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Series II. No. 7.



The Quarto, 1634, is here for the first time reprinted literally. The original arrangement of the text has been exactly followed, even to the division of the pages ; and care has been taken to render this virtually a facsimile reproduction

No Collation (properly so called) of the two earliest editions has hitherto appeared. Accordingly, in attempting one for the first time, I have been under the disadvantage of having no such predecessor as the Cambridge Shakespeare or Mr Furness' splendid Variorum to supply a test of the accuracy of my work.' This disadvantage I have tried to remedy by a very careful comparison of the proof-sheets with the original texts; and I trust that very few errors have escaped correction.

Indeed, I am almost disposed to fear censure for over-exactness in my Collation of the Folio (Appendix A) ; but a Collation (some scholars whose opinions are worth having agree in this) should be virtually a reprint, for what seems trivial to one reader may yet be of considerable service to another.

The following descriptive list includes most of the English Editions I have seen, all I have collated :

1. QUARTO, 1634. The earliest extant or known edition of this play, here reprinted from Mr P. A. Daniel's copy. The text is evidently taken, as the directions and actors' names (e. g. pp. 14, 64, 80) shew, from the stage copy at the Blackfriars Theatre. It is noteworthy that between the two copies I have seen, viz. one belonging to P. A. Daniel, Esq. (kindly lent for the purposes of this reprint), and the other in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin,-there are several variations, one of which is important as clearing up an old editorial crux, and (still more so !) as explaining and establishing the Folio reading, doubted by Dyce.” One other variation is of some importance. I have collated the Daniel and T. C. D. quartos carefully, and find the following variations between them :

Daniel Qo: I. i. 179, 1 evy-I. ii. 77, glory on [no stop]-1. iv. 20, succard

|-v. ii. 31, honest, -58 He's a- -59, Did you,—where the Dublin Qo (revised as the volume was being issued, probably), reads -levy-glory on[:]--smeard-honest---He's a-Did you."

1 Mr Skeat's edition was not published until all my Collations of the other texts were completed, still it has been of some service to me in this way.

. I refer to I. iv. 20 : Like to a paire of Lions, succard with prey (Daniel Qo.), where the folio reads smeard, and Dyce notes that the Qo. has succand; but Mr Skeat, using the Cambridge copies (and the Trin. Coll., Dublin, and Brit. Mus. copies are the same), reads : Like to a paire of Lions, smeard with prey, and therefore noted (p. 91) “Mr Dyce is wrong in stating that the quarto reads succard."

3 See Bacon's Essays, Appendix to the Notes, ed. W. A. Wright, M.A. Golden Treas. series, p. 350, for an interesting account of differences in old copies of the same edition.


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2. Folio, 1679. The second folio edition of B. and F. Title : Fifty Comedies and Tragedies written by {Francis Beaumont And John Fletcher,} Gentlemen. All in one Volume. Published by the Authors Original Copies, the Songs to each Play being added. Si quid habent veri Vatum præsagia, vivam. [Device) London, Printed by 7. Macock, for John Martyn, Henry Herringman, Richard Marriot, MDCLXXIX.”

From the Preface-The Booksellers to the Reader - we learn that ..." Besides, in this Edition you have the addition of no fewer than Seventeen Plays more than were in the former, which we have taken the pains and care to collect, and Print out of 4to in this Volume, which for distinction sake are markt with a Star in the Catalogue of them facing the first Page of the Book.” Accordingly we find

47 Two Noble Kinsmen.* which shews, as a collation of the texts clearly confirms, that the Folio text was taken from the Quarto ; and the revised Quarto, the reading smear'd tells us.

The numerous corrections are evidently the work of an intelligent compositor, who has removed misprints and modernised spelling as he went along. Traces of an editorial revision of the text are nowhere apparent, though the fact of a list of dramatis persona being given would indicate that some little attention had been paid to the reprint. Hence for critical purposes the collation I have made is of small independent value ; nevertheless I have thought it deserving of a place at the end of the reprint : a thorough collation was needed, and had not hitherto been supplied. This collation, it may be added, gives some interesting illustrations of the progress which forty-five years had caused towards attaining a standard orthography. The e final (againe, etc.) is omitted ; -our (armour, etc.) generally altered to -or; terminations in -les, -nes, etc. (careles, busines;) have the s doubled (more regard being had to uniformity than to etymology); and other similar modifications appear. I do not mean to affirm that the changes here indicated were introduced into all books of the period ; that the spelling had become fixed; I only call attention to the noteworthy fact that in a reprint of a book published in 1634, there were in 1679 introduced certain changes of spelling which, with a few exceptions, are observed consistently throughout.

3. ED. 1711. B. and F. “in seven volumes.- Adorned with cuts.--Revised and Corrected : with some account of the life and writings of the Authors.-London : Printed for Jacob Tonson, at Shakespear's Head over-against Catherine-Street in the Strand. MDCCXI."

The prefatory “account” is little more than a combination of Dryden's note on Rymer's Tragedies of the Last Age, considered and examined (1673); and the passages in Gerard Langbaine's Account of the English Dramatick Poets (1691), relating to B. and F. This Preface cannot be considered accurate. For instance, the writer (p. xxvii) quotes 27 lines from Langbaine, in which extensive transcript he inserts one word, omits thirty-two, and substitutes for the word decease the word death. He then gives, with

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out acknowledgment, an alphabetical list of B. and F.'s plays, almost verbally from Langbaine's list : the few additions to the older account being of no value.

