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Akademie mit einer neuen Zuschrift, worin er in feinerem und
*) parce que l'auditeur laissera aller son imagination beaucoup au-delà des infamies anglaises qui resteront sur le bout de votre langue. In einem Briefe an La Harpe ist dies so ausgedrückt: Lassemblée entendra beaucoup plus de malice, qu'on ne lui en dira (68, 270). **) 70, 274. *) 6, 253.
Essay on the Life and dramatic Writings
On Shakspeare and his times though very much has been said and written, since the curiosity of the learned was first directed towards that age, yet in the whole catalogue of writings with respect to them I could discover none in any degree answerable to the grandeur and variety of the subject. There are, to be sure, many valuable books among the number, and plenty of such as it would be difficult, if not impossible, to dispense with. However great may have been the industry of the literati of the eighteenth century, it has undoubtedly been by far surpassed by the scrupulousness of modern inquiries. As for the accuracy of ascertaining recorded facts, and of gathering the raw materials of history, there is, perhaps, little remaining to be done. But what I looked for everywhere, a coherent and luminous survey of the rise, progress, and final decline, of English poetry, a lively description of the intellectual “form and pressure” of the Elizabethan age, I sought everywhere in vain.
By this avowal I would not impeach the meritorious and universally acknowledged researches of Drake, Collier, Dyce, and other critics, part of whom spent their lives upon collecting authentic details concerning that period. But whether it . came from a voluntary resolution to confine their pursuits to limits easy to be surveyed, and only clear the path for others, or from any diffidence of their own powers: they certainly did not so much as aspire to the palm of historic art. Nor, perhaps, ever will. For if I am not wholly mistaken, this