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Alexander Pope's scholarship in his edition of Shakespeare's Works (1725) has been the subject of much criticism from the publication of Theobald's Shakespeare Restored (1726) down to our own times. Two scholars, Thomas Lounsbury and Hans Schmidt, performed an extensive analysis of the edition in the early part of our century, and their negative conclusions have been the assumptions on which our judgment has rested.[1] Lounsbury and Schmidt found that Pope was careless, unsystematic, and incapable of performing the task he had set for himself. The charges which they make against Pope can in large measure be extenuated and accounted for in the light of Pope's theory of editing, in which he appropriated to himself the right to choose readings with an independence shocking to a twentieth-century editor; but even as a way of understanding that attitude of editing, we must reconsider the scholarship Pope performed in the preparation of his edition. Much may be said that suggests that Lounsbury and Schmidt, however righteous they were in the defense of literary scholarship, were too quick to make unjustified accusations, too eager to jump to unwarranted conclusions.

The accusations fall into two general classes; Pope is censured, first, for his carelessness in word-definition, and secondly, for his indifference to textual collation. The definition of words is discussed in detail by Lounsbury (p. 86) as "a fair illustration of the haphazard way in


Page 46
which the work on this edition was done." After recalling to the reader's mind the limited vocabulary of the Augustans as compared with our own (or the Elizabethans'), he continues,
. . . .Still, it is difficult to believe that several of those that [Pope] felt it incumbent to define could have been unknown to the men of his generation. Even if strange, their signification in most cases could have been easily guessed from the context. Where so vast a number of really difficult words were passed over in silence, it would seem hardly worth while to inform the reader, as did Pope, that bolted means 'sifted,' that budge means 'give way,' that eld means 'old age,' that sometime means 'formerly,' that rood means 'cross,' and that the verb witch means 'bewitch.' These, and others like these, could not have been deemed obsolete: some of them it would hardly have been right to call unusual (p. 87).
But these words were unusual and strange in 1725, as an examination of their history in the New English Dictionary reveals. The list of quotations illustrating the use of each word omits in almost every case a quotation from the period immediately preceding or following Pope's edition;[2] "gyves," dated in 1704, and "bolted," which Pope himself used in the Odyssey, 1725, are the only two examples (except dialect versions) found in the first quarter of the eighteenth century. It is not difficult to believe that Pope felt it necessary to define these words; his edition, which was directed primarily to the general reader of his time, had to be comprehensible if it was to succeed, and Pope was certainly trying to make the text clear; he was not merely making a pretense of scholarship.

The selection of Pope's words does not disturb Lounsbury as much as the definition of the words he selected.

. . . .These [definitions] were not unfrequently the purest guesses. Even when they approached the meaning, they sometimes failed to give it exactly. A few examples will set this forth clearly. The noun, hilding, 'a worthless good-for-nothing fellow,' was explained by the adjectives 'base,' 'degenerate.' Caliver, 'a small gun,' was set down as 'a large gun.' Henchman appears as 'usher'; hurtling, 'collision' or 'conflict,' as 'skirmishing'; and brach, as 'hound.' The two definitions given of brooch are suggestive of the obscurity as well as misapprehension that had then overtaken the designation of that now common ornamental fastening. In one place it was described as 'an


Page 47
old word signifying a jewel,' and in the other as 'a chain of gold that women wore formerly about their necks.' The ingenuity with which, when a word had two possible meanings, Pope could light upon the wrong one can be seen in his giving to callat, 'a strumpet,' the sense of 'scold'; and again in defining coystrel, 'a knave,' as a 'young lad' (pp. 87-88).
The judgment cannot be made against Pope, however, without taking into consideration the unscholarly nature of his age. There was none of the equipment which is now available to the modern scholar: libraries, encylopedias, dissertations, good dictionaries. Pope had to be contented with the best contemporary works he could find. The blame (if any) for these inaccuracies must rest largely upon the shoulders of the scholars of the time rather than upon Pope, since there is strong evidence that he relied upon contemporary dictionaries for these meanings. The same list of words was defined in Bailey's Dictionary (1721) as follows:
  • hilding [q.d. Hinderling]: degenerate Spencer
  • caliver: a sort of small Sea Gun
  • henchman, heinsman: A Foot Page, Germ. a Sirname
  • hurtling: thrusting, skirmishing Spencer
  • bracetus, brachetus: a Hound O.L.
  • brooch: a Painting all in one Colour: Also a Collar of Gold, used to be worn by Ladies about their Necks
  • calot: a lewd Woman, a drab (1724 ed.)
  • coistrel: a young lad L.
Several of these are identical with the meanings given by Pope. Far from revealing Pope's unscholarly nature, they show that he was at some pains to consult outside authorities. A similar answer can be made to Lounsbury's statements concerning Pope's etymologies.

