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language of the Water-poet, "got only from possum to posset," and yet will throw out a line occafionally from their Accidence or their Cato de Moribus with tolerable propriety.If, however, the old editions be trufted in this paffage, our author's memory fomewhat failed him in point of concord.

The rage of parallelifms is almost over, and in truth nothing can be more abfurd. "THIS Was ftolen from one claffick,-THAT from another;"and had I not stept into his rescue, poor Shakspeare had been stript as naked of ornament, as when he firft held horfes at the door of the playhouse.

The late ingenious and modeft Mr. DodЛley declared himself

"Untutor'd in the lore of Greece or Rome."

yet let us take a paffage at a venture from any of his performances, and a thousand to one, it is ftolen. Suppose it to be his celebrated compliment to the ladies, in one of his earlieft pieces, The Toy-fhop: "A good wife makes the cares of the world fit eafy, and adds a sweetness to its pleasures; fhe is a man's beft companion in profperity, and his only friend in adverfity; the carefulleft preferver of his health, and the kindeft attendant in his fickness ; a faithful adviser in diftrefs, a comforter in affliction, and a prudent manager in all his domeftick affairs.' Plainly, from a fragment of Euripides preferved by Stobæus:

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Malvolio in the Twelfth-Night of Shakspeare hath

fome expreffions very fimilar to Alnafchar in the Arabian Tales: which perhaps may be fufficient for fome criticks to prove his acquaintance with Arabic!

It seems, however, at laft, that " Taste should determine the matter." This, as Bardolph, expreffes it, is a word of exceeding good command: but I am willing, that the ftandard itself be fomewhat better ascertained before it be opposed to demonftrative evidence. Upon the whole, I may confider myself as the pioneer of the commentators : I have removed a deal of learned rubbish, and pointed out to them Shakspeare's track in the everpleafing paths of nature. This was neceffarily a previous inquiry; and I hope I may affume with fome confidence, what one of the first criticks of the age was pleased to declare on reading the former edition, that " The queftion is now for ever decided."

*** I may just remark, left they be mistaken for Errata, that the word Catherine in the 47th page is written, according to the old Orthography for Catharine; and that the paffage in the 50th page is copied from Upton, who improperly calls Horatio and Marcellus in Hamlet," the Centinels."

ADVERTISEMENT

PREFIXED TO

THE THIRD EDITION, 1789.

IT may be neceffary to apologize for the republication of this pamphlet. The fact is, it has been for a good while extremely scarce, and fome mercenary publishers were induced by the extravagant price, which it has occafionally borne, to project a new edition without the confent of the author.

A few corrections might probably be made, and many additional proofs of the argument have neceffarily occurred in more than twenty years: some of which may be found in the late admirable editions of our POET, by Mr. Steevens and Mr. Reed.

But, perhaps enough is already faid on fo light a fubject:-A fubject, however, which had for a long time pretty warmly divided the criticks upon Shakspeare.

AN

ESSAY

ON THE

LEARNING OF SHAKSPEARE:

ADDRESSED TO

JOSEPH CRADOCK, ESQ.

I

SHAKSPEARE," fays a brother of the craft, " is a vaft garden of criticifm :" and certainly no one can be favoured with more weeders gratis. But how often, my dear fir, are weeds and flowers torn up indifcriminately?-the ravaged spot is replanted in a moment, and a profusion of critical thorns thrown over it for fecurity.

"A prudent man, therefore, would not venture his fingers amongst them."

Be however in little pain for your friend, who regards himself fufficiently to be cautious :-yet he afferts with confidence, that no improvement can be expected, whilft the natural foil is miftaken for a hot-bed, and the natives of the banks of Avon are fcientifically choked with the culture of exoticks.

' Mr. Seward, in his Preface to Beaumont and Fletcher, 10 Vols. 8vo. 1750.

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