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Title: The Works of William Shakespeare [Cambridge Edition] [9 vols.]
       Introduction and Publisher's Advertising

Author: William Shakespeare

Editor: William George Clark
        John Glover

Release Date: October 26, 2007 [EBook #23041]

Language: English

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This e-text contains the introductory material (44 pages) and the publisher’s advertising (16 pages) from Volume I of the nine-volume 1863 Cambridge edition of Shakespeare. The five plays from this volume, with their notes, will each be produced as a free-standing e-text.



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The Table of Contents from the published book is included here for completeness. The five plays will be available as separate e-texts.

The Preface ix
The Tempest (e-text 23042) 3
Notes to the Tempest 77
The Two Gentlemen of Verona (e-text 23043) 83
Notes to the Two Gentlemen of Verona 157
Introduction to the Merry Wives of Windsor 163
The Merry Wives of Windsor (e-text 23044) 165
Notes to the Merry Wives of Windsor 253
A Pleasant Conceited Comedy of Syr John Falstaffe, &c. 257
Measure for Measure (e-text 23045) 295
Notes to Measure for Measure 391
The Comedy of Errors (e-text 23046) 399
Notes to the Comedy of Errors 462
Publisher’s Advertising


The main rules which we proposed to ourselves in undertaking this Edition are as follows:

1. To base the text on a thorough collation of the four Folios and of all the Quarto editions of the separate plays, and of subsequent editions and commentaries.

2. To give all the results of this collation in notes at the foot of the page, and to add to these conjectural emendations collected and suggested by ourselves, or furnished to us by our correspondents, so as to give the reader in a compact form a complete view of the existing materials out of which the text has been constructed, or may be emended.

3. In all plays of which there is a Quarto edition differing from the received text to such a degree that the variations cannot be shown in foot-notes, to print the text of the Quarto literatim in a smaller type after the received text.

4. To number the lines in each scene separately, so as to facilitate reference.

5. To add at the end of each play a few notes, (a) to explain such variations in the text of former editions as could not be intelligibly expressed in the limits of a foot-note, x (b) to justify any deviation from our ordinary rule either in the text or the foot-notes, and (c) to illustrate some passage of unusual difficulty or interest.

6. To print the Poems, edited on a similar plan, at the end of the Dramatic Works.

An edition of Shakespeare on this plan has been for several years in contemplation, and has been the subject of much discussion. That such an edition was wanted seemed to be generally allowed, and it was thought that Cambridge afforded facilities for the execution of the task such as few other places could boast of. The Shakespearian collection given by Capell to the Library of Trinity College supplied a mass of material almost unrivalled in amount and value, and in some points unique; and there, too, might be found opportunities for combined literary labour, without which the work could not be executed at all. At least, if undertaken by one person only, many years of unremitting diligence would be required for its completion.

The first step towards the realization of the project was taken in the spring of 1860, when the first act of Richard the Second was printed by way of specimen, with a preface signed ‘W. G. Clark’ and ‘H. R. Luard,’1 where the principles, on which the proposed Edition should be based, were set forth with the view ‘of obtaining opinions as to the feasibility of the plan, and suggestions as to its improvement.’

All the persons who answered this appeal expressed their warm approval of the general plan, and many favoured us with suggestions as to details, which we have either adopted, or at least not rejected without careful and respectful consideration.

Since our work was commenced, we have learned that xi the need of such an Edition has presented itself, independently, to the minds of many literary men, and that a similar undertaking was recommended as long ago as 1852, by Mr Bolton Corney, in Notes and Queries, Vol. VI. pp. 2, 3; and again by a correspondent of the same journal who signs himself ‘Este,’ Vol. VIII. p. 362.

This concurrence of opinion leads us to hope that our Edition will be found to supply a real want, while, at the same time, the novelty of its plan will exempt us from all suspicion of a design to supersede, or even compete with, the many able and learned Editors who have preceded us in the same field.

We will first proceed to explain the principles upon which we have prepared our text.

A. With respect to the Readings.

The basis of all texts of Shakespeare must be that of the earliest Edition of the collected plays, the Folio of 1623, which, for more easy reference, we have designated F12. This we have mainly adopted, unless there exists an earlier edition in quarto, as is the case in more than one half of the thirty-six plays. When the first Folio is corrupt, we have allowed some authority to the emendations of F2 above subsequent conjecture, and secondarily to F3 and F4; but a reference to our notes will show that the authority even of F2 in correcting is very small. Where we have Quartos of authority, their variations from F1 have been generally accepted, except where they are manifest errors, and where the text of the entire passage seems to be of an inferior recension to that of the Folio. To show that the later Folios only corrected the first by conjecture, we may instance two lines in Midsummer Night’s Dream:

Give me your neif, Mounsieur Mustard Seed.   IV. 1.

‘Neif,’ which is spelt ‘niefe’ in Qq F1, becomes ‘newfe’ in F2, ‘newse’ and ‘news’ in F3 F4.


And finds his trusty Thisby’s mantle slain.   V. 1.

F1 omits ‘trusty.’ F2 makes up the line by inserting ‘gentle.’

Where the Folios are all obviously wrong, and the Quartos also fail us, we have introduced into the text several conjectural emendations; especially we have often had recourse to Theobald’s ingenuity. But it must be confessed that a study of errors detracts very much from the apparent certainty of conjectures, the causelessness of the blunders warning us off the hope of restoring, by general principles or by discovery of causes of error.

For example: in the Midsummer Night’s Dream, I. 1,

Or else it stood upon the choice of merit,

the reading of the Folios, is certainly wrong; but if we compare the true reading preserved in the Quartos, ‘the choice of friends,’ we can perceive no way to account for the change of ‘friends’ to ‘merit,’ by which we might have retraced the error from ‘merit’ to ‘friends.’ Nothing like the ‘ductus literarum,’ or attraction of the eye to a neighbouring word, can be alleged here.

Hence though we have admitted conjectures sometimes, we have not done so as often as perhaps will be expected. For, in the first place, we admit none because we think it better rhythm or grammar or sense, unless we feel sure that the reading of the Folio is altogether impossible. In the second place, the conjecture must appear to us to be the only probable one. If the defect can be made good in more ways than one equally plausible, or, at least, equally possible, we have registered but not adopted these improvements, and the reader is intended to make his own selection out of the notes.

For example, in the Merry Wives of Windsor, II. 3. 80, we have assumed Mr Dyce’s conjecture, ‘Cried I aim?’ to be the only satisfactory reading of a passage decidedly wrong; but in the same play, IV. 1. 63, ‘Woman, art thou xiii lunaties?’ as the error may equally possibly be evaded by reading ‘lunacies’ with Rowe, and ‘lunatics’ with Capell, we have retained the error.

The well-known canon of criticism, that of two readings ‘ceteris paribus’ the more difficult is to be preferred, is not always to be applied in comparing the readings of the Folios. For very frequently an anomaly which would have been plausible on account of its apparent archaism proves to be more archaic than Shakespeare, if the earlier Quartos give the language of Shakespeare with more correctness. Ex. Midsummer Night’s Dream, III. 2: ‘Scorn and derision never come in tears’ Qq; ‘comes’ Ff; and in the same play, IV. 1: ‘O how mine eyes do loath’ Q1, altered to ‘doth loath’ in Q2 F1, and restored, evidently by a grammatical reviser, to ‘do loath’ in F2 F3 F4. Again, I. 1: ‘what all but he do know,’ Qq, is altered to ‘doth know’ in Ff.

