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EDITORS' PREFACE

CHAU
HAUCER and Spenser have been privileged to

reach the modern reader in the forms of speech befitting them and belonging to their time. Shakespeare, as it happens, has not hitherto been permitted to become familiar in the quaint Elizabethan setting befitting him and betraying the conditions belonging to the first publication of the Plays.

Yet Chaucer is, of course, far more rchaic, and Spenser is, though so little earlier, much more affected and remote in style, than Shakespeare. Without as much need for it, Shakespeare has been modernized to suit each succeeding epoch. Yet - barring only the long, for s, the interchangeable i and j, u and y, an occasional y for th, and the for them, the sign of abbreviation commonly used in printing of that age in order to get in all the words of a line without overlapping - there is practically nothing in the form of the first complete text of the Plays published in 1623, and commonly called the First Folio, particularly if these few changes mentioned be made, which should cause the present-day reader to stumble in reading it.

The advantage of typographical fidelity to the first edition, so long withheld from the public, is obvious, and with no other changes whatever beyond those mentioned, either in wording, spelling, punctuation, or in general style of capitalizing and italicizing, that edition is here reproduced.

Though the preservation of the original flavor of the first edition of Shakespeare be reason enough for such reproduction, stronger reasons remain to be stated.

The First Folio is not merely the first collected edition of Shakespeare's dramatic works. It is the sole authority for twenty of the Plays, namely, “The Tempest,' The Two Gentlemen of Verona,' - Measure for Measure,' The Comedy of Errors,' • As You Like It,' • The Taming of the Shrew,' • All's Well that Ends Well,' «Twelfth Night,' • The Winter's Tale,' • King John, 1, 2, and 3 · Henry VI,' • Henry VIII,' Coriolanus,' Timon of Athens,'

Julius Cæsar,' Macbeth,' Antony and Cleopatra,' and Cymbeline.' It furnishes the first complete text of at least two more - • The Merry Wives of Windsor' and · Henry V'— the earlier Quarto issues of which were incomplete as well as unauthorized. The separate earlier appearance in sixpenny Quarto form of the remaining fourteen Plays does not mean that the Quarto issue was more authoritative than the Folio issue of the same Plays, for the reason that all such Quarto issues were surreptitious. They may or may not have been derived from copies of Shakespeare's manuscripts, as has in some cases been supposed. It is possible, although without actual evidence; but it is against probability, for the Quartos certainly were unauthorized. And though the Folio editors exercised little supervision, and may be convicted, in certain instances, of not printing from any better copies, and of using the Quartos so conveniently already in type when they made up their collective edition, still the Folio, it must be admitted, has what measure of

authority is possible in the case. The publication of the Quartos was against the interest of Shakespeare as author and actor, and especially as shareholder in the Company which owned and produced his Plays on the stage when they were new, and which was naturally loath to make them public in any

other
way,

until the chiefs of that Company, Hemminge and Condell, act-ing as Shakespeare's friends and fellows,' chose to collect and publish them as a tribute to the dead poet's memory in 1623.

While the Quartos cannot justly be held as having any peculiar certainty or any superior authority derived from the poet, they provide alternative readings where they differ from the Folio, and they and the Folio may well be read in the light they throw upon one another. But even these Plays that appeared separately in pirated Quarto form before 1623 are the more interesting in their Folio form because they bear marks of use upon the author's stage. With marks of their misuse there, appear also marks of care, from the playwright's point of view, in the many additional stage directions, and divisions into acts and scenes. Moreover, here and there they may contain marks of last revision by their author — a precious possibility which the Quartos cannot claim.

With all proper deduction made, then, for the earlier appearance of fourteen of the Plays in Quarto, and for the defects of the reissue in the Folio of the same Plays, still the First Folio remains, as a matter of fact, the text nearest to Shakespeare's stage, to Shakespeare's ownership, to Shakespeare's authority.

Curiously enough, although so necessarily the origin of all later editions of Shakespeare, the First Folio was continuously passed over by the English editors as

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