The Facts About Shakespeare
by William Allan Nielson
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[Page Heading: Evolution of the Theater]

These uses of the inner stage, together with that of the upper stage or gallery, gave a chance for considerable variety in the action, and rendered the rapid succession of scenes less bewildering than one would at first suppose. Shakespeare's stage was the outcome of the peculiar conditions of acting by professionals in the sixteenth century, but it was also a natural step in the evolution from the medieval to the modern stage. On the medieval stage there was a neutral place or platea and special localized and propertied places called sedes, domus, loca. On the Elizabethan stage the front stage is the platea, the inner and upper stages the domus or loca. In the Restoration theater the scenery was placed on the inner stage and shut off from the outer stage by a curtain. With the use of scenery, the inner stage became more important, and the projecting apron of the front stage was gradually cut down. The proscenium doors in front of the curtain long survived their original use as entrances, but, as a rule, they have now finally disappeared with the front stage. The modern picture-frame stage of to-day is the evolution of the inner stage of the Elizabethans. Similarly the method of stage presentation has changed only gradually from Shakespeare's day to ours. The alternation from outer to inner stage was very common in the Restoration theaters, where flat scenes were used instead of a curtain, and it may still be seen in the production of melodrama or of Shakespeare's plays. A painted drop shuts off a few feet of the stage, which becomes a street or a hall, while properties and scenery are being arranged in the rear. When the drop goes up, we pass from the street or the court of the wicked Duke to the Forest of Arden, just as the Elizabethans did.

The Elizabethan stage affected Shakespeare's dramatic art in many ways. The absence of scenery, of women actors, and of a front curtain, the use of a bare stage that served for neutral or unspecified localities, naturally influenced the composition of every play. But the theatrical presentation was by no means as crude or as medieval as these differences from modern practice seem to indicate. The intimacy established between actors and audience by the projecting stage, the rapidity of action hastened by the lack of scenery or furniture, the possibilities of rapid changes of scene rendered intelligible by the use of the inner stage, were all manifest advantages in encouraging dramatic invention. The traditions formed in this theater for the presentation of Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and the other plays, were handed on from Shakespeare and Burbage to Lowin and Taylor, to Betterton, Cibber, and Garrick, down to the present day; and have perhaps been less revolutionized by scenery and electric lights than we might imagine.



The main difficulties that stand in the way of determining the actual form in which Shakespeare left his plays are due, first, to the total absence of manuscripts, and, secondly, to the fact that he, like his contemporaries, regarded dramatic literature as material for performance on the stage, not as something to be read in the library. The most obvious evidence of this lies in his having himself issued with every appearance of personal attention his poems of Venus and Adonis and Lucrece, while he permitted his plays to find their way into print without any trace of supervision and, in some cases, apparently without his consent. When the author sold a play to the theatrical company which was to perform it, he appears to have regarded himself as having no longer any rights in it; and when a play was published, we are in general justified in supposing either that it had been obtained surreptitiously, or that it had been disposed of by the company. Exceptions to this begin to appear in the first half of the seventeenth century, notably in the case of Heywood, who defended his action on the plea of protecting the text from mutilation, and in that of Ben Jonson, who issued in 1616, in the face of ridicule for his presumption, a folio volume of his "Works." But, though Shakespeare is reported to have felt annoyance at the pirating of his productions, there is no evidence of his having been led to protect himself or the integrity of his writings by departing from the usual practice in his profession.

Among the various documents which make us aware of this situation, so general then, but so strongly in contrast with modern methods, three explicit statements by Heywood are so illuminating that they deserve quotation. One occurs in the preface to his Rape of Lucrece, 1630:

To the Reader.—It hath beene no custome in mee of all other men (courteous Reader) to commit my plaies to the presse: the reason though some may attribute to my owne insufficiencie, I had rather subscribe in that to their seuare censure then by seeking to auoide the imputation of weaknes to incurre greater suspition of honestie: for though some haue vsed a double sale of their labours, first to the Stage, and after to the presse, For my owne part I heere proclaime my selfe euer faithfull in the first, and neuer guiltie of the last: yet since some of my plaies haue (vnknowne to me, and without any of my direction) accidentally come into the Printers hands, and therefore so corrupt and mangled, (coppied only by the eare) that I have bin as vnable to know them, as ashamed to chalenge them, This therefore, I was the willinger to furnish out in his natiue habit: first being by consent, next because the rest haue beene so wronged in being publisht in such sauadge and ragged ornaments: accept it courteous Gentlemen, and prooue as fauorable Readers as we haue found you gratious Auditors. Yours T. H.

[Page Heading: The Right to Print]

The second is in Heywood's Pleasant Dialogues and Dramas, 1637, the prologue to If you know not me, you know no bodie; Or, The troubles of Queen Elizabeth. It is as follows:

A Prologve to the Play of Queene Elizabeth as it was last revived at the Cock-pit, in which the Author taxeth the most corrupted copy now imprinted, which was published without his consent.


Playes have a fate in their conception lent, Some so short liv'd, no sooner shew'd than spent; But borne to-day, to morrow buried, and Though taught to speake, neither to goe nor stand. This: (by what fate I know not) sure no merit, That it disclaimes, may for the age inherit. Writing 'bove one and twenty: but ill nurst, And yet receiv'd as well performed at first, Grac't and frequented, for the cradle age, Did throng the Seates, the Boxes, and the Stage So much: that some by Stenography drew The plot: put it in print: (scarce one word trew:) And in that lamenesse it hath limp't so long, The Author now to vindicate that wrong Hath tooke the paines, upright upon its feete To teache it walke, so please you sit, and see't.

The third passage occurs in the address to the reader prefixed to The English Traveller, 1633:

True it is that my plays are not exposed to the world in volumes, to bear the titles of Works (as others). One reason is that many of them by shifting and changing of companies have been negligently lost; others of them are still retained in the hands of some actors who think it against their peculiar profit to have them come in print; and a third that it was never any great ambition in me in this kind to be voluminously read.

From these passages we gather that Heywood considered it dishonest to sell the same play to the stage and to the press; that some of his plays were stolen through stenographic reports taken in the theater and were printed in corrupt forms; that, in order to counteract this, he obtained the consent of the theatrical owners to his publication of a correct edition; that some actors considered the printing of plays against their interest (presumably because they thought that if a man could read a play, he would not care to see it acted); and that many plays were lost through negligence and the changes in the theatrical companies. That we are here dealing with the conditions of Shakespeare's time is clear enough, since the edition of If you know not me on which Heywood casts reflections was published in 1605, and in 1604 Marston supplies corroboration in the preface to his Malcontent:

I would fain leave the paper; only one thing afflicts me, to think that scenes, invented merely to be spoken, should be enforcively published to be read, and that the least hurt I can receive is to do myself the wrong. But since others otherwise would do me more, the least inconvenience is to be accepted. I have myself, therefore, set forth this comedy; but so, that my enforced absence must much rely upon the printer's discretion: but I shall entreat slight errors in orthography may be as slightly overpassed, and that the unhandsome shape which this trifle in reading presents, may be pardoned for the pleasure it once afforded you when it was presented with the soul of lively action.

[Page Heading: Pirated Editions]

The only form in which any of Shakespeare's plays found their way into print during his lifetime was that of small pamphlets, called Quartos, which were sold at sixpence each.[7] In the case of five of these there is general agreement that they came to the press by the surreptitious method of reporting described by Heywood: the first Quarto versions of Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, The Merry Wives, Hamlet, and Pericles. All of these bear clear traces of the effects of such mutilation as would naturally result from the attempt to write down the dialogue during the performance, and patch up the gaps later. The first Quartos of Richard III and King Lear, though much superior to the five mentioned, yet contain so many variants from the text of the Folio which seem to be due to mistakes of the ear and to slips of memory on the part of the actors, that probably they should also be included in the list of those surreptitiously obtained.

[7] For facsimile reproductions see Bibliography, Appendix D.

Redress for such pirating as is implied in these publications was difficult on account of the absence of a law of copyright. The chief pieces of legislation affecting the book trade were the law of licensing and the charter of the Stationers' Company. According to the first, all books, with a few exceptions, such as academic publications, had to be licensed before publication by the Bishop of London or the Archbishop of Canterbury. This was an unworkable provision, and in fact the responsibility for all books not likely to raise political or theological controversy was left to the Stationers' Company. This close corporation of printers and publishers exercised its powers for the protection of its members rather than of authors. A publisher wishing to establish a monopoly in a book he had acquired entered it on the Stationers' Register, paying a fee of sixpence, and was thereby protected against piracy. When the copy so registered was improperly acquired, the state of the case is not so clear. At times the officials showed hesitation about registering a book until the applicant "hath gotten sufficient authoritye for yt," and As You Like It, for example, appears in the Register only "to be staied," which it was until the publication of the first Folio. Further, the pirated Romeo and Juliet and Henry V were never entered at all; the pirated Hamlet and Pericles were entered, but to other publishers, who in the case of Hamlet brought out a more correct text in the following year; the pirated Merry Wives was transferred from one publisher to another on the day of entry, and actually issued by the second. Thus this group of plays does not support the view that the Stationers' Company stood ready to give perpetual copyright to their members even for obviously stolen goods. It is to be noted, too, that the previous publication of these surreptitious copies formed no hindrance to the later issue of an authentic copy. The second Quarto of Hamlet, printed from a complete manuscript, followed, as has been said, the first the next year, and the same thing happened in the case of Romeo and Juliet.

