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in Dramatical Passions, thinks a Lady in her Circumstances cannot, without Absurdity, open a Let-ter that comes to her on Surprize, with any more Preparation than the most unconcern’d Person alive should a common Letter by the Penny-Poft. I'll beg Leave to put him in mind of two Passages in Shakepear, in both which the Poet has, upon opening Letters, prefac'd the Action with the like Address to the Wax. The first is in King Lear, where Edgar having, in Defence of his Father, kill'd Gonerils Steward, searches his Pockets for Papers, and finding a Letter, breaks it open, with this Introduction. Leaye, gentle Wax ; and Manners blame us not; To know out Enemies Minds, we rip their Hearts; Their Papers are more lawful.
The other is in Cymbeline. The Princess Imogen, whose Husband is banished, has a Letter from him brought to her by her. Servant Pifanio. The poor Lady, whose Love makes her afraid that her absent Lord may either not be in Health, or discontented at his Exile, prays, neither of these may be the Case, and breaks up the Letter with somewhat more So
tions ? And, I am sure I could match them with
Who does not see at once, that the heaviest Foot that ever trod, could not wear out the everlasting Flint? Or, that he, that does not think, has no Thought in him ? Or, that Repentance can avail nothing, when a Man has no Repentance? Yet let these Passages appear with the casting Weight of Allowance, the Licentia fumptus pudenter, as Horace calls it; and their Absurdity will not be so extravagant, as when examined by the literal Touchstone. But it is high Time to conclude. - If Mr. Pope is angry with me for attempting to restore Shakespear, I hope the Publick are not. Admit my Sheets have no other Merit, they will at least have this: They will awaken him to fome Degree of Accuracy in his next Addition of that Poet, which we are to have in a few Months : And then we shall fee whether we owed the Errors of the former Edition to Indiligence, or his Inexperience in the Author. And as my Remarks upon the whole Works of ShakeSpoar shall closely attend upon the Publication of his Edition, I'll venture to promife without Arrogance, that I'll then give above five hundred more fair Emendations, that thall escape him and all his Afiftants.
I am, Sir,
Your very humble Servant, > LEW. THEOBALD.