This last error points to a very common anomaly in grammar; one which seems almost to have become a rule, or, at any rate, a license in Shakespeare’s own time, that a verb shall agree in number with the nominative intervening between the true governing noun and the verb.

B. Grammar.

In general, we do not alter any passage merely because the grammar is faulty, unless we are convinced that the fault of grammar was due to the printer altogether, and not to Shakespeare. We look upon it as no part of our task to improve the poet’s grammar or correct his oversights: even errors, such as those referred to in note (VII) to the Two Gentlemen of Verona, and notes (I) and (X) to the Merry Wives of Windsor, because we thought them to be Shakespeare’s own blunders, have been allowed to stand. But many phrases that are called bad grammar by us, and rightly so called, were sanctioned by usage among the contemporaries of Shakespeare, especially, no doubt, by the usage of conversation, xiv even among educated persons. And as a learned correspondent (Dr B. Nicholson) remarks, this would naturally be the style of English which Shakespeare would purposely use in dramatic dialogue.

As examples of the anomalies of grammar sanctioned by Elizabethan usage we may mention:—

Singular verbs, with plural nouns, especially when the verb precedes its nominative:

Hath all his ventures failed? What; not one hit?

Merchant of Venice, III. 2.

Nominatives for accusatives:

She should this Angelo have married.

Measure for Measure, III. 1. 204.

And repeatedly ‘who’ for ‘whom.’

Omission of prepositions:

Most ignorant of what he’s most assured.   Ibid. II. 2. 119.

——— which now you censure him.   Ibid. II. 1. 15.

The changes of accidence are less frequent than those of syntax, yet such occur. In the Folios verbs ending in d and t are constantly found making their second persons singular in ds and ts instead of d’st and t’st. This was a corruption coming into vogue about the time of their publication, and in the earlier Quartos we frequently find the correct form; for example, in Midsummer Night’s Dream, V. 1: ‘standst’ in Q1 is corrupted to ‘stands’ in Q2 and in Ff. We have therefore confidently replaced the correct form for the incorrect, even without authority to back us; looking upon the variation as a corrupt abbreviation of spelling.

But, in general, our practice has been not to alter the text, in order to make the grammar conform to the fixed rules of modern English. A wide latitude of speech was allowed in Shakespeare’s age both as to spelling and grammar.

C. Orthography.

It was not without much consideration that we determined to adopt the spelling of the nineteenth century. If we had any evidence as to Shakespeare’s own spelling, we should have been strongly inclined to adopt it, but to attempt to reproduce it, by operating by rule upon the texts that have come down to us, would be subjecting Shakespeare’s English to arbitrary laws, of which it never yet was conscious. This argues no want of education on the part of Shakespeare; for if Lord Bacon himself had rules for spelling, they were but few, as we may easily perceive by inspection of his works published under his own eye. But if we have not Shakespeare’s own spelling to guide us, what other spelling shall we adopt? Every student of Shakespeare has now an easy opportunity of acquainting himself with the text of F1, by means of Mr Booth’s excellent reprint, and we are certain that not one of them will consider the spelling of that volume intrinsically better than that of our day. Rather more like Shakespeare’s it certainly is, but we doubt whether much is gained by such approximation, as long as it is short of perfect attainment. Moreover, in many of the Plays there is a competing claim to guide our spelling, put forward by an array of Quartos, of earlier date than F1. To desert F1 for these, where they exist, would be but an occasional, and at best an uncertain means of attaining the lost spelling of Shakespeare, while the spelling of our volume would become even more inconsistent than that of F1 itself. Add to this; there are places, though, as has been seen, not many, where we have had to leave the reading of F1 altogether. How then shall we spell the correction which we substitute?

D. Metre.

Corrections of metre are avoided even more carefully than those of grammar. For the rules of prosody have xvi undergone perhaps greater change than those of grammar. There is no doubt that a system of versification has taken root among us very different from that which was in use in the earlier days of our poetry. The influence of classical prosody has worked in a manner that could hardly have been expected. Quantity in the sense in which the Greeks and Romans understood it, is altogether foreign to our speech; and our poets, willing to imitate the verse regulated by laws of quantity, have partially adopted those laws, substituting for long syllables those that bear a stress of accent or emphasis.

In Greek and Latin accent was essentially distinct from quantity, and verse was regulated entirely by the latter. In the modern imitation of classical metres, for want of appreciation of quantity, we go entirely by accent or emphasis, and make precisely such verses as classical taste eschewed. Thus we have learned to scan lines by iambuses, or rather by their accentual imitations, and a perfect line would consist of ten syllables, of which the alternate ones bore a rhythmical stress. These iambuses may, under certain restrictions, be changed for ‘trochees,’ and out of these two ‘feet,’ or their representatives, a metre, certainly very beautiful, has grown up gradually, which attained perhaps its greatest perfection in the verse of Pope. But the poets of this metre, like renaissance architects, lost all perception of the laws of the original artists, and set themselves, whenever it was possible, to convert the original verses into such as their own system would have produced. We see the beginnings of this practice even in the first Folio, when there exist Quartos to exhibit it. In each successive Folio the process has been continued. Rowe’s few changes of F4 are almost all in the same direction, and the work may be said to have been completed by Hanmer. It is to be feared that a result of two centuries of such a practice has been to bring about an idea of Shakespearian versification very different from Shakespeare’s. But we feel a xvii hope that the number of Shakespeare’s students who can appreciate the true nature of the English versification in our elder poets is increasing, and will increase more as the opportunity is furnished them of studying Shakespeare himself.

Of course we do not mean to give here an essay on Shakespearian versification. Those who would study it may best be referred to Capell, in spite of the erroneous taste of his day, to Sidney Walker, and especially, if they are earnest students, to Dr Guest’s History of English Rhythms.

We will only state some of the differences between Shakespearian versification and that which has now become our normal prosody; namely, such as have excited an ambition of correcting in later editors. There is a large number of verses which a modern ear pronounces to want their first unaccented syllable. The following we quote as they appear in F1, in the opening of the Two Gentlemen of Verona:

No, I will not, for it boots thee not.   I. 1. 28.

Fire that’s closest kept burns most of all.   I. 2. 30.

Is’t near dinner-time? I would it were.   I. 2. 67.

These lines are all corrected by editors; and it is evident that there would be little trouble in altering all such lines wherever they occur: or they may be explained away, as for instance in the second cited, ‘fire’ doubtless is sometimes pronounced as a dissyllable. Yet to attempt correction or explanation wherever such lines occur would be ill-spent labour. A very impressive line in the Tempest is similarly scanned:

Twelve year since, Miranda, twelve year since.   I. 2. 53.

Where we are rightly told that ‘year’ may be a dissyllable. Yet that one word should bear two pronunciations in one line is far more improbable than that the unaccented syllable before ‘twelve’ is purposely omitted by the poet; xviii and few readers will not acknowledge the solemn effect of such a verse. As another example with a contrary effect, of impulsive abruptness, we may take a line in Measure for Measure:

Quick, dispatch, and send the head to Angelo.   IV. 3. 88.

