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pression of fome of these which we are now speaking of.
This folio impression was sent into the world seven years after the author's death, by two of his fellow-players; and contains, besides the last mention'd fourteen, the true and genuine copies of the other fix plays, and fixteen that were never publish'd before:8 the editors make great professions of fidelity, and some complaint of injury done to them and the author by stolen and maim'd copies; giving withal an advantageous, if juft, idea of the copies which they have follow'd: but see the terms they make use of. “ It had bene a thing, we confeffe, worthie to have bene wished, that the author himselfe had liv'd to have set forth, and overseen his owne writings; but since it hath bin ordain'd otherwise, and he by death departed from that right, we pray you do not envie his friends, the office of their care, and paine, to have collected & publish'd them; and fo to have publish'd them, as where (before) you were abus'd with diverse stolne, and furreptitious copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds and stealthes of injurious impostors, that expos’d them : even those, are now offer'd to your view cur'd, and perfect
8 There is yet extant in the books of the Stationers' Company, an entry bearing date-Feb. 12, 1624, to Meffrs. Jaggard and Blount, the proprietors of this first folio, which is thus worded : “ Mr. Wm. Shakespear's Comedy's History's & Tragedy's so many of the said Copy's as bee not 'enter'd to other men :" and this entry is follow'd by the titles of all those fixteen plays that were first printed in the folio: The other twenty plays (Othello, and King John, excepted; which the perfon who furnished this transcript, thinks he may have overlook'd,) are enter'd too in these books, under their respective years; but to whom the transcript fays not.
of their limbes ; and all the rest, absolute in their numbers, as he conceived them. Who, as he was a happie imitator of nature, was a most gentle expreffer of it. His minde and hand went together and what he thought, he uttered with that easinefle, that wee have scarse received from him a blot in his papers." Who now does not feel himself inclin'd' to expect an accurate and good performance in the edition of these prefacers ? But alas, it is nothing less: for (if we except the six spurious ones, whofe places were then supply'd by true and genuine copies) the editions of plays preceding the folio, are the very basis of those we have there; which are either printed from those editions, or from the copies which they made use of; and this is principally evident in Firft and Second Henry IV. Love's Labour's Loft, Merchant of Venice, Midsummer-Night's Dream, Much Ado about Nothing, Richard II. Titus Andronicus, and Troilus and Cressida ;" for in the others we fee somewhat a greater latitude, as was observ'd a little above: but in these plays, there is an almoft strict conformity between the two impressions : some additions are in the second, and fome omissions; but the faults and errors of the quarto's are all preserv'd in the folio, and others added to them; and what difference there is, is generally for the worse on the side of the folio editors; which should give us but faint hopes of meeting with greater accuracy in the plays which they first publishd; and, accordingly, we find them subject to all the imper fections that have been noted in the former : nor is their edition in general distinguish'd by any mark of preference above the earliest quarto's, but that some of their plays are divided into acts, and some others into acts and scenes; and that with due precision, and agreeable to the author's idea of the nature of such divisions." The order of printing these plays, the way in which they are class'd, and the titles giyen them, being matters of some curiosity, the Table that is before the first folio is here reprinted : and to it are added marks, put between crotchets, shewing the plays that are divided; a signifying-acts, a&facts and scenes.
TABLE of Plays in the folio. COMEDIES. Measure for Measure. [a
& The Tempeft. [a & S.] The Comedy of Errours.* The Two Gentlemen of [a.]
Verona.* [a & S.] Much adoo about NoThe Merry Wives of thing. [a.]
Windsor. [a & S.] Loves Labour loft.*
9 The plays, mark'd with asterisks, are spoken of by name, in a book, callid-Wit's Treasury, being the Second Part of Wit's Commonwealth, written by Francis Meres, at p. 282: who, in the same paragraph, mentions another play as being Shakspeare's, under the title of Loves Labours Wonne; a title that seems well adapted to All's well that ends well, and under which it might be first acted. In the paragraph immediately preceding, he speaks of his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, and his Sonnets : this book was printed in 1598, by P. Short, for Cuthbert Burbie; odavo, small. The same author, at p. 283, mentions too a Richard the Third, written by Doctor Leg, author of another play, called The Destruction of Jerusalem. And there is in the Mulæum, a manuscript Latin play upon the same subject, written by one Henry Lacy in 1586: which Latin play is but a weak performance; and yet seemeth to be the play spoken of by Sir John Harrington, (for the author was a Cambridge man, and of St. John's,) in this passage of his Apologie of Poetrie, prefix'd to his translation of Ariosto's Orlando, edit. 1591, fol: is —- and for tragedies, to omit other famous tragedies ; that, that was played at S. Johns in Cambridge of 'Richard the 3. would move (I thinke) Phalaris the tyraunt, and terrifie all tyrãe nous minded men, frö following their foolish ambitious humors, seeing how his ambition made him kill his brother, his nephews, his wife, beside infinit others; and lást of all after a short and troublesome raigne, to end his miserable life, and to have bis body harried after his death.".
Midsommer Nights The First part of King Dreame.* Fa.
Henry the Sixt. The Merchant of Venice.* The Second part of King [a].
Hen. the Sixt. As you like it. (a. &: The Third part of King The Taming of the Shrew. Henry the Sixt. All is well, that Ends The Life & Death of well. sa:
Richard the Third.* Twelfe-Night, or what [a & S:]
you will. [a & S.] The Life of King Henry The Winters Tale. (a & the Eight. [a & S:]
[Troylus and Cressida) The Life and Death of " from the second folio;
King John.* Ta & S. omitted in the first. The Life & Death of The Tragedy of Coriola
Richard the second.* nus. [a.] fa&S:]
Titus Andronicus.* (a.) The First part of King Romeo and Juliet.*
Henry the fourth. [a Timon of Athens. &8:7
The Life and death of The Second Part of K. Julius Cæfar. [a.] Henry the fourth.* [a The Tragedy of Macbeth.
fa&f] The Life of King Henry The Tragedy of Hamlet. the Fift.
King Lear. [a & S.]
Othello, the Moore of Ve- Cymbeline King of Brinice. Ta & :7
taine. (a & JA Antony and Cleopater.
Having premis'd thus much about the state and condition of these first copies, it may not be improper, nor will it be absolutely a digreffion, to add something concerning their authenticity : in doing which, it will be greatly for the reader's eafe, -and our own, to confine ourselves to the quarto's : which, it is hop'd, he will allow of; elpecially, as our intended vindication of them will also include in it (to the eye of a good observer) that of the plays that appear'd first in the folio : which therefore omitting, we now turn ourselves to the quarto's.
We have seen the sur that is endeavour'd to be thrown upon them indiscriminately by the player editors, and we see it too wip'd off by their having themselves follow'd the copies that they condemn. A modern editor, who is not without his followers, is pleas'd to affert confidently in his preface, that they are printed from 6 piece-meal parts, and copies of prompters :" but his arguments for it are some of them without foundation, and the others not conclusive, and it is to be doubted, that the opinion is only thrown out to countenance an abufe that has been carry'd to much too great lengths by himself and another editor,—that of putting out of the text passages that they did not like. These censures then, and this opinion being set aside, is it criminal to try another conjecture, and see what can be made of it? It is known, that Shakspeare liv'd to no great age, being taken off in his fifty-third year; and yet his works are