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Johnson's unacknowledged debt to Thomas Edwards in the 1765 edition of Shakespeare.

ONE OF THE MOST COLORFUL PASSAGES in Samual Johnson's Preface to his edition of Shakespeare indicts two very cogent critics of his predecessor William Warburton's edition of this author--Thomas Edwards and Benjamin Heath:

His [Warburton's] chief assailants are the authours of The Canons of Criticism and of the Revisal of Shakespeare's Text; of whom one ridicules his errours with airy petulance, suitable enough to the levity of the controversy; the other attacks them with gloomy malignity, as if he were dragging to justice an assassin or incendiary. The one stings like a fly, sucks a little blood, takes a gay flutter, and returns for more; the other bites like a viper, and would be glad to leave inflammations and gangrene behind him. (1)

Although Heath is apparently a bold but ignoble adversary in this cartoon, Edwards is somehow dangerous but unmanly (in the company of "girls with spits, and boys with stones"). (2) Exuding an aura of fairness, Johnson himself allows them "acuteness" and "some probable interpretations," but rebukes their audacity in attacking Warburton because of "the little which they have been able to perform." (3) The question remains here whether Edwards and Heath are unworthy of comparison to Warburton as alleged. (4)

A more general question concerns the extent to which Johnson used Edwards and Heath as well as other predecessors in his own annotations. Since Edwards is cited six times in the notes, mostly with approval, we have to ask why elsewhere this critic was ignored on numerous other occasions when he deserved credit. In the Preface Johnson humbly acknowledges his debt to all previous Shakespeare commentators but also the difficulty in practice of always remembering the individual contributors requiring mention:

I can say with great sincerity of all my predecessors, what I hope will hereafter be said of me, that not one has left Shakespeare without improvement, nor is there one to whom I have not been indebted for assistance and information. Whatever I have taken from them it was my intention to refer to its original authour, and it is certain, that what I have not given to another, I believed when I wrote it to be my own. In some perhaps I have been anticipated; but if I am ever found to encroach upon the remarks of any other commentator, I am willing that the honour, be it more or less, should be transferred to the first claimant, for his right, and his alone, stands above dispute; the second can prove his pretensions only to himself, nor can himself always distinguish invention, with sufficient certainty, from recollection. (5)

Johnson himself thus enunciates the principal basis of intellectual property; that priority gives the first commentator certain unquestionable rights of ownership. He also agrees to have any unintentional encroachment rectified by transferring credit to the proper owner. This recognition of a writer's legal claim of authorship appears to be part of the developing commercial book market in this period. Among his prominent roles as lawyer, churchman, and literary executor, Warburton was a stalwart defender of copyright regulations:

Yet so great is the vulgar Prejudice, against an Author's Property, that when, at any time, Attempts have been made to support it, against the most flagrant Acts of Robbery and Injustice, it was never thought prudent to demand the public Protection as a Right, but to supplicate it as a Grace. (6)

Similarly, Samuel Richardsons manifesto, "Address to the Public," angrily upheld his right of ownership over his text against the robbery committed by the Irish bookseller George Faulkner and other cohorts. (7)

On Johnsons explicit authority the reader is invited to examine his notes judiciously and flag those instances when the 1765 edition appears to be lax in its obligation toward the "first claimant" of a given interpretation. We are to understand that it is a common human fallibility of scholars who cannot "always distinguish invention, with sufficient certainty, from recollection." On this premise, then, Johnson is asking his readers to forgive any unintentional appropriation of intellectual property, and the very fact that he calls our attention to this hazard of editing prompts an impartial inquiry into his sparse reference to Edwards's Canons in the 1765 edition.

Johnson's cognizance of trespassing on other commentators' property doubtless reflects the virulent disputes already on record beginning with such early eighteenth-century Shakespeare editors as Alexander Pope, Lewis Theobald, Sir Thomas Hanmer, and Warburton, all of whom fought over the issue of priority in owning the emendations and glosses of text. (8) Probably in anticipation of similar quarrels arising from the 1765 edition, Johnson assumes an Olympian irony toward all the petty bickering:

Perhaps the lightness of the matter may conduce to the vehemence of the agency; when the truth to be investigated is so near to inexistence, as to escape attention, its bulk is to be enlarged by rage and exclamation: That to which all would be indifferent in its original state, may attract notice when the fate of a name is appended to it. A commentator has indeed great temptations to supply by turbulence what he wants of dignity, to beat his little gold to a spacious surface, to work that to foam which no art or diligence can exalt to spirit. (9)

While looking down upon such manic behavior regarding ownership of ideas, Johnson seems to be admonishing readers against taking too seriously the whole matter of priority in the long run. Although not ever mentioned in the Preface, which upholds a lofty standard of the unconditional search for truth, a lot of money was at stake in all of these rival Grub Street editions; and the various claimants understandably wanted to protect their imagined patents as much as possible. (10) As Robert Griffin points out:

By mid-century, writers such as Johnson and Goldsmith were acutely aware that they depended not on patronage but on booksellers and the book-buying public. As authorship became differentiated as a separate profession, Goldsmith observed in 1759 that the link between patronage and learning "now seems entirely broken," and Johnson could famously remark, "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." (11)

But if earlier we were led to believe that Johnson sincerely endorsed the principle of meum and tuum in this book market, his aloof tone here towards his predecessors' turf fights diminishes the significance of appending an authors name to any given interpretation. Perhaps Johnson was conflicted about competing with other writers in the marketplace. Whatever the reasons for his shift in emphasis here, as this essay will argue, while producing the notes to the 1765 Shakespeare edition, even if he had wanted to, Johnson simply did not have the time and patience to sift through all previous commentary to identify the various claimants most worthy of remembering. When help did arrive already during the first revisions, with the collaboration of George Steevens, in most cases Johnson was more than willing to defer to this gifted scholar's judgment in shaping more adequately a variorum edition.

Immediately after the publication of the 1765 Shakespeare edition, Johnson was attacked for his failure to acknowledge his sources. William Kenrick pounced rapaciously on Johnson's edition first in the October and November issues of the Monthly Review (1765) and then in the same year at much greater length in his Review of Doctor Johnsons New Edition of Shakespeare (133 pages), charging him with plagiarism as well as deliberate neglect of Edwards's Canons in the notes. (12) Perhaps for polemical reasons, Kenrick ignores the fact that the 1765 Shakespeare does have six references to Edwards (see Table 1). Rather than helping his argument by overlooking these credits, however, Kenrick missed the opportunity of using them as proof that Johnson was perfectly aware of Edwards elsewhere in his commentary but for various reasons ignored him. We need to ask why Johnson bothered to refer to him on six occasions but not on the many others where it would also have been appropriate.

Unlike Heath, who published his Shakespeare commentary only months before Johnson's edition appeared, Edwards was well-known for his Canons, which went through six editions between 1748 and 1758. Even if they never met, they were both socially close to Richardson and his circle during the years when the Dictionary was in preparation. (13) There may have been personal motives in targeting Edwards and his follower Heath in the Preface. Johnson seems to have regarded Edwards as a financially independent dabbler, whose little allegory on orthography, The Trial of the Letter Y, alias Y, showed insight that might have been useful when compiling his Dictionary. In 1753, while printing the fifth edition of the Canons, without identifying the author, Richardson sent a copy of Edwards's Trial to Johnson for his perusal and received in turn a rather testy response:

As You were the first that gave me any notice of this pamphlet I send it you with a few little notes, which I wish you can read. It is well when Men of Learning and penetration busy themselves in these enquiries at hours of leisure. But what is their Idleness, is my Business. Help indeed now comes too late for me when a large part of my Book has passed the press. (14)

Even if Richardson withheld the identity of the author of this pamphlet, Johnson could easily have guessed its provenance. His reference to learned men of leisure hints darkly. It seems likely that he recognized Edwards's close friendship with Richardson and resented what looked like their presumption of offering assistance with lexicography. Nevertheless, despite his personal animus towards this writer, in his Shakespeare Johnson, according to Arthur Sherbo, saw fit to use Edwards's Glossary in the Canons for some fourteen definitions not found in the Dictionary, (15)

As an indication of its continuing popularity, a seventh edition of Edwards's Canons was published in 1765 by the bookseller Charles Bathurst to coincide with Johnson's long-awaited Shakespeare edition. Not surprisingly, Kenrick chose this well-known satire on Warburton as the basis of his attack on Johnson as plagiarist. But the malice of an unscrupulous journalist and libeler was self-defeating. James Boswell's view of Kenrick was the conventional one held at the time: "Though he certainly was not without considerable merit, he wrote with so little regard to decency and principles, and decorum, and in so hasty a manner, that his reputation was neither extensive nor lasting." (16) For his part, Johnson maintained a dignified silence and refused to take the bait to answer an accuser seeking notoriety. While attempting to defend Johnson's religious character and condemn Kenrick's supposedly deistic tendencies, the anonymous An Examination of Mr. Kenrick's review of Mr. Johnsons edition of Shakespeare (1766) (17) mainly succeeded in bringing on yet another pamphlet from this muckraker. Despite the moral condemnation of his character, however, Kenrick's work on Shakespeare is cited by Steevens in the 1773 and 1778 revisions among the more reputable critics. Furthermore, Kenrick is invoked four times in the notes of the 1778 edition. In a note on Macbeth, Steevens even adds a long comment by Kenrick after quoting Johnson's undecided opinion. (18) Charles Burney, a friend and admirer of Johnson as well as subscriber to the 1765 edition, evidently shared Steevens's respect for this controversial writer's "penetration & Reasoning Powers." (19)

Although usually shunned as a pariah by modern literary historians, this "Black Sheep of Grub Street" has merited at least an unpublished biography by George E. Brewer and solid praise by Paul Fussell: "If the sarcasm and ill manners can be disregarded, Kenrick's corrections of Johnson are, in the main, sound and justified; Kenrick's attacks on Johnson's hyper-literal approach may have contributed not a little to Shakespeare's appearance to the eighteenth century as 'fancy's child.'" (20) Furthermore, in his analysis of Johnson's principles of drama given in the Preface, Brian Vickers concludes: "Kenrick's argument is superior to Johnson's not only in its logic but in its grasp of the fundamentals of theatrical experience." (21) (See Table 2.) When such astute modern scholars as Fussell and Vickers make room for serious consideration of Kenrick's worthwhile contributions to the evaluation of Johnson's 1765 Shakespeare edition, the reluctance of more recent critics even to mention this nemesis at all seems almost conspiratorial.

