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Ca'loured by naturc, could impart only what he had learned ; I know not whether this praise is rigorously just. The de and as he njust increase his ideas, like other mortals, by grado syllable termination, which the critic righuj appropriates to ual acquisition, he, like them, grew wiser as he grew older; the drama, is to be found, though, I think, not in Gorbades, could display life better, as he knew it more, and instruct with which is confessedly before our author; yet in Hieronyrat, more efficacy, as he was himself more amply instructed. of which the date is not certain, but which there is reason to
There is a vigilance of observation and accuracy of distinc. believe at least as old as his earliest plays. This however is tion which books and precepts cannot confer; from this als certain, that he is the first who taught either tragedy os most all original and native excellence proceeds Shakspeare comedy to please, there being no theatrical piece of any must bave looked upon mankind with perspicacity, in the older writer, of which the name is known, except to antihighest degree curious and attentive. Other writers borrow quaries and collectors of books, which are sought because their characters from preceeding writers, and diversify them they are scarce, and would not have been scarce had they beca only by the accidental appendages of present manners; the much esteemed. dress is a little varied, but the body is the same, Our author To him we must ascribe the praise, unless Spenser maydi. had both matter and form to provide; for, except the char. vide it with him, of having first discovered to how much acters of Chaucer, to whoin I think he is not much indebted, smoothness and harmony the English language could be softe there were no writers in English, and perhaps not many in ened. He has speeches, perhaps sometimes scenes, which othermodern languages, whichshowed life in its native colours. have all the delicacy of Rowe, without his effeminacy. Ho
The contest about the original benevolence or malignity endeavours indeed commonly io strike by the force and rigof man had not yet commenced Speculation had not yet our of bis dialogue, but he never exccutes his purpose bet attempted to analyze the mind, to trace the passions to their ter, than when he tries to sooth by softness. sources, to unfold the seminal principles of vice and virtue, Yet it must be at last confessed, that as we owe every thing or sound the depths of the heart for the motives of action to him, he owes something to us; that, if much of his praise All those inquiries, which from the time that human nature is paid by perception and judgment, much is likewise given became the fashionable study, have been made sometimes by custoni and veneration. We fix our eyes upon his graces with nice discernment, but often with idle subtlety, were yet and turn them from his deformities, and endure in him what unattempted. The tales, with which the intüncy of learning we should in another loath or despise. If we endured with. was satisfied, exhibited only the superficial appearances of out praising, respect for the father of our drama might ex. action, related the events, but omitted the causes, and were cuse us; but I have seen, in the book of some modern critic, formed for such as delighted in wonders rather than in truth. a collection of anomalies, which show that he has corrupted Mankind was not then to be studied in the closet; he that language by every niode of depravation, but which his ad. would know the world, was under the necessity of gleaning mirer has accumulated as a monument of hovour. his own remarks, by mingling as he could in its business and He has scenes of undoubted and perpetual excellence, but
perhaps not one play, which, if it were now exhibited as the Boyle congratulated himself upon his high birth, because it work of a contemporary writer, would be heard to the favoured his curiosity, by facilitating his access. Shakspeare conclusion. I am indeed får trom thinking, that his works had no such advantage; he came to London a needy adven. were wrought to his own ideas of perfection ; when they turer, and lived for a time by very mean employments. were such as would satisfy the audience, they satistied the Many works of genius and learning have been performed in
It is seldom that authors, though more studious states of life that appear very little favourable to thought or of fame than Shakspeare, rise much above the standard of to inquiry; 80 many, that he who considers them is inclined to their own age; to add a little to what is best will always be think that he sees enterprise and perseverance predominating suflicient for present praise, and those who find themselves over all external agency and bidding help and bindrance exalted into fame, are willing to credit their encomiasts, and vanish before them. The genius of Shakspeare was not to to spare the labour of contending with themselves. be depressed by the weight of poverty, nor limited by the It does not appear that Shakspeare thought his works narrow conversation to which men in want are inevitably worthy of posterity, that he levied any ideal tribute upon condemned; the incumbrances of his fortune were shaken future times, or had any further prospect, than of present from his mind, as dew drops from a lion's mane.
popularity and present profit. When his plays had been Though he had so many difficulties to encounter, and so acted, his hope was at an end; he solicited no addition of little assistance to surmount them, he has been able to ob-honour from the reader. He therefore made no scruple to tain an exact knowledge of many modes of life, and many repeat the same jests in many dialogues, or to entangle dif. casts of native dispositions; to vary them with great multi- ferent plots by the same knot of perplexity, which may be plicity; to mark them by nice distinction; and to show at least forgiven him, by those who recollect, that of Con. them in full view by proper combinations. In this part of greve's four comedies, two are concluded by a marriage in a his performances he had none to imitate, but has himself mask, by a deception, which perhaps never happened, and been imitated by all succeeding writers; and it may be doubt which, whether likely or not, he did not invent. ed, whether from all his successors, more maxims of theore. So careless was this great poet of future fume, that, thong tical knowledge, or more rules of practical prudence, can be he retired to ease and plenty, while he was yet little "de. collected, than he alone has given to his country.
