chapter  27
7 Pages

JOHNSON’S Proposals for his edition of Shakespeare, 1756

All the former criticks have been so much employed on the correction of the text, that they have not sufficiently attended to the elucidation of passages obscured by accident or time. The editor will endeavour to read the books which the authour read, to trace his knowledge to its source, and compare his copies with their originals. If in this part of his design he hopes to attain any degree of superiority to his predecessors, it must be considered, that he has the advantage of their labours; that part of the work being already done, more care is naturally bestowed on the other part; and that, to declare the truth, Mr. Rowe and Mr. Pope were very ignorant of the ancient English literature; Dr. Warburton was detained by more important studies; and Mr. Theobald,1 if fame be just to his memory, considered learning only as an instrument of gain, and made no further enquiry after his authour’s meaning, when once he had notes sufficient to embellish his page with the expected decorations.