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THE present work is so far from being a reprint of the edition which appeared in 1857, that it exhibits a text altered and amended from beginning to end. Throughout the former edition, influenced, perhaps unconsciously, by the example of Malone and of some later editors (whom the over-boldness of Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, &c. had rendered over-cautious), I was content to allow readings of a much more than doubtful character to retain their places in the text, provided I made mention in the notes how a considerable portion of them had been corrected by critical conjecture. Of the impropriety of such a plan-as tending only to perpetuate error-I am now fully convinced; nor assuredly has my conviction on that head been at all shaken by the recently-published volumes of the Cambridge Shakespeare, in which (whatever its merits in other respects) the editors adhere passim to the corruptions of the old copies with a pertinacity akin to that of Mr. Knight, before his superstitious devotion to the first folio had lost something of its fervour. In short, I now believe that an exact reprint of the old text with its multifarious errors forms a more valuable contribution to literature

1 Vols. i. ii.

2 In consequence, I apprehend, of my Remarks, &c., 1844. VOL. 1.


than a semi-corrected text, which, purged here and there of the grossest blunders, continues still, almost in every page, to offend against sense and metre.-If the most eminent classical scholars, in editing the dramas of antiquity, have not scrupled frequently to employ conjecture for the restoration of the text, I cannot understand why an editor of Shakespeare— whose plays have come down to us no less disfigured by corruption than the masterpieces of the Athenian stageshould hesitate to adopt the happiest of the emendations proposed from time to time, during more than a century and a half,3 by men of great sagacity and learning ;--always assuming that the deviations from the early editions are duly recorded. In several instances, when ancient Greek manuscripts have been unexpectedly discovered-among others, the Ravenna manuscript of Aristophanes-they have borne a striking testimony to the value of conjectural criticism; and I make no doubt that, were the original manuscripts of Shakespeare's works miraculously to turn up, we should have proof that his commentators and critics, from Rowe downwards, had retrieved the genuine readings in a vast number of passages, which the ignorance and presumption of the actors, the somnolency of the transcribers, and the carelessness of the player-editors had conspired to ruin.

With reference to the present edition,-I would fain hope that, in ceasing to be a timid editor, I have not become a rash one; and that, in dealing with the corruptions of the early copies, I shall be thought to have properly distinguished between emendations which may be regarded as legitimate, and such extravagant alterations as would almost lead to the conclusion that nature bestows the gift of common sense but

3 Rowe published his first edition in 1709. At what date Mr. Collier's Ms. Corrector "flourished" is still a mystery.

very sparingly. Indeed, I have passed over in silence an immense mass of so-called "corrections" of the latter description, not a few of which belong to a very recent period. Here, however, it may not be amiss to subjoin some specimens of the newest attempts at the improvement of Shakespeare's text. To illustrate the words "Time and the hour,” -in a line of Macbeth, act i. sc. 3,

"Time and the hour runs [or run] through the roughest day,”— Steevens and Malone adduced from old English writers phraseology almost parallel; and, several years ago, I showed that the expression "il tempo e l'ora" occurred in the earlier Italian poets: it might have been presumed therefore that not the slightest suspicion would henceforth attach to the line. But no: Mr. Samuel Bailey declares that it "is not merely tautological, but marked by real incongruity of thought;" and he proposes to read

“Time's sandy hour runs through the roughest day.”3
Further on in the same tragedy, act i. sc. 7,—
"Was the hope drunk

Wherein you dress'd yourself? hath it slept since?
And wakes it now, to look so green and pale
At what it did so freely? From this time
Such I account thy love.

What beast was't, then,
That made you break this enterprise to me?"-

the same writer detects "four spurious words materially weakening or perverting the sense;" and he gets rid of them by reading

4 See note ad l. in the present edition.

5 On the Received Text of Shakespeare's Dramatic Writings, and its Improvement, pp. 89, 90. (The “sandy hour" of “the glass” is an expression which occurs in The First Part of King Henry VI. act iv. sc. 2.)

"Was the hope drunk

Wherein you bless'd yourself? hath it slept since?
And wakes it now, to look so green and pale
At what it eyed so freely? From this time
Such I account thy liver.

What baseness was't, then,
That made you break this enterprise to me?"

As to the third of these emendations, "liver," Mr. Bailey allows that it is almost sure to startle the reader, but,” he continues, "I entertain no doubt that on reflection he will become reconciled to it."—Part of a soliloquy in Hamlet, act i. sc. 5,

“O villain, villain, smiling, damnèd villain!

My tables,-meet it is I set it down,

That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;

At least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark :

So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word;

It is, 'Adieu, adieu! remember me:'

I have sworn't,"—

has been reficted as follows by a gentleman whose initials are A. E. B.;7

"O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!

My tables! meet it is I set it down.—

That one may smile and smile and be a villain!


At least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark;
So, uncle, there you are!-now to my word;
It is Adieu, adieu, remember me.'
I have sworn it.

[Writing. [Having kissed the tables.” And lest the passage as altered by A. E. B. should fail to attract the attention it deserves, and should happen not to be clearly understood, Dr. Ingleby has eagerly brought it forward, from the recesses of Notes and Queries, as "a true restoration," and expounds it thus: "Hamlet's speech is

6 Id. pp. 72-76.

7 In Dr. Ingleby's Complete View of the Shakspere Controversy, &c. p. 181, we are told that " A. E. B." are "Mr. Brae's well-known [?] initials."

broken from excitement and impulse. He begins to say
that he must set 'it' down; but does not say what. Then
comes his admirative comment on the King's smiling villany;
then the statement of the known instance. So, uncle, there
you are!' means So, uncle, I've found you out! Then check-
ing himself, he says-Now to my word' (or 'words,' as the
quarto 1603 has it), i. e. the thing which he is to set down.
'Meet it is I set it down'
* " It is Adieu, adieu,
adieu [sic], remember me!'"8 On another soliloquy in Ham-
let, act i. sc. 2,—


"and yet, within a month,—
Let me not think on't,-Frailty, thy name is woman!-
A little month; or e'er those shoes were old
With which she follow'd my poor father's body,
Like Niobe, all tears;--why, she, even she,—
O God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason,
Would have mourn'd longer,-married with mine uncle," &c.

Dr. Ingleby has tried his own hand: he substitutes

"A little month; or e'er those shows were old,
With which she follow'd my poor father's body,
Like Niobe, all tears," &c.——

recollecting that Theobald had won praise for altering "shoes" to "shows"10 in King John, act ii. sc. 1, and concluding that the change of a word which was good in one place could not but be good in another.-I must be allowed to add, that when I find Dr. Ingleby deliberately proclaiming the "consistency and beauty"ll of A. E. B.'s "true restoration," and also deliberately depriving the Danish queen of her worldfamed "shoes,”—I am no longer surprised at the contempt he expresses12 for the Ms. Corrector's palmarian emenda

• Ingleby's Shakspeare Fabrications, &c. P. 52.

9 Id. pp. 109-112.

10 One of those emendations which I now blame myself for not admitting into my former edition.

Ingleby's Shakspeare Fabrications, &c. p. 53.

12 A Complete View of the Shakspere Controversy, &c. pp. 239, 350.

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