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entertain a fincere Veneration, but to which he could not have fo ready a Recourse.

In touching on another Part of his Learning, as it related to the Knowledge of Hiftory and Books, I fhall advance fomething, that, at first fight, will very much wear the Appearance of a Paradox. For I fhall find it no hard Matter to prove, that from the groffeft Blunders in History, we are not to infer his real Ignorance of it: Nor from a greater Ufe of Latin Words, than ever any other English Author used, muft we infer his Knowledge of that Language.

A Reader of Tafte may cafily observe, that tho' Shakespeare, almoft in every Scene of his hiftorical Plays, commits the groffeft Offences against Chronology, Hiftory, and Antient Politicks; yet This was not thro' Ignorance, as is generally fuppofed, but thro the too powerful Blaze of his Imagination; which, when once raifed, made all acquired Knowledge vanish and disappear before it. For Inftance, in his Timon, he turns Athens, which was a perfect Democrafy, into an Ariftocrafy; while he ridiculously gives a Senator the Power of banishing Alcibiades. On the contrary, in Coriolanus, he makes Rome, which at that time was a perfect Ariftocrafy, a Democrafy full as ridiculously, by making the People choose Coriolanus Conful: Whereas, in Fact, it was not till the Time of Manlius Torquatus,

Torquatus, that the People had a Right of choofing one Conful. But this ence in him, as I have faid, must not be imputed to Ignorance: fince as often we may find him, when Occafion ferves, reafoning up the Truth of Hiftory; and out no to Sentiments as juftly adapted to the Circumftances of his Subject, as to the Dignity of his Characters, or Dictates of Nature in general.

Then, to come to his Knowledge of the Latin Tongue, 'tis certain, there is a furprifing Effufion of Latin Words made English, far more than in any one English Author I have feen; but we must be cautious to imagine, this was of his own doing, For the English Tongue, in his Age, began extremely to fuffer by an Inundation of Latin; and to be overlaid, as it were, by its Nurfe, when it had juft began to fpeak by her before-prudent Care and Affiftance. And this, to be fure, was occafion'd by the Pedantry of those two Monarchs, Elizabeth and James, Both great Latinifts. For it is not to be wonder'd at, if both the Court and Schools, equal Flatterers of Power, fhould adapt themselves to the Royal Tafte. This, then, was the Condition of the English Tongue when Shakespeare took it up: like a Beggar in a rich Wardrobe. He found the pure native English too cold and poor to fecond the Heat and Abundance of his Imagination: and therefore was forc'd



to drefs it up in the Robes, he faw provided for it: rich in themfelves, but ill-fhaped; cut out to an air of Magnificence, but difproportion'd and cumberfome. To the Coftlinefs of Ornament, he added all the Graces and Decorum of it. It may be faid, this did not require, or difcover a Knowledge of the Latin. To the firft, I think, it did not; to the fecond, it is fo far from difcovering it, that, I think, it difcovers the contrary. To make This more obvious by a modern Inftance: The great MILTON likewife labour'd under the like Inconvenience; when he first fet upon adorning his own Tongue, he likewife animated and enrich'd it with the Latin, but from his own Stock; and fo, rather by bringing in the Phrafes, than the Words: And This was natural; and will, I believe, always be the Cafe in the fame Circumstances. His Language, efpecially his Profe, is full of Latin Words indeed, but much fuller of Latin Phrafes: and his Maftery in the Tongue made this unavoidable. On the contrary, Shakespeare, who, perhaps, was not fo intimately vers'd in the Language, abounds in the Words of it, but has few or none of its Phrafes: Nor, indeed, if what I affirm be true, could He. This I take to be the trueft Criterion to determine this long agitated Question.

It may be mention'd, tho' no certain Con-clufion can be drawn from it, as a probable


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Argument of his having read the Antients; that He perpetually expreffes the Genius of Homer, and other great Poets of the Old World, in animating all the Parts of his Defcriptions; and, by bold and breathing Metaphors and Images, giving the Properties. of Life and Action to inanimate Things. He is a Copy too of thofe Greek Mafters in the infinite ufe of compound and de-compound Epi0 thets. I will not, indeed, aver, but that One with Shakespeare's exquifite Genius and Obfervation might have traced thefe glaring Characteristics of Antiquity by reading Homer in Chapman's Verfion.

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An additional Word or two naturally falls B. Jonson in here upon the Genius of our Author, as Shakecompared with that of Jonfon his Contem-fpeare porary. They are confeffedly the greatest compard. Writers our Nation could ever boaft of in the Drama. The firft, we fay, owed all to his prodigious natural Genius; and the other a great deal to Learning. This, his Art a if attended to, will explain a very remarkable. Appearance in their Writings. Befides thofe wonderful Masterpieces of Art and Genius, [ which each has given Us; They are the Authors of other Works very unworthy of them; But with this Difference; that in Jonfon's bad Pieces we don't difcover one fingle Trace of the Author of the Fox and Alchemist: but in the wild extravagant Notes of Shakespeare, you every now and then encounter Strains



His Repu

that recognize the divine Compofer. This Difference may be thus accounted for. Jonfon, as we faid before, owing all his Excellence to his Art, by which he fometimes ftrain'd himself to an uncommon Pitch, when at other times he unbent and play'd with his Subject, having nothing then to fupport him, it is no wonder he wrote fo far beneath himfelf. But Shakespeare, indebted more largely. to Nature, than the Other to acquired Talents, in his moft negligent Hours could never fo totally diveft himself of his Genius, but that it would frequently break out with aftonishing Force and Splendor.

As I have never propos'd to dilate farther tation un- on the Character of my Author, than was der Difad vantages. neceffary to explain the Nature and Ufe of this Edition, I fhall proceed to confider him as a Genius in Poffeffion of an Everlasting Name. And how great that Merit must be, which could gain it against all the Difadvantages of the horrid Condition in which he has hitherto appear'd! Had Homer, or any other admir'd Author, firft ftarted into Publick fo maim'd and deform'd, we cannot determine whether they had not funk for ever under the Ignominy of fuch an ill Appearance. The mangled Condition of Shakespeare has been acknowledg'd by Mr. Rowe, who publish'd him indeed, but neither corrected his Text, nor collated the old Copies. This Gentleman had Abilities, and a fufficient Knowledge of


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