« السابقةمتابعة »
great severity, fumming up his character, as an Editor, with the following reflections. Theobald, thus weak and ignorant, thus mean and faithless, thus petulant and oftentatious, by the good luck of having Pope for his enemy, has escaped, and escaped alone, with reputation from this undertaking. So willingly does the world support those who follicit favour, against those who command reverence; and so easily is he praised, whom no man can envy.'
It is very true, as Dr. Johnson observes, that Theobald hath escaped alone with reputation from the task of commenting on Shakespeare ; we cannot impute it, however, to the motives affigned by the present Editor. On the contrary, we are well convinced, that the object of praise is generally the object of envy, and vice versa ; although it is certain, that in notorious cases, the public prepoffellion sometimes gives way to public justice. Ac the same time, the writer must content himself with a very slender pittance of fame, indeed, who derives it only from the public compassion. Fame, like other strumpets, may be fometimes bullied into compliance, but the fondest of her lov. ers may pine himself into a consumption, ere he obtains any fubftantial favour from her pity. . Of Sir Thomas Hanmer, Shakespeare's next editor, the Prefacer speaks with great moderation and candour; giving him the due praise to which we think he is justly entitled.
We shall give what he says of the next editor* in his own words.
• Of the last editor it is more difficult to fpeak. Respect is due to high place, tenderness to living reputation, and veneration to genius and learning; but he cannot be justly offended at that liberty of which he has himself fo 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 compofition is remitted, he no longer numbers among his happy effusions.
« The original and predominant errour of his commentary, is acquiescence in his first thoughts; that precipitation which is produced by consciousness of quick discernment; and that confidence which presumes to do, by surveying the furface, what labour only can perform, by penetrating to the bottom. His notes exhibit sometimes perverse interpretations, and sometimes improbable conjectures; he at one time gives the authour more profundity of meaning, than the sentence admits, and at another discovers abfurdities, where the sense is plain to every other reader. But his emendations are likewise often happy and just; and his interpretation of obscure paffages learned and fagacious. • of his notes, I have commonly rejected: thole, against
* Dr. Warburton.
which the general voice of the publick has exclaimed, or which
? I can say with great sincerity 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 have not been indebted for aslistance aud 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 commentator, I am willing that the honour, be it more or less, should be transferred to the first claimant, for his right, and his alone, ftands above dirpute; the second can prove his pretensions only to himself, nor can himself always distinguish invention, with sufficient certainty, from recolle&tion.'
Our Editor proceeds next to give an account of what he hath done, or attempted to do himself, and to apologize for what he hath not done, or confessedly found himself unable to do. We cannot help being somewhat apprehenfive, however, that the readers of this part of Dr. Johnson's preface, will be apt to think he hath, in more places than one, betrayed a confcioufness of the want of application in his pretended endeavours, as well as of the ill success attending them. There runs, indeed, through the whole of this preface, such a mixed and inconfiftent vein of praise and censure respecting others; and of boasting and excuse regarding himself, that we think we discover it to be the production of a wavering pen, directed by a hand equally wearied and disgusted with a talk, injudiciously undertaken, and as indolently pursued. We shall take our leave of it therefore with one more quotation, which may serve farther to confirm what is here advanced :
Perhaps I may not be more censured for doing wrong, than for doing little ; for raising in the publick expectations, which at last I have not answered. The expectation of ignorance is indefinite, and that of knowledge is often tyrannical. It is hard to satisfy those who know not what to demand, or those who demand by design what they think impossible to be done. I have indeed disappointed no opinion more than my own ; yet I have endeavoured to perform my task with no flight solicitude. Not a single passage in the whole work has appeared to me corrupt, which I have not attempted to restore; or obscure, which I have not endeavoured to illustrate. In many I have failed like others; and from many, after all my efforts, I have retreated, and confessed the repulse. I have not passed over, with affected superiority, what is equally difficult to the reader and to myself, but where I could not instruct him, have owned my ignorance. I might easily have accumulated a mass of seeming learning upon easy scenes; but it ought not to be imputed to negligence, that, where nothing was neccffary, nothing has been done, or that, where others have said enough, I have said no more,'
As to the work itself; the present Editor hath prefixed the several prefaces of Pope, Theobald, Hanmer and Warburton, as also the dedication and preface of Heminge and Condell, and Shakespeare's life by Mr. Rowe. Of Mr. Pope's notes the Editor hash retained the whole; in order, as he says, that no fragment of fo great a writer may be lost. With Dr. Johnson's Jeave, however, as Mr. Pope's attempts on Shakespeare do so little honour to his memory, a future editor who affected to Tevere that memory ought io have suppressed them; at least those of them which were the most exceptionable.- Of Theobald's notes, the weak, ignorant, mean, faithless, petulant, oftentasious Theobald, the present Editor hath generally retained those which he retained himself in his second edition; and these, we must acquaint our Readers, are not a few nor unimportant.Of Sir Thomas Hanmer's notes, Dr. Johnson profesies, and we find no reason to disbelieve him, that he hath inserted them all, -To Dr. Warburton he is still more obliged than to any of the preceeding commentators, at least in point of quantity: To the author of the Canons of Criticism he is also equally
obliged in point of quality; but we know not to what cause we must impute it, that the Editor is so extremely sparing of confefling his obligations, from this quarter.
