Page images

Mr. Allen, became from that time his principal residence, and ultimately his own property.

At this juncture the Kingdom was under a great alarm, occasioned by the Rebellion breaking out in Scotland. Those who wished well to the then established Government found it necessary to exert every

effort which could be used against the invading enemy. The Clergy were not wanting on their part; and no one did more service than Mr. Warburton, who printed three very excellent and seasonable Sermons at this important crisis.

1. “A faithful Portrait of Popery *, by which it is seen to be the Reverse of Christianity, as it is the Destruction of Morality, Piety, and Civil Liberty. A Sermon preached at St. James's Church, Westminster, October 1745,” 8vo.

2. “A Sermon occasioned by the present unnatural Rebellion, &c. preached in Mr. Allen's chapel, at Prior Park, near Bath, November 1745, and published at his Request,” 8vo.

3. "The Nature of National Offences truly stated. A Sermon preached on the General Fast-Day, December 18, 1745,” 8vo.

On account of the last of these Sermons, he was again involved in a controversy with his former antagonist, Dr. Stebbing t; which occasioned “An Apologetical Dedication to the Rev. Dr. Henry Stebbing, in Answer to his Censure and Misrepresentations of the Sermon preached on the General Fast-day to be observed Dec. 18, 1745."

Notwithstanding his great connexions, his acknowledged abilities, and his established reputation, inscription on the tablet of a tower near the Park is emphatically expressive of his character:

« Memoriæ optimi viri, Radulphi Allen, positum. Qui virtutem veram simplicemque colis, venerare hoc saxum."

Collinson's History of Somersetshire, rol. I. p. 168. * “ The Romish Saints, a Poem,” from the learned Mr. Warburton's Faithful Portrait, was printed in Gent. Mag. 1746, p. 101.

+ See in Gent. Mag. 1746, p. 433, some verses addressed to the Rev. Mr. Edwards, on his officious interference in the “ State of the Case between Stebbing and Warburton.-Q. Was this Joseph Edwards (vol. II. p. 198); or Timothy (ibid. p. 237) ?

a re

a reputation founded on the durable basis of Learning, and upheld by the decent and attentive performance of every duty incident to his station; yet we do not find that he received any addition to the rectory of Brand Broughton, given him in 1728 by Sir Robert Sutton (except the chaplainship to the Prince of Wales), till April 1746, when, by the particular recommendation of Mr. Murray, then Solicitor-general, he was unanimously called by the Society of Lincoln's-Inn to be their Preacher.

His next publication was, “ A Sermon preached on the Thanksgiving appointed to be observed the gth of October, for the Suppression of the late unnatural Rebellion, 1746," Svo.

In 1747 his famous edition of Shakspeare was issued from the press*; a work for which Mr. Tonson


* This edition has met with a very singular fate; it has been extravagantly praised (see Bishop Newton's Preface to his edition of Milton), and as much censured (see the Canons of Criticism, Upton on Shalspeare, Ileath's Revisal of Shakspeare's Text, Grey's Notes on 'Shikspeare, &c.). The true estimate of its merit, however, lies between his panegyrists and his foes; and few will refuse their assent to Dr. Johnson's opinion, that “his notes exhibit sometimes perverse interpretations, and sometimes improballe conjectures; he at one time gives the author more profundity of meaning than the sentence admits; and at another discovers absurdities where the sense is plain to every reader. But his emendations are likewise often happy and just; and his interpretation of obscure passages learned and sagacious."