The reference to our play is as follows :-Two Noble Kinsmen, a Tragi-Comedy. This Play was written by Mr Fletcher, and Mr Shakespear. The Story is taken from Chaucer's Knight's Tale, which Mr Dryden has admirably put into modern English; it is the first Poem in his Fables(vol. I. p. xxxix). This-which is an unusually wide variation from Langbaine's Two Noble Kinsmen, a Tragi-Comedy. This Play was written by Mr. Fletcher, and Mr. Shakespear.(p. 215)-gives no support to the tradition of Shakspere's authorship beyond the inference that no contradiction of the tradition had been put forward. Langbaine is generally careful in his statements, and we may consider that he knew no reason for doubting the title-page of the Quarto, from which he probably derived his information. In the Preface, he tells us that he has given the reader “a large Account of the Title-page of each Play” which he has seen. His “large Account” of the 2 N. K. has been given above.

The text of this 1711 edition is taken from the Folio, and is quite worthless ; only one important var, lect, appears, viz., Tylters for Tytlers, V. iii. 83/95. Strange to state, not one of the Editors have noticed the older reading ! all read tilters.

4. ED. 1750. B. and F. ten vols. “ Collated with all the former Editions, and Corrected. With Notes Critical and Explanatory. By The Late Mr THEOBALD, Mr SEWARD of Eyam in Derbyshire, and Mr SYMPSON of Gainsborough. LONDON, Printed for J. and R. TONSON, and S. DRAPER in the Strand .MDCCL.”

This is the first so-called critical edition, with Introductions, Notes, &c., but the fact of the existence of these notes is rather to be regretted than otherwise (except perhaps as illustrating the ignorance of Elizabethan literature which prevailed in the last century), for the necessity has thereby been imposed upon subsequent editors of transcribing, combating, and exposing, the miserable displays of ignorance and vanity which Mr Seward of Eyam in Derbyshire has embodied in the form of notes. Coleridge asks,“ Did the name of criticism ever descend so low as in the hands of those two fools and knaves, Seward and Sympson ?” (Table Talk, p. 212, ed. 1852). And if this be thought rather hard on the good easy men, the following from Gifford's preface to Ben Jonson (p. 68, ed. 1853, Moxon) shews that Coleridge was not alone in thinking lightly of their editorial qualities :“Whether Whalley (in his edition of Jonson) was diffident of himself, or the gentlemen volunteered their assistance, I have no means of knowing, but he availed himself occasionally of the aid of Sympson and Seward, (the editors of Beaumont and Fletcher,) who led him astray, and where he would have been simply wrong, if left to himself, rendered him absurd. In one pleasant way of making notes, and swelling the bulk of the book, they all agreed. None of them printed from the earliest editions ; they took up the latest which they could find, and went smoothly on till they were stopt by some palpable error of the press. This, as the clown says, was meat and drink to them; they immediately set themselves to con

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jecture what the word should be, and after a little burst of vanity, at which it is impossible to forbear a smile, they turned, for the first time, to the old copy, and invited the public to witness their sagacity, and partake in their triumph.”

I have omitted all such conjectures of Seward's as I found anticipated in the old editions, with a few exceptions preserved as specimens. Theobald, who died before the edition had advanced very far, has left a few good notes ; Sympson's are occasionally presentable, but as for Seward-Seward never deviates into sense.” I regret that my duty as an Editor has necessitated a reproduction of so many of the notes from the edition of 1750; far sooner would I leave them in obscure repose. Not that I wish to speak uncharitably of any one ; rather, with the gentle Coleridge, I would say :-“Mr. Seward! Mr. Seward ! you may be, and I trust you are, an angel ; but you were an ass.” (Shakesp. Notes and Lect., p. 286, ed. 1874.)

5. ED. 1778. B. and F. ten vols., the notes by various editors, viz. G. Colman, J. N., R[eed), and others. This edition was reprinted in 1811, with Whalley's ed. of Ben Jonson, the B. and F. occupying three of the four volumes. While some part of the notes is devoted to exposing not only the “carelessness,” but also “the more unpardonable faults of faithlessness and misrepresentation," which characterised Messrs Seward and Sympson's edition, the remaining portion consists chiefly of quotations from those commentators, with a few insignificant and generally worthless additions. The best of the new notes are perhaps those signed R. (Reed); Colman's share in the work does not appear to have been important.

Although the text is not stretched or lopped as it had been by the metrical Procrustes (of Eyam in Derbyshire), it is nevertheless full of inaccuracies, these arising mainly from ignorance of Elizabethan words and usages, and a few also from careless revision of the proof-sheets,-Seward's errors being exposed in a note, and yet left standing in the text. But, with all its imperfections, this edition is still widely separated from its predecessor, and must be regarded as the first true critical edition of Beaumont and Fletcher's works. The editors, it may be added, hold that our play has been falsely ascribed to Shakspere (pref. ix).

6. ED. 1812. Henry Weber's, fourteen vols. 8vo. The text has been reprinted by E. Moxon (1839, 1851, re-issued lately among Routledge's “Old Dramatists”), in two vols., with a preface by George Darley, and a glossary, but without notes.

Weber benefited by the notes of Monck Mason (1798), and produced a comparatively accurate text. My references to B. and F.'s plays are, unless where otherwise stated, to Moxon's ed., 1851, 2 vols. roy. 8vo.

7. KNIGHT'S PICTORIAL SH., eight vols., 8vo., 1839-1841.

Considering Knight's fine scholarship, it is strange that the 2 N. K. text in this ed. should be almost worthless; yet such is actually the case. And the cause is not far to seek. Knight believed that the non-Fletcherian portions were by Chapman, consequently gave the play a grudging admittance into his Shakspere, and only out of deference to tradition and opinion on the subject.

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