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of his are for the most part more certain, which are made from conjectures, than those from ancient copies and manuscripts.
'Twas never my intention to call in question the skill and abilities of one, whose reputation in learning is so deservedly established: but there was a good piece of advice, (which I cannot so easily pass over, because of universal use to critics,) offered him, when firft he made his design known of publishing his Horače; which was, to admit into the context all those better readings, for which he had the authority of ancient manuscripts ; but as to meer conjectural corrections, to place them in his notes. His reply to this advice was, as might be expected, No, for " then who will regard them ?"
Our great critic was too well guarded by his learning, to have his own reply turned as a farcasm against himself; which might so juftly be turned against many dealers in the critical craft, whọ, with little or no stock in trade, set
up for correctors and successors of Aristarchus. There
3. Of this particular circumstance I was informed by the jate learned Mr. Wafs of Aynoe. I will add here a rule of Graevius, in his preface to Cicero's offices : A priscis libris non recedendum, nifi aut librarii, aut scioli peccatum för tam reftatum, ist ab omnibus, qui nou caligant in fole, videri poffit.
is one part of their cunning, that I cannot help here mentioning, which is, their intruding their own guesses and reveries into the context, which, firft meeting the reader's eye, naturally prepoffefs his judgment : mean while the author's words are either removed entirely out of the way, or per mitted a place in fome remote note, loaden with misrepresentations and abuse, according to the great goodness of the most gracious critic; who with his dagger of lath on his own stage, like the old Vice, or modern Harlequin, belabours the poor Devil of his own raising.
Who is there but will allow greater liberty for altering authors, who wrote before the invention of printing, than lince? Blunders upon blunders of transcribers --- interpolations-gloffes-romir. sions-various readings—and what not? But to try these experiments, without great caution, on Milton or Shakespeare, though it may be sport to you, as the pelted frogs cried out in the fable, yet, Gentlemen, 'tis death and destruction to the little tast remaining among us.
HAVE often wondered with what kind of
reasoning any one could be so far imposed on, as to imagine that Shakespeare had no learning ;
when it must at the same time be acknowledged, that without learning, he cannot be red with any degree of understanding, or tast. At this time of day he will hardly be allowed that ' inspiration, which his brother bards formerly claim'd ; and which claim, if the pretensions were any ways answerable, was generally granted them. However we are well assured from the histories of his times, that he was early initiated into the sacred company of the Muses, and tho' he might have ļmalavocations, yet he soon returned again with greater eagerness to his beloved studies. Hence he was possessed of sufficient helps, either from abroad, or at home, to midwife into the world his great
and beautiful conceptions, and to give them birth and being. That a contrary opinion
i Cicero pro Arch. Poet. A fummis hominibus eruditiffi. misque accepimus----Poetan natura ipfà valere et quafi divino quodam spiritu inflari. De Nat. Deor. II. 66. Nemo igitur vir magnus fine aliquo afflatu divino unquam fuit. In Plato's lo, there is a great deal to the same purpose concerning this poctio rapture and enthusiasm ; where a certain poet is mentioned, who having made a number of very bad verses, wrote one poem which he himself said was rúgnuć to Mecây: the poem happened to be a very extraordinary one ; and the people took the poet's word, thinking it impöllible, without inspiration, that so bad a poet should write fuch good verses
has ever prevailed, is owing partly to Johnson's jealousy, and partly to the pride and pertness of dunces, who, under such a name as Shakespeare's, would gladly shelter their own idleness and ignorance.
He was bred in a learned age, when even the court ladies learnt Greek, and the Queen of England among scholars had the reputation of being a scholar. Whether her successor had equal learning and sense, is not material to be at present enquir'd into; but thus far is certain, that letters, even then, stood in some rank of
praise. 2 And though thou hadft fmall Latin and less Greek. 'Tis true Johnson says very handsome things of him pre. sently after : for people will allow others any qualities, but. those which they highly value themselyes for.
3 See what Ascham writes of Lady Jane Grey, (who. lived some time before Shakespeare) in his scholemaster, p. 37. Edit. Lond. 1743. and afterwards, p. 67. of Queen Elizabeth.
“ It is your shime (I speak to you u all, you young gentlemen of England) that one maid “ fould go beyond you all in excellency of learning, and
knowledge of divers tongues. Point forth fix of the “ best given gentlemen of this court, and all they together
shew not so much good will, spend not so much time, • bestow not so many hours daily, orderly and constantly, “ for the increase of learning and knowledge, as doth the
Queen's majefy her self. Yea I believe that beside her “ perfect readiness in Latin, Italian, French and Spanish,
praise. Happy for us, that our poet, and Johnson, came into life so early ; that they lived not in an age, when not only their art, but every thing else that had wit and elegance began to be despised ; 'till the minds of the people came to be disposed for all that hypocrisy, nonsense, and fuperftitious fanaticism, which soon after like a deluge overwhelmed this nation. 'Twere to be wished, that with our restored king some of that tast of literature had been restored, which we enjoyed in the days of Queen Elizabeth. But when we brought home our frenchified king, we did then, and have even to this day continued to bring from France our models, not only of letters, but
• the readeth here now at Windsor more Greek every day, " than some prebendary of this church doth read Latin in
a whole week.” Sir H. Savil in his latin speech at Oxford thus compliments her ; Illa commemorabo, que vulgà minus nota, non minus certe mirabilia ad laudem : te, cum tot literis legendis, tot dictandis, tot many tua fcribendis sufficias
te magnam diei partem in graviffimorum autorum fcriptis legendis, audiendisque ponere : neminem nisi sua lingua tecum loqui ; te cum nemine nifi ipforum, aut omnium communibus Latina, Graecaque. Omitto plebeios philofophos, quos raro im manus fumis. quoties divinum Platonem animadverti tuis interpretationibus divinierem effe Elum! quoties Ariftotelis obfcuritates principis pbilosopborum, à principe foeminarum evolutas algue explicalas !