Shakespeare Their Contemporary?
The Case of Macbeth, 1660–1818

By Jack Lynch

7 April 2006 at British Literature & Culture, 1660–1800:
A Symposium in Honor of Eric Rothstein

Eric Rothstein began his career by examining the points of contact between the tragedy and the literary criticism of the Restoration and eighteenth century; despite the fine work he's done on the subject, I hope he won't take it ill if I suggest the topic is not entirely exhausted forty-some years later. 1  I'd like to discuss that today, as well as some of his more recent interests, especially the idea of "modernity." In this paper I suggest that Macbeth can teach us something about the way eighteenth-century Britons understood the "pastness of the past" — which is, I think, another way of saying the way they understood their own modernity. Today I'll speak about the way readers and viewers reacted to some of the problems posed by Macbeth in the long eighteenth century. In the process, I'll recount some of the odd history Macbeth enjoyed from the opening of the theatres at the Restoration through the castration of the play offered by the Bowdlers in The Family Shakspeare of 1818.


Before I can begin I have to rehearse, in very abridged form, an argument I've made at tiresome length in The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson. It has to do with how history gets sliced into periods. We're all sophisticated literary historians here; we know that periods have no a priori existence — they result from our need to make sense out of the continuous and undifferentiated flux of time. As Eric puts it in a comparatively recent publication, "A 'period' isn't an independent fact about the world, but a function of some research program." 2  The standard take on European literary periodization is that, in the fifteenth century, a group of Florentine humanists began promoting their own polemical "research program" by rejecting the traditional divisions of world history into six ages or four monarchies, and instituting in their place a tripartite system: the three ages of mankind were ancient, which was good; middle, which was bad; and modern, which, because it marked a rebirth of the ancient, was good again. Of course this is the worst sort of propaganda; it reduces everything from Augustine through Chaucer to ignorant barbarism. But it was very effective propaganda, and even today we tend to think of ancient, medieval, and modern history in the West.

All of that is well known. The argument I make in The Age of Elizabeth is that, by the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century, Britain had come to feel that the "modern" period had grown unwieldy, and it had to be split in two. With that split came the perception of historical distance between self and other, which allowed eighteenth-century Britons to situate themselves in a satisfying and comprehensible historical narrative — in other words, to think of themselves as moderns by thinking of someone else as ancients. This is part, I think, of what Eric Rothstein means when he describes a "generative logic" that proceeds from the idea of modernity. 3  In other words, the eighteenth century started to think of itself as belonging to a different "modernity" from, say, Erasmus, Sir Thomas More, Spenser, and Shakespeare — especially Shakespeare.

More than any other author, Shakespeare served the eighteenth century as a marker of what it was not. As a result, this division of history into periods was deeply conflicted. Sometimes it was interpreted triumphantly — the eighteenth century could be proud of how far it had advanced from the ignorance and clownishness of the age that produced Skelton. Increasingly, though, eighteenth-century Britons came to feel that, although they had gained something in elegance and refinement, they had lost something powerful and even sublime. They might not have many Skeltons among the writers in their own canon, but neither did they have any Shakespeares or Miltons.


The usual, though not the only, dividing line to be suggested between the two parts of "modernity" was the Restoration in 1660. (Milton is the most interesting case here, a poet whose most important work came after the Restoration but who has from the beginning been treated as a Renaissance writer, as a kind of belated contemporary of Spenser and Shakespeare.) This use of the Restoration as a marker of eras works especially well with the periodization of Shakespeare, for 1660 was also of course an important date in his own story, as his plays returned to the public stage for the first time in nearly two decades.

In the post-Restoration theatrical regime Macbeth was for a very long time associated with Sir William Davenant, who, on 12 December 1660, was granted a warrant to act The Tempest, Measure for Measure, Much Ado, Romeo, Twelfth Night, Henry VIII, Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet, and several non-Shakespearean plays. We don't know for sure when Macbeth was first acted after the opening of the theatres, nor who played in it, nor even the version of the text that was used. The best guess theatre historians have been able to put together is that some text — probably an early version of Davenant's adaptation — was played by Saturday, 5 December 1664, and probably with Thomas Betterton as Macbeth, Harris as Macduff, and Mrs. Betterton as Lady Macbeth. The date comes from an entry in Pepys's diary: "With my wife to the Duke's house to a play, 'Macbeth,' a pretty good play, but admirably acted." 4  The "pretty good play" soon became a Restoration favorite — and a particular favorite of Pepys. He attended another performance in April 1667, recording, "Here we saw 'Macbeth,' which, though I have seen it often, yet is it one of the best plays for a stage, and variety of dancing and musique, that ever I saw."


