« PreviousContinue »
A NEW VARIORUM EDITION
HORACE HOWARD FURNESS
J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.
The Preface to the preceding volume, Romeo and Juliet, set forth so fully the scope and plan of this Edition that it seems needless to re-state them here; and yet, as these volumes are intended to be as far as possible independent and complete each in itself, a concise statement of the rules which have guided the Editor may be not unreasonably demanded.
Although in the main the plan of the former volume has been adhered to in this, yet experience has suggested certain changes which, without at all affecting its general character, seemed to render it more complete.
It is stated in the Preface to Romeo and Juliet that the Variorum of 1821 has been taken as a point of departure to the extent of admitting into the present edition only such notes from it as had been adopted by the succeeding editors, together with all the original notes of those editors themselves. This limitation has been in the present volume wholly disregarded. The Variorum of 1821 here has its position chronologically among the rest, and although it has a station 'in the file, not i’ the worst rank, yet it is no longer the startingpoint whence Shakespearian criticism shall begin, as though all criticism that preceded it went for naught.
Probably no Editors of Shakespeare have left a more enduring impression of their labours than STEEVENS and MALONE, not because of any pre-eminent ability or fitness for their office, but because they were so early in the field that they were able to glean the richest sheaves. To them, therefore, we must still go for many explanations and illustrations of thie text. But there were, before them, other Editors and Commentators whose notes they overlooked, or perchance silently incorporated with their own. Heath is only rarely quoted by the Variorum Editors, although his eminence as a scholar, whose name still stands high at home and abroad, should have secured for him on all occasions a respectful hearing. His Revisal of Shakespeare's Text shows sound wisdom and starts many shrewd conjectures, and had it been issued in connection with the Text, would undoubtedly have commanded an honourable position. Again, in Steevens's