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Chaucer and Spenfer, whom he will not allow to be great enough to be ranked with him; and challenges the names of Sophocles, Euripides, and Efchylus, nay all Greece and Rome at once, to equal him, and (which is very particular) exprefly vindicates him from the imputation of wanting Art, not enduring that all his excellencies fhould be attributed to Nature. It is remarkable too, that the praise he gives him in his Difcoveries feems to proceed from a perfonal kindness; he tells us, that he loved the man, as well as honoured his memory; celebrates the honefty, opennefs, and franknefs of his temper; and only diftinguishes, as he reasonably ought, between the real merit of the Author, and the filly and derogatory applaufes of the Players. Ben Johnson might indeed be fparing in his Commendations (though certainly he is not fo in this inftance) partly from his own nature, and partly from judgment. For men of judgment think they do any man more fervice in praifing him juftly, than lavishly; I fay, I would fain believe they were friends, though the violence and ill-breeding of their followers and Flatterers were enough to give rife to the contrary report. I would hope that it may be with Parties both in Wit and State, as with thofe Monsters defcribed by the Poets; and that their Heads at least 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 Shakespeare'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 almost every page; nothing is more common than Altus tertia, Exit omnes. Enter three Witches folus. Their French is as bad as their Latin, both in construction and fpelling; Their very Welfb is falfe. Nothing is more likely than that thofe 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 School, or the leaft converfation with fuch


as had. Ben Johnson (whom they will not think partial to him) allows him at least to have had fome Latin; which is utterly inconfiftent with mistakes like these. Nay the conftant blunders in proper names of perfons and places, are fuch as must have proceeded from a man, who had not fo much as read any history, in any language: fo could not be Shakespeare's.

I fhall now lay before the reader fome of those almost innumerable Errors, which have arifen 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 confidered, I dare to fay that not Shakespeare only, but Ariftotle or Cicero, had their works undergone the fame fate, might have appear'd to want fenfe as well as learning.

It is not certain that any one of his Plays was published 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 these were not published by him, is the exceffive careleffness of the prefs: every page is fo fcandalously falfe fpelled, and almost all the learned or unufual words fo intolerably mangled, that it's plain there either was no Corrector to the prefs at all, or one totally illiterate. If any were fupervised by himself, I fhould fancy the two parts of Henry the 4th and MidfummerNight's Dream might have been fo; because I find no other printed with any exactnefs; 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 1609, 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 life-time, amounts but to eleven. And of fome 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 fhould fancy was occafion'd

occafion'd by their being taken from different copies, belonging to different play-houses.

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, feven years after his decease. They declare, that all the other editions were stolen 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 editions of trifling and bombaft paffages are in this edition far more numerous. 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 wou'd speak no more than is fet down for them. (Act 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 fcenes of Mobs, Plebeians and Clowns, are vastly fhorter than at prefent: And I have feen one in particular (which feems to have belonged to the play-house, by having the parts divided with lines, and the Actors names in the margin) where feveral of thofe 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 firft fingle editions, are omitted in this as it seems without any other reason, than their willingness to shorten fome fcenes: Thefe men (as it was faid of Procruftes) either lopping, or stretching an Author, to make him juft fit for their Stage.

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 play-houfe, 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 Piecemeal Parts written out for the ufe of the actors: For in fome places their very (1) names are through careleffnefs 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, thro' the ignorance of the Transcribers.

The Plays not having been before fo much as diftinguished by Acts and Scenes, 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, Mafques, or Monsters.

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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 piece-meal written parts.

Many verfes are omitted entirely, and others tranfpofed; from whence invincible obfcurities have arifen, paft the guess of any Commentator to clear up, but juft where the accidental glimpse of an old edition enlightens us.

Some Characters were confounded and mix'd, or two put into one, for want of a competent number of actors. Thus in the Quarto edition of Midfummer-Night's Dream, A&t 5. Shakespeare 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 call'd 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 fpeak out of character: Or fometimes perhaps for no better reason, than that a governing Player, to have the

(1) Much ado about nothing. Act 2. Enter Prince Leonato, Claudio, and Jack Wilfon, inftead of Balthafar. And in Act 4. Cowley and Kemp, conftantly thro' a whole Scene.of 1623, and 1632.

-Edit. Fol.


mouthing of fome favourite fpeech himself, would fnatch it from the unworthy lips of an Underling.

Profe from Verse 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, the Red Bull, the Fortune, &c.) fo the top of the profeffion were then mere Players, not Gentlemen of the stage: They were led into the Buttery by the Steward, 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 converfation of our Nobility, and an intimacy (not to fay dearness) with people of the first condition.

From what has been faid, there can be no queftion but had Shakespeare published 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 those that are, the errors leffened by fome thousands. If I may judge from all the distinguishing marks of his ftyle, and his manner of thinking and writing, I make no doubt to declare that thofe wretched plays, Pericles, Locrine, Sir John Oldcastle, Yorkshire Tragedy, Lord Cromwell, 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 Shakespeare'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 obferve) it was not for the intereft of the Houfe to remove. Yet the Players themselves,

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