The Works of William Shakespeare [Cambridge Edition] [Vol. 8 of 9] - Booklify
This copy wanted the last leaf containing the 22 concluding lines. A second copy, wanting the title-page but otherwise perfect, was discovered in 1856 by Mr W. H. Rooney of Dublin. 'It was bought,' says Mr Timmins, 'by Mr Rooney from a student of Trinity College, Dublin, who had brought it from Nottinghamshire with his other books. After reprinting the last leaf, Mr Rooney sold the pamphlet to Mr Boone for £70, from whom Mr J. O. Halliwell bought it for £120, and it is now in the British Museum.'

We have reprinted this edition, and recorded in foot-notes the few discrepancies which are found between the two copies.

An extremely accurate reprint was made from the Devonshire copy in 1825, and it was lithographed in facsimile, with the addition of the missing leaf, in 1858, under the direction of Mr Collier and at the expense of the Duke. In 1860 Mr J. Allen, Junr., reprinted this edition and the Quarto of 1604, placing the corresponding passages as nearly as possible on opposite pages, with a preface by Mr Samuel Timmins.

The edition of 1603 is obviously a very imperfect reproduction of the play, and there is every reason to believe that it was printed from a manuscript surreptitiously obtained. This manuscript may have been compiled in the first instance from short hand notes taken during the representation, but there are many errors in the printed text which seem like errors of a copyist rather than of a hearer. Compare for example lines 37, 38 of Scene iii. of our Reprint, p. 205, with the corresponding lines of the more perfect drama as it was printed in the Quarto of 1604, Act i. Scene 3, lines 73, 74, p. 26.

In the Quarto of 1603 the passage runs thus:

And they of France of the chiefe rancke and station

Are of a most select and generall chiefe in that:

In that of 1604:

'And they in Fraunce of the best ranck and station,

Or of a most select and generous, chiefe in that:'

It is clear that the corruption in both passages is due to an error in the transcript from which both were copied. Probably the author had originally written:


'And they in France of the best rank and station

Are most select and generous in that:'

and then given between the lines or in the margin, 'of,' 'chief', meaning these as alternative readings for 'in' and 'best' in the first line. The transcriber by mistake inserted them in the second line. A few lines above both Quartos give 'courage' for 'comrade,' a mistake due undoubtedly to the eye and not to the ear.

We believe then that the defects of the manuscript from which the Quarto of 1603 was printed had been in part at least supplemented by a reference to the authentic copy in the library of the theatre. Very probably the man employed for this purpose was some inferior actor or servant, who would necessarily work in haste and by stealth, and in any case would not be likely to work very conscientiously for the printer or bookseller who was paying him to deceive his masters.

The Quarto of 1604, which we call Q2, has the following title-page:

THE | Tragicall Historie of | Hamlet, | Prince of Denmarke. | By William Shakespeare. | Newly imprinted and enlarged to almost as much | againe as it was, according to the true and perfect | Coppie. | At London, | Printed by I. R. for N. L. and are to be sold at his | shoppe vnder Saint Dunstons Church in | Fleetstreet. 1604.

The printer 'I. R.' was no doubt, as Mr Collier says, James Roberts, who had made an entry in the books of the Stationers' company as early as July 26, 1602, of 'A booke, The Revenge of Hamlett prince of Denmarke, as yt was latelie acted by the Lord Chamberleyn his servantes.'

For some unknown reason the projected edition was delayed, and in the mean time the popularity of the play encouraged N. L., i.e. Nicholas Ling, and the other publisher, Trundell, to undertake a surreptitious edition.

In the interval between the two editions Shakespeare seems to have changed the names of some of his Dramatis Personæ, substituting 'Polonius' for 'Corambis' and 'Reynaldo' for 'Montano.' He may also have changed the order of one or two scenes, and here and there erased or inserted a few lines, but we think that no substantial change was made, and that the chief differences between (Q1) and Q2 are only such as might be expected between a bona fide, and a mala fide, transcription.

