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Page 311 - Shakespeare is above all writers, at least above all modern writers, the poet of nature; the poet that holds up to his readers a faithful mirrour of manners and of life. His characters are not modified by the customs of particular places, unpractised by the rest of the world; by the peculiarities of studies or professions, which can operate but upon small numbers; or by the accidents of transient fashions or temporary opinions: they...
Page 313 - That this is a practice contrary to the rules of criticism will be readily allowed, but there is always an appeal open from criticism to nature.
Page 312 - Other writers disguise the most natural passions and most frequent incidents; so that he who contemplates them in the book will not know them in the world: Shakespeare approximates the remote, and familiarizes the wonderful: the event which he represents will not happen; but, if it were possible, its effects would probably be such as he has assigned...
Page 231 - ... makes gradual advances, and the end of the play is the end of expectation. To the unities of time and place...
Page 232 - He that can take the stage at one time for the palace of the Ptolemies may take it in half an hour for the promontory of Actium.
Page 315 - ... his disposition, as Rhymer has remarked, led him to comedy. In tragedy he often writes with great appearance of toil and study, what is written at last with little felicity ; but in his comick scenes, he seems to produce without labour, what no labour can improve.
Page 315 - In tragedy he is always struggling after some occasion to be comick, but in comedy he seems to repose, or to luxuriate, as in a mode of thinking congenial to his nature. In his tragick scenes there is always something wanting, but his comedy often surpasses expectation or desire. His comedy pleases by the thoughts and the language, and his tragedy for the greater part by incident and action. His tragedy seems to be skill, his comedy to be instinct.
Page 314 - That the mingled drama may convey all the instruction of tragedy or comedy cannot be denied, because it includes both in its...