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being thus neglected, were foon deftroyed; and though the capital authors were preferved, they were preferved to languifh without regard. How little Shakspeare himfelf was once read, may be understood from Tate, who, in his dedication to the altered play of King Lear, fpeaks of the original as of an obfcure piece, recommended to his notice by a friend; and the author of the Tatler having occafion to quote a few lines out of Macbeth, was content to receive them from D'Avenant's alteration of that celebrated drama, in which almost
* In the year 1707 Mr. N. Tate published a tragedy called Injured Love, or the Cruel Husband, and in the title-page calls himself " Author of the tragedy called King Lear."
In a book called The Actor, or a Treatise on the Art of Playing, 12mo. published in 1750, and imputed to Dr. Hill, is the following pretended extract from Romeo and Juliet, with the author's remark on it:
"The faints that heard our vows and know our love, Seeing thy faith and thy unspotted truth,
"Will fure take care, and let no wrongs annoy thee.
Upon my knees I'll ask them every day
"As I perhaps fhall wander through the defert,
"I'll count the stars, and bless 'em as they shine,
"The reader will pardon us on this and fome other occafions, that where we quote paffages from plays, we give them as the author gives them, not as the butcherly hand of a blockhead prompter may have topped them, or as the unequal genius of fome bungling critic may have attempted to mend them. Whoever remembers the merit of the player's fpeaking the things we celebrate them for, we are pretty confident will with he spoke them abfolutely as we give them, that is, as the author gives them."
Perhaps it is unneceffary to inform the reader that not one of the lines above quoted, is to be found in the Romeo and Juliet of Shakspeare. They are copied from the Caius Marius of Otway. STEEVENS.
every original beauty is either aukwardly difguifed, or arbitrarily omitted. So little were the defects or peculiarities of the old writers known, even at the beginning of our century, that though the cuftom of alliteration had prevailed to that degree in the time of Shakspeare, that it became contemptible and ridiculous, yet it is made one of Waller's praises by a writer of his life, that he first introduced this practice into English verfification.
It will be expected that fome notice fhould be taken of the laft editor of Shakspeare, and that his merits should be estimated with thofe of his predeceffors. Little, however, can be faid of a work, to the completion of which, both a large proportion of the commentary and various readings is as yet wanting. The Second Part of King Henry VI. is the only play from that edition, which has been confulted in the courfe of this work; for as feveral paffages there are arbitrarily omitted, and as no notice is given when other deviations are made from the old copies, it was of little confequence to examine any further. This circumftance is mentioned, left fuch accidental coincidences of opinion, as may be difcovered hereafter, fhould be interpreted into plagiarism.
It may occafionally happen, that fome of the remarks long ago produced by others, are offered again as recent difcoveries. It is likewife abfolutely impoffible to pronounce with any degree of certainty, whence all the hints, which furnifh matter for a commentary, have been collected, as they lay fcattered in many books and papers, which were probably never read but once, or the particulars which they contain received only in the courfe of common converfation; nay, what is
called plagiarism, is often no more than the result of having thought alike with others on the fame fubject.
The difpute about the learning of Shakspeare being now finally fettled, a catalogue is added of thofe tranflated authors, whom Mr. Pope has thought proper to call
"The clafficks of an age that heard of none."
The reader may not be displeased to have the Greek and Roman poets, orators, &c. who had been rendered acceffible to our author, expofed at one view;2 especially as the lift has received the advantage of being corrected and amplified by the Reverend Dr. Farmer, the fubftance of whose very decifive pamphlet is interspersed through the notes which are added in this revifal of Dr. Johnson's Shakspeare.
To those who have advanced the reputation of our poet, it has been endeavoured, by Dr. Johnson, in a foregoing preface, impartially to allot their dividend of fame; and it is with great, regret that we now add to the catalogue, another, the confequence of whofe death will perhaps affect not only the works of Shakspeare, but of many other writers. Soon after the first appearance of this edition, a disease, rapid in its progress, deprived the world of Mr. Jacob Tonfon; a man, whose zeal for the improvement of English literature, and whofe liberality to men of learning, gave him a juft title to all the honours which men of learning can bestow. To fuppofe that a perfon employed in an extenfive trade, lived in a ftate of indifference to lofs and gain, would be to conceive
2 See Vol. II.
a character incredible and romantick; but it may be juftly faid of Mr. Tonfon, that he had enlarged his mind beyond folicitude about petty loffes, and refined it from the defire of unreasonable profit. He was willing to admit thofe with whom he contracted, to the juft advantage of their own labours; and had never learned to confider the author as an under-agent to the bookseller. The wealth which he inherited or acquired, he enjoyed like a man confcious of the dignity of a profeffion subservient to learning. His domeftick life was elegant, and his charity was liberal. His manners were soft, and his converfation delicate: nor is, perhaps, any quality in him more to be cenfured, than that referve which confined his acquaintance to a fmall number, and made his example lefs ufeful, as it was lefs extenfive. He was the laft commercial name of a family which will be long remembered; and if Horace thought it not improper to convey the Sosi to pofterity; if rhetorick fuffered no difhonour from Quintilian's dedication to TRYPHO; let it not be thought that we difgrace Shakspeare, by appending to his works the name of TONSON.
To this prefatory advertisement I have now fubjoined 3 a chapter extracted from the Guls Hornbook, (a fatirical pamphlet written by Decker in the year 1609) as it affords the reader a more complete idea of the cuftoms peculiar to our ancient theatres, than any other publication which has hitherto fallen in my way. See this performance, page 27.
• This addition to Mr. Steevens's Advertisement was made in 1778. MALONE.
* How a Gallant should behave himself in a Playhoufe.
"The theatre is your poet's Royal Exchange, upon which, their mufes (that are now turn'd to merchants) meeting, barter away that light commodity of words for a lighter ware than words, plaudities and the breath of the great beaft, which (like the threatnings of two cowards) vanish all into aire. Plaiers and their factors, who put away the stuffe and make the best of it they poffibly can (as indeed 'tis their parts fo to doe) your gallant, your courtier, and your capten, had wont to be the foundest pay-mafters, and I thinke are still the fureft chapmen: and thefe by meanes that their heades are well stockt, deale upon this comical freight by the groffe; when your groundling, and gallery commoner buyes his fport by the penny, and, like a hagler, is glad to utter it againe by retailing.
"Sithence then the place is fo free in entertainment, allowing a ftoole as well to the farmer's fonne as to your Templer: that your stinkard has the felf fame libertie to be there in his tobacco. fumes, which your fweet courtier hath and that your carman and tinker claime as strong a voice in their fuffrage, and fit to give judgment on the plaies' life and death, as well as the proudest Momus among the tribe of critick; it is fit that hee, whom the moft tailors' bils do make room for, when he comes, fhould not be bafely (like a vyoll) cas'd up in a corner.
"Whether therefore the gatherers of the pub