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these are the two principal editions of the variorum series. Of the later editions deserving honourable mention we have, therefore, now only to allude to that of Alexander Chalmers, the author of Shakspeare's biography, the only complete one since Rowe's, and which has since been adopted or made use of by most subsequent editors. This edition appeared first in 1805, in 9 parts (re-issued in 1823), and gives evidence of thorough learning as well as of independent inquiry and fine critical judgment.
Of the commentators who, together with independent editors, contributed to criticism and literary history, there appeared by the side of Tyrwhitt—who has already been mentioned Benjamin Heath ( A Revisal of Shakspeare's Text,' etc.. 1765), Joseph Ritson (Verbal Criticisms on the Text of Shakspeare,' 1783), John Monck Mason ('Comments of Steevens' Edition, etc., 1785), E. H. Seymour (“Remarks critical, conjectural, and explanatory upon the Plays of Shakspeare,' 1805); and, at a later period, A. Becket, Zach. Jackson, and others. Their essays are all more or less deserving of notice in regard to the text and the better appreciation of Shakspeare's works. The only really eminent commentator among these, however, was Francis Douce, whose work, entitled, “Illustrations of Shakspeare and of Ancient Manners, etc., appeared in 1809, and was republished in 1839. He is among commentators—as R. Grant White observes - what Malone is among editors; save that his volumes exhibit a wider range of knowledge and a more delicate and sympathetic apprehension of the peculiar beauties of Shakspeare, than Malone possessed.'
The literary - historical investigations of Steevens, Malone and their successors, soon became connected with efforts to save the remains of the early English stage from further decay. As early as 1744, the publisher, R. Dodsley -himself a dramatic poet, whose works were very highly esteemed by Pope-issued a collection of plays from the earlier dramatists of the seventeenth century which existed in single and rare prints, and were thus in danger of being lost. This work, which appeared under the title of A Select Collection of Old Plays,' etc. (12 vols. 1744), and which was originally undertaken solely for the author's
own pleasure, exhibited the defects of inexperienced criticism, and of that want of method which usually accompanies mere dilettanteism. In 1780, therefore, a new edition of it was made by J. Reed, in which he endeavoured to correct these faults. He cut out twelve of the plays, some because they had been specially reprinted in an edition of Massinger's works which appeared at that time, others because their claim to be preserved was but very small. In their place he admitted ten plays which were more intimately connected with Shakspeare's time, and were more entitled to preservation. (For similar reasons the editor of the latest edition of 1825 again exchanged four of the pieces for other four.) Reed also continued Dodsley’s ‘Sketch of the English Stage,' from the time of the Revolution (with which it closed) down to 1776, the year in which Garrick left the stage.
About the same time appeared Warton's History of English Poetry, froin the close of the eleventh to the commencement of the eighteenth century' (3 vols. 4to., London, 1774-81), in which Shakspeare and dramatic poetry are treated somewhat like stepchildren, it is true, but which, owing to its sound learning, and an analysis of the principal works together with a number of specimens, was well suited to correct the judgment and clear up the nation's consciousness in regard to its literary treasures.- Connected with the above works are Malone's already-mentioned Historical Account of the English Stage,' and Th. Percy's Essay on the Origin of the English Stage, particularly the historical Plays of Shak. speare' (1793), which completed and amended the series.
SHAKSPEARE DURING THE LATTER YEARS OF THE 18TH AND
THE FIRST HALF OF THE 19TH CENTURY.
Soon after the appearance of Johnson's criticisms, the æsthetic method of viewing Shakspeare's plays took a different turn. William Richardson, in his Philosophical Analysis and Illustration of some of Shakspeare's Dramatic Characters' (1774), discussed the characters of Macbeth, Hamlet, Jacques, and Imogen, with acute and psychological understanding, but in a diffuse and moralising manner. This first attempt to bring into view Shakspeare's mode of characterisation by the fulness of the life, the unity, and the completeness, the ethical depth and the psychological consistency of his dramatic personages, met with so much success that it was soon followed by a great number of imitators. Nay, it may be said that Richardson founded an entirely new branch of Shakspearian literature, which struck such firm root in the taste of the English nation, that it soon grew into a mighty tree, which, up to the most recent times, has brought forth numerous blossoms and fruits, but unfortunately has been cultivated too onesidedly.