. . . .As his etymologies were often wrong, it is not at all remarkable that the explanations based upon them should not merely be guesses, but should be very bad guesses. The unscholarly nature of Pope's mind was almost invariably sure to display itself whenever he set out to exhibit scholarship.

This charge can easily be substantiated. The old English verb ear, as an example, means 'to plough.' Three times it was used by Shakespeare in his plays. Pope defined it and defined it correctly; but not content with this, he went on in every instance to impart the information — needless, had it been true, but worse than needless since it was false — that it was derived from the Latin arare (pp. 89-90).

Bailey's Dictionary again is an authority which Pope may have used. It has "To ear or are [of Earian, Sax. of Arare, L.] to till, plough, or


Page 48
fallow the ground."[3] Pope's definitions are not "a fair illustration of the haphazard way in which the work on this edition was done." He defined as many words as he could according to the best authorities of his day; where he failed, the failure may be attributed to the age in which he lived.

But this accusation is of minor importance in comparison with the remarks on Pope's collation of texts. If it can be demonstrated that Pope was unsystematic and careless in his use of the quarto and folio texts, then it may justly be claimed that his edition was a failure by his own standards as well as ours. This is the conclusion that Schmidt comes to:

Unzweifelhaft hat er in vielen Fallen, wo er sich den Quartos anschloss, das Richtige getroffen. Aber eine systematische Untersuchung des Wertes der einzelnen Quartausgaben hat er so wenig angestellt wie einen Vergleich mit den Folios. Das beweist sein Verhalten in Rom. und Shr. Ebensowenig entsprach die Art und Weise, wie er die Quartos benutzte, der "dull duty of an editor". Er zog diese Ausgaben nicht systematisch und gründlich zu Rat, vielmehr nur gelegentlich. Einige deutliche Beispiele mögen es veranschaulichen. Im Lear finden sich in den Quartos häufig ganze Zeilen, die in den Folios und bei Rowe fehlen. Pope nimmt sie weder in seinen Text auf, noch weist er in Anmerkungen darauf hin: so II 4, 18, 19, IV 2, 53-59, IV 2, 62-68, 69 (Albany. What news?), IV 7, 33-36, 79, 80, 86-98, V 1, 11-13, 18, 19, V 3, 39, 40, 55-60, 205-222. Andererseits fehlen in den Quartausgaben des Lear Worte und Zeilen, die sich in den Folios und bei Rowe finden. Pope hat sich seinem Vorgänger Rowe angeschlossen, ohne den Leser über die Lesart der Quartos aufzuklären: so II 1, 97 (of that consort), II 4, 21, 45-53, 94, 95, 99, 136-141, III 4, 17, 18, 26, 37, 38, 51 (through flame), 57, III 6, 12-15, 84, IV 1, 6-9, IV 6, 163-168.[4]


Page 49
Pope's apologist cannot evade this charge by asserting that the poet lacked materials. He lists a quarto edition of every play for which quartos exist, except Much Ado About Nothing, and there is ample evidence that he used each one during the course of his collation. In addition to this, he includes first and second folios in his list: a total of source material which was available to no other editor until Capell.

Moreover, part of Schmidt's statements must be admitted to be correct. Pope did not realize that these early quartos were often pirated and inferior editions. In his own age, it was almost always the first edition that appeared with the author's consent and approval; thereafter no authority could be attributed to an edition without strict examination. Consequently, he often does accord to some of these early quartos a value which we now realize they do not deserve. The main reason for this respect, however, is not that a quarto is a "first edition," but that it is an authority by an appeal to which he can delete inferior lines or add pertinent material. This will become sufficiently evident later on in this discussion.

Schmidt is also perfectly correct when he says that Pope did not consistently inform the reader of textual differences or omissions. His edition was directed to the general reader, not to the scholar, and Pope felt it necessary to notify the reader only when there were longer or more important passages involved.

