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An Elegy on the death of that famous writer and actor, Mr. William Shakspeare.
I dare not do thy memory that wrong,
Nor is it fit each humble muse should have
Thy worth his subject, now thou art laid in grave.
Whose worthless pamphlets are not sense in prose.
And Nature's self, what she did brag of most?
And think it happiness enough, we have
With the bright lustre of thy matchless rhymes.
In Memory of our famous Shakspeare.
Sacred Spirit, whiles thy lyre
Orpheus wonder'd at thy strains:
Plautus sigh'd, Sophocles wept
So bright a genius should appear;
Like those that seem to preach, but prate.
Thou wert truly priest elect,
By thy wit and skill divine.
That were all their other glories
Their garments ever shall be gay.
Slowly tread, and sadly mourn.
In Remembrance of Master William Shakspeare.
Beware, delighted poets, when you sing,
The banks of Avon; for each flow'r,
See, my lov'd Britons, see your Shakspeare rise,
DRYDEN'S Prologue to his Alteration of
Shakspeare, who (taught by none) did first impart
Our Shakspeare wrote too in an age as blest,
Shakspeare, the genius of our isle, whose mind
Express'd all images, enrich'd the stage,
Some scions shot from this immortal root,
But like the radiant twins that gild the sphere, Fletcher and Beaumont next in pomp appear. FENTON'S Epistle to Southerne, 1711.
An Inscription for a Monument of Shakspeare. O youths and virgins: O declining eld: O pale misfortune's slaves: O ye who dwell Unknown with humble quiet; ye who wait In courts, or fill the golden seat of kings: O sons of sport and pleasure: 0 thou wretch That weep'st for jealous love, or the sore wounds Of conscious guilt, or death's rapacious hand, Which left thee void of hope: O ye who roam In exile; ye who through the embattled field Seek bright renown; or who for nobler palms Contend, the leaders of a public cause; Approach: behold this marble. Know ye not The features? Hath not oft his faithful tongue Told you the fashion of your own estate, The secrets of your bosom? Here then, round His monument with reverence while ye stand, Say to each other: "This was Shakspeare's form; "Who walk'd in every path of human life, "Felt every passion; and to all mankind "Doth now, will ever, that experience yield "Which his own genius only could acquire."
The British Eagle and the Mantuan Swan
Far from the sun and summer gale,
Thine too these golden keys, immortal boy!
Next Shakspeare sat, irregularly great,
From the same Author's Pleasures of Imagination, To his behests these willingly repair,
When learning's triumph o'er her barb'rous foes
Those aw'd by terrors of his magic wand, The which not all their powers united might with stand.
LLOYD'S Progress of Envy, 1751.
Oh, where's the bard, who at one view
LLOYD'S Shakspeare, a Poem.
In the first seat, in robe of various dies,
Upon Shakspeare's Monument at Stratford-upon- The other held a globe, which to his will
Great Homer's birth seven rival cities claim;
Obedient turn'd, and own'd a master's skill:
2 l l l l l l l l l
Original Dedication & Prefare
To the Players' Edition.
The Dedication of the Players. Prefixed to Fellow alive, as was our SHAKESPEARE, by
the first folio, 1623.
To the most Noble and Incomparable Paire of Brethren, William Earle of Pembroke, &c. Lord Chamberlaine to the King's most Excellent Majesty, and Philip Earle of Montgomery, &c. Gentleman of his Majesties Bedchamber. Both Knights of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, and our singular good Lords.
Whilst we studie to be thankful in our particular, for the many favors we have received from your L. L. we are falne upon the ill fortune, to mingle two the most diverse things that can bee, feare, and rashnesse; rashnesse in the enterprize, and feare of the successe. For, when we valew the places your H. H. sustaine, we cannot but know their dignity greater, then descend to the reading of these trifles and, while we name them trifles, we have depriv'd ourselves of the defence of our Dedication. But since your L. L. have been pleas'd to thinke these trifles some-thing, heeretofore; and have prosequuted both them, and their Authour living, with so much favour : we hope that (they out-living him, and he not having the fate, common with some, to be exequutor writings) you will use the same indulgence toward them, you have done unto their parent. There is a great difference, whether any booke choose his Patrones, or finde them : This hath done both. For, so much were your L. L. likings of the severall parts, when they were acted, as before they were published, the Volume ask'd to be yours. We have but collected them, and done an office to the dead, to procure his Orphanes, Guardians; without ambition either of selfe-profit, or fame; onely to keepe the memory of so worthy a Friend, and
to his owne
humble offer of his playes, to your most noble served, no man to come neere your L. L. but patronage. Wherein, as we have justly obwith a kind of religious addresse, it hath bin the height of our care, who are the Presenters, to make the present worthy of your H. H. by the perfection. But, there we must also crave our abilities to be considered, my Lords. We cannot go beyond our owne powers. Country hands reach foorth milke, creame, fruites, or what they have and many Nations (we have heard) that had not gummes and incense, obtained their requests with a leavened Cake. It was no fault to approch their Gods by what meanes they could: And the most, though meanest, of things are made more precious, when they are dedicated to Temples. In that name therefore, we most humbly consecrate to your H. H. these remaines of your servant SHAKESPEARE; that what delight is in them may be ever your L. L. the reputation his, and the faults ours, if any be committed, by a payre so carefull to shew their gratitude both to the living, and the dead, as is
Your Lordshippes most bounden,
The Preface of the Players. Prefixed to the first folio edition published in 1623.
