« 上一頁繼續 »
and as he must increase bis ideas, like other was not to be depressed by the weight of mortals, by gradual acquisition, he, like them, poverty, nor limited by the narrow conversagrew wiser as he grew older, could display life lion to which men in want are inevitably conbelter, as he knew it more, and instruct with demned : the incumbrances of his fortune were more efficacy, as he was himself more amply shaken from his mind, as dew drops from a instructed.
lion's mane. There is a vigilance of observation and ac- Though he had so many difficulties to encuracy of distinction which books and precepts counter, and so little assistance to surmount cannot confer; from this almost all original them, he has been able to obtain an exact and native excellence proceeds. Shakspeare knowledge of many modes of life, and many must bave looked upon mankind with perspi- casts of native dispositions; to vary them with cacity, in the highest degree curious and alten- great multiplicity; to mark them by nice dislive. Other writers borrow their characters linctions; and to show them in full view by from preceding writers, and diversify them proper combinations. lo this part of his peronly by the accidental appendages of present formances he had none to imitate, but has himmanners; the dress is a little varied, but the self been imitated by all succeeding writers ; body is the same. Our author had both matter and it may be doubted, whether from all bis and form to provide ; for, except the charac- successors more maxims of theoretical knowters of Chaucer, lo whom I think he is not much ledge, or more rules of practical prudence, can indebled, there were no writers in English, be collected, than he alone has given to his and perhaps not many in other modern lan- country. guages, which showed life in its native colours. Nor was his altention confined to the actions
The contest about the original benevolence of men; he was an exact surveyor of the inor malignity of man had not yet commenced. animate world; his descriptions have always Speculation bad not yet allempted to analyse the some peculiarities, gathered by contemplating mind, to trace the passions to their sources, to things as they really exist. It may be observed, unfold the seminal principles of vice and virtue, that the oldest poets of many nations preserve or sound the depths of the heart for the motives their reputation, and that the following generaof action. All those enquiries, which from lions of wit, after a short celebrity, sink into that time that human nature became the fash- oblivion. The first, whoever they be, must ionable study, have been made sometimes with take their sentiments and descriptions immenice discernment, but often with idle subtilly, diately from knowledge; the resemblance is were yet unattempted. The tales, with which therefore just, their descriptions are verified by the infancy of learning was satisfied, exhibited every eye, and their sentiments acknowledged only the superficial appearances of action, by every breast. Those whom their fame inrelated the events, but omitted the causes, and viles to the same sludies, copy partly them and were formed for such as delighted in wonders parlly nature, till the books of one age gain rather than in truth. Mankind was not then such authority, as to stand in the place of pato be studied in the closet; he that would know lure to another, and imitation, always deviating the world, was under the necessity of gleaning a little, becomes at last capricious and casual. his own remarks, by mingling as he could in Shakspeare, whether life or nature be his subits business and amusements.
ject, shows plainly, that he has seen with bis Boyle congratulated bimself upon his bigh own eyes; he gives the image which he rebirth, because it savoured his curiosity, by fa-ceives, not weakened or distorted by the intercilitating his access. Shakspeare had no such vention of any other mind; the ignorant feel advantage; he came to London a needy adven- his representations to be just, and the learned turer, and lived for a time by very mean see that they are complete. employments. Many works of genius and Perhaps it would not be easy to find any learning have been performed in states of life author, except Homer, who invented so much that appear very little favourable to thought or as Shakspeare, who so much advanced the to enquiry : so many, that he who considers studies which he cultivated, or effused so much them is inclined to think that he sees enterprize novelty upon his age or country. The form, and perseverance predominaling over all exter the characters, the language, and the shows of nal agency, and bidding help and hindrance the English drama are his. He seems, says vanish before them. The genius of Sbakspeare | Dennis, to have been the very original of our
English tragical harmony, that is, the har-porary writer, would be heard to the conclusion, mony of blank verse, diversified often by dis- I am indeed far from thinking, that his works syllable and frisyllable terminations. For the were wrought to his own ideas of perfection; diversity distinguishes it from heroic harmony, when they were such as would satisfy the auand by bringing it nearer to common uses makes dience, they satisfied the writer. It is seldom it more proper to gain attention, and more fit that authors, though more studious of fame than for action and dialogue. Such verse we make Shakspeare, rise much above the standard of rken we are wriling prose ; we make such verse their own age; to add a little to what is best in common conversation.
