The purpose of this book is to give an account of Shakespeare's reputation during the eighteenth century, and to suggest that there are grounds for reconsidering the common opinion that the century did not give him his due.
plays, such as the Tempest, are "very near a regularity." Yet he acknowledges that Shakespeare abounds in beauties, and he makes some reparation by including a long list of his finer passages. Gildon was a man whose ideas took their colour from his surroundings. In the days of his acquaintanceship with Dryden he appreciated Shakespeare more heartily than when he was left to the friendship of Dennis or the favours of the Duke of Buckinghamshire. His Art of Poetry is a dishonest compilation, which owes what value it has to the sprinkling of contemporary allusions. It even incorporates, without any acknowledgment, long passages from Sidney's Apologie. We should be tempted to believe that Gildon merely put his name to a hack-work collection, were it not that there is a gradual deterioration in his criticism.
John Dennis also replied to Rymer's Short View, and was classed afterwards as one of Rymer's disciples. In his Impartial Critick (1693) he endeavoured to s
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