صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

with “ Troilus and Cressida,” and in the folios of 1664 and not have attributed it to him; and the player-editors, 1685 " Coriolanus" is inserted in the same order.)

who had been Shakespeare's " fellows and friends," Nothing has yet been discovered to lend to the and were men of character and experience, would belief that there was a play on the story of Coriola- not have included it in their volume. These two nus anterior to Shakespeare's tragedy. Henslowe's facts are, in our view, sufficient. Diary contains no hint of the kind.

It was, undoubtedly, one of his earliest, if not his The materials for this drama appear to have been very earliest dramatic production. All are aware derived exclusively from " the Life of Caius Martius that there is a most marked distinction between Coriolanus,” in the early translation of Plutarch by his mode of composition early and late in life; Sir Thomas North. That translation came from the as exhibited, for instnnce, in “Love's Labor's press in folio in 1579, with the following title: Lost," and in "The Winter's Tale;" and we ap# The Lives of the noble Grecians and Romanes, prehend that " Titus Andronicus” belongs to a pericompared together by that grave learned Philos- od even anterior to the former. Supposing “ 'fitus opher and Historiographer, Plutarke of Chæronea." Andronicus” to have been written about 1588, we It was avowedly made from the French of Amiot, are to recollect that our dramatic poets were then Bishop of Auxerre, and oppears to have been very only beginning to throw off the shackles of rhyme, popular: though published at a high price (equal to and their versification partook of the weight and about £5 of the present money), it was several times monotony which were the usual accompaniments of reprinted; and we may, perhaps, presume that our couplets. "Titus Andronicus” is to be read under great dramatist made use of an impression nearer this impression, and many passages will then be his own time, possibly that of 1595. In many of found in it which, we think, are remarkable indicathe pricu ipeleches le hus collowed this authori- tions of skill and power in an unpractised dramatist : ty with relal XLCTL03; und b Wils indebted to it as a poetical production it has not hitherto had jusfor the weilut of this piot. 'li. -ction occu- tice done to it, on account, partly, of the revolting pies less than four ya , for it con 16e ces subse- nature of the plot. Neither is internal evidence

ent to the retirement of the past Mons Sacer wholly wanting, for words and phrases employed in 262, arter the coundation of Ron, inel terminates by Shakespeare in his other works may be pointed with the leath of Coriolanus in A. L'. 1'. 266.

out; and in Act iii., sc. 1, we meet a remarkable " The Tragedy of Coriolanus" originally appeared expression, which is also contained in “Venus and in tale folio of 1623, where it is disided into acts Adonis." but not into scenes; and it was registered at Sta With reference to the general complexity of the tioners' Hall by Blount and Jaggard on the 8th No- drama, and the character of the plot, it must also be vember of that year, as one of the "copies" which borne in mind that it was produced at a time, when had not been “entered to other men." " Hence we scenes of horror were especially welcome to public infer thut there had been no previous edition of it audiences, and when pieces were actually recomin quarto. Malone supposed that “ Coriolanus" mended to their admiration in consequence of the was written in 1610; but we are destitute of all blood and slaughter with which they abounded. evidence on the point, beyond what may be derived

The oldest known edition of “ Titus Andronicus" from the style of composition : this would certainly | bears date in 1600: but we feel convinced that a induce us to fix it somewhat late in the career of more ancient impression will some time or other our great dramatist.

again be brought to light. That it once existed, we have the testimony of Langbaine, in his “ Account of English Dramatic Poets," 1691, where he tells us that the play was “first printed 4to. Lond. 1594."

Consistently with this assertion we find the following TITUS ANDRONICUS. entry in the Registers of the Stationers' Company:

"6 Feb. 1593 ("The most lamentable Romaine Tragedie of Titus Andro John Danter] A booke entitled a noble Roman Historye

nicus. As it hath sundry times beene playde by the Right of Tytus Andronicus."
Honourable the Earle of Pembrooke, the Earle of Darbie,
the Earle of Sussex, and the Lorde

