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1924

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P R E F A CE.

greatest Invention of any writer whatever. The praise of judgment Virgil has justly contested with him, and others may have their pretensions as to particular excellencies; but his Invention remains yet unrivaled. 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 thatin different degrees distinguishes all great Geniuses : the utmost stretch of human ftudy,learning, and industry, which masters every thing besides, can never attain to this. It furnishes Art with all her materials, and without it, Judgment itself can at best but steal wisely: 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 single beauty in then to which the Invention must not contribute : as in the most regular gardens, Art can only re- : duce the beauties of Nature to more regularity, and such 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 purVOL. I. B

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sue 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 see all the beauties so distinctly as in an ordered garden, it is only because the number of them is infinitely greater. It is like a copious nursery, which contains the feeds and first productions of every kind, out of which those who followed him have but selected some particular plants, each according to his fancy, to cultivate and beautify. If some things are too luxuriant, it is owing to the richness of the soil; and if others are not arrived to perfection or maturity, it is only because they are over-run and opprest by those 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 master of himself while he reads him. What he writes, is of the most animated nature imaginable ; every thing moves, every thing lives, and is put in ac. tion. If a council be called, or a battle fought, you al'e not coldly informed of what was said or done as from a third person; the reader is hurried out of himfelf by the force of the Poet's imagination, and turns in one place to a hearer, in another to a spectator. The course of his verses resembles that of the army he defcribes,

Οι δ' άρ' ίσαν, ωσεί τε τυρί χθών πάσα νέμοίίο. “They pour along like a fire that sweeps the whole

" earth

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