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Hamlet Prince of Denmark,

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HERE is hardly any Thing which has been more abus'd than the Art of Criticifm; it has been turned to fo many bad Purposes among us, that the very Word it felf has almost totally loft its genuine and natural Signification; for People generally understand by Criticifm, finding fault with a Work; and from thence, when we call a Man a Critick, we A 2


ufually mean, one difpofed to blame, and feldom to commend: Whereas in Truth, a real Critick, in the proper Senfe of that Word, is one whose conftant Endeavour it is to fet in the beft Light all Beauties, and to touch upon Defects no more than is neceffary; to point out how fuch may be avoided for the future, and to fettle, if possible, a right Taste among those of the Age in which he lives.

Ill-nature, and a Propenfity to fet any Work in a ridiculous and falfe Light, are fo far from being the Characteristicks of a true Critick, that they are the certain Marks whereby we may know that a Man has not the true Spirit of Criticism in him.


There is a Weakness oppofite to this, which indeed is better natur'd, but is, however, vicious; and that is, the being bigotted to an Author infomuch that Men of this Stamp, when they undertake to explain or comment upon any Writer, they will not allow him to have any Defects; nay, so far from that, they find out Beauties in him which can be fo to none but themselves, and give Turns to his Expreffions, and lend him Thoughts which were never his Defign, or never enter'd into his Brain.

Of all our Countrymen, Mr. Addifon is the best in Criticism, the most exempt from the Faults I mention; for his Papers upon Milton's Paradife Loft, I look upon as the true Model for all Criticks to. follow.

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