After Kenrick's Review further detailed scrutiny of Johnson's notes to his 1765 Shakespeare had to wait until the early twentieth century with the pioneering work of Karl Young, which later scholars have tended to ignore. (22) Young shows in great detail Johnson's failure to investigate the sources of Shakespeare's plots and illustrates how the 1765 edition used without acknowledgement his own protegee Charlotte Lennox's groundbreaking work, Shakespeare Illustrated (1753). While discussing Johnson's notes on Troilus and Cressida, for example, Young deplores the weak commentary and lack of reference to published work on the question:

[I]t is hard to forgive him [Johnson] for ignoring the fact that she [Lennox] had laid at his door very considerable amounts of fact,--however wrongly applied,--concerning Shakespeare's appropriations and divergences from Chaucer and from "The three Destructions of Troy." Even though Johnson chose not to compare Shakespeare and Chaucer, for example, for himself, he might well have pointed to the existence of such a comparison, however defective, in the book of another. (23)

Although Young impugns Johnson's moral character for failing to acknowledge Lennox's property, he offers no evidence of a deliberate intention to steal. At least a manuscript draft, say, of actually copying Lennox's writing into Johnson's own prose would suffice to launch a prosecution. But lacking such evidence, the jury is out on the charge of plagiarism. Johnson's notes, as Vickers observes, are the result of lengthy tinkering, mainly between 1756 and 1764, and differ a great deal in tone and substance, "produced in a variety of moods, discursive, expansive, laconic, indifferent, bored, disapproving." (24) Whatever their haphazard state, they do not reveal any conscious design in "borrowing" other people's work.

Even though he was apparently unaware of Young's attack, it was not until 1956 that Arthur Sherbo renewed charges of plagiarism against Johnson in the 1765 Shakespeare edition--Heath's Revisal being the main focus of his scrupulous search:

The number of original emendations in which Johnson and Heath will be seen to agree added to the many similar notes to be found in their work makes a total that cannot be dismissed as coincidence. (25)

Besides finding as many as eighty-one instances from Heath, Sherbo also identified thirty-six unacknowledged borrowings from Edwards as well as a few more from other commentators. (26) Perhaps for the sake of avoiding further controversy about Johnson's candor, Sherbo's two volumes for the Yale Johnson edition (1968) failed even to mention his earlier revelations about the erratic documentation; and Bertrand Bronson's hortatory introduction brushes aside the whole matter:

The natural consequence was that Heath, who was stalking the same game, would often be found at Johnsons side--or Johnson at Heaths--in countering Warburton's crazy dodges. Frequent coincidences would hardly be surprising, since often enough the passages in question admit of a common-sense interpretation, which both critics were alert to discover. We need not infer a borrowing in either direction. (27)

Yet Sherbo had adduced evidence to argue for exactly the opposite view-that there were far too many instances of logical and verbal similarities to regard them as wholly a matter of chance.

Rather predictably, claims of Johnson's alleged plagiarism aroused dismay among some scholars who resemble the caricature from Samuel Garth's Dispensary:
   I read Thee over with a Lovers Eye,
      Thou hast no Faults, or I no Faults can spy;
      Thou art all Beauty, or all Blindness I. (28)

While discreetly hiding his "blindness," the distinguished Yale scholar W. K. Wimsatt Jr. exhibited admirable restraint while defending Johnson by faulting Sherbo's lack of generosity toward his subject:

Questions in the reader's mind about the originality and importance of showing that Johnson "borrowed" something may tie in here with another general question: about the modern scholar's expository skill, about his tact and imagination in appreciating the work of his forerunners and in understanding his own contribution in the perspective of theirs. One may think too about generosity--the kind of generosity which Johnson himself showed in his general acknowledgements--despite the fact that he sometimes, or even often, lost interest in the responsibility of proclaiming minor resemblances to the contemporary commentators. (29)

Quietly lamenting Sherbo's dearth of "tact and imagination" toward Johnson, Wimsatt ends with a dependent clause that essentially admits at least the occasional failure to acknowledge the work of other Shakespeare critics. Again the virtue of generosity is called for by a "lovers eye."

By contrast, another Johnson scholar, Arthur M. Eastman, was clearly outraged and almost beside himself:

If we accept Professor Sherbo's argument, we see in Johnson an eighteenth-century Iago, an impudent scoundrel who robs his victim, then blackens his reputation, all the while wearing a mask of judicious innocence contemptuous of human meanness. This is not an image the best minds of Johnson's century would have recognized nor is it the image history has come to know, but it is the image to which Professor Sherbo's charge leads us. (30)

As Vickers observes: Sherbo's "account of Johnson's borrowings from Heath is open to some of the objections made by Arthur Eastman, in an all too melodramatic style ... yet Mr Eastman refuses to acknowledge any debt, which seems too absolute." (31) This blanket refusal to entertain even the hypothesis that Johnson may have been dishonest with his sources probably says more about the emotional state of admirers so deeply attracted to this iconic historical bully than about the actual paucity of evidence to charge him with plagiarism.

To judge by Johnson's later collaboration with Steevens while at work on the Lives of the Poets, transparency about help received was hardly a concern. In his comprehensive account of this massive edition, yet another Grub Street scheme promoted by the London booksellers, Roger Lonsdale stresses the contributions of Steevens, along with John Nichols and Isaac Reed, but observes: "Although these three appear to have been his most important 'assistants' with the Lives, there seems to have been a discreet agreement that the exact nature and extent of their contributions should never be specified." (32) Like Wimsatt in his review above, Lonsdale appears to be exerting "generosity" toward this eighteenth-century iconic scholars dubious methods of doing business when he fails to comment on the significance of Johnson's editorial arrangement. Perhaps it was merely a convenience to avoid the headache of proportioning monetary rewards for the relative labor involved in the project--a bit like dividing up the check evenly at a restaurant party. But again, the priority of the individual's claim to intellectual property does not appear to be an overriding principle here with Johnson as a professional writer and editor.

Given this cloudy picture of acknowledging debt to others in general, Johnsons apparent reluctance towards Edwards as Shakespeare commentator may be also a function of his overall tendency to protect Warburton from public ridicule. If Johnson had been wholeheartedly supporting the proud bishop against such pests as Edwards and Eleath, it would be a simple matter to explain underestimating these critics in his edition. As Boswell noted, it was Warburton's encouraging notice of Johnson's early pamphlet Miscellaneous Observations on the Tragedy of Macbeth (1745) that aroused Johnsons lifelong loyalty: "He [Warburton] praised me at a time when praise was of value to me." (33) The fact that Warburton was a learned theologian as well as bishop was probably reason enough for Johnsons determined endorsement of this editor in spite of his ludicrous annotations. (34) As editor, however, Johnson not only disagreed many times with Warburton's notes but also attacked him as severely as any other commentator, including Edwards and Heath.

According to Kenrick, Johnson had second thoughts at the last minute "to shelter himself, as it were, under the wing of the bishop of Gloucester" and was persuaded "by his printer prudentially to cancel several annotations, in which he had strongly expressed his dissent from that learned scholiast." (35) But the cancels were hardly sufficient since Warburton himself complained bitterly about his treatment by Johnson:

The remarks he makes on every page on my commentaries are full of insolence and malignant reflections, which, had they not in them as much folly as malignity, I should have had reason to be offended with. (36)

After examining Bishop Percy's copy of Johnson's edition, Allen Hazen concluded that publication was delayed a few months while Johnson tried to soften any harsh commentary on Warburton's notes. Hazen found sixteen cancels altogether but surmised that at least some stinging remarks left intact may have been overlooked. One revision concerns the unusually long note (346 words) on Warburton's inept modification of "canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death" to "hearsed in earth" (Hamlet, I.iv.47). (37) What particularly annoyed Johnson here was Warburton's savage attack on Sir Thomas Hanmer's emendation and the dogmatic insistence on his own. After deleting the most acerbic sentence, Johnson added a self-deprecating apology: "If there be any asperity in this controversial note, it must be imputed to the contagion of peevishness, or some resentment of the incivility shown to the Oxford Editor [Hanrner]." (38) Although most of Johnson's notes maintain a decorous restraint, some scarcely avoid the "contagion of peevishness" that he himself had warned against.