But the accusation that Pope was unsystematic in his collation requires re-examination. Both Lounsbury and Schmidt notice that Pope does not restore all the lines from the quarto of King Lear, although he restores some of them; their conclusion from this is that Pope consulted the quartos occasionally, but not consistently.

I should like to suggest the hypothesis that Pope did read the quartos side by side with Rowe's edition and that what he omitted, he omitted by choice, not chance. This point can be demonstrated by an examination of the same play which his critics use as evidence for their conclusion. Although there can be no question of the fact that Pope left out several passages which were in the Lear quarto of 1608, there are several curious things to note about Pope's treatment of this


Page 50
quarto which make it evident that he left out the passages purposely. First of all, wherever Pope inserts a passage present only in the quarto, he indicates it in a note.[5] He does not always directly mention the quartos, however; sometimes he merely substitutes the quarto reading and puts the Rowe reading in the margin.[6] But in this play, perhaps more than any other he edited, Pope was careful to note passages inserted from the quarto of 1608 if they were of any length. This fact is interesting since it is not often Pope's procedure, but it does not prove anything material about the care with which he collated.

What is informative is the tenor of some of these notes. A few of them are as follows:

These words restor'd from the first edition, without which the sense was not compleat. (I, 1, 103; Pope, vol. III, p. 4)

In the common editions it is "Good dawning," tho' the time be apparently night. I have restor'd it to sense from the old edition. (II, 2, 1; Pope, vol. III, p. 35)

The six following verses were omitted in all the late editions: I have replac'd them from the first, for they are certainly Shakespeare's. (III, 1, 7-15; Pope, vol. III, p. 53)

After the words 'twixt Albany and Cornwall in the old edition are the lines which I have inserted in the text, which seem necessary to the plot, as preparatory to the arrival of the French army with Cordelia in Act 4. How both these, and a whole Scene between Kent and this gentleman in the fourth Act, came to be left out in all the latter editions, I cannot tell: they depend upon each other, and very much contribute to clear that incident . . . . The lines which have been put in their room are unintelligible, and to no purpose. (III, 1, 30-43; Pope, vol. III, p. 54)

These and the speech ensuing are in the edition of 1608, and are but necessary to explain the reasons of the detestation which Albany expresses here to his wife. (IV, 2, 31-50; Pope, vol. III, p. 76)

In these examples, Pope seems to have a fear of adding anything from


Page 51
the quarto edition, without offering a reason for it. In the first two examples, he feels that the passages restore the sense of the text; in the third, the quality of the verses justifies their presence; in the fourth, the explanation of the plot requires the lines; and in the last, the characters become more clearly portrayed by the inclusion of the verses. The most arresting fact, however, is the phraseology of the last quotation. These speeches "are but necessary to explain the reasons of the detestation which Albany expresses here to his wife," implying that if they did not have this reason for being, he would not have put them into the play. This is an indirect statement of Pope's theory about collation and scholarship. Every passage must serve some sort of function in the play, and the editor must decide whether the passage is worthy or not before admitting it into the text.

Further evidence for believing that Pope left out quarto passages by choice appears when one examines some of the lines he does insert. The quarto, Act III, scene 1, lines 7-15, reads:

[the king] teares his white hairs, l.7
Which the impetuous blasts with eyles rage
Catch in their fury, and make nothing of,
Strives in his little world of man to outscorne, l.10
The too and fro conflicting wind and rain,
This night wherin the cub-drawne Bear would couch,
The Lyon, and the belly pinched Wolfe
Keeps their furre dry, unbonneted he runnes,
And bids what will take all.[7]
In Pope's version, lines 10-11 are left out entirely, and "wherin" (line 12) is changed to "in which"; he seems to maintain here and in other places a complete independence in his consideration of the text.[8] This practice is again not a proof that he collated his texts carefully, but it at least opens the way to a belief that if Pope thought a line was unworthy of representation in the text, he did not hesitate to leave it out.[9]


Page 52

It is only by an actual collation of the texts that one can find positive proof that Pope was not careless in his collation of this text. The passages listed by Schmidt were certainly seen by Pope, because he often makes changes from the quarto in the lines immediately preceding or following these passages. Thus in Act IV, scene 7, lines 33-36 are missing from the folios, from Rowe, and from Pope, as indicated by Schmidt. But the verse immediately preceding (line 32) appears in the quarto as