Chamberlaine theyr The Stationers' books contain several subsequent Seruants. At London, Printed by I. R. for Edward White, memoranda respecting " Titus Andronicus," bearing of Paules, at the signe of the Gun. 1600." 4to. 40 leaves. date 19th April, 1602, 14th December, 1624, and The most lamentable Tragedie of Titus Andronicus. As | 8th November, 1630; but none which seems to have it hath sundry times beene plaide by the Kings Maiesties relation to the editions of 1600 and 1611. No quarto to be solde at his shoppe, nere the little North dore of impressions of a subsequent date are known, and the Pauls, at the signe of the Gun. 1611." 4to. 40 leaves.

tragedy next appeared in the folio of 1623, which In the folio of 1623, "The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus An. was printed from the quarto of 1611. dronicus" occupies twenty-two pages, in the division of " Tragedies," viz., from p. 31 to p. 52, inclusive. The

It is very possible that Shakespeare's "Titus Anthree later fulios, of course, insert it in the same part of dronicus” was founded upon some anterior dramatic the volume.)

performance, but on this point we have no evidenco We feel no hesitation in assigning “Titus Andro- in certain real or supposed dissimilarities of com

beyond what may be collected from the piece itself, nicus” to Shakespeare. Whether he may lay claim position. to it as the author of the entire tragedy, or only in a qualified sense, as having made additions to, and improvements in it, is a different and a more difficult question. we find it given to him by his contemporary,

ROMEO AND JULIET. Francis Meres, in his Palladis Tamia, 1598. It ("An excellent conceited Tragedie of Romeo and Iuliet. As was also inserted in the folio of 1623 by Shake it hath been often (with great applause) plaid publiquely, speare's fellow-actors, Heminge and Condell. Had

by the right Honourable the L. of Hunedon bis scruants. it not been by our great dramatist, Meres, who was

London, Printed by lohn Danier. 1597." 4to. 39 leaves,

* The most excellent and lamentable Tragedie, of Romeo and well acquainted with the literature of his time, would Iuliet. Newly corrected, augmented, and amended: As

46 leaves,

it hath bene sundry times publiquely acted, by the right obtained, and partly from notes taken at the theatre don Printed by Thomas Creede, for Cuthbert Burby. and during representation. The second edition was are to be sold at his shop neare the Exchange. 1599." 4to. printed in 1599, and it professes to have been

newly corrected, augmented, and amended :" the "The most excellent and Lamentable Tragedie, of Romeo third dated edition appeared in 1609; but some

and Juliet. As it hath beene sundrie times publiquely copies without a date are known, which most likely Newly, corrected, augmented and amended : London were posterior to 1609, but anterior to the appear Printed for lohn Smethwick, and are to be sold at his ance of the folio in 1623. The quarto, 1637, is of Shop in Saint Dunstnnes Church-yard, in Fleetestreete

no authority. vnder the Dyall. 1609." 4to 46 leaves. In the folio of 1623 " The Tragedie of Romeo and Juliet" The quarto, 1609, was printed from the edition

occupies twenty-five pages, viz. from p. 53 to p. 79, inclu. which came out ten years earlier; and the repetisive, in the division of Tragedies." It fills the same space lion, in the folio of 1623, of some decided errors in the folios of 1632, 1664, and 1685.)

of the press, shows that it was a reprint of the It is certain that there was an English play upon quarto, 1609. It is remarkable, that although every the story of Romeo and Juliet before the year 1562; early quarto impression contains a Prologue, it was and the fact establishes that, even at that early date, not transferred to the folio. The quarto, 1597, has our dramatists resorted to Italian novels, or transla- lines not in the quartos, 1599, 1609, nor in the folio: tions of them, for the subjects of their productions. and the folio, reprinting the quarto, 1609, besides It is the most ancient piece of evidence of the kind ordinary errors, makes several important omissions. yet discovered, and it is given by Arthur Brooke, Our text is that of the quarto, 1599, compared, of who in that year published a narrative poem, called course, with the quarto, 1609, and with the folio of "The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet." 1623, and in some places importantly assisted by the At the close of his address“ to the Reader" he ob- quarto of 1597. serves :-“Though I saw the same argument lately It will be observed that on the title-page of the set forth on stage with more commendation than I quarto, 1597, it is stated hat “Romeo and Juliet" can look for, (being there much better set forth, than was acted by the players of Lord Hunsdon; and I have, or can do,) yet the same matter, penned as hence Malone argued that it muur wave been first it is, may serve the like good effect.” Thus we see performed and printed beiveen July, 1596, and also, that the play had been received " with com-April, 1597. In this opinion we coincide. mendation," and that Brooke himself, unquestion

