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subscribe (a circumstance of which we need not be ashamed) to the superior fagacity and judgement of Mr. Malone.
To conclude, though we are far from asserting that this republication, generally considered, is preferable to its original, we must still regard it as a valuable supplement to that work; and no stronger plea in its favour can be advanced, than the frequent use made of it by Mr. Malone. The numerous corrections from it admitted by that gentleman into his text,* and
* Amounting to (as we are informed by a very accurate compositor who undertook to count tliem) 186. Instances wherein Mr. Malone has admitted the Corrcions of the
5 Measure for Measure
15 Comedy of Errors Much Ado about Nothing Love's Labour's Loft Alidsummer Night's Dream
4 Merchant of Venice As you like it
15 Taming of the Shrew All's well that ends well
6 I'welfth Night
3 Winter's Tale Macbeth
6 King John
3 King Richard II. King Henry IV. Part I.
II. King Henry V.
pointed out in his notes, will, in our judgement, contribute to its eulogium; at least cannot fail to rescue it from his prefatory imputations of" being of no value whatever," and afterwards of " not being worth - three shillings. See this Vol. p. 398. and Vol. II. p. 3o. n. 5.
Our readers, it is hoped, will so far honour us as to observe, that the foregoing opinions were not suggested and defended through an ambitious fpirit of condradi&tion. Mr. Malone's Preface, indeed, p. 396, will absolve us from that censure; for he als lows them to be of a date previous to his own edition.
King Henry VI. Part I.
PLYNSELL.. * This do&rine, however, appears to have made few profelytes: at least, some late catalogues of our good friends the booksellers, have expreffed their difsent from it in terms of uncominon forco.
He, therefore, on this subject, is the assailant, and not the conductors of the present republication.
But though, in the course of sucteeding ftri&ures, several other of Mr. Malone's positions may be likewise controverted, some with seriousness, and some with levity, (for our discussions are not of quite so folemn a turn as those which involve the interests of our country,) 'we feel an undissembled pleasure in avowing that his remarks are at once so numerous and correct, that when criticism“ has done its worst, their merit but in a small degree can be affected. We are confident, however, that he himself will hereafter join with us in considering no small proportion of our contested readings as a mere game at literary pushpin; and that if Shakspeare looks down upon
our petty squabbles over his mangled scenes, it must ; be with feelings fimilar to those of Lucan's hero,
ridetque fui ludibria trunci. In the Preface of Mr. Malone, indeed, a direct censure has been levelled at incorrectness in the text of the edition 1778. The justice of the imputation is unequivocally allowed; but, átthe sam'e time, might not this acknowledgement be seconded by somewhat like a retort? for is it certain that the collations, &c. of 1790 are wholly secure from similar charges ? Are they accompanied by no unauthorized readings, no omillions of words, and transpositions ? Through all the plays, and especially those of which there is only a singlecopy, they have been with some diligence
retraced, and the frailties of their collator, such as they are, have been ascertained. They shall not, however, be oftentatiously pointed out, and for this only reason:
- That as they decrease but little, if at all, the vigour of Shakspeare, the critick who in general has performed with accuracy one of the heaviest of literary tasks, ought not to be molested by a display of petty faults, which might have eluded the most vigilant faculties of sight and hearing that were ever placed as spies over the labours of each other. They are not even mentioned here as a covert mode of attack, or as a “note of preparation" for future hoftilities. The office of " devising brave punishments” for faithless editors, is therefore strenuously declined, even though their guilt should equal that of one of their number (Mr. Steevens) who stands convicted of having given winds instead of wind, stables instead of stable, Sesions instead of Sofron, fins instead of fin and (we shudder while we recite the accusation) my instead of mine. *
such small deer 6. Have been our food for many a year;" so long, in truth, that any further pursuit of them is here renounced, together with all triumphs founded on the detection of harmless synonymous particles that accidentally may have deserted their proper places and wandered into others, without injury to Shakspeare. -- A few chipped or disjointed stones
* See Mr. Malone's Preface, p. 423, lo feq.
will not impair the shape or endanger the stability of a pyramid. We are far from wishing to depreciate exactness, yet cannot persuade ourselves but that a single lucky conjecture or illustration, should outweigh a thousand spurious haths deposed in favour of legitimate has's, and the like insignificant recoveries, which may not too degradingly be termed - the haberdasheries of criticism; that “stand in number, though in reckoning none;" and are as unimportant to the Poet's,fame,
66 as is the morn-dew on the myrtle-leaf
“ To bis grand sea." We shall venture also to asert, that, on a minute scrutiny, every editor, in his turn, may be charged with omission of some preferable reading; so that he who drags his predecessor to justice on this score, will have good luck if he escapes ungalled by recrimination.
If somewhat, therefore, in the succeeding volumes has been added to the correction and illuftration of our author, the purpose of his present cditors is completely answered. On any thing like perfection in their labours they do not presume, being too well convinced that, in defiance of their best efforts, their own incapacity, and that of the original quarto and folio-mongers, have still left fufficient work for a race of commentators who are yet unborn.
Be it remembered also, that the affifiants and