This last example is also an instance of another practice, by modern judgement a license, viz. making a line end with two unaccented ‘extrametrical’ syllables.

Two very effective lines together, commencing similarly to the last, are in the same Play:

Take him hence; to the rack with him! We’ll touse you

Joint by joint, but we will know his purpose.   V. 1. 309, 310.

Another irregularity is a single strong syllable commencing a line complete without it. This might often be printed in a line by itself. For example:


And we’re betrothed: nay more, our marriage-hour—

Two Gentlemen of Verona, II. 4, 175.

Another irregularity is the insertion of syllables in the middle of lines. The dramatic verse is doubtless descended from the Old English decasyllables of Chaucer, and that his verse was divided actually into two sections is evinced by the punctuation of some MSS. The licenses accorded to the beginnings and endings of the whole verse were also allowed, with some modification, to the end and beginnings of these sections, and accordingly, in early poetry, many verses will appear to a modern reader to have a syllable too many or too few in the part where his ear teaches him to place a cæsura. Exactly similarly, but more sparingly, syllables are omitted or inserted at the central pause of Shakespeare’s verse, especially when this pause is not merely metrical, but is in the place of a stop of greater or less duration; and most freely when the line in question is broken by the dialogue.

The following examples of a superfluous syllable at xix the middle pause are taken out of the beginning of the Tempest:

Obey, and be attentive. Canst thou remember?   I. 2. 38.

But blessedly help hither. O, my heart bleeds.   I. 2. 63.

Without a parallel; those being all my study.   I. 2. 74.

With all prerogative:—hence his ambition growing.   I. 2. 105.

The extra syllables may be at the commencement of the second section:

He was indeed the Duke; out o’ the substitution.   I. 2. 103.

And the following are defective of a syllable:

Dashes the fire out. O, I have suffered.   I. 2. 5.

Make the prize light. One word more; I charge thee.   I. 2. 452.

To these ‘licenses’ we may add verses sometimes with one and sometimes with two additional feet, and many half verses, and some a foot too short. When these inequalities are allowed, the reader will perceive much simpler and more general methods of scanning some lines supposed to be unmetrical than the Procrustean means adopted by Sidney Walker for reducing or multiplying the number of syllables in words.

E. Punctuation.

We have now to state our practice of punctuation. The Folio and other editions, starting with very different principles from those that guide the punctuation of this day, have acted on those principles with exceeding incorrectness. Questions are marked and unnoticed almost at random; stops are inserted in the ends of lines fatal to the sense. In fact, in many places, we may almost say that a complete want of points would mislead us less than the punctuation of the Folios. The consequence is, that our punctuation is very little dependent upon the Folios and Quartos, but generally follows the practice which has taken possession of the text of Shakespeare, under xx the arrangement of the best editors, from Pope to Dyce and Staunton. Only for an obvious improvement have we altered the punctuation on our own judgement, and in most cases the alteration is recorded in the notes.

One thing remains to be said in reference to our text. It is well known, that in James the First’s reign, a statute was passed for exscinding profane expressions from plays. In obedience to this many passages in the Folios have been altered with an over-scrupulous care. When we have seen the metre, or, as is sometimes the case, even the sense marred by these changes, and the original contains no offensive profanity, we have recalled Shakespeare’s words.

Our object in the foot-notes has been (1) to state the authority upon which a received reading rests, (2) to give all different readings adopted into the text by other editors, and (3) to give all emendations suggested by commentators.

When no authority is mentioned for the reading of the text, it must be understood that all the Folios agree in it, as well as all editors previous to the one mentioned, as authority for an alteration. Thus, in the Comedy of Errors, III. 1. 71, ‘cake here] cake Capell’ indicates that ‘cake here’ is the reading of the four Folios, of Rowe, Pope, Theobald Hanmer, Warburton, and Johnson.

Mere differences of spelling are not noticed, except (1) in corrupt or disputed passages, where the ‘ductus literarum’ is important as a help towards the determination of the true text, and (2) when the variation is interesting etymologically or characteristic of a particular edition.

In the same way, differences of punctuation are recorded only when they make a difference in the sense, or when they may serve as a guide to the restoration of some corrupt, or the explanation of some difficult, passage.

Misprints also are passed over as a general rule. We xxi have noticed them occasionally, when they appeared to be remarkable as indicating the amount of error of which the old printers were capable.

We have endeavoured faithfully to record any variation of reading, however minute (except, as before said, mere differences of spelling or punctuation), adopted by any editor, and to give that editor’s name. Sometimes, however, we have passed over in silence merely arbitrary rearrangements of the metre made in passages where no change was required and no improvement effected.

In recording conjectures, we have excepted only (1) those which were so near some other reading previously adopted or suggested, as to be undeserving of separate record, and (2) a few (of Becket, Jackson, and others) which were palpably erroneous. Even of these we have given a sufficient number to serve as samples.

We will now proceed to explain the notation employed in the foot-notes, which, in some cases, the necessity of compressing may have rendered obscure.

The four Folios are designated respectively by the letters F1, F2, F3, and F4, and the quarto editions of separate plays, in each case, by the letters Q1, Q2, Q3, &c.

When one or more of the Quartos differ so widely from the Folios that a complete collation is impossible, the letters which designate them are put between brackets, for the sake of keeping this difference before the mind of the reader. Thus, in the Merry Wives of Windsor, the two earliest Quartos differ widely from the Folios, while the third Quarto (1630) is printed from the first Folio. Hence, they are designated thus: I. 4. 20, Cain] F3 F4. Kane (Q1 Q2). Caine F1 Q3 F2.

When no authority is given for the reading in the text, it is to be understood that it is derived from such of the Folios as are not subsequently mentioned. Thus, in the Comedy of Errors, II. 2. 203, the eye] thy eye F2 F3 indicates that F1 and F4 agree in reading ‘the eye.’


In the same scene, line 191, the note ‘or] and Theobald’ means, that the four Folios, followed by Rowe and Pope, agree in reading ‘or.’

When the difference between the reading adopted and that given in one or more of the Folios is a mere difference of spelling, it has not been thought worth while to record the name of the first editor who modernized it: for instance, in the Two Gentlemen of Verona, II. 6. 35, the note is: counsel] counsaile F1 F2. councel F3. council F4.

We have given at full the name of the editor who first introduced a particular reading, without recording which of his successors adopted it. Thus, in Measure for Measure, III. 1. 138, ‘grant’ for ‘shield’ is read by Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, Warburton, and others, but the first only is mentioned: ‘shield] F1. shield: F2 F3 F4. grant Pope.’

The conjectures made by annotators or by editors, but not introduced by them into the text, are distinguished by the addition of ‘conj.,’ as ‘Farmer conj.,’ ‘Johnson conj.’ &c. ‘Steevens (Farmer conj.)’ indicates that the reading in question was first suggested by Farmer, and first introduced into the text by Steevens. If, however, the person who first made the conjecture, afterwards became an editor, and gave it in his own text, while, in the mean time, it had been adopted by some other editor, the ‘conj.’ is omitted. Thus, for example, ‘Theobald (Warburton)’ shows that Warburton was the first to propose such and such a change, that Theobald first incorporated it in the text, and that Warburton afterwards gave it in the text of his own edition. We have designated the readings derived from Mr Collier’s corrected copy of the second folio thus: ‘Collier MS.’ not ‘Collier MS. conj.,’ as in this case we could consult brevity without danger of misleading any one.

