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every original beauty is either aukwardly difguifed, or arbitrarily omitted. So little were the defects or peculiarities of the old writers known, even at the beginning of our century, that though the cuftom of alliteration had prevailed to that degree in the time of Shakspeare, that it became contemptible and ridiculous, yet it is made one of Waller's praises by a writer of his life, that he first introduced this practice into English verfification.
It will be expected that fome notice should be taken of the laft editor of Shakspeare, and that his merits fhould be estimated with thofe of his predeceffors. Little, however, can be faid of a work, to the completion of which, both a large proportion of the commentary and various readings is as yet wanting. The Second Part of King Henry VI. is the only play from that edition, which has been confulted in the courfe of this work; for as several paffages there are arbitrarily omitted, and as no notice is given when other deviations are made from the old copies, it was of little confequence to examine any further. This circumstance is mentioned, left fuch accidental coincidences of opinion, as may be discovered hereafter, fhould be interpreted into plagiarism.
It may occafionally happen, that fome of the remarks long ago produced by others, are offered again as recent difcoveries. It is likewife abfolutely impoffible to pronounce with any degree of certainty, whence all the hints, which furnih matter for a commentary, have been collected, as they lay fcattered in many books and papers, which were probably never read but once, or the particulars which they contain received only in the courfe of common converfation; nay, what is
called plagiarism, is often no more than the result of having thought alike with others on the fame fubject.
The difpute about the learning of Shakspeare being now finally fettled, a catalogue is added of thofe tranflated authors, whom Mr. Pope has thought proper to call
"The clafficks of an age that heard of none."
The reader may not be displeased to have the Greek and Roman poets, orators, &c. who had been rendered acceffible to our author, expofed at one view;2 efpecially as the lift has received the advantage of being corrected and amplified by the Reverend Dr. Farmer, the fubftance of whofe very decifive pamphlet is interfperfed through the notes which are added in this revifal of Dr. Johnson's Shakspeare.
To thofe who have advanced the reputation of our poet, it has been endeavoured, by Dr. Johnson, in a foregoing preface, impartially to allot their dividend of fame; and it is with great regret that we now add to the catalogue, another, the confequence of whofe death will perhaps affect not only the works of Shakspeare, but of many other writers. Soon after the firft appearance of this edition, a disease, rapid in its progrefs, deprived the world of Mr. Jacob Tonfon; a man, whose zeal for the improvement of English literature, and whofe liberality to men of learning, gave him a just title to all the honours which men of learning can beftow. To fuppofe that a perfon employed in an extenfive trade, lived in a ftate of indifference to lofs and gain, would be to conceive
2 See Vol. II.
a character incredible and romantick; but it may be juftly faid of Mr. Tonion, that he had enlarged his mind beyond folicitude about petty loffes, and refined it from the defire of unreasonable profit. He was willing to admit thofe with whom he contracted, to the juft advantage of their own labours; and had never learned to confider the author as an under-agent to the bookfeller. The wealth which he inherited or acquired, he enjoyed like a man confcious of the dignity of a profeffion fubfervient to learning. His domeftick life was elegant, and his charity was liberal. His manners were soft, and his converfation delicate: nor is, perhaps, any quality in him more to be cenfured, than that referve which confined his acquaintance to a small number, and made his example lefs ufeful, as it was lefs extenfive. He was the laft commercial name of a family which will be long remembered; and if Horace thought it not improper to convey the Sosi to pofterity; if rhetorick suffered no difhonour from Quintilian's dedication to TRYPHO; let it not be thought that we difgrace Shakspeare, by appending to his works the name of TONSON.
To this prefatory advertisement I have now fubjoined 3 a chapter extracted from the Guls Hornbook, (a fatirical pamphlet written by Decker in the year 1609) as it affords the reader a more complete idea of the cuftoms peculiar to our ancient theatres, than any other publication which has hitherto fallen in my way. See this performance, page 27.
This addition to Mr. Steevens's Advertisement was made in 1778. MALONE.
How a Gallant fhould behave himself in a Playhoufe.
"The theatre is your poet's Royal Exchange, upon which, their mufes (that are now turn'd to merchants) meeting, barter away that light commodity of words for a lighter ware than words, plaudities and the breath of the great beaft, which (like the threatnings of two cowards) vanish all into aire. Plaiers and their factors, who put away the ftuffe and make the beft of it they poffibly can (as indeed 'tis their parts fo to doe) your gallant, your courtier, and your capten, had wont to be the foundest pay-mafters, and I thinke are still the fureft chapmen: and thefe by meanes that their heades are well ftockt, deale upon this comical freight by the groffe; when your groundling, and gallery commoner buyes his fport by the penny, and, like a hagler, is glad to utter it againe by retailing.
"Sithence then the place is fo free in entertainment, allowing a ftoole as well to the farmer's fonne as to your Templer: that your ftinkard has the self fame libertie to be there in his tobacco fumes, which your sweet courtier hath and that your carman and tinker claime as strong a voice in their fuffrage, and fit to give judgment on the plaies' life and death, as well as the proudeft Momus among the tribe of critick; it is fit that hee, whom the moft tailors' bils do make room for, when he comes, should not be bafely (like a vyoll) cas'd up in a corner.
"Whether therefore the gatherers of the pub
lique or private play-houfe ftand to receive the afternoone's rent, let our gallant (having paid it) presently advance himself up to the throne of the ftage. I meane not in the lords' roome (which is now but the stage's fuburbs). No, thofe boxes by the iniquity of cuftome, confpiracy of waitingwomen, and gentlemen-ufhers, that there fweat together, and the covetous fharers, are contemptibly thrust into the reare, and much new fatten is there dambd by being finothered to death in darkneffe. But on the very rufhes where the comedy is to daunce, yea and under the ftate of Cambifes himfelfe muft our feather'd eftridge, like a piece of ordnance be planted valiantly (because impudently) beating downe the mewes and hiffes of the oppofed rafcality.
"For do but caft up a reckoning, what large cummings in are purs'd up by fitting on the stage. First a confpicuous eminence is gotten, by which meanes the best and most effential parts of a gallant (good cloathes, a proportionable legge, white hand, the Perfian locke, and a tollerable beard,) are perfectly revealed.
"By fitting on the ftage you have a fign'd pattent to engroffe the whole commodity of cenfure; may lawfully prefume to be a girder; and ftand at the helme to steere the paffage of fcænes, yet no man fhall once offer to hinder you from obtaining the title of an infolent over-weening coxcombe.
By fitting on the ftage, you may (without trauelling for it) at the very next doore, afke whofe play it is: and by that queft of inquiry, the law warrants you to avoid much miftaking: if you know not the author, you may raile againft him; and peradventure fo behave yourfelfe, that you may enforce the author to know you.