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Full text of "The plays of William Shakespeare; in twenty-one volumes, with the corrections and illustrations of various commentators, to which are added notes"

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PubluhtdJ)*-'~2ff*-i0ii,by F.Ci:J.lUt-iryton..l-lhc other Proprietors. 

















Vtt. Auct. apud Siiidanu 
Time, which is continually washing away the dissoluble Fabricks of other 
Poets, passes without Injury by the Adamant of Shakspeark. 

Dr. Johnson's Preface. 




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K15 3 
3 L3 

VOL. I. 

Advertisement ----- i 

Advertisement by Mr. Reed xi 

Advertisement by Mr. Steevens 1 

Preface to Mr. Ricfiardson' 's Proposals, fyc. - 4 

Proposals by William Richardson - - 14 

Supplement to Proposals - - - - 1 7 
Advertisement by Mr. Steevens to edition of I 793 24 

Rowe's Life of Shakspeare, $c. 57 

Anecdotes of Shah spear e from Oldys, c. - 120 

Baptisms, Marriages, fyc. - - - 132 

Shakspeare* s Coat of Arms - - - 146 

Shakspeare* s Mortgage - - - 149 

Shakspeare* s Will - - - - - 154 

Dedication by Hemings and Condell - - 1 63 

Preface by ditto 166 

by Pope 168 

by Theobald . - - - 1 88 

by Hanmer - 222 

- by Warburton - 226 

by Johnson - - - - - 245 

Advertisement to twenty Plays, by Steevens - 311 

Preface by CapeU 326 

Advertisement by Steevens - 396 

Preface by M. Mason - 417 

Advertisement by Reed - - - - 421 

Preface by Malone 424 



Dr. Farmer's Essay on the Learning ofShak- 

speare 1 

Colmafi's Remarks on it - - - 87 

Ancient Trati stations from Classick Authors - 92 
Entries of Shakspeare* s Plays on the Sta- 
tioners 3 Books - - . - - 119 
List of ancient Editions of Shakspeare' s Plays 139 
List of modern Editions - - - - 1 48 
List of ancient Editions of Shakspeare' s Poems 152 
List of modern ditto - - - - 1 53 
List of altered Plays from Shakspeare - 156 
List of detached Pieces of Criticism on Shak- 
speare, his Editors, fyc. - - - 1 67 
Commendatory Verses on Shakspeare - - 181 
Malone's Attempt to ascertain the Order of 

Shakspeare's Plays - 222 

Malone's Essay on Ford's Pamphlet, fyc. - 374 
Steevens's Remarks on it - - - - 408 


Malone J s historical Account of the English Stage 1 

Additions 351 

Additions by Steevens - 404 

Further Historical Account by Chalmers - 417 
Addenda by the same - - - - 5i3 



Two Gentlemen of Verona, 
Midsummer Night's Dream. 


VOL. V. 

Merry Wives of Windsor. 
Twelfth Night. 

Much Ado about Nothing. 
Measure for Measure. 


Love's Labour's Lost. 
Merchant of Venice. 

as you like it. 

All's well that ends well. 


Taming of the Shrew. 
Winter's Tale. 

VOL. X. 


King John. 

King Richard II. 
King Henry IV. Part I. 

King Henry IV. Part II. 
King Henry V. 

King Henry VI. Part I. 
King Henry VI. Part II. 


King Henry VI. Part III. 

Dissertation, S$c. 
King Richard III. 

King Henry VIII. 
Troilus and Cressida. 



Julius C&sar. 


Antony and Cleopatra. 
King Lear. 




Timon of Athens. 

Romeo and Juliet. 
Comedy of Errors. 


Titus Andronicus. 
Pericles, and Dissertations. 
Addenda, and Glossarial Index. 


I HE present edition has been carefully revised by 
the late Mr. Reed's coadjutor in the fifth edition, 
who was particularly recommended to the proprie- 
tors for that office by Mr. Steevens : how he has 
answered such a recommendation is left to the 
public to judge : he only begs permission to say, 
that he hopes the present edition will not be found 
inferior to any of the preceding. 

In a work extending to twenty-one volumes some 
errors will unavoidably occur ; such as have hap- 
pened in former editions have been corrected in 
this : a few notes have been added in their proper 
places, and a short Appendix in the twenty-first 
volume, of some observations which occurred to 
the editor in the course of reading the proof sheet9. 

In the twentieth volume, Arthur Broke's Tra- 
gicall Historye ofRomeus and Juliet has been care- 
fully revised from a copy of the edition printed in 
1562, and collated by Mr. Joseph Haslewood, who 
also furnished from the British Bibliographer the 

vol. i. a 


prose Address to the reader, which is not found in 
the edition printed in 1587, made use of by Mr. 

A more faithful copy of the portrait of Shak- 
speare than any before engraved from the picture 
formerly in the possession of Mr. Steevens is pre- 
fixed, and also an engraving cf Mr. Flaxman's 
Monument in Poplar Chapel, to the memory of 
Mr. Steevens, on which is sculptured his likeness 
in profile that will be acknowledged a striking re- 
semblance by all who knew him. 

A brief memorial of Mr. Reed is justly due in 
this work, and as that has been so lately done by 
his friend Mr. Nichols, in the second volume of 
his Literary Anecdotes of the eighteenth century, 
the following is with his permission extracted from 
that Magazine of amusing and interesting literary 



" Isaac Reed, an eminent collector of books 
and able commentator, was born in the parish of 
St. Dunstan in the West, where his father passed 
unambitiously through life, in the useful occupa- 
tion of a baker, and had the satisfaction of wit- 
nessing the son's literary attainments with that 
enthusiasm which frequently prevails in a strong 
uncultivated mind. 


" He commenced his public life very reputably, 

as a solicitor and conveyancer ; but for several 
years before his death had confined the practical 
part of his business to the last-mentioned branch 
of his profession. Placed in a situation which 
above all others is frequently the road to riches and 
honour, Mr. Reed's principal ambition was to ac- 
quire a fundamental knowledge of the jurispru- 
dence of his country ; and thus far he was emi- 
nently successful. But the law, however alluring 
its prospects, had not charms sufficient to engage 
his whole attention ; he loved, he venerated, that 
admirable system, which from the days of Alfred 
and Canute, from the bold usurping Norman to 
the present reign, has been regularly ameliorating; 
but he detested the chicanery of which he was al- 
most daily a witness in many of its professors. If 
ever there was a mind devoid of guile, it was 
Isaac Reed's ; and an attempt to make " the worse 
appear the better cause," would have been with 
him a breach of moral obligation. Hence an ex- 
tensive line of business was necessarily precluded; 
but he had the satisfaction of numbering among 
his clients many highly valued friends ; and other 
avenues to fame, if not to fortune, were open to 
his capacious mind. His intimate knowledge of 
antient English literature was unbounded. His 
own publications, though not very numerous, were 
all valuable ; and he was more satisfied with being 

a 2 


a faithful editor, than ambitious of being an ori- 
ginal composer. 

" In the year 1768, he collected into one vo- 
lume, 12mo. "The Poetical Works of the Hon. 
Lady M[ar]y W[ortele]y M[ontagu]e." His other 
publications were, Middleton's " Witch, a Tragi- 
Coomodie," a few copies only for his friends, 1 778 ; 
the sixth volume of Dr. Young's Works, 1778, 
12mo. " Biographia Dramatica," 2 volumes, 8vo. 
1782, founded upon " Baker's Companion to the 
Playhouse :" the biographical department of this 
work is the result of diligent enquiry, and his 
strictures on the productions of the English drama 
display sound judgment and correct taste ; an im- 
proved edition of Dodsley's old Plays, with Notes, 
12 vols. 8vo. 1780 ; Dodsley's Collection of Poems, 
with Biographical Notes, 6 vols. 8vo. 1782; " The 
Repository ; a select Collection of Fugitive Pieces 
of Wit and Humour, in Prose and Verse, by the 
most eminent Writers," 4 vols. 8vo. 1777 1783; 
Pearch's Collection of Poems, with Biographical 
Notes, 4 vols. 8vo. 1783, (which some have ascribed 
to the late George Keate, esq.) ; " A Complete 
Collection of the Cambridge Prize Poems, from 
their first Institution, in 1750, to the present 
Time;" 8vo. 1773; an edition of Johnson and 
Steevens's Shakspeare, 10 vol. 8vo. 1785, which 
he undertook at the request of Dr. Farmer and 


Mr. Steevens,the latter of whom resigning, for this 
time, the office of Editor; some short Lives of 
those English Poets who were added to Dr. John- 
son's Collection, in 1790; the Fifth Edition of 
Shakspeare, in 21 vols. 8vo. 1803, with his name 
prefixed ; an effort which he with some difficulty 
was persuaded to make. So extremely averse in- 
deed was he to appearing before the publick, that, 
when he was asked, as a matter of course, to add 
only his initials at the end of the prefatory adver- 
tisement of Dr. Young, his answer was nearly in 
these words: " I solemnly declare, that I have 
such a thorough dread of putting my name to any 
publication whatever, that, if I were placed in the 
alternative either of so doing or of standing in the 
pillory, I believe I should prefer the latter." He 
was a valuable contributor to the Westminster 
Magazine, from 1773-4 to about the year 1780. 
The biographical articles in that Miscellany are 
from his pen. He became also very early one of 
the proprietors of the European Magazine, and 
was a constant contributor to it for many years, 
particularly in the biographical and critical de- 
partments. He was also an occasional volunteer 
in the pages of Sylvanus Urban. So ample indeed 
was his collection of literary curiosities, so ready 
was he in turning to them, and so thoroughly able 
to communicate information, that no man of cha- 
racter ever applied to him in vain. Even the la- 


bours of Dr. Johnson were benefited by his ac- 
curacy; and for the last thirty years, there has 
scarcely appeared any literary work in this coun- 
try, of the least consequence, that required minute 
and extensive research, which had not the advan- 
tage of his liberal assistance, as the grateful pre- 
faces of a variety of writers have abundantly tes- 
tified. Among the earliest of these was the edi- 
tion of Dr. King's Works, 1776, and the Supple- 
ment to Swift, in the same year. In both these 
works Mr. Nichols was most materially indebted 
to the judicious remarks of Mr. Reed, whose 
friendly assistance also in many instances contri- 
buted to render his " Anecdotes of Mr. Bowyer," 
in 1782, completer than they otherwise could pos- 
sibly have been. He contributed also many useful 
notes to the later editions of Dr. Johnson's Lives 
of the Poets. To enumerate the thanks of the 
authors whom he had assisted by his advice would 
be endless. 

" With the late Dr. Farmer, the worthy master 
of Emanuel College, Cambridge, he was long and 
intimately acquainted, and regularly for many 
years spent an autumnal month with him at that 
pleasant seat of learning. At that period the thea- 
tricals of Stirbitch Fair had powerful patronage in 
the Combination-room of Emanuel, where the rou- 
tine of performance was regularly settled, and 


where the charms of the bottle were early deserted 
for the pleasures of the sock and buskin. In the 
boxes of this little theatre Dr. Farmer was the 
Arbiter Eleganliarum, and presided with as much 
dignity and unaffected ease as within the walls of 
his own College. He was regularly surrounded 
by a large party of congenial friends and able cri- 
ticks; among whom Mr. Reed and Mr. Steevens 
were constantly to be found. The last-mentioned 
gentleman, it may not here improperly be noticed, 
had so inviolable an attachment to Mr. Reed, that 
notwithstanding a capriciousness of temper which 
often led him to differ from his dearest friends, 
and occasionally to lampoon them, there were 
three persons with whom through life he scarcely 
seemed to have a shade of difference of opinion ; 
but those three were gentlemen with whom it was 
not possible for the most captious person to have 
differed Dr. Farmer, Mr. Tyrwhitt, and Isaac 

" To follow Mr. Reed into the more retired 
scenes of private and domestic life : he was an 
early riser ; and, whenever the avocations of busi- 
ness permitted leisure, applied, in general, several 
hours in the morning, either in study or in the 
arrangement of his numerous scarce Tracts. His 
collection of books, which were chiefly English, 
was perhaps one of the most extensive in that kind 


that any private individual ever possessed ; and he 
had a short time before his death made arrange- 
ments for disposing of a great part of it. The 
whole was afterwards sold by auction. 

" He was naturally companionable j and fre- 
quently enjoyed the conversation of the table at 
the houses of a select circle of friends, to whom 
his great knowledge of men and books, and his 
firm fcyt modest mode of communicating that 
knowledge, always rendered him highly accept- 

" Exercise was to him a great source both of 
health and pleasure. Frequently has the compiler 
of this article enjoyed a twelve miles walk to par- 
take with him in the hospitalities of Mr. Gough at 
Enfield, and the luxury of examining with perfect 
ease the rarer parts of an uncommonly rich topo- 
graphical library. But the most intimate of his 
friends was the friend of human kind at large, the 
mild, benevolent Daniel Braithwaite, esq. late 
comptroller of the Foreign Post-office, who has 
frequently beguiled him into an agreeable saunter 
of near twenty miles, to his delightful retreat in 
the pleasant village of Amweli, where he was al- 
ways as happy, and as much at home as Dr. John- 
son was at Mr. Thrale's at Streatham. 


" With Mr. Bindley, senior Commissioner of 
the Stamp-office, whose skill and taste in collect- 
ing rare and valuable articles in literature were 
so congenial to his own, Mr. Reed had many in- 
terchanges of reciprocal obligation. But his more 
immediate associates were, James Sayer, esq. of 
Great Ormond-street ; Mr. Romney and Mr. Hay- 
ley, the eminent painter and poet ; William Long, 
esq. the celebrated surgeon ; Edmund Malone,* 
esq. the great rival commentator on Shak peare ; 
J. P. Kemble, esq. not only an excellent critick 
and collector of dramatic curiosities, but himself, 
(perhaps with the exception of his sister only,) 
the best living exemplar of Shakspeare's text; 
the Rev. H. J. Todd, the illustrator of Milton 
and Spenser, to whom he left a legacy for his 
trouble in superintending the sale of his library ; 
Francis Newbery, esq. of Heathfield, co. Sussex ; 
Richard Sharp, esq. M. P. for Castle Rising ; and 
George Nicol, esq. the judicious purveyor of li- 
terary curiosities for the King. Some of these 
gentlemen were members of a select dining-club, 
of which he had from its origin been the presi- 

* Mr. Malone died May 25, 1812. He was brother to Lord 
Sunderlin ; and had he survived his Lordship would have suc- 
ceeded to the title, the remainder being in him. Like Mr. 
Steevens, he devoted his life and his fortune to the task of 
making the great Bard better known by his countrymen. 


" He died Jan. .5, 1807, at his chambers in 
Staple-inn, of which honourable society he had 
long been one of the antientsj and his remains 
were interred at Am well, agreeably to his own 

Library of the 

Royal Institution, 

Dec. 9, 1812. 



1 HE merits of our great dramatick Bard, the 
pride and glory of his country, have been so amply 
displayed by persons of various and first-rate talents, 
that it would appear like presumption in any one, 
and especially in him whose name is subscribed to 
this Advertisement, to imagine himself capable of 
adding any thing on so exhausted a subject. After 
the labours of men of such high estimation asRowe, 
Pope, Warburton, Johnson, Farmer, and Steevens, 
with others of inferior name, the rank of Shak- 
speare in the poetical world is not a point at this 
time subject to controversy. His pre-eminence is 
admitted ; his superiority confessed. Long ago it 
might be said of him, as it has been, in the ener- 
getick lines of Johnson, of one almost his equal, 

" At length, our mighty bard's victorious lays 
" Fill the loud voice of universal praise ; 
** And baffled spite, with hopeless anguish dumb, 
" Yields to renown the centuries to come." 

a renown, established on so solid a foundation, as 
to bid defiance to the caprices of fashion, and to 
the canker of time. 


admirable plan of illustrating Shakspeare by the 
study of writers of his own time. By following 
this track, most of the difficulties of the author 
have been overcome, his meaning (in many in- 
stances apparently lost) has been recovered, and 
much wild unfounded conjecture has been happily 
got rid of. By perseverance in this plan, he ef- 
fected more to the elucidation of his author than 
any if not all his predecessors, and justly entitled 
himself to the distinction of being confessed the 
best editor of Shakspeare. 

The edition which now solicits the notice of the 
publick is faithfully printed from the copy given by 
Mr. Steevens to the proprietors of the preceding 
edition, in his life-time ; with such additions as, it 
is presumed, he would have received, had he lived 
to determine on them himself. The whole was 
entrusted to the care of the present Editor, who 
has, with the aid of an able and vigilant assistant, 
and a careful printer, endeavoured to fulfil the trust 
reposed in him, as well as continued ill health and 
depressed spirits would permit. 

" Learning, as vast as mental power could seize, 
** In sport displaying and with grateful ease, 
" Lightly the stage of chequer'd life he trod, 
" Careless of chance, confiding in his God ! 

" This tomb may perish, but not so his name 
" Who shed new lustre upon Shakspeare's fame!" 


By a memorandum in the hand-writing of Mr. 
Steevens it appeared to be his intention to adopt 
and introduce into the prolegomena of the present 
edition some parts of two late works of Mr. George 
Chalmers. An application was therefore made to 
that gentleman for his consent, which was imme- 
diately granted ; and to render the favour more 
acceptable, permission was given to divest the ex- 
tracts of the offensive asperities of controversy. 

The portrait of Shakspeare prefixed to the pre- 
sent edition, is a copy of the picture formerly be- 
longing to Mr. Felton, now to Alderman Boydell, 
and at present at the Shakspeare Gallery, in Pall 
Mall. After what has been written on the subject 
it will be only necessary to add, that Mr. Steevens 
persevered in his opinion that this, of all the por- 
traits, had the fairest chance of being a genuine 
likeness of the author. Of the canvas Chandois 
picture he remained convinced that it possessed 
no claims to authenticity. 

Some apology is due to those gentlemen who, 
during the course of the publication, have oblig- 
ingly offered the present Editor their assistance, 
which he should thankfully have received, had he 
considered himself at liberty to accept their favours. 
He was fearful of loading the pago, which Mr. 
Steevens in some instances thought too much 
crouded already, and therefore confined himself 
to the copy left to his care by his deceased friend. 


But it is time to conclude. He will therefore 
detain the reader no longer than just to offer a few 
words in extenuation of any errors or omissions 
that may be discovered in his part of the work ; a 
work which, notwithstanding the utmost exertion 
of diligence, has never been produced without 
some imperfection. Circumstanced as he has 
been, he is sensible how inadequate his powers 
were to the task imposed on him, and hopes for 
the indulgence of the reader. He feels that "the 
inaudible and noiseless foot of time" has insen- 
sibly brought on that period of life and those at- 
tendant infirmities which weaken the attachment 
to early pursuits, and diminish their importance: 
" Superfluous lags the veteran on the stage." 

To the admonition he is content to pay obedience, 
and satisfied that the hour is arrived when " well- 
timed retreat" is the measure which prudence dic- 
tates, and reason will approve, he here bids adieu 
to Shakspeare, and his Commentators ; acknow- 
ledging the candour with which very imperfect 
efforts have been received, and wishing for his suc- 
cessors the same gratification he has experienced 
in his humble endeavours to illustrate the greatest 
poet the world ever knew. 


Staple Inn, 
May 2, 1803. 


" WHEN I said I would die a bachelor, (cries 
Benedick,) I did not think I should live till I were 
married.*' The present Editor of Shakspeare may 
urge a kindred apology in defence of an opinion 
hazarded in his Prefatory Advertisement; for when 
he declared his disbelief in the existence of a ge- 
nuine likeness of our great Dramatick Writer, he 
most certainly did not suppose any Portrait of that 
description could have occurred, and much less 
that he himself should have been instrumental in 
producing it. 1 He is happy, however, to find he 
was mistaken in both his suppositions j and conse- 
quently has done his utmost to promote the ap- 
pearance of an accurate and finished Engraving, 
from a Picture which had been unfaithfully as well 
as poorly imitated by Droeshout and Marshall? 

1 See Mr. Richardson's Proposals, p. 4. 

* " Martin Droeshout. One of the indifferent engravers of 
the last century. He resided in England, and was employed by 
the booksellers. His portraits, which are the best part of his 
works, have nothing but their scarcity to recommend them. He 
engraved the head of Shalcspeare, John Fox, the martyrologist, 
John Hotvson, Bishop of Durham," Ac. 

Strutt's Dictionary of Engrawrs, Vol. I. p. 26*4. 

" William Marshall. He was one of those laborious artists 
whose engravings were chiefly confined to the ornamenting of 
books. And indeed his patience and assiduity is all we can ad- 
mire when we turn over his prints, which are prodigiously nu- 
merous. He worked with the graver only, but in a dry tasteless 
style; and from the similarity which appears in the design of all 
his portraits, it is supposed that he worked from his own drawings 
VOL. I. B 


Of the character repeatedly and deliberately be- 
stowed by the same Editor on the first of these 
old engravers, not a single word will be retracted ; 
for, if the judgment of experienced artists be of 
any value, the plate by Droeshout now under con- 
sideration has (in one instance at least) established 
his claim to the title of " a most abominable imi- 
tator of humanity." 

Mr. Fuseli has pronounced, that the Portrait 
described in the Proposals of Mr. Richardson, 
was the work of a Flemish hand. It may also be 
observed, that the verses in praise of Droeshout* s 
performance, were probably written as soon as 
they were bespoke, and before their author had 
found opportunity or inclination to compare the 
plate with its original. He might previously have 
known that the picture conveyed a just resem- 
blance of Shakspeare; took it for granted that the 
copy would be exact; and, therefore, rashly as- 
signed to the engraver a panegyrick which the 
painter had more immediately deserved. It is 
lucky indeed for those to whom metrical recom- 
mendations are necessary, that custom does not 
require they should be delivered upon oath. 

It is likewise probable that Ben Jonson had no 
intimate acquaintance with the graphick art, and 
might not have been over-solicitous about the style 
in which Shakspeare 9 s lineaments were transmitted 
to posterity. 

G. S. 

after the life, though he did not add the words ad vivum, as was 
common upon such occasions. But if we grant this to be the 
case, the artist will acquire very little additional honour upon that 
account ; for there is full as great a want of taste manifest in the 
design, as in the execution of his works on copper." &c. Ibid. 
Vol. II. p. 125. 


N. B. The character of Shakspeare as a poet ; 
the condition of the ancient copies of his plays; the 
merits of his respective editors, &c. &c. have been 
so minutely investigated on former occasions, that 
any fresh advertisement of similar tendency might 
be considered as a tax on the reader's patience. 

It may be proper indeed to observe, that the 
errors we have discovered in our last edition are 
here corrected ; and that some explanations, &c. 
which seemed to be wanting, have likewise been 

To these improvements it is now become our 
duty to add the genuine Portrait of our author. 
For a particular account of the discovery of it, we 
must again refer to the Proposals of Mr. Richard- 
son, 3 at whose expence two engravings from it 
have been already made. 

"We are happy to subjoin, that Messieurs Boydell, 
who have resolved to decorate their magnificent 
edition of Shakspeare with a copy from the same 
original picture lately purchased by them from 
Mr. Felton, have not only favoured us with the use 
of it, but most obligingly took care, by their own 
immediate superintendance, that as much justice 
should be done to our engraving, as to their own. 

3 See p. 4. 

13 2 




BEFORE the patronage of the publick is solicit- 
ed in favour of a new engraving from the only 
genuine 'portrait of Shakspeare, it is proper that 
every circumstance relative to the discovery of it 
should be faithfully and circumstantially related. 

On Friday, August 9, Mr. Richardson, print- 
seller, of Castle Street, Leicester Square, assured 
Mr. Steevens that, in the course of business having 
recently waited on Mr. Felton, of Curzon Street, 
May Fair, this gentleman showed him an ancient 
head resembling the portrait of Shakspeare as en- 
graved by Martin Droeshout in 1 623. 

Having frequently been misled by similar re- 
ports founded on inaccuracy of observation or un- 
certainty of recollection, Mr. Steevens was desir- 
ous to see the Portrait itself, that the authenticity 
of it might be ascertained by a deliberate compari- 
son with Droeshout's performance. Mr. Felton, in 
the most obliging and liberal manner, permitted 
Mr. Richardson to bring the head, frame and all, 
away with him ; and several unquestionable judges 
have concurred in pronouncing that the plate of 
Droeshout conveys not only a general likeness of 
its original, but an exact and particular one as far 

PREFACE, &c. 5 

as this artist had ability to execute his undertaking. 
Droeshout could follow the outlines of a face with 
tolerable accuracy, 4 but usually left them as hard 
as if hewn out of a rock. Thus, in the present in- 
stance, he has servilely transferred the features of 
Shakspeare from the painting to the copper, omit- 
ting every trait of the mild and benevolent charac- 
ter which his portrait so decidedly affords. There 
are, indeed, just such marks of a placid and ami- 
able disposition in this resemblance of our poet, as 
his admirers would have wished to find. 

This Portrait is not painted on canvas, like the 
Chandos Head, 5 but on wood. Little more of it 

4 Of some volunteer infidelities, however, Droeshout may be 
convicted. It is evident from the picture that Shakspeare was 
partly bald, and consequently that his forehead appeared unusu- 
ally high. To remedy, therefore, what seemed a defect to the 
engraver, he has amplified the brow on the right side. For the 
sake of a more picturesque effect, he has also incurvated the line 
in the fore part of the run 1 ', though in the original it is mathema- 
tically straight. See note 9, p. 6. 

It may be observed, however, to those who examine trifles 
with rigour, that our early-engraved portraits were produced in 
the age when few had skill or opportunity to ascertain their 
faithfulness or infidelity. The confident artist therefore assumed 
the liberty of altering where he thought he could improve. The 
rapid workman was in too much haste to give his outline with 
correctness; and the mere drudgein his profession contented him- 
self by placing a caput mortuum of his original before the pub- 
lick. In short, the inducements to be licentious or inaccurate, 
were numerous ; and the rewards of exactness were seldom at- 
tainable, most of our ancient heads of authors being done, at 
stated prices, for booksellers, who were careless about the veri- 
similitude of engravings which fashion not unfrequently obliged 
them to insert in the title-pages of works that deserved no such 
expensive decorations. 

* A living artist, who was apprentice to Roubiliac, declares 
that when that elegant statuary undertook to execute the figure 
of Shakspeare for Mr. Garrick, the Chandos picture was bor- 
rowed ; but that it was, even then, regarded as a performance 


than the entire countenance and part of the ruff is 
left ; for the pannel having been split off on one 
side, the rest was curtailed and adapted to a small 
frame. On the back of it is the following inscrip- 
tion, written in a very old hand : " Guil, Shak- 
speare, 7 1597. 8 R. N." Whether these initials be- 
long to the painter, or a former owner of the pic- 
ture, is uncertain. It is clear, however, that this is 
the identical head from which not only the engrav- 
ing by Droeshout in 1623, but that of Marshall 9 
in 1640 was made; arid though the hazards our 

of suspicious aspect ; though for want of a more authentick arche- 
type, some few hints were received, or pretended to be received, 
from it. 

Roubiliac, towards the close of his life, amused himself by 
painting in oil, though with little success. Mr. Felton has his 
poor copy of the Chandos picture in which our author exhibits 
the complexion of a Jew, or rather that of a chimney-sweeper 
in the jaundice. 

It is singular that neither Garrick, or his friends, should have 
desired Roubiliac at least to look at the two earliest prints of 
Shakspeare ; and yet even Scheemaker is known to have had no 
other model for our author's head, than the mezzotinto by Zoust, 

6 A broker now in the Minories declares, that it is his usual 
practice to cut down such portraits, as are painted on wood, to 
the size of such spare frames as he happens to have in his posses- 

7 It is observable, that this hand-writing is of the age of Eli- 
zabeth, and that the name of Shakspeare is set down as he him- 
self has spelt it. 

8 The age of the person represented agrees with the date on 
the back of the picture. In 1597 our author was in his 33d 
year, and in the meridian of his reputation, a period at which his 
resemblance was most likely to have been secured. 

9 It has hitherto been supposed that Marshall's production was 
borrowed from that of his predecessor. But it is now manifest 
that he has given the very singular ruff of Shakspeare as it stands 
in the original picture, and not as it appears in the plate from it 
by Martin Droeshout. 


author's likeness was exposed to, may have been 
numerous, it is still in good preservation. 

But, as further particulars may be wished for, 
it should be subjoined, that in the Catalogue of 
" The fourth Exhibition and Sale by private Con- 
tract at the European Museum, King-Street, St. 
James's Square, 1792," this picture was announced 
to the publick in the following words : 

" No. 359. A curious portrait of Shakspeare, 
painted in 1597." 

On the 3lst of May, 1792, Mr. Felton bought 
it for five guineas ; and afterwards urging some 
inquiry concerning the place it came from, Mr. 
Wilson, the conductor of the Museum already 
mentioned, wrote to him as follows : 

" To Mr. S. Felton, Drayton, Shropshire. 

" SIE, 

" The Head of Shakespeare was 

purchased out of an old house known by the sign 
of the Boar in Eastcheap, London, where Shake- 
speare and his friends used to resort, and report 
says, was painted by a Player of that time, 1 but 
whose name I have not been able to learn. 

" I am, Sir, with great regard, 

" Your most obed*. servant, 
"Sept. li, 1792." J. Wilson." 

1 The player alluded to was Richard Burbage. 

A Gentleman who, for several years past, has collected as 
many pictures of Shakspeare as he could hear of, (in the hope 
that he might at last procure a genuine one,) declares that the 


August 11,1 794, Mr. Wilson assured Mr. Stee- 
vens, that this portrait was found between four and 
five years ago at a broker's shop in the Minories, 
by a man of fashion, whose name must be conceal- 
ed : that it afterwards came (attended by the East- 
cheap story, &c.) with a part of that gentleman's 
collection of paintings, to be sold at the European 
Museum, and was exhibited there for about three 
months, during which time it was seen by Lord 
Leicester and Lord Orford, who both allowed it 
to be a genuine picture of Shakspeare. It is na- 
tural to suppose that the mutilated state of it pre- 
vented either of their Lordships from becoming 
its purchaser. 

How far the report on which Mr. Wilson's nar- 
ratives (respecting the place where this picture 
was met with, &c.) were built, can be verified by 
evidence at present within reach, is quite imma- 
terial, as our great dramatick author's portrait dis- 
plays indubitable marks of its own authenticity. 
It is apparently not the work of an amateur, but 
of an artist by profession ; and therefore could 
hardly have been the production of Burbage, the 
principal actor of his time, who (though he cer- 
tainly handled the pencil) must have had insuffi- 
cient leisure to perfect himself in oil-painting, 
which was then so little understood and practised 
by the natives of this kingdom. 2 

Eastcheap legend has accompanied the majority of them, from 
whatever quarter they were transmitted. 

It is therefore high time that picture-dealers should avail them- 
selves of another story, this being completely worn out, and no 
longer fit for service. 

* Much confidence, perhaps, ought not to be placed in this 
remark, as a succession of limners now unknown might have 
pursued their art in England from the time of Hans Holbein to 
that of Queen Elizabeth. 


Yet, by those who allow to possibilities the influ- 
ence of facts, it may be said that this picture was 
probably the ornament of a club-room in Eastcheap, 
round which other resemblances of contemporary 
poets and players might have been arranged : that 
the Boar's Head, the scene of Falstaff's jollity, 
might also have been the favourite tavern of Shak- 
speare : that, when our author returned over 
London Bridge from the Globe theatre, this was a 
convenient house of entertainment; and that for 
many years afterwards (as the tradition of the 
neighbourhood reports) it was understood to have 
been a place where the wits and wags of a former 
age were assembled, and their portraits reposited. 
To such suppositions it may be replied, that Mr. 
Sloman, who quitted this celebrated publick house 
in 1767, (when all its furniture, which had devolved 
to him from his txvo immediate predecessors, was sold 
off,) declared his utter ignorance of any picture on 
the premises, except a coarse daubing of the Gads- 
hill robbery. 3 From hence the following proba- 

1 Philip Jones of Barnard's Inn, the auctioneer who sold off 
Mr. S Ionian's effects, has been sought for ; but he died a few- 
years ago. Otherwise, as the knights of the hammer are said to 
preserve the catalogue of every auction, it might have been 
known whether pictures constituted any part of the Boar's Head 
furniture ; for Mr. Sloman himself could not affirm that there 
were no small or obscure paintings above stairs in apartments 
which he had seldom or ever occasion to visit. 

Mrs. Brinn, the widow of Mr. Sloman's predecessor, after her 
husband's decease quitted Eastcheap, took up the trade of a wire- 
worker, and lived in Crooked Lane. She died about ten years 
ago. One, who had been her apprentice (no youth,) declares 
she was a very particular woman, was circumstantial in her nar- 
ratives, and so often repeated them, that he could not possibly 
forget any article she hau communicated relative to the plate, fur- 
niture, &c. of the Boar's Head : that she often spoke of the 
painting that represented the robbery at Gadshill, but never so 
much as hinted at any other pictures in the house ; and had there 


bilities may be suggested : first, that if Shak- 
speare's portrait was ever at the Boar's Head, it 
had been alienated before the fire of London in 
1666, when the original house was burnt; and, 
secondly, that the path through which the same 
picture has travelled since, is as little to be deter- 
mined as the course of a subterraneous stream. 

It may also be remarked, that if such a Portrait 
had existed in Eastcheap during the life of the in- 
dustrious Vertue, 4 he would most certainly have 
procured it, instead of having submitted to take 
his first engraving of our author from a juvenile 
likeness of James I. and his last from Mr. Keek's 
unauthenticated purchase out of the dressing-room 
of a modern actress. 

It is obvious, therefore, from the joint deposi- 
tions of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Sloman, that an in- 
ference disadvantageous to the authenticity of the 
Boar's Head story must be drawn ; for if the 
portrait in question arrived after a silent progress 
through obscurity, at the shop of a broker who, 
being ignorant of its value, sold it for a few shil- 
lings, it must necessarily have been unattended by 
any history whatever. And if it was purchased 
at a sale of goods at the Boar's Head, as neither 
the master of the house, or his two predecessors, 
had the least idea of having possessed such a cu- 
riosity, no intelligence could be sent abroad with 

been any, he is sure she would not have failed to describe them 
in her accounts of her former business and place of abode, which 
supplied her with materials for conversation to the very end of a 
long life. 

4 The four last publicans who kept this tavern are said to have 
filled the whole period, from the time of Vertue's inquiries, to 
the year 1788, when the Boar's Head, having been untenanted 
for five years, was converted into two dwellings for shopkeepers. 


it from that quarter. In either case then we may 
suppose, that the legend relative to the name of its 
painter, 5 and the place where it was found, (not- 
withstanding both these particulars might be true,) 
were at hazard appended to the portrait under con- 
sideration, as soon as its similitude to Shakspeare 
had been acknowledged, and his name discovered 
on the back of it. This circumstance, however, 
cannot affect the credit of the picture; for (as the 
late Lord Mansfield observed in the Douglas con- 
troversy) " there are instances in which falshood 
has been employed in support of a real fact, and 
that it is no uncommon thing for a man to defend 
a true cause by fabulous pretences." 

That Shakspeare's family possessed no resem- 
blance of him, there is sufficient reason to believe. 
Where then was this fashionable and therefore ne- 
cessary adjunct to his works to be sought for? If 
any where, in London, the theatre of his fame and 
fortune, and the only place where painters, at that 
period, could have expected to thrive by their pro- 
fession. We may suppose too, that the booksellers 
who employed Droeshout, discovered the object of 
their research by the direction of Ben Jonson, 6 who 
in the following lines has borne the most ample 
testimony to the verisimilitude of a portrait which 
will now be recommended, by a more accurate and 
finished engraving, to the publick notice : 

* The tradition that Burbage painted a likeness of Shakspeare, 
has been current in the world ever since the appearance of Mr. 
f Granger's Biographical History. 

6 It is not improbable that Ben Jonson furnished the Dedi- 
cation and Introduction to the first folio, as well as the Com- 
mendatory Verses prefixed to it. 


The figure, that thou here seest put, 
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut ; 
Wherein the graver had a strife 
With Nature, to outdoo the life : 
O, could he but have drawne his wit 
As well in brasse, as he hath hit 
His face; 7 the print would then surpasse 
All that was ever writ in brasse. 
But, since he cannot, Reader, looke 
Not on his picture, but his Booke." 

That the legitimate resemblance of such a man 
has been indebted to chance for its preservation, 
would excite greater astonishment, were it not re- 
collected, that a portrait of him has lately become 
an object of far higher consequence and estimation 
than it was during the period he flourished in, and 
the twenty years succeeding it ; for the profession 
of a player was scarcely then allowed to be reputa- 
ble. This remark, however, ought not to stand 
unsupported by a passage in The Microcosmos of 
John Davies of Hereford, 4to. 1605, p. 215, where, 
after having indulged himself in a long and severe 
strain of satire on the vanity and affectation of the 
actors of his age, he subjoins 

as he hath hit 

His face ;] It should seem from these words, that the plate 
prefixed to the folio 1623 exhibited such a likeness of Shakspeare 
as satisfied the eye of his contemporary, Ben Jonson, who, on 
an occasion like this, would hardly have ventured to assert what 
it was in the power of many of his readers to contradict. When 
will evidence half so conclusive be produced in favour of the 
san canvas, which bears not the slightest resemblance to the 
original of Droeshout's and Marshall's engraving ? 


" Players, I loue yee and your qualitie, 

" As ye are men that pass time not abus'd : 

" And some I loue for painting, poesie,* * u w.s.r.b." 

" And say fell fortune cannot be excus'd, 

M That hath for better uses you refus'd : 

" Wit, courage, good shape, good partes, are all good, 

" As long as all these goods are no worse us'd ; 8 

" And though the stage doth staine pure gentle bloud, 

** Yet generous yee are in minde and moode." 

The reader will observe from the initials in the 
margin of the third of these wretched lines, that 
W. Shakspeare was here alluded to as the poet, and 
R. Burbage as the painter. 

Yet notwithstanding this compliment to the 
higher excellencies of our author, it is almost cer- 
tain that his resemblance owes its present safety to 
the shelter of a series of garrets and lumber-rooms, 
in which it had sculked till it found its way into 
the broker's shop from whence the discernment of 
a modern connoisseur so luckily redeemed it. 

It may also be observed, that an excellent ori- 
ginal of Ben Jonson was lately bought at an obscure 
auction by Mr. Ritson of Gray's Inn, and might 
once have been companion to the portrait of Shak- 
speare thus fortunately restored, after having been 
lost to the publick for a century and a half. They 
are, nevertheless, performances by very different 
artists. The face of Shakspeare was imitated by a 
delicate pencil, that of Jonson by a bolder hand. 
It is not designed, however, to appretiate the dis- 
tinct value of these pictures; though it must be 
allowed (as several undoubted originals of old Ben 

are all good, 

As long as all these goods are no "worse us'd;] So, in our 
author's Othello: 

" Where virtue is, these are most virtuous." 


are extant) that an authentick head of Shakspeare 
is the greater desideratum. 

To conclude those who assume the liberty of 
despising prints when moderately executed, may be 
taught by this example the use and value of them; 
since to a coarse engraving by a second-rate artist, 9 
the publick is indebted for the recovery of the only 
genuine portrait of its favourite Shakspeare. 








THESE Plates are to be engraved of an octavo 
size, and in the most finished style, by T. Trotter. 
A fac-simile of the hand- writing, date, &c. at the 

' 9 There is reason to believe that Shakspeare's is the earliest 
known portrait of Droeshout's engraving. No wonder then that 
his performances twenty years after, are found to be executed 
with a somewhat superior degree of skill and accuracy. Yet still 
he was a poor engraver, and his productions are sought for more 
on account of their scarcity than their beauty. He seems in- 
deed to have pleased so little in this country, that there are not 
above six" or seven heads of his workmanship to be found. 


back of the picture, will be given at the bottom of 
one of them. 

They will be impressed both on octavo and 
quarto paper, so as to suit the best editions of the 
plays of Shakspeare. 

Price of the pair to Subscribers 7s. 6d. No 
Proofs will be taken oft*. Non-subscribers 10s. 6d. 

The money to be paid at the time of subscribing, 
or at the delivery of the prints, which will be ready 
on December 1st, 1794. 

Such portions of the hair, ruff, and drapery, as 
are wanting in the original picture, will be sup- 
plied from Droeshout's and Marshall's copies of it, 
in which the inanimate part of the composition 
may be safely followed. The mere outline in half 
of the plate that accompanies the finished one, will 
serve to ascertain how far these supplements have 
been adopted. To such scrupulous fidelity the 
publick (which has long been amused by inade- 
quate or ideal likenesses of Shakspeare) has an un- 
doubted claim ; and should any fine ladies and 
gentlemen of the present age be disgusted at the 
stiff garb of our author, they may readily turn 
their eyes aside, and feast them on the more easy 
and elegant suit of clothes provided for him by his 
modern tailors, Messieurs Zoust, Vertue, Hou- 
braken, and the humble imitators of their suppo- 
sititious drapery. 

The dress that Shakspeare wears in this ancient 
picture, might have been a theatrical one; as in the 
course of observation such another habit has not 
occurred. Marshall, when he engraved from the 
same portrait, materially altered its paraphernalia, 
and, perhaps, because he thought a stage garb did 
not stand so characteristically before a volume of 
Poems as before a collection of Plays ; and yet it 


must be confessed, that this change might have 
been introduced for no other reason than more 
effectually to discriminate his own production from 
that of his predecessor. On the same account also 
he might have reversed the figure. 

N. B. The plates to be delivered in the order 
they are subscribed for; and subscriptions received 
at Mr. Richardson's, where the original portrait 
(by permission of Samuel Felton, Esq.) will be ex- 
hibited for the inspection of subscribers, together 
with the earlier engravings from it by Droeshout 
in 1623, and Marshall in 1640. 1 


Castle Street, Leicester Square, 
Nov. 5, 1794. 

1 It is common for an artist who engraves from a painting that 
has been already engraved, to place the work of his predecessor 
before him, that he may either catch some hints from it, or learn 
to avoid its errors. Marshall most certainly did so in the present 
instance; but while he corrected Droeshout's ruff, he has been 
led by him to desert his original in an unauthorised expansion of 
our author's forehead. 




WHEN the newly discovered Portrait of our 

freat Dramatick Writer was first shown in Castle 
treet, the few remaining advocates for the Ckan- 
dosan canvas observed, that its unwelcome rival 
exhibited not a single trait of Shakspeare. But, 
all on a sudden, these criticks have shifted their 
ground ; and the representation originally pro- 
nounced to have been so unlike our author, is 
since declared to be an immediate copy from the 
print by Martin Droeshout. 

But by what means are such direct contrarieties 
of opinion to be reconciled ? If no vestige of the 
Poet's features was discernible in the Picture, how 
is it proved to be a copy from an engraving by 
which alone those features can be ascertained? No 
man will assert one thing to have been imitated 
from another, without allowing that there is some 
unequivocal and determined similitude between 
the objects compared. The truth is, that the first 
point of objection to this unexpected Portrait was 
soon overpowered by a general suffrage in its fa- 
vour. A second attack was therefore hazarded, 
and has yet more lamentably failed. 

As a further note of the originality of the Head 
belonging to Mr. Felton, it may be urged, that the 
artist who had ability to produce such a delicate 
vol. i. c 


and finished Portrait, could most certainly have 
made an exact copy from a very coarse print, pro- 
vided he had not disdained so servile an occupation. 
On the contrary, a rude engraver like Droeshout, 
would necessarily have failed in his attempt to ex- 
press the gentler graces of so delicate a picture. 
Our ancient handlers of the burin were often faith- 
less to the character of their originals ; and it is 
conceived that some other performances by Droe- 
shout will furnish no exception to this remark. 

Such defective imitations, however, even at this 
period, are sufficiently common. Several prints 
from well-known portraits of Sir Joshua Reynolds 
and Mr. Romney, are rendered worthless by simi- 
lar infidelities ; for notwithstanding these mezzo- 
tints preserve the outlines and general effect of 
their originals, the appropriate characters of them 
are as entirely lost as that of Shakspeare under the 
hand of Droeshout. Because, therefore, an en- 
graving has only a partial resemblance to its arche- 
type, are we at liberty to pronounce that the one 
could not have been taken from the other ? 

It may also be observed, that if Droeshout's 
plate had been followed by the painter, the line in 
front of the ruff would have been incurvated, and 
not have appeared straight, as it is in the smaller 
print by Marshall from the same picture. In anti- 
quated English portraits, examples of rectilineal 
ruffs are familiar ; but where will be found such 
another as the German has placed under the chin 
of his metamorphosed poet ? From its pointed 
corners, resembling the wings of a bat, which are 
constant indications of mischievous agency, the 
engraver's ruff would have accorded better with 
the pursuits of his necromantick countryman, the 
celebrated Doctor Faustus. 


In the mean while it is asserted by every ade- 
quate judge, that the coincidences between the 
picture and the print under consideration, are too 
strong and too numerous to have been the effects 
of chance. And yet the period at which this like- 
ness of our author must have been produced, affords 
no evidence that any one of our early limners had 
condescended to borrow the general outline and dis- 
position of his portraits from the tasteless heads pre- 
fixed to volumes issued out by booksellers. The art- 
ist, indeed, who could have filched from Droeshout, 
like Bardolph, might have " stolen a lute-case, car- 
ried it twelve leagues, and sold it for three half- 

But were the print allowed to be the original, and 
the painting a mere copy from it, the admission of 
this fact would militate in full force against the au- 
thenticity of every other anonymous and undated 
portrait from which a wretched old engraving had 
been made ; as it would always enable cavillers to 
assert, that the painting was subsequent to the 
print, and not the print to the painting. True 
judges, however, would seldom fail to determine, 
(as they have in the present instance,) whether a 
painting was coldly imitated from a lumpish cop- 
per-plate, or taken warm from animated nature. 

For the discussion of subjects like these, an eye 
habituated to minute comparison, and attentive to 
peculiarities that elude the notice of unqualified 
observers, is also required. Shakspeare's counte- 
nance deformed by Droeshout, resembles the sign 
of Sir Roger de Coverley, when it had been 
changed into a Saracen's head ; on which occasion 
the Spectator observes, that the features of the 

gentle Knight were still apparent through the 
neaments of the ferocious Mussulman. 
That the leading thought in the verses annexed 

C 2 


to the plate by Droeshout is hacknied and com- 
mon, will most readily be allowed ; and this obser- 
vation would have carried weight with it, had the 
lines in question been anonymous. But the sub- 
scription of Ben Jonson's name was a circumstance 
that rendered him immediately responsible for the 
propriety of an encomium which, however open 
to dispute, appears to have escaped contradiction, 
either metrical or prosaick, from the surviving 
friends of Shakspeare. 

But, another misrepresentation, though an in- 
voluntary one, and of more recent date, should 
not be overlooked. 

In the matter prefatory to W. Richardson's Pro- 
posals, the plate by Vertue from Mr. Keek's (now 
the CkandosJ picture, is said to have succeeded the 
engraving before Mr. Pope's edition of Shakspeare, 
in six volumes quarto. 2 But the contrary is the fact; 
and how is this circumstance to be accounted for? 
If in 1719 Vertue supposed the head which he 
afterwards admitted into his Set of Poets, was a 
genuine representation, how happened it that his 
next engraving of the same author, in 1 725, was 
taken from quite a different painting, in the col- 
lection of the Earl of Oxford ? Did the artist, in 
this instance, direct the judgment of his Lordship 
and Mr. Pope? or did their joint opinion over-rule 
that of the artist ? These portraits, being wholly 
unlike each other, could not (were the slightest 
degree of respect due to either of them) be both 
received as legitimate representations of Shak- 
speare. Perhaps, Vertue (who is described by 

* This mistake originated from a passage in Lord Orford's 
Anecdotes, &c. 8vo. Vol. V. p. 258, where it is said, and truly, 
that Vertue's Set of Poets appeared in 1730. The particular 
plate of Shakspeare, however, as is proved by a date at the bot- 
tom of it, was engraved in 1719. 


Lord Orford as a lover of truth,) began. to doubt 
the authenticity of the picture from which his first 
engraving had been made, and was therefore easily 
persuaded to expend his art on another portrait, 
the spuriousness of which (to himself at least) was 
not quite so evident as that of its predecessor. 

The publick, for many years past, has been fa- 
miliarized to a Vandyckish head of Shakspeare, in- 
troduced by Simon's mezzotinto from a painting 
by Zoust. Hence the countenance of our author's 
monumental effigy at Westminster was modelled ; 
and a kindred representation of him has been 
given by Roubiliac. Such is still the Shakspeare 
that decorates our libraries, and seals our letters. 
But, cetatis cujusque notandi sunt tibi mores. On a 
little reflection it might have occurred, that the 
cavalier turn of head adopted from the gallant 
partizans of Charles I. afforded no just resemblance 
of the sober and chastised countenances predomi- 
nating in the age of Elizabeth, during which our 
poet nourished, though he survived till James, for 
about thirteen years, had disgraced the throne. 
The foregoing hint may be pursued by the judici- 
ous examiner, who will take the trouble to compare 
the looks and air of Shakspeare's contemporaries 
with the modern sculptures, &c. designed to per- 
petuate his image. The reader may then draw an 
obvious inference from these premises ; and con- 
clude, that the portrait lately exhibited to the pub- 
lick is not supposititious because it presents a less 
spritely and confident assemblage of features than 
had usually been imputed to the modest and un- 
assuming parent of the British theatre. It is cer- 
tain, that neither the Zoustian or Chandosan canvas 
has displayed the least trait of a quiet and gentle 
bard of the Elizabethan age. 
To ascertain the original owner of the portrait 


now Mr. Felton's, is an undertaking difficult 
enough ; and yet conjecture may occasionally be 
sent out on a more hopeless errand. 

The old pictures at Tichfield House, as part of 
the Wriothesley property, were divided, not many 
years ago, between the Dukes of Portland and 
Beaufort. Some of these paintings that were in 
good condition were removed to Bulstrode, where 
two portraits 3 of Shakspeare's Earl of Southamp- 
ton are still preserved. What became of other 
heads which time or accident had impaired, and at 
what period the remains of the furniture, &c. of 
his Lordship's venerable mansion were sold off and 
dispersed, it may be fruitless to enquire. 

Yet, as the likeness of our author lately redeem- 
ed from obscurity was the work of some eminent 
Flemish artist, it was probably painted for a per- 
sonage of distinction, and might therefore have 
belonged to the celebrated Earl whom Shakspeare 
had previously complimented by the dedication of 
his Venus and Adonis. Surely, it is not unreason- 
able to suppose, that a resemblance of our excel- 
lent dramatick poet might have been found in the 
house of a nobleman who is reported to have loved 
him well enough to have presented him with a 
thousand pounds. 

To conclude the names 4 which have honoured 

One of these portraits is on canvas, and therefore the ge- 
nuineness of it is controverted, if not denied. 

4 In the numerous List of Gentlemen who thoroughly exa- 
mined this original Picture, were convinced of its authenticity, 
and immediately became Subscribers to W. Richardson, are the 
names of Dr. Farmer, Mr. Cracherode, Mr. Bindley, Sir Jo- 
seph Banks, Sir George Shuckburgh, Mr. Chalmers, Mr. Reed, 
Mr. Ritson, Mr. Douce, Mr. Markham, Mr. Weston, Mr. Ly- 
sons, Mr. James, Col. Stanley, Mr. Combe, Mr. Lodge, Mess. 
Smith, sen. and jun. Mr. Nicol, Mr. Boaden, Mr. Pearce, Mr. 


the subscription for an engraving from this new- 
found portrait of Shakspeare, must be allowed to 
furnish the most decisive estimate of its value. 

[C5" Since the foregoing Paper teas received, we 
have been authorized to inform the Publick, that 
Messieurs Boydell and Nicol are so thoroughly con- 
vinced of the genuineness of Mr. Felton's Shak- 
speare, that they are determined to engrave it as a 
Frontispiece to their splendid Edition of our Author, 
instead of having recourse to the exploded Picture 
inherited by the Chandos Family, .] 

From the European Magazine, for December, 

Whitefoord, Mr. Thane, Mess. Boydell, Mr. G. Romney, Mr. 
Lawrence, (Portrait-painter to his Majesty,) Mr. Bowyer, (Mi- 
niature-painter to his Majesty,) Mr. Barry, R. A. (Professor of 
Painting,) &c. &c. &c. 

The following pages, on account of their con- 
nection with the subject of Mr. Richardson's Re- 
marks, are suffered to stand as in our last edition. 



THE reader may observe that, contrary to former 
usage, no head of Shakspeare is prefixed to the 
present edition of his plays. The undisguised fact 
is this. The only portrait of him that even pretends 
to authenticity, by means of injudicious cleaning, 
or some other accident, has become little better 
than the "shadow of a shade." 5 The late Sir 
Joshua Reynolds indeed once suggested, that 
whatever person it was designed for, it might have 
been left, as it now appears, unfinished. Various 
copies and plates, however, are said at different 
times to have been made from it ; but a regard for 
truth obliges us to confess that they are all unlike 
each other, 6 and convey no distinct resemblance 

* Such, we think, were the remarks, that occurred to us se- 
veral years ago, when this portrait was accessible. We wished 
indeed to have confirmed them by.a second view of it ; but a 
late accident in the noble family to which it belongs, has pre- 
cluded us from that satisfaction. 

6 Vertue's portraits havebeen over-praised on account of their 
fidelity; for we have now before us six different heads of Shak- 
speare engraved by him, and do not scruple to assert that they 
have individually a different cast of countenance. Cucullus non 
Jacit monachum. The shape of our author's ear-ring and falling- 
band may correspond in them all, but where shall we find an 
equal conformity in his features ? 

Few objects indeed are occasionally more difficult to seize, 
than the slender traits that mark the character of a face ; and the 


of the poor remains of their avowed original. Of 
the drapery and curling hair exhibited in the ex- 
cellent engravings of Mr. Vertue, Mr. Hall, and 
Mr. Knight, the painting does not afford a vestige; 
nor is there a feature or circumstance on the whole 
canvas, that can with minute precision be deline- 
ated. We must add, that on very vague and dubi- 
ous authority this head has hitherto been received 
as a genuine portrait of our author, who probably 
left behind him no such memorial of his face. As 
he was careless of the future state of his works, 
his solicitude might not have extended to the per- 
petuation of his looks. Had any portrait of him 
existed, we may naturally suppose it must have 
belonged to his family, who (as Mark Antony says 
of a hair of Caesar) would 

" have raention'd it within their wills, 

" Bequeathing it as a rich legacy 
" Unto their issue f* 

and were there ground for the report that Shak- 
speare was the real father of Sir William D'Ave- 
nant, and that the picture already spoken of was 
painted for him, we might be tempted to observe 
with our author, that the 

bastard son 

" Was kinder to his father, than his daughters 
' Got 'twixt the natural sheets." 

But in support of either supposition sufficient evi- 
dence has not been produced. The former of these 

eye will often detect the want of them, when the most exact 
mechanical process cannot decide on the places in which they are 
omitted. Vertue, in short, though a laborious, was a very in- 
different draughtsman, and his best copies too often exhibit a 
general instead of a particular resemblance. 


tales has no better foundation than the vanity of 
our degener Neoptolemus, 7 and the latter originates 
from modern conjecture. The present age will 
probably allow the vintner's ivy to Sir William, but 

7 Nor docs the same piece of ancient scandal derive much 
weight from Aubrey's adoption of it. The reader who is ac- 
quainted with the writings of this absurd gossip, will scarcely pay 
more attention to him on the present occasion, than when he 
gravely assures us that " Anno 1 670, not far from Cirencester 
was an apparition ; being demanded whether a good spirit or a 
bad ? returned no answer, but disappeared with a curious perfume 
and most melodious twang. Mr. W. Lilly believes it was a fairy." 
See Aubrey's Miscellanies, edit. 1/84, p. 114. Aubrey, in 
short, was a dupe to every wag who chose to practise on his cre- 
dulity ; and would most certainly have believed the person who 
should have told him that Shakspeare himself was a natural son 
of Queen Elizabeth. 

An additional and no less pleasant proof of Aubrey's cullibility, 
may be found at the conclusion of one of his own Letters to Mr. 
Ray ; where, after the enumeration of several wonderful methods 
employed by old women and Irishmen to cure the gout, agues, 
and the bloody flux, he adds : " Sir Christopher Wren told me 
once [eating of strawberries] that if one that has a wound in the 
head eats them, 'tis mortal." 

See Philosophical Letters between the late learned Mr. Ray 
SfC. Published by William Derham, Chaplain to his Royal 
Highness George Prince of Wales, fy F. R. S. Svo, J 7 18, p. 251. 

In the foregoing instance our letter-writer seems to have been 
perfectly unconscious of the jocularity of Sir Christopher, who 
would have meant nothing more by his remark, than to secure 
his strawberries, at the expence of an allusion to the crack in 
poor Aubrey's head. Thus when Falstaff " did desire to eat some 
prawns," Mrs. Quickly told him " they were ill for a green 

Mr. T. Warton has pleasantly observed that he " cannot 
suppose Shakspeare to have been the father of a Doctor of 
Divinity who never laughed;" and to waste no more words 
on Sir William D'Avenant, let but our readers survey his 
heavy, vulgar, unmeaning face, and, if we mistake not, they 
will as readily conclude that Shakspeare " never holp to make 
it.'* So despicable, indeed, is his countenance as represented by 
Faithorne, that it appears to have sunk that celebrated engraver 
beneath many a common artist in the same line. 


with equal justice will withhold from him the 
poet's bays. To his pretensions of descent from 
Shakspeare, one might almost be induced to apply 
a ludicrous passage uttered by Fielding's Phaeton 
in Hie Suds: 

by all the parish boys I'm flamm'd : 

" You the sun's son, you rascal ! you be d d. 

About the time when this picture found its way 
into Mr. Keek's hands, the verification of portraits 
was so little attended to, that both the Earl of 
Oxford, and Mr. Pope, admitted a juvenile one of 
King James I. as that of Shakspeare. 8 Among the 
heads of illustrious persons engraved by Houbra- 
ken, are several imaginary ones, beside Ben Jon- 
son's andOtway's; and old Mr. Langford positively 
asserted that, in the same collection, the grand- 
father of Cock the auctioneer had the honour to 
personate the great and amiable Thurloe, secretary 
of state to Oliver Cromwell. 

From the price of forty guineas paid for the sup- 
posed portrait of our autnor to Mrs. Barry, the real 
value of it should not be inferred. The possession 
of somewhat more animated than canvas, might 

Much respect is due to the authority of portraits that descend 
in families from heir to heir ; but little reliance can be placed on 
them when they are produced for sale (as in the present instance) 
by alien hands, almost a century after the death of the person 
supposed to be represented ; and then, (as Edmund says in King 
Lear) " come pat, like the catastrophe of the old comedy." 
Shakspeare was buried in ]6l6; and in 1/08 the first notice of 
this picture occurs. Where there is such a chasm in evidence, 
the validity of it may be not unfairly questioned, and especially 
by those who remember a species of fraud ulence recorded in Mr. 
Foote's Taste: ** Clap Lord Dupe's arms on that halt-length of 
Erasmus ; I have sold it him as his great grandfather's third bro- 
ther, for fifty guineas." 


have been included, though not specified, in a bar- 
gain with an acticss of acknowledged gallantry. 

Yet allowing this to be a mere fanciful insinua- 
tion, a rich man does not easily miss what he is 
ambitious to find. At least he may be persuaded 
he has found it, a circumstance which, as far as it 
affects his own content, will answer, for a while, 
the same purpose. Thus the late Mr. Jennens, of 
Gopsal in Leicestershire, for many years congra- 
tulated himself as owner of another genuine por- 
trait of Shakspeare, and by Cornelius Jansen ; nor 
was disposed to forgive the writer who observed 
that, being dated in 1610, it could not have been 
the work of an artist who never saw England till 
1618, above a year after our author's death. 

So ready, however, are interested people in as- 
sisting credulous ones to impose on themselves, 
that we will venture to predict, if some opulent 
dupe to the flimsy artifice of Chatterton should 
advertise a considerable sum of money for a por- 
trait of the Pseudo- Rowley, such a desideratum 
would soon emerge from the tutelary crypts of St. 
Mary RedclifF at Bristol, or a hitherto unheard of 
repository in the tomb of Syr Thybbot Gorges at 
Wraxall. 1 It would also come attested as a strong 

* A kindred trick had actually been passed off by Chatterton 
on the late Mr. Barrett of Bristol, in whose back parlour was a 
pretended head of Canynge, most contemptibly scratched with a 
pen on a small square piece of yellow parchment, and framed 
and glazed as an authentick icon by the " curyous poyntill" of 
Rowley. But this same drawing very soon ceased to be station- 
ary, was alternately exhibited and concealed, as the wavering 
faith of its possessor shifted about, and was prudently withheld 
at last from the publick eye. Why it was not inserted in the late 
History of Bristol, as well as Rowley's plan and elevation of its 
ancient castle, (which all the rules of all the ages of architecture 
pronounce to be spurious) let the Rowleian advocates inform us. 


likeness of our archaeological bard, on the faith of 
a parchment exhibiting the hand and seal of the 
dygne Mayster Wyllyam Canynge, setting forth that 
Mayster Thomas Rowlie was so entyrely and passynge 
wele belovyd of himself, or our poetick knight, that 
one or the other causyd hys semblaunce to be ryght 
conynglye depeyncten on a marveillousefayre table of 
wood, and ensevelyd wyth hym, that deth mote theym 
not clene departyn and putte asunder. A similar 
imposition, however, would in vain be attempted 
on the editors of Shakspeare, who, with all the zeal 
of Rowleians, are happily exempt from their cre- 

A former plate of our author, which was copied 
from Martin Droeshout's in the title-page to the 
folio 1 623, is worn out ; nor does so " abominable 
an imitation of humanity" deserve to be restored. 
The smaller head, prefixed to the Poems in 1 640, 
is merely a reduced and reversed copy by Marshall 
from its predecessor, with a few slight changes in 
attitude and dress. We boast therefore of no ex- 
terior ornaments, 2 except those of better print and 
paper than have hitherto been allotted to any oc- 
tavo edition of Shakspeare. 

Justice nevertheless requires us to subjoin, that 

We are happy at least to have recollected a single imposition that 
was too gross for even these gentlemen to swallow. Mr. Barrett, 
however, in the year 1 TJ(5, assured Mr. Ty rwhitt and Mr. Stee- 
vens, that he received the aforesaid scrawl of Canynge from Chat- 
terton, who described it as having been found in the prolifick 
chest, secured by six, or six-and-twenty keys, no matter 

They who wish for decorations adapted to this edition of 
Shakspeare, will find them in Silvester Harding's Portraits and 
Views, &c. &c. (appropriated to the whole suite of our author's 
Historical Dramas, &c.) published in thirty numbers. 

See Gent. Mag. June 1769, p. 257. 


had an undoubted picture of our author been at- 
tainable, the Booksellers would most readily have 
paid for the best engraving from it that could have 
been produced by the most skilful of our modern 
artists ; but it is idle to be at the charge of perpe- 
tuating illusions : and who shall offer to point out, 
among the numerous prints of Shakspeare, any one 
that is more like him than the rest ? 5 

The play of Pericles has been added to this col- 
lection, by the advice of Dr. Farmer. To make 
room for it, Titus Andronicus might have been 
omitted ; but our proprietors are of opinion that 
some ancient prejudices in its favour may still 
exist, and for that reason only it is preserved. 

We have not reprinted the Sonnets, &c. of Shak- 
speare, because the strongest act of parliament that 
could be framed would fail to compel readers into 
their service ; notwithstanding these miscellaneous 
poems have derived every possible advantage from 
the literature and judgment of their only intelli- 
gent editor, Mr. Malone, whose implements of 
criticism, like the ivory rake and golden spade in 

* List of the different engravings from the Chandosan Shak- 
epeare : 
By Vandergucht, to Rowe's edit -. 1709. 

Vertue, half sheet, Set of Poets 1710. 

Do. small oval, Jacob's Lives 1719 

Do. to Warburton's 8vo . . 1747. 

Duchange, 8vo. to Theobald's 1733. 

Gravelot, half sheet, Hanmer's edit 1744. 

Houbraken, half sheet, Birch's Heads .... 17 4 7 

Millar, small oval, Capell's Shakspeare .... I76Q. 

Hall, 8vo. Reed's edit 1785. 

Cook, Svo. Bell's edit 1788. 

Knight, 8vo. Mr. Malone's edit 1790. 

Harding, 6vo. Set of Prints to Shakspeare . . . 1793. 
No two of these Portraits are alike; nor does any one of them 
bear the slightest resemblance to its wretched original. G. S. 


Prudentius, are on this occasion disgraced by the 
objects of their culture. Had Shakspeare pro- 
duced no other works than these, his name would 
have reached us with as little celebrity as time has 
conferred on that of Thomas Watson, an older and 
much more elegant sonnetteer. 6 

What remains to be added concerning this re- 
publication is, that a considerable number of fresh 
remarks are both adopted and supplied by the pre- 
sent editors. They have persisted in their former 
track of reading for the illustration of their author, 
and cannot help observing that those who receive 
the benefit of explanatory extracts from ancient 
writers, little know at what expence of time and 
labour such atoms of intelligence have been col- 
lected. That the foregoing information, however, 
may communicate no alarm, or induce the reader 
to suppose we have " bestowed our whole tedious- 
ness" on him, we should add, that many notes have 
likewise been withdrawn. A few, manifestly er- 
roneous, are indeed retained, to show how much 
the tone of Shakspearian criticism is changed, or 
on account of the skill displayed in their confuta- 
tion j for surely every editor in his turn is occa- 

His Sonnets, though printed without date, were entered in 
the year I5bl, on the books of the Stationers' Company, under 
the title of " Watson's Passions, manifesting the true Frenzy of 

Shakspeare appears to have been among the number of his 
readers, having in the following passage of Venus and Adonis, 

* Leading him prisoner in a red-rose chain," 
borrowed an idea from his n3d Sonnet : 

" The Muses not long since intrapping love 

" In ckaines of roses," &c. 
Watson, however, declares on tins occasion that he imitated 
Ronsard; and it must be confessed, with equal truth, that in the 
present instance Ronsard bad been a borrower from Anacreon. 


sionally entitled to be seen, as he would have 
shown himself, with his vanquished adversary at 
his feet. We have therefore been sometimes will- 
ing to " bring a corollary, rather than want a spi- 
rit." Nor, to confess the truth, did we always 
think it justifiable to shrink our predecessors to 
pigmies, that we ourselves, by force of comparison, 
might assume the bulk of giants. 

The present editors must also acknowledge, that 
unless in particular instances, where the voice of 
the publick had decided against the remarks of 
Dr. Johnson, they have hesitated to displace them j 
and had rather be charged with superstitious re- 
verence for his name, than censured for a pre- 
sumptuous disregard of his opinions. 

As a large proportion of Mr. Monck Mason's 
strictures on a former edition of Shakspeare are 
here inserted, it has been thought necessary that 
as much of his Preface as was designed to intro- 
duce them, should accompany their second ap- 
pearance. Any formal recommendation of them 
is needless, as their own merit is sure to rank their 
author among the most diligent and sagacious of 
our celebrated poet's annotators. 

It may be proper, indeed, to observe, that a few 
of these remarks are omitted, because they had been 
anticipated ; and that a few others have exclud- 
ed themselves by their own immoderate length ; for 
he who publishes a series of comments unattended 
by the text of his author, is apt to " overflow the 
measure" allotted to marginal criticism. In these 
cases, either the commentator or the poet must 
give way, and no reader will patiently endure to 
see " Alcides beaten by his page." Inferior volat 
umbra deo. Mr. M. Mason will also forgive us 
if we add, that a small number of his proposed 


amendments are suppressed through honest com- 
miseration. ct 'Tis much he dares, and he has a 
wisdom that often guides his valour to act in 
safety;" yet occasionally he forgets the prudence 
that should attend conjecture, and therefore, in a 
few instances, would have been produced only to 
have been persecuted. May it be subjoined, that 
the freedom with which the same gentleman has 
treated the notes of others, seems to have author- 
ized an equal degree of licence respecting his 
own? And yet, though the sword may have been 
drawn against him, he shall not complain that its 
point is " unbated and envenomed ;" for the con- 
ductors of this undertaking do not scruple thus 
openly to express their wishes that it may have 
merit enough to provoke a revision from the ac- 
knowledged learning and perspicacity of their 
Hibernian coadjutor. Every re-impression of our 
great dramatick master's works must be considered 
in some degree as experimental ; for their corrup- 
tions and obscurities are still so numerous, and 
the progress of fortunate conjecture so tardy and 
uncertain, that our remote descendants may be 
perplexed by passages that have perplexed usj and 
the readings which have hitherto disunited the opi- 
nions of the learned, may continue to disunite 
them as long as England and Shakspeare have a 
name. In short, the peculiarity once ascribed to 
the poetick isle of Delos," may be exemplified in 
our author's text, which, on account of readings 
alternately received and reprobated, must remain 
in an unsettled state, and float in obedience to 
every gale of contradictory criticism. Could a 
perfect and decisive editiou of the following scenes 

nee instabili fama superubere Delo.*' 

Stat. Achill. I. 388. 

VOL. I. 


be produced, it were to be expected only (though 
we fear in vain) from the hand of Dr. Farmer, 9 
whose more serious avocations forbid him to under- 
take what every reader would delight to possess. 

But as we are often reminded by our " brethren 
of the craft," that this or that emendation, how- 
ever apparently necessary, is not the genuine text 
qfShakspeare, it might be imagined that we had 
received this text from its fountain head, and were 
therefore certain of its purity. Whereas few lite- 
rary occurrences are better understood, than that it 
came down to us discoloured by " the variation of 
every soil" through which it had flowed, and that 
it stagnated at last in the muddy reservoir of the 
first folio. 1 In plainer terms, that the vitiations 
of a careless theatre were seconded by those of as 
ignorant a press. The integrity of dramas thus 
prepared for the world, is just on a level with the 
innocence of females nursed in a camp and edu- 
cated in a bagnio. As often therefore as we are 
told, that by admitting corrections warranted by 

9 He died September 8th, 1797. 

1 It will perhaps be urged, that to this first folio we are in- 
debted for the only copies of sixteen or seventeen of our author's 
plays : True : but may not our want of yet earlier and less cor- 
rupted editions of these very dramas be solely attributed to the 
monopolizing vigilance of its editors, Messieurs Hemings and 
Condell ? Finding they had been deprived of some tragedies and 
comedies which, when opportunity offered, they designed to 
publish for their own emolument, they redoubled their solicitude 
to withhold the rest, and were but too successful in their precau- 
tion. " Thank fortune (says the original putterforth of Troilus 
and Cressida) for the scape it hath made amongst you ; since by 
the grand possessors' wills, I believe, you should have pray'd for 
it, rather than beene pray'd." Had quartos of Macbeth, An- 
tony and Cleopatra, All's tvell that ends well, &c. been sent 
into the world, from how many corruptions might the text of all 
these dramas have been secured ! 


common sense and the laws of the metre, we have 
not rigidly adhered to the text of Shakspeare, we 
shall entreat our opponents to exchange that phrase 
for another " more germane," and say instead of 
it, that we have deviated from the text of the 
publishers of single plays in quarto, or their suc- 
cessors, the editors of the first folio ; that we have 
sometimes followed the suggestions of a Warbur- 
ton, a Johnson, a Farmer, or a Tyrwhitt, in pre- 
ference to the decisions of a Hemings or aCondell, 
notwithstanding their choice of readings might have 
been influenced by associates whose high-sounding 
names cannot fail to enforce respect, viz. William 
Ostler, John Shanke, William Sly, and Thomas 
Poope. 2 

To revive the anomalies, barbarisms and blun- 
ders of some ancient copies, in preference to the 
corrections of others almost equally old, is likewise 
a circumstance by no means honourable to our au- 
thor, however secure respecting ourselves. For 
what is it, under pretence of restoration, but to 
use him as he has used the Tinker in The Taming 
of a Shrew, to re-clothe him in his pristine rags? 
To assemble parallels in support 01 all these de- 
formities, is no insuperable labour ; for if we are 
permitted to avail ourselves of every typographical 
mistake, and every provincial vulgarism and of- 
fence against established grammar, that may be 
met with in the coeval productions of irregular 
humourists and ignorant sectaries and buffoons, 
we may aver that every casual combination of syl- 
lables may be tortured into meaning, and every 
species of corruption exemplified by correspond- 
ing depravities of language j but not of such lan- 

See first folio, &c. for the list of actors in our author'* 

D 2 


guage as Shakspeare, if compared with himself 
where he is perfect, can be supposed to have writ- 
ten. By similar reference it is that the style of 
many an ancient building has been characteris- 
tically restored. The members of architecture left 
entire, have instructed the renovator how to sup- 
ply the loss of such as had fallen into decay. The 
poet, therefore, whose dialogue has often, during 
a long and uninterrupted series of lines, no other 
peculiarities than were common to the works of 
his most celebrated contemporaries, and whose 
general ease and sweetness of versification are 
hitherto unrivalled, ought not so often to be sus- 
pected of having produced ungrammatical non- 
sense, and such rough and defective numbers as 
would disgrace a village schoolboy in his first at- 
tempts at English poetry. It may also be observed, 
that our author's earliest compositions, his Son- 
nets, &c. are wholly free from metrical imperfec- 

The truth is, that from one extreme we have 
reached another. Our incautious predecessors, 
Rowe, Pope, Hanmer, and Warburton, were some- 
times justly blamed for wanton and needless de- 
viations from ancient copies ; and we are afraid 
that censure will as equitably fall on some of us, 
for a revival of irregularities which have no reason- 
able sanction, and few champions but such as are 
excited by a fruitless ambition to defend certain 
posts and passes that had been supposed untenable. 
The " wine of collation," indeed, had long been 
" drawn," and little beside the " mere lees was 
left" for very modern editors " to brag of." It 
should, therefore, be remembered, that as judg- 
ment, without the aid of collation, might have 
insufficient materials to work on, so collation, di- 
vested of judgment, will be often worse than 


thrown away, because it introduces obscurity in- 
stead of light. To render Shakspeare less intelli- 
gible by the recall of corrupt phraseology, is not, 
in our opinion, the surest way to extend his fame 
and multiply his readers ; unless (like Curll the 
bookseller, when the Jews spoke Hebrew to him,) 
they happen to have most faith in what they least 
understand. Respecting our author, therefore, on 
some occasions, we cannot join in the prayer of 
Cordelia : 

Restoration hang 

" Thy medicine on his lips !" 

It is unlucky for him, perhaps, that between the 
interest of nis readers and his editors a material 
difference should subsist. The former wish to meet 
with as few difficulties as possible, while the latter 
are tempted to seek them out, because they afford 
opportunities for explanatory criticism. 

Omissions in our author's works are frequently 
suspected, and sometimes not without sufficient 
reason. Yet, in our opinion, they have suffered a 
more certain injury from interpolation ; for almost 
as often as their measure is deranged, or redun- 
dant, some words, alike unnecessary to sense and 
the grammar of the age, may be discovered, and, 
in a thousand instances, might be expunged, with- 
out loss of a single idea meant to be expressed ; a 
liberty which we have sometimes taken, though not 
(as it is hoped) without constant notice of it to the 
reader. Enough of this, however, has been already 
attempted, to show that more on the same plan 
might be done with safety. 3 So far from under- 

' Sufficient instances of measure thus rendered defective, and 
in the present edition unamended, may be found in the three last 
Acts of Hamlet, and in Othello. The length of this prefatory 
advertisement has precluded their exemplification, which wa 


standing the power of an ellipsis, we may venture 
to affirm that the very name of this figure in rhe- 
thorick never reached the ears of our ancient 
editors. Having on this subject the support of 
Dr. Farmer's acknowledged judgment and experi- 
ence, we shall not shrink from controversy with 
those who maintain a different opinion, and refuse 
to acquiesce in modern suggestions if opposed to 
the authority of quartos and folios, consigned to us 
by a set of people who were wholly uninstructed in 
the common forms of style, orthography, and punc- 
tuation. We do not therefore hesitate to affirm, 
that a blind fidelity to the eldest printed copies, is 
on some occasions a confirmed treason against the 
sense, spirit, and versification of Shakspeare. 

All these circumstances considered, it is time, 
instead of a timid and servile adherence to ancient 
copies, when (offending against sense and metre) 
they furnish no real help, that a future editor, well 
acquainted with the phraseology of our author's 
age, should be at liberty to restore some apparent 
meaning to his corrupted lines, and a decent flow 
to his obstructed versification. The latter (as 
already has been observed) may be frequently ef- 
fected by the expulsion of useless and supernu- 
merary syllables, and an occasional supply of such 
as might fortuitously have been omitted, notwith- 
standing the declaration of Hemings and Condell, 
whose fraudulent preface asserts that they have 
published our author's plays " as absolute in their 
numbers as he conceived them." Till somewhat 
resembling the process above suggested be au- 
thorized, the publick will ask in vain for a com- 

here meant to have been given. We wish, however, to impress 
the foregoing circumstance on the memory of the judicious 


modious and pleasant text of Shakspeare. No- 
thing will be lost to the world on account of the 
measure recommended, there being folios and 
quartos enough remaining for the use of antiqua- 
rian or critical travellers, to whom a jolt over a 
rugged pavement may be more delectable than an 
easy passage over a smooth one, though they both 
conduct to the same object. 

To a reader unconversant with the licenses of a 
theatre, the charge of more material interpolation 
than that of mere syllables, will appear to want sup- 

f)ortj and yet whole lines and passages in the fol- 
owing plays incur a very just suspicion of having 
originated from this practice, which continues even 
in the present improved state of our dramatick 
arrangements ; for the propensity of modern per- 
formers to alter words, and occasionally introduce 
ideas incongruous with their author's plan, will not 
always escape detection. In such vagaries our 
comedians have been much too frequently in- 
dulged ; but to the injudicious tragical interpo- 
lator no degree of favour should be shown, not even 
to a late Matilda, who, in Mr. Home's Douglas 
thought fit to change the obscure intimation with 
which her part should have concluded 

such a son 

" And such a husband, make a woman bold.~ 

into a plain avowal, that 

such a son, 

11 And such a husband, drive me to myjate." 

Here we perceive that Fate, the old post-horse of 
tragedy, nas been saddled to expedite intelligence 
which was meant to be delayed till the necessary 
moment of its disclosure. Nay, further: the 


prompter's book being thus corrupted, on the first 
night of the revival 01 this beautiful and interest- 
ing play at Drury Lane, the same spurious non- 
sense was heard from the lips of Mrs. Siddons, lips, 
whose matchless powers should be sacred only to 
the task of animating the purest strains of drama- 
tick poetry. Many other instances of the same 
presumption might have been subjoined, had they 
not been withheld through tenderness to per- 
formers now upon the stage. Similar interpola- 
tions, however, in the text of Shakspeare, can 
only be suspected, and therefore must remain un- 

To other defects of our late editions may be sub- 
joined, as not the least notorious, an exuberance of 
comment. Our situation has not unaptlyresembled 
that of the fray in the first scene of Borneo and 

" While we were interchanging thrusts and blows, 
" Came more and more, and fought on part and part:" 

till, as Hamlet has observed, we are contending 

for a plot 

" Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause." 

Indulgence to the remarks of others, as well as 
partiality to our own ; an ambition in each little 
Hercules to set up pillars, ascertaining how far he 
had travelled through the dreary wilds of black 
letter ; and perhaps a reluctance or inability to de- 
cide between contradictory sentiments, have also 
occasioned the appearance of more annotations 
than were absolutely wanted, unless it be thought 
requisite that our author, like a Dauphin Classick, 
should be reduced to marginal prose for the use of 
children ; that all his various readings (assembled 
by Mr. Capell) should be enumerated, the genealo- 


gies of all his real personages deduced ; and that 
as many of his plays as are founded on Roman or 
British history, should be attended by complete 
transcripts from their originals in Sir Thomas 
North's Plutarch^ or the Chronicles of Hall and 
Holinshed. These faults, indeed, si quid prodest 
delicto, fateri, within half a century, (when the 
present race of voluminous criticks is extinct) can- 
not fail to be remedied by a judicious and frugal 
selection from the labours of us all. Nor is such 
an event to be deprecated even by ourselves; since 
we may be certain that some ivy of each individual's 
growth will still adhere to the parent oak, though 
not enough, as at present, to " hide the princely 
trunk, and suck the verdure out of it." 3 It may 
be feared too, should we persist in similar accumu- 
lations of extraneous matter, that the readers will 
at length be frighted away from Shakspeare, as the 
soldiers of Cato deserted their comrade when he 
became bloated with poison crescens fugre cada- 
ver. It is our opinion, in short, that every one who 
opens the page of an ancient English writer, should 
bring with him some knowledge ; and yet he by 
whom a thousand minutiae remain to be learned, 
needs not to close our author's volume in despair, 
for his spirit and general drift are always obvious, 
though his language and allusions are occasionally 

We may subjoin (alluding to our own practice 
as well as that of others) that they whose remarks 
are longest, and who seek the most frequent op- 
portunities of introducing their names at the bot- 
tom of our author's pages, are not, on that account, 
the most estimable criticks. The art of writing 
notes, as Dr. Johnson has pleasantly observed in 

J Tempest. 


his preface, is not of difficult attainment. 4 Addi- 
tional hundreds might therefore be supplied ; for 
as often as a various reading, whether serviceable 
or not, is to be found, the discoverer can bestow 
an immediate reward on his own industry, by a 
display of his favourite signature. The same ad- 
vantage may be gained by opportunities of appro- 
priating to ourselves what was originally said by 
another person, and in another place. 

Though our adoptions have been slightly men- 
tioned already, our fourth impression of the Plays 
of Shakspeare must not issue into the world with- 
out particular and ample acknowledgements of the 
benefit it has derived from the labours of the last 
editor, whose attention, diligence, and spirit of en- 
quiry, have very far exceeded those of the whole 
united phalanx of his predecessors. His additions 
to our author's Life, his attempt to ascertain the 
Order in which his Plays were written, together 
with his account of our ancient Stage, &c. are 
here re-published; and every reader will concur 
in wishing that a gentleman who has produced 
such intelligent combinations from very few mate- 
rials, had fortunately been possessed of more. 

Of his notes on particular passages a great ma- 
jority is here adopted. True it is, that on some 
points we fundamentally disagree ; for instance, 
concerning his metamorphosis of monosyllables 
(like burn, sworn, worn, here and there, arms, and 
charms,) into dissyllables ; his contraction of dis- 
syllables (like neither, rather, reason, lover, &c.) 
into monosyllables ; and his sentiments respecting 
the worth of the variations supplied by the second 
folio. On the first of these contested matters 
we commit ourselves to the publick ear ; on the 

4 See also Addison's Spectator, No. 470. 


second we must awhile solicit the reader's at- 

The following conjectural account of the publi- 
cation of this second folio (about which no cer- 
tainty can be obtained) perhaps is not very remote 
from truth. 

When the predecessor of it appeared, some in- 
telligent friend or admirer of Shakspeare might 
have observed its defects, and corrected many of 
them in its margin, from early manuscripts, or 
authentick information. 

That such manuscripts should have remained, 
can excite no surprize. The good fortune that, 
till this present hour, has preserved the Chester 
and Coventry Mysteries , Tancred and Gismund 6 as 
originally written, the ancient play of Timon, the 
Witch oi Middleton, with several older as well as 
coeval dramas (exclusive of those in the Marquis 
of Lansdowne's library) might surely have be- 
friended some of our author's copies in 1632, only 
sixteen years after his death. 

That oral information concerning his works was 
still accessible, may with similar probability be 
inferred ; as some of the original and most know- 
ing performers in his different pieces were then 
alive (Lowin and Taylor, for instance); and it 
must be certain, that on the stage they never ut- 
tered such mutilated lines and unintelligible non- 
sense as was afterwards incorporated with their 
respective parts, in both the first quarto and folio 

The folio therefore of 1623, corrected from one 

* See Mr. Holt White's note on Romeo and Juliet, Vol. XX. 
p. 97, n. 5. 

i. e. as acted before Queen Elizabeth in 1568. SeeWarton, 
Vol. III. p. 376, n. g. 


or both the authorities above mentioned, we con- 
ceive to have been the basis of its successor in 
163 . 

At the same time, however, a fresh and abund- 
ant series of errors and omissions was created in 
the text of our author ; the natural and certain 
consequence of every re-impression of a work 
which is not overseen by other eyes than those of 
its printer. 

Nor is it at all improbable that the person who 
furnished the revision of the first folio, wrote a 
very obscure hand, and was much cramped for 
room, as the margin of this book is always narrow. 
Such being the case, he might often have been 
compelled to deal in abbreviations, which were 
sometimes imperfectly deciphered, and sometimes 
wholly misunderstood. 

Mr. Malone, indeed, frequently points his artil- 
lery at a personage whom we cannot help regard- 
ing as a phantom ; we mean the Editor of the se- 
cond folio ; for perhaps no such literary agent as 
an editor of a poetical work, unaccompanied by 
comments, was at that period to be found. This 
office, if any where, was vested in the printer, who 
transferred it to his compositors ; and these wor- 
thies discharged their part of the trust with a pro- 
portionate mixture of ignorance and inattention. 
We do not wish to soften our expression ; for some 
plays, like The Misfortunes of Arthur, and many 
books of superior consequence, like Fox's Martyrs, 
and the second edition of the Chronicles of Holin- 
shed, &c. were carefully prepared for the publick 
eye by their immediate authors, or substitutes qua- 
lified for their undertaking. 7 But about the year 

7 Abraham Fleming supervised, corrected, and enlarged the 
second edition of Holinshed's Chronicle, in 1585. 


1600, the era of total incorrectness commenced, 
and works of almost all kinds appeared with the 
disadvantage of more than their natural and in- 
herent imperfections. 

Such too, in these more enlightened days, when 
few compositors are unskilled in orthography and 
punctuation, would be the event, were complicated 
works of fancy submitted to no other superintend- 
ance than their own. More attentive and judicious 
artists than were employed on our present edition 
of Shakspeare, are, I believe, no where to be 
found ; and yet had their proofs escaped correc- 
tion from an editor, the text of our author in many 
places would have been materially changed. And 
as all these changes would have originated from 
attention for a moment relaxed, interrupted me- 
mory, a too hasty glance at the page before them, 
and other incidental causes, they could not have 
been recommended in preference to the variations 
of the second folio, which in several instances have 
been justly reprobated by the last editor of Shak- 
speare. W hat errors then might not have been ex- 
pected, when compositors were wholly unlettered 
and careless, and a corrector of the press an officer 
unknown ? To him who is inclined to dispute our 
grounds for this last assertion, we would recom- 
mend a perusal of the errata at the ends of multi- 
tudes of our ancient publications, where the read- 
er's indulgence is entreated for " faults escaped on 
account of the author's distance from the press;" 
faults, indeed, which could not have occurred, had 
every printing-office, as at present, been furnished 
with a regular and literary superintendant of its 
productions. How then can it be expected that 
printers who were often found unequal to the task 
of setting forth even a plain prose narrative, con- 
sisting of a few sheets, without blunders innumer- 


able, should have done justice to a folio volume of 
dramatick dialogues in metre, which required a so 
much greater degree of accuracy ? 

But the worth of our contested volume also 
seems to be questioned, because the authority on 
which even such changes in it as are allowed to be 
judicious, is unknown. But if weight were granted 
to this argument, what support could be found for 
ancient Greek and Roman MSS. of various de- 
scriptions ? The names of their transcribers are 
alike undiscovered ; and yet their authority, when 
the readings they present are valuable, will seldom 
fail to be admitted. 

Nay, further : it is on all hands allowed, that 
what we style a younger and inferior MS. will oc- 
casionally correct the mistakes and supply the de- 
ficiencies of one of better note, and higher anti- 
quity. Why, therefore, should not a book printed 
in 1632 be allowed the merit of equal services to 
a predecessor in 1623 ? 

Such also, let us add, were the sentiments of a 
gentleman whose name we cannot repeat without 
a sigh, which those who were acquainted with his 
value, will not suspect of insincerity : we mean our 
late excellent friend, Mr. Tyrwhitt. In his library 
was this second folio of our author's plays. He al- 
ways stood forward as a determined advocate for 
its authority, on which, we believe, more than one 
of his emendations were formed. At least, we are 
certain that he never attempted any, before he had 
consulted it. 

He was once, indeed, offered a large fragment 
of the first folio ; but in a few days he returned it, 
with an assurance that he did not perceive any 
decided superiority it could boast over its imme- 
diate successor, as the metre, imperfect in the 


elder, was often restored to regularity in the junior 

Mr. Malone, however, in his Letter to Dr. Far- 
mer, has styled these necessary corrections such 
" as could not escape a person of the most ordi- 
nary capacity, who had been one month convers- 
ant with a printing-house ;" a description mortify- 
ing enough to the present editors, who, after an 
acquaintance of many years with typographical 
mysteries, would be loath to weigh their own 
amendments against those which this second folio, 
with all its blunders, has displayed. 

The same gentleman also (see his Preface, p. 410) 
speaks with some confidence of having proved his 
assertions relative to the worthlessness of this book. 
But how are these assertions proved ? By exposing 
its errors (some of which nevertheless are of a very 
questionable shape) and by observing a careful 
silence about its deserts. 8 1 he latter surely should 
have been stated as well as the former. Otherwise, 
this proof will resemble the " ill-roasted egg" in 
As you like it, which was done only " on one side." 
If, in the mean time, some critical arithmetician 
can be found, who will impartially and intelli- 
gently ascertain by way of D r and C r the faults 
and merits of this book, and thereby prove the 
former to have been many, and the latter scarce 
any at all, we will most openly acknowledge our 
misapprehension, and subscribe (a circumstance of 

Thus (as one instance out of several that might be produced) 
when Mr. Malone, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, very ju- 
diciously restores the uncommon word ging, and supports it by 
instances from The New Inn and The Alchemist, he forbears to 
mention that such also is the reading of the second, though not 
of the first folio. See Vol.V. p. lOo, n. 5. 


which we need not be ashamed) to the superior 
sagacity and judgment of Mr. Malone. 

To conclude, though we are far from asserting 
that this republication, generally considered, is 
preferable to its original, we must still regard it as 
a valuable supplement to that work ; and no 
stronger plea in its favour can be advanced, than 
the frequent use made of it by Mr. Malone. The 
numerous corrections from it admitted by that 
gentleman into his text, 9 and pointed out in his 

9 Amounting to (as we are informed by a very accurate com- 
positor who undertook to count them) 186. 

Instances wherein Mr. Malone has admitted the Corrections 
of the Second Folio. 

Tempest 4 

Two Gentlemen of Verona 10 

Merry Wives of Windsor ...... 5 

Measure for Measure . . . . . . .15 

Comedy of Errors . . 11 

Much Ado about Nothing 

Love's Labour's Lost ....... 13 

Midsummer-Nights Dream . . . . 4 

Merchant of Venice . ...... 2 

As you like it ........ 15 

Taming of the Shrew . . . . . . .16 

Airs well that ends well . . . . . Q 

Twelfth-Night ........ 3 

Winter's Tale 8 

Macbeth Q 

King John ........ 3 

King Richard II. . . . . . . . \ 

King Henry IV. Part I. ...... \ 

~ //. 1 

King Henry V. ........ J 

King Henry VI. Part I. 6 

//. 6 

///. 2 

King Richard I 11.^ . .. ... . .' . - . 


notes, will, in our judgment, contribute to its eulo- 
gium ; at least cannot fail to rescue it from his 
prefatory imputations of " being of no value 
whatever," and afterwards of " not being worth 
three shillings." 1 See Mr. Malone's Preface, 
and List of Editions of Shakspeare. 

Our readers, it is hoped, will so far honour us as 
to observe, that the foregoing opinions were not 
suggested and defended through an ambitious spi- 
rit of contradiction. Mr. Malone's Preface, in- 
deed, will absolve us from that censure ; for he 
allows them to be of a date previous to his own 
edition. He, therefore, on this subject, is the 

King Henri/ VIII. 6 

Coriolanus . ....... O 

Julius Ccesar . 2 

Antony and Cleopatra 7 

Timon of Athens ....... 6 

Troilus and Cressida ....... O 

Cymbeline . . . . . . . .10 

King Lear ........ 3 

Romeo and Juliet ........ 4 

Hamlet 3 

Othello O 

Total . 1S6 
. 'This doctrine, however, appears to have made few prosel vtes : 
at least, some late catalogues of our good friends the booksellers, 
have expressed their dissent from it in terms of uncommon force. 
I must add, that on the 34th day of the auction of the late Dr. 
Farmer's library, this proscribed volume was sold for three 
guineas ; and that in the sale of Mr. Allen's library, April the 
15th, 1799, at Leigh and Sotheby's, York Street, Covent Garden, 
the four folio editions of our author's plays were disposed of at 
the following prices: the first folio 10 19 0, the second 
5 10 0, the third 5 15 6, the fourth 3 13 6. Since the time 
of the ubove-mentioned sales the folio editions have increased 
in value, and at the sale of the Duke of Roxburgh's library, 
June 6, 1812, produced the following prices ; the first ;l00 O, 
the second 15 0, the third 35 O 0, the fourth 6 6 0. 


VOL. I. E 


assailant, and not the conductors of the present 

But though, in the course of succeeding stric- 
tures, several other of Mr. Mai one's positions may 
be likewise controverted, some with seriousness, 
and some with levity, (for our discussions are not 
of quite so solemn a turn as those which involve the 
interests of our country,) we feel an undissembled 
pleasure in avowing, that his remarks are at once 
so numerous and correct, that when criticism " has 
done its worst," their merit but in a small degree 
can be affected. We are confident, however, that 
he himself will hereafter join with us in consider- 
ing no small proportion of our contested readings 
as a mere game at literary push-pin ; and that if 
Shakspeare looks down upon our petty squabbles 
over his mangled scenes, it must be with feelings 
similar to those of Lucan's hero : 

ridetque sui ludibria trunci. 

In the Preface of Mr. Malone, indeed, a direct 
censure has been levelled at incorrectness in the 
text of the edition 1778. The justice of the impu- 
tation is unequivocally allowed ; but, at the same 
time, might not this acknowledgement be second* 
ed by somewhat like a retort ? For is it certain that 
the collations, &c. of 1790 are wholly secure from 
similar charges ? Are they accompanied by no un- 
authorized readings, no omission of words, and 
transpositions? Through all the plays, and espe- 
cially those of which there is only a single copy, 
they have been with some diligence retraced, and 
the frailties of their collator, such as they are, have 
been ascertained. They shall not, however, be 
ostentatiously pointed out, and for this only rea- 
son -./That as they decrease but little, if at all, the 


vigour of Shakspeare, the critick who in general 
has performed with accuracy one of the heaviest of 
literary tasks, ought not to be molested by a dis- 
play of petty faults, which might have eluded the 
most vigilant faculties of sight and hearing that 
were ever placed as spies over the labours of each 
other. They are not even mentioned here as a co- 
vert mode of attack, or as a " note of preparation" 
for future hostilities. The office 01 " devising 
brave punishments" for faithless editors, is there- 
fore strenuously declined, even though their guilt 
should equal that of one of their number, (Mr. 
Steevens,) who stands convicted of having given 
winds instead of wind, stables instead of stable, ses- 
sions instead of session, sins instead of sin, and 
(we shudder while we recite the accusation) my 
instead of mine. 2 

Such small deer 

" Have been our food for many a year ;" 

so long, in truth, that any further pursuit of them 
is here renounced, together with all triumphs 
founded on the detection of harmless synonymous 
particles that accidentally may have deserted their 
proper places and wandered into others, without 
injury to Shakspeare. A few chipped or disjointed 
stones will not impair the shape or endanger the 
stability of a pyramid. We are far from wisning to 
depreciate exactness, yet cannot persuade ourselves 
but that a single lucky conjecture or illustration, 
should outweigh a thousand spurious haths deposed 
in favour of legitimate has's, and the like insignifi- 
cant recoveries, which may not too degradmgly 

* See Mr. Malone'a Preface. 



be termed the haberdashery of criticism ; that 
" stand in number, though in reckoning none;" 
and are as unimportant to the poet's fame, 

" As is the morn-dew on the myrtle-leaf 
M To his grand sea." 

We shall venture also to assert, that, on a minute 
scrutiny, every editor, in his turn, may be charged 
with omission of some preferable reading; so that 
he who drags his predecessor to justice on this 
score, will have good luck if he escapes ungalled 
by recrimination. 

If somewhat, therefore, in the succeeding vo- 
lumes has been added to the correction and illus- 
tration of our author, the purpose of his present 
editors is completely answered. On any thing like 
perfection in their labours they do not presume, 
being too well convinced that, in defiance of their 
best efforts, their own incapacity, and that of the 
original quarto and folio-mongers, have still left 
sufficient work for a race of commentators who are 
yet unborn. Nos, (says Tully, in the second Book 
of his Tusculan Questions,) qui sequimur probabilia, 
nee ultra quam id quod verisimile occurrerit, pro- 
gredi possumus; et refellere sine pertinacia, et refelli 
sine iracundia, parati sumus. 

Be it remembered also, that the assistants and 
adversaries of editors, enjoy one material advantage 
over editors themselves. They are at liberty to 
select their objects of remark : 

et quce 

Desperant tractata nitescere posse, relinquunt. 

The fate of the editor in form is less propitious. 


He is expected to combat every difficulty from 
which his auxiliaries and opponents could secure 
an honourable retreat. It should not, therefore, 
be wondered at, if some of his enterprizes are un- 

Though the foregoing Advertisement has run 
out into an unpremeditated length, one circum- 
stance remains to be mentioned. The form and 
substance of the commentary attending this repub- 
lication having been materially changed and en- 
larged since it first appeared, in compliance with 
ungrateful custom the name of its original editor 
might have been withdrawn : but Mr. Steevens 
could not prevail on himself to forego an additional 
opportunity of recording in a title-page that he had 
once the honour of being united in a task of lite- 
rature with Dr. Samuel Johnson. This is a dis- 
tinction which malevolence cannot obscure, nor 
flattery transfer to any other candidate for publick 

It may possibly be expected, that a list of Errata 
should attend so voluminous a work as this, or that 
cancels should apologize for its more material in- 
accuracies. Neither of these measures, however, 
has in the present instance been adopted, and for 
reasons now submitted to the publick. 

In regard to errata, it has been customary with 
not a few authors to acknowledge small mistakes, 


that they might escape the suspicion of greater, 1 
or perhaps to intimate that no greater could be de- 
tected. JBoth little and great (and doubtless there 
may be the usual proportion of both) are here ex- 
posed (with very few exceptions) to the candour 
and perspicacity of the reader, who needs not to 
be told that in fifteen volumes octavo, of intricate 
and variegated printing, gone through in the space 
of about twenty months, the most vigilant eyes 
must occasionally have been overwatched, and the 
readiest knowledge intercepted. The sight of the 
editors, indeed, was too much fatigued to encou- 
rage their engagement in so laborious a revision j 
and they are likewise convinced that substitutes 
are not always qualified for their task ; but instead 
of pointing out real mistakes, would have supposed 
the existence of such as were merely founded on 
their own want of acquaintance with the peculiari- 
ties of ancient spelling and language ; for even 
modern poetry has sometimes been in danger from 
the chances of their superintendance. He whose 
business it is to offer this unusual apology, very 
well remembers to have been sitting with Dr. John- 
son, when an agent from a neighbouring press 
brought in the proof sheet of a republication, re- 
questing to know whether a particular word in it 
was not corrupted. " So far from it, Sir, (replied 
the Doctor, with some harshness,) that the word 
you suspect and would displace, is conspicuously 
beautiful where it stands, and is the only one that 
could have done the duty expected from it by 
Mr. Pope." 

* " the hospitable door 

" Expos'd a matron, to avoid worse rape." 

Paradise Lost, B. I. v. 505. 