We have arranged the names both of Editors and of Commentators (as far as was possible) in order of time. It has frequently happened that several persons have hit on the same conjecture independently. In such cases we have xxiii assigned it to the earliest, determining the priority by the date of publication.

The metrical arrangement of each passage is marked in the notes by printing each word which commences a line with an initial capital letter. In the Folios, many substantives, other than proper names or titles, are printed with initial capitals; but, in order to avoid ambiguity, we have generally made our quotations conform, in this respect, to the modern usage.

We had originally intended to give in our Preface a catalogue raisonné of all the editions of our author and other books used by us in the preparation of the present work, but this labour has been fortunately spared us by Mr Bohn’s reissue of Lowndes’s Bibliographer’s Manual, the eighth part of which contains a full and accurate account of Shakespearian literature. To that work we refer our readers for more complete bibliographical details, and propose to confine ourselves to some remarks on the critical value of the principal editions and commentaries. We have, of course, confined our collation to those editions which seemed to possess an independent value of their own. Mr Bohn enumerates two hundred and sixty-two different editions of Shakespeare. It was therefore a matter of necessity to make a selection. In the following remarks we pass briefly in review the editions which we have habitually consulted.

Whenever any commentary was known to us to exist in a separate form, we have always, if possible, procured it. In some few instances, we have been obliged to take the references at second-hand.

The first Folio (F1), 1623, contains all the plays usually found in modern editions of Shakespeare, except Pericles. It was ‘published according to the True Originall Copies,’ and ‘set forth’ by his ‘friends’ and ‘fellows,’ John Heminge and Henry Condell, the author ‘not having the fate common with some to be exequutor to his own writings.’


In an address ‘To the great variety of Readers’ following the dedication to the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, the following passage occurs:

‘It had bene 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 and stealthes of injurious impostors, that expos’d them: even those are now offer’d to your view cur’d, and perfect 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 expresser of it. His mind and hand went together: And what he thought, he uttered with that easinesse, that wee have scarse received from him a blot in his papers.’

The natural inference to be drawn from this statement is, that all the separate editions of Shakespeare’s plays were ‘stolen,’surreptitious,’ and ‘imperfect,’ and that all those published in the Folio were printed from the author’s own manuscripts. But it can be proved to demonstration that several of the plays in the Folio were printed from earlier Quarto editions, and that in other cases the Quarto is more correctly printed or from a better MS. than the Folio text, and therefore of higher authority. For example, in Midsummer Night’s Dream, in Love’s Labour’s Lost, and in Richard the Second, the reading of the Quarto is almost always preferable to that of the Folio, and in Hamlet we have computed that the Folio, when it differs from the Quartos, differs for the worse in forty-seven places, while it differs for the better in twenty at most.

As the ‘setters forth’ are thus convicted of a ‘suggestio falsi’ in one point, it is not improbable that they may xxv have been guilty of the like in another. Some of the plays may have been printed not from Shakespeare’s own manuscript, but from transcripts made from them for the use of the theatre. And this hypothesis will account for strange errors found in some of the plays—errors too gross to be accounted for by the negligence of a printer, especially if the original MS. was as unblotted as Heminge and Condell describe it to have been. Thus too we may explain the great difference in the state of the text as found in different plays. It is probable that this deception arose not from deliberate design on the part of Heminge and Condell,—whom as having been Shakespeare’s friends and fellows we like to think of as honourable men,—but partly at least from want of practice in composition, and from the wish rather to write a smart preface in praise of the book than to state the facts clearly and simply. Or the preface may have been written by some literary man in the employment of the publishers, and merely signed by the two players.

Be this as it may, their duties as editors were probably limited to correcting and arranging the manuscripts and sending them to the press. The ‘overseeing’ of which they speak, probably meant a revision of the MSS., not a correction of the press, for it does not appear that there were any proof sheets in those days sent either to author or editor. Indeed we consider it as certain that, after a MS. had been sent to press, it was seen only by the printers and one or more correctors of the press, regularly employed by the publishers for that purpose3.

The opinions of critics have varied very much as to the merits of the first Folio, some praising it as among the most correct, and others blaming it as one of the most incorrect editions of its time. The truth seems to be that it is of very varied excellence, differing from time to time xxvi according to the state of the MS. from which it was printed, the skill of the compositor, and the diligence of the corrector. There is the widest difference, for instance, between the text of the Two Gentlemen of Verona and that of All’s well that ends well.

As is the case with most books of that time4, different copies of the first Folio are found to vary here and there; generally, however, in a single letter only. It is probable that no one copy exactly corresponds with any other copy. We have indicated these variations, wherever they were known to us, in a note either at the foot of the page or at the end of each play.

A reprint of the first Folio, not free from inaccuracies, was published in 1807. A second reprint is now in course of publication by Mr Lionel Booth. The first part, containing the Comedies, has already appeared. It is probably the most correct reprint ever issued.

The second Folio (F2) is a reprint of the first, preserving the same pagination. It differs, however, from the first in many passages, sometimes widely, sometimes slightly, sometimes by accident, sometimes by design. The emendations are evidently conjectural, and though occasionally right, appear more frequently to be wrong. They deserve no more respect than those of other guessers, except such as is due to their author’s familiar acquaintance with the language and customs of Shakespeare’s day, and possible knowledge of the acted plays.

Capell’s copy of the second Folio has been of great use to us in our collations. He has annotated the margin with a multitude of marks in red ink,—conventional symbols indicating where and how it differs from the first. We have hardly in a single instance found his accuracy at fault.


The third Folio (F3) was first published in 1663, and reissued in the following year with a new title-page5, and with seven additional plays, viz.: Pericles, Prince of Tyre: The London Prodigal: The History of the Life and Death of Thomas Lord Cromwell: The History of Sir John Oldcastle, the good Lord Cobham: The Puritan Widow: A Yorkshire Tragedy: and The Tragedy of Locrine. With regard to the plays which it contains in common with the former Folios, it is on the whole a tolerably faithful reprint of the second, correcting, however, some obvious errors, making now and then an uncalled-for alteration, and occasionally modernizing the spelling of a word. The printer of course has committed some errors of his own.

The fourth Folio (F4) was printed from the third, but with a different pagination, in 1685. The spelling is very much modernized, but we have not been able to detect any other evidence of editorial care.

The first octavo edition was that of Nicholas Rowe, published in 1709, dedicated to the Duke of Somerset, in words which we take pleasure in recording: ‘’Tis the best security a poet can ask for to be sheltered under that great name which presides over one of the most famous Universities of Europe.’ It contained all the plays in the fourth Folio in the same order, except that the seven spurious plays were transferred from the beginning to the end. The poems were added also.

