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HE excellencies of our great Dramatic Poet are so well known, and so universally acknowledged, that it may seem unnecessary to dwell on perfections which every one confesses, and which even Envy itself has no longer the effrontery to deny. If any author is entitled to the appellation of a Universal Genius, OR whom can that honourable diftinction be more readily conferred, than on him, who, with the most subtle penetration, has pierced through the dark developements of the human heart ; who has painted the most beauriful scenes of Nature; who has given life and action to Virtuez incalcating the nobleft system of morality, and animating mankind to tread those steps which lead to the happiness of individuals, and, in consequence, to the general good of the Community?
Poetry too often is confidered as a mere relief, to fill up the vacancy of indolence, or to difipate the languor of diffipation; and fo feldom is it emplayed in effecting its noblest purposes, that the neglect of it can neither be wondered at, nor condemned. It is, how. ever, calculated to answer ends more important than the gratification of idleness: the purposes of amusement are, and ought to be, only its secondary confiderations. It has, for its ultimate object, the interest and welfare of society; and, if properly directed, may be made instrumental in enlarging the mind, extending the views; and, by supplying materials for reflection, imperceptibly leads mankind to the knowledge and practice of virtue.
It is well observed by the excellent Writer whose name appears in the title-page of this work, 'that Shakspearr was one of the greatest Moral Philosophers that ever lived; a remark which often suggested itself to the Collector of the present Volume, long before he saw it confirmed by fo respectable an authority. The idea thus presented to his mind, first gave rise to a wish, that the truth of it might be exemplified in a selection
, scattered through various parts of the writings of our divine Author, digested and arranged in that order that might be useful, as well to the learned, as the uninformed; to the scholar, as to the novice. He thought such a compilation would be very generally useful; and was convinced that, in the whole circle of English literature, no author afforded so many, and such various observations on life and manners--so much, and such useful knowledge of the human heart,
As the title of this volume agrees with the work of a Tate unfortunate Author, it may be necessary to observe, that the prefent' performance was begun with different views from its predeceffor, and is conducted in a difFerent manner. The end of the former appears to have been intended chiefly as a vehicle, to display the Compiler's reading, and critical talents. The present has
? no higher aims than a selection, ufeful for reference to the learned, for instruction to the igncrant, and for infôrmation to all. The knowledge which may
be derived from it, is too extensive to be pointed out
in this place; but it may be asserted, with modesty and truth,
that whoever is concerned in the business of education, will find it very serviceable, in impresling on the memory of Youth fome of the sublimest and most important leflons of Morality and Religion. As such it is offered to the attention of instructors of both sexes. As such the compiter does not hesitate to say, no person, into whose hands it may come, will meet with dir. intment.
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ت م كفر في
This amazing Genius, no less the glory of his own Country than of Human Nature, was the fon of Mr. Jobn Shakspeare, and was born at Stratford upon Avon, in Warwickshire, on the 23d of April, 1564. His family, as appears by the Register and public wris tings relating to that Town, were of good figure and fashion there, and are mentioned as gentlemen. Hia father, who was a considerable dealer in wool, had so large a family, ten children in all, that, though he was his eldest son, he could give him no better education than his own employment. He had bred him, it 14 true, for some time at a free-school, where it is probable he acquired what little learning he was master of a But the narrowness of his circumstances, and the wang of his assistance at home, forced his father to withdraw him from thence, and prevented his further proficiency in languages. It has been proved to a demonstration by the learned Dr. Farmer, that, whatever imitations of the ancients we find in our Author's works, he was indebted for them to such translations as were then extant, and eafy of access : and it is more than
probable, that his want of acquaintance with the originals might rather be of service to him, than the contrary : For, though the knowledge of 'em might have made him more correct, yet it is not improbable but that the regularity and deference for them, which would have attended that correctness, might have restrained some of that fire, impetuofity, and even beautiful extrava
DELITTO TIT LIFE OF WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE. tron
sto at gance which we admire in Sbakspeare: and I believe we are betçer pleased with those thoughts, altogether new and uncommon, which his own imagination fupplied him so abundantly with, than if he had given us the most beautiful passages out of the Greek and Latin poets, and that in the most agreeable manner that it was poffible for a master of the English language to de liver them.
Upon his leaving school, he seems to have given entirely into that way of living which his father proposed to him; and in order to settle in the world after a family manner, he thought fit to marry while he was yet very young;
His wife was the daughter of one Hathaway, faid to have been a fubftantial yeoman in the neighbourhood of Stratford. In this kind of fettlement he continued for some time, till an extrava. gance that he was guilty of, forced him both out of his country and that way of living which he had taken up : and though it seemed at first to be a blemish
his good manners, and a misfortune to him, yet it after wards happily proved the occasion of exerting one of the greatest geniuses that ever was known in dramatic poetry. He had, by a misfortune common enough to young fellows, fallen into il company; and amongh them, fome that made a frequent practice of deerstealing, engaged him with them more than once in robbing a park that belonged to Sir Thomas Lucy, of Cberlecot, near Stratford. For this he was profecuted by that gentleman, as he thought, somewhat too feverely; and in order to revenge that ill a ballad upon him. This, probably the his
poetry, if it be the same preserved by Mr. Steevens, in the last edition of this Author, is truly contemptible : it, however, redoubled the prosecution against him to that degree, that he was obliged to leave his business, and family, in Warwickshire, for some time, and helter himself in London.
1019 Tradition has informed us, that it was upon this accident he made his first acquaintance in the playhouse; and Mr. Malone, with great probability, conjectures that his introduction there, arose from his relationship