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from D'Avenant's alteration of that celebrated drama, in which almost every original beauty is either awk. wardly disguised, or arbitrarily omitted. So little were the defects or peculiarities of the old writers
· Though no author appears to have been more admired in his lifetime than Shakspere, at no very distant period after his death his compositions seem to have been neglected. Jonson had long endeavoured to depreciate him, but he and his partisans were unsuccessful in their efforts; yet about the year 1640, whether from some capricious vicissie tude in the publick taste, or from a general inattention to the drama, we find Shirley complaining that no company came to our author's performances.
"You see " What audience we have; what company 46 To Shakspere comes ? whose mirth did once beguila “ Dull hours, and buskin'd make even sorrow smile; ** So lovely were the wounds, that men would say, - They could endure the bleeding a whole day; " He has but jew friends lately."
Prologue to The Sisters.
After the Restoration, on the revival of the theatres, the plays of Beaumont and Fletcher were esteemed so much superior to those of our author, that we are told by Dryden, "two of their pieces were acted, through the year, for one of Shakspere's.” If his testimony needed any corroboration, the following lines in a Satire published in 2680, would afford it:
known, even at the beginning of our century, that though the custom of alliteration had prevailed to that degree in the time of Shakspere, that it became contemptible and ridiculous, yet it is made one of Waller's praises, by a writer of his life, that he first introduced this practice into English versification.
It will be expected, that some notice should be taken of the last editor of Shakspere, and that his merits should be estimated with those of his prede. cessors. Little, however, can be said of a work, to the composition of which, both a large proportion of
" At every shop while Shakspere's lofty style " Neglected lies, to mice and worms a spoil, 6. Gilt on the back, just smoking from the press, “ The apprentice shews you D'Urfey's Hudibras, " Crown's Mask, bound up with Settle's choicest labours, “ And promises some new essay of Babor's."
See also the prologue to Shirley's Love Tricks, 1667.
" In our old plays the humour, love, and passion, " Like doublet, hose, and cloke, are out of fashion ; " That which the world call’d wit in Shakspere's age, 6s Is laugh'd at as improper for our stage.”
From the instances mentioned by Mr. Steevens, he appears to have been equally neglected in the time of Queen Anne. During these last fifty years, ample compensation has been made to him for the bad taste and inattention of the periods above mentioned. MALONE.
the commentary, and various readings, is as yet want-
The classicks of an age that heard of none.
dered accessible to our author, exposed at one view; especially as the list has received the advantage of being corrected and amplified by the Reverend Dr. Farmer, the substance of whose very decisive pamphlet is interspersed through the notes which are added in this revisal of Dr. Johnson's Shakspere. • To those who have advanced the reputation of our Poet, it has been endeavoured, by Dr. Johnson, in the foregoing preface, impartially to allot their dividend of fame; and it is with great regret that we now add to the catalogue, another, the consequence of whose death will, perhaps, affect not only the works of Shakspere, but of many other writers. Soon after the first appearance of this edition, a disease, rapid in its progress, deprived the world of Mr. JACOB TONSON; a man, whose zeal for the improvement of English literature, and whose liberality to men of learning, gave him a just title to all the honours which men of learning can bestow. To suppose that a person em. ployed in an extensive trade, lived in a state of indifference to loss and gain, would be to conceive a character incredible and romantick; but it may be justly said of Mr. TONSON, that he had enlarged his mind beyond solicitude about petty losses, and refined it from the desire of unreasonable profit. He was willing to admit those with whom he contracted, to the just advantage of their own labours; and had never learned to consider the author as an under-agent to the Bookseller. The wealth which he inherited or acquired, he enjoyed like a man conscious of the dig. nity of a profession subservient to learning. His domestick life was elegant, and his charity was liberal. His manners were soft, and his conversation delicate : nor is, perhaps, any quality in him more to be censured, than that reserve which confined his acquaintance to a small number, and made his example less useful, as it was less extensive. He was the last commercial name of a family which will be long re. membered ; and if Horace thought it not improper to convey the Sosni to posterity ; if rhetorick suffered no dishonour from Quintilian's dedication to Trypho; let it not be thought that we disgrace Shakspere, by appending to his works the name of Tonson.
To this prefatory advertisement I have now subjoined a chapter extracted from the Guls Hornbook (a satirical pamphlet written by Decker in the year 1609), as it affords the reader a more complete idea of the customs peculiar to our ancient theatres, than any other publication which has hitherto fallen in my way. Sce this performance, page 27
" CH A P. VI.
“ How a Gallant should behave himself in a Play-House,
“ The theater is your poet's Royal Exchange, upon which, their muses (that are now turn'd to merchants) meeting, barter away that light commodity of words for a lighter ware than words, plaudities and the breath Rij