Графични страници
PDF файл


tion; the beauties observed by the former be. ing marked with a single inverted comma, and those by the latter with a double one.-Besides these, the beauties, as regularly selected from each play by Mr Dodd, are pointed out, p. xlix. et seq. in the order of the volumes and plays, with directions to the pages and lines where each of them occur, together with Mr Warburton's general criticism on his plays.

Suspected passages or interpolations, upon the authorities of Mr Pope, the Oxford editor, and Mr Warburton, are thrown down to the bottom of the page, with proper marks referring to the places of their insertion.--Some lines in different places are inclosed within hooks or crotchets, as, in Mr Warburton's opi. nion, foisted into the text by the players, or of spurious issue, and noted as such at the bottom of the page; and several chasms or defects are pointed out y asterisks, with probable conjec: tures for supplying them.

The Glossary and Index are extremely copious, free of blunders, and reduced to a strict alphabetical order.

It will not be expected, that the Editors Tould enter into a discussion of the Author's character as a dramatic writer; but they have prefixed Mr Pope's Preface, Mr Rowe's account of his life and writings, and Ben Johnson's poem to his memory, which will answer that purpose better than any thing they could fay on the subject.

Mr P O p E's Preface.

[ocr errors]

T is not my design to enter into a criticism upon

this author; though to do it effectually, and not fu

perficially, would be the best occasion that any just writer could take, to form the judgment and taste of our nation. For of all English poets Shakespear must be confessed to be the faireft and fullest subject for criticism, and to afford the most numerous, as well as most confpicuous instances, both of beauties and faults of all sorts. But this far exceeds the bounds of a preface; the business of which is only to give an account of the fate of his works, and the disadvantages under which they have been transmitted to us. We shall hereby extenuate many faults which are his, and clear him from the imputation of many which are not : A design which, though it can be no guide to future critics to do him justice in one way, will at least be sufficient to prevent their doing him an injustice in the other.

I cannot however but mention some of his principal and characteristic excellencies, for which (notwithstanding his defects) he is juftly and universally elevated above all other dramatic writers. Not that this is the proper place of praising him, but because I would not omit any occasion of doing it.

If ever any author deserved the name of an original, it was Shakespear. Homer himself drew not his art fó immediately fron the fountains of nature; it proceeded through Ægyptian strainers and channels, and came to him not without some tinciure of the learning, or some cast of the models, of those before him. The

poetry of Shakespear was inspiration indeed: he is not so much an imitator, as an instrumeni, of Nature; and it is not so just to say, that he speaks from her, as that the speaks through him.

His characters are so much Nature herself, that it is a fort of injury to call them by so distant a name as copies of her. Those of other poets have a constant refemblance, which hews that they received them from one


another, and were but multipliers of the fame image : each picture, like a mock-rainbow, is but the reflection of a reflection. But every fingle character in Shakespear is as much an individual as those in life itself; it is as impossible to find any two alike; and such as from their relation or affinity in any respect appear most to be iwins, will upon comparison be found remarkably distinét. To this life and variety of character, we must add the wonderful preservation of it; which is such throughout his plays, that, had all the speeches been printed without the very names of the persons, I believe one miglit have applied them with certainty to every speaker.

The power over our pations was never possessed in a more eminent degree, or displayed in so different inItances. Yer all along there is leen no labour, no pains to raise them; no preparation to guide our guess to the effect, or be perceived to lead toward it : but the heart fwells, and the tears burst out, juit at the proper places. We are surprised the moment we weep; and yet upon reflection find the passion fo just, that we should be furprised if we had not wept, and wept at that very moinent,

How aftonishing is it again, that the paflions directly opposite to these, laughter and spleen, are no less at his. command! that he is not more a master of the greut than of the ridiculous in human nature; of our noblest tendurnesses, than of our vainest foibles; of our strongeit emotions, than of our idlest sensations !

Nor does he only excel in the passions : in the coolnefs of reflection and reasoning he is full as admirable. His sentiments are not only in general the most pertinent ard judicious upon every subject; but by a talent very peculiar, something between penetration and felicity, he hits upon that particular point on which the bent of cach argument turns, or the force of each motive depends. This is perfectly amazing, from a man of no education or experience in those great and public scenes of life which are usually the subject of his thoughts : so that he seems to have known the by intuition, to have looked through human nature at one glance, and to be the only author that gives ground for a very

« ПредишнаНапред »