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tleman in good manners, should have been more sparing in his abuse ; especially after the high compliment paid him by Mr. (a) Theobald, in his Preface to Shakespeare.
Sir Thomas Hanmer has certainly done more towards the emendation of the text, than any one, and as a fine gentleman, good scholar and (what was best of all) a good Christian; who has treated every editor with decency; I think his memory should have been exempt from ill (6) treatment of every kind, after his death,
(a) Mr. Theobald, speaking of Mr. Warburton's affistance, Preface, p. 66. says, “ That he, from the moo tive of his frank, and communicative difpofition, vo
luntarily took a considerable part of the trouble of his di hands, not only read over the whole author for him os with the exacteft care, but entred into a long, and la45 borious epiftolary correspondence; to which he ac" knowledges he owes no small part of his best criticism upon
the author.” (6) Mr. Warburton in his Preface says, he was recommended to him as a poor critic. In vol. 1. p. 285. “I « led the Oxford editor into a filly. conjecture, which he . has done me the honour of putting into his text, which is « indeed a proper place for it. Vol. 2. p. 197. A quibble • restor'd by the Oxford editor. Vol. 5th. p. 267. Too late os he died,].i. e. too lately. The loss is too fresh in our me" mory. But the Oxford, editor, not understanding this • Phraseology, to clear the Prince of all imputation of - impiety, makes him say, too soon be died. p. 448. " Which were the hope of the Strand.].i. c. Such, as by « avother metaphor, he might have call?d the Flower : « but the Oxford editor, in an ill humour, degrades them
But to give the finifhing hand to Sbakespeare, Mr. Warburton, a professed critic, undertook him; and from the reputation he had acquired from some other writings, and his known induftry, many persons expected, that the gen
genuine text of our author would have been restored to a tittle ; every obscure paffage cleared up; every real, or seeming' difficulty rendered easy, even to his readers of the lowest class ; and (to use an expreffion of his own) cloatbed properly, cs when such a critic had the dressing of him. K to the forlorn hope ; and this is called emending, Vol. *6 6. p. 63. The Oxford editor alters charitable title, " into character, and title: he did not know that charita« ble fignifies dear, endearing. p. 481.] The Oxford editor, « who does all he can to make the poet unpoetical, alters
virtues, to advices. 485. The Oxford editor alters “ ignorant, to impotent ; not knowing, that ignorant at " that time fignified impotent. 523. The Oxford editor, " not knowing, that memory at that time was used for “ memorial, alters it to memorial. Vol. 7. p. 219. The “ Oxford editor is here again at his old work of altering « what he did not understand. 253. He's Arange and " peevill.] The Oxford editor with great acumen, alters " it to, he's strange and sheepish. Vol. 8. p. 191. The “ Oxford éditor despised an emendation so easy, and reads “ it thus, Nay let the devil wear black, I'll bave a fuit of “ ermin. And you could expect no less, when such a “ critic had the dressing of him. 396. But the Oxford « editor, not understanding his author's phraseology any better " when he ended, than when he had begun with him, “ altered : &c." With many more civil and polite rom marks, much to the same purpose.
markable anachronisms, or blunders in chronology,
How he has succeeded must be left to the reader to judge, from the (a) Remarks of two learned, and very ingenious gentlemen, Thomas Edwards Esq; Barrister of Lincoln's Inn ; and the reverend Mr. Upton, Prebendary of Rochester. And I shall despair of seeing the genuine text of Shakespeare restored, till the publication of his works is undertaken by one, or both these gentlemen, who, from what they have publifh'd upon the subject, have shewn, that they are duly qualified to perform the task with great credit to themselves, and advantage to their readers.
I have never heard any other objections made to the writings of this excellent poet, but that he has here and there an obscene expreffon; or, for his unskilfulness in the dead languages, re..
and the jingles, puns, and quibbles, which frequently occur in his plays.
As to the first, he is certainly indefensible, and cannot by any means be justified; though Ovid, Horace, and others of the antient poets, and Ben Johnson, and other cotemporary writers, have taken as great (if not greater) liberties in that respect. As to his ignorance in the Greek and Latin tongues, though that point has been
(a) The first, intit'led, Canons of Criticism, and a Glossary. Being a supplement to Mr. Warburton's edition of Shakespeare. The fifth edition was publish'd in 1753.
The second, intit'led, Critical Observations on Shakespeare, See Preface to the second edition.
more than once discussed, and much faid on both sides of the question ; I cannot but think from his exact imitation of many of the antient poets and bistorians, (of which there were no tolerable translations in his time,) that his. knowledge in that respect cannot reasonably be call'd in question. Nay, from the single play : of Hamlet, which seems in many places to be. an exact translation of Saxo Grammaticus, (which I believe was never translated into any other language) it cannot be doubted, but that he had a competent skill in the Latin tongue.
His mistakes in chronology are so notorious, and numerous, that I shall not pretend to vindicate them.
And as to the last particular, his jingles, puns, and quibbles, they were certainly owing to the false taste of the times in which he lived.
King James the First was by some persons thought to be a Prince of great learning; but he affected to shew it so much in his speeches, that by others, he has been charged with pedantry; which I suppose occasioned Gondomar's faucy freedom, in telling his Majesty, that be spoke Latix like a pedant, but he himself like a gentleman.
Nay, this Prince discover'd in his writings so much of this low (but then fashionable) kind of wit, that it is not to be wondered at, if he was follow'd by the generality of writers of those times.
· Bishop Andrews, the most learned Prelate of that age, in all his fermons before the Kings abounds but too much in jingles, &c. I fhalt exhibit to the reader a few passages, out of many, in proof.
In his fermon before the King at White-Hall, on Chriftmas Day, 1607. on Timothy, vi. 1. He begins with the following words. - “ The mystery (here mentioned) is " the mystery of this feast, and this feast the feast " of this mystery : for, as at this feast God was
manifested in the flesh, in that it is a great mystery, it maketh the feast great ; in that « it is a mystery of godliness, it should likewise " make it a feast of godliness great. We grant, " and godly too we trust : would God, as godly " as great, and no more controversie of one, « than of the other."
In another sermon before the King, on Christmas Day 1623. on Ephesians. i. 10.9.
P. 148. “Seeing the text is of seasons, it " would not be out of season itself ; and tho' « it be never out of feason to speak of Christ, " yet Chrift hath his seasons. Your time is al% ways (faith he, John vii.) so is not myne ; I « have my seasons, one of which seasons is this, the", season of his birth, by which all were recapitulate in heaven and earth; which is the seaSon of the text, and so this a text of the season.”. : And in a sermon preach'd before the King, the fifth of August 1615. (on the conspiracy of the Gowries) on Psalm xxi. 1, 2, 3, 4.