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E'en in the most sincere advice he gave
For every inch that is not fool is rogue.2
With woman's form and woman's tricks
One knows not where to take you;
Go ask of Nature what you are,
Or what she meant to make you.
A kind of man who draws upon his memory for wit and his imagination for facts.3
The other Amazon kind Heaven
Had arm'd with spirit, wit, and satire;
But Cobham had the polish giv'n,
And tipp'd her arrows with good nature.*
She (Stella) was good at comprehending, remembering, and retaining."
He thinks, resolves, and executes."
As splenetic as a cat in the country.?
If ever any author deserved the name of an original, it was Shakspeare.
The poetry of Shakspeare was inspiration indeed:
1 Dryden (The Medal).
3 Sheridan, of some one.
6 Lord Peterborough.
2 Dryden (Absalom and Achitophel).
4 Gray (Long Story).
he is not so much an imitator, as an instrument, of nature; and it is not so just to say that he speaks from her, as that she speaks through him.
The power over our passions was never possessed in a more eminent degree, or displayed in so different instances. Yet, all along, there is seen no labour, no pains to raise them; no preparation to guide our guess to the effect, or be perceived to lead toward it; but the heart swells and the tears burst out, just at the proper places: we are surprised the moment we weep; and yet, upon reflection, find the passion so just that we should be surprised if we had not wept, and wept at that very
How astonishing is it, again, that the passions directly opposite to these, laughter and spleen, are no less at his command!- that he is not more a master of the great than the ridiculous in human nature; of our noblest tendernesses, than of our vainest foibles; of our strongest emotions, than of our idlest sensations!
His sentiments are not only the most pertinent and judicious upon every subject; but, by a talent, very peculiar, something between penetration and felicity, he hits upon that particular point on which the bent of each argument turns, or the force of each motive depends. This is perfectly amazing, from a man of no education or experience in those great and public scenes of life which are usually the subject of his thoughts; so that he seems to have known the world by intuition, to have looked
through human nature at one glance, and to be the only author that gives ground for a very new opinion-that the philosopher, and even the man of the world, may be born, as well as the poet.
Whatever object of nature or branch of science he either speaks of, or describes, it is always with competent, if not extensive, knowledge: his descriptions are still exact; all his metaphors appropriated', and remarkably drawn from the true nature and inherent qualities of each subject. When he treats of ethic or politic, we may constantly observe a wonderful justness of distinction, as well as extent of comprehension.2
Voltaire expresses his wonder that the extravagances of Shakspeare are endured by a nation which has seen the tragedy of Cato. Let him be answered, that Addison speaks the language of poets, and Shakspeare of men.
The work of a correct and regular writer is a garden accurately formed and diligently planted, varied with shades and scented with flowers. The composition of Shakspeare is a forest, in which oaks extend their branches, and pines tower in the air, interspersed sometimes with weeds and brambles, and sometimes giving shelter to myrtles and roses; filling the eye with awful pomp, and gratifying the mind with endless diversity.3
Let him that is yet unacquainted with the powers of Shakspeare, and who desires the highest
1 Sic in orig. (q. "appropriate"?) 2 Pope (Pref. to Shakspeare). 3 Johnson (Preface to Shakspeare).
pleasure that the drama can give, read every play from the first scene to the last with utter negligence of all commentators. Let him read on through brightness and obscurity, through integrity and corruption; let him preserve his comprehension of the dialogue, and his interest in the fable; and, when the pleasures of novelty have ceased, let him attempt exactness, and read the commentators.
Particular passages are cleared by notes, but the general effect of the work is weakened.
Notes are often necessary, but they are necessary evils.'
Shakspeare was the man who, of all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul. All the images of nature were still present to him, and he drew them, not laboriously, but luckily when he describes any thing, you more than see it—you feel it too. Those who accuse him to have wanted learning give him the greater commendation: he was naturally learned. He needed not the spectacles of books to read nature, -he looked inwards, and found her there.3
What! needs my Shakspeare for his honour'd bones
Or that his hallow'd relics should be laid
Under a starry-pointing pyramid ?
Dear son of Memory, great heir of Fame,
What need'st thou such weak witness of thy name?
Hast built thyself a livelong monument.*
1 Johnson (Preface to Shakspeare).
2 Sic in orig. (q. "of having"?)
3 Dryden. See Johnson's Preface to Shakspeare.
We venerate Milton as a man of genius; but still more as a man of magnanimity and Christian virtue, who regarded genius and poetry as sacred gifts imparted to him, not to amuse men, or to build up a reputation, but that he might quicken and call forth what was great and divine in his fellow-creatures.1
One who conceived forcibly and drew originally, by consulting nature in his own breast.2
A book (Burnet's Life of Rochester) which the critic ought to read for its elegance, the philosopher for its arguments, and the saint for its piety.3
Sir John Oldys was a man of great good-nature, honour, and integrity, particularly in his character as an historian. Nothing, I firmly believe, would ever have biassed him to insert any fact in his writings he did not believe, or to suppress any he did.*
I know you are not one of those conceited sceptics who affect to disbelieve every thing they cannot explain."
The bigot is well described by Lord Molesworth as one, stiff in an opinion merely because he has been used to it, and is ashamed to be thought capable of being deceived."
Spiteful he is not, though he wrote a satire;
For still there goes some thinking to ill nature."
We regard the spirits of love, charity, meekness,
2 Johnson (Life of Otway); Ibid.
4 Grose's Olio.
7 Dryden (Abs. and Achitophel).
3 Johnson (Life of Rochester).
6 Pref. to Hist. of Denmark.