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Printed for the AUTHOR:

And fold by RICHARD MANBY, on Ludgate-Hill.




I might reasonably be imagined, after the I publication of fo many editions of Shake

fpeare, by poetical or critical editors, within the compafs of lefs than half a century; that no room fhould be left for emendations either of the text or meter, or other improvements of any kind whatsoever.

And yet I must take the liberty of thinking, that no dramatic poet, either antient or modern, has had the hard fate of our author; or contains ftill more mistakes, than the plays of the most celebrated Shakespeare.

Every editor has done a great deal towards the emendation of the text, and contributed largely to the clearing of several obscure paffages but most of the biftorical incidents referred to by Shakespeare, as happening within his own time and a great many laws then well known, but now in a great measure obfolete, have been overlook'd, or not known, or perhaps not thought worthy of notice: though they certainly tend to the making our author much more clear and intelligible, than he seems to be at present.

Mr. Rowe the poet, was the first who (in the diction of a celebrated modern writer)" had "his appointment as an editor of Shakespeare "in form." And he was certainly poffefs'd of talents fufficient to have enabled him to go through the work with credit; yet, for want of collating

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collating of the most antient copies, he has left moft things in the fame obfcurity in which he found them.

His being a wit, and a poet, were certainly no difqualifications, if we may give in to Ben Jobnfon's opinion; who obferves, (in his Explorata, or Discoveries) "That to judge of "poets is only the faculty of poets, and not "of all poets, but the best

Mr. Pope's abilities as a poet and a critic, fhould not have been called in question by any one; and yet Mr. Theobald (a perfon feemingly in other respects very modeft) has treated him in his notes in a manner fo unbecoming, as cannot reasonably be warranted, even from the fevere ufage he complains to have met with from that (a) gentleman,

Though it may be granted, that Mr. Theobald in many refpects fell fhort of the two foregoing editors, yet he made no small amends by his induftry; and has thrown a great deal of light upon the obscurities of our author; but not fo much (b) as to have reftored to the publick "this greatest of poets in his original purity; after

(a) He obferves in his Preface, p. 37. "That he "was indebted to Mr. Pope for fome flagrant civilities, "and was willing to devote fome part of his life to the "honeft endeavour of quitting scores with him; but not in "the return of thofe civilities in his own peculiar ftrain "but he confined himself to the rules of common decency." (b) Mr. Theobald's Preface to his first edition of Shake, feare, p. 29:



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he had laid long in a condition that was a difgrace to common fenfe." He is now, and then guilty of mistakes, (and he that is free from them, let him caft the first stone); but this will not justify a fubfequent editor, who has treated him. in a much severer (a) manner, than he had done Mr. Pope. What the provocation was, I am at a lofs to understand: to fome perfons, indeed, the smallest omiffion in a punctilio of refpect, is a fufficient provocation, and a crime not eafy to be forgiven. But Mr. Theobald was fo far from afpiring to an equality, that he has treated the other throughout his whole work, with that deference, and regard, that the gen

(a) In Mr. Warburton's 2d. volume, p. 92. Mr. Theobald is ftyled a mock critic. P. 272. "Mr. Theobald "(fays he) cannot for his heart comprehend the fense of "this phrase, but it was not his heart, but his head stood "in his way. p. 349. This is finely faid, but Mr. Theobald fays, "the words give him no ideas; and 'tis "certain, words will never give men what nature hath "denied."

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3d. Vol. p. 63. Our, right fpelt by Mr. Theobald.

Vol. 6. p. 5. 'Tis our faft intent.] "This is an interpolation of Mr. Theobald's, for want of knowing the meaning of the reading of the Old Quarto, of 1608, “ and Folio 1623, where we find it, and 'tis our firft intent. ('Tis faft intent in Folio 1623, as has been elsewhere obferved.) P. 94. Stelled, fpelt right by Mr.Theobald. 6th. “Vol. p. 464 Bisson, blind, spelt right by Mr. Theobald. 7th. Vol. p. 306. Deferings, fpelt right by Mr. Theo"bald." Many more flowers of the like kind may be gathered from Mr. Warburton's notes on Shakespeare,



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