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an author's excellencies) than to fill a whole paper with citations of fine paffages, with general applaufes, or empty exclamations at the tail of them. There is also fubjoined a catalogue of those first editions, by which the greater part of the various readings and of the corrected paffages are authorized; most of which are fuch as carry their own evidence along with them. These editions now hold the place of originals, and are the only materials left to repair the deficiencies or reftore the corrupted fense of the author: I can only with that a greater number of them (if a greater were ever published) may yet be found, by a fearch more fuccefsful than mine, for the better accomplishment of this end.
I will conclude by saying of Shakspeare, that with all his faults, and with all the irregularity of his drama, one may look upon his works, in comparifon of those that are more finifhed and regular, as upon an ancient majestick piece of Gothick architecture, compared with a neat modern building: the latter is more elegant and glaring, but the former is more ftrong and more folemn. It must be allowed that in one of these there are materials enough to make many of the other. It has much the greater variety, and much the nobler apartments; though we are often conducted to them by dark, odd, and uncouth paffages. Nor does the whole fail to ftrike us with greater reverence, though many of the parts are childish, ill-placed, and unequal to its grandeur.9
"The following paffage by Mr. Pope ftands as a preface to the various readings at the end of the 8th volume of his edition of Shakspeare, 1728. For the notice of it I am indebted to Mr. Chalmers's Supplemental Apology, p. 261. REED.
"Since the publication of our first edition, there having been
THE attempt to write upon SHAKSPEARE is like going into a large, a fpacious, and a fplendid dome, through the conveyance of a narrow and obfcure entry. A glare of light fuddenly breaks upon you beyond what the avenue at first promised; and a thoufand beauties of genius and character,
fome attempts upon Shakspeare published by Lewis Theobald, (which he would not communicate during the time wherein that edition was preparing for the prefs, when we, by publick advertifements, did request the affiftance of all lovers of this author,) we have inferted, in this impreffion, as many of 'em as are judg'd of any the leaft advantage to the poet; the whole amounting to about twenty-five words.
"But to the end every reader may judge for himself, we have annexed a compleat list of the reft; which if he shall think trivial, or erroneous, either in part, or in whole; at worft it can fpoil but a half fheet of paper, that chances to be left vacant here. And we purpose for the future, to do the fame with refpect to any other perfons, who either thro' candor or vanity, fhall communicate or publish, the least things tending to the illuftration of our author. We have here omitted nothing but pointings and meer errors of the prefs, which I hope the corrector of it has rectify'd; if not, I cou'd wish as accurate an one as Mr. Th. [if he] had been at that trouble, which I defired Mr. Tonfon to folicit him to undertake. A. P."
'This is Mr. Theobald's preface to his fecond edition in 1740, and was much curtailed by himself after it had been prefixed to the impreffion in 1733. STEEVENS.
like fo many gaudy apartments pouring at once upon the eye, diffuse and throw themselves out to the mind. The profpect is too wide to come within the compafs of a fingle view: it is a gay confufion of pleafing objects, too various to be enjoyed but in a general admiration; and they must be feparated and eyed diftinctly, in order to give the proper en
And as, in great piles of building, fome parts are often finished up to hit the taste of the connoiffeur; others more negligently put together, to strike the fancy of a common and unlearned beholder; some parts are made ftupendously magnificent and grand, to surprise with the vaft defign and execution of the architect; others are contracted, to amufe you with his neatness and elegance in little; fo, in Shakspeare, we may find traits that will stand the test of the fevereft judgment; and ftrokes as carelessly hit off, to the level of the more ordinary capacities; fome defcriptions raised to that pitch of grandeur, as to aftonish you with the compafs and elevation of his thought; and others copying nature within fo narrow, fo confined a circle, as if the author's talent lay only at drawing in minia
In how many points of light must we be obliged to gaze at this great poet! In how many branches of excellence to confider and admire him! Whether we view him on the fide of art or nature, he ought equally to engage our attention: whether we respect the force and greatness of his genius, the extent of his knowledge and reading, the power and addrefs with which he throws out and applies either nature or learning, there is ample scope both for our wonder and pleasure. If his diction, and the clothing of his thoughts attract us, how much
more muft we be charmed with the richness and variety of his images and ideas! If his images and ideas fteal into our fouls, and ftrike upon our fancy, how much are they improved in price when we come to reflect with what propriety and juftness they are applied to character! If we look into his characters, and how they are furnished and proportioned to the employment he cuts out for them, how are we taken up with the maftery of his portraits! What draughts of nature! What variety of originals, and how differing each from the other! How are they dreffed from the ftores of his own luxurious imagination; without being the apes of mode, or borrowing from any foreign wardrobe! Each of them are the ftandards of fashion for themfelves like gentlemen that are above the direction of their tailors, and can adorn themselves without · the aid of imitation. If other poets draw more than one fool or coxcomb, there is the fame refemblance in them, as in that painter's draughts who was happy only at forming a rofe; you find them all younger brothers of the fame family, and all of them have a pretence to give the fame crest: but Shakspeare's clowns and fops come all of a different house; they are no farther allied to one another than as man to man, members of the fame fpecies; but as different in features and lineaments of character, as we are from one another in face or complexion. But I am unawares launching into his character as a writer, before I have faid what I intended of him as a private member of the republick.
Mr. Rowe has very juftly obferved, that people are fond of discovering any little perfonal story of the great men of antiquity; and that the common accidents of their lives naturally become the fub
ject of our critical enquiries: that however trifling fuch a curiofity at the firft view may appear, yet, as for what relates to men of letters, the knowledge of an author may, perhaps, fometimes conduce to the better understanding his works; and, indeed, this author's works, from the bad treatment he has met with from copyifts and editors, have fo long wanted a comment, that one would zealously embrace every method of information that could contribute to recover them from the injuries with which they have fo long lain overwhelmed.
'Tis certain, that if we have firft admired the man in his writings, his cafe is fo circumstanced, that we must naturally admire the writings in the man that if we go back to take a view of his education, and the employment in life which fortune had cut out for him, we fhall retain the ftronger ideas of his extenfive genius.
His father, we are told, was a confiderable dealer in wool; but having no fewer than ten children, of whom our Shakspeare was the eldeft, the best education he could afford him was no better than to qualify him for his own business and employment. I cannot affirm with any certainty how long his father lived; but I take him to be the fame Mr. John Shakspeare who was living in the year 1599, and who then, in honour of his fon, took out an extract of his family arms from the herald's office; by which it appears, that he had been officer and bailiff of Stratford-uponAvon, in Warwickshire; and that he enjoyed fome hereditary lands and tenements, the reward of his great grandfather's faithful and approved fervice to King Henry VII.
Be this as it will, our Shakspeare, it seems, was