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To the former I reply, that Scotland feems to have been more particularly the region of witchcraft; Į mean the belief in, and imaginary practice of it; which I could cite many proofs of, were it neceffary: and it is no unreasonable fuppofition that Maudlin (admitting the real existence of such a personage) was originally of that country; banished it for her mifdeeds, like Shakspeare's Sycorax from Argier; and now fettled in a more fouthern part of the ifland.
Scathlock has fomething of the fame mode of speech; but I am apt to think, upon a revifion, the dialect of the county where the fcene lies would have been more properly appropriated to him; I have neverthelefs continued it as I found it.
Jonfon has been extremely irregular in his verfification in this Paftoral; blank verfe and rime being huddled together, with feldom any apparent reafon for the mixture or tranfition. Thefe blemishes, if fuch I may prefume to call them, have been intens tionally copied, in the no-doubt-vain endeavour that the whole might appear of a piece. Who cannot copy faults? Dr. Johnfon, in his Life of John Philips, very truly fays, "Deformity is easily copied."
It is indeed the fate of moft imitators to produce unintentionally, except when done in ridicule, a tolerable likeness of nothing elfe that can be found in, or is attributed to their chofen archetype. The continuator of The Sad Shepherd is fenfible how neceffary it is to the whole appearing of a piece, that the
graces of the parts fupplied as well as the defects, hould be fimilar to thofe of the fragment; but it would be a moft egregious and unparalleled felfflattery, were he to hope that beauties, however thinly fown, could be found in the copy, comparable, to those we are gratified with in almost every line of the admirable, the delightful original. As Jonfon not only made no fcruple of borrowing from whoever he thought worthy of that honour, but also recommends the practice, if not fervilely done, in his Difcoveries; and as his imitations of Theocritus, Spenfer, Drayton, &c. are evident in what he has left us of his Paftoral; fhould fimilarities to thefe, or any other Poets be perceived in the continuation; not (to use Ben's words) taken in crude, raw, or indigefted; but concocted; the fweets of various flowers worked into honey of one relish and favour; fhould fuch imitations appear, it is hoped they will meet the fame allowance with thofe in the original fragment.
One paffage I must beg particular indulgence for; Eglamour's fpeech in the third act, on hearing Earine's voice when the fings in the tree, being chiefly borrowed from Jonfon himself. In act V. there is a remarkable fimilitude in the lines beginning with My coronal compofed of, &c." to part of an Ode by the ingenious Mifs Seward, which Ode I believe was not written till after this continuation was finished.
Some few liberties have been taken with Jonfon's text of the Sad Shepherd, as exhibited in the folio, 1640, and in Mr. Whalley's excellent edition of The Works of Ben Jonfon, 1756, but the notes are copied verbatim from Mr. Whalley; which liberty, as well as fome others, it is requested of that gentleman to be fo good to excufe: whenever therefore, as is fometimes the cafe, the text and notes difagree, the reason will be found in the fupplemental notes, annexed to the continuation; in which the references are made to Mr. Whalley's edition of the Paftoral, and not to the prefent one.
The arguments, though in fome places, I think inaccurately written, are given as in the former editions; except the fubftituting Goblin for Daughter in that of the third Act; which alteration is warranted by Jonfon's Dialogue. To the two laft acts there are no arguments prefixed; for what purpose could they answer, but the bad one of pre-informing the reader of what he fhould learn in the gradual progrefs of the poem? and I am of opinion that Jonfon, had he lived to have compleated and published his Sylvan Tale, would have fuppreffed the three arguments handed down to us. As the matter now ftands, it is a happy circumftance that, by the completion of the third argument, we are informed of the Poet's defign throughout that act; and it were a confummation deyoutly to be wifhed," though
the dialogue had been wanting, that we had arguments for the remainder of the Story, as intended by The Maker: the incidents he had, or would have, planned, must (past doubt must) have been productive of much more interefting fituations than can be expected in this weak effay to fupply his deficience.
Should the fame obfervations undefignedly occur here, and in the fupplemental notes; the candid reader I am perfuaded will think, if they are in any degree worthy his attention, that they had better be mentioned twice than not at all.
Mr. Whalley, in his elegantly-pathetic lamentation for the lofs of the remainder of Jonfon's Paftoral, fubjoined to his and the prefent edition, aptly compares what we have of it to the remains of an ancient piece of fculpture.
I will adopt the idea; and in extenuation of the boldness of my undertaking, obferve that although part of the celebrated Venus de Medicis is faid to be of (comparatively) modern workmanship, and very inferior to that of the antique Statue, to which it is adjoined; yet as, by means of fuch addition, it now appears without mutilation, and fills the eye and minḍ with a view and contemplation of a perfect whole; fo Jonfon's Sad Shepherd having come down to us in nearly the fame predicament in which that precious relick of ftatuary ftood, before fome venturous hand attempted its completion; I prefume to fay that however inferiour the modern part now added may, and
inevitably must be, to the exquifite fragment we were before poffeffed of; yet, if executed at all in the manner and spirit of the original, it will give the work at least a seeming perfectnefs; though ever fo fhort of that perfection, to which "Rare Ben" himself, had he finished it with an untired hand, would certainly have wrought it.