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is oftenest found in odd and irregular minds: but this peculiar turn distorts wit, and though it gives it a burlefque air, which excites momentary mirth, renders it lefs just, and consequently lefs agreeable to our judgments. Gluttony, corpulency, and cowardice, are the peculiarities of Falstaffe's compofition, they render him ridiculous without folly, throw an air of jest and feftivity about him, and make his manners fuit with his fentiments, without giving to his understanding any particular bias. As the contempt attendant on thefe vices and defects is the best antidote against any infection that might be caught in his fociety, fo it was very skilful to make him as ridiculous as witty, and as contemptible as entertaining. The admirable speech upon
honour would have been both indecent and
dangerous from any other person. We must every where allow his wit is juft, his humour genuine, and his character perfectly original, and sustained through every fcene, in every play, in which it appears.
As Falstaffe, whom the author certainly intended to be perfectly witty, is less addicted to quibble and play on words, than any of his comic characters, I think we may fairly conclude, our author was fenfible it was but a falfe kind of wit, which he practised from the hard neceffity of the times for in that age, the profeffor quibbled in his chair, the judge quibbled on the bench, the prelate quibbled in the pulpit, the statesman quibbled at the council-board; nay even majesty quibbled on the throne,
T is uncommon to find the fame fpirit and intereft diffused through the sequel as in the first part of a play: but the fertile and happy mind of Shakespear could create or diverfify at pleafure; could produce new characters or vary the attitudes of those before exhibited according to the occafion. He leaves us in doubt, whether moft to admire the fecundity of his imagination in the variety of its productions, or the ftrength and steadiness of his genius in fuftaining the spirit, and preserving unimpaired, through various circumstances and fituations, what his invention had originally produced.