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THERE is no person whose patron

I age a work of this kind may so properly claim, as Your’s ; Your private life having done so much honour to the moral part, and Your public one luch justice to the principal Characters, represented in our Author's writings.

Your action has been a better comment on his Text, than all his Editors have been able to supply. You mark his beauties; They but clear his blots. You impress us with the living spirit ; They only present us the dead letter.

There is one striking similarity between Shakespeare and You, in a very uncommon particular : He is the only Dramatic Writer, who ever alike exA 2


celled in Tragedy and Comedy; and we may without Aattery venture to affim, That you are the only Performer who ever appeared with equal advantage, both in the Sock and Buskin.

If I had an higher opinion of this Work than I have, I should have still but an higher inducement for addressing it to You. From this consideration You are bound to receive it, with all its imperfe£tions on its head, being offered as a tribute of that friendship and esteem with which I have the honour to be!

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A MONG the many writers of our nation, Al who have by their talents contributed to entertain, inform, or improve our minds, no one has so happily or universally succeeded, as he whom we may juitly stile our first, our greatest Poet, Shakespeare. For more than a century and a half, this Author has been the delight of the Ingenious, the text of the Moralist, and the study of the Philosopher. Even his cotemporary writers have ingenuously yielded their plaudit to his fame, as not presuming it could lessen theirs, set at so great a distance. Such superior excellence could never be brought into a comparative light; and jealousy is dumb, when competition must be vain. For him, then, they chearfully twined the laurel-wreath, and unrepining placed it on his brow; where it will ever bloom, while sense, taste, and natural feelings of the heart, shall remain amongst the characteristics of this, or any other nation, that can be able to construe his language. He is a Claffic, and cotemporary with all ages.

True Nature's Drama represents all time :
Though old the last, the first retains its prime.




* But amidst all this burst of applause, one single
discordant voice is faintly heard. Voltaire has
stood forth his opponent. One might imagine
such a writer to have had taste enough to relish
his poetical beauties, at least, tho possibly fome
doubt might arise about his sympathy with his
inoral ones. But he unfairly tries him by Pe-
dant laws, which our Author either did not
know, or regarded not. His compositions are
a distinct species of the Drama'; and not being
an imitation of the Greek one, cannot be justly
said to have infringed its rules. Shakespeare is
a model, not a copy; he looked into nature, not in-
to books, both for men and works, 'Tis learned
ignorance, therefore, to quote the antient ex-
emplars against him. Is there no spring inspired,
but Aganippe’s font? No raptured vision, but
on Parnassus' mount? The Grecian Bards them-
felves had conceived a more liberal notion, in
this particular, who, by making Phæbus, the
God of Poetry, seem to have acknowledged in-
fpiration to be universal. lut.

But as it may Thew more, impartiality upon
this subject, to oppose one French authority to
another, I Mall here quote against M. Voltaire,
the Abbé Le Blanc's opinion of our Author, in
his Letters on the English Nation, „written to his
Friend. “ He is, says he, of all: Writers, an-
41. tient or modern, the most of an original,
" He is truly a great genius, and Nature has
«c endowed him with powers to thew it. His
" imagination is rich and strong : he paints
" whatever he sees, and embellihes whatever
! he describes. The Loves in the train of Ve-
"-nus are not represented with more grace, in

or the

the Pictures of Albanus, than this Poet gives 56. to those that attend on Cleopatra, in his de“ fcription of the pomp with which that Queen € presents herself to Mark Antony, on the " banks of the Cydnus. .; " The reputation of this Author is so great,

" that I shall not be surprized if you suspect of exaggeration in this account of him.

€¢ Those of our nation who have ever men** tioned him, have been content to praise, with

e out being capable of judging sufficiently of his to merits.'!. -111 To the further honour of our Author be it faid, that a Lady * of distinguished merit has lately appeared a champion in his cause, against this minor critic, this minute philosopher, this fly Upon a pillar of St. Paul's. It was her example which has stirred up my emulation to this ata tempt'; for I own that I am ambitious of the honour of appearing to think, at least, though I despair of the success of writing, like her..

Mr. Pope, in the Preface to his edition of this Author, says, “ Of all the English Poets,

Shakespeare must be confessed to be the faireft " and fullest fubject for Criticism, and to afford " the most numerous, as well as most confpi

' cuous, instances, both of beauties and blemishes, " of all forts." And again : “I cannot, how! ever, but mention some of his principal and * characteristic excellencies ; for which, notswithstanding his defects, he is juftly and

deservedly elevated above all other Dra* matic Writers." Mrs. Montag

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