As for cancels, it is in the power of every care- 
less binder to defeat their purpose; for they are 
so seldom lodged with uniformity in their proper 
places, that they as often serve to render copies 
imperfect, as to screen an author from the charge 
of ignorance or inattention. The leaf appropriated 
to one volume, is sometimes shuffled into the cor- 
responding page of another ; and sometimes the 
faulty leaf is withdrawn, and no other substituted 
in its room. These circumstances might be exem- 
plified ; but the subject is scarcely of consequence 
enough to be more than generally stated to the 
reader, whose indulgence is again solicited on ac- 
count of blemishes which in the course of an un- 
dertaking like this are unavoidable, and could not, 
at its conclusion, have been remedied but by the 
hazard of more extensive mischief; an indulg- 
ence, indeed, that will more readily be granted, and 
especially for the sake of the compositors, when it 
is understood, that, on an average, every page of 
the present work, including spaces, quadrats, 
points, and letters, is (to speak technically) com- 
posed of 2680 distinct pieces of metal. 4 

Number of letters, &c. in a page of Shakspeare, 1/93. 


The average number in each 
line (including letters, points, 
spaces, &c.) is 47 ; the num- 
ber of lines in a page 37. 




1739 in a page. 


The average number in each 
line(including letters, points, 
spaces, &c. ) is 67 ; the num- 
ber of lines in a page lj. 


3 1 4[) in a page. 

From this calculation it is clear, that a common page, ad- 
mitting it to consist of 1-3(1 text, and *J-3ds notes, contains 


As was formerly therefore observed, he who 
waited till the river should run dry, did not act 
with less reason than the editors would do, who 
should suspend a voluminous and complicated pub- 
lication, in the vain hope of rendering it absolutely 
free from literary and typographical errors. 

about 2680 distinct pieces of metal ; which multiplied by 16, 
the number of pages in a sheet, will amount to 42,880 the 
misplacing of any one of which would inevitably cause a blunder, 



or THE 





IT seems to be a kind of respect due to the me- 
mory of excellent men, especially of those whom 
their wit ancTlearning have made famous, to de- 
liver some account of themselves, as well as their 
works, to posterity. For this reason, how fond do 
we see some people of discovering any little per- 
sonal story of the great men of antiquity! tneir 
families, the common accidents of their lives, and 
even their shape, make, and features, have been 
the subject of critical inquiries. How trifling so- 
ever this curiosity may seem to be, it is certainly 
very natural ; and we are hardly satisfied with an 
account of any remarkable person, till we have 
heard him described even to the very clothes he 
wears. As for what relates to men of letters, the 
knowledge of an author may sometimes conduce 
to the better understanding his book ; and though 
the works of Mr. Shakspeare may seem to many 
not to want a comment, yet I fancy some little ac- 


count of the man himself may not be thought im- 
proper to go along with them. 

He was the son of Mr. John Shakspeare, and was 
born at Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, in 
April, 1 564. His family, as appears by the register 
and publick writings relating to that town, were of 
good figure and fashion there, and are mentioned 
as gentlemen. His father, who was a considerable 
dealer in wool, 5 had so large a family, ten children 

* His father, toko was a considerable dealer in ivool,] It ap- 
pears that he had been an officer and bailiff of Stratford-upon- 
Avon; and that he enjoyed some hereditary lands and tenements, 
the reward of his grandfather's faithful and approved services to 
King Henry VII. See the extract from the Herald's Office. 


The chief Magistrate of the Body Corporate of Stratford, now 
distinguished by the title of Mayor, was in the early charters 
called the High Bailiff. This office Mr. John Shakspeare filled 
in 1569, as appears from the following extracts from the books 
of the corporation, with which I have been favoured by the Rev. 
Mr. Davenport, Vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon: 

" Jan. 10, in the 6th year of the reign of our sovereign lady 
Queen Elizabeth, John Shakspeare passed his Chamberlain's ac- 

" At the Hall holden the eleventh day of September, in the 
eleventh year of the reign of our sovereign lady Elizabeth, 156Q, 
were present Mr. John Shakspeare, High Bailiff." [Then follow 
the nimes of the Aidermen and Burgesses.] 

At the Hall holden Nov. 19th, in the 2 1st year of the reign 
of our sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth, it is ordained, that every 
Alderman shall be taxed to pay weekly 4d. saving John Shak- 
speare and Robert Bruce, who shall not be taxed to pay any 
thing; and every burgess to pay 2d." 

" At the Hall holden on the 6th day of September, in the 
28th year of our sovereign lady Qu en Elizabeth. 

" At this Hall William Smith and Richard Courte are chosen 
to be Aldermen in the places of John Wheler, and John Shak- 
speare, for that Mr. Wheler doth desire to be put out of the com- 
pany, and Mr. Shakspere doth not come to the halls, when they 
be warned, nor hath not done of long time." 

From these extracts it may be collected, (as is observed by the 
gentleman above mentioned, to whose obliging attention to my 


in all, that though he was his eldest son, he could 
give him no better education than his own employ- 
ment. He had bred him, it is true, for some time 
at a free school, 6 where, it is probable, he acquired 
what Latin he was master of: but the narrowness 
of his circumstances, and the want of his assistance 
at home, forced his father to withdraw him from 
thence, and unhappily prevented his further pro- 
ficiency in that language. It is without contro- 
versy, that in his works we scarce find any traces 
of any thing that looks like an imitation of the an- 
cients. The delicacy of his taste, and the natural 
bent of his Own great genius, (equal, if not superior, 
to some of the best of theirs,) would certainly have 
led him to read and study them with so much plea- 
sure, that some of their fine images would naturally 
have insinuated themselves into, and been mixed 

inquiries lam indebted for many particulars relative to our poet's 
family,) that Mr. John Shakspeare in the former part of his life 
was in good circumstances, such persons being generally chosen 
into the corporation; and from his being excused [in 15/93 t0 
pay 4d. weekly, and at a subsequent period (1586) put out of 
the corporation, that he was then reduced in his circumstances. 

It appears from a note to W. Dethick's Grant of Arms to him 
in 1596, now in the College of Arms, Vincent, Vol. 157, P 24, 
that he was a justice of the peace, and possessed of lands and 
tenements to the amount of 5001. 

Our poet's mother was the daughter and heir of Robert Arden 
of Wellingcote, in the county of Warwick, who, in the MS. 
above referred to, is culled u a gentleman of worship." The 
family of Arden is a very ancient one ; Robert Arden of Brom- 
wich, Esq. being in the list of the gentry of this county, re- 
turned by the commissioners in the twelfth year of King Henry 
VI. A. D. 14S3. Edward Arden was Sheriff to the county in 
1568. The woodland part of this county was anciently called 
Ardern ; afterwards softened to Arden. Hence the name. 

Ma lows. 

He had bred him, it is true, for some time at afree-school,] 
The free -school, I presume, founded at Stratford. Theobald. 


with his own writings; so that his not copying at 
least something from them, may be an argument of 
his never having read them. Whether his igno- 
rance of the ancients were a disadvantage to him 
or no, may admit of a dispute: for though the 
knowledge of them might have made him more . 
correct, yet it is not improbable but that the re- 
gularity and deference for them, which would have 
attended that correctness, might have restrained 
some of that fire, impetuosity, and even beautiful 
extravagance, which we admire in Shakspeare : 
and I believe we are better pleased with those 
thoughts, altogether new and uncommon^ which 
his own imagination supplied him so abundantly 
with, than if he had given us the most beautiful 
passages out of the Greek and Latin poets, and 
that in the most agreeable manner that it was pos- 
sible for a master of the English language to de- 
liver them. 

Upon his leaving school, he seems to have 
given entirely into that way of living which his 
father proposed to him; 7 and in order to settle in 
the world after a family manner, he thought fit to 
marry while he was yet very young. 8 His wife was 

7 into that ixay of living which his father proposed to 
him ;] I believe, that on leaving school Shakspeare was placed 
in the office of some country attorney, or the seneschal of some 
manor court. See the Essay on the Order of his Plays, Article, 
Hamlet. Malone. 

8 he thought Jit to marry while he tvas yet very young,] 
It is certain he did so ; for by the monument in Stratford church 
erected to the memory of his daughter, Susanna, the wife of 
John Hall, gentleman, it appears, that she died on the 2d of 
July, 1649, aged 66; so that she was born in 1583, when her 
father could not be full 19 years old. Theobald. 

Susanna, who was our poet's eldest child, was baptized, 
May 26, 1583. Shakspeare therefore, having been born in 
April 1564, was nineteen the month preceding her birth. Mr. 


the daughter of one Hathaway, 9 said to have been 
a substantial yeoman in the neighbourhood of 
Stratford. In this kind of settlement he conti- 
nued for some time, till an extravagance that he 
was guilty of forced him both out of his country, 
and that way of living which he had taken up; and 
though it seemed at first to be a blemish upon his 
good manners, and a misfortune to him, yet it 
afterwards happily proved the occasion of exerting 
one of the greatest geniuses that ever was known 
in dramatick poetry. He had by a misfortune 
common enough to young fellows, fallen into ill 
company, and amongst them, some that made a 
frequent practice of deer-stealing, engaged him 
more than once in robbing a park that belonged to 
Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecote, near Stratford. 
For this he was prosecuted by that gentleman, as 
he thought, somewhat too severely; and in order 
to revenge that ill usage, he made a ballad upon 
him.' And though this, probably the first essay 

Theobald was mistaken in supposing that a monument was erected 
to her in the church of Stratford. There is no memorial there 
in honour of either our poet's wife or daughter, except flat tomb- 
stones, by which, however, the time of their respective deaths 
is ascertained. His daughter, Susanna, died, not on the second, 
but the eleventh of July, 16-ig. Theobald was led into this 
error by Dugdale. Malone. 

9 His wife was the daughter of one Hathaway,] She was 
eight years older than her husband, and died in 10'i.f , at the age 
of 67 years. Theobald. 

The following is the inscription on her tomb-stonein the church 
of Stratford : 

" Here lyeth interred the body of Anne, wife of William 
Shakespeare, who departed this life the 6th day of August, 1023, 
being of the age of 67 yeares." 

After this inscription follow six Latin verses, not worth pre- 
serving. Ma lost.. 

1 in order to revenge that ill usage, he made a ballad 

upon him.] Mr. William Oldys, ( Norroy King at Arms, and 


of his poetry, be lost, yet it is said to have been 
so very bitter, that it redoubled the prosecution 

well known from the share he had in compiling the Biographia 
Britannica) among the collections which he left for a Life of 
Shakspeare, observes, that " there was a very aged gentleman 
living in the neighbourhood of Stratford, (where he died fifty 
years since) who had not only heard, from several old people in 
that town, of Shakspcare's transgression, but could remember 
the first stanza of that bitter ballad, which, repeating to one of 
his acquaintance, he preserved it in writing; and here it is nei- 
ther better nor worse, but faithfully transcribed from the copy 
which his relation very courteously communicated to me:" 

" A parliemente member, a justice of peace, 
" At home a poor scare-crowe, at London an asse, 
" If lowsie is Lucy, as some volke miscalle it, 
" Then Lucy is lowsie whatever befall it : 

" He thinks himself greate, 

" Yet an asse in his state 
" We allowe by his ears but with asses to mate. 
" If Lucy is lowsie, as some volke miscalle it, 
" Sing lowsie Lucy, whatever befall it." 

Contemptible as this performance must now appear, at the 
time when it was written it might have had sufficient power to 
irritate a vain, weak, and vindictive magistrate ; especially as it 
was affixed to several of his park-gates, and consequently pub- 
lished among his neighbours. It may be remarked likewise, 
that the jingle on which it turns, occurs in the first scene of The 
Merry Wives of Windsor. 

I may add, that the veracity of the late Mr. Oldys has never 
yet been impeached ; and it is not very probable that a ballad 
should be forged, from which an undiscovered wag could derive 
no triumph over antiquarian credulity. Steevens. 

According to Mr. Capell, this ballad came originally from Mr. 
Thomas Jones, who lived at Tarbick, a village in Worcester- 
shire, about 18 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon, and died in 
1703, aged upwards of ninety. " He remembered to have 
heard from several old people at Stratford the story of Shak- 
speare's robbing Sir Thomas Lucy's park; and their account of 
it agreed with Mr. Rowe's, with this addition, that the ballad 
written against Sir Thomas Lucy by Shakspeare was stuck upon 
his park-gate, which exasperated the knight to apply to a lawyer 
at Warwick to proceed against him. Mr. Jones (it is added) put 
down in writing the first stanza of this ballad, which was all he 


against him to that degree, that he was obliged to 
leave his business and family in Warwickshire, for 
some time, and shelter himself in London. 

It is at this time, and upon this accident, that 
he is said to have made his first acquaintance in the 
playhouse. He was received into the company then 
in being, at first in a very mean rank, 2 but his ad- 

remembered of it." In a note on the transcript with which Mr, 
Capell was furnished, it is said, that " the people of those parts 

Sronounce lovosie like Lucy." They do so to this day in Scotland. 
Ir. Wilkes, grandson of the gentleman to whom Mr. Jones re- 
peated the stanza, appears to have been the person who gave a 
copy of it to Mr. Oldys, and Mr. Capell. 

In a manuscript History of the Stage, full of forgeries and 
falsehoods of various kinds written (I suspect by William Chet- 
wood the prompter) some time between April 1727 and October 
1/30, is the following passage, to which the reader will give just 
as much credit as he thinks fit: 

" Here we shall observe, that the learned Mr. Joshua Barnes, 
late Greek Professor of the University of Cambridge, baiting 
about forty years ago at an inn in Stratford, and hearing an old 
woman singing part of the above-said song, such was his respect 
for Mr. Shakspeare's genius, that he gave her a newgown for the 
two following stanzas in it; and, could she have said it all, he 
would (as he often said in company, when any discourse has 
casually arose about him) have given her ten guineas: 

" Sir Thomas was too covetous, 

" To covet so much deer, 
** When horns enough upon his head, 

" Most plainly did appear. 

'* Had not his worship one deer left? 

" What then ? He had a wife 
" Took pains enough to find him horns 

" Should last him during life." Malonb. 

He xoas received into the company at first in a very mean 
rank;) There is a stage tradition, that his first office in the thea- 
tre was that of CaU-Coy, or prompter's attendant ; whose em- 
ployment it is to give the performers notice to be ready to enter, 
as often as the business of the play requires their appearance on 
the stage. Ma lone. 


mirable wit, and the natural turn of it to the stage, 
soon distinguished him, if not as an extraordinary 
actor, yet as an excellent writer. His name is 
printed, as the custom was in those times, amongst 
those of the other players, before some old plays, 
but without any particular account of what sort of 

?arts he used to play ; and though I have inquired, 
could never meet with any further account of 
him this way, than that the top of his performance 
was the Ghost in his own Hamlet? I should have 
been much more pleased, to have learned from cer- 
tain authority, which was the first play he wrote ; 4 
it would be without doubt a pleasure to any man, 
curious in things of this kind, to see and know what 
was the first essay of a fancy like Shakspeare's. 
Perhaps we are not to look for his beginnings, like 
those of other authors, among their least perfect 
writings ; art had so little, and nature so large a 
share in what he did, that, for aught I know, the 
performances of his youth, as they were the most 
vigorous, and had the most fire and strength of 
imagination in them, were the best. 5 I would not 

3 than that the top of his performance was the Ghost in 

his own Hamlet.J See such notices as I have been able to collect 
on this subject, in the List of old English actors, post. 


4 to have learned from certain authority, xvhich was the 

first play he wrote ;] The highest date of any 1 can yet find, is 
Romeo and Juliet in 1597, when the author was 33 years old; 
and Richard the Second, and Third, in the next year, viz. the 
34th of his age. Pope. 

Richard II. and III. were both printed in 1597. On the 
order of time in which Shakspeare's plays were written, see the 
Essay in the next volume. Malone. _j 

' for aught I know, the performances of his youth were 

the best."] See this notion controverted in An Attempt to ascer- 
tain the Order of Shakspeare' s Plays. Malone. 


be thought by this to mean, that his fancy was so 
loose and extravagant, as to be independent on the 
rule and government of judgment ; but that what 
he thought was commonly so great, so justly and 
rightly conceived in itself, that it wanted little or 
no correction, and was immediately approved by an 
impartial judgment at the first sight. But though 
the order of time in which the several pieces were 
written be generally uncertain, yet there are pas- 
sages in some few of them whicn seem to fix their 
dates. So the Chorus at the end of the fourth act 
of Henry the Fifth, by a compliment very hand- 
somely turned to the Earl of Essex, shows the play 
to have been written when that lord was general 
for the Queen in Ireland; and his elogy upon Queen 
Elizabeth, and her successor King James, in the 
latter end of his Henry the Eighth, is a proof of 
that play's being written after the accession of the 
latter or these two princes to the crown of England. 
Whatever the particular times of his writing were, 
the people of his age, who began to grow wonder- 
fully fond of diversions of this kind, could not but 
be highly pleased to see a genius arise amongst them 
of so pleasurable, so rich a vein, and so plentifully 
capable of furnishing their favourite entertain- 
ments. Besides the advantages of his wit, he was in 
himself a good-natured man, of great sweetness in 
his manners, and a most agreeable companion ; so 
that it is no wonder, if, with so many good qualities, 
he made himself acquainted with the best conver- 
sations of those times. Queen Elizabeth had several 
of his plays acted before her, and without doubt 
gave him many gracious marks of her favour: it is 
that maiden princess plainly, whom he intends by 

" a fair vestal, throned by the west." 

A Midsummer-Night's Dream. 

VOL. I. F 



and that whole passage is a compliment very pro- 
erly brought in, and very handsomely applied to 
er. She was so well pleased with that admirable 
character of Falstaff, in The Two Parts of Henry 
the Fourth, that she commanded him to continue it 
for one play more, 6 and to show him in love. This 
is said to be the occasion of his writing The Merry 
Wives of Windsor. How well she was obeyed, the 
play itself is an admirable proof. Upon this occa- 
sion it may not be improper to observe, that this 
part of Falstaff is said to have been written ori- 
ginally under the name of OldcastleP some of 
that family being then remaining, the Queen was 

E leased to command him to alter it ; upon which 
e made use of Falstaff. The present offence was 
indeed avoided ; but I do not know whether the 
author may not have been somewhat to blame in 
his second choice, since it is certain that Sir John 
Falstaff, who was a knight of the garter, and a 
lieutenant-general, was a name of distinguished 
merit in the wars in France in Henry the Fifth's 
and Henry the Sixth's times. What grace soever 
the Queen conferred upon him, it was not to her 
only he owed the fortune which the reputation of 

6 she commanded him to continue it for one play more,] 
This anecdote was first given to the publick by Dennis, in the 
Epistle Dedicatory to his comedy entitled The Comical Gallant, 
4 to. 1/02, altered from The Merry Wives of Windsor. 


7 this part of Falstaff is said to have been xvritten ori- 
ginally under the name o/"01dcastle ;] See the Epilogue to Henry 
the Fourth. Pope. 

In a note subjoined to that Epilogue, and more fully in Vol. XI. 
p. 1Q4. n. 3, the reader will 6nd this notion overturned, and the 
origin of this vulgar error pointed out. Mr. Rowe was evidently 
deceived by a passage in Fuller's Worthies, misunderstood. 



his wit made. He had the honour to meet with 
many great and uncommon marks of favour and 
friendship from the Earl of Southampton, 8 famous 
in the histories of that time for his friendship to 
the unfortunate Earl of Essex. It was to that noble 
lord that he dedicated his poem of Venus and Ado- 
nis. 9 There is one instance so singular in the mag- 
nificence of this patron of Shakspeare's, that if I had 
not been assured that the story was handed down 
by Sir William D'Avenant, who was probably very 
well acquainted with his affairs, I should not have 
ventured to have inserted ; that my Lord South- 
ampton at one time gave him a thousand pounds, 
to enable him to go through with a purchase which 
he heard he had a mind to. A bounty very great, 
and very rare at any time, and almost equal to that 
profuse generosity the present age has shown to 
French dancers and Italian singers. 

What particular habitude or friendships he con- 
tracted with private men, I have not been able to 
learn, more than that every one, who had a true 
taste of merit, and could distinguish men, had ge- 
nerally a just value and esteem for him. His ex- 
ceeding candour and good-nature must certainly 
have inclined all the gentler part of the world to 
love him, as the power of his wit obliged the men 
of the most delicate knowledge and polite learning 
to admire him. 

His acquaintance with Ben Jonson began with a 

* f rom the Earl of Southampton,] Of this amiable no- 

bleman such memoirs as I have been able to collect, may be 
found in the tenth volume, [i. e. of Mr. Malone's edition] pre- 
fixed to the poem of Venus and Adonis. Malone. 

9 he dedicated his poem of Venus and Adonis,] To this 
nobleman also he dedicated his Rape qfLucrece, printed in 4to. 
in 1591. Malom-. 

F 2 


remarkable piece of humanity and good-nature ; 
Mr. Jonson, who was at that time altogether un- 
known to the world, had offered one of his plays 
to the players, in order to have it acted ; and the 
persons into whose hands it was put, after having 
turned it carelessly and superciliously over, were 
just upon returning it to him with an ill-natured an- 
swer, that it would be of no service to their com- 
pany ; when Shakspeare luckily cast his eye upon it, 
and found something so well in it, as to engage him 
first to read it through, and afterwards to recom- 
mend Mr. Jonson and his writings to the publick. 1 

* to recommend Mr. Jonson and his writings to the pub- 

lick J] InMr.Rowe's first edition, after these words was inserted 
the following passage: 

" After this, they were professed friends ; though I do not 
know whether the other ever made him an equal return of gentle- 
ness and sincerity. Ben was naturally proud and insolent, and 
in the days of his reputation did so far take upon him the supre- 
macy in wit, that he could not but look with an evil eye upon 
any one that seemed to stand in competition with him. And if 
at times he has affected to commend him, it has always been 
with some reserve; insinuating his uncorrectness, a -careless 
manner of writing, and want of judgment. The praise of sel- 
dom altering or blotting out what he writ, which was given him 
by the players, who were the first publishers of his works after 
his death, was what Jonson could not bear: he thought it im- 
possible, perhaps, for another man to strike out the greatest 
thoughts in the finest expression, and to reach those excellencies 
of poetry with the ease of a first imagination, which himself with 
infinite labour and study could but hardly attain to.' r 

I have preserved this passage because I believe it strictly true, 
except that in the last line, instead of but hardly, I would read 

Dryden, we are told by Pope, concurred with Mr. Rowe in 
thinking Jonson's posthumous verses on our author sparing and 
invidious. See also Mr. Steevens's note on those verses. 

Before Shakspeare's death Ben's envious disposition is men- 
tioned by one of his own friends ; it must therefore have been 
even then notorious; though the writer denies the truth of the 
charge : 


Jonson was certainly a very good scholar, and in 
that had the advantage of Shakspeare ; though at 

" To my well accomplish'd friend, Mr. Ben. Jonson. 

" Thou art sound in body ; but some say, thy soule 
" Envy doth ulcer; yet corrupted hearts 
" Such censurers must have.'* 

Scourge of Folly, by J. Davies, printed about 1611. 
The following lines by one of Jonson's admirers will suffici- 
cently support Mr. Rowe in what he has said relative to the slow- 
ness of that writer in his compositions: 

" Scorn then their censures who gave out, thy wit 
" As long upon a comedy did sit 
" As elephants bring forth, and that thy blots 
'* And mendings took more time than Fortune-Plots; 
" That such thy drought was, and so great thy thirst, 
u That all thy plays were drawn at the Mermaid first; 
" That the king's yearly butt wrote, and his wine 
" Hath more right than thou to thy Catiline" 
The writer does not deny the charge, but vindicates his friend 
by saying that, however slow, 

" He that writes well, writes quick ." 

Verses on B. Jonson, by Jasper Mayne. 
So also, another of his Panegyrists: 

" Admit his muse was slow, 'tis judgment's fate 
" To move like greatest princes, still in state." 
In The Return from Parnassus, 1606", Jonson is said to be 
" so slow an enditer, that he were better betake himself to his 
old trade of bricklaying." The same piece furnishes us with the 
earliest intimation of the quarrel between him and Shakspeare : 
" Why here's our fellow Shakspeare put them [the university 
poets] all down, ay, and Ben Jonson too. O, that Ben Jonson 
is a pestilent fellow ; he brought up Horace giving the poets a 

Kill, but our fellow Shakspeare hath given him a purge that made 
im bewray his credit." Fuller, who was a diligent inquirer, 
and lived near enough the time to be well informed, confirms 
this account, asserting in his Worthies, 1662, that " many were 
the wit-combats" between Jonson and our poet. 

It is a singular circumstance that old Ben should for near two 
centuries have stalked on the stilts of an artificial reputation; 
and that even at this day, of the very lew who read his works, 
scarcely one in ten yet ventures to confess how little entertainment 
they afford. Such was the impression made on the publick by 
the extravagant praises of those who knew more of books than 


the same time I believe it must be allowed, that 
what nature gave the latter, was more than a ba- 

of the drama, that Dry den in his Essay on Dramatick Poesie, 
written about 1667, does not venture to go further in his elogium 
on Shakspeare, than by saying, * he was at least Jonson's equal, 
if not his superior;" and in the preface to his Mock Astrologer, 
I671, he hardly dares to assert, what, in my opinion, cannot be 
denied, that " all Jonson's pieces, except three or four, are but 
crambe bis coda ; the same humours a little varied, and written 

Ben, however, did not trust to the praise of others. One of 
his admirers honestly confesses, 


" Of whom I write this, has prevented me, 

" And boldly said so much in his own praise, 

" No other pen need any trophy raise." 
In vain, however, did he endeavour to bully the town into ap- 
probation by telling his auditors, " By G 'tis good, and if you 
like't, you may ;" and by pouring out against those who pre- 
ferred our poet to him, a torrent of illiberal abuse; which, as 
Mr. Walpole justly observes, some of his contemporaries were 
willing to think wit, because they were afraid of it ; for, not- 
withstanding all his arrogant boasts, notwithstanding all the 
clamour of his partisans both in his own life-time and for sixty 
years after his death, the truth is, that his pieces, when first per- 
formed, were so far from being applauded by the people, that 
they were scarcely endured; and many of them were actually 

" the fine plush and velvets of the age 

"Did oft for sixpence damn thee from the stage," 
says one of his eulogists in Jonsonius Virbius, 4to. 1638. Jon- 
son himself owns that Sejanus was damned. " It is a poem," 
says he, in his Dedication to Lord Aubigny, " that, if I well 
remember, in your lordship's sight suffered no less violence from 
our people here, than the subject of it did from the rage of the 
people of Rome." HisfriendE. B. (probably Edmund Bolton) 
speaking of the same performance, says, 

" But when I view'd the people's beastly rage, 
" Bent to confound thy grave and learned toil, 
" That cost thee so much sweat and so much oil, 

*' My indignation I could hardly assuage." 
Again, in his Dedication of Catiline to the Earl of Pembroke, 
the author says, " Posterity may pay your benefit the honour and 


lance for what books had given the former ; and 
the judgment of a great man upon this occasion 
was, I think, very just and proper. In a conversation 
between Sir John Suckling, Sir William D'Ave- 
nant, Endymion Porter, Mr. Hales of Eton, and 
Ben Jonson, Sir John Suckling, who was a professed 
admirer of Shakspeare, had undertaken his defence 
against Ben Jonson with some warmth j Mr. Hales, 
who had sat still for some time, told them, 2 That if 
Mr. Shakspeare had not read the ancients, he had 
likewise not stolen any thing from them ; and that if 
he would produce any one topick finely treated by 
any one o} % them, he would undertake to show some- 

thanks, when it shall know that you dare in these jig-given times 
to countenance a legitimate poem. I must call it so, against all 
noise of opinion, from whose crude and ayrie reports I appeal to 
that great and singular facultie of judgment in your lordship." 

See also the Epilogue to Every Man in his Humour, by Lord 
Buckhurst, quoted below in The Account of our old English 
Theatres, adjinem. To his testimony and that of Mr. Drum- 
mond of Hawthomden, (there also mentioned,) may be added 
that of Leonard Digges in his Verses on Shakspeare, and of Sir 
Robert Howard, who says in the preface to his Plays, folio, 1665, 
(not thirty years after Hen's death,) " When I consider how se- 
vere the former age has been to some of the best of Mr. Jonson's 
never-to- be- equalled comedies, I cannot but wonder, why any 
poet should speak of former times." The truth is, that however 
extravagant the elogiums were that a few scholars gave him in 
their closets, he was not only not admired in his own time by 
the generality, but not even understood. His friend Beaumont 
assures him in a copy of verses, that " his sense is so deep that 
he will not be understood for three ages to come." Malonx. 

* Mr. Hales, who had sat still for some time, told them,] In 
Mr. Howe's first edition this passage runs thus : 

" Mr. Hales, who had sat still for some time, hearing Ben 
frequently reproach him with the want of learning and igno- 
rance of the antients, told him at last, That if Mr. Shakspeare," 
Arc. By the alteration, the subsequent part of the sentence 
* if he would produce," &c. is rendered ungraramatical. 



thing upon the same subject at least as "well written 
by Shakspeare 3 

s he tvould undertake to show something upon the same 

subject at least as well written by ShakspcareJ] I had long en- 
deavoured in vain to find out on what authority this relation was 
founded ; and have very lately discovered that Mr. Rowe proba- 
bly derived his information from Dryden : for in Gildon's Letters 
and Essays, published in 1694, fifteen years before this Life ap- 
peared, the same story is told ; and Dryden, to whom an Essay 
in vindication of Shakspeare is addressed, is appealed to by the 
writer as his authority. As Gildon tells the story with some slight 
variations from the account given by Mr. Rowe, and the book in 
which it is found is now extremely scarce, I shall subjoin the 
passage in his own words : ^ 

" But to give the world some satisfaction that Shakspeare has 
had as great veneration paid his excellence by men of unques- 
tioned parts, as this I now express for him, I shall give some 
account of what I have heard from your mouth, sir, about the 
noble triumph he gained over all the ancients, by the judgment 
of the ablest criticks of that time. 

" The matter of fact, if my memory fail me not, was this. 
Mr. Hales of Eton affirmed, that he would show all the poets of 
antiquity out-done by Shakspeare, in all the topicks and common- 
places made use of in poetry. The enemies of Shakspeare would 
by no means yield him so much excellence; so that it came to a 
resolution of a trial of skill upon that subject. The place agreed 
on for the dispute was Mr. Hales's chamber at Eton. A great 
many books were sent down by the enemies of this poet ; and 
on the appointed day my Lord Falkland, Sir John Suckling, and 
all the persons of quality that had wit and learning, and interest- 
ed themselves in the quarrel, met there; and upon a thorough 
disquisition of the point, the judges chosen by agreement out of 
this learned and ingenious assembly, unanimously gave the pre- 
ference to Shakspeare, and the Greek and Roman poets were ad- 
judged to vail at least their glory in that, to the English Hero." 

This elogium on our author is likewise recorded at an earlier 
period by Tate, probably from the same authority, in the preface 
to The Loyal General, quarto, 168O: " Our learned Hales was 
wont to assert, that, since the time of Orpheus, and the oldest 
poets, no common-place has been touched upon, where our au- 
thor has not performed as well." 

Dryden himself also certainly alludes to this story, which he 
appears to have related both to Gildon and Rowe, in the follow- 

Gb ^e 


The latter part of his life was spent, as all men 
of good sense will wish theirs may be, in ease, re- 
tirement, and the conversation of his friends. He 
had the good fortune to gather an estate equal to 
his occasion, 4 and, in that, to his wish; and is said 

ing passage of his Essay of Dramatick Poesy, l6<57; and he as 
well as Gildon goes somewhat further than Rowe in his panegy- 
rick. After giving that fine character of our poet which Dr. 
Johnson has quoted in his preface, he adds, " The consideration 
of this made Mr. Hales of Eton say, that there was no subject 
of which any poet ever writ, but he would produce it much 
better done by Shakspeare; and however others are now ge- 
nerally preferred before him, yet the age wherein he lived, which 
had contemporaries with him, Fletcher and Jonson, never 
equalled them to him in their esteem : And in the last king's 
court [that of Charles I.] when Ben's reputation was at highest, 
Sir John Suckling, and with him the greater part of the courtiers, 
set our Shakspeare far above him." 

Let ever-memorable Hales, if all his other merits be forgotten, 
be ever mentioned with honour, for his good taste and admira- 
tion of our poet. " He was," says Lord Clarendon, " one of 
the least men in the kingdom ; and one of the greatest scholars 
in Europe." See a long character of him in Clarendon's Life, 
Vol. 1. p. 52. Malone. 

* He had the good fortune to gather an estate equal to his oc- 
casion,'] Gildon, without authority, I believe, says, that our au- 
thor left behind him an estate of 3001. per aim. This was equal 
to at least lOOOl. per ann. at this day; the relative value of mo- 
ney, the mode of living in that age, the luxury and taxes of the 
present time, and various other circumstances, being considered. 
But I doubt whether all his property amounted to much more 
than 2001. per ann. which yet was a considerable fortune in those 
times. He appears from his grand-daughter's will to have pos- 
sessed inBishopton, and Stratford Welcombe, fouryard land and 
a half. A yard land is a denomination well known in Warwick- 
shire, and contains from 30 to 60 acres. The average therefore 
being 45, four yard land and a half may be estimated at about 
two hundred acres. As sixteen years purchase was the common 
rate at which the land was sold at tiiat time, that is, one half 
less than at this day, we may suppose that these. lands were let at 
seven shillings per acre, and produced /Ol. per annum. If wc 
rate the New-Place with the appurtenances, and our poet's other 


to have spent some years before his death at his 
native Stratford.* His pleasurable wit and good- 

houses in Stratford, at 661. a year, and his house, &c. in the 
Blackfriars, (for which he paid 1401.) at 20l. a year, we have a 
rent-roll of J50l. per annum. Of his personal property it is not 
now possible to form any accurate estimate : but if we rate it at 
live hundred pounds, money then bearing an interest often per 
cent. Shakspeare's total income was 2001. per ann.* In The 
Merry Wives of Windsor, which was written soon after the 
year 16OO, three hundred pounds a year is described as an 
estate of such magnitude as to cover all the defects of its pos- 

" O, what a world of vile ill-favour'd faults 

" Look handsome in three hundred pounds a year." 


1 to have spent some years before his death at his native 
Stratford."] In 1614 the greater part of the town of Stratford 
was consumed by fire ; but our Shakspeare's house, among some 
others, escaped the flames. This house was first built by Sir 
Hugh Clopton, a younger brother of an ancient family in that 
neighbourhood. Sir Hugh was Sheriff of London in the reign of 
Richard III. and Lord Mayor in the reign of King Henry VII. 
By his will he bequeathed to his elder brother's son his manor of 
Clopton, &c. and his house, by the name of the Great House in 
Stratford. Good part of the estate is yet [in 1733] in the pos- 
session of Edward Clopton, Esq. and Sir Hugh Clopton, Knt. 
lineally descended from the elder brother of the first Sir Hugh. 

The estate had now been sold out of the Clopton family for 
above a century, at the time when Shakspeare became the pur- 
chaser : who having repaired and modelled it to his own mind, 
changed the name to New- Place, which the mansion-house, since 
erected upon the same spot, at this day retains. The house, and 
lands which attended it, continued in Shakspeare's descendants 
to the time of the Restoration ; when they were re-purchased by 
the Clopton family, and the mansion now belongs to Sir Hugh 
Clopton, Knt. To the favour of this worthy gentleman I owe 
the knowledge of one particular in honour of our poet's once 
dwelling-house, of which I presume Mr. Rowe never was ap- 
prized. When the Civil War raged in England, and King 

* To Shakspeare's income from his real and personal property must be 
added 2001. per ann. which he probably derived from the theatre, while he 
continued on the stage. 


nature engaged him in the acquaintance, and en- 
titled him to the friendship, of the gentlemen of 

Charles the First's Queen was driven by the necessity of her a 
fairs to make a recess in Warwickshire, she kept her court for 
three weeks in New- Place. We may reasonably suppose it then 
the best private house in the town; and her Majesty preferred it 
to the College, which was in the possession of the Combe family, 
who did not so strongly favour the King's party. Theobald. 

From Mr. Theobald's words the reader may be led to suppose 
that Henrietta Maria was obliged to take refuge from the rebels 
in Stratford-upon-Avon: but that was not the case. She marched 
from Newark, June 16, l643 t and entered Stratford-upon-Avon 
triumphantly, about the 22d of the same month, at the head of 
three thousand foot and fifteen hundred horse, with 150 waggons 
and a train of artillery. Here she was met by Prince Rupert, ac- 
companied by a large body of troops. After sojourning about 
three weeks at our poet's house, which was then possessed by his 
grand-daughter Mrs. Nash, and her husband, the Queen went 
(July 13) to the plain of Keinton under Edge-hill, to meet the 
King, and proceeded from thence with him to Oxford, where, 
says a contemporary historian, " hercoming (July 15) was rather 
to a triumph than a war." 

Of the College above mentioned the following was the origin. 
John de Stratford, Bishop of Winchester, in the fifth year of 
King Edward III. founded a Chantry consisting of five priests, 
one of whom was Warden, in a certain chapel adjoining to the 
church of Stratford on the south side; and afterwards (in the 
seventh year of Henry VIII.) Ralph Collingwode instituted four 
choristers, to be daily assistant in the celebration of divine service 
there. This chantry, saysDugdale, soon after its foundation, was 
known by the name of The College of Stratford-upon-Avon. 

In the 26th year of Edward III. " a house of square stone" was 
built by Ralphde Stratford, Bishop of London, for the habitation 
of the five priests. This house, or another on the same spot, is 
the house of which Mr. Theobald speaks. It still bears the name 
ot The College," and at present belongs to the Rev. Mr. Fuller- 

After the suppression of religious houses, the site of the college 
was granted by Edward VI. to John Earl of Warwick and his 
heirs ; who being attainted in the first year of Queen Mary, it re- 
verted to the crown. 

Sir John Clopton, Knt. (the father of Edward Clopton, Esq. 
and Sir Hugh Clopton,) who died at Stratford-upon-Avon in 


the neighbourhood. Amongst them, it is a story 
almost still remembered in that country that he 

April, I7iy, purchased the estate of New-Place, &c. some time 
after theyear 1685, from Sir Reginald Forster, Bart, who married 
Mary, the daughter of Edward Nash, Esq. cousin-german to 
Thomas Nash, Esq. who married our poet's grand-daughter, Eliza- 
beth Hall. Edward Nash bought it, after the death of her second 
husband, Sir John Barnard, Knight. By her will, which will 
be found in a subsequent page, she directed her trustee, Henry 
Smith, to sell the New-Place, &c. (after the death of her hus- 
band,) and to make the first oner of it to her cousin Edward 
Nash, who purchased it accordingly. His son Thomas Nash, 
whom for the sake of distinction I shall call the younger, having 
died without issue, in August, 1652, Edward Nash by his will, 
made on the ltith of March, 1678-9, devised the principal part 
of his property to his daughter Mary, and her husband Reginald 
Forster, Esq. afterwards Sir Reginald Forster ; but in conse- 
quence of the testator's only referring to a deed of settlement 
executed three days before, without reciting the substance of it, 
no particular mention of New-Place is made in his will. After 
Sir John Clopton had bought it from Sir Reginald Forster, he 
gave it by deed to his younger son, Sir Hugh, who pulled 
down our poet's house, and built one more elegant on the same 

In May, 1742, when Mr. Garrick, Mr. Macklin, and Mr. 
Delane visited Stratford, they were hospitably entertained under 
Shakspeare's mulberry-tree, by Sir Hugh Clopton. He was a 
barrister at law, was knighted by George the First, and died in 
the 80th year of his age, in Dec. 17 51. His nephew, Edward 
Clopton, the son of his elder brother Edward, lived till June, 

The only remaining person of the Clopton family now living 
(1788), as I am informed by the Rev. Mr. Davenport, is Mrs. 
Partheriche, dau.- liter and heiress of the second Edward Clopton 
above mentioned. " She resides," he adds, " at the family 
mansion at Clopton near Stratford, is now a widow, and never 
had any issue." 

The New Place was sold by Henry Talbot, Esq. son-in-law 
and executor of Sir Hugh Clopton, in or soon after the year 
1752, to the Rev. Mr. Gastrell, a man of large fortune, who 
resided in it but a few years, in consequence of a disagreement 
with the inhabitants of Stratford. Every house in that town 
that is let or valued at more than 40s. a year, is assessed by the 
overseers, according to its worth and the ability of the occupier, 


had a particular intimacy with Mr. Combe, 6 an old 
gentleman noted thereabouts for his wealth and 

to pay a monthly rate toward the maintenance of the poor. As 
Mr. Gastrell resided part of the year at Lichfield, he thought he 
was assessed too highl}' ; but being very properly compelled by 
the magistrates of Stratford to pay the whole of what was levied 
on him, on the principle that his house was occupied by his ser- 
vantsin his absence, he peevishly declared, that that house should 
never be assessed again ; and soon afterwards pulled it down, sold 
the materials, and left the town. Wishing, as it should seem, 
to be " damn'd to everlasting fame," he had some time before cut 
down Shakspeare's celebrated mulberry-tree, to save himself 
the trouble of showing it to those whose admiration of our 
great poet led them to visit the poetick ground on which it 

That Shakspeare planted this tree, is as well authenticated as 
any thing of that nature can be. The Rev. Mr. Davenport in- 
forms me, that Mr. Hugh Taylor, (the father of his clerk,) who 
is now eighty-five years old, and an alderman of Warwick, 
where he at present resides, says, he lived when a boy at the 
next house to New-Place; that his family had inhabited the 
house for almost three hundred years; that it was transmitted 
from father to son during the last and the present century; that 
this tree (of the fruit of which he had often eaten in his younger 
days, some of its branches hanging over his father's garden, ) 
was planted by Shakspeare; and that till this was planted, there 
was no mulberry-tree in that neighbourhood. Mr. Taylor adds, 
that he was frequently, when a boy, at New-Place, and that 
this tradition was preserved in the Clopton family, as well as in 
his own. 

There were scarce any trees of this species in England till the 
year 1609, when by order of King James many hundred thou- 
sand young mulberry-trees were imported from France, and sent 
into the different counties, with a view to the feeding of silk- 
worms, and the encouragement of the silk manufacture. See 
Camdeni Annalcs ab anno 1603 ad annum 1()23, published by 
Smith, quarto, 1691, p. 7; and Howes's Abridgment of Stowe's 
Chronicle, edit. lOltf, p. 503, where we have a more particular 
account of this transaction than in the larger work. A very few 
mulberry-trees had been planted before ; for we are told, that 
in the preceding year a gentleman of Picardy, Monsieur Forest, 
" kept greate store of English silkworms atGreenwich, the which 
the king with great pleasure came often to see them worke ; and 
*f their silke he caused apiece oftaffhta to be made.*' 


usury: it happened, that in a pleasant conversa- 
tion amongst their common friends, Mr. Combe 
told Shakspeare in a laughing manner, that he 
fancied he intended to write his epitaph, if he hap- 
pened to out-live him ; and since he could not 
know what might be said of him when he was dead, 

Shakspeare was perhaps the only inhabitant of Stratford, whose 
business called him annually to London; and probably on his 
return from thence in the spring of the year 1609, he planted 
this tree. 

As a similar enthusiasm to that which with such diligence has 
sought after Virgil's tomb, may lead my countrymen to visit the 
spot where our great bard spent several years of his life, and 
died; it may gratify them to be told that the ground on which 
The New-Place once stood, is now a garden belonging to Mr. 
Charles Hunt, an eminent attorney, and town- clerk of Stratford. 
Every Englishman will, I am sure, concur with me in wishing 
that it may enjoy perpetual verdure and fertility: 

In this retreat our Shakspeark's godlike mind 
With matchless skill survey'd all human kind. 
Here may each sweet that blest Arabia knows, 
Flowers of all hue, and without thorn the rose, 
To latest time, their balmy odours fling, 
And Nature here display eternal spring ! Malone. 

6 that he had a particular intimacy with Mr. Combe,] 

This Mr. John Combe I take to be the same, who, by Dugdale, 
in his Antiquities of Warwickshire, is said to have died in the 
year 16] 4, and for whom at the upper end of the quire of the 
guild of the holy cross at Stratford, a fair monument is erected, 
having a statue thereon cut in alabaster, and in a gown, with 
this epitaph: " Here lyeth interred the body of John Combe, Esq. 
who departing this life the tOth day of July, 16 14, bequeathed 
by his last will and testament these sums ensuing, annually to be 
paid for ever ; viz. xx. s. for two sermons to be preach'd in this 
church, and vi. 1. xiii. s. iv. d. to buy ten gownes for ten poore 
people within the borough of Stratford ; and 1001. to be lent to 
fifteen poore tradesmen of the same borough, from three years 
to three years, changing the parties every third year, at the rate 
of fifty shillings per annum, the which increase he appointed to 
be distributed towards the relief of the almes-poor there.'' The 
donation has all the air of a rich and sagacious usurer. 



he desired it might be done immediately; upon 
which Shakspeare gave him these four verses : 

" Ten in the hundred lies here ingrav'd; 7 

" 'Tis a hundred to ten his soul is not sav'd: 

" If any man ask, Who lies in this tomb? 

" Oh! ho! quoth the devil, 'tis my John-a-Combe."' 

7 Tetr in the hundred lies here ingrav'd;] In The More the 
Merrier t containing Three Score and odd headless Epigrams, 
shot, [like the Footes Bolts) among you, light where they will: 
By H. P. Gent. &c. l609, I find the following couplet, which 
is almost the same as the two beginning lines of this Epitaph on 


" Ten in the hundred lies under this stone, 
" And a hundred to ten to the devil he's gone."' 
Again, in Wit's Interpreter, 8vo. 3d edit. l67l, p. 298: 
*' Here lies at least ten in the hundred, 

*' Shackled up both hands and feet, 
" That at such as lent mony gratis wondred, 
" The gain of usury was so 6weet : 
" But thus being now of life bereav'n, 
" 'Tis a hundred to ten he's scarce gone to heav'n." 

So, in Camden's Remains, 1614: 

** Here lyes ten in the hundred, 
' In the ground fast ramm'd ; 
" 'Tis an hundred to ten 

" But his soule is damn'd." Malone. 

* Oh ! ho ! quoth the devil, 'tis my John-a-Combe.] The 
Rev. Francis Peck, in his Memoirs of the Life and Poetical 
Works of Mr. John Milton, 4to. 1740, p. 223, has introduced 
another epitaph imputed (on what authority is unknown) to 
Shakspeare. It is on Tom-a-Combe, alias Thin-beard, brother to 
this John, who is mentioned by Mr. Rowe: 

'' Thin in beard, and thick in purse ; 

u Never man beloved worse ; 

" He went to the grave with many a curse : 

* The devil and he had both one nurse." Steevens. 

I suspect that these lines were sent to Mr. Peck by some per- 
son that meant to impose upon him. It appears from Mr. John 


But the sharpness of the satire is said to have stung 
the man so severely, that he never forgave it.^ 

Combe's will, that his brother Thomas was dead in l6i4. John 
devised the greater part of his real and personal estate to his 
nephew Thomas Combe, with whom Shakspeare was certainly 
on good terms, having bequeathed him his sword. 

Since I wrote the above, I find from the Register of Stratford, 
that Mr. Thomas Combe (the brother of John) was buried there, 
Jan. 22, 1609-10. M alone. 

9 the sharpness of the satire is said to have stung the man 

so severely, that he never forgave it.~\ I take this opportunity 
to avow my disbelief that Shakspeare was the author of Mi*. 
Combe's Epitaph, or that it was written by any other person 
at the request of that gentleman. If Betterton the player did 
really visit Warwickshire for the sake of collecting anecdotes 
relative to our author, perhaps he was too easily satisfied with 
such as fell in his way, without making any rigid search into 
their authenticity. It appears also from a following copy of this 
inscription, that it was not ascribed to Shakspeare so early as 
two years after his death. Mr. Reed of Staple-Inn obligingly 
pointed it out to me in the Remains, &c. of Richard Braithwaite, 
1618; and as his edition of our epitaph varies in some measure 
from the latter one published by Mr. Rowe, I shall not hesitate 
to transcribe it : 

" Upon one John Combe of Stratford upon Avon, a notable 
Usurer, fastened upon a Tombe that he had caused to be built 
in his Life-Time: 

Ten in the hundred must lie in his grave, 
" But a hundred to ten whether God will him have: 
" Who then must be interr'd in this tombe? 
" Ch (quoth the divill) my John a Combe" 
Here it may be observed that, strictly speaking, this is no jocu- 
lar epitaph, but a malevolent prediction; and Braithwaite's copy 
is surely more to be depended on (being procured in or before 
the year 1618) than that delivered to Betterton or Rowe, almost 
a century afterwards. It has been already remarked, that two 
of the lines said to have been printed on this occasion, were 
printed as an epigram in 16O8, by H. P.Gent, and are likewise 
found in Camden's Remains, 16 14. I may add, that a usurer's 
solicitude to, know what would be reported of him when he was 
dead, is not a very probable circumstance ; neither was Shak- 
speare of a disposition to compose an invective, at once so bitter 
and uncharitable, during a pleasant conversation among the com' 

He died in the 53d year of his age, 1 and was 

mon friends of himself and a gentleman, with whose family he 
Uvea in such friendship, that at his death he bequeathed his sword 
to Mr. Thomas Combe as a legacy. A miser's monument indeed, 
constructed during his life-time, might be regarded as a chal- 
lenge to satire; and we cannot wonder that anonymous lampoons 
should have been affixed to the marble designed to convey the, 
character of such a being to posterity. I hope I may be excused 
for this attempt to vindicate Shakspeare from the imputation of 
having poisoned the hour of confidence and festivity, by produc- 
ing the severest of all censures on one of his company. I am 
unwilling, in short, to think he could so wantonly and so pub- 
lickly have expressed his doubts concerning the salvation of one 
of his fellow-creatures. Steevens. 

Since the above observations first appeared, (in a note to the 
edition of our author's Poems which I published in 1780,) I have 
obtained an additional proof of what has been advanced, in vin- 
dication of Shakspeare on this subject. It occurred to me that 
the will of John Combe might possibly throw some light on this 
matter, and an examination of it some years ago furnished me 
with such evidence as renders the story recorded in Braithwaite's 
Remains very doubtful: and still more strongly proves that, who- 
ever was the author of this epitaph, it is highly improbable that 
it should have been written by Snakspeare. 

The very first direction given by Mr. Combe in his will is, 
concerning a tomb to be erected to him after his death. " My 
will is, that a convenient tomb of the value of threescore pounds 
shall by my executors hereafter named, out of my goods and 
chattels first raysed, within one year after my decea3e, be set 
over me." So much for Braithwaite's account of his having 
erected his own tomb in his life-time. That he had any quarrel 
with our author, or that Shakspeare had by any act stung him so 
severely that Mr. Combe never for gave him, appears equally void 
of foundation ; for by his will he bequeaths " to Mr. William 
Shakspere Five Pounds." It is probable that they lived in inti- 
macy, and that Mr. Combe had made some purchase from our 
poet; for he devises to his brother George, " the close or grounds 
known by the name of Parson's Close, alias Shaksnere's Close." 
It must be owned that Mr. Combe's will is dated Jan. 28, l6l2- 
13, about eighteen months before his death ; and therefore the 
evidence now produced is not absolutely decisive, as he might 
have erected a tomb, and a rupture might have happened be- 
tween him and Shakspeare, after the making of this will : but it 

VOL. I. G 

buried on the north side of the chancel, in the 

is very improbable that any such rupture should have taken 
place; for if the supposed cause of offence had happened subse- 
quently to the execution of the instrument, it is to be presumed 
that he would have revoked the legacy to Shakspeare : and the 
same argument may be urged with respect to the direction con- 
cerning his tomb. 

Mr. Combe by his will bequeaths to Mr. Francis Collins, the 
elder, of the borough of Warwick, (who appears as a legatee 
and subscribing witness to Shakspeare's will, and therefore may 
be presumed a common friend,) ten pounds; to his godson John 
Collins, (the son of Francis,) ten pounds; to Mrs. Susanna 
Collins (probably godmother to our poet's eldest daughter) six 
pounds, thirteen shillings, and four-pence; to Mr. Henry Walker, 
(father to Shakspeare's godson,) twenty shillings; to the poor 
of Stratford twenty pounds; and to his servants, in various 
legacies, one hundred and ten pounds. He was buried at 
Stratford, July 12, 1614, and his will was proved, Nov. 10, 

Our author, at the time of making his will, had it not in his 
power to show any testimony of his regard for Mr. Combe, that 
gentleman being then dead ; but that he continued a friendly 
correspondence with his family to the last, appears evidently (as 
Mr. Steevens has observed) from his leaving his sword to Mr. 
Thomas Combe, the nephew, residuary legatee, and one of the 
executors of John. 

On the whole we may conclude, that the lines preserved by 
Rowe, and inserted with some variation in Braithwaite's Remains, 
which the latter has mentioned to have been affixed to Mr. 
Combe's tomb in his life-time, were not written till after Shak- 
speare's death ; for the executors, who did not prove the will 
till Nov. I6l5, could not well have erected " a fair monument" 
of considerable expence for those times, till the middle or per- 
haps the end of the year 1616, in the April of which year our 
poet died. Between that time and the year 1(518, when Braith- 
waite's book appeared, some one of those persons (we may pre- 
sume) who had suffered by Mr. Combe's severity, gave vent to 
his feelings in the satirical composition preserved by Rowe ; 
part of which, we have seen, was borrowed from epitaphs that 
had already been printed. That Mr. Combe was a money- 
lender, may be inferred from a clause in his will, in which he 
mentions his " good and just debtors ;" to every one of whom he 
remits, " twenty shillings for every twenty pounds, and so after 


great church at Stratford, where a monument is 

this rate for a greater or lesser debt," on their paying in to his 
executors what they owe. 

Mr. Combe married Mrs. Rose Clopton, August 27, 1560; 
and therefore was probably, when he died, eighty years old. 
His property, from the description of it, appears to nave been 

In justice to this gentleman it should be remembered, that in 
the language of Shakspeare's age an usurer did not mean one 
who took exorbitant, but 'any, interest or usance for money ; 
which many then considered as criminal. The opprobrious terms 
by which such a person was distinguished, Ten in the hundred, 
proves this; for ten per cent, was the ordinary interest of money. 
See Shakspeare's will. Sir Philip Sidney directs by his will, 
made in 1586, that Sir Francis Walsingham shall put four thou- 
sand pounds which the testator bequeathed to his daughter, " to 
the best behoofe either by purchase of land or lease, or some 
other good and godly use, but in no case to let it out for any 
usury at alL" Malone. 

1 He died in the 53d year of his ageJ] He died on his birth- 
day, April 23, 16] 6, and had exactly completed his fifty-second 
year. From Du Cange's Perpetual Almanack, Gloss, in v. Annus, 
(making allowance tor the different style which then prevailed in 
England from that on which Du Cange's calculation was formed,) 
it appears, that the 23d of April in that year was a Tuesday. 

No account has been transmitted to us of the malady which 
at so early a period of life deprived England of its brightest or- 
nament. The private note-book of his son-in-law Dr. Hall,* 
containing a short state of the cases of his patients, was a few 
years ago put into my hands by ray friend, the late Dr. Wright ; 
and as Dr. Hall married our poet's daughter in the year 1607, 
and undoubtedly attended Shakgpeare in his last illness, being 
then forty years old, I had hopes this book might have enabled 
me to gratify the publick curiosity on this subject. But unluckily 
the earliest case recorded by Hall, is dated in 1617. He had 
probably filled some other book with memorandums of his prac- 
tice in preceding years ; which by some contingency may here- 
after be found, and inform posterity of the particular circum- 

* Dr. Hall'* porket-book after his death fell into the hand* of a urgeo 
of Warwick, who published a translation of it, (with aome addition* of hia 
own) under the title of Se'ett Oltervntioni on the Enziih Itodiet of eminent 
f'enoitt, in desperate Duea.ei, ice. The third edition was printed in 1683. 

G 2 


placed in the wall. 2 Oivhis grave-stone underneath 

" Good friend, 3 for Jesus' sake forbear 
" To dig the dust inclosed here. 
" Blest be the man that spares these stones, 
" And curst be he that moves my bones/' 4 

stances that attended the death of our great poet. From the 
34th page of this book, which contains an account of a disorder 
under which his daughter Elizabeth laboured (about the year 
1624,) and of the method of cure, it appears, that she was his 
only daughter; [Elizabeth Hall, filia mea unica, tortura oris 
defaedata.] In the beginning of April in that year she visited 
London, and returned to Stratford on the 22d ; an enterprise at: 
that time " of great pith and moment." 

While we lament that our incomparable poet was snatched 
from the world at a time when his faculties were in their full vi- 
gour, and before he was " declined into the vale of years," let 
us be thankful that " this sweetest child of Fancy" did not perish 
while he yet lay in the cradle. He was born at Stratford-upon- 
Avon in April 1564 ; and I have this moment learned from the 
Register of that town that the plague broke out there on the 30th 
of the following June, and raged with such violence between 
that day and the last day of December, that two hundred and 
thirty-eight persons were in that period carried to the grave, of 
which number probably 216 died of that malignant distemper ; 
and one only of the whole number resided, not in Stratford, but 
in the neighbouring town of Welcombe. From the 237 inhabit- 
ants of Stratford, whose names appear in the Register, twenty- 
one are to be subducted, who, it may be presumed, would have 
died in six months, in the ordinary course of nature ; for in the 
five preceding years, reckoning, according to the style of that 
time, from March 25, 1559, t0 March 25, 1504, two hundred 
and twenty-one persons were buried at Stratford, of whom 210 
were townsmen : that is, of these latter 42 died each year, at 
an average. Supposing one in thirty-five to have died annually, 
the total number of the inhabitants of Stratford at that period 
was 1470 ; and consequently the plague in the last six months of 
the year 1 564 carried off more than a seventh part of them. For- 
tunately for mankind it did not reach the house in which the in- 
fant Shakspeare lay ; for not one of that name appears in the 
dead list. May we suppose, that, like Horace, he lay secure and 
fearless in the midst of contagion and death, protected by the 


Muses to whom his future life was to be devoted, and covered 


" sacra 

" Lauroque, collataque royrto, 

" Non sine Diis animosus infans." Malone. 

where a monument is placed in the tvall.~\ He is repre- 

sented under an arch, in a sitting posture, a cushion spread be- 
fore him, with a pen in his right hand, and his left rested on a 
scroll of paper. The following Latin distich is engraved under 
the cushion : 

Judicio Pylium, genio Socratem, arte Maronem, 
Terra tegit, poptdus meeret, Olympus habet. 

The first syllable in Socratetn is here made short, which can- 
not be allowed. Perhaps we should read Sophoclem. Shakspeare 
is then appositely compared with a dramatick author among the 
ancients : but still it should be remembered that the elogium is 
lessened while the metre is reformed ; and it is well known that 
some of our early writers of Latin poetry were uncommonly 
negligent in their prosody, especially in proper names. The 
thought of this distich, as Mr. Toilet observes, might have been 
taken from The Faery Queene of Spenser, B. II. c. ix. st. 48, 
and c. x. st. 3. 

To this Latin inscription on Shakspeare should be added the 
lines which are found underneath it on his monument : 
" Stay, passenger, why dost thou go so fast ? 
u Read, if thou canst, whom envious death hath plac'd 
" Within this monument ; Shakspeare, with whom 
" Quick nature dy'd; whose name doth deck the tomb 
" Far more than cost ; since all that he hath writ 
" Leaves living art but page to serve hi* wit." 
" Obiit An". Dni. 1616. 
aet. 53, die 23 Apri. Steevens. 

It appears from the Verses of Leonard Digges, that our au- 
thor's monument was erected before the year 1623. It has been 
engraved by Vertue, and done in mezzotinto by Miller. 

A writer in The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. XXIX. p. 267, 
says, there is as strong a resemblance between the bust at Strat- 
ford, and the portrait of our author prefixed to the first folio 
edition of his plays, " as can well be between a statue and a 
picture." To me (and I have viewed it several times with a good 
deal of attention) it appeared in a very different light. When I 
went last to Stratford, I carried with me the only genuine prints 
of Shakspeare that were then extant, and I could not trace any 
resemblance between them and this figure. There is a pertneu 


in the countenance of the latter totally differing from that placid 
composure and thoughtful gravity, so perceptible in his original 
portrait and his best prints. Our poet's monument having been 
erected by his son-in-law, Dr. Hall, the statuary probably had 
the assistance of some picture, and failed only from want of skill 
to copy it. 

Mr. Granger observes (Biog. Hist. Vol. I. p. 25p,) that " it 
has been said there never was an original portrait of Shakspeare, 
but that Sir Thomas Clarges after his death caused a portrait to 
be drawn for him from a person who nearly resembled him." 
This entertaining writer was a great collector of anecdotes, but 
not always very scrupulous in inquiring into the authenticity of 
the information which he procured ; for this improbable tale, I 
iind, on examination, stands only on the insertion of an anony- 
mous writer in The Gentleman's Magazine, for August, 1/59, 
who boldly " affirmed it as an absolute fact ;" but being after- 
wards publickly called upon to produce his authority, never pro- 
duced any. There is the strongest reason therefore to presume 
it a forgery. 

" Mr. Walpole (adds Mr. Granger) informs me, that the 
only original picture of Shakspeare is that which belonged to Mr. 
Keck, from whom it passed to Mr. Nicoll, whose only daughter 
married the Marquis of Caernarvon" [now Duke of Chandos]. 

From this picture, his Grace, at my request, very obligingly 
permitted a drawing to be made by that excellent artist Mr. 
Ozias Humphry ; and from that drawing the print prefixed to 
the present edition has been engraved. 

In the manuscript notes of the late Mr. Oldys, this portrait 
is said to have been painted by old Cornelius Jansen." 
" Others," he adds, " say, that it was done by Richard Burbage 
the player ;" and in another place he ascribes it to " John Tay- 
lor, the player." This Taylor, it is said in the The Critical Re- 
view for 1 770, left it by ivill to Sir William D'Avenant. But un- 
luckily there was no player of the christian and surname of John 
Taylor, contemporary with Shakspeare. The player who per- 
formed in Shakspeare's company, was Joseph Taylor. There 
was, however, a painter of the name of John Taylor, to whom 
in his early youth it is barely possible that we may have been in- 
debted for the only original portrait of our author ; for in the 
Picture-Gallery at Oxford are two portraits of Taylor the Water- 
Poet, and on each of them " John Taylor pinx. 1655." There 
appears some resemblance of manner between these portraits and 
the picture of Shakspeare in the Duke of Chandos's collection. 
That picture (I express the opinion of Sir Joshua Reynolds) has 
not the least air of Cornelius Jansen's performances. 

That this picture was once in the possession of Sir Wm. D' Ave- 


nant is highly probable ; but it is much more likely to hare been 
purchased by him from some of the players after the theatres 
were shut up by authority, and the veterans of the stage were 
reduced to great distress, than to have been bequeathed to him 
by the person who painted it ; in whose custody it is improbable 
that it should have remained. Sir William D'Avenant appears 
to have died insolvent. There is no Will of his in the Preroga- 
tive-Office ; but administration of his effects was granted to John 
Otway, his principal creditor, in May ldfiS. After his death, 
Betterten the actor bought it, probably at a publick sale of his 
effects. While it was in Betterton's possession, it was engraved by 
Vandergucht, for Mr. Rowe's edition of Shakspeare, in 1709. 
Betterton made no will, and died very indigent. He had a large 
collection of portraits of actors in crayons, which were bought 
at the sale of his goods, by Bullfinch the Printseller, who sold 
them to one Mr. Sykes. The portrait of Shakspeare was pur- 
chased by Mrs. Barry the actress, who sold it afterwards for 40 
guineas to Mr. Robert Keck. In 1719, while it was in Mr. 
Keek's possession, an engraving was made from it by Vertue : 
a large half-sheet. Mr. NicoD of Colney-Hatch, Middlesex, 
marrying the heiress of the Keck family, this picture devolved 
to him; and while in his possession, it was, in 1747, engraved 
by Houbraken for Birch's Illustrious Heads. By the marriage 
of the Duke of Chandos with the daughter of Mr. Nicoll, it be- 
came his Grace's property. 

Sir Godfrey Kneller painted a picture of our author, which 
he presented to Dryden, but from what picture he copied, I am 
unable to ascertain, as I have never seen Kneller's picture. The 
poet repaid him by an elegant copy of Verses. See his Poems, 
Vol. II. p. 231, edit. 1743: 

** Shakspeare, thy gift, I place before my sight, 
With awe I ask his blessing as I write ; 
" With reverence look on his majestick face, 
" Proud to be less, but of his godlike race. 
" His soul inspires me, while thy praise I write, 
" And I like Teucer under Ajax tight: 
Bids thee, through me, be bold ; with dauntless breast 
" Contemn the bad, and emulate the best: 
** Like his, thy criticks in the attempt are lost, 
" When most they rail, know then, they envy most." 
It appears from a circumstance mentioned by Dryden, that 
these verses were written after the year 1683: probably after 
Rymer's book had appeared in 1693. Dryden having made no 
will, and his wife Lady Elizabeth renouncing, administration was 
granted on the 10th of June, 1/00, to his son Charles, who 
was drowned in the Thanies near Windsor in, 1704. His younger 


brother, Erasmus, succeeded to the title of Baronet, and died 
without issue in 17 11 ; but I know not what became of his ef- 
fects, or where this picture is now to be found. 

About the year 1725 a mezzotinto of Shakspeare was scraped 
by- Simon, said to be done from an original picture painted by 
Zoust or Soest, then in the possession of T. Wright, painter, in 
Covent Garden. The earliest known picture painted by Zoust 
in England, was done in 1657 ; so that if he ever painted a pic- 
ture of Shakspeare, it must have been a copj'. It could not 
however have been made from D'Avenant's picture, (unless the 
painter took very great liberties,) for the whole air, dress, dispo- 
sition of the hair, &c. are different. I have lately seen a picture 

in the possession of Douglas, Esq. at Teddington near 

Twickenham, which is, I believe, the very picture from which 
Simon's mezzotinto was made, It is on canvas, (about 24 inches 
by 20, ) and somewhat smaller than the life. 

The earliest print of our poet that appeared, is that in the title- 
page of the first folio edition of his works, 1623, engraved by 
Martin Droeshout. On this print the following lines, addressed 
to the reader, were written by Ben Jonson : 

" This figure that thou here seest put, 
. " It was for gentle Shakspeare cut ; 

" Wherein the graver had a strife 

*' With nature, to out-do the life, 

" O, could he but have drawn his wit 

" As well in brass, as he hath hit 

" His face, the print would then surpass 

" All that was ever writ in brass ; 

" But since he cannot, reader, look 

" Not on his picture, but his book." 
Droeshout engraved also the heads of John Fox the martyrolo- 
gist, Montjoy Blount, son of Charles Blount Earl of Devonshire, 
William Fairfax, who fell at the siege of Frankendale in 1621, 
and John Howson, Bishop of Durham. The portrait of Bishop 
Howson is at Christ Church, Oxford. By comparing any of 
these prints (the two latter of which are well executed) with 
the original pictures from whence the engravings were made, a 
better judgment might be formed of the fidelity of our author's 
portrait, as exhibited by this engraver, than from Jonson's asser- 
tion, that " in this figure 

" the graver had a strife 

" With nature to out-do the life ;" 
a compliment which in the books of that age was paid to so 
many engravers, that nothing decisive can be inferred from it. 
It does not appear from what picture this engraving was made : 
but from the dress, and the singular disposition of the hair, &c. 


it undoubtedly was engraved from a picture, and probably a very 
ordinary one. There is no other way of accounting for the great 
difference between this print of Droeshout's, and his spirited 
portraits of Fairfax and Bishop Howson, but by supposing that 
the picture of Shakspeare from which he copied was a very 
coarse performance. 

The next print in point of time is, according to Mr. Walpole 
and Mr. Granger, that executed by J. Payne, a scholar of Simon 
Pass, in 1634 ; with a laurel-branch in the poet's left hand. A 
print of Shakspeare by so excellent an engraver as Payne, would 
probably exhibit a more perfect representation of him than any 
other of those times ; but I much doubt whether any such ever 
existed. Mr. Granger, I apprehend, has erroneously attributed 
to Payne the head done by Marshall in 1640, (apparently from 
Droeshout's larger print,) which is prefixed to a spurious edition 
of Shakspeare 's Poems published in that year. In Marshall's 
print the poet has a laurel branch in his left hand. Neither 
Mr. Walpole, nor any of the other great collectors of prints, are 
possessed of, or ever saw, any print of Shakspeare by Payne, as 
far as I can learn. 

Two other prints only remain to be mentioned ; one engraved 
by Vertue in J 721, for Mr. Pope's edition of our author's plays 
in quarto ; said to be engraved from an original picture in the 
possession of the Earl of Oxford ; and another, a mezzotinto, by 
Earlom, prefixed to an edition of King Lear, in 1770; said to 
be done from an original by Cornelius Jansen, in the collection 
of Charles Jennens, Esq. but Mr. Granger justly observes, " as 
it is dated in ItilO, before Jansen was in England, it is highly 
probable that it was not painted by him, at least, that he did not 
paint it as a portrait of Shakspeare." 

Most of the other prints of Shakspeare that have appeared, 
were copied from some or other of those which I have mentioned. 


" The portrait palmed upon Mr. Pope'' (I use the words of 
the late Mr. Oldys, in a MS. note to his copy of Langbaine, ) 
" for an original of Shakspeare, from which he had his fine plate 
engraven, is evidently a juvenile portrait of King James I." I am 
no judge in these matters, but only deliver an opinion, which if 
ill-grounded may be easily overthrown. The portrait, to me at 
least, has no traits of Shakspeare. Steevens. 

* On his grave-stone underneath m, Good friend, &c] This 
epitaph is expressed in the following uncouth mixture of small 
and capital letters : 

" Good Frend for Iesus SAKE forbeare 

" To dic<; T-E Dust EncloAsed HE Re 

" Blese be TE Man J spares T$*s Stones 

" And curst be He \ moves my Bones." Steevens. 


4 And curst be he that moves my bones."] It is uncertain whe- 
ther this epitaph was written by Shakspeare himself, or by one 
of his friends after his death. The imprecation contained in this 
last line, was perhaps suggested by an apprehension that our 
author's remains might share the same fate with those of the 
rest of his countrymen, and be added to the immense pile of 
human bones deposited in the charnel-house at Stratford. This, 
however, is mere conjecture; for similar execrations are found 
in many ancient Latin epitaphs. 

Mr. Steevens hast justly mentioned it as a singular circum- 
stance, that Shakspeare does not appear to have written any 
verses on his contemporaries, either in praise of the living, or in 
honour of the dead. I once imagined that he -had mentioned 
Spenser with kindness in one of his Sonnets ; but have lately 
discovered that the Sonnet to which I allude, was written by 
Richard Barnefield. If, however, the following epitaphs be ge- 
nuine, (and indeed the latter is much in Shakspeare's manner,) 
he in two instances overcame that modest diffidence, which 
seems to have supposed the elogium of his humble muse of no 

In a Manuscript volume of poems by William Herrick and 
others, in the hand-writing of the time of Charles I. which is 
among Rawlinson's Collections in the Bodleian Library, is the 
following epitaph, ascribed to our poet : 


" When God was pleas'd, the world unwilling yet, 

" Elias James to nature payd his debt, 

" And here reposeth : as he liv'd, he dyde ; r 

" The saying in him strongly verifide, 

" Such life, such death : then, the known truth to tell, 

"He liv'd a godly life, and dyde as well. 

There was formerly a family of the surname of James at Strat- 
ford. Anne, the wife of Richard James, was buried there on the 
same day with our poet's widow ; and Margaret, the daughter 
of John James, died there in April, 1616. 

A monumental inscription " of a better leer," and said to be 
written by our author, is preserved in a collection of Epitaphs, 
at the end of the Visitation of Salop, taken by Sir William Dug- 
dale in the year 1664, now remaining in the College of Arms, 
C. 35, fol. 20; a transcript of which Sir Isaac Heard, Garter, 
Principal King at Arms, has obligingly transmitted to me. 

Among the monuments in Tongue church, in the county of 
Salop, is one erected in remembrance of Sir Thomas Stanley, 
Knight, who died, as I imagine, about the year 1600. In the 
Visitation-book it is thus described by SirjWilliam Dugdale: 


" On the north side of the chancell stands a very stately torabe, 
supported with Corinthian cohirnnes. It hath two figures of 
men in armour, thereon lying, the one below the arches and 
columnes, and the other above them, and this epitaph upon it. 

" Thomas Stanley, Knight, second son of Edward Earle of 
Derby, Lord Stanley, and Strange, descended from the famielie 
of the Stanleys, married Margaret Vernon, one of the daughters 
and co-heires of Sir George Vernon of Nether-Haddon, in the 
county of Derby, Knight, by whom he had issue two sons, 
Henry and Edward. Henry died an infant ; Edward survived, 
to whom those lordships descended ; and married the lady Lucie 
Percie, second daughter of the Earle of Northumberland : by 
her he had issue seven daughters. She and her ibure daughters, 
Arabella, Marie, Alice, and Priscilla, are interred under a mo- 
nument in the church of Walthain in the county of Essex. 
Thomas, her son, died in his infancy, and is buried in the parish 
church of Winwich in the county of Lancaster. The other 
three, Petronilla, Frances, and Venesia, are yet lining. 

Thec following verses were made by William Shakespeare, 
the late famous tragedian ; 

" Written upon the east end of this tombe. 

" Ake who lyes here, but do not weepe ; 

" He is not dead, he doth but sleepe. 

" This stony register is for his bones, 

" His fame is more perpetual than these stones : 

" And his own goodness, with himself being gone, 

" Shall live, when earthly monument is none." 

" Written upon the west end thereof. 

'* Not monumental stone preserves our fame, 

" Nor skye-aspiring pyramids our name. 

" The memory of him for whom this stands, 

" Shall out-live marble, and defacers' hands. 

M When all to time's consumption shall be given, 

" Stanley, for whom this stands, shall stand in heaven." 

The last line of this epitaph, though the worst, bears very 
strong marks of the hand of Shakspeare. The bcgiiuiing of the 
first Tine, " Aske who lyes here," reminds us of that which we 
have been just examining : " If any man ask, who lies in this 
tomb*' &c. And in the fifth line we find a thought which our 
poet has also introduced in King Henry VIII: 

** Ever belov'd and loving may his rule be ! 

" And, when old time shall lead him to his gravo, 

" Goodness and he Jill up one monument .'" 


He had three daughters, 5 of which two lived to 
be married; Judith, the elder, to one Mr. Thomas 
Quiney, 6 by whom she had three sons, who all died 

This epitaph must have been written after the year 1600, 
for Venetia Stanley, who afterwards was the wife of Sir Kenelm 
Digby, was born in that year. With a view to ascertain its date 
more precisely, the churches of Great and Little Waltham have 
been examined for the monument said to have been erected to 
Lady Lucy Stanley and her four daughters, but in vain ; for 
no trace of it remains : nor could the time of their respective 
deaths be ascertained, the registers of those parishes being lost. 
Sir William Dugdale was born in Warwickshire, was bred at the 
free-school of Coventry, and in the year 1625 purchased the 
manor of Blythe in that county, where he then settled and after- 
wards spent a great part of his life: so that his testimony respect- 
ing this epitaph is sufficient to ascertain its authenticity. 


* He had three daughters,'] In this circumstance Mr. Rowe 
must have been mis-informed. In the Register of Stratford, no 
mention is made of any daughter of our author's but Susanna 
and Judith. He had indeed three children; the two already 
mentioned, and a son, named Hamnet, of whom Mr. Rowe 
takes no notice He was a twin child, born at the same time 
with Judith. Hence probably the mistake. He died in the 
twelfth year of his age, in 1596. Malone. 

6 - Judith, the elder, to one Mr. Thomas Quiney, ~] This 
also is a mistake. Judith was Shakspeare's youngest daughter. 
She died at Stratford-upon-Avon a few days after she had com- 
pleted her seventy-seventh year, and was buried there, Feb. Q, 
1661-62. She was married to Mr. Quiney, who was four years 
younger than herself, on the 10th of February, 1615-16, and not 
as Mr. West supposed, in the year 1616-17. He was led into 
the mistake by the figures 1616 standing nearly opposite to the 
entry concerning her marriage ; but those figures relate to the 
first entry in the subsequent month of April. The Register ap- 
pears thus: 

3. Francis Bushill to Isabel Whood. 
1616 5 * ^' cn * Sandellsto Joan Ballamy. 

10. Tho. Queeny to Judith Shakspere. 

14. Will. Borowes to Margaret Da vies, 
and all the following entries in that and a part of the ensuing page 


without children ; and Susanna, who was his fa- 
vourite, to Dr. John Hall, a physician of good re- 
putation in that country. 7 She left one child only, 

are of \6l6; the year then beginning on the 25th of March. 
Whether the above lo relates to the month of February or April, 
Judith was certainly married before her father's death : if it re- 
lates to February, she was married on February 10, l6l5-l6; 
if to April, on the 10th of April 1616. From Shakspeare's will 
it appears, that this match was a stolen one ; for he speaks of 
such future "husband as she shall be married to." It is strange 
that the ceremony should have been publickly celebrated in the 
church of Stratford without his knowledge ; and the improba- 
bility of such a circumstance might lead us to suppose that she 
was married on the 10th of April, about a fortnight after the 
execution of her father's will. But the entry of the baptism of 
her first child, (Nov. 23, 1 6 1 6, ) as well as the entry of the mar- 
riage, ascertain it to have taken place in February. 

Mr. West, without intending it, has impeached the character 
of this lady; for her first child, according to his representation, 
must be supposed to have been born some months before her 
marriage; since among the Baptisms 1 find this entry of the 
christening of her eldest son: " l6l6. Nov. 23. Shakspeare, 
filius Thomas Quiney, Gent." and according to Mr. West she 
was not married till the following February. This Shakspeare 
Quiney died in his infancy at Stratford, and was buried May bth, 
I617. Judith's second son, Richard, was baptized on February 
yth, J 617- 18. He died at Stratford in Feb. 1638-9, in the 21st 
year of his age, and was buried there on the 20th of that month. 
Her third son, Thomas, was baptized August 29, l6l.Q, and was 
buried also at Stratford, January 28, 1638-9. There had been 
a plague in the town in the preceding summer, that carried off 
about fifty persons. Ma lone. 

7 Dr. John Hall, a physician of good reputation in that coun- 
try. ,] Susanna's husband, Dr. John Hall, died in Nov. 1035, 
and is interred in the chancel of the church of Stratford near his 
wife. He was buried on the 26th of November, as appears from 
the Register of burials at Stratford: 

November 26, 1635, Johannes Hall, medieu* peritissimus." 

The following is a transcript of his will, extracted from the 
Register of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury : 

" The last Will and Testament nuncupative of John Hall of 
Stratford-upon-Avon in the county of Warwick, Gent, made 
and declared the five and twentieth of November, 1035. Im- 


primts, I give unto my wife my house in London. Item, 1 
give unto my daughter Nash my house in Acton. Item, I give 
unto my daughter Nash my meadow. Item, I give my goods 
and money unto my wife and my daughter Nash, to be equally 
divided betwixt them. Item, concerning my study of books, 1 
leave them, said he, to you, my son Nash, to dispose of them as 
you see good. As for my manuscripts, I would have given them 
to Mr. Boles, if he had been here ; but forasmuch as he is not 
here present, you may, son Nash, burn them, or do with them 
what you please. Witnesses hereunto, 

" Thomas Nash. 
V Simon Trapp." 

The testator not having appointed any executor, administra- 
tion was granted to his widow, Nov. 23, 1036. 

Some at least of Dr. Hall's manuscripts escaped the flames, 
one of them being yet extant. See p. 83, n. 1 . 

I could not, after a very careful search, find the will of Susanna 
Hall in the Prerogative- office, nor is it preserved in the Archives 
of the diocese of Worcester, the Registrar of which diocese at 
my request very obligingly examined the indexes of all the wills 
proved in his office between the years 1649 and 16/0; but in 
vain. The town of Stratford-upon-Avon is in that diocese. 

The inscriptions on the tomb-stones of our poet's favourite 
daughter and her husband are as follows : 

" Here lyeth the body of John Hall, Gent, he marr. Susanna, 
y e daughter and co-heire of Will. Shakspeare, Gent, he deceased 
Nov. 2.5, A . 1635, aged 60." 

" Hallius hie situs est, medica celeberrimus arte, 

" Expectans regni gaudia laeta Dei. 
** Dignus erat mentis qui Nestora vinceret annis; 

" In terris omnes sed rapit a?qua dies. 
" Ne tumulo quid desit, adest fidissima conjux, 

" Et vitae comitem nunc quoque mortis habet." 

These verses should seem, from the last two lines, not to have 
been inscribed on Dr. Hall's tomb-stone till 16&Q. Perhaps in- 
deed the last distich only was then added. 

"Here lyeth the body of Susanna, wife to John Hall, Genu 
y c daughter of William Shakspeare, Gent. She deceased the 
11th of July, A". 1649, aged 0'6." 

" Witty above her sexe, but that's not all, 
" Wise to salvation was good Mistriss Hall. 
" Something of Shakspeare was in that, but this 
" Wholy of him with whom she's now in blisse. 


a daughter,who was married first to Thomas Nashe, 8 

* Then, passenger, hast ne're a teare, 
" To weepe with her that wept with all : 

." That wept, yet set her selfe to chere 
" Them up with comforts cordiall. 

" Her love shall live, her mercy spread, 
" When thou hast ne're a teare to shed." 

The foregoing English verses, which are preserved by Dug- 
dale, are not now remaining, half of the tomb-stone having been 
cut away, and another half stone joined to it; with the follow- 
ing inscription on it " Here lyeth the body of Richard Watts 
of Ryhon-Clifford, in the parish of old Stratford, Gent, who 
departed this life the 23d of May, Anno Dom. 1 707* and in 
the 4t>th year of his age." This Mr. Watts, as I am informed 
by the Rev. Mr. Davenport, was owner of, and lived at the 
estate of Ryhon-Clifford, which was once the property of Dr. 

Mrs. Hall was buried on the l6th of July, 1649, as appears 
from the Register of Stratford. Ma lone. 

' She left one child only, a daughter, who was married first 
to Thomas Nashe, Esq.] Elizabeth, our poet's grand-daughter, 
who appears to have been a favourite, Shakspcare having left her 
by his will a memorial of his affection, though she at that time 
was but eight years old, was born in February 1607-8, as ap- 
pears by an entry in the Register of Stratford, which Mr. West 
omitted in the transcript with which he furnished Mr. Steevens. 
I learn from the same Register that she was married in 1626 : 
" Marriaoes. April 22, 1626, Mr. Thomas Nash to Mistriss 
Elizabeth Hall." It should be remembered that every unmarried 
lady was called Mistress till the time of George I. Hence our 
author's Mistress Anne Page. Nor in speaking of an unmarried 
lady could her christian name be omitted, as it often is at pre- 
sent ; for then no distinction would have remained between her 
and her mother. Some married ladies indeed were distinguished 
from their daughters by the title of Madam. 

Mr. Nash died in 1(547, as appears by the inscription on his 
tomb-stone in the chancel of the church of Stratford : 

* Here resteth y c body of Thomas Nashe, Esq. He mar. Eli- 
zabeth the daugh. and heire of John Hall, Gent. He died April 
5th, A". 1647, aged 53." 


Esq. and afterwards to Sir John Barnard of Abing- 
ton, 9 but died likewise without issue. 1 

" Fata manent omnes ; hunc non virtute carentem, 

" Ut neque divitiis, abstulit atra dies. 
" Abstulit, at referet lux ultima. Siste, viator ; 

" Si peritura paras, per male parta peris." 

The letters printed in Italicks are now obliterated. 

By his last will, which is in the Prerogative-Office, dated Au- 
gust 26, 1642, he bequeathed to his well beloved wife, Eliza- 
beth Nash, and her assigns, for her life, (in lieu of jointure and 
thirds,) one messuage or tenement, with the appurtenances, 
situate in the Chapel Street in Stratford, then in the tenure and 
occupation of Joan Norman, widow ; one meadow, known by 
the name of the Square Meadow, with the appurtenances, in 
the parish of old Stratford, lying near unto the great stone-bridge 
of Stratford ; one other meadow with the appurtenances, known 
by the name of the Wash Meadow ; one little meadow with the 
appurtenances, adjoining to the said Wash Meadow ; and also 
all the tythes of the manor or lordship of Shottery. He devises 
to his kinsman Edward Nash, the son of his uncle George Nash 
of London, his heirs and assigns, (inter alia J the messuage or 
tenement, then in his own occupation, called The New-Place, 
situate in the Chapel Street, in Stratford ; together with all and 
singular houses, outhouses, barns, stables, orchards, gardens, 
easements, profits, or commodities, to the same belonging ; and 
also four-yard land of arable land, meadow, and pasture, with 
the appurtenances, lying and being in the common fields of Old 
Stratford, with all the easements, profits, commons, commodi- 
ties, and hereditaments, of the same four-yard lands belonging ; 
then in the tenure, use, and occupation of him the said Thomas 
Nash ; and one other messuage or tenement, with the appurte- 
nances, situate in the parish of , in London, and called or 

known by the name of The Wardrobe, and then in the tenure, 

use, and occupation of Dickes. And from and after the 

death of his said wife, he bequeaths the meadows above named, 
and devised to her for life, to his said cousin Edward Nash, his 
heirs and assigns for ever. After various other bequests, he di- 
rects that one hundred pounds, at the least, be laid out in 
mourning gowns, cloaks, and apparel, to be distributed among 
his kindred and friends, in such manner as his executrix shall 
think fit. He appoints his wife Elizabeth Nash his residuary 
legatee, and sole executrix, and ordains Edmund Rawlins, Wil- 

This is what I could learn of any note, either 

liam Smith, and John Easton, overseers of his will, to which 
the witnesses are John Such, Michael Jonson, and Samuel 

By a nuncupative codicil dated on the day of his death, April 
4th, 1647, he bequeaths [inter alia) "to his mother Mrs. Hall 
fifty pounds ; to Elizabeth Hathaway fifty pounds ; to Thomas 
Hathaway fifty pounds ; to Judith Hathaway ten pounds ; to 
his uncle Nash and his aunt, his cousin Sadler and his wife, his 
cousin Richard Quiney and his wife, his cousin Thomas Quiney 
and his wife, twenty shillings each, to buy them rings." The 
meadows which by his will he had devised, to his wife for life, 
he by this codicil devises to her, her heirs and assigns, for ever, 
to the end that they may not be severed from her own land ; 
and he " appoints and declares that the inheritance of his land 
given to his cousin Edward Nash should be by him settled after 
his decease, upon his son Thomas Nash, and his heirs, and for 
want of such heirs then to remain and descend to his own right 

It is observable that in this will the testator makes no mention 
of any child, and there is no entry of any issue of his marriage 
in the Register of Stratford ; I have no doubt, therefore, that he 
died without issue, and that a pedigree with which Mr. Whalley 
furnished Mr. Steevens a few years ago, is inaccurate. The 
origin of the mistake in that pedigree will be pointed out in its 
proper place. 

As by Shakspeare's will his daughter Susanna had an estate 
for life in The New Place, &c. and his grand-daughter Elizabeth 
an estate tail in remainder, they probably on the marriage of 
Elizabeth to Mr. Nash, by a fine and recovery cut off the en- 
tail ; and by a deed to lead the uses gave him the entire domi- 
nion over that estate ; which he appears to have misused by 
devising it from Shakspeare's family to his own. 

Mr. Nash's will and codicil were proved June 5, 1647, and 
administration was then granted to his widow. Malone. 

9 .Sir John Barnard of Abington,] Sir .John Barnard of 

Abington, a small village about a mile from the town of North- 
ampton, was created a Knight by King Cliarles II. Nov. 25, 
1661. In 1671 he sold the manor and advowson of the church 
of Abington, which his ancestors had possessed for more than 
two hundred years, to William Thursby, Esq. Sir John Barnard 
was the eldest son of Baldwin Barnard, Esq. by FJeanor, daugh- 
ter and co-heir of John Fulwood of Ford Hall in the county of 

VOL. I. H 


relating to himself or family; the character of the 
man is best seen in his writings. But since Ben 

Warwick, Esq. and was born in 1605. He first married Eliza- 
beth, the daughter of Sir Clement Edmonds of Preston, in North- 
amptonshire, by whom he had four sons and four daughters. 
She dying in 1642, he married secondly our poet's grand-daugh- 
ter, Mrs. Elizabeth Nash, on the 5th of June ] 649, at Billesley 
in Warwickshire, about three miles from Stratford-upon-Avon. 
If any of Shakspeare's manuscripts remained in his grand-daugh- 
ter's custody at the time of her second marriage, (and some 
letters at least she surely must have had,) they probably were 
then removed to the house of her new husband at Abington. Sir 
Hugh Clopton, who was born two years after her death, men- 
tioned to Mr. Macklin, in the year 1742, an old tradition that 
she had carried away with her from Stratford many of her grand- 
father's papers. On the death of Sir John Barnard they must 
have fallen into the hands of Mr. Edward Bagley, Lady Barnard's 
executor; and if any descendant of that gentleman be now 
living, in his custody they probably remain. Malone. 

1 but died lifcetoise xuithout issue.'] Confiding in a pedi- 

free transmitted by Mr.Whalley some years ago to Mr. Steevens, 
once supposed that Mr. Rowe was inaccurate in saying that our 
poet's grand-daughter died without issue. But he was certainly 
right ; and this lady was undoubtedly the last lineal descendant 
of Shakspeare. There is no entry, as I have already observed, 
in the Register of Stratford, of any issue of hers by Mr. Nash ; 
nor does he in his will mention any child, devising the greater 
part of his property between his wife and his kinsman, Edward 
Nash* That Lady Barnard had no issue by her second husband, 
is proved by the Register of Abington, in which there is no entry 
of the baptism of any child of that marriage, though there are 
regular entries of the time when the several children of Sir John 
Barnard by his first wife were baptized. Lady Barnard died 
at Abington, and was buried there on the 17th of February 
1669-70 ; but her husband did not show his respect for her me- 
mory by a monument, or even an inscription of any kind. He 
seems not to have been sensible of the honourable alliance he had 
made. Shakspeare's grand-daughter would not, at this day, go 
to her grave without a memorial. By her last will, which I sub- 
join, she directs her trustee to sell her estate of Neva-Place, &c. 
to the best bidder, and to offer it first to her cousin Mr. Edward 
Nash. How she then came to have any property in New-Place, 
which her first husband had devised to this very Edward Nash, 


Jonson has made a sort of an essay towards it in 
his Discoveries, I will give it in his words : 

does not appear ; but I suppose that after the death of Mr. 
Thomas Nash she exchanged the patrimonial lands which he 
bequeathed to her, with Edward Nash and his son, and took 
New-Place, &c. instead of them. 

Sir John Barnard died at Abington, and was buried there on 
March 5th, 1673-4. On his tomb-stone, in the chancel of the 
church, is the following inscription : 

Hicjacent exuvice generosissimi viri Johannis Bernard, militis; 
patre, avo, abavo, tritavo, aliisque progenitoribus per ducentos 
et amplius annos hujus oppidi de Abingdon dominis, insignis: 
quijato cessit undeseptuagessimo cetatis suae anno, quinto nonat 
Mariiiy annoque a partu B. Virginis, MDCLXXIII. 

Sir John Barnard having made no will, administration of his 
effects was granted on the 7th of November 1674, to Henry 
Gilbert of Locko in the county of Derby, who had married his 
daughter Elizabeth by his first wife, and to his two other sur- 
viving daughters ; Mary Higgs, widow of Thomas Higgs of 
Colesborne, Esq. and Eleanor Cotton, the wife of Samuel Cot- 
ton, Esq. All Sir John Barnard's other children except the three 
above mentioned died without issue. I know not whether any 
descendant of these be now living : but if that should be the case, 
among their papers may possibly be found some fragment or 
other relative to Shakspeare; for by his grand-daughter's order, 
the administrators of her husband were entitled to keep posses- 
sion of her house, &c. in Stratford, for six months after his death. 

The following is a copy of the will of this last descendant of 
our poet, extracted from the Registry of the Prerogative Court 
of Canterbury: 

" In the Name of God, Amen. I Dame Elizabeth Barnard, 
wife of Sir John Barnard of Abington in the county of North- 
ampton, knight, being in perfect memory, (blessed be God!) 
and mindful of mortality, do make this my last will and testa- 
ment in manner and form following : 

* 4 Whereas by my certain deed or writing under my hand and 
seal, dated on or about the eighteenth day of April, \65i, ac- 
cording to a power therein mentioned, I the said Elizabeth have 
limited and disposed of all that my messuage with the appurte- 
nances in Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of Warwick, called 
the New Place, and all that four-yard land and an half in Strat- 
ford- Welcombe and Bishopton in the county of Warwick, (after 
the decease of the said Sir John Barnard, and me the said Eliz*- 

II 2 


" I remember the players have often mentioned 
m it as an honour to Shakspeare, that in writing 

beth, ) unto Henry Smith of Stratford aforesaid, Gent, and Job 
Dighton of the Middle Temple, London, Esq. since deceased, 
and their heirs ; upon trust that they, and the survivor, and the 
heirs of such survivor, should bargain and sell the same for the 
best value they can get, and the money thereby to be raised to 
be employed and disposed of to such person and persons, and in 
such manner as I the said Elizabeth should by any writing or 
note under my hand, truly testified, declare and nominate ; as 
thereby may more fully appear. Now my will is, and I do here- 
by signify and declare my mind and meaning to be, that the said 
Henry Smith, my surviving trustee, or his heirs, shall with all 
convenient speed after the decease of the said Sir John Barnard 
my husband, make sale of the inheritance of all and singular the 
premises, and that my loving cousin Edward Nash, Esq. shall 
have the first offer or refusal thereof, according to my promise 
formerly made to him : and the monies to be raised by such sale 
I do give, dispose of, and appoint the same to be paid and distri- 
buted, as is herein after expressed ; that is to say, to my cousin 
Thomas Welles of Carleton, in the county of Bedford, Gent, 
the sum of fifty pounds, to be paid him within one year next 
after such sale : and if the said Thomas Wells shall happen to 
die before such time as his said legacy shall become due to him, 
then my desire is, that my kinsman Edward Bagley, citizen of 
London, shall have the sole benefit thereof. 

" Item, I do give and appoint unto Judith Hathaway, one of 
the daughters of my kinsman Thomas Hathaway, late of Strat- 
ford aforesaid, the annual sum of five pounds of lawful money 
of England, to be 'paid unto her yearly and every year, from 
and after the decease of the said survivor of the said Sir John 
Barnard and me the said Elizabeth, for and during the natural 
life of her the said Judith, at the two most usual feasts or days 
of payment in the year, videlicet, the feast of the Annunciation 
of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Saint Michael, the archangel, 
by equal portions, the first payment thereof to begin at such of 
the said feasts as shall next happen, after the decease of the sur- 
vivor of the said Sir John Barnard and me the said Elizabeth, 
if the said premises can be so soon sold ; or otherwise so soon as 
the same can be sold : and if the said Judith shall happen to 
marry, and shall be minded to release the said annual sum of 
five pounds, and shall accordingly release and quit all her in- 
terest and right in and to the same after it shall become due to 
her, then and in such case, I do give and appoint to her the sum 


" (whatsoever he penned) he never blotted out a 

of forty pounds in lieu thereof, to be paid unto her at the time 
of the executing of such release as afortsaid. 

" Item, 1 give and appoint unto Joan the wife of Edward Kent, 
and one other of the daughters of the said Thomas Hathaway, 
the sum of fifty pounds, to be likewise paid unto her within one 
year next after the decease of the survivor of the said Sir John 
Barnard and me the said Elizabeth, if the said premises can be 
soon sold, or otherwise so soon as the same can be sold ; and if 
the said Joan shall happen to die before the 6aid fifty pounds 
shall be paid to her, then I do give and appoint the same unto 
Edward Kent the younger, her son, to be paid unto him when 
he shall attain the age of one-and-twenty years. 

" Item, I do also give and appoint unto him the said Edward 
Kent, son of the said John, the sum of thirty pounds, towards 
putting him out as an apprentice, and to be paid and disposed of 
to that use when he shall be fit for it. 

" Item, I do give or appoint and dispose of unto Rose, Eliza- 
beth, and Susanna, three other of the daughters of my said 
kinsman Thomas Hathaway, the sum of forty pounds a-piece, 
to be paid unto every of them at such time and in such manner 
as the said fifty pounds before appointed to the said Joan Kent, 
their sister, shall become payable. 

" Item, All the rest of the monies that shall be raised by such 
sale as aforesaid, I give and dispose of unto my said kinsman 
Edward Bagley, except five pounds only, which I give and ap- 
point to my said trustee Henry Smith for his pains ; and if the 
said Edward Nash shall refuse the purchase of the said messuage 
and four-yard land and a half with the appurtenances, then my 
will and desire is, that the said Henry Smith or his heirs shall sell 
the inheritance of the said premises and every part thereof unto 
the said Edward Bagley, and that he shall purchase the same ; 
upon this condition, nevertheless, that he the said Edward 
Bagley, his heirs, executors, or administrators, shall justly and 
faithfully perform my will and true meaning, in making due 
payment of all the several sums of money or legacies before 
mentioned, in such manner as aforesaid, And I do hereby de- 
clare my will and meaning to be that the executors or adminis- 
trators of my said husband Sir John Barnard shall have and enjoy 
the use and benefit of my said house in Stratford, called the 
New-Place, with the orchards, gardens, and all other the appur- 
tenances thereto belonging, for and during the space of six 
months next after the decease of him the said Sir John Barnard. 

" I tun, I give and devise unto my kinsman, Thomas Hart, the 

** line. 2 My answer hath been, Would he had blotted 

son of Thomas Hart, late of Stratford-upon-Avon aforesaid, all 
that my other messuage or inn situate in Stratford-upon-Avon 
aforesaid, commonly called the Maidenhead, with the appurte- 
nances, and the next house thereunto adjoining, with the barn 
belonging to the same, now or late in the occupation of Michael 
Johnson or his assigns, with all and singular the appurtenances ; 
to hold to him the said Thomas Hart the son, and the heirs of 
his body ; and for default of such issue, I give and devise the 
same to George Hart, brother of the said Thomas Hart, and to 
the heirs of his body ; and for default of such issue to the right 
heirs of me the said Elizabeth Barnard for ever. 

" Item, I do make, ordain, and appoint my said loving kinsman 
Edward Bagley sole executor of this my last will and testament, 
hereby revoking all former wills ; desiring him to see a just per- 
formance hereof, according to my true intent and meaning. In 
witness whereof I the said Elizabeth Barnard have hereunto set 
my hand and seal, the nine-and-twentieth day of January, Anno 
Domini, one thousand six hundred and sixty-nine, 

'* Elizabeth Barnard. 
*' Signed, sealed, published, and declared to be the last mil and 
testament of the said Elizabeth Barnard, in the presence of 

" John Howes, Rector de Abington. 
" Francis Wickes. 
" Probatum fuit testamentum suprascriptum apud cedes 
Exonienses situat, in le Strand, in comitatu Middx. 
quarto die mensis Martij, l66g, coram venerabili 
viro Domino Egidio Sioeete, milite et legum doctore, 
surrogato, &;c. juramento Edwardi Bagley, unici 
executor, nominat, cui, fyc. de bene, fyc. jurat." 


