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PLAYS and POEMS
He was a Man, take him for all in all,
THE excellencies of our great Dramatic Poet
are fo well known, and fo univerfally acknowledged, that it may seem unneceffary to dwell on perfections which every one confeffes, and which even Envy itself has no longer the effrontery to deny. If any author is entitled to the appellation of a Univerfal Genius, on whom can that honourable diftinction be more readily conferred, than on him, who, with the moft fubtile penétration, has pierced through the dark developements of the human heart; who has painted the most beautiful scenes of Nature; who has given life and action to Virtue, inculcating the nobleft fyftem of morality, and animating mankind to tread thofe fteps which lead to the happiness of individuals, and, in confequence, 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 diffipate the languor of diffipation; and fo feldom is it employed in effecting its nobleft purposes, that the neglect of it can neither be wondered at, nor condemned. It is, however, calculated to answer ends more important than the gratification of idleness: the purposes of amufement are, and ought to be, only its fecondary confiderations. It has, for its ultimate object, the intereft and welfare of fociety; and, if properly directed, may be made inftrumental in enlarging the mind, extending the views; and by fupplying materials for reflection, imperceptibly leads mankind to the knowledge and practice of virtue.