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was ths affectation naturally have to the habith the witties
Thently into th knowledge a
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 mystery, fixed them down to the habit of obscurity. Thus became the poetry of Donne (though the wittiest man of that age) nothing but a continued heap of riddles. And our Shakespeare, with all his easy nature about him, for want of the knowledge of the truc rules of art, falls frequently into this vicious manner.
The third species of obscurities which deform our author, as the effects of his own genius and character, are those 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 sciences: but his acqnaintance was rather that of a traveller than a native. Nothing in philosophy was unknown to him ; but every thing in it had the grace and force of novelty. And as novelty is one main source of admiration, we are not to wonder that he has perpetual allusions to the most recondite parts of the sciences : and this was done not so much out of affectation, as the effect of admiration begot by novelty. Then, as to his file and diftion, we may much more justly apply to SHAKESPEARE, what a celebrated writer faid of MILTON : Our language funk under him, and was unequal to that greatness of foul which furnished him with such glorious conceptions. He therefore frequently uses old words, to give his diction an air of solemnity; as he coins others, to express the novelty and variety of his ideas.
Upon every distinct species of these obscurities, I have thought it my province to employ a note for the service of my author, and the entertainment of my readers. A few transient remarks too I have not scrupied to intermix, upon the poet's negligences and omissions in point of art; but I have done it always in such a manner, as will testify my deference and veneration for the immortal author. Some censurers of Shakespeare, and particularly Mr. Rymer, have taught me to distinguish betwixt the railer and critick. The outrage of his quotations is so remarkably violent, so pushed beyond all bounds of decency and sober reasoning, that it quite carries over the mark at which it was levelled. Extravagant abuse throws off the edge of the intended diso paragement, and turns the madman's weapon into his own bolom. In short, as to Kymer, this is my opinion
of him, from his criticisms on the tragedies of the last 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 Boflu and Dacier, from whom he has transcribed many of his best reflexions. The late Mr. Gildon was one attached to Rymer by a similar way of thinking and studies. They were both of that species of critics who are desirous of displaying their powers rather in finding faults, .than in consulting the improvement of the world : the hyper-critical part of the science of criticism.
I had not mentioned the modest liberty I have here and there taken of animadverting on my author, but that I was willing to obviate in time the splenetick exaggerations of my adversaries on this head. From past experiments I have reason to be conscious, in what light this attempt may be placed : and that what I call a modest liberty, will, by a little of their dexterity, be inverted into downright impudence. From a hundred mean and dishonest artifices employed to discredit 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 smoothness of verlification, may furnish fome ridicule ; fact, I hope, will be able to stand its ground against banter and gaiety.
It has been my fate, it seems, as I thought it my duty, to discover some anachronisms in our author; which might have slept in obscurity but for this Reftorer, as Mr. Pope is pleased affectionately to stile me; as for instance, where Aristotle is mentioned by Hector in Truilus and Cressida : and Galen, Cato, and Alexander the Great, in Coriolanus. There, in Mr. Pope's opinion, are blunders, which the illiteracy of the firit publishers of his works has fathered upon the poet's memory: it not being at all credible, that these could be the errors of any man who had the least tin&ture of a jichool, or the least conversation with such as had. But I have fufficiently proved, in the course of my notes, that such anachronijms were the effect of poetick licence, rather than of ignorance in our poet. And if I may be permitted to alk a modest question by the way, why may not I restore an anachronijm 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 instance of Sir Francis Drake, to which I have spoke in the proper place ?
But who shall dare make any words about this freedom of Mr. Pope's towards Shakespeare, if it can be proved, that, in his fits of criticism, he makes no more ceremony with good Homer himself? To try, then, a criticism of his own advancing; in the 8th book of the Odyssey, where Demodo. cus sings the episode of the loves of Mars and Venus; and that, upon their being taken in the net by Vulcan,
- " The god of arms
Mr. Pope is so kind gravely to inform us, “ That Homer “ in this, as in many other places, seems to allude to the “ laws of Athens, where death was the punishment of « adultery." But how is this significant observation made out? Why, who can possibly object any thing to the contrary? - Does not Pausanias relate, that "Draco, the lawgiver to the Athenians, granted impunity to any person that took revenge upon an adulterer? And was it not also the institution of Solon, that if any one took an adulterer in the fact, he might use him as he pleafed? These things are very true: and to see what a good memory, and found judgment in conjunction can atchieve! Though Homer's date is not determined down to a single year, yet it is pretty generally agreed that he lived above 300 years before Draco and Solon: and that, it seems, has made him seem to allude to the very laws, which these two legislators propounded above 300 years after. If this inference be not something like an anachronism or prolepsis, I will look once more into my lexicons for the true meaning of the words. It appears to me, that somebody besides Mars and Venus has been caught in a net by this episode: and I could call in other instances to confirm what treacherous tackle this net-work is, if not cautiously handled.
