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obfcurity, through integrity and corruption; let him preferve his comprehenfion of the dialogue, and his intereft in the fable. And when the pleafures of novelty have ceased, let him attempt exactnefs; and read the commentators.

Particular paffages are cleared by notes, but the general effect of the work is weakened. The mind is refrigerated by interruption; the thoughts are diverted from the principal fubject; the reader is weary, he fufpects not why; and at laft throws away the book, which he has too diligently ftudied.

Parts are not to be examined till the whole has been furveyed; there is a kind of intellectual remotenefs neceffary for the comprehenfion of any great work in its full defign and its true proportions; a clofe approach fhews the smaller niceties, but the beauty of the whole is difcerned no longer.

It is not very grateful to confider how little the fucceffion of editors has added tot his authour's power of pleafing. He was read, admired, ftudied, and imitated, while he was yet deformed with all the improprieties which ignorance and neglect could accumulate upon him; while the reading was yet not rectified, nor his allusions understood; yet then did Dryden pronounce "that Shake"Speare was the man, who, of all modern and perhaps "ancient poets, had the largeft and most comprehensive "foul. All the images of nature were still present to "him, and he drew them not laboriously, but luckily: "When he defcribes any thing, you more than fee it, you feel it too. Those who accufe him to have "wanted learning, give him the greater commendation: “he was naturally learned: he needed not the spectacles "of books to read nature; he looked inwards, and "found her there. I cannot fay he is every where alike; were he fo, I should do him injury to compare him with the greatest of mankind. He is many times flat and infipid; his comick wit degenerating into

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"clenches, his serious swelling into bombaft.

But he

"is always great, when fome great occafion is pre"fented to him: No man can fay, he ever had a fit fubject for his wit, and did not then raise himself as high above the rest of poets,

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"Quantum lenta folent inter viburna cupreffi."

It is to be lamented, that fuch a writer should want a commentary; that his language fhould become obfolete, or his fentiments obfcure. But it is vain to carry wishes beyond the condition of human things; that which muft happen to all, has happened to Shakefpeare, by accident and time; and more than has been fuffered by any other writer fince the ufe of types, has been fuffered by him through his own negligence of fame, or perhaps by that fuperiority of mind, which defpifed its own performances, when it compared them with its powers, and judged thofe works unworthy to be preserved, which the criticks of following ages were to contend for the fame of reftoring and explaining.

Among these candidates of inferiour fame, I am now to ftand the judgment of the publick; and with that I could confidently produce my commentary as equal to the encouragement which I have had the honour of receiving. Every work of this kind is by its nature deficient, and I should feel little folicitude about the fentence, were it to be pronounced only by the skilful and the learned.

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Earle of PEMBROKE, &c. Lord Chamberlaine to the Kings moft excellent Majeftie,




Earle of MONTGOMERY, &c. Gentleman of his Majefties Bed-Chamber. Both Knights of the most Noble Order of the Garter, and our fingular GOOD LORDS.

Right Honourable,


HILST we ftudy to be thankefull in our particular, for the many favors we have received from your L. L. we are falne upon the ill fortune, to mingle two the most divers things that can be, feare, and rafhneffe; rafhneffe in the enterprize, and feare of the fucceffe. For, when we value the places your H. H. fuftaine, wee cannot but know their dignity greater, than to defcend to the reading of thefe trifles: and, while we name them trifles, we have deprived ourfelves of the defence of our dedication. But fince your L. L. have been pleas'd to thinke thefe trifles fomething, heretofore; and have profequuted both them, and their Author living, with fo much favour: we hope, (that they out-living him, and he not having the fate, common with fome, to be Exequutor to his own writings) you will ufe the fame indulgence toward them, you have done unto their parent. There is a great difference, whether any Book choofe Patrones, or finde them: This hath done both. For, fo much were your L. L. likings of the feverall parts, when they were acted,



as before they were published, the Volumne ask❜d to be yours. We have but collected them, and done an office to the dead, to procure his Orphanes, Guardians; without ambition either of felf-profit, or fame: onely to keepe the memory of fo worthy a Friend, and Fellow alive, as was our SHAKESPEARE, by humble offer of his Playes, to your moft Noble Patronage. Wherein, as we have justly observed, no man to come neere your L. L. but with a kind of religious addreffe; it hath been the height of our care, who are the prefenters, to make the prefent worthy of your H. H. by the Perfection. But, there we must also crave our abilities to be confidered, my Lords. We cannot goe beyond our owne powers. Countrey hands, reach forth Milke, Creame, Fruits, or what they have: and many Nations (we have heard) that had not Gummes and Incenfe, obtained their requests with a leavened Cake; It was no fault to approach their Gods, by what meanes they could: And the moft, though meaneft, of things, are made more precious, when they are dedicated to Temples. In that name therefore, we most humbly confecrate to your H. H. these remaines of your fervant SHAKESPEARE; that what delight is in them, may be ever your L. L. the reputation his, and the faults ours, if any be committed, by a paire fo carefull to fhew their gratitude both to the living, and the dead, as is

Your Lordships most bounden



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