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"Tis true, and alt mens fuffrage. But these ways
When, like Apollo, he came forth to warm
Τ Η Ε
P R E F A C E.
HE attempt to write upon SHAKET S P EAR E is like going into a large, a
spacious, and a splendid dome, through
the conveyance of a narrow and obscure entry. A glare of light suddenly breaks upon you beyond what the avenue at first promised: and a thousand beauties of genius and character, like fo many gaudy apartments pouring at once upon the eye,
diffuse and throw themselves out to the mind. The prospect is too wide to come within the compass of a single view : 'tis a gay confusion of pleasing objects, too various to be enjoyed but in a general admiration; and they must be reparated, and eyed diftin&tly, in order to give the proper entertainment,
And as in great piles of building, fome parts are often finished up to hit the taste of the con noisseur ; others more negligently put together, to
Itrike the fancy of a common and unlearned bee holder: Some parts are made ftupendously magnificent and grand, to surprize with the vast design and execution of the architect; others are con. tracted, to amuse you with his neatness and ele. gance in little. So, in Shakespeare, we may find Traits that will stand the test of the severest judge ment; and strokes as carelessly hit off, to the level of the more ordinary capacities: Some descriptions raised to that pitch of grandeur, as to astonish you with the compass and elevation of his thought: and others copying nature within so narrow, fo confined a circle, as if the author's talent lay only at drawing in miniature.
In how many points of light must we be obliged to gaze at this great poet! In how many branches of excellence to consider, and admire hiin! Whether we view him on the side of art or nature, he ought equally' to engage our atten. tion: Whether we respect the force and greatness of his genius, the extent of his knowledge and reading, the power and address with which he throws out and applies either nature, or learning, there is ample scope both for our wonder and pleasure. If his diction, and the cloathing of his thoughts attract us, how much more must we be charmed with the richness, and variety of his images and ideas! If his images and ideas steal into our Souls, and strike upon our fancy, how much are they improved in price, when we come
to reflect with what propriety and justness they are applied to character ! If we look into his characters, and how they are furnifhed and proportioned to the employment he cuts out for them, how are we taken up with the mastery of his portraits ! What draughts of nature ! What variety of originals, and how differing each from the other! How are they dressed from the stores of his own luxurious imagination; without being the apes of mode, or borrowing from any foreign wardrobe ! Each of them are the standards of fashion for themselves : like gentlemen that are above the direction of their tailors, and can adorn themselves without the aid of imitation. If other poets draw more than one fool or coxcomb, there is the same resemblance in them, as in that painter's draughts, who was happy only at forming a rose: you find them all younger brothers of the same family, and all of them have a pretence to give the same crest : But Shakespeare's clowns and fops. come all of a different houfe: they are no farther allied to one another than as man to man, members of the same species: but as different in features and lineaments of character, as we are from one another in face, or complexion, But I am unawares launching into his character as a writer, before I have said what I intended of him as a private member of the republick.
Mr. Rowe has very justly observed, that people are fond of discovering any little personal story