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monoivabu sharÍ dey 391cHe joins the fineffe of Wit to the drollery of Humour Humourbis a kind of grotefque Wit, fhaped and coloured by the difpofition of the perfon in whom it refides, or by the fubject to which it is applied. It is oftenest found in odd and irregular minds: but this peculiar turn distorts wit, and though it gives it a burlefque air, which excites momentary mirth, renders it clefs juft, and confequently lefs agreeable to our judgments. Gluttony, corpulency, and cowardice, are the peculiarities of Falstaffe's compofition: they render him ridiculous without folly, throw an air of jeft and festivity about him, and make his mannèrs fuit with his fentiments, without giving to his understanding any particular bias. As the contempt attendant on these vices and defects is the best antidote against any infection that might be caught in his fociety, fo it was very fkilful to make him as ridiculous as witty, and as contemptible as entertaining. The admirable fpeech upon honour would have been both indecent and dangerous
dangerous from any other person. We must allow his wit is every where juft, his humour genuine, his character perfectly original, and sustained through every scene, in every play, in which it appears.
As Falstaffe, whom the author certainly intended to be perfectly witty, is less addicted to quibble and play on words, than any of his comic characters, I think we may fairly conclude, our author was fenfible that it was but a falfe kind of wit, which he practised from the hard neceffity of the times; for in that age, the Profesfor quibbled in his chair, the Judge quibbled on the bench, the Prelate quibbled in the pulpit, the Statesman quibbled at the council-board; nay, even Majefty quibbled on the Throne.