Davenant's adaptation deserves some special attention, and not only because it was so popular and long-lived. In fact its success was such that it managed to crowd Shakespeare's original out of popular consciousness. When, in 1744, Garrick announced he would play Macbeth "as written by Shakespeare," Quin, who used Davenant's text, was heard to enquire, "Don't I play Macbeth as written by Shakespeare?" 5  Another story, recounted by Thomas Davies, says that "So little did the players know of Shakspeare's text, that Quin, after he had seen Garrick in this character, asked him where he got such strange and out of the way expressions. . . . Mr. Garrick advised him to consult the original." 6  Rob Hume notes that, in the Restoration, "Someone who had browsed in a Shakespeare folio might have remembered that Macbeth was originally his play," 7  but most people would have given little thought to the identity of the playwright. For six decades, Macbeth meant not Shakespeare's play but Davenant's version of it.

Davenant's revisions to the play are substantial, though the broad outlines of the plot are untouched — this is not Nahum Tate's King Lear or the happy-ending Romeo and Juliet. In Rob Hume's words, "The Davenant Macbeth sprouts some song and dance addenda but is quite recognizable to us as Shakespeare's play." 8  Still, Davenant had to introduce changes as he dealt with a play some six decades old, one that struck his contemporaries as distinctly old-fashioned. In these changes we can see his perception, even in the Restoration, that Shakespeare lived in a different age. Davenant was trying to drag a sixty-year-old play into his own modernity, and in the process he was forced to translate it from something old into something new.

When Davenant is not writing new scenes without Shakespearean precedent — as when Lady Macbeth feigns friendship for Lady Macduff when Macbeth's letter about the prophecies arrives — he sometimes makes small revisions to Shakespeare's language, and here we see the first and simplest kind of modernizing that goes on. Lady Macbeth's advice to her husband is not "But screw your courage to the sticking place"; in Davenant it becomes "Bring but your Courage to the fatal place." 9  His changes, we must admit, are not always very successful. The famous crux "Aroint thee, witch," becomes "Anoint" — not because anoint makes any sense in the passage, but because it's a word he knows, whereas aroint is not. And by the 1660s the old construction methinks had become obsolete and the grammatical logic forgotten; Davenant therefore translates the First Folio's "methought" into the nonsensical "Methoughts I heard a voice cry." 10  Shakespeare's more difficult syntax is likewise often cleaned up: the First Folio's "If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twer well,/ It were done quickly" becomes "If it were well when done; then it were well/ It were done quickly," and the First Folio's "this my Hand will rather/ The multitudinous Seas incarnardine,/ Making the Greene one, Red" becomes in Davenant "they would sooner add a tincture to/ The Sea, and turn the green into a red." 11  Changes like this show us that Davenant is not merely tidying a messy play; he is reckoning with the historical distance he perceives between the age of Elizabeth and the age of Charles, trying to bridge the gap between Shakespeare's old play and his new audience.

Sometimes the revisions are concerned not only with making vocabulary or syntax clearer and more modern, but with clarifying the dramatic significance, and here he applies the standards of Restoration tragedy to a play written decades earlier. In the First Folio, Macbeth says to Banquo before the murder is committed, "If you shall cleaue to my consent,/ When 'tis, it shall make Honor for you." Davenant, perhaps concerned that his audience will not see that Macbeth is already considering regicide and usurpation, clarifies: "If when the Prophesie begins to look like truth/ You will adhere to me, it shall make honour for you." 12  And "Heare it not, Duncan, for it is a Knell,/ That summons thee to Heauen, or to Hell" becomes "O Duncan, hear it not, for 'tis a bell/ That rings my Coronation, and thy Knell." 13  Such sentiments are clearer, less ambiguous, and more in keeping with the grand, exaggerated style of Restoration tragedy than with Shakespeare's characteristic practice.

