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Side xx - In the writings of other poets, a character is too often an individual ; in those of Shakespeare, it is commonly a species.
Side xxi - Shakespeare excels in accommodating his sentiments to real life, but by comparing him with other authors. It was observed of the ancient schools of declamation, that the more diligently they were frequented, the more was the student disqualified for the world, because he found nothing there which he should ever meet in any other place. The same remark may be applied to every stage but that of Shakespeare. The theatre, when it is under any other direction...
Side xl - Triumph, my Britain! Thou hast one to show To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe. He was not of an age, but for all time; And all the muses still were in their prime When, like Apollo, he came forth to warm Our ears, or like a Mercury to charm. Nature herself was proud of his designs And joyed to wear the dressing of his lines, Which were so richly spun and woven so fit As, since, she will vouchsafe no other wit.
Side xx - Yet his real power is not shown in the splendour of particular passages, but by the progress of his fable, and, the tenor of his dialogue; and he that tries to recommend him by select quotations, will succeed like the pedant in Hierocles, who, when he offered his house to sale, carried a brick in his pocket as a specimen.
Side xxvii - In his comic scenes he is seldom very successful when he engages his characters in reciprocations of smartness and contests of sarcasm; their jests are commonly gross and their pleasantry licentious; neither his gentlemen nor his ladies have much delicacy, nor are sufficiently distinguished from his clowns by any appearance of refined manners.
Side xli - Muses' anvil, turn the same (And himself with it) that he thinks to frame, Or for the laurel he may gain a scorn, For a good poet's made as well as born; And such wert thou. Look how the father's face Lives in his issue; even so, the race Of Shakespeare's mind and manners brightly shines In his well-turned and true-filed lines, In each of which he seems to shake a lance, As brandished at the eyes of ignorance.
Side xxii - He was inclined to show an usurper and a murderer not only odious but despicable, he therefore added drunkenness to his other qualities, knowing that kings love wine like other men, and that wine exerts its natural power upon kings. These are the petty cavils of petty minds; a poet overlooks the casual distinction of country and condition, as a painter, satisfied with the figure, neglects the drapery.
Side xxxvi - Though he had so many difficulties to encounter, and so little assistance to surmount them, he has been able to obtain an exact knowledge of many modes of life, and many casts of native dispositions; to vary them with great multiplicity; to mark them by nice distinctions; and to shew them in full view by proper combinations.
Side xix - The poet, of whose works I have undertaken the revision, may now begin to assume the dignity of an ancient, and claim the privilege of established fame and prescriptive veneration. He has long outlived his century, the term commonly fixed as the test of literary merit.
Side xxviii - A quibble is to Shakespeare what luminous vapours are to the traveller; he follows it at all adventures; it is sure to lead him out of his way, and sure to engulf him in the mire. It has some malignant power over his mind, and its fascinations are irresistible.