* that in toriting (whatsoever he penned) he never blotted 

out a line.'] This is not true. They only say in their preface 
to his plays, that " his mind and hand went together, <and what 
he thought, he uttered with that easiness, that we have scarce 
received from him a blot in his papers." On this Mr. Pope 
observes, that " there never was a more groundless report, or 
to the contrary of which there are more undeniable evidences. 
As, the comedy of The Merry Wives of Windsor, which he en- 
tirely new writ ; The History of Henry the Sixth, which was 
first published under the title of The Contention of York and 
Lancaster; and that of Henry V. extremely improved ; that of 
Hamlet enlarged to almost as much again as at first, and many 


** a thousand! which they thought a malevolent 
" speech. I had not told posterity this, but for 

Surely this is a very strange kind of argument. In the firsl 
place this was not a report, ( unless by that word we are to under- 
stand relation, ) but a positive assertion, grounded on the best 
evidence that the nature of the subject admitted; namely, ocular 
proof. The players say, in substance, that Shakspeare had such 
a happiness of expression, that, as they collect from his papers, 
he had seldom occasion to alter the first words he had set down ; 
in consequence of which they found scarce a blot in his writings. 
And how is this refuted by Mr. Pope? By telling us, that a great 
many of his plays were enlarged by their author. Allowing 
this to be true, which is by no means certain, if he had written 
twenty plays, each consisting of one thousand lines, and after- 
wards added to each of them a thousand more, would it there- 
fore follow, that he had not written the first thousand with faci- 
lity and correctness, or that those must have been necessarily 
expunged, because new matter was added to them ? Certainly 
not. But the truth is, it is by no means clear that our author 
did enlarge all the plays mentioned by Mr. Pope, if even that 
would prove the point intended to be established. Mr. Pope was 
evidently deceived by the quarto copies. From the play of 
Henry V. being more perfect in the folio edition than in the 
quarto, nothing follows but that the quarto impression of that 
piece was printed from a mutilated and imperfect copy, stolen 
from the theatre, or taken down by ear during the representa- 
tion. What have been called the quarto copies of the Second 
and Third Parts of King Henry VI. were in fact two old plays 
written before the time of Shakspeare, and entitled The First 
Part of the Contention of the two Houses of Yorke and Lan* 
caster, &c. and The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of Yorke, 
&c. on which he constructed two new plays ; just as on the old 
plays of King John, and The Taming of a Shrew, he formed two 
other plays with nearly the same titles. See The Dissertation 
in Vol. XIV. p. 223. 

The tragedy of Hamlet in the first edition, (now extant,) that 
of 1004, is said to be " enlarged to almost as much again as it 
was, according to the true and perfect copy." What is to be 
collected from this, but that there was a former imperfect edi- 
tion (1 believe, in the year itx>2) ? that the one we are now 
speaking of was enlarged to as much again as it was in the former 
mutilated impression, and that this is the genuine and perfect 
copy, the other imperfect and spurious ? 


" their ignorance, who chose that circumstance to 
" commend their friend by, wherein he most fault- 
" ed: and to justify mine own candour, for I loved 
" the man, and do honour his memory, on this side 
" idolatry, as much as any. He was, indeed, ho- 
" nest, and of an open and free nature, had an 
" excellent fancy, brave notions, and gentle ex- 
" pressions ; wherein he flowed with that facility, 
" that sometimes it was necessary he should be 
" stopped : Sufflaminandus erat, as Augustus said 
" of Haterius. His wit was in his own power j 
" would the rule of it had been so too. Many 
* c times he fell into those things which could not 
" escape laughter; as when he said in the person of 
** Caesar, one speaking to him, 

f Caesar, thou dost me wrong.* 

'* He replied : 

* Caesar did never wrong, but with just cause.' 
?' and such like, which were ridiculous. But he 

The Merry Wives of Windsor, indeed, and Romeo and Juliet, 
and perhaps Love's Labour's Lost, our author appears to have 
altered and amplified ; and to King Richard II. what is called 
the parliament-scene, seems to have been added ; (though this 
last is by no means certain ;) but neither will these augmenta- 
tions and new-modellings disprove what has been asserted by 
Shakspeare's fellow-comedians concerning the facility of his 
writing, and the exquisite felicity of his first expressions. 

The hasty sketch of The Merry Wives of Windsor, which he 
is said to have composed in a fortnight, he might have written 
without a blot ; and three or four years afterwards, when he 
chose to dilate his plan, he might have composed the additional 
scenes without a blot likewise. In a word, supposing even that 
Nature had not endowed him with that rich vein which he un- 
questionably possessed, he who in little more than twenty years 
produces thirty-four or thirty-five pieces for the stage, has cer- 
tainly not much time for expunging. Malone. 


" redeemed his vices with his virtues ; there was 
" ever more in him to be praised than to be par- 
" doned." 

As for the passage which he mentions out of 
Shakspeare, there is .somewhat like it in Julius 
Qpsar, but without thd absurdity; nor did I ever 
meet with it in any edition that I have seen as 
quoted by Mr. Jonson. 3 

Besides his plays in this edition, there are two 
or three ascribed to him by Mr. Langbaine, 4 which 

' nor did I ever meet with it in any edition that I have 
seen, as quoted by Mr. Jonson.'] See Mr. Tyrwhitt's note on 
Julius Ccesar, Act III. sc. i. Vol. XVI. Malone. 

4 Besides his plays in this edition, there are two or three 
ascribed to him by Mr. Langbaine,] The Birth of Merlin, 1662, 
written by W. Rowley ; the old play of King John, in two parts, 
1591, on which Shakspeare formed his King John; and The 
Arraignment of Paris, 1584, written by George Peele. 

The editor of the folio 1664, subjoined to the 36 dramas pub- 
lished in 1623, seven plays, four of which had appeared in Shak- 
speare's life-time with his name in the title-page, viz. Pericles, 
Prince of Tyre, lt)09, Sir John Oldcastle, 1600, The London 
Prodigal, 1605, and The Yorkshire Tragedy, 1608; the three 
others which they inserted, Locrine, 15Q5, Lord Cromwell, 
l602, and The Puritan, 1607, having been printed with the 
initials W. S. in the title-page, the editor chose to interpret those 
letters to mean William Shakspeare, and ascribed them also to 
our poet. I published an edition of these seven pieces some years 
ago, freed in some measure from the gross errors with which 
they had been exhibited in ancient copies, that the publick 
might see what they contained ; and do not hesitate to declare 
my firm persuasion that of Locrine, Lord Cromwell, Sir John 
Oldcastle, The London Prodigal, and The Puritan, Shakspeare 
did not write a single line. 

How little the booksellers of former times scrupled to affix 
the names of celebrated writers to the productions of others, 
even in the life-time of such celebrated authors, may be col- 
lected from Hey wood's translations from Ovid, which in 1612, 
while Shakspeare was yet living, were ascribed to him. See 
Vol. X. p. 321, n. l.* With the dead they would certainly 

* Mr. Malone's edition of our author's worki, 1790. 


I have never seen, and know nothing of. He writ 
likewise Venus and Adonis, and Tarquin and Lu- 
crece, in stanzas, which have been printed in a late 
collection of poems. 5 As to the character given 
of him by Ben Jonson, there is a good deal true 
in it: but I believe it may be as well expressed by 
what Horace says of the first Romans, who wrote 
tragedy upon the Greek models, (or indeed trans- 
lated them,) in his epistle to Augustus : 

" ' naturi sublimis & acer : 

" Nam spirat tragicum satis, et feliciter audet, 

" Sed turpem putat in chartis metuitque lituram." 

As I have not proposed to myself to enter into 
a large and complete criticism upon Shakspeare's 
works, so I will only take the liberty, with all due 
submission to the judgment of others, to observe 
some of those things I have been pleased with in 
looking him over. 

His plays are properly to be distinguished only 
into comedies and tragedies. Those which are 
called histories, and even some of his comedies, are 
really tragedies, with a run or mixture of comedy 

make still more free. " This book (says Anthony Wood, speak- 
ing of a work to which the name of Sir Philip Sydney was pre- 
fixed) coming out so late, it is to be inquired whether Sir Philip 
Sydney's name is not set to it for sale-sake, being a usual thing 
in these days to set a great name to a book or books, by shark- 
ing booksellers, or snivelling writers, to get bread." Athen. 
Oxon. Vol. I. p. 208. Malone. 

* in a late collection of poems."] In the fourth volume of 
State Poems, printed in 1 707. Mr. Rowe did not go beyond 
A Late Collection of Poems, and does not seem to have known 
that Shakspeare also wrote 154 Sonnets, and a poem entitled A 
Lover's Complaint. Malone. 


amongst them. 6 That way of tragi-comedy was 
the common mistake of that age, and is indeed be- 

are really tragedies, with a run or mixture of comedy 

amongst them.] Heywood, our author's contemporary, has stated 
the best defence that can be made for his intermixing lighter 
with the more serious scenes of his dramas ! 

" It may likewise be objected, why amongst sad and grave 
histories I have here and there inserted fabulous jests and tales 
savouring of lightness. I answer, I have therein imitated our 
historical, and comical poets, that write to the stage, who, lest 
the auditory should be dulled with serious courses, which are 
merely weighty flnd material, in every act present some Zany, 
with his mimick action to breed in the less capable mirth and 
laughter ;Jbr they that write to all, must strive to please all. 
And as such fashion themselves to a multitude diversely addict- 
ed, so I to an universality of readers diversely disposed." Pref. 
to History of Women, lt>24. M alone. 

The criticks who renounce tragi-comedy as barbarous, I fear, 
speak more from notions which they have formed in their closets, 
than any well-built theory deduced from experience of what 
pleases or displeases, which ought to be the foundation of all rules. 

Even supposing there is no affectation in this refinement, and 
that those criticks have really tried and purified their minds till 
there is no dross remaining, still this can never be the case of a 
popular audience, to which a dramatick representation is referred. 

Dryden in one of his prefaces condemns his own conduct in 
The Spanish Friar; but, says he, I did not write it to please 
myselr, it was given to the publick. Here is an involuntary con- 
fession that tragi comedy is more pleasing to the audience ; I 
would ask then, upon what ground it is condemned ? 

This ideal excellence of uniformity rests upon a supposition 
that we are either more refined, or a higher order of beings than 
we really are: there is no provision made for what may be called 
the animal part of our minds. 

Though we should acknowledge this passion for variety and 
contrarieties to be the vice of our nature, it is still a propensity 
which we all feel, and which he who undertakes to divert us 
must find provision for. 

We are obliged, it is true, in our pursuit after science, or ex- 
cellence in any art, to keep our minds steadily fixed for a long 
continuance ; it is a task we impose on ourselves : but I do not 
wish to task myself in my amusements. 

If the great object of the theatre is amusement, a dramatick 


come so agreeable to the English taste, that though 
the severer criticks among us cannot bear it, yet 
the generality of our audiences seem to be better 
pleased with it than with an exact tragedy. The 
Merry Wives of Windsor, The Comedy of Errors, 
and The Taming of a Shrew, are all pure comedy; 
the rest, however they are called, have something of 
both kinds. It is not very easy to determine which 
way of writing he was most excellent in. There 
is certainly a great deal of entertainment in his 
comical humours ; and though they did not then 
strike at all ranks of people, as the satire of the 
present age has taken the liberty to do, yet there is 
a pleasing and a well-distinguished variety in those 
characters which he thought fit to meddle with. 
Falstaff is allowed by every body to be a master- 
piece; the character is always well sustained,though 
drawn out into the length of three plays; and even 
the account of his death given by his old landlady 
Mrs. Quickly, in the first Act of Henry the Fifth, 
though it be extremely natural, is yet as diverting 
as any part of his life. If there be any fault in the 
draught he has made of this lewd old fellow, it is, 
that though he has made him a thief, lying, cow- 
ardly, vain-glorious, and in short every way vicious, 
yet he has given him so much wit as to make him 
almost too agreeable ; and I do not know whether 

work must possess every means to produce that effect; if it gives 
instruction by the by, so much its merit is the greater; but that 
is not its principal object. The ground on which it stands, and 
which gives it a claim to the protection and encouragement of 
civilised society, is not because it enforces moral precepts, or 
gives instruction of any kind ; but from the general advantage 
that it produces, by habituating the mind to find its amusement 
in intellectual pleasures ; weaning it from sensuality, and by de- 
grees filing off, smoothing, and polishing, its rugged corners. 

Sir J. Reynolds. 


some people have not, in remembrance of the di- 
version he had formerly afforded them, been sorry 
to see his friend Hal use him so scurvily, when he 
comes to the crown in the end of The Second Part 
of Henri/ the Fourth. Amongst other extravagan- 
cies, in The Merry Wives of Windsor he has made 
him a deer-stealer, that he might at the same time 
remember his Warwickshire prosecutor, under the 
name of Justice Shallow ; he has given him very 
near the same coat of arms which Dugdale, in his 
Antiquities of that county, describes for a family 
there, 7 and makes the Welsh parson descant very 
pleasantly upon them. That whole play is admira- 
ble ; the humours are various and well opposed ; 
the main design, which is to cure Ford of his un- 
reasonable jealousy, is extremely well conducted. 
In Twelfth-Night there is something singularly ri- 
diculous and pleasant in the fantastical steward 
Malvolio. The parasite and the vain-glorious in 
Parolles, in AlVs well that ends well, is as good as 
any thing of that kind in Plautus or Terence. Pe- 
truchio, in The Taming of the Shrew, is an uncom- 
mon piece of humour. The conversation of Bene- 
dick and Beatrice, in Much Ado about Nothing, and 
of Rosalind, in As you like it, have much wit and 
sprightliness all along. His clowns, without which 
character there was hardly any play writ in that 
time, are all very entertaining : and, I believe, 

r the same coat of arms tohich Dugdale, in his Antiquities 

flhat county, describes for a family there,] There are two coats, 
I observe, in Dugdale, where three silver fishes are borne in the 
name of Lucy; and another coat to the monument of Thomas 
Lucy, son or Sir William Lucy, in which are quartered in four 
several divisions, twelve little fishes, three in each division, pro- 
bably luces. This very coat, indeed, seems alluded to in Shal- 
low's giving the dozen white luces; and in Sleuder's saying he 
may quarter. Thkobald. 


Thersites in Troilus and Cressida, and Apemantus 
in Timon, will be allowed to be master-pieces of ill- 
nature, and satirical snarling. To these I might add, 
that incomparable character of Shylock the Jew, 
in The Merchant of Venice; but though we have 
seen that play received and acted as a comedy," 
and the part of the Jew performed by an excellent 
comedian, yet I cannot but think it was designed 
tragically by the author. There appears in it such 
a deadly spirit of revenge, such a savage fierceness 
and fellness, and such a bloody designation of cru- 
elty and mischief, as cannot agree either with the 
style or characters of comedy. The play itself, take 
it altogether, seems to me to be one of the most 
finished of any of Shakspeare's. The tale, indeed, 
in that part relating to the caskets, and the extra- 
vagant and unusual kind of bond given by Antonio, 
is too much removed from the rules of probability; 
but taking the fact for granted, we must allow it 
to be very beautifully written. There is something 
in the friendship of Antonio to Bassanio very great, 
generous, and tender. The whole fourth Act (sup- 
posing, as I said, the fact to be probable,) is ex- 
tremely fine. But there are two passages that 
deserve a particular notice. The first is, what 
Portia says in praise of mercy, and the other on the 

but though tae have seen that play received and acted as 
a comedy,] In 1701 Lord Lansdown produced his alteration of 
The Merchant of Venice, at the theatre in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, 
under the title of The Jeiv of Venice, and expressly calls it a 
comedy. Shylock was performed by Mr. Dogget. Reed. 

And such was the bad taste of our ancestors that this piece 
continued to be a stock-play from 1/01 to Feb. 14, 1/41, when 
The Merchant of Venice was exhibited for the first time at the 
theatre in Drury-Lane, and Mr. Macklin made his first appear- 
ance in the character of Shylock. Malone. 


power of musick. The melancholy of Jaques, in 
As you like it 9 is as singular and odd as it is divert- 
ing. And if, what Horace says, 

" Difficile est proprie communia dicere," 

it will be a hard task for any one to go beyond him 
in the description of the several degrees and ages 
of man's life, though the thought be old, and com- 
mon enough. 

" All the world's a stage, 

" And all the men and women merely players ; 

" They have their exits and their entrances, 

*' And one man in his time plays many parts, 

" His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, 

" Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms : 

" And then, the whining school-boy with his satchel, 

" And shining morning face, creeping like snail 

" Unwillingly to school. And then, the lover 

u Sighing like furnace, u ith a woful ballad 

" Made to his mistress' eye-brow. Then, a soldier; 

" Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, 

" Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, 

*' Seeking the bubble reputation 

**. Ev'n in the cannon's mouth. And then, the justice; 

" In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd, 

" With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut, 

** Full of wise saws and modern instances ; 

" And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts 

" Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon ; 

" With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side ; 

" His youthful hose, well sav'd, a world too wide 

*' For his shrunk shank ; and his big manly voice, 

" Turning again tow'rd childish treble, pipes 

' And whistles in his sound : Last scene of all, 

" That ends this strange eventful history, 

* Is second childishness, and mere oblivion ; 

" Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing." 

His images are indeed everywhere so lively, that 
the thing he would represent stands full before you, 
and you possess every part of it. I will venture to 


point out one more, which is, I think, as strong 
and as uncommon as any thing I ever saw; it is an 
image of Patience. Speaking of a maid in love, 
he says, 

" i i < She never told her love, 

" But let concealment, like a worm i'th* bud, 

" Feed on her damask cheek : she pin'd in thought, 

And sate like Patience on a monument, 

" Smiling at Grief." 

What an image is here given! and what a task 
would it have been for the greatest masters of 
Greece and Rome to have expressed the passions 
designed by this sketch of statuary! The style of 
his comedy is, in general, natural to the charac- 
ters, and easy in itself; and the wit most commonly 
sprightly and pleasing, except in those places where 
he runs into doggrel rhymes, as in The Comedy of 
Errors, and some other plays. As for his jingling 
sometimes, and playing upon words, it was the 
common vice of the age he lived in: and if we find 
it in the pulpit, made use of as an ornament to the 
sermons of some of the gravest divines of those 
times, perhaps it may not be thought too light for 
the stage. 

But certainly the greatness of this author's genius 
does no where so much appear, as where he gives 
his imagination an entire loose, and raises his fancy 
to a flight above mankind, and the limits of the 
visible World. Such are his attempts in The Tempest, 
A Midsummer-Night' s Dream, Macbeth, and Ham- 
let. Of these, The Tempest, however it comes to 
be placed the first by the publishers of his works, 
can never have been the first written by him : it 
seems to me as perfect in its kind, as almost any 
thing we have of his. One may observe, that the 


unities are kept here, with an exactness uncommon 
to the liberties of his writing ; though that was 
what, I suppose, he valued himself least upon, since 
his excellencies were all of another kind. I am 
very sensible that he does, in this play, depart too 
mueh from that likeness to truth which ought to 
be observed in these sort of writings ; yet he does 
it so very finely, that one is easily drawn in to have 
more faith for his sake, than reason does well allow 
of. His magick has something in it very solemn 
and very poetical : and that extravagant character 
of Caliban is mighty well sustained, shows a won- 
derful invention in the author, who could strike 
out such a particular wild image, and is certainly 
one of the finest and most uncommon grotesques 
that ever was seen. The observation, which, I have 
been informed, three very great men concurred in 
making 9 upon this part, was extremely just ; that 
Shakspeare had not only found out a new character 
in his Caliban, but had also devised and adapted a 
new manner of language for that character. 

It is the same magick that raises the Fairies in A 
Midsummer-Night 's Dream, the Witches in Mac- 
beth, and the Ghost in Hamlet, with thoughts and 
language so proper to the parts they sustain, and 
so peculiar to the talent or this writer. But of the 
two last of these plays I shall have occasion to take 

9 which, I have been informed, three very great men con- 
curred in making ] Lord Falkland, Lord C. J. Vaughan, and 
Mr. Selden. Rowe. 

Dryden was of the same opinion. " His person (says he, 
speaking of Caliban,) is monstrous, as he is the product of un- 
natural lust, and his language is as hobgoblin as his person t in 
all things he is distinguished from other mortals." Preface to 
Troilus and Cressida. Malone. 

VOL. I. I 


notice, among the tragedies of Mr. Shakspeare. If 
one undertook to examine the greatest part of these 
t>y those rules which are established by Aristotle, 
and taken from the model of the Grecian stage, it 
would be no very hard task to find a great many 
faults ; but as Shakspeare lived under a kind of 
mere light of nature, and had never been made ac- 
quainted with the regularity of those written pre- 
cepts, so it would be hard to judge him by a law 
he knew nothing of. We are to consider him as a 
man that lived in a state of almost universal licence 
and ignorance: there was no established judge, but 
every one took the liberty to write according to the 
dictates of his own fancy. When one considers, 
that there is not one play before him of a reputa- 
tion good enough to entitle it to an appearance on 
the present stage, it cannot but be a matter of great 
wonder that he should advance dramatick poetry 
so far as he did. The fable is what is generally 
placed the first, among those that are reckoned the 
constituent parts of a tragick or heroick poem ; 
not, perhaps, as it is the most difficult or beauti- 
ful, but as it is the first properly to be thought of 
in the contrivance and course of the whole ; and 
with the fable ought to be considered the fit dispo- 
sition, order, and conduct of its several parts. As 
it is not in this province of the drama that the 
strength and mastery of Shakspeare lay, so I shall 
not undertake the tedious and ill-natured trouble 
to point out the several faults he w r as guilty of in 
it. His tales were seldom invented, but rather 
taken either from the true history, or novels and 
romances: and he commonly made use of them in 
that order, with those incidents, and that extent of 
time in which he found them in the authors from 
whence he borrowed them. So The Winter's Tale 4 


which is taken from an old book, called The Delec- 
table History of Dorastus and Fawnia, contains the 
space of sixteen or seventeen years, and the scene 
is sometimes laid in Bohemia, and sometimes in 
Sicily, according to the original order of the story. 
Almost all his historical plays comprehend a great 
length of time, and very different and distinct 
places : and in his Antony and Cleopatra, the scene 
travels over the greatest part of the Roman empire. 
But in recompence for his carelessness in this point, 
when he comes to another part of the drama, the 
manners of his characters, in acting or speaking xcliat 
is proper for them, and fit to be shown by the poet, he 
may be generally justified, and in very many places 
greatly commended. For those plays which he has 
taken from the English or Roman history, let any 
man compare them, and he will find the character 
as exact in the poet as the historian. He seems in- 
deed so far from proposing to himself any one action 
for a subject, that the title very often tells you, it is 
The Life of King John, King Richard, &c. What 
can be more agreeable to the idea our historians 
give of Henry the Sixth, than the picture Shakspeare 
has drawn of him ? His manners are every where 
exactly the same with the story ; one finds nim still 
described with simplicity, passive sanctity, want of 
courage, weakness of mind, and easy submission to 
the governance of an imperious wife, or prevailing 
faction : though at the same time the poet does 
justice to his good qualities, and moves the pity of 
his audience for him, by showing him pious, disin- 
terested, a contemner of the thingi of this world, 
and wholly resigned to the severest dispensations 
of God's providence. There is a short scene in 
T/ie Second Part of Henry the Sixth, which I cannot 
but think admirable in its kind. Cardinal Beaufort, 

i 2 


who had murdered the Duke of Gloucester, is 
shown in the last agonies on his death-bed, with the 
good king praying over him. There is so much 
terror in one, so much tenderness and moving piety 
in the other, as must touch any one who is capable 
either of fear or pity. In his Henry the Eighth, that 
prince is drawn with that greatness of mind, and 
all those good qualities which are attributed to him 
in any account of his reign. If his faults are not 
shown in an equal degree, and the shades in this 
picture do not bear a just proportion to the lights, 
it is not that the artist wanted either colours or skill 
in the disposition of them; but the truth, I believe, 
might be, that he forbore doing it out of regard to 
Queen Elizabeth, since it could have been no very 
great respect to the memory of his mistress, to have 
exposed some certain parts of her father's life upon 
the stage. He has dealt much more freely with the 
minister of that great king ; and certainly nothing 
was ever mere justly written, than the character of 
Cardinal Wolsey. He has shown him insolent in 
his prosperity ; and yet, by a wonderful address, he 
makes his fall and ruin the subject of general com- 
passion. 1 he whole man, with his vices and vir- 
tues, is finely and exactly described in the second 
scene of the fourth Act. The distresses likewise of 
Queen Katharine, in this play, are very movingly 
touched ; and though the art of the poet has 
screened King Henry from any gross imputation 
of injustice, yet one is inclined to wish, the Queen 
had met with a fortune more worthy of her birth 
and virtue. Nor are the manners, proper to the 
persons represented, less justly observed, in those 
characters taken from the Roman history; and of 
this, the fierceness and impatience of Coriolanus, 
his courage and disdain of the common people, the 
virtue and philosophical temper of Brutus, and the 


irregular greatness of mind in M. Antony, are 
beautiful proofs. For the two last especially, you 
find them exactly as they are described by Plutarch, 
from whom certainly Shakspeare copied them. He 
has indeed followed his original pretty close, and 
taken in several little incidents that might have 
been spared in a play. But, as I hinted before, his 
design seems most commonly rather to describe 
those great men in the several fortunes and acci- 
dents of their lives, than to take any single great 
action, and form his work simply upon that. How- 
ever, there are some of his pieces, where the fable 
is founded upon one action only. Such are more 
especially, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Othello. 
The design in Romeo and Juliet is plainly the punish- 
ment of their two families, for the unreasonable 
feuds and animosities that had been so long kept 
up between them, and occasioned the effusion of so 
much blood. In the management of this story, he 
has shown something wonderfully tender and pas- 
sionate in the love-part, and very pitiful in the dis- 
tress. Hamlet is founded on much the same tale 
with the Electra of Sophocles. In each of them a 
young prince is engaged to revenge the death of 
nis father, their mothers are equally guilty, are 
both concerned in the murder of their husbands, 1 
and are afterwards married to the murderers. There 
is in the first part of the Greek tragedy something 
very moving in the grief of Electra ; but, as Mr. 
Dacier has observed, there is something very un- 
natural and shocking in the manners he has given 
that princess and Orestes in the latter part. Orestes 
imbrues his hands in the blood of his own mother j 

1 ' are both concerned in the murder of their husbands,] 
It does not appear that Hamlet's mother was concerned in the 
death of her husband. Ma lone. 


and that barbarous action is performed, though not 
immediately upon the stage, yet so near, that the 
audience hear Clytemnestra crying out to JEgys- 
thus for help, and to her son for mercy : while 
Electra her daughter, and a princess, (both of them 
characters that ought to have appeared with more 
decency,) stands upon the stage, and encourages 
her brother in the parricide. What horror does 
this not raise ! Clytemnestra was a wicked woman, 
and had deserved to die; nay, in the truth of the 
story, she was killed by her own son ; but to repre- 
sent an action of this kind on the stage, is certainly 
an offence against those rules of manners proper to 
the persons, that ought to be observed there. On 
the contrary, let us only look a little on the con- 
duct of Shakspeare. Hamlet is represented with 
the same piety towards his father, and resolution to 
revenge his death, as Orestes ; he has the same ab- 
horrence for his mother's guilt, which, to provoke 
him the more, is heightened by incest : but it is 
with wonderful art and justness of judgment, that 
the poet restrains him from doing violence to his 
mother. To prevent any thing of that kind, he 
makes his father's Ghost forbid that part of his 
vengeance : 

* But howsoever thou pursu'st this act, 
** Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive 
" Against thy mother aught; leave her to heaven, 
" And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge, 
" To prick and sting her." 

This is to distinguish rightly between horror and 
terror. The latter is a proper passion of tragedy, 
but the former ought always to be carefully avoid- 
ed. And certainly no dramatick writer ever suc- 
ceeded better in raising terror in the minds of an 
audience than Shakspeare has done. The whole 


tragedy of Macbeth, but more especially the scene 
where the King is murdered, in the second Act, as 
well as this play, is a noble proof of that manly 
spirit with which he writ; and both show how 
powerful he was, in giving the strongest motions 
to our souls that they are capable of. I cannot 
leave Hamlet, without taking notice of the ad- 
vantage with which we have seen this master-piece 
of Shakspeare distinguish itself upon the stage, by 
Mr. Betterton's fine performance of that part. A 
man, who, though he had no other good qualities, 
as he has a great many, must have made his way 
into the esteem of all men of letters, by this only 
excellency. No man is better acquainted with 
Shakspeare's manner of expression, and indeed he 
has studied him so well, and is so much a master 
of him, that whatever part of his he performs, he 
does it as if it had been written on purpose for 
him, and that the author had exactly conceived it 
as he plays it. I must own a particular obligation 
to him, for the most considerable part of the pass- 
ages relating to this life, which I have here trans- 
mitted to the publick ; his veneration for the me- 
mory of Shakspeare having engaged him to make a 
journey into Warwickshire on purpose to gather 
up what remains he could, of a name for which he 
had so great a veneration. 2 

* of a name for which he had so great a veneration.] 
Mr. Betterton was born in 1635, and had many opportunities of 
collecting information relative to Shakspeare, but unfortunately 
the age in which he lived was not an age of curiosity. Had 
either he or Dryden or Sir William D' Avenant taken the trouble 
to visit our poet's youngest daughter, who lived till 1662, or his 
grand-daughter, who did not die till 1670, many particulars 
might have been preserved which arc now irrecoverably lost. 
Shakspcare's sister, Joan Hart, who was only five years younger 
than him, died at Stratford in Nov. 1646, at the age of sevtntv- 


To the foregoing Accounts of Shakspearf/s Life, 
/ have only one Passage to add, which Mr. Pope 
related, as communicated to him by Mr. Rowe. 

IN the time of Elizabeth, coaches being yet un- 
common, and hired coaches not at all in use, those 
who were too proud, too tender, or too idle to 
walk, went on horseback to any distant business or 
diversion. Many came on horseback to the play, 3 
and when Shakspeare fled to London from the 
terror of a criminal prosecution, his first expedient 
was to wait at the door of the playhouse, and hold 
the horses of those that had no servants, that they 
might be ready again after the performance. In 
this office he became so conspicuous for his care 

six ; and from her undoubtedly his two daughters, and his grand- 
daughter Lady Barnard, had learned several circumstances of 
his early history antecedent to the year 1600. Malone. 

This Account of the Life of Shakspeare is printed from Mr. 
Rowe's second edition, in which it had been abridged and altered 
by himself after its appearance in I70y. Steevens. 

3 Many came on horseback to the play,] Plays were at this 
time performed in the afternoon. " The pollicie of plaies is very 
necessary, howsoever some shallow-brained censurers (not the 
deepest searchers into the secrets of government) mightily op- 
pugne them. For whereas the afternoon being the idlest time of 
the day wherein men that are their own masters (as gentlemen 
of the court, the innes of the court, and a number of captains 
and soldiers about London ) do wholly bestow themselves upon 
pleasure, and that pleasure they divide (how vertuously it skills 
not) either in gaming, following of harlots, drinking, or seeing a 
play, is it not better (since of four extreames all the world can- 
not keepe them but they will choose one ) that they should betake 
them to the least, which is plaies?" Nash's Pierce Pennilesse 
Hs Supplication to the Devil, 15Q2. Steevens. 


and readiness, that in a short time every man as he 
alighted called for Will. Shakspeare, and scarcely 
any other waiter was trusted with a horse while Will. 
Shakspeare could be had. This was the first dawn 
of better fortune. Shakspeare, finding more horses 
put into his hand than he could hold, hired boys 
to wait under his inspection, who, when Will. 
Shakspeare was summoned, were immediately to 
present themselves, / am Shakspeare's boy, Sir, 
in time, Shakspeare found higher employment : 
but as long as the practice of riding to the play- 
house continued, the waiters that held the horses 
retained the appellation of, Shakspeare's boys.* 


4 ' ' the xvaiters that held the horses retained the appellation 
of, Shakspeare's boys] I cannot dismiss this anecdote without 
observing that it seems to want every mark of probability. 
Though Shakspeare quitted Stratford on account of a juvenile 
irregularity, we have no reason to suppose that he had forfeited 
the protection of his father who was engaged in a lucrative busi- 
ness, or the love of bis wife who had already brought him two 
children, and was herself the daughter of a substantial yeoman. 
It is unlikely therefore, when he was beyond the reach of his 
prosecutor, that he should conceal his plan of life, or place of 
residence, from those who, if he found himself distressed, could 
not fail to afford him such supplies as would have set him above 
the necessity of holding horses for subsistence. Mr. Malone has 
remarked in his Attempt to ascertain the Order in which the 
Plays of Shakspeare were written, that he might have found an 
easy introduction to the stage ; for Thomas Green, a celebrated 
comedian of that period, was his townsman, and perhaps his re- 
lation. The genius of our author prompted him to write poetry; 
his connection with a player might have given his productions a 
dramatick turn; or his own sagacity might have taught him that 
fame was not incompatible with profit, and that the theatre was 
an avenue to both. That it was once the general custom to ride 
on horse-back to the play, 1 am likewise yet to learn. The most 
popular of the theatres were on the Bunkside ; and we are told 
by the satirical pamphleteers of that time, thut the usual mode 
of conveyance to these places of amusement, was by water, but 


Mr. Rowe has told us, that he derived the prin- 
cipal anecdotes in his account of Shakspeare, from 
Betterton the player, whose zeal had induced hinj 
to visit Stratford, for the sake of procuring all pos- 
sible intelligence concerning a poet to whose works 
he might justly think himself under the strongest 

not a single writer so much as hints at the custom of riding to 
them, or at the practice of having horses held during the hours 
of exhibition. Some allusion to this usage, (if it had existed) 
must, I think, have been discovered in the course of our re- 
searches after contemporary fashions. Let it be remembered too, 
that we receive this tale on no higher authority than that of 
Cibber's Lives of the Poets, Vol. I. p. 130. " Sir William Da- 
venant told it to Mr. Betterton, who communicated it to Mr. 
Rowe," who (according to Dr. Johnson) related it to Mr. Pope. 
Mr. Rowe (if this intelligence be authentick) seems to have 
concurred with me in opinion, as he forbore to introduce a cir- 
cumstance so incredible into his Life of Shakspeare. As to the 
book which furnishes the anecdote, not the smallest part of it 
was the composition of Mr. Cibber, being entirely written by a 
Mr. Shiells, amanuensis to Dr. Johnson, when his Dictionary 
was preparing for the press. T. Cibber was in the King's Bench, 
and accepted of ten guineas from the booksellers for leave to 
prefix his name to the work ; and it was purposely so prefixed 
as to leave the reader in doubt whether himself or his father was 
the person designed. 

The foregoing anecdote relative to Cibber's Lives, &c. I re- 
ceived from Dr. Johnson. See, however, The Monthly Review, 
for December, 1781, p. 409. Steevens. 

Mr. Steevens in one particular is certainly mistaken. To the 
theatre in Blackfriars I have no doubt that many gentlemen rode 
in the time of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. From the 
Strand, Holborn, Bishopsgate Street, &c. where many of the 
nobility lived, they could indeed go no other way than on foot, 
or on horseback, or in coaches ; and coaches till after the death 
of Elizabeth were extremely rare. Many of the gentry, there- 
fore, certainly went to that playhouse on horseback. See the 
proofs, in the Essay above referred to. 

This, however, will not establish the tradition relative to our 
author's first employment at the playhouse, which stands on a 
very slender foundation. Malone. 


obligations. Notwithstanding this assertion, in the 
manuscript papers of the late Mr. Oldys it is said, 
that one Bowman (according to Chetwood, p. 143, 
" an actor more than half an age on the London 
theatres") was unwilling to allow that his associate 
and contemporary Betterton had ever undertaken 
such a journey. 5 Be this matter as it will, the 
following particulars, which I shall give in the 
words of Oldys, are, for aught we know to the 
contrary, as well authenticated as any of the anec- 
dotes delivered down to us by Rowe. 

Mr. Oldys had covered several quires of paper 
with laborious collections for a regular life of our 
author. From these I have made the following 
extracts, which (however trivial) contain the only 

* it is said, that one Bowman ivas unwilling to aUoio 
that his associate and contemporary Betterton had ever undertaken 
such a journey. ] This assertion of Mr. Oldys is altogether un- 
worthy of credit. Why any doubt should be entertained con- 
cerning Mr. Betterton's having visited Stratford, after Rowe's 
positive assertion that he did so, it is not easy to conceive. Mr. 
Rowe did not go there himself; and how could he have collected 
the few circumstances relative to Shakspeare and his family, 
which he has told, if he had not obtained information from some 
friend who examined the Register of the parish of Stratford, and 
made personal inquiries on the subject ? 

" Bowman," we are told, u was unwilling to believe" &c. 
But the fact disputed did not require any exercise of his belief, 
Mr. Bowman was married to the daughter of Sir Francis Watson, 
Bart, the gentleman with whom Betterton joined in an adventure 
to the East Indies, whose name the writer of Betterton's Life in 
Biographia Iiritannica has so studiously concealed. By that un- 
fortunate scheme Betterton lost above 20001. Dr. I fat clitic 6000I. 
and Sir Francis Watson his whole fortune. On his death soon 
after the year 1692, Betterton generously took his daughter un- 
der his protection, and educated her in his house. Here Bow- 
man married her ; from which period he continued to live in the 
most friendly correspondence with Mr. Betterton, and must have 
known whether he went to Stratford or not. Malonk. 


circumstances that wear the least appearance of 
novelty or information; the song in p. 62 ex- 

" If tradition may be trusted, Shakspeare often v 
baited at the Crown Inn or Tavern in Oxford, in 
his journey to and from London. The landlady 
was a woman of great beauty and sprightly wit, 
and her husband, Mr. John Davenant, (afterwards 
mayor of that city,) a grave melancholy man ; who, 
as well as his wife, used much to delight in Shak- 
speare's pleasant company. Their son young Will. 
Davenant (afterwards Sir William) was then a little 
school-boy in the town, of about seven or eight 
years old, 6 and so fond also of Shakspeare, that 
whenever he heard of his arrival, he would fly 
from school to see him. One day an old towns- 
man observing the boy running homeward almost 
out of breath, asked him whither he was posting 
in that heat and hurry. He answered, to see his 
gW-father Shakspeare. There's a good boy, said 
the other, but have a care that you don't take 
God y s name in vain. This story Mr. Pope told me 
at the Earl of Oxford's table, upon occasion of 
some discourse which arose about Shakspeare's mo- 
nument then newly erected in Westminster Abbey; 7 

6 of about seven or eight years old,] He was born at 
Oxford in February J 605-6. Malone. 

7 Shakspeare's monument then newly erected in Westmin- 
ster Abbey ;] M This monument," says Mr. Granger, was erected 
in 1741, by the direction of the Earl of Burlington, Dr. Mead, 
Mr. Pope, and Mr. Martyn. Mr. Fleetwood and Mr. Rich gave 
each of them a benefit towards it, from one of Shakspeare's own 
plays. It was executed by H. Scheemaker, after a design of 

" On the monument is inscribed amor publicus posuit. Dr. 
Mead objected to amor publicus, as not occurring in old classical 


and he quoted Mr. Betterton the player for his 
authority. I answered, that I thought such a story 
might have enriched the variety of those choice 

inscriptions ; but Mr. Pope and the other gentlemen concerned 
insisting that it should stand, Dr. Mead yielded the point, saying, 

" Omnia vincit amor, nos et cedamus amort." 
" This anecdote was communicated by Dr. Lort, late Greek 
Professor of Cambridge, who had it from Dr. Mead himself." 

It was recorded at the time in The Gentleman's Magazine for 
Feb. 1/41, by a writer who objects to every part of the inscrip- 
tion, and says it ought to have been, " G. S. centum viginti et 
quatuor post ooitum annis populus plaudens [autjavens~\ posuit." 

The monument was opened Jan. 2^), 1/41. Scheemaker is 
said to have got 30ol. for his work. The performers at each 
house, much to their honour, performed gratis ; and the Dean 
and Chapter of Westminster took nothing for the ground. The 
money received by the performance at Drury Lane, amounted to 
above 2001. the receipts at Covent Garden to about lOOl. These 
particulars I learn from Oldys's MS. notes on Langbaine. 

The scroll on the monument, as I learn from a letter to my 
father, dated June 27, 1741, remained for some time after the 
monument was set up, without any inscription on it. This was 
a challenge to the wits of the time ; which one of them accepted 
by writing a copy of verses, the subject of which was a conver- 
sation supposed to pass between Dr. Mead and Sir Thomas 
Hanmer, relative to the filling up of the scroll. I know not whe- 
ther they are in print, and I do not choose to quote them all. 
The introductory lines, however, run thus: 

" To learned Mead thus Hanmer spoke, 

11 Doctor, this empty scroll's a joke. 

" Something it doubtless should contain, 

" Extremely short, extremely plain ; 

" But wondrous deep, and wondrous pat, 

" And fit for Shakspeare to point at ;" &c. Ma lone. 

At Drury Lane was acted Julius Ccesar, 28 April, 1738, 
when a prologue written by Benjamin Martyn, Esq. was spoken 
by Mr. Quin, and an epilogue by James Noel, Esa. spoken by 
Mrs. Porter. Both these are printed in The General Dictionary. 
At Covent Garden was acted Hamlet, 10th April, 1739, when a 
prologue written by Mr. Theobald, and printed in The London 
Magazine of that year, was spoken by Mr. Kyan. In the news- 
paper of the day it was observed that this last representation was 
far from being numerously attended. Reed. 


fruits of observation he has presented us in his 
preface to the edition he had published of our 
poet's works. He replied " There might be in 
the garden of mankind such plants as would seem 
to pride themselves more in a regular production 
of their own native fruits, than iu having the re- 
pute of bearing a richer kind by grafting; and this 
was the reason he omitted it." 8 

The same story, without the names of the per- 
sons, is printed among the jests of John Taylor the 
Water-poet, in his works, folio, 1630, p. 184, 
N 39 : and, with some variations, may be found 
in one of Hearne's pocket books. 9 

' ' and this was the reason he omitted it.~\ Mr. Oldys 
might have added, that he was the person who suggested to Mr. 
Pope the singular course which he pursued in his edition of 
Shakspeare. " Remember," says Oldys in a MS. note to his 
copy of Langbaine, Article, Shakspeare. " what I observed to 
my Lord Oxford for Mr. Pope's use, out of Cowley's preface." 
The observation here alluded to, I believe, is one made by 
Cowley in his preface, p. 53, edit. 1/10, 8vo: " This has been 
the case with Shakspeare, Fletcher, Jonson, and many others, 
part of whose poems I should presume to take the boldness to 
prune and lop away, if the care of replanting them in print did 
belong to me ; neither would I make any scruple to cut off from 
some the unnecessary young suckers, and from others the old 
withered branches ; for a great wit is no more tied to live in a 
vast volume, than in a gigantick body; on the contrary it is 
commonly more vigorous the less space it animates, and as 
Statius says of little Tydeus, 

'* - totos infusa per artus, 

" Major in exiguo regnabat corpore virtus." 

Pope adopted this very unwarrantable idea; striking out from 
the text of his author whatever he did not like : and Cowley 
himself has suffered a sort of poetical punishment for having sug- 
gested it, the learned Bishop of Worcester [Dr. Hurd] having 
pruned and lopped away his beautiful luxuriances, as Pope, on 
Cowley's suggestion, did those of Shakspeare. Malone. 

The same story may be found in one of Hearne's pocket 
looks.] Antony Wood is the first and original author of the anec- 

" One of Shakspeare's younger brothers, 1 who 

dote that Shakspeare, in his journies from Warwickshire to Lon- 
don, used to bait at the Crown-Inn on the west side of the corn 
market in Oxford. He says, that D'Avenant the poet was born 
in that house in J0o6. " His father (he adds) John Davenant, 
was a sufficient vintner, kept the tavern now known by the sign 
of the Crown, and was mayor of the said city in 10*21. His 
mother was a very beautiful woman, of a good wit and conver- 
sation, in which she was imitated by none of her children but 
by this William [the poet]. The father, who was a very grave 
and discreet citizen, (yet an admirer and lover of plays and 
play-makers, especially Shakspeare, who frequented his house in 
his journies between Warwickshire and London,) was of a me- 
lancholick disposition, and was seldom or never seen to laugh, in 
which he was imitated by none of his children but by Robert 
his eldest son, afterwards fellow of St. John's College, and a ve- 
nerable Doctor of Divinity." Wood's Ath. Oxon. Vol. II. p. 292, 
edit. 1692. I will not suppose that Shakspeare could have been 
the father of a Doctor of Divinity who never laughed ; but it 
was always a constant tradition in Oxford that Shakspeare was 
the father of Davenant the poet. And I have seen this circum- 
stance expressly mentioned in some of Wood's papers. Wood 
was well qualified to know these particulars; for he was a towns- 
man of Oxford, where he was born in 1632. Wood says, that 
Davenant went to school in Oxford. JJbi supr. 

As to the Craven Inn, it still remains as an inn, and is an old 
decayed house, but probably was once a principal inn in Oxford. 
It is directly in the road from Stratford to London. In a large 
upper room, which seems to have been a sort of Hall for enter- 
taining a large company, or for accommodating (as was the 
custom) different parties at once, there was a bow-window, with 
three pieces of excellent painted glass. About eight years ago, 
I remember visiting this room, and proposing to purchase of the 
landlord the painted glass, which would have been a curiosity as 
coming from Shakspeare *s inn. But going thither soon after, I 
found it was removed ; the inn-keeper having communicated 
my intended bargain to the owner of the house, who began to 
suspect that he was possessed of a curiosity too valuable to be 

Earted with, or to remain in such a place : and I never could 
ear of it afterwards. If I remember right, the painted glass 
consisted of three armorial shields beautifully stained. I have 
said so much on this subject, because I think that Shakspeare's 
old hostelry at Oxford deserves no less respect than Chaucer's 
Tabarde in Southwark. T. Warton. 


lived to a good old age, even some years 2 as I 
compute, after the restoration of King Charles II. 
would in his younger days come to London to visit 
his brother Will, as he called him, and be a spec- 
tator of him as an actor in some of his own plays. 
This custom, as his brother's fame enlarged, and 

1 One of Shakspeare's younger brothers, &c] Mr. Oldys seems 
to have studied the art of " marring a plain tale in the telling 
of it ;" for he has in this story introduced circumstances which 
tend to diminish, instead of adding to, its credibility. Male 
dum recitas, incipit esse tuns. From Shakspeare's not taking 
notice of any of nis brothers or sisters in his will, except Joan 
Hart, I think it highly probable that they were all dead in 1616, 
except her, at least all those of the whole blood ; though in the 
Register there is no entry of the burial of either his brother Gil- 
bert, or Edmund, antecedent to the death of Shakspeare, or at 
any subsequent period. 

The truth is, that this account of our poet's having performed 
the part of an old man in one of his own comedies, came ori- 
ginally from Mr. Thomas Jones, of Tarbick, in Worcestershire, 
who has been already mentioned, (see p. 62, n. 1,) and who re- 
lated it from the information, not of one of Shakspeare's bro- 
thers, but of a relation of our poet, who lived to a good old age, 
and who had seen him act in his youth. Mr. Jones's informer 
might have been Mr. Richard Quiney, who lived in London, 
and died at Stratford in 1656, at the age of 69 ; or Mr. Thomas 
Quiney, our poet's son-in-law, who lived, I believe, till 166$, 
and was twenty-seven years old when his father-in-law died; or 
some one of the family of Hathaway. Mr. Thomas Hathaway, I 
believe Shakspeare's brother-in-law, died at Stratford in 1654-5, 
at the age of 85. 

There was a Thomas Jones, an inhabitant of Stratford, who 
between the years 1581 and 1590 had four sons, Henry, James, 
Edmund, and Isaac : some one of these, it is probable, settled 
at Tarbick, and was the father of Thomas Jones, the relater of 
this anecdote, who was born about the year 1613. 

If any of Shakspeare's brothers lived till after the Restoration, 
and visited the players, why were we not informed to what 
player he related it, and from what player Mr. Oldys had his 
account? The fact, I believe, is, he had it not from a player, 
but from the above-mentioned Mr. Jones, who likewise commu- 
nicated the stanza of -the ballad on Sir Thomas Lucy, which ha6 
been printed in a former page. Malone. 


his dramatick entertainments grew the greatest 
support of our principal, if not of all our theatres, 
he continued it seems so long after his brother's 
death, as even to the latter end of his own life. 
The curiosity at this time of the most noted actors 
[exciting them] to learn something from him of 
his brother, &c. they justly held him in the highest 
veneration. And it may be well believed, as there 
was besides a kinsman and descendant of the 
family, who was then a celebrated actor among 
them, [Charles Hart* See Shakspeare's Will.] this 
opportunity made them greedily inquisitive into 
every little circumstance, more especially in his 
dramatick character, which his brother could re- 
late of him. But he, it seems, was so stricken in 
years, and possibly his memory so weakened with 
infirmities, (which might make him the easier 
pass for a man of weak intellects,) that he could 
give them but little light into their enquiries ; and 
all that could be recollected from him of his bro- 
ther Will, in that station was, the faint, general, 
and almost lost ideas he had of having once seen 
him act a part in one of his own comedies, where- 
in being to personate a decrepit old man, he wore 
a long beard, and appeared so weak and drooping 
and unable to walk, that he was forced to be sup- 
ported and carried by another person to a table, at 

Charles Hart."] Mr. Charles Hart the player was born, 
I believe, about the year 1630, and died in or about 16S2. If 
he was a grandson of Shakspeare's sister, he was probably the 
son of Michael Hart, her youngest son, of whose marriage or 
death there is no account in the parish Register of Stratford, 
and therefore I suspect he settled in London. Malone. 

Charles Hart died in August, 1663, and was buried at Stan- 
more the 20th of that month. Lysons's Environs of London, 
Vol. III. p. 400. Reed. 

VOL. I. K 


which he was seated among some company, who 
were eating, and one of them sung a song." See 
the character of Adam, in As you like it, Act II. 
sc. ult. 

" Verses by Ben Jonson and Shakspeare, occa- 
sioned by the motto to the Globe Theatre Totys 
mundus agit histrionem. 


' If, but stage actors, all the world displays, 
' Where shall we find spectators of their plays?' 


Little, or much, of what we see, we do ; 
* We are all both actors and spectators too.' 

Poetical Characteristicks, 8vo. MS. Vol. I. some 
time in the Harleian Library; which volume was 
returned to its owner." 

" Old Mr. Bowman the player reported from Sir 
William Bishop, that some part of Sir John Fal- 
staff's character was drawn from a townsman of 
Stratford, who either faithlessly broke a contract, 
or spitefully refused to part with some land for a 
valuable consideration, adjoining to Shakspeare's, 
in or near that town." 

To these anecdotes I can only add the follow- 

At the conclusion of the advertisement prefixed 
to Lintot's edition of Shakspeare's Poems, it is 
said, " That most learned prince and great patron 
of learning, King James the First, was pleased with 


his own hand to write an amicable letter to Mr. 
Shakspeare ; which letter, though now lost, re- 
mained long in the hands of Sir William D'Ave- 
nant, 3 as a credible person now living can testify." 
Mr. Oldys, in a MS. note to his copy of Fuller's 
Worthiest observes, that " the story came from the 
Duke of Buckingham, who had it from Sir Wil- 
liam D'Avenant." 

It appears from Roscius Anglicanus, (commonly 
called Downes the prompter's book,) 1708, that 
Shakspeare took the pains to instruct Joseph Taylor 
in the character of Hamlet, and John Lowine in 
that of King Henry VIII. Steevens. 

The late Mr. Thomas Osborne, bookseller, 
(whose exploits are celebrated by the author of 
the Dunciad,) being ignorant in what form or lan- 
guage our Paradise Lost was written, employed 
one of his garretteers to render it from a French 
translation into English prose. Lest, hereafter, 
the compositions of Shakspeare should be brought 
back into their native tongue from the version of 
Monsieur le Compte de Catuelan, le Tourneur, &c. 
it may be necessary to observe, that all the follow- 
ing particulars, extracted from the preface of these 
gentlemen, are as little truth as their 
description of the ridiculous Jubilee at Stratford, 

' xvhich letter, though now lost, remained long in the 

hands of Sir William D'Avenant.] Dr. Farmer with great pro- 
bability supposes that this letter was written by Kings James in 
return for the compliment paid to him in Macbeth. The relater 
of this anecdote was Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham. 


K 2 


which they have been taught to represent as an 
affair of general approbation and national concern. 

They say, that Shakspeare came to London with- 
out a plan, and finding himself at the door of a 
theatre, instinctively stopped there, and offered 
himself to be a holder of horses : that he was 
remarkable for his excellent performance of the 
Ghost in Hamlet: that he borrowed nothing from 
preceding writers : that all on a sudden he left 
the stage, and returned without eclat into his na- 
tive country: that his monument at Stratford is 
of copper : that the courtiers of James I. paid 
several compliments to him which are still pre- 
served : that he relieved a widow, who, together 
with her numerous family, was involved in a ruin- 
ous lawsuit : that his editors have restored many 
passages in his plays, by the assistance of the ma- 
nuscripts he left behina him, &c. &c. 

Let me not, however, forget the justice due to 
these ingeniousFrenchmen, whose skill and fidelity 
in the execution of their very difficult undertaking, 
is only exceeded by such a display of candour as 
would serve to cover the imperfections of much 
less elegant and judicious writers. Steevens. 


Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, of the Shak- 
speare Family; transcribed from the Register- 
Books of the Parish qf Stratford-upon-Avon, 
Warwickshire. 4 

JONE,* daughter of John Shakspere, was bap- 
tized Sept. 15, 1558. 

Margaret, daughter of John Shakspere, was buried 
April 30, 1563. 

WILLIAM, Son of John Shakspere, was baptized 
April 26, 1564. 6 

Johanna, daughter of Richard Hathaway, other- 
wise Gardiner, of Shottery, 7 was baptized 
May 9, 1566. 

4 An inaccurate and very imperfect list of the baptisms, &c. 
of Shakspeare's family was transmitted by Mr. West about 
eighteen years ago to Mr. Steevens. The list now printed I 
have extracted with great care from the Registers of Stratford; 
and I trust, it will be found correct. Malone. 

* This lady Mr. West supposed to have married the ancestor 
of the Harts of Stratford; but he was certainly mistaken. She 
died probably in her infancy. The wife of Mr. Hart was un- 
doubtedly the second Jone, mentioned below. Her son Michael 
was born in the latter end of the year 1608, at which time she 
was above thirty-nine years old. The elder Jone would then 
have been near fifty. Malonb. 

He was born three days before, April 23, 1564. Malone. 

7 This Richard Hathaway of Shottery was probably the father 
to Anne Hathaway, our poet's wife. There is no entry of her 
baptism, the Register not commencing till 1558, two years after 
he was born. Thomas, the son of this Richard Hathaway, 


Gilbert, son of John Shakspere, was baptized Oct. 

f, 1566. 
daughter of John Shakspere, was baptized 
April 15, 1569. 

Anne, daughter of Mr. John Shakspere, was bap- 
tized Sept. 28, 1571. 

Richard, son of Mr. John Shakspere, was baptized 
March 11, 1573. [1573-4.] 

Anne, daughter of Mr. John Shakspere, was buried 
April 4, 1579. 

Edmund, son of Mr. John Shakspere, was bap- 
tized May 3, 1580. 

Susanna, daughter of William Shakspere, was 
baptized May 26, 1583. 

Elizabeth, daughter of Anthony Shakspere, of 
Hampton, 9 was baptized February 10, 1583. 

was baptized at Stratford, April 12, 1569; John, another son, 
Feb. 3, 1574 ; and William, another, son, Nov. 30, 1578. 


It was common in the age of Queen Elizabeth to give the 
same christian name to two children successively. (Thus, Mr. 
Sadler, who was godfather to Shakspeare's son, had two sons 
who were baptized by the name of John. See note 1.) This 
was undoubtedly done in the present instance. The former Jone 
having probably died, (thougn I can find no entry of her burial 
in the Register, nor indeed of many of the other children of John 
Shakspeare) the name of Jone, a very favourite one in those 
days, was transferred to another new-born child. This latter Jone 
"married Mr. William Hart, a hatter in Stratford, some time, as 
I conjecture, in the year 1599, when she was thirty years old; 
for her eldest son William was baptized there, August 28, 1600. 
There is no entry of her marriage in the Register. Malone. 

9 There was also a Mr. Henry Shakspeare settled at Hamp- 
ton-Lucy, as appears from the Register of that parish : 

15S2 Lettice, daughter of Henry Shakspeare, was baptized. 

1585 James, son of Henry Shakspeare, was baptized. 

1589 James, son of Henry Shakspeare, was buried. 

There was a Thomas Shakspeare settled at Warwick ; for in 


John Shakspere and Margery Roberts were mar- 
ried Nov. 25, 1584. 

Hamnet 1 and Judith, son and daughter of Wil- 
liam Shakspere, were baptized February 2, 
1584. [15S4-5.] 

Margery, wife of John Shakspere, was buried Oct. 
29, 1587. 

the Rolls Chapel I found the inrolment of a deed made in the 
44th year of Queen Elizabeth, conveying ** to Thomas Shak- 
speare of Warwick, yeoman, Sachbroke, alias Bishop-Sach- 
broke, in Com. Warw." M alone. 

1 Mr. West imagined that our poet's only son was christened 
by the name of Samuel, but he was mistaken. Mr. Hamnet 
Sadler, who was related, if I mistake not, to the Shakspeare 
family, appears to have been sponsor for his son ; and his wife, 
Mrs. Judith Sadler, to have been godmother to Judith, the other 
twin-child. The name Hamnet is written very distinctly both in 
the entry of the baptism and burial of this child. Hamnet and 
Hamlet seem to have been considered as the same name, and to 
have been used indiscriminately both in speaking and writing. 
Thus, this Mr. Hamnet Sadler, who is a witness to Shakspeare s 
Will, writes his christian name, Hamnet ; but the scrivener who 
drew up the will, writes it Hamlet. There is the same variation 
in the Register of Stratford, where the name is spelt in three or 
four different ways. Thus, among the baptisms we find, in 
1591, " May 26, John, filius Hamletti Sadler;" and in 1563, 
" Sept. 13, Margaret, daughter to Hamlet Sadler." But in 1588, 
Sept. 20, we find "John, son to Hamnet Sadler;" in 1596, 
April 4, we have " Judith, filia Hamnet Sadler;" in 1597-8, 
"Feb. 3, Wilhelmus, filius Hambnet Sadler;" and in 1 5gg, 
"April 23, Francis, filius Hamnet Sadler." This Mr. Sadler 
died in 1624, and the entry of his burial stands thus: " J 024, 
Oct. 26, Hamlet Sadler." So also in that of his wife: " 1623, 
March 23, Judith, uxor Hamlet Sadler." 

The name of Hamlet occurs in several other entries in the 
Register. Oct. 4, 1576, " Hamlet, son to Humphry Holdar," 
was buried; and Sept. 28, 1504, " Catharina, uxor Hamoleti 
Hassal." Mr. Hamlet Smith, formerly of the borough of Strat- 
ford, is one of the benefactors annually commemorated there. 

Our poet's only son, Hamnet, died in 1 596, in the twelfth 
year of his age. Ma lone. 


Thomas, 4 son of Richard Queeny, was baptized 

Feb. 26, 1588. [1588-9.] 
Ursula, 3 daughter of John Shakspere, was baptized 

March 11, 1588. [1588-9.] 
Thomas Greene, alias Shakspere, 4 was buried 

March 6, 1589. [1589-90.] 

This gentleman married our poet's youngest daughter. He 
had three sisters, Elizabeth, Anne, and Mary, and five bro- 
thers; Adrian, born in 1586, Richard, born in 1587, William, 
born in 1593, John in 1597, and George, baptized April 9, 
16OO. George was curate of the parish of Stratford, and died 
of a consumption. He was buried there April II, 1624. In 
Doctor Hall's pocket-book is the following entry relative to him : 
" 36, Mr. Quiney, tussi gravi cum magna phlegmatis copia, et 
cibi vomitu, feb. lenta debilitatus," &c. The case concludes 
thus: "Anno seq. (no year is mentioned in the case, but the 
preceding case is dated 1624,) in hoc malum incidebat. Multa 
frustra tentata ; placide cum Domino dormit. Fuit boni indo- 
lis, et pro juveni-omnifariam doctus." Malone. 

' This Ursula, and her brothers, Humphrey and Philip, ap- 
pear to have been the children of John Shakspeare by Mary, his 
third wife, though no such marriage is entered in the Register. 
I have not been able to learn her surname, or in what church 
she was married. She died in Sept. 1608. 

It has been suggested to me that the John Shakspeare here 
mentioned was an elder brother of our poet, (not his father,) 
born, like Margaret Shakspeare, before the commencement of 
the Register : but had this been the case, he probably would have 
been called John the younger, old Mr. Shakspeare being alive in 
1569. I am therefore of opinion that our poet's father was 
meant, and that he was thrice married. Malone. 

4 A great many names occur in this Register, with an alias, 
the meaning of which it is not very easy to ascertain. I should 
have supposed that the persons thus described were illegitimate, 
and that this Thomas Greene was the son of one of our poet's 
kinsmen, by a daughter of Thomas Greene, Esq. a gentleman 
who resided in Stratford; but that in the Register we frequently 
find the word bastard expressly added to the names of the 
children baptized. Perhaps this latter form was only used in the 
case of servants, labourers, &c. and the illegitimate offspring of 
the higher order was more delicately denoted by an alias. 

The Rev. Mr. Davenport observes to rae tfcat there are two 


Humphrey, son of John Shakspere, was baptized 

May 24, 1590. 
Philip, son of John Shakspere, was baptized Sept. 

21, 1591. 
Thomas, 5 son of Mr. Anthony Nash, was baptized 

June 20, 1593. 
Hamnet, son of William Shakspeare, was buried 

Aug. 11, 1596. 
William, son of William Hart, was baptized Aug. 

28, 1600. 
Mr. John Shakspeare was buried Sept. 8, 1601. 
Mr. Richard Quiney, 6 Bailiff of Stratford, was 

buried May 31, 1602. 
Mary, daughter of William Hart, was baptized 

June 5, 1 603. 
Thomas, son of William Hart, hatter, was baptized 

July 24, 1605. 
John Hall, gentleman, and Susanna Shakspere, 

were married June 5, 1607. 

families at present in Stratford, (and probably several more) that 
are distinguished by an alias. " The real name of one of these 
families is Roberts, but they generally go by the name of Burford. 
The ancestor of the family came originally from Burford in Ox- 
fordshire, and was frequently called from this circumstance by 
the name of Burford. This name has prevailed, and they are 
always now called by it; but they write their name, Roberts, 
alias Burford, and are so entered in the Register. 

** The real name of the other family is Smith, but they are 
more known by the name of Buck. The ancestor of this fa- 
mily, from some circumstance or other, obtained the nickname 
of Buck, and they now write themselves, Smith, alias Buck." 


* This gentleman married our poet's grand-daughter, Eliza- 
beth Hall. His father, Mr. Anthony Nash, lived at Welcombe, 
(where he had an estate,) as appears by the following entry of 
the baptism of another of his sons: " 1599, Oct. 15, John, son 
to Mr. Anthony Nash, of Wtlcombe." Ma lone. 

a This was the father of Mr. Thomas Quiney, who married 
Shakspcare's youngest daughter. Ma lone. 


Mary, daughter of William Hart, was buried Dec. 
17, 1607. 

Elizabeth, daughter of John Hall, gentleman, was 
baptized Feb. 21, 1607. [1607-8.] 

Mary Shakspere, widow, was buried Sept. 9, 1608. 

Michael, son of William Hart, was baptized Sept. 
23, 1608. 

Gilbert Shakspeare, adolescens, 7 was buried Feb. 3, 
1611. [1611-12.] 

Richard Shakspere, was buried February 4, 1612. 

Thomas Queeny and Judith Shakspere 8 were mar- 
ried Feb. 10, 1615. [1615-16.] 

William Hart, 9 hatter, was buried April 17, 1616. 

7 This was probably a son of Gilbert Shakspeare, our poet's 
brother. When the elder Gilbert died, the Register does not 
inform us ; but he certainly died before his son. Malone. 

8 This lady, who was our poet's youngest daughter, appears 
to have married without her father's knowledge, for he mentions 
her in his will as unmarried. Mr. West, as I have already ob- 
served, was mistaken in supposing she was married in Feb. \6l6, 
that is, in 1616-17. She was certainly married before her fa- 
ther's death. See a former note in p. 92, in which the entry is 
given exactly as it stands in the Register. 

As Shakspeare the poet married his wife from Shottery, Mr. 
West conjectured he might have become possessed of a remark- 
able house, and jointly with his wife conveyed it as a part of their 
daughter Judith's portion to Thomas Queeny. " It is certain," 
Mr. West adds, " that one Queeny, an elderly gentleman, sold 

it to Harvey, Esq. of Stockton, near Southam, Warwick- ' 

shire, father of John Harvey Thursby, Esq. of Abington, near 
Northampton ; and that the aforesaid Harvey sold it again to 
Samuel Tyler, Esq. whose sisters, as his heirs, now enjoy it." 

But how could Shakspeare have conveyed this house, if he 
ever owned it, to Mr. Queeny, as a marriage portion with his 
daughter, concerning whom there is the following clause in his 
will, executed one month before his death : " Provided that if 
such husband as she shall at the end of the said three years be 
married unto," &c. Malone. 

9 This William Hart was our poet's brother-in-law. He died, 
it appears, a few days before Shakspeare. Malone. 


WILLIAM SHAKSPERE, 1 gentleman, was bu- 
ried April 25, 2 1616. 
Shakspere, son of Thomas Quiney, gentleman, was 

baptized Nov. 23, 1616. 
Shakspere, son of Thomas Quiney, gentleman, was 

buried May 8, 1617. 
Richard, son of Thomas Quiney, was baptized Feb. 

9, 1617. [1617-18.] 
Thomas, son of Thomas Quiney, was baptized 

Aug. 29, 1619. 
Anthony Nash, Esq. 3 was buried Nov. 18, 1622. 
Mrs. Shakspere 4 was buried Aug. 8, 1623. 
Mr. Thomas Nash was married to Mrs. Elizabeth 

Hall, April 22, 1626. 
Thomas, 5 son of Thomas Hart, was baptized April 

13, 1634. 
Dr. John Hall, 6 [" medicus peritissimus,"] was 

buried Nov. 26, 1635. 

1 He died, as appears from his monument, April 23d. 


* No one hath protracted the Life of Shakspeare beyond l6l6, 
except Mr. Hume ; who is pleased to add a year to it, contrary 
to all manner of evidence. Farmer. 

' Father of Mr. Thomas Nash, the husband of Elizabeth Hall. 


* This lady, who was the poet's widow, and whose maiden 
name was Anne Hathaway, died, as appears from her tomb-stone 
(see p. 6l, n. g.) at the age of 67, and consequently was near 
eight years older than her husband. I have not been able to 
ascertain when or where they were married, but suspect the ce- 
remony was performed at Hampton-Lucy, or Billesley, in Au- 
gust, 1582. Die register of the latter parish is lost. Malone. 

* It appears from Lady Barnard's will that this Thomas Hart 
was alive in 1 669. The Register does not ascertain the time of 
his death, nor that of his father. Malone. 

6 It has been supposed that the family of Miller of Hide-Hall, 


George, son of Thomas Hart, was baptized Sept. 

18, 1636. 
Thomas, son of Thomas Quiney, was buried Jan. 

28, 1638. [1638-9.] 

in the county of Herts, were descended from Dr. Hall's daugh- 
ter Elizabeth ; and to prove this fact, the following pedigree was 
transmitted some years ago by Mr. Whalley to Mr. Steevens : 

John Hall = Susanna, daughter and co-heiress of 
William Shakspeare. 

Elizabeth Hall = Thomas Nash, Esq. 

A daughter = Sir Reginald Forster, of Warwickshire. 

Franklyn Miller = Jane Forster. 
Of Hide-Hall, " 
Co. Hertford. 

Miller =: 

Nicholas Miller = Mary 

Nicholas Franklyn Miller of Hide- 
Hall, the only surviving branch 
of the family of Miller. 

But this pedigree is founded on a mistake, and there is un- 
doubtedly no lineal descendant of Shakspeare now living. The 
mistake was, the supposing that Sir Reginald Forster married a 
daughter of Mr. Thomas Nash and Elizabeth Hall, who had no 
issue, either by that gentleman or her second husband, Sir John 
Barnard. Sir Reginald Forster married the daughter of Edward 
Nash, Esq. of East Greenwich, in the county of Kent, cousin- 
german to Mr. Thomas Nash ; and the pedigree ought to have 
been formed thus : 



Richard, son of Thomas Quiney, was buried Feb. 
26, 1638. [1638-9.] 

Anthony Nash = |" Geor e Nash = | j 

Tho. Nash = Elizabeth Hall = Sir John Barnard. 


Edward Nash 

Thomas Nash. Jane Nash. Mary Nash = Reginald Forster, Edt. 

I afterwards Sir Regi- 
nald Forster, Bart. 

Reginald Forster. Mary Forster. Franklyn Miller = Jane Forster. 

of Hide-Hall, I 
Co. Hertford. | 

Will. Norcliffe, Esq. as Jane Miller. Nicholas Miller = Mary . 

Nicholas Franklyn Miller. = 

Mundy, Esq.=- 



dward Miller Mundy, Esq. the 
present owner of Hide-Hall. 

That I am right in this statement, appears from the will of 
Edward Nash, (see p. 96, n. 8.) and from the following inscrip- 
tion on a monument in the church of Stratford, erected some 
time after the year 1733, by Jane Norcliffe, the wife of William 
Norcliffe, Esq. and only daughter of Franklyn Miller, by Jane 
Forster : 

" P. M. S. 

" Beneath lye interred the body's of Sir Reginald Forster, Ba- 
ronet, and dame Mary his wife, daughter of Edward Nash of 
East Greenwich, in the county of Kent," &c. For this inscrip- 


William Hart 7 was buried March 29, 1639. 

Mary, daughter of Thomas Hart, was baptized 
June 18, 1641. 

Joan Hart, widow, was buried Nov. 4, 1646. 

Thomas Nash, Esq. was buried April 5, 1647. 

Mrs. Susanna Hall, widow, was buried July 16, 

Mr. Richard Queeny, 8 gent, of London, was bu- 
ried May 23, 1656. 

George Hart, son of Thomas Hart, was married 
by Francis Smyth, Justice of peace, to Hes- 
ter Ludiate, daughter of Thomas Ludiate, 
Jan. 9, 1657. [1657-8.] 

tion I am indebted to the kindness of the Rev. Mr. Davenport, 
Vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon. 

Reginald Forster, Esq. who lived at Greenwich, was created 
a Baronet, May 4, \66\. His son Reginald, who married Misa 
Nash, succeeded to the title on the death of his father, some 
time after the year 1679- Their only son, Reginald, was buried 
at Stratford, Aug. 10, 1685. 

Mrs. Elizabeth Nash was married to her second husband, Sir 
John Barnard, at Billesley, about three miles from Stratford- 
upon-Avon, June 5, 1649, and was buried at Abington in the 
county of Northampton, Feb. 17, 1669-7O; and with her the 
family of our poet became extinct. Malone. 

7 The eldest son of Joan Hart, our poet's sister. I have not 
found any entry in the Register of the deaths of his brothers 
Thomas and Michael Hart. The latter, I suspect, settled in 
London, and was perhaps the father of Charles Hart, the cele- 
brated tragedian, who, I believe, was born about the year 1630. 


This gentleman was born in 1587, and was brother to Tho- 
mas Quiney, who married Shakspeare's youngest daughter. It 
does not appear when Thomas Quiney died. There is a defect 
in the Register during the years 1642, 1643, and 1644; and 
another lacuna from March 17, to Nov. 18, 1663. Our poet's 
son-in-law probably died in the latter of those periods ; for his 
wife, who died in Feb. 1 661-2, in the Register of Burials for 
that year is described thus: * Judith, uxor Thomas Quiney." 
Had her husband been then dead, she would have been denomi- 
nated vidua, Malone. 


Elizabeth, daughter of George Hart, was baptized 

Jan. 9, 1658. [1658-9.] 
Jane, daughter of George Hart, was baptized Dec. 

21, 1661. 
Judith, wife of Thomas Quiney, gent, was buried 

Feb. 9, 1661. [1661-62.] 
Susanna, daughter of George Hart, was baptized 

March 18, 1663. [1663-4.] 
Shakspeare, son of George Hart, was baptized 

Nov. 18, 1666. 
Mary, daughter of George Hart, was baptized 

March 31, 1671. 
Thomas, son of George Hart, was baptized March 

3, 1673. [1673-4.] 
George, son of George Hart, was baptized Aug. 

20, 1676. 
Margaret Hart, 9 widow, was buried Nov. 28, 1682. 
Daniel Smith and Susanna Hart were married 

April 16, 1688. 
Shakspeare Hart was married to Anne Prew, 

April 10, 1694. 
William Shakspeare, son of Shakspeare Hart, was 

baptized Sept. 14, 1695. 
Hester, wife of George Hart, was buried April 29, 

Anne, daughter of Shakspeare and Anne Hart, 

was baptized Aug. 9, 1700. 
George, son of George and Mary Hart, was bap. 

tized Nov. 29, 1700. 
George Hart 1 was buried May 3, 1702. 
Hester, daughter of George Hart, was baptized 

Feb. 10, 1702. [1702-3.] 

Probably the wife of Thomas Hart, who must have been 
married in or before the year 1633. The marriage ceremony 
was not performed at Stratford, there being no entry of it in the 
Register. Mai-one. 

He was born in 1636. Ma lone. 


Catharine, daughter of Shakspeare and Anne 

Hart, was baptized July 19, 1703. 
Mary, daughter of George Hart, was baptized 

Oct. 7, 1705. 
Mary, wife of George Hart, was buried Oct. 7, 

George Hart was married to Sarah Mountford, 

Feb. 20, 1728. [1728-9.] 
Thomas, 2 son of George Hart, Jun. was baptized 

May 9, 1729. 
Sarah, daughter of George Hart, was baptized 

Sept. 29, 1733. 
Anne, daughter of Shakspeare Hart, was buried 

March 29, 1738. 
Anne, daughter of George Hart, was baptized 

Sept. 29, 1740. 
William Shakspeare, son of William Shakspeare 

Hart, was baptized Jan. 8, 1743. [1743-4.] 
William Shakspeare, son of William Shakspeare 

Hart, was buried March 8, 1744. [1744-5.] 
William, son of George Hart, was buried April 28, 

George Hart 3 was buried Aug. 29, 1745. 
Thomas, son of William Shakspeare Hart, was bu- 
ried March 12, 1746. [l 746-7-] 
Shakspeare Hart 4 was buried July 7, 1747. 
Catharine, daughter of William Shakspeare Hart, 

was baptized May 10, 1748. 

' This Thomas Hart, who is the fifth in descent from Joan 
Hart, our poet's sister, is now (1788) living at Stratford, in the 
house in which Shakspeare was born. Malone. 

' He was born in 1676, and was great grandson to Joan 
Hart. Malone. 

4 He was born in 1666, and was also great grandson to Joan 
Hart. Malone. 8 8 


William Shakspeare Hart 5 was buried Feb. 28, 

. 1749. [1749-50.] 
The widow Hart 6 was buried July 10, 1753. 
John, son of Thomas Hart, was baptized Aug. 18, 

Anne, daughter of Shakspeare and Anne Hart, 

was buried Feb. 5, 1760. 
Frances, daughter of Thomas Hart, was baptized 

Aug. 8, 1760. 
Thomas, son of Thomas Hart, was baptized Aug. 

10, 1764. 
Anne, daughter of Thomas Hart, was baptized 

Jan. 16, 1767. 
Sarah, daughter of George Hart, was buried Sept. 

10, 1768. 
Frances, daughter of Thomas Hart, was buried 

Oct. 31, 1774. 
George Hart 7 was buried July 8, 1778. 

* He was born in J 695. Malone. 

9 This absurd mode of entry seems to have been adopted for 
the purpose of concealment rather than information; for by the 
omission of the christian name, it is impossible to ascertain from 
the Register who was meant. The person here described was, 
I believe, Anne, the widow of Shakspeare Hart, who died in 
1747. Malonk. 

7 He was born in 1700. Malone. 

\ 01 . 1. 


The following Instrument* is copied from the Ori- 
ginal in the College of Heralds : It is marked 
G. 13, p. 349. 

10 all and singuler noble and gentlemen of all 
estats and degrees, bearing arms, to whom these 
presents shall come, William Dethick, Garter, 
rrincipall King of Arms of England, and William 
Camden, alias Clarencieulx, King of Arms for the 
south, east, and west parts of this realme, sendethe 
greeting. Know ye, that in all nations and king- 
doms the record and remembraunce of the valeant 
facts and vertuous dispositions of worthie men 
have been made knowne and divulged by certeyne 
shields of arms and tokens of chevalrie; the grant 
and testimonie whereof apperteyneth unto us, by 
vertu of our offices from the Quenes most Exc. 
Majestie, and her Highenes most noble and victo- 
rious progenitors : wherefore being solicited, and 
by credible report informed, that John Shak- 

8 In the Herald's Office are the first draughts of John Shak- 
speare's grant or confirmation of arms, by William Dethick, 
Garter, Principal King at Arms, 1596. See Vincent's Press, 
Vol.157, No. 23, and 4. Steevens. 

In a Manuscript in the College of Heralds, marked W. 2 
p. 2/6, is the following note : " As for the speare in bend, it is a 
patible difference, and the person to whom it was granted hath 
borne magistracy, and was justice of peace at Stratford-upon- 
Avon. He married the daughter and heire of Arderne, and was 
able to maintain that estate." Malone. 


speare, now of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the counte 
of Warwick, gent, whose parent, great grandfather, 
and late antecessor, for his faithefull and approved 
service to the late most prudent prince, king 
Henry VII. of famous memorie, was advaunced 
and rewarded with lands and tenements, geven to 
him in those parts of Warwickshere, where they 
have continewed by some descents in good reputa- 
cion and credit ; and for that the said John Shak- 
speare having maryed the daughter and one of the 
heyrs of Robert Arden.of Wellingcote, in the said 
countie, and also produced this his auncient cote of 
arms, heretofore assigned to him whilest he was her 
Majesties officer and baylefe of that towne ; 9 In 
consideration of the premisses, and for the encou- 
ragement of his posteritie, unto whom suche bla- 
zon of arms and achievements of inheritance from 
theyre said mother, by the auncyent custome and 
lawes of arms, maye lawfully descend; We the said 
Garter and Clarencieulx have assigned, graunted, 
and by these presents exemplefied unto the said 
John Shakspeare, and to his posteritie, that shield 
and cote of arms, viz. In afield of gould upon a 
bend sables a speare of thefrst, the poynt upward^ 
hedded argent ; and for his crest or cognisance, A 
falcon with his ivyngs displayed, standing on a xvrethe 
of his coullers, supporting a speare armed hedded, 
or steeled sylver, fyxed uppon a helmet with mantell 
and tassels, as more playnely maye appeare depect- 
ed on this margent; and we have likewise uppon on 
other escutcheon impaled the same with the aun- 

his auncient cote of arms, heretofore assigned to hint 
xvhilest he xvas her Majesties officer and baylefe of that towne ;"] 
This grant of arms was made by Cook, Clarencieux, in 
l.-jfy\ but is not now extant in the Herald's Office. 


L 2 


cyent arms of the said Arden ' of Wellingcote ; sig- 
nifieng therby, that it maye and shalbe lawfull for 
the said John Skakspeare gent, to beare and use the 
same shield of arms, single or impaled, as aforsaid, 
during his natural lyffe ; and that it shalbe lawfull 
for his children, yssue, and posteryte, (lawfully be- 
gotten,) to beare, use, and quarter, and show forth 
the same, with theyre dewe differences, in all lawfull 
warlyke facts and civile use or exercises, according 
to the laws of arms, and custome that to gentlemen 
belongethe, without let or interruption of any per- 
son or persons, for use or bearing the same. In 
wyttnesse and testemonye whereof we have sub- 
screbed our names, and fastened the seals of our of- 
fices, geven at the Office of Arms, London, the 
day of in the xlii yere of the reigne 

of our most gratious Sovraigne lady Elizabeth, by 
the grace of God, quene of Ingland, France, and 
Ireland, defender of the faith, &c. 1599. 

1 and ix>e have likewise impaled the same tuith the aun- 

cyent arms of the said Arden ] It is said by Mr. Jacob, the 
modern editor of Arden of Feversham, (first published in 1592 
and republished in 1 631 and 1770) that Shakspeare descended by 
the female line from the gentleman whose unfortunate end is the 
subject of this tragedy. But the assertion appears to want sup- 
port, the true name of the person who was murdered at Fever- 
sham being Ardcrn and not Arden. Ardern might be called 
Arden in the play for the sake of better sound, or might be cor- 
rupted in the Chronicle of Holinshed : yet it is unlikely that the 
true spelling should be overlooked among the Heralds, whose 
interest it is to recommend by ostentatious accuracy the trifles 
in which they deal. Steevens. 

Ardern was the original name, but in Shakspeare's time it had 
been softened to Arden. See p. 58, n. 5. Malone. 



,i.-i 1 1^> ; ' 


a. d. 1612-13. 

THE following is a transcript of a deed exe- 
cuted by our author three years before his death. 
The original deed, which was found in the year 
1768, among the title deeds of the Rev. Mr. Fe- 
therstonhaugh, of Oxted, in the county of Surry, 
is now in the possession of Mrs. Garrick, by whom 
it was obligingly transmitted to me through the 
hands of the Hon. Mr. Horace Walpole. Much 
has lately been said in various publications relative 
to the proper mode of spelling Shakspeare's mame. 
It is hoped we shall hear no more idle babble upon 
this subject. He spelt his name himself as I have 
just now written it, without the middle e. Let 
this therefore for ever decide the question. 

It should be remembered that to all ancient 
deeds were appended labels of parchment, which 
were inserted at the bottom of the deed ; on the 
upper part of which labels thus rising above the 
rest of the parchment, the executing parties wrote 
their names. Shakspeare, not finding room for the 
Whole of his name on the label, attempted to write 
the remaining letters at top, but having allowed 
himself only room enough to write the letter 0, he 
ga\e the matter up. His hand-writing, of which 
a facsimile is annexed, is much neater than many 
others, which 1 have seen, of that age. He neg- 
d, however, to scrape the parchment, in con- 
sequence of which the letters appear imperfectly 

He purchased the estate here mortgaged, from 


Henry Walker, for 1401. as appears from the enrol- 
ment of the deed of bargain and sale now in the 
Rolls-Chapel, dated the preceding day, March 10, 
1612-13. The deed here printed shows that he 
paid down eighty pounds of the purchase-money, 
and mortgaged the premises for the remainder. 
This deed and the purchase deed were probably 
both executed on the same day, (March 1 0,) like our 
modern conveyance of Lease and Release. Malone. 

THIS INDENTURE made the eleventh day of 
March, in the yeares of the reigne of our Sove- 
reigne Lorde James, by the grace of God, king of 
England, Scotland, Fraunce, and Ireland, defender 
of the faith, &c. that is to say, of England, Fraunce 
and Ireland the tenth, and of Scotland the six-and- 
fortieth ; Between William Shakespeare; of Strat- 
ford-upon-Avon, in the Countie of Warwick, gen- 
tleman, William Johnson, Citizen and Vintener 
of London, John Jackson, and John Hemyng of 
London, gentlemen, of thone partie, and Henry 
Walker, Citizen and Minstrell of London, of thother 
partie ; Witnesseth, that the said William Shake- 
speare, William Johnson, John Jackson, and John 
Hemyng, have demised, graunted, and to ferme 
letten, and by theis presents do demise, graunt, 
and to ferme lett unto the said Henry Walker, all 
that dwelling house or tenement, with thappurte- 
naunts, situate and being within the precinct, cir- 
cuit and compasse of the late Black frryers, Lon- 
don, sometymes in the tenure of James Gardyner, 
Esquire, and since that in the tenure of John For- 
tescue, gent, and now or late being in the tenure 
or occupation of one William Ireland, or of his as- 
signee or assignees ; abutting upon a streete leading 
downe to Puddle Wharfe, on the east part, right 


against the kings Majesties Wardrobe ; part of 
which said tenement is erected over a greate gate 
leading to a capitall messuage, which sometyme 
was in the tenure of William Blackwell, Esquire, 
deceased, and since that in the tenure or occupa- 
tion of the right honourable Henry now Earle 
of Northumberlande : And also all that plott of 
ground on the west side of the same tenement, 
which was lately inclosed with boords on two sides 
thereof, by Anne Baton, widow, so farre and in 
such sorte as the same was inclosed by the said 
Anne Baton, and not otherwise; and being on the 
third side inclosed with an old brick wall ; which 
said plott of ground was sometyme parcell and 
taken out of a great voyde peece of ground lately 
used for a garden ; and also the soyle whereupon 
the said tenement standeth ; and also the said 
brick wall and boords which doe inclose the said 
plott of ground ; with free entrie, accesse, in- 
gresse, and regresse, in, by, and through, the said 
great gate and yarde there, unto the usual dore of 
the said tenement : And also all and singular cel- 
lors, sollers, romes, lights, easiaments, profitts, 
commodities, and appurtenaunts whatsoever to 
the said dwelling-house or tenement belonging or 
in any wise apperteyning : TO HAVE and to 
HOLDE the said dwelling-house or tenement, 
cellers, sollers, romes, plott of ground, and all and 
singular other the premisses above by theis pre- 
sents mentioned to bee demised, and every part 
and parcell thereof,with thappurtenaunts, unto the 
the said Henry Walker, his executors, administra- 
tors, and assignes, from the feast of thannuncia- 
cion of the blessed Virgin Marye next coming 
after the date hereof, unto thende and terme of 
One hundred yeares from thence next ensuing, 


and fullie to be compleat and ended, withoute 
impeachment of, or for, any manner of waste: 
YELDING and paying therefore yearlie during 
the said terme unto the said William Shakespeare, 
William Johnson, John Jackson, and John He- 
myng, their heires and assignes, a pepper corne 
at the feast of Easter yearly, yf the same be law- 
fullie demaunded, and noe more. PROVIDED 
alwayes, that if the said William Shakespeare, his 
heires, executors, administrators or assignes, or 
any of them, doe well and trulie paie or cause to 
be paid to the said Henry Walker, his executors, 
administrators, or assignes, the sum of threescore 
pounds of lawfull money of England, in and upon 
the nyne and twentieth day of September next 
coming after the date hereof, at, or in, the no we 
dwelling-house of the said Henry W r alker, situate 
and being in the parish of Saint Martyn neer Lud- 
gate, of London, at one entier payment without 
delaie ; That then and from thenesforth this pre- 
sente lease, demise and graunt, and all and every 
matter and thing herein conteyned (other then this 
provisoe) shall cease, determine, and bee utterlie 
voyde, frustrate, and of none effect, as though the 
same had never beene had, ne made; theis pre- 
sents or any thing therein conteyned to the con- 
trary thereof in any wise notwithstanding. And 
the said William Shakespeare for himselfe, his 
heires, executors, and administrators, and for every 
of them, doth covenaunt, promisse and graunt to, 
and with, the said Henry Walker, his executors, 
administrators and assignes, and everie of them, by 
his heires, executors, administrators or assignes, 
shall and will cleerlie acquite, exonerate and dis- 
charge, or from tyme to tyme, and at all tymes 


hereafter, well and sufficientlie save and keepe 
harmless the said Henry Walker, his executors, ad- 
ministrators, and assignes, and every of them, and 
the said premisses by theis presents demised, and 
every parcell thereof, with thappurtenaunts, of 
and from all and al manner of former and other 
bargaynes, sales, guiftes, graunts, leases, jointures, 
dowers, intailes, statuts, recognizaunces, judg- 
ments, executions ; and of, and from, all and every 
other charge, titles, troubles, and incumbrances 
whatsoever by the said William Shakespeare, Wil- 
liam Johnson, John Jackson, and John Hemyng, or 
any of them, or by their or any of their meanes, 
had made, committed or done, before thensealing 
and delivery of theis presents, or hereafter before 
the said nyne and twentieth day of September next 
comming after the date hereof, to bee had, made, 
committed or done, except the rents and servits 
to the cheef lord or lords of the fee or fees of the 
premisses, for, or in respect of, his or their segnorie 
or seignories onlie, to bee due and done. 

IN WITNESSE whereof the said parties to 
theis indentures interchangeablie have sett their 
seales. Yeoven the day and years first above writ- 
ten, 1612 [1612-13.] 

W m Shakspe. W m Johnson. Jo. Jackson. 
Ensealed and delivered by the 

said William Shakespeare, 

William Johnson, and John 

Jackson? in the presence of 

Will. Atkinson. Robert Andrews, Scr.* 
Ed. Oudry. Henry Lawrence, Ser- 

vant to the said Scr. 

* John Homing did not sign, or seal. AIalone. 

* i. c. Scrivener. Malone. 



In the Office of the Prerogative Court of Canter- 


Vicesimo quinto die Martii,* Anno Regni Domini 
nostri Jacobi nunc Regis Anglice, fyc. decimo 
quarto , et Scotice quadragesimo nono. Anno 
Domini 1616. 

JN the name of God, Amen. I William Shak- 
speare of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of 
Warwick, gent, in perfect health and memory, 
(God be praised !) do make and ordain this my last 
will and testament in manner and form following; 
that is to say: 

First, I commend my soul into the hands of 
God my creator, hoping, and assuredly believing, 
through the only merits of Jesus Christ my Sa- 
viour, to be made partaker of life everlasting; and 
my body to the earth whereof it is made. 

Item, I give and bequeath unto my daughter 
Judith, one hundred and fifty pounds of lawful 
English money, to be paid unto her in manner and 
form following; that is to say, one hundred pounds 

4 Our poet's will appears to have been drawn up in February, 
though not executed till the following month ; for February was 
first written, and afterwards struck out, and March written over 
it. Majlonjc. 


in discharge of her marriage portion within one 
year after my decease, with consideration after the 
rate of two shillings in the pound for so long time 
as the same shall be unpaid unto her after my de- 
cease; and the fifty pounds residue thereof, upon 
her surrendering of, or giving of such sufficient 
security as the overseers of this my will shall like 
of, to surrender or grant, all her estate and right 
that shall descend or come unto her after my de- 
cease, or that she now hath, of, in, or to, one 
copyhold tenement, with the appurtenances, lying 
and being in Stratford-upon-Avon aforesaid, in 
the said county of Warwick, being parcel or holden 
of the manor of Rowington, unto my daughter 
Susanna Hall, and her heirs for ever. 

Item, I give and bequeath unto my said daughter 
Judith one hundred and fifty pounds more, if she, 
or any issue of her body, be living at the end of 
three years next ensuing the day of the date of this 
my will, during which time my executors to pay 
her consideration from my decease according to 
the rate aforesaid: and if she die within the said 
term without issue of her body, then my will is, 
and I do give and bequeath one hundred pounds 
thereof to my niece 5 Elizabeth Hall, and the fifty 

f>ounds to be set forth by my executors during the 
ife of my sister Joan Hart, and the use and profit 
thereof coming, shall be paid to my said sister 
Joan, and after her decease the said fifty pounds 
shall remain amongst the children of my said sister, 
equally to be divided amongst them ; but if my 

* to my niece ] Elizabeth Hall was our poet's grand- 
daughter. So, in Othtllo, Act 1. sc. i. Iago says to Brabantio ; 
" You'll have your nephew neigh to you ;" meaning his grand- 
children. See the note there. Malonk. 


said daughter Judith be living at the end of the said 
three rears, or any issue of her body, then my will 
is, tod so I devise and bequeath the said hundred 
and fifty pounds to be set out by my executors and 
overseers for the best benefit of her and her issue, 
and the stock not to be paid unto her so long as 
she shall be married and covert baron ; but my 
will is, that she shall have the consideration yearly 
paid unto her during her life, and after her decease 
the said stock and consideration to be paid to her 
children, if she have any, and if not, to her 
executors or assigns, she living the said term after 
my decease: provided that if such husband as she 
shall at the end of the said three years be married 
unto, or at any [time] after, do sufficiently assure 
unto her, and the issue of her body, lands answer- 
able to the portion by this my will given unto her, 
and to be adjudged so by my executors and over- 
seers, then my will is, that the said hundred and 
fifty pounds shall be paid to such husband as shall 
make such assurance, to his own use. 

Item, I give and bequeath unto my said sister 
Joan twenty pounds, and all my wearing apparel, 
to be paid and delivered within one year after my 
decease; and I do will and devise unto her the 
house, with the appurtenances, in Stratford, where- 
in she dwelleth, for her natural life, under the 
yearly rent of twelve-pence. 

Item, I give and bequeath unto her three sons, 
William Hart, Hart, 6 and Michael Hart, 

6 Hart,'] It is singular that neither Shakspeare nor any 

of his family should have recollected the christian name of his 
nephew, who was born at Stratford but eleven years before the 
making of his will. His christian name was Thomas; and he 
was baptized in that town, July 24, 1&05. Malone. 


five pounds apiece, to be paid within one year after 
my decease. 

Item, I give and bequeath unto the said Eliza- 
beth Hall all my plate, (except my broad silver and 
gilt bowl, 7 ) that I now have at the date of this my 

Item, I give and bequeath unto the poor of Strat- 
ford aforesaid ten pounds ; to Mr. Thomas Combe 8 
my sword ; to Thomas Russel, esq. five pounds ; 
and to Francis Collins 9 of the borough of Warwick, 
in the county of Warwick, gent, thirteen pounds 
six shillings and eight-pence, to be paid within one 
year after my decease. 

7 except my broad silver and gilt bowl,] This bowl, as 
we afterwards find, our poet bequeathed to his daughter Judith. 
Instead of bowl, Mr. Theobald, and all the subsequent editors, 
have here printed hoxes. Majloxe. 

Mr. Malone meant taxes ; but he has charged us all with 
having printed boxes, which we most certainly have not printed: 


> Mr. Thomas Combe,"] This gentleman was baptized at 

Stratford, Feb. 9, 1588-9, so that he was twenty-seven years old 
at the time of Shakspeare's death. He died at Stratford in July 
1657, aged 6b ; and his elder brother William died at the same 
place, Jan. 30, 1 600-7, aged 80. Mr. Thomas Combe by hi* 
will made June 30, \656, directed his executors to convert all his 
personal property into money, and to lay it out in the purchase 
of lands, to be settled on William Combe, the eldest son of John 
Combe of Allchurch in the county of Worcester, Gent, and his 
heirs male ; remainder to his two brothers successively. Where, 
therefore, our poet's sword has wandered, I have not been able 
to discover. 1 have taken the trouble to ascertain the ages of 
Shakspeare's friends and relations, and the time of their deaths, 
because we are thus enabled to judge how far the traditions con- 
cerning him which were communicated to Mr. Rowe in the be- 
ginning of this century, are worthy of credit. Malonk. 

to Francis Collins ] This gentleman, who was the 

son of Mr. Walter Collins, was baptized at Stratford, Dec. 24, 
10b2. 1 know not when he died. Malone. 


Item, I give and bequeath to Hamlet \_Hamnef] 
Sadler 1 twenty-six shillings eight-pence, to buy 
him a ring ; to William Reynolds, gent, twenty- 
six shillings eight-pence, to buy him a ring ; to my 
godson William Walker, 2 twenty shillings in gold ; 
to Anthony Nash, 3 gent, twenty-six shillings eight- 
pence; and to Mr. John Nash, 4 twenty-six shillings 
eight-pence ; and to my fellows, John Hemynge, 
Richard Burbage, and Henry Cundell, 5 twenty-six 
shillings eight-pence apiece, to buy them rings. 

Item, I give, will, bequeath, and devise, unto 
my daughter Susanna Hall, for better enabling of 
her to perform this my will, and towards the per- 
formance thereof, all that capital messuage or tene- 

1 to Hamnet Sadler ] This gentleman was godfather 

to Shakspeare's only son, who was called after him. Mr. Sadler, 
I believe, was born about the year 1550, and died at Stratford- 
upon-Avon, in October 1024. His wife, Judith Sadler, who 
was godmother to Shakspeare's youngest daughter, was buried 
there, March 23, ,1613-14. Our poet probably was godfather 
to their son William, who was baptized at Stratford, Feb. 5, 
1597-8. Malone. 

* to my godson, William Walker,"] William, the son of 

Henry Walker, was baptized at Stratford, Oct. 16, l60S. I 
mention this circumstance, because it ascertains that our author 
was at his native town in the autumn of that year. Mr. Wil- 
liam Walker was buried at Stratford, March 1, 1679-8O. 


* to Anthony Nash,] He was father of Mr. Thomas Nash, 

who married our poet's grand-daughter, Elizabeth Hall. He 
lived, I believe, at Welcombe, where his estate lay ; and was 
buried at Stratford, Nov. 18, 1622. Malone. 

4 to Mr. John Nash,] This gentleman died at Stratford, 

and was buried there, Nov. 10, 1623. Malone. 

* to my felloxus, John Hemynge, Richard Burbage, and 
Henry Cundell,'] These our poet's Jellous did not very long sur- 
vive him. Burbage died in March, 1619; Cundell in Decem- 
ber, 1627; and Heminge in October 1630. See their wills ia 
The Account )of our old Actors, in Vol. III. Malone. 


ment, with the appurtenances, in Stratford afore- 
said, called The New Place, wherein I now dwell, 
and two messuages or tenements, with the appur- 
tenances, situate, lying, and being in Henley-street, 
within the borough of Stratford aforesaid ; and all 
my barns, stables, orchards, gardens, lands, tene- 
ments, and hereditaments whatsoever, situate, ly- 
ing, and being, or to be had, received, perceived, 6 
or taken, within the towns, hamlets, villages, 
fields, and grounds of Stratford-upon-Avon, Old 
Stratford, Bishopton, and Welcombe, 7 or in any 
of them, in the said county of Warwick ; and also 
all that messuage or tenement, with the appurte- 
nances, wherein one John Robinson dwelleth, 
situate, lying, and being, in the Blackfriars in 
London near the Wardrobe; 8 and all other my 

received, perceived^] Instead of these words, we have 
hitherto had in all the printed copies of this will, reserved, pre- 
served. Malone. 

1 Old Stratford, Bishopton, and Welcombe,] The lands 

of Old Stratford, Bishopton, and Welcombe, here devised, were 
in Shakspeare's time a continuation of one large field, all in the 
parish of Stratford. Bishopton is two miles from Stratford, and 
Welcombe one. For Bishopton, Mr. Theobald erroneously 
printed Bushaxton, and the error has been continued in all the 
subsequent editions. The word in Shakspeare's original will is 
spelt Bushopton, the vulgar pronunciation of Bishopton. 

I searched the Indexes in the Rolls chapel from the year 1589 
to 1616, with the hope of finding an enrolment of the purchase- 
deed of the estate here devised by our poet, and of ascertaining 
its extent and value; but it was not enrolled during that period, 
nor could I find any inquisition taken after his death, by which 
its value might have been ascertained. I suppose it was conveyed 
by the former owner to Shakspeare, not by bargain and sale, but 
by a deed of feoffment, which it was not necessary to enroll. 


- that messuage or tenement in the Blackfriars in Lon- 


lands, tenements, and hereditaments whatsoever ; 
to have and to hold all and singular the said pre- 
mises, with their appurtenances, unto the said 
.Susanna Hall, for and during the term of her na- 
tural life ; and after her decease to the first son of 
her body lawfully issuing, and to the heirs males of 
the body of the said first son lawfully issuing ; and 
for default of such issue, to the second son of her 
body lawfully issuing, and to the heirs males of the 
body of the said second son lawfully issuing ; and 
for default of such heirs, to the third son of the 
body of the said Susanna lawfully issuing, and to 
the heirs males of the body of the said third son 
lawfully issuing ; and for default of such issue, the 
same so to be and remain to the fourth, fifth, sixth, 
and seventh sons of her body, lawfully issuing one 
after another, and to the heirs males of the bodies 
of the said fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh sons 
lawfully issuing, in such manner as it is before 
limited to be and remain to the first, second, and 
third sons of her body, and to their heirs males ; 
and for default of such issue, the said premises to 
be and remain to my said niece Hall, and the heirs 
males of her body lawfully issuing; and for default 
of such issue, to my daughter Judith, and the heirs 
males of her body lawfully issuing; and for default 
of such issue, to the right heirs of me the said 
William Shakspeare for ever. 

don near the Wardrobe ;] This was the house which was mort- 
gaged to Henry Walker. See p. 149. 

