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they would perhaps have never entered it, if their preceptors had forbidden them to lend an ear. Of so much consequence is the study of Poetry in youth to the general advancement of learning.
And as to morals, "Poetry," in the words of Sir Philip Sydney," doth not "only shew the way, but giveth so sweet a prospect of the way, as will entice 66 any man to enter into it; nay, the Poet doth, as if your journey should be "through a fair vineyard, at the very first give you a cluster of grapes, that, "full of that taste, you may long to pass farther. He beginneth not with ob"seure definitions, but he cometh to you with words set in delightful pro. "portion, either accompanied with, or prepared for, the well-enchanting skill "of music ;--and with a tale-he cometh unto you with a tale, which holdeth "children from play, and old men from the chimney corner. Even those hard. "hearted evil men, who think virtue a school-name, and despise the austere "admonitions of the philosopher, and feel not the inward reasons they stand (6 upon, yet will be contented to be delighted; which is all the good fellow "Poet seems to promise; and so steal to see the form of goodness; which seen "they cannot but love, ere themselves be aware, as if they took a medicine of "cherries."
Thus Poetry, by the gentle, yet certain method of allurement, leads both to learning and to virtue. I conclude, therefore, that under a few self-evident reflections, it is properly addressed to all young minds, in the course of a liberal education.
It must be confessed, at the same time, that many sensible men in the world, as well as in the schools of philosophy, have objected to an early study of it. They have thought that a taste for it interfered with an attention to what they call the MAIN CHANCE. What Poet ever fined for sheriff? says Oldham. It is seldom seen that any one discovers mines of gold and silver in Parnassus, says Mr. Locke. Such ideas have predominated in the exchange and in the warehouse; and, while they continue to be confined to those places, may perhaps, in some instances, be proper and advantageous. But they ought not to ope rate on the mind of the well-educated gentleman, or the man of a liberal profession; and indeed there is no good reason to be given why the mercantile classes, at least of the higher order, should not amuse their leisure with any pleasures of polite literature.
That mere men of the world object to the study of Poetry as a part of educa tion, is not to be wondered at, when it is considered that many, from want of natural sensibility, or from long habits of inattention to every thing but sordid interest, are totally unfurnished with faculties for the perception of poetical
beasty. But shall we deny that the cowslip and violet possess a vivid colour and sweet fragrance, because the ox who fattens in the meadow tramples over them without perceiving either their hues or their odours? The taste of manKind, from China to Peru, powerfully militates against the few and narrowminded opposers of Poetry.
Young minds, indeed, have commonly a taste for Verse. Unseduced by the love of money, and unhacknied in the ways of vice, they are, it is true, delighted with nature and fact, though unembellished; because all objects with them have the grace of novelty: but they are transported with the charms of Poetry where the sunshine of fancy diffuses over every subject the fine gloss, the rich colouring, of beautiful imagery and language. "Nature" (to cite Sir Philip Sydney again) "never set forth the earth in so rich tapestry as divers pocts "have done, neither with so pleasant rivers, fruitful trees, sweet smelling flowers, "nor whatsoever may make the earth more lovely. The world is a brazen "world-the poets only deliver a GOLDEN; which whoever dislike, the fault is “in their judgment, quite out of taste, and not in the sweet food of SWEETLY. UTTERED KNOWLEDGE."
It will be readily acknowledged, that ideas and precepts of all kinds, whether of morality or science, make a deeper impression when inculcated by the viva. city, the painting, the melody of poetical language. And what is thus deeply impressed will also long remain; for metre and rhyme naturally catch hold of the memory, as the tendrils of the vine cling round the branches of the elm.
Orpheus and Linus are recorded in fable to have drawn the minds of sa vage men to knowledge, and to have polished human nature, by Poetry. And are not Children in the state of nature? And is it not probable that Poetry, may be the best instrument to operate on them, as it was found to be on nations in the savage state? Since, according to the mythological wisdom of the ancients, Amphion moved stones, and Orpheus brutes, by music and verse, is it not reasonable to believe, that minds which are dull, and even brutally insensible, may be penetrated, sharpened, softened, and vivified, by the warm influence of fine Poetry?
But it is really superfluous to expatiate either on the delight or the utility of Poetry. The subject has been exhausted; and, whatever a few men of little taste and feeling, or of minds entirely sordid and secular, may object, such are the charms of the Goddess, such her powerful influence over the heart of man, that she will never want voluntary votaries at her shrine. The Author of Natare has kindly implanted in man a love of Poetry, to solace him under the labours and sorrows of life. A great part of the Scriptures is poetry and verse
useful and entertaining
PIECES of POETRY,
Theirs is the Sunshine of the Breaft.. Gray
Printed for J.Johnson, R.Baldwin, W.J& J. Richardson, F.& C.Rivingten, R.Faulder. Ogilvy