The text of Macbeth as it appears in successive editions of Shakespeare’s collected works.
The first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays (STC 22273) – formatwise a folio in sixes. (That is, it consists of gatherings of three sheets folded together. The same is true for the next three editions.) Macbeth is part 3, pp. 131–51.
The second folio edition (STC 22274), copied page for page from the first. Macbeth begins at part 3, p. 151. There are a few attempted corrections, but it cannot be supposed that they have any authority. There are also numerous errors: in two places a whole line has been dropped. All in all, this edition is an unsatisfactory piece of work. The only reason for not ignoring it is that many of the guesses and mistakes made here were allowed by default to persist into subsequent editions.
The third folio edition (Wing S2913), copied page for page and quire for quire from the second. The spelling was mostly modernized. Macbeth begins at p. 711.
The fourth and last folio edition (Wing S2915), copied from the third, with the number of lines per column increased (from 66 to 74). Macbeth is part 3, pp. 40–58.
Macbeth in the octavo edition printed for Jacob Tonson in 1709, copied from the fourth folio edition, but quite thoroughly ‘revis’d and corrected’ by Nicholas Rowe. There is an engraved frontispiece for each play: the one for Macbeth is a view of the parade of apparitions in act 4, scene 1.
A facsimile reprint (which I have not seen) was published in 1999, with an added introduction.
A second printing of Rowe’s edition, possibly later than 1709 (though that is still the date which appears on the title-page) but earlier than 1714. The differences are slight, but some of them seem to be intentional.
The reprint of Rowe’s edition reprinted in 12mo format, with a few further adjustments. The new frontispiece, drawn and engraved by Louis Du Guernier, is a loose copy of the one in the octavo edition.
Macbeth in the quarto edition printed for Jacob Tonson in 1723–5, copied from the 12mo reprint of Rowe’s edition, newly ‘collated and corrected’ by Alexander Pope. There is no frontispiece.
Pope’s edition reprinted in 12mo format, with a few further adjustments. The frontispiece is the same plate made for the 12mo printing of Rowe’s edition: only the direction to the binder has been altered.
The first-ever separate edition of Shakespeare’s Macbeth – a 12mo booklet printed for Tonson and others in 1729 – took its text and footnotes from this 12mo reprint of Pope’s edition.
Macbeth in the octavo edition printed for Arthur Bettesworth and Charles Hitch and others in 1733, copied from the 12mo reprint of Pope’s edition, revised by Lewis Theobald. There is no frontispiece.
A separate 12mo edition of Macbeth, copied from Theobald’s octavo, was published in 1734. The frontispiece used there is the plate drawn and engraved by Du Guernier for the 12mo reprint (1714) of Rowe’s edition, already reused for the 12mo reprint (1728) of Pope’s edition. The separate 12mo was reprinted in 1745, with a copy of Du Guernier’s frontispiece engraved by Gerard Vander Gucht, and at intervals again after that.
Theobald’s edition reprinted in 12mo format, with a few further adjustments. There is a new frontispiece – Macbeth confronted by Banquo’s ghost – drawn by Henry Gravelot and engraved by Gerard Vander Gucht.
This edition was reprinted page for page in 1752 and 1757 and almost page for page in 1762. The next 12mo edition, published in 1767, was (for some reason unknown to me) copied from the original octavo; it was reprinted page for page in 1773. All of these editions have the same Gravelot plate for a frontispiece.
Macbeth in the quarto edition printed at Oxford in 1743–4, copied from a copy of Pope’s quarto edition annotated by Sir Thomas Hanmer. The frontispiece – Lady Macbeth walking in her sleep – was drawn by Francis Hayman and engraved by Hubert Gravelot.
Some of the alterations made by Hanmer had been suggested to him by William Warburton – and Warburton threw a tantrum when they were put into print. At his instigation, the entire Oxford edition was reprinted at London in 1745, with the emendations for which he was claiming the credit duly marked. That reprint ceased to be of any interest when Warburton published his own edition just two years later.
