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Φασι δε και Αρατον πυθέσθαι αυτου, [Τιμωνος] πως την Ομηρου ποίησιν ασφαλως
κτησαυτο τον δε ειπειν, Ει τους αρχαιοις αντιγραφοις εντυγχανοι, και μη τοις ηδη
dowy Iwjievous

Diog. Laertii Timon. Amst, 4to. 1698, p. 600.
“ And surely, if men, by the help of that blessed art of correcting old copies,
proceed to amend, and upon private fancie doe presumne thus to alter publike
records, shortly wee shall have just cause generally to esteeme those copies most
correct, which least have boen corrected.”—Explication of a place in Polybius, at
the end of Sir H, Savile's Tacitus, 1622, p. 224, John Bill.

Quæ in veteribus libris reperta mutare imperiti solent, dum Librariorum in-
'sectari inscitiam volunt, suam confitentur.—Quint. L. ix. c, iv.



For it is a thyng uneth beleveable how muche and how boldely as well the commen writers that from tyme to tyme have copied out the bookes of Plutarchus, as also certain that have thought theimselves liable to controlle and emend all mennes dooynges, have taken upon theim in this autour, who ought with all reverence to have been handleed of theim, and with all feare to have been preserved from altreyng depravyng or corruptyng. For never hath there been emonge the greke writers any one more holy then Plutarchus, or better worthie of all menne to bee read. But the veraye same thyng hath provoked persons desirous of glorie, and of lucre, to deprave and corrupt this autour, to putte in more then he wrote, and also to leave out of that he wrote, which ought moste of all to have feared them from soo doyng. For everie wryter the better accepted and sette by that he is, and the greater name that he hath emong learned menne, so muche the rather shall he for lucre and avauntage bee corrupted. Preface to Erasmus's Apopphthegmes, by Nic. Udall, 12mo, 1542, p. 9.

Now, what thanke suche persones are worthie to have whiche dooe in this wyse slabre and defyle the bookes of famous autores, I will not at this tyme reason, but truely me thynketh it a veraye sacriliege.

Ib. p. 14. or Signat, iii.





IT has been often and justly observed, that a great part of the employment of every succeeding editor of Shakespeare's Works, has been to expose the unwarrantable license taken with the text by his predecessors, and to restore the readings of the old and true copies. One of these alone can, under any just title, be received as an authenticated copy. This, in 1623, seven years after the author's death, was sent out into the world in folio by two of his “ fellows," Heminge and Condell; who were also legatees in his will. In their dedication to the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, they call this publication a discharge of a pious duty. This dedication is plainly, also, the work of a

scholar; and has been assigned, as well as
their preface, to Ben Jonson. In the latter
of these, they pronounce all prior publica-
tions of his Plays (the poems of Venus and
Adonis, and Tarquin and Lucrece, being the
only works that he is known to have pub-
lished himself) to be surreptitious; and these
absolute, and taken from papers, that scarce
received from their author a blot. From the
number of years, however, during which he
was in possession of the stage, his plays,
owing to various causes, must have un-
dergone considerable alteration. Retrench-
ments, it will be seen, had been made; and.
some idea may be formed of the enlargement
from what is said in the title-page of the
quarto edition of Hamlet, in 1611: which
in terms states that play to have been then
“ enlarged to almost as much againe as it
was.” It may therefore be reasonably con-
cluded, from the circumstances under which
the folio plays of Heminge and Condell
issued from the press, that generally they
were faithful copies of what was at that time

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