By the Wardrobe is meant the King's Great Wardrobe, a royal 
house near Puddle-Wharf, purchased by King Edward the Third 
from Sir John Beaucliamp, who built it. King Richard III. was 
lodged in this house in the second year of his reign. See Stowe's 
Survey, p. 693, edit. 1618. After the fire of London this of- 
fice was kept in the Savoy ; but it is now abolished.. 


:>,y'/.r 4b /-''/ /'</< ,/Jh<ik.>fi<;u->!ilhtricl I 

r<\Q fat /!***- 




t>f* /^^W gCjtJfyS*^ 

y4*rf MtJhJL 

G.Stt-trn** ,J*ltn**vU ifj& 


Item, I give unto my wife ray second best bed, 
with the furniture. 9 

Item, I give and bequeath to my said daughter 
Judith my broad silver gilt bowl. All the rest of 
my goods, chattels, leases, plate, jewels, and hous- 
hold stuff whatsoever, after my debts and legacies 
paid, and my funeral expences discharged, I give, 
devise, and bequeath to my son-in-law, John Hall, 
gent, and my daughter Susanna his wife, whom I 
ordnin and make executors of this my last will and 
testament. And I do entreat and appoint the said 
Thomas Russel, esq. and Francis Collins, gent, to 
be overseers hereof. And do revoke all former 
wills, and publish this to be my last will and testa- 
ment. In witness whereof I have hereunto put my 
hand, the day and year first above written. 

By me 1 miiliaro Simfcapeare. 

Witness to the publishing hereof, 

Fra. Collyns,* 
Julius Shaw, 3 
John Robinson, 4 
Hamnet Sadler,* 
Robert Whattcott. 

my second best bed, "with the furniture.") Thus Shak- 
speare's original will. Mr. Theobald and the other modern edi- 
tors have been more bountiful to Mrs. Shakspeare, having printed 
instead of these words, " my broxun best bed, with the fur- 
niture." Ma LONE. 

It appears, in the original will of Shakspeare, (now in the 
Prerogative-Office, Doctor's Commons,) that he had forgot his 
wife ; the legacy to her being expressed by an interlineation, aa 
well as those to Heminge, Burbage, and Condell. 

The will is written on three sheets of paper, the two last of 
which are undoubtedly subscribed with Shakspeare's own hand. 
The first indeed has his name in the margin, but it differs some- 
what in spelling as well as manner, from the two signatures that 

VOL. I. M 


' Probation fait testamentum suprascriptum apud 
London, coram Magistro William Byrde, he- 
gum Doctore, fyc. vicesimo secundo die mensis 
Junii, Anno Domini l616-,juramento Johannis 
Hall unius ex. cui, fyc. de bene, $c. jurat, re- 
servata potestate, c. Susanna? Hall, alt ex. fyc. 
earn cum venerit, fyc. petitur. $c. 

follow. The reader will find a fac-simile of all the three, as well 
as those of the witnesses, opposite this page. Steevens. 

The name at the top of the margin of the first sheet was pro- 
bably written by the scrivener who drew the will. This was the 
constant practice in Shakspeare's time. Malone. 

1 By me William Shakspeare.~] This was the mode of our 
poet's time. Thus the Register of Stratford is signed at the 
bottom of each page, in the year 1616: " Per me Richard Watts, 
Minister." These concluding words have hitherto been inaccu- 
rately exhibited thus : " the day and year first above-written 
by me, William Shakspeare." Neither the day, nor year, nor 
any preceding part of this will, was written by our poet. By 
me," &c. only means The above is the will of me William Shak- 
speare. Malone. 

* Fra. Collyns,] See p. 157. Malone. 

* Julius Shatv,'] was born in Sept. 157 1. He married 

Anne Boyes, May 5, 1594 ; and died at Stratford in June 1629. 


4 John Robinson,"] John, son of Thomas Robinson, was 

baptized at Stratford, Nov. 30, 1589. I know not when he died. 


* '' Hamnet Sadler.] See p. 158. Malone. 






Earle of Pembroke, &c. Lord Chamberlaine to the 
Kings most Excellent Majestie; 


Earle of Montgomery, &c. Gentleman of his 
Majesties Bed-chamber. 

Both Knights of the Most Noble Order of the 
Garter, and our singular good LORDS. 


WHILST we studie to be thankfull in our parti- 
cular, for the many favors we have received from 
your L. L. we are falne upon the ill fortune, to 
mingle two the most diverse things that can be, 
feare, and rashnesse ; rashnesse in the enterprize, 
and feare of the successe. For, when we value the 
places your H. H. sustaine, wee cannot but knowthe 
dignity greater, than to descend to the reading of 
these trifles : and, while we name them trifles, we 
have deprived ourselves of the defence of our de- 

M 2 


dication. But since your L. L. have been pleased 
to thinke these trifles something, heretofore ; and 
have prosequuted both them, and their authour 
living, with so much favour ; wejiope that (they 
out-living him, and he not having the fate, com- 
mon with some, to be exequutor to his owne writ- 
ings) you will use the same indulgence toward 
them, you have done unto their parent. There is 
a great difference, whether any booke choose his 
patrones, or find them : this.hath done both. For so 
much were your L. L. likings of the several parts, 
when they were acted, as before they were publish- 
ed, the volume asked to be yours. We have but 
collected them, and done an office to the dead, to 
procure his orphanes, guardians; without ambition 
either of selfe-profit, or fame : onely to keepe the 
memory of so worthy a friend, and fellow alive, 
as was our Shakspeare, by humble offer of his 
playes, to your most noble patronage. Wherein, 
as we have justly observed no man to come neere 
your L. L. but with a kind of religious addresse, it 
hath bin the height of our care, who are the pre- 
senters, to make the present worthy of your H. H. 
by the perfection. But, there we must also crave 
our abilities to be considered, my lords. We can- 
not goe beyond our owne powers. Country hands 
reach forth milke, creame, fruits, or what they have: 
and many nations (we have heard) that had not 
gummes and incense, obtained their requests with a 
leavened cake. 6 It was no fault to approach their 

6 Country hands reach forth milk, &c. and many nations 
that had not gummes and incense, obtained their requests "with a 
leavened cakeJ] This seems to have been one of the common* 
tolaces of dedication in Shakspeare's age. We find it in Morley's 
Dedication of a Book of Songs to Sir Robert Cecil, 1595 : " I 
have presumed (says he) to make offer of these simple coroposi- 


gods by what meanes they could : and the most, 
though meanest, of things are made more precious, 
when they are dedicated to temples. In that name 
therefore, we most humbly consecrate to your H. H. 
these remaines of your servant Shakspeare ; that 
what delight is in them may be ever your L. L. the 
reputation his, and the faults ours, if any be com- 
mitted, by a paire so carefull to shew their grati- 
tude both to the living, and the dead, as is 

Your Lordshippes most bounden, 

John Heminge, 
Henry Condell. 

tions of mine, imitating (right honourable) in this the customs 
of the old world, who wanting incense to offer up to their gods, 
made shift insteade thereof to honour them with milk.'* The 
tame thought (if I recollect right) is again employed by the 
players in their dedication of Fletcher's plays, folio, 1647. 







FROM the most able, to him that can but spell : 
there are you numbered, we had rather you were 
weighed. Especially, when the fate of all bookes 
depends upon your capacities : and not of your 
heads alone, but of your purses. Well ! it is now 
publique, and you will stand for your priviledges, 
wee know : to read, and censure. Doe so, but 
buy it first. That doth best commend a booke, 
the stationer saies. Then, how odde soever your 
braines be, or your wisdomes, make your licence 
the same, and spare not. Judge your sixe-pen'orth, 7 

7 Judge your sixe-perf orth, &c] So, in the Induction to Ben 
Jonson's Bartholomew Fair : " it shall be lawful for any man 
to judge his six-pen worth, his twelve-pen' worth, so to his eighteen 
pence, two shillings, half a crown, to the value of his place ; 
provided always his place get not above his wit. And if he pay 
for half a dozen, he may censure for all them too, so that he 
will undertake that they shall be silent. He shall put in for cen- 
surers here, as they do for lots at the lottery : marry, if he drop 
but six-pence at the door, and will censure a crowns-worth, it is 
thought there is no conscience or justice in that." 

Perhaps Old Ben was author of the Players' 1 Preface, and, in 
the instance before us, has borrowed from himself. Steevens, 


your shillings worth, your five shillings worth at a 
time, or higher, so you rise to the just rates, and 
welcome. But, whatever you doe, buy. Censure 
will not drive a trade, or make the jacke goe. And 
though you be a magistrate of wit, and sit on the 
stage at Black-friars, or the Cockpit, to arraigne 
plays dailie, know, these playes have had their triall 
already, and stood out all appeales ; and do now 
come forth quitted rather by a decree of court, than 
any purchased letters of commendation. 

It had bene a thing, we confesse, worthie to have 
been wished, that the author himselfe had lived to 
have set forth, and overseen his owne writings; but 
since it hath been ordained otherwise, 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 and published them ; and so to 
have published them, as where 8 (before) you were 
abused with divers stolne and surreptitious copies, 
maimed and deformed by the frauds and stealthes 
of injurious imposters, that exposed them, even 
those are now offered to your view cured, and per- 
fect of their limbes ; and all the rest, absolute in 
their numbers as he conceived them : who, as he 
was a happy imitator of nature, was a most gentle 
expresser of it. His mind and hand went together; 
and what he thought, he uttered with that easinesse, 
that wee have scarce received from him a blot in his 
papers. 9 But it is not our province, who onely 

father his workes, and give them you, to praise 
im. It is yours that reade him. And there we 
hope, to your divers capacities, you will finde 
enough, both to draw, and hold you : for his wit 

at where ] i. e. whereas. Malone. 

* Probably they had few of his MSS. Steevbns. 


can no more lie hid, then it could be lost. Reade 
him, therefore ; and againe, and againe : and if 
then you doe not like him, surely you are in some 
manifest danger, not to understand him. And so 
we leave you to other of his friends, who, if you 
need, can bee your guides : if you neede them 
not, you can leade yourselves, and others. And 
such readers we wisn him. 

John Heminge, 
Henry Condell. 



IT is not my design to enter into a criticism upon 
this author ; though to do it effectually, and not 
superficially, would be the best occasion that any 
just writer could take, to form the judgment and 
taste of our nation. For of all English poets 
Shakspeare must be confessed to be the fairest and 
fullest subject for criticism, and to afford the most 
numerous, as well as most conspicuous instances, 
both of beauties and faults of all sorts. But this 
far exceeds the bounds of a preface, the business 
of which is only to give an account of the fate of 
his works, and the disadvantages under which they 
have been transmitted to us. We shall hereby ex- 


tenuate many faults which are his, and clear him 
from the imputation of many which are not : a 
design, which, though it can be no guide to future 
criticks to do him justice in one way, will at least 
be sufficient to prevent their doing him an injustice 
in the other. 

I cannot however but mention some of his prin- 
cipal and characteristick excellencies, for which 
(notwithstanding his defects) he is justly and uni- 
versally elevated above all other dramatick writers. 
Not that this is the proper place of praising him, 
but because I would not omit any occasion of 
doing it. 

If ever any author deserved the name of an 
original, it was Shakspeare. Homer himself drew 
not his art so immediately from the fountains of 
nature, it proceeded through ^Egyptian strainers 
and channels, and came to him not without some 
tincture of the learning, or some cast of the models, 
of those before him. The poetry of Shakspeare 
was inspiration indeed : he is not so much an imi- 
tator, as an instrument, of nature; and it is not so 
just to say that he speaks from her, as that she 
speaks through him. 

His characters are so much nature herself, that it 
is a sort of injury to call them by so distant a name 
as copies of her. Those of other poets have a con- 
stant resemblance, which shows that they received 
them from one another, and were but multipliers 
of the same image : each picture, like a mock' 
rainbow, is but the reflection of a reflection. But 
every single character in Shakspeare is as much an 
individual, as those in life itself : it is as impossible 
to find any two alike; and such as from their rela- 
tion or affinity in any respect appear most to be 
twins, will, upon comparison, be found remarkably 


distinct. To this life and variety of character, we 
must add the wonderful preservation of it ; which 
is such throughout his plays, that had all the 
speeches been printed without the very names of 
the persons, I believe one might have applied them 
with certainty to every speaker. 1 
- The power over our passions was never possessed 
in a more eminent degree, or displayed in so dif- 
ferent instances. Yet all along, there is seen no 
labour, no pains to raise them ; no preparation to 
guide or guess to the effect, or be perceived to 
lead toward it : but the heart swells, and the tears 
burst out, just at the proper places : we are sur- 
prised the moment we weep ; and yet upon re- 
flection find the passion so just, that we should be 
surprised if we had not wept, and wept at that very 

How astonishing is it again, that the passions 
directly opposite to these, laughter and spleen, are 
no less at his command ! that he is not more a 
master of the great than of the ridiculous in human 
nature; of our noblest tendernesses, than of our 
vainest foibles ; of our strongest emotions, than of 
our idlest sensations ! 

Nor does he only excel in the passions : in the 
coolness of reflection and reasoning he is full as 
admirable. His sentiments are not only in general 
the most pertinent and judicious upon every sub- 
ject; but by a talent very peculiar, something be- 
tween penetration and felicity, he hits upon that 
particular point on which the bent of each argu- 

1 Addison, in the 273d Spectator, has delivered a similar opi- 
nion respecting Homer : " There is scarce a speech or action in 
the Iliad, which the reader may not ascribe to the person who 
speaks or acts, without seeing his name at the head of it." 

v Stbeven*. 


ment turns, or the force of each motive depends. 
This is perfectly amazing, from a man of no edu- 
cation or experience in those great and publick 
scenes of life which are usually the subject of his 
thoughts : so that he seems to have known the 
world by intuition, to have looked through human 
nature at one glance, and to be the only author 
that gives ground for a very new opinion, that the 
philosopher, and even the man of the world, may 
be born, as well as the poet. 

It must be owned, that with all these great ex- 
cellencies, he has almost as great defects; and that 
as he has certainly written better, so he has perhaps 
written worse, than any other. But I think I can 
in some measure account for these defects, from 
several causes and accidents ; without which it is 
hard to imagine that so large and so enlightened a 
mind could ever have been susceptible of them. 
That all these contingencies should unite to his 
disadvantage seems to me almost as singularly 
unlucky, as that so many various (nay contrary) 
talents should meet in one man, was happy and 

It must be allowed that stage-poetry, of all other, 
is more particularly levelled to please the populace, 
and its success more immediately depending upon 
the common suffrage. One cannot therefore wonder, 
if Shakspeare, having at his first appearance no 
other aim in his writings than to procure a subsist- 
ence, directed his endeavours solely to hit the taste 
and humour that then prevailed. The audience 
was generally composed of the meaner sort of 
people ; and therefore the images of life were to 
be drawn from those of their own rank : accord- 
ingly we find, that not our author's only, but almost 
all the old comedies have their scene among trades- 


men and mechanicks: and even their historical plays 
strictly follow the common old stories or vulgar 
traditions of that kind of people. In tragedy, no- 
thing was so sure to surprize and cause admiration, 
as the most strange, unexpected, and consequently 
most unnatural, events and incidents ; the most 
exaggerated thoughts ; the most verbose and bom- 
bast expression ; the most pompous rhymes, and 
thundering versification. In comedy, nothing was 
so sure to please, as mean buffoonery, vile ribaldry, 
and unmannerly jests of fools and clowns. Yet 
even in these our author's wit buoys up, and is 
borne above his subject : his genius in those low 
parts is like some prince of a romance in the dis- 
guise of a shepherd or peasant ; a certain greatness 
and spirit now and then break out, which manifest 
his higher extraction and qualities. 

It may be added, that not only the common 
audience had no notion of the rules of writing, 
but few even of the better sort piqued themselves 
upon any great degree of knowledge or nicety that 
way ; till Ben Jonson getting possession of the 
stage, brought critical learning into vogue : and 
that this was not done without difficulty, may ap- 
pear from those frequent lessons (and indeed almost 
declamations) which he was forced to prefix to his 
first plays, and put into the mouth of his actors, 
the grex, chorus, &c. to remove the prejudices, and 
inform the judgment of his hearers. Till then, 
our authors had no thoughts of writing on the 
model of the ancients : their tragedies were only 
histories in dialogue ; and their comedies followed 
the thread of any novel as they found it, no less 
implicitly than it it had been true history. 

To judge therefore of Shakspeare by Aristotle's 
rules, is like trying a man by the laws of one coun- 


try, who acted under those of another. He writ 
to the people; and writ at first without patronage 
from the better sort, and therefore without aims of 
pleasing them : without assistance or advice from 
the learned, as without the advantage of education 
or acquaintance among them ; without that know- 
ledge of the best models, the ancients, to inspire 
him with an emulation of them ; in a word, with- 
out any views of reputation, and of what poets are 
pleased to call immortality : some or all of which 
have encouraged the vanity, or animated the ambi- 
tion, of other writers. 

Yet it must be observed, that when his per- 
formances had merited the protection of his prince, 
and when the encouragement of the court had 
succeeded to that of the town ; the works of his 
riper years are manifestly raised above those of his 
former. The dates of his plays sufficiently evidence 
that his productions improved, in proportion to 
the respect he had for his auditors. And I make 
no doubt this observation will be found true in 
every instance, were but editions extant from which 
we might learn the exact time when every piece 
was composed, and whether writ for the town, or 
the court. 

Another cause (and no less strong than the 
former) may be deduced from our poet's being a 
player^ and forming himself first upon the judge- 
ments of that body of men whereof he was a 
member. They have ever had a standard to them- 
selves, upon other principles than those of Aristotle. 
As they live by the majority, they know no rule 
but that of pleasing the present humour, and com- 
plying with the wit in fashion ; a consideration 
which brings all their judgment to a short point. 
Players are just such judges ol* what is right, as 


tailors are of what is graceful. And in this view it 
will be but fair to allow, that most of our author's 
faults are less to be ascribed to his wrong judg- 
ment as a poet, than to his right judgment as a 

By these men it would be thought a praise to 
Shakspeare, that he scarce ever blotted a line. This 
they industriously propagated, as appears from 
what we are told by Ben Jonson in his Discoveries, 
and from the preface of Heminge and Condell to 
the first folio edition. But in reality (however it 
has prevailed) there never was a more groundless 
report, or to the contrary of which there are more 
undeniable evidences. As, the comedy of The 
Merry Wives of Windsor, which he entirely new 
writ; The History of Henry the Sixth, which was 
first published under the title of The Contention of 
York and Lancaster ; and that of Henry the Fifth, 
extremely improved ; that of Hamlet enlarged to 
almost as much again as at first, and many others. 
I believe the common opinion of his want of learn- 
ing proceeded from no better ground. This too 
might be thought a praise by some, and to this 
his errors have as injudiciously been ascribed by 
others. For 'tis certain, were it true, it would 
concern but a small part of them ; the most are 
such as are not properly defects, but superfceta- 
tions : and arise not from want of learning or read- 
ing, but from want of thinking or judging : or 
rather (to be more just to our author) from a com- 
pliance to those wants in others. As to a wrong 
choice of the subject, a wrong conduct of the in- 
cidents, false thoughts, forced expressions, &c. if 
these are not to be ascribed to the foresaid acci- 
dental reasons, they must be charged upon the 
poet himself, and there is no help for it. But I 


think the two disadvantages which I have men- 
tioned (to be obliged to please the lowest of the 
people, and to keep the worst of company) if 
the consideration be extended as far as it reason- 
ably may, will appear sufficient to mislead and 
depress the greatest genius upon earth. Nay, the 
more modesty with which such a one is endued, 
the more he is in danger of submitting and con- 
forming to others, against his own better judg- 

But as to his "want of learning, it may be neces- 
sary to say something more : there is certainly a 
vast difference between learning and languages. 
How far he was ignorant of the latter, I cannot 
determine ; but it is plain he had much reading at 
least, if they will not call it learning. Nor is it 
any great matter, if a man has knowledge, whether 
he has it from one language or from another. 
Nothing is more evident than that he had a taste 
of natural philosophy, mechanicks, ancient and 
modern history, poetical learning, and mythology: 
we find him very knowing in the customs, rites, and 
manners of antiquity. In Coriolanus and Julius 
Ccesar, not only the spirit, but manners, of the 
Romans are exactly drawn ; and still a nicer dis- 
tinction is shown between the manners of the 
Romans in the time of the former, and of the 
latter. His reading in the ancient historians is no 
less conspicuous, in many references to particular 
passages : and the speeches copied from Plutarch 
in Coriolanus 2 may, I think, as well be made an 
instance of his learning, as those copied from Ci- 
cero in Catiline of Ben Jonson's. The manners of 

These, as the reader will find in the notes on that play, 
Shakspeare drew from Sir Thomas North's translation, \5jg. 



other nations in general, the Egyptians, Venetians, 
French, &c. are drawn with equal propriety. 
Whatever object of nature, or branch of science, 
he either speaks of or describes, it is always with 
competent, if not extensive knowledge : his de- 
scriptions are still exact ; all his metaphors ap- 
propriated, and remarkably drawn from the true 
nature and inherent qualities of each subject. 
When he treats of ethick or politick, we may con- 
stantly observe a wonderful justness of distinction, 
as well as extent of comprehension. No one is 
more a master of the political story, or has more 
frequent allusions to the various parts of it : Mr. 
Waller (who has been celebrated for this last par- 
ticular) has not shown more learning this way than 
Shakspeare. We have translations from Ovid pub- 
lished in his name, 3 among those poems which pass 
for his, and for some of which we have undoubted 
authority (being published by himself, and dedi- 
cated to his noble patron the Earl of Southampton) : 
he appears also to have been conversant in Plautus, 
from whom he has taken the plot of one of his 
plays : he follows the Greek authors, and parti- 
cularly Dares Phrygius, in another, (although I 
will not pretend to say in what language he read 
them). The modern Italian writers of novels he 
was manifestly acquainted with ; and we may con- 
clude him to be no less conversant with the ancients 
of his own country, from the use he has made of 
Chaucer in Troilus and Cressida, and in The Two 
Noble Kinsmen, if that play be his, as there goes a 
tradition it was (and indeed it has little resemblance 
of Fletcher, and more of our author than some of 
those which have been received as genuine). 

They were written by Thomas Hey wood. See [Mr. Ma.- 
hme's] Vol. X. p. 321, n. 1. Malone. 


I am inclined to think this opinion proceeded 
originally from the zeal of the partizans of our 
author and Ben Jonson ; as they endeavoured to 
exalt the one at the expence of the other. It is 
ever the nature of parties to be in extremes ; and 
nothing is so probable, as that because Ben Jonson 
had much the more learning, it was said on the one 
hand that Shakspeare had none at all; and because 
Shakspeare had much the most wit and fancy, it 
was retorted on the other, that Jonson wanted both. 
Because Shakspeare borrowed nothing, it was said 
that Ben Jonson borrowed every thing. Because 
Jonson did not write extempore, he was reproached 
with being a year about every piece ; and because 
Shakspeare wrote with ease and rapidity, they 
cried, he never once made a blot. Nay, the spirit 
of opposition ran so high, that whatever those of 
the one side objected to the other, was taken at 
the rebound, and turned into praises ; as injudi- 
ciously, as their antagonists before had made them 

Poets are always afraid of envy; but sure they 
have as much reason to be afraid of admiration. 
They are the Scylla and Charybdis of authors ; 
those who escape one, often fall by the other. 
Pessimum genus inimicorum laudantes, says Tacitus; 
and Virgil desires to wear a charm against those 
who praise a poet without rule or reason : 

" si ultra placitum laudarit, baccare frontem 

" Cingite, ne vati noceat ." 

But however this contention might be carried on 
by the partizans on either side, I cannot help think- 
ing these two great poets were good friends, and 
lived on amicable terms, and in offices of society 

VOL. I. N 


with each other. It is an acknowledged fact, that 
Ben Jonson was introduced upon the stage, and 
his first works encouraged, by Shakspeare. And 
after his death, that author writes, To the memory 
of his beloved William Shakspeare, which shows as 
if the friendship had continued through life. I can- 
not for my own part find any thing invidious or 
sparing in those verses, but wonder Mr. Dry den was 
of that opinion. He exalts him not only above 
all his contemporaries, but above Chaucer and 
Spenser, whom he will not allow to be great enough 
to be ranked with him ; and challenges the names 
of Sophocles, Euripides, and ^Eschylus, nay, all 
Greece and Rome at once, to equal him : and 
(which is very particular) expressly vindicates him 
from the imputation of wanting art, not enduring 
that all his excellencies should be attributed to 
nature. It is remarkable too, that the praise he 
gives him in his Discoveries seems to proceed from a 
personal kindness; he tells us, that he loved the man, 
as well as honoured his memory ; celebrates the ho- 
nesty, openness, and frankness of his temper; and 
only distinguishes, as he reasonably ought, between 
the real merit of the author, and the silly and 
derogatory applauses of the players. Ben Jonson 
might indeed be sparing in his commendations 
(though certainly he is not so in this instance) partly 
from his own nature, and partly from judgment. 
For men of judgment think they do any man more 
service in praising him justly, than lavishly. I say, 
I would fain believe they were friends, though the 
violence and ill-breeding of their followers and 
flatterers were enough to give rise to the contrary 
report. I hope that it may be with parties, both 
in wit and state, as with those monsters described 
by the poets \ and that their heads at least may have 


something human, though their bodies and tails are 
wild beasts and serpents. 

As I believe that what I have mentioned gave 
rise to the opinion of Shakspeare's want of learn- 
ing ; so what has continued it down to us may have 
been the many blunders and illiteracies of the first 
publishers of his works. In these editions their 
ignorance shines in almost every page ; nothing is 
more common than Actus tertia. Exit omnes. Enter 
three Witches solus* Their French is as bad as 
their Latin, both in construction and spelling: their 
very Welsh is false. Nothing is more likely than that 
those palpable blunders of Hector's quoting Ari- 
stotle, with others of that gross kind, sprung from 
the same root: it not being at all credible that these 
could be the errors of any man who had the least 
tincture of a school, or the least conversation with 
such as had. Ben Jonson (whom they will not 
think partial to him) allows him at least to have 
had some Latin ; which is utterly inconsistent with 
mistakes like these. Nay, the constant blunders 
in proper names of persons and places, are such as 
must have proceeded from a man, who had not so 
much as read any history in any language: so could 
not be Shakspeare's. 

I shall now lay before the reader some of those 
almost innumerable errors, which have risen from 
one source, the ignorance of the players, both as 
his actors, and as his editors. When the nature 
and kinds of these are enumerated and considered, 
I dare to say that not Shakspeare only, but Aristotle 

' Enter three Witches solus.] This blunder appears to be of 
Mr. Pope's own invention. It is not to be found in any one of 
the four folio copies of Macbeth, and there is no quarto edition of 
it extant. Stekvzns. 

N 2 


or Cicero, had their works undergone the same 
fate, might have appeared to want sense as well as 

It is not certain that any one of his plays was 
published by himself. During the time of his em- 
ployment in the theatre, several of his pieces were 
printed separately in quarto. What makes me 
think that most of these were not published by 
him, is the excessive carelessness of the press: every 
page is so scandalously false spelled, and almost all 
the learned and unusual words so intolerably man- 
gled, that it is plain there either was no corrector 
to the press at all, or one totally illiterate. If any 
were supervised by himself, I should fancy The Two 
Parts of Henry the Fourth, and Midsummer-Night's 
Dream, might have been so: because I find no other 
printed with any exactness ; and (contrary to the 
rest) there is very little variation in all the subse- 
quent editions of them. There are extant two 
prefaces to the first quarto edition of Troilus and 
Cressida in 1609, and to that of Othello; by which 
it appears, that the first was published without his 
knowledge or consent, and even before itwas acted, 
so late as seven 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 some of these, we 
meet with two or more editions by different printers, 
each of which has whole heaps of trash different 
from the other: which I should fancy was occa- 
sioned 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 first collected) was published 
by two players, Heminge and Condell, in 1623, 


seven years after his decease. They declare, that 
all the other editions were stolen and surreptitious, 
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 respects else it is far worse 
than the quartos. 

First, because the additions of trifling and bom- 
bast passages are in this edition far more numerous. 
For whatever had been added, since those quartos, 
by the actors, or had stolen from their mouths into 
the written parts, were from thence conveyed into 
the printed text, and all stand charged upon the 
author. He himself complained of this usage in 
Hamlet, where he wishes that those who play the 
clowns would speak no more than is set down for them, 
(Act III. sc. ii.) But as a proof that he could not 
escape 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 scenes of mobs, plebeians, and 
clowns, are vastly shorter than at present : and I 
have seen one in particular (which seems to have 
belonged to the play-house, by having the parts 
divided with lines, and the actors names in the 
margin) where several of those very passages were 
added in a written hand, which are since to be 
found in the folio. 

In the next place, a number of beautiful pas- 
sages, which are extant in the first single editions, 
are omitted in this : as it seems, without any other 
reason,than their willingnesstoshorten some scenes: 
these men (as it was said of Procrustes) either lop- 
ping, or stretching an author, to make him just fit 
for their stage. 

This edition is said to be printed from the origi- 
nal copies; I believe they meant those which had 


lain ever since 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 least partly) from no 
better copies than the prompter s book, or piece-meal 
parts written out for the use of the actors : for in 
some places their very 5 names are through careless- 
ness set down instead of the Personce Dramatis; 
and in others the notes of direction to the property- 
men for their moveables, and to the, players for their 
entries, are inserted into the text 6 through the ig- 
norance of the transcribers. 

The plays not having been before so much as 
distinguished by Acts and Scenes, they are in this 
edition divided according as they played them; 
often when there is no pause in the action, or 
where they thought fit to make a breach in it, for 
the sake of musick, masques, or monsters. 

Sometimes the scenes are transposed and shuffled 
backward and forward ; a thing which could no 
otherwise happen, but by their being taken from 
separate and piece-meal written parts. 

Many verses are omitted entirely, and others 
transposed ; from whence invincible obscurities 
have arisen, past the guess of any commentator 
to clear up, but just where the accidental glimpse 
of an old edition enlightens us. 

* Much Ado about Nothing, Act II: " Enter Prince Leonato, 
Claudio, and Jack Wilson" instead of Balthasar. And in 
Act IV. Coialey and Kemp constantly through a whole scene. 

Edit. fol. of 1023, and 1632. Pope. 
Such as 

" My queen is murder'd ! Ring the little bell." 

" His nose grew as sharp as a pen, and a table of green 
Jields;" which last words are not in the quarto. Pope. 

There is no such line in any play of Shakspeare, as that 
quoted above by Mr. Pope. Malone. 


Some characters were confounded and mixed, or 
two put into one, for want of a competent num- 
ber of actors. Thus in the quarto edition of 
Midsummer-Night' s Dream, Act V. Shakspeare in- 
troduces a kind of master of the revels called 
Philostrate ; all whose part is given to another cha- 
racter (that of Egeus) in the subsequent editions : 
so also in Hamlet and King Lear. This too makes 
it probable that the prompters books were what 
they called the original copies. 

trom liberties 01 this kind, many speeches also 
were put into the mouths of wrong persons, v^here 
the author now seems chargeable with making them 
speak out of character : or sometimes perhaps for 
no better reason, than that a governing player, to 
have the mouthing of some favourite speech him- 
self, would snatch it from the unworthy lips of an 

Prose from verse they did not know, and they 
accordingly printed one for the other throughout 
the volume. 

Having been forced to say so much of the play- 
ers, I think I ought injustice to remark, that the 
judgment, as well as condition of that class of peo- 
ple was then far inferior to what it is in our days. 
As then the best play-houses were inns and taverns, 
(the Globe, the Hope, the Red Bull, the Fortune, 
&c.) so the top of the profession were then mere 
players, not gentlemen of the stage : they were led 
into the buttery by the steward; 7 not placed at the 

7 Mr. Pope probably recollected the following lines in The 
Taming of the Shrew, spoken by a Lord, who is giving direc- 
tions to his servant concerning some players: 
" (io, sirrah, take them to the buttery, 
" And give them friendly welcome, every one." 
But he seems not to have observed that the players here in- 
troduced were strollers ; and there is no reason to suppose that 


lord's table, or lady's toilette : and consequently 
were entirely deprived of those advantages they 
now enjoy in the familiar conversation of our no- 
bility, and an intimacy (not to say dearness) with 
people of the first condition. 

From what has been said, there can be no ques- 
tion but had Shakspeare published his works him- 
self (especially in his latter time, and after his 
retreat from the stage) we should not only be cer- 
tain which are genuine, but should find in those 
that are, the errors lessened by some thousands. 
If I may judge from all the distinguishing marks of 
his style, and his manner of thinking and writing, 
I make no doubt to declare that those wretched 
plays, Pericles, Locrine, Sir John Oldcastle, York- 
shire Tragedy, Lord Cromwell, The Puritan, Lon- 
don Prodigal, and a thing called The Double Fals- 
hood, 7 cannot be admitted as his. And I should 
conjecture of some of the others, (particularly 
Love's Labour's Lost, The Winter's Tale, Comedy 
of Errors, and Titus Andronicus,) that only some 
characters, single scenes, or perhaps a few parti- 
cular passages, were of his hand. It is very pro- 
bable what occasioned some plays to be supposed 
Shakspeare's, was only this ; that they were pieces 
produced by unknown authors, or fitted up for the 
theatre while it was under his administration ; and 
no owner claiming them, they were adjudged to 
him, as they give strays to the lord of the manor : 
a mistake which (one may also observe) it was not 
for the interest of the house to remove. Yet the 

our author, Heminge, Burbage, Lowin, &c. who were licensed 
by King James, were treated in this manner. Malone. 

7 The Double Falshood, or The Distressed Lovers, a play, acted 
at Drury Lane, 8vo. 1727. This piece was produced by Mr. 
Theobald as a performance of Shakspeare's. See Dr. Farmer's 
Essay on the Learning of Shakspeare, Vol. II. Reed. 


players themselves, Heminge and Condell, after- 
wards did Shakspeare the justice to reject those 
eight plays in their edition ; though they were then 
printed in his name, 8 in every body's hands, and 
acted with some applause (as we learned from what 
Ben Jonson says of Pericles in his ode on the New 
Inn). That Titus Andronicus is one of this class I am 
the rather induced to believe, by finding the same 
author openly express his contempt or it in the 
Induction to Bartholomew Fair, in the year 1614, 
when Shakspeare was yet living. And there is no 
better authority for these latter sort, than for the 
former, which were equally published in his life- 

If we give into this opinion, how many low and 
vicious parts and passages might no longer reflect 
upon this great genius, but appear unworthily 
charged upon him ? And even in those which are 
really his, how many faults may have been unjustly 
laid to his account from arbitrary additions, ex- 
junctions, transpositions of scenes and lines, con- 
fusion of characters and persons, wrong appli- 
cation of speeches, corruptions of innumerable 
passages by the ignorance, and wrong corrections 
of them again by the impertinence of his first edi- 
tors ? From one or other of these considerations, 
I am verily persuaded, that the greatest and the 
grossest part of what are thought his errors would 
vanish, and leave his character in a light very dif- 
ferent from that disadvantageous one, in which it 
now appears to us. 

This is the state in which Shakspeare's writings 
lie at present; for since the above-mentioned folio 
edition, all the rest have implicitly followed it, 

' His name was affixed only to four of them. Malonb, 


without having recourse to any of the former, or 
ever making the comparison between them. It is 
impossible to repair the injuries already done him; 
too much time has elapsed, and the materials are 
too few. In what I have done I have rather given 
a proof of my willingness and desire, than of my 
ability, to do him justice. I have discharged the 
dull duty of an editor, to my best judgment, with 
more labour than I expect thanks, with a religious 
abhorrence of all innovation, and without any in- 
dulgence to my private sense or conjecture. The 
method taken in this edition will show itself. The 
various readings are fairly put in the margin, so 
that every one may compare them ; and those I 
have preferred into the text are constantly ex fide 
codicum, upon authority. The alterations or ad- 
ditions, which Shakspeare himself made, are taken 
notice of as they occur. Some suspected passages, 
which are excessively bad (and which seem inter- 
polations by being so inserted that one can en- 
tirely omit them without any chasm, or deficience 
in the context) are degraded to the bottom of the 
page ; with an asterisk referring to the places of 
their insertion. The scenes are marked so distinctly, 
that every removal of place is specified ; which is 
more necessary in this author than any other, since 
he shifts them more frequently ; and sometimes, 
without attending to this particular, the reader 
would have met with obscurities. The more ob- 
solete or unusual words are explained. Some of 
the most shining passages are distinguished by com- 
mas in the margin ; and where the beauty lay 
not in particulars, but in the whole, a star is pre- 
fixed to the scene. This seems to me a shorter 
and less ostentatious method of performing the 
better half of criticism (namely, the pointing out 


an author's excellencies) than to fill a whole paper 
with citations of fine passages, with general ap- 
plauses, or empty exclamations at the tail of them. 
There is also subjoined a catalogue of those first 
editions, by which the greater part of the various 
readings and of the corrected passages are au- 
thorized ; most of which are such as carry their 
own evidence along with them. These editions 
now hold the place of originals, and are the only 
materials left to repair the deficiencies or restore 
the corrupted sense of the author : I can only wish 
that a greater number of them (if a greater were 
ever published) may yet be found, by a search more 
successful than mine, for the better accomplish- 
ment of this end. 

I will conclude by saying of Shakspeare, that 
with all his faults, and with all the irregularity of 
his drama, one may look upon his works, in com- 
parison of those that are more finished and regular, 
as upon an ancient majestick piece oi'Gothick archi- 
tecture, compared with a neat modern building : 
the latter is more elegant and glaring, but the 
former is more strong and more solemn. It must 
be allowed that in one of these there are materials 
enough to make many of the other. It has much 
the greater variety, and much the nobler apart- 
ments ; though we are often conducted to them by 
dark, odd, and uncouth passages. Nor does the 
whole fail to strike us with greater reverence, 
though many of the parts are childish, ill-placed, 
and unequal to its grandeur. 9 

9 The following passage by Mr. Pope stands as a preface to the 
various readings at the end of the 8th volume of his edition of 
Shakspeare, 1728. For the notice of it I am indebted to Mr. 
Chalmers's Supplemental Apology, p. 2Gl. Heed. 

" Since the publication of our first edition, there having been 



THE attempt to write upon Shakspeare is like 
going into a large, a spacious, and a splendid dome, 
through the conveyance of a narrow and obscure 
entry. A glare of light suddenly breaks upon 
you beyond what the avenue at first promised ; 
and a thousand beauties of genius and character, 

some attempts upon Shakspeare published by Lewis Theobald, 
(which he would not communicate during the time wherein that 
edition was preparing for the press, when tve, by publick adver- 
tisements, did request the assistance of all lovers of this author,) 
toe have inserted, in this impression, as many of 'em as are 
judg'd of any the least advantage to the poet; the whole amount- 
ing to about tiuenty-jive words. 

" But to the end every reader may judge for himself, we have 
annexed a compleat list of the rest ; which if he shall think tri- 
vial, or erroneous, either in part, or in whole ; at worst it can 
spoil but a half sheet of paper, that chances to be left vacant 
here. And we purpose for the future, to do the same with re- 
spect to any other persons, who either thro* candor or vanity, 
shall communicate or publish, the least things tending to the 
illustration of our author. We have here omitted nothing but 
pointings and meer errors of the press, which I hope the cor- 
rector of it has rectify'd ; if not, I cou'd wish as accurate an one 
as Mr. Th. [if he] had been at that trouble, which I desired Mr. 
Tonson to solicit him to undertake. A. P." 

1 This is Mr. Theobald's preface to his second edition in 1740, 
and was much curtailed by himself after it had been prefixed to 
the impression in 1733. Steevens. 


like so many gaudy apartments pouring at once 
upon the eye, diffuse and throw themselves out to 
the mind. The prospect is too wide to come within 
the compass of a single view : it is a gay confusion 
of pleasing objects, too various to be enjoyed but 
in a general admiration ; and they must be sepa- 
rated and eyed distinctly, in order to give the 
proper entertainment. 

And as, in great piles of building, some parts are 
often finished up to hit the taste of the connois- 
seur; others more negligentlyput together, to strike 
the fancy of a common and unlearned beholder; 
some parts are made stupendously magnificent and 
grand, to surprise with the vast design and execu- 
tion of the architect ; others are contracted, to 
amuse you with his neatness and elegance in little ; 
so, in Shakspeare, we may find traits that will stand 
the test of the severest judgment ; and strokes as 
carelessly hit off, to the level of the more ordinary 
capacities ; some descriptions raised to that pitch 
of grandeur, as to astonish you with the compass 
and elevation of his thought ; and others copying 
nature within so narrow, so confined a circle, as if 
the author's talent lay only at drawing in minia- 

In how many points of light must we be obliged 
to gaze at this great poet! In how many branches 
of excellence to consider and admire him! Whe- 
ther we view him on the side of art or nature, he 
ought equally to engage our attention: whether we 
respect the force and greatness of his genius, the 
extent of his knowledge and reading, the power 
and address with which he throws out and applies 
either nature or learning, there is ample scope both 
for our wonder and pleasure. If his diction, and 
the clothing of his thoughts attract us, how much 


more must we be charmed with the richness and 
variety of his images and ideas ! If his images and 
ideas steal into our souls, and strike upon our fancy, 
how much are they improved in price when we 
come to reflect with what propriety and justness 
they are applied to character! If we look into his 
characters, and how they are furnished and propor- 
tioned to the employment he cuts out for them, 
how are we taken up with the mastery of his por- 
traits ! What draughts of nature! What variety of 
originals, and how differing each from the other ! 
How are they dressed from the stores of his own 
luxurious imagination ; without being the apes of 
mode, or borrowing from any foreign wardrobe ! 
Each of them are the standards of fashion for them- 
selves : like gentlemen that are above the direction 
of their tailors, and can adorn themselves without 
the aid of imitation. If other poets draw more 
than one fool or coxcomb, there is the same resem- 
blance in them, as in that painter's draughts who 
was happy only at forming a rose ; you find them 
all younger brothers of the same family, and all 
of them have a pretence to give the same crest : 
but Shakspeare's clowns and fops come all of a 
different house ; they are no farther allied to one 
another than as man to man, members of the same 
species ; but as different in features and lineaments 
of character, as we are from one another in face or 
complexion. But I am unawares launching into 
his character as a writer, before I have said what 
I intended of him as a private member of the re- 

Mr. Rowe has very justly observed, that people 
are fond of discovering any little personal story of 
the great men of antiquity ; and that the common 
accidents of their lives naturally become the sub- 


ject of our critical enquiries: that however trifling 
such a curiosity at the first view may appear, yet, 
as for what relates to men and letters, the know- 
ledge of an author may, perhaps, sometimes con. 
duce to the better understanding his works ; and, 
indeed, this author's works, from the bad treat- 
ment he has met with from copyists and editors, 
have so long wanted a comment, that one would 
zealously embrace every method of information 
that could contribute to recover them from the 
injuries with which they have so long lain over- 

'Tis certain, that if we have first admired the 
man in his writings, his case is so circumstanced, 
that we must naturally admire the writings in the 
man : that if we go back to take a view of his 
education, and the employment in life which for- 
tune had cut out for him, we shall retain the 
stronger ideas of his extensive genius. 

His father, we are told, was a considerable 
dealer in wool ; but having no fewer than ten 
children, of whom our Shakspeare was the eldest, 
the best education he could afford him was no 
better than to qualify him for his own business 
and employment. I cannot affirm with any cer- 
tainty how long his father lived ; but I take him 
to be the same Mr. John Shakspeare who was 
living in the year 1599, and who then, in honour 
of his son, took out an extract of his family arms 
from the herald's office ; by which it appears, that 
he had been officer and bailiff of Stratford-upon- 
Avon, in Warwickshire; and that he enjoyed some 
hereditary lands and tenements, the reward of his 
great grandfather's faithful and approved service 
to King Henry VII. 

Be tliis as it will, our Shakspeare, it seems, was 


bred for some time at a free-school ; the very free- 
school, I presume, founded at Stratford; where, we 
are told, he acquired what Latin he was master of: 
but that his father being obliged, through narrow- 
ness of circumstances, to withdraw him too soon 
from thence, he was thereby unhappily prevented 
from making any proficiency in the dead languages ; 
a point that will deserve some little discussion in 
the sequel of this dissertation. 

How long he continued in his father's way of 
business, either as an assistant to him, or on his 
own proper account, no notices are left to inform 
us : nor have I been able to learn precisely at what 
period of life he quitted his native Stratford, and 
began his acquaintance with London and the stage. 

In order to settle in the world after a family- 
manner, he thought fit, Mr. Rowe acquaints us, 
to marry while he was yet very young. It is cer- 
tain he did so : for by the monument in Stratford 
church, erected to the memory of his daughter 
Susanna, the wife of John Hall, gentleman, it ap- 
pears, that she died on the 2d of July, in the year 
1 649, aged 66. So that she was born in 1 583, when 
her father could not be full 19 years old ; who was 
himself born in the year 1564. Nor was she his 
eldest child, for he had another daughter, Judith, 
who was born before her, 2 and who was married to 
one Mr. Thomas Quiney. So that Shakspeare must 
have entered into wedlock by that time he was 
turned of seventeen years. 

Whether the force of inclination merely, or 
some concurring circumstances of convenience in 
the match, prompted him to marry so early, is not 

* See the extracts from the register-book of the parish of 
Stratford, in a preceding page. Steevens. 


easy to be determined at this distance ; but, it is 
probable, a view of interest might partly sway his 
conduct in this point : for he married the daughter 
of one Hathaway, a substantial yeoman in his 
neighbourhood, and she had the start of him in 
age no less than eight years. She survived him 
notwithstanding seven seasons, and died that very 
year the players published the first edition of his 
works in Julio, anno Dom. 1623, at the age of 67 
years, as we likewise learn from her monument in 
Stratford church. 

How long he continued in this kind of settle- 
ment, upon his own native spot, is not more easily 
to be determined. But if the tradition be true, of 
that extravagance which forced him both to quit 
his country and way of living, to wit, his being 
engaged with a knot of young deer-stealers, to 
rob the park of Sir Thomas Lucy, of Cherlecot, 
near Stratford, the enterprize savours so much of 
youth and levity, we may reasonably suppose it was 
before he could write full man. Besides, con- 
sidering he has left us six-and-thirty plays at least, 
avowed to be genuine; and considering too that 
he had retired from the stage, to spend the latter 
part of his days at his own native Stratford ; the 
interval of time necessarily required for the finish- 
ing so many dramatick pieces, obliges us to suppose 
he thew himself very early upon the play-house. 
And as he could, probably, contract no acquaint- 
ance with the drama, while he was driving on the 
affair of wool at home ; some time must be lost, 
even after he had commenced player, before he 
could attain knowledge enough in the science to 
qualify himself for turning author. 

It has been observed by Mr. Rowe,that amongst 
other extravagancies, which our author has given 

vol. i. o 


to his Sir John Falstaff in The Merry Wives of 
Windsor, he has made him a deer-stealer ; and, 
that he might at the same time remember his 
Warwickshire prosecutor, under the name of Jus- 
tice Shallow, he has given him very near the same 
coat of arms, which Dugdale, in his Antiquities of 
that county, describes for a family there. There 
are two coats, I observe, in Dugdale, where three 
silver fishes are borne in the name of Lucy ; and 
another coat, to the monument of Thomas Lucy, 
son of Sir William Lucy, in which are quartered, 
in four several divisions, twelve little fishes, three 
in each division, probably Luces. This very coat, 
indeed, seems alluded to in Shallow's giving the 
dozen white Luces, and in Slender saying he may 
quarter. When I consider the exceeding candour 
and good-nature of our author (which inclined all 
the gentler part of the world to love him, as the 
power of his wit obliged the men of the most deli- 
cate knowledge and polite learning to admire 
him) : and that he should throw this humorous 
piece of satire at his prosecutor, at least twenty 
years after the provocation given ; I am con- 
fidently persuaded it must be owing to an unfor- 
giving rancour on the prosecutor's side : and, if 
this was the case, it were pity but the disgrace of 
such an inveteracy should remain as a lasting re- 
proach, and Shallow stand as a mark of ridicule to 
stigmatize his malice. 

It is said, our author spent some years before his 
death in ease, retirement, and the conversation of 
his friends, at his native Stratford. I could never 
pick up any certain intelligence, when he relin- 
quished the stage. I know, it has been mistakenly 
thought by some, that Spenser's Thalia, in his 
Tears of the Muses, where she laments the loss of 


her Willy in the comick scene, has been applied to 
our author's quitting the stage. But Spenser him- 
self, it is well known, quitted the stage of life in 
the year 1598 ; and, five years after this, we find 
Shakspeare's name among the actors in Ben Jon- 
son's Sejanus, which first made its appearance in 
the year 1603. Nor surely, could he then have 
any thoughts of retiring, since that very year a 
licence under the privy-seal was granted by King 
James I. to him and Fletcher, Burbage, Phillippes, 
Hemings, Condell, &c. authorizing them to exer- 
cise the art of playing comedies, tragedies, &c. as 
well at their usual house called The Globe on the 
other side of the water, as in any other parts of 
the kingdom, during his majesty's pleasure (a 
copy of which licence is preserved in Rymer's 
Fcedera). Again, it is certain, that Shakspeare did 
not exhibit his Macbeth till after the Union was 
brought about, and till after King James I. had 
begun to touch for the evil: for it is plain, he has 
inserted compliments on both those accounts, upon 
his royal master in that tragedy. Nor, indeed, 
could the number of the dramatick pieces, he 
produced, admit of his retiring near so early as 
that period. So that what Spenser there says, if 
it relate at all to Shakspeare, must hint at some 
occasional recess he made for a time upon a disgust 
taken : or the Willy, there mentioned, must relate 
to some other favourite poet. I believe, we may 
safely determine, that he had not quitted in the 
year 1610. For, in his Tempest, our author makes 
mention of the Bermuda islands, which were un- 
known ta the English, till, in 1609, Sir John Sum- 
mers made a voyage to North-America,, and dis- 
covered them, and afterwards invited some of his 
countrymen to settle a plantation there. That he 

o 2 


became the private gentleman at least three years 
before his decease, is pretty obvious from another 
circumstance : I mean, from that remarkable and 
well known story, which Mr. Rowe has given us 
of our author's intimacy with Mr. John Combe, an 
old gentleman noted thereabouts for his wealth 
and usury ; and upon whom Shakspeare made the 
following facetious epitaph : 

" Ten in the hundred lies here ingrav'd, 

" 'Tis a hundred to ten his soul is not sav'd; 

" If any man ask, who lies in this tomb, 

* Oh ! oh ! quoth the devil, 'tis my John-a-Combe." 

This sarcastical piece of wit was, at the gentle- 
man's own request, thrown out extemporally in his 
company. And this Mr. John Combe I take to be 
the same, who, by Dugdale in his Antiquities of 
Warwickshire, is said to have died in the year 
1614, 3 and for whom, at the upper end of the quire 
of the Guild of the Holy Cross at Stratford, a fair 
monument is erected, having a statue thereon cut 
in alabaster, and in a gown, with this epitaph : 
" Here lieth interred the body of John Combe, 
esq; who died the 10th of July, 1614, who be- 
queathed several annual charities to the parish of 
Stratford, and 1001. to be lent to fifteen poor 
tradesmen from three years to three years, chang- 
ing the parties every third year, at the rate of fifty 
shillings per annum, the increase to be distributed 
to the almes-poor there." The donation has all 
the air of a rich and sagacious usurer. 

Shakspeare himself did not survive Mr. Combe 

3 By Mr. Combe's Will, which is now in the Prerogative-office 
in London , Shakspeare had a legacy of five pounds bequeathed 
to him. The Will is without any date. Reed. 


long, for he died in the year 1616, the 53d of his 
age. He lies buried on the north side of the 
chancel in the great church at Stratford; where a 
monument, decent enough for the time, is erected 
to him, and placed against the wall. He is re- 
presented under an arch in a sitting posture, a 
cushion spread before him, with a pen in his right 
hand, and his left rested on a scrowl of paper. 
The Latin distich, which is placed under the 
cushion, has been given us by Mr. Pope, or his 
graver, in this manner : 

" INGENIO Pylium, genio Socratem, arte Maronem, 
" Terra tegit, populus ruoeret, Olympus habet." 

I confess, I do not conceive the difference be- 
tween ingenio and genio in the first verse. They 
seem to me intirely synonymous terms ; nor was 
the Pylian sage Nestor celebrated for his inge- 
nuity, but for an experience and judgment owing 
to his long age. Dugdale, in his Antiquities of 
Warwickshire, has copied this distich with a dis- 
tinction which Mr. Rowe has followed, and which 
certainly restores us . he true meaning of the epi- 
taph : ' 

" JUDICIO Pylium, genio Socratem," &c. 

In 1614, the greater part of the town of Strat- 
ford was consumed by fire ; but our Shakspeare's 
house, among some others, escaped the flames. 
This house was first built by Sir Hugh Clopton, 
a younger brother of an ancient family in that 
neighbourhood, who took their name from the 
manor of Clopton. Sir Hugh was Sheriff of Lon- 
don in the reign of Richard III. and Lord-Mayor 
in the reign of King Henry VIL To this gentle- 



man the town of Stratford is indebted for the fine 
stone bridge, consisting of fourteen arches, which, 
at an extraordinary expence, he built over the 
Avon, together with a causeway running at the 
west-end thereof; as also for rebuilding the chapel 
adjoining to his house, and the cross-aisle in the 
church there. It is remarkable of him, that though 
he lived and died a bachelor, among the other ex- 
tensive charities which he left both to the city of 
London and town of Stratford, he bequeathed con- 
siderable legacies for the marriage of poor maidens 
of good name and fame both in London and at 
Stratford. Notwithstanding which large donations 
in his life, and bequests at his death, as he had 
purchased the manor of Clopton, and all the estate 
of the family; so he left the same again to his 
elder brother's son with a very great addition : (a 
proof how well beneficence and ceconomy may 
walk hand in hand in wise families) : good part of 
which estate is yet in the possession of Edward 
Clopton, Esq. and Sir Hugh Clopton, Knt. lineally 
descended from the elder brother of the first Sir 
Hugh, who particularly bequeathed to his nephew, 
by his will, his house, by the name of his Great 
House in Stratford. 

The estate had now been sold out of the Clopton 
family for above a century, at the time when Shak- 
.speare became the purchaser; who, having repair- 
ed and modelled it to his own mind, changed the 
name to New-Place, which the mansion-house, 
since erected upon the same spot, at this day re- 
tains. The house and lands, which attended it, 
continued in Shakspeare's descendants to the time 
of the Restoration; when they were re-purchased by 
the Clopton family, and the mansion now belongs 
_to Sir Hugh Clopton, Knt. To the favour of this 


worthy gentleman I owe the knowledge of one 
particular, in honour of our poet's once dwelling- 
house, of which, I presume, Mr. Rowe never was 
apprized. When the civil war raged in England, 
and King Charles the First's queen was driven by 
the necessity of affairs to make a recess in War- 
wickshire, she kept her court for three weeks in 
New- Place. We may reasonably suppose it then the 
best private house in the town ; and her majesty 
preferred it to the college, which was in the pos- 
session of the Combe family, who did not so 
strongly favour the king's party. 

How much our author employed himself in 
poetry, after his retirement from the stage, does 
not so evidently appear : very few posthumous 
sketches of his pen have been recovered to ascer- 
tain that point. We have been told, indeed, in 
print, 4 but not till very lately, that two large chests 
full of this great man's loose papers and manu- 
scripts, in the hands of an ignorant baker of War- 
wick, (who married one of the descendants from 
our Shakspeare,) were carelessly scattered and 
thrown about as garret lumber and litter, to the 
particular knowledge of the late Sir William Bi- 
shop, till they were all consumed in the general 
fire and destruction of that town. I cannot help 
being a little apt to distrust the authority of this 
tradition, because his wife survived him seven 
years ; and, as his favourite daughter Susanna sur- 
vived her twenty-six years, it is very improbable 
they should suffer such a treasure to be removed, 
and translated into a remoter branch of the family, 
without a scrutiny first made into the value of it. 

* See an answer to Mr. Pope's Preface to Shakspeare, by a 
Strolling Player, 8vo. 1/29, P- 45. Rkkd. 


This, I say, inclines me to distrust the authority 
of the relation : but notwithstanding such an ap- 
parent improbability, if we really lost such a trea- 
sure, by whatever fatality or caprice of fortune 
they came into such ignorant and neglected hands, 
I agree with the relater, the misfortune is wholly 

To these particulars, which regard his person 
and private life, some few more are to be gleaned 
from Mr. Rowe's Account of his Life and Writings: 
let us now take a short view of him in his publick 
capacity as a writer: and, from thence, the transi- 
tion will be easy to the state in which his writings 
have been handed down to us. 

No age, perhaps, can produce an author more 
various from himself, than Shakspeare has been 
universally acknowledged to be. The diversity in 
style, and other parts of composition, so obvious in 
him, is as variously to be accounted for. His edu- 
cation, we find, was at best but begun : and he 
started early into a science from the force of ge- 
nius, unequally assisted by acquired improvements. 
His fire, spirit, and exuberance of imagination, 
gave an impetuosity to his pen : his ideas flowed 
from him in a stream rapid, but not turbulent; 
copious, but not ever overbearing its shores. The 
ease and sweetness of his temper might not a little 
contribute to his facility in writing; as his employ- 
ment as a player, gave him an advantage and habit 
of fancying himself the very character he meant 
to delineate. He used the helps of his function in 
forming himself to create and express that sublime, 
which other actors can only copy, and throw out, 
in action and graceful attitude. But, Nullum sine 
venid placuit ingenium, says Seneca. The genius, 
that gives us the greatest pleasure, sometimes stands 


in need of our indulgence. Whenever this happens 
with regard to Shakspeare, I would willingly im- 
pute it to a vice of his times. We see complaisance 
enough, in our days, paid to a bad taste. So that 
his clinches, false ivit, and descending beneath him- 
self, may have proceeded from a deference paid to 
the then reigning barbarism. 

I have not thought it out of my province, when- 
ever occasion offered, to take notice of some of 
our poet's grand touches of nature, some, that do 
not appear sufficiently such, but in which he seems 
the most deeply instructed; and to which, no doubt, 
he has so much owed that happy preservation of 
his characters, for which he is justly celebrated. 
Great geniuses, like his, naturally unambitious, are 
satisfied to conceal their arts in these points. It is 
the foible of your worser poets to make a parade 
and ostentation of that little science they have ; 
and to throw it out in the most ambitious colours. 
And whenever a writer of this class shall attempt 
to copy these artful concealments of our author, 
and shall either think them easy, or practised by 
a writer for his ease, he will soon be convinced of 
his mistake by the difficulty of reaching the imita- 
tion of them. 

" Speret idem, sudet multum, frustraque laboret, 
" Ausus idem: " 

Indeed to point out and exclaim upon all the 
beauties of Shakspeare, as they come singly in re- 
view, would be as insipid, as endless ; as tedious, 
as unnecessary: but the explanation of those beau- 
ties that are less obvious to common readers, and 
whose illustration depends on the rules of just cri- 
ticism, and an exact knowledge of human life, 


should deservedly have a share in a general cri- 
tique upon the author. But to pass over at once 

to another subject : 

It has been allowed on all hands, how far our 
author was indebted to nature ; it is not so well 
agreed, how much he owed to languages and ac- 
quired learning? The decisions on this subject were 
certainly set on foot by the hint from Ben Jonson, 
that he had small Latin, and less Greek: and from 
this tradition, as it were, Mr. Rowe has thought 
fit peremptorily to declare, that, " It is without 
controversy, he had no knowledge of the writings 
of the ancient poets, for that in his works we find 
no traces of any thing which looks like an imita- 
tion of the ancients. For the delicacy of his taste 
(continues he) and the natural bent of his own 
great genius (equal, if not superior, to some of 
the best of theirs,) would certainly have led him 

' It has been allotved &c] On this subject an eminent writer 
has given his opinion which should not be suppressed. " You 
will ask me, perhaps, now I am on this subject, how it hap- 
pened that Shakspeare's language is every where so much his 
own as to secure his imitations, if they were such, from disco- 
ver)' ; when I pronounce with such assurance of those of our 
other poets. The answer is given for me in the preface to Mr. 
Theobald's Shakspeare ; though the observation, I think, is too 
good to come from that critick. It is, that though his words, 
agreeably to the state of the English tongue at that time, be ge- 
nerally Latin, his phraseology is perfectly English: an advantage 
he owed to his slender acquaintance with the Latin idiom. 
"Whereas the other writers of his age and such others of an older 
date as were likely to fall into his hands, had not only the most 
familiar acquaintance with the Latin idiom, but affected on all 
occasions to make use of it. Hence it comes to pass, that though 
he might draw sometimes from the Latin (Ben Jonsor. you know 
te Is us He had less Greek J and the learned English writers, he 
takes nothing but the sentiments; the expression comes of itself 
and is purely English." Bishop Hurd's Letter to Mr. Mason, 
on the Marks of Imitation, 8vo. 1758. Reed. 


to read and study them with so much pleasure, that 
some of their fine images would naturally have in- 
sinuated themselves into, and been mixed with, his 
own writings : and so his not copying, at least 
something from them, may be an argument of his 
never having read them." I shall leave it to the 
determination of my learned readers, from the nu- 
merous passages which I have occasionally quoted 
in my notes, in which our poet seems closely to 
have imitated the classicks, whether Mr. Rowe's 
assertion be so absolutely to be depended on. The 
result of the controversy must certainly, either 
way, terminate to our author's honour : how hap- 
pily he could imitate them, if that point be allowed; 
or how gloriously he could think like them, with- 
out owing any thing to imitation. 

Though I should be very unwilling to allow 
Shakspeare so poor a scholar, as many have la- 
boured to represent him, yet I shall be very cauti- 
ous of declaring too positively on the other side of 
the question; that is, with regard to my opinion of 
his knowledge in the dead languages. And there- 
fore the passages, that I occasionally quote from 
the classicks, shall not be urged as proofs that he 
knowingly imitated those originals ; but brought to 
show how happily he has expressed himself upon the 
same topicks. A very learned critick of our own 
nation has declared, that a sameness of thought and 
sameness of expression too, in two writers of a dif- 
ferent age,can hardly happen, without a violent sus- 
picion of the latter copying from his predecessor. 
I shall not therefore run any great risque of a cen- 
sure, though I should venture to hint, that the 
resemblances in thought anil expression of our au- 
thor and an ancient (which we should allow to be 
imitation in the one whose learning was not ques- 


tioned) may sometimes take its rise from strength 
of memory, and those impressions which he owed 
to the school. And if we may allow a possibility of 
this, considering that, when he quitted the school, 
he gave into his father's profession and way of 
living, and had, it is likely, but a slender library 
of classical learning; and considering what a num- 
ber of translations, romances, and legends, started 
about his time, and a little before (most of which, 
it is very evident, he read) ; I think it may easily 
be reconciled why he rather schemed his plots and 
characters from these more latter informations, than 
went back to those fountains, for which he might 
entertain a sincere veneration, but to which he 
could not have so ready a recourse. 

In touching on another part of his learning, as 
it related to the knowledge of history and books, 
I shall advance something that, at first sight, will 
very much wear the appearance of a paradox. For 
I shall find it no hard matter to prove, that, from 
the grossest blunders in history, we are not to infer 
his real ignorance of it ; nor from a greater use of 
Latin words, than ever any other English author 
used, must we infer his intimate acquaintance with 
that language. 

A reader of taste may easily observe, that though 
Shakspeare, almost in every scene of his historical 
plays, commits the grossest offences against chro- 
nology, history, and ancient politicks ; yet this 
was not through ignorance, as is generally sup- 
posed, but through the too powerful blaze of his 
imagination, which, when once raised, made all ac- 
quired knowledge vanish and disappear before it. 
But this licence in him, as I have said, must not be 
imputed to ignorance, since as often we may find 
him, when occasion serves, reasoning up to the 


truth of history ; and throwing out sentiments as 
justly adapted to the circumstances, of his subject, 
as to the dignity of his characters, or dictates of 
nature in general. 

Then to come to his knowledge of the Latin 
tongue, it is certain, there is a surprizing effusion 
of Latin words made English, far more than in any 
one English author I have seen ; but we must be 
cautious to imagine, this was of his own doing. 
For the English tongue, in this age, began ex- 
tremely to suffer by an inundation of Latin : an< 
this, to be sure, was occasioned by the pedantry c 
those two monarchs, Elizabeth and James, bot 
great Latinists. For it is not to be wondered a 
if both the court and schools, equal flatterers 
power, should adapt themselves to the royal tast 

But now I am touching on the question (whic 
has been so frequently agitated, yet so entirek 
undecided,) of his learning and acquaintance with 
the languages; an additional word or two naturally 
falls in here upon the genius of our author, as 
compared with that of Jonson his contemporary. 
They are confessedly the greatest writers our na- 
tion could ever boast of in the drama. The first, 
we say, owed all to his prodigious natural genius; 
and the other a great deal to his art and learning. 
This, if attended to, will explain a very remark- 
able appearance in their writings. Besides those 
wonderful master-pieces of art and genius, which 
each has given us ; they are the authors of other 
works very unworthy of them : but with this dif- 
ference, that in Jonson's bad pieces we do not 
discover one single trace of the author of The Fox 
and Alchemist; but, in the wild extravagant notes 
of Shakspeare, you every now and then encounter 
strains that recognize the divine composer. This 


difference may be thus accounted for. Jonson, as 
we said before, owing all his excellence to his art, 
by which he sometimes strained himself to an un- 
common pitch, when at other times he unbent and 
played with his subject, having nothing then to 
support him, it is no wonder that he wrote so far 
beneath himself. But Shakspeare, indebted more 
largely to nature than the other to acquired talents, 
in iiis most negligent hours could never so totally 
divest himself of his genius, but that it would 
frequently break out with astonishing force and 
splendor. v 

As I have never proposed to dilate farther on 
the character of my author, than was necessary to 
explain the nature and use of this edition, I shall 
proceed to consider him as a genius in possession 
of an everlasting name. And how great that 
merit must be, which could gain it against all the 
disadvantages of the horrid condition in which he 
had hitherto appeared ! Had Homer, or any other 
admired author, first started into publick so maim- 
ed and deformed, we cannot determine whether 
they had not sunk for ever under the ignominy 
of such an ill appearance. The mangled condition 
of Shakspeare has been acknowledged by Mr. 
Rowe, who published him indeed, but neither 
corrected his text, nor collated the old copies. 
This gentleman had abilities, and sufficient know- 
ledge of his author, had but his industry been 
equal to his talents. The same mangled condition 
has been acknowledged too by Mr. Pope, who 

{mblished him likewise, pretended to have col- 
ated the old copies, and yet seldom has corrected 
the text but to its injury. I congratulate with 
the manes of our poet, that this gentleman has 
been sparing in indulging his private sense, as he 


phrases it; for he, who tampers with an author, 
whom he does not understand, must do it at the 
expence of his subject. I have made it evident 
throughout my remarks, that he has frequently in- 
flicted a wound where he intended a cure. He has 
acted with regard to our author, as an editor, whom 
Lipsius mentions, did with regard to Martial; 
Inventus est nescio quis Popa, qui non vitia ejus, sed 
ipsum excidit. He has attacked him like an un- 
handy slaughterman; and not lopped off the errors, 
but the poet. 

When this is found to be fact, how absurd must 
appear the praises of such an editor ! It seems a 
moot point, whether Mr. Pope has done most in- 
jury to Shakspeare, as his editor and encomiast; 
or Mr. Rymer done him service, as his rival and 
censurer. They have both shown themselves in an 
equal impuissance of suspecting or amending the 
corrupted passages: and though it be neither pru- 
dence to censure or commend what one does not 
understand ; yet if a man must do one when he 
plays the critick, the latter is the more ridiculous 
office ; and by that Shakspeare suffers most. For 
the natural veneration which we have for him 
makes us apt to swallow whatever is given us as 
his, and set off with encomiums ; and hence we 
quit all suspicions of depravity : on the contrary, 
the censure of so divine an author sets us upon his 
defence ; and this produces an exact scrutiny and 
examination, which ends in finding out and dis- 
criminating the true from the spurious. 

It is not with any secret pleasure that I so fre- 
quently animadvert on Mr. rope as a critick, but 
there are provocations, which a man can never quite 
forget. His libels have been thrown out with so 
much inveteracy, that, not to dispute whether they 


should come from a christian, they leave it a ques- 
tion whether they could come from a man. I should 
be loth to doubt, as Quintus Serenus did in a like 
case : 

" Sive homo, seu similis turpissima bestia nobis 
" Vulnera dente dedit. " 

The indignation, perhaps, for being represented 
a blockhead, may be as strong in us, as it is in the 
ladies for a reflection on their beauties. It is cer- 
tain, I am indebted to him for some flagrant ci- 
vilities ; and I shall willingly devote a part of my 
life to the honest endeavour of quitting scores: 
with this exception, however, that I will not return 
those civilities in his peculiar strain, but confine 
myself, at least, to the limits of common decency. 
I shall ever think it better to want wit, than to 
want humanity: and impartial posterity may, per- 
haps, be of my opinion. 

But to return to my subject, which now calls 
upon me to enquire into those causes, to which the 
depravations of my author originally may be as- 
signed. We are to consider him as a writer, of 
whom no authentick manuscript was left extant ; 
as a writer, whose pieces were dispersedly per- 
formed on the several stages then in being. And 
it was the custom of those days for the poets to 
take a price of the players for the pieces they from 
time to time furnished; and thereupon it was sup- 
posed they had no farther right to print them with- 
out the consent of the players. As it was the interest 
of the companies to keep their plays unpublished, 
when any one succeeded, there was a contest be- 
twixt the curiosity of the town, who demanded to 
see it in print, and the policy of the stagers, who 


wished to secrete it within their own walls. Hence 
many pieces were taken down in short-hand, and 
imperfectly copied by ear from a representation ; 
others were printed from piecemeal parts surrep- 
titiously obtained from the theatres, uncorrect, and 
without the poet's knowledge. To some of these 
causes we owe the train of blemishes, that deform 
those pieces which stole singly into the world in 
our author's life-time. 

There are still other reasons, which may be 
supposed to have affected the whole set. When 
the players took upon them to publish his works 
entire, every theatre was ransacked to supply the 
copy; and /wrfc collected, which had gone through 
as many changes as performers, either from mu- 
tilations or additions made to them. Hence we 
derive many chasms and incoherences in the sense 
and matter. Scenes were frequently transposed, 
and shuffled out of their true place, to humour the 
caprice, or supposed convenience, of some par- 
ticular actor. Hence much confusion and impro- 
priety has attended and embarrassed the business 
and fable. To these obvious causes of corruption 
it must be added, that our author has lain under 
the disadvantage of having his errors propagated 
and multiplied by time : because, for near a cen- 
tury, his works were published from the faulty 
copies, without the assistance of any intelligent 
editor: which has been the case likewise of many 
a classick writer. 

The nature of any distemper once found has 
generally been the immediate step to a cure. Shak- 
speare's case has in a great measure resembled that 
of a corrupt classick ; and, consequently, the me- 
thod of cure was likewise to bear a resemblance. 
By what means, and with what success, this cure 

vol. i. p 


has been effected on ancient writers, is too well 
known, and needs no formal illustration. The re- 
putation, consequent on tasks of that nature, in- 
vited me to attempt the method here ; with this 
view, the hopes of restoring to the publick their 
greatest poet in his original purity, after having 
so long lain in a condition that was a disgrace to 
common sense. To this end I have ventured on a 
labour, that is the first assay of the kind on any 
modern author whatsoever. For the late edition of 
Milton, by the learned Dr.Bentley, is, in the main, 
a performance of another species. It is plain, it 
was the intention of that great man rather to cor- 
rect and pare off the excrescencies of the Paradise 
Lost, in the manner that Tucca and Varius were 
employed to criticise the JEneis of Virgil, than to 
restore corrupted passages. Hence, therefore, may 
be seen either thein iquity or ignorance of his 
censurers, who, from some expressions would make 
us believe the doctor every where gives us his cor- 
rections as the original text of the author; whereas 
the chief turn of his criticism is plainly to show 
the world, that, if Milton did not write as he would 
have him, he ought to have wrote so. 

I thought proper to premise this observation to 
the readers, as it will show that the critick on 
Shakspeare is of a quite different kind. His genuine 
text is for the most part religiously adhered to, 
and the numerous faults and blemishes, purely 
his own, are left as they were found. Nothing 
is altered but what by the clearest reasoning can 
be proved a corruption of the true text ; and the 
alteration, a real restoration of the genuine read- 
ing. Nay, so strictly have I strove to give the true 
reading, though sometimes not to the advantage 
of my author, that I have been ridiculously ridi- 


culed for it by those, who either were iniquitously 
for turning every thing to my disadvantage; or 
else were totally ignorant of the true duty of an 

The science of criticism, as far as it affects an 
editor, seems to be reduced to these three classes; 
the emendation of corrupt passages; the explana- 
tion of obscure and difficult ones; and an enquiry 
into the beauties and defects of composition. This 
work is principally confined to the two former 
parts: though there are some specimens interspers- 
ed of the latter kind, as several of the emendations 
were best supported, and several of the difficulties 
best explained, by taking notice of the beauties and 
defects of the composition peculiar to this immor- 
tal poet. But this was but occasional, and for the 
sake only of perfecting the two other parts, which 
were the proper objects of the editor's labour. The 
third lies open for every willing undertaker: and I 
shall be pleased to see it the employment of a mas- 
terly pen. 

It must necessarily happen, as I have formerly 
observed, that where the assistance of manuscripts 
is wanting to set an author's meaning right, and 
rescue him from those errors which have been 
transmitted down through a series of incorrect 
editions, and a long intervention of time, many 
passages must be desperate, and past a cure ; and 
their true sense irretrievable either to care or the 
sagacity of conjecture. But is there any reason 
therefore to say, that because all cannot be re- 
trieved, all ought to be left desperate ? We should 
show very little honesty, or wisdom, to play the 
tyrants with an author's text ; to raze, alter, inno- 
vate, and overturn, at all adventures, and to the 
utter detriment of his sense and meaning : but to 

p 2 


be so very reserved and cautious, as to interpose 
no relief or conjecture, where it manifestly labours 
and cries out for assistance, seems, on the other 
hand, an indolent absurdity. 

As there are very few pages in Shakspeare, upon 
which some suspicions of depravity do not reason- 
ably arise; I have thought it my duty in the first 
place, by a diligent and laborious collation, to take 
in the assistances of all the older copies. 

In his historical plays, whenever our English 
chronicles, and in his tragedies, when Greek or 
Roman story could give any light, no pains have 
been omitted to set passages right, by comparing 
my author with his originals ; for, as I have fre- 
quently observed, he was a close and accurate co- 
pier wherever his fable was founded on history. 

Wherever the author's sense is clear and dis- 
coverable, (though, perchance, low and trivial,) 
I have not by any innovation tampered with his 
text, out of an ostentation of endeavouring to 
make him speak better than the old copies have 

Where, through all the former editions, a pas- 
sage has laboured under flat nonsense and invinci- 
ble darkness, if, by the addition or alteration of a 
letter or two, or a transposition in the pointing, I 
have restored to him both sense and sentiment ; 
such corrections, I am persuaded, will need no 

And whenever I have taken a greater latitude 
and liberty in amending, I have constantly endea- 
voured to support my corrections and conjectures 
by parallel passages and authorities from himself, 
the surest means of expounding any author what- 
soever. Cette vote d* interpreter un autheur par luu 
mime est plus sure que tous les commentaires, says a 
very learned French critick. 


As to my notes, (from which the common and 
learned readers of our author, I hope, will derive 
some satisfaction,) I have endeavoured to give them 
a variety in some proportion to their number. 
Wherever I have ventured at an emendation, a note 
is constantly subjoined to justify and assert the rea- 
son of it. Where I only offer a conjecture, and do 
not disturb the text, I fairly set forth my grounds 
for such conjecture, and submit it to judgment. 
Some remarks are spent in explaining passages, 
where the wit or satire depends on an obscure point 
of history: others, where allusions are to divinity, 
philosophy, or other branches of science. Some 
are added, to show where there is a suspicion of 
our author having borrowed from the ancients: 
others, to show where he is rallying his contem- 
poraries ; or where he himself is rallied by them. 
And some are necessarily thrown in, to explain an 
obscure and obsolete term, phrase, or idea. I once 
intended to have added a complete and copious 
glossary; but as I have been importuned, and am 
prepared to give a correct edition of our author's 
Poems, (in which many terms occur which are not 
to be met with in his Plays,) I thought a glossary to 
all Shakspeare's works more proper to attend that 

In reforming an infinite number of passages in 
the pointing, where the sense was before quite lost, 
I have frequently subjoined notes to show the de- 
praved, and to prove the reformed, pointing : a 
part of labour in this work which I could very 
willingly have spared myself. May it not be ob- 
jected, why then have you burdened us with these 
notes ? The answer is obvious, and, if I mistake 
not, very material. Without such notes, these 
passages in subsequent editions would be liable, 


through the ignorance of printers and correctors, 
to fall into the old confusion : whereas, a note on 
every one hinders all possible return to depravity: 
and for ever secures them in a state of purity and 
integrity not to be lost or forfeited. 

Again, as some notes have been necessary to 
point out the detection of the corrupted text, and 
establish the restoration of the genuine reading ; 
some others have been as necessary for the expla- 
nation of passages obscure and difficult. To un- 
derstand the necessity and use of this part of my 
task, some particulars of my author's character are 
previously to be explained. There are obscurities 
in him, which are common to him with all poets of 
the same species; there are others, the issue of the 
times he lived in ; and there are others, again, 
peculiar to himself. The nature of comick poetry 
being entirely satirical, it busies itself more in ex- 
posing what we call caprice and humour, than vices 
cognizable to the laws. The English, from the 
happiness of a free constitution, and a turn of 
mind peculiarly speculative and inquisitive, are ob- 
served to produce more humourists, and a greater 
variety of original characters, than any other people 
whatsoever: and these owing their immediate birth 
to the peculiar genius of each age, an infinite num- 
ber of things alluded to, glanced at, and exposed, 
must needs become obscure, as the characters them- 
selves are antiquated and disused. An editor there- 
fore should be well versed in the history and man- 
ners of his author's age, if he aims at doing him a 
service in this respect. 

Besides, mt lying mostly in the assemblage of 
ideas, and in putting those together with quickness 
and variety, wherein can be found any resemblance, 
or congruity, to make up pleasant pictures, and 


agreeable visions in the fancy; the writer, who aims 
at wit, must of course range far and wide for ma- 
terials. Now the age in which Shakspeare lived, 
having, above all others, a wonderful affection to 
appear learned, they declined vulgar images, such 
as are immediately fetched from nature, and ranged 
through the circle of the sciences, to fetch their 
ideas from thence. But as the resemblances of such 
ideas to the subject must necessarily lie very much 
out of the common way, and every piece of wit 
appear a riddle to the vulgar ; this, that should 
have taught them the forced, quaint, unnatural 
tract they were in, (and induce them to follow a 
more natural one,) was the very thing that kept 
them attached to it. The ostentatious affectation 
of abstruse learning, peculiar to that time, the love 
that men naturally have to every thing that looks 
like mystery, fixed them down to the habit of ob- 
scurity. Thus became the poetry of Donne (though 
the wittiest man of that age,) nothing but a con- 
tinued heap of riddles. And our Shakspeare, with 
all his easy nature about him, for want of the 
knowledge of the true rules of art, falls frequently 
into this vicious manner. 

The third species of obscurities which deform our 
author, as the effects of his own genius and cha- 
racter, are those that proceed from his peculiar 
manner of thinking, and as peculiar a manner of 
clothing those thoughts. With regard to his think- 
ing, it is certain, that he had a general knowledge 
of all the sciences: but his acquaintance was rather 
that of a traveller than a native. Nothing in phi- 
losophy was unknown to him ; but every thing in 
it had the grace and force of novelty. And as 
novelty is one main source of admiration, we are 
not to wonder that he has perpetual allusions to the 


most recondite parts of the sciences : and this was 
done not so much out of affectation, as the effect 
of admiration begot by novelty. Then, as to his 
style and diction, we may much more justly apply 
to Shakspeare, what a celebrated writer said of 
Milton : Our language sunk under him, and was 
unequal to that greatness of soul which furnished 
him with such glorious conceptions. He therefore 
frequently uses old words, to give his diction an 
air of solemnity; as he coins others, to express the 
novelty and variety of his ideas. 

Upon every distinct species of these obscurities, I 
have thought it my province to employ a note for 
the service of my author, and the entertainment of 
my readers. A few transient remarks too I have 
not scrupled to intermix, upon the poet's negli- 
gences and omissions in point of art'; but I have done 
it always in such a manner, as will testify my de- 
ference and veneration for the immortal author. 
Some censurers of Shakspeare, and particularly 
Mr. Rymer, have taught me to distinguish betwixt 
the railer and critick. The outrage of his quota- 
tions is so remarkably violent, so pushed beyond 
all bounds of decency and sober reasoning, that it 
quite carries over the mark at which it was levelled. 
Extravagant abuse throws off the edge of the in- 
tended disparagement, and turns the madman's 
weapon into his own bosom. In short, as to Ry- 
mer, this is my opinion of him from his criticisms 
on the tragedies of the last age. He writes with 
great vivacity, and appears to have been a scholar: 
but as for his knowledge of the art of poetry, I 
cannot perceive it was any deeper than his ac- 
quaintance with Bossu and Dacier, from whom he 
has transcribed many of his best reflections. The 
late Mr. Gildon was one attached to Rymer by a 


similar way of thinking and studies. They were 
both of that species of criticks who are desirous 
of displaying their powers rather in finding faults, 
than in consulting the improvement of the world ; 
the hypercritical part of the science of criticism, 

I had not mentioned the modest liberty I have 
here and there taken of animadverting on my au- 
thor, but that I was willing to obviate in time the 
splenetick exaggerations of my adversaries on this 
head. From past experiments I have reason to be 
conscious, in what light this attempt may be 
placed : and that what I call a modest liberty will, by 
a little of their dexterity, be inverted into down- 
right impudence. From a hundred mean and dis- 
honest artifices employed to discredit this edition, 
and to cry down its editor, I have all the grounds 
in nature to beware of attacks. But though the 
malice of wit, joined to the smoothness of versifica- 
tion, may furnish some ridicule; fact, I hope, will be 
able to stand its ground against banter and gaiety. 

It has been my fate, it seems, as I thought it my 
duty, to discover some anachronisms in our author; 
which might have slept in obscurity but for this 
Restorer, as Mr. Pope is pleased affectionately to 
style me : as for instance, where Aristotle is men- 
tioned by Hector in Troilus and Cressida; and Ga- 
len, Cato, and Alexander the Great, in Coriolanus. 
These, in Mr. Pope's opinion, are blunders, which 
the illiteracy of the first publishers of his works 
has fathered upon the poet's memory: it not being 
at all credible, that these could be the errors of any 
man who had the least tincture of a school, or the least 
conversation with such as had. But I have suffi- 
ciently proved, in the course of my notes, that such 
anachronisms were the effect of poetick licence, 
rather than of ignorance in our poet. And if I 


may be permitted to ask a modest question by the 
way, why may not I restore an anachronism really 
made by our author, as well as Mr. Pope take the 
privilege to fix others upon him, which he never 
had it in his head to make ; as I may venture to 
affirm he had not, in the instance of Sir Francis 
Drake, to which I have spoke in the proper place? 
But who shall dare make any words about this 
freedom of Mr. Pope's towards Shakspeare, if it 
can be proved, that, in his fits of criticism, he 
makes no more ceremony with good Homer him- 
self? To try, then, a criticism of his own ad- 
vancing : in the 8th Book of The Odyssey, where 
Demodocus sings the episode of the loves of Mars 
and Venus ; and that, upon their being taken in 
the net by Vulcan, 

The god of arms 

" Must pay the penalty for lawless charms ;" 

Mr. Pope is so kind gravely to inform us, " That 
Homer in this, as in many other places, seems to 
allude to the laws of Athens, where death was the 
punishment of adultery." But how is this signifi- 
cant observation made out? Why, who can pos- 
sibly object any thing to the contrary ? Does 

not Pausanias relate that Draco , the lawgiver to the 
Athenians, granted impunity to any person that took 
revenge upon an adulterer ? And ivas it not also the 
institution of Solon, that if any one took an adulterer 
in the fact, he might use him as he pleased? These 
things are very true : and to see what a good me- 
mory, and sound judgment in conjunction, can 
achieve ! though Homer's date is not determined 
down to a single year, yet it is pretty generally 
agreed that he lived above three hundred years be- 
fore Draco and Solon : and that, it seems, has made 


him seem to allude to the very laws, which these 
two legislators propounded above three hundred 
years after. If this inference be not something 
like an anachronism or prolepsis, I will look once 
more into my lexicons for the true meaning of the 
words. It appears to me, that somebody besides 
Mars and Venus has been caught in a net by this 
episode : and I could call in other instances, to 
confirm what treacherous tackle this net-work is, 
if not cautiously handled. 

How just, notwithstanding, I have been in de- 
tecting the anachronisms of my author, and in de- 
fending him for the use of them, our late editor 
seems to think, they should rather have slept in 
obscurity: and the having discovered them is 
sneered at, as a sort of wrong-headed sagacity. 

The numerous corrections which I have made 
of the poet's text in my Shakspeare Restored, and 
which the publick have been so kind to think well 
of, are, in the appendix of Mr. Pope's last edition, 
slightingly called various readings, guesses, &c. 
He confesses to have inserted as many of them as 
he judged of any the least advantage to the poet; 
but says, that the whole amounted to about twenty 
five words : and pretends to have annexed a com- 
plete list of the rest, which were not worth his 
embracing. Whoever has read my book will, at 
one glance, see how in both these points veracity 
is strained, so an injury might be done. Malus, 
etsi obesae non potc y tamen cogitat. 

Another expedient to make my work appear of 
a trifling nature, has been an attempt to depreciate 
literal criticism. To this end, and to pay a servile 
compliment to Mr. Pope, an anonymous writer 6 has, 

a David Mallet. See his poem Of Verbal Criticism, Vol. I. 
of his works, limo. 1759. Reed. 


like a Scotch pedlar in wit, unbraced his pack on 
the subject. But, that his virulence might not 
seem to be levelled singly at me, he has done me 
the honour to join Dr. Bentley in the libel. I was 
in hopes we should have been both abused with 
smartness of satire at least, though not with soli- 
dity of argument ; that it might have been worth 
some reply in defence of the science attacked. But 
I may fairly say of this author, as Falstaff does of 
Poins : Hang him, baboon ! his wit is as thick as 
Tewksbury mustard ; there is no more conceit in him, 
than is in a Mallet. If it be not a prophanation 
to set the opinion of the divine Longinus against 
such a scribbler, he tells us expressly, " That 
to make a judgment upon words (and writings) is 
the most consummate fruit of much experience." 

Whenever words are depraved, the sense of course 
must be corrupted ; and thence the reader is be- 
trayed into a false meaning. 

If the Latin and Greek languages have received 
the greatest advantages imaginable from the la- 
bours of the editors and criticks of the two last ages, 
by whose aid and assistance the grammarians have 
been enabled to write infinitely better in that art 
than even the preceding grammarians, who wrote 
when those tongues flourished as living languages; 
I should account it a peculiar happiness, that, by 
the faint essay I have made in this work, a path 
might be chalked out for abler hands, by which to 
derive the same advantages to our own tongue ; a 
tongue, which, though it wants none of the funda- 
mental qualities of an universal language, yet, as a 
noble writer says, lisps and stammers as in its cradle; 
and has produced little more towards its polishing 
than complaints of its barbarity. 


Having now run through all those points, which 
I intended should make any part of this disserta- 
tion, and having in my former edition made publick 
acknowledgments of the assistances lent me, I shall 
conclude with a brief account of the methods taken 
in this. 

It was thought proper, in order to reduce the 
bulk and price of the impression, that the notes, 
wherever they would admit of it, might be 
abridged: for which reason I have curtailed a 
great quantity of such, in which explanations were 
too prolix, or authorities in support of an emend- 
ation too numerous : and many I have entirely ex- 
punged, which were judged rather verbose and 
declamatory (and so notes merely of ostentation) 
than necessary or instructive. 

The few literal errors which had escaped notice 
for want of revisals, in the former edition, are 
here reformed ; and the pointing of innumerable 
passages is regulated, with all the accuracy I am 
capable of. 

I shall decline making any farther declaration 
of the pains I have taken upon my author, because 
it was my duty, as his editor, to publish him with 
my best care and judgment ; and because I am 
sensible, all such declarations are construed to 
be laying a sort of debt on the publick. As the 
former edition has been received with mucli in- 
dulgence, I ought to make my acknowledgments 
to the town for their favourable opinion of it; and 
I shall always be proud to think that encourage- 
ment the best payment I can hope to receive from 
my poor studies. 



WHAT the publick is here to expect is a true 
and correct edition of Shakspeare's works, cleared 
from the corruptions with which they have hitherto 
abounded. One of the great admirers of this in- 
comparable author hath made it the amusement 
of his leisure hours for many years past to look 
over his writings with a careful eye, to note the 
obscurities and absurdities introduced into the 
text, and according to the best of his judgment 
to restore the genuine sense and purity of it. In 
this he proposed nothing to himself, but his private 
satisfaction in making his own copy as perfect as 
he could: but, as the emendations multiplied upon 
his hands, other gentlemen, equally fond of the 
author, desired to see them, and some were so kind 
as to give their assistance, by communicating their 
observations and conjectures upon difficult pas- 
sages which had occurred to them. Thus by de- 
grees the work growing more considerable than 
was at first expected, they who had the opportunity 
of looking into it, too partial perhaps in their 
judgment, thought it worth being made publick ; 
and he, who hath with difficulty yielded to their 
persuasions, is far from desiring to reflect upon 
the late editors for the omissions and defects 
which they left to be supplied by others who 


should follow them in the same province. On the 
contrary, he thinks the world much obliged to 
them for the progress they made in weeding out so 
great a number of blunders and mistakes as they 
have done ; and probably he who hath carried on 
the work might never have thought of such an un- 
dertaking, if he had not found a considerable part 
so done to his hands. 

From what causes it proceeded that the works 
of this author, in the first publication of them, were 
more injured and abused than perhaps any that 
ever passed the press, hath been sufficiently ex- 
plained in the preface to Mr. Pope's edition, which 
is here subjoined, and there needs no more to be 
said upon that subject. This only the reader is de- 
sired to bear in mind, that as the corruptions are 
more numerous, and of a grosser kind than can 
be well conceived but by those who have looked 
nearly into them ; so in the correcting them this 
rule hath been most strictly observed, not to give 
a loose to fancy, or indulge a licentious spirit of 
criticism, as if it were fit for any one to presume to 
judge what Shakspeare ought to have written, in- 
stead of endeavouring to discover truly and retrieve 
what he did write : and so great caution hath been 
used in this respect, that no alterations have been 
made, but what the sense necessarily required, 
what the measure of the verse often helped to 
point out, and what the similitude of words in the 
false reading and in the true, generally speaking, 
appeared very well to justify. 

Most of those passages are here thrown to the 
bottom of the page, and rejected as spurious, which 
were stigmatized as such in Mr. Pope's edition j 
and it were to be wished that more had then un- 
dergone the same sentence. The promoter of the 


present edition hath ventured to discard but few 
more upon his own judgment, the most consider- 
able of which is that wretched piece of ribaldry in 
King Henry the Fifth, put into the mouths of the 
French princess and an old gentlewoman, improper 
enough as it is all in French, and not intelligible 
to an English audience, and yet that perhaps is 
the best thing that can be said of it. There can be 
no doubt but a great deal more of that low stuff, 
which disgraces the works of this great author, 
was foisted in by the players after his death, to 
please the vulgar audiences by which they subsist- 
ed : and though some of the poor witticisms and 
conceits must be supposed to have fallen from his 
pen, yet as he hath put them generally into the 
mouths of low and ignorant people, so it is to be 
remembered that he wrote for the stage, rude and 
unpolished as it then was ; and the vicious taste of 
the age must stand condemned for them, since he 
hath left upon record a signal proof how much he 
despised them. In his play of The Merchant of 
Venice, a clown is introduced quibbling in a mi- 
serable manner; upon which one, who bears the 
character of a man of sense, makes the following 
reflection : How every fool can play upon a word! 
I think the best grace of wit will shortly turn into 
silence, and discourse grow commendable in none but 
parrots. He could hardly have found stronger 
words to express his indignation at those false pre- 
tences to wit then in vogue ; and therefore though 
such trash is frequently interspersed in his writings, 
it would be unjust to cast it as an imputation upon 
his taste and judgment and character as a writer. 

There being many words in Shakspeare which 
are grown out of use and obsolete, and many bor- 
rowed from other languages which are not enough 


naturalized or known among us, a glossary is added 
at the end of the work, for the explanation of all 
those terms which have hitherto been so many 
stumbling-blocks to the generality of readers ; and 
where there is any obscurity in the text, not arising 
from the words, but from a reference to some an- 
tiquated customs now forgotten, or other causes of 
that kind, a note is put at the bottom of the page, 
to clear up the difficulty. 

With these several helps, if that rich vein of 
sense which runs through the works of this author 
can be retrieved in every part, and brought to 
appear in its true light, and if it may be hoped, 
without presumption, that this is here effected; 
they who love and admire him will receive a new 
pleasure, and all probably will be more ready to 
join in doing him justice, who does great honour 
to his country as a rare and perhaps a singular 
genius ; one who hath attained a high degree of 
perfection in those two great branches of poetry, 
tragedy and comedy, different as they are in their 
natures from each other; and who may be said 
without partiality to have equalled, if not excelled, 
in both kinds, the best writers of any age or 
country, who have thought it glory enough to 
distinguish themselves in either. 

Since therefore other nations have taken care to 
dignify the works of their most celebrated poets 
with the fairest impressions beautified with the 
ornaments of sculpture, well may our Shakspeare 
be thought to deserve no less consideration : and 
as a fresh acknowledgment hath lately been paid 
to his merit, and a high regard to his name and 
memory, by erecting his statue at a publick ex- 
pence; so it is desired that this new edition of his 

VOL. I. Q 


works, which hath cost some attention and care, 
may be looked upon as another small monument 
designed and dedicated to his honour. 



IT hath been no unusual thing for writers, when 
dissatisfied with the patronage or judgment of 
their own times, to appeal to posterity for a fair 
hearing. Some have even thought fit to apply to it 
in the first instance ; and to decline acquaintance 
with the publick, till envy and prejudice had quite 
subsided. But, of all the trusters to futurity, com- 
mend me to the author of the following poems, 
who not only left it to time to do him justice as it 
would, but to find him out as it could. For, what 
between too great attention to his profit as a 
player, and too little to his reputation as a poet, 
his works, left to the care of door-keepers and 
prompters, hardly escaped the common fate of 
those writings, how good soever, which are aban- 
doned to their own fortune, and unprotected by 
party or cabal. At length, indeed, they struggled 
into light ; but so disguised and travested, that no 
classick author, after having run ten secular stages 


through the blind cloisters of monks and canons, 
ever came out in half so maimed and mangled a 
condition. But for a full account of his disorders, 
I refer the reader to the excellent discourse which 
follows, 7 and turn myself to consider the remedies 
that have been applied to them. 

Shakspeare's works, when they escaped the 
players, did not fall into much better hands when 
they came amongst printers and booksellers; who, 
to say the truth, had at first but small encourage- 
ment for putting them into a better condition. 
The stubborn nonsense, with which he was incrust- 
ed, occasioned his lying long neglected amongst 
the common lumber of the stage. And when that 
resistless splendor, which now shoots all around 
him, had, by degrees, broke through the shell of 
those impurities, his dazzled admirers became as 
suddenly insensible to the extraneous scurf that 
still stuck upon him, as they had been before to 
the native beauties that lay under it. So that, as 
then he was thought not to deserve a cure, he was 
now supposed not to need any. 

His growing eminence, however, required that 
he should be used with ceremony ; and he soon 
had his appointment of an editor in form. But the 
bookseller, whose dealing was with wits, having 
learnt of them, I know not what silly maxim, that 
none but a poet should presume to meddle with a poet, 
engaged the ingenious Mr. Rowe to undertake 
this employment. A wit indeed he was ; but so 
utterly unacquainted with the whole business of 
criticism, that he did not even collate or consult 
the first editions of the work he undertook to 
publish ; but contented himself with giving us a 

7 Mr. Pope's Preface. Reei>. 


meagre account of the author's life, interlarded 
with some common-place scraps from his writings. 
The'truth is, Shakspeare's condition was yet but 
ill understood. The nonsense, now, by consent, re- 
ceived for his own, was held in a kind of reverence 
for its age and author ; and thus it continued till 
another great poet broke the charm, by showing 
us, that the higher we went, the less of it was still 
to be found. 

For the proprietors, not discouraged by their first 
unsuccessful effort, in due time, made a second j 
and, though they still stuck to their poets, with in- 
finitely more success in their choice of Mr. Pope, 
who, by the mere force of an uncommon genius, 
without any particular study or profession of this 
art, discharged the great parts of it so well, as to 
make his edition the best foundation for all further 
improvements. He separated the genuine from the 
spurious plays ; and, with equal judgment, though 
not always with the same success, attempted to 
clear the genuine plays from the interpolated 
scenes : he then consulted the old editions ; and, 
by a careful collation of them, rectified the faulty, 
and supplied the imperfect reading, in a great 
number of places : and lastly, in an admirable 
preface, hath drawn a general, but very lively 
sketch of Shakspeare's poetick character ; and, in 
the corrected text, marked out those peculiar 
strokes of genius which were most proper to sup- 
port and illustrate that character. Thus far Mr. 
Pope. And although much more was to be done 
before Shakspeare could be restored to himself 
(such as amending the corrupted text where 
the printed books afford no assistance; explain- 
ing his licentious phraseology and obscure al- 
lusions; and illustrating the beauties of his 


poetry) ; yet, with great modesty and prudence, 
our illustrious editor left this to the critick by 

But nothing will give the common reader a bet- 
ter idea of the value of Mr. Pope's edition, than the 
two attempts which have been since made by Mr. 
Theobald and Sir Thomas Hanmer in opposition to 
it ; who, although they concerned themselves only 
in the first of these three parts of criticism, the 
restoring the text, (without any conception of the 
second, or venturing even to touch upon the third,) 
yet succeeded so very ill in it, that they left their 
author in ten times a worse condition than they 
found him. But, as it was my ill fortune to have 
some accidental connections with these two gentle- 
men, it will be incumbent on me to be a little more 
particular concerning them. 

The one was recommended to me as a poor man; 
the other as a poor critick : and to each of them, 
at different times, I communicated a great number 
of observations, which they managed, as they saw 
fit, to the relief of their several distresses. As to 
Mr. Theobald, who wanted money, I allowed him 
to print what I gave him for his own advantage ; 
and he allowed himself in the liberty of taking one 
part for his own, and sequestering another for the 
benefit, as I supposed, of some future edition. 
But, as to the Oxford editor, who wanted nothing 
but what he might very well be without, the repu- 
tation of a critick, I could not so easily forgive him 
for trafficking with my papers, without my know- 
ledge ; and, when that project failed, for employ- 
ing a number of my conjectures in his edition 
against my express desire not to have that honour 
done unto me. 

