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people was then far inferior to what it is in our days. As then the best Playhouses were Inns and Taverns (the Globe, the Hope, the Red Bull, the Fortune, &c,) fo the top of the profeffion were then meer Players, not Gentlemen of the stage: They were led into the Buttery by the Steward, not plac'd at the Lord's table, or Lady's toilette: and confequently were intirely depriv'd of thofe advantages they now enjoy, in the familiar converfation of our Nobility, and an intimacy (not to fay dearnefs) with people of the firft condition.

From what has been faid, there can be no question but had Shakespear published his works himself (efpecially in his latter time, and after his retreat from the ftage) we should not only be certain which are genuine; but fhould find in those that are, the errors leffened by fome thoufands. If I may judge from all the diftinguishing marks of his style, and his manner of thinking and writing, I make no doubt to declare that those wretched plays Pericles, Locrine, Sir John Oldcastle, Yorkshire Tragedy, Lord Cromwell, The Puritan, and London Prodigal, cannot be admitted as his. And I fhould conjecture of fome of the others, (particularly Love's Labour's Loft, The Winter's Tale, and Titus Andronicus) that only fome characters, fingle fcenes, or perhaps a few particular paffages, were of his hand. It is very probable what occafion'd fome Plays to be fuppoled Shakespear's was only this; that they were pieces produced by unknown authors, or fitted up for the Theatre while it was under his adminiftration and no owner claiming them, they were adjudged to him, as they give Strays to the Lord of


the Manor: A mistake, which (one may alfo obferve) it was not for the intereft of the Houfe to Yet the Players themselves, Heminges and Condell, afterwards did Shakespear the juftice to reject thofe eight plays in their edition; tho' they were then printed in his name, in every body's hands, and acted with fome applaufe; (as we learn from what Ben Johnson fays of Pericles in his Ode on the New Inn.) That Titus Andronicus is one of this class I am the rather induced to believe, by finding the fame Author openly exprefs his contempt of it in the Induction to Bartholomew-Fair, in the year 1614, when Shakespear was yet living. And there is no better authority for these latter fort, than for the former, which were equally published in his life-time.

If we give into this opinon, how many low and vicious parts and paffages might no longer reflect upon this great Genius, but appear unworthily charged upon him? And even in those which are really his, how many faults may have been unjustly laid to his account from arbitrary Additions, Expunctions, Tranfpofitions of fcenes and lines, confufion of Characters and Perfons, wrong application of Speeches, corruptions of innumerable Paffages by the Ignorance, and wrong Corrections of 'em again by the Impertinence, of his first Editors? From one or other of these confiderations, I am verily perfwaded, that the greatest and the groffest part of what are thought his errors would vanish, and leave his character in a light very different from that disadvantageous one, in which it now appears

to us,

I will

I will conclude by faying of Shakespear, that with all his faults, and with all the irregularity of his Drama, one may look upon his works, in comparison of those that are more finish'd and regular, as upon an ancient majestick piece of Gothick Architecture, compar'd with a neat Modern building: The latter is more elegant and glaring, but the former is more strong and more folemn. It must be allow'd, that in one of these there are materials enough to make many of the other. It has much the greater variety, and much the nobler apartments; tho' we are often conducted to them by dark, odd, and uncouth paffages. Nor does the Whole fail to ftrike us with greater reverence, tho' many of the Parts are childish, ill-plac'd, and unequal to its grandeur.

Note that one paragraph of this preface is omitted as containing matters particular to Mr. Pope's Edition, and which no ways

relate to This.



ACCOUNT of the LIFE, &c.



Written by Mr. ROWE.

T feems to be a kind of refpect due to the memory of excellent men, especially of thofe whom their wit and learning have made famous, to deliver fome account of themselves, as well as their works, to Pofterity. For this reafon, how fond do we fee fome people of difcovering any little personal story of the great men of Antiquity! their families, the common accidents of their lives, and even their fhape, make, and features have been the fubject of critical enquiries. How trifling foever this Curiofity may feem to be, it is certainly very natural; and we are hardly fatisfy'd with an account of any remarkable person, till we have heard him defcrib'd even to the very cloaths he wears. As for what relates to men of letters, the knowledge of an Author may fometimes conduce to the better understanding his book: And tho' the Works of Mr. Shakespear may feem to many not to want a comment, yet I fancy fome little account of the man himfelf may not be thought improper to go along with them.

He was the fon of Mr. John Shakespear, and was born at Stratford upon Avon, in Warwickshire, in April 1564. His family, as appears by the Regifter and publick Writings relating to that Town, were of good figure and fashion there, and are mention'd


as gentlemen. His father, who was a confiderable dealer in wool, had fo large a family, ten children in all, that tho' he was his eldeft fon, he could give him no better education than his own employment. He had bred him, 'tis true, for fome time at a Freefchool, where 'tis probable he acquired what Latin he was mafter of: But the narrowness of his circumstances, and the want of his affiftance at home, forc'd his father to withdraw him from thence, and unhappily prevented his further proficiency in that language. It is without controverfy, that in his works we fcarce find any traces of any thing that looks like an imitation of the Ancients. The delicacy of his tafte, and the natural bent of his own great Genius, (equal, if not fuperior to fome of the best of theirs) would certainly have led him to read and ftudy 'em with fo much pleafure, that fome of their fine images would naturally have infinuated themselves into, and been mix'd with his own writings; so that his not copying at leaft fomething from them, may be an argument of his never having read 'em. Whether his ignorance of the Ancients were a difadvantage to him or no, may admit of a difpute: For tho' the knowledge of 'em might have made him more correct, yet it is not improbable but that the regularity and deference for them, which would have attended that correctness, might have reftrain'd fome of that fire, impetuofity, and even beautiful extravagance which we admire in Shakespear: And I believe we are better pleas'd with thofe thoughts, altogether new and uncommon, which his own imagination fupply'd him fo abundantly with, than if he had given us the moft beautiful paffages out of the Greek and Latin poets, and that in the most agreeable manner that it was poffible for a mafter of the English language to deliver 'em.

Upon his leaving fchool, he feems to have given entirely into that way of living which his father propos'd to him; and in order to fettle in the world after a family manner, he thought fit to marry while he was yet very young. His wife was the Daughter of one Hathaway, faid to have been a fubftantial yeoman in the neighbourhood of Stratford. In this kind of fettlement he continu❜d for fome time, 'till an extravagance that he was guilty of forc'd him both out of his country and that way of living which he had taken up; and tho' it feem'd at firft to be a blemish upon his good manners, and a misfortune to him, yet it afterwards happily prov'd the occafion of exerting one of the greatest Genius's that ever was known in dramatick Poetry. He had, by a misfortune common enough to young fellows, fallen into ill company; and amongst them, fome that made a frequent practice of Deerftealing, engag'd him with them more than once in robbing a Park that belong'd to Sir Thomas Lucy of Cherlecot, near Stratford.


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