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nature of the case, an inconsistent amalgam of all manner of changes of all manner of dates and tastes, blent in with the original, and obscuring its sense not infrequently, its integrity and flavor constantly.
Even petty changes in spelling and grammar, although in themselves of little importance, are unwarranted if they interfere with the quaintness of the original, if they prevent the easy, half-unconscious realization by the reader of the customs of speech peculiar to the time. These little differences from present-day habits help to re-create the Shakespearian atmosphere. They put the poet's actual world insensibly yet vividly and enjoyingly before the reader.
Even such small and plausible corrections, for example, as the Globe editors' • lesser' for taller,' in Le Beu's description of Celia in • As You Like It,' or Richard Grant White's correction all through • Julius Cæsar? of Calpurnia' for • Calphurnia,' the modern reader having any of the modern respect for the fact as it stands is likely to resent. Shakespeare's mistakes
— if such they be, and not the printer's -- Shakespeare's probable or possible or so-called mistakes are dearer to all time than their correction by men of any time and of whatsoever authority. Moreover, such a mistake as
Calphurnia' for •Calpurnia' offers a clue to the book North's Plutarch in this case whence the poet drew his plot and copied his spelling.
The present editors are far from holding that the past three centuries of emendation are without interest and value. Rather would they seek to show that they attain their greatest value and interest when they elucidate but do not obscure their original. Working upon the idea that the modern reader has a right to protest against the foisting into the original text of
changes for which he may be grateful if they are separated from it and unconfusedly shown in right relation to it, there is given here, therefore, not alone the original text, but also the customary modern text
- the accepted net outcome of all this chopping and changing. Separated thus from the original, the changes are readily distinguishable from it, and along with each such change is set down, also, the name of the editor or edition first printing it.
These changes, constituting what is called the modern Globe text, appear here in foot-notes, whenever they are important enough to affect either the sense or the meter. Disburdened of the more trivial, merely literal changes not affecting the sense, of repetitions of the names of editors who have merely followed in the wake of the first editor, and of further changes which have not stood the test of time,- disburdened of all such cumbrances, the notes thus sifted are not confusing, but clear and simple epitomes of the story of each change.
A few examples will illustrate the method. Turn to any modern Shakespeare, and Hippolyta's lines at the opening of A Midsummer-Night's Dream' will be found given thus:
• And then the moon, like to a silver bow
Turning to the original text reprinted in this edition, the same lines (“A Midsommer Nights Dreame,' I. i. 12-13) run thus:
• And then the Moone, like to a silver bow,
And the foot-note shows the change from now bent' to • new-bent,' and gives the name of the first editor who made it:
13. now bent: new-bent-Rowe.
This modern reading insists more upon the moon being in the earliest of its crescent phases than the original does, and much fault has been found with the poet for making the new moon a full moon too speedily.
Again, turn to Macbeth,' I. ii. 20:
• And Fortune on his damned Quarry smiling.'
The original picturesque word · Quarry,' meaning the prey of the huntsman, has been changed to quarrel' in modern editions. This the foot-note shows, with the name of the editor, Hanmer, who first made the change.
In the same play, I. vii. 10:
• But heere, upon this Banke and Schoole of time,'
the original word •Schoole' has been changed to shoal,' on Theobald's responsibility.
So, again, Hamlet,' III. iv. 6, where Polonius and Queen Gertrude are awaiting Hamlet. The old courtier will still be talking whether any one marks him or not, and, as he hides himself, presumably in deprecation of some gesture of the queen's, the more impatient because Hamlet may enter the next instant and discover him before he has time to get away, he says:
Ile silence me e'ene heere.'
But in the modern text there is a change made, introduced by Warburton, as the foot-note shows, to
I'll sconce me even here.'
Another better-known change by the third editor of Shakespeare, Theobald, has been applauded generally as extremely happy. The tavern hostess, Dame Quickly, is describing Falstaffe's death, and she says (“Henry V,' II. iii.):
"... after I saw him fumble with the Sheets, and play with Flowers, and smile upon his fingers end, I knew there was but one way: for his Nose was as sharpe as a Pen, and a Table of greene fields.'
The foot-note on line 17 gives the change made in the current text:
17. a Table of greene fields : a' babbled of green fields-THEOBALD.
This will be regarded by many as one of the cases where the original text is certainly doubtful and the change happy; yet the present editors believe that the general reader will prefer to know, first of all, what the original was, and while he will be glad to know, also, Theobald's plausible correction, he will not want it thrust upon him indistinguishably in the original, but separated from it and placed near by.
Strange as it may seem, even in editions of Shakespeare made for scholars, wherein, of course, information of such changes is provided, the way not to do it seems to be the way followed, for the original texts are relegated to foot-notes, and the various later changes are incorporated in the text. And this is true of all editions except Dr. Furness's, in his later volumes.
In the opinion of the present editors, none of the changes just cited is likely to stand unchallenged, with the exception, possibly, of Theobald's 'a' babbled of green fields.' But if they all were sworn in by an Academy of Immortals, the right place for all such changes is as gloss on the text, for any reader whatsoever, scholarly or unscholarly.
One of the humorous facts in the history of English literary criticism is that the meter of the most dramatic of English poets, Shakespeare, has been regulated largely by one of the most artificial of English poets, Pope, the second Shakespearian editor, and that his changes are perpetuated in the accepted modern text. From the blurring over of metrical characteristics incident to this jocularity of fortune, only the exact reproduction of the original text, with its misprints and mistakes unveiled as noticeably as its more beautiful traits, can lead to the deliverance of the modern reader and lover of Shakespeare's flowing line.
The misprints and oddities of this text are not such as to embarrass any reader of intelligence. The palpable misprints are noted. From other eccentricities of the original much relish of modes of speech and spelling in vogue ere English grew old and stiff-jointed is likely to be won. A little reading will soon acquaint the reader with such Elizabethan verbal habits as the use of I for ay or for I alike, whether for whither, then for than, vilde for vile. And for deeper differences in sense of word or phrase it should be remembered oftener than it is by the instructor in philology that the original context is frequently as clarifying a gloss on a difficult word as the most elaborate diction