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of their limbes; and all the reft, abfolute in their numbers, as he conceived them. Who, as he was a happie imitator of nature, was a most gentle expreffer of it. His minde and hand went together and what he thought, he uttered with that eafineffe, that wee have fcarfe received from him a blot in his papers." Who now does not feel himself inclin❜d to expect an accurate and good performance in the edition of these prefacers? But alas, it is nothing lefs: for (if we except the fix fpurious ones, whofe places were then fupply'd by true and genuine copies) the editions of plays preceding the folio, are the very bafis of thofe we have there; which are either printed from those editions, or from the copies which they made ufe of; and this is principally evident in First and Second Henry IV. Love's Labour's Loft, Merchant of Venice, Midfummer-Night's Dream, Much Ado about Nothing, Richard II. Titus Andronicus, and Troilus and Crefsida;" for in the others we see fomewhat a greater latitude, as was obferv'd a little above: but in these plays, there is an almost strict conformity between the two impreffions: fome additions are in the second, and fome omiffions; but the faults and errors of the quarto's are all preferv'd in the folio, and others added to them; and what difference there is, is generally for the worfe on the fide of the folio editors; which fhould give us but faint hopes of meeting with greater accuracy in the plays which they first publish'd; and, accordingly, we find them fubject to all the imperfections that have been noted in the former: nor is their edition in general diftinguish'd by any mark of preference above the earlieft quarto's, but that fome of their plays are divided into acts, and fome others into acts and fcenes; and that with due precifion,
and agreeable to the author's idea of the nature of fuch divifions. The order of printing these plays, the way in which they are class'd, and the titles given them, being matters of fome curiofity, the Table that is before the first folio is here reprinted: and to it are added marks, put between crotchets, fhewing the plays that are divided; a fignifying-acts, a & facts and scenes.
The plays, mark'd with afterisks, are spoken of by name, in a book, call'd-Wit's Treafury, being the Second Part of Wit's Commonwealth, written by Francis Meres, at p. 282: who, in the fame 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 fpeaks of his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, and his Sonnets: this book was printed in 1598, by P. Short, for Cuthbert Burbie ; octavo, fmall. The fame author, at p. 283, mentions too a Richard the Third, written by Doctor Leg, author of another play, called The Deftruction of Jerufalem. And there is in the Mufæum, a manufcript Latin play upon the fame subject, written by one Henry Lacy in 1586: which Latin play is but a weak performance; and yet feemeth to be the play spoken of by Sir John Harrington, (for the author was a Cambridge man, and of St. John's,) in this paffage of his Apologie of Poetrie, prefix'd to his tranflation of Ariofto's Orlando, edit. 1591, fol: and for tragedies, to omit other famous tragedies; that, that was played at S. Johns in Cambridge of Richard the 3.
would move (I thinke) Phalaris the tyraunt, and terrifie all tyränous minded men, fro following their foolish ambitious humors, feeing how his ambition made him kill his brother, his nephews, his wife, befide infinit others; and laft of all after a short and troublesome raigne, to end his miferable life, and to have his body harried after his death."
Othello, the Moore of Ve-
Cymbeline King of Britaine. [a & f.]
Having premis'd thus much about the ftate and condition of these first copies, it may not be improper, nor will it be abfolutely a digreffion, to add fomething concerning their authenticity in doing which, it will be greatly for the reader's eafe, and our own, to confine ourselves to the quarto's which, it is hop'd, he will allow of; efpecially, as our intended vindication of them will alfo include in it (to the eye of a good obferver) that of the plays that appear'd firft in the folio: which therefore omitting, we now turn ourselves to the quarto's.
We have seen the flur that is endeavour'd to be thrown upon them indifcriminately by the player editors, and we fee 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 affert confidently in his preface, that they are printed from " piece-meal parts, and copies of prompters :" but his arguments for it are fome of them without foundation, and the others not conclufive; and it is to be doubted, that the opinion is only thrown out to countenance an abufe that has been carry'd to much too great lengths by himself and another editor,-that of putting out of the text paffages that they did not like. Thefe cenfures then, and this opinion being fet afide, is it criminal to try another conjecture, and fee 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
fo numerous, that, when we take a furvey of them, they seem the productions of a life of twice that length for to the thirty-fix plays in this collection, we must add seven, (one of which is in two parts,) perhaps written over again; feven others that were publifh'd fome of them in his life-time, and all with his name; and another feven, that are upon good grounds imputed to him; making in all, fifty-eight plays; befides 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 profe productions were, know not but it can hardly be fuppos'd, that he, who had fo confiderable a fhare in the confidence of the Earls of Effex and Southampton, could be a mute fpectator only of controverfies in which, they were fo much interested; and his other poetical works, that are known, will fill a volume the fize of these that we have here. When the number and bulk of these pieces, the fhortness of his life, and the other bufy employments of it are reflected upon duly, can it be a wonder that he should be fo loose a transcriber of them? or why fhould we refufe to give credit to what his companions tell us, of the state of thofe tranfcriptions, 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; haftily written at firft, and iffuing from preffes moft of them as corrupt and licentious as can any where be produc'd, and not overfeen by himself, nor by any of his friends: and there can be no ftronger reafon for fubfcribing to any opinion, than may be drawn in favour of this from the condition of