clined into the vale of years," before he could be disgusted Nor was his attention confined to the actions of men; he with fatigue, or disabled by infirmity, he made na collection was an exact surveyor of the inanimate world; his descrip- of his works, nor desired to rescue those that had been al. tions have always some peculiarities, gathered by contem. ready published from the depravations that obscured them, plating things as they really exist. It may be observed, that or secure to the rest a better destiny, by giving them to the the oldest poets of many nations preserve their reputation, world in their genuine state. and that the following generations of wit, after a short cele. Of the plays which bear the name of Shak speare in the brity, sink into oblivion. The first, whoever they be, must take late editions, the greater part were not published till about their sentiments and descriptions immediately from know. seven years after his death, and the few which appeared in ledge; the resemblance is therefore just, their descriptions his life are apparently thrust into the world without the care are verified by every eye, and their sentiments acknowledged of the author and therefore probably without his knowledge by every breast. Those whom their fame invites to the saine Of all the publishers, clandestine or professed, the negli. studies, copy partly them, and partly nature, till the books gence and unskilfulness has by the late revisers been suflici. of one age gain such authority, as to stand in the place of ently shown. The faults of all are indeed numerous and nature to another, and imitation, always deviating a little, gross, and bave not only corrupted many passages, perhaps becomes at last capricious and casual Shakspeare, whether beyond recovery, but have brought others into suspicion, life or nature be his subject, shows plainly, that he has seen which are only obscured by obsolete phraseology, or by the with his own eyes; he gives the image which he receives, writer's unskilfulness and affectation. To alter is more easy not weakened or distarted by the intervention of any other than to explain, and temerity is a more common quality i mind; the ignorant feel his representations to be just, and than diligence Those who saw that they must employ con. the learned see that they are complete.
jecture to a certain degreo, were willing to indulge it a Perhaps it would not be easy to find any author 'except little further. Had the author published his own works, we Homer, who invented so much as Shakspeare, who 80 much should have sat quietly down to disentangle his intricacies, advanced the studies which he cultivated, or efused so much and clear his obscuritics i dut now we tear what we cannot novelty upon his age or country. The form, the character, loose, and eject wbat we happen not to understand. the language and the shows of the English drama are his. The faults are more than could have happened without the "He seems," says Dennis, "to have been the very original concurrence of many causes. The style of Shakspeare was of our English tragical harmony, that is, the harmony of in itsell ungrammatical, perplexed, and obscure; his works blank verse, diversified often by dissyllable and trissyllable terminations. For the diversity distinguishes it from heroic than ever any of our nation) was the first, who, to shun the harmony, and by bringing it nearer to common use makes pains of continual rhyming, invented that kind of writing it more proper to gain attention, and more fit for action and which we call blank verse, but the French more properly, dialogue Such verse we make when we are writing prose ; 1 prose mesuréc; into which the English tongue so naturally we make such verse in common conversation*.".
slides, that in writing prosc 'lis hardly to be avoided."
STERVENS. Thus, also, Dryden, in the Epistle dedicatory to his Riv. f it appears from the Induction of Ren Jonson's Bartha al Ladies: Shakspeare (who with some errors not to be lomew Hair," to have been acteu before be year 1600didided in that age, had, undoubtedly, a larger soul of poesie! STIRTENS
Tsere transcribed for the players by those who may be sup equivalent to all others, and that the rest only deviate from preed to have seldom wr.derstood them, they were transmit it by the printer's negligence. Whoever has any of the follos wa by copiers equally unskilful, who still multiplied errors ; has al, excepting those diversities
which mere reiteration of Dexy were perbaps sometimes mutilated by the actors, for editions will produce. I collated them all at the beginning, the sake of shortening the speeches; and were at last print but afterwards used only the first. ed without correction of the press.
