Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 47.djvu/398

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

fall. In 1780 Reed prepared a new edition of Dodsley's ‘Old Plays’ (12 vols.). Subsequently his friends, Dr. Farmer and George Steevens, urged him to re-edit the variorum edition of Shakespeare known as Johnson and Steevens's edition, which had originally appeared in 1773. Reed completed his labours in 1785, when the work was published in 10 vols. 8vo. Reed performed his task conscientiously, but added little of importance to the results of his predecessors. Joseph Ritson sneered at his textual criticism in ‘A Quip Modest’ (1788). When another issue of the work was called for, Steevens resumed the office of editor, but corrected all the proof-sheets through the night in Reed's chambers, and benefited largely by Reed's suggestions. This edition was completed in fifteen volumes in 1793. In 1800 Steevens died, leaving Reed his corrected copy of Shakespeare and two hundred guineas. In 1803 Reed produced an elaborately revised version, in twenty-one volumes, which is generally known as the ‘first variorum.’ Reed received 300l. for his services (Nichols, Lit. Anecdotes, ii. 655). The reissue of 1813, known as the ‘second variorum,’ contains little new matter; the third and best ‘variorum’ (of 1821), which was begun by Edmund Malone and completed by James Boswell the younger, has many additions of value.

Reed died, after many years of suffering, from a paralytic affection at Staple's Inn on 5 Jan. 1807, and was buried at Amwell, where he had a country residence. A slab in the church there bears a curious rhyming inscription, warning the passer-by that he must die, though he read till his eyes ache (cf. Nichols, Lit. Illustrations, vii. 66–7; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. i. 237). Reed's will, with twelve codicils, was printed in the ‘Monthly Mirror’ (1807, p. 130). His large library—which was especially rich in English dramatic and poetical literature and in pamphlets—was sold by auction in London in November and December 1807; the sale lasted thirty-nine days, and the 8,957 lots brought 4,386l. 19s. 6d. In the British Museum, beside the MS. Notitia Dramatica noted above, are Reed's collections respecting Chatterton (in print and manuscript), his copies, with his manuscript notes, of Cibber's ‘Lives of the Poets’ and Grammont's ‘Memoirs’ (in the latter a subsequent owner, John Mitford, has inserted additional manuscript comments). Haslewood, in his copy of Langbaine's ‘Dramatick Poets’ (also in the Museum), has transcribed a series of notes made by Reed. To the sale catalogue—‘Bibliotheca Reediana’ (1807), with preface by H. J. Todd—is prefixed a poorly engraved portrait after a painting by Romney. Besides the works noticed, Reed compiled the biographical notes for both Dodsley's and Pearch's collections of poems (published respectively in 1782 and 1783). He also edited ‘A Complete Collection of the Cambridge Prize Poems, from their institution in 1750 till the present time,’ 1773, 8vo, and ‘The Repository, a Select Collection of fugitive pieces of Wit and Humour’ (1777–83, 4 vols. 8vo).

[Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, ii. 664 sq. and passim; Mathias's Pursuits of Lit. p. 137; Chalmers's Biogr. Dict.; Gent. Mag. 1807, i. 80–2 (by Nichols).]

S. L.

REED, JOSEPH (1723–1787), dramatist, born at Stockton, Durham, in March 1723, was second son of John Reed, a presbyterian ropemaker. After a very scanty education he succeeded to his father's business, which he practised with success through life. His leisure he devoted to a study of English literature, and he developed literary aspirations; but he always regarded himself as an amateur, and, when he began to publish, often described himself on his title-pages as ‘a halter-maker.’ In August 1744 there appeared in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ a poem by Reed, ‘in imitation of the Scottish dialect, on the death of Mr. Pope.’ In 1745 he printed, at Newcastle, a farce called ‘The Superannuated Gallant’ (12mo; Baker). In 1747 he visited London with a view apparently to gaining an entrance into theatrical society. Ten years later he removed his business and family to Sun-tavern Fields, Stepney, London, and on 6 July 1758 Theophilus Cibber produced, at Covent Garden, a burlesque tragedy by Reed, in five acts, called ‘Madrigal and Trulletta.’ It was humorously planned, but far too long (Genest, iv. 528), and Reed foolishly blamed Cibber for its want of success. Smollett denounced it, when published, in the ‘Critical Review,’ and Reed replied to his critic in a pungent pamphlet called ‘A Sop in the Pan for a Physical Critick,’ 1759. Somewhat more successful was a boisterous and indelicate farce, entitled ‘The Register Office,’ which was produced at Drury Lane on 23 April 1761. Two of the best characters, Lady Wrinkle and Mrs. Snarewell, were suppressed by the stage censor, but the unexpurgated piece was published, and in an advertisement at the close Reed pointed out that the manuscript had been submitted to Foote in August 1758, and that Foote had stolen his Mrs. Cole in the ‘Minor’ from the Mrs. Snarewell of the ‘Register Office.’ When the farce was revived at Drury Lane