the most authentick copies, whether collation was absolutely necessary for the recovery of fenfe, or not. The person who undertook this talk may have fail'd by inadvertency, as well as those who preceded him; but the reader may be affured, that he, who thought it his duty to free an author from fuch modern and unneceffary innovations as had been cenfured in others, has not ventured to introduce any of his own.
It is not pretended that a complete body of various readings is here collected; or that all the diversities which the copies exhibit, are pointed
that there was nothing left, but to compare the feveral editions, and give the true reading as well as I could from thence. This I have endeavour'd to do pretty carefully, and render'd very many places intelligible, that were not fo before. In fome of the editions, efpecially the laft, there were many lines (and in Hamlet one whole fcene) left out together; thefe are now all fupply'd. I fear your grace will find some faults, but I hope they are moftly literal, and the errors of the prefs." Would not any one, from this declaration, fuppofe that Mr. Rowe (who does not appear to have confulted a fingle quarto) had at least compared the folios with each other? STEEVENS.
out; as near two thirds of them are typographical mistakes, or such a change of infignificant particles, as would croud the bottom of the page with an oftentation of materials, from which at last nothing ufeful could be felected.
The dialogue might indeed fometimes be lengthened by other infertions than have hitherto been made, but without advantage either to its spirit or beauty; as in the following instance:
"Lear. No, I say.
"Kent. I fay, yea."
Here the quartos add:
"Lear. No, no, they would not.
"Kent. Yes, they have."
By the admiffion of this negation and affirmation, has any
new idea been gained?
The labours of preceding editors have not left room for a boaft, that many valuable readings have been retrieved; though it may be fairly afferted, that the text of Shakspeare is restored to the condition in which the author, or rather his firft publifhers, appear to have left it, fuch emendations as were abfolutely neceffary, alone admitted: for where a particle, indispensably neceffary to the fense, was wanting, such a supply has been filently adopted from other editions; but where a fyllable, or more, had been added for the fake of the metre
only, which at firft might have been irregular, fuch interpolations are here conftantly retrenched, fometimes with, and fometimes without notice. Thofe fpeeches, which in the elder editions are printed as profe, and from their own conftruction are incapable of being compressed into verfe, without the aid of fupplemental fyllables, are reftored to profe again; and the measure is divided afresh in others, where the mafs of words had been inharmoniously separated into lines.
The fcenery, throughout all the plays, is regu. lated in conformity to a rule, which the poet, by his general practice feems to have proposed to himfelf. Several of his pieces are come down to us, divided into scenes as well as acts. These divifions were probably his own, as they are made on fettled principles, which would hardly have been the cafe, had the talk been executed by the players. A change of fcene, with Shakspeare, moft commonly implies a change of place, but always an entire evacuation of the stage. The custom of diftinguishing every entrance or exit by a fresh fcene, was adopted, perhaps very idly, from the French theatre.
For the length of many notes, and the accumulation of examples in others, fome apology may be likewife expected. An attempt at brevity is often found to be the fource of an imperfect explanation. Where a paffage has been conftantly misunderstood, or where the jeft or pleafantry has been fuffered to remain long in obfcurity, more inftances have been brought to clear the one, or elucidate the other,
I retract this fuppofition, which was too haftily formed. See note on The Tempest, Vol. IV. p. 68. STEEVENS. VOL. I.