The Quarto of 1605, which we call Q3, is not, properly speaking, a new edition, being printed from the same forms as Q2, and differing from it no more than one copy of the same edition may differ from another. The title-page differs only in the date, where 1605 is substituted for 1604.

Another Quarto, our Q4, printed in 1611, bears a title-page which does not substantially differ from that of Q3, except that it is said to be:

'Printed for Iohn Smethwicke, and are to be sold at his shoppe | in Saint Dunstons Church-yeard in Fleetstreet. | Under the Diall. 1611. |'

Another Quarto, without date, is said on the title-page to be 'Newly imprinted and inlarged, according to the true | and perfect Copy lastly Printed,' and to be 'Printed by W. S. for Iohn Smethwicke.' Otherwise the title-page is identical with that of Q4. Mr Collier supposes this undated Quarto to have been printed in 1607, because there is an entry in the Stationers' books of that year and no edition with that date is known to exist. We are convinced however that the undated Quarto was printed from that of 1611, and we have therefore called it Q5.

Another Quarto, printed 'by R. Young for John Smethwicke,' was published in 1637. This we call Q6. It is printed from Q5, though the spelling is considerably modernized and the punctuation amended.

The symbol Qq signifies the agreement of Q2, Q3, Q4, Q5 and Q6.

Besides these, several editions, usually known as Players' Quartos, were printed at the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the following century. Of these we have had before us during our collation, editions of 1676, 1685, 1695 and 1703. These we call respectively Q(1676), Q(1685), Q(1695) and Q(1703). We have given all readings which seemed in any way remarkable, though we need scarcely say that the changes made in these editions have no authority whatever. It is however worthy of notice that many emendations usually attributed to Rowe and Pope are really derived from one or other of these Players' Quartos. When we give a reading as belonging to one of these Quartos, it is to be understood that it occurs there for the first time and that all the subsequent Quartos adopt it.

The text of Hamlet given in the Folio of 1623 is not derived from any of the previously existing Quartos, but from an independent manuscript. Many passages are found in the Folio which do not appear in any of the Quartos. On the other hand many passages found in the Quartos are not found in the Folio. It is to be remarked that several of those which appear in the Folio and not in the Quarto of 1604 or its successors, are found in an imperfect form in the Quarto of 1603, and therefore are not subsequent additions. Both the Quarto text of 1604 and the Folio text of 1623 seem to have been derived from manuscripts of the play curtailed, and curtailed differently, for purposes of representation. Therefore in giving in our text all the passages from both Folio and Quarto we are reproducing, as near as may be, the work as it was originally written by Shakespeare, or rather as finally retouched by him after the spurious edition of 1603.

We have been unable to procure a copy of the Quarto edition of this play, edited in 1703 by 'the accurate Mr John Hughs' (Theobald's Shakespeare Restored, p. 26), and have therefore quoted the readings of it on Theobald's authority. It is different from the Players' Quarto of 1703, and is not mentioned in Bohn's edition of Lowndes's Bibliographer's Manual. No copy of it exists in the British Museum, the Bodleian, the library of the Duke of Devonshire, the Capell collection, or any other to which we have had access.

We have to thank Dr C. M. Ingleby for the loan of several editions of Hamlet which we should otherwise have had difficulty in procuring.

2. King Lear first appeared in 1608. In this year there were two editions in Quarto. One bears the following title:

M. William Shakespeare, | HIS | True Chronicle History of the life | and death of King Lear, and his | three Daughters. | With the unfortunate life of EDGAR, | sonne and heire to the Earle of Glocester, and | his sullen and assumed humour of TOM | of Bedlam. | As it was plaid before the Kings Maiesty at White-Hall, vp- | on S. Stephens night, in Christmas Hollidaies. | By his Maiesties Seruants, playing vsually at the | Globe on the Banck-side. | Printed for Nathaniel Butter. | 1608. |

The printer's device is that of J. Roberts.

