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the feeming peculiarities of his language: to furnifh out these materials, all the plays have been
might be inclin'd to carry further, by fending him to a univerfity; but was prevented in this design (if he had it) by his fon's early marriage, which, from monuments, and other like evidence, it appears with no less certainty, must have happen'd before he was seventeen, or very foon after: the difpleafure of his father, which was the confequence of this marriage, or elfe some exceffes which he is faid to have been guilty of, it is probable, drove him up to town; where he engag'd early in fome of the theatres, and was honour'd with the patronage of the Earl of Southampton his Venus and Adonis is addrefs'd to the Earl in a very pretty and modeft dedication, in which he calls it-" the firft heire of his invention ;" and ufhers it to the world with this fingular motto,
"Vilia miretur vulgus, mihi flavus Apollo
"Pocula Caftalia plena miniftret aqua ;"
and the whole poem, as well as his Lucrece, which follow'd it foon after, together with his choice of thofe fubjects, are plain marks of his acquaintance with fome of the Latin clafficks, at leaft at that time: The diffipation of youth, and, when that was over, the busy scene in which he inftantly plung'd himself, may very well be fuppos'd to have hinder'd his making any great progrefs in them; but that fuch a mind as his fhould quite lose the tincture of any knowledge it had once been imbu'd with, can not be imagin'd: accordingly we fee, that this fchool-learning (for it was no more) ftuck with him to the laft; and it was the recordations, as we may call it, of that learning which produc'd the Latin that is in many of his plays, and moft plentifully in those that are moft early every feveral piece of it is aptly introduc'd, given to a proper character, and utter'd upon some proper occafion; and fo well cemented, as it were, and join'd to the paffage it ftands in, as to deal conviction to the judicious-that the whole was wrought up together, and fetch'd from his own little ftore, upon the fudden and without study.
The other languages, which he has fometimes made use of, that is the Italian and French, are not of fuch difficult conqueft that we should think them beyond his reach: an acquaintance with the firft of them was a fort of fashion in his time; Surrey and the fonnet-writers fet it on foot, and it was continu'd by Sidney and Spenfer: all our poetry iffu'd from that school;. and it would be wonderful, indeed, if he, whom we faw a little before putting himfelf with fo much zeal under the banner of
perus'd, within a very small number, that were in print in his time or fome fhort time after; the
the muses, should not have been tempted to taste at least of that fountain to which of all his other brethren there was fuch continual refort let us conclude then, that he did taste of it; but, happily for himself, and more happy for the world that enjoys him now, he did not find it to his relish, and threw away the cup: metaphor apart, it is evident-that he had fome little knowledge of the Italian: perhaps, juft as much as enabl'd him to read a novel or a poem; and to put fome few fragments of it, with which his memory furnifh'd him, into the mouth of a pedant, or fine gentleman.
How or when he acquir'd it we must be content to be ignorant, but of the French language he was fomewhat a greater mafter than of the two that have gone before; yet, unless we except their novelifts, he does not appear to have had much acquaintance with any of their writers; what he has given us of it is meerly colloquial, flows with great ease from him, and is reasonably pure: Should it be faid-he had travel'd for't, we know not who can confute us: in his days indeed, and with people of his station, the custom of doing fo was rather rarer than in ours; yet we have met with an example, and in his own band of players, in the person of the very famous Mr. Kempe; of whofe travels there is mention in a filly old play, call'd-The Return from Parnaffus, printed in 1606, but written much earlier in the time of Queen Elizabeth: add to this-the exceeding great liveliness and juftness that is seen in many descriptions of the fea and of promontories, which, if examin'd, fhew another fort of knowledge of them than is to be gotten in books or relations; and if these be lay'd together, this conjecture of his travelling may not be thought void of probability.
