Imatges de pàgina
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R. Pope, in the preface to his edition of Shakespear, sets out with declaring, that, of all English Poets, this author offers the fulleft and fairest subject for criticism. Animated by an opinion of such authority, fome of the most learned and ingenious of our critics have made correct editions of his works, and enriched them with notes. The fuperiority of talents and learning, which I acknowledge in thefe editors, leaves me no room to entertain the vain prefumption of attempting to correct any paffages of this celebrated Author; but the whole, as corrected and elucidated by Them, lies open to a thorough enquiry into the genius of our great English claffic. Unprejudiced and candid Judgment will be the furest basis of his fame. But he seems now in danger of incurring the A fate

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fate of the heroes of the fabulous ages, on whom the vanity of their country, and the fuperftition of the times, bestowed an apotheofis founded on pretenfions to atchievements beyond human capacity, by which they loft, in a more sceptical and critical age, the glory due to them for what they had really done; and all the veneration they had obtained, was afcribed to ignorant credulity, and national prepoffeffion. Our Shakespear, whose very faults pafs here unquestioned, or are perhaps confecrated through the enthusiasm of his admirers, and the veneration paid to long-established fame, is by a great wit, a great critic, and a great poet of a neighbouring nation, treated as a writer of monftrous Farces, called by him Tragedies; and barbarism and ignorance are attributed to the nation, by which he is admired. Yet if wits, poets, critics, could ever be charged with presumption, one might say there was fome degree of it in pronouncing, that, in a country where Sophocles and Euripides are as well understood as in any part of Europe, the perfections of dramatic poetry should be



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