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too frequently indulged; but to the injudicious tragical interpolator no degree of favour fhould be shown, not even to a late Matilda, who, in Mr. Home's Douglas thought fit to change the obfcure intimation with which her part fhould have concluded

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"And such a husband, make a woman bold.

into a plain avowal, that

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"And fuch a husband, drive me to my fate.

Here we perceive that Fate, the old post-horse of tragedy, has been faddled to expedite intelligence which was meant to be delayed till the neceffary moment of its difclofure. Nay, further: the prompter's book being thus corrupted, on the first night of the revival of this beautiful and interesting play at Drury-lane, the fame spurious nonfense was heard from the lips of Mrs. Siddons, lips, whose matchless powers fhould be facred only to the task of animating the pureft ftrains of dramatick poetry.Many other inftances of the fame presumption might have been fubjoined, had they not been withheld through tenderness to performers now upon the ftage. Similar interpolations, however, in the text of Shakspeare, can only be suspected, and therefore muft remain unexpelled.

To other defects of our late editions may be fubjoined, as not the leaft notorious, an exuberance

of comment. Our fituation has not unaptly refembled that of the fray in the firft fcene of Romeo and Juliet:

"While we were interchanging thrusts and blows,

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"Came more and more, and fought on part and part: till, as Hamlet has observed, we are contending for a plot

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"Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause."

Indulgence to the remarks of others, as well as partiality to our own; an ambition in each little Hercules to fet up pillars, ascertaining how far he had travelled through the dreary wilds of black letter; and perhaps a reluctance or inability to decide between contradi&tory fentiments, have alfo occafioned the appearance of more annotations than were absolutely wanted, unless it be thought requifite that our author, like a Dauphin Claffick, fhould be reduced to marginal profe for the use of children; that all his various readings (affembled by Mr. Capell) fhould be enumerated, the genealogies of all his real perfonages deduced; and that as many of his plays as are founded on Roman or British hiftory, fhould be attended by complete transcripts from their originals in Sir Thomas North's Plutarch, or the Chronicles of Hall and Holinfhed. Thefe ́faults, indeed, --fi quid prodeft delicla fateri, within half a century, (when the prefent race of voluminous criticks is extinct) cannot fail to be remedied by a judicious and frugal felection from the

labours of us all. Noris fuch an event to be deprecated even by ourselves; fince we may be certain that fome ivy of each individual's growth will still adhere to the parent oak, though not enough, as at prefent, to hide the princely trunk, and fuck the verdure out of it. be feared too, fhould we

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persist in fimilar accumulations of extraneous matter, that our readers will at length be frighted away from Shakspeare, as the foldiers of Cato deferted their comrade when he became bloated with poifoncrefcens fugêre cadaver. It is our opinion, in fhort, that every one who opens the page of an ancient English writer, fhould bring with him some knowledge; and yet he by whom a thousand minutiæ remain to be learned, needs not to close our author's volume in despair, for his spirit and general drift are always obvious, though his language and allufions are occafionally obfcure.

We may fubjoin (alluding to our own practice as well as that of others) that they whose remarks are longeft, and who feek the most frequent opportunities of introducing their names at the bottom of our author's page, are not, on that account, the most eftimable criticks. The art of writing notes, as Dr. Johnson has pleasantly observed in his preface, p. 255, t is not of difficult attainment. Additional hundreds might therefore be fupplied; for as often as a various reading, whether ferviceable or not, is


See alfo Addifon's Spe&ator, No. 470.

to be found, the discoverer can beftow an immediate reward on his own induftry, by a difplay of his favourite fignature. The fame advantage may be gained by opportunities of appropriating to ourselves what was originally faid by another perfon, and in another place.

Though our adoptions have been flightly mentioned already, our fourth impreffion of the Plays of Shakspeare muft not iffue into the world without particular and ample acknowledgements of the benefit it has derived from the labours of the last editor, whose attention, diligence, and fpirit of enquiry, have very far exceeded thofe of the whole united phalanx of his predeceffors. His additions to our author's Life, his attempt to ascertain the Order in which his plays were written, together with his account of our ancient Stage, &c. are here re-published; and every reader will concur in wishing that a gentleman who has produced fuch intelligent combinations from very few materials, had fortunately been poffeffed of more.

Of his notes on particular paffages a great majority is here adopted. True it is, that on fome points we fundamentally difagree; for inftance, concerning his metamorphofis of monofyllables (like burn, fworn, worn, here and there, arms and charms,) into diffyllables; his contraction of diffyllables (like neither, rather, reafon, lover, &c.) into monofyllables; and his fentiments refpecting.

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the worth of the variations fupplied by the fecond folio. On the firft of thefe contefted matters we commit ourselves to the publick ear; on the second we must awhile folicit the reader's attention.

The following conjectural account of the publication of this fecond folio (about which no certainty can be obtained (perhaps is not very remote from


When the predeceffor of it appeared, fome intelligent friend or admirer of Shakspeare might have obferved its defects, and corrected many of them in its margin, from early manuscripts, authentick information.



That such manufcripts fhould have remained, can excite no furprize. The good fortune that, till this prefent hour, has preferved the Chefter and Coventry Myferies, Tancred and Gifmund † as originally written, the ancient play of Timon, the Witch of Middleton, with feveral older as well as coeval dramas (exclufive of those in the Marquis of Lansdowne's Library) might surely have befriended fome of our author's copies in 1632, only fixteen years after his death.

That oral information concerning his works was ftill acceffible, may with fimilar probability be inferred; as fome of the original and most

See Mr. Holt White's note on Romeo and Juliet, Vol. XXI. p. 95. n. 6.

i. e. as acted before Queen Elizabeth in 1568. See Warton, Vol. III. p. 376. n. g.

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