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REV. DR. YOUNG,

RECTOR OF WELWYN,

IN

HERTFORDSHIRE.

DEAR SIR,

PERMIT me to break into your retirement, the residence 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 of criticism, that will naturally arise in the course of such an enquiry. No love of singularity, no affectation of paradoxical opinions, gave rise to the following Work. I revere. the memory of Pope, I re. {pect and honour his abilities ; but I do not think him at the head of his profession. In other words, in that species of poetry wherein

A

PoPE

VOL. I.

Pope excelled, he is superior to all mankind : and I only say, that this species of not the most excellent one of the art.

poetry is

We do not, it should seem, sufficiently 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 sense: but what traces have they left of PURE POETRY? It is remark. able, that Dryden fays of Donne, 6. He was the greatest wit, though not the greatest poet, of this nation. 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 most valuable and useful, is entirely out of the question: all I plead for, is, to have their several provinces kept distinct from each other; and to impress on the reader, that a clear head, and acute understanding, are not sufficient, alone, to make a poet; that the most folid observations 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 La Bruyere

in

in Prose; and that it is a creative and glowing imaGINATION, acer spiritus ac vis,” and that alone, that can stamp a writer with this exalted and very uncommon character, which fo few possess, and of which so few can properly judge.

For one person who can adequately relish and enjoy a work of imagination, twenty are to be found who can taste, and judge of, obfervations on familiar life, and the manners of the age.

The Satires of Ariosto are more read than the Orlando Furiofo, or even Dante. Are there so many cordial admirers of Spenser and Milton, as of Hudibras, if we strike out of the number of these supposed admirers, those who appear such out of fashion, and not of feeling? Swift's Rhapsody on Poetry is far more popular than Akenside's noble Ode to Lord Huntingdon.

The EPISTLES on the Characters of Men and Women, and your sprightly Satires, my good friend, are more frequently perused, and quoted, than L'Allegro and Il Penseroso of Milton. written only these Satires, you would, indeed, have gained the title of a man of wit, and

Had you

a

A 2

man

man of sense; but, I am confident, would not insist on being denominated a poet MERELY on their account.

NON SATIS EST PURIS VERSUM PERSCRIBERE VERBIS.

It is amazing this matter should ever have been mistaken, when Horace has taken particular and repeated pains to settle and adjust the opinion in question. He has more than once disclaimed all right and title to the name of POET on the score of his ethic and satiric pieces.

NEQUE ENIM CONCLUDERE VERSUM
DIXERIS ESSE SATIS

are

lines often repeated, but whose meaning is not extended and weighed as it ought to be. Nothing can be more judicious than the me. thod he prescribes, of trying whether any composition be essentially poetical or not; which

to drop entirely the measures and numbers, and transpose and invert the order of the

words:

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