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ing Pope for his enemy, has escaped, and escaped alone, with reputation, from this undertaking. So willingly does the world support those who solicite favour, against those who comm nd reverence; and so easily is he praised, whom no man can envy.

Our author fell then into the hands of Sir Thomas Hanmer, the Oxford editor, a man, in my opinion, eminently qualified by natur. for such studies. He had, what is the first requisite to emendatory criticism, that intuition by which the poet's intention is immediately discovered, aud that dexterity of intellect which dispatches its work by the casieft means. He had undoubtedly read much ; his ac. quaintance with customs, opinions, and traditions, seems to have been large; and he is often learned without thew. He feldom passes what he does not understand, withcut an attempt to find or to make a meaning, and sometiines haftily makes what a little more attention would have found. He is solicitous to reduce to gramo ar, what he could not be sure that his authour intended to be gr. mmatical, Shakespeare regarded more the series of ideas, than of words; and his language, not being designed for the reader's desk, was all that he desired it to be, if it conveyed his meaning to the audience.

Hanmer's care of the metre has been too violently censured. He found the measures reformed in so many passages, by the filent labours of some editors, with the filent acquiescence of the reft, that he thought himself allowed to extend a little further the license, which had already been carried so far without reprehension; and of his corrections in general, it must be confeffed, that they are often just, and made commonly with the least possible violation of the text.

But, by inserting his emendations, whether invented or borrowed, into the page, without any notice of varying


copies, he has appropriated the labour of his predecessors, and made his own edition of little authority. His confi. dence indeed, both in himself and others, was too great; he supposes all to be right that was done by Pope and Theobald ; he seems not to suspect a critick of fallibility, and it was but reasonable that he should claim what he fo liberally granted.

As he never writes without careful enquiry and diligent confideration, I have received all his notes, and believe that every reader will with for more.

Of the last editor it is more difficult to speak. Respect is due to high place, tenderness to living reputation, and veneration to genius and learning; but he cannot be justly offend. ed at that liberty of which he has himself so frequently given an example, nor very solicitous what is thought of notes, which he ought never to have considered as part of his serious employments, and which, I suppose, since the ardour of composition is remitted, he no longer numbers among his happy effufions.

The original and predominant errour of his commentary, is acquiescence in his firft thoughts; that precipitation which is produced by consciousness of quick discernment, and that confidence which presumes to do, by surveying the surface, what labour only can perform, by penetrating the bottom. His notes exhibit sometimes perverse interpretations, and sometimes improbable conjectures; he at one time gives the authour more profoundity of meaning than the fentence admits, and at another discovers absurdities, where the sense is plain to every other reader. But his emendations are likewise often happy and just; and his interpretation of obscure pallages learned and fagacious.

Of his notes, I have commonly rejected those, against which the general voice of the public has exclaimed, or

which their own incongruity immediately condemns, and which, I suppose, the authour himself would defire to be forgotten. Of the reft, to part I have given the highest approbation, by inferting the offered reading in the text; part I have left to the judgment of the reader, as doubtful, though specious; and part I have censured without reserve, but I am sure without bitterness of malice, and, I hope, without wantonness of insult.

It is no pleasure to me, in revifing my volumes, to observe how much paper is wasted in confutation. Whoever confiders the revolutions of learning, and the various questions of greater or less importance, upon which wit and reason have exercised their powers, muft lament the unsuccessfulness of enquiry, and the show advances of truth, when he reflects, that great part of the labour of every writer is only the destruction of those that went before him. The first care of the builder of a new fyftem, is to demolish the fabricks which are standing. The chief desire of him that comments an authour, is to shew how much other commentators have corrupted and obscured him. The opinions prevalent in one age, as truths above the reach of controversy, are confuted and rejected in another, and rise again to reception in remoter times. Thus the human mind is kept in motion without progress. Thus sometimes truth and errour, and sometimes contrarieties of errour, take each others place by reciprocal invasion. The tide of seeming knowledge which is poured over one generation, retires and leaves another naked and barren; the sudden meteors of intelligence which for a while appear to shoot their beams into the regions of ob{curity, on a sudden withdraw their lustre, and leave mortals again to grope



These elevations and depressions of renown, and the contradictions to which 'all improvers of knowledge must for ever be exposed, since they are not escaped by the highest and brightest of mankind, may surely be endured with pati. ence by criticks and annotators, who can rank themselves but as the satellites of their authors. How canst thou beg for life, says Achilles to his captive, when thou knoweft that thou art now to suffer only what must another day be suffered by Achilles ?

Dr. Warburton had a name sufficient to confer celebrity on those who could exalt themselves into antagonists, and his notes have raised a clamour too loud to be distinct. His chief assailants are the authours of the Canons of criticism and of the Review of Shakespeare's text; of whom one ridicules his erroạrs with airy petulance, suitable enough to the levity of the controversy; the other attacks them with gloomy malignity, as if he were dragging to justice an assassin or incendiary. The one stings like a fly, fucks a little blood, takes a gay Autter, and returns for more; the other bites like a viper, and would be glad to leave inflammations and gan. grene behind him. When I think on one, with his confe. derates, I remember the danger of Coriolanus, who was afraid that girls with Siits, and boys with stones, flould slay bim in puny battle; when the other crosses my imagination, I remember the prodigy in Macbeth,

An eagle tow’ring in his pride of place,

Was by a mousing owl bawk'd at and kill'd. Let me however do them justice. One is a wit, and one a scholar. They have both shewn acuteness sufficient to the discovery of faults, and have both advanced some probable interpretations of obscure passages ; but when they aspire to conjecture and emendation, it appears how falsely we all efti.

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mate our own abilities, and the little which they have been able to perform might have taught them more candour to the endeavours of others.

Before Dr. Warburton's edition, Critical observations on Shakespeare had been published by Mr. Upton, a man skilled in languages, and acquainted with books, but who seems to have had no great vigour of genius or nicety of taste. Many of his explanations are curious and useful, but he likewise, though he professed to oppose the licentious confidence of editors, and adhere to the old copies, is unable to restrain the Tage of emendation, though his ardour is ill feconded by his skill. Every cold empirick, when his heart is expanded by a successful experiment, swells into a theorist, and the laborious collator at some unlucky moment frolicks in conjecture.

Critical, historical and explanatory notes have been likewise published upon Shakespeare by Dr. Grey, whose diligent perusal of the old English writers has enabled him to make fome useful observations. What he undertook he has well enough performed; but as he neither attempts judicial nor emendatory criticism, he employs rather his memory than his sagacity. It were to be withed that all would endeavour to imitate his modesty who have not been able to surpass his knowledge.

I can say with great fincerity of all my predecessors, what I hope will hereafter be said of me, that not one has left Shakespeare without improvement, nor is there one to whom I kave not been indebted for assistance and information. Whatever I have taken from them it was my intention to refer to its original authour, and it is certain, that what I have not given to another, I believed when I wrote it to be my own. In some perhaps I have been anticipated ; but if I am ever found to encroach upon the remarks of any other

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