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of the trisyllabic ending. The latter, in truth, is rarely resorted to by our poet; and very

few instances of it can be collected throughout his works ; neither is the dissyllabic an improvement, absolutely ; it is no further so than as it varies and extends the general harmony; and, therefore, it should not be called forth too often, but if we find it here, in three successive lines, we shall not want evidence of similar or greater freedom in writers whose numbers are supposed to be more correct; as in Otway, with whom it abounds; and in Rowe, whose distinguishing praise seems to be the smoothness of his verse: but let us turn to instances more apposite, and compare these casual superfluities with such as are exhibited by contemporaries; by Jonson, Massinger, and Fletcher, who are not satisfied with an incidental or moderate use of the redundant ending; but seem, especially the two latter, to affect and prefer it, giving it place, sometimes, without intermission, for many lines, and, certainly, throughout their works, with more continuity than the regular heroic.ce) But there is, further, a conspicuous blemish in the prosody of these writers, from which Shakspeare is entirely free. The dissyllabic ending is only admissible where the accent reposes on the penultima; and is followed by a weak syllable of a constituent word, as

“ His mother was a votress of my order,"

or, at least, by a monosyllable, that is nearly mute, as

6 To fall-in-love with what she fear'd to

16ok on,"

and in this manner, only, does our poet employ it; and rather, as it appears, through expediency than choice; whereas, his corrivals of the day are so enamoured of the excess, that they will often prodigally burthen the ear to obtain it at the expence of a new, distinct, and emphatic word.(d)

This uncouth exuberance, so prevalent with Beaumont and Fletcher, as well as Massinger, that it disfigures the greater part of their poetry, is so uncongenial to

the style of Shakspeare, that none of his interpolators has ventured to impose it on us, and the poorest lines that bear his name are with the noblest alike exempt from it, Thus it is evident, that, instead of regarding our poet as chargeable with ruggedness of composition, we should esteem him rather an exemplar of metrical harmony, and freely join in the praise which Jonson has bestowed on

« His well-toned and true-filed lines.”


passage from Hamlet, as, probably, may have appeared, was selected, not so much for its excellence, howsoever admirable it is, as on account of the corruptions that were attached to it; for it would be easy to adduce from Shakspeare's stock, examples of the highest and most finished poetry which happily have escaped the infectious and degrading hand of the interpolator ; but such a display would be rather ostentatious than edifying, and is not included in the scope of the present design, the object of which is, first, to point out some instances of readings, in the early quartos, which seem preferable to those adopted by the last editor; secondly, to substitute order for derangement, by dismissing from the text all such words as have intruded to disturb the metre, without any benefit to the sense, as well as to restore others that have been omitted, to the detriment of both :(e) in the third place, to expose the grammatical anomalies of what kind soever they are : and lastly, to attempt an exposition of many passages, occultor dubious, which appear to have been, by the commentators, either overlooked or misinterpreted. The readings adopted from the early quartos, and proposed for preference, shall appear in their places, as will the notes which are offered in elucidation. It might seem proper, here, to make some remarks upon the violations of syntax that occur in these works; but, after a close examination, I believe it will be found that very few of those irregularities are justly ascribable to Shakspeare, and hardly any of them peculiar to him, so that the strictures which they would call forth must necessarily wander into an abstract treatise of philology; they shall,

therefore, be referred to the several passages; with care, (in instances similar) to avoid the tediousness of repetition, by a significant mark, or by reference to what had preceded. Nothing now remains, by way of preface, but to say a few words auton upon the notes which are presented in illustration; of these, a few will be advanced with confidence, as the suggestions of some valued friends, eminently qualified for any work of criticism, and intimately conversant with the genuine style and spirit of our poet. The friends here alluded to, are Mr. Capel Lofft, Mr. Ben. Strutt, of Colchester, and the late noble person whose name is inserted in the title page. The notes derived from these sources shall be marked with the appropriate signatures. Concerning the others, the author of them will neither affect modesty nor display arrogance; they will, doubtless, in many instances, be found weak, superfluous, and erroneous; but so, likewise, have been not a few of those to which are annexed names with whom it may be honourable to be associated, even in miscarriage : thus far, only, will he presume to emulate his

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