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perhaps be met with in any other writer : the play meant is The Comedy of Errors; in which the action is one, the place one, and the time such as even Aristotle himself would allow of the revolution of half a day : but even in this play, the change of scene arises from change of persons, and by that it is regulated ; as are also all the other plays that are not divided in the folio : for whoever will take the trouble to examine those that are divided, and they are pointed out for him in the lift,) will see them conform exactly to the rule above-mention'd; and can then have but little doubt, that it fhould be apply'd to all the rest. To have distinguish'd these divisions,-made (indeed) without the authority, but following the example of the folio,-had been useless and troublesome; and the editor fully persuades himself, that what he has said will be fufficient, and that he shall be excus'd by the ingenious and candid for overpassing them without further notice : whose pardon he hopes also to have for some other unnotic'd matters that are related to this in hand, such as--marking the place of action, both general and particular ; fupplying scenical directions; and due regulating of exits, and entrances : for the first, there is no title in the old editions, and in both the latter, they are so deficient and faulty throughout, that it would not be much amiss if we look'd upon them as wanting too ; and then all these several articles, might be
& The divisions that are in the folio are religiously adher'd to, except in two or three instances which will be spoken of in their place; so that, as is said before, a perufal of those old-divided plays will put everyone in a capacity of judging whether the present editor has proceeded rightly or no: the current editions are divided in such a manner, that nothing like a rule can be collected from any of them.
consider'd as additions, that needed no other pointing out than a declaration that they are fo: the light they throw upon the plays in general, and particularly upon some parts of them,—such as, the battle scenes throughout; Cæsar's passage to the senatehouse, and subsequent assassination; Antony's death; the surprizal and death of Cleopatra ; that of Titus Andronicus; and a multitude of others, which are all directed new in this edition-will justify these insertions; and may, possibly, merit the reader's thanks, for the great aids which they afford to his conception.
It remains now to speak of errors of the old copies which are here amended without notice, to wit—the pointing, and wrong division of much of them respecting the numbers. And as to the first, it is so extremely erroneous, throughout all the plays, and in every old copy, that small regard is due to it, and it becomes an editor's duty, (instead of being influenc'd by such a punctuation, or even casting his eyes upon it, to attend closely to the meaning of what is before him, and to new-point it accordingly: was it the business of this editionto make parade of discoveries, this article alone would have afforded ample field for it; for a very great number of passages are now first set to rights by this only, which, before, had either no sense at all, or one unsuiting the context, and unworthy the noble penner of it; but all the emendations of this fort, though inferior in merit to no others whatsoever, are consign'd to silence; some few only excepted, of passages that have been much contested, and whose present adjustment might possibly be callid in question again ; there will be spoken of in some note, and a reason given for embracing them : all the other parts of the works have been examin'd with equal diligence, and equal attention; and the editor flatters himself, that the punctuation he has follow'd, (into which he has admitted fome novelties,) will be found of so much benefit to his author, that those who run may read, and that with profit and understanding. The other great mistake in these old editions, and which is very insufficiently rectify'd in any of the new ones, relates to the poet's numbers; his verse being often wrong divided, or printed wholly as profe, and his prose as often printed like verse: this, though not so universal as their wrong pointing, is yet so extenfive an error in the old copies, and so impossible to be pointed out otherwise than by a note, that an editor's silent amendment of it is surely pardonable at least; for who would not be disgusted with that perpetual sameness which must necessarily have been in all the notes of this sort? Neither are they, in truth, emendations that require proying; every good ear does immediately adopt them, and every lover of the poet will be pleas’d with that accession of beauty which results to him from them : it is perhaps to be lamented, that there is yet standing in his works much unpleasing mixture of prosaick and metrical dialogue, and sometimes in places seemingly improper, as-in Othello, Vol. XIX. p. 273; and some others which men of judgment will be able to pick out for themselves: but these blemishes are not now to be wip'd away, at least not by an editor, whose province it far exceeds to make a
9 If the use of these new pointings, and also of certain marks that he will meet with in this edition, do not occur immediately to the reader, (as we think it will) he may find it explain'd to him at large in the preface to a little octavo volume intitl'de “ Proluhons, or, Select Pieces of Ancient Poetry;” publish'd in 1760 by this editor, and printed for Mr. Tonson.
change of this nature; but must remain as marks of the poet's negligence, and of the hafte with which his pieces were compos'd: what he mani. festly intended profe, (and we can judge of his intentions only from what appears in the editions that are come down to us,) should be printed as prose, what verse as verse; which, it is hop'd, is now done, with an accuracy that leaves no great room for any further considerable improvements in that way.
Thus have we run through, in as brief a manner as possible, all the several heads, of which it was thought proper and even necessary that the publick should be appriz'd; as well those that concern preceding editions, both old and new; as the other which we have just quitted,—the method obsery'd in the edition that is now before them : which though not so entertaining, it is confess’d, nor affording so much room to display the parts and talents of a writer, as some other topicks that have generally supply'd the place of them; such as criticisms or panegyricks upon the author, historical anecdotes, essays, and florilegia ; yet there will be found some odd people, who may be apt to pronounce of them that they are suitable to the place they stand in, and convey all the instruction that should be look'd for in a preface. Here, therefore, we might take our leave of the reader, bidding him welcome to the banquet that is set before him; were it not apprehended, and reasonably, that he will expect some account why it is not sery'd up to him at present with it's accustom'd and laudable garniture, of “ Notes, Glosaries," &c. Now though it might be reply'd, as a reason for what is done,—that a very great part of the world, amongst whom is the editor himself, profess much dislike
to this paginary intermixture of text and comment; in works meerly of entertainment, and written in the language of the country; as alsothat he, the editor, does not possess the secret of dealing out notes by measure, and distributing them amongst his volumes so nicely that the equality of their bulk shall not be broke in upon the thickness of a sheet of paper ; yet, having other matter at hand which he thinks may excuse him better, he will not have recourse to these abovemention'd: which matter is no other, than his very strong desire of approving himself to the publick a man of integrity; and of making his future present more perfect, and as worthy of their acceptance as his abilities will let him. For the explaining of what is said, which is a little wrap'd up in mystery at present, we must inform that publick-that another work is prepar'd, and in great forwardness, having been wrought upon many years ; nearly indeed as long as the work which is now before them, for they have gone hand in hand almost from the first : this work, to which we have given for title The School of Shakspeare, consists wholly of extracts, (with observations upon some of them, interspers’d occasionally,) from books that may properly be call'd—his school; as they are indeed the sources from which he drew the greater part of his knowledge in mythology and classical matters,' his fable, his history, and even
? Though our expressions, as we think, are sufficiently guarded in this place, yet, being fearful of misconstruction, we desire to be heard further as to this affair of his learning. It is our firm belief then,--that Shakspeare was very well grounded, at least in Latin, at school : It appears from the clearest evidence poliible, that his father was a man of no little substance, and very well able to give him such education; which, perhaps, he