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former remarks, with equal rigour; and have endeavoured as much as poffible to avoid all controverfy, having conftantly had in view a philanthropick obfervation made by the editor above mentioned: "I know not (fays that excellent writer,) why our editors fhould, with fuch implacable anger, perfecute their predeceffors. Οι νεκροὶ μὴ λάκεσιν, the dead, it is true, can make no refiftance, they may be attacked with great fecurity; but fince they can neither feel nor mend, the fafety of mauling them seems greater than the pleasure: nor perhaps would it much misbefeem us to remember, amidst our triumphs over the nonfenfical and the fenfeless, that we likewise are men; that debemur morti, and, as Swift obferved to Burnet, fhall foon be among the dead ourselves."
I have in general given the true explication of a paffage, by whomfoever made, without loading the page with the preceding unfuccessful attempts at elucidation, and by this means have obtained room for much additional illuftration: for, as on the one hand, I truft very few fuperfluous or unneceffary annotations have been admitted, fo on the other, I believe, that not a fingle valuable explication of any obfcure paffage in thefe plays has ever appeared, which will not be found in the following volumes.
The admirers of this poet will, I truft, not merely pardon the great acceffion of new notes in the prefent edition, but examine them with some degree of pleasure. An idle notion has been propagated, that Shakspeare has been buried under his commentators; and it has again and again been repeated by the tastelefs and the dull, "that notes, though often neceffary, are neceffary evils." There is no perfon, I believe, who has an higher refpect
for the authority of Dr. Johnson than I have; but he has been mifunderflood, or mifreprefented, as if these words contained a general caution to all the readers of this poet. Dr. Johnson, in the part of his preface here alluded to, is addreffing the young reader, to whom Shakspeare is new; and him he very judiciously counfels to" read every play from the first scene to the laft, with utter negligence of all his commentators.-Let him read on, through brightness and obfcurity, through integrity and corruption; let him preferve his comprehenfion of the dialogue, and his intereft in the fable." But to much the greater and more enlightened part of his readers, (for how few are there comparatively to whom Shakspeare is new?) he gives a very different advice: Let them to whom the pleasures of novelty have ceased, "attempt exactness, and read
During the era of conjectural criticism and capricious innovation, notes were indeed evils; while one page was covered with ingenious fophiftry in fupport of fome idle conjecture, and another was wafted in its overthrow, or in erecting a new fabrick equally unfubftantial as the former. But this era is now happily paft away; and conjecture and emendation have given place to rational explanation. We fhall never, I hope, again be told, that" as the beft gueffer was the beft diviner, fo he may be faid in fome measure to be the best editor of Shakspeare." Let me not, however, be fuppofed an enemy to all conjectural emendation; fometimes undoubtedly we must have recourfe to it; but, like the machinery of the ancient drama, let it not be reforted to except in cafes of difficulty;
'Newton's Preface to his edition of Milton.
nifi dignus vindici nodus. "I wish (says Dr. Johnfon) we all conjectured less, and explained more." When our poet's entire library fhall have been difcovered, and the fables of all his plays traced to their original fource, when every temporary allufion fhall have been pointed out, and every obfcurity elucidated, then, and not till then, let the accumulation of notes be complained of. I fcarcely remember ever to have looked into a book of the age of Queen Elizabeth, in which I did not find. fomewhat that tended to throw a light on these plays. While our object is, to fupport and establish what the poet wrote, to illuftrate his. phrafeology by comparing it with that of his contemporaries, and to explain his fugitive allufions to cuftoms long fince difufed and forgotten, while this object is kept fteadily in view, if even every line of his plays were accompanied with a comment, every intelligent reader would be indebted to the industry of him who produced it. Such uniformly has been the object of the notes now prefented to the publick. Let us then hear no more of this barbarous jargon concerning Shakfpeare's having been elucidated into obfcurity, and buried under the load of his commentators. Dryden is faid to have regretted the fuccefs of his own instructions, and to have lamented that at length, in confequence of his critical prefaces, the town had become too fkilful to be eafily fatisfied. The same observation may be made with respect to many of thefe objectors, to whom the meaning of fome of our poet's moft difficult paffages is now become fo familiar, that they fancy they originally understood them " without a prompter;" and with great gravity exclaim against the unneceffary illuftrations furnished by his Editors: nor ought we
much to wonder at this; for our poet himself has told us,
'tis a common proof,
"That lowlinefs is young ambition's ladder,
I have conftantly made it a rule in revifing the notes of former editors, to compare fuch paffages as they have cited from any author, with the book from which the extract was taken, if I could procure it; by which fome inaccuracies have been rectified. The incorrect extract made by Dr. Warburton from Saviola's treatife on Honour and Honourable Quarrels, to illuftrate a paffage in As you like it, fully proves the propriety of fuch a collation.
At the end of the tenth volume I have added an Appendix, containing corrections, and fupplemental obfervations, made too late to be annexed to the plays to which they belong. Some object to an Appendix ; but, in my opinion, with very little reafon. No book can be the worfe for fuch a fupplement; fince the reader, if fuch be his caprice, need not examine it. If the objector means, that he wishes that all the information contained in an Appendix, were properly difpofed in the preceding volumes, it must be acknowledged that fuch an arrangement would be extremely defirable: but as well might he require from the elephant the fprightlinefs and agility of the fquirrel, or from the fquirrel the wifdom and strength of the elephant, as expect, that an editor's latest thoughts, fuggefted by difcurfive reading while the fheets that compofe his volumes were paffing through the
prefs, fhould form a part of his original work; that information acquired too late to be employed in its proper place, fhould yet be found there.
That the very few ftage-directions which the old copies exhibit, were not taken from our author's manuscripts, but furnished by the players, is proved by one in Macbeth, Act IV. fc. i. where "A fhow of eight kings" is directed, "and Banquo laft, with a glass in his hand;" though from the very words which the poet has written for Macbeth, it is manifeft that the glafs ought to be borne by the eighth king, and not by Banquo. All the ftagedirections therefore throughout this work I have confidered as wholly in my power, and have regulated them in the best manner I could. The reader will alfo, I think, be pleased to find the place in which every scene is fuppofed to pafs, precifely afcertained: a fpecies of information, for which, though it often throws light on the dialogue, we look in vain in the ancient copies, and which has been too much neglected by the modern editors.
The play of Pericles, Prince of Tyre, which is now once more reftored to our author, I originally intended to have fubjoined, with Titus Andronicus, to the tenth volume; but, to preferve an equality of fize in my volumes, have been obliged to give it a different place. The hand of Shakspeare being indubitably found in that piece, it will, I doubt not, be confidered as a valuable acceffion; and it is of little confequence where it appears.
It has long been thought, that Titus Andronicus was not written originally by Shakspeare; about feventy years after his death, Ravenfcroft having mentioned that he had been "told by fome anciently converfant with the ftage, that our poet only gave fome mafter-touches to one or two of the VOL. I.