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der'd fingular by fuch a fuppofition; it being certain, that every other author of the time, without exception, who wrote any thing largely, publifh'd fome of his plays himfelf, and Ben Jonfon all of them: nay, the very errors and faults of these quarto's, of fome of them at leaft, and thofe fuch as are brought against them by other arguers, are, with the editor, proofs of their genuineness; for from what hand, but that of the author himself, could come thofe feemingly-ftrange repetitions which are fpoken of at p. 280? thofe imperfect entries, and entries of perfons who have no concern in the play at all, neither in the fcene where they are made to enter, nor in any other part of it? yet fuch there are in feveral of these quarto's; and fuch might well be expected in the hafty draughts of fo negligent an author, who neither faw at once all he might want, nor, in fome inftances, gave himself fufficient time to confider the fitnefs of what he was then penning. Thefe and other like arguments might, as is faid before, be collected, and urg'd for the plays that were firft publifh'd in the quarto's; that is, for fourteen of them, for the other fix are out of the question: but what has been enlarg'd upon above, of their being fol→ low'd by the folio, and their apparent general likeness to all the other plays that are in that collection, is fo very forcible as to be fufficient of itfelf to fatisfy the unprejudic'd, that the plays of both impreffions fpring all from the fame flock, and owe their numerous imperfections to one common origin and caufe, the too-great negligence and hafte of their over-carelefs producer.


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But to return to the thing immediately treated,— the fate of the old editions. The quarto's went through many impreffions, as may be feen in the Table: and, in each play, the laft is generally taken from the impreffion next before it, and fo onward to the firft; the few that come not within this rule are taken notice of in the Table: and this further is to be obferv'd of them: that, generally Ipeaking, the more diftant they are from the original, the more they abound in faults; 'till, in the end, the corruptions of the laft copies become fo exceffive, as to make them of hardly any worth. The folio too had it's re-impreffions, the dates and notices of which are likewife in the Table, and they tread the fame round as did the quarto's: only that the third of them has feven plays more, (fee their titles below,') in which it is follow'd by

• Locrine; The London Prodigal; Pericles, Prince of Tyre; The Puritan, or, the Widow of Watling Street; Sir John Oldcastle; Thomas Lord Cromwell; and The Yorkshire Tragedy: and the imputed ones, mention'd a little above, are thefe; The Arraignment of Paris; Birth of Merlin; Fair Em; Edward III. Merry Devil of Edmonton; Mucedorus; and The Two Noble Kinfmen; but in The Merry Devil of Edmonton, Rowley is call'd his partner in the title-page; and Fletcher, in The Two Noble Kinfmen. What external proofs there are of their coming from Shakspeare, are gather'd all together, and put down in the Table; and further it not concerns us to engage: but let those who are inclin'd to difpute it, carry this along with them; that London in Shakspeare's time, had a multitude of playhoufes; erected fome in inn-yards, and fuch like places, and frequented by the loweft of the people; fuck audiences might have been feen fome years ago in Southwark and Bartholomew, and may be seen at this day in the country; to which it was alfo a cuftom for players to make excurfion, at wake times and feftivals: and for fuch places, and fuch occafions, might thefe pieces be compos'd in the author's early time; the worst of them fuiting well enough to the parties they

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the laft; and that again by the firft of the modern impreffions, which now come to be fpoken of.

If the ftage be a mirror of the times, as undoubtedly it is, and we judge of the age's temper by what we fee prevailing there, what muft we think of the times that fucceeded Shakspeare? Jonfon favour'd by a court that delighted only in mafques, had been gaining ground upon him even in his life-time; and his death put him in full poffeffion of a poft he had long afpir'd to, the empire of the drama: the props of this new king's throne, were-Fletcher, Shirley, Middleton, Maffinger, Broome, and others; and how unequal they all were, the monarch and his fubjects too, to the poet they came after, let their works testify: yet they had the vogue on their fide, during all thofe bleffed times that preceded the civil war, and Shakspeare was held in difefteem. The war, and medley government that follow'd, fwept all these things away: but they were reftor'd with the king; and another ftage took place, in which Shakspeare had little flare. Dryden had then the lead, and maintain'd it for half a century: though his government was fometimes difputed by Lee, Tate, Shadwell, Wytcherley, and others; weaken'd much by The Rehearsal; and quite overthrown in the end by Otway, and Rowe: what the caft of their plays was, is known to every one: but that Shakfpeare, the true and genuine Shakspeare, was not much relifh'd, is plain from the many alterations of him, that were brought upon the flage by fome of those gentlemen, and by others within that period. might be made for :- and this, or fomething nearly of this fort, may have been the cafe too of fome plays in his great collection, which fhall be fpoken of in their place.

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But from what has been faid, we are not to conclude that the poet had no admirers: for the contrary is true; and he had in all this interval no inconfiderable party amongst men of the greatest understanding, who both saw his merit, in despite of the darkness it was then wrapt up in, and spoke loudly in his praise; but the ftream of the publick favour ran the other way. But this too coming about at the time we are fpeaking of, there was a demand for his works, and in a form that was more convenient than the folio's: in confequence of which the gentleman laft mentioned was set to work by the bookfellers; and, in 1709, he put out an edition in fix volumes, octavo, which, unhappily, is the bafis of all the other moderns: for this editor went no further than to the edition neareft to him in time, which was the folio of 1685. the laft and worft of thofe impreffions: this he republifh'd with great exactnefs; correcting here and there fome of it's groffeft miftakes, and dividing into acts and fcenes the plays that were not divided before.

But no fooner was this edition in the hands of the publick, than they faw in part its deficiences, and one of another fort began to be required of them; which accordingly was fet about fome years after by two gentlemen at once, Mr. Pope and Mr. Theobald. The labours of the firft came out in 1725, in fix volumes quarto: and he has the merit of having firft improved his author, by the insertion of many large paffages, fpeeches, and fingle lines, taken from the quarto's; and of amending him in other places, by readings fetch'd from the fame: but his materials were few, and

his collation of them not the most careful; which, join'd to other faults, and to that main one-of making his predeceffor's the copy himself follow'd, brought his labours in difrepute, and has finally funk them in neglect.

His publication retarded the other gentleman, and he did not appear 'till the year 1733, when his work too came out in feven volumes, octavo. The oppofition that was between them feems to have enflam'd him, which was heighten'd by other motives, and he declaims vehemently against the work of his antagonist; which yet ferv'd him for a model; and his own is made only a little better, by his having a few more materials; of which he was not a better collator than the other, nor did he excel him in the use of them; for, in this article, both their judgments may be equally call'd in queftion; in what he has done that is conjectural, he is rather more happy; but in this he had fo large af fiftances.

But the gentleman that came next, isa critick of another ftamp; and purfues a track, in which it is greatly to be hop'd he will never bel follow'd in the publication of any authors whatfoever for this were, in effect, to annihilate them,i if carry'd a little further; by deftroying all marks of peculiarity and notes of time, all eafinefs of expreffion and numbers, all juftnefs of thought, and the nobility of not a few of their conceptions: The manner in which his author is treated, excités! an indignation that will be thought by fome to vent itfelf too ftrongly; but terms weaker would do injuftice to my feelings, and the cenfure fhall be hazarded. Mr. Pope's edition was the ground

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