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: The Players' Preface to their
Edition of Shakspeare.
Corresponding Passages in Jonson's
Works. works, though I have not met with
11. “ Read him therefore, and again and again; and if then you do not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger not to understand him."
11. Jonson was fond of this contrast between reading and understanding. So, in his address to the ordinary reader, prefixed to Catiline, 1611 :
“ Though you commend the two first acts, with the people, because they are the worst, and dislike the oration of Cicero, in regard you read some passages of it at school, and understand them not yet', I shall find the way to forgive you." See also his first Epigram, 1616:
“ To the Reader. “ Pray thee, take care, that tak’st
my book in hand, “ To read it well, that is, to under
From these numerous and marked coincidences, it is, I think, manifest, that every word of the first half of this address to the reader, which is signed with the names of John Hemings and Henry Condell, was written by Ben Jonson. They perhaps had thrown on paper, in the best manner they could, some introductory paragraphs, which Jonson, not approving, instead of mending them, cured by a total erasure.
Though he was afterwards (as I conceive) more merciful, his hand may be clearly, though not uniformly, traced in the second part also; but the foundation of this latter part, I imagine, was laid by the players themselves, and the passage that relates to the writings and amiable man
3 Copied by W. B. in verse, before The Bondman.
ners of Shakspeare, was unquestionably written by them,
II. Do. 1632. Fol. Tho. Cotes, for Rob. Allot.
IV. Do. 1685. Fol. for H. Herringham, E. Brewster, and R. Bentley. Steevens.
MODERN EDITIONS. Octavo, Rowe's, London, 1709, 7 vols. Duodecimo, Rowe's, ditto, 1714, 9 ditto. Quarto, Pope's, ditto, 1725, 6 ditto. Duodecimo, Pope's, ditto, 1728, 10 ditto. Octavo, Theobald's, ditto, 1733, 7 ditto. Duodecimo, Theobald's, ditto, 1740, 8 ditto.
4 This edition of our author's plays is scarcer than even the folio 1623. Being published towards the end of 1664, most of the copies were destroyed in the fire of London, 1666.
Quarto, Hanmer's, Oxford, 1744,6 ditto.
revised and augmented by the editor of Dodsley's
Collection of old Plays (i. e. Mr. Reed), 10 ditto. Duodecimo (published by Bell), London, 1788, 20 vols. Octavo (published by Stockdale), 1790, 1 ditto. Crown 8vo. Malone's, ditto, 1790, 10 ditto. Octavo, fourth edition, Johnson and Steevens, &c. ditto,
1793, 15 ditto. Octavo, fifth edition, Johnson and Steevens, by Reed,
1803, 21 ditto. The dramatick Works of Shakspeare, in 6 vols, 8vo.
with Notes by Joseph Rann, A. M. Vicar of St.
Vol. i. .......... 1786
Vol. vi. ..... The Plays and Poems of William Shakspeare, corrected from the latest and best London Edition, with Notes, by Samuel Johnson, LL. D. To which are added, a Glossary, and Life of the Author. Imbellished with a striking likeness from the collection of his Grace the Duke of Chandos. First American Edition. Philadelphia, printed and sold by Bioren and Madan, 1795.
The reader may not be displeased to know the exact sums paid to the different editors of Shakspeare. The following account is taken from the books of the late Mr. Tonson:
I. S. d. To Mr. Rowe .......
36 10 0 Mr. Hughes s .....
28 7 0 Mr. Pope .......
217 12 0 Mr. Fenton 6 ....
30 12 0 Mr. Gay? .......
35 19 6 Mr. Whatley 8
12 0 0 Mr. Theobaldo ..
652 10 0 Mr. Warburton ......
560 00 Dr. Johnson Mr. Capell .......
300 0 0
Of these editions some have passed several times through the press; but only such as vary from each other are here enumerated.
To this list might be added, several spurious and mutilated impressions; but as they appear to have been executed without the smallest degree of skill either in the manners or language of the time of Shakspeare, and as the
s For correcting the press and making an index to Mr. Rowe's 12mo. edition.
6 For assistance to Mr. Pope in correcting the press.
9 Of Mr. Theobald's edition no less than 12,860 have been printed.
From the late Mr. Tonson's books it appears, that Dr. Johnson received copies of his edition for his subscribers, the first cost of which was 3751. and afterwards 1051. in money. Total 4801.
names of their respective editors are prudently concealed, it were useless to commemorate the number of their volumes, or the distinct date of each publication.
Some of our legitimate editions will afford a sufficient specimen of the fluctuation of price in books.-An ancient quarto was sold for sixpence; and the folios 1623 and 1632, when first printed, could not have been rated higher than at ten shillings each”,—Very lately, seven pounds, five shillings; and seventeen pounds, six shillings and six-pence, have been paid for a quarto; the first folio has been repeatedly sold for twenty-five pounds; and also for thirty-five pounds, fourteen shillings: but what price may be expected for it hereafter, is not very easy to be determined, the conscience of Mr. Fox, bookseller, in Holborn, having once permitted him to ask no less than two guineas for two leaves out of a mutilated copy of that impression, though he had several, almost equally defective, in his shop. The second folio is commonly rated at two or three guineas 3.
At the late Mr. Jacob Tonson's sale, in the year 1767, one hundred and forty copies of Mr. Pope's edition of Shakspeare, in six volumes quarto (for which the subscribers paid six guineas), were disposed of among the booksellers at sixteen shillings per set. Seven hundred and fifty of this edition were printed.
At the same sale, the remainder of Dr. Warburton's
2 I have since discovered, from an ancient MS. note in a copy of the folio 1623, belonging to Messieurs White, booksellers in Fleet Street, that the original price of this volume was-one pound. Steevens.
3 And is not worth three shillings. See an account of it, in the Preface to the present edition [Mr. Malone's, 1790).
MALONE, See, however, the Advertisement prefixed to this edition .