« EelmineJätka »
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 fubjects, 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 refpect 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 t 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 thefe characters is the moft. valuable and useful, is entirely out of the queftion all I plead for, is, to have their several provinces kept diftinct from each other; and to imprefs on the reader, that a-clear head, and acute understanding are not fufficient, alone, to
make a POET; that the moft folid obfervations on human life, expressed 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 than the Orlando Furiofo, or even Dante. Are there fo many cordial admirers of Spenfer and Milton, as of Hudibras ?--If we strike out of the number of these supposed admirers, those who appear fuch out of fashion, and not of feeling. Swift's rhapfody on poetry is far more popular, than Akenfide's noble ode to Lord Huntingdon. The EPISTLES on the Characters of men and women, and your sprightly fatires, my good friend, are more frequently perufed, and quoted, than L'Allegro and Il Penferofo of Milton. Had you written only these fatires, you would indeed have gained the title of a man of wit, and a man of fenfe; but, I am confident, would not infift on being denominated a POET, MERELY on their