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sible that Richard Perkins, having attained eminence on the stage, subsequently married a lady of title and property ? However, this and other points, dependent chiefly upon dates, remain to be investigated, and upon any of them I shall be most thankful for information.
The only facts I am yet able to establish are, that my folio, 1632, with its elaborate corrections, about half a century since came into the possession of Mr. Parry from Mr. George Gray, who, it is probable, obtained it from Ufton Court (about eight miles from his residence), where it is unquestionable that at an early date there was a library, likely to have contained such a book, which library was afterwards dispersed. The name of “ Tho. Perkins” on the cover is a strong confirmation of the opinion, that it once formed part of that library; and as to the identity of the volume, and hand-writing of the marginal notes, Mr. Parry feels absolutely certain.
Having thus made, very unexpectedly, the first step (decidedly a long one) towards the history of this copy of the book, and having shown that, in its annotated state, it was in existence so many years ago, it remains for me, on the present occasion, to do little more than to advert to a few of the objections to the volume of "Notes and Emendations,” of which this is the second impression.
If there were any justice in the complaint, that I have noticed various unnecessary changes in the ordinary text of Shakespeare, it would apply even with more force to the edition now in the hands of the reader, because I have thought it right to insert some additional proposed alterations of that text, which I had, either by design or accident, previously passed over. They are not in general of much importance, although a few of them may be considered novel and ingenious. My principle in the outset was to give, within a reasonable compass, the fairest possible representation of the appearance and contents of my folio-to furnish specimens, good, bad, and indifferent, so that an accurate judgment might be formed of the sources of the old corrector's information, and of his capacity for discharging the duty he undertook. Hence the notes where he had apparently been guided by the ancient printed editions ; where he may have deserted them in favour of some earlier or contemporary authorities, whether written or recited; and where he seemed to have been directed merely by his own, often erroneous, sense of fitness and expediency. I have always admitted, and I have over and over again stated, that among the indubitable emendations, selfevident and impressing the mind at once with a conviction in their favour, were others that looked like alterations of a purely arbitrary and conjectural kind. Therefore, no pertinacious advocate for the integrity of the received text could undertake a much easier or a less enviable task, than purposely to select only the latter description of changes, and to decry and disparage the rest, as if they were all of the same character and complexion.
On the other hand, my labour would have been lighter and more agreeable, if I had chosen to publish such amendments only as severe sticklers for the old readings could not venture to dispute: in that case I should not have exposed myself to the “Remarks,” “ Observations,” “Criticisms,” “Vindications,” &c., which, I happen to know, are in preparation, and which, I happen to know also, will recommend themselves to perusal mainly by assailing points which, not only have I never defended, but which I myself have attacked for their weakness. It would be difficult in a volume of more than 500 pages to make no statement, and to offer no opinion, that was not liable to cavil, especially by those whose prejudices or interests are affected; but with a love for our great dramatist as sincere as it is ancient, wherever I have given an opinion, I have endeavoured to arrive at a fair decision on the claims of each suggested alteration as it came under my view, and to afford the reader an opportunity of determining for himself, with such assistance as my long study, particularly of authors of the time, enabled me to supply. While speaking of about twelve hundred changes in
the popular text of Shakespeare, I am aware that I must have fallen into errors ; but I myself wish them to be detected, and I am glad to say that I do not think they are very likely to escape observation.
It cannot be surprising that individuals, who for many years have been accustomed to see passages, even such as are avowedly corrupt, repeated in every edition, and to hear them recited by the best performers of our own or other days, should at first feel repugnance to proposed alterations, however excellent’; but we cannot so readily account for the obstinate adherence (with due respect be it spoken) by some men, of acknowledged learning and acuteness, to antiquated blunders, with about as much reason as the parish priest displayed when he insisted upon “his old mumpsimus," in preference to “the new sumpsimus," in the Roman Catholic ritual.
