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than as dramatic beings. And the keynote of his criticism is that “the impression is the fact.” He states what he feels, and he explains the reason in language which is barely on this side idolatry.

The Essays


Nicholas Rowe's Account of the Life, etc., of Mr. William Shakespear forms the introduction to his edition of Shakespeare's plays (1709, 6 vols., 8vo).

Rowe has the double honour of being the first editor of the plays of Shakespeare and the first to attempt an authoritative account of his life. The value of the biography can best be judged by comparing it with the accounts given in such books as Fuller's Worthies of England (1662), Phillips's Theatrum Poetarum (1675), Winstanley's English Poets (1687), Langbaine's English Dramatick Poets (1691), Pope Blount's Remarks upon Poetry (1694), or Jeremy Collier's Historical and Poetical Dictionary (1701). Though some of the traditions--for which he has acknowledged his debt to Betterton-are of doubtful accuracy, it is safe to say that but for Rowe they would have perished.

The Account of Shakespeare was the standard biography during the eighteenth century. It was reprinted by Pope, Hanmer, Warburton, Johnson, Steevens, Malone, and Reed; but they did not give it in the form in which Rowe had left it. Pope took the liberty of condensing and rearranging it, and as he did not acknowledge what he had done, his silence led other editors astray. Those who did note the alterations presumed that they had been made by Rowe himself in the second edition in 1714. Steevens, for instance, states that he publishes the life

1 Morgann's kinship with the romantic critics is seen even in so minor a matter as his criticism of Johnson ; see p. 248.


from “Rowe's second edition, in which it had been abridged and altered by himself after its appearance in 1709. But what Steevens reprints is Rowe's Account of Shakespeare as edited by Pope. "In this volume the Account is given in its original form for the first time since 1714.

Pope omitted passages dealing only indirectly with Shakespeare, or expressing opinions with which he disagreed. He also placed the details of Shakespeare's later years (pp. 21-3) immediately after the account of his relationship with Ben Jonson (p. 9), so that the biography might form a complete portion by itself. With the exception of an occasional word, nothing occurs in the emended edition which is not to be found somewhere in the first.

A seventh and supplementary volume containing the Poems was added in 1710.

It included Charles Gildon's Remarks on the Plays and Poems and his Essay on the Art, Rise, and Progress of the Stage in Greece, Rome, and England.

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John Dennis's three letters “on the genius and writings of Shakespear” (February 1710-11) were published together in 1712 under the title An Essay on the Genius and Writings of Shakespear.

The volume contained also two letters on the 40th and 47th numbers of the Spectator. All were reprinted in Dennis's Original Letters, Familiar, Moral and Critical, 2 vols., 1721. The Dedication is to George Granville, then Secretary at War.

“ To whom," says Dennis, Essay upon the Genius and Writings of Shakespear be so properly address'd, as to him who best understands Shakespear, and who has most improv'd him ? I would not give this just encomium to the Jew of Venice, if I were not convinc'd, from a long experience of the penetration and force of your judgment, that no exaltation can make you asham'd of your former noble art.'

In 1693 Dennis had published the Impartial Critick, a



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reply to Rymer's Short View of Tragedy ; but there is little about Shakespeare in its five dialogues, their main purpose being to show the absurdity of Rymer's plea for adopting the Greek methods in the English drama. Dennis had, however, great respect for Rymer's ability. In the first letter to the Spectator he says that Rymer “will always pass with impartial posterity for a most learned, a most judicious, and a most useful critick”; and in the Characters and Conduct of Sir John Edgar he says that “there was a great deal of good and just criticism ” in the Short View.

In 1702 he brought out a “corrected ” version of the Merry Wives with the title of the Comical Gallant or the Amours of Sir John Falstaffe. The adaptation of Coriolanus, which was the occasion of the Letters given in this volume, appeared as the Invader of his country, or the Fatal Resentment. It was produced at Drury Lane in Novem ber, 1719, but ran for only three nights. It was published in 1720. An account of it will be found in Genest's English Stage, iii. 2-5. It is the subject of Dennis's letter to Steele of 26th March, 1719 (see Steele's Theatre, ed. Nichols, 1791, ii. pp. 542, etc.).