This we have called Q1. In the few instances in which there are differences between Capell's copy and that in the Duke of Devonshire's library, we have distinguished the readings as those of Q1 (Cap.) and Q1 (Dev.) respectively. Through the kindness of Sir S. Morton Peto and Mr Lilly, we have been enabled to collate two other copies, but without discovering any variations from that in the Capell collection.

In the same year another Quarto edition of this play was issued by the same publisher. Its title is as follows:

M. William Shak-speare: | HIS | True Chronicle Historie of the life and | death of King LEAR and his three | Daughters. | With the vnfortunate life of Edgar, sonne | and heire to the Earle of Gloster, and his | sullen and assumed humor of | TOM of Bedlam: | As it was played before the Kings Maiestie at Whitehall vpon | S. Stephans night in Christmas Hollidayes. | By his Maiesties seruants playing vsually at the Gloabe | on the Bancke-side. | LONDON,| Printed for Nathaniel Butter, and are to be sold at his shop in Pauls | Church-yard at the signe of the Pide Bull neere | St. Austins Gate. 1608. |

We have called this Q2. In the six copies we have collated there are a large number of very curious and important variations. To distinguish them we have made use of the following notation.

1. Q2 (Cap.) The copy in Capell's collection.

2. Q2 (Dev.) The copy in the Library of the Duke of Devonshire.

3. Q2 (Mus. per.) A perfect copy in the British Museum (C. 34. K. 18).

4. Q2 (Mus. imp.) An imperfect copy (wanting title) in the British Museum (C. 34. K. 17); formerly in the possession of Mr Halliwell.

5. Q2 (Bodl. 1). A copy in the Bodleian Library (Malone 35), with the title, but wanting the last leaf.

6. Q2 (Bodl. 2). A copy in the Bodleian Library (Malone 37), wanting title but having the last leaf.

It has been supposed in consequence of statements made by Malone and Boswell that a third edition of King Lear was published in 1608. We shall show that there is no evidence for this. In the Variorum Shakespeare (ii. 652), edited by Boswell in 1821, three Quartos are described, which are distinguished in the notes to the play by the letters A, B, C, respectively. The first of these is a copy of Q2, quoted by us as Q2 (Bodl. 1); the second is a copy of Q1; and the third, which is in reality another copy of Q2 and is quoted by us as Q2 (Bodl. 2), is described as follows:

"Title the same as the two former, except that like the first it begins at signature B: and like the second, has no reference to the place of sale."

This statement of Boswell's is taken from a note in Malone's handwriting prefixed to the copy in question, which we transcribe.

"This copy of King Lear differs in some particulars from the two others in Vol. IV.

"The title-page of it is the same as the second of those copies, that is, it has no direction to the place of sale, and the first signat. is B,—notwithstanding which there are minute diversities; thus, in this copy in H3 verso, we have 'A foole vsurps my bed'; in the other whose first signature is also B, we find—'My foote usurps my body', and in the copy without any direction to the place of sale (whose first signature is A) 'My foote usurps my head'."

Now it is a little remarkable that at present the copy has no title-page at all, and there is no trace of the title-page having been removed since the volume has been in its present condition. The probability is that the title was originally wanting and that one had been supplied from a copy of Q1 before it came into Malone's hands, and that while it was in this condition he wrote the above note upon it. It was then sent to be bound in a volume with other quartos, and the title may have been lost at the binder's, or may have been intentionally removed as not belonging to the book. That alterations were made by the binder is evident from the fact that the copy to which Malone refers as the second of those in Vol. IV. is in reality the first. Malone, writing his note when Vol. IV. was arranged for binding, described the then order of the plays, which must afterwards have been altered. In any case, however Malone's statement is to be accounted for, it is quite clear that Boswell must have described the Quarto after it was bound, when the title could not have existed.

