Bodleian Exhibition Website Commentary (Joseph Hone and James McLaverty)

The Bodleian exhibition will run between 3rd July to 6th September, and  illustrates aspects of two enterprises of the 1760s that, though tinged with failure, had important consequences for the study and celebration of Shakespeare. Samuel Johnson’s* edition of the plays (published 10 October 1765) had a muddled subscription and was subject to delays, but it established new standards for the historical interpretation of Shakespeare’s texts and introduced a variorum commentary, giving the notes of earlier editors as well as Johnson’s own. David Garrick’s* Shakespeare Jubilee (held in Stratford on 6-8 September 1769) began with Garrick’s being given the freedom of the borough in the hope that he would present a statue of Shakespeare for the new town hall in return, but it developed into multiple festivities. In many respects, including literally, the event was a wash out, but it began the celebration of Shakespeare that was to result in the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

[In compiling these notes we have drawn freely on the printed and internet sources listed at the end. Short biographies of  all the various personages, marked by * and mentioned in this commentary, appear at the end of the main text]

Don. e. 768; title page
Proposals for Printing, by Subscription, The Dramatick Works of William Shakespeare, Corrected and Illustrated by Samuel Johnson

Soon after publishing his famous Dictionary of the English Language (15 April 1755), Johnson decided that he would edit Shakespeare. The many entries for Shakespeare in the Dictionary meant that much of the work had been done already.

Johnson had intended to edit Shakespeare before and had published Proposals for Printing a New Edition of the Plays of William Shakepear in April 1745 (Fleeman, 45.4SP), alongside his Miscellaneous Observations on Macbeth. The idea was to publish an edition with Edward Cave, for whom Johnson had worked on the Gentleman’s Magazine and to sell it at 25s. rather than 2 guineas. But Jacob Tonson* claimed the copyright to Shakespeare and, when he wrote to Cave threatening legal action, the project was abandoned.

It was with Jacob Tonson, therefore, that Johnson’s agreement was signed on 2 June 1756. The contract, which is in the Lichfield Birthplace Museum, is as follows:

June 2. 1756.

Whereas an Edition of the Dramatick Works of William Shakespeare corrected and illustrated by Mr Samuel Johnson is now preparing by him for the Press which is to be printed on a good Paper and Letter in eight Volumes Octavo.
Now it is hereby agreed between the said Mr Johnson of the first part, and Jacob Tonson of London Bookseller in behalf of himself and the rest of the Proprietors of the Copy Right of Shakespeare of the other part as follows.
That in consideration of Mr Johnsons’s care and trouble in preparing the said Work for the Press, the said Jacob Tonson shall deliver him Two hundred and fifty Setts of the said Work for the Use of His Subscribers free of all costs and charges in Sheets. And it is also further agreed, that if the Number of Subscribers shall amount to more than two hundred and fifty, the said Mr Johnson shall have any additional Number of Books paying to the said Jacob Tonson one Guinea for each Sett in Sheets. —
In consideration of which the said Mr Johnson doth hereby assign over all his Right Title and Interest to the said Corrections and Illustrations unto the said Jacob Tonson for the Benefit of himself and the rest of the proprietors of the Dramatick Works of Shakespeare
In witness whereof the Parties above mentioned have hereunto sett their Hands the Day and Year above written
Jacob Tonson for self & Co
Sam: Johnson

William Strahan* printed 3,000 copies of the proposals for Tonson in May 1756. The original purpose of the subscriptions had been to raise the money for a publication in advance, perhaps, as here, with half being paid on receipt of the book. In this way expensive projects could be started with little or no risk to the undertaker (the author or bookseller). Subscriptions could also be used to provide good rewards for the author by combining patronage with book-trade support. If Johnson had obtained 250 subscribers, he would have received 500 guineas (£525), but he had the opportunity to recruit more. Tonson had 1000 sets printed: if in addition to the 250 that were free, 750 had gone to Johnson’s other subscribers, that would have given him a further £787 10s., making £1312 10s. in total, not far off the 1,500 guineas he had been offered for compiling the Dictionary. Thomas Birch* reported to Lord Hardwicke that Johnson obtained around 750 subscriptions (British Library add. MS 35400, fol. 316 v) and his estimate seems confirmed by the fact that Tonson ordered a second edition of 750 sets shortly before the publication of the first (he provided the printer William Bowyer with paper for volumes 2-4 on 19 September 1765). Those 750 copies were probably to compensate for 750 sets going to Johnson’s subscribers at cost.

