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I truft, be found occupied by more valuable


As fome of the preceding editors have juftly been condemned for innovation, fo perhaps (for of objections there is no end,) I may be cenfured for too ftrict an adherence to the ancient copies. I have conftantly had in view the Roman fentiment adopted by Dr. Johnfon, that "it is more honourable to fave a citizen than to deftroy an enemy,' and, like him, "have been more careful to protect than to attack."-" I do not wifh the reader to forget, (fays the fame writer,) that the most commodious (and he might have added, the most forcible and elegant,) is not always the true reading."s On this principle I have uniformly proceeded, having refolved never to deviate from the authentick copies, merely becaufe the phrafeologywas harsh or uncommon. Many paffages, which have heretofore been confidered as corrupt, and are now fupported by the ufage of contemporary writers, fully prove the propriety of this caution."

5 King Henry IV. Part II.

Sce particularly The Merchant of Venice, Vol. VII. p. 297:
That many may be meant

"By the fool multitude."

with the note there.

We undoubtedly fhould not now write

"But, left myself be guilty to felf-wrong,-"

yet we find this phrafe in The Comedy of Errors, A&t III. Vol. XX. See alfo The Winter's Tale, Vol. IX. p. 420 :

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This your fon-in-law,

"And fon unto the king, (whom heavens directing,)
"Is troth-plight to your daughter."

Meafure for Meafure, Vol. VI. p. 358: "-to be fo bared,-."
Coriolanus, Vol. XVI. p. 148, n. 2:

"Which often, thus, correcting thy ftout heart," &c.

Hamlet, Vol. XVIII. p. 40:

"That he might not beteem the winds of heaven," &c.

many words were which in his time In all the editions

The rage for innovation till within thefe laft thirty years was fo great, that difmiffed from our poet's text, were current in every mouth. fince that of Mr. Rowe, in the Second Part of King Henry IV. the word channel' has been rejected, and kennel fubftituted in its room, though the former term was commonly employed in the fame fenfe in the time of our author; and the learned Bishop of Worcefter has ftrenuously endeavoured to prove that in Cymbeline the poet wrote-not Shakes, but shuts or checks, "all our buds from growing;" though the authenticity of the original reading is established beyond all controverfy by two other paffages of Shakspeare. Very foon, indeed, after his death, this rage for innovation feems to have feized his editors; for in the year 1616 an edition of his Rape of Lucrece was published, which was faid to be newly revifed and corrected; but in which, in fact, feveral arbitrary changes were made, and the ancient diction rejected for one fomewhat more modern. Even in the firft com

plete collection of his plays published in 1623,

As you like it, Vol. VIII. p. 59, n. 7: "My voice is ragged,-."

Cymbeline, Vol. XVIII. p. 647, n.2:

"Whom heavens, in justice, (both on her and hers,) "Have laid moft heavy hand."


7 A& II. fc. i: " -throw the quean in the channel." that paffage, as in many others, I have filently restored the ori ginal reading, without any obfervation; but the word in this fenfe, being now obsolete, should have been illuftrated by a note. This defect, however, will be found remedied in K. Henry VI. P. II. A& II. fc. ii:

"As if a channel fhould be call'd a fea." Hurd's HoR. 4th. edit. Vol. I. p. 55.

fome changes were undoubtedly made from ignorance of his meaning and. phrafeology. They had, I fuppofe, been made in the playhouse copies after his retirement from the theatre. Thus in Othello, Brabantio is made to call to his domefticks to raise "fome special officers of might," instead of "officers of night;" and the phrafe "of all loves," in the fame play, not being understood, "for love's fake" was fubftituted in its room." So, in Hamlet, we have ere ever for or ever, and rites instead of the more ancient word, crants. In King Lear, Act I. fc. i. the fubftitution of " Goes thy heart with this?" inftead of" Goes this with thy heart?" without doubt arofe from the fame caufe, In the plays of which we have no quarto copies, we may be fure that fimilar innovations were made, though we have now no certain means of detecting them.

After what has been proved concerning the fophiftications and corruptions of the Second Folio, we cannot be furprized that when these plays were republifhed by Mr. Rowe in the beginning of this century from a later folio, in which the interpolations of the former were all preserved, and many new errors added, almost every page of his work was disfigured by accumulated corruptions. In Mr. Pope's edition our author was not lefs mifreprefented; for though by examining the oldest copies he detected fome errors, by his numerous fanciful alterations the poet was fo completely modernized, that I am confident, had he "re-vifited the glimpfes of the moon," he would not have underftood his own works. From the quartos indeed a few valuable reftorations were made; but all the advantage that was thus obtained,

was outweighed by arbitrary changes, tranfpofitions, and interpolations.

The readers of Shakspeare being difgufted with the liberties taken by Mr. Pope, the fubfequent edition of Theobald was juftly preferred; because he profeffed to adhere to the ancient copies more ftrictly than his competitor, and illuftrated a few paffages by extracts from the writers of our poet's age. That his work fhould at this day be con- . fidered of any value, only fhows how long impreffions will remain, when they are once made; for Theobald, though not fo great an innovator as Pope, was yet a confiderable innovator; and his edition being printed from that of his immediate predeceffor, while a few arbitrary changes made by Pope were detected, innumerable fophiftications were filently adopted. His knowledge of the contemporary authors was fo fcanty, that all the illuftration of that kind difperfed throughout his volumes, has been exceeded by the researches which have fince been made for the purpose of elucidating a fingle play.

Of Sir Thomas Hanmer it is only neceffary to fay, that he adopted almoft all the innovations of Pope, adding to them whatever caprice dictated.

To him fucceeded Dr. Warburton, a critick, who (as hath been faid of Salmafius) feems to have erected his throne on a heap of ftones, that he might have them at hand to throw at the heads of all those who paffed by. His unbounded licence in fubftituting his own chimerical conceits in the place of the author's genuine text, has been fo fully fhown by his revisers, that I fuppofe no critical reader will ever again open his volumes. An hundred strappadoes, according to an Italian co

mick writer, would not have induced Petrarch, were he living, to subscribe to the meaning which certain commentators after his death had by their gloffes extorted from his works. It is a curious

fpeculation to confider how many thoufand would have been requifite for this editor to have inflicted on our great dramatick poet for the same purpose. The defence which has been made for Dr. Warburton on this fubject, by fome of his friends, is fingular. "He well knew," it has been faid, "that much the greater part of his notes do not throw any light on the poet of whose works he undertook the revifion, and that he frequently imputed to Shakspeare a meaning of which he never thought; but the editor's great object was to dif play his own learning, not to illuftrate his author, and this end he obtained; for in fpite of all the clamour against him, his work added to his reputation as a scholar."-Be it fo then; but let none of his admirers ever dare to unite his name with that of Shakspeare; and let us at leaft be allowed to wonder, that the learned editor fhould have had fo little refpect for the greatest poet that has appeared fince the days of Homer, as to use a commentary on his works merely as " a fialking-horse, under the prefentation of which he might fhoot his wit."

At length the task of revifing thefe plays was undertaken by one, whofe extraordinary powers of mind, as they rendered him the admiration of his contemporaries, will tranfmit his name to pofterity as the brightest ornament of the eighteenth century; and will tranfmit it without competition, if we except a great orator, philofopher, and ftaterman, now living, whofe talents and virtues are

The Right Honourable Edmund Burke.

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