As to the Editor's own notes, it possibly will not be expected they should be so numerous, or so important, as those he had an opportunity of borrowing from his predecessors : the Reader will meet with some of them, however, here and there interspersed among the rest, and like the rest, bona quædam, mala, mediocrą. If the Reader should complain that these are too few and infignificant, we can only impute their paucity and want of imporLance to a notion entertained by the Editor (the most unfortunatę sure that ever entered into the head of a commentator !) that the 2
Reader is more, and better pleased with what he finds out him. self, than with what the most sagacious scholiaft can point out to him. But this plea, if admitted, would of course be urged too far, and even luperfede the task of any commentator at all. Indeed Dr. Johnson seems full as little solicitous about the fuce cess of his annotations, as he could possibly be about the composing them; it is to be wished, however, for the sake of his own reputation, that he had always treated the poet with the same candour as he profelles to have observed toward his brother commentators.
A Letter to the Right Reverend Author of the Divine Legation of
Mojes demonstrated; in Answer to the Appendix to the fifth Vo-
Is 6d. Millar and Dodsley.
blemished character, and eminent abilities, is calumniated, and treated in the most injurious manner by a haughty and over-bearing Colofius, it must give pleasure to every generous mind, to see such a person vindicating himself with manly freedom, resenting the insult with proper spirit, attacking the imperious aggressor in his turn, and taking ample vengeance for the injury done him. Such is the pleasure which every impartial Reader, every true republican in Literature, will receive from the perusal of the Letter now before us.
It can be no secret to any of our Readers, that the Author of the Divine Legation of Moses has, for many years, treated men of the most respectable character, in the most illiberal and contemptuous manner; nay, often, with the most wanton infolence ; that he has (to borrow the language of the elegant and spirited Author of this Letter) affumed the high office of Inquisitor General and Supreme Judge of the opinions of the Learned, and exercised it with a ferocity and a despotism without example in the republic of letters, and hardly to be paralelled among the disciples of Dominic; exacting their opinions to the standard of his infallibility, and profecuting with implacable hatred every one that presumes to differ from him.
In the appendix to the fifth volume of the Divine Legation *, the Bishop of Glocefter severely attacked the learned and ingenious Dr. Lowth; who now steps forth to do himfelf juftice, to defend his opinions and his character, and to expose the * fophiftry, buffoonry and fcurrility' of his antagonist: How får • See Review for Sept, lat.
he hath succeeded in this attempt, under all these heads, it is not for us to determine ; but, on the whole, he hath acquitted himself in fo masterly and fatisfactory a manner, that we do not remember ever to have received equal entertainment from the perusal of any work of this kind.' But to the Letter itfelf:
• I cannot but think myself, fays the Doctor, much obliged to your Lordship, for the distinguished honour which you have done me, in making me the fubject of an APPENDIX to your great works of The Divine Legation of Mofes Demonstrated: an honour, which you have hitherto conferred on no one, except a late noble lord and myself. I heard indeed from every quarter, that you had taken it into your head, that I had affronted you ; and that this imagined affront lay rankling at your heart. You expressed your indignation, with much vehemence and loud menaces, to almost every one whom you met : except to myself; whom you, at the same time, received with fair words and a smooth countenance : insomuch that I was then really
persuaded, that what I had heard of your resentment was all an i idle and groundless report. However, I did not imagine, either
that the subject on which we differed was so important in itself, or the person who differed from you so considerable in your eftimation, as to merit lo formal a process, and fo folemn á chastifement. I thought you might possibly whip me at the cart's tail in a Note to Divine Legation, the ordinary place of your literary executions : or pillory me in the Dunciad, another engine, which, as legal proprietor, you have very ingeniously and judiciously applied to the same purpose: or perhaps have ordered me a kind of Bridewell correction by one of your Beadles, in a pamphlet. . I never flattered myself with the expectation of being exhibited on a scaffold, erected on purpose for me, and in so conspicuous a place. I can do no less therefore than make my acknowledgments to your Lordship upon the occasion; as Sir John Owen did to my Lord Prefident Bradfhaw, of infolent and brutal memory : having, together with several peers, received sentence of condemnation in the High Court of Justice, the honest Knight made a low reverence to his mock Lordship, and gave him humble thanks for the great honour done him in being condemned to lofe his head like a noble Lord; for, being but a poor Gentleman of Wales, he swore he was afraid he fhould have been hanged.'
Having thus paid his respects and due acknowledgments to his Lordship, our Author proceeds, without farther compliments, and with all proper freedom, to enquire into the grounds of his resentment, and the merits of the question in dispute. He states the cale, with great clearness and openness, as it lies before the Public; and reminds his Lordship of what formerly passed between them in private, in regard to the book of Job. According to