The eight-page pamphlet of proposals declares that “The business of him that republishes an ancient book is, to correct what is corrupt, and to explain what is obscure”, and goes on to outline some of the difficulties the editor faced. Shakespeare’s texts are particularly corrupt, Johnson argued, because he sold them not to be printed but to be played; they were easily corrupted by copyists and actors. Because Shakespeare’s works had outlived those of his contemporaries, “His imitations are . . . unnoted, his allusions are undiscovered, and many beauties, both of pleasantry and greatness, are lost with the objects to which they were united”. Johnson’s work on the Dictionary meant he was uniquely equipped to solve this second set of problems in his annotation. The first problem, of textual corruption, he intended to address by a complete historical collation: “The edition now proposed will at least have this advantage over others. It will exhibit all the observable varieties of all the copies that can be found, that, if the reader is not satisfied with the editor’s determination, he may have the means of chusing better for himself”. In this objective Johnson was least successful.

J. Pros. 130; verso of title page

Proposals for Printing, by Subscription, The Dramatick Works of William Shakespeare, Corrected and Illustrated by Samuel Johnson

The title-page verso lays out the main aspects of the subscription: quality (‘elegantly printed’), cost (two guineas, one on subscribing, one on receipt of the books), and date (‘published on or before Christmas 1757’). The title page tells us that the booksellers took in subscriptions, but Johnson also asked his friends to obtain subscriptions for him. On this page Johnson’s friend Thomas Percy* has jotted down the names of those who had agreed to subscribe by paying their guinea. We know that others collected subscriptions for Johnson. His mother took them in at her shop in Lichfield, and his friend there, Edmund Hector, also helped. Charles Burney, Thomas Warton, Robert Chambers, Bennet Langton, and David Garrick all seem to have been enlisted to promote the subscription.

Vet. A6 d.1025 (pp. 391-574); opposite p. 487
Receipt of a subscription to Johnson’s Shakespeare from Revd. Mr Seward

Subscribers had to be given receipts for their money and Johnson optimistically had 2,000 receipts printed in 1758, and a further 250 in April 1761, to be distributed by his friends. In his contract. Tonson allowed him 250 sets free and as many more as he needed at one guinea (rather more than they cost to print, but Tonson had to cover his expenses). The Bodleian’s is one of four receipts to have survived; Johnson’s signature has been stuck on to the slip. The Huntington Library’s receipt (LO 9626) has the signature written in the ordinary way. The Bodleian’s subscriber may well have been Thomas Seward (1708-90), Rector of Eyam and Canon of Lichfield, who had married Elizabeth Hunter (1712-80), the daughter of Johnson’s schoolmaster. Johnson sends his respects to them in a letter of 18 April 1768. Their daughter was Anna Seward, the poet.

13 Theta 160, p. 261
Charles Churchill, Poems (1763): a complaint in ‘The Ghost. Book III.’

Johnson failed to meet his deadline of Christmas 1757, and he failed also to keep a note of the money he received and of the names so that he could include them in a list of subscribers. In 1763, he told an enquirer, ‘Sir, I have two very cogent reasons for not printing any list of subscribers; — one, that I have lost all the names, — the other, that I have spent all the money’ (Life, IV, 111). The subscribers might have expected their generosity to be acknowledged in list, even though they were not promised one. The poet Charles Churchill (1732-64),* in his attack on Johnson as Pomposo in ‘The Ghost’, summed up the basic disappointment that many subscribers must have felt:

He for Subscribers baits his hook,

And takes their cash––but where’s the Book?

As six volumes of the edition were probably printed by December 1758 the most likely explanation of Johnson’s delay is that he was hoping for help with the textual apparatus he had promised.

