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They declare, that
seven years after his decease. all the other editions were ftolen and furreptitious, and affirm theirs to be purged from the errors of the former. This is true as to the literal errors, and no other; for in all respects else it is far worse than the quartos.
First, because the additions of trifling and bombaft paffages are in this edition far more numerous. For whatever had been added, fince thofe quartos, by the actors, or had ftolen from their mouths into the written parts, were from thence conveyed into the printed text, and all ftand charged upon the author. He himself complained of this ufage in Hamlet, where he wishes that those who play the clowns would speak no more than is fet down for them. (Act III. fc. ii.) But as a proof that he could not efcape it, in the old editions of Romeo and Juliet there is no hint of a great number of the mean conceits and ribaldries now to be found there. In
others, the low fcenes of mobs, plebeians, and clowns, are vastly shorter than at prefent: and I have seen one in particular (which feems to have belonged to the play-houfe, by having the parts divided with lines, and the actors names in the margin) where several of thofe very paffages were added in a written hand, which are fince to be found in the folio.
In the next place, a number of beautiful paffages, which are extant in the firft fingle editions, are omitted in this; as it feems, without any other reason, than their willingness to fhorten some scenes: these men (as it was faid of Procruftes) either lopping, or stretching an author, to make him juft fit for their stage.
This edition is faid to be printed from the original copies; I believe they meant thofe which had
lain ever since the author's days in the play-house, and had from time to time been cut, or added to, arbitrarily. It appears that this edition, as well as the quartos, was printed (at least partly) from no better copies than the prompter's book, or piece-meal parts written out for the use of the actors: for in fome places their very 5 names are through carelessnefs fet down inftead of the Perfonæ Dramatis; and in others the notes of direction to the propertymen for their moveables, and to the players for their entries, are inferted into the text through the ignorance of the transcribers.
The plays not having been before fo much as diftinguished by Acts and Scenes, they are in this edition divided according as they played them; often when there is no pause in the action, or where they thought fit to make a breach in it, for the fake of mufick, mafques, or monsters.
Sometimes the scenes are transposed and shuffled backward and forward; a thing which could no otherwife happen, but by their being taken from feparate and piece-meal written parts.
Many verfes are omitted entirely, and others tranfpofed; from whence invincible obfcurities have arifen, paft the guefs of any commentator to clear up, but just where the accidental glimpse of an old edition enlightens us.
Much Ado about Nothing, A&t II: "Enter Prince Leonato, Claudio, and Jack Wilfon," inftead of Bulthafar. And in A& IV. Cowley and Kemp conftantly through a whole scene. Edit. fol. of 1623, and 1632. POPE.
• Such as
My queen is murder'd! Ring the little bell.” "His nofe grew as sharp as a pen, and a table of green fields;" which laft words are not in the quarto. POPE.
There is no fuch line in any play of Shakspeare, as that quoted above by Mr. Pope. MALONE.
Some characters were confounded and mixed, or two put into one, for want of a competent number of actors. Thus in the quarto edition of Midfummer-Night's Dream, A& V. Shakspeare introduces a kind of mafter of the revels called Philofirate; all whose part is given to another character (that of Egeus) in the fubfequent editions: fo alfo in Hamlet and King Lear. This too makes it probable that the prompter's books were what they called the original copies.
From liberties of this kind, many speeches alfo were put into the mouths of wrong perfons, where the author now feems chargeable with making them speak out of character or fometimes perhaps for no better reason, than that a governing player, to have the mouthing of fome favourite fpeech himfelf, would fnatch it from the unworthy lips of an underling.
Profe from verse they did not know, and they accordingly printed one for the other throughout the volume.
Having been forced to fay fo much of the players, I think I ought in juftice to remark, that the judgment, as well as condition of that class of ple was then far inferior to what it is in our days. As then the best play-houses were inns and taverns, (the Globe, the Hope, the Red Bull, the Fortune, &c.) fo the top of the profeffion were then mere players, not gentlemen of the stage: they were led into the buttery by the steward; not placed at the lord's
Mr. Pope probably recollected the following lines in The Taming of the Shrew, fpoken by a Lord, who is giving directions to his fervant concerning fome players:
"Go, firrah, take them to the buttery,
"And give them friendly welcome, every one."
But he feems not to have obferved that the players here introduced were strollers; and there is no reason to suppose that
table, or lady's toilette: and confequently were entirely deprived of those advantages they now enjoy in the familiar converfation of our nobility, and an intimacy (not to fay dearnefs) with people of the firft condition.
From what has been faid, there can be no queftion but had Shakspeare published his works himself (especially in his latter time, and after his retreat from the ftage) we fhould not only be certain which are genuine, but fhould find in thofe that are, the errors leffened by fome thoufands. If I may judge from all the distinguishing marks of his ftyle, and his manner of thinking and writing, I make no doubt to declare that those wretched plays, Pericles, Locrine, Sir John Oldcastle, Yorkshire Tragedy, Lord Cromwell, The Puritan, London Prodigal, and a thing called The Double Falfhood," cannot be admitted as his. And I fhould conjecture of fome of the others, (particularly Love's Labour's Loft, The Winter's Tale, Comedy of Errors, and Titus Andronicus,) that only some characters, fingle fcenes, or perhaps a few particular paffages, were of his hand. It is very probable what occafioned fome plays to be fuppofed Shakspeare's, was only this; that they were pieces produced by unknown authors, or fitted up for the theatre while it was under his adminiftration; and no owner claiming them, they were adjudged to him, as they give ftrays to the lord of the manor: a miftake which (one may also obferve) it was not for the interest of the houfe to remove. Yet the players them
our author, Heminge, Burbage, Lowin, &c. who were licensed by King James, were treated in this manner. MALONE.
The Double Falfhood, or The Diftreffed Lovers, a play, acted at Drury Lane, 8vo. 1727. This piece was produced by Mr. Theobald as a performance of Shakspeare's. See Dr. Farmer's Effay on the Learning of Shakspeare, Vol. II. REED.
felves, Heminge and Condell, afterwards did Shakspeare the juftice to reject those eight plays in their edition; though they were then printed in his name, in every body's hands, and acted with fome applaufe (as we learned from what Ben Jonfon fays of Pericles in his ode on the New Inn). That Titus Andronicus is one of this clafs I am the rather induced to believe, by finding the fame author openly exprefs his contempt of it in the Induction to Bartholomew Fair, in the year 1614, when Shakspeare was yet living. And there is no better authority for these latter fort, than for the former, which were equally published in his lifetime.
If we give into this opinion, how many low and vicious parts and paffages might no longer reflect upon this great genius, but appear unworthily charged upon him? And even in those which are really his, how many faults may have been unjustly laid to his account from arbitrary additions, expunctions, transpositions of scenes and lines, confufion of characters and perfons, wrong application of speeches, corruptions of innumerable paffages by the ignorance, and wrong corrections of them again by the impertinence of his first editors? From one or other of these confiderations, I am verily perfuaded, that the greatest and the groffeft part of what are thought his errors would vanish, and leave his character in a light very different from that disadvantageous one, in which it now appears to us.
This is the state in which Shakspeare's writings lie at present; for fince the above-mentioned folio edition, all the reft have implicitly followed it,
• His name was affixed only to four of them. MALONE.