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"ris true, and all mens fuffrage. But these ways
Were not the paths I meant unto thy praife:
For seeliest ignorance on these may light,
Which, when it sounds at best, but echoes right;
Or blind affe&tion, which doth ne'er' advance
The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance;
Or crafty malice might pretend this praise,
And think to ruin, where it seem'd to raife.
These are, as some infamous bawd, or whore,
Should praise a matron. What could hurt her more?
But thou art proof againft them, and, indeed,
Above th’ill fortune of them, or the need.
I therefore will begin-Soul of the age !
Th’applaufe! delight! the wonder of our stage !
My Shakespeare, rile! I will not lodze thee by
Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie
A little further, to make thee a room:
Thou art a monument without a tomb.
And art alive still, while thy book doth live,
And we have wits to read, and praise to give.
That I not mix thee fo, my brain excuses;
I mean with great, but disproportion'd mufes:
For if I thought my judgment were of years,
I should commit thee, surely, with thy peers :
And tell how far thou didft our Lilly out-shine,
Or sporting Kid, or Marlow's mighty line.
And though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek,
From thence to honour thee, I would not seek
For names; but call forth thund'ring Æschylus,
Euripides, and Sophocles to us,
Pacuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead,
To live again, to hear thy Buskin tread,
And Make a fage: Or, when thy focks were on,
Leave thee alone for the comparison
Of all, that infolent Greece, or haughty Rome
Sent forth, or fince did from their alhes come.
Triumph, my Britain! thou hast one to show,
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.
He was not of an age, but for all time!
And all the mufes still were in their prime,

When, like Apollo, he came forth to warm
Our ears, or like a Mercury to charm.
Nature herself was proud of his designs,
And joy'd to wear the dressing of his lines :
Which were so richly spun, and wove so fit,
As, since, she will vouchsafe no other wit.
The merry Greek, tart Aristophanes,
Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please ;
But antiquated, and deserted lie,
As they were not of nature's family,
Yet must I not give nature all: Thy art,
My gentle Shakespeare, must enjoy a part.
For though the Poet's matter nature be,
His art doth give the fashion: And, that he,
Who cafts to write a living line, muft sweat
(Such as thine are) and strike the second beat
Upon the muses anvile; turn the same,
(And himself with it) that he thinks to frame,
Or for the laurel he may gain a scorn:
For a good Poet's made, as well as born.
And such wert thou. Look how the father's face
Lives in his issue, even so the race
Of Shakespeare's mind and manners brightly shines
In his well torned, and true-filed lines :
In each of which he seems to shake a lance,
As brandish'd at the eyes of ignorance.
Sweet Swan of Avon! what a light it were
To fee: thee in our water yet appear,
And make those Alights upon the banks of Thamesy
That so did take Eliza and our James !
But stay, I see thee in the hemisphere
Advanc'd, and made a constellation there!
Shine forth, thoa starre of Poets ! and with rage,
Or influence, chide, or chear, the drooping stage:
Which, since thy fligħt from hence, hath mourn'd like

night,
And despairs day, but for thy volume's light.

BEN JOHNSON:

THE Τ Η Ε

P R E F A C E.

HE attempt to write upon SHAKET S P EAR E is like going into a large, a

spacious, and a splendid dome, through

the conveyance of a narrow and obscure entry. A glare of light suddenly breaks upon you beyond what the avenue at first promised: and a thousand beauties of genius and character, like fo many gaudy apartments pouring at once upon the eye,

diffuse and throw themselves out to the mind. The prospect is too wide to come within the compass of a single view : 'tis a gay confusion of pleasing objects, too various to be enjoyed but in a general admiration; and they must be reparated, and eyed diftin&tly, in order to give the proper entertainment,

And as in great piles of building, fome parts are often finished up to hit the taste of the con noisseur ; others more negligently put together, to Itrike the fancy of a common and unlearned bee holder: Some parts are made ftupendously magnificent and grand, to surprize with the vast design and execution of the architect; others are con. tracted, to amuse you with his neatness and ele. gance in little. So, in Shakespeare, we may find Traits that will stand the test of the severest judge ment; and strokes as carelessly hit off, to the level of the more ordinary capacities: Some descriptions raised to that pitch of grandeur, as to astonish you with the compass and elevation of his thought: and others copying nature within so narrow, fo confined a circle, as if the author's talent lay only at drawing in miniature.

In how many points of light must we be obliged to gaze at this great poet! In how many branches of excellence to consider, and admire hiin! Whether we view him on the side of art or nature, he ought equally' to engage our atten. tion: 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 charmed 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 improved in price, when we come

to

to reflect with what propriety and justness they are applied to character ! If we look into his characters, and how they are furnifhed and proportioned 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 dressed from the stores 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 that 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 houfe: 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. Rowe has very justly observed, that people are fond of discovering any little personal story

of

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