Page images

that they might escape the fufpicion of greater,3 or perhaps to intimate that no greater could be detected. Both little and great (and doubtless there may be the ufual proportion of both) are here expofed (with very few exceptions) to the candour and perfpicacity of the reader, who needs not to be told that in fifteen volumes octavo, of intricate and variegated printing, gone through in the space of about twenty months, the most vigilant eyes muft occafionally have been overwatched, and the readiest knowledge intercepted. The fight of the editors, indeed, was too much fatigued to encourage their engagement in fo laborious a revifion; and they are likewife convinced that fubftitutes are not always qualified for their task; but instead of pointing out real mistakes, would have fuppofed the existence of fuch as were merely founded on their own want of acquaintance with the peculiarities of ancient fpelling and language; for even modern poetry has fometimes been in danger from the chances of their fuperintendance. He whose business it is to offer this unusual apology, very well remembers to have been fitting with Dr. Johnson, when an agent from a neighbouring prefs brought in the proof fheet of a republication, requefting to know whether a particular word in it was not corrupted. "So far from it, Sir, (replied the Doctor, with fome harshness,) that the word you fufpect and would difplace, is confpicuoufly beautiful where it stands, and is the only one that could have done the duty expected from it by Mr. Pope."

As for cancels, it is in the power of

[merged small][ocr errors]

the hofpitable door

every care

Expos'd a matron, to avoid worse rape."

Paradife Loft, B.I. ›

lefs binder to defeat their purpofe; for they are fo feldom lodged with uniformity in their proper places, that they as often ferve to render copies imperfect, as to fcreen an author from the charge of ignorance or inattention. The leaf appropriated to one volume, is fometimes fhuffled into the correfponding page of another; and fometimes the faulty leaf is withdrawn, and no other fubftituted in its room. These circumstances might be exemplified; but the fubject is scarcely of confequence enough to be more than generally stated to the reader, whofe indulgence is again folicited on account of blemishes which in the course of an undertaking like this are unavoidable, and could not, at its conclufion, have been remedied but by the hazard of more extensive mischief;—an indulgence, indeed, that will more readily be granted, and efpecially for the fake of the compofitors, when it is understood, that, on an average, every page of the prefent work, including fpaces, quadrats, points, and letters, is (to fpeak technically) compofed of 2680 diftinct pieces of


4 Number of letters, &c. in a page of Shakspeare, 1793.

[blocks in formation]

From this calculation it is clear, that a common page, admitting it to consist of 1-3d text, and 2-3ds notes, contains

As was formerly therefore obferved, he who waited till the river fhould run dry, did not act with lefs reason than the editors would do, who fhould fufpend a voluminous and complicated publication, in the vain hope of rendering it abfolutely free from literary and typographical errors.

about 2680 distinct pieces of metal; which multiplied by 16, the number of pages in a fheet, will amount to 42,880-the mifplacing of any one of which would inevitably cause a blunder. PLYMSELL.







IT feems to be a kind of refpect due to the memory of excellent men, efpecially of thofe whom their wit and learning have made famous, to deliver fome account of themselves, as well as their works, to pofterity. For this reason, how fond do we see fome people of difcovering any little perfonal ftory of the great men of antiquity! their families, the common accidents of their lives, and even their fhape, make, and features, have been the subject of critical inquiries. How trifling foever this curiofity may seem to be, it is certainly very natural; and we are hardly fatisfied with an account of any remarkable perfon, till we have heard him defcribed even to the very clothes he wears. As for what relates to men of letters, the knowledge of an author may fometimes conduce to the better understanding his book; and though the works of Mr. Shakspeare may feem to many not to want a comment, yet I fancy fome little account of the man

himself may not be thought improper to go along with them.

He was the fon of Mr. John Shakspeare, and was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, in April, 1564. His family, as appears by the register and publick writings relating to that town, were of good figure and fashion there, and are mentioned as gentlemen. His father, who was a confiderable dealer in wool,5 had fo large a family, ten children

5 His father, who was a confiderable dealer in wool,] It appears that he had been an officer and bailiff of Stratford-uponAvon; and that he enjoyed some hereditary lands and tenements, the reward of his grandfather's faithful and approved services to King Henry VII. See the extract from the Herald's Office. THEOBALD.

The chief Magiftrate of the Body Corporate of Stratford, now diftinguished by the title of Mayor, was in the early charters called the High Bailiff. This office Mr. John Shakspeare filled in 1569, as appears from the following extracts from the books of the corporation, with which I have been favoured by the Rev. Mr. Davenport, Vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon :

"Jan. 10, in the 6th year of the reign of our fovereign lady Queen Elizabeth, John Shakspeare paffed his Chamberlain's ac


"At the Hall holden the eleventh day of September, in the eleventh year of the reign of our fovereign lady Elizabeth, 1569, were prefent Mr. John Shakspeare, High Bailiff." [Then follow the names of the Aldermen and Burgeffes.]

"At the Hall holden Nov. 19th, in the 21ft year of the reign of our fovereign lady Queen Elizabeth, it is ordained, that every Alderman fhall be taxed to pay weekly 4d. faving John ShakSpeare and Robert Bruce, who fhall not be taxed to pay any thing; and every burgess to pay 2d."

"At the Hall holden on the 6th day of September, in the 28th year of our fovereign lady Queen Elizabeth.

"At this Hall William Smith and Richard Courte are chofen to be Aldermen in the places of John Wheler, and John Shakfpeare, for that Mr. Wheler doth defire to be put out of the company, and Mr. Shakfpere doth not come to the halls, when they be warned, nor hath not done of long time."

From these extracts it may be collected, (as is observed by the gentleman above mentioned, to whofe obliging attention to my

« PreviousContinue »