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that the whole amounted to about 25 words: and pretends to have annexed a complete list of the rest, which were not worth his embracing. Whoever has read my book will, at one glance, see how in both these points veracity is ftrained, so an injury might but be done. Malus, etsi obelle non poteft, tamen cogitat.
Another expedient, to make my work appear of a trifling nature, has been an attempt to depreciate literal criticism. To this end, and to pay a fervile compliment to Mr. Pope, an anonymous writer has, like a Scotch pedlar in wit, unbiaced his pack on the subject. But, that his virulence might not feem to be levelled singly at me, he has done me the honour to join Dr. Bentley in the libel. I was in hopes we shouk! have been both abused with fmartness of fatire at least, though not with solidity of argument: that it might have been worth some reply in defence of the science attacked. But I may fairly say of this author, as Falstaff does of Poins; Hung him, buboon! his wit is as thick as Tewksbury mustard; there is no more conceit in him, than is in a NALLET. If it be not prcphanation to set the opinion of the divine Longinus ag-init such a scribler, he tells us expressly, " That to make " a judgment upon words (and writings) is the moit confum
mate fruit of much experience. igap tan aur ww xpicis σολλής έςι τείροις τελευταίον επιγεννημα Whenever words are depravedl, the sense of course must be corrupted; and thence the reader is betrayed into a falfe meaning.
If the Latin and Greck languages have received the great eft advantages imaginable from the labours of the editors and criticks of the two last ages, by whose aid and affiítance the grammarians have been enabled to write infinitcly bette: in that art than eren the preceding grammarians, who wrote when those tongues flourished as living languages; I should account it a peculiar happiness, that, by the faint csay I have made in this work, a path might be chalked out for abler hands, by which to derive the same advantages to our own tongue: a tongue, which, though it wants none of the fundamental qualities of an universal language, yet, 25 a noble writer fays, lips and stammers as in its cradle; and has produced little more towards its polishing than complaints of its barbarity.
Having now run through all those points, which I intended should make any part of this differtation, and having in any former edition made publick acknowledgments of the
assistances lent me, I shall conclude with a brief account of the methods taken in this.
It was thought proper, in order to reduce the bulk and price of the impression, that the notes, wherever they would admit of it, might be abridged: for which reafon I have curtailed a great quantity of such, in which explanations were too prolix, or authorities in support of an emendation too numerous: and many I have entirely expunged, which were judged rather verbose and declamatory (and so notes merely of ostentation) than necessary or instructive.
The few literal errors which had escaped notice, for want of revisals, in the former edition, are here reformed; and the pointing of innumerable patrages is regulated, with all the accuracy I am capable of.
I shall decline making any farther declaration of the pains I have taken upon my author, because it was my duty, as his editor, to publish him with my best care and judgment; and because I am sensible, all such declarations are construed to be laying a sort of a debt on the publick. As the former edition has been received with much indulgence, I ought to make my acknowledgments to the town for their favourable opinion of it; and I ihall always be proud to think that encouragement the best payment I can hope to receive from my
T. H A N M E R's
HAT the pnblick is here to expect is a true and cor
rect edition of Shakespeare's works, cleared from the corruptions with which they have hitherto abounded. One of the great admirers of this incomparable author hath made ir the amusement of his leisure hours for many years past to look over his writings with a careful eye, to note the obfcurities and absurdities introduced into the text, and according to the best of his judgment to rettore the genuine sense and purity of it. In this he proposed nothing to himfelf, but his private satisfaction in making his own copy as perfect as he could; but as the emendations multiplied upon his hands, other gentlemen, equally fond of the author, desired to see them, and some were so kind as to give their affistance, by communicating their observations and conjectures upon difficult passages which had occurred to them. Thus by degrees the work growing more confiderable than was at íirst expected, they who had the opportunity of looking into it, too partial perhaps in their judgment, thought it worth being made publick; and he, who hath with difficulty yielded to their persuasions, is far from defiring to refleet upon the late editors for the omissions and defects which they left to be supplied by others who should follow them in the same province. On the contrary, he thinks the world much obliged to them for the progress they made in weeding out so great a number of blunders and mistakes as they have done, and probably he who hath carried on the work might never have thought of such an undertaking, if he had not found a considerable part so done to his hands.