It is evident that Rowe took the fourth Folio as the text from which his edition was printed, and it is almost certain that he did not take the trouble to refer to, much less to collate, any of the previous Folios or Quartos. It seems, however, while the volume containing Romeo and Juliet was in the press he learned the existence of a Quarto edition, for he has printed the prologue given in the xxviii Quartos and omitted in the Folios, at the end of the play. He did not take the trouble to compare the text of the Quarto with that of F4. When any emendation introduced by him in the text coincides with the reading of F1, as sometimes happens, we are convinced that it is an accidental coincidence. Being, however, a man of natural ability and taste he improved the text by some happy guesses, while, from overhaste and negligence, he left it still deformed by many palpable errors. The best part of the work is that with which his experience of the stage as a dramatic poet had made him familiar. In many cases he first prefixed to the play a list of dramatis personæ, he supplied the defects of the Folios in the division and numbering of Acts and Scenes, and in the entrances and exits of characters. He also corrected and further modernized the spelling, the punctuation, and the grammar.

A characteristic specimen of blunders and corrections occurs in the Comedy of Errors, V. 1. 138.

important] F1 impoteant F2. impotent F3 F4. all-potent Rowe.

A second Edition, 9 Volumes 12mo, was published in 1714.

Pope’s edition in six volumes, 4to, was completed in 1715. On the title-page we read, ‘The Works of Shakespeare, in six volumes.’ The six volumes, however, included only the plays contained in the first and second Folios. The poems, with an Essay on the Rise and Progress of the Stage, and a Glossary, were contained in a seventh volume edited by Dr Sewell.

Pope, unlike his predecessor, had at least seen the first Folio and some of the Quartos of separate plays, and from the following passage of his preface it might have been inferred that he had diligently collated them all:

‘This is the state in which Shakespeare’s writings be at present; for since the above-mentioned folio edition [i.e. F4], all the rest have implicitly followed it without xxix having recourse to any of the former, or ever making the comparison between them. It is impossible to repair the injuries already done him; too much time has elaps’d, and the materials are too few. In what I have done I have rather given a proof of my willingness and desire, than of my ability, to do him justice. I have discharg’d the dull duty of an editor, to my best judgment, with more labour than I expect thanks, with a religious abhorrence of all innovation, and without any indulgence to my private sense or conjecture. The method taken in this edition will show itself. The various readings are fairly put in the margin, so that every one may compare ’em, and those I prefer’d into the text are constantly ex fide codicum, upon authority.’

This passage, as any one may see who examines the text, is much more like a description of what the editor did not do than of what he did. Although in many instances he restored, from some Quarto, passages which had been omitted in the Folio, it is very rarely indeed that we find any evidence of his having collated either the first Folio or any Quarto, with proper care. The ‘innovations’ which he made, according to his own ‘private sense and conjecture,’ are extremely numerous. Not one in twenty of the various readings is put in the margin, and the readings in his text very frequently rest upon no authority whatever. The glaring inconsistency between the promise in the preface and the performance in the book may well account for its failure with the public.

It would, however, be ungrateful not to acknowledge that Pope’s emendations are always ingenious and plausible, and sometimes unquestionably true. He never seems to nod over that ‘dull labour’ of which he complains. His acuteness of perception is never at fault.

What is said of him in the preface to Theobald’s edition is, in this point, very unjust6.


‘They have both (i.e. Pope and Rymer7) shown themselves in an equal impuissance of suspecting or amending the corrupted passages, &c.’

Pope was the first to indicate the place of each new scene; as, for instance, Tempest, I. 1. ‘On a ship at sea.’ He also subdivided the scenes as given by the Folios and Rowe, making a fresh scene whenever a new character entered—an arrangement followed by Hanmer, Warburton, and Johnson. For convenience of reference to these editions, we have always recorded the commencement of Pope’s scenes.

By a minute comparison of the two texts we find that Pope printed his edition from Rowe, not from any of the Folios.

A second edition, 10 volumes, 12mo, was published in 1728, ‘by Mr Pope and Dr Sewell.’ In this edition, after Pope’s preface, reprinted, comes: ‘A table of the several editions of Shakespeare’s plays, made use of and compared in this impression.’ Then follows a list containing the first and second Folios, and twenty-eight Quarto editions of separate plays. It does not, however, appear that even the first Folio was compared with any care, for the changes made in this second edition are very few.

Lewis Theobald had the misfortune to incur the enmity of one who was both the most popular poet, and, if not the first, at least the second, satirist of his time. The main cause of offence was Theobald’s Shakespeare Restored, or a Specimen of the many Errors committed as well as unamended by Mr Pope in his late edition of this Poet, 1726. Theobald was also in the habit of communicating notes on xxxi passages of Shakespeare to Mist’s Journal, a weekly Tory paper. Hence he was made the hero of the Dunciad till dethroned in the fourth edition to make way for Cibber; hence, too, the allusions in that poem:

‘There hapless Shakespear, yet of Theobald sore,

Wish’d he had blotted for himself before;’

and, in the earlier editions,

‘Here studious I unlucky moderns save,

Nor sleeps one error in its father’s grave;

Old puns restore, lost blunders nicely seek,

And crucify poor Shakespear once a week.’

Pope’s editors and commentators, adopting their author’s quarrel, have spoken of Theobald as ‘Tibbald, a cold, plodding, and tasteless writer and critic.’ These are Warton’s words. A more unjust sentence was never penned. Theobald, as an Editor, is incomparably superior to his predecessors, and to his immediate successor, Warburton, although the latter had the advantage of working on his materials. He was the first to recal a multitude of readings of the first Folio unquestionably right, but unnoticed by previous editors. Many most brilliant emendations, such as could not have suggested themselves to a mere ‘cold, plodding, and tasteless critic,’ are due to him. If he sometimes erred—‘humanum est.’ It is remarkable that with all his minute diligence8, (which even his enemies conceded to him, or rather of which they accused him) he left a goodly number of genuine readings from the first Folio to be gleaned by the still more minutely diligent Capell. It is to be regretted that he gave up numbering the scenes, which makes his edition difficult to refer to. It was first xxxii published in 1733, in seven volumes, 8vo. A second, 8 volumes, 12mo, appeared in 1740.

In 1744, a new edition of Shakespeare’s Works, in six volumes, 4to, was published at Oxford. It appeared with a kind of sanction from the University, as it was printed at the Theatre, with the Imprimatur of the Vice-Chancellor, and had no publisher’s name on the title-page. The Editor is not named—hence he is frequently referred to by subsequent critics as ‘the Oxford Editor’;—but as he was well known to be Sir Thomas Hanmer, we have always referred to the book under his name. We read in the preface: ‘What the Publick is here to expect is a true and correct Edition of Shakespear’s Works, cleared from the corruptions with which they have hitherto abounded. One of the great admirers of this incomparable author hath made it the amusement of his leisure hours for many years past to look over his writings with a careful eye, to note the obscurities and absurdities introduced into the text, and according to the best of his judgment to restore the genuine sense and purity of it. In this he proposed nothing to himself but his private satisfaction in making his own copy as perfect as he could; but as the emendations multiplied upon his hands, other Gentlemen equally fond of the Author, desired to see them, and some were so kind as to give their assistance by communicating their observations and conjectures upon difficult passages which had occurred to them.’

From this passage the character of the edition may be inferred. A country gentleman of great ingenuity and lively fancy, but with no knowledge of older literature, no taste for research, and no ear for the rhythm of earlier English verse, amused his leisure hours by scribbling down his own and his friends’ guesses in Pope’s Shakespeare, and with this apparatus criticus, if we may believe Warburton, ‘when that illustrious body, the University of Oxford, in their public capacity, undertook an edition xxxiii of Shakespeare by subscription,’ Sir T. Hanmer ‘thrust himself into the employment.’