Of his notes I have generally retained those which he re. In this state they remained, not as Dr, Warburton supposes, tained himself in his second edition, except when they were because they were unregarded,but because the editor's art was confuted by subsequent annotators, or were too minute to not get applicd'lo modern languages, and our ancestors were ac- merit preservation. I have sometimes adopted his restora. customed to so much negligence of English printers, that they tion of a comnia, hout inserting the panegyric in which could very patiently endure it. At last an edition was under. he celebrated himself for his achievement. The exuberant taken by Rowe; not because a poct was to be published by a excrescence of his diction I have often lopped, his triumphpoct, for Rowe seems to have thought very little on correc- ant exultations over Pope and Rowe I have sometimes sup. tion or explanation, but that our author's works might ap pressed, and his contemptible ostentation I have frequently pear like those of his fraternity, with the appendages of a life concealed; but I have in some places shown him, as he would and recommendatory preface. Rowe has been clamorously have shown hiinsell, for the reader's diversion, that the in. dla ned for not performing what he did not undertake, and it fated emptiness of some notes may justify or excuse the con. is time that justice be done, him by confessing, that though he traction of the rest. seems to have had no thought of corruption beyond the prin. Theobald, thus weak and ignorant, thus mean and faithless, ler's errors, yet he has made many emendations, if they were thus petulant and ostentatious, by the good luck of having not made before, which his successors have received without Pope for his enemy, has escaped, and escaped alone, with acknowledgment, and which, if they had produced them, reputation, from this undertaking. So willingly does the would bave filled pages and pages with censures of the world support those who solicit favour, against those who stupidity by which the faults were committed, with displays command reverence; and so casily is he praised whom po of the absurdities which they involved, with ostentatious ex. man can envy. positions of the new reading, and self-congratulations on the Our author fell then into the hands of Sir Thomas Hanhappiness of discovering it.
mer, the Oxford editor, a man, in my opinion, eminently As of the other editors I have preserved the prefaces, I qualified by nature for such studies. He had, what is the have likewise borrowed the author's life from Rowe, though first requisite to emendatory criticism, that intuition by not written with much elegance or spirit ; it relates, how- which the poet's intention is immediately discovered, and ever, what is now to be known, and therefore deserves to that dexterity of intellect which dispatches its works by the pass through all succeeding publications.
easiest means. He had undoubtedly read much ; his acThe nation had been for many years content enough with quaintance with customs, opinions, and traditions, seems to Mr. Rowe's performance, when Mr. Pope made them ac- have been large; and he is often learned without show. He quainted with the true state of Shakspeare's text, showed seldom passes what he does not understand, without an at. that it was extremely corrupt, and gave reasons to hope that tempt to find or to make a meaning, and sometimes hastily there were means of reforming it. He collated the old copies, makes what a little more attention would have found. He which none had thought to examine bcfore, and restored is solicitous to reduce to grammar, what he could not be sure many lines to their integrity; but, by a very compendious that his author intended to be grammatical. Shakspeare criticism, be rejected whatever he disliked, and thought more regarded more the series of idcas, than of words; and his of amputation than of cure,
language, not being designed for the reader's desk, was all I know not why he is commended by Dr. Warburton for that he desired it to be if it conveyed his meaning to the distinguishing the genuine from the spurious plays. In this audience. choice he exerted no judgment of his own; the plays which Hanmer's care of the metre has been too violently censur. he received were given by Hemmings and Condel, the first ed. He found the mcasure reformed in so many passages, editors; and those which he rejected, though, according to
by the silent labours of some editors, with the silent acquisi. the licentiousness of the press in those times, they were tion of the rest, that he thought himself allowed to extend a printed during Shakspeare's life, with his name, had been little further the licence, which had alrcady been carried so omitted by his friends, and were never added to his works far without reprehension; and of his corrections in general, before the edition of 1661, from which they were copied by it must be confessed, that they are often just, and made com. the later printers.
monly with the least possible violation of the text. This was a work which Pope seems to have thought un. But, by inserting his emendations, whether invented, or worthy of his abilities, being not able to suppress his contempt borrowed, into the page, without any notice of varying of the dull duty of an editor. He understood but half his un copies, he has appropriated the labour of his predecessors, and dertaking. The duty of a collator is indeed dull, yet, like made his own edition of little authority. His confidence, in. other tedious tasks, is very necessary; but an emendatory deed, both in himself and others, was too great; he sup. critic would ill discharge his duty, without qualities very dif. poses all to be right that was done by Pope and Theobald; ferent from dulness. In perusing a corrupted piece, he must be seems not to suspect
a critic of fallibility, and it was reahave before him all possibilities of meaning, with all possi. sonable that he should claim what he so liberally granted, bilities of expression. Such must be his comprehension of As he never writes without careful inquiry and diligent thought, and such his copiousness of language, out of many consideration, I have received all his notes, and believe that readings, possible, he must be able to select that which best every reader will wish for more. suits with the state, opinions, and modes of language prevail. or the last editor* it is more difficult to speak. Respect ing in every age and with his author's particular cast of is due to high place, tenderance to Living reputation, and thought, and turn of expression. Conjectural criticism de veneration to genius and learning ; but he cannot be justly mands more than humanity possesses, and he that exercises offended at that liberty of wbich he has himself so frequent it with most praise, has very frequent need of indulgence. ly given an example, nor very solicitous what is thought of Let us now be told no more of the dull duty of an editor. notes, which he ought never to have considered as part of
Confidence is the common consequences of success. They his serious employments, and which I suppose, since the ar. whose excellence of any kind has been loudly celebrated, are dour of composition is remitted, he no longer numbers ready to conclude, that their powers are universal. Pope's among his happy effusions. edition fell below his own expectations, and he was so much The original and predominant error of his commentary, is offended, when be was found to have left any thing for others acquiescence in his first thoughts; that precipitation which to do, that he passed the latter part of his life in a state of is produced by consciousness of quick discernment, and that hostility with verbal criticism.
