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language of the Water-poet," got only from possum to posset," and yet will throw out a line occasionally from their Accidence or their Cato de Moribus with tolerable propriety.- If, however, the old editions be trusted in this passage, our author's memory somewhat failed him in point of concord.
The rage of parallelisms is almost over, and in truth nothing can be more absurd.
stolen from one classick,-THAT from another;' and had Inot stept in to his rescue, poor Shakspeare had been stript as naked of ornament, as when he first held horses at the door of the playhouse.
The late ingenious and modest Mr. Dodsley declared himself
"Untutor❜d in the lore of Greece or Rome."
yet let us take a passage at a venture from any of his performances, and a thousand to one, it is stolen. Suppose it to be his celebrated compliment to the ladies, in one of his earliest pieces, The Toy-shop: "A good wife makes the cares of the world sit easy, and adds a sweetness to its pleasures; she is a man's best companion in prosperity, and his only friend in adversity; the carefullest preserver of his health, and the kindest attendant on his sickness; a faithful adviser in distress, a comforter in affliction, and a prudent manager in all his domestick affairs." Plainly, from a fragment of Euripides preserved by Stobaus:
“ Γυνὴ γὰρ ἐν κακοῖσι καὶ νόσοις πόσει
Οργνή τε πραυνεσα, καὶ δυσθυμίας
Malvolio in the Twelfth-Night of Shakspeare hath
some expressions very similar to Alnaschar in thẻ Arabian Tales: which perhaps may be sufficient for some criticks to prove his acquaintance with Arabic!
It seems, however, at last, that "Taste should determine the matter." This, as Bardolph expresses it, is a word of exceeding good command: but I am willing, that the standard itself be somewhat better ascertained before it be opposed to demonstrative evidence. Upon the whole, I may consider myself as the pioneer of the commentators: I have removed a deal of learned rubbish, and pointed out to them Shakspeare's track in the everpleasing paths of nature. This was necessarily a previous inquiry; and I hope I may assume with some confidence, what one of the first criticks of the age was pleased to declare on reading the former edition, that "The question is now for ever decided."
*** I may just remark, lest they be mistaken for Errata, that the word Catherine in the 47th page is written, according to the old Orthography for Catharine; and that the passage in the 50th page is copied from Upton, who improperly calls Horatio and Marcellus in Hamlet, "the Centinels.”
THE THIRD EDITION, 1789.
IT may be necessary to apologize for the republication of this pamphlet. The fact is, it has been for a good while extremely scarce, and some mercenary publishers were induced by the extravagant price, which it has occasionally borne, to project a new edition without the consent of the author.
A few corrections might probably be made, and many additional proofs of the argument have necessarily occurred in more than twenty years: some of which may be found in the late admirable editions of our POET, by Mr. Steevens and Mr. Reed.
But, perhaps enough is already said on so light a subject:-A subject, however, which had for a long time pretty warmly divided the criticks upon Shakspeare.
LEARNING OF SHAKSPEARE:
JOSEPH CRADOCK, ESQ.
"SHAKSPEARE," says a brother of the craft, "is a vast garden of criticism :" and certainly no one can be favoured with more weeders gratis.
But how often, my dear sir, are weeds and flowers torn up indiscriminately?—the ravaged spot is replanted in a moment, and a profusion of critical thorns thrown over it for security.
"A prudent man, therefore, would not venture his fingers amongst them."
Be however in little pain for your friend, who regards himself sufficiently to be cautious :-yet he asserts with confidence, that no improvement can be expected, whilst the natural soil is mistaken for a hot-bed, and the natives of the banks of Avon are scientifically choked with the culture of exoticks.
Mr. Seward, in his Preface to Beaumont and Fletcher, 10 Vols. 8vo. 1750.