[Page Heading: Publisher's Copyright]

On the other hand, the great majority of the Quartos printed from playhouse copies of the plays were regularly entered, and the rights of the original publisher preserved to him. The appearance of groups of plays in the market following interference with theatrical activity such as came from the plague in 1594, from the breaking up of companies, or from Puritan attempts at restriction, confirm the belief that these better Quartos were honorably acquired by the publishers from the companies owning them, when the actors thought that there was more to gain than to lose by giving them to the press.

[Page Heading: Table of Quarto Editions]

The accompanying "Table of Quarto Editions" gives the names of all the Shakespearean plays issued in this form before the publication of the collected edition in 1623, known as the First Folio. In the cases of Romeo and Juliet, 1 Henry IV, Love's Labour's Lost, Merchant of Venice, Much Ado, A Midsummer-Night's Dream, and Richard II, a Quarto, usually the most recent, provided the text from which the version in the Folio was printed. Hence, though in several cases the copy of the Quarto thus employed seems to have been one used by the actors and containing corrections of some value, the extant Quarto rather than the Folio is the prime authority for the text to-day. The same is true of Titus Andronicus, except that in this case the Folio restores from some manuscript source a scene which had been dropped from the Quarto. If, as some hold, the Folio texts of Richard III and King Lear were printed from Quartos, there must have been available also a manuscript version, which is so heavily drawn upon that the Folio text virtually represents an independent source, as it does in the case of four of the five plays acknowledged to be due to surreptitious reporting. Pericles, the fifth of these, was first admitted to the collected works in the third Folio, and is the only "reported" text forming our sole authority.[8]


Transcriber's Note: The following abbreviations are used in the "SOURCE OF Q TEXT" column: D—Disputed; P—Playhouse; R—Reported.

========================================================================== DATES OF ENTRIES IN SOURCE STATIONERS' OF Q SOURCE OF REGISTER Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q6 TEXT F1 TEXT + + + + -+ + + + + T.A. Feb. 6, 1594 1594 1600 1611 P Q3 completed & corrected R. II Aug. 29, 1597 1597 1598 1608 1615 P Q4 corrected R. III Oct. 19, 1597 1597 1598 1602 1605 1612 1622 D Disputed R.J. No entry 1597 1599 1609 n.d. {Q1 R Q3 from Q2 {Q2 P 1 H.IV Feb. 25, 1598 1598 1599 1604 1608 1613 1622 P Q5 corrected L.L.L. No entry 1598 P Q1 Merch. July 22, 1598 (conditional) {1600 Oct. 28, 1600 1600 { or P Q1 (Heyes) {1619 {1608 H.V. [Aug. 4, 1600] 1600 1602 { or R Independent "to be stayed" {1619 M.Ado [Aug. 4, 1600] "to be stayed" Aug. 23, 1600 1600 P Q1 corrected 2 H.IV Aug. 23, 1600 1600 P Independent {1600 M.N.D. Oct. 8, 1600 1600 {or P Q2 corrected {1619 M.W. Jan. 18, 1602 1602 1619 R Independent Hml. July 26, 1602 1603 1604,5 1611 {Q1 R Independent {Q2 P {1608 Disputed (Q1 Lear Nov. 26, 1607 1608 { or D in several {1619 states) T.C. Feb. 7, 1603 } Independent (conditional)} 1609 P (Q1 in two Jan. 28, 1609} issues) Per. May 20, 1608 1609 1609 1611 1619 R Not in F1 F3 from Q4 Oth. Oct. 6, 1621 1622 P Independent ==========================================================================

[8] In the table of Quarto editions may be noted four entries with the words "or 1619" added to the date which appears on the title-page. These four plays, the Roberts Quartos of The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer-Night's Dream of 1600, the third Quarto of Henry V, 1608, the second Quarto of King Lear, 1608, along with the 1619 Quartos of The Merry Wives and Pericles, an undated Quarto of The Whole Contention (the earlier form of 2 and 3 Henry VI), the Quarto of Sir John Oldcastle, dated 1600, and the Quarto of A Yorkshire Tragedie, dated 1619, have been shown by Mr. A. W. Pollard, with the cooeperation of Mr. W. W. Greg, to have been put on the market at the same time, and Mr. W. J. Neidig has proved from typographical evidence that the title-pages of all nine were set up in succession in 1619. A very curious problem is thus presented, and the motives for the deception practised, apparently by the printers Pavier and Jaggard, have not been satisfactorily cleared up; but at present it appears likely that in the case of these nine Quartos the correct date of publication should be 1619, and that, in the case of the first two mentioned, the question of the comparative authority of the Heyes and Fisher Quartos respectively as against that of the Roberts Quartos should be settled against the latter. This last point is the only part of this remarkable discovery which is of importance in determining the text, as the Quartos dated 1608 and 1619 were already known to be mere reprints of earlier ones.

[Page Heading: The First Folio]

We come now to the publication of the First Folio, the most important single volume in the history of the text of Shakespeare. On November 8, 1623, the following entry occurs in the Stationers' Register:

Mr. Blount: Isaak Jaggard. Entred for their copie under the hands of M^r Doctor Worrall and M^r Cole, Warden, M^r William Shakspeers Comedyes, Histories and Tragedyes, soe manie of the said copyes as are not formerly entred to other men viz^t, Comedyes. The Tempest. The two gentlemen of Verona. Measure for Measure. The Comedy of Errors. As you like it. All's well that ends well. Twelft Night. The winters tale. Histories. The thirde part of Henry the sixt. Henry the eight. Tragedies. Coriolanus. Timon of Athens. Julius Caesar. Mackbeth. Anthonie and Cleopatra. Cymbeline.

One notes here the omission of 1 and 2 Henry VI, King John, and The Taming of the Shrew, which had neither been previously entered nor issued in Quarto. This is probably due to the fact that three of these are based on older plays of which Quartos exist, which may have seemed to the publishers reason enough to save their sixpences. If we assume that "The thirde part of Henry the sixt" is a misprint for "The first part," the explanation covers the whole case. The registration of Antony and Cleopatra was superfluous, as it had been entered, though not printed, so far as we know, on May 20, 1608.

There are thus in the First Folio, the publication of which immediately followed this entry in 1623, twenty plays not before issued, for which the text of this volume is our sole authority. The emphasis so commonly placed on the supreme value of the text of the First Folio is justified with regard to these twenty plays; as for the remaining seventeen, its importance is shared, in proportions varying from play to play, with the texts of the Quartos. The sources from which the compilers of the Folio obtained their new material were in all probability playhouse copies, as in the case of the better Quartos. Heminge and Condell, Shakespeare's actor colleagues and friends, who sign the Address to the Readers,[9] would obviously be the instruments for obtaining such copies. As for the so-called "private transcripts" which some have postulated as a source of material, there is no evidence that at this date any such existed. Whether any of the playhouse manuscripts provided by Heminge and Condell were in Shakespeare's autograph we can neither affirm nor deny, but it is well to be cautious in accepting at its face value the implication contained in their words that they had "scarce received from him a blot in his papers."

[9] For this and other prefatory matter from the First Folio, see Appendix A.

[Page Heading: The First Folio]

The First Folio is a large volume of 908 pages, measuring in the tallest extant copy 13-3/8 x 8-1/2 inches. A reduced facsimile of the title page with the familiar wood-cut portrait appears on the opposite page. The text is printed in two columns with sixty-six lines to a column. The typography is only fairly good, and many mistakes occur in the pagination. Extant copies, of which there are at least 156, vary in some respects, on account of the practice of making corrections while the sheets were being printed. The printer was William Jaggard, and his associates in the publishing enterprise were his son Isaac and the booksellers, William Aspley, John Smethwick, and Edward Blount. Estimates of the size of the edition vary from five to six hundred.

