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"equal judgment, though not always with the fame "fuccefs, attempted to clear the genuine plays from "the interpolated fcenes. He then confulted the old "editions; and, by a careful collation of them, recti"fied the faulty, and fupplied the imperfect reading, in "a great number of places: and, laftly, in an admi"rable preface, hath drawn a general, but very lively "fketch of SHAKESPEARE'S poetic character; and, in "the corrected text, marked out thofe peculiar ftrokes "of genius which were most proper to fupport and if“lustrate that character.”. But though Mr. Pope had a just title to the public thanks; yet Mr. Theobald attacked him with great acrimony of expreffion, evidently flowing from perfonal prejudice. He interlards his notes with many fevere reflections against Mr. Pope, reprefents his collation of old copies as a mere pretence, and ranks his edition among thofe of no authority. In fhort, he goes fo far as to alledge, that " Mr. Pope has feldom corrected SHAKESPEARE'S text but to its injury; that he has frequently-inflicted a wound where he intended "a cure; that he has attacked his author like an unhandy flaughterman, and not lopped off the errors, "but the poet." But Mr. Warburton, the great friend of Mr. Pope, returned him meafure for meafure, as we will fee anon.
This Mr. Theobald was the next editor after Mr. Pope. He (fays Mr. Warburton) was naturally turned to in "duftry and labour. What he read, he could tran"fcribe; but as what he thought, if ever he did think, "he could but ill exprefs; so he read on; and by that " means got a character of learning, without rifking, to "every obferver, the imputation of wanting a better
talent. By a punctilious collation of the old books, "he corrected what was manifeftly wrong in the latter "editions, by what was manifeftly right in the earlier. "And this is his real merit, and the whole of it. For "where the phrafe was very obfolete or licentious in the common books, or only flightly corrupted in the other, he wanted fufficient knowledge of the progress and various ftages of the English tongue, as well as t acquaintance with the peculiarity of SHAKESPEARE'S "language,
"language, to understand what was right; nor had he "either commion judgment to fee, or critical fagacity "to amend, what was manifeftly faulty. Hence he ge"nerally exerts his conjectural talent in the wrong "place: he tampers with what is found in the common "books; and, in the old ones, omits all notice of vari"ations the fenfe of which he did not understand."
As to the Oxford editor, Sir Thomas Hanmer, the next editor: "How he (fays Mr. Warburton) came to "think himself qualified for this office [criticifm,] from "which his whole course of life had been fo remote, is "ftill more difficult to conceive. For whatever parts "he might have either of genius or erudition, he was "abfolutely ignorant of the art of criticism, as well as "of the poetry of that time, and the language of his "author. And fo far from a thought of examining the "first editions, that he even neglected to compare Mr. "Pope's, from which he printed his own, with Mr. "Theobald's; whereby he loft the advantage of many "fine lines which the other had recovered from the old quarto's. Where he trufts to his own fagacity, in "what affects the fenfe, his conjectures are generally "abfurd and extravagant, and violating every rule of "criticifm. His principal object was, to reform his "author's numbers: and this, which he hath done, on
every occafion, by the infertion or omiffion of a fet "of harmless unconcerning expletives, makes up the "grofs body of his innocent corrections. And fo, in "spite of that extreme negligence in numbers, which diftinguishes the firft dramatic writers, he hath tricked
the old bard, from head to foot, in all the finical "exactness of a modern measurer of fyllables."
Mr. Warburton was the next, and the laft editor. He tells us, that the world had never been troubled with his edition, but for the conduct of the two laft editors (Theabald and Hanmer,) and the perfuafions of dear Mr. Pope, who defired him to give a new edition of SHAKESPEARE, as he thought it might contribute to put a stop to the folly which prevailed of altering the text of celebated authors without talents or judgment; and that
his main care has been, to reftore the genuine text; but in those places only where it labours with inextricable nonfenfe. "In which (adds he) how much foever 1 may have given fcope to critical conjecture, where the "old copies failed me, I have indulged nothing to fancy "or imagination, but have religioufly obferved the fevere "canons of literal criticism."
Since the publication of the laft of the aforemen tioned editions, a work has come abroad, in two volumes, intitled, The beauties of Shakespeare, regularly felected from each play. By William Dodd, B. A. As this gentleman has taken fome notice of SHAKESPEARE'S editors, we fhall conclude our account of them, with a few of his remarks.
