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to the illustration of Shakespeare's text: what he has done has been entirely by dint of study; and being void both of taste and sagacity, he is wrong almost as often as he is right. Malone is more correct, has more taste, and has certainly done much. Warburton is, as a commentator on Shakespeare, a man whom too much learning has made mad: his explanations are nine times out of ten completely visionary. Johnson took no pains; he does nothing but guess, and generally wrong. Farmer is allowed to be ingenious; but he has taken such liberties with his author, that his edition is now almost universally exploded. Theobald made some good hits, but he did little. The last editor of importance (a Mr. Reed, who was appointed by Stevens to the task) has published twenty volumes in very large octavo, the notes printed small; he has added but few notes of his own, though he appears a black letter man. There are some ingenious notes from friend Douce; and some from Holt White, Our ob
ject will be to shorten the present edition considerably, by cutting out a vast deal of matter, which has no more to do with the illustration of Shakespeare than any thing else, and to add our own notes; which will leave the work (I should hope) a third less bulky than it is at present. We are going on very well, except that -- having been poorly some time, has been unable to attend to the ornamental part of our design : he is however indefatigable in reading for the work. The books recommended in your last, we happen to have here; and having read them through, as well as many others, I must trouble you to send me down the following:-- Dodsley's Collection of Old ✓ Plays; Beaumont and Fletcher's Plays; Evans' Old Ballads; Ray's Proverbs ; Marston's Plays; Daniel's Tragedy of Clea patra ; Brown's Works; we shall not want Chatterton, the words he has adopted not being of Shakespeare's age; the Biographia Dramatica; and any others I may have forgatten, published before the year 1600, or
soon after it. The most valuable books, I conceive, are those which treat of the manners and customs of those times ; dictionaries, which were then scarce ; plays, and poems: but the great desideratum is to get books that are not generally known, and therefore have not been generally pillaged : but those you will consult in town are perfectly competent judges of what will be useful.
“ As to my health, the oppression on my chest is not removed : indeed, though it be now getting fast into June, we have had terrible weather till within these four days. I have been several times on the water in my uncle's very complete pleasure-boat. I think I have so far received benefit as to ground a reasonable expectation that a course of this exertion and air will be of great service to me.
“ I had forgot, sir, to say, in the fore part of my letter, that your idea of our copying the whole of Shakespeare is erroneous : we must get the last edition interleaved, and cut him up for the purpose.
“I am glad to find that — has such good employment, and wish it were permanent. As to our speculation of a partnership, I begin to fear it must end in fume ; and I would not, for an hour, stand in his way, if any thing should arise by which he might better his situation."
During his residence in Cornwall, Tobin never alluded to the circumstance of his having written plays; but whenever the drama became the subject of conversation, he discovered such prompt and familiar acquaintance with its literature, and such critical accuracy and felicity of observation in every thing connected with the stage, that it was impossible not to suppose he entertained the idea of becoming a dramatic author. In the meanwhile the Shakespearean study so completely engrossed his attention, that he became estranged from the
Muses; and no longer found in solitude, the nurse of poetry. Two or three of his finest lyrical effusions, are however traced to this period; in particular, the song in The Fisherman, beginning with · Land of my blighted hopes, Adieu. When he drew this picture of a despairing exile, he little thought he should so soon be destined to bid an eternal farewell to his native country.
Whilst he was thus detaching himself from his former pursuit, The Honey-moon, which had been long incarcerated at Drury Lane theatre, narrowly escaped being ignominiously dismissed with other literary lumber. Fortunately, it was reserved for Mr. Wroughton, whose interference on a former occasion had proved wholly unsuccessful, to rescue this play from unmerited oblivion. Through his importunity, it was submitted to unprejudiced decision, and finally, to the unspeakable joy of Mr. James Tobin, declared to be accepted. Not one moment was lost in