Birth of Shakespeare Studies: Commentators from Rowe (1709 by Arthur Sherbo

By Arthur Sherbo

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Extra resources for Birth of Shakespeare Studies: Commentators from Rowe (1709 to Boswell-Malone)

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Copies of the sales catalogues of these two libraries are extant, many of them with the prices marked and/or the names of the purchasers. Prices for books that command hundreds of pounds today were sold for shillings. In the twenty-third day's sale of Farmer's books, when ''Early English Printed Books, in Black Letter" were sold, the first lot, "Spelman on the Law-Terms, 1684, Evelyn's Instructions for erecting a Library, 1661, and 19 other [tracts]" sold for the princely sum of two shillings. ; the fourth, an even one pound.

This was hardly the ideal collaboration. " Styan Thirlby, a man of no inconsiderable talents who evidently could not find his metier. He was a pamphleteer, a classical editor, "a nominal physician," a student of civil law, as well as an abortive editor of Shakespeare. Dr. Johnson, who termed Thirlby "a nominal physician," provided anecdotes for John Nichols's account of Thirlby and wrote that "his mind seems to have been tumultuous and desultory, and he was glad to catch any employment [he "counted the lines in every page" of Shakespeare] that might produce attention without anxiety.

Further insight is provided by another letter from Pope to Tonson, tentatively dated May 16 or 23, 1722. " These five obliging collators of Pope's acquaintance seem destined to anonymity, yet what greater favor could one ask of his friends than to spend "ev'ry night" of a whole week collating texts! Fenton read the sheets of the fifth volume of the edition and made the index. ''5 Whatever may have been known privately of the help Pope received, there was no acknowledgment in his Preface of assistance of any kind.

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