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ERMIT me to break into your retirement, the refidence of virtue and literature, and to trouble you with a few reflections on the merits and real character of an admired author, and on other collateral subjects, that will naturally arise. No love of fingularity, no affectation of paradoxical opinions, gave rife to the following work. I revere the memory of POPE, I respect and honour his abilities; but I do not think him at the head of his profeffion. In other words, in that fpecies of poetry wherein POPE excelled, he is fuperior
to all mankind: and I only fay, that this fpecies of poetry is not the moft excellent one of the art. We do not, it fhould feem, fufficiently attend to the difference there is, betwixt a MAN OF WIT, a MAN OF SENSE, and a TRUE POET. Donne and Swift, were undoubtedly men of wit, and men of fense: but what traces have they left of PURE POETRY? Fontenelle and La Motte are entitled to the former character; but what can they urge to gain the latter? Which of these characters is the moft. valuable and useful, is entirely out of the queftion all I plead for, is, to have their several provinces kept distinct from each other; and to imprefs on the reader, that a clear head, and acute underftanding are not fufficient, alone, to
make a POET; that the most folid obfervations on human life, expreffed with the utmost elegance and brevity, are MORALITY, and not POETRY; that the EPISTLES of Boileau in RHYME, are no more poetical, than the CHARACTERS of Bruyere in PROSE; and that it is a creative and glowing IMAGINATION, "acer fpiritus ac vis," and that alone, that can stamp a writer with this exalted and very uncommon character, which fo few poffefs, and of which fo few can properly judge.
For one perfon, who can adequately relifh, and enjoy, a work of imagination, twenty are to be found who can tafte and judge of, obfervations on familiar life, and the manners of the age. The⠀ fatires
fatires of Ariofto, are more read tha the Orlando Furiofo, or even Dante Are there fo many cordial admirers o Spenfer and Milton, as of Hudibras ?--I we strike out of the number of these fup posed admirers, those who appear fuc out of fashion, and not of feeling. Swift' rhapfody on poetry is far more popular than Akenfide's noble ode to Lord Huntingdon. The EPISTLES on the Cha racters of men and women, and you fprightly fatires, my good friend, ar more frequently perused, and quoted than L'Allegro and Il Penferofo of Milton Had you written only these fatires, you would indeed have gained the title of man of wit, and a man of fenfe; but, am confident, would not infift on being denominated a POET, MERELY on thei