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and establish the restoration of the genuine readings; some others have been as necessary for the explanation of passages obscure and difficult. To understand the necesity and use of this part of my task, fome particulars of my Author's character are previously to be explained. There are Obfcurities in him, which are common to him with all Poets of the same species; there are others, the iflue of the times he lived in; and there are others, again, peculiar to himself. The nature of comic poetry being entirely fatyrical, it busies itself more in expofing what we call caprice and humour, than vices cognizable to the laws. The English, from the happiness of a free constitution, and a turn of mind peculiarly speculative and inquifitive, are observed to produce more Humourists and a greater variety of original Characters, than any other people whatsoever : and these owing their immediate birth to the peculiar genius of each age, an infinite number of things alluded to, glanced at, and exposed, must needs become obscure, as the characters themselves are antiquated, and disused. An Editor therefore should be well versed in the history and manners of his Author's age, if he aims at doing him a service in this respect.
Besides, Wit lying mostly in the assemblage of Ideas, and in the putting those together with quickness and variety, wherein can be found any resemblance, or congruity, to make up pleasant pictures, and agreeable visions in the fancy; the
writer, who aims at wit, must of course range far and wide for materials. Now, the age, in which Shakespeare lived, having, above all others, a wonderful affection to appear learned, they declined vulgar images, such as are immediately fetched from nature, and ranged through the circle of the sciences to fetch their ideas from thence. But as the resemblances of such ideas to the subject must necessarily lie very much out of the common way, and every piece of wit appear a riddle to the vulgar; This, that should have taught them the forced, quaint, unnatural tract they were in, (and induce them to follow a more natural one,) was the very thing that kept them attached to it. The oftentatious affectation of abstruse learning, peculiar to that time, the love that men naturally have to every thing that looks like mystery, fixed them down to this habit of obscurity. Thus became the poetry of DONNE (though the witticft man of that age,) nothing but a continued heap of riddles. And our Shake peare, with all his easy nature about him, for want of the knowledge of the true rules of art, falls frequently into this vicious manner.
The third species of Obscurities, which deform our Author, as the effects of his own genius and character, are those that proceed from his peculiar manner of thinking, and as peculiar a manner of cloathing those thoughts. With regard to his thinking, it is certain, that he had a general knowledge of all the sciences : but his acquain
tance was rather that of a traveller, than a native. Nothing in philosophy was unknown to him ; but every thing in it had the grace and force of novelty. And as novelty is one main source of admiration, we are not to wonder that he has
perpetual allusions to the most recondite parts of the sciences : and this was done not so much out of affectation, as the effect of admiration begot by novelty. Then, as to his style and diction, we may much more justly apply to SHAKESPEARE, what a celebrated writer has said of MILTON; • Our language funk under him, and was unequal
to that greatness of soul which furnished him ' with such glorious conceptions.' He therefore frequently uses old words, to give his diction an air of solemnity; as he coins others, to exprefs the novelty and variety of his ideas.
Upon every distinct fpecies of these Obscurities I have thought it my province to employ a note, for the service of my author, and the entertainment of my readers. A few transient remarks too I have not scrupled to intermix, upon the Poet's negligences and omissions in point of art ; but I have done it always in such a manner, as will testify my deference and veneration for the immortal Author.
I had not mentioned the modest liberty I have here and there taken of animadverting on my Author, but that I was willing to obviate in time the splenetic exaggerations of my adversaries on this head. From past experiments I have reason to be conscious, in what light this attempt may be
placed : placed: and that what I call a modest liberty, will, by a little of their dexterity, be inverted into downright impudence. From a hundred mean and dishonelt artifices employed to discredit this edition, and to cry down its Editor, I have all the grounds in nature to be aware of attacks. But though the malice of wit joined to the smoothness of versification may furnish some ridicule fact, I hope, will be able to stand its ground against banter and gaiety.
It has been my fate, it seems, as I thought it my duty, to discover some Anachronisms in our Author ; which might have slept in obscurity but for this Restorer, as Mr. Pope is pleafed affectie onately to style me; as for instance, where Arijlotle is mentioned by Hector in Troilus and Craffida : and Galen, Cato, and Alexander the Great, in Coriolanus. These, in Mr. Pope's opinion, are blunders, which the illiteracy of the first publishers of his works has fathered upon the Poet's memory: • It not being at all credible, that these could be the errors of any man who had the least tincture of a school, or the least converíation with such
had.' But I have sufficiently proved, in the course of my notes, that such anachronisms were the effect of poetic licence, rather than of ignorance in our Poet. And if I may be permitted to ask a modest question by the way, why may not I restore an anachronism really made by our Author, as well as Mr. Pope take the privilege to fix others upon him, which he never had it in his head to make; as I may venture to affirm he had not,
in the instance of Sir Francis Drake, to which I have spoke in the proper place?
How just, notwithstanding, I have been in detecting the anachronisms of my Author, and in defending him for the use of them, our late Editor seems to think, they should rather have flept in obscurity: and the having discovered them is sneered at, as a sort of wrong-headed sagacity.
The numerous corrections, which I made of the Poet's text in my SHAKESPEARE Restorid, and which the public have been so kind to think well of, are, in the appendix of Mr. Pope's last edition, slightinglycall’dVarious Readings, Guesses, &c. He confefies to have inserted as many of them as he judged of any the least advantage to to the Poet; but says, that the whole amounted to about twenty-five words : and pretends to have annexed a compleat list of the rest, which were not worth his embracing. Whoever has read my book will at one glance see, how in both these
points veracity is strained, fo an injury might but is injurebe done. Malus etsi obelje non pote; tamen cogitat. spiegandica
Another expedient, to make my work appear of a trifling nature, has been an attempt to depreciate literal criticism. To this end, and to pay a servile compliment to Mr. Pope, an anonymous writer has, like a Sictch pedlar in wit, unbraced his pack on the subject. But, that his virulence might not seem to be levelled fingly at me, he has done me the honour to join Dr. Bentley in the libel. I was in hopes, we should have been