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open to improvement—and I say it with deference-is that, while it gives the readings of the old editions, it omits to note the adoption or rejection of them by the various editors, whereby an important element in estimating these readings is wanting ; however uncouth a reading may seem at first sight, it ceases to be the sophistication' of a printer when we learn that men so judicious as Capell or Dyce had pronounced in its favour; and in disputed passages it is of great interest to see at a glance on which side lies the weight of authority. Moreover, by this same defect in the plan of the Cambridge Edition, credit is not always given to that editor who, from among the ancient readings, first adopted the text since generally received ; and, indeed, the Cambridge Editors themselves suffer from this omission, when it happens, as it sometimes does, that their own excellent selection is passed over uncredited.
It was this omission in the textual notes of the Cambridge Editors that first led to the present undertaking, which is designed to supply that want, and at the same time to make a New Variorum, which, taking the Third Variorum, that of 1821, as a point of departure, should contain the notes of the editors since that date only; in other words, to form a supplement to the Third Variorum.
But it was very soon found that the extent to which the notes of the Variorum enter into the composition of the notes of subsequent editors rendered such a plan impossible. It was therefore decided to prepare a New Variorum, superseding that of 1821 in so far as it should contain all the notes in the latter, except such as the united judgments of all the editors since that date have decided to be valueless, together with all the original notes of these editors themselves.
Of this edition the First Volume is here presented to the public; and nothing more remains to be added but an explanation of the plan and principles upon which it has been formed.
First. In the matter of Text, I had originally decided, in order to save printing and space, to adopt the text of some one edition from which all the variations of the Quartos and Folios and other editions should be noted, and for this purpose the Cambridge Edition was selected; but, in consequence of unforeseen obstacles, I altered my plan, and have, as a general rule, adopted the reading of a majority of the ablest editors, but not always: in some cases I have followed only one editor; and this I have felt at liberty to do, since, in such an edition as the present, it makes very little difference what text is printed in extenso, since every other text is also printed with it on the same page.
Secondly. In the textual notes will be found a collation of the Four Folios, four out of the five Quartos, and the texts of the thirty-five editions enumerated on p. xvii. Only those readings are noted which vary from the text; all that are not mentioned agree with it. Students accustomed to the use of the textual notes in the Cambridge Edition will not, I think, find any difficulty in understanding mine. Of course abbreviations were indispensable, but I have endeavoured to make them as intelligible as possible.
*The rest' signifies all the Quartos and Folios other than those specified : for this abbreviation I am indebted to the Cambridge Edition.
The editors from Rowe to Capell agree far oftener than they disagree; I have therefore employed the sign &c.' to denote Rowe, Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, Warburton, and Johnson. When one or two of them are noted as following one reading, the sign '&c.,' is still made to do duty for the others that follow another reading.
As many of the editors have adopted the text of the Variorum, I have used the abbreviation "Var.' to denote the Variorum of 1821, Rann, Harness, Singer (ed. 1), Campbell, Cornwall and Hazlitt; it also includes Steevens's edition of 1793. Collier's text, unless otherwise noted, invariably includes Verplanck's.
When after either of the two latter abbreviations, &c. and Var., the name of any editor is included in a parenthesis, it is to be understood that the editor thus distinguished follows, unless otherwise noted, the same reading as in the text. It is to be borne in mind that this is the rule only after these abbreviations; when parentheses are elsewhere employed they designate the editor who first suggested the given emendation ; e. g., in Act I, scene v, line 92, 'fine] Theob. (Warb.)' means that although Theobald's is the first edition in which this reading is found, instead of the sinne' of the Quartos and Folios, yet it was Warburton's suggestion. This form of abbreviation I have
also adopted from the Cambridge Edition, as also the letters F and Q with inferior numerals to betoken the various Folios and Quartos.
When, after certain readings have been noted as followed by certain editors, all the rest of the editors adopt the reading of the Variorum, I have used the abbreviation · Var. et cet.' Exceptions are placed in parentheses; e. 8., I, v, 19, 'You are welcome] Var. et cet. (Knt. Dyce, Sta. Clarke, Cambr.)' means that the editors in parenthesis do not adopt the reading of the Variorum and the rest, but read as in the text.
Where the Quartos and Folios have a uniform reading different from the generally accepted modern text, the editor who introduced the change is specified without giving the list of his predecessors who followed the ancient reading. E. g., I, iv, 47, four five] Mal. (Wilbra
ham conj.) our fine Qq. Ff. Ulr.' signifies that Malone, at the suggestion of Wilbraham, first read ' five' for fine, and that Rowe, Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, Warburton, Johnson, Capell, and Steevens followed the old copies; and lastly that Ulrici alone, of editors since Malone, reverted to the Quartos and Folios.