One opinion, we are fure, which is advanc'd fomewhere or other, is utterly fo;-that this Latin, and this Italian, and the language that was last mention'd, are insertions and the work of fome other hand: there has been started now and then in philological matters a propofition fo ftrange as to carry its own condemnation in it, and this is of the number; it has been honour'd already with more notice than it is any ways intitl'd to, where the poet's Latin is spoke of a little while before; to which anfwer it must be left, and we thall pafs on-to profess our entire belief of the genuineness of every several part of this work, and that he only was the author of it: he might write beneath himfelf at particular times, and certainly does in fome places; but
chroniclers his contemporaries, or that a little preceded him; many original poets of that age, and many translators; with effayifts, novellifts, and ftory-mongers in great abundance: every book, in fhort, has been confulted that it was poffible to procure, with which it could be thought he was acquainted, or that feem'd likely to contribute any thing towards his illuftration. To what degree they illuftrate him, and in how new a light they fet the character of this great poet himself can never be conceiv'd as it fhould be, 'till these extracts come forth to the publick view, in their juft magnitude, and properly digefted: for befides the various paffages that he has either made ufe of or alluded to, many other matters have been felected and will be found in this work, tending all to the fame end, our better knowledge of him and his writings; and one clafs of them there is, for which we shall perhaps be cenfur'd as being too profuse in them, namely the almost innumerable examples, drawn from these ancient writers, of words and modes of expreffion which many have thought
he is not always without excufe; and it frequently happens that a weak scene serves to very good purpose, as will be made appear at one time or other. It may be thought that there is one argument ftill unanfwer'd, which has been brought against his acquaintance with the Latin and other languages; and that is,that, had he been fo acquainted, it could not have happen'd but that fome imitations would have crept into his writings, of which certainly there are none: but this argument has been answer'd in effect; when it was faid—that his knowledge in these languages was but flender, and his conversation with the writers in them flender too of course: but had it been otherwise, and he as deeply read in them as fome people have thought him, his works (it is probable) had been as little deform'd with imitations as we now fee them: Shakspeare was far above such a practice; he had the ftores in himself, and wanted not the affiftance of a foreign hand to dress him up in things of their lending.
peculiar to Shakspeare, and have been too apt to impute to him as a blemish: but the quotations of this clafs do effectually purge him from fuch a charge, which is one reafon of their profufion; though another main inducement to it has been, a defire of thewing the true force and meaning of the aforefaid unufual words and expreffions; which can no way be better ascertain'd, than by a proper variety of well-chofen examples. Now, to bring this matter home to the fubject for which it has been alledg'd, and upon whofe account this affair is now lay'd before the publick fomewhat before it's time, who is fo fhort-fighted as not to perceive, upon firft reflection, that, without manifeft injuftice, the notes upon this author could not precede the publication of the work we have been defcribing; whofe choiceft materials would unavoidably and certainly have found a place in those notes, and fo been twice retail'd upon the world; a practice which the editor has often condemn'd in others, and could therefore not refolve to be guilty of in himself? By poftponing thefe notes a while, things will be as they ought: they will then be confin'd to that which is their proper fubject, explanation alone, intermix'd with fome little criticifm; and inftead of long quotations, which would otherwife have appear'd in them, the School of Shakspeare will be referr'd to occafionally; and one of the many indexes with which this fame School will be provided, will afford an ampler and truer Gloffary than can be made out of any other matter. In the mean while, and 'till fuch time as the whole can be got ready, and their way clear'd for them by publication of the book above-mention'd, the reader will please to take in good part fome few of these notes with which he will be pre
fented by and by: they were written at least four years ago, with intention of placing them at the head of the feveral notes that are defign'd for each play; but are now detach'd from their fellows, and made parcel of the Introduction, in compliance with fome friends' opinion; who having given them a perufal, will needs have it, that 'tis expedient the world fhould be made acquainted forthwith-in what fort of reading the poor poet himfelf, and his editor after him, have been unfortunately immers'd.
This difcourfe is run out, we know not how, into greater heap of leaves than was any ways thought of, and has perhaps fatigu'd the reader equally with the penner of it: yet can we not difmifs him, nor lay down our pen, 'till one article more has been enquir'd into, which feems no less proper for the difcuffion of this place, than one which we have inferted before, beginning at p. 333; as we there ventur'd to ftand up in the behalf of fome of the quarto's and maintain their authenticity, fo mean we to have the hardinefs here to defend fome certain plays in this collection from the attacks of a number of writers who have thought fit to call in queftion their genuinenefs: the plays contefted are-The Three Parts of Henry VI.; Love's Labour's Loft; The Taming of the Shrew ; and Titus Andronicus; and the fum of what is brought against them, fo far at least as is hitherto come to knowledge, may be all ultimately refolv'd into the fole opinion of their unworthinefs, exclufive of fome weak furmifes which do not deserve a ⚫ notice: it is therefore fair and allowable, by all laws of duelling, to oppose opinion to opinion; which if we can ftrengthen with reasons, and fomething