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MR Pope, in the

preface to his edition

of Shakespear, sets out with declaring, that, of all English Poets, this author offers the fullest and fairest subject for criticism. Animated by an opinion of such authority, some of the most learned and ingenious of our critics have made correct editions of his works, and enriched them with notes. The superiority of talents and learning, which I acknowledge in these editors, leaves me no room to entertain the vain presumption of attempting to correct any passages 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 classic. Unprejudiced and candid Judgment will be the surest basis of his fame. But he seems now in danger of incurring the A


fate of the heroes of the fabulous ages, on whom the vanity of their country, and the superstition of the times, bestowed an apotheosis founded on pretensions to atchievements beyond human capacity, by which they lost, 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 ascribed to ignorant credulity, and national prepossession.- Our Shakespear, whose very faults pass here unquestioned, or are perhaps consecrated 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 monstrous 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 some 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

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