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Venus and Adonis, of which I have not been able to procure the first impression. The second edition, printed in 1596, was obligingly transmitted to me by the late Reverend Thomas Warton, of whose friendly and valuable correspondence I was deprived by death, when these volumes were almost ready to be issued from the press. It is painful to recollect how many of (I had almost said) my coadjutors have died since the present work was begun : the elegant scholar, and ingenious writer, whom I have just mentioned ; Dr. Johnson, and Mr. Tyrwhitt: men, from whose approbation of my labours I had promised myself much pleasure, and whose stamp could give a value and currency to any work.
With the materials which I have been so fortunate as to obtain, relative to our poet, his kindred, and friends, it would not have been difficult to have formed a new Life of Shakspeare, less meagre and imperfect than that left us by Mr. Rowe: but the information which I have procured having been obtained at very different times, it is necessarily dispersed, partly in the copious notes subjoined to Rowe's Life, and partly in the Historical Account of our old actors. At some future time I hope to weave the whole into one uniform and connected narrative.
My inquiries having been carried on almost to the very moment of publication, some circumstances relative to our poet were obtained too late to be introduced into any part of the present work. Of these due use will be made hereafter.
The prefaces of Theobald, Hanmer, and Warburton, I have not retained, because they appeared to me to throw no light on our author or his works : the room which they would have taken up, will,
I trust, be found occupied by more valuable
As some of the preceding editors have justly
s King Henry IV. Part II.
" That many may be meant
“ But, leit myself be guilty to self-wrong,"
This your son-in-law,
“? Is troth-plight to your daughter."
“ Which often, thus, correcting thy stout heart,” &c.
“ That he might not beteem the winds of heaven," &c.
The rage for innovation till within these last thirty years was so great, that many words were dismissed from our poet's text, which in his time were current in every mouth. In all the editions since that of Mr. Rowe, in the Second Part of King Henry IV. the word channel' has been rejected, and kennel substituted in its room, though the for- , , mer term was commonly employed in the same sense in the time of our author; and the learned Bishop of Worcester has strenuously endeavoured to prove that in Cymbeline the poet wrote-not fhakes, but shuts or checks, “ all our buds from growing ;"8 though the authenticity of the original reading is established beyond all controversy by two other passages of Shakspeare. Very soon, indeed, after his death, this rage for innovation seems to have seized his editors; for in the year 1616 an edition of his Rape of Lucrece was published, which was said to be newly revised and corrected; but in which, in fact, feveral arbitrary changes were made, and the ancient diction rejected for one somewhat more modern. Even in the first complete collection of his plays published in 1623,
As you like it, Vol. VIII. p. 59, n.7:
« My voice is ragged, " Cymbeline, Vol. XVIII. p. 647, n. 2;
“ Whom heavens, in justice, (both on her and hers,)
“ Have laid most heavy hand." ? AC II. sc. i: “ – throw the quean in the channel.” In that paffage, as in many others, I have silently restored the ori. ginal reading, without any observation; but the word in this sense, being now obsolete, should have been illustrated by a note. This defect, however, will be found remedied in K. Henry VI. P. II. Act II. sc. ii : .
o As if a channel should be call'd a sea.” * Hurd's HOR, Ath. edit. Vol. I. p. 55.
some changes were undoubtedly made from ignorance of his meaning and phraseology. They had, I suppose, been made in the playhouse copies after his retirement from the theatre. Thus in Othello, Brabantio is made to call to his domesticks to raise “ some special officers of might," instead of " officers of night ;' and the phrase “ of all loves," in the same play, not being understood, “ for love's fake” was substituted in its room.” So, in Hamlet, we have ere ever for or ever, and rites instead of the more ancient word, crants. In King Lear, Act I. sc. i. the substitution of " Goes thy heart with this?" instead of " Goes this with thy heart?" without doubt arose from the same cause. In the plays of which we have no quarto copies, we may be sure that fimilar innovations were made, though we have now no certain means of detecting them.
After what has been proved concerning the sophistications and corruptions of the Second Folio, we cannot be surprized that when these plays were republished by Mr. Rowe in the beginning of this century from a later folio, in which the interpolations of the former were all preserved, and many new errors added, almost every page of his work was disfigured by accumulated corruptions. In Mr. Pope's edition our author was not less misrepresented; for though by examining the oldest copies he detected some errors, by his numerous fanciful alterations the poet was so completely modernized, that I am confident, had he
re-visited the glimpses of the moon," he would not have understood his own works. From the quartos indeed a few valuable restorations were made ; but all the advantage that was thus obtained,
nine interpolew errors ired by
was outweighed by arbitrary changes, transpositions, and interpolations.
The readers of Shakspeare being disgusted with the liberties taken by Mr. Pope, the subsequent edition of Theobald was justly preferred ; because he professed to adhere to the ancient copies more strictly than his competitor, and illustrated a fewpassages by extracts from the writers of our poet's age. That his work should at this day be considered of any value, only shows how long impresfions will remain, when they are once made ; for Theobald, though not so great an innovator as Pope, was yet a considerable innovator; and his edition being printed from that of his immediate predecessor, while a few arbitrary changes made by Pope were detected, innumerable sophistications were filently adopted. His knowledge of the contemporary authors was so scanty, that all the illustration of that kind dispersed throughout his volumes, has been exceeded by the researches which have since been made for the purpose of elucidating a single play.
of Sir Thomas Hanmer it is only necessary to say, that he adopted almost all the innovations of Pope, adding to them whatever caprice dictated.
To him succeeded Dr. Warburton, a critick, who (as hath been said of Salmasius) seems to have erected his throne on a heap of stones, that he might have them at hand to throw at the heads of all those who passed by. His unbounded licence in substituting his own chimerical conceits in the place of the author's genuine text, has been fo fully shown by his revisers, that I suppose no critical reader will ever again open his volumes. An hundred strappadoes, according to an Italian co