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ever equalled by any Writer, whether his Aim was the Use, or only the Entertainment of Mankind. The Notes in this Edition, therefore, take in the whole Compass of Criticism.

I. The first fort is employed in restoring the Poet's genuine Text; but in those Places only where it labours with inextricable Nonsense. In which, how much foever I may have given Scope to critical Conjecture, where the old Copies failed me, I have indulged nothing to Fancy or Imagination ; but have religiously observed the severe Canons of literal Criticism ; as may be seen from the Reasons accompanying every Alteration of the common Text. Nor would a different Conduct have become a Critic, whose greatest Attention, in this part, was to vindicate the established Reading from Interpolations occasioned by the fanciful Extravagancies of others. I once intended to have given the Reader a body of Canons, for literal Criticism, drawn out in form; as well such asconcern the Art in general, as those that arise from the Nature and Circumstances of our Author's Works in particular. And this for two Reasons. First, Togive the unlearned Reader a just Idea, and consequently a better Opinion of the Art of Criticism, now sunk very low in the popular Esteem, by the Attempts of some who would needs exercise it without either natural or acquired Talents; and by the ill Success of others, who seemed to have lost both, when they came to try them upon English Authors. Secondly, To deter the unlearned Writer from wantonly trifling with an Art he is a Stranger to, at the Expence of his

own

U11

own Reputation, and the Integrity of the Text of established Authors. But these Uses may be well supplied by what is occasionally said upon the Subject, in the Course of the following Remarks.

II. The second sort of Notes consists in an Explanation of the Author's Meaning, when, by one, or more of these Causes, it becomes obscure ; either from a licentious Use of Terms; or a bard or ungrammatical Construction ; or lastly, from far-fetch'd or quaint Allufions.

1. This licentious Use of Words is almost peculiar to the Language of Shakespear. To common Terms he hath affixed Meanings of his own, unauthorised by Use, and not to be justified by Analogy. And this Liberty he hath taken with the noblest Parts of Speech, such as Mixedmodes; which, as they are most susceptible of Abuse, so their Abuse most hurts the Clearness of the Discourse. The Critics (to whom Shakespear's Licence was still as much a Secret as his Meaning, which that Licence had obfcured) fell into two contrary Mistakes ; but equally injurious to his Reputation and his Writings. For some of them observing a Darkness, that pervaded his whole Expression, have censured him for Confufion of Ideas and Inaccuracy of reasoning. In the Neighing of a Horse, (says Rymer) or in the Growl ing of a Mastiff there is á Meaning, there is a lively Expression, and, may I say, more Humanity than many times in the tragical Flights of Shakespear.

Thé Ignorance of which Censure is of a piece with its Brutality. The Truth is, no one thought

clearer,

clearer, or argued more closely than this immortal Bard. But his Superiority of Genius less needing the Intervention of Words in the Act of Thinking, when he came to draw out his Contemplations into Discourse, he took up (as he was hurried on by the Torrent of his Matter) with the first Words that lay in his way; and if, amongst these, there were two Mixed-modes that had but a principal Idea in common, it was enough for him, he regarded them as synonimous, and would use the one for the other without Fear or Scruple. Again, there have been others, such as the two lait Editors, who have fallen into a contrary Extreme ; and regarded Shakespear's Anomalies (as we may call them) amongst the Corruptions of his Text ; which, therefore, they have cashiered in great numbers, to make room for a Jargon of their own. This hath put me to additional Trouble; for I had not only their Interpolations to throw out again, but the genuine Text to replace, and establish in its stead; which, in many Cases, could not be done without shewing the peculiar Sense of the Terms, and explaining the Causes which led the Poet to so perverse an use of them. I had it once, indeed, in my Design, to give a general alphabetic Glossary of these Terms; but as each of them is explained in its proper Place, there feemed the less Occasion for such an Index.

2. The Poet's hard and unnatural Construction had a different Original. This was the Effect of mistaken Art and Design. The Public Taste was in its Infancy; and delighted, (as it

always

always does during that State) in the high and turgid : which leads the Writer to disguise a vulgar expression with hard and forced construction, whereby the sentence frequently becomes cloudy and dark. Here, his Critics shew their modesty, and leave him to himself. For the arbitrary change of a Word doth little towards dispelling an obscurity that ariseth, not from the licentious use of a single Term, but from the unnatural arrangement of a whole Sentence. And they risqued nothing by their silence. For Shakespear was too clear in Fame to be suspected of a want of Meaning; and too high in Fashion for any one to own he needed a Critic to find it out. Not but, in his best works, we must allow, he is often so natural and flowing, so pure and correct, that he is even a model for stile and language.

3. As to his far-fetched and quaint Allusions, these are often a cover to common thoughts ; just as his hard construction is to common expreffion. When they are not so, the explanation of them has this further advantage, that, in clearing the Obscurity, you frequently discover fome latent conceit not unworthy of his Genius.

III. The third and last sort of Notes is concerned in a critical explanation of the Author's Beauties and Defects; but chiefly of his Beauties, whether in Scile, Thought, Sentiment, Character or Composition. An odd humour of finding fault hath long prevailed amongst the Critics ; as if nothing were worth remarking that did Vol. I.

not,

clearer, or argued more closely than this immortal Bard. But his Superiority of Genius less needing the Intervention of Words in the Act of Thinking, when he came to draw out his contemplations into Discourse, he took up (as he was hurried on by the Torrent of his Matter) with the first Words that lay in his way; and if, amongst these, there were two Mixed-modes that had but a principal Idea in common, it was enough for him, he regarded them as synonimous, and would use the one for the other without Fear or Scruple. Again, there have been others, such as the two lait Editors, who have fallen into a contrary Extreme ; and regarded Shakespear's Anomalies (as we may call them) amongst the Corruptions of his Text ; which, therefore, they have cashiered in great numbers, to make room for a Jargon of their own. This hath put me to additional Trouble; for I had not only their Interpolations to throw out again, but the genuine Text to replace, and establish in its stead, which, in many cases, could not be done without thewing the peculiar Sense of the Terms, and explaining the Causes which led the Poet to so perverse an use of them. I had it once, indeed, in my Design, to give a general alphabetic Glossary of these Terms; but as each of them is explained in its proper Place, there feemed the less Occasion for such an Index.

2. The Poet's hard and unnatural Construc tion had a different Original. This was the Er fect of mistaken Art and Design. The Pub' Tastę was in its Infancy; and delighted, (a

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