It is remarkable that in no edition of "Romeo and ably a competent judge, admits its excellence. Juliet,” printed anterior to the publication of the

We can searcely suppose that no other drama folio of 1623, do we find Shakespeare's name upon would be founded upon the same interesting inci- the title-page. Yet Meres, in his Palladis Tamia, dents between 1562 and the date when Shakespeare had distinctly assigned it to him in 1598; and although wrote his tragedy, a period of, probably, more than the name of the author might be purposely left out thirty years; but no hint of the kind is given in any in the imperfect copy of 1597, there would seem to record, and certainly no such work, either manu- be no reason, especially after the announcement by script or printed, has come down to us. Of the Meres, for not inserting it in the "corrected, augextreme popularity of the story we have abundant mented, and amended' edition of 1599. But it is proof, and of a remote date. It was included by wanting even in the impression of 1609, although William Paynter in the " second tome" of his Shakespeare's popularity must thea have been at its " Palace of Pleasure," the dedication of which he height. dates 4th November, 1567 ; and in old writers we find frequent mention of the hero and heroine.

How far Shakespeare might be indebted to any such production we have no means of deciding; but

TIMON OF ATHENS. Malone, Steevens, and others have gone upon the (" The Life of Tymon of Athens" first appeared in the folio supposition, that Shakespeare was only under obliga of 1623, where it occupies, in the division of Trondies," tions either to Brooke's poem, or to Paynter's novel;

twenty-one pages, numbered from p. 80 to p. 98 inclusiv and least of all do they seem to have contemplated

but pp. 81 and 82, by an error, are repeated. Page 98 is

followed by a leaf, hended, " The Actors' Names," and the possibility, that he might have obtained assist the list of characters fills the whole page; the back of it ance from some foreign source.

is left blank. The drama bears the same title in the later Arthur Brooke avowed that he derived his mate

folios. rials from Bandello (Part ii. Nov. 9), La sfortunata SHAKESPEARE is supposed not to have written morte di due infelicissimi Amanti, &c.; and Paynter " Timon of Athens" until late in his theatrical cavery literally translated Boisteau's Histoire de deux reer, and Malone has fixed upon 1610 as the probaAmans, &c., in the collection of Histoires Tra- ble date when it came from his pen. We know of giques, published by Belle-forest. Steevens was dis- no extrinsic evidence to confirm or contradict this posed to think that our great dramatist had obtained opinion. The tragedy was printed in 1623, in the more from Paynter than from Brooke, while Malone folio edited by Heminge and Condell; and having supported, and we think, established, a contrary been inserted in the Registers of the Stationers opinion.

Company as a play“ not formerly entered to other Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet" originally came men,” we may infer that it had not previously come out, but in an imperfect manner, in 1597, quarto. from the press. The versification is remarkably This edition is in two different types, and was prob- loose and irregular, but it is made to appear more ably executed in haste by two different printers. It so by the manner in which it was originally printed. has generally been treated as an authorized impres. The object, especially near the close, seems to have sion from an authentic manuscript. Such, after the been to make the drama occupy as much space as most careful examination, is not our opinion. We could be conveniently filled : consequently, many of think that the manuscript used by the printer or the lines are arbitrarily divided into two. printers (no bookseller's or stationer's name is placed There is an apparent want of finish about some at the bottom of the title-page) was made up, partly portions of " Timon of Athens," while others are from portions of the play us it was acted, but unduly | elaborately wrought. Coleridge said, in 1815, that