We have said that Boswell quotes the three Quartos of Lear, now in the Bodleian, by the letters A, B, C, respectively. In doing so, however, he is not consistent. We record his mistakes that others may not be misled by them. Bearing in mind therefore that A = Q2 (Bodl. 1), B = Q1, and C = Q2 (Bodl. 2), we find in Act II. Scene 2 (Vol. X. p. 97) 'Quarto B, ausrent; Quarto A, reads unreverent.' Here B and A should change places. In Act III. Scene 7 (p. 188), 'Quarto A omits roguish:' for A read C. In Act IV. Scene 2 (p. 199), for 'Quartos B and C, the whistling,' read 'Quarto C' alone. In Act IV. Scene 6 (p. 220) B and A should again be interchanged. In Act V. Scene 3 (p. 277), 'Quarto A omits this line'; for A read B. It will be seen from these instances that A has been in turn made to represent three different copies.


The differences in various copies of Q2 are accounted for by supposing that the corrections were made before the sheets were all worked off, and that the corrected and uncorrected sheets were bound up indiscriminately. It will be observed that the readings of the uncorrected sheets of Q2 agree for the most part with those of Q1, and this led us to the conclusion which had previously been arrived at by Capell and also by J. P. Kemble, that the edition which we have called Q1 was the earlier of the two printed in the same year. But upon collating a copy of Q2 in the Bodleian, which we have called Q2 (Bodl. 1), we found evidence which points to an opposite conclusion. In Kent's soliloquy (II. 2. 160) that copy, as will be seen in our notes, reads,

nothing almost sees my rackles

But miserie, &c.

which of course is an accidental corruption, by displacement of the type, of 'myrackles' (i.e. 'miracles') the true reading. In the corrected copies of Q2 this is altered, apparently by the printer's conjecture, to 'my wracke', which is also the reading of Q1. Throughout the sheet in which this occurs the readings of Q1 agree with the corrected copies of Q2, and had it not been for the instance quoted, we might have supposed that the corrections in the latter were made from Q1. But the corruption 'my rackles' for 'miracles' must have come from the original MS., and 'my wracke' is only a conjectural emendation, so that the order of succession in this sheet at least appears to be the following. First the uncorrected copy of Q2, then the same corrected, and lastly Q1. On the other hand it is remarkable that Q1, if printed from Q2 at all, must have been printed from a copy made up, with the exception just mentioned from II. 1. 128 to II. 4. 133, and another containing from IV. 6. 224 to V. 3. 64, of uncorrected sheets. Another hypothesis which might be made is that Q1 and Q2 were printed from the same manuscript, and that the printer of Q1 corrupted 'miracles' into 'my wracke', while the printer of Q2 made it 'my rackles', which was afterwards altered by a reference to Q1. The question, however, is very difficult to decide, and at most is one rather of bibliographical curiosity than of critical importance. We may mention that, without giving the reasons for his conclusion, Jennens, in his edition of Lear in 1770, quotes as the 1st Quarto that which we have called Q2 and vice versa.

A third Quarto, which we have called Q3, was printed very carelessly page for page from Q1 and published in 1655.

In the first Folio King Lear was printed from an independent manuscript, and its text is on the whole much superior to that of the Quartos. Each however supplies passages which are wanting in the other.

Capell appears to have prepared the play for press in the first instance from Pope's first edition. The manuscript readings and stage directions, marked in his copy of that edition but not adopted in his own, we have quoted as 'Capell MS'.
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The Works of William Shakespeare [Cambridge Edition] [Vol. 8 of 9]

by by Shakespeare
1. The earliest edition of Hamlet appeared in 1603, with the following title-page:

The | Tragicall Historie of | Hamlet | Prince of Denmarke | By William Shake-speare. | As it hath beene diuerse times acted by his Highnesse ser-| uants in the Cittie of London: as also in the two V-| niuersities of Cambridge and Oxford, and else-where | At London printed for N: L. and Iohn Trundell. | 1603.

We refer to it as (Q1).

