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ments of a different Spéciés are pursued, has done this; and therefore I would fain transfer the Fault from You to the Town. Let us lay it upon the Times, as we are pleas’d to do fome of our Sins upon Fate and Providence. Or, perhaps, the very Frame of our Nature is concern'd; and the Dissecters of an Eye and Ear can tell us to what Membranes, or Organs, we owe the Communication of Pleasures, in which the rational Soul has no Share. So shall we be able to account both for the Reception of Grotesque and
IF PANTOMIMING be a Debauchery of the Stage, it is a Vice which is so becoming in the Excellence of Your own Performance, that I can scarce find in my Heart-to be the first to wish it cur'd. Yet, as it is fabled of Achilles's Spear, that it had a Virtue to heal the Wounds it made ; fo we may prophefy, one Time or other, that the Ruft of PANTOMIMEs will be
alter, The DEDIGATION, á Salve for the Recovery of DRAMATIC Poetry
I am justified in this Address by another Confideration, which is, That however you may have been a Sinner against SHAKESPEARE, you are not an impenitent one. And as King Henry IV: erected a Chapel to expiate the Injuries which he had done to his Predecessor, King Richard; fo, the Town at least fay, you intend to appease the Manes of our Poet by ere&ting a MONUMENT to him. Go on in that pious
, that reputable Intention; and, while the Taste of the Publick demands it of you, continue to sacrifice fresh Panconvince them that You are provided to entertain them with an Elegance suitable to their Expectations.r. io boldet
But I am fall’n into a Strain which I had no Thoughts of pursuing, when I first fate down to write this Epistle. The great OTWAY dedicated
one of his Plays to his Bookseller, as a Receipt for the Copy-Money; and I meant this merely Che parva licet componere magnis) as an Acknowledgment of fome Obligations receiv'd, which you will not expect me to specify in Print. I defign'd it to carry the Sentiments of Friendship and Gratitude ; but, where it falls fhort in those Points, let it make Amends by this Profession, that You are always entitled, to the utmost of my poor Power, to demand all the Service of,
Your moft Obliged, and
Faithful Humble Servant,
March 18. 1725
HAVE very often declar'd, and that in a number of Companies, that what thro' the Indolence, what thro’the Ignorance of his Editors, we have scarce any Book in the English
, Tongue more fertile of Errors, than the Plays of SHAKESPEARE.
And, I believe, whenever I have fallin on this Subject, I have not faild to express my Wilh, that some fine Gea nius, equal to the task, would befriend the Memory of this immortal Poet, and contribute to the Pleasure of the present and of future Times, in retrieving, as far as possible, the original Purity of his Text, and rooting out that valt Crop of Errors, which has almost choak'd up his Beauties.
It was no fmall Satisfaction therefore to me, when I first heard Mr. POPE had taken upon him the Publication of SHAKESPEARE. I very reasonably expected, from his known Talents and Abilities, from his uncommon Sagacity and Discernment, and from his unwearied Diligence and Care of informing himself by an happy and extensive Conversation, we should have had our Author come out as perfect, as the want of Manuscripts and original Copies could give us a Possibility of hoping. I may dare to say, a great Number of SHAKESPEARE's Admirers, and of Mr. Pope's too, (both which I sincerely declare myself,) concurred in this Expectation : For there is a certain curiosa félicitas, as was said of an eminent Roman Poet, in that Gentleman's Way of working, which, we presum'd, would have laid itself out largely in such a Province; and that he would not have fate down contented with performing, as he calls it himself, the dull Duty of an Editor only. SHAKESPEARE's Works have always appear’d to me like what he makes his HAMLET compare the World to, an unweeded Garden grown to Seed : And I am sorry there is still reason to complain, the Weeds in him are so very sparingly thin'd, that, not to speak out of compass, a thousand rank and unhghtly ones are left to stare us in the Face, and clog the Delight of the expected Prospect.
It must necessarily happen, that where the Asistance of Manuscripts is wanting to set an Author's Meaning right, and rescue him from those Errors which have been transmitted down thro' a Series of incorrect Editions, and a long Intervention of Time, many passages must be desperate, and past a Cure, and their true Sense irretrievable, either to Care, or the Sagacity of Conjecture.
AND there is one Unhappiness too, which generally attends the Republication of English Books, which is, That being the Property of some Persons in Trade, who, too often, know nothing more of their Copy than that there is a Demand for reprinting it; and who are, withal, Persons of such commendable Frugality, that they think every Farthing which is given for the Labour of Revise, to be so much Money given away for nothing: The Press is set to work from a printed Precedent, and so the