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thofe palpable blunders of Hector's quoting Ariftotle, with others of that grofs kind, fprung from the fame root: it not being at all credible that thefe could be the errors of any man who had the least tincture of a fchool, or the leaft converfation with fuch as had. Ben Jonfon (whom they will not think partial to him) allows him at least to have had fomé Latin; which is utterly inconfiftent with mistakes like thefe. Nay, the conftant blunders in proper names of perfons and places, are fuch as must have proceeded from a man, who had not so much as read any history in any language: fo could not be Shakspeare's.
I shall now lay before the reader fome of those almoft innumerable errors, which haye rifen from one fource, the ignorance of the players, both as his actors, and as his editors. When the nature and kinds of thefe are enumerated and confidered, I dare to fay that not Shakspeare only, but Aristotle or Cicero, had their works undergone the fame fate, might have appeared to want fenfe as well as learning.
It is not certain that any one of his plays was publifhed by himself. During the time of his employment in the theatre, feveral of his pieces were printed feparately in quarto. What makes me think that most of these were not published by him, is the exceffive carele ffnefs of the prefs: every page is fo fcandaloufly falfe fpelled, and almoft all the learned and unusual words fo intolerably mangled, that it is plain there either was no corrector to the prefs at all, or one totally illiterate. If any were supervised by himself, I fhould fancy The Two Parts of Henry the Fourth and Midfummer Night's Dream, might have been fo: becaufe I find no other printed with any
exactnefs; and (contrary to the reft) there is very little variation in all the subsequent editions of them. There are extant two prefaces to the firft quarto edition of Troilus and Cressida in 1609, and to that of Othello; by which it appears, that the first was pub. lifhed without his knowledge or confent, and even before it was acted, fo late as feven or eight years before he died: and that the latter was not printed till after his death. The whole number of genuine plays, which we have been able to find printed in his life-time, amounts but to eleven. And of fome of thefe, we meet with two or more editions by different printers, each of which has whole heaps of trafh different from the other: which I fhould fancy was occafioned by their being taken from. different copies belonging to different playhouses.
The folio edition (in which all the plays we now receive as his were firft collected) was published by two players, Heminge and Condell, in 1623, feven years after his deceafe. They declare, that all the other editions were ftolen and furreptitious and affirm theirs to be purged from the errors of the former. This is true as to the literal errors, and no other; for in all refpects elfe it is far worse than the quartos.
First, because the additions of trifling and bombaft paffages are in this edition far more numerous. For whatever had been added, fince thofe quartos, by the actors, or had ftolen from their mouths into the written parts, were from thence conveyed into the printed text, and all ftand charged upon the author. He himself complained of this ufage in 'Hamlet, where he wishes that thofe who play the clowns would speak no more than is fet down for them.
(A& III. fc. ii.) But as a proof that he could not efcape it, in the old editions of Romeo and Juliet there is no hint of a great number of the mean conceits and ribaldries now to be found there. In others, the low fcenes of mobs, plebeians, and clowns are vaftly shorter than at prefent: and 1 have seen one in particular (which seems to have belonged to the play-houfe by having the parts divided with lines, and the actors names in the margin) where feveral of those very paffages are added in a written hand, which are fince to be found in the folio.
In the next place a number of beautiful paffages, which are extant in the first fingle editions, are omitted in this: as it feems, without any other rea fon, than their willingness to shorten fome scenes! these men (as it was faid of Procruftes) either lopping, or ftretching an author, to make him juft fit for their ftage.
This edition is faid to be printed from the ori ginal copies; I believe they meant those which had lain ever fince the author's days in the play-house, and had from time to time been cut, or added to, arbitrarily. It appears that this edition as well as the quartos, was printed (at leaft partly) from no better copies than the prompter's book, or piece-meal parts written out for the use of the actors: for in fome places their very' names are through careleffnefs fet down inftead of the Perfonæ Dramatis ; and in others the notes of direction to the propertymen for their moveables, and to the players for their
3 Much Ado about Nothing, A& II. Enter Prince Leonato, Claudio, and Jack Wilson, inflead of Balthafar. And in Act IV. Cowley and Kemp conftantly through a whole fcene.
Edit. fol. of 1623, and 1632. POPE
entries, are inserted into the text through the ignorance of the tranfcribers.
The plays not having been before fo much as diftinguished by Acts and Scenes, they are in this edition divided according as they played them; often when there is no paufe in the action, or where they thought fit to make a breach in it, for the fake of mufick, mafques, or monsters.
Sometimes the scenes are tranfported and fhuffled backward and forward; a thing which could no otherwife happen, but by their being taken from feparate and piece-meal written parts.
Many verfes are omitted entirely, and others tranfpofed; from whence invincible obfcurities have arifen, past the guess of any commentator to clear up, but juft where the accidental glimpfe of an old edition enlightens us.
Some characters were confounded and mixed, or two put into one, for want of a competent number of actors. Thus in the quarto edition of Midfummer Night's Dream, A& V. Shakspeare introduces a kind of mafter of the revels called Philoftrate; all whofe part is given to another character (that of Egeus) in the fubfequent editions: fo alfo in Hamlet and King Lear. This too makes it probable that the prompter's books were what they called the original copies.
From liberties of this kind, many fpeeches alfo were put into the mouths of wrong perfons, where
4 Such as,
My queen is murder'd! Ring the little bell.
66 His nofe grew as fharp as a pen, and a table of green fields;" which, laft words are not in the quarto. POPE.
There is no fuch line in any play of Shakspeare, as that quoted by Mr. Pope. MALONE.
the author now feems chargeable with making them. fpeak out of character: or fometimes perhaps for no better reason, than that a governing player, to have the mouthing of fome favourite fpeech himfelf, would fnatch it from the unworthy lips of an underling
Profe from verfe they did not know, and they accordingly printed one for the other throughout the
Having been forced to fay fo much of the players, I think I ought in juftice to remark, that the judgment, as well as condition of that clafs of people was then far inferior to what it is in our days. As then the beft playhoufes were inns and taverns, (the Globe, the Hope, the Red Bull, the Fortune, &c.) fo the top of the profeffion were then mere players, not gentlemen of the stage: they were led into the buttery by the fleward:' not placed at the lord's ta ble, or lady's toilette: and confequently were entirely deprived of thofe advantages they now enjoy in the familiar converfation of our nobility, and an intimacy (not to fay dearnefs with people of the first
From what has been faid, there can be no queftion but had Shakspeare published his works himself (efpecially in his latter time, and after his retreat from the
Mr. Pope probably recollected the following lines in The Taming of the Shrew, fpoken by a Lord, who is giving directions to his fervant concerning fome players:
Go, firrah, take them to the buttery,
And give them friendly welcome, every one.", But he feems not to have obferved that the players here in troduced were Strollers; and there is no reason to fuppofe that our author, Heminge, Burbage, Lowin, &c. who were licenfed by K. James, were treated in this manner. MALONE.