« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
perhaps be met with in any other writer: the play meant is The Comedy of Errors; in which the action is one, the place one, and the time fuch as even Ariftotle himself would allow of-the revolu tion of half a day but even in this play, the change of scene arifes from change of perfons, and by that it is regulated; as are alfo all the other plays that are not divided in the folio: for whoever will take the trouble to examine those that are divided, (and they are pointed out for him in the lift,) will fee them conform exactly to the rule above-mention'd; and can then have but little doubt, that it fhould be apply'd to all the reft. To have distinguish'd thefe divifions,-made (indeed) without the authority, but following the example of the folio,—had been useless and troublesome; and the editor fully perfuades himself, that what he has faid will be fufficient, and that he shall be excus'd by the ingenious and candid for overpaffing them without further notice whose pardon he hopes also to have for fome other unnotic'd matters that are related to this in hand, fuch as-marking the place of action, both general and particular; fupplying fcenical directions; and due regulating of exits, and entrances: for the firft, there is no title in the old editions; and in both the latter, they are fo deficient and faulty throughout, that it would not be much amifs if we look'd upon them as wanting too; and then all these feveral articles, might be
• The divifions that are in the folio are religiously adher'd to, except in two or three inftances which will be spoken of in their place; fo that, as is faid before, a perufal of those old-divided plays will put every one in a capacity of judging whether the prefent editor has proceeded rightly or no: the current editions are divided in fuch a manner, that nothing like a rule can be collected from any of them.
confider'd as additions, that needed no other pointing out than a declaration that they are fo: the light they throw upon the plays in general, and particu larly upon fome parts of them,-fuch as, the battle fcenes throughout; Cæfar's paffage to the fenatehouse, and fubfequent affaffination; Antony's death; the furprizal and death of Cleopatra; that of Titus Andronicus; and a multitude of others, which are all directed new in this edition,-will justify these infertions; and may, poffibly, merit the reader's thanks, for the great aids which they afford to his conception.
It remains now to speak of errors of the old copies which are here amended without notice, to wit-the pointing, and wrong divifion of much of them refpecting the numbers. And as to the first, it is fo extremely erroneous, throughout all the plays, and in every old copy, that small regard is due to it; and it becomes an editor's duty, (inftead of being influenc'd by fuch a punctuation, or even cafting his eyes upon it, to attend closely to the meaning of what is before him, and to new-point it accordingly was it the bufinefs of this editionto make parade of difcoveries, this article alone would have afforded ample field for it; for a very great number of paffages are now first set to rights by this only, which, before, had either no fenfe at all, or one unfuiting the context, and unworthy the noble penner of it; but all the emendations of this fort, though inferior in merit to no others whatfo ever, are confign'd to filence; fome few only excepted, of paffages that have been much contested, and whofe prefent adjustment might poffibly be call'd in question again; thefe will be spoken of in fome note, and a reafon given for embracing them : all the other parts of the works have been examin'd
with equal diligence, and equal attention; and the editor flatters himself, that the punctuation he has follow'd, (into which he has admitted fome novelties,) will be found of fo much benefit to his author, that those who run may read, and that with profit and understanding. The other great mistake in thefe old editions, and which is very infufficiently rectify'd in any of the new ones, relates to the poet's numbers; his verfe being often wrong divided, or printed wholly as profe, and his profe as often printed like verfe: this, though not fo univerfal as their wrong pointing, is yet fo extenfive an error in the old copies, and fo impoffible to be pointed out otherwife than by a note, that an editor's filent amendment of it is furely pardonable at least; for who would not be difgufted with that perpetual fameness which muft neceffarily have been in all the notes of this fort? Neither are they, in truth, emendations that require proving; every good ear does immediately adopt them, and every lover of the poet will be pleas'd with that acceffion of beauty which results to him from them it is perhaps to be lamented, that there is yet ftanding in his works much unpleafing mixture of profaick and metrical dialogue, and fometimes in places feemingly improper, as-in Othello, Vol. XIX. p. 273; and fome others which men of judgment will be able to pick out for themselves: but these blemishes are not now to be wip'd away, at least not by an editor, whose province it far exceeds to make a
" If the use of these new pointings, and also of certain marks that he will meet with in this edition, do not occur immediately to the reader, (as we think it will) he may find it explain'd to him at large in the preface to a little octavo volume intitl'd"Prolufions, or, Select Pieces of Ancient Poetry;" publish'd in 1760 by this editor, and printed for Mr. Tonfon.
change of this nature; but muft remain as marks of the poet's negligence, and of the haste with which his pieces were compos'd: what he manifeftly intended profe, (and we can judge of his intentions only from what appears in the editions that are come down to us,) fhould be printed as profe, what verfe as verfe; which, it is hop'd, is now done, with an accuracy that leaves no great room for any further confiderable improvements in that way.
Thus have we run through, in as brief a manner as poffible, all the feveral heads, of which it. was thought proper and even neceffary that the publick fhould be appriz'd; as well thofe that concern preceding editions, both old and new; as the other which we have just quitted,—the method obferv'd in the edition that is now before them: which though not fo entertaining, it is confefs'd, nor affording fo much room to display the parts and talents of a writer, as fome other topicks that have generally fupply'd the place of them; fuch ascriticifms or panegyricks upon the author, hiftorical anecdotes, effays, and florilegia; yet there will be found fome odd people, who may be apt to pronounce of them-that they are fuitable to the place they ftand in, and convey all the inftruction. that should be look'd for in a preface. Here, therefore, we might take our leave of the reader, bidding him welcome to the banquet that is set before him; were it not apprehended, and reasonably, that he will expect fome account why it is not ferv'd up to him at prefent with it's accuftom'd and laudable garniture, of " Notes, Gloffaries," &c. Now though it might be reply'd, as a reafon for what is done, that a very great part of the world, amongst whom is the editor himself, profefs much dislike
to this paginary intermixture of text and comment; in works meerly of entertainment, and written in the language of the country; as alfothat he, the editor, does not poffefs the fecret of dealing out notes by measure, and diftributing them amongst his volumes fo nicely that the equality of their bulk fhall not be broke in upon the thickness of a fheet of paper; yet, having other matter at hand which he thinks may excufe him better, he will not have recourfe to these abovemention'd: which matter is no other, than his very ftrong defire of approving himself to the publick a man of integrity; and of making his future present more perfect, and as worthy of their acceptance as his abilities will let him. For the explaining of what is faid, which is a little wrap'd up in mystery at prefent, we muft inform that publick-that another work is prepar'd, and in great forwardness, having been wrought upon many years; nearly indeed as long as the work which is now before them, for they have gone hand in hand almost from the firft: this work, to which we have given for title The School of Shakspeare, confifts wholly of extracts, (with observations upon fome of them, interfpers'd occafionally,) from books that may properly be call'd-his fchool; as they are indeed the fources from which he drew the greater part of his knowledge in mythology and claffical matters,' his fable, his hiftory, and even
Though our expreffions, as we think, are fufficiently guarded in this place, yet, being fearful of mifconftruction, we defire to be heard further as to, this affair of his learning. It is our firm belief then, that Shakspeare was very well grounded, at least in Latin, at school: It appears from the clearest evidence poffible, that his father was a man of no little fubftance, and very well able to give him fuch education; which, perhaps, he