he saw the same vigorous hand at work throughout; No early quarto edition of "Julius Cæsar” is that it was one of the author's most complete per- known, and there is reason to believe that it never formances; and he gave no countenance to the no- appeared in that form. The manuscript originally tion, that any parts of a previously existing play had used for the folio of 1623 must have been extremely been retained in “Timon of Athens," as it had come perfect, and free from corruptions, for there is, down to us. The players, however, he felt con- perhaps, no drama in the volume more accurately vinced, had done the poet much injustice; and he printed. especially instanced the clumsy, "clap-trap" blow Malone and others have arrived at the conclusion at the Puritans in Act iii. sc. 3, as an interpolation that "Julius Cæsar” could not have been written by the actor of the part of Timon's servant. Cole- before 1607. We think there is good ground for ridge accounted for the ruggedness and inequality believing that it was acted before 1603. of the versification upon the same principle, and he We found this opinion upon the resemblance bewas persuaded that only a corrupt and imperfect tween a stanza found in Drayton's "Barons' Wars," copy had come to the hands of the player-editors of Svo, 1603, and a passage in “ Julius Cæsar," Act v. the folio of 1623. His admiration of some parts of sc. 5, from which, after mature consideration of all the tragedy was unbounded; but he maintained that the circumstances, we feel warranted in concluding, it was, on the whole, a painful and disagreeable that Drayton, having heard “ Julius Cæsar" at the production, because it gave only a disadvantageous theatre, or seen it in manuscript before 1603, applied picture of human nature, very inconsistent with to his own purpose, perhaps unconsciously, what, in what, he firmly believed, was our great poet's real fact, belonged to another poet. view of the characters of his fellow creatures. He Shakespeare appears to have derived nearly all said that the whole piece was a bitter dramatic satire, his materials from Plutarch, as translated by Sir -a species of writing in which Shakespeare had Thomas North, and first published in 1579. At the shown, as in all other kinds, that he could reach the same time, it is not unlikely that there was a prevery highest point of excellence. Coleridge could ceding play. It is a new fact, ascertained from an not help suspecting that the subject might have been entry in Henslowe's Diary dated 220 May, 1602, taken up under some temporary feeling of vexation that Anthony Munday, Michael Drayton, John Weband disappoiutment.

ster, Thomas Middleton, and other poets, were enIlow far this notion is well founded can of course gaged upon a tragedy entitled “Cæsar's Fall." be matter of mere speculation; but a whole play could The probability is, that these dramatists united their hardly be composed under a transient fit of irritation, exertions, in order without delay to bring out a and to us it ne me more likely, that in this instance, as tragedy on the same subject as that of Shakespeare, in others, Vakspre adopted the story because he which, perhaps, was then performing at the Globe thought h. could make it acceptable as a dramatic Theatre with success. represent jon. He an 'e wita Farmer in thinking From Vertue's manuscripts we learn that a play, that there probably existed some earlier popular pay called "Cæsar's Tragedy," was acted at Court in of which 'Timon was the hero. The novels in Payn- 1613, which might be Shakespeare's drama, that ter's “ Palace of Pleasure" were the common prop: written by Munday, Drayton, Webster, Middleton, erty of the poets of the day; and the strange and and others, or a play printed in 1607, under the title beastly nature of Timon of Athens" is inserted in of “The Tragedy of Cæsar and Pompey, or Cæsar's the first volume of that collection, which came out Revenge.” Mr. Peter Cunningham, in his " Revels' before 1567. Paynter professes to have derived his Accounts," has shown that a dramatic piece, with brief materials from the life of Marc Antony, in the title of " The Tragedy of Cæsar," was exhibited Plutarch; but Sir Thomas North's translation having at Court on January 31, 1636-7. made its appearance in 1579, all the circumstances may have been familiar to most readers. True it is, that Shakespeare does not ppear to have followed these authorities at all closely, and there may bave been some version of Lucian then current with

МАСВЕТН. . which we are now unacquainted. We know also that there existed about that date "The Tragedie of Macbeth" was first printed in the folio

of 1623, where it occupies twenty-one pages; viz. from p. a play upon the subject of Timon of Athens. The 131 to p. 151 inclusive, in the division of Tragedies." original manuscript of it is in the library of the

The Acts and Scenes are regularly marked there, as well

as in the later folios.) Rev. Alexander Dyce, who has recently superintended an impression of it for the Shakespeare The only ascertained fact respecting the perSociety. He gives it as his opinion, that it was formance of “Macbeth," in the lifetime of its "intended for the amusement of an academic au- author, is that it was represented at the Globe dience,” and although the epilogue may be consid- Theatre on the 20th of April, 1610. Whether it ered rather of a contrary, complexion, the learned was then a new play, it is impossible to decide ; editor is probably right: it is, however, nearly cer- but we are inclined to think that it was not, and tain that it was acted; and although it will not bear that Malone was right in his conjecture, that it was a moment's comparison with Shakespeare's “ Timon first acted about the year 1606. A detailed account of Athens," similar incidents and persons are con- of the plot is contained in Dr. Simon Forman's tained in both

manuscript Diary, preserved in the Ashmolean Mu. seum, from which it appears, that he saw “Macbeth" played at the Globe on the day we have

stated. JULIUS CÆSAR.

