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HE Attempt to write upon SHAKESPEARE is like going into a large, a fpacious, and a fplendid Dome thro' the Conveyance of and obfcure Entry. A Glare of Light fuddenly breaks upon you, beyond what the Avenue at first promis'd: and a thoufand Beauties of Genius and Character, like fo many gaudy Apartments pouring at once upon the Eye, diffufe and throw themselves out to the Mind. The Profpect is too wide to come within the Compafs of a fingle View: 'tis a gay Confufion of pleafing Objects, too various to be enjoyed but in a general Admiration; and they and diftinctly,

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And as in great Piles of Building, fome Parts are often finish'd up to hit the Tafte of the Connoiffeur; others more negligently put together, to ftrike the Fancy of a common

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and unlearned Beholder: Some Parts are made ftupendioufly magnificent and grand, to furprize with the vaft Defign and Execution of the Architect; others are contracted, to amufe you with his Neatnefs and Elegance in A Sketch little. So, in Shakespeare, we may find Traits of Shake that will ftand the Teft of the fevereft Judg fpeare's general ment; and Strokes as carelefly hit off, to the Character. Level of the more ordinary Capacities: Some Defcriptions rais'd to that Pitch of Grandeur, as to aftonish you with the Compass and Elevation of his Thought and others copying Nature within fo narrow, fo confined a Circle, as if the Author's Talent lay only at drawing in Miniature.

vie In how many Points of Light must we be oblig'd to gaze at this great Poet! In how many Branches of Excellence to confider, and admire him! Whether we view him on the Side of Art or Nature, he ought equally to engage our Attention:Whether we refpect the Force and Greatness of his Genius, the Extent of his Knowledge and Reading, the Power and Addrefs 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 charm'd with the Richnefs, and Variety, of his Images and Ideas! If his Ima ges and Ideas fteal into our Souls, and ftrike upon our Fancy, how much are they improy'd

in Price, when we come to reflect with what Propriety and Juftnefs they are apply'd to Character! If we look into his Characters, and how they are furnish'd and proportion'd 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 drefs'd 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 themfelves 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 fame Resemblance in them, as in that Painter's Draughts, who was happy only at forming a Rofe: you find them all younger Brothers of the fame Family, and all of them have a Pretence to give the fame Creft 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 fame 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 faid what I intended of him as a private Member of the Republick.

Mr

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Mr. Rowe has very juftly obferv'd, that ticulars of People are fond of difcovering any little pervate Life. fonal Story of the Great Men of Antiquity?

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and that the common Accidents of their Lives naturally become the Subject of our critical Enquiries: That however trifling fuch a Curiofity at the first View may appear, yet, as for what relates to Men of Letters, the Knowledge of an Author may, perhaps, fometimes conduce to the better understanding his Works: And, indeed, this Author's Works, from the Bad Treatment he has met with from his Editors, have fo long wanted a Comment, that one would zealously embrace every Method of Information, that could contribute to recover them from the Injuries with which they have fo long lain o'erwhelm'd.

'Tis certain, that if we have firft admir'd the Man in his Writings, his Cafe is fo cir cumftanc'd, that we must naturally admire the Writings in the Man: That if we go back to take a View of his Education, and the Employment in Life which Fortune had out out for him, we shall retain the stronger Ideas of his extenfive Genius.

His Father, we are told, was a confiderable Dealer in Wool; but having no fewer than ten Children, of whom our Shakespeare was the eldeft, the best Education he could afford him was no better than to qualify him for his owne Bufinefs and Employment. I cannot affirm with any Certainty how long his

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