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DAVID GARRICK, Esq.

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THERE is no person whose patron

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 ex

celled

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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 fould have still but an higher inducement for addresling 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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SIR,

Your much obliged,

and most obedient Servant,

November 1,

1774

E. G,

.)

PRE FACE.

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MONG the many writers of our nation,

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 Mo

ralist, and the study of the Philofopher. 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.
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But

"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 tafte 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's and not being

an imitation of the Greek one, cannot be justly

faid 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-

spiration to be universal.

But as it may few 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-

5 tient or modern, the most of an original.

“ He is truly a great genius, and Nature has

“ endowed him with powers to thew it. His

" imagination is rich and strong : he paints

“ whatever he fees, and embelli

hes whatever
ç he describes. The Loves in the train of Ve-

's-nus are not represented with more grace, in

" the

ut amidst all this burst of applause, one fingle ordant voice is faintly heard. Voltaire has d forth his opponent. One might imagine I a writer to have had taste enough to relish poetical beauties, at least, tho? possibly some bt might arise about his sympathy with his al ones. But he unfairly tries him

Pet laws, which our Author either did not w, or regarded not. His compositions are istinct species of the Drama ; and not being mitation of the Greek one, cannot be justly I to have infringed its rules. Shakespeare is odel

, not a copy; he looked into nature, ngt inbooks, both for men and works. 'Tis learned orance, therefore, to quote the antient ex

" the Pictures of Albanus, than this Poet gives ” 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 "" me of exaggeration in this account of him. « Those of our nation who have ever men* tioned him, have been content to praise, withwas out being capable of judging sufficiently of his te merits.". -... 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 attempt; 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 fairelt "and fullest fubject for Criticisın, and to afford " the most numerous, as well as most conspi" 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, not" withstanding his defects, he is juftly and

deservedly elevated above all other Dramatic Writers."

plars against him. Is there no spring inspired,
Aganippe's font? No raptured vision, bur
Parnassus' mount? The Grecian Bards them-
es had conceived a more liberal notion, in

particular, who, by making Pbæbus the
1 of Poetry, seem to have acknowledged in-
ation to be universal.,
But as it may few more impartiality upon

subject, to oppose one French authority to
ther, I shall here quote against M, Voltaire,
Abbé Le Blanc's opinion of our Author, in
Letters on the Englijh Nation, written to his
end." He is, says he, of all. Writers, an.
ent or modern, the most of an original.

de is truly a great genius, and Nature has ndowed him with powers to thew it. His

• Mrs. Montag

magination is rich and strong : he paints

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He

or the

hatever he sees, and embellishes whatever

describes. The Loves in the train of Veis are not represented with more grace, in

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