Our principal reason for thinking that “ Macbeth" (" The Tragedie of Julius Cæsar" was first printed in the had been originally represented at least four years folio of 1623, where it occupies twenty-two pages, viz. before 1610, is the striking allusion, in Act iv. sc. 1, from p. 109 to p. 130 inclusive, in the division of " Trage to the union of the three kingdoms of England, and it appeared in the same manner in the three later Scotland, and Ireland, in the hands of James I. folios.]

That monarch ascended the throne in March, 1602-3,

as

and was proclaimed king of Great Britain and Ire “The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke. Newly Imland in October, 1604; and the words,

printed and inlarged, according to the true and perfect

Copy lastly Printed. By William Shakespcare. London, “Some I see,

Printed by W. S. for lohn Smethwicke, and nre to be That two-fold balls and treble sceptres carry," sold at his Shop in Saint Dunstans Churcb-yard in Fleet

street: Vnder the Diall." 4to, 51 Iraves. would have had little point, if we suppose them to This undated edition was probably printed in 1607, as it was have been delivered after the king who bore the

entered at Stationers' Hall on November 19, in that year. balls and sceptres had been more than seven years

An impression, by R. Young, in 4to, 1637, has also John

Smethwicke, at the bottom of the title-page, on the throne.

In the folio of 1623, " The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Shakespeare, doubtless, derived all the materials Denmarke," occupies thirty-one pages, in the division of he required from Holinshed, withont resorting to

" Tragedies ;" viz., from p. 152 to p. 280, inclusive, there Boethus, or to any other authority. Steevens con

being a mistake of 100 pages between p. 156 and what

ought to have been p. 157.] tinued to maintain, that Shakespeare was indebted, in some degree, to Middleton's "Witch" for the The story upon which, there is reason to believe, preternatural portion of “Macbeth ;" but Malone, Shakespeare founded his tragedy of “ Hamlet," who at first entertained the same view of the subject, has recently been reprinted, from the only known ultimately abandoned it, and became convinced that perfect copy, as part of a work called “ Shake" The Witch” was a play written subsequently to the speare's Library;" and there is, perhaps, nothing production of " Macbeth.” What must surprise more remarkable than the manner in which our every body is, that a poet of Middleton's rank could great dramatist wrought these barbarous, uncouth, so degrade the awful beings of Shakespeare's inven- and scanty materials into the magnificent structure tion; for although, as Lamb observes, “ the power he left behind him. A comparison of "The Hisof Middleton's witches is in some measure over the torie of Hamblet,” as it was translated at an early mind," they are of a degenerate race, as if, Shake-date from the French of Belleforest, with “The speare having created them, no other mind was suf- Tragedy of Hamlet," is calculated to give us the ficiently gifted even to continue their existence.

most exalted notion of, and profound reverence for, Whether Shakespeare obtained his knowledge re

the genius of Shakespeare : his vast superiority to garding these agents, and of the locality he supposes Greene and Lodge was obvious in "The Winter's them to have frequented, from actual observation, Tale,” and “As You Like It;"' but the novels of whether, in short, he had ever visited Scotland,-is

“ Pandosto" and “Rosalynde," as narratives, were a point we have considered in the Biography of the perhaps as far above “ The Historie i Hamblet," poet.

The Winter's Tale" and "19 Yon Lik« It." At whatever date we suppose Shakespeare to have were above the originale from which their main inwritten " Macbeth," we may perhaps infer, from a cidents were derived. Nothing, in point of far, passage in Kemp's “Nine Days' Wonder," 1600, can be much more worthless, ia story and styje, that there existed a ballad upon the story, which than the production to which it is supposed Snakemay have been older than the tragedy. The point, pare was indebted for the foundation of his however, is doubtful, and it is obvious that Kemp

"Hamlet." did not mean to be very intelligible: his other allu

There is, however, some ground for thinking, sions to ballad-makers of his time are purposely ob- that a lost play upon similar incidents preceded the scure.