Was this a face
To be exposed against the warring winds, l.32
in Rowe as
Was this Face
To be oppos'd against the jarring Winds?[10]
and in Pope, conspicuously following the quarto,
Was this face
To be expos'd against the warring winds?
It is not probable that Pope read and accepted line thirty-two without seeing and reading lines 33-36. Another even more interesting example occurs in the same scene, lines 79-80. The whole speech of the doctor is as follows in the quarto (lines 78-81):
Be comforted good Madame, the great rage you see is cured in him, and yet it is danger to make him even ore the time hee has lost, desire him to goe in, trouble him no more till further settling.
The folios and Rowe have
Be comforted, good Madam, the great rage
You see is kill'd in him; desire him to go in.
Trouble him no more 'till further settling.
Be comforted, good Madam; the great rage
You see is cur'd in him: desire him to go in.
And trouble him no more 'till further settling.
Pope follows Rowe in the verse form and in leaving out the additional lines from the quarto, but he adopts a word from the quarto text,


Page 53
"cur'd" for "kill'd," and that in a place where he could not possibly have failed to see the omitted lines.[11]

The fact that not all the quarto verses thus treated can be enclosed with a parenthesis of evidence proving Pope's use of the quarto does not invalidate the case. This quarto does not have a great many variant readings in comparison with some of the other Shakespearean quartos, and what few it has are of small value. Consequently, the actual changes taken from the quarto into Pope's text are fewer than usual. But what changes there are indicate that his collation must have been very close indeed. The words taken from the quarto into the text of Pope are in most cases matters of preference expressed by the editor rather than readings necessary to make sense out of the Rowe text. For example, in the seventy-nine lines of the second scene of Act III (exclusive of the Fool's prophecy at the end, which is not in the quarto), there are just eleven readings taken from the quarto by Pope.

These are:

line 3  Till you have drencht our steeples, drown'd the cocks.  qq.Pope;  drown ff.Rowe 
line 8  Crack nature's mould, all germains spill at once.  qq.Pope;  moulds ff.Rowe 
line 9  That make ingrateful man.  qq.Pope;  makes ff.Rowe 
line 22  That have with two pernicious daughters join'd qq.Pope;  will . . . join ff.Rowe 
lines 48-49  Man's nature cannot carry
Th'affliction, nor the force
qq.Pope; fear  ff.Rowe 
lines 49-50  Let the great gods,
That keep this dreadful thund'ring o'er our heads. 
qq.Pope;  pudder ff. Rowe 
lines 54-55  Thou perjur'd, and thou simular man of virtue  qq.Pope;  simular ff.Rowe 
That art incestuous.  qq.ff.Pope;  Thou Rowe 
lines 55-57  Caitiff, shake to pieces   Pope; to pieces shake  qq.ff.Rowe 
That under covert and convenient seeming
Hast practis'd on man's life. 
qq.Pope;  Has ff.Rowe 


Page 54
line 64  More hard than is the stone whereof 'tis rais'd.
harder than the stones 
qq.Pope;  ff.Rowe 
lines 70-71  The art of our necessities is strange,
That can make vile things precious. 
qq.Pope;  And ff.Rowe 
line 78  True my good boy: come bring us to this hovel.  qq.Pope;  boy ff.Rowe[12]  

These emendations are all of such a minor nature that they could only have been seen and adopted by one who was collating carefully and systematically, and since they are spaced over the whole scene they show that the collation was not concentrated in individual spots. But this scene is representative of Pope's reference to the quarto throughout the entire play. The same type of emendation of Rowe's text appears everywhere.[13] The weight of this evidence overpowers Schmidt's statement (p. 33) that "Wenn Pope bei Rowe eine offenbar verderbte Lesart fand, so griff er häufig lieber zu eigenen Änderungen, als dass er in den Quartos nachsah."[14] The few examples which he gives from the plays to illustrate his theory (which is essentially the same as Lounsbury's) that Pope first consulted his own Muse if a reading did not satisfy him, does not hold up under strict examination.[15]

The truth is that Pope is very careful in his collation of this play; he constantly keeps the quarto before him and uses it to emend or augment the text, but he always reserves the right to handle his material in his own way. If he leaves out lines from the quarto edition, it is because he wishes to do so, not because he is careless or unsystematic.