Many of the causes which made the text of these early editions inaccurate are common to all the plays, while some are peculiar to those obtained by reporters in the theater. Of the first, the most fundamental is, of course, the illegibility or ambiguity of the author's original manuscript. Such flaws were perpetuated and multiplied with each successive transcript, and when the manuscript copy came into the printer's hands, the errors of the compositor—confusion of words sounding alike, of words looking alike, unconscious substitution of synonyms, mere manual slips, and the like—were added to those already existing. The absence of any uniform spelling, and carelessness in punctuation, which led to these being freely modified by the printer, increased the risk of corruption. The punctuation of both Quartos and Folio, though by no means without weight, cannot be regarded as having the author's sanction, and all modernized editions re-punctuate with greater or less freedom. Most nineteenth-century editors carry on with minor modifications the punctuation of Pope, so that their texts show a composite of sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century methods; the text used in the Tudor edition is frankly punctuated, as far as the syntax permits, according to modern methods, with, it is believed, no loss in authority. There is no clear evidence that, in such productions as plays, proof was read outside of the printing-office. The theory, insisted on by Dr. Furness in successive volumes of the New Variorum Shakespeare, that the Elizabethan compositor set type to dictation is without foundation, the phenomena which he seeks to explain by it occurring commonly to-day when there is no question of such a practice.

Another class of variation in text arose from the treatment of the manuscript in the playhouse. Cuts, additions, and alterations were made for acting purposes, stage directions were added with or without the assistance of the author, revivals of the play called for revision by the original writer or another. The majority of stage directions in modern editions, except exits and entrances, are due to editors from Rowe onwards, and these unauthorized additions are distinguished in the Tudor edition by brackets. Almost all notes of place at the beginnings of scenes belong to this class.

[Page Heading: Corruptions of Text]

The defects to which the texts of the surreptitiously obtained Quartos are particularly subject include omissions and alterations due to lapse of memory on the part of the actors, additions due to the tendency to improvise which Shakespeare censures in Hamlet, omissions due to the reporter's failure to hear or to write quickly enough, garbled paraphrases made up to supply such omissions, and the writing of prose as verse and verse as prose.

Such are the most important of the causes of the corruptions which the long series of editors of Shakespeare have devoted their study and their ingenuity to remedying. The series really begins with the second Folio of 1632 and is continued with but slight improvements in the third Folio of 1663, reprinted with the addition of Pericles and six spurious plays in 1664, and in the fourth Folio of 1685. The emendations made in the seventeenth-century editions are mainly modernizations in spelling and such minor changes as occurred to members of the printing staff. In no case do they have any authority except such as may be supposed to belong to a man not far removed from Shakespeare in date; and they add about as many mistakes as they remove.

The difficulty of the task of the modern editor varies greatly from play to play. It is least in the twenty plays for which the First Folio is the sole authority, greater in the eight in which the Folio reprints a Quarto with some variations, greatest in the nine in which Folio and Quarto represent rival versions. In these last cases, it is the duty of the editor to decide from all the accessible data which version has the best claim to represent the author's intention, and to make that a basis to be departed from only in clear cases of corruption. The temptation, which no editor has completely resisted, is naturally towards an eclecticism which adopts the reading that seems most plausible in itself, without giving due weight to the general authority of the text chosen as a basis. If carried far, such eclecticism results in a patchwork quite distinct from any version that Shakespeare can have known.

The first editor of Shakespeare, in the modern sense, was Nicholas Rowe, poet laureate under Queen Anne. He published in 1709 an edition of the plays in six octavo volumes, preceded by the first formal memoir of the dramatist, and furnished with notes. The poems were issued in the following year in similar form, with essays by Gildon. Rowe based his text upon that of the fourth Folio, with hardly any collation of previous editions. He corrected a large number of the more obvious corruptions, the most notable of his emendations being perhaps the phrase in Twelfth Night, "Some are become great," which he changed to "Some are born great." On the external aspect of the plays Rowe has left a deeper mark than any subsequent editor. In the Folios only eight of the plays had lists of dramatis personae; Rowe supplied them for the rest. In the Folios the division into acts and scenes is carried out completely in only seventeen cases, it is partially done in thirteen, and in six it is not attempted at all. Rowe again completed the work, and though some of his divisions have been modified and others should be, he performed this task with care and intelligence. He modernized the spelling and the punctuation, completed the exits and entrances, corrected many corrupt speech-tags, and arranged many passages where the verse was disordered. In virtue of these services, he must, in spite of his leaving much undone, be regarded as one of the most important agents in the formation of our modern text.

[Page Heading: Rowe and Pope]

A second edition of Rowe's Shakespeare was published in 1714, and in 1725 appeared a splendid quarto edition in six volumes, edited by Alexander Pope. In his preface Pope made strong professions of his good faith in dealing with the text. "I have discharged," he said, "the dull duty of an editor to my best judgment, with more labor than I expect thanks, with a religious abhorrence of all innovation, and without any indulgence to my private sense or conjecture.... The various readings are fairly put in the margin, so that anyone may compare 'em; and those I have preferred into the text are constantly ex fide codicum, upon authority.... The more obsolete or unusual words are explained." Hardly one of these statements is entirely true. Pope possessed copies of the first and second Folios, and at least one Quarto of each play that had been printed before 1623, except Much Ado, but these he consulted only occasionally, and seldom registered the variants as he said he had done. When he did, he gave no clue to their source. He constantly inserted his private conjectures without notice, and his explanations of difficult expressions are few and frequently wrong. Passages considered by him inferior or spurious he relegated to the foot of the pages; others he merely omitted without notice. His ear was often jarred by the freedom of Shakespeare's verse, and he did his best to make it "regular" by eighteenth-century standards. Yet Pope spent much ingenuity in striving to better the text, and no small number of restorations and emendations are to be credited to him, especially in connection with the arrangement of the verse. He is to be credited also with discernment in rejecting the seven plays added to the Shakespearean canon in the third Folio, of which only Pericles has since been restored.

The weaknesses of Pope's edition did not long remain hidden. In the spring of 1726 appeared "Shakespeare Restored: or, a Specimen of the many Errors, as well committed, as unamended, by Mr. Pope in his late edition of this Poet. Designed not only to correct the said edition, but to restore the True Reading of Shakespeare in all the Editions ever yet publish'd." Lewis Theobald, the author, was a translator and scholar, much better equipped than Pope for the work of editing, and his merciless exposure of Pope's defects gave a foretaste of the critical ability later displayed in the edition of Shakespeare which he published in 1734. Lovers of Shakespeare discerned at the time the service performed by Theobald in this attack on Pope, but the publication in 1728 of the first edition of the Dunciad, with Theobald as hero, gave Pope his revenge, and cast over the reputation of his critic a cloud which is only now dispersing. Modern scholarship, however, has come to recognize the primacy of Theobald among emendators of Shakespeare's text, and the most famous of his contributions, his correction of "a table of green fields" to "'a babled of green fields," in Quickly's account of the death of Falstaff in Henry V, II. iii. 17, is only a specially brilliant example of the combination of acuteness, learning, and sympathy which made his edition a landmark in the history of the text. For many of his troubles, however, Theobald was himself to blame; he attacked his opponents with unnecessary vehemence, as he expressed his appreciation of his own work with unnecessary emphasis; he was not always candid as to what he owed to others, even to the despised edition of Pope, from which he printed; and he indulged his appetite for conjecture at times beyond reasonable bounds.

[Page Heading: Theobald and Hanmer]

Theobald's edition was followed in 1744 by that of Sir Thomas Hanmer in six beautifully printed volumes. This edition is based on that of Pope, and even goes farther than Pope's in relegating to the foot of the page passages supposed unworthy. Hanmer performed no collating worth mentioning, but made some acute conjectures.

The student is apt to be prejudiced against the work of William Warburton on account of the extravagance of his claims and his ungenerous treatment of predecessors to whom he was greatly indebted. "The Genuine Text," he announced, "(collated with all former editions and then corrected and emended) is here settled: Being restored from the Blunders of the first editors and the Interpolations of the two Last"; yet he based his text on Theobald's and joined Pope's name with his own on the title-page. Whatever value belongs to Warburton's edition (1747) lies in a number of probable conjectural emendations, some of which he had previously allowed Theobald to use, and in the amusing bombast and arrogance of many of his notes. The feeble support that lay behind the pretensions of this editor was exposed by a number of critics such as John Upton, Zachary Grey, Benjamin Heath, and Thomas Edwards, who did not issue new editions, but contributed a considerable number of corrections and interpretations.

The value of Dr. Johnson's edition (1765) does not lie in his emendations, which are usually, though not always, poor, or in his collation of older editions, for which he was too indolent, but in the sturdy common-sense of his interpretations and the consummate skill frequently shown in paraphrases of obscure passages. His Preface to the edition was the most weighty general estimate of Shakespeare so far produced, and remains a valuable piece of criticism. In scientific treatment of the text, involving full use of all the Quartos and Folios then accessible, Johnson and his predecessors were far surpassed by Edward Capell, who issued his edition in ten volumes in 1768. Unfortunately, the enormous labor Capell underwent did not bear its full fruit, for he suppressed much of his textual material in the interests of a well-printed page, and his preface and notes are written in a crabbed style that obscures the acuteness of his editorial intelligence. He elaborated stage directions, and carried farther the correction of disarranged meter; but, like most of his fellow-editors in that century, he did less than justice to his predecessors and was too indulgent to his own conjectures. This edition was supplemented by volumes of notes published in 1775 (1 vol.) and 1779-1783 (3 vols.).

