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futurity is indeed no accurate expression, but as we only know transactions past or present, the language of men affords no term for the volumes of prescience, in which future events may be supposed to be written.
Macbeth. IF thou speak’st false,
I pull in resolution..........
Though this is the reading of all the editions, yet as it is a phrase without either example, elegance, or propriety, it is surely better to read
I pall in resolution.........
I languish in my constancy, my confidence begins to forsake me. It is scarcely necessary to observe how easily pall might be changed into pull by a negligent writer, or mistaken for it by an unskilful printer.
Seyward. Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
This incident is thus related from Henry of Huntingdon by Camden in his Remains, from which our author probably copied it.
When Seyward, the martial carl of Northumberland, understood that his son, whom he had sent in service against the Scotchmen, was slain, he demanded whether his wound were in the fore part or hinder part of his body. When it was answered in the fore part, he replied, “ I am right glad ; neither wish I any other death to me or mine."
AFTER the foregoing pages were printed, the late edition of Shakspeare, ascribed to Sir Thomas Hanmer, fell into my hands ; and it was therefore convenient for me to delay the publication of my remarks, till I had examined whether they were not anticipated by similar observations, or precluded by better. I therefore read over this tragedy, but found that the editor's apprehersion is of a cast so different from mine, that he appears to find no difficulty in most of those passages which I have represented as unintelligible, and has therefore passed smoothly over them, without any attempt to alter or explain them.
Some of the lines with which I had been perplexed, have been indeed so fortunate as to attract his regard ; and it is not without all the satisfaction which it is usual to express on such occasions, that I find an entire agreement between us in substituting (see Note II.] quarrel for quarry, and in explaining the adage of the cat [Note XVII.] But this pleasure is, like most others, known only to be regretted; for I have the unhappiness to find no such conformity with regard to any other passage.
The line which I have endeavoured to amend, Note XI. is likewise attempted by the new editor, and is perhaps the only passage in the play in which he has not submissively admitted the emendations of foregoing critics. Instead of the common reading,
.......Doing every thing
Safe towards your love and honour, he has published,
.........Doing every thing Shap'd towards your love and honour. This alteration, which, like all the rest attempted by him, the reader is expected to admit, without any reason alleged in its defence, is in my opinion, more plausible than that of Mr. Theobald ; whether it is right, i am not to determine.
In the passage which I have altered in Note XL. an emendation is likewise attempted in the late edition, where, for
..........And the chance of goodness Be like our warranted quarrel,
is substituted..... And the chance in goodness.....whether with more or less elegance, dignity, and propriety, than the reading which I have offered, I must again decline the province of deciding.
Most of the other emendations which he has endeavoured, whether with good or bad fortune, are too trivial to deserve mention. For surely the weapons of criticism ought not to be blunted against an editor, who can imagine that he is restoring poetry, while he is amusing himself with alterations like these ;
For ......... This is the sergeant,
Who like a good and hardy soldier fought ;
........ This is the sergeant, who
For .Dismay'd not this
Our captains Macbeth and Banquo ?.... Yes;
....... Dismay'd not this Our captains brave Macbeth and Banquo ?..... Yes.
Such harmless industry may, surely, be forgiven, if it cannot be praised ; may he therefore never want a monosyllable, who can use it with such wonderful dexterity.
Rumpatur quisquis rumpitur invidia !
The rest of this edition I have not read, but, from the little that I have seen think it not dangerous to declare,
that, in my opinion, its pomp recommends it more than its accuracy. There is no distinction made between the ancient reading, and the innovations of the editor ; there is no reason given for any of the alterations which are made ; the emendations of former critics are adopted without any acknowledgment, and few of the difficulties are removed which have hitherto embarrassed the read. ers of Shakspeare.
I would not, however, be thought to insult the editor, nor to censure him with too much petulance, for having failed in little things, of whom I have been told, that he excels in greater. But I may without indecency, observe, that no man should attempt to teach others what he has never learned himself; and that those who, like Themistocles, have studied the arts of policy, and can teach a small state how to grow great, should, like him, disdain to labour in trifles, and consider petty accomplishments as below their ambition.*
* To this article, when first printed, Dr. Johnson affixed Proposals for a new edition of Shakspeare. These he afterwards dilata ed into the following larger Prospectus.