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have collected, but with ftudied brevity, my mifcellaneous remarks into this work now prefented to the reader; where what occur to the extent of my former volume, are merely fupplemental to it, that no purchaser might have occafion to complain, nor myself unreasonably fuffer by a folitary and unfupported work. Thefe Obfervations, which are principally employed on our poet's imitations of his predeceffors, but not unaccompanied by an intermixture of other topics arifing from the subject, will prove acceptable, I hope, in proportion to their worth, to the lovers of poctic elegance. But, in truth, both my present and past exercitations on this poct, with the future efforts of Dr. Warton, admirable as they may be, are alike frivolous and ineffectual, if no edition of Pope be wanted, according to the profefforial edict of thofe impartial judges and fuperlative practitioners of univerfal literature, hight British Critics! From the formidable decifion of thefe mighty dictators I appeal, however, with confidence by this volume to the public.
Thofe imitations, which others had before difcovered, I have not been forward to repeat, from a difinclination to an unreasonable extenfion of the work: what may have been incidentally repeated, I have not appropriated with intentional
intentional ufurpation. Even in those instances, where the symptoms of imitation are dubious or improbable, to contemplate the efforts of genius on the fame sentiment, is of itself a moft pleafing occupation to a reader of fenfibility.
Befides, the immediate illuftration arifing to our poet from the fpecification of his borrowed ornaments, another point of fome importance is indirectly enforced; I mean, the unlimited and incalculable obligations of modern Wit to the Genius of Greece and Rome; and the inconceivable benefit of antient learning to thofe, who wish to appreciate, by a true estimate, the accomplishments of fucceeding writers, and to acquire a pure relish even for the beauties of Englifh poetry. Indeed, to the credit of his tafte and magnanimity be it spoken, and the more, as he tasted the spirit of antiquity through the dilution of tranflations only, no man could be more fenfible of his obligations, nor more profufely generous in his acknowledgements to the illuftrious exemplars of the claffic ages, than Pope himfelf.
THAT fatiety, of which fome complain in the poetry of Pope, must be explained in part from his confummate propriety of expreffion, his fuavity
vity of numbers, and that inculpable perfection which pervades the whole body of his compofitions; and, in part, from the fickly faftidioufnefs and hafty mifconception of the cenfurer himfelf. Occafional harfhness of verfification, difproportionate expreffion, and incongruity of thought, act like a foil to a sparkling fentiment, or a tuneful verfe; and excite that momentary recreation, which arifes from agreable furprize and unexpected felicity of execution. The fame excellence, in a galaxy of equal beauties, would have paffed over the eye of the mind without difcriminate impreffion. It is not the infipidity of viands, but their lufcious juices and exquifite flavour, that makes them cloy, and renders palatable even the neutrality of vulgar fare. It was neither the flatnefs nor poverty of the Archangel's converfation, but his energy of conception and his charming voice, that wearied our first Parent, and oppreft his sense,
ftrain'd to th' heighth In that celeftial colloquy fublime.
Our attention, palled by a profufion of unceafing dainties, requires the refreshment of variety; though that variety be abfurdity and dulnefs.
But, before my final difmiffion of our accomplished countryman and his enchanting works,
let me be permitted to weigh his qualities in that balance, which the most elegant critic of antiquity has fufpended for the adjustment of poetic merit. Horace, in his Satires, i. 4. 39. thus exhibits the criterion of a TRUE POET, in contradiftinction to the fimple versifier:
Primum ego me illorum, dederim quibus effe poëtis,
Three effential qualifications, we fee, must combine to the compofition of a genuine bard: 1. Ingenium; Genius, or native Capability; an endowment, principally displayed, as it regards the poetic character, in " Creation," or "original "difcovery."
1. Now this "creative," or "inventive, Faculty" of Pope may be moft commodioufly afferted, and with indisputable efficiency, from his Rape of the Lock, and Dunciad; becaufe a comparifon with the great poetical inventors, who preceded him, may be moft obviously inftituted from thefe performances. But I thus pronounce, rather in compliance with popular opinion, than in conformity to my own conception of the fubject, and, as I think, to Truth itself. Thofe poets a 3
after Homer, who have gained the highest reputation for creative power in antient and modern days, tread too closely in his steps for a reasonable claim of independent merit in this particular: and, as far as I can discover, no less invention, in proportion to the extent of his performance, is difcoverable in our author's Dunciad, than in the Paradife Loft itself, and much more than Virgil's poem can affert. Now, in my judgement, as much original ingenuity, as novel and extenfive a creation of excurfive fancy, is exhibited in the Moral Essays of Pope, and most of his other pieces, as in the poetry of any artist that could be mentioned. His invention is only lefs confpicuous in actual difplay than that of others, from the paucity of his original productions; a paucity, not affignable to the poverty of a barren or exhaufted intellect, but to an incidental mifemployment of his talents on the works of Shakspeare, and to the devotion of fo long a time to tranflation only :
And Pope's ten years to comment and translate,
2. The fecond quality fpecified by Horace is, the mens divinior, a mind of diviner conftitu
tion." By this I understand that enthusiastic rapture, to which glowing conceptions and ecftatic vifions are congenial; which kindles into tranfport,