[Page Heading: Johnson and Capell]

Before the publication of Capell's text, the antiquary George Steevens had issued in 1766 reprints of twenty of the early Quartos; and in 1773 he produced, in association with Johnson, an edition with a good text in which he benefited from Capell's labors (though he denies this). Through his knowledge of Elizabethan literature he made substantial contributions to the interpretation of difficult passages. He restored Pericles to a place in the canon, but excluded the Poems, because "the strongest Act of Parliament that could be framed would fail to compel readers into their service." To the second edition of Johnson and Steevens's text (1778) Edmund Malone contributed his famous "Essay on the Chronology of Shakespeare's Plays," which began modern investigation of this subject. The third edition was revised in 1785 by Isaac Reed; and this was succeeded by the edition of Malone in 1790, in which the vast learning and conscientious care of that scholar combined to produce the most trustworthy text so far published. Malone was not brilliant, but he was extremely erudite and candid, and his so-called "Third Variorum" edition in twenty-one volumes, brought out after his death by James Boswell in 1821, is a mine of information on theatrical history and cognate matters, which will probably always be of value to students of the period. The name of "First Variorum Edition" is given to the fifth edition of Johnson and Steevens, revised by Reed in 1803, and "Second Variorum" to the sixth edition of the same, 1813. Meantime occasional critiques of complete editions contributed something to the text. Johnson's edition called forth comment by Kendrick in 1765 and Tyrwhitt in 1766, and the Johnson and Steevens text was criticized by Joseph Ritson in 1783 and 1788, and by J. Monck Mason in 1785. The first American edition was published in Philadelphia in 1795-1796 from Johnson's text; the first continental edition at Brunswick in 1797-1801 by C. Wagner.

[Page Heading: Nineteenth-Century Editors]

The editions of the nineteenth century are too numerous for detailed mention here. Passing by the "family" Shakespeare of T. Bowdler, 1807 and 1820, and the editions of Harness, 1825, and Singer, 1826, we note the editions of 1838-1842, and 1842-1844 in which Charles Knight resorted to the text of the First Folio as an exclusive authority. J. P. Collier in his edition of 1844 leaned, on the other hand, to the side of the Quartos, but later became a clever if somewhat rash emendator, who spoiled his reputation by seeking to obtain authority for his guesses by forging them in a seventeenth-century hand in a copy of the second Folio. The colossal volumes of J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps's edition, 1853-1865, contain stores of antiquarian illustration; and in the edition of Delius, 1854-1861, we have the chief contribution of Germany to the text of Shakespeare. Delius, like Knight, though not to the same extreme, exaggerated the authority of the First Folio; but for the plays for which that is the sole source, his text has earned high respect. Alexander Dyce, wisest of Elizabethan scholars, produced in 1857 a characteristically sane text, on the whole the best to this date; while in America in 1857-1860 and 1859-1865 the brilliant but erratic Richard Grant White produced editions which show a commendable if puzzling openness to conviction in successive changes of opinion.

From 1863 to 1866 appeared the first issue of the Cambridge Shakespeare, edited originally by W. G. Clark, J. Glover, and W. A. Wright. The responsibility for the later revised edition of 1891-3 is Dr. Wright's. The exceedingly careful and exhaustive collation of all previous textual readings in the notes of this edition make it indispensable for the serious student, and its text, substantially reprinted in the Globe edition, is the most widely accepted form of the works of Shakespeare which has ever been circulated. The over-emphasis on the First Folio which has been noted in Knight and Delius is no longer found here, and in general the comparative value of Quarto and Folio is weighed in the case of each play. Occasionally, in cases like that of Richard III, where both Quarto and Folio are good but vary widely, the Cambridge editors seem more eclectic than their general theory warrants, and the punctuation is still archaic, clinging to the eighteenth-century tradition. But the acceptance of this careful and conservative text has been a wholesome influence in Shakespearean study.

The only completely reedited texts which have been issued since the revised Cambridge edition are that of the Oxford Shakespeare, by W. J. Craig, on principles very similar to the Cambridge, and the Neilson text, originally published in one volume in 1906 and revised and reprinted in the Tudor Shakespeare. The massive volumes of Dr. H. H. Furness's New Variorum Shakespeare, begun in 1871 (17 volumes issued), now reprint the text of the First Folio, and show marked traces of the tendency to follow this authority without due discrimination. This monumental abstract of all previous criticism is of great value to the professional student of Shakespeare, and its textual apparatus has the advantage over the Cambridge edition of recording not only the first occurrence of a reading, but the names of the chief editors who have adopted it. It thus gives a compendious history of editorial judgment on all disputed points.

[Page Heading: Recent Editors]

The conjectural emendation of Shakespeare still goes on, but since Dyce, comparatively few suggestions find general acceptance. More progress has been made in interpretation through the greater accessibility of contemporary documents and the advance in recent years in our knowledge of Elizabethan theatrical conditions. But, in view of the circumstances under which the original editions were printed, there will always be room for variations of individual opinion in many cases, both as to what Shakespeare wrote and as to what he meant.



Owing to the conditions of publication described in Chapter VII there are questions as to the authenticity of a number of the poems and plays ascribed to Shakespeare. Of the poems, "The Ph[oe]nix and the Turtle" and "A Lover's Complaint" have been sometimes rejected as unworthy, but there is no other evidence against the ascription to him by the original publishers. The case of The Passionate Pilgrim is different and is interesting as illustrating the methods of piracy practised by booksellers and as affording the only record of a protest by Shakespeare against the free use which they made of his name. This anthology was published by W. Jaggard in 1599 as "by W. Shakespeare." The third edition in 1612 added two pieces by Thomas Heywood. Heywood immediately protested and in the postscript to his Apologie for Actors, 1612, declared that Shakespeare was "much offended with M. Jaggard that (altogether unknown to him) presumed to make so bold with his name." Of the twenty poems that made up the volume, only five are certainly by Shakespeare, two appearing also in The Sonnets and three in Love's Labour's Lost. Six others can be assigned to contemporary poets. The authorship of the remaining nine is unknown, but probably only one or two are by Shakespeare.

[Page Heading: The Shakespeare Apocrypha]

In addition to the thirty-seven plays now included in all editions of Shakespeare, some forty others have been, for one reason or another, attributed to him. The First Folio contained thirty-six plays; and it is a strong evidence of the honesty and information of its editors, Heming and Condell, that subsequent criticism has been satisfied to retain the plays of their choice and to make but one addition, Pericles. Of these plays, however, it is now generally agreed that a number are not entirely the work of Shakespeare, but were written by him in part in collaboration with other writers, e.g., Titus Andronicus, 1, 2, and, 3 Henry VI, Timon of Athens, Pericles, and Henry VIII. Of two of these, Titus Andronicus and 1 Henry VI, some students refuse to give Shakespeare any share. Of the forty doubtful plays, there is not one which in its entirety is now credited to Shakespeare; and only three or four in which any number of competent critics see traces of his hand. Only in the case of The Two Noble Kinsmen is there any weight of evidence or opinion that he had a considerable share.

The second Folio kept to the thirty-six plays of the First Folio; but the second printing of the third Folio (1664) added seven plays: Pericles Prince of Tyre, The London Prodigal, The History of Thomas Lord Cromwell, Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, The Puritan Widow, A Yorkshire Tragedy, The Tragedy of Locrine. These seven plays were also included in the fourth Folio, and as supplementary volumes to Rowe's, Pope's, and some later editions. They were all originally published in quarto as by W. S., or William Shakespeare, but except in the case of Pericles, this has been regarded as a bookseller's mistake or deception without warrant. Locrine, "newly set forth, overseen, and corrected by W. S., 1595," is a play of about the date of Titus Andronicus, and is probably by Greene, Peele, or some imitator of Marlowe and Kyd. Sir John Oldcastle appeared in 1600 in two quartos, one of which ascribed it to William Shakespeare, but it was clearly composed for the Admiral's men as a rival to the Falstaff plays which the Chamberlain's men had been acting. Thomas Lord Cromwell (1602) and The Puritan (1607) were ascribed to W. S., on their title-pages, but offer no possible resemblances to Shakespeare. The London Prodigal (1605) and A Yorkshire Tragedy (1608) were both acted by Shakespeare's company, and bore his name on their first editions, and the latter also on a second edition, 1619. The external evidence for his authorship is virtually the same as in the case of Pericles, which also was acted by his company, appeared under his name during his lifetime, but was rejected by the editors of the First Folio. No one, however, can discover any suggestion of Shakespeare in The London Prodigal. A Yorkshire Tragedy is a domestic tragedy in one act, dealing with a contemporary murder. It gives the conclusion of a story also treated in a play, The Miseries of Enforced Marriage (1607) by George Wilkins, the author of a novel The Painful Adventures of Pericles, and sometimes suggested as a collaborator on the play Pericles. A Yorkshire Tragedy is very unlike Shakespeare, but it has a few passages of extraordinarily vivid prose, which might conceivably owe something to him.

