« EelmineJätka »
incur the fufpicion, of attempting to conceal the true owner, by a pitiful variation.
With respect to the critical animadverfions on Mr. POPE's writings, and genius, he is far from being over anxious to make others adopt his fentiments. He will think it sufficient, if his remarks fhould engage the reader to review his own opinions. Where he hath presumed to differ from the moft refpectable authorities, he would be rather understood to propose a doubt, than to offer a contradiction: he is not fo vain, 10 make light of the opinions of others; nor yet fo modeft, to fupprefs his own. It will give him lefs concern, however, to expofe his want of judgment, than to be confcious of the defpicable infincerity of feigning a conviction, which he does not feel.
To fome, perhaps, the extracts will appear too copious, and he once entertained thoughts of referring to the paffages, he judged proper to felect. But, befide the great trouble and inceffant interruption, which this would have occafioned to the reader, it occurred to him that it would be impoffible, more cfpecially in our author's
author's moral and didactic pieces, fully and candidly to exemplify the beauties and blemishes of his compofitions, without giving a short connected view of the plan of each piece, and of his chain of reafoning; which contributes, in fome inftances, to conftitute the peculiar excellencies and faults, which are most material to be remarked.
It would, to a few perhaps, have been fufficient to have pointed out particular beauties by inverted commas, or other marks of diftinction; and the writer is aware of the oftentation of citing fine paffages with general applauses, and empty exclamations, at the ends of them. But he recollected, that flight intimations do not always ftrike precipitate readers. Besides, it is fcarce poffible fometimes, when we are fmitten with a fine paffage, to fupprefs those involuntary bursts of applaufe---Euge! atque belle! though, in truth, they are but empty exclamations.
Whenever fuch may have escaped from his pen, he trusts that the candid reader will afcribe them to a folicitude, which made him rather carneft to do justice to the poet's merit, than to raise an admiration of his own judgment.
Should the following sheets, which have been the fruit of a leisure vacation, be deemed by his graver friends, too foreign from the line of his profeffion; he hath only to answer, that as the nature of the human mind requires diversity to preferve the edge of attention, fo, to him, no kind of relaxation could have been more agreeable: and in his choice, he is juftified by the authority of the great Lord Coke---After making certain allotments of time, not much perhaps to the taste of a modern student, this great fage of the law thus directs the application of the remainder
Quod fupereft, ultro facris largire camenis.
ALEXANDER POPE, Efq.
MONG the chief beauties of a famous Italian poem, is the following allegory, fo just and ingenious in the opinion of a great philofopher, that he has borrowed it to illuftrate and adorn a general principle in one of his more capital works Attached to the
thread of every man's life, fays the noble allegorift, is a little medal, whereon each man's name is infcribed, which TIME, waiting on the fhears of FATE, catches up, as they fall from the inexorable fteel, and bears to the river LETHE; into which, were it not for certain birds which keep flying about its banks, they would be immediately immerged.
these feize the medals ere they fall, and bear them for a while up and down in their beaks, with much noise and flutter; but careless of their charge, or unable to fupport it, they most
of them foon drop their fhining prey one after another into the oblivious ftream. Neverthelefs among these heedlefs carriers of fame, are a few fwans, who, when they catch a medal, convey it carefully to the Temple of IMMORTALITY, where it is confecrated.
These swans, of later ages, have indeed been rarae aves: What innumerable names have been dropped into the dark ftream of oblivion, for one that has been confecrated in the bright temple of immortality!
When it is confidered that the faculties which men receive from Nature, are perhaps nearly equal*, and that fo few diftinguish themfelves by the difplay of any fuperior talents, we are curious to become acquainted with the history of thofe, who by their merits have transmitted their names to pofterity; and are anxious to discover by what means they attained that degree of excellence, which immortalized their memories.
* It would be too much to conclude with fome fyftematical writers, that all men properly organized, are equally capable of the greateft efforts of genius: and that the inequality of talents is owing altogether to the difference of education. This is contradicted by daily experience. Education contributes moftly, but not wholly. Among youth, fome are found to receive inftruction with uncommon quickness of perception; while others, under the fame preceptor, betray a flowness of apprehenfion, which evidently marks a conflitutional difference between their mental faculties.