In conversation, Johnson freely admitted the basic flaw in Warburton that Edwards had underscored in his satire: "The worst of Warburton is, that he has a rage for saying something, when there's nothing to be said." (39) Thus the repeated complaint in the notes: "The meaning is plain enough, he was not their slave by right or compact, but by necessity and compulsion. Why should a passage be darkened for the sake of changing It?" (40) "Here is a pompous note to support a conjecture apparently erroneous, and confuted by the next scene...." (41) When confronting the bishop's verbiage on Julius Caesar, Johnson cannot hide his impatience: "Dr. Warburton has been much inclined to find lacunae, or passages broken by omission, throughout this play. I think he has been always mistaken." (42)

If not really disagreeing with Edwards about the many flaws in Warburton's notes, Johnson nevertheless resented his witty attacks: perhaps the issue was rather who had the authority to pronounce judgments on the learned churchman, and the mocking author of the Canons was deemed unworthy of that honor. This hierarchical attitude resembles his possessiveness toward his old Lichfield friend David Garrick:

Sir Joshua Reynolds observed, with great truth, that Johnson considered Garrick to be as it were his property. He would allow no man either to blame or to praise Garrick in his presence, without contradicting him. (43)

Near the end of his life, in 1784, live years after the bishops death, Johnson finally implied that his defense of Warburton was policy. Boswell reports:

[Johnson] pointed out a passage in Savage's "Wanderer," saying, "These are fine verses."--"If (said he) I had written with hostility of Warburton in my Shakespeare, I should have quoted this couplet:
   'Here Learning, blinded first and then beguil'd,
   Looks dark as Ignorance, as Fancy wild.'

You see they'd have fitted him [Warburton] to a T," (smiling). (44)

Perhaps Johnson at this moment had forgotten the hostility that he could not completely repress in his Shakespeare commentary, but his smile here betrays a sly knowingness long held regarding Warburton's failings, even while slighting superior critics like Edwards and Heath. Boswell does not comment here, but his frequent references to Johnsons views of Warburton suggest a lingering bemusement about his stubborn deference toward the controversial bishop.

Despite the immediate sale of two editions in 1765, Johnson's long awaited work did not meet expectations. As Vickers observes: "Johnson's editing was spasmodic, erratic, inconsistent. The fact that the work had been carried out over some time, as evidenced by the Appendix containing a number of corrections and second thoughts, was not lost on the contemporary reviewers." (45) As Bronson points out, "The arrival of George Steevens on the scene was unhappily mistimed: five years earlier would have made all the difference.... Even as a latecomer, Steevens proved invaluable, mercurial though he was." (46) Unfortunately there is little information to shed light on their partnership in the 1773 and 1778 editions, and it is especially regrettable that the additions by Steevens were never published in a separate volume as once planned. (47) In a letter to Richard Farmer (18 February 1771), Johnson mentioned candidly that Steevens was taking charge of the new edition of Shakespeare and that he himself had "done very little." (48) Already before the revision in 1773 of the 1765 Shakespeare, Steevens had stepped in to add Edwards to an important gloss on the term "engine" to correct Warburtons misreading (see Table 1, no. 4). It appears, however, that Steevens did not tamper with Johnsons 1765 notes and that any additions or revisions were carefully signed by the contributors to the 1773 and 1778 editions. (49) In these editions Steevens seems to be at pains to emphasize the importance of Edwards's commentary and in the 1773 edition introduced notes from Edwards's unpublished manuscripts that he obtained from Benjamin Way (1740-1808), whose father, Lewis (1698-1771), probably had gained possession of them from either of Edwards's nephews and sole heirs, Joseph Paice and Nathaniel Mason. (50) Although the seed of the variorum concept was already in Johnson's 1765 updating of Warburtons 1747 edition, it was Steevens who finally laid out the format for a more inclusive and impartial reporting of multiple readings and acknowledgements.

Before turning to Steevens's revisions it would help sharpen our focus on the weaknesses of Johnson's 1765 notes to consider some of Sherbo's most severe charges of plagiarism. While admitting some instances that might be dismissed as pure coincidence, Sherbo offers "two emendations that unquestionably come directly out of Edwards's book." Both derive from Richard Roderick's "Remarks on Shakespear," which were first appended to the 1758 edition of Edwards's Canons. (51) (See Table 3.) Although Theobald and Warburton, among other early editors, had understood the messenger's sentence in King John to mean traversing the distance from France to England and tied the phrase together with the next clause, Roderick was the first to introduce the idea that all the preparations were taking place in France for the invasion and added the period after "England." Johnson's emendation and note appear to have been taken directly from Roderick without mentioning the source. Similarly, "timely-parted ghost" was the traditional reading (and still is!) until Roderick first raised the possibility of emending it to "timely-parted coarse [corpse]." But Sherbo ignores the fact here that Johnson still retains "ghost" in the text while announcing his preference for "coarse" in the note. Whatever his preferences, in other words, Johnson decided that "ghost" was somehow more acceptable. Granted that these two emendations are exactly the same as Roderick's, it is still not proven that they "unquestionably come directly out of Edwards's book." What is beyond doubt: Johnson should have recognized that his emendations were not entirely his own and given proper credit to the "first claimant."

Sherbo goes on to demonstrate three other instances of alleged stealing from Edwards's book in the 1765 Shakespeare. Johnson's gloss on "More than my all is nothing" (Henry VIII, II.ii.67) is similar to Edwards's, but it is also very concise without any reference to the elaborately illustrated explanation in the Canons. Whether it derives directly from Edwards is uncertain. In the fourth case, Johnson shares Edwards's resistance to Warburton's attempt to substitute "disseat" for "defeat" on the grounds that the latter word can be understood to mean simply "undo" or "change." But as Sherbo argues, Johnson did not mention this definition in his Dictionary (1755) and so must have taken it from the Canons. Yet it is not unlikely that during the more than ten years since that monumental word book originally appeared Johnson greatly enlarged his understanding of English usage while working on Shakespeare, a possibility that Sherbo never takes into account.

Sherbo's fifth illustration (1 Henry IV, I.iii.49-52), however, may offer the most persuasive argument for deliberate plagiarism. Even if defense lawyers like Bronson try to exculpate Johnson and argue that this transposition was just a coincidence of literary insight, Steevens himself felt compelled to mention the fact that Edwards had been the first to give this same emendation (see Table 4, no. 8). His role in bringing Edwards's scholarship into the mainstream variorum format will be discussed in the concluding section below.

Among the rest of the examples in Table 3, Sherbo's evidence for Johnson's direct borrowing is similarly uneven. In No. 6 Edwards's note is more informative than Johnson's by giving other literary contexts for the explanation, a practice that Steevens generally followed in the revisions. Edwards's definition of "comparative" (No. 11) is at least anticipated in Johnson's Dictionary and not necessarily a source of the note in 1 Henry IV. But the verbal similarities in Nos. 7-10 between Edwards's and Johnson's paraphrases do seem suspicious. Perhaps the most remarkable conjunction of idea and phrase, however, occurs in No. 12, where Johnson even mimics the irony of Canon II. To regard this instance as a mere coincidence is hardly convincing. It is more likely that Johnson took for granted that his readers would recall Edwards while echoing his very words. In sum, Johnsons appropriation of Edwards's commentary on Shakespeare remains suspicious, but willful stealing of intellectual property is very difficult to prove in court.

Whatever the explanation for Johnson's lackadaisical use of his predecessors' contributions, however, Steevens's significant additions in the 1773 and 1778 editions reveal a conscious effort to give Edwards his place cum notis variorum. (52) A comparison of the notes by Warburton, Edwards, and Johnson in the 1765 edition (see Table 4) indicates that in most cases the inadequate reference appears to have stemmed mainly from lack of time or motivation while hurrying the eight volumes into print. For this reason Johnson's repeated failure to correct a number of Warburton's foolish comments seems just as culpable as his neglecting to cite Edwards. Johnson appears to be nodding on at least ten occasions: see Nos. 2, 3, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 21. (53)

Another cluster of notes, however, are more problematic: see Nos. 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 15. (54) Two instances, numbers 6 and 8, are especially revealing about Johnson's state of mind while meditating these moments in Shakespeare. In the first item on the passage in King John, rather than avoiding Edwards here, Johnson may actually be taking for granted that his readers would recall the Canons' citation of Warburton's absurd note from navigation to explain the reference to "untrimmed bride." Edwards himself attacked Warburton for his "gravity" in proposing such a ridiculous interpretation. While valuing the principle of gravitas in scholarly commentary Johnson ironically admits that Warburton's note defied the power of nature to resist reading such nonsense without a change of face! As we saw in Table 3, No. 12, Johnson not only agrees with Edwards's objection to Warburton's reading, but despite his fundamental opposition to turning scholarly foibles into journalistic media triumphs, confesses to sharing Edwards's laughter on this occasion. It is interesting to see that Steevens did not comment on this crux and in general avoided the ad hominem mockery of earlier Shakespeare critics.