Percy 7, p. 312 (X5v)
The Plays of William Shakespeare, in Eight Volumes, with the Corrections and Illustrations of Various Commentators; to Which Are Added Notes by Sam. Johnson (1765), Vol. I

When it appeared, nearly eight years after it had been promised, Johnson’s was an elegant edition, with a preface that proved of permanent value and scholarly notes that often retained and explained original readings. It was a variorum edition, including some of the notes and readings of previous commentators, Lewis Theobald,* Sir Thomas Hanmer,* and William Warburton.* After the sheets had been printed, Johnson regretted some sharp criticism of William Warburton and changed the text. New leaves were printed and the old leaves cut out (cancelled) and replaced. There are fifteen regular cancels and five occasional ones, but not all can be interpreted. In the Bodleian’s unique copy, Thomas Percy (1729-1811), Johnson’s friend, whose Reliques of Ancient English Poetry was also published in 1765, kept the cancelled material and pasted or pinned it into his copy.

In this case the leaf has been slashed for cancelling and the relevant text is not fully legible. In ‘Johnson’s Shakespeare: A Study in Cancellation’, A. T. Hazen tries to reconstruct the missing underlined part of the note on this page: ‘[The] commentator has h[ere twisted] the meaning into h[is own sense to] make way for an [emendation]’. This is an admirable attempt at reconstruction and must capture the essence of Johnson’s critique. However, as the revision makes clear, Johnson’s point is not that Warburton misunderstands the immediate meaning, but that he mistakes its implications. The arguments do not lead to suicide, in Johnson’s view, because the almighty has fixed his canons against self-slaughter. We suggest something like ‘[The] commentator has h[ere forced] the meaning into h[eresy in order to] make way for an [emendation]’. Johnson would have had in mind the Albigensian heresy, which could be seen as colouring this part of the Duke’s speech.

Percy 12, p. 247 (R4r)
The Plays of William Shakespeare, in Eight Volumes, with the Corrections and Illustrations of Various Commentators; to Which Are Added Notes by Sam. Johnson (1765), Vol. VI.

In this case Percy has not included the leaf slashed for cancelling; he simply snipped out the criticism of Warburton and pinned it to the page replacing the cancelled original.

John Jonson, Provincial Playbills box, Salisbury-Stratford (28) – Stratford-upon-Avon
Shakespeare’s Mulberry Tree. Sung by Mr. Garrick, with a cup in his hand, made of the tree.

David Garrick, who had been Johnson’s pupil at his school in Edial near Lichfield, had become a famous actor, playwright, and theatre manager. He had subscribed for the Shakespeare and had offered Johnson support. On 8 May 1769 a delegation from Stratford presented him with the freedom of the town, with the grant enclosed in a box said to be made from a mulberry tree planted by Shakespeare’s own hands. This mulberry tree was the source of a suspiciously large number of objects (the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust alone has 63 of them), but perhaps the most interesting of them is Garrick’s mulberry-wood box in the British Museum. Information about it, with illustrations, is to be found here:

With this gift came an invitation to open the new Stratford town hall, with the expectation that Garrick might offer to pay for a statue of Shakespeare to adorn it. This he agreed to do and he also arranged for Gainsborough to complete the portrait ‘David Garrick with a Bust of Shakespeare’, of which a nineteenth-century copy can be seen at Charlecote Park, the original having been destroyed.

But Garrick was not content with this static form of commemoration. He developed more ambitious plans: this meeting resulted in the Shakespeare Jubilee, 6-8 September 1769, that marked the beginning of Stratford as a place of Shakespearian pilgrimage and celebration.

G. Pamph. 1693 (2), pp. 2-3
An Ode upon Dedicating a Building, and erecting a Statue, to Shakespeare, at Stratford upon Avon. By D. G. (1769)

No Shakespeare play was performed at the Jubilee; there was no theatre that would have made an eighteenth-century performance practicable. The centrepiece of the Jubilee was the performance of Garrick’s Ode. Part was recited by Garrick himself; part was set to music by Thomas Arne* and performed by singers and musicians who had come from Garrick’s Drury Lane theatre. The ode celebrated Shakespeare as ‘the greatest dramatic poet in the world’ and, as can be observed in this opening section, its bardolatry was undisguised.