Regarding the vast number of lapses in the mechanical process of printing exhibited in the folio, 1632, and patiently set right by the early owner of the volume, I cannot do better than quote a small portion of a letter which a practical printer, whom I have not the pleasure of knowing, did me the favour to write, in order to satisfy me that many of the suggestions for the improvement of Shakespeare's text were warranted by defects of art, even now of the most ordinary occurrence'. He says,
I do not mean to say that it is at all a just mode of settling the worth of any suggested change, to imagine that the text had always stood as proposed, and that the old reading is the emendation ; but still it will afford. some criterion. Thus, if we had been accustomed to consider “the blankness of the dark "the language of Shakespeare in “ Macbeth,” what should we have thought of any annotator who advised us to substitute for it “ the Blanket of the dark ?" Yet, I dare say, blanket will find its mumpsimus defenders.
3 Among the most remarkable typographical errors is that in “The Merry Wives of Windsor," where Ford assumes an alias, which is printed Brooke in the quarto, 1602, and Broome in the folio, 1623. The old corrector of the folio, 1632, altered it from Broome to Bourne ; but as it is a mere name, and does not in any way affect the sense or humour of the author, and as Brooke may be said to be fixed in the recollections both
“ The volume you have recently published, containing emendations of the text of Shakespeare from the corrected folio, interesting as it must be to all connected with literature, is peculiarly so to those who, like myself, find their daily occupation in the correction of typographical errors. The process by which those errors have been perpetrated is, in most cases, perfectly familiar to us by our hourly experience, and could be paralleled from the first proofs of almost any printing-office in London. So natural are the emendations, so perfectly printer-like are the errors, that those who know best the defective state of typography three centuries since, can have no doubt as to the authenticity of the corrections."
As the instrument of communicating these emendations to the world, in a genuine spirit of inquiry into their merits, I cannot well account for the almost personal animosity with which, in some quarters, I have been already met, and with which I am threatened hereafter. My accidental discovery of the corrected folio, 1632, has, I fear, tended to cool friendships of long standing; and individuals with whom I was formerly acquainted now look upon me as if I had done them some injury, which they could not overlook, and yet did not know how to revenge. Some persons complain that I am too dogmatical in my criticisms; others, that I am too bold in my speculations; a third party thinks that I have not done justice to earlier editors; and a fourth (which I apprehend is the greatest grievance of all), that I have unfairly abridged the field for future speculation". As to the charge of dogmatism, it will be found, in the present edition, that I have never hesitated to qualify or withdraw an opinion, where I have seen reason to change it; if I have been bold, it has been where I imagined (perhaps mistakenly) that I had a right to take a firm position; if I have not done justice to previous commentators, the omission was wholly accidental and unintentional; and if those who shall come after me, as editors of Shakespeare, find the bounds of conjectural improvement considerably narrowed, I hope that disappointment will not cause them to lose their temper as well as their time, bearing in mind that all we ought to aim at is the true understanding of our author, and that a just estimate of that author must more and more convince us of our own insignificance. It is the fancied neglect of imaginary importance, that seems to have irritated some of my wouldbe adversaries.
of hearers and readers, I have not thought it necessary to make the change in the recent impression of the text of Shakespeare, as regulated by the old copies and by the emendations in the folio, 1632. I may be excused for adding, that a few alterations, noticed in the ensuing pages, unquestionably wrong, have there been designedly omitted.
* So determined have a few been to find fault, that they have censured me even for the employment of the commonest forms of expression : thus, when I have stated that the old corrector tells ns to read “fruitful,” or instructs us to substitute “soul,” they beg to know in what terms he tells us, or instructs us? just as if I had not said, an hundred times oftener J. P. C.
I cannot too emphatically repeat what I stated in the “Introduction” to the first edition of this work, that it is my earnest wish that every emendation should be tried by the sound principles of criticism, and adopted or rejected by the judgment of common sense. I cannot but allow it to be very possible that, as the discoverer of the corrected folio, 1632, I may, here and there, have evinced a partiality for novelty, which is not supported by knowledge. I have done my best to guard against undue bias ; but, in spite of these endeavours, and in spite of my previous practice, to admit as few variations as possible from the oldest impressions of the plays of our great dramatist, it may have had its influence, and those who are most angrily opposed to some of my conclusions are welcome to the benefit of this admission.
than was agreeable, that the striking out of one word in the text, and the insertion of another in the margin, was the mode in which he constantly conveyed the information.