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draughts, or mutilated and perhaps furreptitious impreffions of thofe plays, but whether of the two is not eafy to determine: King John is certainly a firft draught, and in two parts; and fo much another play, that only one line of it is retain'd in the fecond: there is alfo a firft draught of the Second and Third Parts of Henry VI. published in his life-time under the following title," The whole Contention betweene the two famous Houfes, Lancafter and York:" and to thefe plays, fix in number, may be added the firft impreffion of Romeo and Juliet, being a play of the fame ftamp: The date of all these quarto's, and that of their feveral reimpreffions, may be feen in a table that follows the Introduction. Othello came out only one year before the folio; and is, in the main, the fame play that we have there: and this too is the cafe of the first-mentioned thirteen; notwithstanding there are in many of them great variations, and particularly, in Hamlet, King Lear, Richard III. and Romeo and Juliet.
As for the plays, which, we fay, are either the poet's first draughts, or elfe imperfect and ftolen copies, it will be thought, perhaps, they might as well have been left out of the account; but they
play in this first edition appears certainly to have been a fpurious one, from Mr. POPE's account of it, who seems to have been the only editor whom it was ever feen by: great pains has been taken to trace who he had it of, (for it was not in his collection) but without fuccefs.
[Mr. Capell afterwards procured a fight of this defideratum, a circumftance which he has quaintly recorded in a note annexed to the MS. catalogue of his Shakfperiana: "lent by Mr. Malone, an Irish gentleman, living in Queen Ann Street Eaft." STEEVENS,
are not wholly useless: fome lacunæ, that are in all the other editions, have been judicioufly fill'd up in modern impreffions by the authority of these copies; and in fome particular paffages of them, where there happens to be a greater conformity than ufual between them and the more perfect editions, there is here and there a various reading that does honour to the poet's judgment, and fhould upon that account be prefum'd the true one; in other refpects, they have neither ufe nor merit, but are meerly curiofities.
Proceed we then to a defcription of the other fourteen. They all abound in faults, though not in equal degree; and thofe faults, are fo numerous, and of fo many different natures, that nothing but a perufal of the pieces themfelves can give an adequate conception of them; but amongst them are thefe that follow. Divifion of acts and fcenes, they have none; Othello only excepted, which is divided into acts: entries of perfons are extreamly imperfect in them, (fometimes more, fometimes fewer than the fcene requires) and their Exits are very often omitted; or, when mark'd, not always in the right place; and few fcenical directions are to be met with throughout the whole: fpeeches are frequently confounded, and given to wrong perfons, either whole or in part; and fometimes. inftead of the perfon fpeaking, you have the actor who prefented him: and in two of the plays, (Love's Labour's Loft, and Troilus and Creffida) the fame matter, and in nearly the fame words, is fet down twice in fome paffages; which who fees not to be only a negligence of the poet, and that but one of them ought to have been printed? But the
reigning fault of all is in the measure: profe is very often printed as verfe, and verfe as profe; or, where rightly printed verse, that verfe is not always right divided: and in all thefe pieces, the fongs are in every particular ftill more corrupt than the other parts of them. Thefe are the general and principal defects: to which if you add-transpofition of words, fentences, lines, and even fpeeches; words omitted, and others added without reason; and a punctuation fo deficient, and fo often wrong, that it hardly deserves regard; you have, upon the whole, a true but melancholy picture of the condition of thefe firft printed plays: which bad as it is, is yet better than that of those which came after; or than that of the fubfequent folio impreffion of fome of these which we are now speaking of.
This folio impreffion was fent into the world seven years after the author's death, by two of his fellow-players; and contains, befides the laft-mention'd fourteen, the true and genuine copies of the other fix plays, and fixteen that were never publifh'd before: the editors make great profeffions of fidelity, and some complaints of injury done to
7 There is yet extant in the books of the Stationers' Company, an entry bearing date- Feb. 12, 1624, to Meffrs. Jaggard and Blount, the proprietors of this firft folio, which is thus worded: " Mr. Wm. Shakespear's Comedy's Hiftory's & Tragedy's fo many of the faid copy's as bee not enter'd to other men: and this entry is followed by the titles of all those fixteen plays that were firft printed in the folio: The other twenty plays (Othello, and King John, excepted; which the perfon who furnished this tranfcript, thinks he may have overlook'd,) are enter'd too in these books, under their respective years; but to whom the tranfcript fays not.
them and the author by ftolen and maim'd copics; giving withal an advantageous, if juft, idea of the copies which they have follow'd; but fee the terms they make ufe of. "It had bene a thing, we confeffe, worthie to have bene wifhed, that the author himfelfe had liv'd to have fet forth, and overfeen his owne writings; but fince it hath bin ordain'd otherwife, and he by death departed from that right, we pray you do not envie his friends, the office of their care, and paine, to have collected & publifh'd them; and fo to have publish'd them, as where (before) you were abus'd with diverfe ftolne, and furreptitious copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds and ftealthes of injurious impoftors, that expos'd them: even those, are now offer'd to your view cur'd and perfect of their limbes; and all the reft, abfolute in their numbers, as he conceived them. Who, as he was a happie imitator of nature, was a most gentle expreffer of it. His minde and hand went together; and what he thought he uttered with that eafineffe, that wee have fcarfe received from him a blot in his papers." Who now does not feel himself inclin'd to expect an accurate and good performance in the edition of thefe prefacers? But alas, it is nothing lefs: for (if we except the fix fpurious ones, whofe places were then fupply'd by true and genuine copies) the editions of plays preceding the folio, are the very basis of those we have there; which are either printed from those editions, or from the copies which they have made use of: and this is principally evident in "First and Second Henry IV. Love's Labour's Loft, Merchant of, Venice, Midfummer Night's dream, Much Ado about
Nothing, Richard II. Titus Andronicus, and Troilus and Creffida;" for in the others we see fomewhat a greater latitude, as was obferv'd, a little above: but in these plays, there is an almoft ftrict conformity between the two impreffions: fome additions are in the fecond, and fome omiffions; but the faults and errors of the quarto's are all preferv'd in the folio, and others added to them; and what difference there is, is generally for the worse on the fide of the folio editors: which fhould give us but faint hopes of meeting with greater accuracy in the plays which they firft publifh'd; and, accordingly, we find them fubje&t to all the imperfections that have been noted in the former: nor is their edition in general diflinguifh'd by any mark of preference above the earlieft quarto's, but that fome of their plays are divided into acts, and fome others into acts and fcenes; and that with due precision, and agreeable to the author's idea of the nature of fuch divifions. The order of printing these plays, the way in which they are clafs'd, and the titles given them, being matters of fome curiofity, the Table that is before the first folio is here reprinted: and to it are added marks, put between crotchets, fhewing the plays that are divided; a fignifying-acts, a & facts and fcenes. TABLE of Plays in the folio.8
The Tempeft. [a & S.]
The plays mark'd with afterisks, are fpoken of by name,