To what blest genius of the isle,
Shall Gratitude her tribute pay,
Decree the festive day,
Erect the statue, and devote the pile?

Do not your sympathetic hearts accord,
To own the ‘bosom’d lord?’
’Tis he! ’Tis he! – that demi-god!
Who Avon’s flow’ry margin trod,
While sportive Fancy round him flew,
Where Nature led him by the hand,
Instructed him in all she knew,
And gave him absolute command!
’Tis he! ’tis he!
‘The god of our idolatry!’

To him the song, the Edifice we raise,
He merits all our wonder, all our praise!
Yet ere impatient joy break forth,
In sounds that lift the soul from earth;
And to our spell-bound minds impart
Some faint idea of his magic art;
Let awful silence still the air!
From the dark cloud, the hidden light
Bursts tenfold bright!
Prepare! prepare! prepare!
Now swell the choral song,
Roll the full tide of harmony along;
Let Rapture sweep the trembling strings,
And Fame expanding all he wings,
With all her trumpet-tongues proclaim,
The lov’d, rever’d, immortal name!
Let th’inchanting sound,
From Avon’s shores rebound;
Thro’ the Air,
Let it bear,
The precious freight the envious nations round!

Swell the choral song,
Roll the tide of harmony along,
Let Rapture sweep the strings,
Fame expand her wings,
With her trumpet-tongues proclaim.
The lov’d, rever’d, immortal name!

Harding Mus. D. 276
Shakespear’s Garland or the Warwickshire Jubilee: ‘Sweet Willy O’

Garrick’s ode was literary in comparison to some of the material prepared for the Jubilee. ‘Sweet Willy O’, written by Garrick and set to music by Charles Dibdin,* tries to fit Shakespeare into a pastoral mode. Dibdin himself was already a successful writer, composer, and performer at Covent Garden, who had just joined Garrick, who had acted as his adviser, at Drury Lane.

The pride of all nature was sweet Willy O,

The first of all swains,
He gladden’d the plains,
None ever was like to sweet Willy O.

He sung so rarely did sweet Willy O,
He melted each maid,
So skillful he play’d,
No shepherd e’er pip’d like the sweet Willy O.

All Nature obey’d him, this sweet Willy O,
Wherever he came,
Whate’er had a name.
Whenever he sung follow’d sweet Willy O,

He wou’d be a soldier, this sweet Willy O,
When arm’d in the field,
With sword and with shield,
The laurel was won by the sweet Willy O.

He charm’d ’em when living, the sweet Willy O,
And when Willy dy’d,
’Twas Nature that sigh’d,
To part with her all in sweet Willy O.

Vet. A5 f. 3563, p. 17
The Jubilee in Honour of Shakespeare. A Musical Entertainment. As performed at the Theatre in Wexford (1773).
Garrick’s plans for the Jubilee were on a grand scale. In addition to the opening of the new town hall and the unveiling of the statue, they included cannon-fire and bell-ringing, a 1000-seater rotunda pitched rather too near the river, a masquerade ball, and horse races. But the magnificent pageant depicting Shakespeare’s characters planned for the final day was abandoned when it rained heavily and the river burst its banks. Garrick rescued the material by transforming it into an entertainment for Drury Lane. Johnson saw a performance of The Stratford Jubilee when he was in Lichfield with Boswell in 1776, but he did not support Garrick by going to the original event. This Wexford performance shows the celebration’s popularity.


Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was the pre-eminent man of letters of the eighteenth century. Born in Lichfield on 7 September 1709 to the bookseller Michael Johnson and his wife, Sarah Ford, Johnson was educated at Lichfield grammar school before going up to Pembroke College, Oxford, in 1728. Johnson remained at Oxford for just one year before returning to Lichfield as a schoolmaster. Nonetheless, Johnson soon established himself as an author, publishing in 1729 a Latin translation of Alexander Pope’s Messiah, which impressed the famous poet. On 9 July 1735 he married Elizabeth Porter, who predeceased him in 1752. Early in 1745 Johnson first contemplated editing Shakespeare. He trialled the idea in a pamphlet entitled Miscellaneous Observations on the Tragedy of Macbeth (1745), which was well received. But his plans were thwarted when the publisher Jacob Tonson claimed perpetual copyright for the text of Shakespeare’s plays. After the success of his Dictionary in 1755, Johnson returned to his proposed edition of Shakespeare in 1756, this time with Tonson on board. The edition was seriously delayed, and remained incomplete and unpublished until 1765. The reasons for the delay were both textual and psychological. Johnson’s mother had died in 1759; he wrote the fable Rasselas to pay for her funeral. In 1762 he was awarded a pension by George III, enabling a more comfortable lifestyle. In his later years Johnson became a socialite and established a club of the most distinguished literary and political figures of the age. He was commissioned to write a serious of literary biographies published as The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (1779-81). He died on 13 December 1784 in his house at Bolt Court.
David Garrick (1717-1779) was the most distinguished and famous actor on the eighteenth-century stage. Like Johnson, Garrick was born and raised in in the garrison town of Lichfield and attended Lichfield grammar school as a boy. In 1735 Garrick moved to the private academy at Edial Hall, where was taught by Johnson and became his star pupil. In 1737 Garrick accompanied Johnson to London. After a few years as a wine merchant and amateur actor, Garrick’s first play Lethe: or, Aesop in the Shade was staged at Drury Lane in 1740, and, in 1741, he made his debut as a professional actor at Ipswich in Thomas Southerne’s Oroonoko. His breakthrough role was the lead in Shakespeare’s Richard III in October 1741 at Goodman’s Fields. In the spring of 1742 Garrick was engaged by Charles Fleetwood, the manager of Drury Lane, to join his company. When Fleetwood’s patent on Drury Lane expired in 1747, Garrick took over the theatre and reversed its declining critical and commercial fortunes. Like Johnson, Garrick had a passion for Shakespeare. When Garrick purchased a villa at Hampton with his increasing wealth, he also built a Temple to Shakespeare on the banks of the Thames to house his collection of Shakespeariana. In 1769 he organized the Shakespeare Jubilee in Stratford-upon-Avon: a major moment in the apotheosis of Shakespeare as England’s national poet. Unfortunately heavy rain forced the Shakespeare pageant—the highlight of the Jubilee—to be cancelled. Garrick retired in 1776 and, upon his death in 1779, was buried in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey next to the monument to Shakespeare.
Jacob Tonson (died 1767) was the third Jacob Tonson to be an influential bookseller. He was the great-nephew of the Jacob Tonson the elder, the publisher of Milton and Dryden and the secretary of the Kit-Cat Club, and the son of the Jacob Tonson who had worked with his uncle and financed the publication of editions of Shakespeare by Alexander Pope and Lewis Theobald. This third Jacob Tonson continued the publishing business in the Strand. Like his predecessors, he claimed a common-law copyright in Milton and Shakespeare, even though the Queen Anne Act of 1709 had limited the term of existing copyrights to twenty-one years. He had published Warburton’s Shakespeare in 1747, paying him £500 for it. Johnson respected Tonson, saying he was ‘a man who is to be praised as often as he is named’, and when he was imprisoned for a debt of around £40 on 10 February 1758, it was to Tonson he wrote for relief. Tonson provided the money immediately.
William Strahan (1715-1785) was a Scottish master printer, publisher, and later an MP. Born in Edinburgh on 24 March 1715, Strahan served his apprenticeship to Mossman and Brown, the king’s printers in Scotland. Moving to London in the spring of 1736, he worked as a journeyman compositor for the firm of William Bowyer. In December 1738 he received the freedom of the Stationers’ Company and set up shop. In 1749 he began printing the Monthly Review and in 1755 was entrusted with printing Johnson’s Dictionary. He was the chief printer for Johnson’s edition of Shakespeare’s plays from 1757 until 1765. From 1770 he was the royal printer. On one occasion he approached Lord North with the notion that Johnson should be made an MP. This did not happen, but Strahan took the seat for Malmesbury in 1774 and for Wootton Bassett in 1780. He was a member of Johnson’s Essex Head Club and an important member of his circle.
 Thomas Birch (1705-1766), historian and man of letters, was born into a Quaker family, the son of a coffee-mill maker. He was a major contributor to the General Dictionary, Historical and Critical in ten volumes (1734-41) and edited Milton and volumes of State Papers. He was the author of numerous lives and of Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth (1754). He was one of Johnson’s early literary acquaintances in London and corresponded with him over the Shakespeare edition.
Thomas Percy (1729-1811), writer and bishop in the Church of Ireland, was born on 13 April 1729 to Arthur Percy, a grocer and tobacconist, and his wife Jane Nott. Percy was educated at schools in Birdgnorth and Shropshire, before going up to Church Church, Oxford, where he took his BA in 1750 and obtained his MA in 1753. He moved to Easton Mauduit in Northamptonshire in 1756 and became rector of Wilby and personal chaplain to the Earl of Sussex. As a student Percy began writing verse and inducted himself into London literary society, making friends with Edmund Burke, David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith, and Samuel Johnson, among others. Percy was interested in early English verse ballads, compiling and editing the anthology Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765). Johnson, though usually dismissive of such material, offered to help Percy with the annotation. He visited Percy’s Northamptonshire home for a prolonged spell in 1764, perhaps assisting him during the stay. Percy was the first to treat ballads as literary texts, and the Reliques became an important influence on the Romantic poets. Percy was appointed dean of Carlisle in 1778 and bishop of Dromore in Ireland in 1782. He died at Dromore on 30 September 1811 at the age of eighty-two.
