Among great geniuses, those few draw the admiration of all the world upon them, and stand up as the prodigies of mankind, who, by the mere strength of natural parts, and without any assistance of art or learning, have produced works that were the delight of their own times, and the wonder of posterity. There appears something nobly wild and extravagant in these great natural geniuses that is infinitely more beautiful than all the turn and polishing of what the French call a bel esprit by which they would express a genius refined by conversation, reflection, and the reading of the most polite authors. The greatest genius which runs through the arts and sciences, takes a kind of tincture from them, and falls unavoidably into imitation."

Many of these great natural geniuses that were never disciplined and broken by rules of art, are to be found among the ancients, and in particular among those of the more eastern parts of the world. Homer has innumerable flights that Virgil was not able to reach, and in the Old Testament we find several passages more elevated and sublime than any in Homer. At the same time that we allow a greater and more daring genius to the ancients, we must own that the greatest of them very much fail. ed in, or, if you will, that they were much above, the nicety and correctness of the moderns. In their similitudes and allusions, provided there was a likeness, they did not much trouble themselves about the decency of the comparison : thus Solomon resembles the nose of his beloved to the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus; as the coming of a thief in the night, is a similitude of the same kind in the New Testament*. It would be endless to make collections of this nature; Homer illustrates one of his heroes encompassed with the enemy, by an ass in a field of corn that has his sides belaboured by all the boys of the village without stirring a foot for it : and another of them tossing to and fro in his


* Song of Solomon, vii. 4.Mattxxiv. 43, &'c, 1 Thess. v. 2

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bed and burning with resentment, to a piece of flesh broiled on the coals. This particular failure in the ancients, opens a large field of raillery to the little wits, who can laugh at an indecency, but not relish the sublime in these sorts of writings. The present emperor of Persia, conformable to this eastern way of thinking, amidst a great many pompous titles, denominates himself,' the sun of glory,' and 'the. nutmeg of delight.' In short, to cut off all cavilling against the ancients, and particularly those of the warmer climates, who had most heat and life in their imaginations, we are to consider that the rule of observing what the French call the bienseance in an allusion, has been found out of later years, and in the colder regions of the world; where we would make some arends for our want of force and spirit, by a scrupulous nicety and exactness in our compositions. Our countryman Shakspeare was a remark. able instance of this first kind of great geniuses.

I cannot quit this head without observing that Píndar was a great genius of the first class, who was hurried on by a natural fire and impetuosity to vast conceptions of things and noble sallies of imagination. “At the same time, can any thing be more ridiculous than for men of a sober and moderate fancy to imitate this poet's way of writing in those monstrous compositions which go among 11s under the name of Pindarics? When I see people copying works, which, as Horace bas represented thein, are singular in their kind, and inimitable; when I see men following irregularities by rule, and by the little tricks of art straining after the most unbounded flights of nature, I cannot but apply to them that passage in Terence:

- Incerta hæc si tu postules
Ratione certâ facere, nihilo plus agus,
Quam si des operam, ut cum ratione insunias.'

EUN. Act. l. Sc. l.
• You may as well pretend to be mad and in your.,

senses at the same time, as to think of reducing these uncertain things to any certainty by reason.?

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In short, a modern Pindaric writer, compared with Pindar, is like a sister among the Camisars * compared with Virgil's Sibyl: there is the distortion, grimace, and outward figure, but nothing of that divine impulse which raises the mind above itself, and makes the sounds more than human.'

There is another kind of great geniuses which I shall place in a second class, not as I think them inferior to the first, but only for distinction's sake, as they are of a different kind. This second class of great geniuses are those that have formed themselves by rules, and subniitted the greatness of their natural talents to the corrections and restraints of art. Such among

the Greeks were Plato and Aristotle ; among the Romans, Virgil and Tully; among the English, Milton and Sir Francis Bacon.

The genius in both these classes of authors may be equally great, but shews itself after a different manner. In the first, it is like a rich soil in a happy

a climate, that produces a whole wilderness of noble plants rising in a thousand beautiful landscapes, without any certain order or regularity. In the other, it is the same rich soil under the same happy climate, that has been laid out in walks and parterres, and cut into shape and beauty by the skill of the gardener.

The great danger of these latter kind of geniuses, is, lest they cramp their own abilities too much by imitation, and form themselves altogether upon models, without giving the full play to their own natu

An imitation of the best authors is not to compare with a good original; and I believe we may observe, that very few writers make an extraordinary figure in the world, who have not some-

ral parts.

* A set of French enthusiasts, who came into England about the year 1707. They called themselves French prophets, pretended to inspiration and the gift of miracles, and deluded many people out of their money as well as their reason; but they were soon detected as impostors; and on the 18th of November Elias Marion, John Audc, and Nicholas Facio, were convicted as impostors and disturbers of the public peace; and the rest of them soon quitted the kingdom. They were generally considered as Jesuits in disguise.

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thing in their way of thinking or expressing them. selves, that is peculiar to them, and entirely their

It is odd to consider what great geniuses are sometimes thrown away upon trifles.

. I once saw a shepherd,' says a famous Italian author, who used to divert himself in his solitudes with tossing up eggs and catching them again without breaking them; in which he had arrived to so great a degree of perfection, that he would keep up four at a time for several minutes together playing in the air, and falling into his hands by turns. I think,' says the author, I never saw a greater se, verity than in this man's face; for by his wonderful perseverance and application, he had contracted the seriousness and gravity of a privy-counsellor; and I. could not but reflect with myself, that the same as-siduity and attention, had tliey been rightly applied, might have made him a greater mathematician than Archimedes.'



Ipse dies agitat festos : fususque per herbam,
Ignis ubi in medio et socii cratera coronant,
Te libans, Lenæe, vocat; pecorisque magistris
Velocis jacuti certamina ponit in ulmo,
Corporaque agresti nudat prædura palæstra.
Hunc olim veteres vitant coluere Sabini,
Hanc Remus et frater : sic fortis Etruria crevit,
Scilicet et rerum fucta est pulcherrima Roma.

VIRG. Georg. ii. ver. 527.
Himself, in rustic pomp, on holy-days,
To rural powers a just oblation pays ;
And on the green his careless limbs displays ;
'The hearth is in the midst ; the herdsmen, round
The cheerful fire, provoke his health in goblets crown'd.
He calls on Bacchus, and propounds the prize,
The groom his fellow-groom at buts defies,
And bends his bow, and levels with his eyes :
Or stript for wrestling, smears his limbs with oil,
And watches with a trip his foe to foil.
Such was the life the frugal Sabines led;
So Remus and his brother god were bred:
From whom th' austere Etrurian virtue rose;
And this rude life our homely fathers chose;
Old Rome from such a race deriv'd her birth,
The seat of empire, and the conquer'd earth.


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I am glad that my late going into the country has increased the number of my correspondents, one of whom sends me the following letter:

SIR, • THOUGH you are pleased to retire from us so soon into the city, I hope you will not think the affairs

I of the country altogether unworthy of your inspection for the future. I had the honour of seeing your short face at Sir Roger de Coverley's, and have ever since thought your person and writings both extraordinary. Had you staid there a few days tonger you would have seen a country wake, which


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