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I HAVE not hitherto discovered any novel on which this comedy appears to have been founded ; and yet the story of it has most of the features of an ancient romance, STEEvens.
As very bad a play as this is, it was certainly Shakspeare's, as appears by many fine master-strokes scattered up and down. And as our author, and Jonson his contemporary, are, confessedly, the two greatest writers in the drama that our nation could ever boast of, this may be no improper occasion to take notice of one material difference between Shakspeare's worst plays, and the other's. Our author owed all to his prodigious natural genius ; and Jonson most to his acquired parts and learning. This, if attended to, will explain the difference we speak of Which is this, that in Jonson's bad pieces, we do not discover the least traces of the author of the Fox and Alchemist ; but, in the wildest and most extravagant notes of Shakspeare, you every now and then encounter strains that recognize their divine composer. ... And the reason is this, that Jonson owing his chief excellence to art, by which he sometimes strained himself to an uncommon pitch, when he unbent himself had nothing to support him, but fell below all likeness of himself; while Shakspeare, indebted more largely to nature than the other to his acquired talents, could never, in his most negligent hours, so totally divest himself of his genius, but that it would frequently break out with amazing force and splendour. WARBURT on.
In this play, which all the editors have concurred to censure, and some have rejected as unworthy of our poet, it must be confessed, that there are many passages mean, childish, and vulgar; and some which ought not to have been exhibited, as we are told they were, to a maiden Queen. But there are scattered through the whole many sparks of genius ; nor is there any play that has more evident marks of the hand of Shakspeare. Jo HNson.
I suspect that there is an error in the title of this play, which I believe, should be—“Love's Labours Lost.” M. MAso N.
30 vol. 11.