A copy of this edition belonged to Sir Thomas Hanmer, though he does not appear to have mentioned it in his notes to Shakespeare or in his correspondence, and its existence was not known till his library came into the possession of Sir E. H. Bunbury in 1821. In a copy of the Reprint of 1825, now at Barton, Sir E. H. Bunbury wrote the following note:

'The only copy of this edition of Hamlet (1603) which is known to be in existence was found by me in the Library at Barton when it came into my possession in 1821. The Hamlet was bound up with ten others of the small 4to editions of Shakespeare's Plays (1598 to 1603) and with The Two Noble Kinsmen (1634). Most of these were complete. I sold the volume in Dec. 1824 for £180 to Messrs Payne and Foss, who resold it to the Duke of Devonshire for £230.'

This copy wanted the last leaf containing the 22 concluding lines. A second copy, wanting the title-page but otherwise perfect, was discovered in 1856 by Mr W. H. Rooney of Dublin. 'It was bought,' says Mr Timmins, 'by Mr Rooney from a student of Trinity College, Dublin, who had brought it from Nottinghamshire with his other books. After reprinting the last leaf, Mr Rooney sold the pamphlet to Mr Boone for £70, from whom Mr J. O. Halliwell bought it for £120, and it is now in the British Museum.'

We have reprinted this edition, and recorded in foot-notes the few discrepancies which are found between the two copies.

An extremely accurate reprint was made from the Devonshire copy in 1825, and it was lithographed in facsimile, with the addition of the missing leaf, in 1858, under the direction of Mr Collier and at the expense of the Duke. In 1860 Mr J. Allen, Junr., reprinted this edition and the Quarto of 1604, placing the corresponding passages as nearly as possible on opposite pages, with a preface by Mr Samuel Timmins.

The edition of 1603 is obviously a very imperfect reproduction of the play, and there is every reason to believe that it was printed from a manuscript surreptitiously obtained. This manuscript may have been compiled in the first instance from short hand notes taken during the representation, but there are many errors in the printed text which seem like errors of a copyist rather than of a hearer. Compare for example lines 37, 38 of Scene iii. of our Reprint, p. 205, with the corresponding lines of the more perfect drama as it was printed in the Quarto of 1604, Act i. Scene 3, lines 73, 74, p. 26.

In the Quarto of 1603 the passage runs thus:

And they of France of the chiefe rancke and station

Are of a most select and generall chiefe in that:

In that of 1604:

'And they in Fraunce of the best ranck and station,

Or of a most select and generous, chiefe in that:'

It is clear that the corruption in both passages is due to an error in the transcript from which both were copied. Probably the author had originally written:


'And they in France of the best rank and station

Are most select and generous in that:'

and then given between the lines or in the margin, 'of,' 'chief', meaning these as alternative readings for 'in' and 'best' in the first line. The transcriber by mistake inserted them in the second line. A few lines above both Quartos give 'courage' for 'comrade,' a mistake due undoubtedly to the eye and not to the ear.

We believe then that the defects of the manuscript from which the Quarto of 1603 was printed had been in part at least supplemented by a reference to the authentic copy in the library of the theatre. Very probably the man employed for this purpose was some inferior actor or servant, who would necessarily work in haste and by stealth, and in any case would not be likely to work very conscientiously for the printer or bookseller who was paying him to deceive his masters.

The Quarto of 1604, which we call Q2, has the following title-page:

THE | Tragicall Historie of | Hamlet, | Prince of Denmarke. | By William Shakespeare. | Newly imprinted and enlarged to almost as much | againe as it was, according to the true and perfect | Coppie. | At London, | Printed by I. R. for N. L. and are to be sold at his | shoppe vnder Saint Dunstons Church in | Fleetstreet. 1604.

The printer 'I. R.' was no doubt, as Mr Collier says, James Roberts, who had made an entry in the books of the Stationers' company as early as July 26, 1602, of 'A booke, The Revenge of Hamlett prince of Denmarke, as yt was latelie acted by the Lord Chamberleyn his servantes.'

