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it worth being made publick; and he, who hath with difficulty yielded to their persuasions, is far from desiring to reflect upon the late editors for the omissions and defects which they left to be supplied by others who should follow them in the same province. On the contrary, he thinks the world much obliged to them for the progress they made in weeding out so great a number of blunders and mistakes as they have done ; and probably he who hatin carried on the work might never have thought of such an undertaking, if he had not found a considerable part so done to his hands.
From what causes it proceeded that the works of this author, in the first publication of them, . were more injured and abused than perhaps any that ever passed the press, hath been sufficiently explained is the preface to Mr. Pope's edition, and, there needs no more to be said upon that subject. This only the reader is desired to bear in mind, that as the corruptions are more numerous, and of a grosser kind than can well be conceived, but by those who have looked nearly into them; so in the correcting them this rule hath been inost strictly ob. served, not to give a loose to fancy, or indulge a licentious spirit of criticism, as if it were fit for any one to presume to judge what Shakspere ought to have written, instead of endeavouring to discover truly, and retrieve what he did write: and so great caution hath been used in this respect, that no alterations have been inade, but what the sense necessarily required,
what the measure of the verse often helped to point out, and what the similitude of words, in the false reading and in the true, generally speaking, appeared very well to justify.
Most of those passages are here thrown to the bot. tom of the page, and rejected as spurious, which were stigmatized as such in Mr. Pope's edition; and it were to be wished that more had then undergone the same sentence. The promoter of the present'edition hath ventured to discard but few more upon his own judgment, the most considerable of which is that wretched piece of ribaldry in King Henry the Fifth, put into the mouths of the French princess and an old . gentlewoman, improper enough as it is all in French, and not intelligible to an English audience, and yet that perhaps is the best thing that can be said of it. There can be no doubt but a great deal more of that low stuff, which disgraces the works of this great author, was foisted in by the players after his death, to please the vulgar audiences by which they subsisted : and though some of the poor witticisms and conceits must be supposed to have fallen from his pen, yet as he hath put them generally into the mouths of low and ignorant people, so it is to be remembered that he · wrote for the stage, rude and unpolished as it then was; and the vicious taste of the age must stand condemned for them, since he hath left upon record a signal proof how much he despised them. In his play of The Merchant of Venice, a clown is introduced quibbling in a miserable manner; upon which one, who