Hanmer’s edition was reprinted at Oxford in 1770–1. The new edition, page for page the same, was seen through the press by Thomas Hawkins. There are some slight differences – in the spelling, for example (such as ‘horrour’ for ‘horror’) – but none of any significance. At the back of each volume is a list of variant readings from Theobald and Capell.
Macbeth in the octavo edition printed for John and Paul Knapton and others in 1747, copied from the 12mo reprint of Theobald’s edition, improved by William Warburton. Not so much an edition – more a monument to Warburton’s vanity.
Macbeth in the octavo edition printed for Jacob and Richard Tonson in 1765, copied from Warburton’s edition, revised and annotated by Samuel Johnson.
Reprinted page for page, with a few small adjustments.
Macbeth edited by Edward Capell in 1768. Capell was the first editor who saw it as a duty to base his text on that of the first folio edition. But he made numerous changes, not all of which can be counted as changes for the better. As well as adopting many of the emendations proposed by previous editors, he added some new ones of his own. All in all, his edition is a well-intentioned but far from fully successful piece of work.
This file of mine is a simplified version of Capell’s text, with some of its eccentricities filtered out. (At least four copies of the book are available online, for anyone who wants to consult the original.) A list of errors to be corrected was included in the companion volume of notes (see below): I have made the requisite adjustments.
The second attempt at a critical edition of Macbeth. This is one of five plays published between 1770 and 1774 in a series sponsored by Charles Jennens and discontinued when he died. The design of the edition should be credited to him; but the hard work was done by an anonymous assistant, with the help of ‘hints and remarks’ from Jennens. Each play has an engraved frontispiece: the one for Macbeth – Banquo’s ghost appearing at the banquet – was drawn by Francis Hayman and engraved by William Wynne Ryland.
As I understand it, the anonymous assistant was a clergyman named Lemuel Abbott. Not much is known about him. He was ordained in 1755, became vicar of Thornton in Leicestershire in 1773 and died in 1776 (CCEd Person ID: 5213). A collection of his poems (printed in Nottingham) was published by subscription in 1765; it is dedicated to Charles Jennens. On the strength of that book, Abbott qualifies for a short article in DNB and ODNB. Neither article mentions his involvement with Jennens’s edition of Shakespeare. (Abbott had a son of the same name, initially apprenticed to Francis Hayman, who went on to gain some reputation as a portrait painter.)
This edition of Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1773, is described both by Johnson and by Steevens as a ‘revisal’ of Johnson’s original edition, published in 1765. In fact it is something quite different. As far as the text is concerned (I say nothing about the annotation), it is a shameless act of plagiarism – a copy of Capell’s edition, only thinly disguised. Possibly Johnson did not realize that, but Steevens certainly did. (There are ten volumes, and they correspond play for play with Capell’s volumes; Johnson’s edition was in eight volumes, and the plays were in a very different order.)
Macbeth is the only play which I have looked at closely. I assume that what is true for this play is more or less equally true for all the others; but I cannot state that for a fact. With this play at least it is not difficult to see that the main text was copied from Capell’s edition. The special symbols used by Capell were dropped; some of the spelling and much of the punctuation were altered; but these changes are not enough to hide the fact that Steevens was copying Capell. (He denied it, of course. According to him, he had only looked at one play in Capell’s edition, and had found the text so defective that ‘it was of little consequence to examine any further’ (sig. E6r). He was lying. (Yes, he was an Etonian.))
The peripheral matter – stage-directions, speech-prefixes – was not copied from Capell: this portion of the text, it is true, must have come from a marked-up copy of Johnson’s edition. (The same applies to the annotation, by the way.) Steevens was planning to excise any ‘unnecessary innovations’ (sig. E3r) perpetrated by previous editors, and to identify those he consulted the first folio – but not in any systematic way, and not always to good effect. (On page 436, for instance, he replaced ‘Exeunt Banquo and Fleance’ with first folio's ‘Exit Banquo’, leaving Fleance to look out for himself. By what reckoning is that a change for the better?) It was certainly a sensible move to delete the spurious scene-divisions introduced by Pope – but Capell had done that, and Steevens was just following his lead.