For some unknown reason the projected edition was delayed, and in the mean time the popularity of the play encouraged N. L., i.e. Nicholas Ling, and the other publisher, Trundell, to undertake a surreptitious edition.

In the interval between the two editions Shakespeare seems to have changed the names of some of his Dramatis Personæ, substituting 'Polonius' for 'Corambis' and 'Reynaldo' for 'Montano.' He may also have changed the order of one or two scenes, and here and there erased or inserted a few lines, but we think that no substantial change was made, and that the chief differences between (Q1) and Q2 are only such as might be expected between a bona fide, and a mala fide, transcription.

The Quarto of 1605, which we call Q3, is not, properly speaking, a new edition, being printed from the same forms as Q2, and differing from it no more than one copy of the same edition may differ from another. The title-page differs only in the date, where 1605 is substituted for 1604.

Another Quarto, our Q4, printed in 1611, bears a title-page which does not substantially differ from that of Q3, except that it is said to be:

'Printed for Iohn Smethwicke, and are to be sold at his shoppe | in Saint Dunstons Church-yeard in Fleetstreet. | Under the Diall. 1611. |'

Another Quarto, without date, is said on the title-page to be 'Newly imprinted and inlarged, according to the true | and perfect Copy lastly Printed,' and to be 'Printed by W. S. for Iohn Smethwicke.' Otherwise the title-page is identical with that of Q4. Mr Collier supposes this undated Quarto to have been printed in 1607, because there is an entry in the Stationers' books of that year and no edition with that date is known to exist. We are convinced however that the undated Quarto was printed from that of 1611, and we have therefore called it Q5.

Another Quarto, printed 'by R. Young for John Smethwicke,' was published in 1637. This we call Q6. It is printed from Q5, though the spelling is considerably modernized and the punctuation amended.

The symbol Qq signifies the agreement of Q2, Q3, Q4, Q5 and Q6.

Besides these, several editions, usually known as Players' Quartos, were printed at the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the following century. Of these we have had before us during our collation, editions of 1676, 1685, 1695 and 1703. These we call respectively Q(1676), Q(1685), Q(1695) and Q(1703). We have given all readings which seemed in any way remarkable, though we need scarcely say that the changes made in these editions have no authority whatever. It is however worthy of notice that many emendations usually attributed to Rowe and Pope are really derived from one or other of these Players' Quartos. When we give a reading as belonging to one of these Quartos, it is to be understood that it occurs there for the first time and that all the subsequent Quartos adopt it.

The text of Hamlet given in the Folio of 1623 is not derived from any of the previously existing Quartos, but from an independent manuscript. Many passages are found in the Folio which do not appear in any of the Quartos. On the other hand many passages found in the Quartos are not found in the Folio. It is to be remarked that several of those which appear in the Folio and not in the Quarto of 1604 or its successors, are found in an imperfect form in the Quarto of 1603, and therefore are not subsequent additions. Both the Quarto text of 1604 and the Folio text of 1623 seem to have been derived from manuscripts of the play curtailed, and curtailed differently, for purposes of representation. Therefore in giving in our text all the passages from both Folio and Quarto we are reproducing, as near as may be, the work as it was originally written by Shakespeare, or rather as finally retouched by him after the spurious edition of 1603.

We have been unable to procure a copy of the Quarto edition of this play, edited in 1703 by 'the accurate Mr John Hughs' (Theobald's Shakespeare Restored, p. 26), and have therefore quoted the readings of it on Theobald's authority. It is different from the Players' Quarto of 1703, and is not mentioned in Bohn's edition of Lowndes's Bibliographer's Manual. No copy of it exists in the British Museum, the Bodleian, the library of the Duke of Devonshire, the Capell collection, or any other to which we have had access.

We have to thank Dr C. M. Ingleby for the loan of several editions of Hamlet which we should otherwise have had difficulty in procuring.