will always be sufficient for present praise, and I know not whether this praise is rigorously those who find themselves exalted into fame, just. The dissyllable termination, which the are willing to credit their encomiasts, and to critic rightly appropriates to the drama, is to spare the labour of contending with thembe found, though, I think, not in Gorboduc, selves. which is confessedly before our author; yet in It does not appear, that Shakspeare thought Hieronymo, of which the date is not certain, * his works worthy of posterity, that he levied but which there is reason to believe at least as any ideal tribute upon future times, or had any old as his earliest plays. This, however, is further prospect than of present popularity and certain tbat he is the first who taught either present profit. When his plays had been acted, tragedy or comedy to please, there being no his hope was at an end ; he solicited no additheatrical piece of any older writer, of which lion of honour from the reader. He therefore the name is known, except to antiquaries and made no scruple lo repeat the same jests in collectors of books, which are sought because many dialogues, or to entangle different plots they are scarce, and would not have been scarce by the same knot of perplexity, which may be had they been much esteemed.
at least forgiven him, by those who recollect, To him we must ascribe the praise, unless that of Congreve's four comedies, two are conSpenser may divide it with him, of baving first cluded by a marriage in a mask, by a deception, discovered to how much smoothness and har- wbich perhaps never bappened, and which, moy the English language could be softened. whether likely or not, he did not invent. He has speeches, perhaps sometimes scenes, So careless was this great poet of future which have all the delicacy of Rowe, without fame, that, though he retired to ease and plenty, bis effeminacy. He endeavours indeed com- while he was yet lillle declined into the vale of Donly to strike by the force and vigour of his years, before he could be disgusted with fatigue, dialogue, but he never executes his purpose or disabled by infirmily, he made no collection beller than when he tries to smooth by soft- of his works, nor desired to rescue those that
had been already published from the depravaYet it must be at last confessed, that as we lions that obscured them, or secure to the rest owe every thing to him, he owes something lo a belier destiny, by giving them to the world in ts; that, if much of his praise is paid by per- their genuine state. ception and judgment, much likewise given
Of the plays which bear the name of Shakby custom and veneration. We fix our eyes speare in the late editions, the greater part were upon bis graces, and lurn them from his de- not published till about seven years after his formities, and endure in him what we should death, and the few which appeared in bis life in anolber loath or despise. If we endured are apparently thrust inlo the world without without praising, respect for the father of our the care of the author, and therefore probably drama might excuse us ; but I have seen, in tbe without his knowledge. book of some modern crilic, a collection of Of all the publishers, clandestine or proanomalies, which show that he has corrupied ressed, the negligence and unskilfulness bas language by every mode of depravalion, but by the late revisers been sufficiently shown. #bich his admirer has accumulated as a monu
The faults of all are indeed numerous and gross, ment of honour.
and have not only corrupted many passages He bas scenes of undoubled and perpetual perhaps beyond recovery, but bave brought excellence, but perhaps not one play, which, if others into suspicion, which are only obscured it were now exbibiled as the work of a contem- by obsolete phraseology, or by the writer's un
unskilfulness and affectation. To alter is more 'It appears to have been acted before 1590. easy than to explain, and temerity is a more
common quality than diligence. Those who now to be known, and therefore deserves to saw that they must employ conjecture to a pass through all succeeding publications. certain degree, were willing to indulge it a The nation had been for many years content little further. Had the author published his enough with Mr. Rowe's performance, when own works, we should have sat quietly down to Mr. Pope made them acquainted with the true disentangle bis intricacies, and clear his ob- stale of Sbakspeare's text, showed that it was scurities; but now we tear what we cannot extremely corrupt, and gave reason to hope loose, and eject what we happen not to under- that there were means of reforming it. He sland.
collated the old copies, which none had thought The faults are more than could have bap- to examine before, and restored many lines lo pened without the concurrence of many causes. their integrity; but by a very compendious The style of Shakspeare was in itself ungram- criticism, he rejected whatever he disliked, and matical, perplexed, and obscure; his works thought more of amputation than of care. were transcribed for the players by those who I know not why he is commended by Dr. may be supposed to bave seldom understood Warburton for distinguishing the genuine from them; they were transmilted by copiers equally the spurious plays. In this choice he exerted unskilful, who still multiplied errors; they were no judgment of his own; the plays wbich he perhaps sometimes mutilated by the actors, received, were given by Hemings and Condel, for the sake of shortening the speeches : and the first editors; and those which he rejected, were at last printed without correction of the though, according to the licentiousness of the press.
