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Or Ethiopian's tooth, or the fann'd fnow,
But enough of quotations. I might go on to enlarge on the admirable sentiments, and maxims of morality, with which his works abound it has been truly observed, that a perfect fyftem of ethics might be extracted from them. I might expatiate on the skill with which he conducts and combines the different branches of his fable. I might extol the variety and brilliancy of his wit; and, perhaps with ftill greater juftice, the depth and folidity of his judgment, difplaying itself in the most profound and fagacious reflections, the most accurate and demonftrative reasonings. But I wave infifting upon these topics, because it seems to me, that in these respects, other writers have advanced, if not to an equality, at least much nearer to an equality than they have been able to attain in the points already mentioned, in the first and greatest characteristic of genius, the power of moving the paffions and enchaining the attention; in the faculty of inventing and pourtraying characters, that fundamental excellence of the drama; in the beauty and energy of style, and diction, and imagery, and in the power of numbers, and felicity and facility of verfification.
I am not infenfible to the merit of the French writers. In every walk of literature, and particu larly in the dramatic, they have, by their ingenious productions, done the highest honour to themselves and to their country. I acknowledge, that had
we not a Shakespeare to boast, none of our tragic pieces, unless an exception be made in favour of Venice Preferv'd and the Orphan, could juftly be. put in competition with Cinna, Polyeucte, Athalie, Iphigene, and many other pieces of Corneille and Racine, which might be enumerated; but in my opinion, Corneille and Racine themselves ftand. at a much greater diftance from Shakespeare, than Rowe, or Otway, or Fletcher, from them. For one Shakespeare, I believe, Nature forms many Corneilles; and I fhould as foon expect to fee another Newton in philofophy, as another Shakespeare in dramatic poetry.
Voltaire pretends, indeed, that Lopez de Vega was 200 years ago, in Spain, exactly what Shakefpeare was in England. As I have never had an opportunity of perufing any of the performances of that voluminous author, I cannot take upon me to controvert the affertion; but, as Voltaire's ipfe dixit does not amount to demonftration, I fhall beg leave to fufpend my belief of it, till good fenfe and good taste become as prevalent in Spain as they now are in England; and when that period arrives, if Lopez de Vega continues as much the object of admiration as at prefent, the univerfal opinion of fo learned and enlightened a nation will undoubtedly form the strongest prefumption, that his genius was of the highest clafs, and that his name and works are deftined to immortality. This prefumption now exists in favour of Shakespeare. I confider him as only entering his career of fame and
and glory; and, to adopt the words of an animated writer, "When the very name of Voltaire, and even the memory of the language in which he has written, fhall be no more, the Apalachian mountains, the banks of the Ohio, and the plains of Sciota, fhall refound with the accents of this barbarian."
Ben Jonfon has been accused of giving a scanty and reluctant tribute of applaufe to his great rival; but there is in his eulogium one line, one prophetic line, which fhows that he perfectly understood, and freely acknowledged, his tranfcendent merit :
"He was not for an age, but for all time."
And without queftion he is entitled to a place in the highest rank of that illuftrious band
"Whofe honours with encreafing ages grow,
On the Reign and Character of QUEEN ELIZABETH.
T has lately been much the fashion to speak in very difparaging terms of the perfon and government of Queen Elizabeth.-This celebrated princefs, during a reign of almoft half a century, and for a period of a century and half fucceeding her death, was the object of universal reverence and admiration; and to this very day her name, to the bulk of the people, carries a kind of magic in the found; they confider her reign as a kind of golden age, as the halcyon days of perpetual profperity and felicity; but feveral persons, eminent for the profundity of their historical researches, have discovered, to the great amazement of those who owe their knowledge to common report and information, that the difpofition of that princess was arbitrary and imperious, that the maxims of her government were odious and tyrannical, that her authority was defpotic, and that the political conftitution of this country in her days bore a remarkable refemblance to that of Turkey at prefent. This, and much more, has Mr. Hume in particular afferted, in a very high and peremptory tone; and, as a neceffary consequence of these D affertions,
affertions, he has taken much pains to exculpate the two first princes of the house of Stuart, from the various accufations that have been brought against them, of introducing arbitrary and unconstitutional principles of government into their administration. According to the reprefentation of that eloquent hiftorian, thofe monarchs have been treated, both during their lives and fince their deaths, with the highest ingratitude and injuftice; and if this reprefentation is juft, England must pass for the moft whimfical and capricious of all nations; for, without any reasonable or affignable caufe, Queen Elizabeth has ever been, and still is, the object of the highest admiration and applause, whilst the unfortunate James and Charles are regarded, the one with contempt, the other with deteftation.But this account cannot give entire fatisfaction to thofe who believe human nature to be constituted on certain fixed and immutable principles, and who are confequently inclined to believe, that oppofite effects cannot well proceed from fimilar caufes in fimilar circumstances.
Certainly Mr. Hume has no reason to expect that we should entertain a very high idea of that philofophy which cannot account for moral appearances upon moral principles, or which fatisfies itself with a vague or general folution, without attempting to trace the connection between the fuppofed causes and their refpective effects.If any one should ask how is it poffible to account for the fudden diffufion of chriftianity in the world, what