The Historical Register for the Year 1736: And, Eurydice Hissed

The Historical Register for the Year 1736: And, Eurydice Hissed

The Historical Register for the Year 1736: And, Eurydice Hissed

The Historical Register for the Year 1736: And, Eurydice Hissed

Excerpt

There is only one bibliographical problem connected with The Historical Register for the Year 1736 and Eurydice Hissed. In his work on Henry Fielding, Wilbur Cross recorded two editions Printed: and Sold by J. Roberts," both undated, one with 41 pages of text for the two plays and the other with 48 pages. Contemporary notices in The Grub St. Journal and The London Evening Post specify May 12, 1737, as the date of publication for the two plays. In Cross' opinion the 41-page edition appeared on that date and the 48-page edition, "the 2d edition, though not so named," at a later date.

There are now substantial reasons for believing that the 48-page edition (subsequently referred to as the A text) is the true first edition and the 41-page text (subsequently referred to as Ap) is, in fact, a piracy. The primary evidence for this conclusion is based on recent studies of printers' devices. The ornaments found in A appear regularly in the books printed for Roberts, while those in Ap do not, but do appear regularly in the books printed by William Cheyne of Edinburgh.

Further evidence supports the conclusion that Ap is an unauthorized edition. Text A and text Ap were set up independently, a procedure which would have resulted in unnecessary expense for Roberts since the variants between the two are compositorial and not substantive and errors could easily have been corrected without a complete re-setting. That the A text is the accepted text of the play no one has disputed. It served as the copy-text for subsequent editions published both in London and Dublin, and the variant readings in Ap, in every case inferior to those in A, are evidently the errors of a careless compositor.

Still other arguments substantiate the primacy of the A text. The scarcity of copies of Ap has long puzzled Fielding collectors. First editions of Pasquin, Fielding's great success of the previous year, are . . .

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