"Mr. Theobald (fays Mr. Dodd) has approved him"felf the best editor of SHAKESPEARE that has yet ap"peared, by a close attention to, and diligent furvey of "the old editions, and by a careful amendment of those "flight faults, which evidently proceeded from the press,
and corrupted the text." And, after obferving that Mr. Theobald had left many paffages untouched and unregarded, which were truly difficult and called for the editor's affiftance, he adds, "It is plain, then, much "work remained for fubfequent commentators; and, "fhall we add? ftill remains: for though fucceeded by "two eminent rivals [Hanmer and Warburton,] we must "with no fmall concern behold this imperfect editor ftill "maintaining his ground; and with no little forrow ob"ferve the best judges of SHAKESPEARE preferring Theo"bald's to any modern edition." He gives the reafons of this preference as follows.
"Sir Thomas Hanmer (fays he) proceeds in the most "unjuftitiable method, foifting into his text a thousand ❝idle alterations, without ever advertising his readers, "which are and which are not SHAKESPEARE'S genuine "words: fo that a multitude of idle phrafes and ridicu "lous expreffions, infinitely beneath the fublimity of this prince of poets, are thrown to his account; and his imperfections
"imperfections, fo far from being diminished, numbered "tenfold upon his head.”
"Mr. Warburton (continues Mr. Dodd) hath been "fomewhat more generous to us: for though he has for "the most part preferred his own criticisms to the au"thor's words, yet he hath always too given us the au"thor's words, and his own reafons for thofe criticisms. "Yet his conduct can never be justified for inserting 66 every fancy of his own in the text, when I dare ven "ture to fay, his better and cooler judgment must con"demn the greateft part of them. What the ingenious. "Mr. Edwards fays of him, feems exactly juft and "true. "That there are good notes in his edition of "SHAKESPEARE, I never did deny: but as he has had "the plundering of two dead men (Theobald and Hanmer,] it will be difficult to know which are his own. "Some of them I fuppofe may be: and hard indeed "would be his luck, if among fo many bold throws he "should have never a winning caft. But I do infift, that "there are great numbers of fuch fhameful blunders as difparage the reft, if they do not difcredit his title to "them, and make them look rather like lucky hits, than, "the refult of judgment."
Mr. Dodd adds the following remark, to which every reader will chearfully give his affent. "For my own part, (fays he,) I cannot but read with regret the con"ftant jarring and triumphant infults, one over another, "found amidft the commentators on SHAKESPEARE."This is one of the reafons that has impeded our ar “rival at a thorough knowledge in his works: for fome "of the editors have not fo much laboured to elucidate: "their author, as to expofe the follies of their brethren. "How much better would it have been for SHAKE
SPEARE, for us, and for literature in general; how "much more honour would it have reflected on them"felves, had thefe brangling critics fociably united; and, "inftead of putting themfelves in a pofture of defence "one against another, jointly taken the field, and united "all their efforts, to refcue fo inimitable an author from
"the Gothic outrage of dull players, duller printers, " and ftill duller editors?"
Amidst such a variety of editors, and fuch different characters of them, no one could be implicitly followed. We have therefore confulted them all; and, of the various readings and conjectures, those only have been adopted, and inferted in the text, that feemed to agree best with the meaning of the author. No scope has been given to conjecture or imagination; not a fingle line, not even a fingle word, is inferted, but what is warranted by the authority of preceeding editors. No regard has been had to the Oxford editor's reformation of SHAKESPEARE'S numbers, or to his other almost innumerable conjectures and interpolations, farther than as fome of the latter have received the fanction of fucceeding critics. But the reader will fee from a lift fubjoined to the Indexes in the laft volume, what conjectures or alterations of the critics are adopted in this edition; and perhaps it may not be loft labour to confult the various readings in that lift, as it may give those who have not feen former editions, fome idea of the art of literal criticism, so long hackneyed among the learned; and they may reject or prefer as they judge proper.- -The utmost care has been taken to print this edition correctly, efpecially with refpect to the pointing. As to which, due regard has always been had to the feveral inftances of falfe or depraved pointing, whereby the fenfe was marred, and fome paffages rendered almoft quite unintelligible, as obferved by Meff. Theobald and Warburton. And though it is not intended to affirm, that this edition is free from faults, yet fuch care has been taken, that 'tis thought it may well vie with any of those hitherto published in England; at least we flatter ourselves it will not be found inferior either in beauty or correctnefs.
The acts and feenes are divided according to Pope's and Warburton's editions; and not according to Theobald's or Hanmer's, the former of whom has not numbered the scenes.
In Pope's edition, the paffages which he thought the