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change of this nature; but must remain as marks of the poet's negligence, and of the hafte with which his pieces were compos'd : whát he manifestly intended prose, and we can judge of his intentions only from what appears in the editions that are come down to us,) should be printed as prose, what verse as verse; which, it is hop'd, is now done, with an accuracy that leaves no great room for any further considerable improvements in
. Thus have we run through, in as brief a manner as possible, all the several heads, of which it : was thought proper and even necessary that the publick should be appriz’d; as well those that concern preceding editions, both old and new; as the other which we have just quitted,—the method obferv'd in the edition that is now before them : which though not so entertaining, it is confess’d, nor affording so much room to display the parts and talents of a writer, as some other topicks that have generally supply'd the place of them ; such as criticisms or panegyricks upon the author, historical anecdotes, essays, and florilegia ; yet there will be found some odd people, who may be apt to pronounce of them—that they are suitable to the place they stand in, and convey all the instruction that should be look'd for in a preface. Here, therefore, we might take our leave of the reader, bidding him welcome to the banquet that is set before him; were it not apprehended, and reasonably, that he will expect some account why it is not serv'd up to him at present with it's accustom'd and laudable garniture, of “ Notes, Glosaries," &c. Now though it might be reply'd, as a reason for what is done,—that a very great part of the world, amongst whom is the editor himself, profess much dişlike VOL. I.
to this paginary intermixture of text and comment; in works meerly of entertainment, and written in the language of the country; as alsothat he, the editor, does not possess the secret of dealing out notes by measure, and distributing them amongst his volumes so nicely that the equality of their bulk shall not be broke in upon the thickness of a sheet of paper ; yet, having other matter at hand which he thinks may excuse him better, he will not have recourse to these abovemention'd: which matter is no other, than his very strong desire of approving himself to the publick a man of integrity; and of making his future present more perfect, and as worthy of their acceptance as his abilities will let him. For the explaining of what is said, which is a little wrap'd up in mystery at present, we must inform that publick-that another work is prepar’d, and in great forwardness, having been wrought upon many years ; nearly indeed as long as the work which is now before them, for they have gone hand in hand almost from the first : this work, to which we have given for title The School of Shakspeare, consists wholly of extracts, (with observations upon some of them, interspers’d occasionally,) from books that may properly be call'd—his school ; as they are indeed the sources from which he drew the greater part of his knowledge in mythology and classical matters,' his fable, his history, and even
Though our expressions, as we think, are sufficiently guarded in this place, yet, being fearful of misconstruction, we desire to be heard further as to, this affair of his learning. It is our firm belief then,--that Shakspeare was very well grounded, at least in Latin, at school : It appears from the clearest evidence pollible, that his father was a man of no little substance, and very well able to give him such education; which, perhaps, he the seeming peculiarities of his language: to furnish out these materials, all the plays have been
might be inclin'd to carry further, by sending him to a univerfity ; but was prevented in this design (if he had it) by his son's early marriage, which, from monuments, and other like evidence, it appears with no less certainty, must have happen'd before he was seventeen, or very soon after : the displeafure of his father, which was the consequence of this marriage, or else some excesses which he is faid to have been guilty of, it is probable, drove him up to town; where he engag'd early in some of the theatres, and was honour'd with the patronage of the Earl of Southampton : his Venus and Adonis is address'd to the Earl in a very pretty and modeft dedication, in which he calls it—" the first heire of his invention ;” and uthers it to the world with this fingular motto
“ Vilia miretur vulgus, mihi flavus Apollo
“ Pocula Caftalia plena ministret aqua ;" and the whole poem, as well as his Lucrece, which follow'd it soon after, together with his choice of thofe subjects, are plain marks of his acquaintance with some of the Latin claslicks, at least at that time: The dissipation of youth, and, when that was over, the busy scène in which he instantly plung'd himself, may very well be suppos'd to have hinder'd his making any great progress in them; but that fuch a mind as his should quite lose the tincture of any knowledge it had once been imbu'd with, can not be imagin'd: accordingly we fee, that this school-learning (for it was no more) ftuck with him to the last; and it was the recordations, as we may call it, of that learning which produc'd the Latin that is in many of his plays, and most plentifully in those that are most early : every several piece of it is aptly introduc'd, given to a proper character, and utter'd upon some proper occasion; and so well cemented, as it were, and join'd to the passage it stands in, as to deal conviction to the judicious that the whole was wrought up together, and fetch'd from his own little store, upon the sidden and without study.
