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adversaries of editors, enjoy one material advantage over editors themselves. They are at liberty to select their objects of remark;
Desperant tra&ata nitescere polje, relinquunt. The fate of the editor in form is less propitious. He is expected to combat every difficulty from which his auxiliaries and opponents could secure an honourable retreat. It should not therefore be wondered at, if some of his enterprizes are unsuccessful.
Though the foregoing Advertisement has run out into an unpremeditated length, one circumftance remains to be mentioned. The form and substance of the commentary attending this republication having been materially changed and enlarged since it first appeared, in compliance with ungrateful custom, the name of its original editor might have been withdrawn : but Mr. Steevens could not prevail on himself to forego an additional opportunity of recording in a title-page that he had once the honour of being united in a task of literature with Dr. SAMUEL JOHNSON. This is a distinction which malevolence cannot obfcure, nor flattery transfer to any other candidate for publick favour.
It may possibly be expected, that a list of Errata should attend fo voluminous a work as this, or that cancels should apologize for its more material inaccuracies. Neither of these measures, however, has in the present instance been adopted, and for reasons now submitted to the publick.
In regard to errata, it has been customary with not a few authors to acknowledge small mistakes, that they might escape the suspicion of greater, ** or perhaps to intimate that no greater could be detected. Both little and great and doubtless there may be the usual proportion of both) are here exposed (with very few exceptions) to the candour and perspicacity of the reader, who needs not to be told that in fifteen volumes octavo of intricate and variegated printing, gone through in the space of about twenty months, the most vigilant eyes must occasionally have been overwatched, and the readiest knowledge intercepted. The fight of the editors, indeed, was too much fatigued to encourage their engagement info laborious a revision; and they are likewise convinced that substitutes are not always qualified for their task ; but instead of pointing out real millakes, would have supposed the existence of such as
the hospitable door
Paradise Loft, B. I. v. 504.
merely founded on their own want of acquaintance with the peculiarities of ancient spelling and language; for even modern poetry has sometimes been in danger from the chances of their superintendance. He whofe business it is to offer this unusual apology, very well remembers to have been fitting with Dr. Johnson, when an agent from a neighbouring press brought in the proof sheet of a republication, requesting to know whether a particular word in it was not corrupted. “ So far from it, Sir, (replied the Doctor, with some harshness,) that the word you suspect and would displace, is conspicuously beautiful where it stands, and is the only one that could have done the duty expected from it by Mr. Pope."
As for cancels, it is in the power of every careless binder to defeat their purpose; for they are so seldom lodged with uniformity in their proper places, that they as often serve to render copies imperfect, as to screen an author from the charge of ignorance or inattention. The leaf appropriated to one volume, is sometimes shuffled into the corresponding page of another; and sometimes the faulty leaf is withdrawn, and 10 other substituted in its room. These circumstances might be exemplified; but the subject is scarcely of consequence enough to be more than generally stated to the reader, whose indulgence is again solicited on account of blemishes which
in the course of an undertaking like this are unavoidable, and could not, at its conclusion, have been remedied but by the hazard of more extensive mischief; -- an indulgence, indeed, that will more readily be granted, and especially for the sake of the compositors, when it is understood, that, on an average, every page of the present work, including spaces, quadrats, points and letters,' is (to speak technically) composed of 2680 distinct pieces of metal. *
As was formerly therefore observed, he who waited till the river should run dry, did not act with less reason than the editors would do, who
hould suspend a voluminous and complicated publication, in the vain hope of rendering it abfolutely free from literary and typographical errors.
in a page
* Number of letters, &c. in a page of Shakspeare, 1793.
(including letters, points, spaces, including letters, points, spaces, &c.) is 47; the number of lines &c.) is 67; the number of lines
in a page – 47 47
3149 in a page. From this calculation it is clear, that a common page, admitting it to consist of 1-3d text, and 2-3ds notes, contains about 2680 distinct pieces of metal ; which multiplied by 16, the number of pages in a theet, will amount to 42,880--the misplacing of any one of which would inevitably cause a blunder. PŁYMSELL.