Whether from the sanction thus given, or from its typographical beauty, or from the plausibility of its new readings, this edition continued in favour, and even ‘rose to the price of 10l. 10s. before it was reprinted in 1770-1, while Pope’s, in quarto, at the same period sold off at Tonson’s sale for 16s. per copy.’ Bohn, p. 2260.

In 1747, three years after Pope’s death, another edition of Shakespeare based upon his appeared, edited by Mr Warburton.

On the title-page are these words: ‘The Genuine Text (collated with all the former Editions, and then corrected and emended) is here settled: Being restored from the Blunders of the first Editors, and the Interpolations of the two Last: with a Comment and Notes, Critical and Explanatory. By Mr Pope and Mr Warburton9.’

The latter, in his preface, vehemently attacks Theobald and Hanmer, accusing both of plagiarism and even fraud. ‘The one was recommended to me as a poor Man, the other as a poor Critic: and to each of them, at different times, I communicated a great number of Observations, which they managed as they saw fit to the Relief of their several distresses. As to Mr Theobald, who wanted Money, I allowed him to print what I gave him for his own Advantage: and he allowed himself in the Liberty of taking one Part for his own, and sequestering another for the Benefit, as I supposed, of some future Edition. But as to the Oxford Editor, who wanted nothing, but what he might very well be without, the reputation of a Critic, I could not so easily forgive him for trafficking in my Papers without my knowledge; and when that Project fail’d, for employing a number of my Conjectures in his Edition against my express Desire not to have that Honour done unto me.’


Again he says of Hanmer: ‘Having a number of my Conjectures before him, he took as many as he saw fit to work upon, and by changing them to something, he thought, synonimous or similar, he made them his own,’ &c. &c. p. xii.

Of his own performance Warburton says, ‘The Notes in this Edition take in the whole Compass of Criticism. The first sort is employed in restoring the Poet’s genuine Text; but in those places only where it labours with inextricable Nonsense. In which, how much soever I may have given scope to critical Conjecture, when the old Copies failed me, I have indulged nothing to Fancy or Imagination; but have religiously observed the severe Canons of literal Criticism, &c. &c.’ p. xiv. Yet further on he says, ‘These, such as they are, were amongst my younger amusements, when, many years ago I used to turn over these sort of Writers to unbend myself from more serious applications.’

The excellence of the edition proved to be by no means proportionate to the arrogance of the editor. His text is, indeed, better than Pope’s, inasmuch as he introduced many of Theobald’s restorations and some probable emendations both of his own and of the two editors whom he so unsparingly denounced, but there is no trace whatever, so far as we have discovered, of his having collated for himself either the earlier Folios or any of the Quartos.

Warburton10 was, in his turn, severely criticised by Dr Zachary Grey, and Mr John Upton, in 1746, and still more severely by Mr Thomas Edwards, in his Supplement to Mr Warburton’s edition of Shakespeare, 1747. The third edition of Mr Edwards’s book, 1750, was called Canons of Criticism and Glossary, being a Supplement, &c. This xxxv title is a sarcastic allusion to two passages in Warburton’s preface: ‘I once intended to have given the Reader a body of Canons, for literal Criticism, drawn out in form,’ &c. p. xiv, and ‘I had it once, indeed, in my design, to give a general alphabetic Glossary of these terms,’ &c. p. xvi. Dr Grey’s attack was reprinted, with additions, and a new title, in 1751, and again in 1752. Warburton and his predecessors were passed in review also by Mr Benjamin Heath, in A Revisal of Shakespeare’s text, 1765.

Dr Samuel Johnson first issued proposals for a new edition of Shakespeare in 1745, but met with no encouragement. He resumed the scheme in 1756, and issued a new set of Proposals (reprinted in Malone’s preface), ‘in which,’ says Boswell, ‘he shewed that he perfectly well knew what a variety of research such an undertaking required, but his indolence prevented him from pursuing it with that diligence, which alone can collect those scattered facts that genius, however acute, penetrating, and luminous, cannot discover by its own force.’ Johnson deceived himself so far, as to the work to be done and his own energy in doing it, that he promised the publication of the whole before the end of the following year. Yet, though some volumes were printed as early as 1758 (Boswell, Vol. II. p. 84), it was not published till 1765, and might never have been published at all, but for Churchill’s stinging satire:

‘He for subscribers baits his hook,

And takes your cash, but where’s the book?

No matter where; wise fear, you know,

Forbids the robbing of a foe,

But what, to serve our private ends,

Forbids the cheating of our friends?’

Not only Johnson’s constitutional indolence and desultory habits, but also the deficiency of his eye-sight, incapacitated him for the task of minute collation. Nevertheless, he did consult the older copies, and has the merit of restoring some readings which had escaped Theobald. He had not systematically studied the literature and language xxxvi of the 16th and 17th centuries; he did not always appreciate the naturalness, simplicity, and humour of his author, but his preface and notes are distinguished by clearness of thought and diction and by masterly common sense. He used Warburton’s text, to print his own from. The readings and suggestions attributed to ‘Johnson,’ in our notes, are derived either from the edition of 1765, or from those which he furnished to the subsequent editions in which Steevens was his co-editor. Some few also found by the latter in Johnson’s hand on the margin of his copy of ‘Warburton,’ purchased by Steevens at Johnson’s sale, were incorporated in later editions. Johnson’s edition was attacked with great acrimony by Dr Kenrick, 1765 (Boswell, Vol. II. p. 300). It disappointed the public expectation, but reached, nevertheless, a second edition in 1768. Tyrwhitt’s Observations and Conjectures were published anonymously in 1766.

Capell’s edition (10 volumes, small 8vo) was not published till 1768, though part of it had gone to press, as the editor himself tells us, in September, 1760. It contained the Plays in the order of the first and second Folios, with a preface, of which Dr Johnson said, referring to Tempest, I. 2. 356, ‘The fellow should have come to me, and I would have endowed his purpose with words. As it is he doth gabble monstrously.’

Defects of style apart, this preface was by far the most valuable contribution to Shakespearian criticism that had yet appeared, and the text was based upon a most searching collation of all the Folios and of all the Quartos known to exist at that time. Capell’s own conjectures, not always very happy, which he has introduced into his text, are distinguished by being printed in black letter.

The edition before us contains the scansion of the lines, with occasional verbal as well as metrical corrections, marked in red ink, in Capell’s hand. This was done, as he tells us in a note prefixed to Vol. I., in 1769.


He described, much more minutely than Pope had done, the places of the scenes, and made many changes, generally for the better, in the stage directions.

In his peculiar notation, Asides are marked by inverted commas, and obvious stage business is indicated by an obelus.

In a note to his preface, p. xxiii, Capell says:

‘In the manuscripts from which all these plays are printed, the emendations are given to their proper owners by initials and other marks that are in the margin of those manuscripts; but they are suppressed in the print for two reasons: First their number, in some pages, makes them a little unsightly; and the editor professes himself weak enough to like a well-printed book; in the next place, he does declare, that his only object has been to do service to his Author; which provided it be done, he thinks it of small importance by what hand the service was administer’d,’ &c.

