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THE ADMIRERS OF SHAKSPEARE,
THE POET OF NATURE,
WHOSE FAME CANNOT PERISH
THE LANGUAGE IN WHICH HIS INIMITABLE WORKS ARE WRITTEN,
WHICH AIMS AT
PLACING AN ADDITIONAL WREATH ON THE BROW
The Immortal Bard,
IS, MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED,
London, Dec. 30, 1818.
It was the fatality of the greatest Dramatic Poet the world ever produced to flourish at a period when genius rarely found its merited reward, and when that art, which is the salt of literature, and which was to transmit to futurity his inimitable productions, was but in its infant state.
Regardless of immortalizing his name, he who had penetrated the most hidden stores of Nature; he who had studied man in all his various capacities and failings; he to whom the retrospect of all that had been seemed familiar, and who, as it were, looked into the very soul of time, and read futurity, yet would not see his own greatness beyond mortality, but suffered the hand of ignorance to plant sickly weeds among his everblooming flowers, and which the unabated exertions of genius, for more than a century, have not been able totally to destroy.
Many, indeed, have been the labourers that toiled in the extensive garden planted by the Immortal Bard; innumerable the weeds they separated from the flowers, and others rooted up; many the slips from parent stalks they planted, which now flourish, and, blooming in the enamelled fields of Nature, display their beauties to the gladdening sun.
But what individual could have gone over the vast garden and overcome, even in an age, each twining weed that had knitted itself to, and become as a part of the fair stem it grew by ?-Say, ye sons of science, can you point out one? No: And though ages have been employed to root up those vicious weeds, yet still are they intermixed; nor has the hand of indefatigable industry dared, in many instances, to disturb them, dreading that, in the exertion, blooming carnations must fall with sickening poppies. But whither doth metaphor lead :-Fain would she make me tread her path throughout the limitation of my prefatory walk, and introduce me to the admirers of the Immortal Bard as a son of Nature studied only in the exercise of common sense. But I must be more; Nature and Art must take me by the hand, and, quitting metaphor, display how far their fair instructions have aided me in destroying those noxious weeds which dared to rear their heads 'mongst purest flowers.
In gloomy obscurity, labouring at times under indisposition, the guillotine, as it were, suspended over my head, towards the latter period of eleven years' captivity in France, misery was almost forgotten in studying the writings of the matchless Shakspeare, and in penetrating through obscurity to dissipate the misty vapours which veiled many of his greatest beauties, that thereby his unerring genius might be justified.
However eminently distinguished Shakspeare's Commentators, however 'highly exalted their rank in the republic of letters, and however true that they merit strong encomium for their indefatigable exertions to purify our Author's text from the innumerable corruptions which, from many causes, had gained footing therein, yet did the star of genius often withdraw its beams, and suffer the cloud of obscurity to veil from their penetration the necessary corrections that would restore our Author's readings, and afford brilliant illustrations to several hundred passages !-passages which contain