2. King Lear first appeared in 1608. In this year there were two editions in Quarto. One bears the following title:

M. William Shakespeare, | HIS | True Chronicle History of the life | and death of King Lear, and his | three Daughters. | With the unfortunate life of EDGAR, | sonne and heire to the Earle of Glocester, and | his sullen and assumed humour of TOM | of Bedlam. | As it was plaid before the Kings Maiesty at White-Hall, vp- | on S. Stephens night, in Christmas Hollidaies. | By his Maiesties Seruants, playing vsually at the | Globe on the Banck-side. | Printed for Nathaniel Butter. | 1608. |

The printer's device is that of J. Roberts.

This we have called Q1. In the few instances in which there are differences between Capell's copy and that in the Duke of Devonshire's library, we have distinguished the readings as those of Q1 (Cap.) and Q1 (Dev.) respectively. Through the kindness of Sir S. Morton Peto and Mr Lilly, we have been enabled to collate two other copies, but without discovering any variations from that in the Capell collection.

In the same year another Quarto edition of this play was issued by the same publisher. Its title is as follows:

M. William Shak-speare: | HIS | True Chronicle Historie of the life and | death of King LEAR and his three | Daughters. | With the vnfortunate life of Edgar, sonne | and heire to the Earle of Gloster, and his | sullen and assumed humor of | TOM of Bedlam: | As it was played before the Kings Maiestie at Whitehall vpon | S. Stephans night in Christmas Hollidayes. | By his Maiesties seruants playing vsually at the Gloabe | on the Bancke-side. | LONDON,| Printed for Nathaniel Butter, and are to be sold at his shop in Pauls | Church-yard at the signe of the Pide Bull neere | St. Austins Gate. 1608. |

We have called this Q2. In the six copies we have collated there are a large number of very curious and important variations. To distinguish them we have made use of the following notation.

1. Q2 (Cap.) The copy in Capell's collection.

2. Q2 (Dev.) The copy in the Library of the Duke of Devonshire.

3. Q2 (Mus. per.) A perfect copy in the British Museum (C. 34. K. 18).

4. Q2 (Mus. imp.) An imperfect copy (wanting title) in the British Museum (C. 34. K. 17); formerly in the possession of Mr Halliwell.

5. Q2 (Bodl. 1). A copy in the Bodleian Library (Malone 35), with the title, but wanting the last leaf.

6. Q2 (Bodl. 2). A copy in the Bodleian Library (Malone 37), wanting title but having the last leaf.

It has been supposed in consequence of statements made by Malone and Boswell that a third edition of King Lear was published in 1608. We shall show that there is no evidence for this. In the Variorum Shakespeare (ii. 652), edited by Boswell in 1821, three Quartos are described, which are distinguished in the notes to the play by the letters A, B, C, respectively. The first of these is a copy of Q2, quoted by us as Q2 (Bodl. 1); the second is a copy of Q1; and the third, which is in reality another copy of Q2 and is quoted by us as Q2 (Bodl. 2), is described as follows:

"Title the same as the two former, except that like the first it begins at signature B: and like the second, has no reference to the place of sale."

This statement of Boswell's is taken from a note in Malone's handwriting prefixed to the copy in question, which we transcribe.

"This copy of King Lear differs in some particulars from the two others in Vol. IV.

"The title-page of it is the same as the second of those copies, that is, it has no direction to the place of sale, and the first signat. is B,—notwithstanding which there are minute diversities; thus, in this copy in H3 verso, we have 'A foole vsurps my bed'; in the other whose first signature is also B, we find—'My foote usurps my body', and in the copy without any direction to the place of sale (whose first signature is A) 'My foote usurps my head'."

Now it is a little remarkable that at present the copy has no title-page at all, and there is no trace of the title-page having been removed since the volume has been in its present condition. The probability is that the title was originally wanting and that one had been supplied from a copy of Q1 before it came into Malone's hands, and that while it was in this condition he wrote the above note upon it. It was then sent to be bound in a volume with other quartos, and the title may have been lost at the binder's, or may have been intentionally removed as not belonging to the book. That alterations were made by the binder is evident from the fact that the copy to which Malone refers as the second of those in Vol. IV. is in reality the first. Malone, writing his note when Vol. IV. was arranged for binding, described the then order of the plays, which must afterwards have been altered. In any case, however Malone's statement is to be accounted for, it is quite clear that Boswell must have described the Quarto after it was bound, when the title could not have existed.