Mr. Theobald was naturally turned to industry 


and labour. What he read he could transcribe : 
but, as what he thought, if ever he did think, he 
could but ill express, so he read on : and by that 
means got a character of learning, without risqu- 
ing, to every observer, the imputation of wanting 
a better talent. By a punctilious collation of the 
old books, he corrected what was manifestly wrong 
in the latter editions, by what was manifestly right 
in the earlier. And this is his real merit ; and the 
whole of it. For where the phrase was very obso- 
lete or licentious in the common books, or only 
slightly corrupted in the other ; he wanted sufficient 
knowledge of the progress and various stages of 
the English tongue, as well as acquaintance with 
the peculiarity of Shakspeare's language, to under- 
stand what was right ; nor had he either common 
judgment to see, or critical sagacity to amend, what 
was manifestly faulty. Hence he generally exerts 
his conjectural talent in the wrong place : he tam- 
pers with what is sound in the common books; and, 
in the old ones, omits all notice of variations, the 
sense of which he did not understand. 

How the Oxford editor came to think himself 
qualified for this office, from which his whole 
course of life had been so remote, is still more 
difficult to conceive. For whatever parts he might 
have either of genius or erudition, he was abso- 
lutely ignorant of the art of criticism, as well as 
of the poetry of that time, and the language of 
his author. And so far from a thought of exa- 
mining the first editions, that he even neglected 
to compare Mr. Pope's, from which he printed his 
own, with Mr. Theobald's ; whereby he lost the 
advantage of many fine lines, which the other had 
recovered from the old quartos. Where he trusts 
to his own sagacity, in what affects the sense, his 


conjectures are generally absurd and extravagant, 
and violating every rule of criticism. Though, in 
this rage of correcting, he was not absolutely de- 
stitute of all art For, having a number of my con- 
jectures before him, he took as many of them as 
he saw fit, to work upon ; and by changing them 
to something, he thought, synonymous or similar, 
he made them his own ; and so became a critick at 
a cheap expence. But how well he hath succeeded 
in this, as likewise in his conjectures, which are 
properly his own, will be seen in the course of my 
remarks ; though, as he hath declined to give the 
reasons for his interpolations, he hath not afforded 
me so fair a hold of him as Mr. Theobald hath 
done, who was less cautious. But his principal ob- 
ject was to reform his author's numbers; and this, 
which he hath done, on every occasion, by the in- 
sertion or omission of a set of harmless uncon- 
cerning expletives, makes up the gross body of his 
innocent corrections. And so, in spite of that ex- 
treme negligence in numbers, which distinguishes 
the first dramatick writers, he hath tricked up the 
old bard, from head to foot, in all the finical ex- 
actness of a modern measurer of syllables. 

For the rest, all the corrections, which these two 
editors have made on any reasonable foundation, 
are here admitted into the text ; and carefully as- 
signed to their respective authors: a piece of justice 
which the Oxford editor never did ; and which the 
other was not always scrupulous in observing to- 
wards me. To conclude with them in a word, 
they separately possessed those two qualities which, 
more than any other, have contributed to bring the 
art of criticism into disrepute, dulness of apprehen- 
sion, and extravagance of conjecture, 

I am now to give some account of the present 


undertaking. For as to all those things which have 
been published under the titles of Essays, Remarks, 
Observations, fyc. on Shakspeare, (if you except 
some critical notes on Macbeth* given as a speci- 
men of a projected edition, and written, as appears, 
by a man of parts and genius,) the rest are abso- 
lutely below a serious notice. 

The whole a critick can do for an author, who 
deserves his service, is to correct the faulty text ; 
to remark the peculiarities of language ; to illus- 
trate the obscure allusions ; and to explain the 
beauties and defects of sentiment or composition. 
And surely, if ever author had a claim to this ser- 
vice, it was our Shakspeare ; who, widely excelling 
in the knowledge of human nature, hath given to 
his infinitely varied pictures of it, such truth of 
design, such force of drawing, such beauty of 
colouring, as was hardly ever equalled by any 
writer, whether his aim was the use, or only the 
entertainment of mankind. The notes in this 
edition, therefore, take in the whole compass of 

I. The first sort is employed in restoring the 
poet's genuine text ; but in those places only where 
it labours with inextricable nonsense. In which, 
how much soever I may have given scope to criti- 
cal conjecture, where the old copies failed me, I 
have indulged nothing to fancy or imagination; 
but have religiously observed the severe canons of 
literal criticism, as may be seen from the reasons 
accompanying every alteration of the common text. 
Nor would a different conduct have become a cri- 
tick, whose greatest attention, in this part, was to 
vindicate the established reading from interpola- 

Published in i?45, by Dr. Johnson. Reed. 


tions occasioned by the fanciful extravagancies of 
others. I once intended to have given the reader 
a body of canons^ for literal criticism, drawn out in 
form; as well such as concern the art in general, 
as those that arise from the nature and circum- 
stances of our author's works in particular. And 
this for two reasons. First, to give the unlearned 
reader a just idea, and consequently a better opi- 
nion of the art of criticism, now sunk very low in 
the popular esteem, by the attempts of some who 
would needs exercise it without either natural or 
acquired talents; and by the ill success of others, 
who seemed to have lost both, when they came to 
try them upon English authors. Secondly, To 
deter the unlearned writer from wantonly trifling 
with an art he is a stranger to, at the expence of 
his own reputation, and the integrity of the text of 
established authors. But these uses may be well 
supplied by what is occasionally said upon the sub- 
ject, in the course of the following remarks. 

II. The second sort of notes consists in an ex- 
planation of the author's meaning, when by one 
or more of these causes it becomes obscure; either 
from a licentious use of terms ^ or a hard or ungram- 
matical construction ; or lastly, from farfetched or 
quaint allusions. 

1. This licentious use of words is almost pecu- 
liar to the language of Shakspeare. To common 
terms he hath affixed meanings of his own, un- 
authorized by use, and not to be justified by ana- 
logy. And this liberty he hath taken with the 
noblest parts of speech, such as mixed modes; which, 
as they are most susceptible of abuse, so their abuse 
much hurts the clearness of the discourse. The 
criticks (to whom Shakspeare's licence was still as 
much a secret as his meaning which that licence 


had obscured) fell into two contrary mistakes ; but 
equally injurious to his reputation and his writings. 
For some of them, observing a darkness that per- 
vaded his whole expression, have censured him for 
confusion of ideas and inaccuracy of reasoning. 
In the neighing of a horse (says Rymer) or in the 
growling of a mastiff, there is a meaning, there is 
a lively expression, and, may I say, more humanity 
than many times in the tragical flights of ShaJcspeare. 
The ignorance of which censure is of a piece with 
its brutality. The truth is, no one thought clearer, 
or argued more closely, than this immortal bard. 
But his superiority of genius less needing the in- 
tervention of words in the act of thinking, when 
he came to draw out his contemplations into dis- 
course, he took up (as he was hurried on by the 
torrent of his matter) with the first words that lay 
in his way; and if, amongst these, there were two 
mixed modes that had but a principal idea in com- 
mon, it was enough for him ; he regarded them as 
synonymous, and would use the one for the other 

without fear or scruple. Again, there have 

been others, such as the two last editors, who have 
fallen into a contrary extreme ; and regarded 
Shakspeare's anomalies (as we may call them) 
amongst the corruptions of his text ; which, there- 
fore, they have cashiered in great numbers, to 
make room for a jargon of their own. This hath 
put me to additional trouble ; for I had not only 
their interpolations to throw out again, but the 
genuine text to replace, and establish in its stead ; 
which, in many cases, could not be done without 
showing the peculiar sense of the terms, and ex- 
plaining the causes which led the poet to so perverse 
a use of them. I had it once, indeed, in my design, 
to give a general alphabetick glossary of those 


terms ; but as each of them is explained in its pro- 
per place, there seemed the less occasion for such 
an index. 

2. The poet's hard and unnatural construction 
had a different original. This was the effect of 
mistaken art and design. The publick taste was 
in its infancy; and delighted (as it always does 
during that state) in the high and turgid ; which 
leads the writer to disguise a vulgar expression with 
hard and forced construction, whereby the sentence 
frequently becomes cloudy and dark. Here his 
criticks show their modesty, and leave him to him- 
self. For the arbitrary change of a word doth little 
towards dispelling an obscurity that ariseth, not 
from the licentious use of a single term, but from 
the unnatural arrangement of a whole sentence. 
And they risqued nothing by their silence. For 
Shakspeare was too clear in fame to be suspected 
of a want of meaning ; and too high in fashion for 
any one to own he needed a critick to find it out. 
Not but, in his best works, we must allow, he is 
often so natural and flowing, so pure and correct, 
that he is even a model for style and language. 

3. As to his far-fetched and quaint allusions, 
these are often a cover to common thoughts ; just 
as his hard construction is to common expression. 
When they are not so, the explanation of them has 
this further advantage, that, in clearing the ob- 
scurity, you frequently discover some latent con- 
ceit not unworthy of his genius. 

III. The third and last sort of notes is con- 
cerned in a critical explanation of the author's 
beauties and defects ; but chiefly of his beauties, 
whether in style, thought, sentiment, character, or 
composition. An odd humour of finding fault hath 
long prevailed amongst the criticks j as if nothing 


were worth remarking, that did not, at the same 
time, deserve to be reproved. Whereas the pub- 
lick judgment hath less need to be assisted in what 
it shall reject, than in what it ought to prize ; men 
being generally more ready at spying faults than in 
discovering beauties. Nor is the value they set 
upon a work, a certain proof that they understand 
it. For it is ever seen, that half a dozen voices of 
credit give the lead : and if the publick chance to 
be in good humour, or the author much in their 
favour, the people are sure to follow. Hence it is 
that the true critick hath so frequently attached 
himself to works of established reputation ; not to 
teach the world to admire, which, in those circum- 
stances, to say the truth, they are apt enough to do 
of themselves ; but to teach them how, "with reason 
to admire: no easy matter, I will assure you, on the 
subject in question : for though it be very true, as 
Mr. Pope hath observed, that Shakspeare is the 
fairest and fullest subject for criticism, yet it is not 
such a sort of criticism as may be raised mechani- 
cally on the rules which Dacier, Rapin, and Bossu, 
have collected from antiquity ; and of which, such 
kind of writers as Rymer, Gildon, Dennis, and 
Oldmixon, have only gathered and chewed the 
husks : nor on the other hand is it to be formed on 
the plan of those crude and superficial judgments, 
on books and things, with which a certain cele- 
brated paper 9 so much abounds ; too good indeed 
to be named with the writers last mentioned, but 
being unluckily mistaken for a model, because it 
was an original, it hath given rise to a deluge of the 
worst sort of critical jargon ; I mean that which 
looks most like sense. But the kind of criticism 

9 The Spectator. Reed. 


here required, is such as judgeth our author by 
those only laws and principles on which he wrote, 
Nature, and Common -sense. 

Our observations, therefore, being thus exten- 
sive, will, I presume, enable the reader to form a 
right judgment of this favourite poet, without 
drawing out his character, as was once intended, 
in a continued discourse. 

These, such as they are, were among my younger 
amusements, when, many years ago, I used to turn 
over these sort of writers to unbend myself from 
more serious applications : and what certainly the 
publick at this time of day had never been troubled 
with, but for the conduct of the two last editors, 
and the persuasions of dear Mr. Pope; whose me- 
mory and name, 

" .1 semper acerbutn, 

** Semper honoratum (sic Di voluistis) habebo." 

He was desirous I should give a new edition of this 
poet, as he thought it might contribute to put a 
stop to a prevailing folly of altering the text of 
celebrated authors without talents or judgment. 
And he was willing that his edition should be 
melted down into mini,, as it would, he said, afford 
him (so great is the modesty of an ingenuous 
temper) a fit opportunity of confessing his mistakes. 1 
In memory of our friendship, I have, therefore, 
made it our joint edition. His admirable preface 
is here added; all his notes are given, with his 
name annexed ; the scenes are divided according 
to his regulation ; and the most beautiful passages 
distinguished, as in his book, with inverted commas, 

1 See bis Letters to me. 

rtHvU j^'hrt&-wtf^i 


In imitation of him, I have done the same by as 
many others as I thought most deserving of the 
reader's attention, and have marked them with 
double commas. 

If, from all this, Shakspeare or good letters have 
received any advantage, and the publick any bene- 
fit, or entertainment, the thanks are due to the 
proprietors, who have been at the expence of pro- 
curing this edition. And I should be unjust to 
several deserving men of a reputable and useful 
profession, if I did not, on this occasion, acknow- 
ledge the fair dealing I have always found amongst 
them ; and profess my sense of the unjust prejudice 
which lies against them ; whereby they have been, 
hitherto, unable to procure that security for their 
property, which they see the rest of their fellow- 
citizens enjoy. A prejudice in part arising from 
the frequent piracies (as they are called) committed 
by members of their own body. But such kind of 
members no body is without. And it would be 
hard that this should be turned to the discredit of 
the honest part of the profession, who suffer more 
from such injuries than any other men. It hath, 
in part too, arisen from the clamours of profligate 
scribblers, ever ready, for a piece of money, to 
prostitute their bad sense for or against any cause 
profane or sacred ; or in any scandal publick or 
private : these meeting with little encouragement 
from men of account in the trade (who, even in 
this enlightened age, are not the very worst judges 
or rewarders of merit,) apply themselves to people 
of condition ; and support their importunities by 
false complaints against booksellers. 

But I should now, perhaps, rather think of my 
own apology, than busy myself in the defence of 
others. I shall have some Tartuffe ready, on the 


first appearance of this edition, to call out again, 
and tell me, that I suffer myself to be wholly di- 
verted from my purpose by these matters less suitable 
to my clerical profession. " Well, but (says a friend) 
why not take so candid an intimation in good part? 
Withdraw yourself again, as you are bid, into the 
clerical pale ; examine the records of sacred and 
profane antiquity; and, on them, erect a work to 
the confusion of infidelity." Why, I have done all 
this, and more : and hear now wnat the same men 
have said to it. They tell me, / have wrote to the 
wrong and injury of religion, and furnisfied out 
more handles for unbelievers. "Oh! now the se- 
cret is out ; and you may have your pardon, I find, 
upon easier terms. It is only to write no more." 

Good gentlemen ! and shall I not oblige them? 

They would gladly obstruct my way to those things 
which every man, who endeavours well in his pro- 
fession, must needs think he has some claim to, 
when he sees them given to those who never did 
endeavour; at the same time that they would deter 
me from taking those advantages which letters 
enable me to procure for myself. If then I am to 
write no more (though as much out of my pro- 
fession as they may please to represent this work, 
I suspect their modesty would not insist on a scru- 
tiny of our several applications of this profane 
profit and their purer gains,) if, I say, I am to 
write no more, let me at least give the publick,who 
have a better pretence to demand it of me, some 
reason for my presenting them with these amuse- 
ments : which, if I am not much mistaken, may 
be excused by the best and fairest examples; ana, 
what is more, may be justified on the surer reason 
of things. 

The great Saint Chrysostom, a name conse- 


crated to immortality by his virtue and eloquence, 
is known to have been so fond of Aristophanes, as 
to wake with him at his studies, and to sleep with 
him under his pillow : and I never heard that this 
was objected either to his piety or his preaching, 
not even in those times of pure zeal and primitive 
religion. Yet, in respect of Shakspeare's great 
sense, Aristophanes's best wit is but buffoonery; 
and, in comparison of Aristophanes's freedoms, 
Shakspeare writes w r ith the purity of a vestal. But 
they will say, St. Chrysostom contracted a fondness 
for the comick poet for the sake of his Greek. To 
this, indeed, I have nothing to reply. Far be it 
from me to insinuate so unscholar-like a thing, as 
if we had the same use for good English, that a 
Greek had for his Attick elegance. Critick Kuster, 
in a taste and language peculiar to grammarians of 
a certain order, hath decreed, that the history and 
chronology of Greek words is the most SOLID en- 
tertainment of a man of letters. 

I fly then to a higher example, much nearer 
home, and still more in point, the famous univer- 
sity of Oxford. This illustrious body, which 
hath long so justly held, and with such equity dis- 
pensed the chier honours of the learned world, 
thought good letters so much interested in correct 
editions of the best English writers, that they, 
very lately, in their publick capacity, undertook 
one of this very author by subscription. And if 
the editor hath not discharged his task with suitable 
abilities for one so much honoured by them, this 
was not their fault, but his, who thrust himself 
into the employment. After such an example, it 
would be weakening any defence to seek further 
for authorities. All that can be now decently 
urged, is the reason of the thing; and this I shall 


do, more for the sake of that truly venerable body 
than my own. 

Of all the literary exercitations of speculative 
men, whether designed for the use or entertain- 
ment of the world, there are none of so much im- 
portance or what are more our immediate concern, 
than those which let us into the knowledge of our 
nature. Others may exercise the reason, or amuse 
the imagination ; but these only can improve the 
heart, and form the human mind to wisdom. 
Now, in this science, our Shakspeare is confessed 
to occupy the foremost place ; whether we consider 
the amazing sagacity with which he investigates 
every hidden spring and wheel of human action ; 
or his happy manner of communicating this know- 
ledge, in the just and living paintings which he 
has given us of all our passions, appetites, and 
pursuits. These afford a lesson which can never be 
too often repeated, or too constantly inculcated ; 
and, to engage the reader's due attention to it, 
hath been one of the principal objects of this 

As this science (whatever profound philosophers 
may think) is, to the rest, in things; so, in words y 
(whatever supercilious pedants may talk) every 
one's mother tongue is to all other languages. 
This hath still been the sentiment of nature and 
true wisdom. Hence, the greatest men of anti- 
quity never thought themselves better employed, 
than in cultivating their own country idiom. So, 
Lycurgus did honour to Sparta, in giving the first 
complete edition of Homer ; and Cicero to Rome, 
in correcting the works of Lucretius. Nor do we 
want examples of the same good sense in modern 
times, even amidst the cruel inroads that art and 

VOL. I. R 


fashion have made upon nature and the simplicity 
of wisdom. Menage, the greatest name in France 
for all kinds of philologick: learning, prided him- 
self in writing critical notes on their best lyrick 
poet Malherbe : and our greater Selden, when he 
thought it might reflect credit on his country, did 
not disdain even to comment a very ordinary poet, 
one Michael Drayton. 2 But the English tongue, 
at this juncture, deserves and demands our par- 
ticular regard. It hath, by means of the many 
excellent works of different kinds composed in it, 
engaged the notice, and become the study, of al- 
most every curious and learned foreigner, so as to 
be thought even a part of literary accomplishment. 
This must needs make it deserving of a critical 
attention : and its being yet destitute of a test or 
standard to apply to, in cases of doubt or difficulty, 
shows how much it wants that attention. For we 
have neither Grammar nor Dictionary, neither 
chart nor compass, to guide us through this wide 
sea of words. And indeed how should we ? since 
both are to be composed and finished on the au- 
thority of our best established writers. But their 
authority can be of little use, till the text hath been 
correctly settled, and the phraseology critically 

8 i i n our greater Selden, when he thought he might reflect 
credit on his country, did not disdain to comment a very ordinary 
poet, one Michael Drayton.] This compliment to himself for 
condescending to write notes on Shakspeare, Warburton copied- 
from Pope, who sacrificed Drayton to gratify the vanity of this 
flattering editor: " I have a particular reason (says Pope in a 
Letter to Warburton) to make you interest yourself in me and 
my writings. It will cause both them and me to make a better 
figure to posterity. A very mediocre poet, one Drayton, is yet 
taken notice of because Selden tvrit afefo notes on one of his poems. f* 
Pope's Works, Vol. IX. p. 350, 8vo. 1751. . - 

Holt White. 


examined. As, then, by these aids, a Grammar and 
Dictionary, planned upon the best rules of logick 
and philosophy (and none but such will deserve 
the name,) are to be procured ; the forwarding of 
this will be a general concern : for, as Quintilian 
observes, " Verborum proprietas ac differentia om- 
nibus, qui sermonem curaj habent, debet esse com- 
munis." By this way, the Italians have brought 
their tongue to a degree of purity and stability, 
which no living language ever attained unto before. 
It is with pleasure 1 observe, that these things now 
begin to be understood among ourselves; and that 
I can acquaint the publick, we may soon expect 
very elegant editions of Fletcher and Milton's 
Paradise Lost, from gentlemen of distinguished 
abilities and learning. But this interval of good 
sense, as it may be short, is indeed but new. For 
I remember to have heard of a very learned man, 
who, not long since, formed a design, of giving a 
more correct edition of Spenser ; and, without 
doubt, would have performed it well ; but he was 
dissuaded from his purpose by his friends, as be- 
neath the dignity of a professor of the occult 
sciences. Yet these very friends, I suppose, would 
have thought it added lustre to his high station, to 
have new-furnished out some dull northern chro- 
nicle, or dark Sibylline aenigma. But let it not be 
thought that what is here said insinuates any thing 
to the discredit of Greek and Latin criticism. If 
the follies of particular men were sufficient to bring 
any branch of learning into disrepute, I do not 
know any that would stand in a worse situation than 
that for which I now apologize. For I hardly think 
there ever appeared, in any learned language, so 
execrable a heap of nonsense, under the name of 



commentaries, as hath been lately given us on a 
certain satyrick poet, of the last age, by his editor 
and coadjutor. 3 

I am sensible how unjustly the very best classical 
criticks have been treated. It is said, that our 
great philosopher 4 spoke with much contempt of 
the two finest scholars of this age, Dr. Bentley and 
Bishop Hare, for squabbling, as he expressed it, 
about an old play-book ; meaning, I suppose, Te-" 
rence's comedies. But this story is unworthy of 
him ; though well enough suiting the fanatick turn 
of the wild writer that relates it ; such censures 
are amongst the follies of men immoderately given 
over to one science, and ignorantly undervaluing 
all the rest. Those learned criticks might, and 
perhaps did, laugh in their turn (though still, sure, 
with the same indecency and indiscretion,) at that 
incomparable man, for wearing out a long life in 
poring through a telescope. Indeed, the weak- 
nesses of such are to be mentioned with reverence. 
But who can bear, without indignation, the fashion- 
able cant of every trifling writer, whose insipidity 
passes, with himself, for politeness, for pretending 
to be shocked, forsooth, with the rude and savage 
air of vulgar criticks ; meaning such as Muretus, 
Scaliger, Casaubon, Salmasius, Spanheim, Bentley! 
When, had it not been for the deathless labours of 
such as these, the western world, at the revival of 
letters, had soon fallen back again into a state of 
ignorance and barbarity, as deplorable as that from 
which Providence had just redeemed it. 

* This alludes to Dr. Grey's edition of Hudibras published in 
1744. Reed. 

4 Sir Isaac Newton. See Whiston's Historical Memoirs of the 
Life of Dr. Clarke y 1748, 8vo. p. 113. Reed. 


To conclude with an observation of a fine writer 
and great philosopher of our own ; which I would 
gladly bind, though with all honour, as a phylac- 
tery, on the brow of every awful grammarian, to 
teach him at once the use and limits of his art: 
Words are the money of fools, and the coun- 
ters OF WISE MEN. 



THAT praises are without reason lavished on the 
dead, and that the honours due only to excel- 
lence are paid to antiquity, is a complaint likely 
to be always continued by those, who, being able 
to add nothing to truth, hope for eminence from 
the heresies of paradox ; or those, who, being 
forced by disappointment upon consolatory expe- 
dients, are willing to hope from posterity what the 
present age refuses, and flatter themselves that the 
regard which is yet denied by envy, will be at last 
bestowed by time. 

Antiquity, like every other quality that attracts 
the notice of mankind, has undoubtedly votaries 

' First printed in 176.5. 


that reverence it, not from reason, but from pre- 
judice. Some seem to admire indiscriminately 
whatever has been long preserved, without con- 
sidering that time has sometimes co-operated with 
chance ; all perhaps are more willing to honour 
past than present excellence ; and the mind con- 
templates genius through the shades of age, as the 
eye surveys the sun through artificial opacity. The 
great contention of criticism is to find the faults 
of the moderns, and the beauties of the ancients. 
While an author is yet living, we estimate his 
powers by his worst performance ; and when he is 
dead, we rate them by his best. 

To works, however, of which the excellence is 
not absolute and definite, but gradual and compa- 
rative; to works not raised upon principles demon- 
strative and scientifick, but appealing wholly to 
observation and experience, no other test can be 
applied than length, of duration and continuance 
of esteem. What mankinaf have long possessed 
they have often examined and compared, and if 
they persist to value the possession, it is because 
frequent comparisons have confirmed opinion in 
its favour. As among the works of nature no man 
can properly call a river deep, or a mountain high, 
without the knowledge of many mountains, and 
many rivers ; so in the production of genius, no- 
thing can be styled excellent till it has been com* 
pared wiili other works of the same kind. Demon- 
stration immediately displays its power, and has 
nothing to hope or fear from the flux of years ; but 
works tentative and experimental must be estimated 
by their proportion to the general and collective 
ability of man, as it is discovered in a long suc- 
cession of endeavours. Of the first building that 
was raised, it might be with certainty determined 


that it was round or square ; but whether it was 
spacious or lofty must have been referred to time. 
The Pythagorean scale of numbers was at once 
discovered to be perfect ; but the poems of Homer 
we yet know not to transcend the common limits 
of human intelligence, but by remarking, that na- 
tion after nation, and century after century, has 
been able to do little more than transpose his inci- 
dents, new name his characters, and paraphrase his 

The reverence due to writings that have long 
subsisted arises therefore not from any credulous 
confidence in the superior wisdom of past ages, or 
gloomy persuasion of the degeneracy of mankind, 
but is the consequence of acknowledged and indu- 
bitable positions, that what has been longest known 
has been most considered, and what is most con- 
sidered is best understood. 

The poet, of whose works I have undertaken the 
revision, may now begin to assume the dignity of 
an ancient, and claim the privilege of an established 
fame and prescriptive veneration. He has long 
outlived his century, 6 the term commonly fixed as 
the test of literary merit. Whatever advantages 
lie might once derive from personal allusions, local 
customs, or temporary opinions, have for many 
years been lost ; and every topick of merriment 
or motive of sorrow, which the modes of artificial 
life afforded him, now only obscure the scenes 
which they once illuminated. The effects of favour 
and competition are at an end ; the tradition of 
his friendships and his enmities has perished j his 
works support no opinion with arguments, nor 

" Est vetus atque probus, centum qui perficit annos.*' Hor. 



supply any faction with invectives ; they can nei- 
ther indulge vanity, nor gratify malignity ; but are 
read without any other reason than the desire of 
pleasure, and are therefore praised only as pleasure 
is obtained ; yet, thus unassisted by interest or 
passion, they have past through variations of taste 
and changes of manners, and, as they devolved 
from one generation to another, have received 
new honours at every transmission. 

But because human judgment, though it be gra- 
dually gaining upon certainty, never becomes in- 
fallible; and approbation, though long continued, 
may yet be only the approbation of prejudice or 
fashion ; it is proper to inquire, by what peculiari- 
ties of excellence Shakspeare has gained and kept 
the favour of his countrymen. 

Nothing can please many, and please long, but 
just representations of general nature. Particular 
manners can be known to few, and therefore few 
only can judge how nearly they are copied. The 
irregular combinations 01 fanciful invention may 
delight awhile, by that novelty of which the com- 
mon satiety of life sends us all in quest ; the plea- 
sures of sudden wonder are soon exhausted, and 
the mind can only repose on the stability of truth. 

Shakspeare is above all writers, at least above all 
modern writers, the poet of nature ; the poet 
that holds up to his readers a faithful mirror of 
manners and of life. His characters are not mo- 
dified by the customs of particular places, unprac- 
tised by the rest of the world ; by the peculiarities 
of studies or professions, which can operate but 
upon small numbers; or by the accidents of tran- 
sient fashions or temporary opinions : they are the 
genuine progeny of common humanity, such as 
.the world will always supply, and observation will 


always find. His persons act and speak by the in- 
fluence of those general passions and principles by 
which all minds are agitated, and the whole system 
of life is continued in motion. In the writings of 
other poets a character is too often an individual ; 
in those of Shakspeare it is commonly a specie*. 

It is from this wide extension of design that so 
much instruction is derived. It is this which Alls 
the plays of Shakspeare with practical axioms and 
domestick wisdom. It was said of Euripides, that 
every verse was a precept ; and it may be said of 
Shakspeare, that from his works may be collected 
a system of civil and ^economical prudence. Yet 
his real power is not shown in the splendor of par- 
ticular passages, but by the progress of his fable, 
and the tenor of his dialogue ; and he that tries to 
recommend him by select quotations, will succeed 
like the pedant in Hierocles, who, when he offered 
his house to sale, carried a brick in his pocket as a 

It will not easily be imagined how much Shak- 
speare excels in accommodating his sentiments to 
real life, but by comparing him with other authors. 
It was observed of the ancient schools of declama- 
tion, that the more diligently they were frequented, 
the more was the student disqualified for the world, 
because he found nothing there which he should 
ever meet in any other place. The same remark 
may be applied to every stage but that of Shak- 
speare. The theatre, when it is under any other 
direction, is peopled by such characters as were 
never seen, conversing in a language which was 
never heard, upon topicks which will never arise in 
the commerce of mankind. But the dialogue of 
this author is often so evidently determined by the 
incident which produces it, and is pursued with so 


much ease and simplicity, that it seems scarcely to 
claim the merit of fiction, but to have been gleaned 
by diligent selection out of common conversation, 
and common occurrences. 

Upon every other stage the universal agent is 
love, by whose power all good and evil is distri- 
buted, and every action quickened or retarded. 
To bring a lover, a lady, and a rival into the fable; 
to entangle them in contradictory obligations, per- 
plex them with oppositions of interest, and harass 
them with violence of desires inconsistent with 
each other ; to make them meet in rapture, and 
part in agony; to fill their mouths with hyperbolical 
joy and outrageous sorrow; to distress them as no- 
thing human ever was distressed; to deliver them 
as nothing human ever was delivered, is the busi- 
ness of a modern dramatist. For this, probability 
is violated, life is misrepresented, and language is 
depraved. But love is only one of many passions, 
and as it has no great influence upon the sum of 
life, it has little operation in the dramas of a poet, 
who caught his ideas from the living world, and 
exhibited only what he saw before him. He knew, 
that any other passion, as it was regular or exorbi- 
tant, was a cause of happiness or calamity. 

Characters thus ample and general were not 
easily discriminated and preserved, yet perhaps no 
poet ever kept his personages more distinct from 
each other. Lwill-not say-with Pope, that every 
speech may be assigned to the proper speaker, be- 
cause many speeches there are which have nothing 
characteristical; but, perhaps, though some maybe 
equally adapted to every person, it will be difficult 
to find any that can be properly transferred from 
the present possessor to another claimant. The 
choice is right, when there is reason for choice. 


Other dramatists can only gain attention by 
hyperbolical or aggravated characters, by fabulous 
and unexampled excellence or depravity, as the 
writers of barbarous romances invigorated the 
reader by a giant and a dwarf; and he that should 
form his expectation of human affairs from the 
play, or from the tale, would be equally deceived. 
Shakspeare has no heroes ; his scenes are occupied 
only by men, who act and speak as the reader 
thinks that he should himself have spoken or acted 
on the same occasion : even where the agency is 
super-natural, the dialogue is level with life. Other 
writers disguise the most natural passions and 
most frequent incidents ; so that he who contem- 
plates them in the book will not know them in the 
world : Shakspeare approximates the remote, and 
familiarizes the wonderful ; the event which he 
represents will not happen, but if it were possible, 
its effects would probably be such as he has as- 
signed ; 7 and it may be said, that he has not only 
shown human nature as it acts in real exigencies, 
but as it would be found in trials, to which it can- 
not be exposed. 

This therefore is the praise of Shakspeare, that 
his drama is the mirror of life ; that he who has 
mazed his imagination, in following the phantoms 
which other writers raise up before him, may here 
be cured of his delirious ecstasies, by reading hu- 
man sentiments in human language ; by scenes 
from which a hermit may estimate the transactions 
of the world, and a confessor predict the progress 
of the passions. 

" Quserit quod nusquam est gentium, reperit tamen, 
" Tacit illud verisimile quod mcndacium est." 

Plauti PseudoiuSy Act I. sc. iv. Steevens. 


His adherence to general nature has exposed 
him to the censure of criticks, who form their judg- 
ments upon narrower principles. Dennis and Ry- 
mer think his Romans not sufficiently Roman ; and 
Voltaire censures his kings as not completely royal. 
Dennis is offended, that Menenius, a senator of 
Rome, should play the buffoon ; and Voltaire per- 
haps thinks decency violated when the Danish 
usurper is represented as a drunkard. But Shak- 
speare always makes nature predominate over ac- 
cident ; and if he preserves the essential character, 
is not very careful of distinctions superinduced and 
adventitious. His story requires Romans or kings, 
but he thinks only on men. He knew that Rome, 
like every other city, had men of all dispositions ; 
and wanting a buffoon, he went into the senate- 
house for that which the senate-house would cer- 
tainly have afforded him. He was inclined to 
show an usurper and a murderer not only odious, 
but despicable ; he therefore added drunkenness to 
his other qualities, knowing that kings love wine 
like other men, and that wine exerts its natural 
power upon kings. These are the petty cavils of 
petty minds; a poet overlooks the casual distinc- 
tion of country and condition, as a painter, satisfied 
with the figure, neglects the drapery. 

The censure which he has incurred by mixing 
comick and tragick scenes, as it extends to all his 
works, deserves more consideration. Let the fact 
be first stated, and then examined. 

Shakspeare's plays are not in the rigorous and 
critical sense either tragedies or comedies, but 
compositions of a distinct kind ; exhibiting the 
real state of sublunary nature, which partakes of 
good arid evil, joy and sorrow, mingled with endless 
variety of proportion and innumerable modes of 


combination ; and expressing the course of the 
world, in which the loss of one is the gain of an- 
other; in which, at the same time, the reveller is 
hasting to his wine, and the mourner burying his 
friend; in which the malignity of one is sometimes 
defeated by the frolick of another; and many mis- 
chiefs and many benefits are done and hindered 
without design. 

Out of this chaos of mingled purposes and ca- 
sualties, the ancient poets, according to the laws 
which custom had prescribed, selected some the 
crimes of men, and some their absurdities : some 
the momentous vicissitudes of life, and some the 
lighter occurrences ; some the terrors of distress, 
and some the gayeties of prosperity. Thus rose 
the two modes 01 imitation, known by the names 
of tragedy and comedy, compositions intended to 
promote different ends by contrary means, and con- 
sidered as so little allied, that I do not recollect 
among the Greeks or Romans a single writer who 
attempted both. 8 

* From this remark it appears, that Dr. Johnson was unac- 
quainted with the Cyclops fit Euripides. 

It may, however, be observed, that Dr. Johnson, perhaps, 
was misled by the following passage in Dryden's Essay on Dra- 
matick Poesy : " Tragedies and Comedies were not writ then as 
they are now, promiscuously, by the same person ; but he w ho 
found his genius bending to the one, never attempted the other 
way. This is so plain, that I need not instance to you that Aris- 
tophanes, Plautus, Terence, never any of them writ a tragedy; 
iEschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, and Seneca, never meddled 
with comedy : the sock and buskin were not worn by the same 
poet." And yet, to show the uncertain state of Dryden's me- 
mory, in his Dedication to his Juvenal he has expended at least 
a page in describing the Cyclops of Euripides. 

So intimately connected with this subject are the following 
remarks of Mr. Twining in his excellent commentary on the 


Shakspeare has united the powers of exciting 
laughter and sorrow not only in one mind, but in 

Poetick of Aristotle, that they ought not to be withheld from our 

" The prejudiced admirers of the ancients are very angry at 
the least insinuation that they had any idea of our barbarous 
tragi-comedy. But, after all, it cannot be dissembled, that, if 
they had not the name, they had the thing, or something very 
nearly approaching to it. If that be tragi-comedy, which is 
partly serious and partly comical, I do not know why we should 
scruple to say, that the Alcestis of Euripides is, to all intents and 
purposes, a tragi-comedy. I have not the least doubt, that it 
had upon an Athenian audience the proper effect of tragi- 
comedy ; that is, that in some places it made them cry, and in 
others, laugh. And the best thing we have to hope, for the 
credit of Euripides, is, that he intended to produce this effect. 
For though he may be an unskilful poet, who purposes to write 
a tragi-comedy, he surely is a more unskilful poet, who writes 
one without knowing it. 

" The learned reader will understand me to allude particularly 
to the scene, in which the domestick describes the behaviour of 
Hercules; and to the speech of Hercules himself, which follows. 
Nothing can well be of a more comick cast than the servant's 
complaint. He describes the hero as the most greedy and ill- 
mannered guest he had ever attended, under his master's hos- 
pitable roof; calling about him, eating, drinking, and singing, 
in a room by himself, while the master and all the family were in 
the height of funereal lamentation. He was not contented with 
such refreshments as had been set before him : 
sri <rcv<ppovujs lejjaro 

' Ta itpQvtvxpvTa ma- 
r AAA' et Tt /xij ppotpev, X2TPTNEN ppuv.'' 
Then he drinks 

' 'Etas eQsppyv' dvtov ^^olvol <p\o% 

' 0V8' ' 

crowns himself with myrtle, and sings, AMOY2' YAAKTX2N 
and all this, alone. * Cette description,' says Fontenelle, ' est 
si burlesque, qu'on diroit d'un crocheteur qui est de confrairie.' 
A censure somewhat justified by Euripides himself, who makes 
the servant take Hercules for a thief: 

' itavspyov KAftllA xa* AHI2THN riva.' 

" The speech of Hercules, <piKoao(pvro{ iv psQr), as the scho- 
liast observes (v. 776,) * philosophizing in his cups,' is still more 


one composition. Almost all his plays are divided 
between serious and ludicrous characters, and, in 

curious. It is, indeed, full of the <p\c,% o<vs, and completely 
justifies the attendant's description. Nothing can be more jolly. 
It is in the true spirit of a modern drinking song ; recommend- 
ing it to the servant to uncloud his brow, enjoy the present hour, 
think nothing of the morrow, and drown his cares in love and 
wine : 

* 'OTTOS Tt vepvov xa< fe<ppovri\&> jSXfttJj ; 

' Oo xpj) <rKv6purrM, x. r. aA. 

f AETP' 'EA*, ovuif dv xai troQurrspos ysin). 
' Ta fiyijra irpoLypmr' 6i$as f t v fyst <p'j<riv ; 
OIMAI ju.v 'OT- no EN TAP; aAA* axsf pa. 
1 Bportof x.xr5av6iv o'pejAfra/, 

* K' x ear* Qvyrcuv o<rri$ %sTri\arai 
' Tijv dvpuv jxeAAscrav h fHiwtrerxi. 

* EvQpcuve cavrov niNE! rov xafl ypepav 

* B<ov Aoy< <rov, ra, (J'a'AAa, rr^ rwyrj. 

* Tj/xa $e xau -njv -ffXetcrrov ijJj crr^v Bewv 

' KTnPlN Pporomv x. r. A.' V. 7S3 812. 

" If any man can read this, without supposing it to have set 
the audience in a roar, I certainly cannot demonstrate that he 
is mistaken. I can only say, that I think he must be a very 
grave man himself, and must forget that the Athenians were not 
a very grave people. The zeal of Pere Brumoy in defending 
this tragedy, betrays him into a little indiscretion. He says, 
* tout cela a fait pcnser a quelques critiques modernes que cctte 
piece etoit une trugi-comedie ; chimere inconnu aux anciens. 
Cette piece est du gout des autres tragedies antiques.' Indeed 
they, who call this play a tragi-comedy, give it rather a favour- 
able name ; for, in the scenes alluded to, it is, in fact, of a 
lower species than our tragi-comedy : it is rather burlesque tra' 
gedy; what Demetrius calls rpotyuiha. trxigairot. Much of the 
coruick cast prevails in other scenes ; though mixed with those 
genuine strokes of simple and universal nature, which abound in 
this poet, and which I should be sorry to exchange for that mo- 
notonous and unafl'ecting level of tragick dignity, which never 
falls, and never rises. 

" I will only mention one more instance of this tragi-comick 
mixture, and that from Sophocles. The dialogue between Mi- 


the successive evolutions of the design, sometimes 

f>roduce seriousness and sorrow, and sometimes 
evity and laughter. 

nerva and Ulysses, in the first scene of the Ajax, from v. 74 to 
88, is perfectly ludicrous. The cowardice of Ulysses is almost 
as comick as the cowardice of Falstaff. In spite of the presence 
of Minerva, and her previous assurance that she would effectually 
guard him from all danger by rendering him invisible, when she 
calls Ajax out, Ulysses, in the utmost trepidation, exclaims 
' T< Spag, Aflava; /xtj&xju-w; <r<p' 6%w aAsj.' 

* What are you about, Minerva? by no means call him out.' 
Minerva answers 

' Oo <ny dvety, pySe SeiXiav apeis? 

* Will you not be silent, and lay aside your fears?' 
But Ulysses cannot conquer his fears: 

MH, nPOS EHN dX\' kvkv dpKiru> psvtov.' 

* Don't call him out, for heaven's sake: let him stay within.' 
And in this tone the conversation continues ; till, upon Minerva's 
repeating her promise that Ajax should not see him, he consents 
to stay; but in a line of most comical reluctance, and with an 
aside, that is in the true spirit of Sancho Panca : 

MevojjW,' dr HEAON A' AN EKT02 ftN TTXEIN.' 
< I'll stay (aside) but I wish I was not here.' 
* J'avoue,' says Brumoy, * que ce trait n'est pas a la louange 
d'Ulysse, ni de Sophocle.' 

" No unprejudiced person, I think, can read this scene with- 
out being convinced, not only, that it must actually have pro- 
duced, but that it must have been intended to produce, the effect 
of comedy. 

" It appears indeed to me, that we may plainly trace in the 
Greek tragedy, with all its improvements, and all its beauties, 
pretty strong marks of its popular and tragi-comick origin. For 
T pay what,, we are told, was, originally, the only dramatick ap- 
pellation; and when, afterwards, the ludicrous was separated 
from the serious, and distinguished by its appropriated name of 
Comedy, the separation seems to have been imperfectly made, 
and Tragedy, distinctively so called, still seems to have retained 
a tincture of its original merriment. Nor will this appear 
strange, if we consider the popular nature of the Greek specta- 
cles. The people, it is probable, would still require, even in the 
midst of their tragick emotion, a little dash of their old satyrick 
fun, and poets were obliged to comply, in some degree, with 
their taste." Turning's Notes, pp. 202, 203, 204, 205, 206. 



That this is a practice contrary to the rules of 
criticism will be readily allowed ; but there is 
always an appeal open from criticism to nature. 
The end of writing is to instruct ; the end of 
poetry is to instruct by pleasing. That the mingled 
drama may convey all the instruction of tragedy 
or comedy cannot be denied, because it includes 
both in its alternations of exhibition, and ap- 
proaches nearer than either to the appearance 
of life, by showing how great machinations and 
slender designs may promote or obviate one an- 
other, and the high and the low co-operate in the 
general system by unavoidable concatenation. 

It is objected, that by this change of scenes the 
passions are interrupted in their progression, and 
that the principal event, being not advanced by a 
due gradation of preparatory incidents, wants at 
last the power to move, which constitutes the per- 
fection of dramatick poetry. This reasoning is so 
specious, that it is received as true even by those 
who in daily experience feel it to be false. The 
interchanges of mingled scenes seldom fail to pro- 
duce the intended vicissitudes of passion. Fiction 
cannot move so much, but that the attention may 
be easily transferred ; and though it must be al- 
lowed that pleasing melancholy be sometimes in- 
terrupted by unwelcome levity, yet let it be consi- 
dered likewise, that melancholy is often not pleas- 
ing, and that the disturbance of one man may be 
the relief of another ; that different auditors have 
different habitudes ; and that, upon the whole, all 
pleasure consists in variety. 

The players, who in their edition divided our au- 
thor's works into comedies, histories, and tragedies, 
seem not to have distinguished the three kinds, by 
any very exact or definite ideas. 

vol. i. s 


An action which ended happily to the principal 
persons, however serious or distressful through its 
intermediate incidents, in their opinion constituted 
a comedy. This idea of a comedy continued long 
amongst us, and plays were written, which, by 
changing the catastrophe, were tragedies to-day, 
and comedies to-morrow. 9 

Tragedy was not in those times a poem of more 
general dignity or elevation than comedy ; it re- 
quired only a calamitous conclusion, with which 
the common criticism of that age was satisfied, 
whatever lighter pleasure it afforded in its progress. 

History was a series of actions, with no other 
than chronological succession, independent on each 
other, and without any tendency to introduce and 
regulate the conclusion. It is not always very 
nicely distinguished from tragedy. There is not 
much nearer approach to unity of action in the 
tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra, than in the history 
of Richard the Second. But a history might be con- 
tinued through many plays ; as it had no plan, it 
had no limits. 

Through all these denominations of the drama, 
Shakspeare's mode of composition is the same ; an 
interchange of seriousness and merriment, by which 
the mind is softened at one time, and exhilarated at 
another. But whatever be his purpose, whether to 
gladden or depress, or to conduct the story, with- 
out vehemence or emotion, through tracts of easy 
and familiar dialogue, he never fails to attain his 

9 Thus, says Downes the Prompter, p. 22 ; " The tragedy of 
Romeo and Juliet was made some time after [l662] into a tragi- 
comedy, by Mr. James Howard, he preserving Romeo and Juliet 
alive ; so that when the tragedy was revived again, 'twas play'd 
alternately, tragical one day, and tragi-comical another, for se- 
veral days together." Steevens. 


purpose ; as he commands us, we laugh or mourn, 
or sit silent with quiet expectation, in tranquillity 
without indifference. 

When Shakspeare's plan is understood, most of 
the criticisms of Rymer and Voltaire vanish away. 
The play of Hamlet is opened, without impropriety, 
by two centinels ; Iago bellows at Brabantio's win- 
dow, without injury to the scheme of the play, 
though in terms which a modern audience would 
not easily endure ; the character of Polonius is sea- 
sonable and useful ; and the Gravediggers them- 
selves may be heard with applause. 

Shakspeare engaged in dramatick poetry with the 
world open before him ; the rules of the ancients 
were yet known to few ; the publick judgment was 
unformed ; he had no example of such fame as 
might force him upon imitation, nor criticks of 
such authority as might restrain his extravagance : 
he therefore indulged his natural disposition, and 
his disposition, as Rymer has remarked, led him to 
comedy. In tragedy he often writes with great ap- 
pearance of toil and study, what is written at last 
with little felicity; but in his comick scenes, he 
seems to produce without labour, what no labour 
can improve. In tragedy he is always struggling 
after some occasion to be comick, but in comedy 
he seems to repose, or to luxuriate, as in a mode of 
thinking congenial to his nature. In his tragick 
scenes there is always something wanting, but his 
comedy often surpasses expectation or desire. His 
comedy pleases by the thoughts and the language, 
and his tragedy for the greater part by incident and 
action. His tragedy seems to be skill, his comedy 
to be instinct. 1 

1 In the rank and order of geniuses it must, I think, be al- 
lowed, that the writer of good tragedy is superior. And there- 

s 2 


The force of his comick scenes has suffered little 
diminution from the changes made by a century 
and a half, in manners or in words. As his per- 
sonages act upon principles arising from genuine 
passion, very little modified by particular forms, 
their pleasures and vexations are communicable to 
all times and to all places ; they are natural, and 
therefore durable; the adventitious peculiarities of 
personal habits, are only superficial dies, bright and 
pleasing for a little while, yet soon fading to a dim 
tinct, without any remains of former lustre ; and 
the discrimination of true passion are the colours 
of nature ; they pervade the whole mass, and can 
only perish with the body that exhibits them. The 
accidental compositions of heterogeneous modes 
are dissolved by the chance that combined them ; 
but the uniform simplicity of primitive qualities 
neither admits increase, nor suffers decay. The 
sand heaped by one flood is scattered by another, 
but the rock always continues in its place. The 
stream of time, which is continually washing the 
dissoluble fabricks of other poets, passes without 
injury by the adamant of Shakspeare. 

If there be, what I believe there is, in every 
nation, a style which never becomes obsolete, a 
certain mode of phraseology so consonant and con- 
genial to the analogy and principles of its respec- 
tive language, as to remain settled and unaltered : 
this style is probably to be sought in the common 
intercourse of life, among those who speak only 
to be understood, without ambition of elegance. 

fore, I think the opinion, which I am sorry to perceive gains 
ground, that Shakspeare's chief and predominant talent lay in 
comedy, tends to lessen the unrivalled excellence of our divine 
bard. J. Warton. 

See Vol. XIX. p. 529, for Philips's remark on this subject. 



The polite are always catching modish innovations, 
and the learned depart from established forms of 
speech, in hope of finding or making better; those 
who wish for distinction forsake the vulgar, when 
the vulgar is right ; but there is a conversation 
above grossness and below refinement, where pro- 
priety resides, and where this poet seems to have 
gathered his comick dialogue. He is therefore 
more agreeable to the ears of the present age than 
any other author equally remote, and among his 
other excellencies deserves to be studied as one of 
the original masters of our language. 

These observations are to be considered not as 
unexceptionably constant, but as containing ge- 
neral and predominant truth. Shakspeare's familiar 
dialogue is affirmed to be smooth and clear, yet 
not wholly without ruggedness or difficulty ; as 
a country may be eminently fruitful, though it 
has spots unfit for cultivation : his characters are 
praised as natural, though their sentiments are 
sometimes forced, and their actions improbable; 
as the earth upon the whole is spherical, though 
its surface is varied with protuberances and ca- 

Shakspeare with his excellencies has likewise 
faults, and faults sufficient to obscure and over- 
whelm any other merit. I shall show them in the 
proportion in which they appear to me, without 
envious malignity or superstitious veneration. No 

auestion can be more innocently discussed than a 
ead poet's pretensions to renown; and little re- 
gard is due to that bigotry which sets candour 
higher than truth. 

His first defect is that to which may be imputed 
most of the evil in books or in men. He sacrifices 
virtue to convenience, and is so much more careful 
to please than to instruct, that he seems to writs 


without any moral purpose. From his writings in- 
deed a system of social duty may be selected, for he 
that thinks reasonably must think morally; but his 
precepts and axioms drop casually from him ; he 
makes no just distribution of good or evil, nor is 
always careful to show in the virtuous a disappro- 
bation of the wicked ; he carries his persons indif- 
ferently through right and wrong, and at the close 
dismisses them without further care, and leaves 
their examples to operate by chance. This fault 
the barbarity of his age cannot extenuate ; for it is 
always a writer's duty to make the world better, and 
justice is a virtue independent on time or place. 

The plots are often so loosely formed, that a 
very slight consideration may improve them, and so 
carelessly pursued, that he seems not always fully 
to comprehend his own design. He omits op- 
portunities of instructing or delighting, which the 
train of his story seems to force upon him, and ap- 
parently rejects those exhibitions which would be 
more affecting, for the sake of those which are 
more easy. 

It may be observed, that in many of his plays 
the latter part is evidently neglected. When he 
found himself near the end of his work, and in 
view of his reward, he shortened the labour to 
snatch the profit. He therefore remits his efforts 
where he should most vigorously exert them, and 
his catastrophe is improbably produced or imper- 
fectly represented. 

He had no regard to distinction of time or place, 
but gives to one age or nation, without scruple, the 
customs, institutions, and opinions of another, at 
the expence not only of likelihood, but of possibi- 
lity. These faults Pope has endeavoured, with more 
zeal than judgment, to transfer to his imagined in- 
terpolators. We need not wonder to find Hector 


quoting Aristotle, when we see the loves of Theseus 
and Hippolyta combined with the Gothick my- 
thology of fairies. Shakspeare, indeed, was.not the 
only v iolator o f rhro pnlnpr y 1 for in the same age 
Sidney, who wanted not the advantages of learn- 
ing, has, in his Arcadia, confounded the pastoral 
with the feudal times, the days of innocence, quiet, 
and security, with those of turbulence, violence, 
and adventure. 2 

In his comick scenes he is seldom very success- 
ful, when he engages his characters in reciproca- 
tions of smartness and contests of sarcasm ; their 
jests are commonly gross, and their pleasantry li- 
centious; neither his gentlemen nor his ladies nave 
much delicacy, nor are sufficiently distinguished 
from his clowns by any appearance of refined man- 
ners. Whether he represented the real conversa- 

* As a further extenuation of Shakspeare's error, it may be 
urged that he found the Gothick mythology of Fairies already 
incorporated with Greek and Roman story, by our early transla- 
tors. Phaer and Golding, who first gave us Virgil and Ovid in 
an English dress, introduce Fairies almost as often as Nymphs 
are mentioned in these classick authors. Thus, Homer, in his 
24th Iliad: 

" 'Ev XjituAw, Ifa <qclv\ Stdwv fjxjuifvflu evvas 
" NUM*AflN, aC.T aup.$ A^eXwiov ippuxrxvro** 
But Chapman translates 

" In Sypilus in that place where 'tis said 

" The goddesse Fairies use to dance about the funeral bed 

" Of Achelous : ." 

Neither are our ancient versifiers less culpable on the score of 
anachronisms. Under their hands the balista becomes a cannon, 
and other modern instruments are perpetually substituted for 
such as were the produce of the remotest ages. 

It may be added, that in Arthur Hall's version of the fourth 
Iliad, Juno says to Jupiter : 

" the time will come that Totnam French shal turn." 

And in the tenth Book we hear of " The BastiU," " Lemster 
wooll," and " The Byble." Stekvej. 


tion of his time is not easy to determine; the reign 
of Elizabeth is commonly supposed to have been a 
time of stateliness, formality, and reserve, yet per- 
haps the relaxations of that severity were not very 
elegant. There must, however, have been always 
some modes of gaiety preferable to others, and a 
writer ought to choose the best. 

In tragedy his performance seems constantly to 
be worse, as his labour is more. The effusions of 
passion, which exigence forces out, are for the 
most part striking and energetick ; but whenever 

. he solicits his invention, or strains his faculties, 
the offspring of his throes is tumour, meanness, 
tediousness, and obscurity. 

In narration he affects a disproportionate pomp 
of diction, and a wearisome train of circumlocu- 
tion, and tells the incident imperfectly in many 
words, which might have been more plainly de- 
livered in few. Narration in dramatick poetry is 
naturally tedious, as it is unanimated and inactive, 

. and obstructs the progress of the action ; it should 
therefore always be rapid, and enlivened by fre- 
quent interruption. Shakspeare found it an in- 
cumbrance, and instead of lightening it by bre- 
vity, endeavoured to recommend it by dignity and 

His declamations or set speeches are commonly 
cold and weak, for his power was the power of 
nature ; when he endeavoured, like other tragick 
writers, to catch opportunities of amplification, and 
instead of inquiring what the occasion demanded, 
to show how much his stores of knowledge could 
supply, he seldom escapes without the pity or re- 
sentment of his reader. 

It is incident to him to be now and then en- 
tangled with an unwieldy sentiment, which he can- 



not well express, and will not reject ; he struggles 
with it a while, and if it continues stubborn, com- C*)-*, 
prises it in words such as occur, and leaves it to 
be disentangled arid evolved by those who have 
more leisure to -bestow upon it. 

Not that always where the language is intricate, 
the thought is subtle, or the image always great 
where the line is bulky ; the equality of words to 
things is very often neglected, and trivial senti- 
ments and vulgar ideas disappoint the attention, 
to which they are recommended by sonorous epi- 
thets and swelling figures. 

But the admirers of this great poet have most 
reason to complain when he approaches nearest to 
his highest excellence, and seems fully resolved to 
sink them in dejection, and mollify them with ten- 
der emotions by the fall of greatness, the danger of 
innocence, or the crosses of love. What he does 
best, he soon ceases to do. He is not long soft and 
pathetick without some idle conceit, or contempti- 
ble equivocation. He no sooner begins to move, 
than he counteracts himself; and terror and pity, 
as they are rising in the mind, are checked and 
blasted by sudden frigidity. 

A quibble is to Shakspeare, what luminous va- 
pours are to the traveller ; he follows it at all ad- 
ventures ; it is sure to lead him out of his way, and 
sure to engulf him in the mire. It has some malig- 
nant power over his mind, and its fascinations are 
irresistible. Whatever be the dignity or profundity 
of his disquisitions, whether he be enlarging know- 
ledge, or exalting affection, whether he be amusing 
attention with incidents, or enchaining it in sus- 
pense, let but a quibble spring up before him, and 
he leaves his work unfinished. A quibble is the 
golden apple for which he will always turn aside 


from his career, or stoop from his elevation. A 
quibble, poor and barren as it is, gave him such 
delight, that he was content to purchase it by the 
sacrifice of reason, propriety, and truth. A quibble 
was to him the fatal Cleopatra for which he lost the 
world, and was content to lose it. 

It will be thought strange, that, in enumerating 
the defects of this writer, I have not yet mentioned 
his neglect of the unities ; his violation of those 
laws which have been instituted and established 
by the joint authority of poets and of criticks. 

For his other deviations from the art of writing, 
I resign him to critical justice, without making 
any other demand in his favour, than that which 
must be indulged to all human excellence ; that 
his virtues be rated with his failings : but, from the 
censure which this irregularity may bring upon 
him, I shall, with due reverence to that learning 
which I must oppose, adventure to try how I can 
defend him. 

His histories, being neither tragedies nor come- 
dies, are not subject to any of their laws; nothing 
more is necessary to all the praise which they ex- 
pect, than that the changes of action be so pre- 
pared as to be understood, that the incidents- be 
various and affecting, and the characters consistent, 
" natural, and distinct. No other unity is intended, 
and therefore none is to be sought. 

In his other works he has well enough preserved 
the unity of action. He has not, indeed, an in- 
trigue regularly perplexed and regularly unra- 
velled ; he does not endeavour to hide his design 
only to discover it, for this is seldom the order of 
real events, and Shakspeare is the poet of nature : 
but his plan has commonly what Aristotle re- 
quires, a beginning, a middle, and an end ; one 



event is concatenated with another, and the con- 
clusion follows by easy consequence. There are 
perhaps some incidents that might be spared, as in 
other poets there is much talk that only fills up 
time upon the stage; but the general system makes 
gradual advances, and the end of the play is the 
end of expectation. 

To the unities of time and place 3 he has shown 
no regard ; and perhaps a nearer view of the prin- 
ciples on which they stand will diminish their 
value, and withdraw from them the veneration 
which, from the time of Corneille, they have very 
generally received, by discovering that they have 
given more trouble to the poet, than pleasure to 
the auditor. 

The necessity of observing the unities of time 
and place arises from the supposed necessity of 
making the drama credible. The criticks hold it 
impossible, that an action of months or years can 
be possibly believed to pass in three hours; or that 
the spectator can suppose himself to sit in the 
theatre, while ambassadors go and return between 
distant kings, while armies are levied and towns 
besieged, while an exile wanders and returns, or 
till he whom they saw courting his mistress, shall 
lament the untimely fall of his son. The mind re- 
volts from evident falsehood, and fiction loses its 

* unities of time and place ] Mr. Twining, among 
his judicious remarks on the poetick of Aristotle, observes, that 
" with respect to the strict unities of time and place, no such 
rules were imposed on the Greek poets by the criticks, or by 
themselves ; nor are imposed on any poet, either by the nature, 
or the i nd, of the dramatick imitation itself." 

Aristotle does not express a single precept concerning unity 
of place. This supposed restraint originated from the hypercn- 
ticism of his French commentators. Steevens. 


force when it departs from the resemblance of 

From the narrow limitation of time necessarily 
arises the contraction of place. The spectator, who 
knows that he saw the first Act at Alexandria, 
cannot suppose that he sees the next at Rome, at 
a distance to which not the dragons of Medea 
could, in so short a time, have transported him ; 
he knows with certainty that he has not changed 
his place; and he knows that place cannot change 
itself; that what was a house cannot become a 
plain ; that what was Thebes can never be Per- 

Such is the triumphant language with which a 
critick exults over the misery of an irregular poet, 
and exults commonly without resistance or reply. 
It is time therefore to tell him, by the authority of 
Shakspeare, that he assumes, as an unquestionable 
principle, a position, which, while his breath is 
forming it into words, his understanding pro- 
nounces to be false. It is false, that any represent- 
ation is mistaken for reality ; that any dramatick 
fable in its materiality was ever credible, or, for a 
single moment, was ever credited. 

The objection arising from the impossibility of 
passing the first hour at Alexandria, and the next 
at Rome, supposes, that when the play opens, the 
spectator really imagines himself at Alexandria, 
and believes that his walk to the theatre has been 
a voyage to Egypt, and that he lives in the days 
of Antony and Cleopatra. Surely he that imagines 
this may imagine more. He that can take the 
stage at one time for the palace of the Ptolemies, 
may take it in half an hour for the promontory of 
Actium. Delusion, if delusion be admitted, has 
no certain limitation ; if the spectator can be once 


persuaded, that his old acquaintance are Alexander 
and Caesar, that a room illuminated with candles 
is the plain of Pharsalia, or the bank ofGranicus, 
he is in a state of elevation above the reach of 
reason, or of truth, and from the heights of em- 
pyrean poetry, may despise the circumscriptions 
of terrestrial nature. There is no reason why a 
mind thus wandering in ecstasy should count the 
clock, or why an hour should not be a century in 
that calenture of the brains that can make the 
stage a field. 

The truth is, 4 that the spectators are always in 
their senses, and know, from the first Act to the 
last, that the stage is only a stage, and that the 
players are only players. They come to hear a 
certain number of lines recited, with just gesture 
and elegant modulation. The lines relate to some 
action, and an action must be in some place ; but 
the different actions that complete a story may be 
in places very remote from each other ; and where 
is the absurdity of allowing that space to represent 
first Athens, and then Sicily, which was always 
known to be neither Sicily nor Athens, but a mo- 
dern theatre? < 

By supposition, as place is introduced/time may 
be extended; the time required by the fable elapses 
for the most part between the acts; for, of so much 

* So in the Epistle Dedicatory to Dryden's Love Triumphant : 
" They who will not allow this liberty to a poet, make it a very 
ridiculous thing, for an audience to suppose themselves some- 
times to be in a field, sometimes in a garden, and at other times 
in a chamber. There are not, indeed, so many absurdities in 
their supposition, as in ours ; but 'tis an original absurdity for the 
audience to suppose themselves to be in any other place, than in 
the very theatre in which they sit ; which is neither a chamber, 
nor garden, nor yet a publick place of any business but that of 
the representation. " Steevens. 


of the action as is represented, the real and poetical 
duration is the same. If, in the first Act, prepa- 
rations for war against Mithridates are represented 
to be made in Rome, the event of the war may, 
without absurdity, be represented, in the cata- 
strophe, as happening in Pontus ; we know that 
there is neither war, nor preparation for war ; we 
know that we are neither in Rome nor Pontus ; 
that neither Mithridates nor Lucullus are before us. 
The drama exhibits successive imitations of suc- 
cessive actions, and why may not the second imita- 
tion represent an action that happened years after 
the first ; if it be so connected with it, that nothing 
but time can be supposed to intervene ? Time is, 
of all modes of existence, most obsequious to the 
imagination ; a lapse of years is as easily conceived 
as a passage of hours. In contemplation we easily 
contract the time of real actions, and therefore 
willingly permit it to be contracted when we only 
see their imitation. 

It will be asked, how the drama moves, if it is 
not credited. It is credited with all the credit due 
to a drama. It is credited, whenever it moves, as 
a just picture of a real original; as representing to 
the auditor what he would himself feel, if he were 
to do or suffer what is there feigned to be suffered 
or to be done. The reflection that strikes the heart 
is not, that the evils before us are real evils, but 
that they are evils to which we ourselves may be 
exposed. If there be any fallacy, it is not that we 
fancy the players, but that we fancy ourselves un- 
happy for a moment ; but we rather lament the 
possibility than suppose the presence of misery, as 
a mother weeps over her babe, when she remem- 
bers that death may take it from her. The delight 
of tragedy proceeds from our consciousness of fie- 


tion ; if we thought murders and treasons real, 
they would please no more. 

Imitations produce pain or pleasure, not because 
they are mistaken for realities, but because they 
bring realities to mind. When the imagination is 
recreated by a painted landscape, the trees are not 
supposed capable to give us shade, or the fountains 
coolness ; but we consider, how we should be 
pleased with such fountains playing beside us, and 
such woods waving over us. We are agitated in 
reading the history of Henry the Fifth, yet no man 
takes his book for the field of Agincourt. A dra- 
matick exhibition is a book recited with concomi- 
tants that increase or diminish its effect. Familiar 
comedy is often more powerful on the theatre, than 
in the page ; imperial tragedy is always less. The 
humour of Petruchio may be heightened by gri- 
mace ; but what voice or what gesture can hope to 
add dignity or force to the soliloquy of Cato? 

A play read, affects the mind like a play acted. 
It is therefore evident, that the action is not sup- 
posed to be real ; and it follows, that between the 
Acts a longer or shorter time may be allowed to 
pass, and that no more account of space or dura- 
tion is to be taken by the auditor of a drama, than 
by the reader of a narrative, before whom may pass 
in an hour the life of a hero, or the revolutions of 
an empire. 

Whether Shakspeare knew the unities, and re- 
jected them by design, or deviated from them by 
happy ignorance, it is, I think, impossible to de- 
cide, and useless to enquire. We may reasonably 
suppose, that, when he rose to notice, he did not 
want the counsels and admonitions of scholars and 
criticks, and that he at last deliberately persisted in 
a practice, which he might have begun by chance. 


As nothing is essential to the fable, but unity of 
action, and as the unities of time and place arise 
evidently from false assumptions, and, by circum- 
scribing the extent of the drama, lessen its variety, 
I cannot think it much to be lamented, that they 
were not known by him, or not observed : nor, if 
such another poet could arise, should I very vehe- 
mently reproach him, that his first Act passed at 
Venice, and his next in Cyprus. Such violations of 
rules merely positive, become the comprehensive 
genius of Shakspeare, and such censures are suit- 
able to the minute and slender criticism of Vol- 
taire : 

* Non usque adeo permiscuit imis 
" Longus summa dies, ut non, si voce Metelli 
" Serventur leges, malint a Caesare tolli." 

Yet when I speak thus slightly of dramatick rules, 
I cannot but recollect how much wit and learning 
may be produced against me; before such authori- 
ties I am afraid to stand, not that I think the pre- 
sent question one of those that are to be decided by 
mere authority, but because it is to be suspected, 
that these precepts have not been so easily received, 
but for better reasons than I have yet been able to 
find. The result of my inquiries, in which it 
would be ludicrous to boast of impartiality, is, that 
the unities of time and place are not essential to a 
just drama, that though they may sometimes con- 
duce to pleasure, they are always to be sacrificed to 
the nobler beauties of variety and instruction; and 
that a play, written with nice observation of criti- 
cal rules, is to be contemplated as an elaborate cu- 
riosity, as the product of superfluous and ostenta- 
tious art, by which is shown, rather what is possible, 
than what is necessary. 


He that, without diminution of any other ex- 
cellence, shall preserve all the unities unbroken, 
deserves the like applause with the architect, who 
shall display all the orders of architecture in a 
citadel, without any deduction from its strength ; 
but the principal beauty of a citadel is to exclude 
the enemy ; and the greatest graces of a play are 
to copy nature, and instruct life. 

Perhaps, what I have here not dogmatically but 
deliberately written, may recall the principles of 
the drama to a new examination. I am almost 
frighted at my own temerity; and when I estimate 
the fame and the strength of those that maintain 
the contrary opinion, am ready to sink down in 
reverential silence ; as tineas withdrew from the 
defence of Troy, when he saw Neptune shaking 
the wall, and Juno heading the besiegers. 

Those whom my arguments cannot persuade to 
give their approbation to the judgment of Shak- 
speare, will easily, if they consider the condition 
of his life, make some allowance for his igno- 

Every man's performances, to be rightly esti- 
mated, must be compared to the state of tne age 
in which he lived, and with his own particular op- 
portunities; and though to a reader a book be not 
worse or better for the circumstances of the author, 
yet as there is always a silent reference of human 
works to human abilities, and as the enquiry, how 
far man may extend his designs, or how high he 
may rate his native force, is of far greater dignity 
than in what rank we shall place any particular 
performance, curiosity is always busy to discover 
the instrument*, as well as to survey the workman- 
ship, to know how much is to be ascribed to origi- 
nal powers, and how much to casual and adventi- 

VOL. I. T 


tious help. The palaces of Peru or Mexico were 
certainly mean and incommodious habitations, if 
compared to the houses of European monarchs ; 
yet who could forbear to view them with astonish- 
ment, who remembered that they were built with- 
out the use of iron ? 

The English nation, in the time of Shakspeare, 
was yet struggling to emerge from barbarity. The 
philology of Italy had been transplanted hither in 
the reign of Henry the Eighth ; and the learned 
languages had been successfully cultivated by Lilly, 
Linacre, and More ; by Pole, Cheke, and Gardi- 
ner; and afterwards by Smith, Clerk, Haddon, and 
Ascham. Greek was now taught to boys in the 
principal schools ; and those who united elegance 
with learning, read, with great diligence, the Ita- 
lian and Spanish poets. But literature was yet con- 
fined to professed scholars, or to men and women 
of high rank. The publick was gross and dark ; 
and to be able to read and write, was an accom- 
plishment still valued for its rarity. 

Nations, like individuals, have their infancy. A 
people newly awakened to literary curiosity, being 
yet unacquainted with the true state of things, 
knows not how to judge of that which is proposed 
as its resemblance. Whatever is remote from com- 
mon appearances is always welcome to vulgar, as 
to childish credulity ; and of a country unenlight- 
ened by learning, the whole people is the vulgar. 
The study of those who then aspired to plebeian 
learning was laid out upon adventures, giants, 
dragons, and enchantments. The Death of Arthur 
was the favourite volume. 

The mind, which has feasted on the luxurious 
wonders of fiction, has no taste of the insipidity of 
truth. A play, which imitated only the common 


occurrences of the world, would, upon the ad- 
mirers of Palmerin and Guy of Warwick, have 
made little impression ; he that wrote for such an 
audience was under the necessity of looking round 
for strange events and fabulous transactions, and 
that incredibility, by which maturer knowledge 
is offended, was the chief recommendation of 
writings, to unskilful curiosity. 

Our author's plots are generally borrowed from 
novels; and it is reasonable to suppose, that he 
chose the most popular, such as were read by 
many, and related by more ; for his audience could 
not have followed him through the intricacies of 
the drama, had they not held the thread of the 
story in their hands. 

The stories, which we now find only in remoter 
authors, were in his time accessible and familiar. 
The fable of As you like it, which is supposed to 
be copied from Chaucer's Gamelyn, was a little 
pamphlet of those times; and old Mr. Cibber re- 
membered the tale of Hamlet in plain English 
prose, which the criticks have now to seek in Saxo 

His English histories he took from English 
chronicles and English ballads; and as the ancient 
writers were made known to his countrymen by 
versions, they supplied him with new subjects ; he 
dilated some of Plutarch's lives into plays, when 
they had been translated by North. 

His plots, whether historical or fabulous, are al- 
ways crowded with incidents, by which the atten- 
tion of a rude people was more easily caught than 
by sentiment or argumentation ; and such is tlie 
power of the marvellous, even over those who de- 
spise it, that every man finds his mind more strong- 
ly seized by the tragedies of Shakspeare than of 

t 2 


any other writer; others please us by particular 
speeches, but he always makes us anxious for the 
event, and has perhaps excelled all but Homer in 
securing the first purpose of a writer, by exciting 
restless and unquenchable curiosity, and compel- 
ling him that reads his work to read it through. 

The shows and bustle with which his plays 
abound have the same original. As knowledge 
advances, pleasure passes from the eye to the ear, 
but returns, as it declines, from the ear to the eye. 
Those to whom our author's labours were exhi- 
bited had more skill in pomps or processions than 
in poetical language, and perhaps wanted some 
visible and discriminated events, as comments on 
the dialogue. He knew how he should most please; 
and whether his practice is more agreeable to na- 
ture, or whether his example has prejudiced the 
nation, we still find that on our stage something 
must be done as well as said, and inactive decla- 
mation is very coldly heard, however musical or 
elegant, passionate or sublime. 

Voltaire expresses his wonder, that our author's 
extravagancies are endured by a nation, which has 
seen the tragedy of Cato. Let him be answered, 
that Addison speaks the language of poets, and 
Shakspeare, of men. We find in Cato innumerable 
beauties which enamour us of its author, but we 
see nothing that acquaints us with human senti- 
ments or human actions; we place it with the 
fairest and the noblest progeny which judgment 
propagates by conjunction with learning; but 
Othello is the vigorous and vivacious offspring of 
observation impregnated by genius. Cato affords 
a splendid exhibition of artificial ' and fictitious 
manners, and delivers just and noble sentiments, 
in diction easy, elevated, and harmonious, but its 


hopes and fears communicate no vibration to the 
heart; the composition refers us only to the writer; 
we pronounce the name of Cato, but we think on 
Addison, 5 

The work of a correct and regular writer is a 
garden accurately formed and diligently planted, 
varied with shades, and scented with flowers : the 
composition of Shakspeare is a forest, in which 
oaks extend their branches, and pines tower in the 
air, interspersed sometimes with weeds and bram- 
bles, and sometimes giving shelter to myrtles and 
to roses; filling the eye with awful pomp, and 
gratifying the mind with endless diversity. Other 
poets display cabinets of precious rarities, mi- 
nutely finished, wrought into shape, and polished 
into brightness. Shakspeare opens a mine which 
contains gold and diamonds in unexhaustible 
plenty, though clouded by incrustations, debased 
by impurities, and mingled with a mass of meaner 

It has been much disputed, whether Shakspeare 
owed his excellence to his own native force, or 
whether he had the common helps of scholastick 
education, the precepts of critical science, and the 
examples of ancient authors. 

There has always prevailed a tradition, that 
Shakspeare wanted learning, that he had no regular 
education, nor much skill in the dead languages. 
Jonson, his friend, affirms, that he had small Latin, 
and less Greek ; who, besides that he had no ima- 
ginable temptation to falsehood, wrote at a time 
when the character and acquisitions of Shakspeare 
were known to multitudes. His evidence ought 

* See Mr. Twining's commentary on Aristotle, note SI. 



therefore to decide the controversy, unless some 
testimony of equal force could be opposed. 

Some have imagined, that they have discovered 
deep learning in imitation of old writers ; but the 
examples which I have known urged, were drawn 
from books translated in his time ; or were such 
easy coincidences of thought, as will happen to all 
who consider the same subjects ; or such remarks 
on life or axioms of morality as float in conversa- 
tion, and are transmitted through the world in 
proverbial sentences. 

I have found it remarked, that, in this important 
sentence, Go before, I'll follow, we read a transla- 
tion of, I prae sequar. I have been told, that 
when Caliban, after a pleasing dream, says, I cried 
to sleep again, the author imitates Anacreon, who 
had, like every other man, the same wish on the 
same occasion. 

There are a few passages which may pass for 
imitations, but so few, that the exception only 
confirms the rule; he obtained them from acci- 
dental quotations, or by oral communication, and 
as he used what he had, would have used more if 
he had obtained it. 

The Comedy of Errors is confessedly taken from 
the Mencechmi of Plautus; from the only play of 
Plautus which was then in English. What can be 
more probable, than that he who copied that, 
would have copied more; but that those which 
were not translated were inaccessible ? 

Whether he knew the modern languages is un- 
certain. That his plays have some French scenes 
proves but little ; he might easily procure them to 
be written, and probably, even though he had 
known the language in the common degree, he 
could not have written it without assistance. In the 



story of Romeo and Juliet he is observed to have 
followed the English translation, where it deviates 
from the Italian ; but this on the other part proves 
nothing against his knowledge of the original. He 
was to copy, not what he knew himself, but what 
was known to his audience. 

It is most likely that he had learned Latin suf- 
ficiently to make him acquainted with construction, 
but that he never advanced to an easy perusal of 
the Roman authors. Concerning his skill in mo- 
dern languages, I can find no sufficient ground of 
determination ; but as no imitations of French or 
Italian authors have been discovered, though the 
Italian poetry was then in high esteem, I am in- 
clined to believe, that he read little more than 
English, and chose for his fables only such tales as 
he found translated. 

That much knowledge is scattered over his 
works is very justly observed by Pope, but it is 
often such knowledge as books did not supply. 
He that will understand Shakspeare, must not be 
content to study him in the closet, he must look 
for his meaning sometimes among the sports of the 
field, and sometimes among the manufactures of 
the shop. 

There is, however, proof enough that he was a 
very diligent reader, nor was our language then so 
indigent of books, but that he might very liberally 
indulge his curiosity without excursion into foreign 
literature. Many of the Roman authors were 
translated, and some of the Greek ; the Reforma- 
tion had filled the kingdom with theological 
learning* most of the topicks of human disquisition 
had found English writers ; and poetry had been 
cultivated, not only with diligence, but success. 
This was a stock of knowledge sufficient for a 


mind so capable of appropriating and improv- 
ing it. 

But the greater part of his excellence was the 
product of his own genius. He found the English 
stage in a state of the utmost rudeness ; no essays 
either in tragedy or comedy had appeared, from 
which it could be discovered to what degree of 
delight either one or other might be carried. 
Neither character nor dialogue were yet under- 
stood. Shakspeare may be truly said to have in- 
troduced them both amongst us, and in some of 
his happier scenes to have carried them both to 
the utmost height. 

By what gradations of improvement he pro- 
ceeded, is not easily known ; for the chronology 
of his works is yet unsettled. Rowe is of opinion, 
that perhaps we are not to look for his beginning, 
like those of other writers, in his least perfect works; 
art had so little, and nature so large a share in 
what he did, that for aught I know, says he, the 
performances of his youth, as they were the most vi- 
gorous, were the best. But the power of nature is 
only the power of using to any certain purpose the 
materials which diligence procures, or opportunity 
supplies. Nature gives no man knowledge, and 
when images are collected by study and experience, 
can only assist in combining or applying them. 
Shakspeare, however favoured by nature, could im- 
part only what he had learned ; and as he must 
increase his ideas, like other mortals, by gradual 
acquisition, he, like them, grew wiser as he grew 
older, could display life better, as he knew it more, 
and instruct with more efficacy, as he was himself 
more amply instructed. 

There is a vigilance of observation and accuracy 
of distinction which books and precepts cannot 


confer; from this almost all original and native 
excellence proceeds. Shakspeare must have looked 
upon mankind with perspicacity, in the highest de- 
gree curious and attentive. Other writers borrow 
their characters from preceding writers, and diver- 
sify them only by the accidental appendages of 
present manners ; the dress is a little varied, but 
the body is the same. Our author had both matter 
and form to provide; for, except the characters of 
Chaucer, to whom I think he is not much indebted, 
there were no writers in English, and perhaps not 
many in other modern languages, which snowed 
life in its native colours. 

The contest about the original benevolence or 
malignity of man had not yet commenced. Spe- 
culation had not yet attempted to analyse the mind, 
to trace the passions to their sources, to unfold the 
seminal principles of vice and virtue, or sound the 
depths of the heart for the motives of action. All 
those enquiries, which from that time that human 
nature became the fashionable study, have been 
made sometimes with nice discernment, but often 
with idle subtilty, were yet unattempted. The 
tales, with which the infancy of learning was sa- 
tisfied, exhibited only the superficial appearances 
of action, related the events, but omitted the 
causes, and were formed for such as delighted in 
wonders rather than in truth. Mankind was not 
then to be studied in the closet; he that would 
know the world, was under the necessity of glean- 
ing his own remarks, by mingling as he could in 
its business and amusements. 

Boyle congratulated himself upon his high birth, 
because it favoured his curiosity, by facilitating his 
access. Shakspeare had no such advantage ; he 
came to London a needy adventurer, and lived for 
a time by very mean employments. Many works 


of genius and learning have been performed in 
states of life that appear very little favourable to 
thought or to enquiry; so many, that he who con- 
siders them is inclined to think that he sees en- 
terprize and perseverance predominating over all 
external agency, and bidding help and hindrance 
vanish before them. The genius of Shakspeare was 
not to be depressed by the weight of poverty, nor 
limited by the narrow conversation to which men 
in want are inevitably condemned ; the incum- 
brances of his fortune were shaken from his mind, 
as dew-drops from a lion's mane. 

Though he had so many difficulties to encounter, 
and so little assistance to surmount them, he has 
been able to obtain an exact knowledge of many 
modes of life, and many casts of native dispositions; 
to vary them with great multiplicity; to mark them 
by nice distinctions ; and to show them in full view 
by proper combinations. In this part of his per- 
formances he had none to imitate, but has himself 
"been imitated by all succeeding writers ; and it 
may be doubted, whether from all his successors 
more maxims of theoretical knowledge, or more 
rules of practical prudence, can be collected, than 
he alone has given to his country. 

Nor was his attention confined to the actions of 
men; he was an exact surveyor of the inanimate 
world; his descriptions have always some pecu- 
liarities, gathered by contemplating things as they 
really exist. It may be observed, that the oldest 
poets of many nations preserve their reputation, 
and that the following generations of wit, after a 
short celebrity, sink into oblivion. The first, who- 
ever they be, must take their sentiments and de- 
scriptions immediately from knowledge ; the re- 
semblance is therefore just, their descriptions are 
verified by every eye, and their sentiments ac- 


knowledged by ever) 7 breast. Those whom their 
fame invites to the same studies, copy partly 
them, and partly nature, till the books of one age 
gain such authority, as to stand in the place of 
nature to another, and imitation, always deviating 
a little, becomes at last capricious and casual. 
Shakspeare, whether life or nature be his subject, 
shows plainly, that he has seen with his own 
eyes ; lie gives the image which he receives, not 
weakened or distorted by the intervention of any 
other mind; the ignorant feel his representa- 
tions to be just, and the learned see that they are 

Perhaps it would not be easy to find any author, 
except Homer, who invented so much as Shak- 
speare, who so much advanced the studies which 
he cultivated, or effused so much novelty upon his 
age or country. The form, the character, the lan- 
guage, and the shows of the English drama are his. 
He seems, says Dennis, to have been the very ori- 
ginal of our English tragical harmony, that is, the 
harmony of blank verse, diversified often by dissylla- 
ble and trissyllable terminations. For the diversity 
distinguishes it from heroick harmony, and by bring- 
ing it nearer to common use makes it more proper to 
gain attention, and more fit for action and dialogue. 
Such verse we make when we are waiting prose; we 
make such verse in common conversation. 6 

' Thus, also, Dryden, in the Epistle Dedicatory to his Rival 
Ladies: '* Shakespear (who with some errors not to be avoided 
in that age, had, undoubtedly, a larger soul of poesie than ever 
any of our nation) was the first, who, to shun the pains of con- 
tinual rhyming, invented that kind of writing which we call 
blank verse, but the French more properly, prose mesurte ; into 
which the English tongue so naturally slides, that in writing 
prose 'tis hardly to be avoided." Steevens. 



I know not whether this praise is rigorously just. 
The dissyllable termination, which the critick 
rightly appropriates to the drama, is to be found, 
though, I think, not in Gorboduc, which is con- 
fessedly before our author ; yet in Hieronymo, 7 of 
which the date is not certain, but which there is 
reason to believe at least as old as his earliest plays. 
This however is certain, that he is the first who 
taught either tragedy or comedy to please, there 
being no theatrical piece of any older writer, of 
which the name is known, except to antiquaries 
and collectors of books, which are sought because 
they are scarce, and would not have been scarce, 
had they been much esteemed. 

To him we must ascribe the praise, unless Spenser 
may divide it with him, of having first discovered 
to how much smoothness and harmony the English 
language could be softened. He has speeches, 
perhaps sometimes scenes, which have all the de- 
licacy of Rowe, without his effeminacy. He en- 
deavours indeed commonly to strike by the force 
and vigour of his dialogue, but he never executes 
his purpose better, than when he tries to sooth by 

Yet it must be at last confessed, that as we owe 
every thing to him, he owes something to us; that, 
if much of his praise is paid by perception and 
judgment, much is likewise given by custom and 
veneration. We fix our eyes upon his graces, and 
turn them from his deformities, and endure in him 
what we should in another loath or despise. If we 
endured without praising, respect for the father of 

7 It appears from the Induction of Ben Jonson's Bartholomew 
Fair, to have been acted before the year 1590. See also Vol. X. 
p. 344, n. 3. Steevens. 


our drama might excuse us ; but I have seen, in 
the book of some modern critick, a collection of 
anomalies, which show that he has corrupted lan- 
guage by every mode of depravation, but which 
his admirer has accumulated as a monument of 

He has scenes of undoubted and perpetual ex- 
cellence, but perhaps not one play, which, if it 
were now exhibited as the work of a contemporary 
writer, would be heard to the conclusion. I am 
indeed far from thinking, that his works were 
wrought to his own ideas of perfection ; when they 
were such as would satisfy the audience, they satis- 
fied the writer. It is seldom that authors, though 
more studious of fame than Shakspeare, rise much 
above the standard of their own age; to add a little 
to what is best will always be sufficient for present 
praise, and those who find themselves exalted into 
fame, are willing to credit their encomiasts, and to 
spare the labour of contending with themselves. 

It does not appear, that Shakspeare thought his 
works worthy of posterity, that he levied any 
ideal tribute upon future times, or had any fur- 
ther prospect, than of present popularity and pre- 
sent profit. When his plays had been acted, his 
hope was at an end ; he solicited no addition of 
honour from the reader. He therefore made no 
scruple to repeat the same jests in many dialogues, 
or to entangle different plots by the same knot of 
perplexity, which may be at least forgiven him, 
by those who recollect, that of Congreve's four 
comedies, two are concluded by a marriage in a 
mask, by a deception, which perhaps never hap- 
pened, and which, whether likely or not, he did 
not invent. 

So careless was this great poet of future fame, 


that, though he retired to ease and plenty, while he 
was yet little declined into the vale of years, before 
he could be disgusted with fatigue, or disabled by 
infirmity, he made no collection of his works, nor 
desired to rescue those that had been already pub- 
lished from the depravations that obscured them, 
or secure to the rest a better destiny, by giving 
them to the world in their genuine state. 8 

Of the plays which bear the name of Shakspeare 
in the late editions, the greater part were not pub- 
lished till about seven years after his death, and the 
few which appeared in his life are apparently thrust 
into the world without the care of the author, and 
therefore probably without his knowledge. 

Of all the publishers, clandestine or professed, 
the negligence and unskilfulness has by the late 
revisers been sufficiently shown. The faults of all 
are indeed numerous and gross, and have not only 
corrupted many passages perhaps beyond recovery, 
but have brought others into suspicion, which are 
only obscured by obsolete phraseology, or by the 
writer's unskilfulness and affectation. To alter is 
more easy than to explain, and temerity is a more 
common quality than diligence. Those who saw 
that they must employ conjecture to a certain de- 
gree, were willing to indulge it a little further. 
Had the author published his own works, we 
should have sat quietly down to disentangle his 
intricacies, and clear his obscurities ; but now we 
tear what we cannot loose, and eject what we hap- 
pen not to understand. 

The faults are more than could have happened 

8 What Montaigne has said of his own works may almost be 
applied to those of Shakspeare, who " n'avoit point d'autre ser- 
gent de bande a ranger ses pieces, que la fortune." Steevens. 


without the concurrence of many causes. The 
style of Shakspeare was in itself ungrammatical, 
perplexed, and obscure ; his works were tran- 
scribed for the players by those who may be sup- 
posed to have seldom understood them ; they were 
transmitted by copiers equally unskilful, who still 
multiplied errors ; they were perhaps sometimes 
mutilated by the actors, for the sake of shortening 
the speeches; and were at last printed without 
correction of the press. 9 

In this state they remained, not as Dr. Warburton 
supposes, because they were unregarded, but be- 
cause the editor's art was not yet applied to modern 
languages, and our ancestors were accustomed to 
so much negligence of English printers, that they 
could very patiently endure it. At last an edition 
was undertaken by Rowe ; not because a poet was 
to be published by a poet, for Rowe seems to have 
thought very little on correction or explanation, 
but that our author's works might appear like those 
of his fraternity, with the appendages of a life and 

9 Much deserved censure has been thrown out on the care- 
lessness of our ancient printers, as well as on the wretched tran- 
scripts they obtained from contemporary theatres. Yet I cannot 
help observing that, even at this instant, should any one under- 
take to publish a play of Shakspeare from pages of no greater 
fidelity than such as are issued out for the use of performers, 
the press would teem with as interpolated and inextricable non- 
sense as it produced above a century ago. Mr. Col man (who 
cannot be suspected of ignorance or misrepresentation) in his pre- 
face to the last edition of Beaumont and Fletcher, very forcibly 
styles the prompter's books, " the most inaccurate and barbarous 
of all manuscripts." And well may they deserve that character ; 
for verse (as I am informed) still continues to be transcribed as 
prose by a set of mercenaries, who in general have neither the 
advantage of literature or understanding. Foliis tantum ne car- 
mina manda, ne turbata volent ludibria, was the request of Vir- 
gil's Hero to the Sybil, and should also be the supplication of 
every dramatick poet to the agents of a prompter. bTEEVENS. 


recommendatory preface. Rowe has been clamor- 
ously blamed for not performing what he did not 
undertake, and it is time that justice be done him, 
by confessing, that though he seems to have had no 
thought of corruption beyond the printer's errors, 
yet he has made many emendations, if they were 
not made before, which his successors have received 
without acknowledgment, and which, if they had 
produced them, would have filled pages and pages 
with censures of the stupidity by which the faults 
were committed, with displays of the absurdities 
which they involved, with ostentatious expositions 
of the new reading, and self-congratulations on the 
happiness of discovering it. 

As of the other editors I have preserved the 
prefaces, I have likewise borrowed the author's 
life from Rowe, though not written with much 
elegance or spirit; it relates, however, what is now 
to be known, and therefore deserves to pass through 
all succeeding publications. 

The nation had been for many years content 
enough with Mr. Rowe's performance, when Mr. 
Pope made them acquainted with the true state of 
Shakspeare's text, showed that it was extremely 
corrupt, and gave reason to hope that there were 
means of reforming it. He collated the old copies, 
which none had thought to examine before, and 
restored many lines to their integrity ; but, by a 
very compendious criticism, he rejected whatever 
he disliked, and thought more of amputation than 
of cure. 

I know not why he is commended by Dr. War- 
burton for distinguishing the genuine from the 
spurious plays. In this choice he exerted no judg- 
ment of his own ; the plays which he received, 
were given to Hemings and Condel, the first edi- 


tors ; and those which he rejected, though, ac- 
cording to the licentiousness of the press in those 
times, they were printed during Shakspeare's life, 
with his name, had been omitted by his friends, 
and were never added to his works before the edi- 
tion of 1 664, from which they were copied by the 
latter printers. 

This was a work which Pope seems to have 
thought unworthy of his abilities, being not able 
to suppress his contempt of the dull duty of an 
editor. He understood but half his undertaking. 
The duty of a collator is indeed dull, yet, like 
other tedious tasks is very necessary; but an 
emendatory critick would ill discharge his duty, 
without qualities very different from dullness. In 
perusing a corrupted piece, he must have before 
him all possibilities of meaning, with all possibili- 
ties of expression. Such must be his comprehen- 
sion of thought, and such his copiousness of lan- 
guage. Out of many readings possible, he must be 
able to select that which best suits with the state, 
opinions, and modes of language prevailing in 
every age, and with his author's particular cast of 
thought, and turn of expression. Such must be 
his knowledge, and such his taste. Conjectural 
criticism demands more than humanity possesses, 
and he that exercises it with most praise, has very 
frequent need of indulgence. Let us now be told 
no more of the dull duty of an editor. 

Confidence is the common consequence of suc- 
cess. They whose excellence of any kind has been 
loudly celebrated, are ready to conclude, that their 
powers are universal. Pope's edition fell below his 
own expectations, and he was so much offended, 
when he was found to have left any thing for others 

vol. i. u 


to do, that he passed the latter part of his life in a 
state of hostility with verbal criticism. 1 

I have retained all his notes, that no fragment 
of so great a writer may be lost ; his preface, valu- 
able alike for elegance of composition and just- 
ness of remark, and containing a general criticism 
on his author, so extensive that little can be added, 
and so exact, that little can be disputed, every 
editor has an interest to suppress, but that every 
reader would demand its insertion. 

Pope was succeeded by Theobald, a man of 
narrow comprehension, and small acquisitions, with 
no native and intrinsick splendor of genius, with 
little of the artificial light of learning, but zealous 
for minute accuracy, and not negligent in pursuing 
it. He collated the ancient copies, and rectified 
many errors. A man so anxiously scrupulous might 
have been expected to do more, but what little he 
did was commonly right. 

In his reports of copies and editions he is not 
to be trusted without examination. He speaks 
sometimes indefinitely of copies, when he has only 
one. In his enumeration of editions, he mentions 
the two first folios as of high, and the third folio 

1 The following compliment from Broome (says Dr.' Joseph 
Warton ) Pope could not take much pleasure in reading ; for he 
could not value himself on his edition of Shakspeare : 

" If aught on earth, when once this breath is fled, 
" With human transport touch the mighty dead, 
" Shakspeare, rejoice! his hand thy page refines; 
" Now ev'ry scene with native brightness shines ; 
" Just to thy fame, he gives thy genuine thought ; 
*' So Tully published what Lucretius wrote ; 
" Prun'd by his care, thy laurels loftier grow, 
" And bloom afresh on thy immortal brow." 

Broome's Verses to Mr. Pope. Steevens. 


as of middle authority; but the truth is, that the 
first is equivalent to all others, and that the rest 
only deviate from it by the printer's negligence. 
Whoever has any of the folios has all, excepting 
those diversities which mere reiteration of editions 
will produce. I collated them all at the beginning, 
but afterwards used. only the first. 

Of his notes I have generally retained those 
which he retained himself in his second edition, 
except when they were confuted by subsequent 
annotators, or were too minute to merit preserva- 
tion. I have sometimes adopted his restoration of 
a comma, without inserting the panegyrick in 
which he celebrated himself for his achievement. 
The exuberant excrescence of his diction I have 
often lopped, his triumphant exultations over Pope 
and Rowe I have sometimes suppressed, and his 
contemptible ostentation I have frequently con- 
cealed ; but I have in some places shown him, as 
he would have shown himself, for the reader's 
diversion, that the inflated emptiness of some 
notes may justify or excuse the contraction of the 

Theobald, thus weak and ignorant, thus mean 
andTaithless, thus petulant and ostentatious, by 
the good luck of having Pope for his enemy, has 
escaped, and escaped alone, with reputation, from 
this undertaking. So willingly does the world sup- 
port those who solicit favour, against those who 
command reverence ; and so easily is he praised, 
whom no man can envy. 

Our author fell then into the hands of Sir 
Thomas Hanmer, the Oxford editor, a man, in 
my opinion, eminently qualified by nature for such 
studies. He had, what is the first requisite to 
emendatory criticism, that intuition by which the 

u 2 


poet's intention is immediately discovered, and 
that dexterity of intellect which despatches its 
work by the easiest means. He had undoubtedly 
read much ; his acquaintance with customs, opi- 
nions, and traditions, seems to have been large ; 
and he is often learned without show. He seldom 
passes what he does not understand, without an at- 
tempt to find or to make a meaning, and sometimes 
hastily makes what a little more attention would 
have found. He is solicitous to reduce to grammar, 
what he could not be sure that his author intended 
to be grammatical. Shakspeare regarded more the 
series of ideas, than of words ; and his language, 
not being designed for the reader's desk, was all 
that he desired it to be, if it conveyed his meaning 
to the audience. 

Hanmer's care of the metre has been too vio- 
lently censured. He found the measure reformed 
in so many passages, by the silent labours of some 
editors, with the silent acquiescence of the rest, 
that he thought himself allowed to extend a little 
further the licence, which had already been carried 
so far without reprehension ; and of his corrections 
in general, it must be confessed, that they are often 
just, and made commonly with the least possible 
violation of the text. 

But, by inserting his emendations, whether in- 
vented or borrowed, into the page, without any 
notice of varying copies, he has appropriated the 
labour of his predecessors, and made his own edi- 
tion of little authority. His confidence, indeed, 
both in himself and others, was too great ; he sup- 
poses all to be right that was done by Pope and 
Theobald ; he seems not to suspect a critick of fal- 
libility, and it was but reasonable that he should 
claim what he so liberally granted. 


As he never writes without careful enquiry and 
diligent consideration, I have received all his 
notes, and believe that every reader will wish for 

Of the last editor it is more difficult to speak. 
Respect is due to high place, tenderness to living 
reputation, and veneration to genius and learning; 
but he cannot be justly offended at that liberty of 
which he has himself so frequently given an ex- 
ample, nor very solicitous what is thought of 
notes, which he ought never to have considered as 
part of his serious employments, and which, I sup- 
pose, since the ardour of composition is remitted, 
he no longer numbers among his happy effusions. 

The original and predominant error, of his com- 
mentary, is acquiescence in his first thoughts ; 
that precipitation which is produced by conscious- 
ness of quick discernment ; and that confidence 
which presumes to do, by surveying / the surface, 
what labour only can perform, by penetrating the 
bottom. His notes exhibit sometimes perverse 
interpretations, and sometimes improbable con- 
jectures ; he at one time gives the author more 
profundity of meaning than the sentence admits, 
and at another discovers absurdities, where the 
sense is plain to every other reader. But his emen- 
dations are likewise often happy and just ; and 
his interpretation of obscure passages learned and 

Of his notes, I have commonly rejected those, 
against which the general voice of the publick has 
exclaimed, or which their own incongruity imme- 
diately condemns, and which, I suppose the author 
himself would desire to be forgotten. Of the rest, 
to part I have given the highest approbation, by 
inserting the offered reading in the text ; part 1 


have left to the judgment of the reader, as doubt- 
ful, though specious ; and part I have censured 
without reserve, but I am sure without bitterness 
of malice, and, I hope, without wantonness of 

It is no pleasure to me, in revising my volumes, 
to observe bow much paper is wasted in confuta- 
tion. Whoever considers the revolutions of learn- 
ing, and the various questions of greater or less 
importance, upon which wit and reason have ex- 
ercised their powers, must lament the unsuccess- 
fulness of enquiry, and the slow advances of truth, 
when he reflects, that great part of the labour of 
every writer is only the destruction of those that 
went before him. The first care of the builder of 
a new system is to demolish the fabricks which 
are standing. The chief desire of him that com- 
ments an author, is to show how much other com- 
mentators have corrupted and obscured him. The 
opinions prevalent in one age, as truths above the 
reach of controversy, are confuted and rejected in 
another, and rise again to reception in remoter 
times. Thus the human mind is kept in motion 
without progress. Thus sometimes truth and 
error, and sometimes contrarieties of error, take 
each other's place by reciprocal invasion. The 
tide of seeming knowledge which is poured over 
one generation, retires and leaves another naked 
and barren ; the sudden meteors of intelligence, 
which for a while appear to shoot their beams into 
the regions of obscurity, on a sudden withdraw 
their lustre, and leave mortals again to grope their 

These elevations and depressions of renown, and 
the contradictions to which all improvers of know- 
ledge must for ever be exposed, since they are not 


escaped by the highest and brightest of mankind, 
may surely be endured with patience by criticks 
and annotators, who can rank themselves but as 
the satellites of their authors. How canst thou 
beg for life, says Homer's hero to his captive, 
when thou knowest that thou art now to suffer 
only what must another day be suffered by 
Achilles ? 

Dr. Warburton had a name sufficient to confer 
celebrity on those who could exalt themselves into 
antagonists, and his notes have raised a clamour 
too loud to be distinct. His chief assailants are 
the authors of The Canons of Criticism, and of The 
RevisalqfShakspeare's Text; of whom one ridicules 
his errors with airy petulance, suitable enough to 
the levity of the controversy ; the other attacks 
them with gloomy malignity, as if he were dragging 
to justice an assassin or incendiary. The one stings* 
like a fly, sucks a little blood, takes a gay flutter, 
and returns for more; the other bites like a viper, 
and would be glad to leave inflammations and 
gangrene behind him. When I think on one, with 
his confederates, I remember the danger of Corio- 
lanus, who was afraid that girls with spits, and boys 
with stones, should slay him in puny battle ; when 
the other crosses my imagination, I remember the 
prodigy in Macbeth: 

" A falcon tow'ring in his pride of place, 

" Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and kill'd." 