But the Lear quarto of 1608 has never been considered a good text except for its contribution of these additional passages. There are not as many variant readings as in some of the other quartos, and a large number of them are inferior to the folio lines. Consequently, an even more impressive conclusion can be reached by the examination of an


Page 55
edition such as the Hamlet quarto. This has a great number of variant readings, many of which are excellent, and they afford an ample scope for any editor who insists upon an independent choice of materials.[16] Of the seventy-five instances in IV, 7 in which q3 or q5 differs from Rowe's text, twenty-six are inserted into Pope's edition. They are such small changes that Pope must have collated very carefully to have detected them. His practice in this scene is again no different from his collation of the rest of the play, showing that his examination of the quarto readings is consistent and thorough in every act.[17]

His handling of the quartos demonstrates his editorial independence in another way. It has been stated before that he gives an unwarranted preference to some quartos and that one of the reasons for it was that they were "first editions." But not all of the "first editions" are considered on the same level. The Lear quarto is not as "good" (that is, useful) as the Hamlet quarto, nor is the Hamlet quarto as good as the Romeo and Juliet quarto of 1597. The latter he speaks of in terms of highest respect because it gives him authority to leave out certain passages which he dislikes. Always the worth of a line or a passage or a quarto depends ultimately upon its conformity with what he feels to be good poetry.

A question naturally arises regarding Pope's treatment of the folios in distinction from Rowe's text on the one hand and the quartos on the other. It is a difficult problem to answer accurately, because there is so little positive evidence in Pope's edition. It is customary and perhaps true to say that Pope bracketed Rowe's text and the folios together as opposed to the distinctly different quartos, and so paid little heed to the changes of the folios; that he did not, in other words, ever systematically collate the folios if there was a quarto text to collate instead. Only very rarely is there any indication that Pope has looked into the first and second folios, but it must be remembered that there is not often an opportunity for using these editions. In Hamlet, Pope gives notice that he has read the folios in two places. To II,2,400, ("the first row of the rubrick will shew you more"), he appends the note:

Rubrick. It is Pons chansons in the first folio edition.


Page 56
Similarly, to II, 2, 480 ("But who, oh who, had seen the mobled Queen?"):
In the first folio edition, it is th'enobled Queen.[18]
This evidence is not at all conclusive, since it may be argued that Pope was consulting the folios in these difficult places, but not necessarily anywhere else. Thus, the question must remain unanswered.

But what about Pope's use of the folios when there was no quarto to turn to for variant readings? Pope again leaves no signpost, and any information must be procured by collating texts. The labor is not as rewarding as in the case of plays with quarto texts because the results do not give absolute proof of Pope's thoroughness. In the first place there is much less chance for securing evidence since the difference between the folios and Rowe's text is not as great as that between the quartos and Rowe. Therefore, there can be no weight of numbers to tip the scales in Pope's favor. As an instance, consider the first act of Macbeth. Twenty-eight readings of Rowe's text differ from comparable passages in the first folio (aside from mere modernization of spellings, punctuation, etc.). Of these twenty-eight, at least six are obviously corrected mistakes of something which is incomprehensible in the earlier edition. The folio line "High thee hither," for instance, can only be construed as Rowe's "Hie thee hither"; such a change as Rowe's "most" for "must" needs only to be seen to be accepted in the lines on the martlet:

Where they must breed and haunt, I have observed
The air is delicate. ff.; most Rowe (I, 6, 9-10)
This leaves, then, only twenty-two readings about which there can be any doubt as to the superiority of Rowe's text. Of this number Pope used only three lines from the folio and referred (in a note) to one other. One of these changes might possibly have been made independently of the folio; the other two could not possibly have been. The following lines in Act I, scene 5, 5-6 read the same in F1 and Pope:
. . . . came missives from the king, who all-hail'd me "Thane of Cawdor";
in the other folios and in Rowe the word is "all hail'd." A critic could have arrived at the correct reading without reference to F1, so this cannot be a positive instance.


