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ments of a different Spécies are pursued, has done
IF PANTOMIMING be a Debauchery of the Stage, it is a Vice which is fo becoming in the Excellence of Your own Performance, that I can fcarce find in my Heart to be the first to wifh it cur'd. Yet, as it is fabled of ACHILLES'S Spear, that it had a Virtue to heal the Wounds it made; fo we may prophefy, one Time or other, that the Ruft of PANTOMIMES will be
a Salve for the Recovery of DRAMATIC Poetry.
I AM juftified in this Addrefs by another Confideration, which is, That however you may have been a Sinner against SHAKESPEARE, you are not an impenitent one. And as King Henry IV. erected a Chapel to expiate the Injuries which he had done to his Predeceffor, King Richard; fo, the Town at least fay, you intend to appease the Manes of our POET by erecting a MONUMENT to him. Go on in that pious, that reputable Intention; and, while the Tafte of the Publick demands it of you, continue to facrifice fresh Pantomimes to his Memory; when their Palates alter, convince them that You are provided to entertain them with an Elegance fuitable to their Expectations.A to boldal »
de fed of greed
BUT I am fall'n into a Strain which I had no Thoughts of pursuing, when I first fate down to write this Epistle. The great OTWAY dedicated
one of his Plays to his Bookfeller, as a Receipt for the Copy-Money; and I meant this merely (parva licet componere magnis) as an Acknowledgment of fome Obligations receiv'd, which you will not expect me to specify in Print. I defign'd it to carry the Sentiments of Friendship and Gratitude; but, where it falls fhort in those Points, let it make Amends by this Profeffion, that You are always entitled, to the utmost of my poor Power, to demand all the Service of,
Your moft Obliged, and
March 18. 1725.
Faithful Humble Servant,
SPECIMEN of ERRORS, &c.
HAVE very often declar'd, and that in a number of Companies, that what thro' the Indolence, what thro' the Ignorance of his EDITORS, we have fcarce any Book in the English Tongue more fertile of Errors, than the Plays of SHAKESPEARE. And, I believe, whenever I have fall'n on this Subject, I have not fail'd to exprefs my With, that fome fine Genius, equal to the tafk, would befriend the Memory of this immortal Poet, and contribute to the Pleafure of the present and of future Times, in retrieving, as far as poffible, the original Purity of his Text, and rooting out that vaft Crop of Errors, which has almoft choak'd up his Beauties.
IT was no fmall Satisfaction therefore to me, when I first heard Mr. POPE had taken upon him the Publication of SHAKESPEARE. I very reasonably expected, from his known Talents and Abilities, from his uncommon.Sagacity and Discernment, and from his unwearied Diligence and Care of informing himself by an happy and extensive Conversation, we fhould have had our Author come out as perfect, as the want of Manufcripts and original Copies could give us a Poffibility of hoping. I may dare to say, a great Number of Shakespeare's Admirers, and of Mr. POPE's too, (both which I fincerely declare myself,) concurred in this Expectation: For there is a certain curiofa falicitas, as was faid of an eminent Roman Poet, in that Gentleman's Way of working, which, we prefum'd, would have laid itself out largely in fuch a Province; and that he would not have fate down contented with performing, as he calls it himself, the dull Duty of an EDITOR only. SHAKESPEARE's Works have always appear'd to me like what he makes his HAMLET compare the World to, an unweeded Garden grown to Seed: And I am forry there is ftill reafon to complain, the Weeds in him are fo very fparingly thin'd, that, not to fpeak out of compafs, a thousand rank and unfightly ones are left to ftare us in the Face, and clog the Delight of the expected Profpect.
IT must neceffarily happen, that where the Affiftance of Manuscripts is wanting to fet an Author's Meaning right, and refcue him from thofe Errors which have been transmitted down thro' a Series of incorrect Editions, and a long Intervention of Time, many Paffages must be defperate, and past a Cure, and their true Senfe irretrievable, either to Care, or the Sagacity of Conjecture.
AND there is one Unhappiness too, which generally attends the Republication of English Books, which is, That being the Property of fome Perfons in Trade, who, too often, know nothing more of their Copy than that there is a Demand for reprinting it; and who are, withal, Perfons of fuch commendable Frugality, that they think every Farthing which is given for the Labour of Revife, to be fo much Money given away for nothing: The Prefs is fet to work from a printed Precedent, and fo the