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characteristic of the times, the critic, difgufted with the rude workings of nature, affects to ad÷ mire only the nicer finishings and proportions of art. When, let but the growing experience of a few years refine and perfect the public tafte, and what was before traduced as roughness and barbarity, becomes at once nerves, dignity, and force. Then art is effeminacy; and judgment, want of fpirit. All now is rapture and inspiration. The exacteft modern compositions are ́unmanly and unnatural, et folos veteres legendos putant, neque in ullis aliis esse naturalem eloquentiam et robur viris dignum arbitrantur. [Quinct. 1. x. c. i.] The truth of this obfervation. might be juftified from many examples. The learning and art of Pacuvius (for fo I underftand the epithet doctus) carried it before the fublime of Accius; juft as in elder Greece the fmooth and correct Simonides, tenuis Simonides, as Quinctilian characterizes him, bore away the prize from the lofty and high-spirited Efchylus. Afterwards indeed the cafe was altered. Athenians, grown exact in the rules of good writing, became fo enamoured of the bold fights of Efchylus, as with a little correction to admit him on the ftage, who, by this means, frequently gained the prize from a polite and knowing people, for what had certainly loft it him in the fimpler, and less informed theatre of




his own times. Thus too it fared with the elder Latin poets, who, though admired indeed in their own age, but with confiderable abatement from the reason before affigned, were perfectly idolized in that of Auguftus; so as to require the fharpeft fatire of our poet, to correct the malevolent principle, from whence the affectation arofe. But the obfervation holds of our own writers. There was a time, when the art of JOHNSON was fet above the divineft raptures of SHAKESPEARE. The present age is well convinced of the mistake. And now the genius of SHAKESPEARE is idolized in its turn. Happily for the public taste, it can scarcely be too much fo. Yet, fhould any, in the rage of erecting trophies to the genius of antient poesy, presume to violate the recent honours of more correct poets, the cause of such critical perversity will be ever the fame. For all admiration of past times, when exceffive, is ftill to be accounted for the fame way,

Ingeniis non ille favet plauditque fepultis,
Noftra fed impugnat, nos noftraque lividus odit.


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