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every editor in his turn is occafionally entitled to be feen, as he would have fhown himself, with his vanquifhed adverfary at his feet. We have therefore been fometimes willing to " bring a corollary, rather than want a spirit." Nor, to confefs the truth, did we always think it juftifiable to shrink our predeceffors to pigmies, that we ourselves, by force of comparison, might affume the bulk of giants.

The prefent editors must also acknowledge, that unless in particular inftances, where the voice of the publick had decided againft the remarks of Dr. Johnson, they have hesitated to difplace them; and had rather be charged with a fuperftitious reverence for his name, than cenfured for a prefumptuous difregard of his opinions.

As a large proportion of Mr. Monck Mafon's ftrictures on a former edition of Shakspeare are here inferted, it has been thought neceffary that as much of his Preface as was defigned to, introduce them, fhould accompany their fecond appearance. Any formal recommendation of them is needlefs, as their own merit is fure to rank their author among the most diligent and fagacious of our celebrated poet's anno


It may be proper, indeed, to obferve, that a few of these remarks are omitted, because they had been anticipated; and that a few others have excluded themselves by their own immoderate length; for he who publishes a series of comments unattended by the text of his author, is apt to "overflow the meafure" allotted to marginal criticism. In these cafes, either the commentator or the poet muft give way, and no reader will patiently endure to fee "Alcides beaten by his page."-Inferior volat umbra deo.Mr. M. Mafon will alfo forgive us if we add, that a small number of his propofed amendments are


fuppreffed through honeft commiferation. much he dares, and he has a wifdom that often guides his valour to act in fafety;" yet occafionally he forgets the prudence that should attend conjecture, and therefore, in a few instances, would have been produced only to have been perfecuted.-May it be fubjoined, that the freedom with which the fame gentleman has treated the notes of others, feems to have authorized an equal degree of licence respecting his own? And yet, though the fword may have been drawn against him, he fhall not complain that its point is "unbated and envenomed;" for the conductors of this undertaking do not fcruple thus openly to exprefs their wifhes that it may have merit enough to provoke a revifion from the acknowledged learning and perfpicacity of their Hibernian coadjutor.-Every re-impreffion of our great dramatick master's works must be confidered in fome degree as experimental; for their corruptions and obfcurities are ftill fo numerous, and the progress of fortunate conjecture fo tardy and uncertain, that our remote defcendants may be perplexed by paffages that have perplexed us; and the readings which have hitherto disunited the opinions of the learned, may continue to difunite them as long as England and Shakspeare have a name. fhort, the peculiarity once afcribed to the poetick ifle of Delos, may be exemplified in our author's text, which, on account of readings alternately received and reprobated, must remain in an unfettled state, and float in obedience to every gale' of contradictory criticism.-Could a perfect and decifive edition of the following fcenes be produced, it were

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Stat. Achill. I. 388.

to be expected only (though we fear in vain) from the hand of Dr. Farmer, whofe more serious avocations forbid him to undertake what every reader would delight to poffefs.

But as we are often reminded by our " brethren of the craft," that this or that emendation, however apparently neceffary, is not the genuine text of Shakspeare, it might be imagined that we had received this text from its fountain head, and were therefore certain of its purity. Whereas few literary occurrences are better understood, than that it came down to us difcoloured by "the variation of every foil" through which it had flowed, and that it ftagnated at last in the muddy reservoir of the first folio. In plainer terms, that the vitiations of a careless theatre were feconded by thofe of as ignorant a prefs. The integrity of dramas thus prepared for the world, is just on a level with the innocence of females nurfed in a camp and educated in a bagnio. As often therefore as we are told, that by admitting corrections warranted by common

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It will perhaps be urged, that to this firft folio we are indebted for the only copies of fixteen or feventeen of our author's plays: True but may not our want of yet earlier and lefs corrupted editions of thefe very dramas be folely attributed to the monopolizing vigilance of its editors, Meffieurs Hemings and Condell? Finding they had been deprived of fome tragedies and comedies which, when opportunity offered, they defigned to publish for their own emolument, they redoubled their folicitude to withhold the reft, and were but too successful in their precaution. "Thank fortune (fays the original putterforth of Troilus and Creffida) for the fcape it hath made amongst you; fince by the grand poffeffors' wills, I believe, you fhould have pray'd for it, rather than beene pray'd."-Had quartos of Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, All's well that ends well, &c. been fent into the world, from how many corruptions might the text of all thefe dramas have been fecured!

fenfe and the laws of metre, we have not rigidly adhered to the text of Shakspeare, we fhall entreat our opponents to exchange that phrafe for another "more germane," and fay inftead of it, that we have deviated from the text of the publifhers of fingle plays in quarto, or their fucceffors, the editors of the firft folio; that we have fometimes followed the fuggeftions of a Warburton, a Johnson, a Farmer, or a Tyrwhitt, in preference to the decifions of a Hemings or a Condell, notwithstanding their choice of readings might have been influenced by affociates whofe high-founding names cannot fail to enforce respect, viz. William Oftler, John Shanke, William Sly, and Thomas Poope.1

To revive the anomalies, barbarifms and blunders of fome ancient copies, in preference to the corrections of others almoft equally old, is likewise a circumftance by no means honourable to our author, however fecure refpecting ourfelves. For what is it, under pretence of reftoration, but to use him as he has used the Tinker in The Taming of a Shrew, to re-clothe him in his priftine rags ? To affemble parallels in support of all these deformities, is no infuperable labour; for if we are permitted to avail ourselves of every typographical mistake, and every provincial vulgarifm and offence against established grammar, that may be met with in the coëval productions of irregular humourifts and ignorant fectaries and buffoons, we may aver that every cafual combination of fyllables may be tortured into meaning, and every fpecies of corruption exemplified by correfponding depravities of language; but not of fuch language as Shakspeare, if compared with him

2 See first folio, &c. for the lift of actors in our author's plays.

felf where he is perfect, can be fuppofed to have written. By fimilar reference it is that the fiyle of many an ancient building has been characteristically reftored. The members of architecture left entire, have instructed the renovator how to fupply the lofs of fuch as had fallen into decay. The poet, therefore, whofe dialogue has often, during a long and uninterrupted series of lines, no other peculiarities than were common to the works of his moft celebrated contemporaries, and whofe general ease and fweetness of verfification are hitherto unrivalled, ought not fo often to be fufpected of having produced ungrammatical nonfenfe, and such rough and defective numbers as would difgrace a village schoolboy in his first attempts at English poetry.-It may alfo be obferved, that our author's earliest compofitions, his Sonnets, &c. are wholly free from metrical imperfections.

The truth is, that from one extreme we have reached another. Our incautious predeceffors, Rowe, Pope, Hanmer, and Warburton, were fometimes jufily blamed for wanton and needless deviations from ancient copies; and we are afraid that cenfure will as equitably fall on fome of us, for a revival of irregularities which have no reasonable fanction, and few champions but fuch as are excited by a fruitless ambition to defend certain pofts and paffes that had been fuppofed untenable. The "wine of collation," indeed, had long been "drawn," and little befide the "mere lees was left" for very modern editors "to brag of." It should, therefore, be remembered, that as judgment, without the aid of collation, might have infufficient materials to work on, so collation, divested of judgment, will be often worfe than thrown away, because it introduces obfcurity inftead of light. To render Shakspeare lefs intelli

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