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in wit and staté, as with those monsters described by the poets; and that'their beads at least
have something human, though their bodies and tails are wild beasts and serpents.
As I believe that what I have mentionell gave rise to the opinion of Shakespear's wanit of learning; fo what has continued it doun to us,'may have been the many blunder's and illiteracies of the first publishers of his works. In these editions their ignorance shines in almolt'every page. Nothing is more common than situs tertia. Exit onines. Enter three witches folus. Their French is as bad as their Latin, both in construction and spelling: their very Welch is falfe. Nothing is more likely than that those palpable blunders of Hector's quoting Aristotle, with others of that grofs kind, Sprung from the fame root; it not being at all credible, that these could be the errors of any man who had the least tincture of a school, ör the least converfation with such as had. Ben Johnson (whom they will not think partial to him) allows him at least to have had fome Latin; which is utterly inconsistent with mistakes like these. Nay, the constant blunders in proper names of persons and places, are such as must have proceeded from a man who had not so much as read any history in any language: fo could not be Shakespear's.
I shall now lay before'the reader some of those 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 these are enumerated and considered, 'I dare to fay, 'that not Shakespear only, but Aristotle or Cicero, had their works undergone the same fate, might have appeared to want sense, as well as learning,
It is not certain that any one of his plăýs was pubHifhed by himself. During the time of his employment in the theatre, several of his pieces were printed feparately in quarto. What makes me think that most of these were not published by him, is the excessive carelessness of the press: 'every page is so scandalously false spelled, and almost all the learned or unusual words so intolerably mangled, that it is plain there either was.
no corrector to the press at all, or one totally illiterate. If any were supervised by himself, I should fancy the two parts of Henry IV. and Midsummer-night's dream, might have been fo: because I find no other printed with any exactness; and (contrary to the rest) there is very little variation in all the subsequent editions of them. There are extant two prefaces, to the first quarto edition of Troilus and Cressida in 16C1, and to that of Othello ; by which it appears, that the first was published without his knowledge or consent, and even before it was acted, so late as seven 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 some of these, 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 first collected) was published by two players, Heminges and Condell, in 1623, seven years after his decease. They declare, that all the other editions were stoln and surreptitious, and affirin 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 quarto's.
First, because the additions of trilling and bombast pafiages are in this edition far more nuinerous.
For whatever had been added, since those 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 himtelf complained of this usage in Hamlet, where he wishes, that those who play the clowns, would speaé no more than is set doren for them. (-427 3. Sc. 4) But 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 scenes of mobs, plebeians, and clowns, are vallly shorter than at present:
and I have seen one in particular, (which seems to have belonged to the playhouse, by having the parts divided with lines, and the actors names in the margin), where several of those very passages were added in a written hand, which are since to be found in the folio.
In the next place, a number of beautiful passages which are extant in the first single editions, are omitted in this; as it seems, without any other reason, than their willingness to shorten fome scenes; these men (as it was said of Pro‘rustes) either lopping, or stretching an author, to make him just fit for their stage.
This edition is said to be printed from the original copies; I believe they meant those which had lain ever since 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 use of the actors: for in some places their very names are thro' carelessness set down instead of the persone dramatis ; and in others the notes of direction to the property-men for their moveables, and to the players for their entries, are inserted into the text, through the ignorance of the transcribers.
The plays not having been before so much as distinguished by acts and scenes, they are in this edition divided according as they played them; often where there is no pause in the action, or where they thought fit to make a breach in it, for the sake of music, maiks, or monsters.
Sometimes the scenes are transposed, and shuffled backward and forward; a thing which could no otherwise happen but by their being taken from separate and piecemeal-written parts.
Many verses are omitted entirely, and others tranfposed; from whence invincible obscurities have arisen, past the guess of any commentator to clear up, but just where the accidental glimpse of an old edition en: lightens us,
* Much ado about nothing, acl 2. Enter Prince Le naro, Claudio, and Ik Wilson, instead of Balthasar. And in act 4. Cowley and Kemp constantly through a whole scene,
Edit, Fol. of 1623 and 1632.
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 Midsummernight's dream, act 5. Shakespear introduces a kind of matter of the revels, called Philoftrate; all whose part is given to another character (that of Egeus), in the subsequent editions. So also 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 also were put into the mouths of wrong persons, where the author now seems chargeable with making them speak out of character; or sometimes perhaps for no better reason, than that a governing player, to have the mouthing of some favourite speech himself, would snatch it froin the unworthy lips of an underling.
Prose from verse they did not know, and they accordingly printed one for the other throughout the volume.
Having been forced to say so much of the players, I think 1 ought in justice to remark, that the judgment, as well as condition of that class 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.); to the top of the profession were then mere players, pot gentlemen of the stage. They were led into the buttery by the iteward, not placed at the Lord's table, or Lady's toilette; and confequently were entirely deprived of those advantages they now enjoy, in the familiar conversation of our nobility, and an intimacy (not to say dearness) with people of the first condition.
From what has been said, there can be no question, but had Shakespear published his works himself, (elpecially in his latter time, and after his retreat from the stage), we should not only be certain which are genuine ; but thould find in thote that are, the errors leffened by some thousands. If I may judge from all the distinguishing marks of his style, and his manner of thinking and writing, I make no doubt to declare,
that those wretched plays, Pericles, Locrine, Sir Jobs Oldcastle, Yorkshire Tragedy, Lord Cromwel, The Puritan, and Lovdon Prodigal, cannot be admitted as his. And I should conjecture of some of the others, (particularly Love's labour's lift, The Winter's Tale, and Titus Andronicus), that only fome chara&ters, lingle scenes, or perhaps a few particular passages, were of his hand. It is very probable, what occasioned some plays to be supposed Shakespear'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 strays to the lord of the manor: a mistake which (one may also observe) it was not for the interest of the house to remove. Yet the players themselves, Heminges and Condell, afterwards did Shakespear the justice to reject those 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 Ti. tus Andronicus is one of this class, I am the rather induced to believe, by finding the fame author openly express his contempt of it in the Induction to Bariholomew fair, in the year 1014, 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 passages might no longer reflect upon this great genius, but appear unworthily charged upon him? And even in thole which are really his, how many faults
may have been unjustly laid to his account from arbitrary additions, expunctions, transpositions of scenes and lines, confusion of characiers and perfons, wrong application of fpecches, corruptions of innumerable passages by the ignorance, and wrong corrections of them again by the impertinence of his firit editors ? From one or other of these considerations, I am verily persuaded, that the greatest and the groffest
part of what are thought his errors would vanish, and leave his character in a light very different from Vol.I.