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his Author, had but his Industry been equal 60 his Talents. The same mangled Condition has been acknowledg’d too by Mr. Pope, who publish'd him likewise, pretended to have collaced the old Copies, and yet seldom has corrected the Texe but to its Injury. I congratulate with the Manes of our Poet, that this Gentleman has been sparing in indulging bis private Sense; for He, who tampers with an Author whom he does not understand, must do it at the Expence of his Subject. I have made it evident throughout my Remarks, that he has frequendy, inficted a Wound where he intended a Cure. He has acted with regard to our Author, as an Editor, whom LIPSIUS mentions, did with regard to MARTIAL; Inventus eft nefcio quis Popa, qui non vitia ejus, sed ipsum, excidit. He has attack'd him like an unhandy Slaughterman ; and not lopp'd off the Errors, but the Poet.
When this is found to be the Fact, how Praise absurd must appear the Praises of such an E-Sometimes
an Injury. ditor ? It seems a moot Point, whether Mr. Pope has done most Injury to Shakespeare as his Editor and Encomiast ; or Mr. Rymer done him Service as his Rival and Censurer. Were it every where the true Text,which That Editor in his late pompous Edition gave us, the Poet deserv'd not the large Encomiums beItow'd by him: nor, in that Case, is Rymer's Censure of the Barbarity of his Thoughts,
and the Impropriety of his Expressions, groundless. They have Both shewn themselves in an equal Impuisance of suspecting or amending the corrupted Passages: and tho' iç be neither Prudence to censure, or commend, what one does not understand; yet if a Man must do one when he plays the Critick, the latter is the more ridiculous Office. And by That Shakespeare suffers most. For the natural Veneration, which we have for him,' makes us apt to swallow_whatever is given us as bis, and set off with Encomiums; and hence we quit all Suspicions of Depravity: On the contrary, the Censure of so divine an Author sets us upon his Defence; and this produces an exact Scrutiny and Examination, which ends in finding our and discriminating the true from the fpurious.
It is not with any secret Pleasure, that I fo frequently animadvert on Mr. Pope as a Critick; but there are Provocations, which a Man can never quite forget. His Libels have been thrown out with so much Inveteracy, that, not to dispute whether they should come from a Christian, they leave it a Question whether they could come from a Man. I should be loth to doubt, as Quintus Serenus did in a like Case,
Sive homo, feu fimilis turpiffima bestia nobis,
Vulnera dente dedit. The Indignation, perhaps, for being represented a Blockhead, may be as strong in Us as
it is in the Ladies for a Reflexion on their Beauties. It is certain, I am indebted to Him for some flagrant Civilities; and I shall willingly devote
a part of my Life to the honest Endeavour of quitting Scores: with this Exception however, that I will not return those Civilities in his peculiar Strain, but confine myself, at least, to the Limits of common Decency. I shall ever think it better to want Wit, than to want Humanity: and impartial Pofterity may, perhaps, be of my Opinion. .
But, to return to my Subject; which now The old calls upon me to inquire into those Causes, to Editions which the Depravations of my Author origi- whence. nally may be assign'd. We are to consider him as a Writer, of whom no authentic Manuscript was extant; as a Writer, whose Pieces were dispersedly perform’d on the several Stages then in Being. And it was the Cuftom of those Days for the Poets to take a Price of the Players for the Pieces They from time to time furnish'd ; and thereupon ic was suppos’d, they had no farther Right to print them without the Consent of the Players. As it was the Interest of the Companies to keep their Plays unpublish'd, when any one succeeded, there was a Contest betwixt the Curiosity of the Town, who demanded to see it in Print, and the Policy of the Stagers, who wish'd to secrere it within their own Walls. Hence, many Pieces were taken down in Short-band, and imperfectly copied
by Ear, from a Representation : Others were printed from piece-meal Parts surreptitiously obtain'd from the Theatres, uncorrect, and without the Poet's Knowledge. To some of these Causes we owe the train of Blemishes, that deform those Pieces which stole singly into the World in our Author's Life-time.
There are still other Reasons, which may be suppos'd to have affected the whole set. When the Players took upon them to publish his Works intire, every Theatre was ranfack'd to supply the Copy; and Parts collected which had gone thro' as many Changes as Performers, either from Mutilations or Addicions made to them. Hence we derive many Chasms and Incoherences in the Senfé and Matter. Scenes were frequently transposed, and shuffled oui of their true Place, to humour the Caprice or suppos'd Convenience of some particular Actor. Hence much Confusion and Impropriety has attended, and embarras'd, the Business and Fable. For there ever have been, and ever will be in Playhouses, a Set of affuming Directors, who know better than the Poet himself the Connexion and Dependance of his Scenes ; where Matter is defective, or Superfluities to be retrench'd; Persons, that have the Fountain of Inspiration as peremptorily in them, as Kings have That of Honour. To these obvious Causes of Corruption it must be added, that our Author has lain under the Disadvan
cage of having his Errors propagated and multiplied by Time: because," for near Century, his works were republish'd from the faulty Copies without the 'aslistance of any intelligent Edicor: which has been the Case likewise of many a Classic Writer.
The Nature of any Distemper once found The Edihas generally been the immediace Step to a tor's Drift Cure. Shakespeare's Case has in a great Mea-thod. fure resembled That of a corrupt Clasic; and, consequently, the Method of Cure was likewise to bear a Resemblance. By what Means, and with what Success, this Ćure has been effected on ancient Writers, is too well known, and needs no formal Illustration. The Reputation consequent on Tasks of that Nature invited me to attempt the Method here; with this View, the Hopes of restoring to the Publick their greatest Poec in his Original Purity: after having so long lain in a Condition that was a Disgrace to common Sense. To this End I have ventur'd on a Labour, that is the first Affay of the kind on any modern Author whatsoever. For the late Edition of Milton by the Learned Dr. Bentley is, Difference in the main, a Performance of another Spe-betwirt cies. It is plain, it was the Intention of that this land Great Man rather to correct and pare off the Dr. BentExcrefcencies of the Paradise Lost, in the Sey's Milmanner that Tucca and Varius were employ'd to criticize the Æneis of Virgil, than to restore corrupted Passages. Hence, therefore,