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in wit and state, as with thofe monfters defcribed by the poets; and that their heads at leaft may have fomething human, though their bodies and tails are wild beafts and ferpents.

As I believe that what I have mentioned gave rife to the opinion of Shakespear's want of learning; fo what has continued it down to us, may have been the many blunders and illiteracies of the first publishers of his works. In thefe editions their ignorance fhines in almolt every page. Nothing is more common than Actus tertia. Exit omnes. Enter three witches folus. Their French is as bad as their Latin, both in conftruction and spelling: their very Welch is falfe. Nothing is more likely than that those palpable blunders of Hector's quoting Ariftotle, with others of that grofs kind, fprung from the fame root; it not being at all credible, that thefe could be the errors of any man who had the leaft tincture of a fchool, or the leaft converfation with fuch as had. Ben Johnfon (whom they will not think partial to him) allows him at least to have had fome Latin; which is utterly inconsistent with mistakes like thefe. Nay, the conftant blunders in proper names of perfons and places, are fuch as mult have proceeded from a man who had not fo much as read any hiftory in any language: fo could not be Shakespear's.

I fhall now lay before the reader fome of thofe almost innumerable errors, which have risen from one fource, the ignorance of the players, both as his actors, and as his editors. When the nature and kinds of thefe are ́enumerated and confidered, I dare to fay, that not Shakespear only, but Ariftotle or Cicero, had their works undergone the fame fate, might have appeared to want fenfe, as well as learning.

It is not certain that any one of his plays was publifhed by himself. During the time of his employment in the theatre, feveral of his pieces were printed feparately in quarto. What makes me think that most of thefe were not published by him, is the exceffive careleffnefs of the prefs: every page is fo fcandaloufly falfe fpelled, and almost all the learned or unusual words fo intolerably mangled, that it is plain there either was


no corrector to the prefs at all, or one totally illiterate. If any were supervised by himself, I should fancy the two parts of Henry IV. and Midfummer-night's dream, might have been fo: because I find no other printed with any exactness; and (contrary to the reft) there is very little variation in all the fubfequent editions of them. There are extant two prefaces, to the first quarto edition of Troilus and Creffida in 16cy, and to that of Othello; by which it appears, that the first was published without his knowledge or confent, and even before it was acted, fo late as feven or eight years before he died; and that the latter was not printed till after his death. The whole number of genuine plays, which we have been able to find printed in his lifetime, amounts but to eleven. And of fome of thefe, we meet with two or more editions by different printers, each of which has whole heaps of trash different from the other which I should fancy was occafioned by their being taken from different copies, belonging to different playhouses.

The folio edition (in which all the plays we now receive as his, were firft collected) was published by two players, Heminges and Condell, in 1623, feven years after his deceafe. They declare, that all the other editions were ftoln 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 refpects else it is far worse than the quarto's.

First, because the additions of trifling and bombast paffages are in this edition far more numerous. For whatever had been added, fince thofe quarto's by the actors, or had ftolen from their mouths into the written parts, were from thence conveyed into the printed text, and all stand charged upon the author. He himfelf complained of this ufage in Hamlet, where he wishes, that thofe who play the clowns, would fpeak no more than is fet down for them. (A&t 3. Sc. 4) as a proof that he could not escape 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 vaftly fhorter than at present:



and I have seen one in particular, (which feems to have belonged to the playhoufe, by having the parts divided with lines, and the actors names in the margin), where several of those 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 first single editions, are omitted in this; as it feems, without any other reafon, than their willingness to fhorten fome fcenes; these men (as it was faid of Procruftes) either lopping, or ftretching an author, to make him juft fit for their ftage.

This edition is faid to be printed from the original copies; I believe they meant those which had lain ever fince the author's days in the playhouse, and had from time to time been cut, or added to, arbitrarily. It appears, that this edition, as well as the quarto's, was printed (at least partly) from no better copies than the prompter's-book, or piece-meal parts written out for the ufe of the actors: for in fome places their very names * are thro' careleffness fet down inftead of the perfonæ dramatis; and in others the notes of direction to the property-men for their moveables, and to the players for their entries, are inferted into the text, through the ignorance of the tranfcribers.

The plays not having been before so much as diftinguifhed by acts and fcenes, they are in this edition divided according as they played them; often where there is no paufe in the action, or where they thought fit to make a breach in it, for the fake of mufic, maiks, or monsters.

Sometimes the scenes are tranfpofed, and fhuffled backward and forward; a thing which could no otherwife happen but by their being taken from feparate and piecemeal-written parts.

Many verses are omitted entirely, and others tranfpofed; from whence invincible obscurities have arisen, paft the guess of any commentator to clear up, but just

* Much ado about nothing, a 2. Enter Prince Leonato, Claudio, and Juk Wilfon, instead of Balthafar. And in act 4. Cowley and Kemp conftantly through a whole fcene.

Edit. Fol. of 1623 and 1632. where

where the accidental glimpse of an old edition enlightens us.

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 Midfummernight's dream, act 5. Shakefpear introduces a kind of mafter of the revels, called Philoftrate; all whofe part is given to another character (that of Egeus), in the fubfequent editions. So 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 fpeeches 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 verfe 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 justice to remark, that the judgment, as well as condition of that clafs of people, was then far inferior to what it is in our days. As then the best playhouses were inns and taverns, (the Globe, the Hope, ths Red Bull, the Fortune, &c.); fo the top of the profeffion were then mere players, not gentlemen of the ftage. They were led into the buttery by the fteward, not placed at the Lord's table, or Lady's toilette; and confequently were entirely deprived of thofe advantages they now enjoy, in the familiar converfation of our nobility, and an intimacy (not to fay dearnefs) with people of the first condition.

From what has been faid, there can be no question, but had Shakespear publifhed his works himself, (efpecially 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 diftinguishing 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 Cromwel, The Puritan, and London Prodigal, cannot be admitted as his. And I fhould conjecture of fome of the others, (particularly Love's labour's loft, The Winter's Tale, and Titus Andronicus), that only fome characters, fingle fcenes, or perhaps a few particular paffages, were of his hand. It is very probable, what occafioned fome plays to be fuppofed Shakespear's, was only this, that they were pieces produced by unknown authors, or fitted up for the theatre while it was under his administration; and no owner claiming them, they were adjudged to him, as they give ftrays to the lord of the manor: a mistake which (one may also observe) it was not for the intereft of the house to remove. Yet the players themselves, Heminges and Condell, afterwards did Shakespear the juftice to reject thofe eight plays in their edition; though they were then printed in his name, in every body's hands, and acted with some applause; as we learn from what Ben Johnson 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 express his contempt of it in the Induction to Bartholomew fair, in the year 1614, when Shakespear 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 thofe which are really his, how many faults may have been unjustly laid to his account from arbitrary additions, expunctions, tranfpofitions of fcenes and lines, confufion of characters and perfons, wrong application of fpeeches, 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 thefe confiderations, I am verily perfuaded, that the greatest and the groffeft part of what are thought his errors would vanith, and leave his character in a light very different from VOL. I. d


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