[Page Heading: The Two Noble Kinsmen]

The Two Noble Kinsmen was registered April 8, 1634, and appeared in the same year with the following title-page "The Two Noble Kinsmen: Presented at the Blackfriars by the Kings Maiesties servants, with great applause: Written by the memorable Worthies of their time;

Mr. John Fletcher, and } } Gent. Mr. William Shakespeare}

Printed at London by the Tho. Cotes for Iohn Waterson; and are to be sold at the signe of the Crowne in Paul's Church-yard. 1634." The exclusion of the play from the First Folio may be explained on the same basis as the exclusion of Pericles; for in each play Shakespeare wrote the minor part. There is now general agreement that The Two Noble Kinsmen was written by two authors with distinct styles, and that the author of the larger portion is Fletcher. The attribution of the non-Fletcherian part to Shakespeare has been upheld by Lamb, Coleridge, De Quincey, Spalding (in a notable Letter on Shakespeare's Authorship of The Two Noble Kinsmen, 1833), Furness, and Littledale (who edited the play for The New Shakespeare Society, Series II, 1, 8, 15, London, 1876-1885); but there are still many critics who do not believe that Shakespeare had any part in the play. This question will probably always remain a matter of opinion; but the evidence of various verse tests confirms esthetic judgment in assigning about two fifths of the verse to Shakespeare. The Shakespearean portion, here and there possibly touched by Fletcher, includes, I. i; I. ii; I. iii; I. iv. 1-28; III. i; III. ii; V. i. 17-73; V. iii. 1-104; V. iv, and perhaps the prose II. i and IV. iii.

The dance in the play is borrowed from an anti-masque in Beaumont's Masque of the Inner Temple and Gray's Inn, presented at court, February 20, 1613. This fixes the date of composition for the play in 1613, the same year as Henry VIII, on which it is now generally agreed that Shakespeare and Fletcher collaborated. On both of the plays the collaboration seems to have been direct; i.e., after making a fairly detailed outline, each writer took certain scenes, and, to all intents, completed these scenes after his own fashion.

One other play must be mentioned in connection with The Two Noble Kinsmen. Cardenio, entered on the Stationers' Register, 1653, was described as "by Fletcher and Shakespeare." It seems probably identical with a Cardenno acted at court by the King's men in May, 1613, and a Cardenna in June, 1613. Attempts have been made to connect it with Double Falsehood, assigned to Shakespeare by Theobald on its publication in 1728.

[Page Heading: Last Ascriptions]

Other non-extant plays ascribed to Shakespeare after 1642 require no attention, nor do a number of Elizabethan plays assigned to him in certain of their later quartos. Among these are The Troublesome Reign of King John, on which Shakespeare's King John was based; The First Part of The Contention, and (the Second Part) The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York (versions of 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI); and The Taming of a Shrew, the basis of Shakespeare's play. The relation of Shakespeare's plays to these earlier versions is discussed in the introductions to the respective volumes of the Tudor Shakespeare. Other plays assigned, without grounds, to Shakespeare by late seventeenth-century booksellers are The Merry Devil of Edmonton, The Arraignment of Paris, Fair Em, Mucedorus, and The Birth of Merlin.

A few other anonymous plays have been ascribed to Shakespeare by modern critics. Of chief note are Arden of Feversham, 1592, first attributed to Shakespeare by Edward Jacob in 1770; Edward III, 1596, included with other false attributions to Shakespeare in a bookseller's list of 1659, and edited and assigned to Shakespeare by Capell in 1760; Sir Thomas More, an old play of about 1587, preserved in manuscript until edited by Dyce in 1844 and assigned to Shakespeare by Richard Simpson in 1871. There is no evidence for the ascription of various portions of these plays to Shakespeare, except that certain passages seem to some critics characteristic of him. But at the date when the three plays were written his style had not attained its characteristic individuality; and the assignment of these anonymous plays to any particular author neglects the obvious fact that many writers of that period present similar traits of versification and imagery. The attribution to Shakespeare of the Countess of Salisbury episode in Edward III, parts of the insurrection scenes in Sir Thomas More, and a few passages in Arden of Feversham has scarcely any warrant beyond the enthusiastic admiration of certain critics for these passages.

Thus only one play of the Shakespeare Apocrypha has any considerable claim to admission into the canon. The evidence for his participation in The Two Noble Kinsmen is about as strong as in Pericles, and the part assigned to him is fairly comparable with his contribution to Henry VIII.

An account of the Shakespeare Apocrypha is, however, incomplete without reference to the forgeries of documents or plays. Theobald published Double Falsehood in 1728, as based on a seventeenth-century manuscript which he conjectured to be by Shakespeare. John Jordan, a resident of Stratford, forged the will of Shakespeare's father, and probably some other papers in his Collections, 1780; William Henry Ireland, with the aid of his father, produced in 1796 a volume of forged papers purporting to relate to Shakespeare's career, and on April 2, 1796, Sheridan and Kemble presented at Drury Lane the tragedy of Vortigern, really by Ireland, but said by him to have been found among Shakespeare's manuscripts. Ireland was exposed by Malone, and he published a confession of his forgeries in 1805. More skilful and far more disturbing to Shakespearean scholarship are the forgeries of John Payne Collier, extending over a period from 1835 to 1849. These included manuscript corrections in a copy of the second Folio, and many documents concerning the biography of Shakespeare and the history of the Elizabethan theater. These forgeries have vitiated many of Collier's most important publications, as his Memoirs of Edward Alleyn, and History of English Dramatic Poetry.

[Page Heading: Forgeries]

We turn now from attempts to increase Shakespeare's writings to an extraordinary effort to deny him the authorship of all his plays. Doubts on this score seem to have been raised by Joseph C. Hart in his Romance of Yachting, 1848, and by an article in Chambers' Journal, August 7, 1852. In 1856, Mr. W. H. Smith first proposed Bacon's authorship in a letter to Lord Ellesmere, "Was Lord Bacon the author of Shakespeare's plays?" These were followed by an article by Miss Delia Bacon in Putnam's Monthly, 1856, and a volume, The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare unfolded by Delia Bacon. Since Miss Bacon's book, her hypothesis has resulted in the publication of hundreds of volumes and pamphlets supporting many variations of the theory. Some are content to view the authorship as a mystery, assigning the plays to an unknown author. Others attribute the authorship to a club of distinguished men, or to Sir Anthony Shirley, or the Earl of Rutland, or another. Others give Bacon only a portion of the plays, as those containing many legal terms. The majority, however, are thoroughgoing "Baconians," and the most prodigious cases of misapplied ingenuity have been the efforts to find in the First Folio a cipher, by which certain letters are selected which proclaim Bacon's authorship; as The Great Cryptogram, 1887, by Ignatius Donnelly, and The Bi-Literal Cypher of Francis Bacon, 1900, by Mrs. Gallup. Such cyphers are mutually destructive, and their absurdity has been repeatedly demonstrated. Either they will not work without much arbitrary manipulation, or they work too well and are found to indicate Bacon's authorship of literature written before his birth and after his death. Yet similar 'discoveries' continue to be announced.

The evidences supporting Shakespeare's authorship have been set forth sufficiently in this volume and offer no basis for an attitude of skepticism. A few considerations may be recalled as correctives for a partial or mistaken reading of the evidence. (1) Though the records of Shakespeare's life are meager, they are fuller than for any other Elizabethan dramatist. Indeed we know little of the biography of any men of the sixteenth century unless their lives affected church or politics and hence found preservation in the records. There is no 'mystery' about Shakespeare. (2) Records amply establish the identity between Shakespeare the actor and the writer. Moreover, the plays contain many words and phrases natural to an actor, many references to the actor's art, and show a wide and detailed knowledge of the ways and peculiarities of the theater. (3) The extent of observation and knowledge in the plays is, indeed, remarkable, but it is not accompanied by any indication of thorough scholarship, or a detailed connection with any profession outside of the theater, or a profound knowledge of the science or philosophy of the time. (4) The law terms are numerous, and usually correct, but do not establish any great knowledge of the law. Elizabethan London was full of law students who were among frequent patrons of the theater. Through acquaintance with these gentlemen Shakespeare might have readily acquired all the law that he displays. Moreover Shakespeare had an opportunity to gain a considerable familiarity with the law through the frequent litigations in which he and his father were concerned. (5) The dedication, commendatory poems, and address to the readers prefixed to the First Folio ought in themselves to be sufficient to remove the skepticism as to Shakespeare's authorship.

