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Address fhould be mifconftrued a Panegyrick on Your Royal Highnefs. But I have profess'd myself unequal to the Task of drawing his Portraiture, and my humble Sphere in Life fets me at too great a Distance to take even the Out-lines of Your Perfections. I would not therefore, where I cannot presume to do Justice, be thought to descend to the unbecoming Art of Flattery. I must launch out, indeed, a great way, to make myself liable to that Imputation, with regard to Your Royal Highness; but Dedications are generally fufpected of Overftraining.
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;
Duty; and turn all Attempts of Praise and Compliment into Veneration and pious Wishes. That You may long continue to bless 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 profefs My felf,
Your ROYAL HIGHNESS's
moft Dutiful and moft 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 first promis'd: and a thoufand 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 Confufion of pleasing Objects, too various to be enjoyed but in a general Admiration; and they must be separated, and ey'd diftinctly, in order to give the proper Entertainment.
And as in great Piles of Building, fome Parts are often finish'd up to hit the Taste of the Connoiffeur; others more negligently put together, to
ftrike the Fancy of a common and unlearned Beholder: Some Parts are made ftupendioufly magnificent and grand, to furprize with the vast Design and Execution of the Architect; others are contracted, to amuse 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 carelefly hit off, to the Level of the more ordinary Capacities: Some Defcriptions rais'd to that Pitch of Grandeur, as to astonish 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:
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 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 charm'd with the Richness, and Variety, of his Images and Ideas! If his Images and Ideas steal into our Souls, and ftrike upon our Fancy, how much are they improv'd in Price, when we come
to reflect with what Propriety and Justness 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 Maftery 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 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 Refemblance 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 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 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. Rowe has very juffly obferv'd, that People are fond of difcovering any little perfonal Story