Let me however do them justice. One is a wit, 
and one a scholar. 3 They have both shown acute- 

1 See BoswelPs Life of Dr. Johnson, Vol. I. p. 227, 3d edit. 

1 It is extraordinary that this gentleman should attempt so 


ness sufficient in the discovery of faults, and have 
both advanced some probable interpretations of ob- 
scure passages; but when they aspire to conjecture 
and emendation, it appears how falsely we all esti- 
mate our own abilities, and the little which they 
have been able to perform might have taught them 
more candour to the endeavours of others. 

Before Dr. Warburton's edition, Critical Obser- 
vations on Shakspeare had been published by Mr. 
Upton,* a man skilled in languages, and acquainted 
with books, but who seems to have had no great 
vigour of genius or nicety of taste. Many of his 
explanations are curious and useful, but tie like- 
wise, though he professed to oppose the licentious 
confidence of editors, and adhere to the old co- 
pies, is unable to restrain the rage of emendation, 
though his ardour is ill seconded by his skill. 
Every cold empirick, when his heart expanded 
by a successful experiment, swells into a theorist, 
and the laborious collator at some unlucky moment 
frolicks in conjecture. 

Critical, historical, and explanatory Notes have 
been likewise published upon Shakspeare by Dr. 
Greyj whose diligent perusal of the old English 
writers has enabled him to make some useful obser- 
vations. What he undertook he has well enough 
performed, but as he neither attempts judicial nor 
emendatory criticism, he employs rather his memory 

voluminous a work, as the Revised of Shakspeare' s text, when he 
tells us in his preface, " he was not so fortunate as to be fur- 
nished with either of the folio editions, much less any of the 
ancient quartos : and even Sir Thomas Hanmer's performance 
was known to him only by Dr. Warburton's representation.'* 

* Republished by him in 1748, after Dr. Warburton's edition, 
with alterations, &c. Stjeevens. 


than his sagacity. It were to be wished *hat all 
would endeavour to imitate his modesty, who have 
not been able to surpass his knowledge. 

I can say with great sincerity of all my prede- 
cessors, what I hope will hereafter be said of me, 
that not one has left Shakspeare without improve- 
ment, nor is there one to whom I have not been 
indebted for assistance and information. What- 
ever I have taken from them, it was my intention to 
refer to its original author, and it is certain, that 
what I have not given to another, I believed when 
I wrote it to be my own. In some perhaps I have 
been anticipated ; but if I am ever found to en- 
croach upon the remarks of any other commenta- 
tor, I am willing that the honour, be it more or 
less, should be transferred to the first claimant, for 
his right, and his alone, stands above dispute; the 
second can prove his pretensions only to himself, 
nor can himself always distinguish invention, with 
sufficient certainty, from recollection. 

They have all been treated by me with candour, 
which they have not been careful of observing to 
one another. It is not easy to discover from what 
cause the acrimony of a scholiast can naturally 
proceed. The subjects to be discussed by him are 
of very small importance ; they involve neither 
property nor liberty; nor favour the interest of 
sect or party. The various readings of copies, and 
different interpretations of a passage, seem to be 
questions that might exercise the wit, without en- 
gaging the passions. But whether it be, that small 
tkmgi make mean men proud, and vanity catches 
small occasions ; or that all contrariety of opinion, 
even in those that can defend it no longer, makes 
proud men angry; there is often found in com- 
mentaries a spontaneous strain of invective and 


contempt, more eager and venomous than is vent- 
ed by the most furious controvertist in politicks 
against those whom he is hired to defame. 

Perhaps the lightness of the matter may conduce 
to the vehemence of the agency; when the truth 
to be investigated is so near to inexistence, as to 
escape attention, its bulk is to be enlarged by rage 
and exclamation : that to which all would be indif- 
ferent in its original state, may attract notice when 
the fate of a name is appended to it. A commen- 
tator has indeed great temptations to supply by 
turbulence what he wants of dignity, to beat his 
little gold to a spacious surface, to work that to 
foam which no art or diligence can exalt to spirit. 

The notes which I have borrowed or written 
are either illustrative, by which difficulties are ex- 
plained ; or judicial, by which faults and beauties 
are remarked ; or emendatory, by which deprava- 
tions are corrected. 

The explanations transcribed from others, if I 
do not subjoin any other interpretation, I suppose 
commonly to be right, at least I intend by acqui- 
escence to confess, that I have nothing better to 

After the labours of all the editors, I found 
many passages which appeared to me likely to ob- 
struct the greater number of readers, and thought 
it my duty to facilitate their passage. It is im- 
possible for an expositor not to write too little for 
some, and too much for others. He can only judge 
what is necessary by his own experience ; and how 
long soever he may deliberate, will at last explain 
many lines which the learned will think impossible 
to be mistaken, and omit many for which the igno- 
rant will want his help. These are censures mere- 
ly relative, and must be quietly endured. I have 


endeavoured to be neither superfluously copious, 
nor scrupulously reserved, and hope that I have 
made my author's meaning accessible to many, 
who before were frighted from perusing him, and 
contributed something to the publick, by diffusing 
innocent and rational pleasure. 

The complete explanation of an author not 
systematick and consequential, but desultory and 
vagrant, abounding in casual allusions and light 
hints, is not to be expected from any single scho- 
liast. All personal reflections, when names are sup- 
Eressed, must be in a few years irrecoverably ob- 
terated ; and customs, too minute to attract the 
notice of law, yet such as modes of dress, formali- 
ties of conversation, rules of visits, disposition of 
furniture, and practices of ceremony, which na- 
turally find places in familiar dialogue, are so fugi- 
tive and unsubstantial, that they are not easily re- 
tained or recovered. What can be known will be 
collected by chance, from the recesses of obscure 
and obsolete papers, perused commonly with some 
other view. Of this knowledge every man has 
some, and none has much ; but when an author 
has engaged the publick attention, those who can 
add any thing to his illustration, communicate 
their discoveries, and time produces what had 
eluded diligence. 

To time I have been obliged to resign many pas- 
sages, which, though I did not understand them, 
will perhaps hereafter be explained, having, I hope, 
illustrated some, which others have neglected or 
mistaken, sometimes by short remarks, or marginal 
directions, such as every editor has added at his 
will, and often by comments more laborious than 
the matter will seem to deserve; but that which is 
most difficult is not always most important, and to 


an editor nothing is a trifle by which his author is 

The poetical beauties or defects I have not been 
very diligent to observe. Some plays have more, 
and some fewer judicial observations, not in propor- 
tion to their difference of merit, but because I gave 
this part of my design to chance and to caprice. 
The reader, I believe, is seldom pleased to find his 
opinion anticipated; it is natural to delight more in 
what we find or make, than in what we receive. 
Judgment, like other faculties, is improved by prac- 
tice, and its advancement is hindered by submis- 
sion to dictatorial decisions, as the memory grows 
torpid by the use of a table-book. Some initiation 
is however necessary; of all skill, part is infused 
by precept, and part is obtained by habit ; I have 
therefore shown so much as may enable the candi- 
date of criticism to discover the rest. 

To the end of most plays I have added short 
strictures, containing a general censure of faults, 
or praise of excellence ; in which I know not how 
much I have concurred with the current opinion; 
but I have not, by any affectation of singularity, 
deviated from it. Nothing is minutely and par- 
ticularly examined, and therefore it is to be sup- 
posed, that in the plays which are condemned 
there is much to be praised, and in these which 
are praised much to be condemned. 

The part of criticism in which the whole succes- 
sion of editors has laboured with the greatest dili- 
gence, which has occasioned the most arrogant 
ostentation, and excited the keenest acrimony, is 
the emendation of corrupted passages, to which 
the publick attention having been first drawn by 
the violence of the contention between Pope and 
Theobald, has been continued by the persecution, 


which, with a kind of conspiracy, has been since 
raised against all the publishers of Shakspeare. 

That many passages have passed in a state of 
depravation through all the editions is indubitably 
certain ; of these, the restoration is only to be at- 
tempted by collation of copies, or sagacity of con- 
jecture. The collator's province is safe and easy, 
the conjecturer's perilous and difficult. Yet as the 
greater part of the plays are extant only in one 
copy, the peril must not be avoided, nor the dif- 
ficulty refused. 

Of the readings which this emulation of amend- 
ment has hitherto produced, some from the labours 
of every publisher I have advanced into the text ; 
those are to be considered as in my opinion suffi- 
ciently supported ; some I have rejected without 
mention, as evidently erroneous ; some I have left 
in the notes without censure or approbation, as 
resting in equipoise between objection and de- 
fence ; and some, which seemed specious but not 
right, I have inserted with a subsequent animad- 

Having classed the observations of others, I was 
at last to try what I could substitute for their 
mistakes, and how I could supply their omissions. 
I collated such copies as I could procure, and 
wished for more, but have not found the collectors 
of these rarities very communicative. Of the edi- 
tions which chance or kindness put into my hands 
I have given an enumeration, that I may not be 
blamed for neglecting what I had not the power 
to do. 

Bv examining the old copies, I soon found that 
the later publishers, with all their boasts of dili- 
gence, suffered many passages to stand unau- 
thorized, and contented themselves with Rowe's 


regulation of the text, even where they knew it to 
be arbitrary, and with a little consideration might 
have found it to be wrong. Some of these altera- 
tions are only the ejection of a word for one that 
appeared to him more elegant or more intelligible. 
These corruptions I have often silently rectified ; 
for the history of our language, and the true force 
of our words, can only be preserved, by keeping 
the text of authors free from adulteration. Others, 
and those very frequent, smoothed the cadence, or 
regulated the measure ; on these I have not exer- 
cised the same rigour ; if only a word was trans- 
posed, or a particle inserted or omitted, I have 
sometimes suffered the line to stand ; for the in- 
constancy of the copies is such, as that some liber- 
ties may be easily permitted. But this practice I 
have not suffered to proceed far, having restored 
the primitive diction wherever it could for any 
reason be preferred. , 

The emendations, which comparison of copies 
supplied, I have inserted in the text ; sometimes, 
where the improvement was slight, without notice, 
and sometimes with an account of the reasons of 
the change. 

Conjecture, though it be sometimes unavoidable, 
I have not wantonly nor licentiously indulged. It 
has been my settled principle, that the reading of 
the ancient books is probably true, and therefore 
is not to be disturbed for the sake of elegance, 
perspicuity, or mere improvement of the sense. 
For though much credit is not due to the fidelity, 
nor any to the judgment of the first publishers, 
yet they who had the copy before their eyes were 
more likely to read it right, than we who read it 
only by imagination. But it is evident that they 
have often made strange mistakes by ignorance or 


negligence, and that therefore something may be 
properly attempted by criticism, keeping the mid- 
dle way between presumption and timidity. 

Such criticism I have attempted to practise, and 
where any passage appeared inextricably perplex- 
ed, have endeavoured to discover how it may be re- 
called to sense, with least violence. But my first 
labour is, always to turn the old text on every side, 
and try if there be any interstice, through which 
light can find its way; nor would Huetius himself 
condemn me, as refusing the trouble of research, 
for the ambition of alteration. In this modest 
industry, I have not been unsuccessful. I have 
rescued many lines from the violations of temerity, 
and secured many scenes from the inroads of cor- 
rection. I have adopted the Roman sentiment, 
that it is more honourable to save a citizen, than 
to kill an enemy, and have been more careful to 
protect than to attack. 

I have preserved the common distribution of the 
plays into acts, though I believe it to be in almost 
all the plays void of authority. Some of those 
which are divided in the later editions have no 
division. in the first folio, and some that are divided 
in the folio have no division in the preceding 
copies. The settled mode of the theatre requires 
four intervals in the play, but few, if any, of our 
author's compositions can be properly distributed 
in that manner. An act is so much of the drama 
as passes without intervention of time, or change 
of place. A pause makes a new act. In every 
real, and therefore in every imitative action, the 
intervals may be more or fewer, the restriction of 
five acts being accidental and arbitrary. This 
Shakspeare knew, and this he practised ; his plays 
were written, and at first printed in one unbroken 


continuity, and ought now to be exhibited with 
short pauses, interposed as often as the scene is 
changed, or any considerable time is required to 
pass. This method would at once quell a thousand 

In restoring the author's works to their inte- 
grity, I have considered the punctuation as wholly 
in my power; for what could be their care of 
colons and commas, who corrupted words and sen- 
tences? Whatever could be done by adjusting 
points, is therefore silently performed, in some 
plays, with much diligence, in others with less ; 
it is hard to keep a busy eye steadily fixed upon 
evanescent atoms, or a discursive mind upon eva- 
nescent truth. 

The same liberty has been taken with a few par- 
ticles, or other words of slight effect. I have some- 
times inserted or omitted them without notice. I 
have done that sometimes, which the other editors 
have done always, and which indeed the state of 
the text may sufficiently justify. 

The greater part of readers, instead of blaming us 
for passing trifles, will wonder that on mere trifles 
so much labour is expended,' with such importance 
of debate, and such solemnity of diction. To these 
I answer with confidence, that they are judging of 
an art which they do not understand ; yet cannot 
much reproach them with their ignorance, nor 
promise that they would become in general, by 
learning criticism, more useful, happier, or wiser. 

As I practised conjecture more, I learned to 
trust it less ; and after I had printed a few plays, 
resolved to insert none of my own readings in the 
text Upon this caution I now congratulate my- 
self, for every day encreases my doubt of my 


Since I have confined my imagination to the 
margin, it must not be considered as very repre- 
hensible, if I have suffered it to play some freaks 
in its own dominion. There is no danger in con- 
jecture, if it be proposed as conjecture ; and while 
the text remains uninjured, those changes may be 
safely offered, which are not considered even by 
him that offers them as necessary or safe. 

If my readings are of little value, they have not 
been ostentatiously displayed or importunately ob- 
truded. I could have written longer notes, for 
the art of writing notes is not of difficult attain- 
ment. The work is performed, first by railing at 
the stupidity, negligence, ignorance, and asinine 
tastelessness of the former editors, showing, from 
all that goes before and all that follows, the in- 
elegance and absurdity of the old reading; then by 
proposing something, which to superficial readers 
would seem specious, but which the editor rejects 
with indignation; then by producing the true read- 
ing, with a long paraphrase, and concluding with 
loud acclamations on the discovery, and a sober 
wish for the advancement and prosperity of ge- 
nuine criticism. 

All this may be done, and perhaps done some- 
times without impropriety. But I have always 
suspected that the reading is right, which requires 
many words to prove it wrong; and the emenda- 
tion wrong, that cannot without so much labour 
appear to be right. The justness of a happy 
restoration strikes at once, and the moral precept 
may be well applied to criticism, quod dubitas ne 

To dread the shore which he sees spread with 
wrecks, is natural to the sailor. I had before my 
eye, so many critical adventures ended in mis- 

vol. f. x 


carriage, that caution was forced upon me. I 
encountered in every page wit struggling with its 
own sophistry, and learning confused by the mul- 
tiplicity of its views. I was forced to censure those 
whom I admired, and could not but reflect, while 
I was dispossessing their emendations, how soon 
the same fate might happen to my own, and how 
many of the readings which I have corrected 
may be by some other editor defended and esta- 

" Criticks I saw, that other's names efface, 
" And fix their own, with labour, in the place ; 
" Their own, like others, soon their place resign'd, 
" Or disappear' d, and left the first behind." Pope. 

That a conjectural critick should often be mis- 
taken, cannot be wonderful, either to others, or 
himself, if it be considered, that in his art. there 
is no system, no principal and axiomatical truth 
that regulates subordinate positions. His chance 
of error is renewed at every attempt; an oblique 
view of the passage, a slight misapprehension of a 
phrase, a casual inattention to the parts connected, 
is sufficient to make him not only fail, but fail 
ridiculously; and when he succeeds best he pro- 
duces perhaps but one reading of many probable, 
and he that suggests another will always be able to 
dispute his claims. 

It is an unhappy state, in which danger is hid 
under pleasure. The allurements of emendation 
are scarcely resistible. Conjecture has all the joy 
and all the pride of invention, and he that has once 
started a happy change, is too much delighted to 
consider what objections may rise against it. 

Yet conjectural criticism has been of great use 
in the learned world ; nor is it my intention to 


depreciate a study, that has exercised so many 
mighty minds, from the revival of learning to our 
own age, from the Bishop of Aleria 5 to English 
Bentley. The criticks on ancient authors have, 
in the exercise of their sagacity, many assistances, 
which the editor of Shakspeare is condemned to 
want. They are employed upon grammatical and 
settled languages, whose construction contributes 
so much to perspicuity, that Homer has fewer 
passages unintelligible than Chaucer. The words 
have not only a known regimen, but invariable 
quantities, which direct and confine the choice. 
There are commonly more manuscripts than one ; 
and they do not often conspire in the same mis- 
takes. Yet Scaliger could confess to Salmasius how 
little satisfaction his emendations gave him. IUu- 
dunt nobis conjecture, quorum nospudet, posteaquam 
in meliores codices incidimus. And Lipsius could 
complain, that criticks were making faults, by try- 
ing to remove them, Ut olim vitiis, ita nunc rente- 
diis labor atur. And indeed, when mere conjecture 
is to be used, the emendations of Scaliger and 
Lipsius, notwithstanding their wonderful sagacity 
and erudition, are often vague and disputable, like 
mine or Theobald's. 

Perhaps I may not be more censured for doing 
wrong, than for doing little ; for raising in the 

' the Bishop of Aleria ] John Andreas. He was se- 
cretary to the Vatican Library during the papacies of Paul II. 
and Sixtus IV. By the former he was employed to superintend 
such works as were to be multiplied by the new art of printing, 
at that time brought into Rome. He published Herodotus, 
Strain), Livy, Aulus (Jellius, &c. His school -fellow, Cardinal 
de Cusa, procured him the bisboprick of Accia, a province in 
Corsica; and Paul II. afterwards appointed him to that of Aleria 
in the! same island, where he died in 14y3. See Fabric. Uibl. 
Lat. Vol. III. bM. Steevkks. 

\ 2 


publick, expectations which at last I have not 
answered. The expectation of ignorance is inde- 
finite, and that of knowledge is often tyrannical. 
It is hard to satisfy those who know not what to 
demand, or those who demand by design what 
they think impossible to be done. I have indeed 
disappointed no opinion more than my own ; yet 
I have endeavoured to perform my task with no 
slight solicitude. Not a single passage in the whole 
work has appeared to me corrupt, which I have 
not attempted to restore; or obscure, which I have 
not endeavoured to illustrate. In many I have 
failed like others ; and from many, after all my 
efforts, I have retreated, and confessed the repulse. 
I have not passed over, with affected superiority, 
what is equally difficult to the reader and to my- 
self, but where I could not instruct him, have 
owned my ignorance. I might easily have ac- 
cumulated a mass of seeming learning upon easy 
scenes ; but it ought not to be imputed to negli- 
gence, that, where nothing was necessary, nothing 
has been done, or that, where others have said 
enough, I have said no more. 

Notes are often necessary, but they are neces- 
sary evils. Let him, that is yet unacquainted with 
the powers of Shakspeare, and who desires to feel 
the highest pleasure that the drama can give, read 
every play, from the first scene to the last, with 
utter negligence of all his commentators. When 
his fancy is once on the wing, let it not stoop at 
correction or explanation. When his attention is 
strongly engaged, let it disdain alike to turn aside 
to the name of Theobald and of Pope. Let him 
read on through brightness and obscurity, through 
integrity and corruption ; let him preserve his 
comprehension of the dialogue and his interest in 


the fable. And when the pleasures of novelty 
have ceased, let him attempt exactness, and read 
the commentators. 

Particular passages are cleared by notes, but the 
general effect of the work is weakened. The mind 
is refrigerated by interruption ; the thoughts are 
diverted from the principal subject ; the reader is 
weary, he suspects not why ; and at last throws 
away the book which he has too diligently studied. 

Parts are not to be examined till the whole has 
been surveyed ; there is a kind of intellectual re- ' 
moteness necessary for the comprehension of any 
great work in its full design and in its true pro- 
portions; a close approach shows the smaller nice- 
ties, but the beauty of the whole is discerned no 

It is not very grateful to consider how little the 
succession of editors has added to this author's 
power of pleasing. He was read, admired, studied, 
and imitated, while he was yet deformed with all 
the improprieties which ignorance and neglect 
could accumulate upon him; while the reading was 
yet not rectified, nor his allusions understood; yet 
then did Dryden pronounce, " that Shakspeare was 
the man, who, of all modern and perhaps ancient 
poets, had the largest and most comprehensive 
soul. All the images of nature were still present 
to him, and he drew them not laboriously, but 
luckily: when he describes any thing, you more 
than see it, you feel it too. Those, who accuse 
him to have wanted learning, give him the greater 
commendation ; he was naturally learned ; he 
needed not the spectacles of books to read nature; 
he looked inwards, and found her there. I cannot 
say he is every where alike; were he so, I should 
do him injury to compare him with the greatest 


of mankind. He is many times flat and insipid ; 
his comick wit degenerating into clenches, his 
serious swelling into bombast. But he is always 
great, when some great occasion is presented to 
him : no man can say, he ever had a fit subject 
for his wit, and did not then raise himself as high 
above the rest of poets, 

" Quantum lenta solent inter viburna cupressi." 

It is to be lamented, that such a writer should 
want a commentary; that his language should be- 
come obsolete, or his sentiments obscure. But it 
is vain to carry wishes beyond the condition of 
human things; that which must happen to all, has 
happened to Shakspeare, by accident and time; 
and more than has been suffered by any other 
writer since the use of types, has been suffered by 
him through his own negligence of fame, or per- 
haps by that superiority of mind, which despised 
its own performances, when it compared them 
with its powers, and judged those works unworthy 
to be preserved, which the criticks of following 
ages were to contend for the fame of restoring and 

Among these candidates of inferior fame, I am 
now to stand the judgment of the publick ; and 
wish that I could confidently produce my commen- 
tary as equal to the encouragement which I have 
had the honour of receiving. Every work of this 
kind is by its nature deficient, and I should feel 
little solicitude about the sentence, were it to be 
pronounced only by the skilful and the learned. 

Of what has been performed in this revisal, 6 an 

This paragraph relates to the edition published in 17/3, by 
George Steevens, Esq. M alone. 


account is given in the following pages by Mr, 
Steevens, who might have spoken both of his own 
diligence and sagacity, in terms of greater self- 
approbation, without deviating from modesty or 
truth. 7 Johnson. 




[Prefixed to Mr. Steevens's Edition of Twenty 
of the old Quarto Copies of Shakspeare, &c. 
in 4 Vols'. 8vo. 1766.] 

iHE plays of Shakspeare have been so often 
republished, with every seeming advantage which 
the joint labours of men of the first abilities could 
procure for them, that one would hardly imagine 
they could stand in need of any thing beyond the 
illustration of some few dark passages. Modes of 
expression must remain in obscurity, or be re- 
trieved from time to time, as chance may throw 

7 All prefatory matters being in the present edition printed 
according to the order of time in which they originally appeared, 
the Advertisement Dr. Johnson refers to, will be found imme- 
diately after Mr. CapeWs Introduction. Steevens. 


the books of that age into the hands of critickfi 
who shall make a proper use of them. Many 
have been of opinion that his language will con- 
tinue difficult to all those who are unacquainted 
with the provincial expressions which they sup- 
pose him to have used ; yet, for my own part, I 
cannot believe but that those which are now local 
may once have been universal, and must have 
been the language of those persons before whom 
his plays were represented. However, it is certain, 
that the instances of obscurity from this source 
are very few. 

Some have been of opinion that even a particu- 
lar syntax prevailed in the time of Shakspeare ; 
but, as I do not recollect that any proofs were 
ever brought in support of that sentiment, I own 
I am of the contrary opinion. 

In his time indeed a different arrangement of 

Ellables had been introduced in imitation of the 
itin, as we find in Ascham ; and the verb was 
frequently kept back in the sentence; but in Shak- 
speare no marks of it are discernible ; and though 
the rules of syntax were more strictly observed by 
the writers of that age than they have been since, 
he of all the number is perhaps the most ungram- 
matical. To make his meaning intelligible to his 
audience seems to have been his only care, and 
with the ease of conversation he has adopted its 

The past editors, eminently qualified as they 
were by genius and learning for this undertaking, 
wanted industry; to cover which they published 
catalogues, transcribed at random, of a greater 
number of old copies than ever they can be sup- 
posed to have had in their possession ; when, at the 
same time, they never examined the few which we 


know they had, with any degree of accuracy. The 
last editor alone has dealt fairly with the world in 
this particular ; he professes to have made use of 
no more than he had really seen, and has annexed 
a list of such to every play, together with a com- 
plete one of those supposed to be in being, at the 
conclusion of his work, whether he had been able 
to procure them for the service of it or not. 

For these reasons I thought it would not be un- 
acceptable to the lovers of Shakspeare to collate 
all the quartos I could find, comparing one copy 
with the rest, where there were more than one of 
the same play; and to multiply the chances of their 
being preserved, by collecting them into volumes, 
instead of leaving the few that have escaped, to 
share the fate of the rest, which was probably 
hastened by their remaining in the form of 
pamphlets, their use and value being equally un- 
known to those into whose hands they fell. 

Of some I have printed more than one copy ; 
as there are many persons, who, not contented 
with the possession of a finished picture of some 
great master, are desirous to procure the first 
sketch that was made for it, that they may have 
the pleasure of tracing the progress of the artist 
from the first light colouring to the finishing 
stroke. To such the earlier editions of King John, 
Henry the Fifth, Henri/ the Sixth, The Merry 
Wives qf* Windsor, and Romeo and Juliet, will, I 
apprehend, not be unwelcome ; since in these we 
may discern as much as will be found in the hasty 
outlines of the pencil, with a fair prospect of that 
perfection to which he brought every performance 
he took the pains to retouch. 

The general character of the quarto editions 
may more advantageously be taken from the words 


of Mr. Pope, than from any recommendation of 
my own. 

" The folio edition (says he) in which all the 
plays we now receive as his were first collected, 
was published by two players, Heminges and Con- 
dell, in 1 623, seven years after his decease. They 
declare that all the other editions were stolen and 
surreptitious, 8 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 respects 
else it is far worse than the quartos. 

" First, because the additions of trifling and 
bombast passages are in this edition far more nu- 
merous. For whatever had been added since those 
quartos, by the actors, or had stolen from their 
mouths into the written parts, were from thence 
conveyed into the printed text, and all stand 
charged upon the author. He himself complained 
of this usage in Hamlet, where he wishes those who 
play the clowns would speak no more than is set down 
for them, (Act III. sc. iv.) But as a proof that he 
could not escape it, in the old editions of Romeo 
and Juliet, there is no hint of the mean conceits 
and ribaldries now to be found there. In others 
the scenes of the mobs, plebeians, and clowns, are 
vastly shorter than at present; and I have seen 
one in particular (which seems to have belonged 
to the play-house, by having the parts divided 
by lines, and the actors names in the margin,) 
where several of those very passages were added 

* It may be proper on this occasion to observe, that the actors 
printed several of the plays in their folio edition from the very 
quarto copies which they are here striving to depreciate; and 
additional corruption is the utmost that these copies gained by 
passing through their hands. 


in a written hand, which since are to be found in 
the folio. 

" In the next place, a number of beautiful pas- 
sages were omitted, which were extant in the first 
single editions ; as it seems without any other rea- 
son than their willingness to shorten some scenes.*' 

To this I must add, that I cannot help looking 
on the folio as having suffered other injuries from 
the licentious alteration of the players ; as we fre- 
quently find in it an unusual word changed into 
one more popular; sometimes to the weakening of 
the sense, which rather seems to have been their 
work, who knew that plainness was necessary for 
the audience of an illiterate age, than that it was 
done by the consent of the author : for he would 
hardly have unnerved a line in his written copy, 
which they pretend to have transcribed, however 
he might have permitted many to have been fami- 
liarized in the representation. Were I to indulge 
my own private conjecture, I should suppose that 
his blotted manuscripts were read over by one to 
another among those who were appointed to tran- 
scribe them; and hence it would easily happen, that 
words of similar sound, though of senses directly 
opposite, might be confounded with each other. 
1 hey themselves declare that Shakspeare's time of 
blotting was past, and yet half the errors we find 
in their edition could not be merely typographical. 
Many of the quartos (as our own printers assure 
me) were far from being unskilfully executed, and 
some of them were much more correctly printed 
than the folio, which was published at the charge 
of the same proprietors, whose names we find pre- 
fixed to the older copies ; and I cannot join with 
Mr. Pope in acquitting that edition of more li- 
teral errors than those which went before it. The 


particles in it seem to be as fortuitously disposed, 
and proper names as frequently undistinguished 
by Italick or capital letters from the rest of the 
text. The punctuation is equally accidental ; nor 
do I see on the whole any greater marks of a skil- 
ful revisal, or the advantage of being printed from 
unblotted originals in the one, than in the other. 
One reformation indeed there seems to have been 
made, and that very laudable ; I mean the substi- 
tution of more general terms for a name too often 
unnecessarily invoked on the stage ; but no jot of 
obscenity is omitted : and their caution against 
profaneness is, in my opinion, the only thing for 
which we are indebted to the judgment of the 
editors of the folio. 9 

How much may be done by the assistance of the 
old copies will now be easily known ; but a more 
difficult task remains behind, which calls for other 
abilities than are requisite in the laborious col- 

From a diligent perusal of the comedies of con- 
temporary authors, I am persuaded that the mean- 
ing of many expressions in Shakspeare might be 
retrieved ; for the language of conversation can 
only be expected to be preserved in works, which 
in their time assumed the merit of being pictures 
of men and manners. The style of conversation 
we may suppose to be as much altered as that of 

* and their caution against profaneness is., in my opinion, 

the only thing for which voe are indebted to the editors of the 
folio.'] I doubt whether we are so much indebted to the judg- 
ment of the editors of the folio edition, for their caution against 
profaneness, as to the statute 3 Jac. I. c. 21, which prohibits 
under severe penalties the use of the sacred name in any plays 
or interludes. This occasioned the playhouse copies to be 
altered, and they printed from the playhouse copies. 



books ; and, in consequence of the change, we 
have no other authorities to recur to in either case. 
Should our language ever be recalled to a strict 
examination, and the fashion become general of 
striving to maintain our old acquisitions, instead 
of gaining new ones, which we shall be at last 
obliged to give up, or be incumbered with their 
weight; it will then be lamented that no regular col- 
lection was ever formed of the old English books; 
from which, as from ancient repositories, we might 
recover words and phrases as often as caprice or 
wantonness should call for variety; instead of think- 
ing it necessary to adopt new ones, or barter solid 
strength for feeble splendour, which no language 
has long admitted, and retained its purity. 

We wonder that, before the time of Shakspeare, 
we find the stage in a state so barren of produc- 
tions, but forget that we have hardly any acquaint- 
ance with the authors of that period, though some 
few of their dramatick pieces may remain. The 
same might be almost said of the interval between 
that age and the age of Dryden, the performances 
of which, not being preserved in sets, or diffused 
as now, by the greater number printed, must lapse 
apace into the same obscurity. 

" Vixere fortes ante Aganiemnona 
Multi ." 

And yet we are contented, from a few specimens 
only, to form our opinions of the genius of ages 
gone before us. Even while we are blaming the 
taste of that audience which received with applause 
the worst plays in the reign of Charles the Second, 
we should consider that the few in possession of 
our theatre, which would never have been heard a 
second time had they been written now, were pro- 


bably the best of hundreds which had been dis- 
missed with general censure. The collection of 
plays, interludes, &c. made by Mr. Garrick, with 
an intent to deposit them hereafter in some publick 
library, 1 will be considered as a valuable acquisi- 
tion; for pamphlets have never yet been examined 
with a proper regard to posterity. Most of the ob- 
solete pieces will be found on enquiry to have been 
introduced into libraries but some few years since; 
and yet those of the present age, which may one 
time or other prove as useful, are still entirely 
neglected. I should be remiss, I am sure, were I 
to forget my acknowledgments to the gentleman I 
have just mentioned, to whose benevolence I owe 
the use of several of the scarcest quartos, which I 
could not otherwise have obtained ; though I ad- 
vertised for them,with sufficient offers, as I thought, 
either to tempt the casual owner to sell, or the curi- 
ous to communicate them ; but Mr. Garrick's zeal 
would not permit him to withhold any thing that 
might ever so remotely tend to show the perfec- 
tions of that author who could only have enabled 
him to display his own. 

It is not merely to obtain justice to Shakspeare, 
that I have made this collection, and advise others 
to be made. The general interest of English litera- 
ture, and the attention due to our own language 
and history, require that our ancient writings should 
be diligently reviewed. There is no age which has 
not produced some works that deserved to be re- 
membered; and as words and phrases are only un- 
derstood by comparing them in different places, the 
lower writers must be read for the explanation of 

1 This collection is now, in pursuance of Mr. Garrick's Will, 
placed in the British Museum. Reed. 


the highest. No language can be ascertained and 
settled, but by deducing its words from their origi- 
nal sources, and tracing them through their suc- 
cessive .varieties of signification ; and this deduc- 
tion can only be performed by consulting the ear- 
liest and intermediate authors. 

Enough has been already done to encourage us 
to do more. Dr. Hickes, by reviving the study of 
the Saxon language, seems to have excited a 
stronger curiosity after old English writers, than 
ever had appeared before Many volumes which 
were mouldering in dust have been collected; many 
authors which were forgotten have been revived ; 
many laborious catalogues have been formed; and 
many judicious glossaries compiled; the literary 
transactions of the darker ages are now open to 
discovery ; and the language in its intermediate 
gradations, from the Conquest to the Restoration, 
is better understood than in any former time. 

To incite the continuance, and encourage the 
extension of this domestick curiosity, is one of the 
purposes of the present publication. In the plays 
it contains, the poet's first thoughts as well as 
words are preserved ; the additions made in subse- 
quent impressions, distinguished in Italicks, and 
the performances themselves make their appearance 
with every typographical error, such as they were 
before they fell into the hands of the player-editors. 
The various readings, which can only be attributed 
to chance, are set down among the rest, as I did not 
choose arbitrarily to determine for others which 
were useless, or which were valuable. And many 
words differing only by the spelling, or serving 
merely to show the difficulties which they to whose 
lot it first fell to disentangle their perplexities must 


have encountered, are exhibited with the rest. I 
must acknowledge that some few readings have 
slipped in by mistake, which can pretend to serve 
no purpose of illustration, but were introduced by 
confining myself to note the minutest variations 
of the copies, which soon convinced me that the 
oldest were in general the most correct. Though 
no proof can be given that the poet superintended 
the publication of any one of these himself, yet we 
have little reason to suppose that he who wrote at 
the command of Elizabeth, and under the patron- 
age of Southampton, was so very negligent of his 
fame, as to permit the most incompetent judges, 
such as the players were, to vary at their pleasure 
what he hacl set down for the first single editions; 
and we have better grounds for suspicion that his 
works did materially suffer from their presumptu- 
ous corrections after his death. 

It is very well known, that before the time of 
Shakspeare, the art of making title-pages was 
practised with as much, or perhaps more success 
than it has been since. Accordingly, to all his 
plays we find long and descriptive ones, which, 
when they were first published, were of great service 
to the venders of them. Pamphlets of every kind 
were hawked about the streets by a set of people 
resembling his own Autolycus, who proclaimed 
aloud the qualities of what they offered to sale, and 
might draw in many a purchaser by the mirth he 
was taught to expect from the humours of Corporal 
Nym, or the swaggering vaine of' Auncient Pistol!, 
who was not to be tempted by the representation 
of a fact merely historical. The players, however, 
laid aside the whole of this garniture, not finding it 
so necessary to procure success to a bulky volume. 


when the author's reputation was established, as it 
had been to bespeak attention to a few straggling 
pamphlets while it was yet uncertain. 

The sixteen plays which are not in these volumes, 
remained unpublished till the folio in the year 1 623, 
though the compiler of a work called Theatrical 
Records, mentions different single editions of them 
all before that time. But as no one of the editors 
could ever meet with such, nor has any one else 
pretended to have seen them, I think myself at li- 
berty to suppose the compiler supplied the defects 
of the list out of his own imagination ; since he 
must have had singular good fortune to have been 
possessed of two or three different copies of all, 
when neither editors nor collectors, in the course 
of near fifty years, have been able so much as to 
obtain the sight of one of the number. 8 

At the end of the last volume I have added a 
tragedy of King Leir, published before that of 
Shakspeare, which it is not improbable he might 
have seen, as the father kneeling to the daughter, 
when she kneels to ask his blessing, is found in it ; 
a circumstance two poets were not very likely to 
have hit on separately; and which seems borrowed 
by the latter with his usual judgment, it being the 

It will be bvious to every one acquainted with the ancient 
English language, that in almost all the titles of plays in this 
catalogue of Mr. William Rujus Chetwood, the spelling is con- 
stantly overcharged with such a superfluity of letters as is not 
to be found in the writings of Shakspeare or his contemporaries. 
A more bungling attempt at a forgery was never ohtruded on the 
publick. See the British Theatre, 1750; reprinted by Dodsley 
in 1756, under the title of ' Theatrical Records, or an Account 
of English Dramatick Authors, and their Works," where all 
that is said concerning an Advertisement at the end of Romeo 
and Juliet , 1 597, is equally false, no copy of that play having 
been ever published by Andrew Wise. 

VOL. I. V 


most natural passage in the whole play ; and is in- 
troduced in such a manner, as to make it fairly his 
own. The ingenious editor of The Reliques of 
Ancient English Poetry having never met with this 
play, and as it is not preserved in Mr. Garrick's 
collection, I thought it a curiosity worthy the no- 
tice of the publick. 

I have likewise reprinted Shakspeare's Sonnets, 
from a copy published in 1609, by G. Eld, one of 
the printers of his plays; which, added to the con- 
sideration that they made their appearance with 
his name, and in his life-time, seems to be no 
slender proof of their authenticity. The same 
evidence might operate in favour of several more 
plays which are omitted here, out of respect to 
the judgment of those who had omitted them 
before. 9 

It is to be wished that some method of publica- 
tion most favourable to the character of an author 
were once established ; whether we are to send 
into the world all his works without distinction, or 
arbitrarily to leave out what may be thought a 
disgrace to him. The first editors, who rejected 
Pericles, retained Titus Andronicus; and Mr. Pope, 
without any reason, named The Winter s Tale, a 
play that bears the strongest marks of the hand 
of Shakspeare, among those which he supposed to 
be spurious. Dr. Warburton has fixed a stigma 
on the three parts of Henry the Sixth, and some 
others : 

" Inde Dolabeila, est, atque hinc Antonius ;" 
and all have been willing to plunder Shakspeare, 

9 Locrine, 15Q5. Sir John X)ldcastle, l600. London Pro- 
digal, 1605. Pericles, Prince of Tyre, idOQ. Puritan, ]600. 
Thomas Lord Cromwell, 1613. Yorkshire Tragedy, 1608. 


or mix up a breed of barren metal with his purest 

Joshua Barnes, the editor of Euripides, thought 
every scrap of his author so sacred, that he has 
preserved with the name of one of his plays, the 
only remaining word of it. The same reason in- 
deed might be given in his favour, which caused 
the preservation of that valuable trisyllable; which 
is, that it cannot be found in any other place in the 
Greek language. But this docs not seem to have 
been his only motive, as we find he has to the full 
as carefully published several detached and broken 
sentences, the gleanings from scholiasts, which 
have no claim to merit of that kind ; and yet the 
author's works might be reckoned by some to be 
incomplete without them. If then this duty is 
expected from every editor of a Greek or Roman 
poet, why is not the same insisted on in respect of 
an English classick ? But if the custom of pre- 
serving all, whether worthy of it or not, be more 
honoured in the breach, than the observance, the 
suppression at least should not be considered as a 
fault. The publication of such things as Swift had 
written merely to raise a laugh among his friends, 
has added something to the bulk of his works, but 
very little to his character as a writer. The four 
volumes ' that came out since Dr. Hawkesworth's 
edition, not to look on them as a tax levied on the 
publick, (which I think one might without injus- 
tice,) contain not more than sufficient to have made 
one of real value; and there is a kind of disinge- 
nuity, not to give it a harsher title, in exhibiting 
what the author never meant should sec the light; 

1 Volumes XIII. XIV. XV. and XVI. in large 8vo. Nine 
more have since been added. Heed. 

Y 2 


for no motive, but a sordid one, can betray the 
survivors to make that publick, which they them- 
selves must be of opinion will be unfavourable to 
the memory of the dead. 

Life does not often receive good unmixed with 
evil. The benefits of the art of printing are de- 
praved by the facility with which scandal may be 
diffused, and secrets revealed ; and by the tempta- 
tion by which traffick solicits avarice to betray 
the weaknesses of passion, or the confidence of 

I cannot forbear to think these posthumous pub- 
lications injurious to society. A man conscious 
of literary reputation will grow in time afraid to 
write with tenderness to his sister, or with fondness 
to his child ; or to remit on the slightest occasion, 
or most pressing exigence, the rigour of critical 
choice, and grammatical severity. That esteem 
which preserves his letters, will at last produce his 
disgrace ; when that which he wrote to his friend 
or his daughter shall be laid open to the publick. 

There is perhaps sufficient evidence, that most 
of the plays in question, unequal as they may be 
to the rest, were written by Shakspeare ; but the 
reason generally given for publishing the less cor- 
rect pieces of an author, that it affords a more im- 
partial view of a man's talents or way of thinking, 
than when we only see him in form, and prepared 
for our reception, is not enough to condemn an 
editor who thinks and practises otherwise. For 
what is all this to show, but that every man is more 
dull at one time than another? a fact which the 
world would easily have admitted, without asking 
any proofs in its support that might be destructive 
to an author's reputation. 

To conclude ; if the work, which this publica- 


tion was meant to facilitate, has been already per- 
formed, the satisfaction of knowing it to be so may 
be obtained from hence ; if otherwise, let those who 
raised expectations of correctness, and through 
negligence defeated them, be justly exposed by 
future editors, who will now be in possession of by 
far the greatest part of what they might have en- 
quired after for years to no purpose; for in respect 
of such a number of the old quartos as are here 
exhibited, the first folio is a common book. This 
advantage will at least arise, that future editors 
having equally recourse to the same copies, can 
challenge distinction and preference only by ge- 
nius, capacity, industry, and learning- 

As I have only collected materials for future 
artists, I consider what I have been doing as no 
more than an apparatus for their use. If the pub- 
lick is inclined to receive it as such, I am amply 
rewarded for my trouble; if otherwise, I shall sub- 
mit with cheerfulness to the censure which should 
equitably fall on an injudicious attempt; having this 
consolation, however, that my design amounted to 
no more than a wish to encourage others to think 
of preserving the oldest editions of the English 
writers, which are growing scarcer every day; and 
to afford the world all the assistance or pleasure it 
can receive from the most authentick copies extant 
of its NOBLEST POET. 5 

G. S. 

* As the foregoing Advertisement appeared when its author 
was young and uninformed, he cannot now abide by many sen- 
timents expressed in it : nor would it have been here reprinted, 
but in compliance with Dr. Johnson's injunction, that all the re- 
lative Prefaces should continue to attend his edition of our au- 
thor's plays. Steevens. 



IT is said of the ostrich, that she drops her egg 
at random, to be dispos'd of as chance pleases ; 
either brought to maturity by the sun's kindly 
warmth, or else crush'd by beasts and the feet of 
passers-by: such, at least, is the account which 
naturalists have given us of this extraordinary 
bird ; and admitting it for a truth, she is in this 
a fit emblem of almost every great genius : they 
conceive and produce with ease those noble issues 
of human understanding; but incubation, the dull 
work of putting them correctly upon paper and 
afterwards publishing, is a task they can not away 
with. If the original state of all such authors' writ- 
ings, even from Homer downward, could be en- 
quir'd into and known, they would yield proof in 
abundance of the justness of what is here asserted : 
but the author now before us shall suffice for them 
all ; being at once the greatest instance of genius 
in producing noble things, and of negligence in 
providing for them afterwards. This negligence 
indeed was so great, and the condition in which 

Dr. Johnson's opinion of this performance may be known 
from the following passage in Mr, Boswell's Life of Dr. Johnson, 
second edit. Vol. III. p. 251 : " If the man would have come to 
me, I would have endeavoured to endow his purpose with words, 
for as it is, he doth gabble monstrously." 


his works are come down to us so very deform'd, 
that it has, of late years, induc'd several gentlemen 
to make a revision of them: but the publick seems 
not to be satisfy'd with any of their endeavours ; 
and the reason of it's discontent will be manifest, 
when the state of his old editions, and the methods 
that they have taken to amend them, are fully lay'd 
open, which is the first business of this Introduc- 

Of thirty-six plays which Shakspeare has left us, 
and which compose the collection that was after- 
wards set out in folio; thirteen only were publish'd 
in his life-time, that have much resemblance to those 
in the folio j these thirteen are " Hamlet, First 
and Second Henry IV. King Lear, Love's Labour s 
Lost, Merchant of Venice, Midsummer -Night's 
Dream, Much Ado about Nothing, Richard II, 
and III. Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus, and 
Troilus and Crcssida." Some others, that came 
out in the same period, bear indeed the titles of 
" Henry V. King John, Merry JVives of JVindsor, 
and Taming of' the Shrew; 7 " but are no other than 
either first draughts, or mutilated and perhaps sur- 
reptitious impressions of those plays, but whether 
of the two is not easy to determine : King John is 

7 This is meant of the first quarto edition of The Taming of 
the Shrexv ; for the second was printed ;rom the folio. Hut the 
play in this first edition appears certainly to have been a spurious 
one, from Mr. Pope's account of it, who seems to have been 
the only editor whom it was ever seen by: great pains have been 
taken to trace who he had it of, (for it was not in his collection) 
but without success. 

[Mr. C'apell afterwards procured a sight of this desideratum, a 
circumstance which he has quaintly recorded in a note annexed 
to the MS. catalogue of his Shalap&riana : ** lent by Mr. Ma- 
lyne, an Irish gentleman, living in Queen Ann Street Fast."] 



certainly a first draught, and in two parts ; and so 
much another play, that only one line of it is re- 
tain'd in the second : there is also a first 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 Houses, 
Lancaster and Yorke: ,y and to these plays, six in 
number, may be added the first impression of 
Romeo and Juliet, being a play of the same stamp: 
The date of all these quarto's, and that of their se- 
veral re-impressions, may be seen in a table that 
follows the Introduction. Othello came out only 
one year before the folio; and is, in the main, the 
same play that we have there : and this too is the 
case of the first-mention'd thirteen; notwithstand- 
ing 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 say, are either the 
poet's first draughts, or else imperfect and stolen 
copies, it will be thought, perhaps, they might as 
well have been left out of the account: but they 
are not wholly useless ; some lacuna?, that are in all 
the other editions, have been judiciously fill'd up 
in modern impressions by the authority of these 
copies; and in some particular passages of them, 
where there happens to be a greater conformity than 
usual between them and the more perfect editions, 
there is here and there a various reading that does 
honour to the poet's judgment, and should upon 
that account be presum'd the true one; in other 
respects, they have neither use nor merit, but are 
meerly curiosities. 

Proceed we then to a description of the other 
fourteen. They all abound in faults, though not 
in equal degree ; and those faults are so numerous, 


and of so many different natures, that nothing but 
a perusal of the pieces themselves can give an 
adequate conception of them ; but amongst them 
are these that follow. Division of acts and scenes, 
they have none; Othello only excepted, which is 
divided into acts : entries of persons are extreamly 
imperfect in them, (sometimes more, sometimes 
fewer than the scene requires) and their Exits are 
very often omitted ; or, when mark'd, not always 
in the right place ; and few scenical directions are 
to be met with throughout the whole : speeches 
are frequently confounded, and given to wrong 
persons, either whole, or in part ; and sometimes, 
instead of the person speaking, you have the actor 
who presented him : and in two of the plays, 
(Love's Labour's Lost, and Troilus and Cressida,) 
the same matter, and in nearly the same words, is 
set down twice in some passages ; which who sees 
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 : prose is 
very often printed as verse, and verse as prose; or, 
where rightly printed verse, that verse is not always 
right divided: and in all these pieces, the songs are 
in every particular still more corrupt than the 
other parts of them. These are the general and 
principal defects: to which if you add transposi- 
tion or words, sentences, lines, and even speeches; 
words omitted, and others added without reason ; 
and a punctuation so deficient, and so often wrong, 
that it hardly deserves regard ; you have, upon the 
whole, a true but melancholy picture of the con- 
dition of these first printed plays : which bad as 
it is, is yet better than that of those which came 
after ; or than that of the subsequent folio im- 


pression of some of these which we are now speak- 
ing of. 

This folio impression was sent into the world 
seven years after the author's death, hy two of his 
fellow-players j and contains, besides the last men- 
tion'd fourteen, the true and genuine copies of the 
other six plays, and sixteen that were never pub- 
lish'd before: 8 the editors make great professions 
of fidelity, and some complaint of injury done to 
them and the author by stolen and maim'd copies; 
giving withal an advantageous, if just, idea of the 
copies which they have follow'd : but see the terms 
they make use of. " It had bene a thing, we con- 
fesse, worthie to have bene wished, that the author 
himselfe had liv'd to have set forth, and overseen 
his owne writings ; but since it hath bin ordain'd 
otherwise, 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 
& publish'd them ; and so to have publish'd 
them, as where (before) you were abus'd with 
diverse stolne, and surreptitious copies, maimed, 
and deformed by the frauds and stealthes of in- 
jurious impostors, that expos'd them: even those, 
are now offer'd to your view cur'd, and perfect 

8 There is yet extant in the books of the Stationers' Company, 
an entry bearing date Feb. 12, l6'24, to Messrs. Jaggard and 
Blount, the proprietors of this first folio, which is thus worded : 
" Mr. Wm. Shakespear 1 s Comedy's History's Sf Tragedy's so 
many of the said Copy's as bee not entered to other men ;" and 
this entry is follow'd by the titles of all those sixteen plays that 
were first printed in the folio : The other twenty plays ( Othello, 
and King John, excepted ; which the person who furnished this 
transcript, thinks he may have overlook'd,) are enter'd too in 
these books, under their respective years; but to whom the 
transcript says not. 


of their limbes ; and all the rest, absolute in their 
numbers, as he conceived them. Who, as he was 
a happie imitator of nature, was a most gentle ex- 
presser of it. His minde and hand went together: 
and what he thought, he uttered with that easi- 
nesse, that wee have scarse received from him a 
blot in his papers." Who now does not feel him- 
self inclin'd to expect an accurate and good per- 
formance in the edition of these prefacers ? But 
alas, it is nothing less : for (if we except the six 
spurious ones, whose places were then supply 'd by 
true and genuine copies) the editions of plays pre- 
ceding the folio, are the very basis of those we have 
there; which are either printed from those editions, 
or from the copies which they made use of; and 
this is principally evident in " First and Second 
Henry IV. Love's Labour s Lost, Merchant of Ve- 
nice, Midsummer-Nigh? s Dream, Much Ado about 
Nothing, Richard II. Titus Andronicus, and Troi- 
lus and Cressida;" for in the others we see some- 
what a greater latitude, as was observed a little 
above : but in these plays, there is an almost strict 
conformity between the two impressions : some ad- 
ditions are in the second, and some omissions; but 
the faults and errors of the quarto's are all pre- 
serv'd in the folio, and others added to them; and 
what difference there is, is generally for the worse 
on the side of the folio editors; which should give 
us but faint hopes of meeting with greater accuracy 
in the plays which they first publish'd ; and, accord- 
ingly, we find them subject to all the imperfections 
that have been noted in the former: nor is their 
edition in general distinguish'd by any mark of pre- 
ference above the earliest quarto's, but that some of 
their plays are divided into acts, and some others 
into acts and scenes ; and that with due precision, 


and agreeable to the author's idea of the nature of 
such divisions. The order of printing these plays, 
the way in which they are class'd, and the titles 
given them, being matters of some curiosity, the 
Table that is before the first folio is here reprinted : 
and to it are added marks, put between crotchets, 
shewing the plays that are divided ; a signifying 
acts, a & s acts and scenes. 

TABLE of Plays in the folio. 9 

COMEDIES. Measure for Measure, [a 

&*.] " 

The Tempest, [a & s.] The Comedy of Errors.* 

The Two Gentlemen of [a.~\ 

Verona.* [a & s.~\ Much adoo about No- 

The Merry Wives of thing, [a.] 

Windsor, [a & s.] Loves Labour lost.* 

9 The plays, mark'd with asterisks, are spoken of by name, in 
a book, call'd Wit's Treasury, being the Second Part of Wit's 
Commonwealth, written by Francis Meres, at p. 282 : who, in 
the same paragraph, mentions another play as being Shakspeare's, 
under the title of Loves Labours Wonne ; a title that seems well 
adapted to All's well that ends well, and under which it might 
be first acted. In the paragraph immediately preceding, he 
speaks of his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, and his Sonnets : 
this book was printed in 159S, by P. Short, for Cuthbert Burbie ; 
octavo, small. The same author, at p. 283, mentions too a 
Richard the Third, written by Doctor Leg, author of another 

Slay, called The Destruction of Jerusalem. And there is in the 
lusaeum, a manuscript Latin play upon the same subject, 
written by one Henry Lacy in 1586: which Latin play is but a 
weak performance ; and yet seemeth to be the play spoken of 
by Sir John Harrington, (for the author was a Cambridge man, 
and of St. John's,) in this passage of his Apologie of Poetrie, 
prefix'd to his translation of Ariosto's Orlando, edit. 1 591, fol : 
" and for tragedies, to omit other famous tragedies; that, 
that was played at S.Johns in Cambridge of Richard the 3. 


Midsommer Nights 

Dreame.* [a.] 
The Merchant oj Venice .* 

As you like it. [a & s.~\ 
The Taming of the Shrew. 
All is well, that Ends 

well, [a] 
Twelfe-Night, or what 

you will, [a & s.~\ 
The Winters Tale, [a & 



The Life and Death of 

King John.* [a & s.] 
The Life $ Death of 

Richard the second.* 

[a & 5.] 
The First part of King 

Henry the fourth, [a 

The Second Part of K. 

Henry the fourth.* [a 


The Life of King Henry 
the Fift. 

The First part of King 

Henry the Sirt. 
The Second part of King 

Hen. the Sirt. 
The Third part of King 

Henry the Sirt 
The Life $ Death of 

Richard the Third* 

[a & $.] 
The Life of King Henry 

the Eight, [a & s.] 


\Troylus and Cressida] 

from the second folio ; 

omitted in thefrst. 
The Tragedy ofCoriola- 

nus. [a] 
Titus Andronicus.* [a.] 
Romeo and Juliet.* 
Timon of Athens. 
The Life and death of 

Julius Ccesar. [.] 
The Tragedy of Macbeth. 

\a & s.] 
Tne Tragedy of Hamlet. 
King Lear, [a & s.] 

would move (I thinke) Phalaristhe tyraunt, and tcrrifieall tyra- 
nou minded men, fro following their foolish ambitious humors, 
seeing how his ambition made him kill his brother, his nephews, 
his wife, beside infinit others ; and last of all after a short and 
troublesome raigne, to end his miserable life, and to have hi.-* 
body harried after his death." 


Othello, the Moore of Ve- Cymbe line King of Bri~ 

nice, [a & s.] tame, [a & s.^\ 

Antony and Cleopater. 

Having premis'd thus much about the state and 
condition of these first copies, it may not be im- 
proper, nor will it be absolutely a digression, to 
add something concerning their authenticity : in 
doing which, it will be greatly for the reader's 
ease, and our own, to confine ourselves to the 
quarto's : which, it is hop'd, he will allow of; es- 
pecially, as our intended vindication of them will 
also include in it (to the eye of a good observer) 
that of the plays that appear' d first in the folio : 
which therefore omitting, we now turn ourselves 
to the quarto's. 

We have seen the slur that is endeavour'd to be 
thrown upon them indiscriminately by the player 
editors, and we see it too wip'd off by their having 
themselves follow'd the copies that they condemn. 
A modern editor, who is not without his followers, 
is pleas'd to assert confidently in his preface, that 
they are printed from " piece-meal parts, and 
copies of prompters :" but his arguments for it 
are some of them without foundation, and the 
others not conclusive; and it is to be doubted, that 
the opinion is only thrown out to countenance an 
abuse that has been carry'd to much too great 
lengths by himself and another editor, that of 
putting out of the text passages that they did not 
like. These censures then, and this opinion being 
set aside, is it criminal to try another conjecture, 
and see what can be made of it ? It is known, 
that Shakspeare liv'd to no great age, being taken 
off in his fifty-third year ; and yet his works are 


so numerous, that, when we take a survey of them, 
they seem the productions of a life of twice that 
length : for to the thirty-six plays in this collec- 
tion, we must add seven, (one of which is in two 
parts,) perhaps written over again ;' seven others 
that were publish'd some of them in his life-time, 
and all with his name ; and another seven, that are 
upon good grounds imputed to him ; making in 
all, fifty- eight plays ; besides the part that he may 
reasonably be thought to have had in other men's 
labours, being himself a player and a manager of 
theatres: what his prose productions were, we 
know not : but it can hardly be suppos'd, that he, 
who had so considerable a share in the confidence 
of the Earls of Essex and Southampton, could be 
a mute spectator only of controversies in which 
they were so much interested; and his other poeti- 
cal works, that are known, will fill a volume the 
size of these that we have here. When the num- 
ber and bulk of these pieces, the shortness of his 
life, and the other busy employments of it are re- 
flected upon duly, can it be awonder that he should 
be so loose a transcriber of them ? or why should 
we refuse to give credit to what his companions 
tell us, of the state of those transcriptions, and of 
the facility with which they were pen'd ? Let it 
then be granted, that these quarto's are the poet's 
own copies, however they were come by ; hastily 
written at first, and issuing from presses most of 
them as corrupt and licentious as can any where 
be produe'd, and not overseen by himself, nor by 
any of his friends : and there can be no stronger 
reason for subscribing to any opinion, than may 
be drawn in favour or this from the condition of 

1 Vide, this Introduction, p. 32?. 


all the other plays that were first printed in the 
folio; for, in method of publication, they have 
the greatest likeness possible to those which pre- 
ceded them, and carry all the same marks of haste 
and negligence; yet the genuineness of the latter 
is attested by those who publish'd them, and no 
proof brought to invalidate their testimony. If it 
be still ask'd, what then becomes of the accusation 
brought against the quarto's by the player editors, 
the answer is not so far off as may perhaps be 
expected : it maybe true that they were " stoln;" 
but stoln from the author's copies, by transcribers 
who found means to get at them: 2 and " maim'd" 
they must needs be, in respect of their many alter- 
ations after the first performance: and who knows, 
if the difference that is between them, in some of 
the plays that are common to them both, has not 
been studiously heighten'd by the player editors, 
who had the means in their power, being masters 
of all the alterations, to give at once a greater 
currency to their own lame edition, and support 
the charge which they bring against the quarto's ? 
this, at least, is a probable opinion, and no bad way 
of accounting for those differences. 3 

* But see a note at p. 330, which seems to infer that they were 
fairly come by : which is, in truth, the editor's opinion, at least 
of some of them ; though, in way of argument, and for the sake 
of clearness, he has here admitted the charge in that full extent 
in which they bring it. 

* Some of these alterations are in the quarto's themselves; 
(another proof this, of their being authentick,) as in Rich- 
ard II: where a large scene, that of the king's deposing, appears 
first in the copy of 1608, the third quarto impression, being 
wanting in the two former: and in one copy of 2 Henry IV. 
there is a scene too that is not in the other, though of the same 
year; it is the first of Act the third. And Hamlet has some still 
more considerable; for the copy of 1605 has these words: 


It were easy to add abundance of other argu- 
ments in favour of these quarto's ; Such as, their 
exact affinity to almost all the publications of this 
sort that came out about that time ; of which it 
will hardly be asserted by any reasoning man, that 
they are all clandestine copies, and publish'd with- 
out their authors' consent: next, the high impro- 
bability of supposing that none of these plays were 
of the poet's own setting-out : whose case is ren- 
der'd singular by such a supposition ; it being 
certain, that every other author of the time, with- 
out exception, who wrote any thing largely, pub- 
lish'd some of his plays himself, and Ben Jonson all 
of them : nay, the very errors and faults of these 
quarto's, of some of them at least, and those such 
as are brought against them by other arguers, are, 
with the editor, proofs of their genuineness ; for 
from what hand, but that of the author himself, 
could come those seemingly-strange repetitions 
which are spoken of at p. 329 ? those imperfect 
exits, and entries of persons who have no con- 
cern in the play at all, neither in the scene where 
they are made to enter, nor in any other part of it ? 
yet such there are in several of these quarto's; and 
such might well be expected in the hasty draughts 
of so negligent an author, who neither saw at 
once all he might want, nor, in some instances, 
gave himself sufficient time to consider the fitness 

41 Newly imprinted and enlarged to almost as much againe as it 
was, according to the true and perfect Coppie:*' now though no 
prior copy h;* yet been produe'd, it is certain there was such by 
the testimony of this title-page: and that the play was in being 
at least nine years before, is prov'd by a book of Doctor Lodge's 
printed in ISqO', which play was perhaps an imperfect one; and 
not unlike that we have now of Romeo and Juliet, printed th 
year alter; u fourth instance too of what the note advances. 

VOL. I. Z 


of what he was then penning. These and other like 
arguments might, as is said before, be collected, 
and urg'd for the plays that were first publish'd in 
the quarto's; that is, for fourteen of them, for the 
other six are out of the question : butwhat has been 
enlarg'd upon above, of their being follow'd by the 
folio, and their apparent general likeness to all the 
other plays that are in that collection, is so very 
forcible as to be sufficient of itself to satisfy the 
unprejudic'd, that the plays of both impressions 
spring all from the same stock, and owe their nu- 
merous imperfections to one common origin and 
cause, the too-great negligence and haste of their 
over-careless producer. 

But to return to the thing immediately treated, 
the state of the old editions. The quarto's went 
through many impressions, as may be seen in the 
Table : and, in each play, the last is generally 
taken from the impression next before it, and so 
onward to the first; the few that come not within 
this rule, are taken notice of in the Table: and 
this further is to be observ'd of them : that, gene- 
rally speaking, the more distant they are from the 
original, the more they abound in faults ; 'till, in 
the end, the corruptions of the last copies become 
so excessive, as to make them of hardly any worth. 
The folio too had it's re-impressions, the dates and 
notices of which are likewise in the Table, and 
they tread the same round as did the quarto's : 
only that the third of them has seven plays more, 
(see their titles below, 4 ) in which it is follow'd by 

4 Locrine ; The London Prodigal; Pericles, Prince of Tyre; 
The puritan , or, the Widow of Watling Street ; Sir John Old- 
castle ; Thomas Lord Cromwell ; and The Yorkshire Tragedy ; 
And the imputed ones, mention'd a little above, are these ; 
The Arraignment of Paris ; Birth of Merlin ; Fair Em ; Ed- 


the last; and that again by the first of the modern 
impressions, which come now to be spoken of. 

If the stage be a mirror of the times, as un- 
doubtedly it is, and we judge of the age's temper 
by what we see prevailing there, what must we 
think of the times that succeeded Sbakspeare? 
Jonson, favour'd by a court that delighted only in 
masques, had been gaining ground upon him even 
in his life-time ; and his death put him in full 
possession of a post he had long aspir'd to, the 
empire of the drama : the props of this new king's 
throne, were Fletcher, Shirley, Middleton, Mas- 
singer, Broome, and others; and how unequal they 
all were, the monarch and his subjects too, to the 
poet they came after, let their works testify: yet 
they had the vogue on their side, during all those 
blessed times that preceded the civil war, and 
Shakspeare was held in disesteem. The war, and 
medley government that follow'd, swept all these 
things away: but they were restor'd with the king; 

ward HI. Merry Devil of Edmonton ; Mucedorus ; and The 
Two Noble Kinsmen : but in The Merry Devil <>f Edmonton, 
Rowley is call'd his partner in the title-page ; and Fletcher, in 
The Two Noble Kinsmen. What external proofs there are of 
their coming from Shakspeare, are gather'd all together, and 
ut down in the Table ; and further it not concerns us to engage: 
ut let those who are inclin'd to dispute it, carry this along with 
them : that London, in Shakspeare's time, had a multitude of 

fdav houses; erected some in inn-yards, and such like places, and 
requented by the lowest of the people; such audiences might 
have been seen some years ago in Southwark and Bartholomew, 
and may be seen at this day in the country; to which it was 
also a custom for players to make excursion, at wake times and 
festivals : and for such places, and such occasions, might these 
pieces be compos'd in the author's early time; the worst of them 
suiting well enough to the parties they might be made for : and 
this, or something nearly of this sort, may have been the case 
too of some plays in his great collection, which shall be spoken 
of in their place. 

z 2 



and another stage took place, in which Shakspeare 
had little share. Dryden had then the lead, and 
maintain'd it for half a century : though his go- 
vernment was sometimes disputed by Lee, Tate, 
Shadwell,Wytcherley, and others; weaken'dmuch 
by The Rehearsal ; and quite overthrown in the 
end by Otway, and Rowe : what the cast of their 
plays was, is known to every one : but that Shak- 
speare, the true and genuine Shakspeare, was not 
much relish'd, is plain from the many alterations 
of him, that were brought upon the stage by some 
of those gentlemen, and by others within that 

But, from what has been said, we are not to 
conclude that the poet had no admirers : for the 
contrary is true ; and he had in all this interval no 
inconsiderable party amongst men of the greatest 
understanding, who both saw his merit, in despite 
of the darkness it was then wrapt up in, and spoke 
loudly in his praise ; but the stream of the publick 
favour ran the other way. But this too coming 
about at the time we are speaking of, there was a 
demand for his works, and in a form that was more 
convenient than the folio's ; in consequence of 
which, the gentleman last mentioned was set to 
work by the booksellers; and, in 1709, he put out 
an edition in six volumes octavo, which, unhappily, 
is the basis of all the other moderns : for this 
editor went no further than to the edition nearest 
to him in time, which was the folio of 1685, the 
last and worst of those impressions : this he re- 
published with great exactness ; correcting here 
and there some of it's grossest mistakes, and di- 
viding into acts and scenes the plays that were not 
divided before. 

But no sooner was this edition in the hands of 


the publick, than they saw in part its deficiencies, 
and one of another sort began to be required of 
them; which accordingly was set about some years 
after by two gentlemen at once, Mr. Pope and 
Mr. Theobald. The labours of the first came out 
in 1725, in six volumes quarto: and he has the 
merit of having first improv'd his author, by the 
insertion of many large passages, speeches, and sin- 
gle lines, taken from the quarto's ; and of amend- 
ing him in other places, by readings fetch'd from 
the same : but his materials were few, and his col- 
lation of them not the most careful; which, join'd 
to other faults, and to that main one of making 
his predecessor's the copy himself follow'd, brought 
his labours in disrepute, and has finally sunk them 
in neglect. 

His publication retarded the other gentleman, 
and he did not appear 'till the year 1733, when his 
work too came out in seven volumes, octavo. The 
opposition that was between them seems to have 
enflam'd him, which was heighten'd by other mo- 
tives, and he declaims vehemently against thework 
of his antagonist : which yet sery'd him for a mo- 
del ; and his own is made only a little better, by 
his having a few more materials ; of which he was 
not a better collator than the other, nor did he 
excel him in use of them ; for, in this article, both 
their judgments may be equally call'd in question j 
in what he has done that is conjectural, he is 
rather more happy j but in this he had large as- 

But the gentleman that came next, is a cri- 
tick of another stamp : and pursues a track, in 
which it is greatly to be hop'd he will never be 
follow'd in the publication of any authors what- 
soever : for this were, in effect, to annihilate them, 


if carry'd a little further ; by destroying all marks 
of peculiarity and notes of time, all easiness of 
expression and numbers, all justness of thought, 
and the nobility of not a few of their conceptions : 
The manner in which his author is treated, excites 
an indignation that will be thought by some to 
vent itself too strongly; but terms weaker would 
do injustice to my feelings, and the censure shall 
be hazarded. Mr. Pope's edition was the ground- 
work of this over-bold one ; splendidly printed at 
Oxford in six quarto volumes, and publish'd in the 
year 1744: the publisher disdains all collation of 
folio, or quarto ; and fetches all from his great 
self, and the moderns his predecessors: wantoning 
in very licence of conjecture ; and sweeping all 
before him, (without notice, or reason given,) that 
not suits his taste, or lies level to his conceptions. 
But this justice should be done him : as his con- 
jectures are numerous, they are oftentimes not 
unhappy; and some of them are of that excellence, 
that one is struck with amazement to see a person 
of so much judgment as he shows himself in them, 
adopt a method of publishing that runs counter to 
all the ideas that wise men have hitherto enter- 
tain'd of an editor's province and duty. 

The year 1 747 produc'd a fifth edition, in eight 
octavo volumes, publish'd by Mr. Warburton ; 
which though it is said in the title-page to be the 
joint work of himself and the second editor, the 
third ought rather to have been mention'd, for it 
is printed from his text. The merits of this per- 
formance have been so thoroughly discuss'd in two 
very ingenious books, The Canons of Criticism, and 
Revisat of Shakspeare* s Text, that it is needless to 
say any more of it : this only shall be added to 
what may be there met with, that the edition is 


not much benefited by fresh acquisitions from the 
old ones, which this gentleman seems to have negr 
lected. 5 

Other charges there are, that might be brought 
against these modern impressions, without infring- 
ing the laws of truth or candour either : but what 
is said, will be sufficient; and may satisfy their 
greatest favourers, that the superstructure cannot 
be a sound one, which is built upon so bad a foun- 
dation as that work of Mr. Rowe's ; which all of 
them, as we see, in succession, have yet made their 
corner-stone : The truth is, it was impossible that 
such a beginning should end better than it has 
done : the fault was in the setting-out ; and all the 
diligence that could be us'd, join'd to the discern- 
ment of a Pearce, or a Bentley, could never purge 
their author of all his defects by their method of 

The editor now before you was appriz'd in time 
of this truth ; saw the wretched condition his au- 
thor was reduc'd to by these late tamperings, and 
thought seriously of a cure for it, and that so long 
ago as the year 1 74.5 ; for the attempt was first 
suggested by that gentleman's performance, which 

* It will perhaps be thought strange, that nothing should be 
said in this place of another edition that came out about a twelve- 
month ago, in eight volumes, octavo ; but the reasons for it are 
these : There is no use made of it, nor could be ; for the pre- 
sent was finish'd, within a play or two, and printed too in great 
part, before that appear'd: the first sheet of this work (being the 
first of Vol. II.] went to the press in September 1760: and this 
volume was follow'd by volumes VIII. IV. IX. I. VI. and VII ; 
the last of which was printed off in August 17t>'5: In the next 
place, the merits and demerits of it are unknown to the present 
editor even at this hour: this only he has perceiv'd in it, having 
iook'd it but slightly over, that the text it follows is that of its 
nearest predecessor, and from that copy it was printed. 


came out at Oxford the year before : which when 
he had perus'd with no little astonishment, and 
consider'd the fatal consequences that must inevi- 
tably follow the imitation of so much licence, he 
resolv'd himself to be the champion ; and to exert 
to the uttermost such abilities as he was master of, 
to save from further ruin an edifice of this dignity, 
which England must for ever glory in. Hereupon 
he possess'd himself of the other modern editions, 
the folio's, and as many quarto's as could presently 
be procur'd; and, within a few years after, fortune 
and industry help'd him to all the rest, six only 
excepted ; 6 adding to them withal twelve more, 
which the compilers of former tables had no 
knowledge of. Thus furnish'd, he fell immediately 
to collation, -which is the first step in works of 
this nature; and, without it, nothing is done to 
purpose, first of moderns with moderns, then of 
moderns with ancients, and afterwards of ancients 
with others more ancient : 'till, at the last, a ray 
of light broke forth upon him, by which he hop'd 
to find his way through the wilderness of these 
editions into that fair country the poet's real habi- 
tation. He had not proceeded far in his collation, 
before he saw cause to come to this resolution ; - 
to stick invariably to the old editions, (that is, the 

8 But of one of these six, (a J Henry IV. edition 1604) the 
editor thinks he is possessed of a very large fragment, imperfect 
only in the first and last sheet ; which has been collated, as far 
as it goes, along with others: And of the twelve quarto editions, 
which he has had the good fortune to add to those that were 
known before, some of them are of great value ; as may be seen 
by looking into the Table. 

[As this table relates chiefly to Mr. Capell's desiderata, &c. 
(and had been anticipated by another table equally comprehen- 
sive, which the reader will find in the next volume,) it is here 


best of them,) which hold now the place of manu- 
scripts, no scrap of the author's writing having the 
luck to come down to us ; and never to depart 
from them, but in cases where reason, and the 
uniform practice of men of the greatest note in 
this art, tell him they may be quitted ; nor yet in 
those, without notice. But it will be necessarv, 
that the general method of this edition should now 
be lay'd open ; that the publick may be put in a 
capacity not only of comparing it with those they 
already have, but of judging whether any thing 
remains to be done towards the fixing this author's 
text in the manner himself gave it. 

It is said a little before, that we have nothing 
of his in writing ; that the printed copies are all 
that is left to guide us ; and that those copies are 
subject to numberless imperfections, but not all in 
like degree : our first business then, was to ex- 
amine their merit, and see on which side the scale 
of goodness preponderated ; which we have gene- 
rally found, to be on that of the most ancient : it 
may be seen in the Table, what editions are judg'd 
to have the preference among those plays that 
were printed singly in quarto; and for those plays, 
the text of those editions is chiefly adher'd to : in 
all the rest, the first folio is follow'd ; the text of 
which is by far the most faultless of the editions 
in that form ; and has also the advantage in three 
quarto plays, in 2 Henry IV. Othello, and Richard 
III. Had the editions thus follow'd been printed 
with carefulness, from correct copies, and copies 
not added to or otherwise alter'd after those im- 
pressions, there had been no occasion for going 
any further : but this was not at all the case, even 
in the best of them ; and it therefore became proper 
and necessary to look into the other old editions, 


and to select from thence whatever improves the 
author, or contributes to his advancement in per- 
fectness, the point in view throughout all this 
performance : that they do improve him, was with 
the editor an argument in their favour; and a pre- 
sumption of genuineness for what is thus selected, 
whether additions, or differences of any other 
nature ; and the causes of their appearing in some 
copies, and being wanting in others, cannot now 
be discover'd, by reason of the time's distance, 
and defect of fit materials for making the dis- 
covery. Did the limits of his Introduction allow 
of it, the editor would gladly have dilated and 
treated more at large this article of his plan ; as 
that which is of greatest importance, and most 
likely to be contested of any thing in it : but this 
doubt, or this dissent, (if any be,) must come from 
those persons only who are not yet possess'd of the 
idea they ought to entertain of these ancient im- 
pressions ; for of those who are, he fully persuades 
himself he shall have both the approof and the 
applause. But without entering further in this 
place into the reasonableness, or even necessity, of 
so doing, he does for the present acknowledge 
that he has every- where made use of such materials 
as he met with in other old copies, which he 
thought improv'd the editions that are made the 
ground-work of the present text : and whether 
they do so or no, the judicious part of the world 
may certainly know, by turning to a collection that 
will be publish'd; where all discarded readings are 
enter'd, all additions noted, and variations of every 
kind ; and the editions specify'd, to which they se- 
verally belong. 

But, when these helps were administer'd, there 
was yet behind a very great number of passages, 


labouring undervarious defects and those of various 
degree, that had their cure to seek from some other 
sources, that of copies atfbrding it no more : For 
these he had recourse in the first place to the 
assistance of modern copies : and, where that was 
incompetent, or else absolutely deficient, which 
was very often the case, there he sought the remedy 
in himself, using judgment and conjecture; which, 
he is bold to say, he will not be found to have 
exercis'd wantonly, but to follow the establish'd 
rules of critique with soberness and temperance. 
These emendations, (whether of his own, or other 
gentlemen, 7 ) carrying in themselves a face of cer- 
tainty, and coining in aid of places that were ap- 
parently corrupt, are admitted into the text, and 
the rejected reading is always put below ; some 
others, that are neither of that certainty, nor are 
of that necessity, but are specious and plausible, 
and may be thought by some to mend the passage 
they belong to, will have a place in the collection 
that is spoken of above. But where it is said, that 
the rejected reading is always put below, this must 
be taken with some restriction : for some of the 

7 In the manuscripts from which all these plays are printed, 
the emendations are given to their proper owners by initials and 
other marks that are in the mar in of those manuscripts ; but 
they are suppressed in the print for two reasons : First, their 
number, in some pages, makes them a little unsightly : and the 
editor proteges himself weak enough to like a well-printed 
book : In the next place, he does declare that his only object 
has been, to do service to his great author; which provided it 
be done, he thinks it of small importance by what hand the ser- 
vice was administer'd : If the partizans of former editors shall 
chance to think them injur'd by this suppression, he must upon 
this occasion violate the rules of modesty, by declaring that he 
himself is the most injur'd by it ; whose emendations are equal, 
at leafct in number, to all theirs if put together ; to say nothing 
of his recover 'd readings, which are more considerable still. 


emendations, and of course the ancient readings 
upon which they are grounded, being of a com- 
plicated nature, the general method was there in- 
convenient ; and, for these few, you are refer'd to 
a note which will be found among the rest: and 
another sort there are, that are simply insertions; 
these are effectually pointed out by being printed 
in the gothick or black character. 

Hitherto, the defects and errors of these old 
editions have been of such a nature, that we could 
lay them before the reader, and submit to his judg- 
ment the remedies that are apply'd to them; which 
is accordingly done, either in the page itself where 
they occur, or in some note that is to follow : but 
there are some behind that would not be so ma- 
nag'd ; either by reason of their frequency, or dif- 
ficulty of subjecting them to the rules under which 
the others are brought: they have been spoken of 
before at p. 329, where the corruptions are all enu- 
merated, and are as follows; a want of proper 
exits and entrances, and of many scenical direc- 
tions, throughout the work in general, and, in some 
of the plays, a want of division ; and the errors are 
those of measure, and punctuation : all, these are 
mended, and supply'd, without notice and silently; 
but the reasons for so doing, and the method ob- 
serv'd in doing it, shall be a little enlarg'd upon, 
that the fidelity of the editor, and that which is 
chiefly to distinguish him from those who have 
gone before, may stand sacred and unimpeach- 
able ; and, first, of the division. 

The thing chiefly intended in reprinting the list 
of titles that may be seen at p. 332, was, to show 
which plays were divided into acts, which into 
acts and scenes, and which of them were not di- 
vided at all ; and the number of the first class is 


eight; of the third eleven: for though in Henry V. 
1 Henry VI. Love's Labour's Lost, and The Ta- 
ming of' the Shrew, there is some division aim'd at; 
yet it is so lame and erroneous, that it was thought 
best to consider them as totally undivided, and to 
rank them accordingly : now when these plays were 
to be divided, as well those of the first class as those 
of the third, the plays of the second class were 
studiously attended to ; and a rule was pick'd out 
from them, by which to regulate this division : 
which rule might easily have been discover'd be- 
fore, had but any the least pains have been be- 
stow'd upon it ; and certainly it was very well 
worth it, since neither can the representation be 
manag'd, nor the order and thread of the fable be 
properly conceiv'd by the reader, 'till this article 
is adjusted. The plays that are come down to us 
divided, must be look'd upon as of the author's 
own settling; and in them, with regard to acts, we 
find him following establish'd precepts, or, rather, 
conforming himself to the practice of some other 
dramatick writers of his time ; for they, it is likely, 
and nature, were the books he was best acquainted 
with : his scene divisions he certainly did not fetch 
from writers upon the drama ; for, in them, he ob- 
serves a method in which perhaps he is singular, 
and he is invariable in the use of it : with him, a 
change of scene implies generally a change of place, 
though not always ; but always an entire evacua- 
tion of it, and a succession of new persons : that 
liaison of the scenes, which Jonson seems to have 
attempted, and upon which the French stage prides 
itself, he does not appear to have had any idea of; 
of the other unities he was perfectly well appriz'd ; 
and has follow'd them, in one of his plays, with 
as great strictness and greater happiness than can 


perhaps be met with in any other writer : the play 
meant is The Comedy of Errors ; in which the 
action is one, the place one, and the time such as 
even Aristotle himself would allow of-~*-the revolu- 
tion of half a day : but even in this play, the change 
of scene arises from change of persons, and by that 
it is regulated ; as are also all the other plays that 
are not divided in the folio : for whoever will take 
the trouble to examine those that are divided, (and 
they are pointed out for him in the list,) will see 
them conform exactly to the rule above-mention'd; 
and can then have but little doubt, that it should 
be apply'd to all the rest. 8 To have distinguish^ 
these divisions, made (indeed) without the autho- 
rity, but following the example of the folio, had 
been useless and troublesome ; and the editor fully 
persuades himself, that what he has said will be 
sufficient, and that he shall be excus'd by the 
ingenious and candid for overpassing them without 
further notice : whose pardon he hopes also to 
have for some other unnotic'd matters that are 
related to this in hand, such as marking the place 
of action, both general and particular ; supplying 
scenical directions ; and due regulating of exits, 
and entrances : for the first, there is no title in the 
old editions ; and in both the latter, they are so 
deficient and faulty throughout, that it would not 
be much amiss if we look'd upon them as wanting 
too ; and then all these several articles might be 

The divisions that are in the folio are religiously adher'd to, 
except in two or three instances which will be spoken of in their 
place ; so that, as is said before, a perusal of those old-divided 
plays will put every one in a capacity of judging whether the 
present editor has proceeded rightly or no : the current editions 
are divided in such a manner, that nothing like a rule can be 
collected from any of them. 


consider'd as additions, that needed no other point- 
ing out than a declaration that they are so : the 
light they throw upon the plays in general, and 
particularly upon some parts of them, such as, 
the battle scenes throughout; Caesar's passage to 
the senate-house, and subsequent assassination ; 
Antony's death ; the surprizal and death of Cleo- 
patra ; that of Titus Andronicus; and a multitude 
of others, which are all directed new in this edi- 
tion, will justify these insertions ; and may, pos- 
sibly, merit the reader's thanks, for the great aids 
which they afford to his conception. 

It remains now to speak of errors of the old 
copies which are here amended without notice, to 
wit the pointing, and wrong division of much of 
them respecting the numbers. And as to the first, 
it is so extremely erroneous, throughout all the 
plays, and in every old copy, that small regard is 
due to it ; and it becomes an editor's duty, (instead 
of being influenc'd by such a punctuation, or even 
casting his eyes upon it, to attend closely to the 
meaning of what is before him, and to new-point 
it accordingly: was it the business of this edition 
to make parade of discoveries, this article alone 
would have afforded ample field for it ; for a very 
great number of passages are now first set to rights 
by this only, which, before, had either no sense at 
all, or one unsuiting the context, and unworthy the 
noble penner of it ; but all the emendations of this 
sort, though inferior in merit to no others whatso- 
ever, are consign'd to silence ; some few only ex- 
cepted, of passages that have been much contested, 
and whose present adjustment might possibly be 
call'd in question again ; these will be spoken of in 
some note, and a reason given for embracing them : 
all the other parts of the works have been examin'd 


with equal diligence, and equal attention; and the 
editor flatters himself, that the punctuation he has 
follow'd, (into which he has admitted some novel- 
ties, 9 ) will be found of so much benefit to his 
author, that those who run may read, and that with 
profit and understanding. The other great mistake 
in these old editions, and which is very insufficiently 
rectify'd in any of the new ones, relates to the 
poet's numbers ; his verse being often wrong di- 
vided, or printed wholly as prose, and his prose 
as often printed like verse : this, though not so 
universal as their wrong pointing, is yet so exten- 
sive an error in the old copies, and so impossible 
to be pointed out otherwise than by a note, that 
an editor's silent amendment of it is surely par- 
donable at least ; for who would not be disgusted 
with that perpetual sameness which must neces- 
sarily have been in all the notes of this sort? Nei- 
ther are they, in truth, emendations that require 
proving ; every good ear does immediately adopt 
them, and every lover of the poet will be pleas'd 
with that accession of beauty which results to him 
from them : it is perhaps to be lamented, that there 
is yet standing in his works much unpleasing mix- 
ture of prosaick and metrical dialogue, and some- 
times in places seemingly improper, as in Othello, 
Vol. XIX. p. 273; and some others which men of 
judgment will be able to pick out for themselves : 
but these blemishes are not now to be wip'd away, 
at least not by an editor, whose province it far ex- 

9 If the use of these new pointings, and also of certain marks 
that he will meet with in this edition, do not occur immediately 
to the reader, (as we think it will) he may find it explain'd to 
him at large in the preface to a little octavo volume intitl'd 
*' Prolusions, or, Select Pieces of Ancient Poetry;" publish'd in 
1760 by this editor, and printed for Mr. Tonson. 


ceeds to make a change of this nature ; but must 
remain as marks of the poet's negligence, and of 
the haste with which his pieces were compos'd : 
what he manifestly intended prose, (and we can 
judge of his intentions only from what appears in 
the editions that are come down to us,) should be 
printed as prose, what verse as verse ; which, it is 
hop'd, is now done, with an accuracy that leaves 
no great room for any further considerable im- 
provements in that way. 

Thus have we run through, in as brief a man- 
ner as possible, all the several heads, of which it 
was thought proper and even necessary that the 
publick should be appriz'd ; as well those that 
concern preceding editions, both old and new ; as 
the other which we have just quitted, the method 
observ'd in the edition that is now before them : 
which though not so entertaining, it is confess'd, 
nor affording so much room to display the parts and 
talents of a writer, as some other topicks that have 
generally supply'd the place of them ; such as 
criticisms or panegy ricks upon the author, histo- 
rical anecdotes, essays, and Jiorilegia ; yet there 
will be found some odd people, who may be apt to 
pronounce of them that they are suitable to the 
place they stand in, and convey all the instruction 
that should be look'd for in a preface. Here, there- 
fore, we might take our leave of the reader, bid- 
ding him welcome to the banquet that is set before 
him; were it not apprehended, and reasonably, that 
he will expect some account why it is not serv'd 
up to him at present with it's accustom'd and laud- 
able garniture, of" Notes, Glossaries," &c. Now 
though it might be reply'd, as a reason for what is 
done, that a very great part of the world, amongst 
whom is the editor himself, profess much dislike 

vol . I. A A 


to this paginary intermixture of text and com- 
ment; in works meerly of entertainment, and 
written in the language of the country ; as also 
that he, the editor, does not possess the secret of 
dealing out notes by measure, and distributing 
them amongst his volumes so nicely that the equa- 
lity of their bulk shall not be broke in upon the 
thickness of a sheet of paper ; yet, having other 
matter at hand which he thinks may excuse him 
better, he will not have recourse to these above- 
mention'd : which matter is no other, than his 
very strong desire of approving himself to the 
publick a man of integrity; and of making his 
future present more perfect, and as worthy of their 
acceptance as his abilities will let him. For the 
explaining of what is said, which is a little wrap'd 
up in mystery at present, we must inform that 
publick that another work is prepar'd, and in 
great forwardness, having been wrought upon many 
years ; nearly indeed as long as the work which is 
now before them, for they have gone hand in 
hand almost from the first : this work, to which 
we have given for title The School of Shakspeare, 
consists wholly of extracts, (with observations upon 
some of them, interspers'd occasionally,) from 
books that may properly be call'd his school ; as 
they are indeed the sources from which he drew 
the greater part of his knowledge in mythology 
and classical matters, 1 his fable, his history, and even 

1 Though our expressions, as we think, are sufficientlyguarded 
in this place, yet, being fearful of misconstruction, we desire to 
be heard further as to this affair of his learning. Jt is our firm 
belief then, that Shakspeare was very well grounded, at least 
in Latin, at school : It appears from the clearest evidence pos- 
sible, that his father was a man of no little substance, and very 
well able to give him such education ; which, perhaps, he 


the seeming peculiarities of his language : to fur- 
nish out these materials, all the plays have been 

might be inclin'd to carry further, by sending him to a univer- 
sity ; but was prevented in this design ( if he had it ) by his son's 
early marriage, which, from monuments, and other like evidence, 
it appears with no less certainty, must have happen'd before he 
was seventeen, or very soon after : the displeasure of his father, 
which was the consequence of this marriage, or else some ex- 
cesses which he is said to have been guilty of, it is probable, 
drove him up to town ; where he engag'd early in some of the 
theatres, and was honour'd with the patronage of the Earl of 
Soutbampton : his Venus and Adonis is address'd to the Earl in 
a very pretty and modest dedication, in which he calls it " the 
first heire of his invention;" and ushers it to the world with this 
singular motto, 

" Vilia miretur vulgus, mihi flavus Apollo 
" Pocula Castalia plena ministret aqua;'' 
and the whole poem, as well as his Liccrece, which follow'd it 
soon after, together with his choice of those subjects, are plain 
marks of his acquaintance with some of the Latin classicks, at 
least at that time: The dissipation of jouth, and, when that was 
over, the busy scene in which he instantly plung'd himself, may 
very well be suppns'd to have hinder'd his making any great 
progress in them ; but that such a mind as his should quite lose 
the tincture of any knowledge it had once been imbu'd with, can 
not be imagiu'd : accordingly we see, that this school-learning 
(for it was no more) stuck with him to the last ; and it was the 
recordations, as we may call it, of that learning which produe'd 
the Latin that is in many of his plays, and most plentifully in 
those that are most early : every several piece of it is aptly in- 
troduced, given to a proper character, and utter'd upon some 
proper occasion ; and so well cemented, as it were, andjoin'd 
to the passage it stands in, as to deal conviction to the judi- 
cious that the whole was wrought up together, aud fetch'd 
from his own little store, upon the sudden and without study. 

The other languages, which he has sometimes made use of, 
that is the Italian and French, are not of such difficult con- 
quest that we should think them beyond his reach: an acquaint- 
ance with the first of them was a sort of fashion in his time; 
Surrey and the sonnet-writers set it on foot, and it was continu'd 
by Sidney and Spen^-er: all our poetry issu'd from that school; 
and it would be wonderful, indeed, if he, whom we saw a little 
before putting himself with so much zeal under the banner of 

A A '2 


perus'd, within a very small number, that were in 
print in his time or some short time after ; the 

the muses, should not have been tempted to taste at least of that 
fountain to which of all his other brethren there was such con- 
tinual resort : let us conclude then, that he did taste of it ; but, 
happily for himself, and more happy for the world that en- 
joys him now, he did not find it to his relish, and threw away 
the cup: metaphor apart, it is evident that he had some little 
knowledge of the Italian : perhaps, just as much as enabl'd him 
to read a novel or a poem ; and to put some few fragments of it, 
%vith which his memory furnish'd him, into the mouth of a pedant, 
or fine gentleman. 

How or when he acquir'd it we must be content to be ignorant, 
but of the French language he was somewhat a greater master 
than of the two that have gone before ; yet, unless we except 
their novelists, he does not appear to have had much acquaint- 
ance with any of their writers ; what he has given us of it is 
meerly colloquial, flows with great ease from him, and is reason- 
ably pure: Should it be said he had travel'd for't, we know not 
who can confute us: in his days indeed, and with people of his 
station, the custom of doing so was rather rarer than in ours ; 
yet we have met with an example, and in his own band of play- 
ers, in the person of the very famous Mr. Kempe ; of whose 
travels there is mention in .*; silly old play, call'd The Return 
from Parnassus, printed in 1606, but written much earlier in 
the time of Queen Elizabeth : add to this the exceeding great 
liveliness and justness that is seen in many descriptions of the sea 
and of promontories, which, ifexamin'd, shew another sort of 
knowledge of them than is to be gotten in books or relations; 
and if these be lay'd together, this conjecture of his travelling 
may not be thought void of probability. 

One opinion, we are sure, which is advanc'd somewhere or 
other, is utterly so ; that this Latin, and this Italian, and the 
language* that was last mention'd, are insertions and the work of 
some other hand : there has been started now and then in philo- 
logical matters a proposition so strange as to carry its own con- 
demnation in it, and this is of the number; it has been honour'd 
already with more notice than it is any ways intitl'd to, where 
the poet's Latin is spoke of a little while before ; to which an- 
swer it must be left, and we shall pass on to profess our entire 
belief of the genuineness of every several part of this work, and 
that he only was the author of it : he might write beneath him- 
self at particular times, and certainly does in some places ; but 


chroniclers his contemporaries, or that a little pre- 
ceded him ; many original poets of that age, and 
many translators; with essayists, novellists, and 
story-mongers in great abundance : every book, in 
short, has been consulted that it was possible to 
procure, with which it could be thought he was 
acquainted, or that seem'd likely to contribute any 
thing towards his illustration. To what degree 
they illustrate him, and in how new a light they 
set the character of this great poet himself can 
never be conceiv'd as it should be, 'till these ex- 
tracts come forth to the publick view, in their just 
magnitude, and properly dige'sted : for besides the 
various passages that he has either made use of or 
alluded to, many other matters have been selected 
and will be found in this work, tending all to the 
same end, our better knowledge of him and his 
writings; and one class of them there is, for which 
we shall perhaps be censur'd as being too profuse 
in them, namely the almost innumerable exam- 
ples, drawn from these ancient writers, of words 
and modes ot^ expression which many have thought 

he is not always without excuse ; and it frequently happens that 
a weak scene serves to very good purpose, as will be made ap- 
pear at one time or other. It may be thought that there is one 
argument still unanswer'd, which has been brought against his 
acquaintance with the Latin and other languages ; and that is, 
that, had he been so acquainted, it could not have happen'dbut 
that some imitations would have crept into his writings, of which 
certainly there are none : but this argument has been answer'd 
in efTect ; when it was said that his knowledge in these lan- 
guages was but slender, and his conversation with the writers in 
them slender too of course : but had it been otherwise, and he 
as deeply read in them as some people have thought him, his 
works (it is probable) had been as little deform'd with imitations 
as we now see them : Shakspeare was far above such a practice ; 
he had the stores in himself, and wanted not the assistance of a 
foreign hand to dress him upU things of their lending. 


peculiar to Shakspeare, and have been too apt to 
impute to him as a blemish : but the quotations of 
this class do effectually purge him from such a 
charge, which is one reason of their profusion ; 
though another main inducement to it has been, a 
desire of shewing the true force and meaning of 
the aforesaid unusual words and expressions; which 
can no way be better ascertain'd, than by a proper 
variety of well-chosen examples. Now, to bring 
this matter home to the subject for which it has 
been alledg'd, and upon whose account this affair 
is now lay'd before the publick somewhat before 
it's time, who is so short-sighted as not to per- 
ceive, upon first reflection, that, without manifest 
injustice, the notes upon this author could not 
precede the publication of the work we have been 
describing ; whose choicest materials would un- 
avoidably and certainly have found a place in those 
notes, and so been twice retail'd upon the world ; 
a practice which the editor has often condemn'd in 
others, and could therefore not resolve to be guilty 
of in himself? By postponing these notes a while, 
things will be as they ought : they will then be 
confm'd to that which is their proper subject, ex- 
planation alone, intermix'd with some little criti- 
cism; and instead of long quotations, which would 
otherwise have appear'd in them, the School of 
Shakspeare will be referr'd to occasionally; and one 
of the many indexes with which this same School 
will be provided, will afford an ampler and truer 
Glossary than can be made out of any other matter. 
In the mean while, and 'till such time as the whole 
can be got ready, and their way clear'd for them 
by publication of the book above mention'd, the 
reader will please to take in good part some 
few of these notes with which he will be pre- 


sented by and by : they were written at least four 
years ago, with intention of placing them at the 
head of the several notes that are design'd for each 
play; but are now detach'd from their fellows, and 
made parcel oP the Introduction, in compliance 
with some friends' opinion ; who having given 
them a perusal, will needs have it, that 'tis expe- 
dient the world should be made acquainted forth- 
with in what sort of reading the poor poet him- 
self, and his editor after him, have been unfortu- 
nately immers'd. 

This discourse is run out, we know not how, 
into greater heap of leaves* than was any ways 
thought of, and has perhaps fatigu'd the reader 
equally with the penner of it : yet can we not dis- 
miss him, nor lay down our pen, 'till one article 
more has been enquir'd into, which seems no less 
proper for the discussion of this place, than one 
which we have inserted before, beginning at p. 333; 
as we there ventur'd to stand up in the behalf of 
some of the quarto's and maintain their authenti- 
city, so mean we to have the hardiness here to 
defend some certain plays in this collection from 
the attacks of a number of writers who have thought 
fit to call in question their genuineness : the plays 
contested are The Three Parts of Henry VI.; 
Love's Labour's Lost; The Taming of the Shrew; 
and Titus Andronicus; and the sum of what is 
brought against them, so far at least as is hitherto 
come to knowledge, may be all ultimately resolv'd 
into the sole opinion of their unworthiness, exclu- 
sive of some weak surmises which do not deserve a 
notice: it is therefore fair and allowable, by all laws 
of duelling, to oppose opinion to opinion ; which 
if we can strengthen with reasons, and something 


like proofs, which are totally wanting on the other 
side, the last opinion may chance to carry the 

To begin then with the first of them, the 
Heniy VI. in three parts. We are quite in the 
dark as to when the first part was written ; but 
sould be apt to conjecture, that it was some consi- 
derable time after the other two ; and, perhaps, 
when those two were re-touch'd, and made a little 
fitter than they are in their first draught to rank 
with the author's other plays which he has fetch'd 
from our English history: and those two parts, even 
with all their re-touchings, being still much inferior 
to the other plays of that class, he may reasonably 
be suppos'd to have underwrit himself on purpose 
in the first, that it might the better match with 
those it belong'd to : now that these two plays 
(the first draughts of them, at least,) are among 
his early performances, we know certainly from 
their date; which is further confirm'd by the two 
concluding lines of his Henry V. spoken by the 
Chorus ; and (possibly) it were not going too far, 
to imagine that they are his second attempt in 
history, and near in time to his original King John, 
which is also in two parts : and, if this be so, we 
may safely pronounce them his, and even highly 
worthy of him ; it being certain, that there was no 
English play upon the stage, at that time, which 
can come at all in competition with them ; and 
this probably it was, which procur'd them the 
good reception that is mention'd too in the Chorus. 
The plays we are now speaking of have been in- 
conceiveably mangl'd either in the copy or the 
press, or perhaps both : yet this may be discover'd 
in them, that the alterations made afterwards by 


the author are nothing near so considerable as 
those in some other plays ; the incidents, the cha- 
racters, every principal outline in short being the 
same in both draughts; so that what we shall have 
occasion to say of the second, may, in some degree, 
and without much violence, be apply'd also to the 
first : and this we presume to say of it ; that, low 
as it must be set in comparison with his other 
plays, it has beauties in it, and grandeurs, of which 
no other author was capable but Shakspeare only: 
that extreamly- affecting scene of the death of 
young Rutland, that of his father which comes 
next it, and of Clifford the murtherer of them 
both ; Beaufort's dreadful exit, the exit of King 
Henry, and a scene of wondrous simplicity and 
wondrous tenderness united, in which that Henry 
is made a speaker, while his last decisive battle is 
fighting, are as so many stamps upon these plays; 
by which his property is mark'd, and himself de- 
clar'd the owner of them, beyond controversy as 
we think : and though we have selected these pas- 
sages only, and recommended them to observation, 
it had been easy to name abundance of others 
which bear his mark as strongly : and one circum- 
stance there is that runs through all the three plays, 
by which he is as surely to be known as by any 
other that can be thought of; and that is, the 
preservation of character: all the personages in 
them are distinctly and truly delineated, and the 
character given them sustain'd uniformly through- 
out; the enormous Richard's particularly, which in 
the third of these plays is seen rising towards it's 
zenith : and who sees not the future monster, and 
acknowledges at the same time the pen that drew 
it, in these two lines only, spoken over a king who 
lies stab'd before him, 


" What, will the aspiring blood of Lancaster 
*' Sink in the ground? I thought, it would have 

let him never pretend discernment hereafter in any 
case of this nature. 