Page 57

The other two cases do show a knowledge of the early text. Act I, scene 5, line 26:

All that impedes thee from the golden round F1 Pope; thee hinders F2F3F4 Rowe
I, 7, 7-11:
. . . .we but teach
Bloody instructions, which being taught return
To plague the inventor: this even-handed justice
Commends the ingredience of our prison'd chalice
To our own lips. F1
we but teach
Bloody instructions, which being taught return
To plague the ingredience of our poison'd chalice
To our own lips. F2F3F4Rowe
we but teach
Bloody instructions, which being taught return
To plague the inventor: even-handed justice
Returns the ingredients of our poison'd chalice
To our own lips. Pope
Pope reinserts a part of the speech which had been erroneously omitted in the second folio and in all following editions, although he takes all sorts of liberties with the first folio reading, leaving out "this" in line 10 and changing "commends" to "returns."

These few examples are very unsatisfactory and inconclusive. A further study of the play reveals the same situation. In Act II there are two instances, Act III, two more, Act IV, three, and in Act V, there are four examples, making a grand total of fourteen. This is certainly not sufficient evidence to prove Pope's exact collation of the folios along with Rowe's text. And yet, since there are so few superior readings in the first folio as opposed to Rowe, it is not fair to say that Pope has not collated the texts. The fact that the accepted lines are spread throughout the play and that there are some which are based upon pure preference (as in the case of "impedes thee" mentioned above) rather than a necessity of making sense leads one to suppose that Pope's references to the folio were not made merely because he was "puzzled" for a meaning but because he had collated with a certain amount of fidelity. This is a disappointing conclusion, but nonetheless a valid and effective one.

It is reinforced considerably by an examination of the texts of


Page 58
Antony and Cleopatra. The evidence in Act I is almost as inconclusive as in Macbeth; there are in this case thirty-seven instances in which the folio text differs from Rowe's, and Pope has reverted to eight of these. While this is a slightly higher proportion, it is nevertheless scarcely more satisfactory or conclusive than the text of Macbeth. But in Act II, Pope takes into his text no less than twenty-six readings from the folio, and in Act III, twenty-three. There is no doubt that, at least in this part of the play, Pope was consulting the earliest source along with the Rowe text. There is no reason, I think, to suppose that Pope was being erratic in the sudden jump in number from eight in the first act to twenty-six in the second, for there seems to be much more opportunity for using the first folio in the later act because of the many lapses made by the second, third, and fourth folios and carried over by Rowe. And it is not the quantity of these errors as much as the quality of them which demands the earlier reading. A few of the superior readings may be given as samples. Pope's version is given rather than the folio's.

I wrote to you
When rioting in Alexandria you
Did pocket up my letters; and with taunts
Did gibe my missive out of audience. beg F4 Rowe (II, 2, 85-88)

But by sea he is an absolute master.

So is the fame. Frame F3F4Rowe (II, 2, 192-93)

The silken tackles
Swell with the touches of those flower-soft hands
That yarely frame the office. yearly F3F4Rowe ii (II, 2, 245-47)

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety. steal F2F3F4Rowe (II, 2, 274-75)

There are not many instances in the second or third acts where a reading from the first folio as good as any of these is missed by Pope. In fact, I am fully convinced that Pope gave the folio due consideration in the preparation of his text, and that the inconclusiveness of the evidence found in Macbeth and in the first, fourth, and fifth acts of Antony and Cleopatra may be attributed to lack of differences rather than lack of effort on the part of Pope. It is much more likely that his discrepancy in numbers in Antony and Cleopatra is the result of Rowe's laxity in collating Acts II and III than Pope's in collating Acts I, IV, and V. It seems safe to conclude, therefore, that Pope paid the folio text as much attention as he did to any of the quarto editions he collated.


Page 59

Pope's practice of collating texts as illustrated by the argument presented above was careful and considerate, but in no case did he accept a reading because it was the most authoritative. Thus he preserved his own independence of judgment, which, right or wrong, he would and did stand by. Nor does he seem to have been more careful in the collation of these four plays than in that of the other plays in his edition.[19] Since the value of any quarto or folio text was also based upon Pope's independent opinion of it, it followed that he placed a greater amount of trust in some texts than in others. Yet to all of them he gave a consideration far above that of his predecessor Rowe. For this reason, and despite previous critics, Pope's errors and failures must be attributed to something else besides a careless putting together of his text.

Pope's achievement as a scholar, then, was much greater than has previously been thought, although his scholarship was directed to a different end from that of modern editors. He was not interested in collating editions in order to reproduce the historical text of Shakespeare; he wished to examine all the available material so that he could select the "best" of it for the entertainment and edification of his age.