Poetic form was another conspicuous reminder of the gap between Shakespeare's age and Davenant's: by the time of the Restoration, poets had grown positively vain about the advances they had made in the handling of rhyme and meter. Davenant does not turn the blank verse of Macbeth into the couplets that were soon to dominate original tragedies (the way Dryden translated Paradise Lost into heroic couplets in The State of Innocence and the Fall of Man). He does, however, rejigger the meter fairly extensively, bringing to it the technical advances made by Denham and Waller. The opening scene of Davenant's play, for instance, is very close to Shakespeare, but the limping verse of the original is replaced with more regularity: the First Folio's "There to meet with Macbeth," for instance, becomes the more regular "There we resolve to meet Macbeth." 14  Tidying the meter is a recurrent concern: Davenant, for instance, adds a few short adverbs, demonstratives, conjunctions, and inversions to translate some of the most famous trochaic lines in English into more decorous and modern iambs:

Then round about the Cauldron go,
And poyson'd Entrals throw.
This Toad which under Mossy stone,
Has days and nights lain thirty one:
And swelter'd Venom sleeping got,
We'll boyl in the Inchanted Pot.  15 
The addition of a subject and a verb turns another famous distich from trochaic to iambic: "I by the pricking of my Thumbs,/ Know something Wicked this way comes." 16  (Similar things were happening more than a century later, as when John Philip Kemble played regularized the meter in 1803.) 17 

Vocabulary, syntax, and meter were important, but compared to Davenant's other alterations they are small stuff. His most important systematic alterations have to do with turning Macbeth into royalist propaganda — a suitable way of repaying the monarch who awarded him with the patent to one of London's two theatres. Jan Kott famously argued that "Shakespeare is like the world, or life itself. Every historical period finds in him what it is looking for and what it wants to see." 18  It's not difficult to imagine how a play about the murder of a king might resonate in Restoration London, when the son of a murdered king was on the throne. Davenant transforms the play into a cautionary tale about the evils that follow regicide and usurpation. The conclusion is clear: Malcolm orders his people to

Drag his Body hence, and let it Hang upon A Pinnacle in Dunsinane, to shew To shew [sic] to future Ages what to those is due, Who others Right, by Lawless Power pursue.

Macduff replies with these exemplary royalist sentiments:

So may kind Fortune Crown your Raign with Peace,
As it has Crown'd your Armies with Success;
And may the Peoples Prayers still wait on you,
As all their Curses did Macbeth pursue:
His Vice shall make your Virtue shine more Bright,
As a Fair Day succeeds a Stormy Night.

Perhaps Davenant's most interesting way of reinforcing the lessons of the Restoration is to cast his enemies as the weyward Sisters. His witches echo the language of Charles's Parliamentarian enemies: "VVe shou'd rejoyce," for instance, "when good Kings bleed." 20 


The witches were the hit of the show: Addison's Spectator 45 includes this description of a fashionably airheaded woman at a performance: "A little before the rising of the Curtain, she broke out into a loud Soliloquy, When will the dear Witches enter; and immediately upon their first Appearance, asked a Lady that sat three Boxes from her . . . if those Witches were not charming Creatures." 21  But their charm arose not from their part in a royalist morality play: what people remembered about Davenant's production was the special effects. As the Biographia Dramatica recalled in 1812, "It was performed with great splendour." 22  Details about early stage practice are sketchy, but at the end of the first scene we get some insight into what happened: "Come hover through the foggy, filthy Air. . . . . . . [Ex. flying." 23  But while the witches thrilled Restoration audiences, they posed the biggest problem for eighteenth-century critics, whether in Davenant's version or Shakespeare's. After all, the play's action hinges on supernatural occurrences at a time when the supernatural had fallen out of critical fashion. Samuel Johnson is unequivocal: "A poet who should now make the whole action of his tragedy depend upon enchantment," he writes, "would be banished from the theatre to the nursery." 24 

