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publication of so many editions of Shakespeare, by poetical or critical editors, within the compafs of less than half a century; that no room should be left for emendations either of the text or meter, or other improvements of any
kind whatsoever. And yet I must take the liberty of thinking, that no dramatic poet, either antient or modern, has had the hard fate of our author; or contains still more mistakes, than the plays of the most celebrated Shakespeare.
Every editor has done a great deal' towards the emendation of the text, and contributed largely to the clearing of several obscure passages : but most of the historical incidents referred to by Shakespeare, as happening within his own time : and a great many laws then well known, but now in a great measure obsolete, have been overlook’d, or not known, or perhaps not thought worthy of notice : though they certainly tend to the making our author much more clear and intelligible, than he seems to be at present.
Mr. Rowe the poet, was the first who (in the diction of a celebrated modern writer) “ had “his appointment as an editor of Shakespeare .6" in form.”. And he was certainly possess’d of talents sufficient to have enabled him to go through the work with credit; yet, for want of
- collating ofithe most ancient copies, he has idt mot things in the same obscurity in which he
found them. It is 31 Hig, being a wit, and a poet, were certainly smo disqualifications, if we may give in to Benz Eyobnfor's opinion; who cobferves, (in his-Explorata, or. Discoveries) ....Thát to judge of
" poets is only the faculty of poets, and not ice of all poets, but the best 21. Mr. 'Pope's abilities as a poet and a critic,
fhould not have been called in question by any one; and yet Mr. Tbeobald (a person seemingly in other respects. very modeft) has treated him In his notes in a manner so unbecoming, as cannot reasonably be warranted, even from the Severe usage he complains to have., met with ifrom that (a) gentleman.". anot to be to zde 2. Though it may be granted, that Mr, Tbeobald
in many respects fell short of the two foregoing editors, yet he nade no small amends by his industry;, and has thrown
deal of light upon
the obscurities of our author, but not. fo. much (b) as to have restored to the publick ** this greatest of poets. in his original purity » after
(a) He obferves in his Preface, p. 37. “That he ** was indebted to Mr. Pope for some flagrant civilities,
*** and was willing to devote some part of his life to the wee honelt endeavour of quitting scores with him ; but not in
on the return of those civilities in his own peculiar train; og but he confined himself to the rules of common decency." 9) Mr. Trebald's Preface to his frf edition of ShaksArane, pis 2.70 23157 praisa
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be had laid long in a condition that was a dirs grace to common sense." He is now and then guilty of mistakes, (and he that is free from them,
ter him east the first stone): buc this will not jaftify a subsequent editor, who has treated him in a much severer (a) mannery othan he had done Mrr Dope. What the provocation was, I am at á lofs to understand : to some persons, in
deed, the smallest omiffion in & punctilio 'of respect, is a fufficient provocátion, and a crime not eafy to be forgiven; But Mr. Theobald Was fo far from afpiring to an equality, that he has treated the other throughout his whole work, 2 with thar deference, and regard, that the gene
rico Erway In Mr. Warburton's 2d. volume, p. 92. Mr. Thra: bald is styled a mock critic. P. 272.:" Mr. Tbeobald
fays he) cannot for his heart comprehend the sense of " this phrase, but it was not his heart, but his head stood y in his way, p. 349. This is finely faid, but Mr. Theobald says,
“ the words give him no ideas ; and 'tis « certain, words will never give men what nature hath Lugd. Vol. p. 6. Our, right spelt by Mr. Theobald. 1971Vol. 6. p. 5. Tisou faft intent] This is an inter,
“ polation of Mr, Theobald's, for want of knowing the ste meaning of the reading of the Old Quarto, of 1608, land. Folie 1023, where we find it, and 'tis our finf intent
tTis faft intent in Folio 1623, as has been elsewhere ob qis ferved.) P. 94xStelled, fpele right by Mr. Theobalde 6th. de Volei P. 464-Biffon, blind, spekt: sight by Mr. Theobald,
h. Vol. p. 306. Deferings, spela tight by Mr. Theo K bald." Mang ingte powers of she liker kind may be gathered from Mr. Warburton's notes on Shakespeare...
tleman in good manners, should have been more fparing in his abuse; especially after the high compliment paid him by Mr. (a) Theobald, in his Preface to Shakespeare.
07 Sir Thomas Hanmer has certainly done more towards the emendation of the text, than any one, and as a fine gentleman, good fcholar 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 affiftańce, Preface, p. 66. says, " "That he, from the mo" tive of his frank, and communicative disposition, voFluntarily took a confiderable part of the trouble off his s'hands, not onlŷ read over the whole anthor for him
with the exacteft care, but entred into a long, and la. á borious epiftolary correspondence, to which he ac• knowledges he owes no small part of his best criticism upon the author."
YYN 15) Mr. Warbærför 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 ti has done me the honour of putting into his text, which is à indeed a proper place for it, Vol. 2. p. 197. A quibble
teftord by the Oxford editor. Vol. 5th. p. 267. Too late
He died.] *: e. too lately. The loss is too fresh in our me. ** mory. Båt the Oxford editor, not understanding this
+ Phräfelegy, to clear the Prince of all imputation of *** impiety, makes him fay, too soon be died. p. 448.
ti Mbich were the hope of the Strand.] 1. a Such, às by is another metaphor, he might have call d the Flower : - but the Oxford editor, in an ill humour, degrades them