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the Georgics of Virgil, and fee whether, by any process of critical chemistry, you can lower and reduce them to the tameness of
profe. You will find that they will appear like Ulyffes in his disguise of rags, still a hero, though lodged in the cottage of the herdsman Eumæus.
The fublime and the pathetic are the two chief nerves of all genuine poefy. What is there transcendently fublime or pathetic in POPE? In his Works there is, indeed, "nihil inane, nihil arceffitum; puro tamen fonti quam magno flumini proprior;" as the excellent Quintilian remarks of Lyfias. And because I am, perhaps, unwilling to speak out in plain English, I will adopt the following passage of Voltaire, which, in my opinion, as exactly characterizes POPE as it does his model Boileau, for whom it was originally defigned: "INCAPABLE PEUT-ETRE DU SUBLIME QUI ELEVE L'AME, ET DU SENTIMENT QUI L'ATTENDRIT, MAIS FAIT POUR ECLAIRER CEUX A QUI LA NATURE ACCORDA L'UN ET L'AUTRE, LABORIEUX,
HARMONIEUX, IL DEVINT, ENFIN, LE POETE DE LA RAISON."
Our English Poets may, I think, be dif posed in four different claffes and degrees. In the first class I would place our only three fublime and pathetic poets; SPENSER, SHAKESPEARE, MILTON. In the second class should be ranked fuch as poffeffed the true poetical genius, in a more moderate degree, but who had noble talents for moral, ethical, and panegyrical poefy. At the head of these are DRYDEN, PRIOR, ADDISON, COWLEY, WALLER, GARTH, FENTON, GAY, DENHAM, PARNELL. In the third clafs may be placed men of wit, of elegant taste, and lively fancy in describing familiar life, though not the
higher scenes of poetry. Here may be num
bered, BUTLER, SWIFT, ROCHESTER, DONNE, DORSET, OLDHAM. In the fourth class, the mere verfifiers, however fmooth and mellifluous fome of them may be thought, should be difpofed. Such as PITT, SANDYS, FAIRFAX, BROOME, BUCKINGHAM, LANSDOWN. This enumeration is not intended as a complete catalogue of writers, and in their
but only to mark out briefly the different species of our celebrated authors. In which of these claffes POPE deserves to be placed, the following Work is intended to determine.
And faithful Servant.
GENIUS AND WRITINGS
OF THE PASTORALS, AND THE MESSIAH,
PRINCES and Authors are seldom spoken of, during their lives, with justice and impartiality. Admiration and Envy, their constant attendants, like two unskilful artists, are apt to overcharge their pieces with too great a quantity of light or of shade; and are disqualified happily to hit upon that middle colour, that mixture of error and excellence,
excellence, which alone renders every representation of man just and natural. This, perhaps, may be one reason, among others, why we have never yet seen a fair and candid criticism on the character and merits of our last great poet, Mr. POPE. I have therefore thought, that it would be no unpleasing amusement, or uninstructive employment, to examine at large, without blind panegyric, or petulant invective, the writings of this English Classic, in the order in which they are arranged in the nine volumes of the elegant edition of Dr. Warburton. As I shall neither censure nor commend, without alleging the reason on which my opinion is founded, I shall be entirely unmoved at the imputation of malignity, or the clamours of popular prejudice.
It is somewhat strange, that in the pastorals of a young poet, there should not be found a single rural image that is new: but this, I am afraid, is the case in the PASTORALS before us. The ideas of Theocritus, Virgil, and Spenser, are, indeed, here exhibited in language equally mellifluous and pure; but the descriptions and sentiments are trite and common.