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job would eventually appear; and as I had previously rescued the lovers of our old drama from a verbatim copy of Monck Mason's Massinger, I ventured to hope for their liberal construction of my endeavours in the kindred office of relieving them from a second edition of Mr. Weber's Ford
All this may savour of vanity-to those who know me not. About this, however, I give myself no concern, well assured that the most inveterate of my enemies cannot entertain a humbler opinion of this work than I do myself, as far as Mr. Weber and his friends are concerned. If it prove useful to the cause of truth and justice, and tend, in any degree, to check the unlicensed career of ignorance and presumption, I have all the reward that I ever coveted.
To the text, which will, I flatter myself, be found as correct as that of Massinger, a few short notes are subjoined: and here I must bespeak the reader's indulgence if he occasionally observes an explanation when all seems sufficiently clear; in these cases, the reference is always to the labours of Mr. Weber, who might, if consulted, still mislead the reader. Of the general nature of this person's notes some idea may be formed by the few (they are but a few) which I have placed, as specimens, in the Introductory part. My remarks, together with the innumerable corrections of the text, should have been subjoined to the respective
pages, had I not indulged a hope that whenever another edition of this poet should be called for, the future editor (as the reading will then probably be considered as established) would remove this part of the Introduction, and relieve the work altogether from the name of WEBER.
To the dramas I have subjoined, for the first time, “ Fame's Memorial,” which had been already given to the press, from the old copy, by Mr. Joseph Haslewood.* It requires no comment. A few good lines, and even stanzas, might be selected from it; but as a whole it is little more than the holiday task of an ambitious school-boy. The elegies and encænias of those days were usually of a formidable length; bụt the mortuary tribute of our youthful bard outstrips them all. In ten pages, he might have said all that he had to say, or his subject required; but he was determined to have fifty, and the inevitable consequence followed:-five times he repeats himself, and in
* The preface to this publication by the editor, the professed admirer of Mr. Weber's talents, is drawn up with such neatness and perspicuity that it would be a crying injustice to the author to suppress it ; were it not morally certain that, like the poem to which it is prefixed, it would never obtain a reader. At the conclusion, Mr. Haslewood, who qualifies himself very properly as an unspleened dove, bas aimed a swashing-blow at me--who was even ignorant of bis existence of a most tremendous kind.
Be merciful, great duke, to men of mould !
every successive repetition becomes more vapid, unnatural and wearisome. What is still more vexatious, after dragging his reader through an hundred seven line stanzas, and very pertinently demanding
“What more yet unremembered can I say?"
he bursts forth in a deep and awful strain of pathos, which Old Jeronymo never reached.
“ Life? ah, no life, but soon extinguish'd tapers !
Tapers ? no tapers, but a burnt out light!
A night? no night, but picture of an elf!
He then erects “ Nine Tombs" over his patron's ashes, upon every one of which he places an epitaph; and, as if this were not sufficient, breaks out once more in a childish rant, which can only excite pity by its hopeless imbecility.
Could it be supposed for an instant, that a single person would toil through this “ Memorial," I should have subjoined an observation or two, for which occasion was offered - but to write merely to be overlooked is not very encouraging; I have therefore satisfied myself with the reprint, leaving the notes to be hereafter excogitated by
the former editor, who, after innocently confounding the poet with his cousin of Gray's Inn, very feelingly laments that “ there yet survives a puny race of fastidious readers, who will persist to esteem a naked text in preference to a page enriched by notes critical and illustrative"!
The work closes with an additional poem composed under better auspices, and in a far better taste. It is a warm and cordial tribute of praise to the “ BEST OF English Poets," written in 1637, and published in the Jonsonius Virbius of the following year. Two or three smaller pieces, of a complimentary kind, might be added; but they are not worth the labour of transcribing, and the reader, who has yet to wade through the corruptions of the last edition, has already been too long detained from the dramatic pieces.