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ENGLISH OF SHAKESPEARE
A Philological Commentary
GEORGE L. CRAIK,
PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AND OF ENGLISH LITERATURE IN
QUEEN'S COLLEGE, BELFAST.
CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, PICCADILLY.
JOHN EDWARD TAYLOR, LITTLE QUEEN STREET,
LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS.
In this attempt to illustrate the ENGLISH OF SHAKESPEARE, I would be understood to have had a twofold purpose, in conformity with the title of the volume, which would naturally be taken to promise something of exposition in regard both to the language or style of Shakespeare and to the English language generally.
My first business, however, I have considered to be the correct exhibition and explanation of the noble work of our great dramatist with which the volume professes to be specially occupied. I will begin, therefore, by stating what I have done, or endeavoured to do, for the Play of JULIUS CÆSAR.
In the first place, I have given what I believe to be a more nearly authentic Text than has yet appeared. Julius Cæsar is, probably, of all Shakespeare's Plays, the one of which the text has come down to us in the least unsatisfactory state. From whatever cause it has happened, the passages in this Play as to the true reading of which there can be much reasonable doubt are, comparatively, very few. Even when anything is wrong in the original edition, the manner in which it is to be set to rights is for the most part both pretty obvious and nearly certain. There are perhaps scarcely so many as half-a-dozen lines of any importance which must be given up as hopelessly incurable or even doubtful. It is, I should think, of all the Plays, by much the easiest to edit ; both the settlement of the text and its explanation are, I conceive, simpler than would be the case in any other; and it is for that reason partly that I have selected it for the present attempt.
The alterations which I have found it necessary to make upon
the commonly received text do not amount to very many; and the considerations by which I have been guided are in every instance fully stated in the Commentary. Of twenty-six new readings given by Mr. Collier, on the authority of his corrected edition of the Second Folio, I have adopted sixteen, two of which, however, had also been produced as conjectural emendations by editors of the last century. The only conjectural innovations which I have ventured upon of my own are, the change of “What night is this ?” into “ What a night is this ?” in the speech numbered 117; the insertion of “not” after “Has he,” in that numbered 402 ; and the transposition of the two names Lucilius and Lucius in that numbered 521. The first and second of these three corrections are of little moment, though both, I think, clearly required ; the third I hold to be both of absolute certainty and necessity, and also of considerable importance, affecting as it