When Johuson published his “ Remarks on Macbeth," he bestowed some just commendations on the critical talents of Warburton ; who returned the compliment in the Preface to his Edition of Shakspeare. But, when Johnson's edition of the great Dramatic Bard :ppeared, the Bishop's opinion was altered. “Of this Johnson," he says to Dr. Hurd, “you and I, I believe, think alike.”—In a letter to another friend, speaking of Johnson's edition, Dr. Warburton says, “ The remarks he makes in every page on my Commentaries are full of insolence and malignant reflections, which, haul they not in them as much folly as malignity, I should have reason to be offended with. As it is, I think myself obliged to him, in thus setting before the publick so many of my notes, with his remarks upon them; for though I have no great opinion of that trifling part of the publick, which pretends to judge of this part of Literature, in which boys and girls decide, yet I think nobody can be mistaken in this comparison; though I think their thoughts have never yet ex



paid him 500l.; but which, he says, “ the publick at this time of day had never been troubled with, but for the conduct of the two last editors [Theobald and Hanmer, see p. 588], and the persuasion of dear Mr. Pope; whose memory and name

semper acerbum, Semper honoratum (sic Di voluistis) hobebo. He was desirous I should give a new edition of this Poet, as he thought it might contribute to put a stop to a prevailing folly of altering the text of celebrated Authors, without talents or judgment *.

tended thus far as to reflect, that to discover the corruption in an author's text, and by a happy sagacity to restore it to sense, is no easy task: but when the discovery is made, then to cavil at the conjecture, to propose an equivalent, and defend nonsense, by producing out of the thick darkness it occasions, à weak and faint glimmering of sense (which has been the business of this Editor throughout) is the easiest, as well as dullest of all literary efforts."

* Mr. Benjamin Victor, in a letter to Mr. Garrick in March 1771, enumerates the then principal Commentators on Shakspeare; beginning with Mr. Rowe, “whose attempts as an editor were so trifling, as not to require the least notice.”—Then followed Mr. Pope, when in the zenith of his reputation; to whom the late Mr. Tonson (the proprietor of Shakspeare's Works) gave five hundred poundst for his name, as the Editor of a new edition, then much wanted. Any one, by looking over the impression, may see how little was done by that gentleman, besides a Preface. Soon after him appeared Mr. Theobald (called by Pope the Word-catcher), who triumphed so much about his conquest of Pope as an Editor, that he got himself crowned, in the first edition of the Dunciad, sovereign of the Dunces, by the name of King Log. He was, however, from his learning, and laborious application, better qualified for the office of an editor than any of his predecessors. The next was Sir Thomas Hanmer, baronet, who published a very poinpous edition, with his name as the Editor, and without a fee! But it was the general opinion, that, if his corrections and emendations were to be carefully examined, the majority of readers would find more wrong than right. – The fifth and last adventurer, was the Rev. Mr. Warburton, to whom Theobald acknowledged so many obligations for his useful discoveries ; but the reverend Critic, not content with such paltry praise, gave us an Edition, which was to be an improvement upon all: but that gentleman's vanity led him to take such kiberties with his author, that he provoked Upton's Critical Remarks; Edwards's Canons of Criticism ; and I remember but $ This sum is erroneous. See p. 597.


And he was willing that his edition should be melted down into mine, as it would, he said, afford him (so great is the modesty of an ingenuous temper) a fit opportunity of confessing his mistakes." “ This edition,” says his Biographer, “ awakened a spirit of criticism, which haunted him in every shape of dull ridicule and solemn confutation *." one passage


any of the capital plays, where the emendation seems to be bold and useful, and that is in the fine soliloquy that opens the fifth act of Othello. — The five editions of Shakspeare (as they are all in the possession of some curious men of fortune) make, of themselves, a tolerable library; and yet we have been long promised another, from an abler hand [Dr. Johnson): but it is expected (from the known abilities of that author) his corrections and emendations will be so various and so useful, that this sixth edition will be the last, not only for this, but the ensuing century.”

“At the sale of the effects of Mr. Jacob Tonson, bookseller, in 1767, one hundred and forty copies of Mr. Pope's edition of Shak. speare, in six volumes 4to (for which the original subscribers paid six guineas) were disposed of at sixteen shillings (only) per sett. Seven hundred and fifty of that edition had then been printed.On the contrary, Sir Thomas Hanmer's Edition, printed in 1744, which was first sold for three guineas, had arisen to ten before it was re-printed!

