« ZurückWeiter »
much to wonder at this; for our poet himself has
'tis a common proof,
"That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
I have conftantly made it a rule in revifing the notes of former editors, to compare fuch paffages as they have cited from any author, with the book from which the extract was taken, if I could procure it; by which fome inaccuracies have been rectified. The incorrect extract made by Dr. Warburton from Saviola's treatife on Honour and Honourable Quarrels, to illuftrate a paffage in As you like it, fully proves the propriety of fuch a collation.
At the end of the tenth volume I have added an Appendix, containing corrections, and supplemental obfervations, made too late to be annexed to the plays to which they belong. Some object to an Appendix; but, in my opinion, with very little reafon. No book can be the worse for fuch a fupplement; fince the reader, if fuch be his caprice, need not examine it. If the objector means, that he wishes that all the information contained in an Appendix, were properly difpofed in the preceding volumes, it must be acknowledged that fuch an arrangement would be extremely defirable: but as well might he require from the elephant the fprightlinefs and agility of the fquirrel, or from the fquirrel the wifdom and strength of the elephant, as expect, that an editor's latest thoughts, fuggefted by difcurfive reading while the fheets that compofe his volumes were paffing through the
prefs, fhould form a part of his original work; that information acquired too late to be employed in its proper place, fhould yet be found there.
That the very few ftage-directions which the old copies exhibit, were not taken from our author's manuscripts, but furnished by the players, is proved by one in Macbeth, Act IV. fc. i. where "A fhow of eight kings" is directed, " and Banquo laft, with a glass in his hand;" though from the very words which the poet has written for Macbeth, it is manifeft that the glafs ought to be borne by the eighth king, and not by Banquo. All the ftagedirections therefore throughout this work I have confidered as wholly in my power, and have regulated them in the beft manner I could. The reader will also, I think, be pleased to find the place in which every scene is fuppofed to pafs, precifely afcertained: a fpecies of information, for which, though it often throws light on the dialogue, we look in vain "in the ancient copies, and which has been too much neglected by the modern editors.
The play of Pericles, Prince of Tyre, which is now once more reftored to our author, I originally intended to have fubjoined, with Titus Andronicus, to the tenth volume; but, to preferve an equality of fize in my volumes, have been obliged to give it a different place. The hand of Shakspeare being indubitably found in that piece, it will, I doubt not, be confidered as a valuable acceffion; and it is of little confequence where it appears.
It has long been thought, that Titus Andronicus was not written originally by Shakspeare; about seventy years after his death, Ravenscroft having mentioned that he had been "told by fome anciently converfant with the ftage, that our poet only gave fome mafter-touches to one or two of the VOL. I.
principal parts or characters." The very curious papers lately difcovered in Dulwich College, from which large extracts are given at the end of the Hiftory of the Stage, prove, what I long fince fufpected, that this play, and The First Part of King Henry VI. were in poffeffion of the fcene when Shakspeare began to write for the stage; and the fame manufcripts fhow, that it was then very common for a dramatick poet to alter and amend the work of a preceding writer. The queftion therefore is now decifively fettled; and undoubtedly fome additions were made to both these pieces by Shakfpeare. It is obfervable that the fecond fcene of the third act of Titus Andronicus is not found in the quarto copy printed in 1611. It is therefore highly probable, that this scene was added by our author; and his hand may be traced in the preceding act, as well as in a few other places. The additions which he made to Pericles are much more numerous, and therefore more ftrongly entitle it to a place among the dramatick pieces which he has adorned by his pen.
With refpect to the other contefted plays, Sir John Oldcastle, The London Prodigal, &c. which have now for near two centuries been falfely afcribed to our author, the manufcripts above mentioned completely clear him from that imputation; and prove, that while his great modefty made him fet but little value on his own inimitable productions, he could patiently endure to have the miferable trash of other writers publickly imputed to him, without taking any measure to vindicate
2 If ever the account-book of Mr. Heminge fhall be discovered, we shall probably find in it-" Paid to William Shakspeare for mending Titus Andronicus." See Vol. III.
his fame. Sir John Oldcastle, we find from indubitable evidence, though afcribed in the title-page to "William Shakspeare," and printed in the year 1600, when his fame was in its meridian, was the joint-production of four other poets; Michael Drayton, Anthony Mundy, Richard Hathwaye, and Robert Wilfon.3
In the Differtation annexed to the three parts of King Henry the Sixth, I have difcuffed at large the question concerning their authenticity; and have affigned my reafons for thinking that the fecond and third of thofe plays were formed by Shakspeare, on two elder dramas now extant. Any difquifition therefore concerning thefe controverted pieces is here unneceffary.
Some years ago I published a fhort Effay on the economy and ufages of our old theatres. The Hiftorical Account of the English Stage, which has been formed on that effay, has swelled to fuch a fize, in confequence of various researches fince made, and a great acceffion of very valuable materials, that is it become almost a new work. Of thefe, the most important are the curious papers which have been difcovered at Dulwich, and the very valuable Office-book of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels to King James and King Charles the First, which have contributed to throw much light on our dramatick hiftory, and furnished fome fingular anecdotes of the poets of those times.
Twelve years have elapfed fince the Effay on the order of time in which the plays of Shakspeare were written, firft appeared. A re-examination of thefe plays fince that time has furnished me with
3 Vol. III. Additions.
feveral particulars in confirmation of what I had formerly fuggefted on this fubject. On a careful revifal of that Effay, which, I hope, is improved as well as confiderably enlarged, I had the fatiffaction of obferving that I had found reason to attribute but two plays to an era widely diftant from that to which they had been originally ascribed; and to make only a minute change in the arrangement of a few others. Some information, however, which has been obtained fince that Effay was printed in its prefent form, inclines me to think, that one of the two plays which I allude to, The Winter's Tale, was a ftill later production than I have fuppofed; for I have now good reason to believe, that it was first exhibited in the year 1613;4 and that confequently it must have been one of our poet's latest works.
Though above a century and a half has elapfed fince the death of Shakspeare, it is fomewhat extraordinary, (as I obferved on a former occafion,) that none of his various editors fhould have attempted to separate his genuine poetical compofitions from the fpurious performances with which they have been long intermixed; or have taken the trouble to compare them with the earlieft and most authentick copies. Shortly after his death, a very incorrect impreffion of his poems was iffued out, which in every fubfequent edition, previous to the year 1780, was implicitly followed. They have been carefully revised, and with many additional illustrations are now a fecond time faithfully printed from the original copies, excepting only
4 See Emendations and Additions, Vol. I. Part II. [i. e. Mr. Malone's edition.]
The paragraph alluded to, in the present edition, will stand in its proper place. STEEVENS.