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The First Edition of the plays contained in this volume of
Second Edition 1892.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
1. TIMON OF ATHENS was printed for the first time in the Folio of 1623. It is called The Life of Tymon of Athens ; in the running titles, Timon of Athens; and occupies twenty-one pages, from 80 to 98 inclusive, 81 and 82 being numbered twice
After 98 the next page is filled with The Actors Names, and the following page is blank. The next page, the first of Julius Cæsar, is numbered 109, and instead of beginning as it should signature iï, the signature is kk. From this it may be inferred that for some reason the printing of Julius Cæsar was commenced before that of Timon was finished. It may be that the manuscript of Timon was imperfect, and that the printing was stayed till it could be completed by some playwright engaged for the purpose. This would account for the manifest imperfections at the close of the play. But it is difficult to conceive how the printer came to miscalculate so widely the space required to be left.
The well-known carelessness of the printers of the Folio in respect of metre will not suffice to account for the deficiencies of Timon. The original play, on which Shakespeare worked, must have been written, for the most part, either in prose or in very irregular verse.
2. JULIUS CÆSAR was published for the first time in the Folio of 1623. It is more correctly printed than any other play, and may perhaps have been (as the preface falsely implied that all were) printed from the original manuscript of the author.
The references to Jennens in the notes are to his edition of Julius Cæsar, 'collated with the old and modern editions,' and published in 1774.
3. MACBETH, which follows next in order, was also printed for the first time in that volume. Except that it is divided into scenes as well as acts, it is one of the worst printed of all the plays, especially as regards the metre, and not a few passages are hopelessly corrupt.
Davenant's version,' quoted in our notes, was published in 1673'. Jennens's edition was printed in 1773. The edition of Macbeth by Harry Rowe is attributed to Dr A. Hunter, and as such we have quoted it. Of this we may remark that it is not always quite certain whether the editor is in jest or earnest. Shakespeare Restored' by Mr Hastings Elwin is an edition of Macbeth with introduction and notes, which was anonymously and privately printed at Norwich in 1853.
4. The earliest edition of Hamlet appeared in 1603, with the following title-page :
THE | Tragicall Historie of | HAMLET | Prince of Denmarke By William Shake-speare. As it hath beene diuerse times acted by his Highnesse ser- uants in the Cittie of London : as also in the two V- | niuersities of Cambridge and Oxford, and else-where | At London printed for N: L. and Iohn Trundell. | 1603.
We refer to it as (Q.).
A copy of this edition belonged to Sir Thomas Hanmer?, though he does not appear to have mentioned it in his notes to Shakespeare or in his correspondence, and its existence was not known till his library came into the possession of Sir H. E. Bunbury in 1821. In a copy of the Reprint of 1825, now at Barton, Sir H. E. Bunbury wrote the following note :
* The only copy of this edition of Hamlet (1603) which is known to be in existence was found by me in the Library at Barton when it came into my possession in 1821. The Hamlet
1 This should be 1674.