Page images
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Φασι δε και Αρατον πυθεσθαι αυτου, [Τιμωνος] πως την Ομηρου ποίησιν ασφαλως
κτησαιτο" τον δε ειπείν, Ει τους αρχαιοις αντιγραφοις εντυγχανοι, και μη τοις ηδη

Diog. Laertii Timon. Amst. 4to. 1698, p. 600.
" And surely, if men, by the help of that blessed art of correcting old copies,
proceed to amend, and upon private fancie doe presumne thus to alter publike
records, shortly wee shall have just cause generally to esteeme those copies most
correct, which least have been corrected.”—Explication of a place in Polybius, at
the end of Sir H. Savile's Tacitus, 1622, p. 224, John Bill.

Quæ in veteribus libris reperta mutare imperiti solent, dum Librariorum in-
sectari inscitiam volunt, suam confitentur.Quint. L. it. c. iv.




For it is a thyng uneth beleveable how muche and how boldely as well the commen writers that from tyme to tyme have copied out the bookes of Plutarchus, as also certain that have thought theimselves liable to controlle and emend all mennes dooynges, have taken upon theim in this autour, who ought with all reverence to have been handleed of theim, and with all feare to have been preserved from altreyng depravyng or corruptyng. For never hath there been emonge the greke writers any one more holy then Plutarchus, or better worthie of all menne to bee read. But the veraye same thyng hath provoked persons desirous of glorie, and of lucre, to deprave and corrupt this autour, to putte in more then he wrote, and also to leave out of that he wrote, which ought moste of all to have feared them from the greater name that he hath emong learned

For everie wryter the better acmenne, so muche the rather shall be for lucre and avauntage bee corrupted.Preface to Erasmus's Apdpphthegmes, by Nic Vilall, 12mo. 1542, p. 9

wyse slabre and defyle the of famous autores, I will not at this tyme reason, but truely me thynketh it a veraye sacriliege.

1. Ik p. 14. or Signat. jü.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]




IT has been often and justly observed, that a great part of the employment of every şucceeding editor of Shakespeare's Works, has been to expose the unwarrantable license taken with the text by his predecessors, and to restore the readings of the old and true copies. One of these alone can, under any just title, be received as an authenticated copy. This, in 1623, seven years after the author's death, was sent out into the world in folio by two of his “ fellows," Heminge and Condell; who were also legatees in his will. In their dedication to the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, they call this publication a discharge of a pious duty. This dedication is plainly, also, the work of a

scholar; and has been assigned, as well as their preface, to Ben Jonson. In the latter of these, they pronounce all prior publications of his Plays (the poems of Venus and Adonis, and Tarquin and Lucrece, being the only works that he is known to have published himself) to be surreptitious; and these absolute, and taken from papers, that scarce received from their author a blot. From the number of years, however, during which he was in possession of the stage, his plays, owing to various causes, must have undergone considerable alteration. Retrenchments, it will be seen, had been made: and some idea may be formed of the enlargement from what is said in the title-page of the quarto edition of Hamlet, in 1611: which in terms states that play to have been then “enlarged to almost as much againe as it was.” It may therefore be reasonably concluded, from the circumstances under which the folio plays of Heminge and Condell issued from the press, that generally they were faithful copies of what was at that time

of great

presented to the public; or, at most, received no other additions than such, as, by the aid of the author's papers, were supplied. That in a volume so large many important typographical errors should occur, was to be expected ; and that many omissions were: made of passages probably not in stage use, as not contributing to the main action, has been established by reference to those “ maimed and surreptitious quartos:" and from them many

additional passages beauty have been recovered.

From no other than one of the above sources can a faithful editor be warranted in drawing : he can follow no other text: and so closely does Mr. Horne Tooke adhere to this, or even a stricter, principle, as to insist, that this folio is" the only edition worth regarding;" and though he admits it has palpable misprints,” he would have it reprinted literatim, “ not to risk the loss of Shakespeare's genuine text, which it assuredly contains."-Divers. Op PURLÉY, II. 52, 3.

This folio, then, is made the groundwork



« PreviousContinue »