confidence which presumes to do, by surveying the surface, I have retained all his notes, that no fragment of so great what labour only can perform, by penetrating the bottom. & writer may be lost; bis preface, valuable alike for elegance His notes exhibit sometimes perverse interpretations, and of composition and justness of remark, and containing a genç sometimes improbable conjectures ; he at one time gives the ral criticism on his author, so extensive that little can be ad. author more profundity of meaning than the sentence admits, ded, and so exact, that little can be disputed, every cditor and at another discovers absurdities, where the sense is plain has an interest to suppress, but that every reader would de to every other reader. But his emendations are likewise of mand its insertion.
ten happy and just; and bis interpretation of obscure pas. Pope was succeeded by Theobald a man of narrow compre sages learned and sagacious. hension, and small acquisitions, with no native and intrinsic of his notes, I have commonly rejected those, against splendour of genius, with little of the artificial light of learn which the general voice of the public has exclaimed, or which ing but zealous for minute accuracy, and not negligent in their own incongruity immediately condemns, and which, pursuing it. He collated the ancient copies, and rectified I suppose, the author bimsell would desire to be forgotten. many errors, A man so anxiously scrupulous might have Of the rest, to part I have given the highest approbation, by been expected to do more, but what litue he did was com inserting the offered reading in the text; part I left to the monly right
judgment of the reader, as doubtful, though specious; and In his reports of coples and editions he is not to be trusted part I have censured without reserve, but I am sure without without examination. He speaks sometimes indefinitely of bitterness of malice, and, I hope, without wantonnes al copies, when he has only one. In his enumeration of editions, | insult be mentions the first two folios as of high, and the third folio as w middle authority; but the truth is, that the first is
It is so pleasure to me, in revising my volumes, to observe his pretensions only to himsell, nor can himself away diso how much paper de wasted in confutation. Whoever consid, tinguish invention, with suficient certainty, from recollection greater or less importance, upon which wit and reason have they have not been careful of observing to one another. 16 aercised their powers, must lament the unsuccessfulness of is not easy to discover from what cause the acrimony of a Inquiry, and the slow advance of truth,when he reflects Scholiat can naturally proceed. The subjects to be disc that great part of the labour of every writer is only the deased by himare of yery small importance they involve Struction of those that went before him. The first care of neither property nor libertyynor favour the interest of lect the builder ofanew systemig to demolish the fabricwhich or party. The various readings of copies, and different in are standing. The chief desire of him that comments an terpretations of a passage, seem to be questions that might author, is to show how much other commentators have cor. exercise the wit, without engaging the passions. But whether rupted and obscured him. The opinions prevalent in one it be, that “small things make mean men proud," and van. age, as truths above the reach of controversy, are refuted ity catches small occasions; or that all contrariety of opinion, and rejected in another, and rise again to reception in remoter even in those that can defend it no longer, makes proud men times. Thus the human mind is kept in motion without angry; there is often found in commentaries a spontaneous progress. Thus sometimes truth and error, and sometimes strain of invective and contempt, more eager and venomous contrarieties of error, take each other's place by reciprocal than is vented by the most furious controvertist in politics invasion. The tide of seeming knowledge which is poured against those whom he is hired to defame. over one generation, retires and leaves another naked and Perhaps the lightness of the matter may conduce to the barren; the sudden meteors of intelligence, which for a vehemence of the agency; when the truth to be investigated while appear to shoot their beams into the regions of obscur, is so near to inexistence, as to escape attention, its bulk
is to ity, on a sudden withdraw their lustre, and leave mortals be enlarged by rage and exclamation : that to which all would again to grope their way.
be indifferent in its original state, may attract notice when These elevations and depressions of renown, and the con. the fate of a name is appended to it. A commentator bas tradictions to which all improvers of knowledge must for indeed great temptations to supply by turbulence what he ever be exposed, since they are not escaped by the highest wants of dignity, to beat bis little gold to a spacious surface, and brightest of mankind, may surely be endured with pa. to work that to foam which no art or diligence can exalt to tience by critics and anotators, whạcanrank themselves butspirit us the satellites of the authors. How canst thou beg for life, The notes which I have borrowed or written are either il says Homer's hero to his captive, when thou knowest that lustrative, by which difficulties are explained; or judicial, by thou art now to suffer only what must another day be suf- which faults and beautics are remarked; or emendatory, by fered by Achilles ?
which depravations are corrected. Dr. Warburton had a name sufficient to confer celebrity The explanations transcribed from others, if I do not subon those who could exalt themselves into antagonists, and join any other interpretation, I suppose commonly to be his notes have raised a clamour too loud to be distinct. His right, at least I intend by acquiescence to confess, that I have chief assailants are the authors of The Canons of Criticism, nothing better to propose. and of The Revisal of Shakspeare's Testit of whom one ridi. After the labours of all the editors, I found many pas. cules his errors with airy petulance, suitable enough to the sages which appeared to me likely to obstruct the greater levity of the controversy; the other attacks them with number of readers, and thought it iny duty to facilitate their gloomy malignity, as if he were dragging to justice an assas. passage. It is impossible for any expositor not to write too sin or incendiary. The one stings like a ny, sucks a little little for some, and too much for others. He can only judge blood, takes a gay flutter, and returns for more; the other what is necessary by his own experience; and how long so bites like a viper, and would be glad to leave infiammations ever he may deliberate, will at last explaio many lines which and gangrene behind him. When I think on one, with his the learned will think impossible to be mistaken, and omit confederates, I remember the danger of Coriolanus, who was many for which the ignorant will want his help. These are afraid that girls with spits, and boys with stones, should censures merely relative, and must be quietly endured. I slay him in puny battle;" when the other crosses my ima- have endeavoured to be neither superiuously copious, nor gination, I remember the prodigy in Macbeth :
scrupulously reserved, and hope that I have made my author's A falcon tow'ring in his pride of place,
mcaning accessible to many who before were frightest from Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and kill'd."
perusing him, and contributed something to the public, by
diffusing innocent and rational pleasure. Let me, however, do them justice. One is a wit, and one The complete explanation of an author not systematic and a scholar. They have both shown acuteness sufficient in the consequential, but desultory and vagrant, abounding in casa discovery of faults, and have both advanced some probable ual allusions and light hints, is not to be expected from any interpretations of obscure passages ; but when they aspire single scholiast. All personal reflections, when names are to conjecture and emendation, it appears how falsely we all suppressed, must be in a few years irrecoverably obliterated; estimate our own abilities, and the little which they have and customs, too minute to attract the notice of law, yet been able to perform might have taught them more candour such as modes of dress, formalities of conversation, rules of to the endeavours of others.
visits, disposition of furniture, and practices of cereinony, Before Dr. Warburton's edition, Critical Observations on which naturally find places in familiar diaiogue,are so fugitive Shakspeare had been published by Mr. Upton, I a man skilled and unsubstantial, that they are not easily retained or rein languages, and acquainted with books, but who seems to covered. What can be known will be collected by chance, have had no grea our of genius or nicety of tastc. Man from the recesses of obscure and obsolete papers, perhaps of his explanations are curious and useful, but he likewise, used commonly with some other picw. of this knowledge though he professed to oppose the licentious confidence of every man has some, and none has much; but when an editors, and adhere to the old copies, is unable to restrain the author has engaged the public'attention, those who can add rage of emendation, though his ardour is ill seconded by his any thing to his illustration, communicate their discoveries, skill. Every cold empiric, when his heart expanded by a and time produces what had eluded diligence. successful experiment, swells into a theorist, and the labori. To time I have been obliged to resign many passages, ous collator at some unlucky moment frolics in conjecturc. which, though I did not understand them, will perhaps here
Critical, historical, and explanatory Notes have been likewise after be explained, having, I hope, illustrated some, which published upon Shakspeare by Dr. Grey, whose diligent others have neglected or mistaken, sometimes by short reperusal of the old English writers has enabled him to make marks, or marginal directions, such as every editor has added some useful observations. What he undertook he has well at his will, and often by comments more laborious than the enough performed, but as he neither attempts judicial nor matter will seem to deserve ; but that which is most difficult emendatory criticism, he employs rather his memory than is not always most important, and to an editor nothing is a his sagacity. It were to be wished that all would endeavour trifle by which his author is obscured. to imitate his modesty, who have not been able to surpass The poetical beauties or defects I have not been very dilihis knowledge,
gent to observe, Some plays have more, and some fewer I can say with great sincerity of all my predecessors, what judicial observations, not in proportion to their difference of I hope will hercatter be said of me, that not one has left merit, but because I gave this part of my design to chance Shakspeare without improvement, nor is there one to whom and to caprice. The reader, I believe, is seldom pleased to I have not been indebted for assistance and information. find his opinion anticipated; it is natural to delight more in Whatever I have taken from them, it was my intention to what we lind or make, than in what we receive. Judgment, refer to its original author, and it is certain, that what I like other faculties, is improved by practice, and its advance. have not given to another, I believed when I wrote it to be ment is hindered by submission to dictatorial decisions, as my own, In some perhaps I have been anticipated; but if the memory grows torpid by the use of a table-book. Some I am ever found to encroach upon the remarks of any other initiation is however necessary; of all skill, part is infused commentator, I am willing that the honour, be it more or by precept, and part is obtained by habit; I have therefore less, should be transferred to the first claimant, for his right, shown so much as inay enable the candidate of criticism to and his alone, stands above dispute; the second can prove discover the rest.
To the end of most plays I have added short strictures * Mr. Edwards.
+ Mr. Heath.
containing a gencral censure of faults, or praise of excellence; Republished by him in 1748, after Dr. Warburton's in wbich I know not how much I have concurred with the cdition, with alterations, &C.--STEEVENS,
current opinion; but I have not, by any affectation of sin gularity, deviated from it Nothing is minutely and parti. | change of place. A pause makes a new act In every real, cularly examined, and therefore it is to be supposed, that in and therefore in every imitative action, the intervals may be the plays which are condemned there is much to be praised, more or fewer, the restriction of fire acts being accidenta and in these which are praised much to be condemned. and arbitrary. This Shakspeare knew, and this he prac.
The part of criticism in which the whole succession of tised; his plays were written, and at first printed in one un editors has laboured with the greatest diligence, which has broken continuity, and
ought now to be exhibited with short occasioned the most arrogant ostentation, and excited the pauses, interposed as often as the scene is changed, or any keenest acrimony, is the emendation of corrupted passages, considerable time is required to pass. This method would to which the public attention having
been first drawn by the at once quell a thousand absurdities. violence of the contention between Pope and Theobald, has In restoring the author's works to their integrity, I have been continued by the persecution, which, with a kind of considered the punctuation as wholly in my power; for what conspiracy, has been since raised against all the publishers of could be their care of colons and commas, who corrupteu Shakspeare.
words and sentences ? Whatever could be done by adjust That many passages have passed in a state of depravation ing points, is therefore silently performed, in some plays through all the editions, is indubitably certain ; of these, the with much diligence, in others with less; it is hard to keep restoration is only to be attempted by collation of copies, or a busy eye steadily fixed upon evanescent atoms, or a disa sagacity of conjecture. The collator's province is safe and cursive mind upon evanescent truth, easy, the conjecturer's perilous and difficult. Yet as the The same liberty has been taken with a few particles, or greater part of the plays are, extant only in one copy, the other words of slight effect. I have sometimes inserted peril must not be avoided, nor the difficulty refused.
or omitted them without notice. I have done that some of the readings which this emulation of amendment has times, which the other editors have done always, and which hitherto produced, some from the labours of every publisher indeed the state of the text may sufficiently justify. I have advanced into the text; those are to be considered as The greater part of readers, instead of blaming us for pas in my opinion sufficiently supported; some I have rejected sing trilles, will wonder that on mere trifles so much labour without mention, as evidently erroneous ; some I have left is expended, with such importance of debate, and such solem. in the notes without censure or approbation, as resting in nity of diction. To these 1 answer with confidence, that equipoise between objection and defence ; and some, which they are judging of an art which they do not understand; seemed specious but not right, I have inserted with a subse. yet cannot much reproach them with their ignorance, nor quent animadversion,
promise that they would become in general, by learning Having classed the observations of others, I was at last to criticism, more useful, happier, or wiser. try what I could substitute for their mistakes, and how I As I practised conjecture more, I learned to trust it less; could supply their omissions I collated such copies as I and after I had printed a few plays, resolved to insert none could procure, and wished for more, but have not found the of my own reading in the text. Upon this caution I now collectors of these rarities very communicative. Of the edi-congratulate myself, for every day increases my doubt of my tions which chance or kindness put into my hands I have emendations. given an enumeration, that I may not be blamed for neglect. Since I have confined my imagination to the margin, 10 ing what I had not the power to do.
must not be considered as very reprehensible, if I have sufBy examining the old copies, 1 soon found that the later fered it to play some freaks in its own dominion. There is no publishers, with all their boast of diligence, suffered many pas. danger in conjecture, if it be proposed as conjecture; and sages to stand unauthorized, and contented themselves with while the text remains uninjured, those changes may be safe. Rowe's regulation of the text, even where they knew it to ly offered, which are not considered even by him that offers be arbitrary, and with a little consideration might have them as necessary or safe. found it to be wrong. Some of these alterations are only the If my readings are of little value, they have not been osten. ejection of a word for one that appeared to him more elegant tatiously displayed or importunately obtruded. I could have or more intelligible. These corruptions I have often silent written longer notes, for the art of writing notes is not of dif. ly rectificd ; for the history of our language, and the true ficult attainment. The work is performed, first by railing force of our words, can only be preserved, by keeping the at the stupidity, negligence, ignorance, and asinine taste text of authors free from adulteration. Others, and those very lessness of the former editors, showing, from all that goes frequent, smoothed the cadence, or regulated the measure; before and all that follows, the inelegance and absurdity of on these I have not exercised the same rigour; if only a word the old reading ; then by proposing something, which to was transposed, or a particle inserted or omitted, I have some superficial readers would seem specious, but which the editor times suffered the line to stand; for the inconstancy of the rejects with indignation; then by producing the true reading, copies is such, as that some liberties may be easily permit with a long paraphrase, and concluding with loud acclama. ted. But this practice. I have not suffered to proceed far, tions on the discovery, and a sober wish for the advancement having restored the primitive diction wherever it could for and prosperity of genuine criticism. any reason be preferred.
Al this may be done, and perhaps done sometimes with. T'he emendations, whicb comparison of copies supplied, I out impropriety. But I have always suspected that the have inserted in the text; sometimes, where the improve. reading is right, which requires many words to prove it ment was slight, without notice, and sometimes with an ac. wrong, and the emendation wrong, that cannot without so count of the reasons of the change.
much labour appear to be right. The justness of a happy re. Conjecture, though it be sometimes unavoidable, I have storation strikes at once, and the moral precept may be well not wantonly, nor licentiously indulged. It has been my applied to criticism, quod dubitas ne feceris. settled principle, that the reading of the ancient books is To dread the shore which he sees spread with wrecks, is probably true, and therefore is not to be disturbed for the natural to the sailor. I had berore my eye, so many critical sake of elegance, perspicuity, or mere improvement of the adventures, ended in miscarriage, that caution was forced sense. For though much credit is not due to the fidelity, upon me. I encountered in every page wit struggling with nor any to the judgment of the first publishers, yet they its own sophistry, and learning confused by the multiplicity who had the copy before their eyes were more likely to read of its views. I was forced to censure those whom I admired, It right, than we who read it only
by imagination. But it is and could not but reflect, while I was dispossessing their evident that they have often made strange mistakes by ig- emendations, how soon the same fate might happen to toy norance or negligence, and that therefore something may be own, and how many of the readings which I have corrected properly attempted by criticism, kceping the middle way may be by some other editor defended and established, between presumption and timidity. Such criticism I have attempted to practise, and where
“Critics I saw, that others' names efface, any passage appeared inextricably perplexed, have endeav.
And fix their own, with labour, in their place; oured to discover how it may be recalled to sense, with least
Their own, like others, soon their place resigu'd,
PoР В violence. But my first labour is, always to turn the old text
Or disappear'd, and left the first behind." on every side, and try if there be any interstice, through That a conjectural critic should often be mistaken, cannot which light can find its way; nor would Huetius himself be wonderful, either to others, or himself, if it be considered condemn me, as refusing the trouble of research, for the that in his art there is no system, no principal and axiomati. ambition of alteration, In this modest industry, I have not cal truth that regulates subordinate positions. His chance been unsuccessful. I have rescued many lines from the of error is renewed at every attempt; an oblique view of the violations of temerity, and secured many scenes from the in- passage, a slight misapprehension of a phrase, a casual inat. roads of correction. I have adopted the Roman sentiment, tention to the parts connected, is sufficient to make him not that it is more honourable to save a citizen, than to kill an only fail, but fail ridiculously and when he succeeds best he enemy, and have been more careful to protect than to attack. produces perhaps but one reading of many probable, and he
I have preserved the common distribution of the plays into that suggests another will always be able to dispute his clalma acts, though I believe it to be in almost all the plays void of It is an unhappy state, in which danger is hid under plea authority. Some of those which are divided in the later sure. The allurements of emendation are scarcely resistible. editions have no division in the first folio, and some that are Conjecture has all the joy and the pride of invention, and he divided in the folio have no division in the preceding copies. that has once started a happy change, is too much delighted The settled mode of the theatre requires four intervals in to consider what objections may rise against it. the play, but few, if any, of our author's compositions, can Yet conjectural criticism has been of great use in the less be properly distributed in that marner, An act is so much ed world; nor is it my intention to depreciate a study, that of the drama as rasses without intervention of time, or has exercised sc many sighty minds, from abe revival of Senming to our own age, from the Bishop of Aleria. to gaged, let it disdain alike to turn aside to the name of ThoeLoylich Bentley. The critics on ancient authors have, in the bald and of Pope. Let him read on through brightness and exercise of their sagacity, many assistances, which the editor obscurity, through integrity and corruption ; let him preserve of Shakspeare is condemned to want. They are employed his comprehension of the dialogue, and his interest in the form upon grammatical and settled languages, whose construction ble. And when the pleasures of novelty have ceased, let him contributes so much to perspicuity, that Homer has fewer attempt exactness, and read the commentators. passages unintelligible than Chaucer. The words have not Particular passages are cleared by notes, but the general only a known regimen, but invariable quantities, which direct effect of the work is weakened. The mind is refrigerated by and confine the choice. There are commonly more manu. interruption; the thoughts are diverted from the principal scripts than one ; and they do not often conspire in the same subject; the reader is weary, 1.c suspects not why; and at mistakes. Yet Scaliger could confess to Salmasius how little last throws away the book which he has too diligently studied satisfaction his emendations give him. “Nudunt nobis con. Parts are not to be examined till the whole has been sur. jecturæ nostræ, quarum nos pudet, posteaquam in meliores veyed ; there is a kind of intellectual remoteness necessary codices incidimus." And Lipsius could complain, that critics for the comprehension of any great work in its full design, were making faults, by trying to remove them, “Ut olim and in its true proportions; a close approach shows the smal vitiis, ita nunc remediis laboratur.” And indeed, where ler niceties, but the beauty of the whole is discerned no longer, mere conjecture is to be used, the emendations of Scaliger and It is not very grateful to consider how little the succession of Lipsius, notwithstanding their wonderful sagacity and erudi. editors has added to this author's power of pleasing. He was tion, are often vague and disputable, like mine or Theo read, admired, studied, and imitated, while he was yet de. bald's.
formed with all the improprieties which ignorance and neglect Perhaps I may not be more censured for doing wrong, could accumulate upon him; while the reading was yet not than for doing little; for raising in the public expectations, rectified, nor his allusions understood; yet then did Dryden which at last I have not answered. The expectation of ig- pronounce, “that Shakspeare was the man, who, of all norance is indefinite, and that of knowledge is often tyran. modern and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most nical It is hard to satisfy the who know not what to de comprehensive soul. All the images of nature were still pre. mand, or those who demand by design what they think sent to him, and he drew them not laboriously, but luckily: impossible to be done. I have indeed disappointed no opin. when he describes any thing, you inore than see it, you feel ion more than my own; yet I have endeavoured to perform it too. Those, who accuse him to have wanted learning, my task with no slight solicitude. Not a single passage in give him the greater commendation; he was naturally learn. the whole work has appeared to me corrupt, which I have ed: he needed not the spectacles of books to read nature; be not attempted to restore; or obscure, which I have not en. I looked inwards, and found her there. I cannot say he is every deavoured to illustrate. In many I have failed like others; | where alike; were he so, I should do him injury to com. and from many, after all my efforts, I have retreated, and pare him with the greatest of mankind. He is many tiines confessed the repulse. I have not passed over, with affected Aat and insipid ; his comic wit degenerating into clenches, his superiority, what is equally diflicult to the reader and to serious swelling into bombast. But he is always great, when myself, but where I could not instruct him, have owned my some great occasion is presented to him: no man can say, be
ignorance. I might easily have aocumulated a mass of ever had a fit subject for his wit, and did not then raise him. • secming learning upon easy scenes; but it ought not to be self as high above the rest of poets,
imputed to negligence, that where nothing was necessary,
Notes are often necessary, but they are necessary evils. It is to be lamented, that such a writer should want a com.
the condition of human things; that which must happen to the last, with utter negligence of all his commentators. all, has happened to Shakspeare, by accident and time; and When his fancy is once on the wing, let it not stoop at cor
more than has been suffered by any other writer since the rection or explanation. When his attention is strongly en. use of types, has been sutsered by him through his own neg.
ligence of fame, or perhaps by that superiority of mind,
which despised its own performances, when it compared the Dishop of Aleria –) John Andreas. He was them with its powers, and judged those works unworthy to be secretary to the Vatican library during the papacy of Paul preserved, which the critics of following ages were to contend Il, and Sixtus IV. By the former he was employed to super. for the fame of restoring and explaining. intend such works as were to be multiplied by the new art of Among these candidates of inferior fame, I am now to printing, at that time brought into Rome. He published , stand the judgment of the public; and wish that I could Herodotus, Strabo, Aulus Gellius, &c. His school-fellow, contidently produce my commentary as equal to the enCardinal de Cusa, procured him the bishopric of Accia, a couragement which I have had the honour of receiving. province in Corsica; and Paul II, afterwards appointed him Every work of this kind is by its nature deficient, and I to that of Aleria in the same island, where he died in 1493. should feel litti. solicitude about the sentence, were lt to be Sec FABRIC, Bibi, Lal, vol. iii, 894.-STELYENS.
pronounced by the skilful and the learnca