In short, what we have is a composite text. The word is apt, because it was a nameless compositor, more than anyone, who created the text for this edition. His instructions were to copy the peripheral text from Johnson’s edition, using his italic font, and the main text from Capell’s edition, using his roman font. And that is what he did. (The minute adjustments to the spelling and punctuation were, I suppose, mostly made by Steevens in the galley proofs.) Whoever he was, this compositor left a legacy far greater than he can possibly have dreamed of, because future editions, almost without exception, would be derived, at some number of removes, from the one which he put together.
(This file of mine, I hope, will explain itself. In case it does not, here is how the colour-coding works. Grey is Capell’s text, scarcely altered except in the punctuation. Pale grey is from Johnson. Black are the changes made by Steevens, some of them coming from the first folio, but all of them shown in the same colour here, regardless of where they came from.)
Copied from the previous edition.
The three volumes of explanatory material designed by Capell to accompany his edition were – to cut a long story short – finally published towards the end of 1783, upwards of two years after the author’s death. This file contains the notes for Macbeth, which is the first play in volume 2; that volume has a colophon dated Feb. 1780.
A contemporary reviewer (a fair-minded person whom I cannot put a name to) could appreciate Capell’s strengths without being distracted by his weaknesses: ‘With all the penetration, accuracy, and acuteness of Mr. Capell, it must be acknowledged however, that he has some very palpable blemishes. … It is often very difficult to catch a meaning that is wrapped up in half sentences and marks of abbreviation’. But this, he goes on to say, ‘is never owing to any superficiality of thought or confusion of ideas in the writer; on the contrary, at a second perusal, you are agreeably surprised to find the chaos reducing itself into order; and reflection, sagacity, and good sense, appearing, where you at first imagined nothing but absurdity’ (English Review, Mar. 1784, 175–6). Few people had that much patience. It was far easier to scoff at Capell than to go to the trouble of reading his notes – not twice, not even once.
Just one of these notes was allowed into Boswell’s edition (1821); several were eventually brought in from the cold by Furness (1873). Furness could see well enough why previous editors had boggled; and yet, he said, ‘Capell’s notes are worthy of all respect. He had good sense, and his opinions (when we can make them out) are never to be lightly discarded’ (Furness 1873:vii). I would be inclined to agree.
The second file is a copy of these notes put into a format which I hope may make them easier to read, supplied with references which I hope may make them easier to understand. I have corrected a few typos but left the spelling and punctuation unaltered.
Copied from the previous edition. Seen through the press by Isaac Reed.
Macbeth edited by Edmond Malone. Copied from Johnson and Steevens’s second edition.
Added at the end are the lyrics for ‘Speak, sister, speak’ and ‘Come away, come away’ (but not for ‘Black spirits, white spirits’), copied from one of the editions of D’Avenant’s play.
Copied from Malone’s edition. This, by the way, is the earliest edition in which phrases construed as portions of a single line – such as ‘Did not you speak? / When? / Now. / As I descended?’ – are printed in echelon.
Added at the end are large extracts from Middleton’s The Witch, the sole surviving copy of which was in Steevens’s possession by this time.
Macbeth in an octavo edition printed at Oxford in 1786–94. Copied from Johnson and Steevens’s second edition, retouched with some readings from the fourth. The editor, Joseph Rann (1731–1811), was a clergyman, vicar of Holy Trinity church in Coventry from 1773 till he died (CCEd Person ID: 19427). I see it said that he was friends with Thomas Warton.
Copied from Steevens’s marked-up copy of the previous edition. Seen through the press by Isaac Reed, with help from William Harris.
