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DAVID GARRICK, Efq.
HERE is no person whose patronage a Work of this kind may fo properly claim, as Your's; Your private life having done fo much honour to the moral part, and Your public one fuch justice to the principal Characters, represented in our Author's writings.
Your action has been a better comment on his Text, than all his Editors have been able to fupply. You mark his beauties; They but clear his blots. You impress us with the living fpirit; They only prefent us the dead letter.
There is one striking similarity between Shakespeare and You, in a very uncommon particular: He is the only Dramatic Writer, who ever alike ex
celled in Tragedy and Comedy; and we may without flattery venture to affim, That you are the only Performer who ever appeared with equal advantage, both in the Sock and Bufkin.
If I had an higher opinion of this Work than I have, I fhould have still but an higher inducement for addressing it to You. From this confideration You are bound to receive it, with all its imperfections on its head, being offered as a tribute of that friendship and efteem with which I have the honour to be,
MONG the many writers of our nation, who have by their talents contributed to entertain, inform, or improve our minds, no one has fo happily or univerfally fucceeded, as he whom we may justly ftile our first, our greatest Poet, Shakespeare. For more than a century and a half, this Author has been the delight of the Ingenious, the text of the Moralist, and the study of the Philofopher. Even his cotemporary writers have ingenuously yielded their plaudit to his fame, as not prefuming it could leffen theirs, fet at fo great a diftance. Such fuperior excellence could never be brought into a comparative light; and jealoufy is dumb, when competition must be vain. For him, then, they chearfully twined the laurel-wreath, and unrepining placed it on his brow; where it will ever bloom, while fenfe, tafte, and natural feelings of the heart, shall remain amongst the characteristics of this, or any other nation, that can be able to conftrue his language. He is a Claffic, and cotemporary with all ages.
True Nature's Drama reprefents all time;
But amidst all this burst of applaufe, one single
ftood forth his opponent. One might imagine
fuch a writer to have had tafte enough to relish
his poetical beauties, at least, tho' poffibly fome
doubt might arise about his fympathy with his
dant laws, which our Author either did not
know, or regarded not. His compofitions are
a diftinct fpecies of the Drama; and not being
an imitation of the Greek one, cannot be juftly
faid to have infringed its rules. Shakespeare is
a model, not a copy; he looked into nature, not in-
to books, both for men and works. "Tis learned
ignorance, therefore, to quote the antient ex-
emplars against him. Is there no fpring inspired,
but Aganippe's font? No raptured vifion, but
on Parnaffus' mount? The Grecian Bards them-
felves had conceived. a more liberal notion, in
this particular, who, by making Phabus the
God of Poetry, feem to have acknowledged in-
fpiration to be univerfal.:
But as it may fhew more impartiality upon
this fubject, to oppofe one French authority to
tient or modern, the most of an original.
imagination is rich and ftrong he paints
nus are not reprefented with more grace, in
"the Pictures of Albanus, than this Poet gives "to those that attend on Cleopatra, in his de"fcription of the pomp with which that Queen "prefents herself to Mark Antony, on the " banks of the Cydnus.
"The reputation of this Author is fo great, " that I fhall not be furprized if you suspect " me of exaggeration in this account of him. "Thofe of our nation who have ever men
tioned him, have been content to praife, without being capable of judging fufficiently of his
- To the further honour of our Author be it faid, that a Lady* of distinguished merit has lately appeared a champion in his cause, against this minor critic, this minute philofopher, this fly upon a pillar of St. Paul's. It was her example which has stirred up my emulation to this attempt; for I own that I am ambitious of the honour of appearing to think, at least, though I defpair of the fuccefs of writing, like her.
Mr. Pope, in the Preface to his edition of this Author, fays, "Of all the English Poets, "Shakespeare must be confeffed to be the fairest " and fulleft fubject for Criticism, and to afford "the most numerous, as well as most confpi"cuous, instances, both of beauties and blemishes, "of all forts." And again: "I cannot, how.$6 ever, but mention fome of his principal and characteristic excellencies; for which, not"withstanding his defects, he is justly and defervedly elevated above all other Dra"matic Writers."
• Mrs. Montag