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REV. DR. YOUNG,
RECTOR OF WELWYN,
PERMIT 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 subjects of criticism, that will naturally arise in the course of fuch an enquiry. No love of fingularity, no affectation of paradoxical opinions, gave rife to the following Work. I revere the memory of POPE, I respect and honour his abilities; but I do not think him at the head of his profeffion. In other words, in that species of poetry wherein
POPE excelled, he is fuperior to all mankind and I only fay, that this fpecies of poetry is not the most excellent one of the art.
We do not, it should seem, 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? It is remarkable, that Dryden fays of Donne, "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 thefe characters is the most valuable and ufeful, is entirely out of the question: all I plead for, is to have their several provinces kept distinct 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, expreffed 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 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 so few poffefs, and of which fo few can properly judge.or
For one perfon 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 Ariofto are more read than the Orlando Furioso, or even Dante. Are there fo many cordial admirers of Spenser and Milton, as of Hudibras, if we ftrike out of the number of these supposed admirers, those who appear fuch out of fashion, and not of feeling? Swift's Rhapsody 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 fprightly Satires, my good friend, are more frequently perufed, and quoted, than L'Allegro and Il Penferofo of Milton. Had you written only these Satires, you would, indeed, have gained the title of a man of wit, and a
mam of fenfer; but, I am confident, would not infift on being denominated a POET MERELY on their accountant als migi spong
It is amazing this matter fhould ever have been mistaken, when Horace has taken particular and repeated pains to fettle and adjust the opinion in question. He has more than once difclaimed all right and title e to the name of POET on the fcore of his ethic and fatiric pieces.
are lines often repeated, but whose meaning is not extended and weighed as it ought to be. Nothing can be more judicious than the method he prefcribes, of trying whether any com-position be essentially poetical or not; which is, to drop entirely the measures and numbers, land tranfpofe and invert the order of the