The other languages, which he has sometimes made use of, that is the Italian and French, are not of such difficult conquest that we should think them beyond his reach : an acquaintance with the first of them was a sort of fashion in his time; Surrey and the sonnet-writers set it on foot, and it was continu'd by Sidney and Spenser : all our poetry issu’d from that school; and it would be wonderful, indeed, if he, whom we saw a little before putting himself with so much zeal under the banner of
perus’d, within a very small number, that were in print in his time or some short time after ; the
the muses, should not have been tempted to taste at least of that fountain to which of all his other brethren there was such continual resort: let us conclude then, that he did taste of it; but, happily for himself, and more happy for the world that enjoys him now, he did not find it to his relish, and threw away the cup: metaphor apart, it is evident that he had some little knowledge of the Italian : perhaps, just as much as enablid him to read a novel or a poem ; and to put some few fragments of it, with which his memory furnifh'd him, into the mouth of a pedant, or fine gentleman,
How or when he acquir'd it we must be content to be ignorant, but of the French language he was somewhat a greater mafter than of the two that have gone before; yet, unless we except their novelists, he does not appear to have had much acquaintance with any of their writers; what he has given us of it is meerly colloquial, flows with great ease from him, and is reasonably pure : Should it be said he had travel'd for't, we know not who can confute us : in his days indeed, and with people of his station, the custom of doing so was rather rarer than in oars ; yet we have met with an example, and in his own band of players, in the person of the very famous Mr. Kempe; of whose travels there is mention in a filly old play, callid.The Return from Parnasus, printed in 1606, but written much earlier in the time of Queen Elizabeth : add to this—the exceeding great liveliness and justness that is seen in many descriptions of the sea and of promontories, which, if examin'd, shew another sort of knowledge of them than is to be gotten in books or relations ; and if these be lay'd together, this
conjecture of his travelling may not be thought void of probability.
One opinion, we are sure, which is advanc'd somewhere or other, is utterly so ;-that this tin, and this Italian, and the language that was last mention'd, are insertions and the work of some other hand : there has been started now and then in philological matters a proposition so strange as to carry its own condemnation in it, and this is of the number; it has been honour'd already with more notice than it is any ways intitl'd to, where the poet's Latin is spoke of a little while before ; to which answer it must be left, and we thall pass on-to profess our entire belief of the genuineness of every several part of this work, and that he only was the author of it: he might write beneath himself at particular times, and certainly does in some places ; but
ehroniclers his contemporaries, or that a little preceded him ; many original poets of that age,
and many translators; with essayists, novellists, and story-mongers in great abundance: every book, in short, has been consulted that it was possible to procure, with which it could be thought he was acquainted, or that seem'd likely to contribute any thing towards his illustration.
To what degree they illustrate him, and in how new a light they set the character of this great poet himself can never be conceiy'd as it should be, 'till these extracts come forth to the publick view, in their just magnitude, and properly digested: for besides the various paffages that he has either made use of or alluded to, many other matters have been selected and will be found in this work, tending all to the fame end, our better knowledge of him and his writings; and one class of them there is, for which we shall perhaps be censur'd as being too profuse in them, namely—the almost innumerable examples, drawn from these ancient writers, of words and modes of expression which many have thought
he is not always without excuse; and it frequently happens that a weak scene serves to very good purpose, as will be made appear at one time or other. It may be thought that there is one argument still unanswer'd, which has been brought against his acquaintance with the Latin and other languages ; and that is,that, had he been so acquainted, it could not have happen'd but that some imitations would have crept into his writings, of which certainly there are none : but this argument has been answer'd in effect; when it was faid—that his knowledge in these languages was but Nender, and his conversation with the writers in them slender too of course: but bad it been otherwise, and he as deeply read in them as some people have thought him, his works (it is probable) had been as little deform'd with imitations as we now see them Shakspeare was far above such a practice; he had the stores in himself, and wanted not the assistance of a foreign hand to dress him up in things of their lending.