[Page Heading: The "Baconian" Question]

The following considerations apply to the attribution to Bacon, so far as that rests on any tangible basis: (1) Sir Tobie Matthews writes in a letter to Bacon, written some time later than January, 1621, "The most prodigious wit that ever I knew of my nation and of this side of the sea is of your Lordship's name, though he be known by another." The sentence probably refers to Father Thomas Southwell, a Jesuit, whose real surname was Bacon. There is nothing to connect it with Shakespeare. (2) The parallelisms between passages in Shakespeare and Bacon deal with phrases in common use and fail to establish any connection between the two men. (3) The few surviving examples of Bacon's verse suggest no ability as a poet. (4) Bacon's life is well known, and it offers no hint of connection with the theaters and no space in its crowded annals for the production of Shakespeare's plays. In fact, if we had to find an author for Shakespeare's plays among writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Bacon would be about the last person conceivable.



During Shakespeare's lifetime, his plays were mentioned and imitated as often as those of any of his contemporaries. The more important documents bearing on his growing reputation have already been noted in this volume. This popularity, however, was confined to theater-goers and the readers of the sixteen plays that had appeared before 1616. There was no opportunity for a full estimate of his plays as literature until their publication in the Folio of 1623. This is given full and worthy expression in the fine verses which Ben Jonson contributed as a preface to the Folio. He had girded at several of Shakespeare's plays, and his own views of the principles and practices of the dramatic art were largely opposed to Shakespeare's, but he took this opportunity to express unstinted appreciation of Shakespeare's greatness. He notes with discrimination that Shakespeare learned his art in an earlier day, but far outshone Kyd, Lyly, and Marlowe.

Soul of the Age The applause! delight! the wonder of our Stage!

He may challenge comparison with the great Greek tragedians, or in comedies

Of all that insolent Greece or haughty Rome Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.

He was not of an age but for all time!

The magnitude of Shakespeare's achievement was thus enthusiastically proclaimed by the literary dictator of the time.

From 1623, until the closing of the theaters, the plays continued favorites on the stage, though they yielded somewhat in the current taste to the theatrical successes of Fletcher and Massinger. After 1623, they continued to be read and admired, as is shown by the publication of the second and third folios in 1632 and 1663-1664, and by many appreciations, including those of D'Avenant, Suckling, the Duchess of Newcastle, and Milton. At the Restoration many of the plays were at once revived on the stage, and Dryden's essay Of Dramatick Poesie (1668) summed up in a masterly fashion contemporary opinion on Shakespeare. He is compared with other great dramatists, and is declared less correct than Jonson and less popular and modern than Beaumont and Fletcher, yet is "the man who of all Moderns, and perhaps Ancient Poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul."

[Page Heading: The Seventeenth Century]

The Restoration was in some doubt about Shakespeare, for while it found in him much to admire, it also found much to condemn. His plays now had the advantage of women actors for the female parts, but they encountered changed fashions in the theater. The romantic comedies were not to the taste of the time, and disappeared from the stage until toward the middle of the eighteenth century. Meanwhile, The Merry Wives of Windsor was the most popular and most highly esteemed of his comedies. The tragedies attracted the genius of Betterton and were constantly acted, but these were subject to revision of various kinds. Hamlet and Othello held their places without alterations, but Nahum Tate's tame version of King Lear and Cibber's version of Richard III superseded the originals for many years. Romeo and Juliet, too, gave way to Otway's Caius Marius, 1692, which kept large portions of Shakespeare's play; and Antony and Cleopatra yielded place on the stage to Dryden's fine All for Love (1678), in the style of which he professes to imitate the "divine Shakespeare." By 1692, adaptations had also been made of Troilus and Cressida, The Tempest, Macbeth, The Two Noble Kinsmen, Timon, Richard II, Coriolanus, Henry VI, Cymbeline, Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar. A great deal of contempt has been visited upon these revisions of Shakespeare, and their attempts to improve on him are usually feeble enough; but sufficient recognition has not been given to the testimony that these revisors bear to a great appreciation and admiration of Shakespeare. They tried to adapt him to current metrical conventions, to current literary fashions, to an idea of art quite foreign to his, but they made these efforts because they admired his genius. If they did not admire everything in his thirty-seven plays, they admired a great deal.

Further, these revisions are the outcome of critical strictures on the plays which were then common and, in essence, have been frequently repeated. Critics objected to the irregularity and confusion of their structure, to their disregard of the unities of action, their mixture of tragic and comic, their obscurity and archaism of diction, their mixed and confused figures, their occasional puns and bombast. These are substantially the criticisms that Dryden offers when under the influence of Rymer. Rymer himself (A Short View of Tragedy, 1693) goes much farther. He desires tragedy to give a rationalized view of life, dealing poetic justice to various typical persons, and consequently condemns Shakespeare's persons as too individual, his plots as too irregular, and the total effect of his plays as insufficiently didactic and moral. This view of tragedy was mainly due to the rationalistic and classical ideas which continued for a century to dominate European criticism. But before the seventeenth century was over, Shakespeare's growing reputation had proved itself a rock against which the tendencies in criticism had broken like unavailing waves. However much they might insist on rules in art, critics were generally willing to hail Shakespeare as the great exception. Champions were ready to answer Rymer and to defend Shakespeare. Othello, selected by Rymer for special analysis and condemnation, continued to hold its place on the stage and to incite dramatists to emulation. The plays continued to be read, and new editions were demanded. In the forty years from 1660 to 1700, in spite of great changes in theatrical conditions, in spite of changes of taste in readers that relegated most of Elizabethan drama to neglect, and in spite of the formation of a criticism doubtful or neglectful of the very qualities in literature that his plays present, Shakespeare continued to win admirers. By 1700 he was recognized as a dramatist and poet who was one of the great possessions of the English race.

[Page Heading: Widening Influence]

In the two centuries since, Shakespeare's fame and influence have spread and multiplied to an extent difficult to characterize justly in a brief summary. Some important evidences of this growth may indeed be collected and analyzed. The position and importance of his plays on the stage, the ever increasing number of editions, the changing attitudes of critics and men of letters—on these matters it is not difficult to draw conclusions as to Shakespeare's influence at home and abroad. But it is not so easy to say what his influence was on the literature of any generation, and still less easy to summarize with certainty the effects on thought and feeling and conduct which made up his continuing power over generation after generation of readers. This much is clear, that a study of Shakespeare's influence is in part a study of changing ideas and ideals in literature—that as he survived the Restoration taste, so he survived the new classicism of the eighteenth and the romanticism of the early nineteenth century. It is also clear that a full record of the influence of Shakespeare on English-speaking readers would touch on almost all the varied changes of thought and conduct that have entered into the history of two centuries.

The most important of the successive editions of Shakespeare from that of Nicholas Rowe, 1709, to the present time, have been noted in the history of the text in Chapter VII. It must be observed that these various publications indicate not only progress toward establishing a sound text, but also a constantly increasing number of readers. The multiplication of editions kept pace with the vast extension of the middle-class interest in literature. By the end of the eighteenth century, the works of Shakespeare were in the possession of everyone who had a library, and with a text and notes that left few difficulties for a person of any education.

The nineteenth century well maintained the tradition of earlier scholarship. Malone's extensive antiquarian knowledge of Elizabethan drama and theater served as the basis for further research in these fields by Dyce, Ward, Fleay, and others. The chronological order of the plays, which Malone was the first to investigate, was determined with considerable certainty and gave a new significance to the study of Shakespeare's work as a whole. Dyce, Sidney Walker, and Wright, Delius of the Germans, Richard Grant White of the Americans, are a few among the long list of scholars who have added notable emendations and illustrative notes. Editions of the collected works indeed soon became almost too numerous for record, and the number of readings, notes, and illustrations too great for collection even in the largest variorum. To-day the task of scholarship may lie in the restriction, simplification, and final determination of certain varying editorial practices rather than in the accumulation of further illustrative and appreciative comment. But to the work of adding new editions there can be no end so long as the number of readers increases. Volumes of all sizes, for many classes, following various editorial methods, are likely to continue to meet the changing but ever increasing demands of English-speaking readers. At the end of the nineteenth century Shakespeare's works were not merely a household possession, they were to be had in every possible form to suit every possible taste or convenience.

[Page Heading: On the Stage]

The extension of Shakespeare's popularity on the stage was concurrent with this widening range of readers. In the first thirty years of the eighteenth century, which marked a revolution in the nature of the drama and the taste of the audiences, Shakespeare's tragedies continued to be among the most frequently acted stock plays at the two patented theaters. The middle of the century saw the revival of most of the romantic comedies and the appearance of David Garrick. Some of the adaptations continued, but others were displaced by genuine Shakespeare, as in Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, and Romeo and Juliet. All's Well That Ends Well, As You Like It, Cymbeline, Much Ado, Twelfth Night, The Winter's Tale, were all revived. In fact, if we include adaptations, every play of Shakespeare was seen on the stage during the eighteenth century, with the exceptions of 2 and 3 Henry VI, only parts of these appearing, and of Love's Labour's Lost, of which a version prepared for acting was published in 1762 but not produced.