press in those times, they were printed during In this state they remained, not as Dr. War- Shakspeare's life, with his name, had been burton supposes, because they were unregarded, emilled by his friends, and were never addad but because the editor's art was not yet applied to his works before the edition of 1664, from to modern languages, and our ancestors were which they were copied by the later printers. accustomed to so much negligence of English This was a work wbich Pope scems to have printers, that they could very patiently endure it. thought unworthy of his abilities, being not At last ap edition was undertaken by Rowe; not able to suppress his contempt of the dull duty because a poet was to be published by a poet, of an editor. He understood but half his unfor Rowe seems to have thought very little on deriaking. The duty of a collator is indeed correction or explanation, but that our author's dull, yet, like other tedious tasks, is very deworks might appear like those of his fraternity, cessary; but an emendatory critic would ill with the appendages of a life and recommen- discharge his duty, without qualities very disdatory preface. Rowe bas been clamorously ferent from dulness. In perusing a corrupted blamed for not performing what he did not un- piece, he must have before him all possibilities dertake, and it is time that justice be done him, of meaning, with all possibilities of expression. by consessing, that though he seems to have had such must be his comprehension of thought, no thought of corruption beyond the printer's and such his copiousness of language. Out of errors, yet he has made many emendations, ir many readings possible, he must be able to they were not made before, which his successors select that which best suits with the state, opihave received without acknowledgment, and nions, and modes of language prevailing in which, if they had produced them, would have every age, and with bis author's particular cast filled pages and pages with censures of the slu- of thought, and turn of expression. Such must pidity by wbich the faulls were committed, with be his knowledge, and such his laste. Coudisplays of the absurdities which they involved, jectural criticism demands more than humanity with ostentatious expositions of the new read- possesses, and he that exercises il with most ing, and self-congratulations on the happiness praise, has very frequent need of indulgence. of discovering it.
Let us now be lold no more of the dull duty of As of the other editors I have preserved the an editor. prefaces, I have likewise borrowed the author's
Confidence is the common consequence of life from Rowe,* though not written with much success. They whose excellence of any kind elegance or spirit; it relates, however, what is has been loudly celebrated, are ready to con. w Of Rowe, as of all the editors, I have pre-edition fell below his own expectations
, and be
clude, that their powers are universal. Pope's served the preface, and have likewise retained the author's life." Orig. Edit. 1765.
was so much offended, when he was found to
Bave left any thing for olners to do, that he from this undertaking. So willingly does the passed the latter part of his life in a slale of world support those who solicit savour, against bostility with verbal criticism.
those who command reverence; and so easily I have retained all his notes, that no frag- is he praised, whom no man can envy. ment of so great a writer may be lost; his pre- Our author sell then into the hands of Sir face, valuable alike for elegance of composition Thomas Hanmer, the Oxford edilor, a man, and justess of remark, and containing a ge- in my opinion, eminently qualified by nature neral criticism on his author, so extensive that for such studies. He had, what is the first little can be added, and so exact, that little requisite to emendatory criticism, that intuition can be dispated, every editor has an interest lo by which the poet's intention is immediately suppress, but that every reader would demand discovered, and that dexterity of intellect which ils insertion.
despatches its work by the easiest means. He Pope was succeeded by Theobald, a man of had undoubtedly read much : bis acquaintance Darrow comprehension, and small acquisitions, with customs, opinions, and traditions, seems will no native and intrinsic splendor of to have been large; and he is often learned genius, with little of the artificial light of learn- without show. He seldom passes what he does ing, but zealous for minute accuracy, and not not understand, without an altempt to find or negligent in pursuing it. He collated the an- to make a meaning, and sometimes bastily cient copies, and rectified many errors.
A makes what a little more attention would have man so anxiously scrupulous might have been found. He is solicitous to reduce lo grammar, expected to do more, but what liule he did was what he could not be sure that bis author incommonly right.
tended to be grammatical. Shakspeare reln bis reports of copies and editions, he is garded more the series of ideas than of words ; D# to be trusted without examination. He and his language, not being designed for the speaks somelimes indefinitely of copies, when reader's desk, was all that he desired it to be, if he has only one. In his enumeration of edi- it conveyed his meaning to the audience. tions, he mentions the two first folios as of high, Haomer's care of the metre has been too and the third folio as of middle autborily; but violently censured. He found the measure rethe truth is, ibat the first is equivalent to all formed in so many passages, by the silent others, and that the rest only deviate from it by labours of some editors, with the silent acquiesthe printer's negligence. Whoever has any of cence of the rest, that he thought himself althe folios has all, excepting those diversities lowed to extend a little further the license, which mere reiteration of editions will produce. which had already been carried so far without I collated them all at the beginning, but after- reprehension; and of his corrections in general, vards used only the first.
