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GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL.
BY DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
VOLUME THE SIXTH,
THE WHOLE POETICAL WORKS OF
ALEXANDER POPE, ESQ.
INCLUDING HIS TRANSLATIONS OF
HOMER'S ILIAD AND ODYSSEY.
PRINTED BY PAT. WOGAN, OLD-BRIDGE.
TOMER is univerfally allowed to have had the greateft Invention of any writer whatever. The praife of judgment Virgil has justly contested with him, and others may have their pretenfions 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 that in different degrees diftinguishes all great Geniufes: the utmoft ftretch of human ftudy, learning, and industry, which matters every thing befides, can never attain to this. It furnishes Art with all her materials, and without it, Judgment itself can at beft but fteal wifely; for Art is only like a prudent fteward that lives on managing the riches of Nature. Whatever praises may be given to works of judgment, there is not even a fingle beauty in them to which the Invention must not contribute: as in the most 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 paradife, 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. It is like a copious nursery, which contains the feeds and firft 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 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 oppreft by those of a stronger nature.
It is to the ftrength 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 spirit is mafter of himself while he reads him. What he writes, is of the moft animating nature.imagina ble; 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 perfon; 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 spectator. The courfe of his verses refembles that of the army he defcribes.
Οἱ δ ̓ ἄρ ̓ ἴσαν, ὡσεί τε πυρὶ χθὼν πᾶσα νέμυλο.