To the great variety of Readers,
From the most able, to him that can but spell there you are number'd. We had rather you were weigh'd. Especially, when the fate of all Bookes depends upon your capacities : and not of your heads alone, but of your purses. Well! it is now publique, and you wil stand for your priviledges we know to read, and censure. Do so, but buy it first. That doth
best commend a Booke, the Stationer saies. Then, how odde soever your braines be, or your wisedomes, make your licence the same, and spare not. Judge your sixe-pen'orth, your shillings worth, your five shillings worth at a time, or higher, so you rise to the just rates, and welcome. But, whatever you do, Buy. Censure will not drive a Trade, or make the Jacke go. And though you be a Magistrate of wit, and sit on the Stage at Black-Friers, or the Cock-pit, to arraigne Playes dailie, know, these Playes have had their triall alreadie, and stood out all Appeales; and do now come forth quitted rather by a Decree of Court, than any purchas'd Letters of commendation.
It had bene a thing, we confesse, worthie to have bene wished, that the Author himselfe had lived to have set forth, and overseen his owne writings: But since it hath bin ordain'd otherwise, and he by death departed from that right, we pray you, doe not envie his Friends, the office of their care and paine, to have collected and publish'd them; and so to have publish'd them, as where (before) you were abus'd with divers stolne, and surreptitious copies, maimed
and deformed by the frauds and stealthes of injurious impostors, that expos'd them: even those are now offer'd to your view cur'd and perfect of their limbes; and all the rest, absolate in their numbers, as be conceived them: Who, as he was a happie imitator of Nature, was a most gentle expresser of it. His mind and band went together: and what he thought, he uttered with that easinesse, that wee have scarse received from him a blot in his papers. But it is not our province, who onely gather his works, and give them you, to praise him. It is yours that reade him. And there we hope, to your divers capacities, you will finde enough, both to draw, and hold you for his wit can no more lie hid, then it could be lost. Reade him, therefore; and againe, and againe: And if then you doe not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger, not to understand him. And so we leave you to other of his Friends, whom if you need, can bee your guides: if you neede them not, you can leade yourselves, and others. And such readers we wish him.
JOHN HEMINGE, HENRIE CONDELL.
Every possible adulteration has of late years been practised in fitting up copies of this folio edition. When leaves have been wanting, they have been reprinted with battered types, and foisted into vacancies, without notice of such defects and the remedies applied to them.
When the title has been lost, a spurious one has been fabricated, with a blank space left for the head of Shakspeare, afterwards added from the second, third, or fourth impression. To conceal these frauds, thick vermillion lines have been usually drawn over the edges of the engravings, which would otherwise have betrayed themselves when let into a supplemental page, however craftily it was lined at the back, and discoloured with tobacco-water till it had ascumed the true jaune antique.
Sometimes leaves have been inserted from the second folio, and in a known instance, the entire play of Cymbeline; the genuine date at the end of it (1632) having been altered into 1623.
Since it was thought advantageous to adopt such contrivances while the book was only va
Mr. Garrick, about forty years ago, paid only 17. 16s. to Mr. Payne at the Meuse Gate for a fine copy of this folio.-After the death of our Roscius, it should have accompanied his collection of old plays to the British Museum; but had been taken out of his library, and has not been heard of since.
Perhaps the original impression of the book did not amount to more than 250; and we may suppose that different fires in London had their share of them. Before the year 1649 they were so scarce, that (as Mr. Malone has observed) King Charles I. was obliged to content himself with a folio 1632, at present in my possession.
It is not my design to enter into a criticism upon this author; though to do it effectually, and not superficially, would be the best occasion that any just writer could take, to form the judgment and taste of our nation. For of all English poets, Shakspeare must be confessed to be the fairest and fullest subject for criticism, and to afford the most numerous, as well as most conspicuous instances, both of beauties and faults of all sorts. But this far exceeds the bounds of a preface, the business of which is only to give an account of the fate of his works, and the disadvantages under which they have been transmitted to us. We shall hereby exte-kably distinct. To this life and variety of chaDuate many faults which are his, and clear him from the imputation of many which are not: a design, which, though it can be no guide to future critics to do him justice in one way, will at least be sufficient to prevent their doing him an injustice in the other.
His characters are so much nature herself, that it is a sort of injury to call them by so distant a name as copies of her. Those of other poets, have a constant resemblance, which shows that they received them from one another, and were but multipliers of the same image: each picture, like a mock rainbow, is but the reflection of a reflection. But every single character in Shakspeare is as much an individual as those in life itself: it is as impossible to find any two alike; and such as from their relation or affinity in any respect appear most to be twins, will, upon comparison, be found remar
I cannot however but mention some of his principal and characteristic excellencies, for which (notwithstanding his defects) he is justly and universally elevated above all other dramatic writers. Not that this is the proper place of praising him, but because I would not omit any occasion of doing it.
If ever any author deserved the name of an original, it was Shakspeare. Homer himself drew not his art so immediately from the fountains of nature; it proceeded through Egyptian strainers and channels, and came to him not without some tincture of the learning, or some cast of the models, of those before him. The poetry of Shakspeare was inspiration indeed : he is not so much an imitator, as an instrument of nature; and it is not so just to say that he speaks from her, as that she speaks through him.
racter, we must add the wonderful preservation of it: which is such throughout his plays, that had all the speeches been printed without the very names of the persons, I believe one might have applied them with certainty to every speaker.*
The power over our passions was never possessed in a more eminent degree, or displayed in so different instances. Yet all along, there is seen no labour, no pains to raise them; no preparation to guide our guess to the effect, or be perceived to lead toward it but the heart swells, and the tears burst out, just at the proper places we are surprised the moment we weep; and yet upon reflection find the passion so just, that we should be surprised if we had not wept, and wept at that very moment.
How astonishing is it again, that the passions directly opposite to these, laughter and spleen,
Addison, in the 273d Spectator, has delivered a similar opinion respecting Homer: "There is reader may not ascribe to the person who speaks scarce a speech or action in the Iliad, which the or acts, without seeing his name at the head of it." STEEVENS.