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How far fo ever, MADAM, my Vanity or my Ambition might miflead me into that Tract, I'll oblige myself to govern both by my Duty; and turn all Attempts of Praise and Compliment into Veneration and pious Wishes. That You may long continue to blefs the Eyes and Arms of the PRINCE, Your Illuftrious Confort; and that You may continue to blefs the Nation with a numerous Succeffion of Princes, to the future Glory and Security of our Establishment, is my ardent Prayer; and
in That I will center the only Merit, by which I would pretend
to profess myself,
Your ROYAL HIGHNESS's
moft dutiful and most obedient
HE Attempt to write upon SHAKESPEARE is like going into a large, a fpacious, and a fplendid Dome thro' the Conveyance of a narrow and obfcure Entry. A Glare of Light fuddenly breaks upon you beyond what the Avenue at firft promifed: 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 Profpect is too wide to come within the Compass of a fingle View: 'tis a gay Confufion of pleafing Objects, too various to be enjoyed but in a general Admiration; and they must be feparated, and eyed diftinctly, in order to give the proper Entertainment.
And as in great Piles of Building, fome Parts are often finished up to hit the Tafte of the Connoiffeur; others more negligently put together, to:
ftrike the Fancy of a common and unlearned Beholder: Some Parts are made ftupendously magnificent and grand, to furprize with the vaft Defign and Execution of the Architect; others are con tracted, to amufe you with his Neatness and Elegance in little. So, in Shakespeare, we may find Traits that will ftand the Teft of the fevereft Judgment; and Strokes as carelesly hit off, to the Level of the more ordinary Capacities: Some Defcriptions raised to that Pitch of Grandeur, as to aftonish you with the Compafs 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.
In how many points of Light must we be obliged 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 Greatnefs 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 Pleafure. If his Diction, and the cloathing of his Thoughts attract us, how much more muft we be charmed with the Richness, and Variety, of his Images and Ideas! If his Images and Ideas fteal into our Souls, and ftrike upon our Fancy, how much are they improved in Price, when we come
to reflect with what Propriety and Juftnefs they are applied to Character! If we look into his Characters, and how they are furnished 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 dreffed 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 themfelves 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 House: 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 lanching into his Character as a Writer, before I have faid 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