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preffion of fome of these which we are now speaking of.
This folio impreffion was fent into the world feven years after the author's death, by two of his fellow-players; and contains, befides the last mention'd fourteen, the true and genuine copies of the other fix plays, and fixteen that were never publifh'd before: the editors make great profeffions of fidelity, and fome complaint of injury done to them and the author by ftolen and maim'd copies; giving withal an advantageous, if juft, idea of the copies which they have follow'd: but see the terms they make use of. "It had bene a thing, we confeffe, worthie to have bene wifhed, that the author himfelfe had liv'd to have fet forth, and overseen his owne writings; but fince 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 & publifh'd them; and fo to have publish'd them, as where (before) you were abus'd with diverfe ftolne, and furreptitious copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds and ftealthes of injurious impoftors, that expos'd them: even those, are now offer'd to your view cur'd, and perfect
* There is yet extant in the books of the Stationers' Company, an entry bearing date-Feb. 12, 1624, to Meffrs. Jaggard and Blount, the proprietors of this firft folio, which is thus worded: "Mr. Wm. Shakespear's Comedy's Hiftory's & Tragedy's fo many of the faid Copy's as bee not enter'd to other men : this entry is follow'd by the titles of all thofe fixteen plays that were first printed in the folio: The other twenty plays (Othello, and King John, excepted; which the person who furnished this tranfcript, thinks he may have overlook'd,) are enter'd too in thefe books, under their respective years; but to whom the transcript fays not.
of their limbes; and all the rest, abfolute in their numbers, as he conceived them. Who, as he was a happie imitator of nature, was a moft gentle expreffer of it. His minde and hand went together and what he thought, he uttered with that eafineffe, that wee have scarfe received from him a blot in his papers." Who now does not feel himself inclined to expect an accurate and good performance in the edition of these prefacers? But alas, it is nothing lefs: for (if we except the fix fpurious ones, whofe places were then fupply'd by true and genuine copies) the editions of plays preceding the folio, are the very bafis of those we have there; which are either printed from those editions, or from the copies which they made use of; and this is principally evident in "First and Second Henry IV. Love's Labour's Loft, Merchant of Venice, Midfummer-Night's Dream, Much Ado about Nothing, Richard II. Titus Andronicus, and Troilus and Crefsida;" for in the others we fee fomewhat a greater latitude, as was obferv'd a little above: but in these plays, there is an almoft ftrict conformity between the two impreffions: fome additions are in the fecond, and fome omiffions; but the faults and errors of the quarto's are all preferv'd in the folio, and others added to them; and what difference there is, is generally for the worfe on the fide of the folio editors; which fhould give us but faint hopes of meeting with greater accuracy in the plays which they first publifh'd; and, accordingly, we find them fubject to all the imperfections that have been noted in the former: nor is their edition in general diftinguifh'd by any mark of preference above the earlieft quarto's, but that fome of their plays are divided into acts, and fome others into acts and scenes; and that with due precision,
and agreeable to the author's idea of the nature of fuch divifions. The order of printing these plays, the way in which they are clafs'd, and the titles given them, being matters of fome curiofity, the Table that is before the firft folio is here reprinted: and to it are added marks, put between crotchets, fhewing the plays that are divided; a fignifying-acts, a & facts and scenes.
The plays, mark'd with afterisks, are spoken of by name, in a book, call'd-Wit's Treafury, being the Second Part of Wit's Commonwealth, written by Francis Meres, at p. 282: who, in the fame paragraph, mentions another play as being Shakspeare's, under the title of Loves Labours Wonne; a title that seems well adapted to All's well that ends well, and under which it might be firft acted. In the paragraph immediately preceding, he fpeaks of his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, and his Sonnets: this book was printed in 1598, by P. Short, for Cuthbert Burbie ; octavo, fmall. The fame author, at p. 283, mentions too a Richard the Third, written by Doctor Leg, author of another play, called The Deftruction of Jerufalem. And there is in the Mufæum, a manufcript Latin play upon the fame subject, written by one Henry Lacy in 1586: which Latin play is but a weak performance; and yet feemeth to be the play spoken of by Sir John Harrington, (for the author was a Cambridge man, and of St. John's,) in this paffage of his Apologie of Poetrie, prefix'd to his translation of "Ariofto's Orlando, edit. 1591, fol: " and for tragedies, to omit other famous tragedies; that, that was played at S. Johns in Cambridge of Richard the 3.
The Life and Death of King John.* [a & f.] The Life & Death of Richard the fecond.* [a & S.] The First part of King Henry the fourth. [a & f.] The Second Part of K. Henry the fourth.* [a &f.] The Life of King Henry the Fift.
The First part of King
The Life & Death of
[Troylus and Crefsida]. from the fecond folio; omitted in the firft. The Tragedy of Coriolanus. [a.] Titus Andronicus.* [a.] Romeo and Juliet.* Timon of Athens. The Life and death of Julius Cæfar. [a.] The Tragedy of Macbeth. [a & S.] The Tragedy of Hamlet. King Lear. [a & f.]
would move (I thinke) Phalaris the tyraunt, and terrifie all tyrānous minded men, fro following their foolish ambitious humors, feeing how his ambition made him kill his brother, his nephews, his wife, befide infinit others; and last of all after a fhort and troublesome raigne, to end his miferable life, and to have his body harried after his death."
Othello, the Moore of Ve-
Cymbeline King of Britaine. [a & f.]
Having premis'd thus much about the ftate and condition of thefe firft copies, it may not be improper, nor will it be abfolutely a digreffion, to add fomething concerning their authenticity: in doing which, it will be greatly for the reader's eafe, and our own, to confine ourfelves to the quarto's: which, it is hop'd, he will allow of; efpecially, as our intended vindication of them will alfo include in it (to the eye of a good obferver) that of the plays that appear'd firft in the folio: which therefore omitting, we now turn ourselves to the quarto's.
We have feen the flur that is endeavour'd to be thrown upon them indifcriminately by the player editors, and we fee it too wip'd off by their having themselves follow'd the copies that they condemn. A modern editor, who is not without his followers, is pleas'd to affert confidently in his preface, that they are printed from " piece-meal parts, and copies of prompters:" but his arguments for it are fome of them without foundation, and the others not conclufive; and it is to be doubted, that the opinion is only thrown out to countenance an abufe that has been carry'd to much too great lengths by himfelf and another editor,-that of putting out of the text paffages that they did not like. Thefe cenfures then, and this opinion being fet afide, is it criminal to try another conjecture, and see what can be made of it? It is known, that Shakspeare liv'd to no great age, being taken off in his fifty-third year; and yet his works are