« السابقةمتابعة »
and obscurity, through integrity and corruption ; les him preserve his comprehension of the dialogue and his interest in the fable. And when the pleasures of novelty have ceased, let him attempt exactness; and read the commentators.
Particular passages are cleared by notes, but the general effect of the work is weakened. The mind is resrigerated by interruption; the thoughts are diverted from the principal subject; the reader is weary, he suspects not why; and at last throws away the book, which he has too diligently studied.
Parts are not to be examined till the whole has been surveyed; there is a kind of intellectual remotenets necessary for the comprehension of any great work in its full design and its true proportions; a close approach shews the smaller niceties, but the beauty of the whole is discerned no longer.
It is not very grateful to consider how little the succession of editors has added to this authour's power of pleasing. He was read, admired, studied, and imitated, while he was yet deformed with all the improprieties which ignorance and neglect could accumulate upon him; while the reading was yet not rectified, nor his allusions understood; yet then did Dryden pronounce “ that Shakespeare was the man,
who, of all modern and perhaps ancient poets, “ had the largest and most comprehensive soul. All “ the images of nature were still present to him, “ and he drew them not laboriously, but luckily: “ When he describes any thing, you more than see
“ it, you feel it too. Those who accuse him to “ have wanted learning, give him the greater com« mendation : he was naturally learned: he needed “ not the spectacles of books to read nature ; he “ looked inwards, and found her there. I cannot
say he is every where alike; were he so, I should u do him injury to compare him with the greatest " of mankind. He is many times flat and insipid; “ his comick wit degenerating into clenches, his se“ rious swelling into bombast. But he is always
great, when some great occasion is presented to " him : No man can say, he ever had a fit subject “ for his wit, and did not then raise himself as high s above the rest of poets,
" Quantum lenta solent inter viburna cupresi.”
It is to be lamented, that such a writer should want a commentary; that his language should be. come obsolete, or his sentiments obscure. But it is vain to carry wishes beyond the condition of human things; that which must happen to all, has happened to Shakespeare, by accident and time; and more than has been suffered by any other writer since the use of types, has been suffered by him through his own negligence of fame, or perhaps by that superiority of mind, which despised its own performances, when it compared them with its powers, and judged those works unworthy to be preserved, which the criticks of following ages were to contend for the fame of restoring and explaining. 3
Aniong these candidates of inferiour fame, I am now to stand the judgment of the publịck ; and wish that I could confidently produce my commentary as equal to the encouragement which I have had the honour of receiving. Every work of this kind is by its nature deficient, and I should feel liccle solicitude about the sentence, were it to be pronounced only by the skilful and the learned.
F I N 1 s.