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press, the reader is apprized by a note; and every
7. "And now he feasts, mouthing the flesh of men,—"
"And now he feasts, mousing the flesh of men,”
8. "A greater power than ye-" P. 39.
That I may be accurately understood, I subjoin a few of these unnoticed corrections:
In King Henry VI. P. I. Act I. sc. vi:
Thy promises are like Adonis' gardens,
"That one day bloom'd, and fruitful were the next." The old copy reads-garden.
In King John, Act IV. sc. ii:
"Does shew the mood of a much-troubled breast."
The old copy reads-Do.
Ibidem, Act I. sc. i:
""Tis too respective, and too sociable," &c.
The old copy,-'Tis two respective," &c.
Again, in the same play, we find in the original copy: "Against the inuoluerable clouds of heaven."
In King Henry V. Act V. sc. ii:
"Corrupting in its own fertility."
The old copy reads-it.
In Timon of Athens, Act I. sc. i:
"Come, shall we in?"
The old copy has-Comes.
Ibidem: Even on their knees, and hands,—."
The old copy has-hand.
In Cymbeline, Act III. sc. iv:
"The handmaids of all women, or, more truly,
The old copy has-it.
It cannot be expected that the page should be encumbered with the notice of such obvious mistakes of the press as are here enumerated. With the exception of errors such as these, whenever any emendation has been adopted, it is mentioned in a note, and ascribed to its author.
emendation that has been adopted, is ascribed to its proper author. When it is considered that
9. "For griefis proud, and makes his owner stoop." P. 52. "For grief is proud, and makes his owner stout."
10. “O, that a man would speak these words to me!” "O, that a man should speak these words to me!"
11. "Is't not amiss, when it is truly done?" P. 64.
13. "A whole armado of collected sail." P. 74.
14. "And bitter shame hath spoil'd the sweet world's taste.” P. 79. "And bitter shame hath spoil'd the sweet word's taste." P. 519.
"Strong reasons make strong actions." P. 81. Strong reasons make strange actions." P. 522. 16. "Must make a stand at what your highness will.”
"Doth make a stand at what your highness will."
17.“ Had none, my lord! why, did not you provoke me?”
18. "Mad'st it no conscience to destroy a king." P. 97.
"Sir, sir, impatience has his privilege." P. 541. 20. "Or, when he doom'd this beauty to the grave,—'
"Or, when he doom'd this beauty to a grave,
there are one hundred thousand lines in these plays, and that it often was necessary to consult
21. "To the yet-unbegotten sins of time." P. 102. "To the yet-unbegotten sin of times." P. 541.
"And breathing to this breathless excellence,-" P. 102. "And breathing to his breathless excellence,
23. “And your supplies, which you have wish'd so long,-"
"And your supply, which you have wish'd so long,” 24. "What's that to thee? Why may I not demand—”
"What's that to thee? Why may not I demand-"
25. "O, my sweet sir, news fitted to the night." P. 123.
Against the mind,-" P. 124.
"Death, having prey'd upon the outward parts,
27." The salt of them is hot." P. 125.
"The salt in them is hot." P. 568.
Two other restorations in this play I have not set down:
"Be these sad signs confirmers of thy word."
because I pointed them out on a former occasion.
Act III, sc. i.
It may perhaps be urged that some of the variations in these lists, are of no great consequence; but to preserve our poet's genuine text is certainly important; for otherwise, as Dr. Johnson has justly observed, "the history of our language will be lost;" and as our poet's words are changed, we are constantly in danger of losing his meaning also. Every reader must wish to peruse what Shakspeare wrote, supported at once by the authority of the authentick copies, and the usage of his contemporaries, rather than what the editor of the second folio, or Pope, or Hanmer, or Warburton, have arbitrarily substituted in its place.
six or seven volumes, in order to ascertain by which of the preceding editors, from the time of the publication of the second folio, each emendation was made, it will easily be believed, that this was not effected without much trouble.
Whenever I mention the old copy in my notes, if the play be one originally printed in quarto, I mean the first quarto copy; if the play appeared originally in folio, I mean the first folio; and when I mention the old copies, I mean the first quarto and first folio, which, when that expression is used, it may be concluded, concur in the same reading. In like manner, the folio always means the first folio, and the quarto, the earliest quarto, with the exceptions already mentioned. In general, however, the date of each quarto is given, when it is cited. Where there are two quarto copies printed in the same year, they are particularly distinguished, and the variations noticed.
The two great duties of an editor are, to exhibit the genuine text of his author, and to explain his obscurities. Both of these objects have been so constantly before my eyes, that, I am confident, one of them will not be found to have been neglected for the other. I can with perfect truth say, with Dr. Johnson, that "not a single passage in the whole work has appeared to me obscure, which I have not endeavoured to illustrate." I have examined the notes of all the editors, and my own
Let me not, however, be misunderstood. All these variations have not been discovered by the present collation, some of them having been pointed out by preceding editors; but such as had been already noticed were merely pointed out: the original readings are now established and supported by the usage of our poet himself and that of his contemporaries, and restored to the text, instead of being degraded to the bottom of the page.
former remarks, with equal rigour; and have endeavoured as much as possible to avoid all controversy, having constantly had in view a philanthropick observation made by the editor above mentioned: "I know not (says that excellent writer,) why our editors should, with such implacable anger, persecute their predecessors. Οἱ νεκροὶ μὴ λάκεσιν, the dead, it is true, can make no resistance, they may be attacked with great security; but since they can neither feel nor mend, the safety of mauling them seems greater than the pleasure: nor perhaps would it much misbeseem us to remember, amidst our triumphs over the nonsensical and the senseless, that we likewise are men; that debemur morti, and, as Swift observed to Burnet, shall soon be among the dead ourselves."
I have in general given the true explication of a passage, by whomsoever made, without loading the page with the preceding unsuccessful attempts at elucidation, and by this means have obtained room for much additional illustration: for, as on the one hand, I trust very few superfluous or unnecessary annotations have been admitted, so on the other, I believe, that not a single valuable explication of any obscure passage in these plays has ever appeared, which will not be found in the following volumes.
The admirers of this poet will, I trust, not merely pardon the great accession of new notes in the present edition, but examine them with some degree of pleasure. An idle notion has been propagated, that Shakspeare has been buried under his commentators; and it has again and again been repeated by the tasteless and the dull, "that notes, though often necessary, are necessary evils." There is no person, I believe, who has an higher respect