The ‘Family Shakespeare’, published in four volumes in 1807, comprised a selection of twenty plays edited by Harriet Bowdler. Though ‘well known in the literary world’ (Brydges 1812 3:280), she did not put her name to this book; it is not clear how many people knew (or cared to know) the secret. I have seen her book described as a ‘provincial’ publication, but that gives altogether the wrong idea. Because Mrs Bowdler lived in Bath, it made sense to have the printing done there, by a firm that she had had frequent dealings with; but the book was published in London, by the (very well-known) bookseller John Hatchard. A short preface explains the editor’s intention. ‘My object is to offer these Plays to the public in such a state, that they may be read with pleasure in all companies, and placed without danger in the hands of every person who is capable of understanding them. Many vulgar, and all indecent expressions are omitted; an uninteresting or absurd scene is sometimes curtailed; and I have occasionally substituted a word which is in common use, instead of one that is obsolete’ (Bowdler 1807 1:vi–viii). Her version of Macbeth is in volume 4. Omissions aside, the text is mostly in agreement with Steevens’s fourth edition (1793), but there are numerous discrepancies. I have marked a few of these irregular readings, but not in any systematic way. Anyone looking at Mrs Bowdler’s edition will, I assume, only want to know what exactly she chose to delete.
Copied page for page from the previous edition. Seen through the press by William Harris. There are a few small adjustments to the text. This, by the way, is the earliest edition which eschews the use of long ‘s’.
The ‘Family Shakspeare’, edited by Thomas Bowdler, was first published in 10 volumes in 1818. Though the title is the same (give or take one letter), this edition is quite independent from his sister’s; but Thomas Bowdler, like his sister, wanted Shakespeare to be read as widely as possible, even though this meant (so both of them thought) that he would have to be expurgated. ‘It is the wish of the editor to render the plays of Shakspeare unsullied by any scene, by any speech, or, if possible, by any word that can give pain to the most chaste, or offence to the most religious of his readers’ (Bowdler 1818 1:viii). His version of Macbeth is in volume 4. Omissions aside, the text is a near-perfect copy of Steevens’s fifth edition (1803); Bowdler allowed himself just a very few emendations (such as ‘notes of love’ (p. 226) instead of ‘knots of love’). Most pages have a few footnotes: they are (as Bowdler says) entirely unoriginal. All told, the cuts made here are far less extensive than those made in his sister’s edition – or, it might be added, in any contemporary acting edition. Even the Porter gets to speak a few lines (p. 191).
The book sold well. Shortly after Bowdler’s death, his nephew, the Rev. Thomas Bowdler, had this to say about it. ‘Seven years have elapsed since the Family Shakspeare was published in 1818; and a third edition is now on sale in octavo, and a fourth in duodecimo. The merit of the work, therefore, may be considered to be acknowledged and established: the readers of Shakspeare will henceforth probably be multiplied tenfold; the Family Shakspeare will be the edition which will lie on the table of every drawing-room; and the name of the editor will be remembered, as of one who has perhaps contributed more than any other individual to promote the innocent and rational amusement of well-educated families’ (Bowdler 1825:321–2). In various shapes and sizes, the ‘Family Shakspeare’ remained in print for almost a hundred years.
Macbeth edited by James Boswell. Copied from Johnson and Steevens’s fifth edition.
Macbeth edited by Samuel Weller Singer. Printed by Charles Whittingham at the Chiswick Press. Copied from Reed’s edition (1803) but checked against Boswell’s (1821). The chief purpose of this edition was to get the annotation cut down to a sensible proportion; such changes as were made to the text were incidental.
The vignette – Macbeth and Macduff coming to blows – was engraved on wood by John Thompson; there is nothing to say, and I do not know, who made the original drawing.
Singer reworked the text for a new edition thirty years later (see below).
Macbeth edited by Charles Knight for his ‘Pictorial edition of the works of Shakspere’ (1838–43). The edition was published in monthly parts: Macbeth was part 31, for Apr. 1841 (it is advertised in the Sunday Times, 28 Mar. 1841). Copied from Boswell’s edition; but Knight reinstated any readings from the first folio which he thought could possibly be right.