It is hard to persuade one's self, that the ob- 
jecters to the play which comes next are indeed 
serious in their opinion ; for if he is not visible in 
Love's Labour's Lost, we know not in which of his 
comedies he can be said to be so : the ease and 
sprightliness of the dialogue in very many parts of 
it ; it's quick turns of wit, and the humour it 
abounds in ; and (chiefly) in those truly comick cha- 
racters, the pedant and his companion, the page, 
the constable, Costard, and Armado, seem more 
than sufficient to prove Shakspeare the author of 
it : and for the blemishes of this play, we must 
seek the true cause in it's antiquity; which we may 
venture to carry higher than 1.598, the date of it's 
first impression : rime, when this play appear'd, 
was thought a beauty of the drama, and heard 
with singular pleasure by an audience who but a 
few years before had been accustom'd to all rime; 
and the measure we call dogrel, and are so much 
offended with, had no such effect upon the ears of 
that time : but whether blemishes or no, however 
this matter be which we have brought to exculpate 
him, neither of these articles can with any face of 
justice be alledg'd against Love's Labour's Lost, 
seeing they are both to be met with in several other 
plays, the genuineness of which has not been ques- 
tion'd by any one. And one thing more shall be 
observ'd in the behalf of this play ; that the au- 
thor himself was so little displeas'd at least with 
some parts of it, that he has brought them a second 


time upon the stage ; for who may not perceive 
that his famous Benedick and Beatrice are but 
little more than the counter-parts of Biron and 
Rosaline? All which circumstances consider'd, 
and that especially of the writer's childhood (as it 
may be term'd) when this comedy was produc'd, 
we may confidently pronounce it his true offspring, 
and replace it amongst it's brethren. 

That the Taming of the Shrew should ever have 
been put into this class of plays, and adjudg'd a 
spurious one, may justly be reckon 'd wonderful, 
when we consider it's merit, and the reception it 
has generally met with in the world : it's success 
at first, and the esteem it was then held in, induc'd 
Fletcher to enter the lists with it in another play, 
in which Petruchio is humbl'd and Catharine 
triumphant ; and we have it in his works, under 
the title of " The Woman's Prize, or, the Tamer 
tamd:" but, by an unhappy mistake of buffoonery 
for humour and obscenity for wit, which was not 
uncommon with that author, his production came 
lamely off, and was soon consign'd to the oblivion 
in which it is now bury'd ; whereas this of his 
antagonist flourishes still, and has maintain'd its 
place upon the stage (in some shape or other) from 
its very first appearance down to the present hour : 
and this success it has merited, by true wit and 
true humour; a fable of very artful construction, 
much business, and highly interesting; and by 
natural and well-sustain'd characters, which no 
pen but Shakspeare's was capable of drawing : 
what defects it has, are chiefly in the diction; the 
same (indeed) with those of the play that was last- 
mention'd, and to be accounted for tin same \\a\ : 
for we are strongly inclin'd to believe it a neigh- 
bour in time to Love's Labour's Lost, though wc 


want the proofs of it which we have luckily for 

But the plays which we have already spoke of 
are but slightly attack'd, and by few writers, in 
comparison of this which we are now come to of 
" Titus Andronicus " commentators, editors, every 
one (in short) who has had to do with Shakspeare, 
unite all in condemning it, as a very bundle of 
horrors, totally unfit for the stage, and unlike the 
poet's manner, and even the style of his other 
pieces ; all which allegations are extreamly true, 
and we readily admit of them, but can not admit 
the conclusion that, therefore, it is not his ; and 
shall now proceed to give the reasons of our dissent, 
but (first) the play's age must be enquir'd into. 
In the Induction to Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, 
which was written in the year 1614, the audience 
is thus accosted : " Hee that will sweare, Jero- 
nimo, or Andronicus are the best playes, yet, shall 
passe unexcepted at, heere, as a man whose judge- 
ment shewes it is constant, and hath stood still, 
these five and twentie, or thirty yeeres. Though 
it be an ignorance, it is a vertuous and stay'd igno- 
rance ; and next to truth, a confirm'd errour does 
well ; such a one the author knowes where to finde 
him." We have here the great Ben himself, join- 
ing this play with Jeronimo, or, the Spanish Tra- 
gedy, and bearing express testimony to the credit 

* The authenticity of this play stands further confirm'd by the 
testimony of Sir Aston Cockayn ; a writer who came near to 
Shakspeare's time, and does expressly ascribe it to him in an epi- 
gram address'd to Mr. Clement Fisher of Wincot ; but it is (per- 
haps,) superfluous, and of but little weight neither, as it will be 
said that Sir Aston proceeds only upon the evidence of it's being 
in print in his name : we do therefore lay no great stress upon it, 
nor shall insert the epigram ; it will be found in The School of 
Shakspeare, which is the proper place for things of that sort. 


they were both in with the publick at the time 
they were written ; but this is by the by ; to ascer- 
tain that time, was the chief reason for inserting 
the quotation, anjd there we see it nVd to twenty- 
five or thirty years prior to this Induction : now it 
is not necessary, to suppose that Jonson speaks 
in this place with exact precision ; but allowing 
that he does, the first of these periods carries us 
back to 1589, a date not very repugnant to what 
is afterwards advanc'd : Langbaine, in his Account 
of the English dramatick Poets, under the arti- 
cle Shakspeare, does expressly tell us, that 
" Andronicus was first printed in 1594, quarto, and 
acted by the Earls of Derby, Pembroke, and Essex, 
their servants ;" and though the edition is not 
now to be met with, and he who mentions it be 
no exact writer, nor greatly to be rely'd on in 
many of his articles, yet in this which we have 
quoted he is so very particular that one can hardly 
withhold assent to it ; especially, as this account 
of it's printing coincides well enough with Jonson's 
sera of writing this play ; to which therefore we 
subscribe, and go on upon that ground. The 
books of that time afford strange examples of the 
barbarism of the publick taste both upon the stage 
and elsewhere : a conceited one or John Lilly's 
set the whole nation a madding ; and, for a while, 
every pretender to politeness " paiTd Euphuism," 
as it was phras'd, and no writings would go down 
with them but such as were pen'd in that fantastical 
manner : the setter-up of this fashion try'd it also 
in comedy; but seems to have miscarry d in that, 
and for this plain reason : the people who govern 
theatres are, the middle and lower orders of the 
world; and these expected laughter in comedies, 
which this stuff of Lilly's was incapable of exci- 


ting : but some other writers, who rose exactly at 
that time, succeeded better in certain tragical per- 
formances, though as outrageous to the full in their 
way, and as remote from nature, as these comick 
ones of Lilly; for falling in with that innate love 
of blood which has been often objected to British 
audiences, and choosing fables of horror which 
they made horrider still by their manner of handling 
them, theyproduc'd a set of monsters that are not to 
be parallel'd in all the annals of play-writing ; yet 
they were receiv'd with applause, and were the 
favourites of the publick for almost ten years to- 
gether ending at 1595: many plays of this stamp, 
it is probable, have perish' d ; but those that are 
come down to us, are as follows ; " The Wars of 
Cyrus ; Tamburlaine the Great, in two parts ; The 
Spanish Tragedy ', likewise in two parts; Soliman and 
Perseda; and Selimus , a tragedy /" 3 which whoever 

3 No evidence has occur'd to prove exactly the time these 
plays were written, except that passage of Jonson's which relates 
to Jeronimo ; but the editions we have read them in, are as fol- 
lows: Tamburlaine in 1593; Selimus, and The Wars of Cyrus, in 
1594; and Soliman and Perseda, in 1599; the other without a 
date, but as early as the earliest : they are also without a name 
of author ; nor has any book been met with to instruct us in that 
particular, except only for Jeronimo; which we are told by 
Hey wood, ii. his Apology for Actors, was written by Thomas 
Kyd; author, or translator rather, (for it is taken from the French 
of Robert Gamier, ) of another play, intitl'd Cornelia, printed 
likewise in 1594. Which of these extravagant plays had the 
honour to lead the way, we can't tell, but Jeronimo seems to 
have the best pretensions to it ; as Selimus has above all his other 
brethren, to bearing away the palm for blood and murther : this 
curious piece has these lines for a conclusion : 

" If this first part Gentles, do like you well, 

" The second part, shall greater murthers tell." 

but whether the audience had enough of it, or how it has hap- 

pen'd we can't tell, but no such second part is to be found. All 

these plays were the constant butt of the poets who came imme- 


has means of coming at, and can have patience to 
examine, will see evident tokens of a fashion then 
prevailing, which occasion'd all these plays to be 
cast in the same mold. Now, Shakspeare, what- 
ever motives he might have in some other parts of 
it, at this period of his life wrote certainly for 
profit; and seeing it was to be had in this way, 
(and this way only, perhaps,) he fell in with the 
current, and gave his sorry auditors a piece to their 
tooth in this contested play of Titus Andronicus; 
which as it came out at the same time with the 
plays above-mention'd, is most exactly like them 
in almost every particular; their very numbers, 
consisting all of ten syllables with hardly any re- 
dundant, are copy'd by this Proteus, who could 
put on any shape that either serv'd his interest or 
suited his inclination : and this, we hope, is a tair 
andunforc'd way of accounting for "Andronicus;" 
and may convince the most prejudic'd that Shak- 
speare might be the writer of it ; as he might also 
of Locrinc which is ascrib'd to him, a ninth tra- 
gedy, in form and time agreeing perfectly with the 
others. But to conclude this article, However 
he may be censur'd as rash or ill-judging, the edi- 
tor ventures to declare that he himself wanted not 
the conviction of the foregoing argument to be 
satisfy 'd who the play belongs to; for though a 
work of imitation, and conforming itself to mo- 
dels truly execrable throughout, vet the genius of 
its author breaks forth in some plans, and, to the 
editor's eye, Shakspeare stands confessed: the third 
act in particular may be read with admiration even 

diately after them, and of Shakspeare amongst the rest ; and In 
their ridicule the town at last was made sensible of their ill judg- 
ment, and the theatre was purg'd of these monsters. 


by the most delicate ; who, if they are not without 
feelings, may chance to find themselves touch'd by 
it with such passions as tragedy should excite, that 
is terror, and pity. The reader will please to ob- 
serve that all these contested plays are in the folio, 
which is dedicated to the poet's patrons and friends, 
the earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, by editors 
who are seemingly honest men, and profess them- 
selves dependant upon those noblemen ; to whom 
therefore they wouldhardly have had the confidence 
to present forgeries, and pieces supposititious ; in 
which too they were liable to be detected by those 
identical noble persons themselves, as well as by a 
very great part of their other readers and auditors : 
which argument, though of no little strength in it- 
self, we omitted to bring before, as having better 
(as we thought) and more forcible to offer ; but it 
had behov a those gentlemen who have question'd 
the plays to have got rid of it in the first instance, 
as it lies full in their way in the very entrance upon 
this dispute. 

We shall close this part of the Introduction with 
some observations, that were reserv'd for this place, 
upon that paragraph of the player editors' preface 
which is quoted at p. 330 ; and then taking this 
further liberty with the reader, to call back his 
attention to some particulars that concern the pre- 
sent edition, dismiss him to be entertain'd (as we 
hope) by a sort of appendix, consisting of those 
notes that have been mention 'd, in which the true 
and undoubted originals of almost all the poet's 
fables are clearly pointed out. But first of the 
preface. Besides the authenticity of all the several 
pieces that make up this collection, and their care 
in publishing them, both solemnly affirm 'd in the 
paragraph refer* d to, we there find these honest 


editors acknowledging in terms equally solemn the 
author's right in his copies, and lamenting that he 
had not exercis'd that aright by a publication of 
them during his life-time ; and from the manner 
in which they express themselves, we are strongly 
inclin'd to think that he had really form'd such a 
design, but towards his last days, and too late to 
put it in execution : a collection of Jonson's was at 
that instant in the press, and upon the point of 
coming forth ; which might probably inspire such 
a thought into him and his companions, and pro- 
duce conferences between them about a similar 
publication from him, and the pieces that should 
compose it, which the poet might make a list of. 
It is true, this is only a supposition ; but a suppo- 
sition arising naturally, as we think, from the in- 
cident that has been mention'd, and the expressions 
of his fellow players and editors : and, if suffer'd 
to pass for truth, here is a good and sound reason 
for the exclusion of all those other plays that have 
been attributed to him upon some grounds or 
other ; he himself has proscrib'd them ; and we 
cannot forbear hoping, that they will in no fu- 
ture time rise up against him, and be thrust into his 
works ; a disavowal of weak and idle pieces, the 
productions of green years, wantonness, or inat- 
tention, is a right that all authors are vested with ; 
and should be exerted by all, if their reputation is 
dear to them ; had Jonson us'd it, his character 
had stood higher than it does. But, after all, they 
who have pay'd attention to this truth are not al- 
ways secure ; the indiscreet zeal of an admirer, or 
avarice of a publisher, has frequently added tiling 
that dishonour them; and where realities have been 
wanting, forgeries supply the place; thus has 
Homer his Hymns, and the poor Mantuan his Chris 
vol. i. is n 


and his Culex. Noble and great authors demand 
all our veneration : where their wills can be dis- 
cover'd, they ought sacredly to be comply'd with ; 
and that editor ill discharges his duty, who pre- 
sumes to load them with things they have renounc'd: 
it happens but too often, that we have other ways 
to shew our regard to them ; their own great want 
of care in their copies, and the still greater want of 
it that is commonly in their impressions, will find 
sufficient exercise for any one's friendship, who 
may wish to see their works set forth in that per- 
fection which was intended by the author. And 
this friendship we have endeavour' d to shew to 
Shakspeare in the present edition : the plan of it 
has been lay'd before the reader; upon whom it 
rests to judge finally of its goodness, as well as how 
it is executed : but as several matters have inter- 
ven'd that may have driven it from his memory j 
and we are desirous above all things to leave a 
strong impression upon him of one merit which it 
may certainly pretend to, that is it's fidelity ; 
we shall take leave to remind him, at parting, 
that Throughout all this work, what is added 
without the authority of some ancient edition, is 
printed in a black letter : what alter' d, and what 
thrown out, constantly taken notice of; some few 
times in a note, where the matter was long, or of 
a complex nature; 4 but, more generally, at the 

* The particulars that could not well be pointed out below, 
according to the general method, or otherwise than by a note, 
are of three sorts ; omissions, any thing large ; transpositions ; 
and such differences of punctuation as produce great changes in 
the sense of a passage : instances of the first occur in Love's La- 
bour's Lost, p. 54, and in Troilus and Cressida, p. 109 and 117 ; 
of the second, in The Comedy of Errors, p. 62, and in Rich- 
ard III. p. 92, and 102 ; and The Tempest, p. 69, and King 


bottom of the page ; where what is put out of the 
text, how minute and insignificant soever, is always 
to be met with; what alter'd, as constantly set 
down, and in the proper words of that edition upon 
which the alteration is form'd : and, even in au- 
thoriz'd readings, whoever is desirous of knowing 
further, what edition is follow'd preferably to the 
others, may be gratify'd too in that, by consulting 
the Various Readings; which are now finish 'd; 
and will be publish'd, together with the Notes, 
in some other volumes, with all the speed that is 

Origin of Shakspeare's Fables. 

All's well that ends well. 

The fable of this play is taken from a novel, of 
which Boccace is the original author ; in whose 
Decameron it may be seen at p. 97. b of the Giunti 
edition, reprinted at London. But it is more than 
probable, that Shakspeare read it in a book, call'd 
The Palace of Pleasure: which is a collection of 
novels translated from other authors, made by one 
William Painter, and by him first publish'd in the 
years 1565 and 67, in two tomes, quarto; the novel 
now spoken of, is the thirty-eighth of tome the first. 
This novel is a meagre translation, not (perhaps) 

Lear, p. 53, afford instances of the last ; as may be seen by 
looking into any modem edition, where all those passages stand 
nearly as in the old ones. 

[All these references are to Mr. Capell's own edition of our 



immediately from Boccace, but from a French 
translator of him: as the original is in every body's 
hands, it may there be seen that nothing is taken 
from it by Shakspeare, but some leading incidents 
of the serious part of his play. 

Antony and Cleopatra, 

This play, together with Coriolanus, Julius Cw- 
sar, and some part of Timon of Athens, are form'd 
upon Plutarch's Lives, in the articles Coriolanus, 
Brutus, Julius Ccesar, and Antony: of which lives 
there is a French translation, of great fame, made 
by Amiot, Bishop of Auxerre and great almoner of 
France ; which, some few years after it's first ap- 
pearance, was put into an English dress by our 
countryman Sir Thomas North, and publisn'd in 
the year 1579, in folio. As the language of this 
translation is pretty good, for the time ; and the 
sentiments, which are Plutarch's, breathe the ge- 
nuine spirit of the several historical personages ; 
Shakspeare has, with much judgment, introduc'd 
no small number of speeches into these plays, in 
the very words of that translator, turning them 
into verse : which he has so well wrought up, and 
incorporated with his plays, that, what he has in- 
troduc'd, cannot be discover'd by any reader, 'till 
it is pointed out for him. 

As you like it, 

A novel, or (rather) pastoral romance, intitl'd 
Euphues's Golden Legacy, written in a very fantas- 
tical style by Dr. Thomas Lodge, and by nim first 
publish'd in the year 1590, in quarto, is the foun- 


dation of As you like it : besides the fable, which is 
pretty exactly followed, the outlines of certain prin- 
cipal characters may be observ'd in the novel : and 
some expressions of the novelist (few, indeed, and 
of no great moment,) seem to have taken posses- 
sion of Shakspeare's memory, and from thence 
crept into his play. 

Comedy of Errors. 

Of this play, the Mencechmi of Plautus is most 
certainly the original : yet the poet went not to 
the Latin for it; but took up with an English 
MencecJimij put out by one W. W. in 1595, quarto. 
This translation, in which the writer professes to 
have us'd some liberties, which he has distinguish'd 
by a particular mark, is in prose, and a very good 
one for the time : it furnish'd Shakspeare with 
nothing but his principal incident ; as you may in 
part see by the translator's argument, which is in 
verse, and runs thus : 

" Two twinborne sonnes, a Sicill marchant had, 

" Menechmus one, and Sosicles the other ; 

" The first his father lost a little lad, 

" The grandsire namde the latter like his brother : 

u This (growne a man) long travell tooke to seeke, 

** His brother, and to Epidamnum came, 

u Where th* other dwelt inricht, and him so like, 

* That citizens there take him for the same ; 

" Father, wife, neighbours, each mistaking either, 

" Much pleasant error, ere they mcete togithcr." 

It is probable, that the last of these verses suggested 
the title of Shakspeare's play. 



Boccace's story of Bernardo da Ambrogivolo, 
(Day 2, Nov. 9,) is generally suppos'd to have fur- 
nish'd Shakspeare with the fable of Cymbeline: 
but the embracers of this opinion seem not to 
have been aware, that many of that author's 
novels (translated, or imitated,) are to be found in 
English books, prior to, or contemporary with, 
Shakspeare : and of this novel in particular, there 
is an imitation extant in a story-book of that time, 
intitl'd Westwardjbr Smelts : it is the second tale 
in the book : the scene, and the actors of it are 
different from Boccace, as Shakspeare's are from 
both; but the main of the story is the same in all. 
We may venture to pronounce it a book of those 
times, and that early enough to have been us'd 
by Shakspeare, as I am persuaded it was ; though 
the copy that I have of it, is no older than 1620; 
it is a quarto pamphlet of only five sheets and a 
half, printed in a black letter : some reasons for 
my opinion are given in another place; (v. Winter's 
Tale) though perhaps they are not necessary, as it 
may one day better be made appear a true one, by 
the discovery of some more ancient edition. 


About the middle of the sixteenth century, 
Francis de Belleforest, a French gentleman, enter- 
tain'd his countrymen with a collection of novels, 
which he intitles Histoires Tragiques; they are in 
part originals, part translations, and chiefly from 
Bandello : he began to publish them in the year 


1564; and continu'd his publication successively in 
several tomes, how many I know not ; the dedica- 
tion to his fifth tome is dated six years after. In 
that tome, the troisieme Histoire has this title j 
" Avec quelle ruse Amleth, qui depuis Jut roy de 
Dannemarch, vengea la mort de son pere Horvuen- 
dille, occis par Fengon son frere, $ autre occur- 
rence de son histoire" Painter, who has been men- 
tion* d before, compil'd his Palace of Pleasure al- 
most entirely from Belleforest, taking here and 
there a novel as pleas' d him, but he did not trans- 
late the whole : other novels, it is probable, were 
translated by different people, and publish'd singly; 
this, at least, that we are speaking of, was so, and is 
intitl'd The Historie of Hamblet ; it is in quarto, 
and black letter : there can be no doubt made, by 
persons who are acquainted with these things, that 
the translation is not . much younger than the 
French original; though the only edition of it, that 
is yet come to my knowledge, is no earlier than 
1608 : that Shakspeare took his play, there 
can likewise be very little doubt. 

1 Henry IV. 

In the eleven plays that follow, Macbeth^ King 
John, Richard II. Henry IV. two parts, Henry V. 
Henry VI. three parts, Richard III. and Jlctiry 
VIII. the historians of that time, Hall, Holin- 
shed, Stow, and others, (and, in particular, Ho- 
linshed,) are pretty closely follow'd ; and that not 
only for their matter, but even sometimes in their 
expressions : the harangue of the Archbishop of 
Canterbury in Henry V. that of Queen Catharine 
in Henry VIII. at her trial, and the king's reply 
to it, are taken from those chroniclers, and put into 


verse: other lesser matters are borrow'd from them; 
and so largely scatter'd up and down in these plays, 
that whoever would rightly judge of the poet, must 
acquaint himself with those authors, and his cha- 
racter will not suffer in the enquiry. 

Richard III. was preceded by other plays written 
upon the same subject ; concerning which, see the 
conclusion of a note in this Introduction, at p. 332. 
And as to Henry V. it may not be improper to 
observe in this place, that there is extant another 
old play, call'd The famous Victories of Henry the 
Fifth, printed in 1617, quarto; perhaps by some 
tricking bookseller, who meant to impose it upon 
the world for Shakspeare's, who dy'd the year be- 
fore. This play, which opens with that prince's 
wildness and robberies before he came to the crown, 
and so comprehends something of the story of both 
parts of Henry IV. as well as of Henry V. is a 
very medley of nonsense and ribaldry ; and, it is 
my firm belief, was prior to Shakspeare's Henries; 
and the identical " displeasing play" mention'd in 
the epilogue to 2 Henry IV. ; for that such a play 
should be written after his, or receiv'd upon any 
stage, has no face of probability. There is a cha- 
racter in it, call'd Sir John Oldcastle; who holds 
there the place of Sir John FalstafF, but his very 
antipodes in every other particular, for it is all 
dullness: and it is to this character that Shakspeare 
alludes, in those much-disputed passages ; one in 
his Henry IV. p. 194, and the other in the epi- 
logue to his second part ; where the words " for 
Oldcastle dy'd a martyr" hint at this miserable per- 
formance, and it's fate, which was damnation. 


King Lear. 

Lear's distressful story has been often told in 
poems, ballads, and chronicles: but to none of 
these are we indebted for Shakspeare's Lear; but 
to a"silly old play which first made its appearance 
in 1605, the title of which is as follows: " The I 
True Chronicle Hi- | story of King Leir, and his 
three | daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, \ and Cordelia. 
As it hath bene divers and sundry | times lately 
acted. I London, | Printed by Simon Stafford for 
John I Wright, and are to bee sold at his shop at 
I Christes Church dore, next Newgate- | Market. 
1G05. (4 I. 4 b .)- As it is a great curiosity, and 
very scarce, the title is here inserted at large: and 
for the same reason, and also to shew the use that 
Shakspeare made of it, some extracts will now be 

The author of this Leir has kept him close to 
the chronicles ; for he ends his play with the re- 
instating King Leir in his throne, by the aid of 
Cordelia and her husband. But take the entire 
fable in his own words. Towards the end of the 
play, at signature H 3, you find Leir in France : 
upon whose coast he and his friend Perillus are 
landed in so necessitous a condition, that, having 
nothing to pay their passage, the mariners take their 
cloaks, leaving them their jerkins in exchange : 
thus attir'd, they go up further into the country; 
and there, when they are at the point to perish by 
famine, insomuch that Perillus offers Leir his arm 
to feed upon, they light upon Gallia and his queen, 
whom the author has brought down thitherward, 
in progress, disguis'd. Their discourse is overheard 
by Cordelia, who immediately knows them ; but, 


at her husband's persuasion, forbears to discover 
herself a while, relieves them with food, and then 
asks their story j which Leir gives her in these 
words : 

" Leir. Then know this first, I am a Brittayne borne, 
" And had three daughters by one loving wife : 
" And though I say it, of beauty they were sped ; 
" Especially the youngest of the three, 
" For her perfections hardly inatcht could be : 
" On these I doted with a jelous love, 
" And thought to try which of them lov'd me best, 
*' By asking of them, which would do most for me? 
" The first and second flattred me with words, 
" And vowd they lov'd me better then their lives : 
" The youngest sayd, she loved me as a child 
" Might do : her answere I esteem'd most vild, 
" And presently in an outragious mood, 
" I turnd her from me to go sinke or swym ; 
" And all I had, even to the very clothes, 
" I gave in dowry with the other two : 
" And she that best deservM the greatest share, 
" I gave her nothing, but disgrace and care. 
" Now mark the sequell : When I had done thus, 
" I soiournd in my eldest daughters house, 
" Where for a time I was intreated well, 
" And liv'd in state sufficing my content : 
" But every day her kindnesse did grow cold, 
'* Which I with patience put up well ynough 
" And seemed not to see the things I saw : 
" But at the last she grew so far incenst 
" With moody fury, and with causelesse hate, 
** That in most vild and contumelious termes, 
" She bade me pack, and harbour some where else 
* c Then was I fayne for refuge to repayre 
" Unto my other daughter for reliefe, 
" Who gave me pleasing and most courteous words ; 
*' But in her actions shewed her selfe so sore, 
" As never any daughter did before : 
" She prayd me in a morning out betime, 
" To go to a thicket two miles from the court, 
" Poynting that there she would come talke with me: 
" There she had set a shagbayrd murdring wretch, 


" To massacre my honest friend and me. 

" And now I am constrain d to seeke reliefe 
" Of her to whom I have bin so unkind ; 
" Whose censure, if it do award me death, 
*' I must confesse she paves me but my due : 
" But if she shew a loving daughters part, 
* It comes of God and her, not my desert. 

" Cor. No doubt she will, I dare be sworne she will." 

Thereupon ensues her discovery ; and, with it, 
/ a circumstance of some beauty, which Shakspeare 
has borrow'd (v. Lear, p. 56.5,) their kneeling 
to each other, and mutually contending which 
should ask forgiveness. The next page presents us 
Gallia, and Mumford who commands under him, 
marching to embarque their forces, to re-instate 
Leir ; and the next, a sea-port in Britain, and of- 
ficers setting a watch, who are to fire a beacon to 
give notice if any ships approach, in which there is 
some low humour that is passable enough. Gallia 
and his forces arrive, and take the town by sur- 
prize : immediately upon which, they are encoun- 
ter'd by the forces of the two elder sisters, and 
their husbands : a battle ensues : Leir conquers ; 
he and his friends enter victorious, and the play 
closes thus : 

" Thanks (worthy Mumford) to thee last of all, 

** Not greeted last, 'cause thy desert was small ; 

" No, thou hast lion-like lay'd on to-day, 

'* Chasing the Cornwall King and Cambria; 

'* Who with my daughters, daughters did I say ? 

'* To save their lives, the fugitives did play. 

" Come, sonne and daughter, who did me advance, 

n Repose with me awhile, and then for Frounce.* ' 


Such is the Leir, now before us. Who the au- 
thor of it should be, I cannot surmise; for neither 


in manner nor style has it the least resemblance 
to any of the other tragedies of that time : most 
of them rise now and then, and are poetical; but 
this creeps in one dull tenour, from beginning to 
end, after the specimen here inserted : it should 
seem he was a Latinist, by the translation follow- 

" Feare not, my lord, the perfit good indeed, 

" Can never be corrupted by the bad : 

" A new fresh vessell still retaynes the taste 

' Of that which first is powr'd into the same:" [sign. H. 

But whoever he was, Shakspeare has done him the 
honour to follow him in a stroke or two : one has 
been observ'd upon above ; and the reader, who is 
acquainted with Shakspeare'sXer,will perceive an- 
other in the second line of the concluding speech : 
and here is a third; " Knowest thou these letters ?" 
says Leir to Ragan, (sign. I. 3 b .) shewing her hers 
and her sister's letters commanding his death; 
upon which, she snatches at the letters, and tears 
them: (v. Lear, p. 590, 591,) another, and that 
a most signal one upon one account, occurs at sig- 
nature C 3 b : 

" But he, the myrrour of mild patience, 

**. Puts up all wrongs, and never gives reply :" 

Perillus says this of Leir ; comprizing therein his 
character, as drawn by this author : how opposite 
to that which Shakspeare has given him, all know; 
and yet he has found means to put nearly the same 
words into the very mouth of his Lear, 

" No, I will be the pattern of all patience, 
" I will say nothing." 


Lastly, two of Shakspeare's personages, Kent, and 
the Steward, seem to owe their existence to the 
above-mention'd " shag-hair'd wretch," and the 
Perillus of this Leir. 

The episode of Gloster and his two sons is taken 
from the Arcadia : in which romance there is a 
chapter thus intitl'd; " The piti full state, and storie 
of the Paphlagonian unkinde King, and his kind 
Sonne, first related by the son, then by the blind fa- 
ther" {Arcadia, p. 142, edit. 1590, 4to.) of which 
episode there are no traces in either chronicle, 
poem, or play, wherein this history is handl'd. 

Love's Labour s Lost. 

The fable of this play does not seem to be a 
work entirely of invention; and I am apt to believe, 
that it owes its birth to some novel or other, which 
may one day be discover'd. The character of Ar- 
mado has some resemblance to Don Quixote ; but 
the play is older than that work of Cervantes : of 
Holofernes, another singular character, there are 
some faint traces in a masque of Sir Philip Sidney's 
that was presented before Queen Elizabeth at 
Wansted: this masque, call'd in catalogues The 
Lady of May, is at the end of that author's works, 
edit. 1627. folio. 

Measure for Measure. 

In the year 1578, was publish'd in a black-Jetter 
quarto a miserable dramatick performance, in two 
parts, intitl'd /*? nrnos and Cassandra; written by 
one George Whetstone, author likewise of the 
Heptameron, and much other poetry of the same 


stamp, printed about that time. These plays their 
author, perhaps, might form upon a novel of 
Cinthio's ; (v. Dec. 8, Nov. 5,) which Shakspeare 
went not to, but took up with Whetstone's fable, 
as is evident from the argument of it; which, 
though it be somewhat of the longest, yet take it 
in his own words. 

" The Argument of the whole 

" In the Cyttie of Julio (sometimes under the 
dominion of Corvinus Kinge of Hungarie and 
Boemia) there was a law, that what man so ever 
committed adultery, should lose his head, & the 
woman offender, should weare some disguised ap- 
parel, during her life, to make her infamouslye 
noted. This severe lawe, by the favour of some 
mercifull magistrate, became little regarded, untill 
the time of Lord Promos auctority : who convict- 
ing, a yong gentleman named Andrugio of incon- 
tinency, condemned, both him, and his minion to 
the execution of this statute. Andrugio had a 
very vertuous, and beawtiful gentlewoman to his 
sister, named Cassandra : Cassandra to enlarge her 
brothers life, submitted an humble petition to the 
Lord Promos : Promos regarding her good behavi- 
ours, and fantasying her great beawtie, was much 
delighted with the sweete order of her talke : and 
doyng good, that evill might come thereof: for a 
time, he repryv'd her brother : but wicked man, 
tourning his liking unto unlawfull lust, he set 
downe the spoile of her honour, raunsome for her 
Brothers life : Chaste Cassandra, abhorring both 
him and his sute, by no perswasion would yeald to 


this raunsome. But in fine, wonne with the im- 
portunitye of hir brother (pleading for life :) upon 
these conditions she agreed to Promos. First that 
he should pardon her brother, and after marry her. 
Promos as fearles in promisse, as carelesse in per- 
formance, with sollemne vowe, sygned her con- 
ditions : but worse than any Infydel, his will 
satisfyed, he performed neither the one nor the 
other : for to keepe his aucthoritye, unspotted with 
favour, and to prevent Cassandraes clamors, he 
commaunded the Gayler secretly, to present Cas- 
sandra with her brother's head. The Gayler, with 
the outcryes of Andrugio, (abhorryng Promos 
lewdnes,) by the providence of God, provided thus 
for his safety. He presented Cassandra with a 
felons head newlie executed, who, (being mangled, 
knew it not from her brothers, by the Gayler, who 
was set at libertie)wasso agreeved atthistrecherye, 
that at the pointe to kyl her selfe, she spared that 
stroke, to be avenged of Promos. And devysing 
a way, she concluded, to make her fortunes knowne 
unto the kinge. She (executing this resolution) 
was so highly favoured of the King, that forthwith 
he hasted to do justice on Promos: whose judge- 
ment was, to marrye Cassandra, to repaire her 
erased Honour : which donne, for his hainoua of- 
fence he should lose his head. This maryage so- 
lempnised, Cassandra tyed in the greatest bondes 
of affection to her husband, became an earnest suter 
for his life: the Kinge (tendringe the general] 
benefit of the comon weale, before her special case, 
although he favoured her much) would not graunt 
her sute. Andrugio (disguised amonge the com- 

f>any) sorrowing the griefe of his sister, bewrayde 
lis safety, and craved pardon. The Kinge, to 
renowne the vertues of Cassandra, pardoned both 


him, and Promos. The circumstances of this rare 
Historye, in action livelye foloweth." 
The play itself opens thus: 

" Actus 7. Scena 1. 

' Promos, Mayor, Shirife, Sworde bearer: One with a bunche 
of keyes : Phallax, Promos man. 

" Jfou SDfficew toic!> note in Julio Cage, 

" IKnotoe pou our leaBge, tty filinge of Hungarie : 

" Sent tne Promos, to iopne toit pou in ftoap : 

" ^T&at ftill toe map to Justice at>e an epe. 

" anti note to fiioto, tnp rule $ potoer at lartoge, 

" attenttoelie, pie Hettew attent* fjeare : 

" Phallax realie out mp ftoberaines cfjartige, 

** Phal. 80 pou command, 31 topH : gibe IjeeBfuI eare. 

" Phallax readeth the Kinges Letters Patents, which 
must be Jayre written in parchment, with some 
great counterfeat zeale. 

" Pro. loe, |>ere pou fee tof>at i0 our ftoberaigne0 topi, 
" Hoe, lime i)ie tout), that rig&t, not migijt, ieare ftoape : 
" Hoe, fccare pie care, to toeeti from gooti tbc pH, 
" 3fo fcourge tbe toigbt0, goofc HatoC0 tbat bifobap." 

And thus it proceeds j without one word in it, 
that Shakspeare could make use of, or can be read 
with patience by any man living: and yet, besides 
the characters appearing in the argument, his Bawd 
Clown, Lucio, Juliet, and the Provost, nay, and 
even his Barnardine, are created out of hints which 
this play gave him ; and the lines too that are 
quoted, bad as they are, suggested to him the man- 
ner in which his own play opens. 

Merchant of Venice. 

The Jew of Venice was a story exceedingly well 
known in Shakspeare'stime; celebrated in ballads; 
and taken (perhaps) originally from an Italian book 


intitl'd It Pecorone: the author of which calls 
himself, Ser Giovanni Fiorentino ; and writ his 
book, as he tells you in some humorous verses at 
the beginning of it, in 1378, three years after the 
death of Boccace ; it is divided into giornata's, and 
the story we are speaking of is in the first novel of 
the giornata quarta ; edit. 1 .565, octavo, in Vinegia. 
This novel Shakspeare certainly read ; either in the 
original, or (which I rather think) in some transla- 
tion that is not now to be met with, and form'd his 
play upon it. It was translated anew, and made 
publick in 1755, in a small octavo pamphlet, 
printed for M. Cooper : and, at the end ot it, a 
novel of Boccace ; (the first of day the tenth) 
which, as the translator rightly judges, might pos- 
sibly produce the scene of the caskets, substituted 
by the poet in place of one in the other novel, that 
was not proper for the stage. 

Merry Wives of Windsor. 

" Queen Elizabeth," says a writer of Shakspeare's 
life, " was so well pleas'd with that admirable cha- 
racter of FalstafF, in the two parts of Henri/ the 
Fourth, that she commanded him to continue it for 
one play more, and to shew him in love. This is 
said to be the occasion of his writing The Mcrri/ 
Wives of Windsor. 1 ' As there is no proof brought 
for the truth of this story, we may conclude that 
it is either some playhouse tradition, or had its rise 
from Sir William D'Avenant, whose authority the 
writer quotes for another singular anecdote, relating 
to lord Southampton. Be this as it may ; Shak- 
speare, in the conduct of FalstafTs love-ad ventun , 
made use of some incidents in a book that has been 
mention'd before, call'd II Pecorone; they are in 

vol. i. c c 


the second novel of that book. It is highly pro- 
bable, that this novel likewise is in an old English 
dress somewhere or other; and from thence trans- 
planted into a foolish book, call'd The fortunate, 
the deceived, and the unfortunate Lovers; printed in 
1685, octavo, for William Whittwood; where the 
reader may see it, at p. 1. Let me add too, that 
there is a like story in the " Piacevoli Notti, di 
Straparola, libro primo ; at Notte quarta, Favola 
quarta; edit. 1567, octavo, in Vinegia. 

Midsummer-Night 's Dream, 

The history of our old poets is so little known, 
and the first editions of their works become so 
very scarce, that it is hard pronouncing any thing 
certain about them : but, it that pretty fantastical 
poem of Drayton's, call'd Nymphidia, or The 
Court of Fairy, be early enough in time, (as, I be- 
lieve, it is ; for I have seen an edition of that 
author's pastorals, printed in 1593, quarto,) it is 
not improbable, that Shakspeare took from thence 
the hint of his fairies: a line of that poem, " Tho- 
rough bush, thorough briar," occurs also in his 
play. The rest of the play is, doubtless, inven- 
tion : the names only of Theseus, Hippolita, and 
Theseus' former loves, Antiopa and others, being 
historical ; and taken from the translated Plutarch, 
in the article Theseus. 

Much Ado about Nothing. 

" Timbree de Cardone deviet amoureux a Mes- 
sine de Fenicie Leonati, & des divers & estrages 
accidens qui advindret avat qu'il 1' espousast." is 
the title of another novel in the Histoires Tragiques 


of Belleforest ; Tom. 3. Hist. 18: it is taken from 
one of Bandello's, which you may see in his first 
tome, at p. 150, of the London edition in quarto, 
a copy from that of Lucca in 1554. This French 
novel comes the nearest to the fable of Much Ado 
about Nothing, of any thing that has yet been dis- 
covered, and is (perhaps) the foundation of it. 
There js a story something like it in the fifth book 
of Orlando Furioso: (v. Sir John Harrington's 
translation of it, edit. 1591, folio) and another in 
Spencer's Fairy Queen. 


Cinthio, the best of the Italian writers next to 
Boccace, has a novel thus intitl'd : " Un Capi- 
tano Moro piglia per mogliera una cittadina vene- 
tiana, un suo Alfieri l'accusa de adulterio al [read, 
il, with a colon after adulterio] Marito, cerca, che 
1' Alfieri uccida colui, ch'egli credea I'Adultero, 
il Gapitano uccide la Moglie, e accusato dallo Al- 
fieri, non confessa il Moro, ma essendovi chiari 
inditii, e bandito, Et lo scelerato Alfieri, credendo 
nuocere ad altri, procaccia a se la morte misera- 
mente." Hecatommithi, Dec. 3, Nov. 7 ; edit. 
1565, two tomes, octavo. If there was no transla- 
tion of this novel, French or English ; nor any 
thing built upon it, either in prose or verse, near 
enough in time for Shakspeare to take his Othello 
from them; we must, I think, conclude that he 
had it from the Italian ; for the story (at least, in 
all it's main circumstances) is apparently the same. 

Romeo and Juliet. 

This very affecting story is likewise a true one; 
it made a great noise at the time it happen'd, ami 

c c 2 


was soon taken up by poets and novel-writers. 
Bandello has one ; it is the ninth of tome the se- 
cond : and there is another, and much better, left 
us by some anonymous writer ; of which I have 
an edition, printed in 1553 at Venice, one year 
before Bandello, which yet was not the first. Some 
small time after, Pierre Boisteau, a French writer, 
put out one upon the same subject, taken from 
these Italians, but much alter'd and enlarg'd: this 
novel, together with five others of Boisteau' s pen- 
ning, Belleforest took ; and they now stand at the 
beginning of his HistoiresTragiques, edition before- 
mention'd. But it had some prior edition ; which 
falling into the hands of a countryman of ours, he 
converted it into a poem ; altering, and adding 
many things to it of his own, and publish'd it in 
1562, without a name, in a small octavo volume, 
printed by Richard Tottill; and this poem, which is 
call'd The Tragical Historie qfRomeus and Juliet, 
is the origin of Shakspeare's play: who not only 
follows it even minutely in the conduct of his fable, 
and that in those places where it differs from the 
other writers ; but has also borrow'd from it some 
few thoughts, and expressions. At the end of a 
small poetical miscellany, publish'd by one George 
Turberville in 1570, there is a poem " On the 
death of Maister Arthur Brooke drownde in pass- 
ing to New-haven;" in which it appears, that this 
gentleman, (who, it is likely, was a military man,) 
was the writer of Romeus and Juliet. In the second 
tome of The Palace of Pleasure, (Nov. 25.) there 
is a prose translation of Boisteau's novel j but 
Shakspeare made no use of it 


Taming of the Shrew. 

Nothing has yet been produc'd that is likely to 
have given the poet occasion for writing this play, 
neither has it (in truth) the air of a novel, so that 
we may reasonably suppose it a work of invention; 
that part of it, I mean, which gives it it's title. 
For one of it's underwalks, or plots, to wit, the 
story of Lucentio, in almost all it's branches, (his 
love-affair, and the artificial conduct of it ; the 
pleasant incident of the Pedant ; and the charac- 
ters of Vincentio, Tranio, Gremio, and Biondello,) 
is form'd upon a comedy of George Gascoigne's, 
call'd Supposes, a translation from Ariosto's / 
Suppositi: which comedy was acted by the gentle- 
men of Grey's Inn in 1566; and may be seen in 
the translator's works, of which there a r e several 
old editions : and the odd induction of this play is 
taken from Goulart's Histoires admirables de notre 
Temps; who relates it as a real fact, practis'd upon 
a mean artisan at Brussels by Philip the good, 
duke of Burgundy. Goulart was translated into 
English, by one Edw. Grimeston : the edition I 
have of it, was printed in 1607, quarto, by George 
Eld ; where this story may be found, at p. 587 : 
but, for any thing that there appears to the con- 
trary, the book might have been printed before. 


The Tempest has rather more of the novel in it 
than the play that was last spoken of: but no one 
has yet pretended to have met with such a novel ; 
nor any thing else, that can be suppos'd to have 
furnish'd Shakspeare with materials for writing 


this play : the fable of which must therefore pass 
for entirely his own production, 'till the contrary 
can be made appear by any future discovery. One 
of the poet's editors, after observing that the 
persons of the drama are all Italians ; and the 
unities all regularly observ'd in it, a custom like- 
wise of the Italians ; concludes his note with the 
mention of two of their plays, // Negromante di 
L. Ariosto, and // Negromante Palliato di Gio. An- 
gelo Petrucci ; one or other of which, he seems to 
think, may have given rise to the Tempest : but 
he is mistaken in both of them ; and the last must 
needs be out of the question, being later than 
Shakspeare's time. 

Titus Andronicus. 

An old ballad, whose date and time of writing 
can not be ascertain'd, is the ground work of Titus 
Andronicus: the names of the persons acting, and 
almost every incident of the play are there in mi- 
niature : it is, indeed, so like, that one might 
be tempted to suspect, that the ballad was form'd 
upon the play, and not that upon the ballad; were 
it not sufficiently known, that almost all the com- 
positions of that sort are prior to even the infancy 
of Shakspeare. 

Troilus and Cressida. 

The loves of Troilus and Cressida are celebrated 
by Chaucer : whose poem might, perhaps, induce 
Shakspeare to work them up into a play. The 
other matters of that play (historical, or fabulous, 
call them which you will,) he had out of an ancient 
book, written and printed first by Caxton, calPd 


The Destruction of Troy, in three parts: in the 
third part of it, are many strange particulars, oc- 
curring no where else, which Snakspeare has ad- 
mitted into his play. 


Another of Belleforest's novels is thus intitl'd: 
" Comme une fille Romaine se vestant en page ser- 
vist long temps un sien amy sans estre cogneue, & 
depuis l'eut a mary avec autres divers discours." 
Histoires Tragiques ; Tom. 4, Hist. 7- This novel, 
which is itself taken from one of Bandello's (v. 
Tom. 2, Nov. 36,) is, to all appearance, the foun- 
dation of the serious part of Twelfth-Night : and 
must be so accounted; 'till some English novel 
appears, built (perhaps) upon that French one, but 
approaching nearer to Shakspeare's comedy. 

Two Gentlemen of Verona. 

Julia's love-adventures being in some respects 
the same with those of Viola in Twelfth-Night, the 
same novel might give rise to them both ; and Va- 
lentine's falling amongst out-laws, and becoming 
their captain, is an incident that has some resem- 
blance to one in the Arcadia, (Book I, chap. 6.) 
where Pyrocles heads the Helots : all the other 
circumstances which constitute the fable of this 
play, are, probably of the poet's own invention. 

Winter's Tale. 

To the story-book, or Pleasant History (as it is 
call'd) ofDorastus and Fatcma, written by Robert 


Greene, M. A. we are indebted for Shakspeare's 
JVinter's Tale. Greene join 'd with Dr. Lodge in 
writing a play, call'd A Looking-Glassjbr London 
and England, printed in 1598, in quarto, and black 
letter ; and many of his other works, which are 
very numerous, were publish'd about that time, 
and this amongst the rest : it went through many 
impressions, all of the same form and letter as the 
play; and that so low down as the year 1664, of 
which year I have a copy. Upon this occasion, I 
shall venture to pronounce an opinion, that has 
been reserv'd for this place, (though other plays 
too were concern'd in it, as Hamlet and Cymbeline J 
which if it be found true, as I believe it will, may 
be of use to settle many disputed points in literary 
chronology. My opinion is this : that almost all 
books, or the gothick or black character, printed 
any thing late in the seventeenth century, are in 
truth only re-impressions ; they having pass'd the 
press before in the preceding century, or (at least) 
very soon after. For the character began then to 
be disus'd in the printing of new books : but the 
types remaining, the owners of them found a con- 
venience in using them for books that had been 
before printed in them ; and to this convenience 
of theirs are owing all or most of those impressions 
posterior to 1 600. It is left to the reader's saga- 
city, to apply this remark to the book in the present 
article ; and to those he finds mention'd before, in 
the articles Hamlet and Cymbeline. 

Such are the materials, out of which this great 
poet has rais'd a structure, which no time shall 
efface, nor any envy be strong enough to lessen the 
admiration that is so justly due to it; which if it 
was great before, cannot fail to receive encrease 
with the judicious, when the account that has been 


now given them is reflected upon duly: other ori- 
ginals have, indeed, been pretended ; and much 
extraordinary criticism has, at different times, and 
by different people, been spun out of those con- 
ceits ; but, except some few articles in which the 
writer professes openly his ignorance of the sources 
they are drawn from, and some others in which he 
delivers himself doubtfully, what is said in the pre- 
ceding leaves concerning these fables may with all 
certainty be rely'd upon. 

How much is it to be wish'd, that something 
equally certain, and indeed worthy to be intiti'd 
a Life of Shakspeare, could accompany this rela- 
tion, and complete the tale of those pieces which 
the publick is apt to expect before new editions ? 
But that nothing of this sort is at present in being, 
may be said without breach of candour, as we think, 
or suspicion of over much niceness : an imperfect 
and loose account of his father, and family; his 
own marriage, and the issue of it ; some traditional 
stories, many of them trifling in themselves, sup- 
ported by small authority, and seemingly ill- 
grounded ; together with his life's final period as 
gather'd from nis monument, is the full and whole 
amount of historical matter that is in any of these 
writings ; in which the critick and essayist swallow 
up the biographer, who yet ought to take the lead 
in them. The truth is, the occurrences of this 
most interesting life (we mean, the private ones) 
are irrecoverably lost to us ; the friendly office of 
registring them was overlook'd by those who alone 
had it in their power, and our enquiries about them 
now must prove vain and thrown away. But there 
is another sort of them that is not quite so hope- 
less; which besides affording us the prospect of 
some good issue to our endeavours, do also invite 


us to them by the promise of a much better re- 
ward for them : the knowledge of his private life 
had done little more than gratify our curiosity, but 
his publick one as a writer would have conse- 
quences more important ; a discovery there would 
throw a new light upon many of his pieces ; and, 
where rashness only is shew'd in the opinions that 
are now current about them, a judgment might 
then be form'd, which perhaps would do credit to 
the giver of it. When he commenc'd a writer for 
the stage, and in which play ; what the order of 
the rest of them, and (if that be discoverable) 
what the occasion ; and, lastly, for which of the 
numerous theatres that were then subsisting they 
were severally written at first, are the particulars 
that should chiefly engage the attention of a writer 
of Shakspeare's Life, and be the principal subjects 
of his enquiry : to assist him in which, the first 
impressions of these plays will do something, and 
their title-pages at large, which, upon that ac- 
count, we mean to give in another work that will 
accompany The School of Shakspeare ; and some- 
thing the School itself will afford, that may contri- 
bute to the same service : but the corner-stone of 
all, must be the works of the poet himself, from 
which much may be extracted by a heedful peruser 
of them ; and, for the sake of such a peruser, and 
by way of putting him into the train when the plays 
are before him, we shall instance in one of them ; 
the time in which Henry V. was written, is de- 
termin'd almost precisely by a passage in the chorus 
to the fifth act, and the concluding chorus of it 
contains matter relative to Henry VI. : other plays 
might be mention'd, as Henry VIII. and Macbeth; 
but this one may be sufficient to answer our inten- 
tion in producing it, which was to spirit some 


one up to this task in some future time, by shewing 
the possibility of it; which he may be further con- 
vinc'd of, if he reflects what great things have been 
done, by criticks amongst ourselves, upon subjects 
of this sort, and of a-more remov'd antiquity than 
he is concern'd in. A Life thus constructed, inter- 
spers'd with such anecdotes of common notoriety 
as the writer's judgment shall tell him are worth 
regard; together with some memorials of this poet 
that are happily come down to us ; such as, an in- 
strument in the Heralds' Office, confirming arms 
to his father; a Patent preserv'd in Rymer, granted 
by James the First ; his last Will and Testament, 
extant now at Doctors Commons ; his Stratford 
monument, and a monument of his daughter which 
is said to be there also ; such a Life would rise 
quickly into a volume ; especially, with the addi- 
tion of one proper and even necessary episode 
a brief history of our drama, from its origin down 
to the poet's death : even the stage he appear'd 
upon, it's form, dressings, actors should be en- 
quir'd into, as every one of those circumstances 
had some considerable effect upon what he com- 
pos'd for it : The subject is certainly a good one, 
and will fall (we hope) ere it be long into the hands 
of some good writer ; by whose abilities this great 
want may at length be made un to us, ana the 
world of letters enrich'd by the happy acquisition 
of a masterly Life of Shakspcare. Cafell. 





I HE want of adherence to the old copies, which 
has been complained of, in the text of every mo- 
dern republication of Shakspeare, is fairly dedu- 
cible from Mr. Rowe's inattention to one of the 
first duties of an editor. 6 Mr. Rowe did not print 
from the earliest and most correct, but from the 
most remote and inaccurate of the four folios. Be- 
tween the years 1623 and 1685 (the dates of the 

* First printed in 1773. Malone. 

6 " I must not (says Mr. Rowe in his dedication to the Duke 
of Somerset) pretend to have restor'd this work to the exactness 
of the author's original manuscripts : those, are lost, or, at least, 
are gone beyond any enquiry I could make ; so that there was 
nothing left, but to compare the several editions, and give the 
true reading as well as I could from thence. This I have endea- 
vour'd to do pretty carefully, and render'd very many places in- 
telligible, that were not so before. In some of the editions, es- 
pecially the last, there were many lines (and in Hamlet one 
whole scene) left out together; these are now all supply'd. I 
fear your grace will find some faults, but I hope they are mostly 
literal, and the errors of the press." Would not any one, from 
this declaration, suppose that Mr. Rowe (who does not appear to 
have consulted a single quarto) had at least compared the folios 
with each other ? Steevens. 


first and last) the errors in every play, at least, 
were trebled. Several pages in eacli of these an- 
cient editions have been examined, that the asser- 
tion might come more fully supported. It may be 
added, that as every fresh editor continued to make 
the text of his predecessor the ground-work of his 
own (never collating but where difficulties oc- 
curred) some deviations from the originals had 
been handed down, the number of which are les- 
sened in the impression before us, as it has been 
constantly compared with the most authentick 
copies, whether collation was absolutely necessary 
for the recovery of sense, or not. The person who 
undertook this task may have failed by inadver- 
tency, as well as those who preceded him ; but the 
reader may be assured, that he, who thought it his 
duty to free an author from such modern and 
unnecessary innovations as had been censured in 
others, has not ventured to introduce any of his 

It is not pretended that a complete body of 
various readings is here collected ; or that all the 
diversities which the copies exhibit, are pointed 
out; as near two thirds of them are typographical 
mistakes, or such a change of insignificant parti- 
cles, as would croud the bottom of the page with 
an ostentation of materials, from which at last no- 
thing useful could be selected. 

The dialogue might indeed sometimes be length- 
ened by other insertions than have hitherto been 
made, but without advantage either to its spirit or 
beauty as in the following instance : 

" Lear. No. 

" Kent. Yes. 

" Lear. No, I say. 

" Kent. I say, yea." 


Here the quartos add : 

" Lear. No, no, they would not. 
" Kent. Yes, they have" 

By the admission of this negation and affirmation, 
has any new idea been gained ? 

The labours of preceding editors have not left 
room for a boast, that many valuable readings have 
been retrieved ; though it may be fairly asserted, 
that the text of Shakspeare is restored to the con- 
dition in which the author, or rather his first pub- 
lishers, appear to have left it, such emendations 
as were absolutely necessary, alone admitted : for 
where a particle, indispensably necessary to the 
sense was wanting, such a supply has been silently 
adopted from other editions; but where a syllable, 
or more, had been added for the sake of the metre 
only, which at first might have been irregular, 7 
such interpolations are here constantly retrenched, 
sometimes with, and sometimes without notice. 
Those speeches, which in the elder editions are 
printed as prose, and from their own construction 
are incapable of being compressed into verse, with- 
out the aid of supplemental syllables, are restored 
to prose again ; and the measure is divided afresh 
in others, where the mass of words had been in- 
harmoniously separated into lines. 

The scenery, throughout all the plays, is regu- 
lated in conformity to a rule, which the poet, by 
his general practice seems to have proposed to him- 
self. Several of his pieces are come down to us, 
divided into scenes as well as acts. These divisions 
were properly his own, as they are made on settled 

7 I retract this supposition, which was too hastily formed. See 
note on The Tempest, Vol. IV. p. 73. Steevens. 


principles, which would hardly have been the case, 
had the task been executed by the players. A 
change of scene, with Shakspeare, most commonly 
implies a change of place, but always an entire 
evacuation of the stage. The custom of distin- 
guishing every entrance or exit by a fresh scene, 
was adopted, perhaps very idly, from the French 

For the length of many notes, and the accumu- 
lation of examples in others, some apology may 
be likewise expected. An attempt at brevity is 
often found to be the source of an imperfect ex- 
planation. Where a passage has been constantly 
misunderstood, or where the jest or pleasantry has 
been suffered to remain long in obscurity, more 
instances have been brought to clear the one, or 
elucidate the other, than appear at first sight to 
have been necessary. For these it can only be 
said, that when they prove that phraseology or 
source of merriment to have been once general, 
which at present seems particular, they are not 

?iuite impertinently intruded ; as they may serve to 
ree the author from a suspicion of having em- 
ployed an affected singularity of expression, or 
indulged himself in allusions to transient customs, 
which were not of sufficient notoriety to deserve 
ridicule or reprehension. When examples in favour 
of contradictory opinions are assembled, though 
no attempt is made to decide on cither part, such 
neutral collections should always be regarded as 
materials for future criticks, who may hereafter 
apply them with success. Authorities, whether in 
respect of words, or things, are not always pro- 
ducible from the most celebrated writers;- yet such 

Mr. T. Warton in his excellent Remarks on thr Fairy Qurrn 
of Spenser, offers a similar apology tor having introduced UIus- 


circumstances as fall below the notice of history, 
can only be sought in the jest-book, the satire, or 
the play ; and the novel, whose fashion did not out- 
live a week, is sometimes necessary to throw light 
on those annals which take in the compass of an 
age. Those, therefore, who would wish to have 
the peculiarities of Nym familiarized to their ideas, 
must excuse the insertion of such an epigram as best 

trations from obsolete literature. " I fear (says he) I shall be 
censured for quoting too many pieces of this sort. But expe- 
rience has fatally proved, that the commentator on Spenser, 
Jonson, and the rest of our elder poets, will in vain give speci- 
mens of his classical erudition, unless, at the same time, he brings 
to his work a mind intimately acquainted with those books, 
which, though now forgotten, were yet in common use and high 
repute about the time in which his authors respectively wrote, 
and which they consequently must have read. While these are 
unknown, many allusions and many imitations will either remain 
obscure, or lose half their beauty and propriety : * as the figures 
vanish when the canvas is decayed.' 

" Pope laughs at Theobald for giving us, in his edition of 
Shakspeare, a sample of 

all such reading as was never read. 
But these strange and ridiculous books which Theobald quoted, 
were unluckily the very books which Shakspeahe himself had 
studied : the knowledge of which enabled that useful editor to 
explain so many different allusions and obsolete customs in his 
poet, which otherwise could never have been understood. For 
want of this sort of literature, Pope tells us that the dreadful 
Sagittary in Troilus and Cressida, signifies Teucer, so celebrated 
for his skill in archery. Had he deigned to consult an old history, 
called The Destruction of Troy, a book which was the delight 
of Shakspeare and of his age, he would have found that this 
formidable archer, was no other than an imaginary beast, which 
the Grecian army brought against Troy. If Shakspeare is 
worth reading, he is worth explaining ; and the researches used 
for so valuable and elegant a purpose, merit the thanks of ge- 
nius and candour, not the satire of prejudice and ignorance. 
That labour, which so essentially contributes to the service of 
true taste, deserves a more honourable repository than The 
Temple of Dullness." Steevens. 


suits the purpose, however tedious in itself; and 
such as would be acquainted with the propriety of 
FalstafPs allusion to stewed prunes, should not be 
disgusted at a multitude of instances, which, when 
the point is once known to be established, may be 
diminished by any future editor. An author who 
catches (as Pope expresses it) at the Cynthia qfa mi- 
nute, and does not furnish notes to his own works, 
is sure to lose half the praise which he might have 
claimed, had he dealt in allusions less temporary, 
or cleared up for himself those difficulties which 
lapse of time must inevitably create. 

The author of the additional notes has rather 
been desirous to support old readings, than to claim 
the merit of introducing new ones. He desires to 
be regarded as one, who found the task he under- 
took more arduous than it seemed, while he was 
yet feeding his vanity with the hopes of intro- 
ducing himself to the world as an editor in form. 
He, who has discovered in himself the power to 
rectify a few mistakes with ease, is naturally led to 
imagine, that all difficulties must yield to the efforts 
of future labour ; and perhaps feels a reluctance 
to be undeceived at last. 

Mr. Steevens desires it may be observed, that he 
has strictly complied with the terms exhibited in 
his proposals, having appropriated all such assist- 
ances, as he received, to the use of the present 
editor, whose judgment has, in every instance, 
determined on their respective merits. While he 
enumerates his obligations to his correspondents, 
it is necessary that one comprehensive remark 
should be made on such communications as are 
omitted in this edition, though they might have 
proved of great advantage to a more daring com- 
mentator. The majority of these were founded 

vol. i. u i> 


on the supposition, that Shakspeare was originally 
an author correct in the utmost degree, but maimed 
and interpolated by the neglect or presumption of 
the players. In consequence of this belief, altera- 
tions have been proposed wherever a verse could 
be harmonized, an epithet exchanged for one more 
apposite, or a sentiment rendered less perplexed. 
Had the general current of advice been followed, 
the notes would have been rilled with attempts at 
emendation apparently unnecessary, though some- 
times elegant, and as frequently with explanations 
of what none would have thought difficult. A 
constant peruser of Shakspeare will suppose what- 
ever is easy to his own apprehension, will prove so 
to that of others, and consequently may pass over 
some real perplexities in silence. On the con- 
trary, if in consideration of the different abilities 
of every class of readers, he should offer a comment 
on all harsh inversions of phrase, or peculiarities of 
expression, he will at once excite the disgust and 
displeasure of such as think their own knowledge 
or sagacity undervalued. It is difficult to fix a 
medium between doing too little and too much in 
the task of mere explanation. There are yet many 
passages unexplained and unintelligible, which may 
be reformed, at hazard of whatever licence, for 
exhibitions on the stage, in which the pleasure of 
the audience is chiefly to be considered ; but must 
remain untouched by the critical editor, whose 
conjectures are limited by narrow bounds, and who 
gives only what he at least supposes his author to 
have written. 

If it is not to be expected that each vitiated 
passage in Shakspeare can be restored, till a greater 
latitude of experiment shall be allowed; so neither 
can it be supposed that the force of all his allusions 


will be pointed out, till such books are thoroughly 
examined, as cannot easily at present be collected, 
if at all. Several of the most correct lists of our 
dramatick pieces exhibit the titles of plays, which 
are not to be met with in the completest collec- 
tions. It is almost unnecessary to mention any 
other than Mr. Garrick's, which, curious and ex- 
tensive as it is, derives its greatest value from its 
accessibility. 9 

There is reason to think that about the time of the Reforma- 
tion, great numbers of plays were printed, though few of that 
age are now to be found ; for part of Queen Elizabeth's injunc- 
tions in 1559, are particularly directed to the suppressing of 
" Many pamphlets, hi. a yes, and ballads: that no manner of 
person shall enterprize to print any such, &c. but under certain 
restrictions." Vid. Sect. V. This observation is taken from Dr. 
Percy's additions to his Essay on the Origin of the English Stage. 
It appears likewise from a page at the conclusion of the second 
volume of the entries belonging to the Stationers' Company, that 
in the 41st year of Queen Elizabeth, many new restraint on 
booksellers were laid. Among these are the following : " That 
no playes be printed excepte they bee allowed by such as have 
auctoritye." The records of the Stationers, however, contain 
the entries of some which have never yet been met with by the 
most successful collectors ; nor are their titles to be found in any 
registers of the stage, whether ancient or modern. It should seem 
from the same volumes that it was customary for the Stationers 
to seize the whole impression of any work that had given offence, 
and burn it publickly at their hall, in obedience to the edicts of 
the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishop of London, who 
sometimes enjoyed these literary executions at their respective 

Salaces. Among other works condemned to the flames by these 
iscerning prelates, were the complete Satires of Bishop Hull.* 
Mr. Theobald, at the conclusion of the preface to his Hnt edi- 
tion ofShakcpeare, asserts, that exclusive of the dramas of Ben 
Jonson, and Beaumont and Fletcher, he had read " ubove bOO 
of old English plays." He omitted thin assertion, however, on 

* Law, Pfmiok, and Divinity, b). J. may be found on retry rtB. Haya, 
poetry, and novel*, were destroyed puhlckh by the Bihp*, and *is<t/e/ 
by the Puritan*. Hi-nv the infinite number of them entirely lot, for which 
httn.ti were procured, Sec. Fajimkr. 

u i> 2 


To the other evils of our civil war must be add- 
ed the interruption of polite learning, and the 
suppression of many dramatick and poetical names, 
which were plunged in obscurity by tumults and 
revolutions, and have never since attracted cu- 
riosity. The utter neglect of ancient English lite- 
rature continued so long, that many books may be 
supposed to be lost ; and that curiosity, which 
has been now for some years increasing among 
us, wants materials for its operations. Books and 
pamphlets, printed originally in small numbers, 

the republication of the same work, and, I hope, he did so, 
through a consciousness of its utter falshood ; for if we except 
the plays of the authors already mentioned, it would be difficult 
to discover half the number that were written early enough to 
serve the purpose for which he pretends to have perused the 
imaginary stock of ancient literature. 

I might add, that the private collection of Mr. Theobald, 
which, including the plays of Jonson, Fletcher, and Shakspeare, 
did not amount to many more than an hundred, remained entire 
in the hands of the late Mr. Tonson, till the time of his death. 
It does not appear that any other collection but the Harleian was 
at that time formed ; nor does Mr. Theobald's edition contain 
any intrinsick evidences of so comprehensive an examination of 
our eldest dramatick writers, as he assumes to himself the merit 
of having made. Steevens. 

Whatever Mr. Theobald might venture to assert, there is suf- 
ficient evidence existing that at the time of his death he was not 
possessed of more than 295 quarto plays in the whole, and some 
of these, it is probable, were different editions of the same play. 
He died shortly after the 6th of September, 1/44. On the 20th 
of October his library was advertized to be sold by auction, by 
Charles Corbett, and on the third day was the following lot : 
" 295 Old English Plays in quarto, some of them so scarce as 
not to be had at any price: to many of which are MSS. notes 
and remarks by Mr. Theobald, all done up neatly in boards in 
single plays. They will all be sold in one lot." Reed. 

'There were about five hundred and fifty plays printed before 
the Restoration, exclusive of those written by Shakspeare, 
Jonson, and Fletcher. Malone. 


being thus neglected, were soon destroyed ; and 
though the capital authors were preserved, they 
were preserved to languish without regard. ' How 
little Shakspeare himself was once read, may be 
understood from Tate** who, in his dedication to 
the altered play of King Lear, speaks of the ori- 
ginal as of an obscure piece, recommended to his 
notice by a friend ; and the author of the Tatler, 
having occasion to quote a few lines out of Mac- 
fe//z,was content to receive them from D' Avenant's 
alteration of that celebrated drama, in whicli almost 

1 In the year 1707 Mr. N. Tate published a tragedy called 
Injured Love, or the Cruel Husband, and in the title-page calls 
himself " Author of the tragedy called King Lear." 

In a book called The Actor, or a Treatise on the Art of Play- 
ing, l2mo. published in 1750, and imputed to Dr. Hilf, is the 
following pretended extract from Romeo and Juliet, with the 
author's remark on it : 

" The saints that heard our vows and know our love, 

" Seeing thy faith and thy unspotted truth, 

" Will sure take care, and let no wrongs annoy thee. 

" Upon ray knees I'll ask them every day 

" How my kind Juliet does ; aud every night, 

M In the severe distresses of my fate, 

" As I perhaps shall wander through the desert, 

" And want a place to rest my weary head on, 

" I'll count the stars, and bless 'em as they shine, 

" And court them all for my dear Juliet's safety." 

u The reader will pardon us on this and some other occasions, 
that where we quote passages from plays, we give them as the 
author gives them, not as the butcherly hand of a blockhead 
prompter may have lopped them, or as the unequal genius of 
some bungling critic mat/ have attempted to mend them. Who- 
ever remembers the merit of the player's speaking the things we 
celebrate them for, we are pretty confident will wish he spoke 
them absolutely as wc give them, that is, as the author gives 

Perhaps it is unnecessary to inform the reader that not one of 
the lines above quoted, is to be found in the Htrmeo and Juliet of 
Shakspeare. They are copied from the Caius Marius of Otway. 
St be tens. 


every original beauty is either aukwardly disguised, 
or arbitrarily omitted. So little were the defects 
or peculiarities of the old writers known, even at 
the beginning of our century, that though the 
custom of alliteration had prevailed to that degree 
in the time of Shakspeare, that it became con- 
temptible and ridiculous, yet it is made one of 
Waller's praises by a writer of his life, that he 
first introduced this practice into English versifi- 

It will be expected that some notice should be 
taken ^of the last editor of Shakspeare, and that his 
merits should be estimated with those of his pre- 
decessors. Little, however, can be said of a work, 
to the completion of which, both a large propor- 
tion of the commentary and various readings is as 
yet wanting. The Second Part of King Henry VI. 
is the only play from that edition, which has been 
consulted in the course of this work; for as several 
passages there are arbitrarily omitted, and as no 
notice is given when other deviations are made 
from the old copies, it was of little consequence 
to examine any further. This circumstance is 
mentioned, lest such accidental coincidences of 
opinion, as may be discovered hereafter, should 
be interpreted into plagiarism. 

It may occasionally happen, that some of the 
remarks long ago produced by others, are offered 
again as recent discoveries. It is likewise abso- 
lutely impossible to pronounce with any degree of 
certainty, whence all the hints, which furnish mat- 
ter for a commentary, have been collected, as they 
lay scattered in many books and papers, which 
were probably never read but once, or the parti- 
culars which they contain received only in the 
course of common conversation ; nay, what is 


called plagiarism, is often no more than the result 
of having thought alike with others on the same 

The dispute about the learning of Shakspeare 
being now finally settled, a catalogue is added of 
those translated authors, whom Mr. Pope has 
thought proper to call 

" The classicks of an age that heard of none" 

The reader may not be displeased to have theGreek 
and Roman poets, orators, &c. who had been ren- 
dered accessible to our author, exposed at one 
view; 2 especially as the list has received the ad- 
vantage of being corrected and amplified by the 
Reverend Dr. Farmer, the substance of whose 
very decisive pamphlet is interspersed through the 
notes which are added in this revisal of Dr. John- 
son's Shakspeare. 

To those who have advanced the reputation of 
our poet, it has been endeavoured, by Dr. Johnson, 
in a foregoing preface, impartially to allot their 
dividend of fame ; and it is with great regret that 
we now add to the catalogue, another, the conse- 
quence of whose death will perhaps affect not only 
the works of Shakspeare, but of many other wri- 
ters. Soon after the first appearance of this edi- 
tion, a disease, rapid in its progress, deprived the 
world of Mr. Jacob Tonson ; a man, whose zeal 
for the improvement of English literature, and 
whose liberality to men of learning, gave him a 
just title to all the honours which men of learn- 
ing can bestow. To suppose that a person em- 
ployed in an extensive trade, lived in a state of 

See Vol. II. 


indifference to loss and gain, would be to conceive 
a character incredible and romantick ; but it may 
be justly said of Mr. Tonson, that he had enlarged 
his mind beyond solicitude about petty losses, and 
refined it from the desire of unreasonable profit. 
He was willing to admit those with whom he con- 
tracted, to the just advantage of their own labours; 
and had never learned to consider the author as an 
under-agent to the bookseller. The wealth which 
he inherited or acquired, he enjoyed like a man 
conscious of the dignity of a profession subservient 
to learning. His domestick life was elegant, and 
his charity was liberal. His manners were soft, 
and his conversation delicate : nor is, perhaps, any 
quality in him more to be censured, than that re- 
serve which confined his acquaintance to a small 
number, and made his example less useful, as it 
was less extensive. He was the last commercial 
name of a family which will be long remembered; 
and if Horace thought it not improper to convey 
the Sosn to posterity; ifrhetorick suffered no dis- 
honour from Quintilian's dedication to Trypho ; 
let it not be thought that we disgrace Shakspeare, 
by appending to his works the name of Tonson. 

To this prefatory advertisement I have now sub- 
joined 3 a chapter extracted from the Gills Horn- 
book, (a satirical pamphlet written by Decker in 
the year 1609) as it affords the reader a more 
complete idea of the customs peculiar to our an- 
cient theatres, than any other publication which 
has hitherto fallen in my way. See this perform- 
ance, page 27. 

3 This addition to Mr. Steevens's Advertisement was made in 
1778. Malone. 


* CHAP. VI. 

" How a Gallant should beliave himself in a Play- 

" The theatre is your poet's Royal Exchange, 
upon which, their muses (that are now turn'd to 
merchants) meeting, barter away that light com- 
modity of words for a lighter ware than words, 
plaudities and the breath of the great beast, which 
(like the threatnings of two cowards) vanish all 
into aire. Platers and their factors, who put away 
the stuffe and make the best of it they possibly 
can (as indeed 'tis their parts so to doe) your gal- 
lant, your courtier, and your capten, had wont to 
be the soundest pay-masters, and I thinke are still 
the surest chapmen : and these by meanes that 
their heades are well stockt, deale upon this comical 
freight by the grosse j when your groundling, and 
gallery commoner buyes his sport by the penny, 
and, like a hagler, is glad to utter it againe by re- 

" Sithence then the place is so free in entertain- 
ment, allowing a stoole as well to the farmer's 
sonne as to your Templer : that your stinkard has 
the self same libertie to be there in his tobacco 
fumes, which your sweet courtier hath : and that 
your carman and tinker claime as strong a voice in 
their suffrage, and sit to give judgment on the 
plaies' life and death, as well as the proudest 
Momus among the tribe ot'critick; it is fit that hee, 
whom the most tailors* bils do make room for, 
when he comes, should not be basely (like a vyoll) 
cas'd up in a corner. 

" Whether therefore the gatherers of the pub- 


lique or private play-house stand to receive the 
afternoone's rent, let our gallant (having paid it) 
presently advance himself up to the throne of the 
stage. I meane not in the lords' roome (which is 
now but the stage's suburbs). No, those boxes by 
the iniquity of custome, conspiracy of waiting- 
women, and gentlemen-ushers, that there sweat 
together, and the covetous sharers, are contempti- 
bly thrust into the reare, and much new satten is 
there dambd by being smothered to death in dark- 
nesse. But on the very rushes where the comedy 
is to daunce, yea and under the state of Cambises 
himselfe must our feather'd estridge, like a piece 
of ordnance be planted valiantly (because impu- 
dently) beating downe the mewes and hisses of the 
opposed rascality. 

" For do but cast up a reckoning, what large 
cummings in are purs'd up by sitting on the stage. 
First a conspicuous eminence is gotten, by which 
means the best and most essential parts of a gal- 
lant (good cloathes, a proportionable legge, white 
hand, the Persian locke, and a tollerable beard,) 
are perfectly revealed. 

" By sitting on the stage you have a sign'd pat- 
tent to engrosse the whole commodity of censure ; 
may lawfully presume to be a girder ; and stand 
at the helme to steere the passage of scaenes, yet 
no man shall once offer to hinder you from obtain- 
ing the title of an insolent over-weening coxcombe. 

" By sitting on the stage, you may (without tra- 
uelling for it) at the very next doore, aske whose 
play it is : and by that quest of inquiry, the law 
warrants you to avoid much mistaking : if you 
know not the author, you may raile against him ; 
and peradventure so behave yourselfe, that you 
may enforce the author to know you. 


" By sitting on the stage, if you be a knight, you 
may happily get you a mistresse : if a mere Fleet- 
street gentleman, a wife : but assure yourselfe by 
continuall residence, you are the first and prin- 
cipall man in election to begin the number of We 

" By spreading your body on the stage, and by 
being a justice in examining of plaies, you shall put 
yourselfe into such a true scaenical authority, tnat 
some poet shall not dare to present his muse rudely 
before your eyes, without having first unmaskt her, 
rifled her, and discovered all her bare and most 
mystical parts before you at a taverne, when you 
most knightly, shal for his paines, pay for both 
their suppers. 

" By sitting on the stage, you may (with small 
cost) purchase the deere acquaintance of the boyes: 
have a good stoole for sixpence: at any time know 
what particular part any of the infants present : get 
your match lighted, examine the play-suits' lace, 
perhaps win wagers upon laying 'tis copper, &c. 
And to conclude, whether you be a foole or a 
justice of peace, a cuckold or a capten, a lord 
maior's sonne or a dawcocke, a knave or an under 
shriefe, of what stamp soever you be, currant or 
counterfet, the stagelike time will bring you to 
most perfect light, and lay you open : neither are 
you to be hunted from thence though the scar- 
crowes in the yard hoot you, hisse at vou, spit at 
you, yea throw dirt even in your teetii : 'tis most 
gentleman-like patience to endure all this, and to 
laugh at the silly animals. But if the rabble, 
with a full throat, crie away with the foole, you 
were worse than a mad-man to tarry by it : for the 
gentleman and the foole should never sit on the 
stage together. 


*t Mary, let this observation go hand in hand 
with the rest : or rather, like a country-serving 
man, some five yards before them. Present not 
your selfe on the stage (especially at a new play) 
untill the quaking prologue hath (by rubbing) got 
cullor into his cheekes, and is ready to give the 
trumpets their cue that hees upon point to enter: 
for then it is time, as though you were one of the 
properties, or that you dropt of the hangings, to 
creep behind the arras, with your tripos or three- 
legged stoole in one hand, and a teston mounted 
betweene a fore-finger and a thumbe, in the other ; 
for if you should bestow your person upon the 
vulgar, when the belly of the house is but halfe 
full, your apparell is quite eaten up, the fashion 
lost, and the proportion of your body in more 
danger to be devoured, then if it were served up 
in the Counter amongst the Poultry: avoid that as 
you would the bastome. It shall crowne you with 
rich commendation, to laugh alowd in the middest 
of the most serious and saddest scene of the ter- 
riblest tragedy : and to let that clapper (your 
tongue) be tost so high that all the house may ring 
of it : your lords use it ; your knights are apes to 
the lords, and do so too : your inne-a-court-man 
is zany to the knights, and (many very scurvily) 
comes likewise limping after it : bee thou a beagle 
to them all, and never lin snuffing till you have 
scented them : for by talking and laughing (like 
a ploughman in a morris) you heape Pelion upon 
Ossa, glory upon glory : as first all the eyes in the 
galleries will leave walking after the players, and 
onely follow you : the simplest dolt in the house 
snatches up your name, and when he meetes you 
in the streetes, or that you fall into his hands in 
the middle of a watch, his word shall be taken for 


you: heele cry, Hees such a gallant, and you passe. 
Secondly you publish your temperance to the 
world, in that you seeme not to resort thither to 
taste vaine pleasures with a hungrie appetite ; but 
onely as a gentleman, to spend a foolish houre or 
two, because you can^doe nothing else. Thirdly 
you mightily disrelish the audience, and disgrace 
the author : marry, you take up (though it be at 
the worst hand) a strong opinion of your owne 
judgement, and inforce the poet to take pity of 
your weakenesse, and by some dedicated sonuet to 
bring you into a better paradise, onely to stop your 

" If you can (either for love or money) provide 
your selfe a lodging by the water side : for above 
the conveniencie it brings to shun shoulder-clap- 
ping, and to ship away your cockatrice betimes in 
the morning, it addes a kind of state unto you, to 
be carried from thence to the staires of your play- 
house : hate a sculler (remember that) worse then 
to be acquainted with one ath' scullery. No, your 
oares are your onely sea-crabs, boord them, and 
take heed you never go twice together with one 
paire : often shifting is a great credit to gentle- 
men: and that dividing of your fare wil make the 
poore watersnaks be ready to pul you in peeces to 
enjoy your custome. No matter whither upon 
landing you have money or no; you may swim in 
twentie of their boatcs over the river upon ticket ; 
mary, when silver comes in, remember to nay 
trebble their fare, and it will make your flounder- 
catchers to send more thankes alter you, when you 
doe not draw, then when you doe : for they know, 
it will be their owne another daie. 

" Before the play begins, fall to cardes ; you may 
win or loose (as fencers doe in a prize) and beate 


one another by confederacie, yet share the money 
when you meete at supper: notwithstanding, to 
gul the raggamuffins that stand a loofe gaping at 
you, throw the cards (having first torne four or 
five of them) round about the stage, just upon the 
third sound, as though you had lost: it skils not if 
the four knaves ly on their backs, and outface the 
audience, there's none such fooles as dare take 
exceptions at them, because ere the play go off, 
better knaves than they, will fall into the com- 

" Now, Sir, if the writer be a fellow that hath 
either epigram'd you, or hath had a flirt at your 
mistris, or hath brought either your feather, or 
your red beard, or your little legs, &c. on the 
stage, you shall disgrace him worse then by tossing 
him in a blanket, or giving him the bastinado in 
a taverne, if in the middle of his play (bee it pas- 
torall or comedy, morall or tragedie) you rise with 
a skreud and discontented face from your stoole to 
be gone : no matter whether the scenes be good or 
no ; the better they are, the worse doe you distast 
them : and beeing on your feete, sneake not away 
like a coward, but salute all your gentle acquaint- 
ance that are spred either on the rushes or on 
stooles about you, and draw what troope you can 
from the stage after you : the mimicks are beholden 
to you, for allowing them elbow roome : their poet 
cries perhaps, a pox go with you, but care not you 
for that ; there's no musick without frets. 

" Mary, if either the company, or indisposition 
of the weather binde you to sit it out, my counsell 
is then that you turne plaine ape : take up a rush 
and tickle the earnest eares of your fellow gallants, 
to make other fooles fall a laughing : mewe at the 
passionate speeches, blare at merrie, finde fault with 


the musicke,whewe at the children's action, whistle 
at the songs; and above all, curse the sharers, that 
whereas the same day you had bestowed forty shil- 
lings on an embroidered felt and feather (Scotch 
fashion) for your mistres in the court, or your 
punck in the cittie, within two houres after, you 
encounter with the very same block on the stage, 
when the haberdasher swore to you the impression 
was extant but that morning 

" To conclude, hoord up the finest play-scraps 
you can get, upon which your leane wit may most 
savourly feede, for want of other stutfe, when the 
Arcadian and Euphuis'd gentlewomen have their 
tongues sharpened to set upon you : that qualitie 
(next to your shittlecocke) is the only furniture to 
a courtier that's but a new beginner, and is but in 
his A B C of complement. The next places that 
are fil'd after the play-houses bee emptied, are (or 
ought to be) tavernes : into a taverne then let us 
next march, where the braines of one hogshead 
must be beaten out to make up another." 4 

4 The following pretty picture of the stage is given in Gay- 
ton's Notes on Don Quixote, 1654, p. 27 1 : 

" Men come not to study at a play-house, but love such 
expressions and passages, which with ease insinuate themselves 
into their capacities. Lingua, that learned comedy of the con- 
tention betwixt the five senses for superiority, is not to be pros- 
tituted to the common stage, but is only proper for an Academy; 
to them bring Jack Drum's Entertainment, Green's Tu Quoqut, 
the Devil of Edmonton, and the like ; or, if it be on holy dayes, 
when saylers, water-men, shoo-makers, butchers, and appren- 
tices, are at leisure, then it is good policy to amaze those violent 
spirits with some tearing Tragedy full of fights and skirmishes: 
as the Guelphs and Guiblins, Greeks and Trojans, or the three 
London Apprentices; which commonly ends in six acts, the 
spectators frequently mounting the stage, and making a more 
bloody catastrophe amongst themselves, than the players did. I 
have known upon one of theseyMfiW*, but especially at SArove- 


I should have attempted on the present occasion 
to enumerate all other pamphlets, &c. from whence 
particulars relative to the conduct of our early 
theatres might be collected, but that Dr. Percy, in 
his first volume of the Reliques of Ancient English 
Poetry, (third edit. p. 128, &c.) has extracted such 
passages from them as tend to the illustration of 
this subject ; to which he has added more accurate 
remarks than my experience in these matters 
would have enabled me to supply. Steevens. 

tide, where the players have been appointed, notwithstanding 
their bils to the contrary, to act what the major part of the 
company had a mind to ; sometimes Tamerlane, sometimes 
Jugurth, sometimes The Jew of Malta ; and sometimes parts of 
all these, and at last none of the three taking, they were forc'd 
to undresse and put off their tragick habits, and conclude the 
day with the Merry Milk-maides. And unlesse this were done, 
and the popular humour satisfied, as sometimes it so fortun'd, 
that the players were refractory; the benches, the tiles, the 
laths, the stones, oranges, apples, nuts, flew about most libe- 
rally ; and, as there were mechanicks of all professions, who 
fell every one to his owne trade, and dissolved a house in an 
instant, and made a ruine of a stately fabrick. It was not then 
the most mimicall nor fighting man, Fowler, nor Andrew Cane, 
could pacifie : Prologues nor Epilogues would prevaile ; the 
devill and the fool were quite out of favour. Nothing but noise 
and tumult fils the house, untill a cogg take 'urn, and then to 
the bawdy houses and reforme them ; and instantly to the Bank's 
Side, where the poor bears must conclude the riot, and fight 
twenty dogs at a time beside the butchers, which sometimes fell 
into the service ; this perform'd, and the horse and jack-an- 
apes for a jigge, they had sport enough that day for nothing.'* 

Tod i). 





NOT thoroughly satisfied with any of the former 
editions of Shakspeare, even that of Johnson, I 
had resolved to venture upon one of my own, and 
had actually collected materials for the purpose, 
when that, 5 which is the subject of the following 
Observations, made its appearance; in which I 
found that a considerable part of the amendments 
and explanations I had intended to propose were 
anticipated by the labours and eccentrick reading 
of Steevens, the ingenious researches of Malone, 
and the sagacity of Tyrwhitt. I will fairly con- 
fess that I was somewhat mortified at this dis- 
covery, which compelled me to relinquish a fa- 
vourite pursuit, from whence I had vainly expected 
to derive some degree of credit in the literary 
world. This, however, was a secondary considera- 
tion; and my principal purpose will be answered 
to my wish, if the Comments, which I now submit 
to the publick shall, in any other hands, contribute 
materially to a more complete edition of our inimi- 
table poet. 

If we may judge from the advertisement prefixed 

* Edit. 1778. 
VOL. I. K C 


to his Supplement, Malone seems to think that no 
other edition can hereafter be wanted ; as in speak- 
ing of the last, he says, " The text of the author 
seems now to be finally settled, the great abilities 
and unwearied researches of the editor having left 
little obscure or unexplained." 6 

Though I cannot subscribe to this opinion of 
Malone, with respect to the final adjustment of the 
text, I shall willingly join in his encomium on the 
editor, who deserves the applause and gratitude 
of the publick, not only for his industry and abili- 
ties, but also for the zeal with which he has prose- 
cuted the object he had in view, which prompted 
him, not only to the wearisome task of collation, 
but also to engage in a peculiar course of reading, 
neither pleasing nor profitable for any other pur- 

But I will venture to assert, that his merit is 
more conspicuous in the comments than the text ; 
in the regulation of which he seems to have acted 
rather from caprice, than any settled principle ; 
admitting alterations, in some passages, on very 
insufficient authority, indeed, whilst in others he 
has retained the antient readings, though evidently 
corrupt, in preference to amendments as evidently 
just ; and it frequently happens, that after point- 
ing out to us the true reading, he adheres to that 
which he himself has proved to be false. Had he 
regulated the text in every place according to his 
own judgment, Malone's observation would have 
been nearer to the truth j but as it now stands, the 

8 As I was never vain enough to suppose the edit. 1778 was 
entitled to this encomium, I can find no difficulty in allowing 
that it has been properly recalled by the gentleman who bestowed 
it. See his Preface ; and his Letter to the Reverend Dr. Farmer, 
p. 7 and 8. Steevens. 


last edition has no signal advantage, that I can 
perceive, over that of Johnson, in point of correct- 

But the object that Steevens had most at heart, 
was the illustration of Shakspeare, in which it must 
be owned he has clearly surpassed all the former 
editors. If without his abilities, application, or 
reading, I have happened to succeed in explaining 
some passages, which he misapprehended, or in 
suggesting amendments that escaped his sagacitv, 
it is owing merely to the minute attention with 
which I have studied every line of these plays, 
whilst the other commentators, I will not except 
even Steevens himself, have too generally confined 
their observation and ingenuity to those litigated 
passages, which have been handed down to them 
by former editors, as requiring cither amendment 
or explanation, and have suffered many others to 
pass unheeded, that in truth, were equally errone- 
ous or obscure. It may possibly be thought that 
I have gone too far in the other extreme, in point- 
ing out trifling mistakes in the printing, which 
every reader perceives to be such, and amends as 
he reads ; but where correctness is the object, no 
inaccuracy, however immaterial, should escape 

There is perhaps no species of publication 

whatever, more likely to produce diversity of opi- 
nion than verbal criticisms ; for as there is no cer- 
tain criterion of truth, no established principle by 
which we can decide whether they be justly round- 
ed or not, every reader is left to his own imagina- 
tion, on which will depend his censure or applause. 
I have not therefore the vanity to hope that all 
these observations will be generally approved of; 
some of them, I confess, are not thoroughly satis- 

i: i: 2 


factory even to myself, and are hazarded, rather 
than relied on : But there are others which I offer 
with some degree of confidence, and I flatter my- 
self that they will meet, upon the whole, with a 
favourable reception from the admirers of Shak- 
speare, as tending to elucidate a number of pas- 
sages which have hitherto been misprinted or mis- 

In forming these comments, I have confined 
myself solely to the particular edition which is the 
object of them, without comparing it with any 
other, even with that of Johnson : not doubting 
but the editors had faithfully stated the various 
readings of the first editions, I resolved to avoid 
the labour of collating ; but had I been inclined 
to undertake that task, it would not have been in 
my power, as few, if any, of the ancient copies can 
be had in the country where I reside. 

I have selected from the Supplement, Pericles, 
Prince of Tyre, because it is supposed by some of 
the commentators to have been the work of Shak- 
speare, and is at least as faulty as any of the rest. 
The remainder of the plays which Malone has pub- 
lished are neither, in my opinion, the production 
of our poet, or sufficiently incorrect to require any 
comment. M. Mason. 




I HE works of Shakspeare, during the last twenty 
years, have been the objects of publick attention 
more than at any former period. In that time the 
various editions of his performances have been 
examined, his obscurities illuminated, his defects 
pointed out, and his beauties displayed, so fully, 
so accurately, and in so satisfactory a manner, that 
it might reasonably be presumed little would re- 
main to be done by either new editors or new com- 
mentators: yet, though the diligence and sagacity 
of those gentlemen who contributed towards the 
last edition of this author may seem to have almost 
exhausted the subject, the same train of enquiry 
has brought to light new discoveries, and accident 
will probably continue to produce further illustra- 
tions, which may render some alterations necessary 
in every succeeding republication. 

Since the last edition of this work in 1778, the 
zeal for elucidating Shakspeare, which appeared in 
most of the gentlemen whose names are affixed to 
the notes, has suffered little abatement. The same 
persevering spirit of enquiry has continued to exert 
itself, and the same laborious search into the lite- 
rature, the manners, and the customs of the times, 
which was formerly so successfully employed, has 


remained undiminished. By these aids some new 
information has been obtained, and some new 
materials collected. From the assistance of such 
writers, even Shakspeare will receive no discredit. 

When the very great and various talents of the 
last editor, particularly for this work, are con- 
sidered, it will occasion much regret to find, that 
having superintended two editions of his favourite 
author through the press, he has at length declined 
the laborious office, and committed the care of the 
present edition to one who laments with the rest 
of the world the secession of his predecessor ; 
being conscious, as well of his own inferiority, as 
of the injury the publication will sustain by the 

As some alterations have been made in the pre- 
sent edition, it maybe thought necessary to point 
them out. These are of two kinds, additions and 
omissions. The additions are such as have been 
supplied by the last editor, and the principal of 
the living commentators. To mention these as- 
sistances, is sufficient to excite expectation ; but 
to speak any thing in their praise will be superflu- 
ous to those who are acquainted with their former 
labours. Some remarks are also added from new 
commentators, and some notices extracted from 
books which have been published in the course of 
a few years past. 

Of the omissions, the most important are some 
notes which have been demonstrated to be ill 
founded, and some which were supposed to add 
to the size of the volumes without increasing their 
value. It may probably have happened that a few 
are rejected which ought to have been retained ; 
and in that case the present editor, who has been 
the occasion of their removal, will feel some con- 


cern from the injustice of his proceeding. He is, 
however, inclined to believe, that what he has 
omitted will be pardoned by the reader ; and that 
the liberty which he has taken will not be thought 
to have been licentiouslv indulged. At all events, 
that the censure may fall where it ought, he de- 
sires it to be understood that no person is answera- 
ble for any of these innovations but himself. 

It has been observed by the last editor, that the 
multitude of instances which have been produced 
to exemplify particular words, and explain obsolete 
customs, may, when the point is once known to be 
established, be diminished by any future editor, 
and, in conformity to this opinion, several quota- 
tions, which were heretofore properly introduced, 
are now curtailed. Were an apology required on 
this occasion, the present editor might shelter him- 
self under the authority of Prior, who long ago has 

" That when one's proofs are aptly chosen, 
*' Four are as valid as four dozen." 

The present editor thinks it unnecessary to say 
any thing of his own share in the work, except 
that he undertook it in consequence of an applica- 
tion which was too flattering and too honourable 
to him to decline. He mentions this only to have 
it known that he did not intrude himself into the 
situation. He is not insensible, that the task would 
have been better executed by many other gentle- 
men, and particularly by some whose names ap- 
pear to the notes, fie has added but little to the 
bulk of the volumes from his own observations, 
having, upon every occasion, rather chosen to avoid 
a note, than to court the opportunity of inserting 
one. The liberty he has taken of omitting some 


remarks, he is confident, has been exercised with- 
out prejudice and without partiality; and there- 
fore, trusting to the candour and indulgence of the 
publick, will forbear to detain them any longer 
from the entertainment they may receive from the 
greatest poet of this or any other nation. Reed. 

Nov. 10, 1785. 



IN the following work, the labour of eight years, 
I have endeavoured, with unceasing solicitude, to 
give a faithful and correct edition of the plays and 
poems of Shakspeare. Whatever imperfection or 
errors therefore may be found in it, (and what 
work of so great a length and difficulty was ever 
free from error or imperfection ?) will, I trust, be 
imputed to any other cause than want of zeal for 
the due execution of the task which I ventured to 

The difficulties to be encountered by an editor 
of the works of Shakspeare, have been so frequently 
stated, and are so generally acknowledged, that it 
may seem unnecessary to conciliate the publick 


favour by this plea : but as these in my opinion 
have in some particulars been over-rated, and in 
others not sufficiently insisted on, and as the true 
state of the ancient copies of this poet's writings 
has never been laid before the publick, I shall con- 
sider the subject as if it had not been already dis- 
cussed by preceding editors. 

In the year 1 756 Dr. Johnson published the fol- 
lowing excellent scheme of a new edition of Shak- 
speare's dramatick pieces, which he completed in 

" When the works of Shakspeare are, after so 
many editions, again offered to the publick, it will 
doubtless be enquired, why Shakspeare stands in 
more need of critical assistance than any other of 
the English writers, and what are the deficiencies 
of the late attempts, which another editor may 
hope to supply. 

" The business of him that republishes an an- 
cient book is, to correct what is corrupt, and to 
explain what is obscure. To have a text corrupt 
in many places, and in many doubtful, is, among 
the authors that have written since the use of types, 
almost peculiar to Shakspeare. Most writers, by 
publishing their own works, prevent all various 
readings, and preclude all conjectural criticism. 
Books indeed are sometimes published after the 
death of him who produced them, but they are 
better secured from corruptions than these unfor- 
tunate compositions. They subsist in a single 
copy, written or revised by the author; and the 
faults of the printed volume can be only faults of 
one descent. 

" But of the works of Shakspeare the condition 
has been far different : he sold them, not to be 
printed, but to be played. They were immediately 


copied for the actors, and multiplied by transcript 
after transcript, vitiated by the blunders of the 
penman, or changed by the affectation of the 
player ; perhaps enlarged to introduce a jest, or 
mutilated to shorten the representation; and print- 
ed at last without the concurrence of the author, 
without the consent of the proprietor, from com- 
pilations made by chance or by stealth out of the 
separate parts written for the theatre: and thus 
thrust into the world surreptitiously and hastily, 
they suffered another depravation from the igno- 
rance and negligence of the printers, as every man 
who knows the state of the press in that age will 
readily conceive. 

" It is not easy for invention to bring together 
so many causes concurring to vitiate a text. No 
other author ever gave up his works to fortune 
and time with so little care; no books could be 
left in hands so likely to injure them, as plays fre- 
quently acted, yet continued in manuscript: no 
other transcribers w T ere likely to be so little qua- 
lified for their task, as those who copied for the 
stage, at a time when the lower ranks of the people 
were universally illiterate : no other editions were 
made from fragments so minutely broken, and so 
fortuitously re-united ; and in no other age was 
the art of printing in such unskilful hands. 

" With the causes of corruption that make the 
revisal of Shakspeare's dramatick pieces necessary, 
may be enumerated the causes of obscurity, which 
may be partly imputed to his age, and partly to 

" When a winter outlives his contemporaries, 
and remains almost the only unforgotten name of 
a distant time, he is necessarily obscure. Every age 
has its modes of speech, and its cast of thought ; 


which, though easily explained when there are 
many books to be compared with each other, be- 
come sometimes unintelligible, and always difficult, 
when there are no parallel passages that may con- 
duce to their illustration. Shakspeare is the first 
considerable author of sublime or familiar dialogue 
in our language. Of the books which he read, and 
from which he formed his style, some perhaps have 
perished, and the rest are neglected. His imita- 
tions are therefore unnoted, his allusions are un- 
discovered, and many beauties, both of pleasantry 
and greatness, are lost with the objects to which 
they were united, as the figures vanish when the 
canvas has decayed. 

" It is the great excellence of Shakspeare, that 
he drew his scenes from nature, and from life. 
He copied the manners of the world then passing 
before him, and has more allusions than other 
poets to the traditions and superstitions of the 
vulgar; which must therefore be traced before he 
can be understood. 

" He wrote at a time when our poetical language 
was yet unformed, when the meaning of our phrases 
was yet in fluctuation, when words were adopted 
at pleasure from the neighbouring languages, and 
while the Saxon was still visibly mingled in our 
diction. The reader is therefore embarrassed at 
once with dead and with foreign languages, with 
obsoleteness and innovation. In that age, as in all 
others, fashion produced phraseology, which suc- 
ceeding fashion swept away before its meaning was 
generally known, or sufficiently authorized : and 
in that age, above all others, experiments were 
made upon our language, which distorted its com- 
binations, and disturbed its uniformity. 

" If Shakspeare has difficulties above other 


writers, it is to be imputed to the nature of his 
work, which required the use of the common col- 
loquial language, and consequently admitted many 
phrases allusive, elliptical, and proverbial, such as 
we speak and hear every hour without observing 
them ; and of which, being now familiar, we do 
not suspect that they can ever grow uncouth, 
or that, being now obvious, they can ever seem 

" These are the principal causes of the obscurity 
of Shakspeare ; to which may be added that full- 
ness of idea, which might sometimes load his words 
with more sentiment than they could conveniently 
convey, and that rapidity of imagination which 
might hurry him to a second thought before he had 
fully explained the first. But my opinion is, that 
very few of his lines were difficult to his audience, 
and that he used such expressions as were then 
common, though the paucity of contemporary 
writers makes them now seem peculiar. 

" Authors are often praised for improvement, or 
blamed for innovation, with very little justice, by 
those who read few other books of the same age. 
Addison himself has been so unsuccessful in enu- 
merating the words with which Milton has enriched 
our language, as perhaps not to have named one of 
which Milton was the author : and Bentley has yet 
more unhappily praised him as the introducer of 
those elisions into English poetry, which had been 
used from the first essays of versification among 
us, and which Milton was indeed the last that 

" Another impediment, not the least vexatious 
to the commentator, is the exactness with which 
Shakspeare followed his author. Instead of di- 
lating his thoughts into generalities, and expressing 


incidents with poetical latitude, he often combines 
circumstances unnecessary to his main design, only 
because he happened to find them together. Such 
passages can be illustrated only by him who has 
read the same story in the very book which Shak- 
speare consulted. 