Macbeth, of course, is not the only Shakespearean play to feature the supernatural, but it was the most problematic work for many eighteenth-century critics. The supernatural elements in such comedies as A Midsummer Night's Dream bothered few eighteenth-century readers, who were prepared to admit mischievous fairies and magical herbs when they served comic ends. (As Fielding writes in Tom Jones, "The only supernatural Agents which can in any Manner be allowed to us Moderns are Ghosts. . . . Nor would I advise the Introduction of them . . . by those Authors . . . to whom a Horse-Laugh in the Reader, would be any great Prejudice or Mortification.") 25  Macbeth, though, depends for its action on the prescience of the witches. A long note on Shakespeare's attitude toward these witches, therefore, opens Johnson's first published piece of literary criticism, his Observations on Macbeth, from 1745. There he wrestles with the differences in sensibility between Shakespeare's age and his own. "The reality of witchcraft or enchantment," he writes,

has in all ages and countries been credited by the common people, and in most by the learned themselves. These phantoms have indeed appeared more frequently, in proportion as the darkness of ignorance has been more gross. . . . The time in which this kind of credulity was at its height, seems to have been that of the holy war. 26 

This passage betrays the discomfort Johnson and his contemporaries felt in accounting for these embarrassing blemishes in someone who was rapidly becoming the national poet, it and exemplifies the kinds of readings to which they resorted in their attempts to preserve his reputation. Their solution: historicist criticism.

The eighteenth century is usually given short shrift in accounts of the development of historicist criticism, which is supposed to make its first showing in the nineteenth century. Eighteenth-century critics are said to be concerned with neoclassical ideals and Aristotelian unities and timeless verities, not the specific historical conditions under which authors lived. Johnson takes a particular beating here, and it's no surprise, given statements like "human nature is always the same," or "the interests and passions, the virtues and vices of mankind, have been diversified in different times, only by unessential and casual varieties." 27  Many modern critics have singled Johnson out for his aversion to historicism. Phyllis Rackin charges Samuel Johnson with being a particular offender here: "Celebrating Shakespeare as the universal poet," she writes, "Johnson ascribed to Shakespeare's representations of the historical past the same ahistorical validity that he found represented in Shakespeare." She goes on to blame him for "denying Shakespeare's historical specificity and distance" and advancing "the process of dehistoricizing Shakespeare." 28  If historicist consciousness is said to exist at all, it comes only at the very end of the century — Margreta de Grazia, for instance, says Johnson's Shakespeare edition "laboured to purge away what remained of such singular features [of history] rather than to retrieve and preserve them. . . . Malone's project of retrieving lost allusions, customs, and opinions . . . only dragged back the particulars that were in Johnson's view best consigned to oblivion." 29  Lawrence Lipking even writes that Johnson "loathed" historicism. 30  But I think many critics have missed the historicist streak in Johnson's criticism and eighteenth-century criticism generally because we're drawn to critical obiter dicta — streaks of the tulip, just representations of general nature — at the expense of the less pithy comments on, say, the sixteenth-century reception of Olympiodorus's account of Libanius. But for Johnson that was an important part of understanding a play like Macbeth; it in fact takes up a fair amount of space in his very first note of his very first work of literary criticism.

I'd like to make the case that much of the best eighteenth-century British criticism, including but not limited to Johnson's, was fundamentally historicist at heart, and that Shakespeare plays a large part in its rise. More than that, I'd like to argue perversely that it was the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when Shakespeare was safely canonized and no longer quite the problem he was before, in which the historicist trend was actually reversed, at least in some respects. Where once critics grappled with the problems posed by Shakespeare's putative faults by turning to history, later critics, convinced Shakespeare had no faults, were able to retreat from the historicist consciousness and to find their justification for Shakespeare's timelessness in a model of unchanging psychology.

It was the problems with Shakespeare — the flawed genius — that forced critics to try to understand the strange mixture of compelling power with unaccountable blunders and lapses into bad taste. Thomas Warton, for instance, argues that Shakespeare belonged to a primitive age, with rude trappings ill suited to the more refined eighteenth century: "The Shakespeare of a more instructed and polished age, would not have given us a magician darkening the sun and noon, the sabbath of witches, and the cauldron of incantation." 31  Notice that the historical sense is used for exculpation: these absurd witches are not attributable to Shakespeare, but to the age of Shakespeare.

