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his Author, had but his Induftry been equal to his Talents. The fame mangled Condition has been acknowledg'd too by Mr. Pope, who publish'd him likewife, pretended to have collated the old Copies, and yet feldom has corrected the Text but to its Injury. I congratulate with the Manes of our Poet, that this Gentleman has been fparing in indulging his private Senfe; for He, who tampers with an Author whom he does not understand, muft do it at the Expence of his Subject. I have made it evident throughout my Remarks, that he has frequently inflicted a Wound where he intended a Cure. He has acted with regard to our Author, as an Editor, whom LIPSIUS mentions, did with regard to MARTIAL; Inventus eft nefcio quis Popa, qui non vitia ejus, fed ipfum, excidit. He has attack'd him like an unhandy Slaughterman; and not lopp'd off the Errors, but the Poet.

an Injury.

When this is found to be the Fact, how Praise abfurd muft appear the Praises of fuch an E-Jometimes ditor? It feems a moot Point, whether Mr. Pope has done moft Injury to Shakespeare as his Editor and Encomiaft; or Mr. Rymer done him Service as his Rival and Cenfurer. Were it every where the true Text, which That Editor in his late pompous Edition gave us, the Poet deferv'd not the large Encomiums beftow'd by him: nor, in that Cafe, is Rymer's Cenfure of the Barbarity of his Thoughts,


and the Impropriety of his Expreffions, groundlefs. They have Both fhewn themselves in an equal Impuiffance of fufpecting or amending the corrupted Paffages: and tho' it be neither Prudence to cenfure, or commend, what one does not understand; yet if a Man must do one when he plays the Critick, the latter is the more ridiculous Office. And by That Shakespeare fuffers moft. For the natural Veneration, which we have for him, makes us apt to swallow whatever is given us as his, and fet off with Encomiums; and hence we quit all Sufpicions of Depravity: On the contrary, the Cenfure of fo divine an Author fets us upon his Defence; and this produces an exact Scrutiny and Examination, which ends in finding out and difcriminating the true from the fpurious,

It is not with any fecret Pleafure, that I fo frequently animadvert on Mr. Pope as a Critick; but there are Provocations, which a Man can never quite forget. His Libels have been thrown out with fo much Inveteracy, that, not to difpute whether they should come from a Chriftian, they leave it a Queftion whether they could come from a Man. I fhould be loth to doubt, as Quintus Serenus did in a like Cafe,


Sive homo, feu fimilis turpiffima beftia nobis,
Vulnera dente dedit.

The Indignation, perhaps, for being repre fented a Blockhead, may be as ftrong in Us as

it is in the Ladies for a Reflexion on their Beauties. It is certain, I am indebted to Him for fome flagrant Civilities; and I fhall willingly devote a part of my Life to the honeft Endeavour of quitting Scores: with this Exception however, that I will not return thofe Civilities in his peculiar Strain, but confine myfelf, at least, to the Limits of common Decency. I fhall ever think it better to want Wit, than to want Humanity and impartial Pofterity may, perhaps, be of my Opinion.


But, to return to my Subject; which now The old calls upon me to inquire into thofe Caufes, to Editions which the Depravations of my Author origi-faulty, nally may be affign'd. We are to confider him as a Writer, of whom no authentic Manufcript was extant; as a Writer, whose

Pieces were difperfedly on the fe


veral Stages then in Being. And it was the Cuftom of thofe Days for the Poets to take a Price of the Players for the Pieces They from time to time furnish'd; and thereupon it was fuppos'd, they had no farther Right to print them without the Confent of the Players. As it was the Intereft of the Companies to keep their Plays unpublish'd, when any ane fucceeded, there was a Contest betwixt the Curiofity of the Town, who demanded to fee it in Print, and the Policy of the Stagers, who wifh'd to fecrete it within their own Walls. Hence, many Pieces were taken down in Short-hand, and imperfectly copied


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by Ear, from a Representation: Others were printed from piece-meal Parts furreptitioufly obtain'd from the Theatres, uncorrect, and without the Poet's Knowledge. To fome of thefe Caufes we owe the train of Blemishes, that deform thofe Pieces which stole fingly into the World in our Author's Life-time.

There are still other Reasons, which may be fuppos'd to have affected the whole Set. When the Players took upon them to publish his Works intire, every Theatre was ran

fack'd to fupply the Copy; and p was ran


ed which had gone thro' as many Changes as Performers, either from Mutilations or Additions made to them. Hence we derive many Chafms and Incoherences in the Senfe and Matter. Scenes were frequently tranfpofed, and fhuffled out of their true. Place, to humour the Caprice or fuppos'd Convenience of fome particular Actor. Hence much Confufion and Impropriety has attended, and embarras'd, the Bufinefs and Fable. For there ever have been, and ever will be in Playhouses, a Set of affuming Directors, who know better than the Poet himfelf the Connexion and Dependance of his Scenes; where Matter is defective, or Superfluities to be retrench'd; Perfons, that have the Fountain of Inspiration as peremptorily in them, as Kings have That of Honour. To thefe obvious Caufes of Corruption it must be added, that our Author has lain under the Disadvan

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tage of having his Errors propagated and multiplied by Time: becaufe, for near Century, his Works were republish'd from the faulty Copies without the affiftance of any intelligent Editor: which has been the Cafe likewife of many a Claffic Writer.

and Me

The Nature of any Diftemper once found The Edihas generally been the immediate Step to a tor's Drift Cure. Shakespeare's Cafe has in a great Mea-thod. fure resembled That of a corrupt Claffic; and, confequently, the Method of Cure was likewife to bear a Refemblance. By what Means, and with what Succefs, this Cure has been effected on ancient Writers, is too well known, and needs no formal Illuftration. The Reputation confequent on Tasks of that Nature invited me to attempt the Method here; with this View, the Hopes of restoring to the Publick their greatest Poet in his Original Purity: after having fo long lain in a Condition that was a Difgrace to common Senfe. To this End I have ventur'd on a Labour, that is the firft Affay of the kind on any modern Author whatfoever. For the late Edition of Milton by the Learned Dr. Bentley is, Difference in the main, a Performance of another Spe-betwixt cies. It is plain, it was the Intention of that this EdiGreat Man rather to correct and pare off the Dr. BentExcrefcencies of the Paradife Loft, in the ley's Milmanner that Tucca and Varius were employ'd to criticize the Aneis of Virgil, than to reftore corrupted Paffages. Hence, therefore,

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