Pope's edition of Shakespeare was published by Tonson in six quarto volumes. The first appeared in 1725, as the title-page shows; all the others are dated - 1723.

In the note to the line in the Dunciad in which he laments his “ten years to comment and translate,” Pope gives us to understand that he prepared his edition of Shakespeare after he had completed the translation of the Iliad and before he set to work on the Odyssey. His own correspondence, however, shows that he was engaged on Shakespeare and the Odyssey at the same time. There is some uncertainty as to when his edition was begun. The inference to be drawn from a letter to Pope from Atterbury is that it had been undertaken by August, 1721. We have more definite information as to the date of its completion. In a letter to Broome of 31st October, 1724, Pope writes: “Shakespear is finished. I have just written the Preface, and in less than three weeks it will be public (Ed. Elwin and Courthope, viii. 88). But it did not appear till March. Pope himself was partly to blame for the delay. In December we find Tonson “impatient" for the return of the Preface (id. ix. 547). In the revision of the text Pope was assisted by Fenton and Gay (see Reed's Variorum edition, 1803, ü. p. 149).

A seventh volume containing the poems was added in 1725, but Pope had no share in it. It is a reprint of the supplementary volume of Rowe's edition, «the whole revised and corrected, with a Preface, by Dr. Sewell.” The most prominent share in this volume of Pope's Shakespeare' thus fell to Charles Gildon, who had attacked Pope in his Art of Poetry and elsewhere, and was to appear later in the Dunciad.

Sewell's preface is dated Nov. 24, 1724.

Pope made few changes in his Preface in the second edition (1728, 8 vols., 12mo). The chief difference is the inclusion of the Double Falshood, which Theobald had produced in 1727 as Shakespeare's, in the list of the spurious plays.

The references in the Preface to the old actors were criticised by John Roberts in 1729 in a pamphlet entitled An Answer to Mr. Pope's Preface to Shakespear. In a Letter to a Friend. Being a Vindication of the Old Actors who were the Publishers and Performers of that Author's Plays. By a Stroling Player.


Theobald's edition of Shakespeare (7 vols. 8vo) appeared in 1733. The Preface was condensed in the second edition in 1740. It is here given in its later form.

Theobald had long been interested in Shakespeare. In 1715 he had written the Cave of Poverty, a poem “in imitation of Shakespeare,” and in 1720 he had brought | out an adaptation of Richard II. But it was not till

1726-though the Dedication bears the date of March 18, 1725—that he produced his first direct contribution to Shakespearian scholarship,—Shakespeare restored: or, Specimen of the Many Errors, as well Committed, as Unamended, by Mr. Pope in his Late Edition of this Poet. Designed Not only to correct the said Edition, but to restore the True Reading of Shakespeare in all the Editions ever yet publish’d.

We learn from a letter by Theobald dated 15th April, 1729, that he had been in correspondence with Pope fully two years before the publication of this volume. (See Nichols, Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth Century, ii., p. 221). Pope, however, had not encouraged his advances. In the same letter Theobald states that he had no design of commenting on Shakespeare till he saw “how incorrect an edition Mr. Pope had given the publick.” This remark was prompted by a note in the Dunciad of 1729, where it was stated that “ during the space of two years, while Mr. Pope was preparing his Edition of Shakespear, and published advertisements, requesting all lovers of the author to contribute to a more perfect one, this Restorer (who had then some correspondence with him, and was solliciting favours by letters) did wholly conceal his design, 'till after its publication.” But if Theobald had not thought of issuing comments on Shakespeare's plays till Pope's edition appeared, he must have known them well already, for Shakespeare Restored is not a hasty piece of work.

Despite the aggressiveness of the title, Theobald protests his regard for Pope in such passages as these :

“ It was no small Satisfaction therefore to me, when I first heard Mr. Pope had taken upon him the Publication of Shakespeare. I very reasonably expected, from his known Talents and Abilities, from his uncommon Sagacity and Discernment, and froin his unwearied Diligence and Care

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