work of Shakespeare: how far that lost play might "Macbeth” was inserted by the player-editors in be an improvement upon the old translated “ Histhe folio of 1623; and, as in other similar cases, we

torie" we have no means of deciding, nor to what may presume that it had not come from the press at

extent Shakespeare availed himself of such iman earlier date, because in the books of the Station-provement, ers' Company it is registered by Blount and Jaggard,

We feel confident, however, that the “Hamlet” on the 8th of November, 1623, as one of the plays which hus come down to us in at least six quarto “not formerly entered to other men." It has been impressions, in the folio of 1623, and in the later handed down in an unusually complete state, for not impressions in that form, was not written until the only are the divisions of the acts pointed out, but the winter of 1601, or the spring of 1602. subdivisions of the scenes carefully and accurately

Malone, Steevens, and the other commentators, noted.

were acquainted with no edition of the tragedy anterior to the quarto of 1604, which professes to be " enlarged to almost as much again as it was:"

they, therefore, reasonably suspected that it had HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK. been printed before; and within the Inst twenty

years a single copy of an edition in 1603 has been 1" The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke. discovered. This, in fact, seems to have been the

By William Shake-speare. As it bath berno diuerse times abbreviated and imperfect edition, consisting of acted by his Highnesse seruants in the Cittio of London: only about half as much as the impression of 1604. as also in the two Vniuersities of Cambridge and Oxford, From whose press it came we have no information, and else-where., At London printed for Ň. L. and lohn but it professed to be " printed for N. L. and Iohn "The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke. Trundell." N. L. was Nicholas Ling; and I. R.,

By William Shakespeare. Newly imprinted and enlarged the printer of the edition of 1604, was no doubt, to almost as much againe as it was, according to the true James Roberts, who, two years before, had made L. and are to be sold at his shoppe vnder Saint Dunstons the following entry in the Registers of the StationChurch in Fleetetreet. 1604." "Ato. 51 leaves.

ers' Company :The title-page of the edition of 1605 does not differ in the most minute particular from that of 1604.

" 26 July 1602 “The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke. By William James Roberts) A booke, The Revenge of Hamlett prince Shakespeare. Newly imprinted and enlarged to almost

of Denmarke, as yt was latelie acted by the Lord as much againe as it was, according to the true and per

Chainberlayn his servantes." fect Coppy. At London, Printed for lohn Smethwicko and are to be sold at his shoppe in Saint Dunstons Church

The words," as it was lately acted," are important yeard in Fleetstreet. Vnder the Diall. 1611." 4to. 51 upon the question of date, and the entry farther leaves.

proves, that the tragedy had been performed by the

7

company to which Shakespeare belonged. In the worlds. In Hamlet this balance is disturbed; bis spring of 1603, “ the Lord Chamberlain's servants" thoughts and the images of his fancy are far more became the King's players; and on the title-page vivid than his actual perceptions; and his very perof the quarto of 1603 it is asserted that it had been ceptions, instantly passing through the medium of acted by his Highness' servants."

his contemplations, acquire, as they pass, a form Thus we see, that in July, 1602, there was an in- and a color not naturally their own. Hence we see tention to print and publish a play called " The Re- a great, an alınost enormous, intellectual activity, venge of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark;" and this and a proportionate aversion to real action conseintention, we may fairly conclude, arose out of the quent upon it, with all its symptoms and accompopularity of the piece, as it was then acted by panying qualities. This character . Shakespeare *the Lord Chamberlain's servants," who, in May places in circumstances under which it is obliged following, obtained the title of "the King's play- to act on the spur of the moment, Hamlet is ers." The object of Roberts in making the entry brave, and careless of death ; but he vacillates already quoted, was to secure it to himself, being, from sensibility, and procrastinates from thought, no doubt, aware that other printers and booksellers and loses the power of action in the energy of would endeavor to anticipate him. It seems prob- resolve." able, that he was unable to obtain such a copy of “Hamlet” as he would put his name to; but some inferior and nameless printer, who was not so scrupulous, having surreptitiously secured a manuscript of the play, however imperfect, which would answer

KING LEAR. the purpose, and gratify public curiosity, the edition bearing date in 1603 was published. Such, we have 1" William Shak.speare: His True Chronicle Historie

of the life and death of King Lear and his three Daugh. little doubt, was the origin of the impression of which ters. With the ynfortunate life of Edgar, covne and heire only a single copy has reached our day, and of which, to the Earle of Glo-ter, and his sullen and assumed huprobably, but a few were sold, as its worthlessness monr of Tom of Bedlam. As it was played before the was soon discovered, and it was quickly entirely