We have said that Boswell quotes the three Quartos of Lear, now in the Bodleian, by the letters A, B, C, respectively. In doing so, however, he is not consistent. We record his mistakes that others may not be misled by them. Bearing in mind therefore that A = Q2 (Bodl. 1), B = Q1, and C = Q2 (Bodl. 2), we find in Act II. Scene 2 (Vol. X. p. 97) 'Quarto B, ausrent; Quarto A, reads unreverent.' Here B and A should change places. In Act III. Scene 7 (p. 188), 'Quarto A omits roguish:' for A read C. In Act IV. Scene 2 (p. 199), for 'Quartos B and C, the whistling,' read 'Quarto C' alone. In Act IV. Scene 6 (p. 220) B and A should again be interchanged. In Act V. Scene 3 (p. 277), 'Quarto A omits this line'; for A read B. It will be seen from these instances that A has been in turn made to represent three different copies.


The differences in various copies of Q2 are accounted for by supposing that the corrections were made before the sheets were all worked off, and that the corrected and uncorrected sheets were bound up indiscriminately. It will be observed that the readings of the uncorrected sheets of Q2 agree for the most part with those of Q1, and this led us to the conclusion which had previously been arrived at by Capell and also by J. P. Kemble, that the edition which we have called Q1 was the earlier of the two printed in the same year. But upon collating a copy of Q2 in the Bodleian, which we have called Q2 (Bodl. 1), we found evidence which points to an opposite conclusion. In Kent's soliloquy (II. 2. 160) that copy, as will be seen in our notes, reads,

nothing almost sees my rackles

But miserie, &c.

which of course is an accidental corruption, by displacement of the type, of 'myrackles' (i.e. 'miracles') the true reading. In the corrected copies of Q2 this is altered, apparently by the printer's conjecture, to 'my wracke', which is also the reading of Q1. Throughout the sheet in which this occurs the readings of Q1 agree with the corrected copies of Q2, and had it not been for the instance quoted, we might have supposed that the corrections in the latter were made from Q1. But the corruption 'my rackles' for 'miracles' must have come from the original MS., and 'my wracke' is only a conjectural emendation, so that the order of succession in this sheet at least appears to be the following. First the uncorrected copy of Q2, then the same corrected, and lastly Q1. On the other hand it is remarkable that Q1, if printed from Q2 at all, must have been printed from a copy made up, with the exception just mentioned from II. 1. 128 to II. 4. 133, and another containing from IV. 6. 224 to V. 3. 64, of uncorrected sheets. Another hypothesis which might be made is that Q1 and Q2 were printed from the same manuscript, and that the printer of Q1 corrupted 'miracles' into 'my wracke', while the printer of Q2 made it 'my rackles', which was afterwards altered by a reference to Q1. The question, however, is very difficult to decide, and at most is one rather of bibliographical curiosity than of critical importance. We may mention that, without giving the reasons for his conclusion, Jennens, in his edition of Lear in 1770, quotes as the 1st Quarto that which we have called Q2 and vice versa.

A third Quarto, which we have called Q3, was printed very carelessly page for page from Q1 and published in 1655.

In the first Folio King Lear was printed from an independent manuscript, and its text is on the whole much superior to that of the Quartos. Each however supplies passages which are wanting in the other.

Capell appears to have prepared the play for press in the first instance from Pope's first edition. The manuscript readings and stage directions, marked in his copy of that edition but not adopted in his own, we have quoted as 'Capell MS'.

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Book Name:
The Works of William Shakespeare [Cambridge Edition] [Vol. 8 of 9]
Author:
by Shakespeare
ISBN:
0
Publish date:
1866-04-04
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