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probably the best of hundreds which had been dismissed with general censure. The collection of plays, interludes, &c. made by Mr. Garrick, with an intent to deposit them hereafter in some publick library,' will be considered as a valuable acquisition; for pamphlets have never yet been examined with a proper regard to posterity. Most of the obsolete pieces will be found on enquiry to have been introduced into libraries but some few years since; and yet those of the present age, which may one time or other prove as useful, are ftill entirely neglected. I should be remifs, I am sure, were I to forget my acknowledgments to the gentleman I have just mentioned, to whose benevolence I owe the use of feveral of the scarceft quartos, which I could not otherwise have obtained; though I advertised for them, with sufficient offers, as I thought, either to tempt the casual owner to fell, or the curious to communicate them; but Mr. Garrick's zeal would not permit him to withhold any thing that might ever so remotely tend to Shew the perfections of that author who could only have enabled him to display his own.
It is not merely to obtain justice, to Shakspeare, that I have made this collection, and advise other3 to be made. The general interest of English literature, and the attention due to our own language and history, require that our ancient writings should be diligently reviewed. There is no age which has not produced some works that deserved to be remembered; and as words and phrases are only
9 This collection is now, in pursuance of Mr Garrick's Will, placed in the Britild Mufcum. RLED.
understood by comparing them in different places, the lower writers must be read for the explanation of the highest. No language can be ascertained and settled, but by deducing its words from their original sources, and tracing them through their successive varieties of signification; and this deduction can only be performed by consulting the earliest and intermediate authors.
Enough has been already done to encourage us to do more. Dr. Hickes, by reviving the study of the Saxon language, seems to have excited a stronger curiosity after old English writers, than ever had appeared before. Many volumes which were mouldering in dust have been collected; many authors which were forgotten have been revived; nany laborious catalogues have been formed; and many judicious glossaries compiled; and literary transactions of the darker ages are now open to discovery; and the language in its intermediate gradations, from the Conquest to the Restoration, is better understood than in any former time.
To incite the continuance, and encourage the extension of this domestick curiosity, is one of the purposes of the present publication. In the plays it contains, the poet's first thoughts as well as words are preserved; the additions inade in subsequent impressions, distinguished in Italicks, and the performances themselves make their appearance with every typographical error, such as they were before they fell into the hands of the player-editors. The various readings, which can only be attributed · to chance, are set down among the rest, as I did not choose arbitrarily to determine for others which were useless, or which were valuable. And many
words differing only by the spelling, or ferving merely to show the difficulties which they to whose lot it first fell to disentangle their perplexities must have encountered, are exhibited with the rest. I must acknowledge that some few readings have flipped in by mistake, which can pretend to serve no purpose of illustration, but were introduced by confining myself to note the minutest variations of the copies which soon convinced me that the oldest were in general the most correct. Though no proof can be given that the poet superintended the publication of any one of these himself, yet we have little reason to suppose that he who wrote at the command of Elizabeth, and under the patronage of Southampton, was so very negligent of his fame, as to permit the most incompetent judges, fuch as the players were, to vary at their pleasure what he had set down for the first fingle editions ; and we have better grounds for a fufpicion that his works did materially suffer from their presumptuous corrections after his death.
It is very well known, that before the time of Shakspeare, the art of making title-pages was practised with as much, or perhaps more success than it has been fince. Accordingly, to all his plays we find long and descriptive ones, which, when they were first published, were of great service to the venders of them. Pamphlets of every kind were hawked about the streets by a set of people resembling his own Autolycus, who proclaimed aloud the qualities of what they offered to fale, and inight draw in many a purchaser by the mirth he was taught to expect from the humours of Corporal Nym, or the fwaggering vaine of Auncient Pistoll, who
was not to be tempted by the representation of a fact merely historical. The players, however, laid aside the whole of this garniture, not finding it so necessary to procure success to a bulky volume, when the author's reputation was established, as it had been to bespeak attention to a few straggling pamphlets while it was yet uncertain.
The fixteen plays which are not in these volumes, remained unpublished till the folio in the
year 1623, though the compiler of a work called Theatrical Records, mentions different single cditions of them all before that time. But as no one of the editors could ever meet with such, nor has any one else pretended to have seen them, I think myself at liberty to suppose the compiler supplied the defects of the list out of his own imagination; fince he must have had fingular good fortune to have been possessed of two or three different copies of all, when neither editors nor collectors, in the course of near fifty years, have been able so much as to obtain the light of one of the number.”
At the end of the last volume I have added a tragedy of King Leir, published before that of Shakspeare, which it is not improbable he might
2 It will be obvious to every one acquainted with the ancient English language, that in almost all the titles of plays in this catalogue of Mr. William Rufus Chetwood, the fpelling is constantly overcharged with such a fuperfluity of letters as is not to be found in the writings of Shakspeare or his contemporaries. A more bungling attempt at a forgery was never obtruded on the publick. See the British Theaire, 1750; reprinted by Dodfey in 1756 under the title of " Theatrical Records, for an Account of English Dramatick Authors, and their Works,” whiere all that is faid concerning an Advertisement at the end of Romeo and Juliet, 1597, is equally talse, no copy of that play, having been ever publified by Andreu Wife.
have seen, as the father kneeling to the daughter, when she kneels to ask his blessing, is found in it; a circumstance two poets' were not very likely to have hit on fepårately; and which seems borrowed by the latter with his usual judgment, it being the inost natural passage in the whole play; and is in troduced in fuch a manner, as to make it fairly his own.
The ingenious editor of The Reliques of Ancient English Poetry having never met with this play, and as it is not preserved in Mr. Garrick's collcetion, I thought it á curiosity worthy the notice of the publick.
I have likewife reprinted Shakspeare's Sonnets, fróin a copy published in 1609, by G. Eld, one of the printers of his plays; which, added to the confideration that they made their appearance with his name, and in his life-time, seems to be no flender proof of their authenticity. The same evidence might operate in favour of several more plays which are omitted heré, out of respect to the judgment of those who had omitted them before.
It is to be wished that some method of publication most favourable to the character of an author were once established; whether we are to send into the world all his works without distinction, or arbitrarily to leave out what may be thought a dif
The first editors, who rejected Pericles, retained Titus Andronicus; and Mr. Pope, without any reason, named The Winter's Tale, a play that bears the strongest marks of the hand of
3 Locrine, 1595. Sir John Oldcastle, 1600. London Prodigal, 1605. Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1609. Puritan, 160.. Thomas Lord Cromwell, 1613. Yorkshire Tragedy, 1608. Vol. I.
grace to him.