From what causes it proceeded that the works of this author, in the first publication of them, were more injured and abused than perhaps any that ever passed the press, hath been sufficiently explained in the preface to Mr. Pope's edi
tion, which is here subjoined, and there needs no more to be said upon that subject. This only the reader is defired to bear in mind, that as the corruptions are more numerous, and of a groffer kind than can well be conceived, but by those who have looked nearly into them; fo in the correcing them this rule hath been most strictly observed, not to give a loose to fancy, or indulge a licentious spirit of criticism, as if it were fit for any one to presume to judge what Shakespeare ought to have written, instead of endeavouring to discover truly and retrieve what he did write: and fo great caution hath been ufcd in this respect, that no alterations have been made, but what the sense necessarily required, what the measure of the verfe often helped to point oui, and what the fimilitude of words in the false reading and in the true, generally speaking, appeared very well to justify.
Most of those pallages are here thrown to the bottom of the page, and rejected as fpurious, which were stigmatized as such in Mr. Pope's edition; and it were to be wilhed that more had then undergone the same sentence. The promoter of the present edition hath ventured to discard but few more upon his own judgment, the most considerable of which is that wretched piece of ribaldry in King Henry the Fifth, put into the mouths of the French princess and an old gentlewoman, improper enough as it is all in French, and not intelligible to an English audience, and yet that perhaps is the best thing that can be said of it. There can be no doubt but a great deal more of that low stuff, which disgraces the works of this great author, was foisted in by the players after his death, to pleate the vulgar audiences by which they fubfifted: and though some of the poor witticisms and conceits must be suppoted to have fallen from his pen, yet as he hath put them generally into the mouths of low and ignorant people, so it is to be remembered that he wrote for the stage, rude and unpolished as it then was; and the vicious taite of the age must stand condemned for them, since he hath left upon record a fignal proof how much he despised them. In his play of The Merchant of VENICE, a clown is introduced quibbling in a miserable manner; upon which one, who bears the character of a man of sense, makes the following reflexion: How every fool can play upon a word! ! think the best grace of wit will fortly turn into silence, and dif course grow commendable in none but parrols. He could hardly have found stronger words to express his indignation at those false pretences to wit then in vogue; and therefore though [K 3]
such trash is frequently interspersed in his writings, it would be unjust to cast it as an imputation upon his taste and judgment and character as a writer.
There being many words in Shakespeare which are grown out of use and obsolete, and many borrowed from other languages which are not enough naturalized or known among us, a gloflary is added at the end of the work, for the explanation of all those terms which have hitherto been so many ítumbling-blocks to the gencrality of readers; and where there is any obscurity in the text, not arising from the words, but from a reference to fome antiquated customs now forgotten, or other causes of that kind, a note is put at the bottom of the page to clear up the difficulty.
With there feveral helps, if that rich vein of sense which runs through the works of this author can be retrieved in every part, and brought to appear in its true light, and if it may be hoped, without presumption, that this is here effected; they who love and admire him will receive a new pleasure, and all probably will be more ready to join in dcing him justice, who does great honour to his country as a rare and perhaps a singular genius: one who hath attained an high degree of perfection in those two great branches of poetry, tragedy and comedy, different as they are in their natures from each other; and who may be faid without partiality to have equalled, if not excelled, in both kinds, the boft irriters of any age or country, who have thought it glory enough to distinguish themselves in either.
Since therefore other nations have taken care to dignify the works of their most celebrated poets with the fairelt impreilions beautiñed with the ornaments of sculpture, weil may our Shakespeare be thought to deferve no lets confideration: and as a freíh acknowledgment hath lately been paid to his merit, and a high regard to his name and memory, by erecting his statue at a publick expence; so it is desired that this new edition of his works, which hath cost some attention and care, may be looked upon as another small monument derigrcd and dedicated to his honour.