1794 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edward Capell

Thomas James Mathias, in Pursuits of Literature (1794 ) 32-33 & n.



What? — must I enter the dramatic course,
Burst through the countless squadrons foot and horse?
All that for Massinger and Beaumont stickle,
But leave their authors in a wretched pickle;
From CAPELL steal, yet never own the theft,
And then desert him of his store bereft.
Oh injur'd Patron of our noblest bard!
CAPELL, receive this tribute of regard,
And may this feeble verse to life and light
Call forth thy name, and vindicate thy right.

Mr CAPELL, the Editor, I call him the Patron of SHAKESPEARE. — This gentleman was of a singular turn of mind, perhaps a little too minute, but of a curiosity unbounded and insatiable. They who are acquainted with his critical writings on Shakspeare, and his accurate researches into this species of antiquity, and who have considered and estimated his edition of the Poet, will not scruple with me to pronounce him the Father of all legitimate Commentary on Shakspeare. To this gentleman's intimacy, and to the knowledge of his most learned investigations, were admitted men whom I forbear to name. But mark the consequences. His edition was condemned, or I should rather say, damned, by those who, in the poet's own words,

To his unguarded nest, like weasel critics,
Come sneaking, and so suck'd his princely eggs.

And when the SCHOOL of SHAKSPEARE in 3 vols. 4to. was published (alas! after his death) we were told forsooth, that we had nothing to learn on the subject. Indeed! — I am pleased however to see that Mr. Capell's Preface is admitted into the new edition of Shakspeare, in FIFTEEN volumes. It will not be too much to hope for an edition in Fifty volumes quarto, printed on a wire-wove paper, and hot-pressed.