The pictorial element includes a title-page drawn by William Digges (Duncan’s horses going berserk) and a series of vignettes of Scottish landscapes sketched on the spot by Thomas Creswick in 1839.
Macbeth edited by John Payne Collier. Copied from Boswell’s edition, with much of the punctuation readjusted.
The editions produced by Collier later – a one-volume edition in 1853, a six-volume edition in 1858, an eight-volume edition privately printed in 1875–8 – are all contaminated with spurious readings. They are not of any use.
Macbeth edited by Nicolaus Delius. Copied from Collier’s edition. Each play is a booklet by itself: Macbeth is the fourth item in the first volume; there are seven volumes altogether. Only the text is in English; the editorial matter is all in German. (The typography has some foreign features which I have filtered out; but I retain the distinction – consistently made here – between apostrophes marking omissions and apostrophes marking the possessive case, spaced and unspaced respectively – as in ‘What ’s your grace’s will?’)
A revised version of Delius’s edition, compressed into two volumes, appeared in 1872 (see below).
Macbeth edited again by Singer. Copied from the first edition (1826), but much altered. Singer seems to have been aiming to bring the text more closely into line with some version of Knight’s edition. Whatever he was trying to do, this is an unsatisfactory piece of work. I only include it here because this was the edition from which Keightley’s edition took its text (see below).
Macbeth edited by Alexander Dyce. Copied from Boswell’s edition.
Macbeth edited by Richard Grant White for Little Brown and Company, Boston. Copied from Collier’s edition, but not without numerous alterations, mostly of a superficial kind.
Macbeth edited by Thomas Keightley. Copied from Singer’s second edition (1856) – Bell & Daldy were the publishers of that as well as this – with numerous alterations, some of which are on the wild side. (Conjectural additions – anything from one letter to three words – were printed in italics, to obviate the need for notes. I have coloured these additions blue, to make them more easily visible.)
Keightley’s comments were published separately later, in a book called The Shakespeare-expositor: an aid to the perfect understanding of Shakespeare’s plays (London, 1867).
The ‘Globe Edition’ was a one-volume edition of Shakespeare’s plays and poems (viii + 1079 pages) produced by the same editors who were at work on the nine-volume ‘Cambridge Shakespeare’ (see below). It aimed to present, ‘in a convenient form, with clear type and at a moderate cost, the complete works of the foremost man in all literature’; and the editors hoped that it would ‘make its way to the remotest corners of the habitable globe’. It appeared first in 1864 and was reprinted again and again, establishing itself as the standard work for purposes of reference. If anyone wanted to quote the number of a scene or line, this was the book they turned to. I reproduce its version of Macbeth for that reason. (For that reason alone. It has no further usefulness.)
A ‘new edition’, revised by one of the original editors, appeared in 1911. The paging was different; despite the columns being made narrower than before (with the result that passages of prose tended to become longer), the numbering of the lines was kept the same.
Macbeth edited by William George Clark and William Aldis Wright. Copied from Dyce’s edition.
The same editors were responsible for a one-volume edition of Shakespeare’s plays and poems (see above), and for separate editions of some of the plays included in a series published for the use of schools by the Clarendon Press. Their separate edition of Macbeth (which silently omits the Porter’s thoughts about drink) was published in 1869. (The preface that they wrote for that is to be found in the commentary folder.) Each of these editions differs in some details from the others; I do not see that any one of them is uniformly best.
A second edition of the ‘Cambridge Shakespeare’ was published in 1891–3 (see below).
This is the apparatus of footnotes and endnotes which Clark and Wright attached to their edition. I have been brutal with the format of the footnotes, but the substance is unchanged. Though I cannot say that I have verified every detail, the collation is, I believe, very nearly impeccable. There is just one error I have noticed.
Amplified versions of the same apparatus appear in the editions by H. H. Furness (1873), W. A. Wright (see below), and H. H. Furness Jr (1903).
