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HOMER'S ILI A D.
HOMER OMER is univerfally allowed to have had the greatest Invention of any writer whatever. The praise of Judgment Virgil has juftly contested with him, and others may have their pretenfions as to particular excellencies; but his Invention remains yet unrivalled. Nor is it a wonder if he has ever been acknowledged the greatest of poets, who most excelled in that which is the very foundation of poetry. It is the Invention that, in different degrees, diftinguishes all great Genius's: the utmoft ftretch of human study, learning, and industry, which master every thing befides, can never attain to this. It furnifhes Art with all her materials, and without it, Judgment itself can at best but steal wifely: for Art is only like a prudent steward that lives on managing the riches of Nature. Whatever praises may be given to works of Judgment, there is not even a fingle
fingle beauty in them, to which the Invention must not contribute. As in the moft regular gardens, Art can only reduce the beauties of Nature to more regularity, and fuch a figure, which the common eye may better take in, and is therefore more entertained with. And perhaps the reason why common Critics are inclined to prefer a judicious and methodical genius to a great and fruitful one, is, because they find it easier for themselves to pursue their obfervations through an uniform and bounded walk of Art, than to comprehend the vast and various extent of Nature.
Our Author's work is a wild paradise *, where if we cannot fee all the beauties fo diftinctly as in an ordered garden, it is only because the number of them is infinitely greater. 'Tis like a copious nurfery which contains the feeds and first productions of every kind, out of which those who followed him have but felected fome particular plants, each according to his fancy, to cultivate and beautify. If
* Thefe words feem to imply that the Iliad is deficient in point of regularity and conduct of the Fable. Whereas one of its moft tranfcendent and unparalleled excellencies is the coherence, the confiftency, the fimplicity, and the perfpicuity of its plan; all which qualities are the refult of judgment as well as of invention; and all which the best critics, from Ariftotle to Clarke, have joined in admiring and applauding. Let Quintilian speak for all the reft; in difpofitione totius operis nonne humani generis modum exceffit? And he excels Virgil as much in judgment as invention; and in exact difpofition, just thought, correct elocution, and polished numbers, as in poetical fire. Mad. Dacier was vehemently angry at Mr. Pope for this paragraph. In fact, we do fee the beauties of this wellordered garden; which is not a mere nursery; its plants are not too luxuriant, and are arrived to perfection and maturity. WARTON.
fome things are too luxuriant, it is owing to the richness of the foil; and if others are not arrived to perfection or maturity, it is only because they are over-run and oppreffed by thofe of a stronger nature.
It is to the strength of this amazing Invention we are to attribute that unequalled fire and rapture, which is fo forcible in Homer, that no man of a true poetical fpirit is mafter of himfelf while he reads him. What he writes, is of the most animated nature imaginable; every thing moves, every thing lives, and is put in action. If a council be called, or a battle fought, you are not coldly informed of what was faid or done as from a third person; the reader is hurried out of himself by the force of the Poet's imagination, and turns in one place to a hearer, in another to a fpectator. The course of his verfes resembles that of the army he defcribes,
εἰ δ ̓ ἀρ ἴσαν, ὡσεί τε πυρὶ χθών πᾶσα νέμοιτο. They pour along like a fire that fweeps the whole earth before it. 'Tis however remarkable, that his fancy, which is every where vigorous, is not discovered immediately at the beginning of his poem in its fulleft fplendor: it grows in the progress both upon himfelf and others, and becomes on fire like a chariotwheel, by its own rapidity. Exact difpofition, just thought, correct elocution, polished numbers, may have been found in a thoufand; but this poetical fire, this Vivida vis animi, in a very few. Even in works where