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who has a turn to sculpture, and is thereby capable of improving upon the ancients, in the imagery of ever-greens. I proceed to his catalogue. Adam and Eve in yew ; Adam a little shattered by

the fall of the tree of knowledge in the great storm;

Eve and the serpent very flourishing. Noah's ark in holly, the ribs a little damaged for

want of water. The tower of Babel, not yet finished. St. George in box; his arm scarce long enough, but

will be in a condition to stick the dragon by next

April. A green dragon of the same, with a tail of groundivy for the present.

N. B. These two not to be sold separately. Edward the Black Prince in cypress. A laurustine bear in blossom, with a juniper hunter

in berries. A pair of giants stunted, to be sold cheap. A Queen Elizabethi in phyllirea, a little inclining to

the green sickness, but of full growth. Another Queen Elizabeth in myrtle, which was very

forward, but miscarried by being too near a savine. An old maid of honour in wormwood.

A topping Ben Jonson in laurel. Divers eminent modern poets in bays, somewhat

blighted, to be disposed of a pennyworth. A quick-set hog shot up into a porcupine, by being

forgot a week in rainy weather. A lavendar pig, with sage growing in his belly. A pair of maidenheads in fir, in great forwardness.

He also cutteth family pieces of men, women, and children, so that any gentleman may have his lady's effigies in myrtle, or his own in hornbeam.

Thy wife shall be as the fruitful vine, and thy children as olive-branches round thy table,

1

PRE FACE

TO THE

WORKS OF SHAKESPEAR.

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P R E FACE

TO THE

WORKS OF SHAKESPEAR.

IT is not my design to enter into a criticism upon

this author; though to do it effectually and not superficially, 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 fairest and fullest subject for criticism, and to afford the most numerous, as well as most conspicuous 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

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 criticks 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 characteristick excellencies, for which (notwithstanding his defects) he is justly and universally elevated above all other dramatick writers. Not that

VOL. IV.

to us.

HH

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 so immediately from the fountains of nature ; it proceeded through Egyptian strainers and channels, and came to him not without some tincture 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 instrument, of nature; and it is not so just to say that he speaks from her, as that she speaks through him.

His characters are so much nature herself, that it is a sort of injury to call them by so distant a name as copies of her. Those of other poets have a constant resemblance which shews that they received them from one another, and were but multipliers of the same image ; each picture, like a mock-rainbow, is but the reflection of a reflection. But every single 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 twins, will, upon comparison, be found remarkably distinct. 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 might have applied them with certainty to every speaker.

The power over our passions was never possessed in a more eminent degree, or displayed in so different instances. Yet all along, there is seen no labour, no pains to raise them; no preparation to guide or guess to the effect, or be perceived to lead toward it: but the heart swells, and the tears burst out, just at the proper places : we are surprised the moment we weep; and yet upon reflection, find the passion so just, that

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