As if to allay any doubts that Edwards was more than an insect stinging a mule, besides rectifying Johnson's derelict notes in the 1765 edition Steevens introduced in his revisions fourteen Edwards MS notes, not included in the printed Canons (see Table 5). Except for the first item, the rest of the notes providing important historical information were accepted and continued in Malone and Boswell's 1821 variorum edition. After Steevens's tribute in No. 1 to "that sprightly critick and most amiable man" despite Edwards's unlucky emendation in this instance, Johnson delivers a little homily on "how willingly every man would be changing the text, if his imagination would furnish alterations," clearly another riposte to that "wit" who had ridiculed Warburton for similar gaffes in emendations. Perhaps this implicit contretemps between Johnson and Steevens regarding Edwards's merits as critic is enough to explain the many silences in the 1765 edition when the commentary neglected to bring in the Canons adequately. In his 1773 revision Steevens added twelve notes from the Canons and eleven from the newly acquired Edwards MS and in the 1778 revision six more notes from the Canons and another three from Edwards's MS notes. By introducing a total of thirty-two citations to Edwards by 1778, Steevens seems unequivocal about compensating an important critic's arbitrary exclusion from the 1765 edition.

Finally, it is unclear why Steevens went to such length on Edwards's behalf. Perhaps their paths crossed while he was at Cambridge. He may also have met Roderick while there. (55) Despite his conscientious support of "that sprightly critick," however, it would be misleading to infer that he was otherwise more careful than Johnson about intellectual property. On the contrary, contemporary witnesses and modern scholars alike have accused Steevens of plagiarism, especially regarding Edward Capell's edition of Shakespeare. In his dedication to Lord Dacre for the posthumous edition of Capell's Notes and Various Readings to Shakespeare, John Collins testifies to the regular system of plagiarism, upon a settl'd plan, pervading those later editions [Johnson-Steevens 1773 and 1778] throughout, and that,--not the Doctor's former publication [1765], as one would naturally suppose, but--Mr. Capell's, in ten volumes, 1768, is made the ground-work of what is to pass for the genuine production of these combin'd editors [Johnson and Steevens], and is usher'd to the world upon the credit of their names. (56)

That neither Johnson nor Steevens replied to such charges does not assure us of their innocence. Curiously for a scholar who devoted so much attention to Johnson's lapses, Sherbo sidestepped this matter in his biographies of Steevens. (57) Perhaps it is simply too much to ask for consistency among any of the early Shakespeare commentators (or even their modern biographers!) in their use of each other's work.

University of Illinois


(1) Johnson on Shakespeare, ed. Arthur Sherbo, The Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson (Yale U. Press, 1968), 7:100. Hereafter referred to as Yale (1968). Pope's satiric insect imagery had already been invoked on a social occasion more than ten years before Johnson wrote the Preface: "Soon after Edwards's 'Canons of Criticism' <1748> came out, Johnson was dining at Tonson the Bookseller's, with Hayman the Painter and some more company. Hayman related to Sir Joshua Reynolds, that the conversation having turned upon Edwards's book, the gentleman praised it much, and Johnson allowed its merit. But when they went farther, and appeared to put that authour upon a level with Warburton, 'Nay, (said Johnson,) he has given him some smart hits to be sure; but there is no proportion between the two men; they must not be named together. A fly, Sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still.'" Boswell's Life of Johnson, ed. G. B. Hill, rev. L. F. Powell, 6 vols. (Oxford U. Press, 1934-1964), l:263n3.

(2) "When I think on one, with his confederates, I remember the danger of Coriolanus, who was afraid that 'girls with spits, and boys with stones, should slay him in puny battle,' when the other crosses my imagination, I remember the prodigy in Macbeth,
   A falcon tow'ring in his pride of place,
      Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and kill'd."

Slightly misquoted from Coriolanus, IV.iv.5-6, Yale (1968), 7:100.

(3) "Let me however do them justice. One is a wit, and one a scholar. They have both shewn acuteness sufficient in the discovery of faults, and have both advanced some probable interpretations of obscure passages; but when they aspire to conjecture and emendation, it appears how falsely we all estimate our own abilities, and the little which they have been able to perform might have taught them more candour to the endeavours of others," Yale (1968), 7:100.

(4) While greatly admiring Johnson's achievement as editor, Marcus Walsh has ventured to support the value of a wit's elucidation of Shakespeare: "Edwards's Canons would be dismissed by Samuel Johnson, in his Preface, as a mere squib ... but this judgment may again be coloured by Johnson's prejudice in favour of the great Churchman. To this writer Edwards's Canons seem a telling and exemplary summary statement of Warburton's methods, and their failures" Shakespeare, Milton, and Eighteenth-Century Literary Editing: The Beginnings of Interpretative Scholarship (Cambridge U. Press, 1997), 165. Brian Vickers is much more straightforward: "Warburton is treated far too kindly, Edwards and Heath far too harshly, while Johnson's treatment of Theobald is a deplorable instance of the workings of his prejudices ..." Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage (Boston: Routledge 8; Kegan Paul, 1979), 5:23.

(5) Yale (1968), 7:101-2.

(6) William Warburton, A Letterfrom an Author to a Member of Parliament concerning Literary Property (London, 1747), 3. For a comprehensive interpretation of literary property see Mark Rose, Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright (Harvard U. Press, 1995). See also Paul K. Saint-Amour, The Copywrights: Intellectual Property and the Literary Imagination (Cornell U. Press, 2003).

(7) "It has been more than once said, that this Cause is the Cause of Literature, in general; and it may be added, it is even that of the honest Booksellers and Printers of both Nations: We therefore hope that our prolixity will be forgiven." Samuel Richardson, The History of Sir Charles Grandison, 7, [London, 1754], 442.

(8) See ODNB, s.v. "William Warburton" by B. W. Young, and s.v. "Lewis Theobald" by Peter Seary. Warburton's vehement quarrel with both Theobald and Hanmer for supposedly neglecting to acknowledge his original contribution to their Shakespeare editions is just one example of the proprietary battles among the early commentators. In view of the loose practices of appropriating sources at the time, Johnson's careless documentation is hardly unprecedented. But it is his singular attack on the two critics whose commentary he exploited the most--Edwards and Heath--that is worth contemplating.

(9) Yale (1968), 7:102; my emphasis.

(10) The eighteenth-century Shakespeare industry sponsored by booksellers witnessed a power struggle that motivated the various rival editors to indulge in callous theft of sources. Pope's income of 217 [pounds sterling] seems minuscule compared to Theobald's whopping 652 [pounds sterling]. Warburton's edition brought a respectable 560 [pounds sterling]. For a list of the incomes awarded the various early Shakespeare editors, see Johnson and Steevens (1778), 1:238. Johnson received 475 [pounds sterling] for the two editions of 1765 (ODNB, s.v. "Samuel Johnson" by Pat Rogers).

(11) "Anonymity and Authorship," New Literary History 30 (Autumn 1999): 878.

(12) William Kenrick, A Review of Doctor Johnsons New Edition ofShakespear (London, 1765), 12, 31-32, 35, 36, 39, 45, 57-67, 67-68, 77-78, 84-85, 97, 99, 107, & 130.

(13) See Vedder M. Gilbert, "The Altercations of Thomas Edwards with Samuel Johnson," JEGP 51 (1952): 326-35.

(14) Letters of Samuel Johnson, ed. Bruce Redford, 5 vols. (Princeton U. Press, 1992), 1:70. Johnson's curt dismissal here remarkably anticipates his famous letter on patronage to Lord Chesterfield after the publication of the Dictionary:

"The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind: but it has been delayed till I am indifferent and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary and cannot impart it; till I am known and do not want it." Letters of Johnson, 7 February 1755, 1:96.

(15) Arthur Sherbo, Samuel Johnson, Editor of Shakespear (U. of Illinois Press, 1956), 40-41.

(16) Boswells Life of Johnson, 1:498. For a Victorian's assessment of this "superlative scoundrel," see ODNB, s.v. "William Kenrick" by Gordon Goodwin (1892).

(17) The author was James Barclay, age 19, son of an Anglican minister and lexicographer and earnest defender of the Church, who died at age of 24 in 1771. See ODNB, s.v. "James Barclay" by M. K. C. MacMahon.

(18) Johnson and Steevens (1778): Macbeth, I.iv 4:471-72. See also 1:250-51; 2:150; and 3:40.

(19) Burney recognizes Kenrick's critical prowess but goes on to defend Johnson: "indeed it [Review] is done by an able hand. I dipped last Night into the Critique, & saw plainly penetration & Reasoning Powers. But the thing which I love most in all discussions of matters not essential to human happiness, & the prosperity of the state,--I mean Candour, is wanting.--At least there seems to me a manifest determination to lower Johnson,--he can do nothing right in the Eyes of his Critic." The Letters of Dr Charles Burney, Vol. 1:1751-1784, ed. Alvaro Ribeiro, SJ (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 50-51. My thanks to Peter Sabor for this reference to Burney given in his paper, '"Armed with the tomahawk and scalping-knife': William Kenrick versus Samuel Johnson," delivered at Pembroke College, Oxford, on 7 August 2015.