" He that undertakes an edition of Shakspeare, 
has all these difficulties to encounter, and all these 
obstructions to remove. 

" The corruptions of the text will be corrected 
by a careful collation of the oldest copies, by which 
it is hoped that many restorations may yet be 
made ; at least it will be necessary to collect and 
note the variations as materials for future criticks, 
for it very often happens that a wrong reading has 
affinity to the right. 

" In this part all the present editions are appa- 
rently and intentionally defective. The criticks 
did not so much as wish to facilitate the labour of 
those that followed them. The same books are 
still to be compared ; the work that has been done, 
is to be done again, and no single edition will sup- 
ply the reader with a text on which he can rely as 
the best copy of the works of Shakspeare. 

" The edition now proposed will at least have 
this advantage over others. It will exhibit all the 
observable varieties of all the copies that can he 
found; that, if the reader is not satisfied with the 
editor's determination, he may have the means of 
choosing better for himself. 

" Where all the books are evidently vitiated, 
and collation can give no assistance, then begins 
the task of critical sagacity: and some changes 
may well be admitted in a text never settled by 
the author, and so long exposed to caprice and 
ignorance. But nothing shall be imposed, as in 


the Oxford edition, without notice of the altera- 
tion ; nor shall conjecture be wantonly or unneces- 
sarily indulged. 

" It has been long found, that very specious 
emendations do, not equally strike all minds with 
conviction, nor even the same mind at different 
times ; and therefore, though perhaps many altera- 
tions may be proposed as eligible, very few will be 
obtruded as certain. In a language so ungram- 
matical as the English, and so licentious as that of 
Shakspeare, emendatory criticism is always hazard- 
ous ; nor can it be allowed to any man who is not 
particularly versed in the writings of that age, and 
particularly studious of his author's diction. There 
is danger lest peculiarities should be mistaken for 
corruptions, and passages rejected as unintelligible, 
which a narrow mind happens not to understand. 

" All the former criticks have been so much 
employed on the correction of the text, that they 
have not sufficiently attended to the elucidation of 
passages obscured by accident or time. The editor 
will endeavour to read the books which the au- 
thor read, to trace his knowledge to its source, and 
compare his copies with the originals. If in this 
part of his design he hopes to attain any degree 
of superiority to his predecessors, it must be con- 
sidered, that he has the advantage of their labours ; 
that part of the work being already done, more 
care is naturally bestowed on the other part ; and 
that, to declare the truth, Mr. Rowe and Mr. Pope 
were very ignorant of the ancient English litera- 
ture ; Dr. Warburton was detained by more im- 
portant studies ; and Mr. Theobald, if fame be 
just to his memory, considered learning only as an 
instrument of gain, and made no further inquiry 
after his author's meaning, when once he had 


notes sufficient to embellish his page with the ex- 
pected decorations. 

" With regard to obsolete or peculiar diction, 
the editor may perhaps claim some degree of con- 
fidence, having had more motives to consider the 
whole extent of our language than any other man 
from its first formation. He hopes, that, by com- 
paring the works of Shakspeare with those of 
writers who lived at the same time, immediately 
preceded, or immediately followed him, he shall 
be able to ascertain his ambiguities, disentangle 
his intricacies, and recover the meaning of words 
now lost in the darkness of antiquity. 

" When therefore any obscurity arises from an 
allusion to some other book, the passage will be 
quoted. When the diction is entangled, it will be 
cleared by a paraphrase or interpretation. When 
the sense is broken by the suppression of part of 
the sentiment in pleasantry or passion, the con- 
nection will be supplied. When any forgotten 
custom is hinted, care will be taken to retrieve 
and explain it. The meaning assigned to doubt- 
ful words will be supported by the authorities of 
other writers, or by parallel passages of Shakspeare 

" The observation of faults and beauties is one 
of the duties of an annotator, which some of Shak- 
speare's editors have attempted, and some have 
neglected. For this part of his task, and for this 
only, was Mr. Pope eminently and indisputably 
qualified : nor has l>r. Warburton followed him 
with less diligence or less success. Hut I never 
observed that mankind was much delighted or 
improved by their asterisks, commas, or double 
commas; of which the only effect is, that they 
preclude the pleasure of judging for ourselves; 


teach the young and ignorant to decide without 

f>rinciples ; defeat curiosity and discernment by 
eaving them less to discover ; and, at last, show 
the opinion of the critick, without the reasons on 
which it was founded, and without affording any 
light by which it may be examined. 

" The editor, though he may less delight his 
own vanity, will probably please his reader more, 
by supposing him equally able with himself to judge 
of beauties and faults, which require no previous 
acquisition of remote knowledge. A description of 
the obvious scenes of nature, a representation of 
general life, a sentiment of reflection or experience, 
a deduction of conclusive argument, a forcible 
eruption of effervescent passion, are to be con- 
sidered as proportionate to common apprehension, 
unassisted by critical officiousness ; since to con- 
ceive them, nothing more is requisite than ac- 
quaintance with the general state of the world, 
and those faculties which he must always bring 
with him who would read Shakspeare. 

" But when the beauty arises from some adapta- 
tion of the sentiment to customs worn out of use, 
to opinions not universally prevalent, or to any 
accidental or minute particularity, which cannot 
be supplied by common understanding, or common 
observation, it is the duty of a commentator to lend 
his assistance. 

" The notice of beauties and faults thus limited 
will make no distinct part of the design, being re- 
ducible to the explanation of obscure passages. 

'* The editor does not however intend to preclude 
himself from the comparison of Shakspeare's sen- 
timents or expression with those of ancient or 
modern authors, or from the display of any beauty 
not obvious to the students of poetry j for as he 


hopes to leave his author better understood, he 
wishes likewise to procure him more rational 

" The former editors have affected to slight their 
predecessors : but in this edition all that is valua- 
ble will be adopted from every commentator, that 
posterity may consider it as including all the rest, 
and exhibit whatever is hitherto known of the 
great father of the English drama." 

Though Dr. Johnson has here pointed out with 
his usual perspicuity and vigour, the true course to 
be taken by an editor of Shakspeare, some of the 
positions which he has laid down may be contro- 
verted, and some are indubitably not true. It is 
not true that the plays of this author were more 
incorrectly printed than those of any of his con- 
temporaries : for in the plays of Marlowe, Marston, 
Fletcher, Massinger, and others, as many errors 
may be found. It is not true that the art of 
printing was in no other age in so unskilful hands. 
Nor is it true, in the latitude in which it is stated, 
that " these plays were printed from compilations 
made by chance or by stealth out of the separate 
parts written for the theatre :" two only of all his 
dramas, The Merry Wives of Windsor and King 
Henry V. appear to have been thus thrust into the 
world, and of the former it is yet a doubt whether 
it is a first sketch or an imperfect copy. I do not 
believe that words were then adopted at pleasure 
from the neighbouring languages, or that an anti- 
quated diction was then employed by any poet but 
Spenser. That the obscurities of our author, to 
whatever cause they may be referred, do not arise 
from the paucity of contemporary writers, the 
present edition may furnish indisputable evidence. 

VOL, T. P F 


And lastly, if it be true, that " very few of Shak- 
speare's lines were difficult to his audience, and 
that he used such expressions as were then com- 
mon," (a position of which I have not the smallest 
doubt,) it cannot be true, that " his reader is em- 
barrassed at once with dead and with foreign lan- 
guages, with obsoleteness and innovation." 

When Mr. Pope first undertook the task of re- 
vising these plays, every anomaly of language, and 
every expression that was not understood at that 
time, were considered as errors or corruptions, and 
the text was altered, or amended, as it was called, 
at pleasure. The principal writers of the early 
part of this century seem never to have looked be- 
hind them, and to have considered their own era 
and their own phraseology as the standard of per- 
fection: hence, from the time of Pope's edition, 
for above twenty years, to alter Shakspeare's text 
and to restore it, were considered as synonymous 
terms. During the last thirty years our principal 
employment has been to restore, in the true sense 
of the word 5 to eject the arbitrary and capricious 
innovations made by our predecessors from igno- 
rance of the phraseology and customs of the age 
in which Shakspeare lived. 

As on the one hand our poet's text has been 
described as more corrupt than it really is, so on 
the other, the labour required to investigate fu- 
gitive allusions, to explain and justify obsolete 
phraseology by parallel passages from contemporary 
authors, and to form a genuine text by a faithful 
collation of the original copies, has not perhaps 
had that notice to which it is entitled ; for un- 
doubtedly it is a laborious and a difficult task : and 
the due execution of this it is, which can alone 


entitle an editor of Shakspeare to the favour of the 

I have said that the comparative value of the 
various ancient copies of Shakspeare's plays has 
never been precisely ascertained. To prove this, 
it will be necessary to go into a long and minute 
discussion, for which, however, no apology is ne- 
cessary : for though to explain and illustrate the 
writings of our poet is a principal duty of his 
editor, to ascertain his genuine text, to fix what is 
to be explained, is his first and immediate object : 
and till it be established which of the ancient 
copies is entitled to preference, we have no cri- 
terion by which the text can be ascertained. 

Fifteen of Shakspeare's plays were printed in 
quarto antecedent to the first complete collection 
of his works, which was published by his fellow- 
comedians in 1 623. These plays are, A Midsum- 
mer-Night's Dream, Love's Labour's Lost, Romeo 
and Juliet, Hamlet, The Two Parts of King 
Henry IV. King Ricluird II. King Richard III. 
The Merchant of Venice, King Henry V. Much 
Ado about Nothing, The Merry Wives of Windsor, 
Troilus and Cressida, King Lear, and Othello. 

The players, when they mention these copies, 
represent them all as mutilated and imperfect ; but 
this was merely thrown out to give an additional 
value to their own edition, and is not strictly true 
of any but two of the whole number ; The Merry 
Wives of Windsor, and King Henry V. With re- 
spect to the other thirteen copies, though undoubt- 
edly they were all surreptitious, that is, stolen from 
the playhouse, and printed without the consent of 
the author or the proprietors, they in general are 
preferable to the exhibition of the same plays in the 

r f 2 


folio; for this plain reason, because, instead of 
printing these plays from a manuscript, the editors 
of the folio, to save labour, or from some other 
motive, printed the greater part of them from the 
very copies which they represented as maimed and 
imperfect, and frequently from a late, instead of 
the earliest, edition ; in some instances with addi- 
tions and alterations of their own. Thus therefore 
the first folio, as far as respects the plays above 
enumerated, labours under the disadvantage of 
being at least a second, and in some cases a third, 
edition of these quartos. I do not, however, mean 
to say, that many valuable corrections of passages 
undoubtedly corrupt in the quartos are not found 
in the folio copy ; or that a single line of these 
plays should be printed by a careful editor without 
a minute examination, and collation of both copies; 
but those quartos were in general the basis on 
which the folio editors built, and are entitled to 
our particular attention and examination as first 

It is well known to those who are conversant with 
the business of the press, that, (unless when the 
author corrects and revises his own works,) as edi- 
tions of books are multiplied, their errors are multi- 
plied also; and that consequently every such edition 
is more or less correct, as it approaches nearer to or 
is more distant from the first. A few instances of 
the gradual progress of corruption will fully evince 
the truth of this assertion. 

In the original copy of King Richard II. 4to. 
1597, Act II. sc. ii. are these lines : 

** You promis'd, when you parted with the king, 
' To lay aside life-harming heaviness.'* 


In a subsequent quarto, printed in 1608, instead 
of life-harming we find HALF-harming ; which 
being perceived by the editor of the folio to be 
nonsense, he substituted, instead of it, self- 
harming heaviness. 

In the original copy of King Henry IV. P. I. 
printed in 1598, Act IV. sc. iv. we find 

'* And what with Owen Glendower's absence thence, 
" (Who with them was a rated sinew too,)" &c. 

In the fourth quarto printed in 1608, the article 
being omitted by the negligence of the compositor, 
and the line printed thus, 

" Who with them was rated sinew too,*' 

the editor of the next quarto, (which was copied 
by the folio,) instead of examining the first edition, 
amended the error (leaving the metre still imper- 
fect) by reading 

*' Who with them was rated Jirmly too." 

So, in the same play, Act I. sc. iii. instead of the 
reading of the earliest copy 

" Why what a candy deal of courtesy " 

caudy being printed in the first folio instead of 
candy, by the accidental inversion of the letter n, 
the editor of the second folio corrected the error 
by substituting gaudy. 

So, in the same play, Act III. sc. i. instead of 
the reading of the earliest impression, 


" The frame and huge foundation of the earth " 

in the second and the subsequent quartos, the line 
by the negligence of the compositor was exhibited 
without the word huge : 

" The frame and foundation of the earth " 

and the editor of the folio, finding the metre im- 
perfect, supplied it by reading, 

" The frame and the foundation of the earth." 

Another line in Act V. sc. ult. is thus exhibited 
in the quarto, 1598: 

" But that the earthy and cold hand of death " 

Earth being printed instead of earthy, in the 
next and the subsequent quarto copies, the editor 
of the folio amended the line thus : 

" But that the earth and the cold hand of death ." 

Again, in the preceding scene, we find in the 
first copy, 

" I was not born a yielder, thou proud Scot ." 

instead of which, in the fifth quarto, 1613, we 

'* I was not born to yield, thou proud Scot." 

This being the copy that was used by the editor of 
the folio, instead of examining the most ancient 
impression, he corrected the error according to his 


own fancy, and probably while the work was pass- 
ing through the press, by reading 

" I was not born to yield, thou haughty Scot." 

In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says to her Nurse, 

" In faith, I am sorry that thou art not well.*' 

and this line in the first folio being corruptly ex- 

" In faith, I am sorry that thou art so well." 

the editor of the second folio, to obtain some sense, 

" In faith, I am sorry that thou art so ill." 

In the quarto copy of the same play, published 
in 1599, we find 

O happy dagger, 

" This is thy sheath; there rust, and let me die." 

In the next quarto, 1609, the last line is thus re- 
presented : 

" Tm is thy sheath," &c. 

The editor of the folio, seeing that this was 
manifestly wrong, absurdly corrected the error 

" Tis in thy sheath ; there rust, and let me die. " 

Again, in the same play, quarto, 1599, mishatfd 
being corruptly printed tor misbc/iav'dj 

** But like a mithavd and sullen weoch " 


the editor of the first folio, to obtain something like 
sense, reads 

" But like a mishap'd and sullen wench ." 

and instead of this, the editor of the second folio, 
for the sake of metre, gives us 

" But like a mishap'd and a sullen wench ." 

Again, in the first scene of King Richard III, 
quarto, 1597, we find this line : 

" That tempers him to this extremity." 

In the next quarto, and all subsequent, tempts 
is corruptly printed instead of tempers. The line 
then wanting a syllable, the editor of the folio 
printed it thus : 

" That tempts him to this harsh extremity." 

Not to weary my reader, I shall add but two 
more instances, from Romeo and Juliet: 

" Away to heaven, respective lenity, 

" And fire-ey 'd fury be my conduct now !" 

says Romeo, when provoked by the appearance of 
his rival. Instead of this, which is the reading of 
the quarto 1597, the line, in the quarto, 1599, is 
thus corruptly exhibited : 

" And fire end fury be my conduct now !" 

In the subsequent quarto copy and was substitut- 
ed for end; and accordingly in the folio the poet's 
fine imagery is entirely lost, and Romeo exclaims, 


" And fire and fury be my conduct now !" 

The other instance in the same play is not less 
remarkable. In the quarto, 1599, the Friar, ad- 
dressing Romeo, is made to say, 

" Thou puts up thy fortune, and thy love." 

The editor of the folio perceiving here a gross 
corruption, substituted these words : 

" Thou puttest up thy fortune, and thy love ;" 

not perceiving that up was a misprint for upon, 
and puts for pouts, (which according to the ancient 
mode was written instead of powt*st,) as he would 
have found by looking into another copy without 
a date, and as he might have conjectured from the 
corresponding line in the original play printed in 
1597, nad he ever examined it: 

" Thoufroum'st upon thy fate, that smiles on thee." 

So little known indeed was the value of the early 
impressions of books, (not revised or corrected by 
their authors,) that King Charles the First, though 
a great admirer of our poet, was contented with 
the second folio edition of his plays, unconscious 
of the numerous misrepresentations and interpo- 
lations by which every page of that copy is dis- 
figured ; and in a volume of the quarto plays of 
Beaumont and Fletcher, which formerly belonged 
to that king, and is now in my collection, 1 did not 
find a single first impression. In like manner, Sir 
William D'Avenant, when he made his alteration 
of the play of Macbeth, appears to have used the 
third folio printed in 16b4." 

In that copy anoint being corruptly printed instead of aroint, 
M Anoint thee, witch, the rump-fed rouyon cries." 
the error was implicitly adopted by D'Avenant. 


The various readings found in the different im- 
pressions of the quarto copies are frequently men- 
tioned by the late editors : it is obvious from what 
has been already stated, that the first edition of 
each play is alone of any authority, 9 and accord- 
ingly to no other have I paid any attention. All 
the variations in the subsequent quartos were made 
by accident or caprice. Where, however, there 
are two editions printed in the same year, or an 
undated copy, it is necessary to examine each of 
them, because which of them was first, can not 
be ascertained; and being each printed from a 
manuscript, they carry with them a degree of 
authority to which a re-impression cannot be en- 
titled. Of the tragedy of King Lear there are no 
less than three copies, varying from each other, 
printed for the same bookseller, and in the same 

Of all the plays of which there are no quarto 
copies extant, the first folio, printed in 1623, is 
the only authentick edition. 

An opinion has been entertained by some that 
the second impression of that book, published in 
1632, has a similar claim to authenticity. " Who- 
ever has any of the folios, (says Dr. Johnson,) has 
all, excepting those diversities which mere reitera- 
tion of editions will produce. I collated them all 
at the beginning, but afterwards used only the 
first, from which (he afterwards adds,) the sub- 
sequent folios never differ but by accident or neg- 
ligence." Mr. Steevens, however, does not sub- 
scribe to this opinion. " The edition of 1632, 

9 Except only in the instance of Romeo and Juliet, where the 
first copy, printed in 1597, appears to be an imperfect sketch, 
and therefore cannot be entirely relied on. Yet even this fur- 
nishes many valuable corrections of the more perfect copy of that 
tragedy in its present state, printed in 1599. 


(says that gentleman,) is not without value ; for 
though it be in some places more incorrectly 
printed than the preceding one, it has likewise 
the advantage of various readings, which are not 
merely such as re-iteration of copies will naturally 

What Dr. Johnson has stated, is not quite accu- 
rate. The second folio does indeed very frequently 
differ from the first by negligence or chance ; but 
much more frequently by the editor's profound 
ignorance of our poet's phraseology and metre, in 
consequence of which there is scarce a page of the 
book which is not disfigured by the capricious 
alterations introduced by the person to whom the 
care of that impression was entrusted. This per- 
son in fact, whoever he was, and Mr. Pope, were 
the two great corrupters of our poet's text; and I 
have no doubt that if the arbitrary alterations in- 
troduced by these two editors were numbered, in 
the plays of which no quarto copies are extant, 
they would greatly exceed all the corruptions and 
errors of the press in the original and onlvau then- 
tick copy of those plays. Though my judgment 
on this subject has been formed after a very careful 
examination, I cannot expect that it should be re- 
ceived on my mere assertion : and therefore it is 
necessary to substantiate it by proof. This cannot 
be effected but by a long, minute, and what I am 
afraid will appear to many, an uninteresting dis- 
quisition : but let it still be remembered tliat to 
ascertain the genuine text of these plays is an ob- 
ject of great importance. 

On a revision of the second folio printed in 
1632, it will be found, that the editor of that book 
was entirely ignorant of our poet's phraseology and 
metre, and that various alterations were made by 


him, in consequence of that ignorance, which ren- 
der his edition of no value whatsoever. 

I. His ignorance of Shakspeare's phraseology 
is proved by the following among many other in- 

He did not know that the double negative was 
the customary and authorized language of the age 
of Queen Elizabeth, and therefore, instead of 

" Nor to her bed no homage do I owe." 

Comedy ofErrors y Act III. sc. ii. 

he printed 

" Nor to her bed a homage do I owe." 

So, in As you like it, Act II. sc. iv. instead of 
" I can not go no further," he printed " I can go 
no further." 

In Mitch Ado about Nothing, Act III. sc. i. 
Hero, speaking of Beatrice, says, 

there will she hide her, 

" To listen our purpose." 

for which the second folio substitutes 

there will she hide her, 

" To listen to our purpose ." 

Again, in The Winter's Tale, Act I. sc. ii : 
" Thou dost make possible, things not so held." 

The plain meaning is, thou dost make those 
things possible, which are held to be impossible. 
But the editor of the second folio, not understand- 
ing the line, reads 

" Thou dost make possible things not to be so held ;" 


i. e. thou dost make those things to be esteemed 
impossible, which are possible : the very reverse 
of what the poet meant. 

In the same play is this line : 

" I am appointed him to murder you." 

Here the editor of the second folio, not being 
conversant with Shakspeare's irregular language, 

" I appointed him to murder you." 

Again, in Macbeth : 

" This diamond he greets your wife withal, 

" By the name of most kind hostess ; and shut up 

'* In measureless content." 

Not knowing that shut up meant concluded, the 
editor of the second folio reads 

and shut it up [i. e. the diamond] 

" In measureless content." 

In the same play the word luted, (" Now spurs 
the 'lated traveller ") not being understood, is 
changed to latest, and Colmes-Inch to Colmcs- 

Again, ibidem: when Macbeth says, " Hang 
those that talk of fear," it is evident that these 
words are not a wish or imprecation, but an in- 
junction to hang all the cowards in Scotland. The 
editor of the second folio, however, considering 
the passage in the former light, reads : 

" Hang them that stand in fear." 

From the same ignorance, 


" And all our yesterdays have lighted fools 
M The way to dusty death." 

is changed to 

" And all our yesterdays have lighted fools 
u The way to study death." 

In King Richard II, Bolingbroke says, 

" And I must find that title in your tongue," &c 

i. e. you must address me by that title. But this 
not being understood, town is in the second folio 
substituted for tongue. 

The double comparative is common in the plays 
of Shakspeare. Yet, instead of 

' I'll give my reasons 

*' More worthier than their voices." 

Coriolanus, Act III. sc. i. First Folio. 

we have in the second copy, 

" More worthy than their voices." 

So, in Othello, Act I. sc. v. " opinion, a sove- 
reign mistress of effects, throws a more safer voice 
on you," is changed in the second folio, to 
" opinion, &c. throws a more safe voice on you." 

Again, in Hamlet, Act III. sc. ii. instead of 
*' your wisdom should show itself more richer, to 
signify this to the doctor;" we find in the copy of 

1632, " your wisdom should show itself more 

rich" &c. 

In The Winter's Tale, the word vast not being 

" they shook hands as over a vast" First Folio. 


we find in the second copy, " as over a vast 

In King John, Act V. sc. v. first folio, are these 
lines : 

The English, lords 

" By his persuasion are again fallen off." 

The editor of the second folio, thinking, I sup- 
pose, that as these lords had not before deserted the 
French king, it was improper to say that they had 
again fallen off, substituted " are at last fallen 
off;" not perceiving that the meaning is, that 
these lords had gone back again to their own 
countrymen, whom they had before deserted. 

In King Henri/ VIII. Act II. sc. ii. Norfolk, 
speaking of Wolsey, says, " I'll venture one have at 
him." This being misunderstood, is changed in the 
second copy to " I'll venture one heave at him." 

JuliusCtesar likewise furnishes various specimens 
of his ignorance of Shakspeare's language. The 
phrase, to bear hard, not being understood, in- 
stead of 

" Caius Ligarius doth bear Caesar hard." First Folio, 
we find in the second copy, 

* Caius Ligarius doth bear Caesar hatred." 

and from the same cause the words dank, blest, and 
hurtled, are dismissed from the text, and more fa- 
miliar words substituted in their room.' 

1 ** To walk unbraced, and suck up the humours 
" Of the dank morning." First Folio. 
" Of the dark morning.'' Second Folio. 

** We are blest that Rome is rid of him." First Folio. 

We are glad that Rome is rid of him." Second Folio. 

The noise of battle hurtled in the air." First Folio. 

" The noise of battle hurried in the air." Second Folio. 


In like manner in the third Act of Coriolanus, 
sc. ii. the ancient verb to owe, i. e. to possess, is 
discarded by this editor, and own substituted in its 

In Antony and Cleopatra, we find in the original 
copy these lines : 

I say again, thy spirit 

" Is all afraid to govern thee near him, 
" But he alway, 'tis noble." 

Instead of restoring the true word away, which 
was thus corruptly exhibited, the editor of the se- 
cond folio, without any regard to the context, alter- 
ed another part of the line, and absurdly printed 
" But he alway is noble." 

In the same play, Act I. sc. iii. Cleopatra says 
to Charmian " Quick and return ;" for which the 
editor of the second folio, not knowing that quick 
was either used adverbially, or elliptically for Be 
quick, substitutes " Quickly, and return." 

In Timon of Athens, are these lines: 

" And that unapt/less made your minister 
" Thus to excuse yourself." 

i. e. and made that unaptness your minister to ex- 
cuse yourself; or, in other words, availed yourself 
of that unaptness as an excuse for your own con- 
duct. The words being inverted and put out of 
their natural order, the editor of the second folio 
supposed that unaptness, being placed first, must be 
the nominative case, and therefore reads 

" And that unaptness made you minister, 
" Thus to excuse yourself." 

In that play, from the same ignorance, instead 
of Timon's exhortation to the thieves, to kill as 


well as rob. like wealth and lives together," 
we find m the second copy, Take wealth, and 
live together." And with equal ignorance and 
licentiousness this editor altered the epitaph on 
Timon, to render it what he thought metrical, by 
leaving out various words. In the original edition 
it appears as it does in Plutarch, and therefore we 
may be certain that the variations in the second 
copy were here, as in other places, all arbitrary and 

Again, in the same play, we have 


" O, my good lord, the world is but a xvord" &c. 

The editor not understanding either of these pas- 
sages, and supposing that / in the first of them was 
used as a personal pronoun, (whereas it stands ac- 
cording to the usage of that time for the affirmative 
particle, ay ,) reads in the first line, 

'* I defy land ;" 

and exhibits the other line thus : 

" O, ray good lord, the world is but a u-orU," Sec. 

Our author and the contemporary writers gene- 
rally write wars, not war, &c. The editor of the 
second folio being unapprised of this, reads in 
Antony and Cleopatra, Act III. sc. v: " ( eeaar 
having made use of him in the war against Pom- 
pey," instead of wars, the reading of the original 

TIk- seventh scene ol the fourth act of this play 

vol. i. o G 



concludes with these words : " Despatch. Eno- 

barbus !" Antony, who is the speaker, desires his 
attendant Eros to despatch, and then pronounces 
the name Enobarbus, who had recently deserted 
him, and whose loss he here laments. But there 
being no person on the scene but Eros, and the 
point being inadvertently omitted after the word 
dispatch, the editor of the second folio supposed 
that Enobarbus must have been an error of the 
press, and therefore reads : 

" Dispatch, Eros.** 

In Troilus and Cressida, Cressida says, 

" Things won are done ; joy's soul lies in the doing." 

i. e. the soul of joy lies, &c. So, " love's visible 
soul" and " my soul of counsel-" expressions like- 
wise used by Shakspeare. Here also the editor of 
the second folio exhibiti equal ignorance of his 
author; for instead of this eminently beautiful 
expression, he has given us 

" Things won are done ; the soul's joy lies in doing." 

In King Richard III. Ratcliff, addressing the 
lords at Pomfret, says, 

" Make haste, the hour of death is expiate." 

for which the editor of the second folio, alike 
ignorant of the poet's language and metre, has 

' Make haste, the hour of death is novo expir'd." 

So, in Romeo and Juliet : 

" The earth hath swallow'd all my hopes but she." 


The word The being accidentally omitted in the 
first folio, the editor of the second supplied the 
defect by reading 

" Earth hath up swallowed all ray hopes but she." 

Again, in the same play ; I'll lay fourteen of 
my teeth, and yet, to my teen be it spoken, I have 
but four:" not understanding the word teen, he 
substituted teeth instead of it. 

Again, ibidem : 

" Prick'd from the lazy finger of a maid " 

Man being corruptly printed instead of maid'm the 
first folio, 1623, the editor of the second, who 
never examined a single quarto copy, 8 corrected 
the error at random, by reading 

That this editor never examined any of the quarto copies, is 
proved by the following instances : 

In TroUus and Cressida, we find in the first folio : 
** the remainder viands 

" We do not throw in unrespective same, 
" Because we now are full." 
Finding this nonsense, he printed " in unrespective place." In 
the quarto he would have found the true word sieve. 

Again, in the same play, the following lines are thus corruptly 
exhibited : 

** That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax ; 
" Since things in motion begin to catch the eye, 
" Than what not stirs." 
the words M begin to," being inadvertently repeated in the se- 
cond line, by the compositor's eye glancing on the line above. 

The editor of the second folio, instead of examining the 
quarto, where he would have found tin- true reading: 

" Since things in motion sootier catch the eye." 
thought only of amending the metre, and printed the line thus : 

" Since things in motion 'gin to catch the eye" 
leaving the passage nonsense, as he found it. 
So, in Titus Andronicus : 

" And let no comfort delight mine ear " 


" Prick'd from the lazy finger of a woman*" 
Again : 

" Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say, ay:" 

The word me being omitted in the first folio, the 
editor of the second capriciously supplied the metre 

being erroneously printed in the first folio, instead of " And let 
no comforter" &c. the editor of the second folio corrected the 
error according to his fancy, by reading 

" And let no comfort else delight mine ear." 
So, in Love's Labour's Lost, Vol. VII. p. 96 : " Old Man- 
tuan, who understands thee not, loves thee not." The words in 
the Italick character being inadvertently omitted in the first folio, 
the editor of the second folio, instead of applying to the quarto 
to cure the defect, printed the passage just as he found it : and 
in like manner in the same play implicitly followed the error of 
the first folio, which has been already mentioned, 

" O, that your face were so full of O's " 
though the omission of the word not, which is found in the 
quarto, made the passage nonsense. 
So, in Much Ado about Nothing : 

" And I will break with her. Was't not to this end," &c. 
being printed instead of 

" And I will break with her and with her father, 

" And thou shalt have her. Was't not to this end," &c. 
the error, which arose from the compositor's eye glancing from 
one line to the other, was implicitly adopted in the second folio. 
Again, in A Midsummer- Night' s Dream : 

" Ah me, for aught that I could ever read, 

" Could ever hear," &c. 
the words Ah me being accidentally omitted in the first folio, in- 
stead of applying to the quarto for the true reading, he supplied 
the defect, according to his own fancy, thus : 

" Hermia, for aught that I could ever read," &c. 
Again, in The Merchant of Venice, he arbitrarily gives us 

" The ewe bleat for the lamb when you behold,' 
instead of 

" Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb." 
See p. 454. Innumerable other instances of the same kind 
might be produced. 


" Dost thou love ? O, I know thou wilt say, ay." 

This expletive, we shall presently find, when 
I come to speak of the poet's metre, was his con- 
stant expedient in all difficulties. 

In Measure for Measure he printed ignominy in- 
stead ofignomy, the reading of the first folio, and 
the common language of the time. In the same 
play, from his ignorance of the constable's humour, 
he corrected his phraseology, and substituted in- 
stant for distant; (" at that very distant time:") 
and in like manner he makes Dogberry, in Much 
Ado about Nothing, exhort the watch not to be 
rigitant, but vigilant. 

Among the marks of love, Rosalind, In As you 
like it, mentions t; a beard neglected, which you 
have not ; but I pardon you lor that ; for, simply, 
your having in beard is a younger brother's re- 
venue." Not understanding the meaning of the 
word having, this editor reads " your having no 
beard," &c. 

In A Midsummer- Night's Dream, Pyramus says, 

" I see a voice ; now will I to the chink, 
" To spy an' I can hear my Thisby's face." 

Of the humour of this passage he had not the 
least notion, for he printed, instead of it, 

" I hear a voice ; now will I to the cliink, 
" To spy an' I can see my Thisby's face." 

In The Merchant of Venice, Act I. sc. i. we find 

in the first folio, 

* And out of doubt you do more wrong" 

which the editor of the second perceiving to U 

imperfect, he corrected at random thus: 


" And out of doubt you do to me more wrong." 

Had he consulted the original quarto, he would 
have found that the poet wrote 

' And out of doubt you do me novo more wrong." 

So, in the same play, " But of mine, then 
yours," being corruptly printed instead of " But 
j/'mine, then yours, ' this editor arbitrarily reads r 
" But first mine, then yours." 

Again, ibidem : 

* c Or even as well use question with the wolf, 
" The ewe bleat for the lamb." 

the words " Wliy he hath made" being omitted in 
the first folio at the beginning of the second line, 
the second folio editor supplied the defect thus 
absurdly : 

" Or even as well use question with the wolf, 
" The ewe bleat for the lamb when you behold*'' 

In Othello the word snipe being misprinted in 
the first folio, 

" If I should time expend with such a snpe." 

the editor not knowing what to make of it, sub- 
stituted swain instead of the corrupted word. 
Again, in the same play, 

" For of my heart those charms^ thine eyes, are blotted." 

being printed in the first folio instead of " Forth 
of my heart," &c. which was the common lan- 
guage of the time, the. editor of the second folio 
amended the error according to his fancy, by 


" for of my heart those charms, thine eyes, are blotted." 

Again, in the same play, Act V. sc. i. not under- 
standing the phraseology of our author's time, 

" Who's there? Whose noise is this, that cries on murder?" 

he substituted 

11 Whose noise is this, that cries out murder ?" 

and in the first Act of the same play, not per- 
ceiving the force of an eminently beautiful epi- 
thet, for " desarts idle" he has given us " desarts 

Again, in that tragedy we find 

what charms, 

" What conjuration, and what mighty magick, 
" (For such proceeding I am charg'd withal,) 
" I won his daughter." 

that is, I won his daughter with; and so the editor 
of the second folio reads, not knowing that this 
kind of elliptical expression frequently occurs in 
this author's works, as I have shown in a note on 
the last scene of Cymbelinc, and in other places.' 

In like manner he has corrupted the following 
passage in A Midsummer-Night* s Dream : 

" So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord, 
" Ere I will yield my virgin patent up 
" Unto his lordship, whose unxvished yoke 
" My soul consents not to give sovereignty." 

i. e. to give sovereignty to. Here too this editor 
has unnecessarily tampered with the text, and 

See Vol. XVIII. p. 647, D. 2; Vol. XV. p. 1%, n. * ; and 
Vol. XIX. p. 266, n. 7. 


having contracted the word unwished, he exhibited 
the line thus : 

" Unto his lordship, to whose unwish'd yoke 
" My soul consents not to give sovereignty." 

an interpolation which was adopted in the sub- 
sequent copies, and which, with all the modern 
editors, I incautiously suffered to remain in the 
present edition. 4 

The grave-digger in Hamlet observes " that your 
tanner will last you nine year" and such is the 
phraseology which Shakspeare always attributes to 
his lower characters ; but instead of this, in the 
second folio, we find " nine years." 

" Your skill shall, like a star i'the darkest night, 
*' Stick fiery off indeed. " 

says Hamlet to Laertes. But the editor of the 
second folio, conceiving, I suppose, that if a star 
appeared with extraordinary scintillation, the night 
must necessarily be luminous, reads " i'the 
brightest night :" and, with equal sagacity, not 
acquiescing in Edgar's notion of " four-inch? d 
bridges," this editor has furnished him with a 
much safer pass, for he reads " four-arch' d 

In King Henry VIII. are these lines : 

If we did think 

" His contemplation were above the earth " 

Not understanding this phraseology, and supposing 
that were must require a noun in the plural num- 
ber, he reads : 

4 See Vol. IV. p. 322, n. 7. 


If we did think 

" His contemplations were above the earth," Ac. 

Again, in Troilus and Cressida, Act IV. sc. ii : 

M With wings more momentary-sxoiji than thought." 

This compound epithet not being understood, he 
reads : 

" With wings more momentary, swifter than thought." 

In The Taming of the Shrew, Act I. sc. ii. Hor- 
tensio, describing Catharine, says, 

" Her only fault (and that is faults enough) 
" Is, that she is intolerable curst ; " 

meaning, that this one was a host of faults. But 
this not being comprehended by the editor of the 
second folio, with a view, doubtless, of rendering 
the passage more grammatical, he substituted 
" and that is fault enough." 

So, in King Lear, we find " Do you know this 
noble gentleman ?" But this editor supposing, it 
should seem, that a gentleman could not be noble, 
or that a noble could not be a gentleman, instead 
of the original text, reads " Do you know this 

In Measure for Measure, Act II. sc. i. Escalus, 
addressing the Justice, says, " I pray you home to 
dinner with me :" this familiar diction not being 
understood, we find in the second foiio, tk J pray 
you go home to dinner with me." And in Othello, 
not having sagacity enough to see that apines was 
printed by a mere transposition of the letters, tor 

** Though I do hate him, a* I do hell apines," 


instead of correcting the word, he evaded the diffi- 
culty by omitting it, and exhibited the line in an 
imperfect state. 

The Duke of York, in the third part of King 
Henry VI exclaims, 

" That face of his the hungry cannibals 
" Would not have touch'd, would not have stain'd with 

These lines being thus carefully arranged in the 
first folio : 

" That face of his 

" The hungry cannibals would not have touch'd, 

* Would not have stain'd with blood " 

the editor of the second folio, leaving the first line 
imperfect as he found it, completed the last line by 
this absurd interpolation : 

" Would not have stain'd the roses just with blood." 

These are but a few of the numerous corruptions 
and interpolations found in that copy, from the 
editor's ignorance of Shakspeare's phraseology. 

II. Let us now examine how far he was ac- 
quainted with the metre of these plays. 

In The Winter's Tale, Act III. sc. ii. we find 

" What wheels ? racks ? fires ? what flaying ? boiling ? 
" In leads, or oils ?" 

Not knowing that fires was used as a dissyllable, he 
added the word burning at the end of the line : 

" What wheels ? racks ? fires ? what flaying ? boiling ? 
burning V* 


So again, in Julius Ca>sar, Act III. sc. ii. from 
the same ignorance, the word all has been interpo- 
lated by this editor : 

" And with the brands j\re all the traitors' houses." 

instead of the reading of the original and authen- 
tick copy, 

" And with the brands Jire the traitors' houses." 
Again, in Macbeth : 

** I would, while it was smiling in my face, 
" Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums, 
" And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn 
*' As you have done to this." 

Not perceiving that sworn was used as a dissyllable, 
he reads " had I but so sworn." 

Charms our poet sometimes uses as a word of two 
syllables. Thus, in The Tempest, Act I. sc. ii : 

Curs'd be I, that did so! All the charms" kc. 

instead of which this editor gives us, 

" Curs'd be I, that / did so ! All the charms," drc. 

Hour is almost always used by Shakspeare as a 
dissyllable, but of this the editor of the second folio 
was ignorant ; for instead of these lines in King 
Richard II: 

So sighs, and tears, and groans, 

** Show minutes, times, and hours: but my time 
" Runs posting on," &c. 

he gives us 


u So sighs, and tears, and groans, 

" Show minutes, times, and hours : but my time,"* &c. 

So again, in The Comedy of Errors : 

" I'll meet you in that place, some hour, sir, hence." 

instead of the original reading, 

" I'll meet you in that place some hour hence." 

Again, in The Winter's Tale, Act I. sc. ii : 

" : wishing clocks more swift? 

" Hours, minutes? Me noon, midnight? and all eyes," &c. 

instead of the original reading, 

" Hours, minutes? noon, midnight? and all eyes," &c. 

Again, in AWs well that ends well, Act II. sc. iii : 

J In Measure for Measure we find these lines : 

" Merciful heaven ! 

" Thou rather, with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt, 
" Split'st the unwedgeable and gnarled oak, 
" Than the soft mirtle; But man, proud man,'' &c. 
There can be no doubt that a word was omitted in the last 
line ; perhaps some epithet to mirtle. But the editor of the se- 
cond folio, resorting to his usual expedient, absurdly reads : 
" Than the soft mirtle. but man, proud man, ." 
So, in Titus Andronicus, Act III. sc. ii: complaynet being 
corruptly printed instead of complayner, 

" Speechless complaynet, I will learn thy thoughts, " 
this editor, with equal absurdity, reads: 

" Speechless complaint, 0, I will learn thy thoughts." 
I have again and again had occasion to mention in the notes 
on these plays, that omission is of all the errors of the press that 
which most frequently happens. On collating the fourth edition 
of King Richard III. printed in 1612, with the second printed 
in 1598, 1 found no less than tvoenty-six words omitted. 


" Which challenges itself as honours born, 

" And is not like the sire. Honours thrive," &c 

This editor, not knowing that sire was used as a 
dissyllable, reads : 

" And is not like the sire. Honours best thrive," Ac. 

So, in King Henry VI. P. I : 

" Rescued is Orleans from the English.*' 

Not knowing that English was used as a trisyllable, 
he has completed the line, which he supposed de- 
fective, according to his own fancy, and reads : 

" Rescu'd is Orleans from the English toolves." 

The same play furnishes us with various other 
proofs of his ignorance of our poet's metre. Thus, 
instead of 

" Orleans the bastard, Charles, Burgundy, " 

he has printed (not knowing that Charles was used 
as a word of two syllables,) 

44 Orleans the bastard, Charles, and Burgundy." 

So, instead of the original reading, 
" Divinest creature, Astraa's daughter, " 

[Astrcea being used as a word of three syllables,) 
lie has printed 

" Divinest creature, bright Astrara's daughter." 

Again, ibidem: 

" Whereas the contrary bringcth bhW 


Not knowing that contrary was used as a word of 
four syllables, he reads : 

" Whereas the contrary bringeth forth bliss." 
So sure is used in the same play, as a dissyllable : 

11 Gloster, we'll meet: to thy cost, be sure?'' 

but this editor, not aware of this, reads : 

" Gloster, we'll meet ; to thy dear cost, be sure." 
Again, in King Henry VI. P. II. 

" And so to arms, victorious father, " 

arms being used as a dissyllable. But the second 
folio reads : 

" And so to arms, victorious noble father." 

Again, in Twelfth-Night, Act I. sc. i. we find 
when liver, brain, and heart, 

These sovereign thrones, are all supply'd, and fill'd, 
" (Her sweet perfections) with one self-king." 

for which the editor, not knowing that perfections 
was used as a quadrisyllable, has substituted 

when liver, brain, and heart, 

" These sovereign thrones, are all supply'd, and fill'd, 
" (Her sweet perfections) with one selfsame king." 

Again, in King Henry VI. P. II : 
" Prove it, Henry, and thou shalt be king." 

for which the editor of the second folio, not know- 
ing Henry to be used as a trisyllable, gives us, 

" But prove it, Henry, and thou shalt be king." 


In like manner dazzled is used by Shakspeare 
as a trisyllable in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 
Act II. sc. iv : 

" And that hath dazzled my reason's light." 

instead of which, we find in the second folio, 

" And that hath dazzled so my reason's light." 

The words neither, rather, kc. are frequently 
used by Shakspeare as words of one syllable. So, 
in King Henry VI. P. Ill : * 

" And neither by treason, nor hostility, 
" To seek to put me down ." 

for which the editor of the second folio has given 

" Neither by treason, nor hostility," &c. 

In Timon of Athens, Act III. sc. v. Alcibiades 


" Is this the balsam, that the usuring senate 
" Pours into captains' wounds? banishment?" 

The editor of the second folio, not knowing that 
pours was used as a dissyllable, to complete the 
supposed defect in the metre, reads : 

" Is this the balsam, that the usuring senate 

" Pours into captains' wounds! ha! banUhment )" 

Tickled is often used by Shakspeare and the eon- 
temporary poets, as a word of three syllables. So, 
in King Henry VI. P. II : 

" She's tickled now ; her fume need* no spur*." 

instead of which, in the second folio we have, 


" She's tickled now ; her fume can need no spurs." 

So, in Titus Andronicus, Act II. sc. i : 

" Better than he have -worn Vulcan's badge." 

This editor, not knowing that worn was used as a 
dissyllable, reads : 

" Better than he have yet worn Vulcan's badge." 
Again, in Cymbeline, Aet II. sc. v : 

" All faults that name, nay, that hell knows, why hers, 
" In part, or all; but rather all: for even to vice," &c. 

These lines being thus carelessly distributed in 
the original copy, 

'* All faults that name, nay, that hell knows, 
" Why hers, in part, or all ; but rather all :" &c. 

the editor of the second folio, to supply the defect 
of the first line, arbitrarily reads, with equal igno- 
rance of his author's metre and phraseology, 

" All faults that may be named, nay, that hell knows, 
" Why hers," &c. 

In King Henry IV. P. II. Act I. sc. iii. is this 

" And being now trimm'd in thine own desires, ." 

instead of which the editor of the second folio, to 
remedy a supposed defect in the metre, has given 

" And being now trimm'd up in thine own desires,." 

Again, in As you like it, Act II. sc. i : 
he pierceth through 

The body of city, country, court, ." 


instead of which we find in the second folio, (the 
editor not knowing that country was used as a tri- 

he pierceth through 

" The body of city, the country, court" 

In like manner, in The Winter's Tale, Act I. 
sc. i. he has given us : 

we knew not 

" The doctrine of ill-doing, no nor dream'd 
" That any did : " 

instead of 

we knew not 

" The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream'd," Sec. 

doctrine being used as a word of three syllables. 

" Pay him six thousand," &c. says Portia in The 
Merchant of Venice, 

" Before a friend of this description 

" Should lose a hair through Bassanio's fault." 

the word hair being used as a dissyllable, or Bas- 
sanio as a quadrisyllable. Of this the editor of the 
second folio was wholly ignorant, and therefore 
reads : 

" Should lose a hair through my Bassanio's fault" 

In The Winter's Tale, Act IV. sc. iii. Florizel, 
addressing Perdita, says, 

my desires 

* Run not before mine honour ; nor my lusts 
Burn hotter than my faith." 

To complete the last hemistich, Perdita is made 
to reply, 

vol. i. " 


O but, sir, 

" Your resolution cannot hold." 

Here again this editor betrays his ignorance of 
Shakspeare's metre; for not knowing that burn 
was used as a dissyllable, he reads 

" O but, dear sir," &c. 

Again, in King Henry VIII. Act II. sc. iii. the 
Old Lady declares to Anne Boleyn, 

" 'Tis strange ; a three-pence bow'd would hire me, 
" Old as I am, to queen it." 

' But instead of this, hire not being perceived to be 
used as a word of two syllables, we find in the se- 
cond folio, 

* 4 'Tis strange ; a three-pence bow'd now would hire 
me," &c. 

This editor, indeed, was even ignorant of the 
author's manner of accenting words, for in The 
Tempest, where we find, 

Spirits, which by mine art 

" I have from their confines call'd to enact 
" My present fancies," 

he exhibits the second line thus : 

" I have from all their c6nfines call'd to enact," &c. 

Again, in King Lear, Act II. sc. i. instead of 

" To have the expence and waste of his revenues," 

the latter word, being, I suppose, differently ac- 
cented after our poet's death, the editor of the se- 
cond folio has given us, 

" To have the expence and waste of revenues." 


Various other instances of the same kind might 
be produced ; but that I may not weary niv readers, 
I will only add, that no person who wishes to peruse 
the plays of Shakspeare should ever open the 
Second Folio, or either of the subsequent copu -, 
in which all these capricious alterations were 
adopted, with many additional errors and inno- 

It may seem strange, that the person to whom 
the care of supervising the second folio was con- 
signed, should have been thus ignorant of our 
poet's language: but it should be remembered, 
that in the beginning of the reign of Charles the 
First many words and modes ot speecli began to 
be disused, which had been common in the age of 
Queen Elizabeth. The editor of the second folio 
was probably a young man, perhaps born in the 
year 1 600. That Sir William D' Avenant, who was 
born in 160.5, did not always perfectly understand 
our author's language, is manifest from various al- 
terations which he has made in some of his pieces. 
The successive Chronicles of English history, which 
were compiled between the years 1540 and 1630, 
afford indubitable proofs of the gradual change in 
our phraseology during that period. Thus a narra- 
tive which Hall exhibits in what now appears to us 
as very uncouth and ancient diction, is again ex- 
hibited by Holinshed, about forty years afterwards, 
in somewhat a less rude form; and in the chronicles 
of Speed and Baker in 1611 and 1630, assumes a 
somewhat more polished air. In the second edi- 
tion of Gascoigne's Poems printed in 1.587, the 
editor thought it necessary to explain many of the 
words by placing more familiar terms in the margin, 
though not much more than twenty years had 

H li '2 


elapsed from the time of their composition : so rapid 
were at that time the changes in our language. 

My late friend Mr. Tyrwhitt, a man of such 
candour, accuracy, and profound learning, that 
his death must be considered as an irreparable loss 
to literature, was of opinion, that in printing these 
plays the original spelling should be adhered to, 
and that we never could be sure of a perfectly 
faithful edition, unless the first folio copy was 
made the standard, and actually sent to the press, 
with such corrections as the editor might think 
proper. By others it was suggested, that the notes 
should not be subjoined to the text, but placed at 
the end of each volume, and that they should be 
accompanied by a complete Glossary. The former 
scheme (that of sending the first folio to the press) 
appeared to me liable to many objections ; and I 
am confident that if the notes were detached from 
the text, many readers would remain uninformed, 
rather than undergo the trouble occasioned by 
perpetual references from one part of a volume to 

In the present edition I have endeavoured to 
obtain all the advantages which would have re- 
sulted from Mr. Tyrrwhitt's plan, without any of 
its inconveniences. Having often experienced the 
fallaciousness of collation by the eye, I deter- 
mined, after I had adjusted the text in the best 
manner in my power, to have every proof-sheet of 
my work read aloud to me, while I perused the 
first folio, for those plays which first appeared in 
that edition; and for all those which had been 
previously printed, the first quarto copy, excepting 
only in the instances of The Merry Wives of Wind- 
sor, and King Henry V, which, being either sketches 


or imperfect copies, could not be wholly relied 
on ; and King Richard III. 6 of the earliest edition 
of which tragedy I was not possessed. I had at the 
same time before me a table which I had formed 
of the variations between the quartos and the folio. 
By this laborious process not a single innovation, 
made either by the editor of the second folio, or 
any of the modern editors, could escape me. From 
the Index to all the words and phrases explained 
or illustrated in the notes, which I have subjoined 
to this work, 7 every use may be derived which the 
most copious Glossary could afford ; while those 
readers who are less intent on philological inquiries, 
by the notes being appended to the text, are re- 
lieved from the irksome task of seeking informa- 
tion in a different volume from that immediately 
before them. 

If it be asked, what has been the fruit of all this 
labour, I answer, that many innovations, transposi- 
tions, &c. have been detected by this means ; many 
hundred emendations have been made, s and, I trust, 

a At the time the tragedy of King Richard III. was in the 
press, I was obliged to make use of the second edition printed in 
1598 ; but have since been furnished with the edition of 1597, 
which I have collated verbatim, and the most material variation* 
are noticed in the Appendix. 

7 If the explication of any word or phrase should appear un- 
satisfactory, the reader, by turning to the Glossarial Index, may 
know at once whether any additional information has been ob- 
tained on the subject, thus, in Macbeth, Vol. IV. p. 392, Dr. 
Warburton'a rroneous interpretation of the word blood-bolter' d 
is inserted ; but the true explication of that provincial term may 
be found in the APPENDIX. So of the phrase, WtU you take 
eggs for money' in The Winter's Tale ; and home Other*. 

I^st this assertion should be supposed to be made without 
evidence, 1 subjoin a list of the restorations made from the ori- 
ginal copy, and supported by contemporary u*age, in two plays 
only; The Winters /a/rand King John. The lines in the Itahck 
character are exhibited as they appear in the edition of 1 mH, 


a genuine text has been formed. Wherever any 

(as being much more correctly printed than that of 1785,) those 
in the common character as they appear in the present edition 
(i. e. Mr. Malone's, in ten volumes). 


P 11 give you my commission, 

" To let him there a month." P. 293. 

" I'll give him my commission, 

" To let him there a month." P. 125. 

2. " we know not 

" The doctrine of ill-doing, no, nor dream'd " P. 295. 

<c we know not 

" The doctrine of ill-doing; nor dream'd ." P. 126. 

3. " As d'er-dtfd blacks, as winds, as waters; " P. 300. 
" As o'er-dy'd blacks, as wind, as waters; " P. 130. 

4. " As ornament oft does." P. 302. 
" As ornaments oft do." P. 130. 

The original copy, with a disregard of grammar, reads M As 
ornaments oft does." This inaccuracy has been constantly cor- 
rected by every editor, wherever it occurs ; but the correction 
should always be made in the verb, and not in the noun. 

5. ** Have you not thought {for cogitation 

" Resides not in the man that does not think it) 

" My wife is slippery?" P, 408. 

" Have you not thought (for cogitation 

" Resides not in the man that does not think) 

" My wife is slippery ?" P. 138. 

6. " wishing clocks more swift ? 

" Hours, minutes, the noon midnight ? and all eyes,? y 

P. 408. 

'.* wishing clocks more swift ? 

" Hours minutes ? noon midnight ? and all eyes," 

P. 139. 

7. " Ay, and thou, who may'st see 

" How I am gall'd thou might'st be-spice a cup, " 

P. 309. 

" Ay, and thou, who may'st see 

" How I am galled, -might'st be-spice a cup, " 

P. 140, 

I'll keep my stable where 

I lodge my wife;" P. 325. 


deviation is made from the authentick copies, 

" I'll keep my stables where 

" I lodge my wife; " P. 153. 

9. " Relish as truth like us." P. 317. 
" Relish a truth like us." P. 156. 

10. " And I beseech you, hear me, who profess " P. 333. 
" And I beseech you hear me, who professes " P. 162. 

11. " This session to our great grief," P. 343. 
" This sessions to our great grief, " P. 170. 

12. " The bug which you will fright me with, I seek." 

P. S47. 

" The bug which you would fright me with, I seek." 

P. 175. 

13. " You here shall swear upon the sword of justice, " 

P. 349. 
" You here shall swear upon this sword of justice, " 

P. 177. 

14. " The session shall proceed." P. 349. 
" The sessions shall proceed." P. 178. 

15. " Which yon knew great ; and to the certain hazard 
" Of all incertainties" P. 350. 

" Which you knew great, and to the hazard 
" Of all incertainties" P. 179. 

Some word was undoubtedly omitted at the press ; (probably 

fearful or doubtful ;) but 1 thought it better to exhibit the line 

in an imperfect state, than to adopt the interpolation made by 

the editor of the second folio, who has introduced perhaps as 

unfit a word as could have been chosen. 

16. " Through my dark rust ! and how his piety " P. 360. 
" Thorough my rust ! and how his piety '* P. 17!'. 

The first word of the line is in the old copy by the mistake of 
the compositor printed Through. 

17. " O but dear sir," P. 375. 
" O but, sir," P. 200. 

IS. " Your discontenting father I'll strive to qualify, " 

P. 401. 
" Your discontenting father strive to qualify,'' P. 

19. " If 1 thought it were nut a piece of honest y to acquaint 
the king withal, I would do it." P. K>7. 
" If I thought it were a piece of honesty to acquaint th 
king withal, I'd nut do it." P. 229. 


except in the case of mere obvious errors of the 

20. " Dost thou think, Jbr that I insinuate or toze " 

P. 402. 
" Dost thou think, for that I insinuate and toze " 

P. 231. 

21. " You might have spoke a thousand things, " P. 414. 
" You might have spoken a thousand things, " P. 235. 

22. " Where we offend her nolo, appear " P. 417. 
" Where we offenders now appear " P. 237. 

23. " Once more to look on. 

" Sir, by his command, " P. 420. 
** Once more to look on him. 
" By his command, " P. 240. 

24. " like a weather-beaten conduit.''* P. 425. 

" like a weather-bitten conduit." P. 246. 

25. " This your son-in-law, 

" And son unto the king, who, heavens directing, 
" Is troth-plight to your daughter." P. 437. 

" This your son-in-law, 

<r And son unto the king, [whom heavens directing,) 
" Is troth-plight to your daughter." P. 257. 


1. " Which fault lies on the hazard of all husbands." P. 10. 
" Which fault lies on the hazards of all husbands.'' 

P. 451. 

2. " 'Tis too respective, and too sociable, 
" For your conversing." P. 14. 

" 'Tis too respective, and too sociable, 
" For your conversion." P. 456. 

S. " Thus leaning on my elbow, " P. 16. 
" Thus leaning on mine elbow," P. 457. 

4. " With them a bastard of the king deceas , d. ,> P. 25. 

" With them a bastard of the king's deceas'd." P. 464. 

5. " That thou hast under-wrought its lawful king.** P. 26. 
" That thou hast under-wrought his lawful king." 

P. 465. 

6. " Say, shall the current of our right run on ?" P. 37. 

" Say, shall the current of our right roam on ?" P. 476. 


press, 9 the reader is apprized by a note ; and every 

7. " And now he feasts, mouthing the jlesh of men, " 

P. 38. 

" And now he feasts, mousing the flesh of men, " 

P. 477. 

8. " A greater power than ye " P. 39. 

" A greater power than we " P. 478. 

That I may be accurately understood, I subjoin a few of 
these unnoticed corrections : 

la KingHenry VI. P. I. Act I. sc. vi j 

" Thy promises are like Adonis' gardens, 
" That one day bloom'd, and fruitful were the next." 
The old copy reads garden. 
In King John, Act IV. sc. ii : 

" that close aspect of his 

" Does shew the mood of a much-troubled breast." 
The old copy reads Do. 
Ibidem, Act I. sc. i: 

" Tu too respective, and too sociable," 4c. 
The old copy, 'Tis two respective," &c. 
Again, in the same play, we find in the original copy : 

" Against the inuoiuerabie clouds of heaven." 
In King Henry V. Act V. sc. ii : 

" Corrupting in its own fertility." 
The old copy reads it. 

In Timon of Athens, Act I. sc. i: 
" Come, shall we in V 
The old copy has Comes. 

Ibidem : " Even on their knees, and hands, ." 
The old copy has hand. 

In Cymbeline, Act III. sc. iv : 

" The handmaids of all women, or, more truly, 
** Woman its pretty self." 
The old copy has it. 

It cannot be expected that the page should be encumbered with 
the notice of such obvious mistakes of the press as ore here enu- 
merated. With the exception of errors such as these, whenever 
any emendation has been adopted, it is mentioned in a note, and 
ascribed to its author. 


emendation that has been adopted, is ascribed to 
its .proper author. When it is considered that 

9. '* For grief is proud, and makes his owner stoop." P. 52. 
" For grief is proud, and makes his owner stout." 

P. 492. 

10. " 0, that a man would speak these words to me /" 

P. 52. 
" O, that a man should speak these words to me !" 

P. 497. 

11. " Is't not amiss, when it is truly done?" P. 64. 
" Is not amiss, when it is truly done." P. 504. 

12. " Then, in despight o/"broad-ey'd watchful day, " 

P. 72. 
" Then, in despight of brooded watchful day, " 

P. 512. 

13. "A whole armado of collected sail." P. 74. 
" A whole armado of convicted sail." P. 514. 

14. " And bitter shame hath spoiVd the sweet world's taste." 

P. 79. 
" And bitter shame hath spoil'd the sweet word's taste." 

P. 519. 

15. " Strong reasons make strong actions."* P. 81. 

" Strong reasons make strange actions." P. 522. 

16. " Must make a stand at what your highness will." 

P. 89. 
" Doth make a stand at what your highness will." 

P. 530. 

17. " Had none, my lord! why, did not you provoke meV 

P. 96. 
" Had none, my lord ! why, did you not provoke me ?" 

P. 536. 

18. " Mad'st it no conscience to destroy a king." P. 97. 

" Made it no conscience to destroy a king." P. 537. 

19. " Sir, sir, impatience has its privilege ." P. 102. 
** Sir, sir, impatience has his privilege." P. 541. 

20. " Or, when he doom'd this beauty to the grave, " 

P. 102. 
" Or, when he doom'd this beauty to a grave, " 

P. 541. 


there are one hundred thousand lines in these 
plays, and that it often was necessary to consult 

21. " To the yet-unbegotten sins o/time." P. 102. 
" To the yet-unbegotten sin of timet." P. 541. 

22. " And breathing to this breathless excellence," P. 102. 
" And breathing to Aw breathless excellence, " 

P. 542. 

23. " And your supplies, which you have wish'd to long, " 

* i P - I21 

" And your supply, which you have wish'd so long," 

P. 561. 

24. " W hat's that to thee? Why may I not demand" 

P. 122. 

<l AN hat's that to thee? Why may not I demand " 

P. 562. 
Y5. " 0, my siveet sir, news fitted to the night" P. 123. 
" O, my sweet sir, new* Jitting to the night." 1*. 563. 

26. " Death, having prey'd upon the outward parts, 
" Leaves them; invisible his siege is now 

" Against the mind," P. 124. 
" Death, having prey'd upon the outward parts, 
" Leaves them invisible ; and his siege is now 
" Against the mind, " P. 565. 

27. " The salt of them is hot." P. 125. 
" The salt in them is hot." P. 568. 

Two other restorations in this play I have not set down: 
" Before we will lay down our just-borne arms " 
and ii. 

" Be these sad signs confirmers of thy word." 

Act III. sc i. 

because I pointed them out on a former occasion. 

It may perhaps he urged that some of the variations in these 
lists, are of no great consequence; but to preserve our poet's 
genuine text is certainly important ; for otherwise, as Dr. John- 
son has justly observed, M the history of our language will be 
lost ;" and as our poet's words are changed, we are constantly in 
danger of losing his meaning also. Every reader must wih to 
peruse what Sbakapeare wrote, supported at once by the autho- 
rity of the authentick copies, and the usage of his contempora- 
ries, rather than what the editor of the second folio, or Pope, or 
H.imncr, or Warburton, have arbitrarily substituted in its place. 


six or seven volumes, in order to ascertain by 
which of the preceding editors, from the time of 
the publication of the second folio, each emenda- 
tion was made, it will easily be believed, that this 
was not effected without much trouble. 

Whenever I mention the old copy in my notes, 
if the play be one originally printed in quarto, I 
mean the first quarto copy ; if the play appeared 
originally in folio, I mean the first folio ; and when 
I mention the old copies, I mean the first quarto and 
first folio, which, when that expression is used, it 
may be concluded, concur in the same reading. 
In like manner, the folio always means the first 
folio, and the quarto^ the earliest quarto, with the 
exceptions already mentioned. In general, how- 
ever, the date of each quarto is given, when it is 
cited. Where there are two quarto copies printed 
in the same year, they are particularly distinguish- 
ed, and the variations noticed. 

The two great duties of an editor are, to exhibit 
the genuine text of his author, and to explain his 
obscurities. Both of these objects have been so 
constantly before my eyes, that, I am confident, 
one of them will not be found to have been neg- 
lected for the other. I can with perfect truth say, 
with Dr. Johnson, that " not a single passage in 
the whole work has appeared to me obscure, which 
I have not endeavoured to illustrate." I have ex- 
amined the notes of all the editors, and my own 

Let me not, however, be misunderstood. All these variations 
have not been discovered by the present collation, some of them 
having been pointed out by preceding editors; but such as had 
been already noticed were merely pointed out: the original 
readings are now established and supported by the usage of our 
poet himself and that of his contemporaries, and restored to the 
text, instead of being degraded to the bottom of the page. 


former remarks, with equal rigour ; and have en- 
deavoured as much as possible to avoid all contro- 
versy, having constantly had in view a philanthro- 
pick observation made by the editor above men- 
tioned : " I know not (says that excellent writer,) 
why our editors should, wit h such implacable anger, 
persecute their predecessors. OJ vtxpo) pj xdxa, the 
dead, it is true, can make no resistance, they may 
be attacked with great security ; but since they 
can neither feel nor mend, the safety of mauling 
them seems greater than the pleasure : nor perhaps 
would it much misbeseem us to remember, amidst 
our triumphs over the nonsensical and the senseless, 
that we likewise are men ; that debemur morti, and, 
as Swift observed to Burnet, shall soon be among 
the dead ourselves." 

I have in general given the true explication of 
a passage, by whomsoever made, without loading 
the page with the preceding unsuccessful attempts 
at elucidation, and by this means have obtained 
room for much additional illustration : for, as on 
the one hand, I trust very few superfluous or un- 
necessary annotations have been admitted, so on 
the other, I believe, that not a single valuable ex- 
plication of any obscure passage in these plays has 
ever appeared, which will not be found in tlie fol- 
lowing volumes. 

The admirers of this poet will, I trust, not 
merely pardon the great accession of new notes in 
the present edition, but examine them with some 
degree of pleasure. An idle notion has been pro- 
pagated, that Shakspeare has been buried under his 
commentators ; and it has again and again been re- 
peated by the tasteless and the dull, " that notes 
though often necessary, are necessary evils." There 
is no person, I believe, who lias an higher respect 


for the authority of Dr. Johnson than I have ; but 
he has been misunderstood, or misrepresented, as 
if these words contained a general caution to all the 
readers of this poet. Dr. Johnson, in the part of 
his preface here alluded to, is addressing the young 
reader, to whom Shakspeare is new; and him he 
very judiciously counsels to " read every play from 
the first scene to the last, with utter negligence of 
all his commentators. Let him read on, through 
brightness and obscurity, through integrity and 
corruption ; let him preserve his comprehension of 
the dialogue, and his interest in the fable." But 
to much the greater and more enlightened part of 
his readers, (for how few are there comparatively 
to whom Shakspeare is new ?) he gives a very dif- 
ferent advice : Let them to whom the pleasures of 
novelty have ceased, " attempt exactness, and read 
the commentators." 

During the era of conjectural criticism and ca- 
pricious innovation, notes were indeed evils ; while 
one page was covered with ingenious sophistry in 
support of some idle conjecture, and another was 
wasted in its overthrow, or in erecting a new 
fabrick equally unsubstantial as the former. But 
this era is now happily past away ; and conjecture 
and emendation have given place to rational ex- 
planation. We shall never, I hope, again be told, 
that " as the best guesser was the best diviner, so 
he may be said in some measure to be the best 
editor of Shakspeare." 1 Let me not, however, be 
supposed an enemy to all conjectural emendation ; 
sometimes undoubtedly we must have recourse to 
it ; but, like the machinery of the ancient drama, 
let it not be resorted to except in cases of difficulty ; 

1 Newton's Preface to his edition of Milton. 


nisi dignus vindici nodus. " I wish (says Dr. John- 
son) we all conjectured less, and explained more." 
When our poet's entire library shall have been dis- 
covered, and the fables of all his plays traced to 
their original source, when every temporary allusion 
shall have been pointed out, and every obscurity 
elucidated, then, and not till then, let tne accumu- 
lation of notes be complained of. I scarcely re- 
member ever to have looked into a book of the 
age of Queen Elizabeth, in which I did not find 
somewhat that tended to throw a light on these 
plays. While our object is, to support and esta- 
blish what the poet wrote, to illustrate his phrase- 
ology by comparing it with that of his contempo- 
raries, and to explain his fugitive allusions to 
customs long since disused and forgotten, while 
this object is kept steadily in view, if even every 
line of his plays were accompanied with a com- 
ment, every intelligent reader would be indebted 
to the industry of him who produced it. Such 
uniformly has been the object of the notes now 
presented to the publick. Let us then hear no 
more of this barbarous jargon concerning Shak- 
speare's having been elucidated into obscurity, and 
buried under the load of his commentator^. 1 >ryden 
is said to have regretted the success of his own in- 
structions, and to have lamented that at length, 
in consequence of his critical prefaces, the town 
had become too skilful to be easily satisfied. The 
same observation may be made with respect to 
many of these objectors, to whom the meaning 
of some of our poet's most difficult passages is now 
become so familiar, that they fancy they originally 
understood them " without a prompter ;" and with 
great gravity exclaim against the unnecessary illus- 
trations furnished by his Editors: nor ought we 


much to wonder at this ; for our poet himself has 
told us, 

'tis a common proof, 

** That lowliness is young ambition's ladder, 
" Whereto the climber upward turns his face ; 
" But when he once attains the upmost round, 
" He then unto the ladder turns his back ; 
" Looks in the clouds." 

I have constantly made it a rule in revising the 
notes of former editors, to compare such passages 
as they have cited from any author, with the book 
from which the extract was taken, if I could pro- 
cure it ; by which some inaccuracies have been 
rectified. The incorrect extract made by Dr. 
Warburton from Saviola's treatise on Honour and 
Honourable Quarrels, to illustrate a passage in As 
you like it, fully proves the propriety of such a col- 

At the end of the tenth volume I have added 
an Appendix, containing corrections, and supple- 
mental observations, 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 reason. No book can be the worse for such 
a supplement; since the reader, if such be his 
caprice, need not examine it. If the objector means, 
that he wishes that all the information contained 
in an Appendix, were properly disposed in the 
preceding volumes, it must be acknowledged that 
such an arrangement would be extremely desirable : 
but as well might he require from the elephant 
the sprightliness and agility of the squirrel, or 
from the squirrel the wisdom and strength of the 
elephant, as expect, that an editor's latest thoughts, 
suggested by discursive reading while the sheets 
that compose his volumes were passing through the 


press, should form a part of his original work ; that 
information acquired too late to be employed in its 
proper place, should yet be found there. 

That the very few stage-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.'sc. i. where " A show 
of eight kings" is directed, " and Ban quo fast, with 
a glass in his hand;'* though from the very words 
which the poet has written for Macbeth, it is 
manifest that the glass ought to be borne by the 
eighth kings a d n t by Banquo. All the stage- 
directions therefore throughout this work I li 
considered as wholly in my power, and have regu- 
lated them in the best manner I could. The reader 
will also, I think, be pleased to find the place in 
which every scene is supposed to pass, precisely 
ascertained : a species 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 restored to our author, I originally 
intended to have subjoined, with Titus Andronicus, 
to the tenth volume; but, to preserve an equality 
of size 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 considered as a valuable accession ; and it 
is of little consequence where it appears. 

It has long been thought, that Titus Andronicus 
was not written originally by Shakspeare ; about 
seventy years after lu^ death, Ravenscroft having 
mentioned that he had been " told by some an- 
ciently conversant with the stage, that our poet 
only gave some master-touches to one or two of the 

vol.. i. 1 1 


principal parts or characters." The very curious 
papers lately discovered in Dulwich College, from 
which large extracts are given at the end of the 
History of the Stage, prove, what I long since sus- 
pected, that this play, and The First Part of King 
Henry VI. were in possession of the scene when 
Shakspeare began to write for the stage ; and the 
same manuscripts show, that it was then very com- 
mon for a dramatick poet to alter and amend the 
work of a preceding writer. The question there- 
fore is now decisively settled ; and undoubtedly 
some additions were made to both these pieces by 
Shakspeare. It is observable that the second scene 
of the third act of Titus Andronicus, is not found 
in the quarto copy printed in 161 1. It is there- 
fore 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. 3 
The additions which he made to Pericles are much 
more numerous, and therefore more strongly en- 
title it to a place among the dramatick pieces 
which he has adorned by his pen. 

With respect to the other contested plays, Sir 
John Oldcastle, The London Prodigal, $c. which 
have now for near two centuries been falsely 
ascribed to our author, the manuscripts above 
mentioned completely clear him from that impu- 
tation ; and prove, that while his great modesty 
made him set but little value on his own inimitable 
productions, he could patiently endure to have the 
miserable trash of other writers publickly imputed 
to him, without taking any measure to vindicate 

* If ever the account-book of Mr. Heminge shall be discovered, 
we shall probably find in it " Paid to William Shakspeare for 
mending Titus Andronicus." See Vol. III. 


his fame. Sir John Oklcastle, we find from indu- 
bitable evidence, though ascribed 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 Wilson. 3 

In the Dissertation annexed to the three parts 
of King Henry the Sixth, I have discussed at large 
the question concerning their authenticity; and 
have assigned my reasons for thinking that the se- 
cond and third of those plays were formed by Shak- 
speare, on two elder dramas now extant. Any dis- 
quisition therefore concerning these controverted 
pieces is here unnecessary. 

Some years ago I published a short Essay on tl>e 
economy and usages of our old theatres. The 
Historical Account of the English Stage, which 
has been formed on that essay, has swelled to such 
a size, in consequence of various researches since 
made, and a great accession of very valuable ma- 
terials, that it is become almost a new work. Of 
these, the most important are the curious papen 
which have been discovered 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 history, and furnish* 
ed some singular anecdotes of the poets of those 

Twelve years have elapsed since the Essay on the 
order of time in which the ph^s <>< Shakspeare 
were written, first appeared. A re-examination of 
these plays since that time lias furnished me with 

Vol. Ill Addition*. 

I I '-' 


several particulars in confirmation of what I had 
formerly suggested on this subject. On a careful 
revisal of that Essay, which, I hope, is improved 
as well as considerably enlarged, I had the satis- 
faction of observing that I had found reason to at- 
tribute but two plays to an era widely distant from 
that to which they had been originally ascribed ; 
and to make only a minute change in the arrange- 
ment of a few others. Some information, however, 
which has been obtained since that Essay was print- 
ed in its present form, inclines me to think, that 
one of the two plays which I allude to, The Win- 
ter's Tale, was a still later production than I have 
supposed ; for I have now good reason to believe, 
that it was first exhibited in the year 1613 ; 4 and. 
that consequently it must have been one of our 
poet's latest works. 

Though above a century and a half has elapsed 
since the death of Shakspeare, it is somewhat ex- 
traordinary, (as I observed on a former occasion,) 
that none of his various editors should have at- 
tempted to separate his genuine poetical compo- 
sitions from the spurious performances with which 
they have been long intermixed ; or have taken 
the trouble to compare them with the earliest and 
most au then tick copies. Shortly after his death, a* 
very incorrect impression of his poems was issued 
out, which in every subsequent edition, previous 
to the year 1780, was implicitly followed. They 
have been carefully revised, and with many addi- 
tional illustrations are now a second time faithfully 
printed from the original copies, excepting only 

4 See Emendations and Additions, Vol. I. Part II. p. 286, 
[i. e. Mr. Malone*s edition.] 

The paragraph alluded to, in the present edition, will stand in 
its proper place. Steevens. 


Venus and Adonis^ of which I have not been able 
to procure the first impression. The second edi- 
tion, printed in 1596, was obligingly transmitted 
to me by the late Reverend Thomas Warton, of 
whose friendly and valuable correspondence I was 
deprived by death, when these volumes were al- 
most ready to be issued from the press. It is 
painful to recollect how many of (I had almost 
said) my coadjutors have died since the present 
work was begun : the elegant scholar, and in- 
genious writer, wjjom I have just mentioned ; Dr. 
Johnson, and Mr. Tyrwhitt : men, from whose 
approbation of my labours I had promised myself 
much pleasure, and whose stamp could give a value 
and currency to any work. 

With the materials which I have been so fortu- 
nate as to obtain, relative to our poet, his kindred, 
and friends, it would not have been difficult to 
have formed a new Life of Shakspeare, less meagre 
and imperfect than that left us by Mr. Rowe : but 
the information which I have procured having 
been obtained at very different times, it is neces- 
sarily dispersed, partly in the copious notes sub- 
joined to Rowe's Life, and partly in the Historical 
Account of our old actors. At some future time 
I hope to weave the whole into one uniform and 
connected narrative. 

My inquiries having been carried on almost to 
the very moment of publication, some circum- 
stances relative to our poet were obtained too late 
to be introduced into any part of the present work. 
Of these due use will be made hereafter. 

The prefaces of Theobald, Hanmer, and War- 
burton, I have not retained, because they appeared 
to me to throw no light on our author or his 
works : the room which they would have taken up, 


will, I trust, be found occupied by more valuable 

As some of the preceding editors have justly 
been condemned for innovation, so perhaps (for 
of objections there is no end,) I may be censured 
for too strict an adherence to the ancient copies. I 
have constantly had in view the Roman sentiment 
adopted by Dr. Johnson, that " it is more honour- 
able to save a citizen than to destroy an enemy, " 
and, like him, " have been more careful to protect 
than to attack." " I do not wish the reader to 
forget, (says the same writer,) that the most com- 
modious (and he might have added, the most for- 
cible and elegant,) is not always the true reading." 5 
On this principle I have uniformly proceeded, hav- 
ing resolved never to deviate from the authentick 
copies, merely because the phraseology was harsh 
or uncommon. Many passages, which have hereto- 
fore been considered as corrupt, and are now sup- 
ported by the usage of contemporary writers, fully 
prove the propriety of this caution. 6 

* King Henry IV. Part II. 

6 See particularly The Merchant of Venice, Vol. VII. p. 297 : 

" That many may be meant 

" By the fool multitude." 
with the note there. 

We undoubtedly should not now write 

" But, lest myself be guilty to self-wrong, " 
yet we find this phrase in The Comedy of Errors, Act III. 
Vol. XX. See also The Winters Tale, Vol. IX. p. 420: 

" This your son-in-law, 

*' And son unto the king, (whom heavens directing,) 

" Is troth-plight to your daughter.'' 
Measure for Measure, Vol. VI. p. 358 : t* to be so bared, ." 
Coriolanm, Vol. XVI. p. 148, n. 2i 

" Which often, thus, correcting thy stout heart," &c. 
Hamlet, Vol. XVIII. p. 40 : 

" That he might not beteem the winds of heaven," &c. 


The rage for innovation till within these last 
thirty years was so great, that many words were 
dismissed from our poet's text, which in his time 
were current in every mouth. In all the editions 
since that of Mr. Rowe, in the Second Part of King 
Henry IV. the word channel" 1 has been rejected, 
and kennel substituted in its room, though the 
former term was commonly employed in the same 
sense in the time of our author ; and the learned 
Bishop of Worcester has strenuously endeavoured 
to prove that in CymMine the poet wrote not 
shakes, but shuts or checks, " all our buds from 
growing;" 8 though the authenticity of the original 
reading is established beyond all controversy by 
two other passages of ShaKspeare. Very soon, in- 
deed, after his death, this rage for innovation seems 
to have seized his editors; tor in the year 1616 an 
edition of his Rape of Lucrcce was published, 
which was said to be newly rexised and coiTected; 
but in which, in fact, several arbitrary changes 
were made, and the ancient diction rejected for 
one somewhat more modern. Even in the first 
complete collection of his plays published in 1623, 

As you like it, Vol. VIII p. 59, n. 7 : 

*' My voice is ragged, .'* 
Cymbeline, Vol. XVIII. p. 647, n. 2 : 

Whom heavens, in justice, (both on her and here,) 

" Have laid most heavy hand." 
7 Act II. kc. i: " throw the quean in the channel." In 
that passage, as in many others, I have silently restored the ori- 
ginal reading, without any observation ; hut the word in this 
sense, being now obsolete, ibould have been illustrated by a not*. 
This defect, however, will be found remedied in A'. Henry VI. 
P. II. Act II.SC ii: 

" As if a channel should be call'd a soa." 

1 Hurd's Hon. 4th. edit. Vol. I. p. 55. 


some changes were undoubtedly made from igno- 
rance of his meaning and phraseology. They had, 
I suppose, been made in the playhouse copies after 
his retirement from the theatre. Thus in Othello, 
Brabantio is made to call to his domesticks to raise 
" some special officers of might,* 11 instead of" offi- 
cers of night;" and the phrase " of all loves," in 
the same play, not being understood, "for love*s 
sake" was substituted in its room. So, in Hamlet, 
we have ere ever for or ever, and rites instead of 
the more ancient word, crants. In King Lear, 
Act I. sc. i. the substitution of " Goes thy heart 
with this?" instead of " Goes this with thy 
heart ?" without doubt arose from the same cause. 
In the plays of which we have no quarto copies, 
we may be sure that similar innovations were 
made, though we have now no certain means of 
detecting them. 

After what has been proved concerning the 
sophistications and corruptions of the Second 
Folio, we cannot be surprized that when these 
plays were republished by Mr. Rowe in the begin- 
ning of this century from a later folio, in which 
the interpolations of the former were all preserved, 
and many new errors added, almost every page of 
his work was disfigured by accumulated corrup- 
tions. In Mr. Pope's edition our author was not 
less misrepresented ; for though by examining the 
oldest copies he detected some errors, by his nu- 
merous fanciful alterations the poet was so com- 
pletely modernized, that I am confident, had he 
" re-visited the glimpses of the moon," he would 
not have understood his own works. From the 
quartos indeed a few valuable restorations were 
made; but all the advantage that was thus obtained, 


was outweighed by arbitrary changes, transposi- 
tions, and interpolations. 

The readers of Shakspeare being disgusted with 
the liberties taken by Mr. Pope, the subsequent 
edition of Theobald was justly preferred ; because 
he professed to adhere to the ancient copies more 
strictly than his competitor, and illustrated a few 
passages by extracts from the writers of our poet's 
age. That his work should at this day be con- 
sidered of any value, only shows how long impres- 
sions will remain, when they are once made ; for 
Theobald, though not so great an innovator as 
Pope, was yet a considerable innovator ; and his 
edition being printed from that of his immediate 
predecessor, while a few arbitrary changes made 
by Pope were detected, innumerable sophistica- 
tions were silently adopted. His knowledge of 
the contemporary authors was so scanty, that all 
the illustration of that kind dispersed throughout 
his volumes, has been exceeded by the researches 
which have since been made for the purpose of 
elucidating a single play. 

Of Sir Thomas Hantner it is only necessary to 
say, that he adopted almost all the innovations of 
Pope, adding to them whatever caprice dictated. 

To him succeeded Dr. Warburton, a critick, 
who (as hath been said of Salsnasius) seems to have 
erected his throne on a heap of stones, that he 
might have them at hand to throw at the heads of 
all those who passed by. His unbounded licence 
in substituting his own chimerical conceits in the 
place of the author's genuine text, has been so 
Fully shown by his revisers, that I suppose DO cri- 
tical reader will ever again open his volumes. An 
hundred strappadoes, according to an Italian co- 
mick writer, would not have induced Petrarch, 


were he living, to subscribe to the meaning which 
certain commentators after his death had by their 
glosses extorted from his works. It is a curious 
speculation to consider how many thousand would 
have been requisite for this editor to have inflicted 
on our great dramatick poet for the same purpose. 
The defence which has been made for Dr.* War- 
burton on this subject, by some of his friends, is 
singular. " He well knew," it has been said, 
** that much the greater part of his notes do not 
throw any light on the poet of whose works he 
undertook the revision, and that he frequently im- 
puted to Shakspeare a meaning of which he never 
thought ; but the editor's great object was to dis- 
play his own learning, not to illustrate his author, 
and this end he obtained ; for in spite of all the 
clamour against him, his work added to his reputa- 
tion as a scholar." Be it so then ; but let none of 
his admirers ever dare to unite his name with that 
of Shakspeare ; and let us at least be allowed to 
wonder, that the learned editor should have had 
so little respect for the greatest poet that has 
appeared since the days of Homer, as to use a 
commentary on his works merely as " a stalking- 
horse, under the presentation of which he might 
shoot his wit." 

At length the task of revising these plays was 
undertaken by one, whose extraordinary powers of 
mind, as they rendered him the admiration of his 
contemporaries, will transmit his name to posterity 
as the brightest ornament of the eighteenth cen- 
tury ; and will transmit it without competition, if 
we except a great orator, philosopher, and states- 
man, 9 now living, whose talents and virtues are 

9 The Right Honourable Edmund Burke. 


an honour to human nature. In 1765, Dr. Johnson's 
edition, which had long been impatiently expected, 
was given to the publick. His admirable preface, 
(perhaps the finest composition in our language,) 
his happy, and in general just, characters of these 
plays, his refutation of the false glosses of Theo- 
bald and Warburton, and his numerous explica- 
tions of involved and difficult passages, are too well 
known, to be here enlarged upon ; and therefore I 
shall only add, that his vigorous and comprehensive 
understanding threw more light on his author than 
all his predecessors had done. 

In one observation, however, concerning our 
poet, I do not entirely concur with him. " It is 
not (he remarks) very grateful to consider how 
little the succession of editors has added to this 
author's power of pleasing. He was read, admired, 
studied and imitated, while he was yet deformed 
with all the improprieties which ignorance and 
neglect could accumulate upon him." 

He certainly was read, admired, studied, and 
imitated, at the period mentioned ; but surely not 
in the same degree as at present. The succession 
of editors has effected this ; it has made him under- 
stood; it has made him popular; it has shown 
every one who is capable of reading, how much 
superior he is not only to Jonson and Fletcher, 
whom the bad taste of the last a^e from the time 
of the Restoration to the end of the Century sot 
above him, but to all the dramatiek poets of an- 
tiquity : 

-Jam monte potitua, 

" Ridel aohelantem dura ail vestigia turbam." 
Every author who pleases must surely |>! 


more as he is more understood, and there can be no 
doubt that Shakspeare is now infinitely better un- 
derstood than he was in the last century. To say 
nothing of the people at large, it is clear that 
Dry den himself, though a great admirer of our 
poet, and D'Avenant, though he wrote for the 
stage in the year 1627, did not always understand 
him. 1 The very books which are necessary to our 

1 ** The tongue in general is so much refined since Shakspeare's 
time, that many of his words, and more of his phrases, are 
scarce intelligible." Preface to Dryden's Troilus and Cressida. 
The various changes made by Dryden in particular passages in 
that play, and by him and DWvenant in The Tempest, prove 
decisively that they frequently did not understand our poet's 

In his defence of the Epilogue to The Conquest of Granada, 
Dryden arraigns Ben Jonson for using the personal, instead of 
the neutral, pronoun, and unfeard for unafraid: 

" Though heaven should speak with all his wrath at once, 
" We should stand upright, and unfeard." 

" His (say6 he) is ill syntax with heaven, and by unfeard he 
means unafraid; words of a quite contrary signification. He 
perpetually uses ports for gates, which is an affected error in him, 
to introduce Latin by the loss of the English idiom." 

Now his for its, however ill the syntax may be, was the com- 
mon language of the time ; and to fear, in the sense of to terrify, 
is found not only in all the poets, but in every dictionary of that 
age. With respect to ports, Shakspeare, who will not be sus- 
pected of affecting Latinisms, frequently employs that word in 
the same sense as Jonson has done, and as probably the whole 
kingdom did ; for the word is still so used in Scotland. 

D'Avenant's alteration of Macbeth, and Measure for Measure, 
furnish many proofs of the same kind. In The Laxv against 
Lovers, which he formed on Much Ado about Nothing, and 
Measure for Measure, are these lines : 

" nor do I think, 

" The prince has true discretion who affects it." 

The passage imitated is in Measure for Measure : 
" Nor do I think the man of safe discretion, 
" That does affect it." 

If our poet's language had been well understood, the epithet 
safe would not have been rejected. See Othello : 


author's illustration, were of so little account in 
their time, that what now we can scarce procure 
at any price, was then the furniture of the nursery 
or stall. 3 In fifty years after our poet's death, 

" My blood begins my safer guides to rule ; 
" And passion, having my best judgment collied," Ac. 
So also, Edgar, in King Lear : 

" The safer sense will ne'er accommodate 
" His master thus." 

* The price of books at different periods may serve in some 
measure to ascertain the taste and particular study of the age. At 
the sale of Dr. Francis Bernard's library in 1(598, the following 
books were sold at the annexed prices : 


Gowerde Confessione A mantis. - - - 2 6 
Now sold for two guineas. 

Caxton's Recueyll of the Histories of Troy, 1502. 3 

Chronicle of England. - - - - 0*0 

Hall's Chronicle. 6* 

Grafton's Chronicle. - - - - - 06 10 

Holinshed's Chronicle, 1587. - - - 1 10 6 
This book is now frequently sold for ten guineas. 


Turberville on hawking and hunting. 

Copley's Wits, Fits, and Fancies. ... 

Puttenham's Art of English Poesie. 

This book is now usually sold for a guinea. 

Powell's History of Wales. - 

Painter's second tome of the Palace of Pleasure. 

The two volumes of Painter's Palace of Pleasure are now 
usually sold for three guineas. 


Metamorphosis of Ajax, by Sir John Harrington. * 








Dryden mentions that he was then become " a 
little obsolete.** In the beginning of the present 
century Lord Shaftesbury complains of his " rude 
unpolished stile, and his antiquated phrase and 
wit;** and not long afterwards Gildon informs us 
that he had been rejected from some modern collec- 
tions of poetry on account of his obsolete language. 
Whence could these representations have proceed - 
ed,but because our poet,notbeingdiligently studied, 
not being compared with the contemporary writers, 
was not understood ? If he had been " read, ad- 
mired, studied, and imitated," in the same degree 
as he is now, the enthusiasm of some one or other 
of his admirers in the last age would have induced 
him to make some enquiries concerning the history 
of his theatrical career, and the anecdotes of his 
private life. But no such person was found ; no 
anxiety in the publick sought out any particulars 
concerning him after the Restoration, (if we except 
the few which were collected by Mr. Aubrey ,) though 
at that time the history of his life must have been 
known to many ; for his sister Joan Hart, who must 
have known much of his early years, did not die 
till 1646: his favourite daughter, Mrs. Hall, lived 
till 1649; and his second daughter, Judith, was 
living at Stratford-upon-Avon in the beginning of 
the year 1 662. His grand-daughter, Lady Barnard, 
did not die till 1670. Mr. Thomas. Combe, to 
whom Shakspeare bequeathed his sword, survived 
our poet above forty years, having died at Stratford 
in 1657. His elder brother, William Combe, lived 
till 1667. Sir Richard Bishop, who was born in 
1585, lived at Bridgetown near Stratford till 1672 ; 
and his son, Sir William Bishop, who was born in 
1626, died there in 1700. From all these per- 
sons without doubt many circumstances relative to 


Shakspeare might have been obtained; but that 
was an age as deficient in literary curiosity as in 

It is remarkable that in a century after our poet's 
death, rive editions only of his plays were publish- 
ed; which probably consisted. of not more than 
three thousand copies. During the same period 
three editions of the plays of Fletcher, and four 
of those of Jonson had appeared. On the other 
hand, from the year 1716 to the present time, that 
is, in seventy-four years, but two editions of the 
former writer, and one of the latter, have been 
issued from the press ; while above thirty thousand 
copies of Shakspeare have been dispersed through 
England. 3 That nearly as many editions of the 
works of Jonson as of Shakspeare should have been 
demanded in the last century, will not appear sur- 
prising, when we recollect what Dryden has related 
soon after the Restoration: that " others were then 
generally preferred before him." 4 By others Jonson 

1 Notwithstanding our high admiration of Shakspeare, we are 
yet without a splendid edition of his works, with the illustrations 
which the united effort* of various commentators have contri- 
huted ; while in other countries the most brilliant decorations 
have been lavished on their distinguished poets. The editions 
of 1'ope and Hanmer, may, with almost as much propriety, be 
ealled their works, as those of Shakspeare ; and therefore can 
have no claim to be admitted into any elegant library. Nor will 
the promised edition, with engravings, undertaken by Mr. Aldtr- 
man Hoydell, remedy this defect, for it is not to be accoinjuiued 
with notes. At some future, and no very distant time, 1 mean 
to furnish the puhlick with an elegant edition in quarto, (with- 
out engravings,) in which the text of the present edition shall be 
followed, with the illustrations subjoined in the same \ 

4 In the year 1642, whether from some capricious vicissitude 
in the publiek taste, or from a general inattention to the drama, 
we find Shirley complaining that few came to see our author's 
performances : 


and Fletcher were meant. To attempt to show to 
the readers of the present day the absurdity of 

. You see 

" What audience we have : ivhat company 

" To Shakspeare comes ? whose mirth did once beguile 

" Dull hours, and buskin'd made even sorrow smile ; 

r So lovely were the wounds, that men would say 

They could endure the bleeding a whole day ; 

' He has but few friends lately." 

Prologue to The Sisters. 

" Shakspeare to thee was dull, whose best jest lies 
" I'th lady's questions, and the fool's replies; 
" Old fashion'd wit, which walk'd from town to town, 
" In trunk-hose, which our fathers call'd the clown ; 
" Whose wit our nicer times would obsceneness call, 
M And which made bawdry pass for comical. 
" Nature was all his art ; thy vein was free 
** As his, but without his scurrility." 

Verses on Fletcher, by William Cartwright, 

After the Restoration, on the revival of the theatres, the plays 
of Beaumont and Fletcher were esteemed so much superior to 
those of our author, that we are told by Dryden, " two of their 
pieces were acted through the year, for one of Shakspeare's." 
If his testimony needed any corroboration, the following verses 
would afford it : 

" In our old plays, the humour, love, and passion, 
" Like doublet, hose, and cloak, are out of fashion ; 
" That which the world call'd wit in Shakspeare's age, 
" Is laugh'd at, as improper for our stage." 

Prologue to Shirley's Love Tricks, 1667. 

" At every shop, while Shakspeare'' s lofty stile 

" Neglected lies, to mice and worms a spoil, 

" Gilt oh the back, just smoking from the press, 

" The apprentice shews you D'Urfey's Hudibras, 

" Crown's Mask, bound up with Settle's choicest labours, 

'* And promises some new essay of Babor's." 

Satire, published in 1680. 

" against old as well as new to rage, 

* Is the peculiar frenzy of this age. 

" Shakspeare must down, and you must praise no more, 

" Soft Desdemona, nor the jealous Moor : 


such a preference, would be an insult to their un- 
derstandings. When we endeavour to trace any 
thing like a ground for this preposterous taste, we 
are told of Fletcher's ease, and Jonson's learning. 
Of how little use his learning was to him, an 
ingenious writer of our own time has shown 
with that vigour and animation for which he was 
distinguished. " Jonson, in the serious drama, is 
as much an imitator, as Shakspeare is an origin&L 
He was very learned, as Sampson was very strong, 
to his own hurt. Blind to the nature of tragedy, 
he pulled down all antiquity on his head, and 
buried himself under it. We see nothing of Jon- 
son, nor indeed of his admired (but also murdered) 
ancients ; for what shone in the historian \> a cloud 
on the poet, and Catiline might have been a good 
play, if Sallust had never written. 

" Who knows whether Shakspeare might not 
have thought less, if he had read more ? Who 
knows if he might not have laboured under the 
load of Jonson's learning, as Enceladus under 
jEtna? His mighty genius, indeed, through the 
most mountainous oppression would have breathed 

" Shakspeare, whose fruitful genius, happy wit, 
" Was tram'd and finish'd at a lucky hit, 
" The pride of nature, and the shame of schools, 
" Horn to create, and not to learn from, rules, 
" Must please no more : his bastards now deride 
" Their father's nakedness they ought to hide." 

Prologue by Sir Charles Scdley, to the Wary Widow, 
To the honour of Margaret Duchess of Newcastle be it re- 
membered, that however fantastick in other respects, she had 
taste enough to be fully sensible of our poet's merit, and was 
one of the first who utter the Restoration published a ver\ high 
eulogy on him. See her Sociable Letter*, folio, 1664, p. 2f*. 

VOL. I. "K 


out some of his inextinguishable fire ; yet possibly 
he might not have risen up into that giant, that 
much more than common man, at which we now 
gaze with amazement and delight. Perhaps he 
was as learned as his dramatick province required ; 
for whatever other learning he wanted, he was 
master of two books unknown to many of the pro- 
foundly read, though books which the last confla- 
gration alone can destroy ; the book of nature, and 
that of man." 5 . 

To this and the other encomiums on our great 
poet which will be found in the following pages, I 
shall not attempt to make any addition. He has 
justly observed, that 

" To guard a title that was rich before, 

v To gild refined gold, or paint the lily, 

" To throw a perfume on the violet, 

** To smooth the ice, or add another hue 

" Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light 

" To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish, 

" Is wasteful and ridiculous excess." 

Let me, however, be permitted to remark, that 
beside all his other transcendent merits, he was 
the great refiner and polisher of our language. 
His compound epithets, his bold metaphors, the 
energy of his expressions, the harmony of his 
numbers, all these render the language of Shak- 
speare one of his principal beauties. Unfortunately 
none of his letters, or other prose compositions, 
not in a dramatick form, have reached posterity ; 
but if any of them ever shall be discovered, they 
will, I am confident, exhibit the same perspicuity, 

t Conjectures on Original Composition, by Dr Edward Young, 


the same cadence, the same elegance and vigour, 
which we find in his plays. *' Words and phrases," 
says Dryden, "must of necessity receive a change 
in succeeding ages ; but it is almost a miracle, that 
much of his language remains so pure; and that 
he who began dramatick poetry amongst us, un- 
taught by any, and, as Ben Jonson tells us, without 
learning, should by the force of his own genius 
perform so much, that in a manner he has left no 
praise for any who come after him." 

In these prefatdry observations my principal ob- 
ject was, to ascertain the true state and respective 
value of the ancient copies, and to mark out the 
course which has been pursued in the edition now 
offered to the publick. It only remains, that 1 
should return my very sincere acknowledgements to 
those gentlemen, to whose good offices 1 have been 
indebted in the progress ot my work. My thanks 
are particularly due to Francis Ingram, of Ribbis- 
ford in Worcestershire, Esq. for the very valuable 
Office-book of Sir Henry Herbert, and several 
other curious papers, which formerly belonged to 
that gentleman ; to Penn Asheton Curzon,Esq. for 
the use of the very rare copy of King Richard III. 
printed in 1 5 l M j to the Master, ami the Rev. Mr. 
Smith, librarian, of Dul wich College, for the Manu- 
scripts relative to one of our ancient theatres, 
which they obligingly transmitted to me; to John 
Kipling, Esq. keeper of the rolls in Chancery, who 
in the most liberal manner directed every search to 
be made in the Chapel of the Rolls that 1 should 
require, with a view to illustrate the history of our 
poet's life; and to Mr. Richard (lark, registrar of 
the diocese of Worcester, who with equal liberality, 
at my request, made many searches in his office foi 


the wills of various persons. I am also in a par- 
ticular manner indebted to the kindness and atten- 
tion of the Rev. Mr. Davenport, vicar of Strat- 
ford-upon-Avon, who most obligingly made every 
inquiry in that town and the neighbourhood, which 
I suggested as likely to throw any light on the Life 
of Shakspeare. 

I deliver my book to the world not without 
anxiety ; conscious, however, that I have strenu- 
ously endeavoured to render it not unworthy the 
attention of the publick. If the researches which 
have been made for the illustration of our poet's 
works, and for the dissertations which accompany 
the present edition, shall afford as much entertain- 
ment to others, as I have derived from them, I shall 
consider the time expended on it as well employed. 
Of the dangerous ground on which I tread, I am 
fully sensible. " Multa sunt in his studiis (to 
use the words of a venerable fellow-labourer 6 in 
the mines of Antiquity) cineri supposita, doloso. 
Errata possint esse multa a memoria. Quis enim 
in memoriae thesauro omnia simul sic complectatur, 
ut pro arbitratu suo possit expromere ? Errata 
possint esse plura ab imperitia. Quis enim tam 
peritus, ut in caeco hoc antiquitatis mari, cum 
tempore colluctatus, scopulis non allidatur ? Haec 
tamen a te, humanissime lector, tua humanitas, 
mea industria, patriae charitas, et Shakspeari dig- 
nitas, mihi exorent, ut quid mei sit judicii, sine 
aliorum praejudicio libere proferam ; ut eadem via 
qua alii in his studiis solent, insistam ; et ut erratis, 
si ego agnoscam, tu ignoscas." Those who are 
the warmest admirers of our great poet, and most 



conversant with his writings, best know the diffi- 
culty of such a work, and will be most ready to 
pardon its defects ; remembering, that in all ardu- 
ous undertakings, it is easier to conceive than to 
accomplish ; that " the will is infinite, and the 
execution confined ; that the desire is boundless, 
and the act a slave to limit." Malone. 

Queen Anne Street, Hast, 
October 25, 1790. 


T. DAVISON, Lombard-street, 
Whitefriars, London. 

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