This leads to one of Johnson's most important statements of critical principles, one that's pithy enough that it should be as well known as the streaks of a tulip: "In order to make a true estimate of the abilities and merit of a writer," he writes in his Observations on Macbeth, "it is always necessary to examine the genius of his age, and the opinions of his contemporaries." 32  He repeats the passage twenty years later in the notes to his Shakespeare edition. What saves Shakespeare from banishment to the nursery is the pastness of the past: "A poet who should now make the whole action . . . depend upon enchantment . . . would be censured," but

a survey of the notions that prevailed at the time when this play was written, will prove that Shakespeare was in no danger of such censures, since he only turned the system that was then universally admitted to his advantage, and was far from overburthening the credulity of his audience.

This defense of Shakespeare's use of enchantment — "the existence of which was, I am afraid, believed very seriously" — is fairly typical of the critics of Johnson's day. Historical distance serves as a kind of insulation, protecting Shakespeare from accusations of personal barbarism by accusing his age of barbarism.


As we move into the last third of the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth, Macbeth becomes less bothersome. Of course some things continued to rankle. The porter scene, for instance, stayed off the stage well into the nineteenth century; at first it was the mixture of tragedy and comedy that bothered critics, but later it was specifically the indecent humor in the scene, with the drunken porter's gags about how wine, an "Equiuocator with Lecherie," "makes [a man] stand too, and not stand too." Thomas Bowdler, responding petulantly to a hostile review of The Family Shakspeare in The British Critic, asks whether his rival would really "be offended at seeing 'Macbeth,' the most sublime effort of the dramatic muse, no longer disgraced with the indecent description of the effects of drunkenness which is given to Macduff by the porter at the gate of the castle, interrupting the most interesting part of the narrative?" 33  Earlier adaptations cut the porter scene altogether; the Bowdlers preserve it, but the porter gets a mere five lines, and all his humor is gone. (The Bowdlers also, curiously enough, put Macbeth among the histories, not the tragedies.)

But the development that interests me most is the treatment of the supernatural, which was the real problem from the beginning. The Bowdlers have no trouble with it, even though similar heathenism gets modern-day Bowdlers up in arms. The nineteenth-century Bowdlers were bothered by sex and body functions; some curses were also too much, so they cut lines like "Not in the Legions/ Of horrid Hell, can come a Diuell more damn'd/ In euils, to top Macbeth." But they were not offended by magic, because for them, the ghosts and goblins have no real existence in the play. They're not meant to be taken literally. And in this respect the Bowdlers are representative of their age. The pleasures of the supernatural had been rediscovered in fiction, for instance, in Horace Walpole's "attempt to blend the two kinds of romance," 34  and by century's end it played a large part in one important kind of poetry — although it's worth noting that both Walpole's first preface and Coleridge's archaic language place the preternatural in the past, where it belongs. But the general trend as time goes by is to see Shakespeare's witches not as embarrassing holdovers of popular ignorance, but as a sign of the poet's brilliant ability to portray a mind in torment. The supernatural becomes what we might call "psychologized," if it weren't such an ugly word. (I'm pleased to see my word processor flags it as a solecism.)

An interesting early example of this comes in Elizabeth Montagu's Essay upon the Writings and Genius of Shakespear. "Shakespear has been sufficiently justified, by the best critics," she writes in 1769, "for availing himself of the popular faith in witchcraft; and he is certainly as defensible in this point, as Euripides, and other Greek tragedians, for introducing Jupiter, Diana, Minerva, &c." She does not go so far as to say that the witchcraft was plausible, or even acceptable to the more learned members of the audience; but she reminds her readers that playwrights are not primarily concerned with naturalistic verisimilitude, and that the gods' "personal intervention, in the events exhibited on their stage, had not obtained more credit, with the thinking and philosophical part of their spectators, than tales of witchcraft had done among the wise and learned here." 35 

This part shows some continuities with the earlier historicist defenses of Shakespearean transgression, but she goes on to turn the supernatural from an embarrassing blemish that needs justification into an artistic triumph that justifies itself. "The dexterity is admirable," she writes, "with which the predictions of the witches (as Macbeth observes) prove true to the ear, but false to the hope, according to the general condition of vain oracles." 36  And she goes even further: "If the mind is to be medicated by the operations of pity and terror, surely no means are so well adapted to that end, as a strong and lively representation of the agonizing struggles that precede, and the terrible horrors that follow wicked actions." 37 