Richardson's "Analysis' was followed in 1777 by M. Morgan's “Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff,' and one year later by his • Modern Characters from Shakspeare, alphabetically arranged ;' which, during the year of its first appearance, was republished no less than three times. In 1784, Richardson himself issued a continuation of his first work, under the title of · Essays on Shakspeare's Dramatic Characters of Richard III., King Lear, and Timon of Athens;' and. in 1785 was published Th. Whately's Remarks on some of the Characters of Shakspeare' (2nd ed., 1808 : 3rd, 1839), against which Kroosio directed his • Macbeth Ramusidered : an Essay,
intended as an answer to part of the Remarks,' etc. (1790). These essays on the characters in Shakspeare could not fail to open the eyes of many, and give them a clearer insight into the dramatic construction of the poet's plays. People could not but perceive that characters like Macbeth and Othello med, to a certain extent, complete dramas in themselves; at any rate, they must have begun to suspect that the many-sided development of such characters involved the inner, spiritual unity of the whole, which of itself might outweigh the outer, the material unity of action, of place, and of time. At all events it must have become evident that the representation of a full, complete, and diversified life of a great energetic character, is an infinitely higher and nobler work of art than, as it were, to stretch out a single deed on the rack of five acts in a succession of fine speeches, in order, after wearisome preparations, deliberations, and sentiinental effusions, to have it, in the last act, accomplished by characters out of whom correctness had sucked all life and blood.
This knowledge was further supported by the general course of literary history. The French drama and the Italian opera--which was formed on the same principlescould satisfy only so-called connoisseurs who looked at them with the eyes of their theories, or the more highly cultured minds par excellence, whose sight was blinded by fashion. The people remained attached to the petites pièces, that is, to farces and to dramatic and musical entertainments.' However, this food contained as little nutri. ment as the French tragedy or the Italian opera : feeling and imagination were sent away empty, or at least felt the desire for more sustaining nourishment. No wonder that Sam. Richardson's · Pamela' (1740) was seized upon as in the very fever of hunger, and that his “Clarissa (1748) founded a new epoch in the domain of romance writing. The wide and enthusiastic reception met with by these romances was an unconscious reaction and protestation against the French taste, which up to that time bad prevailed in this department of literature also; and this imitation of the French romances, with their long-winded descriptions of the love affairs of princes, had encouraged the same unnaturalness, bombast, and mannerism which characterises the French drama. Richardson's diffuse moralising descriptions are distinguished only by simplicity and the naturalness of the subject and form, by sincerity of feeling, and by fine, faithful, and lifelike delineation of character. It was this that had eagerly been desired; and however much Richardson may in every other point differ from Shakspeare, in this respect he turned back, if not to Shakspeare himself, at all events to Shakspeare's principles in the art of poetry. After the path had once been opened, other and more gifted minds followed in the same direction : Fielding, Smollett, Sterne, Goldsmith, and others, soon even eclipsed Richardson, and made the novel a favourite style of reading with the whole nation, in fact, the predominant species of poetry.
The novel could not but speedily exercise an influence upon the drama. For novels, although they may not have directly produced the so-called domestic, sentimental and moralising plays—which, as already said, appeared about the second half of the eighteenth century --were nevertheless the means of establishing them on the stage. And yet it was they which were again the means of removing, or at least modifying, this style of play, and of giving a new turn to the poetical taste. I the year_1765 Bishop Percy published his · Reliques of Ancient English Poetry,' a collection (subsequently much enlarged) of old English and Scottish songs, ballads and romances, more especially of such as treated of the same subjects as Shakspeare's plays, or were incidentally mentioned, quoted or interwoven in them. They gave the romantic element of Shakspeare's works in a different form, and in this more popular shape again brought them closer to the spirit of the age. For although-as has been recently proved—the good bishop has in many instances altered these reliques of a poetical past, by so-called corrections, and not only formally modernized them, but also not unfrequently weakened and diluted their substance, still they met with a good reception, and doubtless exercised an important influence upon the further development of poetical literature. Their influence alone, how. ever, would not have sufficed to introduce that change in