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eagles coming helter-skelter from a single nest,—at a time when Coke, the law officer of the government, declared poetasters and playwrights to be "fit subjects for the grand jury as vagrants." It was enough for the impecunious authors of these plays that Shakespeare, manager and part proprietor of two theatres, and amassing a large fortune in the business, was willing, apparently, to adopt every child of the drama laid on his door-step. This accounts for the venomous shaft which Greene in his envy aimed at him. Greene was a writer for the stage, and took occasion one time, in a little squib addressed to his professional brethren, to refer to one "Shake-scene as an upstart crow beautified with our feathers." It is evident, nevertheless, that Shakespeare was a favorite nom de plume with the dramatic wits of his time.


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18. The first complete edition of the Plays, substantially as we now have them, was the famous folio, from the author's manuscripts, of 1623. Its titles number thirty-six, and may be classified, for our present purpose, as follows: Plays, previously printed, in various quartos, at dates ranging from 1597 to 1609, eighteen; those not previously printed, but known to have been produced on the stage, twelve; lastly, those, so far as we know, entirely new, six. Of the Plays in the first class, it is found, by comparison, that several had been rewritten, and in some cases greatly

enlarged, during the fourteen years or more subsequent to their first appearance. The same is probably true of some in the second class, though on this point we are, naturally enough, without means of verification. In any event, however, it is certain that the compositions which were new, together with those which, by changes and accretions, had been made new, constitute no inconsiderable part of the book.* Who did this work? Who prepared it for the press? Shakespeare died in 1616, seven years before the folio was published, and for six years before his death he had lived in Stratford, without facilities for such a task, and in a social atmosphere in the highest degree unfavorable for it. On the other hand, Bacon retired to private life in 1621, at the age of sixty, in the plenitude of his powers, and under circumstances that would naturally

* The most noteworthy examples under this head are the Second and Third Parts of Henry VI. These plays were first published in 1594 and '95, under the titles, respectively, of the First Part of the Contention between the Two Famous Houses, York and Lancaster, and the True Tragedy of Richard, Duke of York. They were republished in 1600, and again in 1619 (three years after Shakespeare's death), under the same general title and in other respects, also, substantially as first printed. In the folio of 1623, however, they appear under new titles and largely rewritten. The Second Part (for instance), containing three thousand and fifty-seven lines, suddenly comes out with fifteen hundred and seventy-eight lines entirely new, and with about one half of the remainder altered or expanded from passages in the old.

The Plays were revised and collected for final publication at the same time that Bacon revised and collected his prose works, for the same purpose, 1621-6. The coincidence is worthy of mention.

cause him to roll this apple of discord, refined into the purest gold, down the ages.

19. Other mysteries cluster around this edition. The ostensible editors were two playwrights, named Heminge and Condell, formerly connected with the company of which Shakespeare was a member. Heminge appears, also, to have been a grocer. In the dedication of the book, they characterize the Plays, with singular, not to say suspicious, infelicity, as "trifles." They astonish us still more by the use they make of Pliny's epistle to Vespasian, prefixed to his Natural History, and not translated into English till 1635. Not only are the thoughts of the Latin author most happily introduced, but they are amplified and fitted to the purpose with consummate literary skill.

Then follows a pithy address to the public, in which the editors seek to justify their revolutionary work, undertaken so long after Shakespeare's death, on the ground that all previous publications of the Plays had been made from stolen copies and were, therefore, inaccurate as well as fraudulent. A comparison of the two sets, however, discloses a state of things quite inconsistent with the sincerity of Messrs. Heminge and Condell. Some of the finest passages, given in the quartos, are omitted in the Folio, one particularly in Hamlet, in which the genius of the author, as Swinburne asserts, soars up to the very highest of its


height and strikes down to the very deepest of its depth." In King Lear, also, but for the "stolen copies," the following description of Cordelia's sorrow, together with the whole scene containing it, would have been lost forever:

"You have seen

Sunshine and rain at once; her smiles and tears
Were like a better May; those happy smilets,

That play'd on her ripe lip, seemed not to know
What guests were in her eyes; which parted thence,

As pearls from diamonds dropp'd."

And who is not shocked at the statement in the Folio that Desdemona, at one of her first interviews with the swarthy Moor, received the story of his life "with a world," not of sighs, but-" of kisses "!

The truth is, the quartos are precisely what we should have expected them to be, early but authentic drafts, brought into final shape by the author, under extraordinary mental distractions, in the folio. The strata may be tilted and broken, but they tell us of the great forces of nature, the elemental fires that seethed beneath them.

Ben Jonson's contribution is, also, clearly susceptible of a double meaning. In the verses opposite the portrait, he draws a sharp distinction (as well he might) between the lineaments there presented and those of the mighty intellect which the printed page sets before us.

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In these well-known lines, he paraphrases a Latin inscription found under Bacon's own portrait, converting it into one of the brightest flashes in this symposium of wit.

On the subject of Shakespeare's art, Jonson's mind was apparently in a state of hopeless confusion. In his conversations with Drummond, he declared unqualifiedly that Shakespeare had no art. In his metrical introduction to the Folio, he declares, just as unqualifiedly, that Shakespeare had art, and that of the most pronounced and toilsome character. He goes so far as to liken the author of the Plays to a blacksmith sweating over an anvil. Riding two horses, even if one were Pegasus, was evidently an ungracious task for Rare Old Ben.

20. It would be well-nigh miraculous if in all these works, dealing as they do with every kind and degree of human. vicissitude, we could not find somewhere in them a trace of the author's own personality. Indeed, editors have been at the risk of converting

constantly searching for it, even

exegesis into biography. Two of them, for instance, have surmised that the dramatist was educated at Oxford or Cambridge and afterwards trained to law at one of the Inns of Court, because Justice Shallow recommends such a

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