It's significant that this period, the last third of the eighteenth century, sees the real birth of psychological character criticism — there are hints of it in the 1740s, but it's in the 1770s and afterwards when character studies become one of the dominant strains in criticism. We can see it happening in 1770, when William Duff justifies Shakespeare's use of magic by looking at its psychological function: "the very appearance and motion of Shakespeare's ghosts are characteristical of nature. Observe the effect of the appearance of Banquo's ghost upon Macbeth." 38  What strikes me as curious about this shift is that Shakespeare is no longer an imperfect poet whose works need to be understood against the background of the age in which he wrote; he is instead the representative human being who transcends time and space.

Consider William Richardson, whose Philosophical Analysis and Illustration of Some of Shakespeare's Remarkable Characters of 1774 is one of the founding works of psychological criticism. After asserting that "The genius of Shakespeare is unlimited. . . . he is the Proteus of the drama; he changes himself into every character, and enters easily into every condition of human nature," Richardson announces the real purpose of his investigation: "My intention is to make poetry subservient to philosophy, and to employ it in tracing the principles of human conduct." 39  There is no question in his mind that "the principles of human conduct" Shakespeare delineated in 1606 are the same as those in 1774. Human nature is unchanging, and an early seventeenth-century writer can tell us everything we need to know. For most later commentators, no more needs to be said about Macbeth: what had been a problem because it was incompatible with modern literary standards was now to be embraced; temporary standards were sacrificed to timeless verities. Writers from Davenant through Johnson and Warton were conscious that their modernity was different from the age of Shakespeare; Duff and Richardson are beginning to think they belong to the same timeless era of human nature.

We see plenty of that in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century criticism of Macbeth: no one is bothered by the supernatural anymore because it has been absorbed into the discourse of the sublime, and sublimity is supposed to transcend time. Elizabeth Inchbald, for instance, tells her readers that "In this grand tragic opera is combined that which is terrific, sublime, infernal. Spirits are called from the bottomless pit, to give additional horror to the crimes which are here perpetrated. Yet supernatural agency is produced and conducted by such natural means, that spectators return again to their childish credulity, and tremble, as in the nursery, at a witch and a goblin." 40  And George Daniel, who provided a preface to Cumberland's edition of Macbeth in 1826 — it's outside my announced boundaries of 1660 and 1818; so sue me —Daniel declares that "In contemplating the extensive series of events that is embraced in Macbeth, the restrictions of time and place vanish from our minds; and we feel it impossible to subject this astonishing production of human genius to the ordinary rules of dramatic criticism." 41 

What I'm arguing here is that, over the course of the long eighteenth century — precisely the period that Shakespeare goes from being a pretty talented playwright to the transcendent genius at the heart of the English canon — we see two contrary forces at work. One looks to the history of literary conventions, cultural practices, and folk beliefs to place Shakespeare in a different age; this is fundamentally historicist, despite the widespread proclamations that historicism came only later. The other looks to an unchanging psychology in order to claim him as a perpetual contemporary, despite the widespread proclamations that this was the dawn of the historicist era. I won't argue that the move from one mode to the other was as neat as I've suggested here; such shifts in understanding never are. But like Eric Rothstein, I'm convinced that the notion of modernity is a useful key to understanding the past — and if we moderns in the twenty-first century can understand something about the way the moderns of the nineteenth century reworked the theories of the moderns of the eighteenth century in understanding the drama of the moderns of the seventeenth century, and if we can do it through some of the most perceptive criticism written in the late twentieth century, so much the better.


1. See, for instance, "English Tragic Theory in the Late Seventeenth Century," ELH 29, no. 3 (Sept. 1962): 306–23.

2. Rothstein, "Broaching a Cultural Logic of Modernity," Modern Language Quarterly 61, no. 2 (June 2000): 359–94, on p. 363.

3. Rothstein, "Broaching a Cultural Logic of Modernity," p. 360.

4. The London Stage: A Calendar of Plays, Entertainments & Afterpieces, Together with Casts, Box-Receipts and Contemporary Comment, Compiled from the Playbills, Newspapers and Theatrical Diaries of the Period (Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1960–68), 1:85.

