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EVERY act, fay's goodman Delver, hath three branches : It is to act, to do, and to perform *. Contemptible as this piece of casuistry may be deemed; certain it is, that our honest grave-digger was not mistaken in the number of those distinctions, which are necessary to the investigation of moral merit. He was not so happy, indeed, in his fpecification of the parts to be distinguished. however, may pass, if we conceive the firft part of his division to comprehend the design or intent of the act; the second the manner of putting it in execution; and the third, the effects or consequences produced by it.
Thus, in apologizing for the present Review; there are three things to be considered. .1. The design or intent of writing it. 2. The manner in which it is
written; and lastly, the probable effects or consequences that will ensue.
In respect to the former; the Reviewer begs leave to express his motives for writing in the words of an ingenious author, who stood exactly in the same predicament. • I thought it a piece of justice due to the
memory of Shakespeare, to the reputation of letters in general, and of our English language in particular, to take some public notice of a per' formance, which, I am sorry to say, hath violated all " these respects. Had this been done by a common
hand, I had held my peace; and left the work to that oblivion, which it deserves : but when it came out under the fanction of a great name, that of a ' gentleman, who had by other writings, how justly • I shall not (now) examine, obtained a great repu? tation for learning; it became an affair of some
consequence; as chimerical conjectures and gross mistakes might by these means be propagated for
truth among the ignorant and unwary; and that i be established for the genuine text, nay, the ge(nuine text amended too, which is neither Shakea,
speare's nor English *.
Such being the motives of action, the intent and design of the act is plainly what is set forth in the title, viz. to defend the text of Shakespeare from the persecution of his commentators.
Şee Appendix to the Canons of Criticism.
The Reviewer is well aware that Dr. Johnson's selfsufficiency may suggest a more sinister view. For, he doubts not, that gentleman thinks of himself, what he has said of Dr. Warburton, that he has a name sufficient to confer celebrity on those
who can exalt themselves into antagonists;' and hence he may possibly inspute the present work to the motive which he infinuates to have actuated the opponents of that writer. The allusion, also, of the eagle and owl, which he quotes from Macbeth, may, with a very little latitude of construction, be applied as well to himself and the Reviewer, as to Dr. Warburton and his antagonist.
• An Eagle, tow'ring in his pride of place,
- Was, by a mousing owl, hawk'd at and killid +.? For tho', Dr. Johnson having neither preferment in the church, nor post in the state, the word place may seem to want that stria propriety the critics require ; yet, if we reflect how nearly places and penhons are allied, there is not one of Shakespeare's commentators who would make any scruple of substituting one word for the other, reciprocally, and alternately, as he thought the case might require. There is no doubt also that, on this occasion, the word pension would be preferred; as a pension must be universally allowed, cæteris paribus, to be better than a place, to a man fo fond of doing but little ; as it is apprehended the reader will think is the case with Dr. Johnson.
+ See Dr. Johnson's preface to his edition of Shakespeare.
To invalidatė, however, the force of fuch a fuggestion, the Reviewer is reduced to the necessity of apparently boasting, that, in this respect, he does not lie under the disadvantage of being exactly in the fame situation with the author of the Canons of Criticism; who frankly confefies, that it was the first, as it was the only book he wrote in his life. Dr. Johnson indeed may, in all probability, have never before heard the name of the present writer. He hath nevertheless some little literary reputation to lose, which he would not unadvisedly or wantonly put to the hazard.
This long expected edition of Shakespeare is not the first work, by many, that he hath reviewed, nor is this Review the only book he hath written : For, tho' the name of Dr. Johnson is much better known than the merit of his writings, his Reviewer, on the contrary, hath hitherto chosen rather to have the merit of his writings known than his name. The publication of the one is of consequence to the world, that of the other of none but to the writer with whose personal importance or insignificance the public have nothing to do *.
In confirmation of what is here asserted, it may poflibly be thought necessary to name fome of those publications, on whichi the public have conferred the honour of a favourable reception.It is presumed needless, however, to particularize performances that would certainly have been lefs faulty, had they been lefs numerous. The author contents himself, therefore, with mentioning only his Epistles to Lorenzo; and the Translations of Rousseau's Eloisa, and Emilius.