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THE

PRE FACE.

HE Attempt to write upon SHAKE

SPEARE is like going into a large, a spacious, and a splendid Dome

thro' the Conveyance of a narrow and obscure Entry. A Glare of Light suddenly breaks upon you, beyond what the Avenue at first promis'd: and a thousand Beauties of Genius and Character, like so many gaudy Apartments pouring at once upon the Eye, diffufe and throw themselves out to the Mind. The Profpe&t is too wide to come within the Compass of a single View: 'tis a gay Confufion of pleasing Objects, too various to be enjoyed bur in a general Admiration; and they must be separated, and ey'd distinctly, in order to give the proper Entertainment.

And as in great Piles of Building, some Parts are often finith'd up to hit the Taste of the Connoisseur ; others more negligently put rogether, to strike the Fancy of a common

and

and unlearned Beholder · Some Parts are made stupendiously magnificent and grand, to surprize with the vast Design and Execution of the Architect; others are contracted, to

amuse you with his Neatness and Elegance in A Sketch little. So, in Shakespeare, we may find Traits Shake that will stand the Test of the severest Judgspeare's general ment; and Strokes as carelesly hit off, to the Charakter. Level of the more ordinary Capacities : Some

Descriptions rais'd to chat Pitch of Grandeur, as to astonith you with the Compass and Elevation of his Thought : and others copying Nature within so narrow, so confined a Circle, as if the Author's Talent lay only at drawing in Miniature.

In how many Points of Light 'must we be oblig'd to gaze at this great Poet! In how many Branches of Excellence to consider, and admire him! Whether we view him on the Side of Art or Nature, he ought equally to engage our Attention : 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 charm'd 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 įmproy'd

in Price, when we come to reflect with what Propriety and Justness they are apply'd to Character! If we look into his Characters, and how they are furnish'd and proportion'd 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 dress'd from the Scores 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 chat 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 House: 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.

Some Para

Mr. Rowe has very justly observ'd, that ziculars of People are fond of discovering any little pervar?"Life

. Conal Story of the Great Men of Antiquity:

and that the common Accidents of their Lives 30
naturally become the Subject of our critical
Enquiries: That however trilling fuch a Cu- kill
riosity at the first View may appear, yet, as 11
for what relates to Men of Letters, the Know- ta
ledge of an Author may, perhaps, sometimes
conduce to the better understanding his Works:
And, indeed, this Author's Works, from the
bad Treatment he has met with from his E-
ditors, have so long wanted a Comment, that
one would zealoužly embrace every Mechod
of Information, that could contribute to re-
cover them from the Injuries with which
they have so long lain o'erwhelm’d.

Tis certain, that if we have firft admir'd the Man in his Writings, his Case is so circumstanc'd, that we must naturally admire the Writings in the Man : That if we go back to take a View of his Education, and the Employment in Life which Fortune had cut out for him, we Thall retain the stronger Ideas of his extenfive Genius.

His Father, we are cold, was a considerable Dealer in Wool; but having no fewer than ten Children, of whom our Shakespeare was the eldest, the beft Education he could afford him was no better than to qualify him for his own Bafiness and Employment. I cannot affirm with any Certainty how long his

Father

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