The traditions of Betterton had been carried on by Wilks (1670-1732), Barton Booth (1681-1733), Colley Cibber (1671-1757), and others. But the prevailing manner was condemned as stiff and lifeless in comparison with the energy of Garrick's presentation. From his first triumph in Richard III in 1741, to his farewell performance of Lear in 1776, he won a series of signal successes in both tragedy and comedy, in Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth, Richard III, Falconbridge, Romeo, Hotspur, Iago, Leontes, Posthumus, Benedick, and Antony. Garrick's services to Shakespeare extended beyond the parts which he impersonated. He revived many plays, and though he garbled the texts freely, yet in comparison with earlier practice he really had some right to boast that he had restored the text of Shakespeare to the stage. Further, his example led to an increased popularity of Shakespeare in the theater and afforded new incentives for other actors. Mrs. Clive, Mrs. Cibber, and Mrs. Pritchard were among the women who acted with Garrick. Macklin, by his revival of Shylock as a tragic character, Henderson by his impersonation of Falstaff, and John Palmer in secondary characters, as Iago, Mercutio, Touchstone, and Sir Toby, were his contemporaries most famous in their day.

[Page Heading: Kemble and Kean]

Garrick's place at the head of the English stage was taken by John Philip Kemble (1757-1823), an actor of great dignity of presence and manner, who won general admiration in the great tragic parts, especially those offering opportunities for declamation. His sister, Mrs. Sarah Siddons, was doubtless the greatest of English actresses; her Lady Macbeth, Queen Katherine, and Constance overwhelmed her audiences by their majesty and passion. Kemble's reputation was surpassed by Edmund Kean, whose appearance as Shylock in 1819, at Drury Lane, was the first of a series of great successes in most of the tragic parts, including Hamlet, Lear, Othello, and Richard III. In contrast to Kemble's declamation, Kean's acting was vehement and passionate. Coleridge declared that to see him was "reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning." Readers of the dramatic criticism of Hazlitt and Lamb will recall tributes to Kean and to other favorite actors, especially perhaps their praise of Mrs. Jordan's Viola and Rosalind. Macready for forty years maintained the great traditions of English acting, and during his managements of Drury Lane sought to retain for Shakespeare's plays their preeminence on the stage. Associated with his many impersonations were those of Mrs. Warner and Helen Faucit (Lady Martin). From Garrick's debut to the retirement of Macready (1851) is a century of great actors and actresses who brought to the interpretation of the many characters of the plays a skill and intelligence that satisfied the most critical theater-goers and extended vastly the appreciation and knowledge of Shakespeare's men and women.

Shakespeare's position on the stage was, however, maintained only with difficulty against the melodramas, musical farces, and spectacles that absorbed the theaters. Yet from 1844 to 1862, Samuel Phelps, at Sadler's Wells, presented thirty-one of the plays. Since then the stage has hardly seen an equally important revival; but the great traditions of acting have been carried on by many eminent actors: Sir Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, Forbes Robertson, in England; Edwin Forrest, Edwin Booth, Junius Brutus Booth, Charlotte Cushman, Ada Rehan, Julia Marlowe, and Edward Sothern in America. Lately, successful attempts have been made to perform plays in the Elizabethan manner, and perhaps there is a tendency to pay less attention to elaborate scenic presentation than was the habit during the last of the nineteenth century. In one respect, at least, the present offers a decided improvement on the past, for there is now a strong sentiment in favor of as close an adherence as possible to an authorized text of the plays.

[Page Heading: The Eighteenth Century]

Shakespeare has held his place on the stage in spite of many and great changes in theatrical conditions and dramatic taste. He will probably survive changes greater than those which separate the picture stage with its electric lights from the projecting open-air platform of his own day, or than those which separate the dramas of Ibsen, Shaw, and Barrie from those of Marlowe and Fletcher, or the cinematograph and comic opera from the bear-baiting and jugglery which rivaled the Globe. The visitor who scans, in the Stratford Museum, the curious collection of portraits of actors and actresses in Shakespearean parts may wonder what peculiarities of costume, manner, and expression will be devised for the admired interpretations of the centuries to come. But it hardly seems possible that any actor of the future will influence as greatly the appreciation of Shakespeare's characters and speeches as did Garrick and Mrs. Siddons in England or Edwin Booth in America.

Shakespearean criticism in the eighteenth century was, as has been noted, largely textual, but there was also a considerable discussion of Shakespeare's learning, his art, and its violations of neo-classical theory. John Dennis, in his Letters, 1711, proved a sturdy admirer, and the consensus of opinion of following writers was that of Sedley's couplet which described Shakespeare as

The pride of Nature, and the shame of Schools, Born to Create, and not to Learn from Rules.

Voltaire's attacks brought rejoinders from Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu in 1769 and from Dr. Johnson in the preface to his edition, 1765. In fact, admiration for Shakespeare was a powerful factor in forcing the rejection of rules and standards of French criticism. Johnson's Preface finds fault with Shakespeare's neglect of poetic justice and dwells at length on the faults in plots and diction, but Johnson defends the violation of the unities, and his praise is a discriminating summary of the merits that the eighteenth century had found in Shakespeare. It is praise that is likely to endure.

Within another generation, however, reverence for Shakespeare had increased to an intensity that made Johnson's admiration seem feeble and niggardly. This transformation was due to many causes, but in the main it was a part of the vast changes in European literature known as the Romantic movement. This resulted in a rejection of the rules and models of neo-classicism, a new interest in the literature and manners of the Middle Ages, a conception of poetry as the expression of individuality, attention to the individual man in all orders of society, a fresh concern for external nature, an emphasis on the emotions rather than mere reason, a desire for wonder and mystery, and an exaltation of natural instincts and intuitions as opposed to general truths or social conventions. In each of these particulars, Shakespeare seemed the complete fulfilment of the new tendencies—which indeed his growing influence had undoubtedly encouraged. More than Spenser or Milton or the old ballads, he was the inspiration and guide for new endeavors in literature. It seemed to the new age of critics and poets that they had rediscovered him, and they hastened to raise him from neglect to the throne of omniscience. He was no longer a wayward genius, he was the model from whom art and wisdom were to be learned.

[Page Heading: Appreciative Criticism]

This new criticism was esthetic and appreciative. It did not try to balance Shakespeare's merits and faults, or to test him by codes of arts or morals. It recognized him as supreme, and its discipleship was devoted to reverent interpretation and enthusiastic admiration. Believing in the importance of the poetic imagination in the affairs of men, it found in him a gospel and an example for its creed. Its delightful task was to find new beauties and to search out the hiding-places that revealed the god of its idolatry. If the genius of the master-poet was the source of art and wisdom, the personality of the critic gained a new refulgence through its service of reflecting the rays of glory. The interest in the study of individual characters had resulted, even in Johnson's day, in some notable interpretive essays, as Maurice Morgann's on Falstaff (1777). In the next generation, Coleridge, Lamb, and Hazlitt in England, and Schlegel and Goethe in Germany, brought the keenest intelligence and most sympathetic taste to a criticism that aspired to reveal the full range and height of Shakespeare's creative faculty.

The results of this criticism may be more specifically summarized. (1) It viewed the individual characters of the plays as if they were real persons, analyzing their motives and elaborating or repainting their portraits, as in the analyses of Hamlet by Goethe and Coleridge, or in the brilliant sketches of Hazlitt. The few hundred lines spoken by a leading character have thus been expanded by the impressions made on successive critics into volumes of biography. (2) Shakespeare's works were studied as a whole in an effort to study the development of his art and mind. Schlegel and Coleridge gave a unity to the phenomena of the thirty-seven plays that had not been recognized hitherto; but they and their followers naturally tended to make of their author a sort of nineteenth-century romanticist. (3) Exalting the services of poetry and the creative imagination, they viewed Shakespeare's exhibition of human nature and his incidental wisdom as profound, consistent, and immensely valuable for the human race. Hence they were ever seeking in his work for a philosophy, a synthetic ethics, and making the widest applications of his words to conduct. Believing that he could do no wrong, they inevitably came to attribute to him ideas and morals that were of their own creation.

The defects of this criticism are most apparent in critics like Ulrici and Gervinus who carry its methods to extremes. Personal, fanciful, unhistorical, idolatrous, it is yet a tremendous tribute and an amazing record of the sway that Shakespeare has exerted on the human mind. The writings of no other man have been studied so intimately by so many sympathetic readers, or have excited such different impressions. Throughout the nineteenth century this appreciative criticism has continued, and Shakespeare has been interpreted through the personality of many critics, German and American, as well as British, more recently through the delicate sensibility of Professor Dowden, and the penetrating reflection of Professor A. C. Bradley.