“The prices, which the London Booksellers have paid to the different Editors of Shakspeare, are not generally known, but prove that the Poet has enriched those who have impoverished him.

£. .

d. Mr, Rowe was paid

36 10 0 Mr. Hughes

28 0 Mr. Pope

217 12 0 Mr. Fenton

30 14 0 Mr. Gay

35 176 Mr. Whalley

12 00 Mr. Theobald

652 10 0 Mr. Warburton

500 0 0 Mr. Capel

300 o Dr. Johnson, for first edition

375 0 0 for second edition

100 0 0

[ocr errors]

Total, 2,288 10 6 Besides very considerable sums to Critics without criticism, and Commentators without a name.” Gent. Mag. rol. LVII. p. 76.

* Amongst other attacks on this edition was, 1."A Supplement to Mr. Warburton's Edition of Shakspeare,” of which two editions were rapidly called for in 1747; and a third, in 1748, under the new title of “Canons of Criticism (see vol. II. 203). The origin of that publication is thus given by a Corre


pp. 198.

In the same year Mr. Warburton published,

1. "A Letter from an Author to a Member of Parliament, concerning Literary Property;" assert

spondent of Mr. Urban, who states that he received it from the Author himself: "Mr. Edwards (who was educated at Eton, and became a fellow of King's college Cambridge), was an excellent Greek scholar; but, being rather straitened in his circumstances, declined the study of law, physick, or divinity, and went into the army, which was not inconsistent with the retaining of his fellowship, as hath been properly pointed out in the cases of Sir William Draper and Mr. Hare, in Gent. Mag. 1779, p. 641.Having been some time in the army, it so happened that being at Bath, after Mr. Warburton's marriage to Mr. Allen's niece, he was introduced at Prior Park en famille. The conversation not unfrequently turning on literary subjects, Mr. Warburton generally took the opportunity of shewing his superiority in Greek, not having the least idea that an officer in the army understood any thing of that language, or that Mr. Edwards had been bred at Eton; till one day, being accidentally in the library, Mr. Edwards took down a Greek author, and explained a passage in it in a manner that Mr. Warburton did not approve. This occasioned no small contest; and Mr. Edwards (who had now discovered to Mr. Warburton how he came by his knowledge) endeavoured to convince him that he did not understand the original language, but that his knowledge arose from French translations. Mr. Warburton was highly irritated; an incurable breach took place; and this trisling altercation (after Mr. Edwards had quitted the army, and was entered of Lincoln's Inn) produced “The Canons of Criticism." It may not be foreign to the purpose to observe, that Mr. Warburton was for some little time a wine-merchant in the Borough (as I have been informed by an old friend; Capt. Allen, who had been a customer); and rose into notice, whilst at the Temple, by frequenting a disputing club." Gent. Mag. vol. LII. p. 288.

2. “An Answer to certain Passages in Mr.Warburton's Preface to his Edition of Shakspeare ; together with some Remarks on the many Errors and false Criticisms in the Work itself, 1748.”

3. A Word of Advice to William Warburton; a Dealer in many Words. By a Friend (A. E.), with an Appendix, containing a Taste of William's Spirit of Reviling.”

4. “A free and familiar Letter to that great Preserver of Pope and Shakspeare, the Rev. Mr. William Warburton, Preacher of Lincoln's Inn;' with Remarks upon the Epistle of Friend A. E. in which his unhandsome Treatment of that celebrated Writer is expressed in the Manner it deserves. By a Country Curate. 1750." This Tract was by Dr. Z. Grey; who had taken offence at a passage in Mr. Warburton's Preface to Shakspeare, p. 27," which he designed to sneer at Dr. Zachary Grey, and Coadjutors, for Notes upon Hudibras ; little considering what share he had in those Notes. And I may venture to say, that whoever was the


« PreviousContinue »