By this unfortunate decision, Capell deprived his book of almost all its interest and value11. And thus his unequalled zeal and industry have never received from the public the recognition they deserved.

In 1774, a volume of notes12 was printed in quarto, and in 1783, two years after his death, appeared Notes, Various Readings, and the School of Shakespeare, 3 vols. 4to.13 The printing of this work was begun in 1779.


George Steevens, who had edited in 1766 a reprint of Twenty of the Plays of Shakespeare from the Quartos, at a time, when, as he himself afterwards said, he was ‘young and uninformed,’ and had been in the meanwhile one of Johnson’s most active and useful correspondents, was formally associated with him as Editor in 1770 (Boswell, Vol. III. p. 116). At Steevens’s suggestion, Johnson wrote to Dr Farmer of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, requesting him to furnish a Catalogue of all the Translations Shakespeare might have seen and used. Hence, it seems, Farmer took an interest in the successive editions, and supplied many valuable notes and acute conjectural readings. It was on Farmer’s authority that Pericles has been re-admitted among the Plays of Shakespeare.

The first edition of Johnson and Steevens appeared in 1773. The improvements in this edition, as compared with those which bore Johnson’s name only, are evidently the work of the new editor, who brought to the task diligent and methodical habits and great antiquarian knowledge, thus supplementing the defects of his senior partner. J. Collins, editor of Capell’s Notes &c. charged Steevens with plagiarism from Capell. Steevens denied the charge. The second edition came out in 1778; the third in 1785; and the fourth in 1793. In this edition Steevens made many changes in the text, as if for the purpose of differing from the cautious Malone, now become a rival.

Edmond Malone contributed to Steevens his Attempt to ascertain the order in which the plays attributed to Shakespeare were written; in 1780, published a Supplement to the edition of 1778, containing the Poems, the seven plays from F3, notes, &c., and moreover distinguished himself by various researches into the history and literature of the early English stage. He published in 1790 a new edition of Shakespeare in 10 volumes, 8vo, containing the Plays and Poems, ‘collated verbatim with the most authentic copies, and revised,’ together with several essay xxxix and dissertations, among the rest that on the order of the plays, corrected and enlarged.

The animosities which both Steevens and Malone had the misfortune to excite, have had the effect of throwing some slur on their names as editors, and even as men, and have prevented the fair appreciation and a due acknowledgment of the services they rendered jointly and severally to English literature.

The learning and ability displayed by Malone in denouncing Ireland’s most clumsy and palpable of frauds, would have sufficed for the detection of the most cunningly conceived and skilfully executed.

Among the critics of this time may be mentioned (1) Joseph Ritson, who published in 1783 his Remarks, &c. on the second edition of Johnson and Steevens, and in 1788, The Quip Modest, on the third edition, and (2) John Monck Mason, whose Comments appeared in 1785, and Further Observations in 1798.

In 1803 appeared an edition in 21 volumes 8vo, edited by Isaac Reed. This is called on the title-page ‘the Fifth Edition,’ i.e. of Johnson and Steevens. It is generally known as the first variorum edition. Chalmers’s edition, 9 vols. 8vo, 1805, professes to be printed from the corrected text left by Steevens. The ‘sixth edition’ of Johnson and Steevens, or the second variorum, appeared in 1813, also edited by Reed; the ‘seventh,’ or third variorum, in 1821, edited by James Boswell, from a corrected copy left by Malone.

Among those whose notes were communicated to or collected by various editors from Johnson to Boswell, the best known names are the following: Sir William Blackstone, Dr Burney, Bennet Langton, Collins the poet, Sir J. Hawkins, Musgrave, the editor of Euripides, Dr Percy, editor of the Reliques, and Thomas Warton. Less known names are: Blakeway, J. Collins, Henley, Holt White, xl Letherland, Roberts, Seward, Smith, Thirlby, Tollet, and Whalley14.

Harness’s edition, 8 volumes, 8vo, appeared in 1825.

Of the comments published separately during the present century the principal are:

1. Remarks, &c., by E. H. Seymour, 2 vols, 8vo, 1805, in which are incorporated some notes left by Lord Chedworth.

2. Shakspeare’s himself again, by Andrew Becket, 2 vols, 8vo. 1815. The author has indulged in a license of conjecture and of interpretation which has never been equalled before or since. We have nevertheless generally given his conjectures, except when he has gone the length of inventing a word.

3. Shakspeare’s Genius Justified, by Zachary Jackson, 1 vol. 8vo, 1811. As the author himself had been a printer, his judgement on the comparative likelihood of this and that typographical error is worth all consideration. But he sometimes wanders ‘ultra crepidam15.’

Douce’s Illustrations to Shakespeare, 2 vols. 8vo, 1807, ought to be mentioned as a work of great antiquarian research, though he rarely suggests any new alteration of the text, and his name therefore will seldom occur in our notes.

The more recent editions of Shakespeare are so well known and so easily accessible, that it is unnecessary for us, even were it becoming in this place, to undertake the invidious task of comparing their respective merits.

It will suffice to mention the names of the editors in the order of their first editions: S. W. Singer, Charles xli Knight, Barry Cornwall, J. Payne Collier, S. Phelps, J. O. Halliwell, Alex. Dyce, Howard Staunton.

We have also to mention the edition of Delius, 7 vols. 8vo, Elberfeld, 1854-61, the English text, with concise notes, critical and explanatory, in German, and that of Mr Richard Grant White (known as the author of Shakespeare’s Scholar, 1854), published at Boston, United States, 1857.

In 1853, Mr J. Payne Collier, published in 1 vol. 8vo, Notes and Emendations to the text of Shakespeare’s Plays, from early manuscript corrections, in a copy of the Folio 1632, in his own possession. All the emendations given in this volume by Mr Collier, or subsequently as an Appendix to Coleridge’s Lectures, except, of course, where they have been anticipated, have been recorded in our notes.

We have no intention of entering into the controversy respecting the antiquity and authority of these corrections, nor is it necessary to enumerate the writings on a subject which is still so fresh in the memory of all.

M. Tycho Mommsen, of Marburg, who published the most elaborate work on the so-called ‘Perkins Folio,’ also published in 1859 the text of the first Quartos of Romeo and Juliet, with a collation of the various readings of all editions down to Rowe’s, a full description of the critical value of the different texts, and an inquiry into the versification, and incidentally the grammar and orthography of Shakespeare. The precise rules which he lays down disappear, for the most part, on a wider induction, and we greatly question whether it be worth while to register and tabulate such minutiæ as do not represent in any way Shakespeare’s mind or hand, but only the caprices of this or that compositor, at a period when spelling, punctuation, and even rules of grammar, were matters of private judgement.

But M. Mommsen’s industry is beyond praise, and his xlii practice of using the labours of English Editors, without insulting them, is worthy of all imitation16.

Among the works to which reference will be found in our edition are the following:

Coleridge’s Literary Remains: Dr Guest’s History of English Rhythms: the Versification of Shakespeare, by W. Sidney Walker, (1854), and Criticisms, by the same, 3 vols., post 8vo, (1860), edited by Mr Lettsom, who has also contributed in his notes some suggestions for the improvement of the text. It is to be regretted that these volumes have not been accompanied by an Index. Dr. Charles Badham’s article in the Cambridge Essays, 1856, contains many ingenious suggestions.