[Page Heading: The Nineteenth Century]

At the end of the nineteenth century, Shakespearean criticism has become too varied for a brief survey. Textual and esthetic criticism both continue. The biography has been established on a sound basis of fact by Halliwell-Phillipps and Sidney Lee; and still new facts reward patient investigators of the legal and court documents, almost the only records preserved that can possibly bear on Shakespeare's life. Special studies of all sorts have been numerous, as to his reading, religion, folk-lore, and so on. More significant in its effect on our general view have been the efforts of historical criticism. As our knowledge of Elizabethan literature, drama, theater, have increased, it has been possible to see Shakespeare in relation to his time and environment. The study of Shakespeare as a sixteenth-century dramatist aims not merely at a better appreciation of his work, but also to explain his development and to account for some of the qualities of his achievement. Its attitude is that of the scientific historian examining the records of any great human activity, and trying to understand its causes, results, and meaning. Somewhat allied to this has been technical dramatic criticism, which is uniting knowledge of the Elizabethan theater with interest in drama as a peculiar form, and thereby studying Shakespeare as a dramatist rather than as a poet or philosopher. In fact, Shakespeare is no longer merely man, poet, dramatist, philosopher, or genius. Jonson's tribute, Dryden's summary, Johnson's judicial essay, or Coleridge's admiring studies, all seem hopelessly inadequate to express the range of his dominion. He has become the source of the most various and extensive interests, a continent that ever expands its fields for exploration, an epoch that ever extends the years of its duration, a race that never dies, though its progeny ever multiplies.

[Page Heading: In Germany]

It is in the nineteenth century that Shakespeare's dominance becomes international. Four of his plays were acted at Dresden and elsewhere early in the seventeenth century, but there seems to have been no literary acquaintance with the plays in Germany until about the middle of the eighteenth century, when two poor translations of Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet appeared, and J. C. Gottsched severely criticized Shakespeare's art. In 1759, in a journal, "Litteraturbriefe," Lessing began a warm defense of Shakespeare and declared his superiority to Racine and Corneille. His Hamburgische Dramaturgie (1767) went far in directing the change of taste from French classicism and in establishing Shakespeare in German thought as the greatest of poets, whether ancient or modern. A prose translation was begun by Wieland in 1762 and completed by Eschenburg in 1789. What is perhaps the best translation of Shakespeare into any foreign tongue was begun in 1797 by A. W. von Schlegel and Ludwig Tieck, two leaders of German romanticism, and finally completed in 1853. Schlegel's lectures on Shakespeare and the Drama were delivered in Vienna in 1808, and present both the romanticist's idolizing of Shakespeare and a new kind of esthetic criticism destined to exercise great influence on Coleridge and the English critics. Meanwhile Goethe was adapting Romeo and Juliet for the Weimar theater (1801) and Schiller was arranging Macbeth for presentation at Stuttgart (1801). Goethe indeed was, throughout his life, an enthusiastic admirer of Shakespeare, and his works are full of discriminating criticism, of which perhaps the most famous passage is the analysis of Hamlet in Wilhelm Meister. Since Lessing and Herder, German poetry and drama have felt Shakespeare's influence, and in both textual and esthetic criticism, Germany has rivaled England and the United States. Delius and Schmidt, whose Shakespeare-Lexicon (1874) is one of the great monuments of Shakespeare scholarship, are perhaps first among textual students; since 1865 the German Shakespeare Society has published yearly contributions of all kinds to Shakespeare criticism, and especially an excellent bibliography. On the stage Shakespeare has been constantly acted since the beginning of the century, and has engaged the services of some of the greatest actors, as Schroeder, the two Devrients, and Barnay. At present a large number of his plays are performed annually, in the smaller as well as the larger cities, and more frequently than in Britain or America. Twenty-six of the plays were acted in 1911, Othello leading with 158 performances. For the years 1909, 1910, 1911, Hamlet, Othello, The Merchant of Venice have been the favorites, with The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer-Night's Dream the most popular of the comedies. For over a century Shakespeare has profoundly influenced German life and letters. Rarely, if ever, has a great people been so powerfully affected by a writer in a foreign tongue.

In France, during the eighteenth century, Shakespeare's reputation was both aided and hindered by Voltaire. Though there are a few earlier notices of the English dramatist, Voltaire, after his visit to England, 1720-1729, was virtually the first to win attention for Shakespeare. He admired Shakespeare, acknowledged his influence, but deplored his deficiencies in taste and art, "le Corneille de Londres, grand fou d'ailleurs, mais il a des morceaux admirables." Voltaire's criticism provoked replies in England and a defense from Diderot, who shared with Lessing the effort to emancipate the drama from some of its neo-classical restriction. Translations of twelve plays by La Place (1745-1748) and all of the plays by Le Tourneur (1776-1782) gave an opportunity for greater acquaintance with his work. A version of Hamlet by Ducis was acted at Paris in 1769. But even at the end of the century, French literary opinion, though partly won by Le Tourneur's praise of Shakespeare, still sympathized with Voltaire, now engaged in an attack on Englishmen and their favorite. His last opinion (1778) declares, "Shakespeare est un sauvage avec des etincelles de genie qui brillent dans une nuit horrible."

[Page Heading: In France]

The nineteenth century saw a reaction from this criticism, indicated by the praise of Madame de Stael (De la Litterature, 1804), by Guizot's essay accompanying a revision of Le Tourneur's translation (1821), and later in the appreciation of Mezieres's Shakespeare ses [OE]uvres et ses Critiques (1860), in several translations, and in Victor Hugo's eulogy (1869). The best of the translations is by the poet's son, Francois Victor Hugo in prose (1859-1866). On the Paris stage, the leading English actors have appeared from time to time, and French versions of Hamlet, Macbeth, and Othello have made a permanent place. M. Jusserand is the chief authority for the history of Shakespeare in France and an ambassador of peace between the conflicting literary tastes of the two nations.

In Italy, Holland, Russia, Poland, and Hungary, during the nineteenth century, many of the plays have been regularly acted, and from Italy have come great actors and actresses, as Ristori, Salvini, and Rossi. Complete translations have been published in these countries and in Bohemian, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, and Spanish; and separate plays have been translated and acted in many other languages including those of India, Japan, and China.

In music and painting Shakespeare's influence has also been international. Books have been devoted to the history of Shakespeare's music, and such surveys include nearly every English composer of note, and also Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Ambroise Thomas, Saint Saens, Rossini, and Verdi. In painting as well, the persons and scenes of the play have excited the efforts of English, German, and American artists.

In America, as has already been indicated, the interest in Shakespeare is hardly separable from that in Great Britain. Editors, critics, scholars, have been numerous and their contributions important, and the plays have been acted constantly and widely through the country. Probably there is no part of the world to-day where the study of Shakespeare is so active and where the interest in his work is so widespread. In one respect, at least, the United States in recent years has carried this study and interest beyond England, in the fields of education. As the study of the mother tongue has become the basis of American education, so Shakespeare has come to play a more and more important part in the training of youth. The universities offer training in the various departments of Shakespearean scholarship, every college offers courses on his plays, a number of them are prescribed for reading and study in the high schools; a few of them are read and extracts memorized in the primary schools. The child begins his education with Ariel and the fairies, and until his schooling is completed is kept in almost daily intercourse with the poetry and persons of the dramas. Homer was not better known in Athens. In a democracy still young and widely separated from older nations and cultures, Shakespeare has become one of the links that bind the American public not only to the common inheritances of the English-speaking races, but to the traditional culture of Europe.

[Page Heading: In the United States]

Known in the literature and theater of every civilized nation, the subject of a vast and increasing amount of discussion and criticism, the source of a scholarship rivaling that devoted to the writers of antiquity, the familiar theme for music and painting, the household possession of Great Britain, Germany, and America, influencing thought and conduct as few books have ever influenced them, and now an important element in the education of a great democracy,—the plays of Shakespeare occupy a position whence imagination "can not pierce a wink beyond, but doubt discovery there." His reputation and influence must change greatly in the years to come; but this at least is secure—three hundred years of an ever increasing sway over the human mind.



The purpose of this volume has been to summarize what we know about Shakespeare. The documentary records and early traditions of his life have been supplemented by information in regard to the times and places in which he lived, the literature which he read, and the theaters for which he worked. The evolution of the drama that grew up in those theaters has been reviewed, and its manifest connections with Shakespeare's own development have been indicated. That development has been traced by means of a careful determination of the chronology of the plays; and the recognition of this growth of his powers has been shown to be a necessary basis for a just estimate of their achievement.

If, now, in conclusion, we attempt to define our general impression of the man and his work, this must inevitably take into account considerations of environment and development. The man belonged to his era, his city, and his profession. The documents make it plain that he did not live apart, but in close contact with the affairs of his day and generation. The plays make it clear that few men ever became so intimately familiar with the manners, morals, and ideas of their own time. There is no doubt that he drank deeply of the experience that Elizabethan London offered him. Still more, the plays make it clear that his life was one of constant and extraordinary intellectual and spiritual growth. Though, from the objective nature of the dramas, it is impossible to translate them into terms of personal experience or into exact stages of mental growth, yet it is none the less evident that the progress from the author of Love's Labour's Lost to the author of The Tempest, from the creator of Richard III and Valentine to the creator of Iago and Antony, was marked, not only by a widening experience, but also by a development of personal character.

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