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OR some years past, the Englith literature
has been esteemed amongst us; and the name of Shakspeare, at first little known in France, is become more familiar to us. M. de Voltaire himself, by writing against him, has contributed, perhaps, without design, to extend his reputation. He has inflamed the curiosity of his readers, and he has excited in many a desire of knowing a writer, who, notwithstanding great faults, has captivated, for two centuries, a whole enlightenened nation. Some have read his works, and have mentioned them; others have mentioned them, without having read them. Dissertations have been made on his beauties, and on his faults, and Shakspeare has at length begun to engage part of the attention of those who cultivate literature.
* The original is in Italian; and may be purchased at Messrs. Robin sons in Pater-nofter Row, or at Mr. Elmlly's in the Strand.
For a 3
vi PRE FACE.
In perusing the work from which I have taken this extract, I found some such striking proofs of the taste and impartiality of the author, that I think myself obliged to present them to the public. These two talents are in a critic most eflential: they alone give weight and authority to his decisions. The passages which I shall quote will have the double advantage of interesting the reader, and of acquainting him with the right which Mr. Sherlock may have to his confidence.
Mr. Sherlock says to his young Italian poet;
Dantè is a great genius, Ariosto is a delightful “and enchanting poet; but neither the one nor “ the other caui serve to form your taste.”
taste.” As a recompence, he does not fail to recommend to him the study of the Greek, Latin, and French poets. Homer, Virgil, and Racine, are the models which he proposes to him; Horace, Longinus, and Boileau, are the masters from whom he would have him take leffons. - At the moment,” says he,
of a war be“ tween England and France, my young
reader “ will, perhaps, be surprized at my making an. “ elogium on French literature. He is little ac
quainted with the principles of my nation. An
Englishman dares always do justice to merit. “ When his country requires his talents, he is
P R E FACE. vii ready to dedicate them to her without reserve. “ Does she require his blood, he is ready to shed “ it in her service, to the last drop. But, at the “ same time, he is incapable of doing injustice to
an enemy. We are not at war with the French " literature. The men of letters of all nations “ should be fellow-citizens. They should live in an “ eternal peace, and do justice to the merits both
, " of the living and the dead, of London, Paris, “ Rome, and Athens."
With this profession of impartiality Mr. Sherlock introduces his encomiums on Boileau and Racine. He thus speaks of the latter.
“ Racine, a disciple of Boileau and of the “ Greeks, does honour to Paris, and would have “ been honoured at Athens. A good taste, good “ sense, truth, a knowledge of the human heart, “ the pathetic carried to the utmost height; these " are the merits which entitle him to a place be“ tween Sophocles and Euripides. The magic “ pencil of Correggio, his strength and his graces, " the tenderness and majesty of Guido, the dis“ position and design of Raphaël, are united in “ this perfect model *. Perfection, if I may so
fo say, is his characteristic. And when, apprized “ of the difficulty of making good French verfes,
* To perceive the whole force of this elogium, it is necessary to read, in Mr. Sherlock's sixth letter on Dryden, the comparison which he makes between Raphael and Correggio,