Kings Maiestie at Whitehall vpon S. Stephans night in

Christmas Hollidayes. By his Maiesties seruants playing superseded by the enlarged impression of 1604. veually at the Globe on the Bancke-side. London, Print

But although we entirely reject the quarto of ed for Nathaniel Butter, and are to be sold at his shop in 1603, as an authentic “Hamlet," it is of high value

Paul's Church-yard, at the signe of the Pide Bull neere

St. Austiu's Gate. 1608.” 4to. 41 leaves. in enabling us to settle the text of various important M. William Shakc-speare, His True Chronicle History of passages. It proves, besides, that certain portions

the life and death of King Lear, and his three Daughters. of the play, as it appears in the folio of 1623, which With the vnfortunate life of Edgar, sonne and heire to the do not form part of the qnarto of 1604, were origi

Earle of Glocester, and his sullen and assumed humour nally acted, and were not, as has been hitherto im

of Tom of Bedlam. As it was plaid before the Kings Mai

esty at White-hall, vppon S. Stephens night, in Christmas agined, subsequent introductions.

Hollidaies. By his Maiesties Seruants, playing veually at The impression of 1604 being intended to super the Globe on the Banck-side. Printed for Nathaniel Butsede that of 1603, which gave a most mangled and The title-page of a third impression in 1608 corresponds imperfect notion of the drama in its true state, we

with that last above given. may perhaps presume that the quarto of 1604 was, in the folio of 1623, “ The Tragedie of King Lear" occupies at least, as authentic a copy of “Hamlet” as the twenty-seven pages, in the division of " Tragedies ;" viz., editions of any of Shakespeare's plays that came from p. 283 to p. 309, inclusive. The last page but one, from the press during his lifetime. It contains vari by an error, is numbered 38, instead of 308. In the first,

As well as in the folios of 1632, 1664, and 1685, the Acts ous passages, some of them of great importance to

and Scenes are regularly marked.] the conduct and character of the hero, not to be found in the folio of 1623; while the folio includes The most remarkable circumstance connected other passages which are left out in the quarto of with the early publication of “King Lear" is, that 1604; although, as before remarked, we have the the same stationer published three quarto impresevidence of the quarto of 1603, that they were ori- sions of it in 1608, that stationer being a person ginally acted.

who had not put forth any of the authentic (as far We are inclined to think, that if " Hamlet," in as they can deserve to be so considered) editions of the folio of 1623, were not composed from some Shakespeare's plays. After it had been thus thrice dow unknown quarto, it was derived from a manu- printed (for they were not merely re-issues with script obtained by Heminge and Condell from the fresh title-pages) in the same year, the tragedy was theatre. The Acts and Scenes are, however, marked not again printed until it appeared in the folio of only in the first and second Acts, after which no di- 1623. Why it was never republished in quarto, in visions of the kind are noticed; and where Act iii. the interval, must be matter of speculation, but such commences is merely matter of modern conjecture. was not an unusual occurrence with the works of Some large portions of the play appear to have been our great dramatist. The extreme popularity of omitted for the sake of shortening the performance; "King Lear" seems proved by the mere fact that and any editor who should content himself with re- the public demand for it, in the first year of its pubprinting the folio, without large additions from the lication, could not be satisfied without three distinct quartos, would present but an imperfect notion impressions. of the drama as it came from the hand of the It will be seen by the copies of the title-pages poet.

which we have inserted, that although Nathaniel Coleridge, after vindicating himself from the ac- Butter was the publisher of the three quarto edicusation that he had derived his ideas of Hamlet tions, he only put his address on the title-page of from Schlegel, thus sums up the character of Hamlet: one of them. A more remarkable circumstance, in "In Hamlet, Shakespeare seems to have wished to relation to the title-pages of “King Lear," is, that exemplify the inoral necessity of a due balance be the name of William Shakespeare is made so obvitween our attention to the objects of our senses, and ous at the top of them, the type being larger than our meditation on the workings of our mind, -an that used for any other part of the work : moreover, equilibrium between the real and the imaginary we have it again at the head of the leaf on which

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »