« PreviousContinue »
HAKESPEARE is deservedly placed at
the head of our Dramatic Writers. There is not, however, at this time, any necessity for inquiring into his several merits and excellencies: they have been already particularly pointed out by his very numerous commentators. The design of the present publication, is to bring into one view the parallel passages of the poet, so as to form a kind of Concordance to his works. The utility of such a compilation must be obvious, and indeed especially so, when it is considered, as is observed by Dr. Johnson,—that the plays 6 of Shakespeare are filled with practical ax“ ioms and domestic wisdom; and that a fyf“ tem of civil and economical prudence may 66 be collected from them.” The Editor is therefore in hope, as it has been his study, in the following selection, to make choice of such particular passages of his author, as might serve to confirm the justness and propriety of
the preceding remark, that he may stand acquitted in the opinion of the public, as to any error in judgment, with regard to the undertaking now before them. In a word, he wishes it to be remembered, that the plan is not entirely his own, but that he has in a great measure fallen in with, and adopted the sentiments of the eminent writer already named.
The method pursued throughout the work, will be seen in the following sketch or example:
H ON OUR.
For life, I prize it As I weigh grief, which I would spare : for honour, 'Tis a derivative from me to mine, And only that I stand for. Winter's Tale, A. 3, S. 2.
This thou shouldst have done, And not have spoken of it! In me 'tis villainy ; In thee it had been good service. Thou must know, 'Tis not my profit that does lead mine honour: Mine honour it. Antony and Cleopatra, A. 2, S. 7.
Rightly, to be great Is not to stir without great argument; But greatly to find quarrel in a straw, When Honour's at the stake. Hamlet, A. 4, S. 4.
A scar nobly got, or a noble scar, is a good livery of honour.
All's well that ends well, A. 4, S. 5.
Mine honour keeps the weather of my fate :
Troilus and Creffida, A. 5, S. 3
Honour but of danger wins a scar;
Set Honour in one eye and Death i' the other,
Julius Cæfar, A. I, S. 2.
Let higher Italy see that you come,
All's well that ends well, A. 2, S. 1.
All's well that ends well, A. 1, S. 2.
A jewel in a ten-times barr'd up chest,
Richard II. A. I, S. 1.
I am not covetous for gold;
Well, 'tis no matter; Honour pricks me on. Yea, but
how if Honour prick me off when I come on? Can Honour set to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honour hath no skill in surgery then? No.
Henry IV. P. 1, A. 5, S. 1.
In' like manner with the above, the Editor has endeavoured to exhibit the most striking sentiments of the “ great poet of nature,” cleared of all impurities, of all“ eye-offending” dross*. He has broken and disjointed several of the speeches, but this must not be urged against him as a fault :---The nature of the work demanded it; and as the reader is referred to the act and scene of every play, in which the more beautiful of such speeches are to be found, and as there are likewise innumerable compilations in which they are given entire, there is consequently the less occasion for apology. It is hoped, moreover, that no one will object to the arrangement of any of the passages, by saying, “I would “ have disposed them in a different manner," but rather remember, that there is no particular rule or standard by which to be governed
* It must not be imagined, from what is here faid, that the Editor has at any time presumed to alter a single expression of Shakespeare; but only, that he has occasionally omitted an exceptionable line or two.