(20) George E. Brewer Jr., "The Black Sheep of Grub Street: William Kenrick, LL.D." (1938), rare book collection of the Boston Public Library. The fact that this manuscript never found a publisher may reflect long-lasting academic prejudices against the subject. Paul Fussell Jr., "William Kenrick, Eighteenth Century Scourge and Critic," Journal of Rutgers University Library 20 (1957): 42-59.

(21) Vickers, Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage, 5:26-27.

(22) Karl Young, "Samuel Johnson on Shakespeare: One Aspect," University of Wisconsin Studies in Language and Literature, 14 (U. of Wisconsin Press, 1923): 147-227. Walsh, for instance, fails to mention either Kenrick or Young in his well-received monograph Shakespeare, Milton, and Eighteenth-Century Literary Editing.

(23) Young, "One Aspect," 216-17.

(24) Vickers, Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage, 5:22.

(25) Sherbo, Samuel Johnson, Editor of Shakespeare, 32-33. As Sherbo observes, Heaths analysis of Johnson was not to be ignored: "For sheer length it is one of the most ambitious examples of Shakespeare criticism in the century, and it was certainly not a book that an editor of Shakespeare could afford to disregard" (31).

(26) For instance, Zachary Grey, Critical, Historical and Explanatory Notes on Shakespeare (1754); John Upton, Critical Observations on Shakespeare (1746 and 1748); [John Holt], Remarks on the Tempest (1750); and William Dodd, Beauties of Shakespeare (1752).

(27) Yale (1968), 7:xxxvii-xxxviii.

(28) Anonymous, "To My Friend the Author, Desiring My Opinion of His Poem," appended to Samuel Garth, The Dispensary, 6th edition (London, 1706), sig. a4. These three lines appear on the title page of the Dublin 1769 edition of The Works of Dr. Samuel Garth, Knt. and are attributed to "C. Codrington."

(29) Modern Language Notes 73 (March 1958): 216. My emphasis.

(30) Arthur M. Eastman, "In Defense of Dr. Johnson," Shakespeare Quarterly 8.4 (1957): 493.

(31) Vickers, Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage, 5:50n56. In his reply to Eastman, Sherbo defended his search for the truth, no matter how unwelcome: "I still admire Johnson greatly even if I'm right and he did plagiarize from Heath. I don't think he's an Iago, and I'm truly surprised that Professor Eastman should feel that my examination of the evidence makes him one. What is more, I'm further surprised that Johnsonians and Shakespearians should feel it necessary to rally to Johnson's defense ... " Shakespeare Quarterly 9.3 (1958): 433. Frankly, Sherbo's last surprise here seems a bit disingenuous.

(32) Samuel Johnson, The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, ed. Roger Lonsdale, 4 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 2006), 1:53.

(33) Boswells Life of Johnson, 1:176.

(34) "Dr. Warburton had a name sufficient to confer celebrity on those who could exalt themselves into antagonists ..." Preface, Yale (1968), 7:99-100.

(35) Kenrick, Review (1765), vii.

(36) William Warburton, Letters from a Late Eminent Prelate to One of his Friends, 2nd ed. (London, 1809), 367-68.

(37) Johnson (1765), 8:161n9.

(38) Ibid., 8:160-62n9. A. T. Hazen, "Johnson's Shakespeare: A Study in Cancellation," Times Literary Supplement, issue 1925 (December 24, 1938), 820.

(39) Boswell's Life of Johnson, 1:329. My emphasis. Compare TE s Canon XXIII: "The Profess'd Critic, in order to furnish his Quota to the Bookseller, may write Notes of Nothing; that is to say, Notes, which either explane things which do not want explanation; or such as do not explane matters at all, but merely fill-up so much paper." Sig. B3v.

(40) Johnson (1765), 6:8n8. My emphasis. Compare TE's Canon VI: "As every Author is to be corrected into all possible perfection, and of that perfection the Professed Critic is the sole judge; He may alter any word or phrase, which does not want amendment, or which will do; provided He can think of any thing which he imagines will do better."

(41) Ibid., 6:114n7.

(42) Ibid., 7:98n7.

(43) Boswell's Life of Johnson, 3:312.

(44) Ibid., 4:288.

(45) Vickers, Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage, 5:20.

(46) Yale (1968), 7:xxv.

(47) Sherbo, Samuel Johnson, Editor of Shakespeare, 105.

(48) Letters of Johnson, ed. Redford, 1: 355. Sherbo, Samuel Johnson, Editor of Shakespeare, found that these brief remarks were the only ones available regarding the collaboration with Steevens on the 1773 edition and its 1778 revision, 105-6.

(49) Sherbo, Samuel Johnson, Editor of Shakespeare, 103-4.

(50) John A. Dussinger, Introduction, "Correspondence with Thomas Edwards," Correspondence with George Cheyne and Thomas Edwards, ed. David E. Shuttleton and John A. Dussinger, The Cambridge Edition of the Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, vol. 2 (Cambridge U. Press, 2013), lxxx.

(51) Sherbo, Samuel Johnson, Editor of Shakespeare, 39. Edwards, Canons (1758), 212-38.

(52) Despite all the nastiness among the early Shakespeare editors in their struggle for power, something much more positive was coming into being: "In the work of some at least of the eighteenth-century editors of Shakespeare we see the development and use of rational procedures of interpretation, adapting and applying to a new field of writing techniques and approaches which had already been familiar in classical scholarship, and in biblical exegesis." Walsh, Shakespeare, Milton, and Eighteenth-Century Literary Editing, 198.

(53) No. 2: If he had been at all attentive to the notes here, SJ would surely have commented on the crux that was raised by TE and finally acknowledged by Steevens in the 1778 revision. Yet, the fact that Steevens did not add his note in the 1773 revision may imply that he himself overlooked this item in time to make the change.

(54) No. 4: SJ ignores W's emendation but agrees that the original means simply what TE took it to mean by quoting Massinger. Benjamin Heath, A Revisal of Shakespear's Text (London 1765), rejects W's emendation but does not entirely agree with TE:

"Notwithstanding Mr. Warburton's authority, I cannot easily persuade myself that, to compt off, is used to signify, 'to clear the reckoning;' and if it were so used here, it would be quite beside the purpose. For, if I mistake not, the poet is in this passage satirizing the imposing disposition of hosts or inn-keepers; but sure nothing can be more reasonable than that every guest should pay his reckoning. The old reading, come off, means, I suppose, in our host's phrase, come off handsomely, that is, pay exorbitantly for their entertainment. Mr. Warburton had but three pages before acquainted us, that 'Englishmen hate long speeches, which hath made our tongue abound with half sentences, and, what is more, with half words.' This observation will, I flatter myself, sufficiently justify the interpretation I have given of the text. See however the Canons of Criticism." (72)

SJ's remark about "accidental and colloquial senses" as "the disgrace of language" may silently incorporate Heath's point about the tendency of English to "abound with half sentences." In the 1778 revision Steevens concludes with Tyrwhitt's note for the variorum format.

(55) See ODNB, s.v., "George Steevens" by Arthur Sherbo and s.v. "Richard Roderick" by John A. Dussinger.

(56) Edward Capell, Notes and Various Readings to Shakespeare (London, [1779-80]), 1: sig. a 2 v. In A Letter to George Hardinge, Esq. on the subject of a passage in Mr. Stevens's [sic] preface to his impression of Shakespeare. London [1777], Collins avoided maligning outright the editor's character: "Plagiarism, in truth, like accommodate, to which it seems to be somewhat of kin, 'is a word of exceeding good command;' but it is withal so subtile, so abstruse, and so equivocal in its modes, that I dare not attempt to define it. How far lawful borrowing extends, and where unlawful plagiarism begins, I know not. The line that separates them may be too fine for my visual nerve; and I will not run a risque of straining it, in such a search," 22. As G. Blakemore Evans observes: "None of his important contemporaries had a kind word to say about Capell's edition, and his two principal successors, George Steevens and Edmond Malone, denigrated it at every opportunity--and stole from it unblushingly," The Riverside Shakespeare (1997), 61.

(57) Arthur Sherbo, The Achievement of George Steevens (Paris: Peter Lang, 1990), esp. 31, 62, 139-40, 144n., and 205. ODNB, s.v. "George Steevens" by Arthur Sherbo. See also ODNB, s.v. "Edward Capell" by Paul Baines.
Johnson's Acknowledgement of Thomas Edwards

Play (Riverside         Edwards (1758)          Johnson (1765)
Shakespeare 1997)

1. Love's Labor's       TE, 155-56.             SJ, 2:157n8.
Lost, IV.ii.28-29.

"And such
barren plants           "The words have         "And Mr. Edwards in
are set before us,      been, as Mr.            his animadversion on
that we thankful        Warburton says,         Dr. Warburton's
should be--/            transposed and          notes, applauds the
Which we [of] taste     corrupted; and he       emendation
and feeling are--for    'hopes, he has          [Hanmer's]. I
those parts that do     restored the author,'   think both editors
fructify in us more     by reading thus;        mistaken, except
than he."                                       that Sir T. Hanmer
                        --"and such barren      found the metre
                        plants are set before   though he missed the
                        us, that we thankful    sense. I read, with
                        should be for those     a slight change,
                        parts (which we         And such barren
                        taste and feel          plants are set
                        ingradare) that do      before us that we
                        fructify in             thankful should be;
                        us more than he."       When we taste and
                        WARD.' Our Critic's     feeling are for
                        desire to shew his      those parts that
                        skill in the            do fructify
                        Italian, would not      in us more than he."
                        let him see; that
                        Sir Thomas Hanmer
                        restored this
                        passage to sense,
                        without the help of
                        his ingradare...."