it must be confessed, that they are often just, and Of his notes I have generally retained those made commonly with the least possible violawhich he retained himself in bis second edition, tion of the text. escept when they were confuted by subsequent But by inserting his emendations, whether annotalors, or were too minute to merit pre- | invented or borrowed, into the page, without Servation. I bave sometimes adopted his res- any notice of varying copies, he has approtoration of a comma, without inserting the pa- priated the labour of his predecessors, and made Degyric in which he celebrated himself for his his own edition of little authority. His conacbievement. The exuberant excrescence of fidence, indeed, both in himself and others, bis diction I have often lopped, bis triumphant was too great ; he supposes all to be right that exultations over Pope and Rowe I have some- was done by Pope and Theobald; he seems not limes suppressed, and his contemptible osten- to suspect a critic of fallibility, and it was but lætion I have frequently concealed; but I have reasonable that he should claim what he so in some places shown him, as he would have liberally granted. shown himself for the reader's diversion, that As he never writes without careful enquiry tke indated emptiness of some potes may justify and diligent consideration, I have received all of excuse the contraction of the rest.
his notes, and believe that every reader will Theobald, thus weak and ignorant, thus mean
wish for more. and faithless, thus petulant and ostentatious, Or the last editor it is more difficult to speak. by the good luck of having Pope for his enemy, Respect is due to high place, tenderness to living bas escaped, and escaped alone, with reputation, reputation, and veneration to genius and learn
Ing; but he cannot be justly offended at that times. Thus the human mind is kept in moliberty of which he has himself so frequently tion without progress. Thus somelimes truth given an example, nor very solicitous what is and error, and sometimes contrarieties of error, thought of notes which he ought never to have take each other's place by reciprocal invasion. considered as part of his serious employmenls, The tide of seeming knowledge which is poured and which, I suppose, since the ardour of com- over one generation, retires and leaves another position is remitted, he no longer numbers naked and barren ; the sudden meteors of intelamong his bappy effusions.
ligence, which for a while appear to shoot their The original and predominant errors of his beams into the regions of obscurity, on a sudden commentary, is acquiescence in his first withdraw their lustre, and leave mortals again thoughts; that precipitation which is produced to grope their way. by consciousness of quick discernment; and These elevations and depressions of renown, that confidence which presumes to do, by sur- and the contradictions to which all improvers of veying the surface, what labour only can per- knowledge must for ever be exposed, since they form, by penetrating the bottom. His notes are not escaped by the highest and brightest of exhibit sometimes perverse interpretations, and mankind, may surely be endured with patience sometimes improbable conjectures; he at one by critics and annotalors, wbo can rank themtime gives the author more profundity of mean- selves but as the satellites of their authors. ing than the sentence admils, and at another How canst thou beg for life, says Homer's discovers absurdities, where sense is plain to hero* to his captive, when thou knowest that every other reader. But his emendations are thou are now to suffer only what must another likewise often happy and just : and his interpre- day be suffered by Achilles ? tation of obscure passages learned and saga- Dr. Warburton had a name sufficient to cious.
confer celebrity on those who could exalt themOr his notes, I have commonly rejected selves into antagonists, and his notes have raised those, against which the general voice of the a clamour too loud to be distinct. His chief assaipublic has exclaimed, or which their own in- lants are the authors of The Canons of Criticism, congruity immediately condemns, and which, 1 and of The Revisal of Shakspeare's Text;t suppose, the author bimself would desire to be of whom one ridicules his errors with airy petuforgotten. Or the rest, to part I have given the lance, suitable enough to the levity of the conhighest approbation, by inserting the offered troversy; the other attacks them with gloomy reading in the text; part I have left to the malignity, as if he were dragging to justice an judgment of the reader, as doubtful, though assassin or incendiary. The one stings like a specious; and part I have censured without fly, sucks a little blood, takes a gay flutter, and reserve, but I am sure without billerness or returns for more; the other bites like a viper, malice, and, I hope, without wantonness of and would be glad to leave inlammations and Insult.
gangrene behind him. When I think on one, It is no pleasure to me, in revising my with his confederates, I remember the danger volumes, to observe how much paper is wasted of Coriolanus, who was afraid that girls with in confutation. Whoever considers the revolu- spits, and boy will stones, should slay him in tions of learning, and the various questions of pumy battle; when the other crosses my imagreater or less importance, upon which wit and gination, I remember the prodigy in Macbeth : reason have exercised their powers, must lament the unsuccessfulness of enquiry, and the slow • A falcon tow'ring in his pride of place.
Was by a mousing owl bawk'd at and killed." advances of truth, when he reflects, that great part of the labour of every writer, is only the Let me however do them justice. One is a destruction of those that went before him. The wit, and one a scholar. They have both shown first care of the builder of a new system is to acuteness sufficient in the discovery of faults, demolish the fabrics which are standing. The and have both advanced some probable interchief desire of him that comments an author, is pretations of obscure passages ; but when they to show how much other commentators bare aspire to conjecture and emendation, it appears corrupted and obscured him. The opinions how falsely we all estimale our own abilities, prevalent in one age, as truths above the reach of controversy, are confuted and rejected in
Achilles," Orig. Edit. 176. another, and rise again to reception in remoter
Mr. Edwards Mr. Heath.