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The issue of this reprint of Shakspere's writings marks an era in English literature worthy the attention of all observant men. To the mind which is able 6 to look before and after”-to guage the intellectual condition of the British people at the time our author wrote, to see what it now is, and to glance inquiringly forwards at the probable mental triumphs yet in store for the Saxon race, the publication of this single volume should form a circumstance of deep and significant interest. Let it be kept in remembrance that the price of the book is only three shillings and sixpencethat it contains every line that Shakspere is believed to have penned-that the edition has been carefully edited by competent scholars—that it is clearly and beautifully printed, and, better than this, with an accuracy which most of the books of the present day cannot pretend to rival—and then think of the enormous impression which must be sold so as to hold out any reasonable hope of remuneration to the publisher. And we believe the fact to be that 20,000 copies were in the first instance printed off—a number since, that is, in the two years reckoning up to the time we write, supplemented by at least two issues of the like amount, thus making a total of 60,000 copies or upwards. Honour and laud to the intelligence of the age as well as to the enterprise of the publishers, whose already achieved success holds out a hope that the magnificent anticipations of the preface will yet be realised. The editors (William George Clark and William Aldis Wright) say in the course of a short introduction to the volume

We trust that the title wbich has been chosen for the present edition will neither be thought presumptuous nor be found inappropriate. It seems indeed safe to predict that any volume which presents, in a convenient form, with clear type and at a moderate cost, the complete works of the foremost man in all literature, the greatest master of the language most widely spoken among men, will make its way to the remotest corners of the habitable globe.

Most heartily do we join all concerned in this grand anticipation; and we feel assured that whether or not the hopes of the editors may be fully realised, they and the publishers will at least have conferred an inestimable benefit on the poorer classes of their countrymen, whose means are at all times totally inadequate to the purchase of expensive editions, which, even if obtained, would have infallibly lain on the bookshelf as too good for common use. This we believe to be the first attempt to put into the hands of the common people a really good and conscientious edition of the author-such an edition as, in the case of the Bible, we are happily familiar with, and equally within the reach of all from its cheapness. In this circumstance lies, as appears to us, a profound meaning. Shakspere is one of the most beneficent teachers the world has ever seen, and it cannot but be that in proportion as his works are known and understood, so must the foundations of morals be strengthened, and the love of humanity, of nature, and of all beautiful things, be encouraged and confirmed. If Wordsworth could in his day aver that

We must be free or die that speak

The tongue that Shakspere spoke, how much more forcibly does the expression come home to us at the present moment, when the living soul of the man, through the medium of such issues as the one before us, is as it were being transfused into the minds of the masses of the people, hitherto in comparative ignorance that so sublime a genius was breathing amongst them. The emollit mores of the Latin poet—that humanising influence which will not permit men to be rude or barbarous—may be held in an especial degree to reside in Shakspere.

An examination of this and other editions has suggested to us a few considerations in connection with the existing text of the author, as also some remarks on the order in which the works are printed. We shall first take a glance at “Hamlet,” leaving over for separate notice a particular passage

in the third act. As to this play, acknowledged by all to be amongst the foremost masterpieces of Shakspere's genius, it appears to have been, along with a few others of his works, a special favourite with the author himself, since he underwent the labour of adding to and altering it after the piece was first put on the stage. These changes, which include whole dialogues, will be seen by comparing “The Globe” edition with the First Folio of 1623, an exact reprint of which is now lying before us. The alterations are not given in the Folio, probably on account of the carelessness of the editors in not acquainting themselves with the fact that the added passages had already been printed by the booksellers in earlier editions of “Hamlet," of which five had appeared previous to the publication of the Folio. Although afterwards recovered, and well known to be from the true Shaksperian mint, these passages do not seem to have found their way into any of the three Folios. They have, however, become incorporated in all the modern editions, and appear of course in “ The Globe." We ask a moment's attention to a few of the various readings.

Marcellus, describing to Horatio the appearance of the Ghost on his watch, says (according to the Folio),

Thus twice before, and just at this dead hour,

With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch. Here “ The Globe” editors, following the early quartos, substitute the word jump for just- a change which, although also adopted by Mr Staunton, seems to be quite unwarrantable. In the early quartos, the second of the above lines reads-

With martial stalk he passed through our watch, and one is at a loss to understand why the reading of the first line has been adopted and that of the second discarded.

