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ology and Metre of Shakspeare; and the Commendatory Poems. These were originally destined for the second volume, which, however, became of so unexpected a bulk, that I was compelled to alter my arrangement, that I might not add to its already disproportioned size. As I was anxious that the work altogether should not in its compass exceed the later editions of Mr. Steevens, notwithstanding the accession of much additional matter, I have been induced to print this part of it in a rather smaller type. The second volume contains Mr. Malone's Life of Shakspeare, accompanied by explanatory documents; a list of the early editions of his works, more fully described than heretofore; and other matters relating to the poet's history. The Essay on the Chronology of Shakspeare's Plays was originally distinct; and I cannot, with confidence, say that Mr. Malone would not have so continued it: but it appeared to me, that the life of a writer must be strangely defective which contained no account of his works; and I have, therefore, ventured to give it a place as one of the sections of Mr. Malone's Biography. The reader, I have no doubt, will derive' no small satisfaction from the many curious particulars which my late friend's research enabled him to collect upon this subject; yet I cannot but lament that much has unquestionably been lost, which, had he lived to superintend this edition himself, he would have furnished. It was his intention to have devoted one section to the manners and customs of Shakspeare's time; but I found the materials which he had prepared for this enquiry in so loose and disjointed a state, that I could not have ventured upon the labour of arranging them without protracting the publication of this work to a distant period. I may remark that his memoranda did not appear to relate to matters which had any direct reference to what bears upon the drama; but are rather illustrative of the general political state of the country. I need scarcely add, that, although I was unable, for the reason I have stated, to make use of his collections on this subject, at
least for the present, I have scrupulously abstained from destroying a single scrap of his literary remains. The third volume contains the History of the Stage, with his own corrections, and the addition of some very curious new matter. Some valuable documents which had escaped my attention at the time when this part of the work was printed off, are preserved among the Addenda, in the twenty-first volume. Those who are interested in dramatick history, and are fond of tracing our early literature in its rudest form, will unite with me in expressing their satisfaction that my friend, Mr. Markland, has permitted me to lay before the publick, upon this occasion, his valuable Essay on the Chester Mysteries. I have also retained the extracts which Mr. Reed had given from Mr. Chalmers. The succeeding sixteen volumes are appropriated to the plays. The text has been printed according to the principle laid down by Mr. Malone, of adhering as strictly as possible to the ancient copies; and wherever they are deviated from, the reader is apprised of the alteration, and of the reasons upon which it is founded. The numerous sophistications introduced by Mr. Steevens have been removed; but it has not been thought necessary to enter into a contest about each individual passage; as the system upon which he proceeded is sufficiently discussed in the Essay on Phraseology and Metre. I have, therefore, for the most part, considered it sufficient to head those notes in which the original text has been disturbed, with the reading which he wished to substitute, that the reader may have a full opportunity of fixing his own value upon those supposed improvements. In some of Mr. Steevens's comments, and, in a very few instances, in those of Mr. Malone, the reader will find an insertion which it is proper to explain. The suggestions of Mr. Jennens of Gopsal, and of Mr. Capell, having sometimes been adopted without acknowledgment; wherever I discovered that such was the case, I have consulted brevity, while I was at the same time willing to do those criticks justice, by merely putting these words between
brackets [" as Mr. Capell," or "as Mr. Jennens, has observed."] I may have omitted, perhaps, to have traced Mr. Capell's prior claim upon some occasions; for I confess that I have often shrunk from the great and often fruitless labour of attempting to discover his meaning *. Never was there a writer who appeared to have taken more pains to show that language, in his opinion, was not intended to communicate our ideas; but I can sincerely state that I have never wished to conceal his merits, when they have fallen under my knowledge. In one respect, however, I am bound to say he has done great and important service, I mean in his care of the punctuation, which I mention here once for all, as it is a praise which it would
* I will take this opportunity of restoring to him an emendation which is his property. In The Taming of the Shrew, see vol. v. p. 441, Biondello, as the speech is given in the folio, exclaims, on entering, "Master, master! news, and such news as you never heard of." Mr. Rowe, perceiving that the answer of Baptista, "Is it new and old too?" was thus unintelligible, read Master, master! old news." Mr. Capell thought the passage would be more spirited, if we read, " news, old news ;" and so it has since been printed in the text, but without any mention of his name. I will subjoin his note as an unusually favourable instance of his mode of expressing himself.