Charles Churchill (1731-1764) was a prominent poet and satirist. Educated at Westminster School, he became friends with William Cowper, George Colman, Bonnell Thornton, and Robert Lloyd, all of whom became important men of letters. He went up to St John’s College, Cambridge, in 1748, although he never matriculated for unclear reasons. Churchill entered the church on 1754, and was ordained priest in 1756. He was catapulted to fame in 1761 when he published The Rosciad, a witty attack on various prominent actors and playwrights of the day. In 1762 Churchill launched the North Briton, a weekly opposition journal, with John Wilkes. The journal proved inflammatory. When the North Briton attacked the king’s speech in 1763, Wilkes was arrested, tried, and ejected from parliament. Churchill died prematurely of scarlet fever, aged thirty-two, while abroad visiting Wilkes in 1764.
8. Lewis Theobald (1688-1744) was an author and textual editor known for his 1733 edition of Shakespeare and public spats with Alexander Pope. After the death of his father in 1690, Theobald was taken in by his godfather, Lewis Watson, third Baron Rockingham, and educated with his sons. Here Theobald gained a thorough grounding in the classics. But instead of attending university, he was apprenticed to an attorney, which nonetheless furnished him with the skills required for literary scholarship. Before long Theobald began to publish: first an occasional poem on the union of England and Scotland in 1707, followed by a series of poems and plays. In 1715 Theobald launched The Censor, a periodical of literary criticism with a strong focus on Shakespeare. As an assistant at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Theobald began to think about the nature of dramatic manuscripts and the copy for Shakespearian quarto texts. When Pope’s edition of Shakespeare’s plays appeared in 1725, Theobald was prompted to publish Shakespeare Restored: or, A Specimen of the Many Errors as Well Committed as Unamended by Mr. Pope in His Late Edition of This Poet (1726), which established the editorial principals for his later edition. Theobald was interested in the recovery of ‘genuine’ Shakespearian text. Pope characterized this as dull pedantry. Consequently, Theobald figured prominently in Pope’s catalogue of dunces in the first editions of The Dunciad (1728).
Sir Thomas Hanmer (1677-1746), fourth Baronet, was Speaker of the House of Commons. He edited Shakespeare for the press at Oxford University (1743-4). The edition was attractive (with illustrations by Francis Hayman and Hubert Gravelot) and its text was reprinted in London many times, but it met with Pope’s ridicule in the Dunciad. Johnson spoke favourably of Hanmer but generally chose not to follow his editorial work.
10. William Warburton (1698-1779), Bishop of Gloucester and literary critic, was born in Newark, Nottinghamshire, on 24 December 1698. Warburton’s teachers considered him to be ‘the dullest of all dull scholars’. After some time apprenticed to a lawyer, he decided to change vocation and take orders in the church. He was ordained deacon in 1723, the same year that saw his first publication of Miscellaneous Translations in Prose and Verse. After some years as a religious controversialist and pamphleteers, Warburton became friendly with Alexander Pope around 1740, for which he is perhaps best remembered. Pope collaborated extensively with Warburton on the final edition of The Dunciad in 1743, particularly on the poem’s notes. At the poet’s death, Warburton became his executor. Warburton had a longstanding interest in Shakespeare. He had correspondence with Lewis Theobald when he was producing his edition in the 1730s, and contributed to Sir Thomas Hanmer’s edition of 1743. He edited Shakespeare for publication in 1747. After the Shakespeare edition, Warburton refocused his energies on theological debate until his death on 7 June 1779.
Thomas Arne (1710-1778) was a famed composer and musical performer. Arne was schooled at Eton were he displayed an early proficiency for music. He became a violin pupil of Michael Festing around 1725 and developed a love of opera, which he attended by borrowing the livery of theatre servants. In the autumn of 1732 Arne moved to Lincoln’s Inn Fields where he staged Teraminta, by Henry Carey and John Stanley, in November. He followed with his own opera Rosamond in March 1733. In 1738 Arne joined Handel as a founding member of the Royal Society of Musicians and, in 1740, set the masque Alfred as part of an event supporting Frederick, Prince of Wales, of which Arne’s ‘Rule, Britannia’ remains the most famous fragment. In the 1740s Arne contributed to Garrick’s Shakespeare revival at Drury Lane, writing music for As You Like It and The Tempest, among other plays. Despite disliking Arne personally, Garrick appointed Arne musical director for the Shakespeare Jubilee at Stratford in 1769.
Charles Dibdin (1745-1814) was an actor and composer based at Drury Lane. Dibdin’s father Thomas Dibdin, a silversmith, died when Dibdin was young. The family moved to Winchester and Dibdin’s fine voice won him a place as a chorister at Winchester Cathedral, where he received his early education. As a teenage he moved to London with his brother Thomas, and took up a job with the instrument seller John Johnson and was soon encouraged to consider the stage as a career. By December 1760 he was performing occasionally at Covent Garden, and, in 1767, he transferred to Drury Lane under the management of David Garrick. At Drury Lane, Dibdin became one of the house composers supplying music for new plays. In 1769 Dibdin supplied much of the music for the Shakespeare Jubilee at Stratford. Dibdin was quarrelsome and few enjoyed working with him. After being discharged from Drury Lane after a fight with Garrick at the end of the 1775 season, Dibdin turned freelance and became a successful performer and impresario in his own right. In 1803, on the eve of the Second Napoleonic War, the Addington government recognized the propaganda value of Dibdin’s patriotic songs and financed their publication. He died in 1813.