Macbeth reedited by Alexander Dyce. Copied from his first edition.
A third edition, copied page for page from Dyce’s marked-up copy of the second edition, was published posthumously in 1876. (Dyce died in 1869.) One spelling mistake (‘incarnardine’) was put right; otherwise the text appears to be identical.
Macbeth as it appeared in the revised two-volume version of Delius’s edition. As before, only Shakespeare’s text is in English; the editorial matter is all in German.
Delius’s text was adopted for a one-volume edition of Shakespeare’s works published in London in 1877 – the ‘Leopold Edition’ so called (because it was dedicated to Queen Victoria’s youngest son, Prince Leopold). It was also adopted by W. J. Craig as the basis for a forty-volume set called the ‘Little Quarto Shakespeare’ (1903–5). The ‘Arden Shakespeare’ – of which Craig had been (till he died) the general editor – is stated to have taken its text for Macbeth (1912) from the ‘Little Quarto’ volume (which I have not seen).
The ‘Oxford Shakespeare’ was a one-volume edition of the complete works (viii + 1264 pages) edited by W. J. Craig. The book includes a short preface and a glossary at the end, but no other apparatus of any kind. The text is eclectic: the editor gave himself carte blanche. By and large, I have not seen any point in reproducing such blatantly commercial editions, but I make an exception for this one, because I think it catches a moment in the emergence of a vulgate text from which even scholarly editions would, in the future, not dare to diverge very far.
(The book is undated. It is sometimes stated to have been first published in 1894, but that is a mistake. As Jaggard says, the ‘Oxford Shakespeare’ appeared in 1891: it was advertised repeatedly, from late November onwards (Times, 28 Nov. 1891, 8b), in the run-up to Christmas. As well as the cheap edition (price 2s 6d), there was an edition printed on India Paper (price 10s 6d) ‘which measures no more than seven-eighths of an inch in thickness, and weighs barely 19 ounces’.)
Craig acted also as editor of the ‘Little Quarto Shakespeare’ (1903–5) and as general editor of the ‘Arden Shakespeare’ (1899–1906).
The ‘Oxford Shakespeare’ was reissued in the ‘Oxford Standard Authors’ series in 1905 and frequently reprinted after that; reset in 1943, it was again reprinted as and when. The same text was used for a three-volume edition first published in 1912.
A second edition of the ‘Cambridge Shakespeare’, undertaken by Wright alone, was published in 1891–3. Macbeth is in volume 7 (1892). Some of the annotation is new, but the text is very nearly the same as before.
Macbeth as published in the original ‘Arden Shakespeare’. This volume appeared in 1912. The introduction and notes were supplied by Henry Cuningham (about whom I know practically nothing), but he had no control over the text. That was copied from the version printed by W. J. Craig in the ‘Little Quarto Shakespeare’ (1905), which itself was copied from Delius’s two-volume edition (see above).
Not having seen the ‘Little Quarto Shakespeare’, I cannot say what new adjustments were made for this edition.
Macbeth edited by John Dover Wilson for Cambridge University Press (1947). Copied from Wright’s edition (1892), but with extensive alterations, many of which are gratuitous. They belong in the prompt-book for some particular production of the play; they do not belong here. I have reproduced some of the typographical eccentricities with which Wilson indulged himself, but not all of them. Passages which I have printed bold are passages which he put between inverted commas (to denote that they were copied from the first folio’s stage-directions). Passages which I have printed pink are passages which he put between square brackets (to denote that he thought them spurious – as do I).
Macbeth edited by Kenneth Muir (1951), the first volume in the second series of ‘Arden Shakespeare’ editions. Copied from the first edition. There are numerous adjustments, some of which look as if they might have been made by the publishers’ copy editor; but the ones which signify were Muir’s. He thought it something to be proud of that his text was ‘closer to that of the First Folio than any since the seventeenth century’ (xv). All in all, a fussy piece of work, not as carefully executed as it should have been.