"Master, master! &c.' As this speaker's reply could not have run in such terms as we see it does, unless 'old' had stood somewhere, moderns all consent in inserting it; but the place chosen by them, is after Master.' This editor has looked on old and news too, as words omitted by accident; judging, that Biondello should first come out with news!' and branch it afterwards, such branching being more in the order of nature's working, and the period is made fuller and rounder by it."
Moderns is the only term which Mr. Capell applies to former editors, whom he never mentions by name; but styles Rowe, Pope, Theobald, &c. first, second, or third modern. Sir Thomas Hanmer is, indeed, sometimes described as "he of Oxford:" and Johnson is thus corrected: "cunning is wrong interpreted by he who brings up the rear of them."
have been endless to have bestowed upon him in detail. The twentieth volume contains the poems of Shakspeare, carefully printed from the original copies, an addition to the work of which the gibes of Mr. Steevens will not, I am confident, diminish the value. In the last volume Titus Andronicus and Pericles are preserved; but by being placed after the poems, are thus distinguished from what are acknowledged on all hands to have been entirely the genuine productions of our author, excepting the three parts of Henry VI., which have been suffered to retain their place as forming part of the historical series. Some Addenda follow, and the whole is concluded with a new glossarial index. In this, the humblest, but perhaps not the least useful department of the work, I have introduced what I hope will be considered as improvements. In the glossarial index of former editions, the reader has merely been presented with a long list of words, and references to the passages where they occur, often with very different meanings; and is thus called upon to roam over many volumes, in order to form a glossary for himself. I have thought that it would diminish his labour, though not a little adding to my own, if, wherever the various commentators agree in their explanation of a term, I affixed that explanation in the index; where they differ, I have not assumed the office of a judge, but have left the reader to decide for himself. In other points also I have deviated from my predecessors. Their index contained only the words which were found in the text, whether selected from conflicting copies, or modern emendations. Upon this plan, if the reading of the quartos is preferred, that of the folio is passed over unnoticed; and if both are discarded, they are no longer to be found in what derives its value from being an exhibition of Shakspearian phraseology. Thus, if we wish to find where a contested passage is to be met with, such as the line in Antony and Cleopatra
"And soberly did mount an armgaunt steed—”
we shall find no such word as armgaunt in Mr. Steevens's index, but only termagant, which has, most erroneously, in my opinion, been substituted in its place. I have given throughout the readings of both the folio and quartos, as far as their variations were of sufficient importance to be mentioned in the notes or the margin.
To this edition an engraving from what is commonly, known by the name of the Chandos portrait of Shakspeare, now in the possession of the Marquis of Buckingham, has been prefixed. The history of that picture will be found towards the close of Mr. Malone's Life of the Poet; but it will be necessary to say a few words in reply to the arguments (if such they may be called) with which Mr. Steevens has endeavoured to call in question its authenticity, but which never were brought forward till it had been engraved with more than former care and elegance for Mr. Malone's edition in 1790. It has been traced, as is fully stated by Mr. Malone in the passage already referred to, through the Duke of Chandos to his father-in-law, Mr. Nicoll; thence to Mr. Keck, a very curious collector; thence to Mrs. Barry; thence to Mr. Betterton, who procured it after the death of Sir William D'Avenant, to whom it had belonged. Such a chain of traditional evidence is seldom to be found in pedigrees of this description; and therefore Mr. Steevens, resorting to his usual weapon of ridicule, has endeavoured to weaken it by forming its links into a ludicrous compound, and styling this portrait the D'Avenantico-Bettertonian-Barryan-Keckian-Nicolcian-Chandosan canvas*. The last word is printed by him in italicks, in order to intimate that the picture being painted on that material, is a proof of its not being genuine. I have the authority of the present accomplished President of the Royal Academy for saying
* See Mr. Richardson's Proposals, p. 291. It will scarcely be necessary to inform the reader, that these Proposals were written by Mr. Steevens.