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borrowed nothing, it was said that Ben Jonson borrowed every thing. Because Jonson did not write extempore, he was reproached with being a year about every piece; and because Shakespeare wrote with ease and rapidity, they cried, he never once made a blot. Nay, the spirit of opposition ran so high, that whatever those of the one side objected to the other, was taken at the rebound, and turned into praises; as injudiciously, as their antagonists before had made them objections.
Poets are always afraid of envy; but sure they have as much reason to be afraid of admiration. They are the ScylJa and Charybdis of authors; thote who cfcape one, often fall by the other. Peffimum gen:s inimicorum laudantes, says Tacitus: and Virgil defires to wear a charm against those who praise a poct without rule or reason.
-Si ultra placitum laudarit baccare frontem
But however this contention might be carried on by the the partizans on either side, I cannot help thinking these two great poets were good friends, and lived on amicable terms and in orlices of Lociety with each other. li is an acknowledged fact, that Ben Jonson was introduced upon the itage, and his firit works encouraged, by Shakeipeare. And after his death, that author writes, To the memory of lis beloved Mr. William Shakespeare, which ihews as if the friend thip had continued through life. I cannot for my own part find any thing invidious or sparing in thote verses, but wonder Mr. Dryden was of that opinion. He exalts him not only above all his contemporaries, but above Chaucer and Spenfer, whom he will not ailow to be great enough to be ranked with him; and challenges the numes of Sophocles, Euripides, and Ætchylus, nay, all Greece and Rome at once, to equal him; and (which is very particular) expressly vindicates him from the imputation of wanting art, not enduring that all bis excellencies flionld be attributed to nature. It is rea markable too, that the praile he gives him in his Discoveries seems to proceed from a perfinal kindness; he tells us, that he loved the man, as well as honoured his memory; celebrates the honett, openness, and franknefs of his temper; and only distinguishes, as he reasonabiy ought, between the real merit of the author, and the filly and derogatory applauses of the players. Ben joron night indeed be sparing
in his commendations (though certainly he is not so in this instance) partly from his own nature, and partly from judge ment. For men of judgmcat think they do any man more service in praising him justly, than lavishly. I say, I would fain believe they were friends, though the violence and illbreeding of their followers and flatterers were enough to give rise to the contrary report. I hope that it may be with parties, both in wit and state, as with those monsters dcfcribed by the poets; and that their heads at least may have something human, though their bodies and tails are wild bcasts and serpents.
As I believe that what I have mentioned gave rise to the opinion of Shakespeare's want of learning; so what has continued it down to us may
have been the
blunders and illiteracies of the first publishers of his works. In these editions their ignorance Thines in almost every page; nothing is more common than Altus tertia. Exit omnes. Enter three IVitches folus *. Their French is as bad as their Latin, both in construction and spelling: their very Welsh is falfe. Nothing is more likely than that those palpable blunders of Hector's quoting Aristotle, with others of that gross kind, sprung from the same root: it not being at all credible that these could be the errors of any man who had the least tincture of a school, or the least conversation with such as had. Ben Jonson (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 blunsiers in proper names of persons and places, are such as must Jave proceeded from a man, who had not so much as read any history in any language: so could not be Shakespeare's.
I Thall 11ow lay before the reader some of those almost innumerable errors, which have risen from one source, '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 say that not Shakespeare only, but Aristotle or Cicero, had their works undergone the same fate, might have appeared to want sense as well as learning,
* Enter three cvitches folus.] This blunder appears to be of Mr. Pope's own invention. It is not to be found in any one of the four folio copies of Macbeth, and there is no quarto edition of it Extant,
It is not certain that any one of his plays was published by himself, During the time of his employment in the theatre, several of his pieces were printed separately in quars to. What makes me think that most of these were not published by him, is the excellive carelessness of the press: every page is so scandalously false spelled, and almost all the learned or unusual words fointolerably mangled, that it is plain there either was no corrector to the prefs at all, or one totally illiterate. If any were fupervised by himself, I should fancy The Two Parts of Henry the Fourth, and Midfummer Night's Dream might have been so: 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 tuo prefaces to the first quarto edition of Troilus and Crellida in iton, and to that of Othello; by which it appears, that the first was published without his knowledge or consent, or even before it was acted, fo 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 life-time, amounts but to cleven. 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 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 Condel, in 1623, seven years after his decease. They declare, that all the other editions were stolen and furreptitious, and afhrm 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 quartos.
First, because the additions of trifling and bombast pafsages are in this edition far more numerous. For whatever had been added, since those quartos, by the actors, or had stolen from their mouths into the written parts, were from thence conveyed into the printed text, and all stand charge oi upon the author. He himself complained of this usage in Hamlet, where he wishes that those who play the clowns would speak no more than is fet down for them. (Act. iji. Sc. 4.) But as a proof that he could not escape it, in the old edim tions 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 shorter than at present: and I have seen one in particular (which seems to have belonged to the play-house, by having the parts divided with lines, and the actors names in the margin) where several of those very, pallages 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 some scenes: these men (as it was said of Procrustes) either lopping, or stretching an author, to make him just fit for their stage.
This edition is faid to be printed from the original copies; I believe they meant those which had lain cver since the author's days in the play-house, and had from time to time been cut, or added to, arbitrarily. It appears that this edition, as well as the quartos, 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
names are through carelessness set down instead 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 inserted into the text through the ignorance of the transcribers.
The plays not having been before so much as distinguished by Aets and Scenes, they are in this edition divided according as they played them; often when there is no pause in the action, or where they thought fit to make a breach in it, for the fake of musick, masques, 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 piece-meal written parts.
Many verses are omitted entirely, and others transposed; 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 enlightens us.
• Much Ado about Nothing, Ac ii. Enter Prince Leonato, Claudio, and Jack Ilfon, inttead of Balbafar. And in Act iv. Couley and Kemp constantly through a whole scene.
Edit, fol. of 1623, and 1632. [H4]
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 Miajummer-Night's Dream, Act v. Shakespeare introduces a kind of master of the revels called Philostrate; 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 fome favourite speech himself, would snatch it from 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 I 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 play-houses were inns and taverns (the Globe, the Hope, the Red Bull, the Fortune, &c.) so the top of the profesion 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 consequently were entirely deprived of those advantages they now enjoy in the familiar conversation of our nobility, and an intimacy (not to say dearncés) with people of the first condition.
From what has been faid, there can be no question but had Shakespeare published his works himself (especially in his latter time, and after his retreat from the stage) we should not only be certain which are genuine, but should find in those that are, the errors lefsened by fome thousands. If I may judge from all the distinguishing marks of his stile, and his manner of thinking and writing, I make no doubt to declare that those wretched plays Pericles, Locrine, Sir John Oldiafile, Yorkshire Tragedy, Lord Cromwell, The Puritan, and London Prodigal, cannot be admitted as his. And I should conjecture of some of the others (particularly Love's Labour's Life The Winter's Tale, and Titus Andronicus) that only some chaFacters, single scenes, or perhaps a few particular pafages, were of his hand. It is very probable what occafioned some