2. The Winter's         TE, 9-10.               SJ, 2:346nl.
Tale, V.iii.67.
                        "The meaning of the     "Fixure is right.
"The fixure of          line in the original    The meaning is, that
her eye has             is, I hough the eye     her eye, though
motion in't."           be fixed (as the        fixed, as in an
                        eye of a statue         earnest gaze, has
                        always is) yet it       motion in it.
                        seems to have motion    EDWARDS."
                        in it, that
                        tremulous motion
                        which is perceptible
                        in the eye of a
                        living person, how
                        much soever one
                        to fix it.

                        ... Fissure, Mr.
                        Warburton's word,
                        never signifies a
                        socket, but a slit."

3. 1 Henry VI,          TE, 27-28.              SJ, 4:550n5.
                        "He assures us that     "This reading cannot
"That whoso draws a     Shakespear wrote        be right, because,
sword, 'tis present     --I'th' presence        as Mr. Edwards
death."                 't's death.             observed, it cannot
                                                be pronounced."
                        a line which seems
                        penned for Cadmus
                        when in the state
                        of a serpent."

4. King Lear,           TE, 164.                SJ, 8: App. to
I.iv.268.                                       Vol. 6, Notes to
                        "'Alluding to the       the Sixth Volume.
"Which, like an         famous boast of
engine, wrench'd        Archimedes.'WARB.       "P. 41. Like an
my frame of nature."    Perhaps rather          engine wrench'd my
                        alluding to             frame of nature.]
                        the rack."              Mr. Edwards
                                                conjectures that an
                                                engine is the rack.
                                                He is right. To
                                                engine is, in
                                                Chaucer, to strain
                                                upon the rack.

5. Cymbeline,           TE, 154-55.             SJ, 7:270n7.
                        "Mr. Warburton ...      "Edwards has justly
"or ere I could/Give    has had the felicity    remarked, that the
him that parting        to discover; what       word of religion here
kiss which I had        were the two            mentioned is seldom
set/Between two         charming words,         used with any
charming words."        between which Imogen    religion, and often
                        would have set her      where no religious
                        parting kiss: which     idea can be
                        Shakespear probably     admitted."
                        never thought-of.
                        He says, 'without
                        question, by these
                        two charming words
                        she would be
                        understood to mean,

                        ADIEV, POSTHVMVS.

                        The one religion
                        made so; and
                        the other love.'

                        Imogen must have
                        understood the
                        etymology of our
                        language very
                        exactly, to find
                        out so much religion
                        in the word adieu,
                        which we use
                        commonly, without
                        fixing any such idea
                        to it; as when we
                        say, that such a man
                        has bid adieu to
                        all religion."

6. Cymbeline,           TE, 62-63.              SJ, 7:299-300n4.

"one of your great      "That is, I suppose,    "It is no mark of a
knowing / Should        'one of so much         knowing forbearance
learn, being taught,    knowledge, as you       simply. For
forbearance."           pretend to, should      forbearance becomes
                        learn to leave off      a virtue. or point
                        an unsuccessful         of civil prudence,
                        suit, when you are      only as it respects
                        so often desired        a forbidden
                        to do so."'             object. ... Edwards
                                                has sufficiently
                                                sported with the
                                                emendation. The
                                                plain sense is,
                                                That a man who is
                                                taught forbearance
                                                should learn it."

Kenrick on Johnson's Inadequate Reference to Thomas Edwards

Play (Riverside        Warburton               Edwards
Shakespeare 1997)      (1747)                  (1758)

1. The Tempest,        W, 1:43:                TE, 115-17.
                       "I cannot but think     "there would this
"any strange beast     this satire very        monster MAKE a man:
there makes a          just upon our           (i. e. make his
man."                  countrymen; who         fortune). ..."
                       have been always
                       very ready to make
                       Denisons of the
                       whole tribe of the
                       Pitheci, [primates]
                       and complement them
                       with the Donum

2. Measure for         W, 1:402.               TE, 82-83.
III.i.94-96.           "The stupid Editors     "Now if this latter
                       mistaking guards for    part be true,
"O, tis the            satellites, (whereas    I should be glad to
cunning livery         it here signifies       know, how priestly
of hell, / The         lace) altered           guards should come
invest and cover /     PRIESTLY, in both       to signify any thing
In prenzie guards!"    places, to princely.    more than black
                       Whereas Shakespear      lace.
                       wrote it
                       PRIESTLY. ... Now
                       priestly guards
                       means sanctity,
                       which is the sense
                       required. But
                       princely guards
                       means nothing but
                       rich lace, which is
                       a sense the passage
                       will not bear."

3. Measure for         W, 1:411.               TE, 25.
Measure. III.ii.49.
                       "This strange           "Is IT [his reply or
                       nonsense should be      answer) not drown'd
                       thus corrected, It's    in the last rain? A
                       not DOWN i'th last      proverbial phrase to
"Is't not drown'd i'   REIGN, i. e. these      express a thing
the last rain?"        are severities          which is lost."
                       unknown to the old
                       Duke's time. And
                       this is to the

4. Measure for         W, 1:41 ln8.            TE, 25-26.
Measure, III.ii.63-
64                     "It should be           "Where now is there
                       pointed thus.           the least foundation
Go say I sent thee     Go, say, I sent thee    for this conceit of
thither. For debt,     thither for debt.       hiding the ignominy
Pompey? Or how?"       Pompey; or how--i.e.    of his punishment?
                       to hide the ignominy    Or the humor of
                       of thy case, say        that reply, for
                       I sent thee to          being a bawd, i.e.
                       prison for debt, or     the true cause
                       whatever other          is the most
                       pretence thou           honourable."
                       fanciest better.
                       The other
                       humourously replies,
                       For being a
                       bawd, for being a
                       bawd. i.e. the true
                       cause is the most
                       honourable. This
                       is in character."

5. Measure for         W, 1:412-13.            TE, 26-27.
Measure, III.ii.99.
                       "The occasion of the
"It is too general     observation was,        As much as to say,
a vice.                Lucio's saying.         Yes truly, it is
                       That it ought to        general, for the
                       be treated with a       greatest men have it
                       little more lenity;     as well as we little
                       and his answer to       folks. And a little
                       it is--The vice is      lower he taxes the
                       of great kindred.       Duke personally with
                       Nothing can be more     it. Nothing can be
                       absurd than all this.   more natural than
                       From the occasion and   all this."
                       the answer therefore
                       it appears, that
                       Shakespear wrote,

                       It is too GENTLE
                       a vice."

6. Measure for         W, 1:443.               TE, 144.
Measure, V.i.104.
                       "Like is not used       "She was conscious,
"O that it were as     here for probable,      that her accusation
like as it is true!"   but for seemly.         was true; and very
                       She catches at          naturally replies
                       the Duke's word, and    to the Duke's
                       turns it to another     ironical words,
                       sense; of which there   that she wishes it
                       are a great many        were equally
                       examples in             probable, or
                       Shakespear, and the     credible, as it
                       writers of that         was true.

7. Measure for         W, 1:447.               TE, 3.
V.i.236-38.            "i.e. women who have    "Whatever Shakespear
                       ill concerted their     wrote, he certainly
"These poor            story. Formal           meant (with the
informal women         signifies frequently,   Oxford Editor)
are no more / But      in our Author, a        informing. He could
some more              thing put into form     not mean, that the
mightier member /      or method: so           story was ill
on."                   informal, out of        concerted, because
                       Method, ill             in the very next
                       concerted.              line Angelo
                       How easy is it to       supposes, that it
                       say, that Shakespear    was concerted by
                       might better have       some mighty person
                       wrote informing;        concealed; to whom
                       i.e. accusing.          these women were only
                       But he, who (as the     instruments...."
                       Oxford Editor)
                       thinks he did write
                       so, knows nothing
                       of the character
                       of his stile."

8. Measure for         W, 1:452.               TE, 135-36.
Measure, V.i.396.

"It was the swift      "We should read         "Examp. 6. Bain'd,
celerity of his        BAIN'D, i.e.,           Vol. I. p. 452.
death / Which, I       destroyed."             for baned."
did think, with
slower foot came
on, / That brain'd
my purpose."

