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Conscious that any attempt to treat with levity the works of our IMMORTAL Poet is in some danger of being received with displeasure, the following production is submitted to the public with that diffidence which the delicacy of the subject must, naturally, excitc. In order, however, to remove those objections arising solely out of partiality or of prejudice, a few observations may not be, altogether, unnecessary.
The objection most commonly urged against burlesques and parodies in general, is, that they tend to bring into ridicule and contempt those authors against whose works they are directed. That this objection will hold when applied to works of inferior merit, or to such as are deficient in sense or genius, is freely admitted; but when used with reference to such writings as, from their intrinsic merit, have been long established in the public estimation, its futility is evident. HOMER and Virgil have both been the subjects of strong burlesques, but they are still read with unabated admiration; the bay that adorns them still flourishes, and its verdure remains undiminished : and it would be an insult to the high character of our Poet, were it supposed that the wreath is so loosely twined around his brows as to be endangered by so mere a trifle as that which gives rise to these remarks. Whilst the beauties of poetry shall continue to delight, the works of SHAKSPEARE will be read with enthusiasm ;
and any serious attempt to tarnish his fame, or
to degrade him from his exalted station, must
ever be considered as weak and as ridiculous in the design, as it would certainly be found unavailing and impossible in the execution.
But whatever apology or extenuation may. be deemed necessary for the liberty that is taken with the poet, it is presumed that nei.
ther will be required for the use that is made of his annotators : for no real admirer of SHAKSPEARE but must feel indignant at finding his sense perverted, and his meaning obscured *, by the false lights, and the fanciful and arbitrary illustrations, of Black:
letter Tritics and Toney-catching Tom
mentators. And it had been well if some
able satirist had exposed and punished their
* The poets of the present day have wisely provided against injuries of this nature; for with the assistance of an abundance of notes they have so clearly explained their own meanings (which, it must be confessed, would, otherwise, be frequently unintelligible) as to supersede the labours of future critics.