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enrich himself by what he can take from the ancients, than to grow poor by taking all from his own stock; or openly to affect an imitation of those moderns, whose more fertile genius has produced beauties, peculiar to themselves, and which themselves only can display with grace: beauties of that peculiar kind, that they are not fit to be imitated by others; though, in those who first invented them, they may be justly esteemed, and in them only!


Dr. James's Medicinal Dictionary, 3 vols. folio. 1743.

To Dr. Mead. SIR,

That the Medicinal Dictionary is dedicated to you, is to be imputed only to your reputation for superiour skill in those sciences, which I have endeavoured to explain and facilitate ; and you are, therefore, to consider this address, if it be agreeable to you, as one of the rewards of merit ; and, if otherwise, as one of the inconveniencies of eminence.

However you shall receive it, my design cannot be disappointed; because this publick appeal to your judgment will show, that I do not found my hopes of approbation upon the ignorance of my readers, and that I fear his censure least, whose knowledge is most extensive.

I am, Sir,
Your most obedient, humble servant,


Much light has been thrown on the Greek drama since the labours of Dr. Johnson, and the père Brumoy. The papers on the subject, in Cumberland's Observer, Schlegel's Lectures on Dramatic Literature, Mr. Mitchell's Dissertations, in his translation of Aristophanes, and the essays on the Greek Orators and Dramatists, in the Quarterly Review, may be mentioned as among the most popular attempts to illustrate this pleasing department of the Belles-Lettres.-Ev.

The Female Quixote. By Mrs. Lennox. 1752.

To the right hon. the earl of Middlesex. MY LORD,

Such is the power of interest over almost every mind, that no one is long without arguments to prove any position which is ardently wished to be true, or to justify any measures which are dictated by inclination.

By this subtile sophistry of desire, I have been persuaded to hope that this book may, without impropriety, be inscribed to your lordship; but am not certain, that my reasons will have the same force upon other understandings.

The dread which a writer feels of the publick censure ; the still greater dread of neglect; and the eager wish for support and protection, which is impressed by the consciousness of imbecility, are unknown to those who have vever adventured into the world ; and, I am afraid, my lord, equally unknown to those who have always found the world ready to applaud them.

It is, therefore, not unlikely that the design of this address may be mistaken, and the effects of my fear imputed to my vanity. They, who see your lordship’s name prefixed to my performance, will rather condemn my presumption than compassionate my anxiety.

But, whatever be supposed my motive, the praise of judgment cannot be denied me; for, to whom can timidity so properly fly for shelter, as to him who has been so long distinguished for candour and humanity? How can vanity be so completely gratified, as by the allowed patronage of him, whose judgment has so long given a standard to the national taste! Or by what other means could I so powerfully suppress all opposition, but that of envy, as by declaring myself,

My lord,
Your lordship’s obliged and
most obedient servant,


Shakespeare Illustrated; or, the Novels and Histories on which

the plays of Shakespeare are founded; collected and translated from the original authors. With Critical Remarks. By the author of the Female Quixote. 1753.

To the right hon. John, earl of Orrery. MY LORD,

I HAVE no other pretence to the honour of a patronage so illustrious as that of your lordship, than the merit of attempting what has, by some unaccountable neglect, been hitherto omitted, though absolutely necessary to a perfect knowledge of the abilities of Shakespeare.

Among the powers that most conduce to constitute a poet, the first and most valuable is invention ; the highest seems to be that which is able to produce a series of events. It is easy, when the thread of a story is once drawn, to diversify it with variety of colours; and when a train of action is presented to the mind, a little acquaintance with life will supply circumstances and reflections, and a little knowledge of books furnish parallels and illustrations. To tell over again a story that has been told already, and to tell it better than the first author, is no rare qualification : but to strike out the first hints of a new fable; hence, to introduce a set of characters so diversified in their several passions and interests, that from the clashing of this variety may result many necessary incidents; to make these incidents surprising, and yet natural, so as to delight the imagination, without shocking the judgment of a reader ; and, finally, to wind up the whole in a pleasing catastrophe, produced by those very means which seem most likely to oppose and prevent it, is the utmost effort of the human mind.

To discover how few of those writers, who profess to recount imaginary adventures, have been able to produce any thing by their own imagination, would require too much of that time which your lordship employs in nobler studies. Of all the novels and romances that wit or idleness, vanity or indigence, have pushed into the world, there are very few of which the end cannot be conjectured from the beginning; or where the authors have done more than to transpose the incidents of other tales, or strip the circumstances from one event for the decoration of another.

In the examination of a poet's character, it is, therefore, first to be inquired, what degree of invention has been exerted by him. With this view, I have very diligently read the works of Shakespeare, and now presume to lay the result of my researches before your lordship, before that judge whom Pliny himself would have wished for his assessor to hear a literary cause.

How much the translation of the following novels will add to the reputation of Shakespeare, or take away from it, you my lord, and men learned and candid like


if any such can be found, must now determine. Some danger, I am informed, there is, lest his admirers should think him injured by this attempt, and clamour, as at the diminution of the honour of that nation, which boasts itself the parent of so great a poet.

That no such enemies may arise against me, though I am unwilling to believe it, I am far from being too confident, for who can fix bounds to bigotry and folly? My sex, my age, have not given me many opportunities of mingling in the world. There may be in it many a species of absurdity which I have never seen, and, among them, such vanity as pleases itself with false praise bestowed on another, and such superstition as worships idols, without supposing them to be gods.

But the truth is, that a very small part of the reputation of this mighty genius depends upon the naked plot or story of his plays. He lived in an age, when the books of chivalry were yet popular, and when, therefore, the minds of his auditors were not accustomed to balance probabilities, or to examine nicely the proportion between causes and effects. It was sufficient to recommend a story, that it was far removed from common life, that its changes were frequent, and its close pathetick.

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This disposition of the age concurred so happily with the imagination of Shakespeare, that he had no desire to reform it; and, indeed, to this he was indebted for the licentious variety, by which he made his plays more entertaining than those of any other author.

He had looked, with great attention, on the scenes of nature; but his chief skill was in human actions, passions, and habits; he was, therefore, delighted with such tales as afforded numerous incidents, and exhibited many characters in many changes of situation. These characters are so copiously diversified, and some of them so justly pursued, that his works may be considered, as a map of life, a faithful miniature of human transactions; and he that has read Shakespeare, with attention, will, perhaps, find little new in the crowded world.

Among his other excellencies, it ought to be remarked, because it has hitherto been unnoticed, that his heroes are men; that the love and hatred, the hopes and fears of his chief personages, are such as are common to other human beings, and not, like those which later times have exhibited, peculiar to phantoms that strut upon the stage.

It is not, perhaps, very necessary to inquire whether the vehicle of so much delight and instruction, be a story probable or unlikely, native or foreign. Shakespeare's excellence is not the fiction of a tale, but the representation of life; and his reputation is, therefore, safe, till human nature shall be changed. Nor can he, who has so many just claims to praise, suffer by losing that which ignorant admiration has unreasonably given him. To calumniate the dead is baseness, and to flatter them is surely folly.

From flattery, my lord, either of the dead or the living, I wish to be clear, and have, therefore, solicited the countenance of a patron, whom, if I knew how to praise him, I could praise with truth, and have the world on my side; whose candour and humanity are universally acknow

See preface to Shakespeare.

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