5. Deelman, The Great Shakespeare Jubilee (New York: Viking Press, 1964), p. 92.

6. Davies, Memoirs of the Life of David Garrick, 3rd ed., 2 vols. (London, 1781), 1:123–24.

7. Robert Hume, "Before the Bard: 'Shakespeare' in Early Eighteenth-Century London," ELH 64, no. 1 (1997): 41–75, on p. 45.

8. Hume, "Before the Bard," p. 52.

9. William Davenant, Macbeth, a Tragædy: With All the Alterations, Amendments, Additions, and New Songs, As It's Now Acted at the Duke's Theatre (London, 1674), p. 16.

10. Davenant, Macbeth, p. 19.

11. Davenant, Macbeth, pp. 14, 20.

12. Davenant, Macbeth, p. 18.

13. Davenant, Macbeth, p. 18.

14. Davenant, Macbeth, p. 1.

15. Davenant, Macbeth, pp. 45–46.

16. Davenant, Macbeth, p. 47.

17. Shakspeare's Macbeth, a Tragedy, Revised by J. P. Kemble; And Now First Published as It Is Acted at The Theatre Royal in Covent Garden (London, 1803).

18. Jan Kott, Shakespeare Our Contemporary, trans. Boleslaw Taborski (New York: W. W. Norton, 1964), p. 5.

19. Davenant, Macbeth, p. 66.

20. Davenant, Macbeth, p. 27. For more on the politics of Davenant's adaptation, see Simon Williams, "Taking Macbeth Out of Himself: Davenant, Garrick, Schiller and Verdi," in "Macbeth" and Its Afterlife, ed. Peter Holland (Shakespeare Survey 57) (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004), pp. 54–68.

21. The Spectator, ed. Donald F. Bond, 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965), 1:194.

22. Biographica Dramatica, by David Erskine Baker, Isaac Reed, and Stephen Jones, 3 vols. (London 1812), 3:3.

23. Davenant, Macbeth, p. 1. The First Folio has only "exeunt."

24. Johnson, Observations on Macbeth, in The Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson, 16 vols. to date (1958–), 7:3.

25. Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, ed. Martin Battestin (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1975), p. 399.

26. Johnson, Yale Works, 7:3–4; repeated on 8:752.

27. Yale Works, 2:431, 425 (Adventurers 99 and 95).

28. Phyllis Rackin, Stages of History: Shakespeare's English Chronicles (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1990), pp. 87, 144.

29. Margreta de Grazia, Shakespeare Verbatim: The Reproduction of Authenticity and the 1790 Apparatus (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), pp. 114, 116.

30. Lipking, "What Was It Like to Be Johnson?," The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual 1 (1987): 35–57, on p. 57 n. 21.

31. Thomas Warton, The History of English Poetry, 4 vols. (London, 1775–81), 3:496.

32. Johnson, Yale Works, 7:3.

33. Thomas Bowdler, A Letter to the Editor of the British Critic; Occasioned by the Censure Pronounced in That Work (London, 1823), p. 19.

34. Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto, ed. W. S. Lewis (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1964), p. 7.

35. Elizabeth Montagu, An Essay upon the Writings and Genius of Shakespear, Compared with the Greek and French Dramatic Poets (London, 1769), pp. 174–75.

36. Montagu, An Essay, p. 176.

37. Montagu, An Essay, p. 177.

38. William Duff, Critical Observations on the Writings of the Most Celebrated Geniuses in Poetry (London, 1770), p. 137.

39. William Richardson, A Philosophical Analysis and Illustration of Some of Shakespeare's Remarkable Characters (London, 1774), pp. 40, 43.

40. Inchbald's introduction to Macbeth, in The British Theatre; or, A Collection of Plays, Which Are Acted at the Theatres Royal, Drury Lane, Covent Garden, and Haymarket: Printed under the Authority of the Managers from the Prompt Books: With Biographical and Critical Remarks by Mrs. Inchbald, 25 vols. (London, 1808), p. 3.

41. Macbeth, in vol. 1 of Cumberland's British Theatre (London, 1826), p. 7.