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more considerable than was at first expected, they who had the opportunity of looking into it, too partial perhaps in their judgment, thought it worth being made publick; and be, who hath with difficulty yielded to their perfwasions, is far from desring to reflect upon the late Editors for the omifsions and defects which they left to be supplied by others who should follow them in the same province. On the contrary, be 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 be who hath carried on the work might never have thought of such an undertaking if he had not found a confiderable 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 pass’d the Press, bath been sufficiently explained in the Preface to Mr. Pope's Edition which is bere subjoined, and there needs no more to be said upon that subject. This only the Reader is depred 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; fo in the correcting them this rule bath been most strictly observed, 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 Shakespear 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 made but what the sense necessarily required, what the measure of the verse often belped to point out, and what the fimili

tude

that per

tude of words in the false reading and in the true, generally speaking, appeared very well to justify.

Most of those pasages are here thrown to the bottom 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 bath ventured to discard but few more upon his own judgment, the most considerable of which is that wretched piece of ribaldry in King Henry V. 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 haps 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 fubfifted: and though some of the poor witticisms and conceits must be fupposed to bave fallen from his pen, yet as be hath put them generally into the mouths of low and ignorant people, so it is to be remember'd that he wrote for the Stage, rude and unpolished as it then was; and the via cious taste of the age must stand condemned for them, pince be bath left upon record a hgnal proof bow much be despised them. `In his Play of The Merchant of Venice a clown is introduced quibbling in a miserable manner, upon which one who bears the character of a man of sense makes the following reflection; How every fool can play upon a word! I think the best grace of wit will shortly turn into silence, and difcourse grow commendable in none but parrots. He could bardly have found stronger words to express bis

indignation

a 4

indignation at those false pretences to wit then in vogue; and therefore though such trash is frequently interSpersed in his writings, it would be unjust to cast it as an imputation upon his taste and judgment and character as a Writer.

There being many words in Shakespear which are grown out of use and obsolete, and many borrowed from other languages which are not enough naturalized or known among us, a Glossary is added at the end of the work, for the explanation of all those terms which have hitherto been fo many stumbling-blocks to the generality of Readers; and where there is

any obscurity in the text not arising from the words but from a reference to some antiquated customs now forgotten, or other causes of that kind, a note is put at the bottom of the page to clear up the difficulty.

With these several helps if that rich vein of sense which runs through the works of this Author can be retrieved in every part and brought to appear in its. true light, and if it may be hoped without presumption that this is here effe£ted; they who love and admire him will receive a new pleasure, and all probably will be more ready to join in doing him justice, who does great honour to his country as a rare and perhaps a fingular Genius: one who hath attained an bigh degree of perfection in those two great branches of Poetry, Tragedy and Comedy, different as they are in their natures from each other; and who may be said without partiality to have equalled, if not excelled, in both kinds, the best writers of any age or country who have thought it glory enough to distinguish themselves in either.

Since therefore other nations have taken care to dignify the works of their most celebrated poets with the

fairest

fair:st impressions beautified with the ornaments of sculpture, well may our Shakespear be thought to deserve no less considération: and as a fresh acknowledgment hath lately been paid to his merit, and a high regard to bis name and memory, by erecting his Statue at a publick expence ; so it is desired that this new Edition of bis works, which hath cost some attention and care, may be looked upon as another small monument designed and dedicated to his bonour.

Mr.

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T is not my design to enter into a Criti-
cism upon this Author ; tho' to do it ef-
fectually and not superficially, would be
the best occasion that any just Writer

could take, to form the judgment and
taste of our nation. For of all English Poets Shake-
Spear must be confessed to be the fairest and fullest
subject for Criticism, and to afford the most nume-
rous, as well as most conspicuous instances, both of
Beauties and Faults of all sorts. But this far ex-
ceeds the bounds of a Preface, the business of which
is only to give an account of the fate of his Works,
and the disadvantages under which they have been
transmitted to us. We shall hereby extenuate many
faults which are his, and clear him from the impu-
tation of many which are not: A design, which
tho' it can be no guide to future Criticks to do him
justice in one way, will at least be sufficient to pre-
vent their doing him an injustice in the other.

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