Further on in the play, Horatio, referring to the enterprise of Fontinbras, says of certain adventurers by whom he was followed, that they were landless resolutes extremely apt and proper designation, and which receives but a poor substitute by the term “lawless," adopted by the present editors and by Mr Staunton. ( Landless" is the word used in the Folio, and our impression is that no critic who had duly considered the matter would venture to change it. In early times “ lawless" must have possessed a much less significant meaning than it has in these days, since, in periods of revolution, riot, and disturbance, such as England experienced for centuries, when the central authority failed to make itself predominant, simply to be beyond the scope and power of the laws was to be nothing marked or particular. He who, however, came to be “landless” at the time when either “every rood of ground maintained its man," or when, in some way or other, almost every person was thirled to the soil, was in a different position, being almost of necessity a wanderer and a vagabond, ready for any desperate enterprise. In “King


John” (act 2, scene 1), the very class of men included in the designation of “ landless resolutes are described at length

Rash, inconsiderate, fiery voluntaries,
With ladies' faces and fierce dragons' spleens,
Have sold their fortunes at their native homes,
Bearing their birthrights proudly on their backs,

To make a hazard of new fortunes here. Horatio, describing to Hamlet the appearance of the Ghost, says (in the Folio),

Armed at all points exactly, cap-a-pea line which appears in this edition in the seemingly imperfect form of

Armed at points exactly cap-a-pe. Laertes, in the advice to his sister, is made to say in the Folio regarding Hamlet's marriage-

On his choice depends

The sanctity and health of the whole State. Here the word sanctity is changed to safety, with positive damage to rhythm as well as to sense, and for no other reason than because the word is so printed in the early quartos.

In another portion of the play, Ophelia informs her father that Hamlet made love to her 66 with all the vows of Heaven" (as the Folio reads), and it would require better authority than that of the present editors, or of the quartos, to make us believe that Shakspere wrote (as we read in this edition), “almost all the holy vows of Heaven."

Two other examples may be given of the smaller class of differences between the Folio and “The Globe.” Ophelia, noticing to her father the disordered appearance of Hamlet, mentions (in the Folio) that he came to her as she was sewing in her chamber, which word the present editors change to closet

. Hamlet informs Polonius (in the Folio) that "to be

. honest, as the world goes, is to be one man picked out of two thousand"-a limitation of honesty which has since received a wide extension, for “ The Globe," following other modern editions, sets down the honest man not as against two but against ton thousand.

It has to be admitted, however, that in spite of the numerous slips made by the present as by other editors, much commendation is on the whole due to the many able mento Malone and Steevens perhaps above all others—who have given up their time and intellect to the task of clearing away

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the vast accumulation of rubbish from the works of Shakspere, and in consideration of the loving devotedness of their labours, many errors of taste and judgment may be freely overlooked. The comparison of “ The Globe” edition with the Folio, even in the single play of Hamlet, shows abundantly the amount of sagacity and scholarship which has been brought to bear on the rectification of the numberless blunders which distinguish the Folio. We give two instances only of happy emendation. In act 5, Laertes says, speaking to the king of his dead father's friends,

To his good friends thus wide I'll ope my arms,
And like the kind, life-rendering pelican,

Repast them with my blood. The word “pelican” here is actually printed " politician in the Folio, to the utter destruction of all sense. The second example occurs in the first act, where Polonius says to Reynaldo,

Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth. a true Shaksperian line, which the Folio renders confused and meaningless by misprinting cape for carp.

. Emendations such as these may give some faint notion of the benefit derived from the labours of the commentators. The Folio, so often alluded to, is a wretched example of early printing. As “The Globe" edition is probably one of the most correctly printed books which ever left the press, it may be safely said that the Folio is one of the most incorrect, the errors of all kinds being so numerous as to suggest the idea that that useful class of men, the printer's readers, had not then been called into existence. It may interest many who care little for Shakspere, his expositors or improvers, to observe the difference between the ancient and modern style of printing and orthography, and we think it worth while to give a literal transcript of a short passage from the Folio, in contrast with the same from 6 The Globe” edition. The passage is not given because it is either better or worse than others, and may be taken as a fair average specimen of the printing of the book :


Guil. My Lord, we were sent for.

Ham. I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation preuent your discouery of your secricie to the King and Queene : moult no feather, I haue of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custome of exercise ; and indeed, it goes so heauenly with my disposition; that this goodly frame the Earth, seems to me a sterrill Promontory; this most excellent Canopy the Ayre, look you, this braue ore-hanging, this Maiesticall Roofe, fretted with golden fire ; why, it appears no other thing to mee, then a foule and pestilent


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