We have borrowed from several literary journals, the Athenæum, Notes and Queries, and the Parthenon, and from Magazines, the conjectures of their correspondents. When the real name of the correspondent, or what might be such, was signed, we have given it in our notes, as ‘Hickson,’ ‘S. Verges’ (from Notes and Queries). When the name was obviously fictitious, or when the article was not signed at all, we have noted it thus: ‘Anon. (N. and Q.) conj.,’ ‘Anon. (Fras. Mag.) conj.,’ &c., referring to Notes and Queries, Fraser’s Magazine, &c.

‘Spedding,’ ‘Bullock,’ ‘Lloyd,’ ‘Williams,’ ‘Wright,’ indicate respectively our correspondents, Mr James Spedding, Mr John Bullock, of Aberdeen, the Rev. Julius Lloyd, Mr W. W. Williams, of Oxford, and Mr W. Aldis Wright, to each and all of whom we beg to return our best thanks. We have also to thank Mr Archibald Smith, Mr C. W. Goodwin, Mr Bolton Corney, Mr N. E. S. A. Hamilton, Mr J. Nichols, Mr Jourdain, Dr Brinsley Nicholson, Mr xliii Halliwell, Dr Barlow, Mr Grant White, Mr B. H. Bright, Mr Henry A. Bright, and Mr Bohn, for friendly suggestions and kind offers of assistance.

The proposed emendations, marked ‘Anon. conj.’ are those which we have not been able to trace, or those in which the authors have not sufficient confidence to acknowledge them.

Those proposed with some confidence by the present editors are marked ‘Edd. conj.’

In conclusion, we commend this volume, the first product of long labour, to the indulgent judgement of critics. In saying this we are not merely repeating a stereotyped phrase. We have found errors in the work of the most accurate of our predecessors. We cannot hope to have attained perfect accuracy ourselves, especially when we consider the wide range which our collation has embraced, and the minute points which we have endeavoured to record, but at all events we have spared no pains to render our work as exact as we could. Those who have ever undertaken a similar task will best understand the difficulty, and will be most ready to make allowance for shortcomings. ‘Expertus disces quam gravis iste labor.’

W. G. C.

J. G.


The five plays contained in this volume occur in the first Folio in the same order, and, with one exception, were there printed for the first time.

In the case of The Merry Wives of Windsor, two Quartos (Q1 and Q2), imperfect copies of an earlier play, appeared in 1602 and 1619, the second a reprint of the first. They are described in a special Introduction to that play, and a reprint of Q1, collated with Q2, follows it. A third Quarto (Q3) was printed from F1 in 1630.

The Tempest was altered by Dryden and D’Avenant, and published as The Tempest; or the Enchanted Island, in 1669. We mark the emendations derived from it: ‘Dryden’s version.’ D’Avenant, in his Law against Lovers fused Measure for Measure and Much ado about Nothing into one play. We refer to his new readings as being from ‘D’Avenant’s version.’

1. A third editor was afterwards added. Mr Luard’s election to the office of Registrary compelled him to relinquish his part, at least for the present; and the first volume, consequently, is issued under the responsibility of two editors only.

2. See page xxi.

3. A passage in the Return from Parnassus compared with one in Bale’s preface to his Image of Both Churches puts this almost beyond a doubt.

4. Mr Wright in his preface to Bacon’s Essays mentions that he has collated ten copies of the edition of 1625, ‘which though bearing the same date, are all different from each other in points of no great importance.’

5. Mr Bohn is mistaken in saying that the Capell copy has both titles. It has that of 1664 only, with the portrait, and B. J.’s verses underneath on the opposite page.

6. Capell’s copy now before us contains the following note in Capell’s hand-writing: ‘This copy of Mr Theobald’s edition was once Mr Warburton’s; who has claim’d in it the notes he gave to the former which that former depriv’d him of and made his own, and some Passages in the Preface, the passages being put between hooks and the notes signed with his name. E. C.’ The passage quoted from Theobald’s Preface is one of those between hooks.

7. Thomas Rymer, whose book, called A short View of Tragedy of the last Age, 1693, gave rise to a sharp controversy.

8. Capell, who might be supposed to write ‘sine ira et studio,’ denies to Theobald even this merit: ‘His work is only made a little better [than Pope’s] by his having a few more materials; of which he was not a better collator than the other, nor did he excel him in use of them.’ The result of the collations we have made leads us to a very different conclusion.

9. Notwithstanding this claim of identity, Warburton seems to have used Theobald’s text to print from. Capell positively affirms this, (Preface, p. 18).

10. Dr Johnson told Burney that Warburton, as a critic, ‘would make two-and-fifty Theobalds cut into slices.’ (Boswell’s Life of Johnson, Vol. ii. p. 85. Ed. 1835). From this judgment, whether they be compared as critics or editors, we emphatically dissent.

11. We trust that in our edition the matter which Capell discarded has been presented in a well-printed book. We have found no trace of the Manuscripts here spoken of.

12. In Lowndes’s Manual (Bohm), p. 2316, we find ‘Notes and Various Readings to Shakespeare. By Edward Capell, Lond. 1759.’ No such book of this date is in the Capell collection, nor is it ever mentioned elsewhere, so far as we know. In the preface to the work of 1783, it is mentioned that the first volume had been printed in 1774, but no allusion is made to any former edition.

13. These volumes, together with the whole of Shakespeare’s Plays and Milton’s Paradise Lost, written out in Capell’s own regular, but not very legible hand, are among his collection in Trinity College Library.

14. Steevens was accused of giving, under fictitious names, notes which he was afraid to sign himself.

15. The two last-named books, as well as some suggestions from correspondents, did not reach us till the first Volume was partly printed. We propose to supply all omissions in an Appendix to the whole work.

16. Aber man läuft ein gefährliches Spiel, wenn man nicht überall offen und bescheiden bekennt, dass man ganz von den Engländern abhange: ja man scheitert gewiss, wenn man mit der einen Hand allen Stoff von dem man lebt und athmet ihnen entnimmt, und mit der andern zum Dank Hohn und Beleidigung auf ihren Namen wirft. Vorrede, pp. vi. vii.








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The Elements of Grammar taught in English. By E. Thring, M.A. Third Edition. 18mo. bound in cloth, 2s.

The Child’s English Grammar: being the Substance of the above. With Examples for Practice. Adapted for Junior Classes. By E. Thring, M.A. A New Edition. 18mo. limp cloth, 1s.


An Elementary Treatise on Natural Philosophy. By William Thomson, LL.D., F.R.S., late Fellow of St. Peter’s College, Cambridge, Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Glasgow; and Peter Guthrie Tait, M.A., late Fellow of St. Peter’s College, Cambridge, Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh. With numerous Illustrations. [In the press.

An Elementary Treatise on Quaternions: with numerous Examples. By P. G. Tait, M.A., Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh. [Preparing.

The New Testament in the Original Greek. Text revised by B. F. Westcott, M.A. and F. J. Hort, M.A., formerly Fellows of Trinity College. [Preparing.


Homer’s Odyssey. Books IX—XII. The Greek Text, with English Notes, for Schools and Colleges. By John E. B. Major, Fellow and Principal Classical Lecturer of St. John’s College, Cambridge. [In the press.


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