9. As You Like It,     W, 2:330.               TE, 67-68.
                       "Without doubt.         "though this matter
"Thy tooth is not      Shakespear wrote        is so clear with Mr.
so keen, / Because     the line thus,          Warburton, every
thou art not seen."                            body who understands
                       Because thou art        English will doubt
                       not SHEEN,              of it, because SHEEN
                                               signifies bright,
                       i.e. smiling,           which makes no
                       shining, like an        better sense than
                       ungrateful court-       SEEN, nor does he
                       servant, who            produce any
                       flatters while he       authority for its
                       wounds, which was a     signifying SMILING,
                       very good reason for    which is the sense
                       giving the winter       he here puts
                       wind the preference."   upon it...."

10. As You Like It,    W, 2:337.               TE, 20.
                       "We should read         "Not to take notice
O most gentle          JUNIPER, as the         of this gentle,
Jupiter.'              following words         rough, prickly
                       shew, alluding to       plant, which
                       the proverbial term     Mr. Warburton has
                       of a Juniper lecture:   found-out; I believe
                       A sharp or unpleasing   no body but he would
                       one; Juniper being      have dreamed of a
                       a rough prickly         Juniper lecture here,
                       plant.                  any more than above;
                                               where the same
                                               Rosalind says,
                                               'O Jupiter', how
                                               weary are my

11. Love's Labor's     W, 2:197.               TE, 149.
Lost, I.i.203.
                       "The following          "And he quotes Dr.
"taken with the        question arising        Donne's authority
manner."               from these words        for it.
                       shew we should read,
                       taken in the manner;    But in Vol. IV. P.
                       and this was the        142. I Henry IV.
                       phrase used to          he says,
                       signify, taken
                       in the fact."           '-taken in the

                                               The Quarto and Folio
                                               read, with the
                                               manner; which is
                                               right. Taken with
                                               the manner is a law
                                               phrase, and then in
                                               common use; to
                                               signify taken in
                                               the fact.'

                                               Great wits have
                                               short memories.

                                               But such things will
                                               happen, when a critic
                                               must furnish such a
                                               quota of Notes;
                                               whether he have any
                                               thing worth
                                               publishing or no."

12. Love's Labor's     W, 2:286.               TE, 19-20.
Lost, V.ii.896-97.
                       "I would read thus,     "But if they are
"And cuckoo-buds                               much bedight already,
ot yellow hue / Do     Do paint the            they little need
paint the meadows      meadows MUCH-           painting."
with delight."         BEDIGHT,

                       i. e. much bedecked
                       or adorned,as they
                       are in spring-time.
                       The epithet is
                       proper, and the
                       compound not

13. Twelfth Night,     W, 3:132.               TE, 198.
I.v. 120-21.
                       "He had before said     "This is a phrase
"Tis a gentleman       it was a gentleman.     fresh from the mint.
here--a plague o       He was asked what       But Mr. Warburton
these pickle-          gentleman? and he       may take it back and
herring!"              makes this reply:       lay it by for his
                       which, it is plain,     own use: Shakespear
                       is corrupt, and         has no need of it,
                       should be read thus,    as any body will
                                               own, who considers
                       Tis a Genf/e-HElR,      that Sir Toby was
                                               drunk, and
                       i.e. some lady's        interrupted in his
                       eldest son just         speech by his
                       come out of the         pickled herrings."
                       nursery; for this
                       was the appearance
                       Viola made in mens

14. Merry Wives        W, l:276n5.             TE, 115.
of Windsor,
II.i.131.              "This absurd passage    Nym,--I have a
                       may be pointed into     sword, and it shall
"I have a sword,       sense. I have a         bite upon my
and it shall bite      and it shall            NECESSITY, i.e. when
upon my                bite--upon my           I find it necessary,
necessity."            necessity, he loves     or, when 1 am
                       your wife, &c,--        reduced to necessity.
                       Having said his
                       sword should bite,      But Mr. Warburton
                       he stops short, as      calls this, 'an
                       was fitting: For he     absurd passage,'
                       meant that it should    and without any
                       bite upon the           necessity at all,
                       high-way.               makes an absurd
                       And then turns to       oath of it."
                       the subject of his
                       conference, and
                       swears, by his
                       necessity, that
                       Falstaff loved
                       his wife."

15. Taming of the      W, 2:410.               TE, 22.
Shrew, I.ii.52.
                       "This Nonsense          "Mr. Theobald
"Where small           should be read thus,    explanes it, except
experience grows.                              in a few. ... i.e.
But in a few...."      Where small             instances are
                       experience grows        uncommon: which is
                       but in a MEW.           not nonsense... i.e.
                                               in short, in a few
                       i.e. a confinement      words."
                       at home. And the
                       meaning is, that no
                       improvement is to be
                       expected of those
                       who never look out
                       of doors."

16. King John,         W, 3:426.               TE, 112-13.
                       "Mr. Theobald says;     "I am afraid Mr.
"In likeness of        that, as untrimmed      Warburton with all
a new untrimmed        cannot bear any         his gravity here,
bride."                signification to        will be found to
                       square with the         have made more haste
                       sense required, it      than good speed.
                       must be corrupt;        Unsteady, which
                       therefore he will       is no great
                       cashier it, and read    recommendation of a
                       and trimmed; in         bride, cannot
                       which he is followed    square well with the
                       by the Oxford           sense, where the
                       editor; but they are    speaker designs to
                       both too hasty.         express a strong
                       It squares very well    and irresistible
                       with the sense; and     temptation."
                       signifies unsteady.
                       The term is from
                       navigation. We say,
                       in a similar way of
                       speaking, not well

Play (Riverside        Johnson (1765)          Kenrick (1765)
Shakespeare 1997)

1. The Tempest,        SJ, *l:43n4.            K, 12.
                       "That is, Make a        "I have no fault to
"any strange beast     Man's Fortune."         find with this note,
there makes a                                  except that I think
man."                  Make does not have      Dr. Johnson might
                       this meaning in         have confessed his
                       Johnson's               obligation to the
                       Dictionary."            author of the Canons
                                               of Criticism; who
                                               gave this meaning,
                                               after having exposed
                                               the absurdity of Dr.
                                               Warburton's very
                                               learned and
                                               ridiculous note on
                                               this passage."

2. Measure for         SJ, l:318-19nl.         K,31-32.
III.i.94-96.           "The first Folio        "It is really very
                       has, in both places,    kind of Dr. Johnson
"O, tis the            prenzie, from which     to give
cunning livery         the other folios        SOMETHING of what he
of hell, / The         made princely, and      can make NOTHING
invest and cover /     every editor may        himself.--Let us
In prenzie guards!"    make what he can."      see, therefore, what
                                               others have made of
                       93, 96. prenzie. A      it.--The author of
                       word found nowhere      the Canons of
                       else, and not           Criticism objects to
                       satisfactorily          Dr. Warburton's
                       explained.              emendation. ... The
                       Among the many          author of the Revisal
                       emendations, the two    of Shakespeare's
                       most favored by         Text, goes still
                       editors have been       farther, and says,
                       princely (F2) and       'We should
                       precise (Tieck          undoubtedly restore
                       conjecture in           the ancient reading
                       Cambridge). Some        both places, the
                       proposed readings,      princely Angelo, and
                       e.g. proxy (Bulloch     in princely guards.
                       conjecture in           Nothing [says he]
                       Cambridge, fit one      can be weaker and
                       line but not the        more destitute of
                       other, and some         all foundation, than
                       editors adopt           Mr. Warburton's
                       different readings      criticism.'"
                       in the two lines."
                       Riverside 1997.

3. Measure for         SJ, l:328n7.            K, 35.
Measure. III.ii.49.
                       "It is a common         "Dr. Johnson's
"Is't not drown'd i'   phrase used in low      explanation of this
the last rain?"        raillery of a man       passage is, in my
                       crest-fallen and        opinion, less clear
                       dejected, that he       and much less
                       looks like a drown'd    consistent with his
                       puppy.                  own pointing than
                       Lucio, therefore,       that given by Mr.
                       asks him whether he     Edwards. Indeed the
                       was drowned in the      latter supposes
                       last rain, and          Pompey's answer only
                       therefore cannot        to be drowned in the
                       speak."                 last rain [a
                                               proverbial phrase,
                                               he says, to express
                                               a thing which is
                                               lost, or rather not
                                               to be found]; whereas
                                               Dr. Johnson supposes
                                               that Pompey himself
                                               is drowned in the
                                               last rain. Taking
                                               their own authority,
                                               however, for the use
                                               of their proverbs,
                                               Mr. Edwards's
                                               explanation is not
                                               half so far-fetched
                                               as Dr. Johnson's."

4. Measure for         SJ, l:329n9.            K, 36.
Measure, III.ii.63-
64                     Quotes W's note         "Vol. 1. pages 329
                       without comment.        and 330. are
Go say I sent thee                             inserted two
thither. For debt,                             notes from Dr.
Pompey? Or how?"                               Warburton, without
                                               any remark of the
                                               editor's; are
                                               both sufficiently
                                               the Canons of
                                               26.1 must beg leave.
                                               however, for that
                                               reason to pass them
                                               over here."

5. Measure for         SJ, l:330nl.            K, 36.
Measure, III.ii.99.
                       Quotes W's note         "Vol. 1. pages 329
"It is too general     without comment.        and 330. are
a vice.                                        inserted two notes
                                               from Dr.

