Imágenes de páginas

xxxiii traced to their original source, when every contemporary allusion shall have been pointed out, and every obscurity elucidated, then, and not till then, let the accumulation of notes be complained of.”

I consider that Malone's chief contribution to Shakespearean literature in this introduction is his estimate of the value of first editions.

As one reads these famous introductions, covering a century of time, and reflects upon the immense industry and arduous toil which the editions and prefaces represent, one is inclined to smile again at the naïve remark of Rowe, “ the works of Mr. Shakespeare may seem to many not to want a commentary.”

The smile broadens as we read Dr. Johnson's announcement that he would deal with the faults and excellencies of the poet “ without envious malignity or superstitious veneration. Since no question can be more innocently discussed than a dead poet's pretensions to renown.”

The reader has but to follow the raging clamour of the famous editors of the eighteenth century as set forth in these pages, the scorns and sarcasms, the accusations of ignorance and malevolence, to realise how little the great “ Cham” of literature could prophesy what was to be, or judiciously reflect upon what was going on within sound of his ears. For the echoes of Pope, Theobald, and Warburton's “innocent discussions " still fill the air.

It is because of my belief in the value of these discussions that I offer the contribution of this volume to the student of Shakespeare. Every critic or editor whose preface, advertisement, or introduction is included in these pages improves our knowledge both of the text and the spirit of Shakespeare. To each one the empire of letters owes a distinct debt.

Modern research has added many minor details to our knowledge of the poet and his works; modern editions have placed the results of the ripest scholarship within reach of the poorest student; modern machinery has produced in the perfection of form, fitting and graceful caskets for these jewels of English letters. But allwithout exception-are and must remain debtors to the pioneer players who saved the bulk of the poet's work from the slag heap of annihilation; to the pioneer biographer who gleaned those otherwise neglected facts, which, meagre as they are, are still almost all we know of the poet's life; to Pope with his bitter tongue, Theobald with his petulant genius, Warburton with his sarcastic raillery, Steevens with his saturnine pugnacity, as well as Johnson with his far-reaching powers of analysis, Capell with his patient plodding, and Malone with his well-digested learning in things pertaining to the Elizabethan stage.

The study of Shakespeare will continue to be the most noble pursuit in the large realm of English letters as long as the language lasts to which he gave both form and stability.

And the student of Shakespeare cannot fail to be aided in his quest of the fascinating spirit of the plays, under the illumination cast upon their pages by the famous Introductions of the eighteenth century.


OHN HEMINGE, as he signs his name in the First Folio, or Hemmings as it appears in other places, was an actor, manager, and

shareholder in both the Globe and Blackfriars theatres. There is no record extant of the time of his birth, but perhaps he was a native of Shottery, the home of Anne Hathaway, as a man of his name had a child baptised in Stratford Parish Church in 1567.

His original trade was that of a grocer, as we learn from his will, where he describes himself as a “citizen and grocer” of London.

His name is traced through various documents as actor in a number of plays, and Malone hands down a tradition which he found in a forgotten pamphlet that Heminge was the creator of the character of Falstaff.

He increased in wealth and importance, as is noted from two lists of players in the King's Company (the players were usually sharers in the profits), when in 1603 his name stands sixth, and in 1619, it is at the head of the list. He was a warm personal friend of Shakespeare, who left him by will the sum of twenty-six shillings and sixpence wherewith to purchase a ring.

His literary work was confined, so far as we know, to the publication (and editing after a fashion) of the celebrated First Folio edition of the plays of Shakespeare, in association with Henrie Condell. This was in 1623, seven years after the poet's death.

In a “ Sonnet upon the pitiful burning of the Globe Playhouse in London ” (1613) occur the following lines:

“There with swol'n eyes like druncken Flemminges

Distressed stood old stuttering Hemminges.” 1 He died in October, 1630, at Aldermanbury.

HENRIE CONDELL HENRIE CONDELL, or CUNDELL as it was sometimes spelled (Elizabethan spelling was a matter of individual taste and preference) was the associate of John Heminge in the production of the First Folio. He was an actor of moderate reputation and a fellow manager in theatrical ventures with Heminge. From actors' lists we learn that he played in the productions of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and Beaumont and Fletcher. His relations with the former were confidential and friendly, and in the great poet's will he was also remembered by a bequest of money to buy a ring.

He is mentioned in the “Sonnet” quoted above as follows:

“Out runne the knightes, out runne the lordes, and there was

great adoe, Some lost their hattes and some their swords, then out run

Burbidge too.
The reprobates thoughe drunck on Munday
Pray'd for the Foole and Henry Condye."

There is no record of his birth, but he died in December, 1627.

No portraits are extant of either of the first two editors of Shakespeare's plays.

" Outlines,” by Halliwell Phillips. Vol. I, p. 310. Ed. 1887. HEMINGE AND CONDELL'S INTRODUCTION

(First Folio Edition, 1623.)

To the Great Variety of Readers:

From the most able, to him that can but spell: There you are number'd. We had rather you were weigh'd. Especially, when the fate of all Bookes depends upon your capacities: and not of your heads alone, but of your purses. Well! It is now publique, & you wil stand for your priviledges wee know: to read, and censure. Doe so, but buy it first. That doth best commend a Booke, the Stationer saies. Then, how odde soever your braines be, or your wisedomes, make your licence the same, and spare not. Judge your sise-pen'orth, your shillings worth, your five shillings worth at a time, or higher, so you rise to the just rates, and welcome. But, what ever you do, Buy. Censure will not drive a Trade, or make the Jacke go. And though you be a Magistrate of wit, and sit on the Stage at Black-Friers, or the Cock-pit, to arraigne Playes dailie, know, these Playes have had their triall alreadie, and stood out all Appeales ; and do now come forth quitted rather by a Decree of Court, then any purchas'd Letters of commendation.

It had been a thing, we confesse, 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 so to have publish'd them, as where (before) you were abus'd with diverse stolne, and surreptitious copies, maimed and deformed by the frauds

« AnteriorContinuar »