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THE

PLAYS

OF

WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE.

VOLUME THE SECOND.

CONTAINING

PROLEGOMENA, &c.

LONDON:
Printed for J. Nichols and Son; F. C. and J. Rivington; J. Stockdale;
W. Lowndes; G. Wilkie and J. Robinson; T. Egerton; J. Walker;
Scatcherd and Letterman; W. Clarke and Sons; J. Barker; J. Cuthell;
R. Lea; Lackington and Co.; J. Deighton; J. White and Co.; B. Crosby
and Co.; W. Earle; J. Gray and Son; Longman and Co.; Cadell and
Davies ; J. Harding; R. H. Evans ; J. Booker; S. Bagster; J. Mawman ;
Black and Co.; J. Black; J. Richardson; J. Booth; Newman and
Co.; R. Pheney; R. Scholey; J. Murray; J. Asperne; J. Faulder;
R. Baldwin; Cradock and Joy; Sharpe and Hailes; Johnson and Co.;
Gale and Co.; G. Robinson; C. Brown; and Wilson and Son, York.

AN

ESSAY

ON

THE LEARNING OF SHAKSPEARE.

BY

RICHARD FARMER, D.D.

MASTER OF EMMANUEL COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE, AND

PRINCIPAL LIBRARIAN OF THAT UNIVERSITY.

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Though our commentaries on the following Plays have been enriched by numerous extracts from this celebrated Essay, the whole of it is here reprinted. I shall hazard no contradiction relative to the value of its contents, when I add

prosunt singula, juncta juvant. STEEVENS.

1

PREFACE

TO

THE SECOND EDITION,

1767.

THE author of the following Essay was solicitous only for the honour of Shakspeare : he hath however, in his own capacity, little reason to complain of occasional criticks, or criticks by profession. The very FEW, who have been pleased to controvert any part of his doctrine, have favoured him with better manners, than arguments; and claim his thanks for a further opportunity of demonstrating the futility of theoretick reasoning against matter of fact. It is indeed strange, that any real friends of our immortal Poet should be still willing to force him into a situation, which is not tenable: treat him as a learned man, and what shall excuse the most gross violations of history, chronology, and geography ?

Oj waloss, oda tv melons, is the motto of every polemick : like his brethren at the amphitheatre, he holds it a merit to die hard; and will not say,enough, though the battle be decided.

" Were it shown, (says some one) that the old bard borrowed all his allusions from English books then published, our Essayist might have possibly established his system.”-In good time!- -Thishad scarcely been at

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