I have very seldom noted the variæ lectiones of the First Quarto; it differs so widely that to do so in every instance in foot-notes is impossible. I have therefore followed the example of the Cambridge Edition, and reprinted it entire at the end of the play. When referred to in the textual notes it is designated as (Q.).
For the sake of economy in space I have not always recorded the metrical arrangement of Rowe, who almost invariably follows the Fourth Folio.
The Manuscript Corrector of Mr Collier's Second Folio I have uniformly designated by the sign · Coll. (MS.)', and where his emendations have been adopted by subsequent editors I have sometimes violated the chronological order by placing him the first in the list,before Ulrici, his warmest advocate.
In some other instances also I have placed an editor immediately after an emendation suggested by him, but adopted by others in editions which chronologically precede his. E. g., V, iii, 169, Dyce suggested rest,' for rust in his “Remarks', &c., published in 1844, which was adopted by three editors before Dyce's own edition appeared in 1857. I have nevertheless placed Dyce before the others. In all these cases the commentary will explain any such apparent irregularity.
When, in recording the variæ lectiones of the Quartos and Folios, the point at issue is a matter of punctuation, I have not noted trivial differences of spelling, but have followed the spelling of the majority. E. 8., where attention is called to the period after enough, although the First and Second Folio have 'inough' and the Third Folio has enough,' I have thought it sufficient to record ‘inough. F,F,Fz.'
On the other hand, when it is a matter not of punctuation, but of words, I have not swelled the space of the notes by giving every variety of punctuation. E. g., III, v, 176-178, Theobald, Hanmer and Warburton are recorded as following Pope in adopting the lines from the First Quarto, although they differ from him immaterially in punctuation.
Mere verbal differences in Stage-directions I have not recorded ; where Rowe has · Ex. Mer. Ben.' and the text reads · Exeunt Mercutio and Benvolio,' the whole phrase is credited to Rowe. It shows little respect for the reader to leave nothing to his intelligence.
As the textual notes in this edition at once invite comparison with those in the Cambridge Edition, it may not be needless to state briefly the points of identity and difference.
The collation of the Quartos and Folios is wholly my own, so far as examining every word in every one of them can make it so. I have conducted the examination with all the carefulness at my command. I have not wittingly recorded a single reading in them at second hand, except in the case of the Fifth Quarto, of which I have only an imperfect copy, lacking about seventy lines at the end of the first Act, and about a hundred and fifty at the end of the fifth ; within these spaces I am indebted to Prof. Mommsen and the Cambridge Editors for citations of that Quarto. For the collation of the other Quartos I have used Mr Ashbee's Facsimiles, between which and the readings recorded in the foot-notes of the Cambridge Edition I have found about twenty discrepancies, all trifling, and tending to show that the original copies used by Mr Ashbee and the Cambridge Editors varied. For instance, in I, v, 115 the Cambridge Edition gives Catulet as the reading of Q3, Mr Ashbee's Facsimile has Capulet'; in III, iii, 160 the Cambridge Edition records learaing in Qy, the Facsimile has • Learning'; in V, i, 7 the former notes from Q. dreames that gives, the latter "dreame that gives'; brase of the Cambridge Edition is brace' in the Facsimile, &c. &c. (It may not be amiss to add that the readings of the Facsimile that vary from the Cambridge Edition have been kindly verified for me by an eminent Shakespearian collector in London, and found to agree with the original copies in the British Museum and in his own Library.) About the same number of discrepancies appeared between the original Folios that I have used and those used by the Cambridge Editors. For instance, the latter note' migh' st F'; stent thou F,'; 'saint-seucing F,' for 'migh'st,' stent thee,' and saint-seuncing' in my copies respectively. I do not doubt but that the Folios used by the Cambridge Editors would in every the smallest particular sustain the correctness of their notes, so greatly do the old copies, Quarto and Folio, of the same date, differ, but I mention these facts solely for the sake of justifying the discretion which I have used in recording the variæ lectiones of these ancient copies. I have not noted manifest misprints in passages about which there never has been and never can be any difficulty, or such differences of spelling as Wensday or Wendsday for Wednesday, Petrucheo for Petruchio, or Catulet for Capulet; nor have I noted differences of punctuation where the sense could be in no wise affected. Were there any evidence that Shakespeare had ever corrected the proof-sheets of this play, or that it was even printed from his manuscript, every comma should be held sacred, but when we know that we have to get at Shakespeare ofttimes through the interpretation of an ignorant compositor, and that copies of the very same date differ, such minute collation verges on trifling and caricature. The punctuation adopted by such critics as Dyce, or Staunton, or the Cambridge Editors appears to me of much higher authority than that of the Quartos and Folios. Of course the case is very different in doubtful or disputed passages, where the student should have before him every aid that the old copies can afford, and no mispelling nor misprint is too gross, nor punctuation too minute, to be recorded.