How just, notwithstanding, I have been in detecting the anachronisms of my author, and in defending him for the use of them, our late editor seems to think, they should rather have slept in obscurity: and the having discovered them is sneered at, as a sort of wrong-headed fagacity.
The numerous corrections which I have made of the poet's text in my SHAKESPEARE Restored, and which the publick have been so kind to think well of, are, in the appendix of Mr. Pope's last edition, slightingly called various reafonings, guesfes, &c. He confesses to have inserted as many of them as he judged of any the least advantage to the poet; but says, VOL, I. [K]
orth his embra a complete list of 25 words: and
that the whole amounted to about 25 words: and pretends to have annexed a complete list of the rest, which were not worth his embracing. Whoever has read my book will, at one glance, fee how in both these points veracity is strained, so an injury might but be done. Malus, et fi obeffe non poteft, tamen cogitat.
Another expedient, to make my work appear of a trifling nature, has been an attempt to depreciate literal criticism. To this end, and to pay a servile compliment to Mr. Pope, an anonym.us writer has, like a Scotch pedlar in wit, unbraced his pack on the subject. But, that his virulence might not seem to be levelled singly at me, he has done me the honour to join Dr. Bentley in the libel. I was in hopes we should have been both abused with smartness of satire at least, though not with folidity of argument: that it might have been worth some reply in defence of the science attacked. But I may fairly say of this author, as Falstaff does of Poins; Hong him, báboon! his wit is as thick as Tewksbury mustard; there is no more conceit in him, than is in a Mallet. If it be not prophanation to set the opinion of the divine Longinus against such a scribler, he tells us expressly, “ That to make “ a judgment upon words (and writings) is the most consum“ mate fruit of much experience. v gcê'p tâu nóywy xpiois Tennis ÉS! Tsipas Teacutaion & Tivévvnuce. Whenever words are depraved, the sense of course must be corrupted; and thence the reader is betrayed into a false meaning.
If the Latin and Greck languages have received the greatest advantages imaginable from the labours of the editors and criticks of the two last ages, by whose aid and altance the grammarians have been enabled to write infinitely better in that art than even the preceding grammarians, who wrote when those tongues flourished as living languages; I should account it a peculiar happiness, that, by the faint effay I have made in this work, a path might be chalked out for abler hands, by which to derive the same advantages to our own tongue: a tongue, which, though it wants none of the fundamental qualities of an universal language, yet, as a noble writer says, lisps and stammers as in its cradle; and has produced little more towards its polishing than complaints of its barbarity.
Having now run through all those points, which I intended fhould make any part of this dissertation, and having in my former edition made publick acknowledgments of the
allistances affiftances lent me, I shall conclude with a brief account of the methods taken in this.
It was thought proper, in order to reduce the bulk and price of the impression, that the notes, wherever they would admit of it, might be abridged: for which reason I have curtailed a great quantity of such, in which explanations were too prolix, or authorities in support of an emendation too numerous: and many I have entirely expunged, which were judged rather verbose and declamatory (and so notes merely of ostentation) than necessary or instructive.
The few literal errors which had escaped notice, for want of revisals, in the former edition, are here reformed; and the pointing of innumerable passagès is regulated, with all, the accuracy I am capable of.
I shall decline making any farther declaration of the pains I have taken upon my author, because it was my duty, as his editor, to publish him with my best care and judgment; and because I am sensible, all such declarations are construed to be laying a sort of a debt on the publick. As the former edition has been received with much indulgence, I ought to make my acknowledgments to the town for their favourable opinion of it; and I shall always be proud to think that encouragement the best payment I can hope to receive from my poor studies.
th muc, publick. Ons are comment;