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willingly have fpared myself. May it not be objected, why then have you burthened us with these notes? The answer is obvious, and, if I mistake not, very material. Without fuch notes, these paffages in fubfequent editions would be liable, through the ignorance of printers and correctors, to fall into the old confufion: whereas, a note on every one hinders all poffible return to depravity: and for ever fecures them in a state of purity and integrity not to be loft or forfeited.

Again, as fome notes have been neceffary to point out the detection of the corrupted text, and establish the restoration of the genuine reading; fome others have been as neceffary for the explanation of paffages obfcure and difficult. To understand the neceffity and ufe of this part of my tafk, fome particulars of my author's character are previously to be explained. There are obfcurities in him, which are common to him with all poets of the fame fpecies; there are others, the iffue of the times he lived in; and there are others, again, peculiar to himfelf. The nature of comick poetry being entirely fatirical, it bufies itfelf more in expofing what we call caprice and humour, than vices cognizable to the laws. The English, from the happiness of a free conftitution, and a turn of mind peculiarly fpeculative and inquifitive, are obferved to produce more humourifts, and a greater variety of original characters, than any other people whatsoever: and thefe owing their immediate birth to the peculiar genius of each age, an infinite number of things alluded to, glanced at, and expofed, muft needs become obfcure, as the characters themfelves are antiquated and difufed. An editor there

fore fhould be well verfed in the hiftory and manners of his author's age, if he aims at doing him a fervice in this respect.

Besides, wit lying moftly in the affemblage of ideas, and in putting those together with quickness and variety, wherein can be found any refemblance, or congruity, to make up pleasant pictures, and agreeable visions in the fancy; the writer, who aims at wit, must of course range far and wide for materials. Now the age in which Shakspeare lived, having above all others, a wonderful affection to appear learned, they declined vulgar images, such as are immediately fetched from nature, and ranged through the circle of the fciences, to fetch their ideas from thence. But as the refemblances of fuch ideas to the fubject must neceffarily lie very much out of the common way, and every piece of wit appear a riddle to the vulgar; this, that fhould have taught them the forced, quaint, unnatural tract they were in, (and induce them to follow a more natural one,) was the very thing that kept them attached to it. The oftentatious affectation of abstruse learning, peculiar to that time, the love that men naturally have to every thing that looks. like myftery, fixed them down to the habit of obfcurity. Thus became the poetry of DONNE (though the wittiest man of that age,) nothing but a continued heap of riddles. And our Shakspeare, with all his eafy nature about him, for want of the knowledge of the true rules of art, falls frequently into this vicious manner.

The third fpecies of obfcurities which deform our author, as the effects of his own genius and character, are thofe that proceed from his peculiar

manner of thinking, and as peculiar a manner of cloathing those thoughts. With regard to his thinking, it is certain, that he had a general knowledge of all the fciences: but his acquaintance was rather that of a traveller than a native. Nothing in philofophy was unknown to him; but every thing in it had the grace and force of novelty. And as novelty is one main fource of admiration, we are not to wonder that he has perpetual allufions to the moft recondite parts of the fciences: and this was, done not fo much out of affectation, as the effect of admiration begot by novelty. Then, as to his Ayle and diclion, we may much more juftly apply to SHAKSPEARE, what a celebrated writer faid of MILTON: Our language funk under him, and was unequal to that greatness of foul which furnished him with fuch glorious conceptions. He therefore frequently ufes old words, to give his diction an air of folemnity; as he coins others, to exprefs the novelty and variety of his ideas.

Upon every diftinct fpecies of thefe obfcurities, I have thought it my province to employ a note for the service of my author, and the entertainment of my readers. A few tranfient remarks too I have not fcrupled to intermix, upon the poet's negligences and omiffions in point of art; but I have done. it always in fuch a manner, as will teftify my deference and veneration for the immortal author. Some cenfurers of Shakspeare and particularly Mr. Rymer, have taught me to distinguish betwixt the railer and critick. The outrage of his quotations is fo remarkably violent, fo pushed beyond all bounds of decency and fober reasoning, that it quite carries over the mark at which it was levelled.

Extravagant abufe throws off the edge of the intended difparagement, and turns the madman's weapon into his own bofom. In fhort, as to Rymer this is my opinion of him from his criticisms on the tragedies of the laft age. He writes with great vivacity, and appears to have been a scholar: but as for his knowledge of the art of poetry, I cannot perceive it was any deeper than his acquaintance with Boffu and Dacier, from whom he has tranfcribed many of his best reflections. The late Mr. Gildon was one attached to Rymer by a fimilar way of thinking and ftudies. They were both of that fpecies of criticks who are defirous of difplaying their powers rather in finding faults, than in confulting the improvement of the world; the hypercritical part of the fcience of criticifm.

I had not mentioned the modeft liberty I have here and there taken of animadverting on my author, but that I was willing to obviate in time the fplenetick exaggerations of my adverfaries on this head. From past experiments I have reason to be confcious, in what light this attempt may be placed: and that what I call a modeft liberty will, by a little of their dexterity, be inverted into downright impudence. From a hundred mean and dishonest artifices employed to difcredit this edition, and to cry down its editor, I have all the grounds in nature to beware of attacks. But though the malice of wit, joined to the fmoothness of verfification, may furnish fome ridicule; fact, I hope, will be able to ftand its ground against banter and gaiety.

It has been my fate, it feems, as I thought it my duty, to discover fome anachronisms in our author; which might have flept in obfcurity but for this,

Reftorer, as Mr. Pope is pleafed affectionately to ftyle me: as for inftance, where Ariftotle is men¬ tioned by Hector in Troilus and Creffida; and Galen, Cato, and Alexander the Great, in Coriolanus. Thefe, in Mr. Pope's opinion, are blunders, which the illiteracy of the first publishers of his works has fathered upon the poet's memory: it not being at all credible, that thefe could be the errors of any man who had the leaft tincture of a fchool, or the leaft converfation with fuch as had. But I have fufficiently proved, in the courfe of my notes, that fuch anachronisms were the effect of poetick licence, rather than of ignorance in our poet. And if I may be permitted to afk a modeft queftion by the way, why may not I reftore an anachronifm really made by our author, as well as Mr. Pope take the privilege to fix others upon him, which he never had it in his head to make; as I may venture to affirm he had not, in the inftance of Sir Francis Drake, to which I have fpoke in the proper place?

But who fhall dare make any words about this freedom of Mr. Pope's towards Shakspeare, if it can be proved, that, in his fits of criticifm, he makes no more ceremony with good Homer himfelf? To try, then, a criticifm of his own advancing in the 8th Book of The Odyffey, where Demodocus fings the epifode of the loves of Mars and Venus; and that, upon their being taken in the net by Vulcan,


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"Muft pay the penalty for lawlefs charms; Mr. Pope is fo kind gravely to inform us, Homer in this, as in many other places, feems to

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