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phized form, it's, wherever the folio prints it so. Surely there is no more reason for retaining the apostrophe here, than there is for omitting it in the numberless cases where the folio omits it; as in “like my brothers fault,” and “ against my brothers life.” For all who have so much as looked into that volume must know that genitives and plurals are there commonly printed just alike. But, indeed, the retention of these archaisms seems to me no better than sheer idolatry or dotage of the old letter; all the arguments but those of pedantry or affectation drawing clean away from it. That an editor who stands rigidly on these points should nevertheless quite overlook other things of real weight, like those I pointed out a little before, may seem strange to some: but I suspect it is all in course ; for they who ride hobbies are apt to lose sight of every thing but the particular hobby they happen to be riding.
And now a word as to the ordering of the plays in this edition. The folio has them arranged in three distinct series, severally entitled Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. The plays of the first and third series are there arranged seemingly at haphazard, and without any regard to the order of time in which they were written ; those of the second or historic series, simply according to the chronological order of the persons and events represented in them; the three that were no doubt written first being thus placed after several that were of later composition. In this edition, the three series of the folio are kept distinct; but the several plays of each series are meant to be arranged, as nearly as may be, according to the chronological order of the writing. This is done merely because such appears to be the most natural and fitting principle of arrangement, and not that the Poet may be read or studied “historically”; a matter which is made a good deal of by some, but which, as it seems to me, is really of no practical consequence whatever. Nor is it claimed that the actual order of the writing is precisely followed in every particular: in fact, this order has not yet been fully settled, and probably never will be ; though, to be sure, something considerable has been done towards such settlement within the last few years.
I must not let this Preface go without expressing a very deep and lively sense of my obligations to Mr. JOSEPH CROSBY. The work of preparing this edition was set about in good earnest on the 23d of April, 1873, and has been the main burden of my thought and care ever since. From that time to the present, a frequent and steady correspondence, of the greatest use and interest to me, has been passing between Mr. Crosby and myself. The results thereof are in some measure made apparent in my Critical Notes, and still more in the foot-notes; but, after all, a very large, if not the larger, portion of the benefit I have received is not capable of being put in definite form, and having credit given for it in detail. Indeed, I owe him much, - much in the shape of distinctlyusable matter, but more in the way of judicious counsel, kindly encouragement, and friendship steadfast and true.
CAMBRIDGE, August 2, 1880.
LIFE OF SHAKESPEARE.
Hame in literature.
HAKESPEARE* is, by general suffrage, the greatest
There can be no extravagance in saying, that to all who speak the English language his genius has made the world better worth living in, and life a nobler and diviner thing. And even among those who do not “speak the tongue that Shakespeare spake,” large numbers are studying the English language mainly for the purpose of being at home with him. How he came to be what he was, and to do what he did, are questions that can never cease to be interesting, wherever his works are known, and men's powers of thought in any fair measure developed. But Providence has left a veil, or rather a cloud, about his history, so that these questions are not likely to be satisfactorily answered.
The first formal attempt at an account of Shakespeare's life was made by Nicholas Rowe, and the result thereof published in 1709, ninety-three years after the Poet's death. Rowe's account was avowedly made up, for the most part, from traditionary materials collected by Betterton the actor, who made a visit to Stratford expressly for that purpose. Betterton was born in 1635, nineteen years after the death of Shakespeare; became an actor before 1660, retired from the stage about 1700, and died in 1710. At what time he visited Stratford is not known. It is to be regretted that Rowe did not give Betterton's authorities for the particulars gathered by him. It is certain, however, that very good sources of information were accessible in his time : Judith Quiney, the Poet's second daughter, lived till 1662 ; Lady Barnard, his granddaughter, till 1670; and Sir William Davenant, who in his youth had known Shakespeare, was manager of the theatre in which Betterton acted.
* Much discussion has been had in our time as to the right way of spelling the Poet's name. The few autographs of his that are extant do not enable us to decide positively how he wrote his name; or rather they show that he had no one constant way of writing it. But the Venus and Adonis and the Lucrece were unquestionably published by his authority, and in the dedications of both these poems the name is printed “Shakespeare.” The same holds in all the quarto issues of his plays, where the author's name is given, with the one exception of Love's Labours Lost, which has it “Shakespere"; as it also holds in the folio. And in very many of these cases the name is printed with a hyphen, “Shake-speare," as if on purpose that there might be no mistake about it. All which, surely, is or ought to be decisive as to how the Poet willed his name to be spelt in print. Inconstancy in the spelling of names was very common in his time,
After Rowe's account, scarce any thing was added till the time of Malone, who by a learned and most industrious searching of public and private records brought to light a considerable number of facts, some of them very important, touching the Poet and his family. And in our own day Mr. Collier has followed up the inquiry with very great diligence, and with no inconsiderable success; though, unfortunately, much of the matter supplied by him has been discredited as unauthentic, by those from whom there is in such cases no appeal. Lastly, Mr. Halliwell has given his intelligent and indefatigable labours to the same task, and made some valuable additions to our stock.
The lineage of WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, on the paternal side, has not been traced further back than his grandfather. The name, which in its composition smacks of brave old knighthood and chivalry, was frequent in Warwickshire from an early period.
The father of our Poet was John SHAKESPEARE, who is