                                               Warburton, without
                                               any remark of the
                                               notwithstanding they
                                               are both sufficiently
                                               refuted and exploded
                                               in the Canons of
                                               Criticism, pages 25
                                               and 26.1 must beg
                                               leave, however, for
                                               that reason to pass
                                               them over here.

6. Measure for         SJ, *l:364n2.           K, 39.
Measure, V.i.104.
                       "I do not see why       "Dr. Johnson hath,
"O that it were as     like may not stand      on this passage,
like as it is true!"   here for probable,      silently adopted
                       or why the Lady         the explanation
                       should not wish         of Mr. Edwards, in
                       that since her tale     opposition to that
                       is true it may          of does the same
                       obtain belief."         thing again in
                                               page 369. -See
                                               Canons of Criticism,
                                               page 144."

7. Measure for         SJ, l:369nl.            K, 39.
V.i.236-38.            After Warburton         "Dr. Johnson hath,
                       quotation:              on this passage,
"These poor                                    silently adopted the
informal women         "I believe informal     explanation of
are no more / But      has no other or         Mr. Edwards, in
some more              deeper signification    opposition to that
mightier member /      than informing,         of Dr. Warburton.
on."                   accusing.               He does the same
                       The scope of            thing again in
                       justice, is the         page 369.--See
                       full extent."           Canons of Criticism,
                                               page 144. '

8. Measure for         SJ, l:375-76n2.         K, 45.
Measure, V.i.396.
                       "We now use in          "Dr. Warburton would
"It was the swift      conversation a like     alter the text to
celerity of his        phrase. This it was     BANED my purpose;
death / Which, I       that knocked my         the futility of this
did think, with        design on the head.     emendation, however,
slower foot came       Dr. Warburton reads,    is, if I mistake
on, / That brain'd     ----                    not, sufficiently
my purpose."                                   exposed by the
                       baned my purpose.       author of the Canons
                       Johnson silently        of Criticism; whose
                       corrects W's            opinion Dr. Johnson
                       misspelling.            adopts, without
                                               making any mention
                                               of him, asusual."

9. As You Like It,     SJ, 2:45-46n2.          K, 57-67.
                       "I am afraid that no    "To come now to Dr.
"Thy tooth is not      reader is satisfied     Johnson; who, after
so keen, / Because     with Dr. Warburton's    quoting Dr.
thou art not seen."    emendation, however     Warburton's note,
                       vigorously enforced;    without mentioning a
                       and it is indeed        syllable of Mr.
                       enforced with more      Edwards's remarks on
                       art than truth.         it, proceeds thus:
                       Sheen, i.e. smiling,    'I am afraid that no
                       shining is easily       reader...'" (p.62).
                       proved, but when or
                       where did it            "When Dr. Johnson,
                       signify smiling?"       therefore, adopting
                                               Dr. Warburton's
                                               reasoning, tells us
                                               that smiling gives
                                               the sense necessary
                                               in this place, he is
                                               misled by the
                                               plausibility of that
                                               gentleman's argument;
                                               there being no manner
                                               of occasion, as Mr.
                                               Edwards observes,
                                               for the introduction
                                               of his flattering
                                               courtiers." (p. 64).

10. As You Like It,    SJ *2:54nl.             K,67-68.
                       Quotes W's note         "In answer to this,
O most gentle          and adds:               Dr. Johnson says, in
Jupiter.'                                      his usual indolent
                       "Surely Jupiter         and laconic manner,
                       may stand."             'Surely Jupiter
                                               may stand.'
                                               Ay, surely; why not?
                                               as well as Jupiter in
                                               the beginning of the
                                               6th scene of the
                                               preceding act, where
                                               the same Rosalind
                                               says, 0 Jupiter! how
                                               weary are my
                                               spirits! Yet neither
                                               he, nor Dr.
                                               Warburton, boggle in
                                               the least at Jupiter
                                               there. But who told
                                               you, Dr. Johnson,
                                               that Jupiter might
                                               stand here, and gave
                                               you the same reason
                                               for it? Did not the
                                               author of the Canons
                                               of Criticism
                                               do this? Why should
                                               you be so sparing of
                                               confessing your
                                               obligations to that

11. Love's Labor's     SJ, 2:121n8.            K, 77-78.
Lost, I.i.203.
                       "I was taken in the     "The author of the
"taken with the        manner."                Canons of Criticism,
manner."                                       however, hath
                       Quotes W's note         invalidated what Dr.
                       without comment.        Warburton advances
                                               in this place, by
                                               another of his own
                                               notes on a passage
                                               in the first part
                                               of Henry the Fourth,
                                               where the same
                                               occurs. ...
                                               Mr. Edwards observed,
                                               on remarking this
                                               inconsistency, that
                                               'Great wits have
                                               short memories.'
                                               But I am at some
                                               loss to know to
                                               what I should impute
                                               Dr. Johnson's giving
                                               the highest
                                               approbation to
                                               this blunder of Dr.
                                               we set it down among
                                               Dr. Johnson's other
                                               concessions to the
                                               respect due to high
                                               place, and his
                                               veneration for
                                               genius and learning?
                                               Or shall we rather
                                               impute it to his
                                               indolence in not
                                               consulting the
                                               Canons of

                                               (1773), 2:352n9.

                                               "With the manner,
                                               and in the manner,
                                               are expressions,
                                               used indifferently
                                               by our old
                                               writers. STEVEEVENS."

                                               (1778), 2:387-88n4.

                                               Even though the
                                               expressions are
                                               supposed to be
                                               equally acceptable,
                                               the text was
                                               emended thus:

                                               "I was taken with
                                               the manner."

                                               W's note repeated
                                               despite change of
                                               text. Steevens
                                               added example of
                                               Heywood's Rape of
                                               Lucrece (1730).

12. Love's Labor's     SJ, 2:222-23n9.         K,84-85.
Lost, V.ii.896-97.
                       Quotes W's note         "The ingenious author
"And cuckoo-buds       and adds:               of the Canons of
ot yellow hue / Do                             Criticism objected
paint the meadows                              long ago, to this
with delight."         "Much less elegant      proposed emendation
                       than the present        of Dr.
                       reading."               Warburton's. ... But
                                               Dr. (ohnson seems to
                                               be so much influenced
                                               by the respect due to
                                               high place, that he
                                               seems determined to
                                               avoid the name of
                                               Edwards, as much as
                                               possible, for fear
                                               of offending the

13. Twelfth Night,     SJ, *2:368, last        K, 97.
I.v. 120-21.           two lines.
                                               "Is it possible,
"Tis a gentleman       Quotes W's note         after all this, to
here--a plague o       without comment.        guess what induced
these pickle-                                  our editor to trouble
herring!"                                      his readers with
                                               Dr. Warburton's
                                               frivolous note, and
                                               to adopt Mr.
                                               Edwards's pointing,
                                               against that of
                                               Theobald, without
                                               mentioning a word of
                                               either of the two

14. Merry Wives        SJ, *2:478nl.           K, 99.
of Windsor,
II.i.131.              "I do not see the       "Dr. Warburton hath
                       difficulty of this      a mighty whimsical
"I have a sword,       passage: no phrase      note on this passage,
and it shall bite      is more common than-    which our editor
upon my                you may, upon a need,   hath printed, though
necessity."            thus. Nym, to gain      he condemns it, and
                       credit, says, that      hath silently
                       he is above the mean    adopted the reading
                       office of carrying      of Mr. Edwards, who
                       love-letters; he has    had sufficiently
                       nobler means of         exposed the
                       living; he has a        absurdity of the
                       sword, and upon his     Warburtonian
                       necessity, that is,     emendation. See
                       when his need drives    Canons of Criticism,
                       him to unlawful         page 115."
                       expedients, his         [6th edn., 1758]
                       sword shall bite."

15. Taming of the      SJ, *3:25n5.            K, 107.
Shrew, I.ii.52.
                       After quoting W's       "This piece of
"Where small           note:                   information,
experience grows.                              however, and the
But in a few...."      "Why this should        method of pointing
                       seem nonsense,          adopted by
                       I cannot perceive.      Dr. Johnson, might
                       In a few means the      have been had long
                       same as in short,       ago from
                       in few words."          Mr. Edwards's
                                               Canons of Criticism;
                                               who, in exposing the
                                               absurdity of
                                               Dr. Warburton's
                                               emendation, quotes
                                               other passages from
                                               where the

                                               same expression is
                                               made use of."

16. King John,         SJ, *3:447n6.           K, 130.
                       "A commentator          "In this passage
"In likeness of        should be grave,        our editor hath two
a new untrimmed        and therefore I can     notes from Theobald
bride."                read these notes        and Warburton; after
                       with the proper         which he adopts the
                       severity of             opinion of
                       attention; but the      Mr. Edwards, who
                       idea of trimming a      had exposed the
                       lady to keep her        absurdity of the
                       steady, would be too    latter, but without
                       risible for any         mentioning him,
                       common power            as usual.
                       of face."
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Title Annotation:p. 45-71
Author:Dussinger, John A.
Publication:Philological Quarterly
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2016
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