The Plays of William Shakespeare, in eight volumes, with the Corrections and Illustrations of Various Commentators; To which are added Notes by Sam. Johnson.
first editionOctavo (8 1/4â€ x 5 3/16â€, 215mm x 131mm).Vol. I: binderâ€™s blank, portrait frontispiece, Ï€2, [A]-[D]8 [E]6(â€“[E]6), a-f8
by Shakespeare, William (ed. Samuel Johnson)
London: Printed for J. and R. Tonson, C. Corbet, H. Woodfall, J. Rivington, R. Baldwin, L. Hawes, Clark and Collins, W. Johnston, T. Caslon, T. Lownds, and the Executors of B. Dodd, 1765. First Johnson edition, first issue; first variorum edition. Octavo (8 1/4” x 5 3/16”, 215mm x 131mm).Vol. I: binder’s blank, portrait frontispiece, π2, [A]-[D]8 [E]6(–[E]6), a-f8 g4, B8(±B5) C-U8 X8(±X4, X6) Y-Hh8 Ii4, binder’s blank [$4; –S3; +X6]. 335 leaves, pp. , i ii-ciii, blank, 1-3 4-488 [= clxxxii, 488]. Engraved portrait frontispiece of Shakespeare by G. Vertue (the “Chandos portrait”). (With the B5 cancel but without the O8 cancel as called for in Chapman & Hazen; this state matches the copy in Bodley.). Vol. II: binder’s blank, _A1 B-Mm8 Nn8(–Nn8), binder’s blank [$4; –Q4; Bb2, Nn2 mis-placed above notes]. 280 leaves, pp. , 1-3 4-557, blank [= ii, 558]. Vol. III: binder’s blank, A2(±A1) B8 C8(±C5) D-Bb8 Cc8(±Cc2) Dd-Ii8 Kk4(±Kk4), binder’s blank [$4]. 254 leaves, pp. , 1-3 4-268 266 270-504 [= iv, 504]. Vol. IV: binder’s blank, A2(±A1) B-D8 F8(±F3) Z8 Aa8(±Aa7) Bb8(Bb2-3, ±Bb4, Bb5-7, Bb1, Bb8) Cc-Oo8 Pp8(±Pp1, –Pp8), binder’s blank [$4; +Aa7; –Ii4; T3 mis-placed above notes]. 297 leaves, pp. , 1-3 4-589, blank [= iv, 590]. Vol. V: binder’s blank, A2(±A1) B-Gg8 Hh8(±Hh8) Ii8(–Ii8), binder’s blank [$4; +Hh8]. 249 leaves, pp. , 1-3 4-493, blank [= iv, 494]. Vol. VI: binder’s blank, A2(–A1) B-Q8 R8(±R4) S8(±S1.8) T-Rr8 Ss2, binder’ blank [$4; +S8]. 315 leaves, pp. , 1-3 4-627, blank [= ii, 628]. Vol. VII: binder’s blank, A2(±A1) B-Mm8 Nn2, binder’s blank [$4]. 276 leaves, pp. , 1-3 4-547, blank [= iv, 548]. Vol. VIII: binder’s blank, A2(±A1) B-I8 K8(±K7) L8 M8(±M1) N8(±N7) O-P8 Q8(±Q6) R-X8 Y8(±Y5) Z-Ll8, binder’s blank [$4; +K7, N7, Q6, Y5]. 266 leaves, pp. , 1-5 6-473, blank,  [= iv, 474, liv]. Hardcover. Near fine. Samuel Johnson Eight volumes Bound by Brian Frost (ex-Bayntun) signed on the upper edge of recto of the first free end paper of each volume) in XXc half green crushed morocco over green buckram boards. Double blind fillets at edges of morocco. On the spine, five raised bands. In the panels, a gilt musical ornament. Title and number gilt in second panel, editor gilt in third panel, date gilt at tail. Marbled end-papers. . . . . . With wear to the edges of all the buckram (mousing). All edges of the text-block un-trimmed. No half-title issued for vol. I; Chapman-Hazen queries whether there was ever a half-title issued for vol. II – the present copy does not have one. Mild bumps to some corners. Even fading to spines. Edges of pages browned, as is to be expected given they are un-trimmed. Moderate foxing throughout. Red ink shelf-marks to title-pages. A good solid set. Vol. I: lower fore-corner of title-page missing and restored (not affecting text). Vol. II: lower fore-corner of C1 missing (obliterating one letter of catch-word – “l.”). Lacking final blank. Vol. IV: historical introductions written in a fine and early hand on some individual plays’ title-pages. Upper fore-edge of D5 missing (not affecting text). Lacking final blank. Vol. V: historical introductions written in a fine and early hand on some individual plays’ title-pages. Closed tear to center of K5. Lacking final blank. Vol. VI: lacking half-title. Lower fore-corner of I1 missing (not affecting text). With gilt bookplate of Louis Auchincloss on upper fore-corner of front paste-down of vol. I. Johnson’s great variorum edition of Shakespeare, which with his Dictionary won him universal fame and renown throughout Britain, is built primarily on the 1747 edition of Warburton, though it includes references to Pope and to other editors (including the “Oxford editor”, Hanmer), along with Milton and Homer and a great variety of authors. It includes Shakespeare’s last will and testament, perhaps its earliest publication. It is the rock upon which countless – nearly all modern – editions are founded. His preface marks the induction of Shakespeare into the canon: “The Poet, of whose works I have undertaken the revision, may now begin to assume the dignity of an ancient, and claim the privilege of established fame and prescriptive veneration. He has long outlived his century, the term commonly fixed as the test of literary merit.” (Vol. I, A2r; editor’s preface.) Although contemplated as early as 1745, and publicly proposed in 1756, the great lexicographer’s edition did not appear until October 1765. A notice in The Gentleman’s Magazine (Vol. XXXV, p. 479 [October]) reads: Of this work all commendation is precluded by the just celebrity of the author, and the rapid sale of the impression which has already made a second necessary, though it has not been published a month… This is hardly surprising, as Johnson had been sluggish in bringing the work out, as Churchill’s jibe in The Ghost (1762) attests: “He for subscribers baits his hook / And takes your cash–but where’s the book? / No matter where–Wise fear, we know, / Forbids the robbing of a foe; / And what, to serve out private ends, / Forbids the cheating of our friends?” The present item is nonetheless certainly of the first issue (1,000 copies), containing all but one of the cancellations listed in Chapman & Hazen (see above in collation of vol. I) and even one not noted: vol. III Kk4. They acknowledge that the presence or absence of cancels is hardly damning, as copies in deposit libraries (the BL and Bodley especially) vary, and many corrections seem to have been made at press (such that cancellantia and cancellanda are identical). The reason for the cancels, according to Chapman & Hazen (147), was to soften criticisms of Warburton. The connection with Louis Auchincloss (1917-1910), a New York “living landmark” and one of the great American novelists of the XXc, is particularly alluring because of Auchincloss’s “Motiveless Malignity” (1969), a collection of essays on Shakespeare (whose title comes from a letter of Coleridge). One likes to imagine the great chronicler of inherited status reading through this Shakespeare as he formulated his ideas… RB. Adam Library of Samuel Johnson, II.(16); Chapman & Hazen 146-147; Courtney & Smith 107; Ebisch & Schuckling 54; ESTC T138601; Fleeman 65; Grolier, Shakespeare’s Plays 16; Wm. Jaggard (1901) 501; Pforzheimer 911. Antiquarian
(Inventory #: 50431)
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