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correct the inaccurate text of a celebrated author, fufficievt, one would think, has been done to leave that of Shakspeare without a blemish. So flow, however, or so inefficaci. ous, is the progress and exertion of verbal criticism, when moiling in the dust and cobwebs of antiquity, so inuch is to be demolished, so much to be rebuilt, that it will not, except to those who place implicit confi. dence in the interested and unqualifyed alser: tions of every publisher, be a matter of much surprise to learn, that, after all that has been done by the labour of Shakspeares numerous editors and commentators, -after all that has been urged or assumed in favour of the last
edition, - as much more still remains to be done to bring his text back even to the state of correctness in which it was left by his first editors. A leader of hetitation and reflection will hear this with perfe&t calmness; he will be no stranger ' to the fluctuating state of former editions ; "he will have noticed the boldness and affûtance, the legislative and dictatorial manner in which
every succeeding editor has ushered hisfelf into the ; will not cafýlý forget
the confidence of each in afsuring the public
Slic that no thing further could possibly be done to his author is not this the language of Rowe, and Pope, and Theobald, and Warburton, and Hamhier, and Capell? And where are the
Where even dr." Johnfon and mr. Steevelis inay, in the course of a few revolving years, be sent to accompany them :--the regions of oblivion or disgrace.
Viitattu Live 3.The chief and fundamental businefs of an editor is carefullyi tabcollate the original and authentic editions of his author. It is otherwife impoffible for him to be certain that he is giving the genuine text, because he does not knowwhatthat text is. There have been no less than tight professed editors of Shakspeare ; and
yet the old copies, of which we have heard so much, have never been collated by any one of them : no, not even either of the two first folios, books indifferently common, a
and quoted by every body.. And yet, strange as it may seem,, not one of the eight but has taken the credit of, or actually asserted, his having collated them. One may be well allowed to pass by the pretensions of those prior to dr. Johnson without particular notice
; their falsehood is sufficiently apparent in the margin of the late edition. Surely, men who thus proudly expose and severely reprobate the crimes of their neighbours should effectually, guard theirselves against similar accusations, “ I,” says dr. Johnsen,
" collated such copies as I could procure, and wished for more (1):" "I collated.., all [the folios) at the beginning, but afterwards used only the firft (2).”:, He muft be very hardy, indeed, that dares give a flat contradiction to such positive
affertions as these froin ifo respectable a chairácter. But the cause of Shakspeare and truthi obliges one to say that the learned writer is
certainly mistaken. i The text of his own edi. ?
i stor glug volt (1) Preface, p. 59.
(2) Ibidem, p. 49.
has made little or
the last edition, nir.
tion, the notes of mr. Steevens, and, in f
fome respect, the remarks in the following sheets, frill prove that he never collated any the folios, -no not for
, a liugle play, -or; at Jeast that of his collations he has 110 ute. That he picked out a reading here
and there from the old editions, is trug; all his predecessors did the fame : but this is hot colla
So much for dr. Johnson, ......: :: -91 ylio:JIDUL 135d7 yllquil, oil its; With regard to the last
Steevens explicitly tells us, that it has been constantly compared with the most authentic, copies, wher ther, collation was
ablolutely necessary to th fenfe, or not (3)."
5. Would not any one, from this declaration,” to use the ingevious critics qw1 words,“ suppose , that he had at leált coinpared the folios with cach,
clios with cach other (4) 73 But he has been deceived,
ne, doubt, by: thie perfon emplored in this laborious, but neceffary work. What
at an abuse of that coniglence and credit which the public naturally, place in air i ditor of rank and character, to tell them, that
by a diligent collation of all the old copies bois therto discovered, and the judicious ruiteratient