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value of their editions for general use. In this particular, Mr. Verplanck has judiciously deviated from his English standard, and his good judgment appears equally in what he adopts and in what he rejects. Of the critical remarks that enrich his edition, it is enough at present to express the belief that in this department he has no rival in this country, and will not soon be beaten.
There is one class of restorations which the Editor hopes to be excused for mentioning, inasmuch as, while they are separately so small as to escape notice, the number of them is so great as to be a matter of considerable importance. Every one at all conversant with the old writers must be aware that in their use of verbs, participles, and participial adjectives, the termination ed generally made a syllable by itself. This class of words being very numerous, not a little variety and flexibility of language were gained by omitting or retaining the e at an author's discretion. In Shakespeare's verse the pronouncing of ed as a distinct syllable is very often required by the measure: yet all the current texts of the poet are utterly dis ordered in this respect, so that the reader's ear, if it be at all sensitive, is continually put at odds with his eye, and the silent pleasure of the verse is marred either by discords or by watchfulness against them. Both forms often occur in the same line; which makes the distinction still more important to be m ırked in the printing. Ilere is an instance :
" For this they have engrossed and pil'd up
The canker'd heaps of strange-achieved gold."
The same is to be said of verbs in the second person singular, and also of many adjectives, where the ending est makes a syllahle by itself, or blends with the preceding syllable, according as the e is retained or omitted. In these respects, the original editions are printed with remarkable exactness; so that, for keeping the Poet's verse rightly in tune, there needs but a scrupulous adherence to them. And the same holds true, in an equal degree, of his prose, which has as much variety in this particular as his verse. Now, in all the modern editions since Capell's, the Poet's usage in this matter has been quite ignored, and the rhythm of his prose (for good prose, no less than verse, has a rhythm of its own) thereby greatly marred. The present Editor has spent a great deal of care and labour upon these small items of restoration, deeming it of consequence to preserve, as nearly as might be, the words and even the syllables exactly as Shakespeare wrote them.
It may be worth the while, indeed it seems rather needful, to remark that of the Poet's thirty-seven dramas seventeen were first printed, separately, in quarto form, — all of them but one, Othello, during his life. Several of these issues, however, were evidently stolen, and, withal, so mangled and mutilated in the stealing, as to be of little if any real authority ; though all of them are of more or less value in ascertaining or completing the text. The remaining twenty plays were first printed in the folio of 1623 and in respect of these, that edition, and the reprint of it, under some revising hand, in 1632, are oui only authorities for the text.
As to the folio of 1623, a great deal has been said on both sides respecting it. A long and minute ac quaintance with its pages has satisfied the present Editor that no general statements can give any adequate impression of its character. In some of the plays the printing is shockingly bad ; in others, it is nearly as good as need be desired; while in a portion of them it is neither so good nor so bad as has been sometimes represented. It is admitted on all hands that in several of the plays no text at all satisfactory can be had without resorting to the quartos, many of the best passages, and sometimes even whole scenes, being altogether wanting in the folio. Notwithstanding, it is maintained by some (and this is one of the rocks on which Knights editorial vessel split) that the folio is throughout the better authority. Such is not the judgment of the present Editor: on the contrary, in some of the plays, as A MidsummerNight's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, King Richard II., The First Part of King Henry IV., Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet, he holds the quarto text as on the whole preferable to that of the folio. In these cases, accordingly, as is explained more at large in the Introductions, the older copies are treated as the chief standards of the text, in this edition.
For the use here made of what have become widely known of late as “The Collier Emendations," the reader is referred to what follows this Preface. The text of Shakespeare as given in the old copies leaves open a wide field for editorial judgment, and is in just the state most apt to be benefited by a sober and legitimate exercise of that faculty. In cases of evident or probable misprint, the present Editor has availed himself of all the suggestions within his reach: where the error seemed unquestionable, the correction is sometimes made without remark; where there seemed any room for doubt on this score, the correction is generally pointed out in the notes.
The Chiswick edition, as things then stood, furnished in the main a pretty judicious and not very cumbrous eclecticism of previous annotation. Of course, the purifying of the text has necessitated many changes in the notes. Moreover, superfluous notes and superfluous parts of notes required vigor. ous pruning: sometimes additional notes, sometimes different ones, were demanded by the present state of Shakespearian literature: quotations and references, carelessly and inaccurately made, often needed to be verified and set right; while in not a few cases the notes were written so awkwardly or so diffusely as rather to darken what they were meant to illustrate. In the present edition all these points are carefully attended to, no pains being spared to render the notes as clear, brief, and pertinent, as practicable. For the matter of the notes the Editor has drawn with the utmost freedoin from all the sources accessible to him; often bringing in illustrative passages that had occurred in his own reading, oftener those which had been quoted by others. It must be added that this work of annotation has been greatly facilitated by Mrs. Cowden Clarke's Concordance to
Shakespeare, unquestionably one of the most perfect and most useful books that have been written in connection with the Poet's name.
In his Introductions, the Editor has aimed, primarily, to gather up all the historical and bibliographical information that has been made accessible, concerning the times when the several plays were written and first acted, and the sources whence the plots and materials of them were derived. It will be seen that in the history of the Poet's plays the indefatigable labours of Mr. Collier and others, often resulting in important discoveries, have wrought changes amounting almost to a revolution, within the last fifty years. And there seems the more cause for dwelling on what the Poet took from preceding writers, in that it exhibits him, where a right-minded study should specially delight to contemplate him, as holding his unrivalled inventive powers subordinate to the higher principles of art. He cared little for the interest of novelty, which is but a short-lived thing at the best; much for the interest of truth and beauty, which is indeed immortal, and always grows upon acquaintance. And the novel-writing of our time shows that hardly any thing is easier than to get up new incidents or new combinations of inci. dents for a story; and as the interest of such things turns mainly on their novelty, so of course they become less interesting the more one knows them ; which order (for “a thing of beauty is a joy for ever") is just reversed in genuine works of art. Besiles, if Shakespeare is the most original of