Boswell, James, Boswell’s Life of Johnson: Together with Boswell’s Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides and Johnson’s Diary of a Journal into North Wales, ed. G. Birkbeck Hill, rev. L. F. Powell, 6 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934-50)

Cunnningham, Vanessa, Shakespeare and Garrick (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Deelman, Christian, The Great Shakespeare Jubilee (London: Michael Joseph, 1964)

Fleeman, J. D., A Bibliography of the Works of Samuel Johnson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000).

Garratt, Delia, ‘Here We Go Round the Mulberry Tree’ [accessed 23 June 2015]

Hazen, A. T., ‘Johnson’s Shakespeare: A Study in Cancellation’, TLS, 1925 (24 December 1938), p. 820.

Johnson, Samuel, Johnson on Shakespeare, The Yale Edition of Works of Samuel Johnson VII-VIII, ed. Arthur Sherbo, introd. Bertrand Bronson (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1969).

Johnson, Samuel, The Letters of Samuel Johnson, ed. Bruce Redford, 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992)

Morris, Sylvia, ‘Shakespeare’s mulberry and New Place’, [accessed 23 June 2015]

Sherbo, Arthur, Samuel Johnson, Editor of Shakespeare, with an Essay on The Adventurer, Illinois Studies in Language and Literature, Vol. 42 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1956)

Stochholm, Johanne Magdalene, Garrick’s Folly: the Shakespeare Jubilee of 1769 at Stratford and Drury Lane (London: Methuen, 1964)



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