Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

cannot justly claim the same honour, yet they naturally follow their authors as attendants ; and I hope that in return for having enabled Tasso to diffuse his fame through the British dominions, I may be introduced by him to the presence of your majesty.

Tasso has a peculiar claim to your majesty's favour, as follower and panegyrist of the house of Este, which has one common ancestor with the house of Hanover ; and in reviewing his life it is not easy to forbear a wish that he had lived in a happier time, when he might among the descendants of that illustrious family have found a more liberal and potent patronage.

I cannot but observe, madam, how unequally reward is proportioned to merit, when I reflect that the happiness which was withheld from Tasso is reserved for me ; and that the poem which once hardly procured to its author the countenance of the princes of Ferrara, has attracted to its translator the favourable notice of a BRITISH QUEEN.

Had this been the fate of Tasso, he would have been able to have celebrated the condescension of your majesty in nobler language, but could not have felt it with more ardent gratitude, than,

Madam,
Your majesty's

most faithful and devoted servant.

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 superior 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 inconveniences of eminence.

However you shall receive it, my design cannot be disappointed ; because this public 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,

R. JAMES.

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 subtil sophistry of desire, I have been per. suaded 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 public 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 never adventured into the world ; and I am afraid, my lord, equally unknown to those who have always found the world ready to applaud them.

'Tis therefore not unlikely that the design of this address may be mistaken, and the effects of my fear imput. ed to 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,

THE AUTHOR.

SHAKSPEARE Illustrated; or, The Novels and HISTORIES

on which the Plays of SHAKSPEARE are founded ; collected and translated from the original authors. With Critical Re. marks. By the Author of the FEMALE QUIXOTE. 1758.

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 à perfect knowledge of the abilities of Shakspeare.

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 Shakspeare, 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 Shakspeare, or take away from it, you, my lord, and men learned and candid like you, 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 ?

« AnteriorContinuar »