The Plays of William Shakspeare: With the Corrections and Illustrations of Various Commentators, to which are Added Notes, Volume 1 (Google eBook)

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J. Johnson, 1803
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Page 480 - tis a common proof, That lowliness is young ambition's ladder, Whereto the climber-upward turns his face; But when he once attains the upmost round, He then unto the ladder turns his back, Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees By which he did ascend: so Caesar may; Then, lest he may, prevent.
Page 249 - In the writings of other poets a character is too often an individual ; in those of Shakespeare it is commonly a species.
Page 305 - I have always suspected that the reading is right, which requires many words to prove it wrong ; and the emendation wrong, that cannot without so much labour appear to be right.
Page 265 - A quibble is to Shakespeare what luminous vapours are to the traveller : he follows it at all adventures ; it is sure to lead him out of his way, and sure to engulf him in the mire.
Page 251 - This therefore is the praise of Shakespeare, that his drama is the mirror of life; that he who has mazed his imagination, in following the phantoms which other writers raise up before him, may here be cured of his delirious ecstasies, by reading human sentiments in human language, by scenes from which a hermit may estimate the transactions of the world, and a confessor predict the progress of the passions.
Page 282 - ... whether from all his successors more maxims of theoretical knowledge, or more rules of practical prudence, can be collected, than he alone has given to his country.
Page 257 - Fiction cannot move so much, but that the attention may be easily transferred ; and though it must be allowed that pleasing melancholy be sometimes interrupted by unwelcome levity, yet let it be considered likewise, that melancholy is often not pleasing, and that the disturbance of one man may be the relief of another ; that different auditors have different habitudes ; and that, upon the whole, all pleasure consists in variety.
Page 248 - Nothing can please many, and please long, but just representations of general nature. Particular manners can be known to few, and therefore few only can judge how nearly they are copied. The irregular combinations of fanciful invention may delight awhile, by that novelty of which the common satiety of life sends us all in quest ; but the pleasures of sudden wonder are soon exhausted, and the mind can only repose on the stability of truth.
Page 250 - To bring a lover, a lady, and a rival into the fable; to entangle them in contradictory obligations, perplex them with oppositions of interest, and harass them with violence of desires inconsistent with each other; to make them meet in rapture and part in agony; to fill their mouths with hyperbolical joy and outrageous sorrow; to distress them as nothing...
Page 248 - 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 mirror of manners and of life.

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