« EdellinenJatka »
PO E TS
GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL.
BY DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
VOLUME THE SIXTH,
THE WHOLE POETICAL WORKS OF
ALEXANDER POPE, ESQ.
INCLUDING HIS TRANSLATIONS OF
HOMER'S ILIAD AND ODYSSEY.
P R E F A CE.
TOMER is universally allowed to have had the greatest Invention of any writer
whatever. The praise of judgment Virgil has justly contested with him, and others may have their pretensions as to particular excellencies; but his Inveotion remains yet unrivaled. Nor is it a wonder if he has ever been acknowledged the greatest of poets, who moft excelled in that which is the very foundation of poetry. It is the Invention that in different degrees distinguishes all great Geniuses: the urmoít Aretch of human ftudy, learning, and industry, which malters every thing besides, can never attain to this. It furnishes Art with all her materials, and without it, judgment itself can at best but steal wisely ; for Art is only like a prudent fteward that lives on managing the riches of Nature. Whatever praises may be given to works of judgment, there is not even a single beauty in them to which the Invention must not contribute: as in the most regular gardens, Art can only reduce the beauties of Nature to more regularity, and such a figure, which the common eye may better take in, and is therefore more entertained with. And perhaps the reason why common critics are inclined to prefer a judicious and methodical genius to a great and fruitful one, is, because they find it easier for themselves to pursue their observations through an uniform and bounded walk of Art, than tu comprehend the vast and various extent of Nature.
Our author's work is a wild paradise, where if we cannot see all the beauties so diftinetly as in an ordered garden, it is only because the number of them is infinitely greater. It is like a copious nursery, which contains the seeds and firft productions of every kind, out of which those who followed him have but selected fome particular plants, each according to his fancy, to cultivate and beautify. If some things are too luxuriant, it is owing to the richness of the soil ; and if others are not arrived to perfection or maturity, it is -only because they are overrun and opprest by those of a ftronger nature.
It is to the Itrength of this amazing Invention we are to attribute that unequalled fire and rapture, which is so forcible in Honer, that no man of a true poetical spirit is master of himself while he reads him. What he writes, is of the most animating nature imagina. ble ; every thing moves, every thing lives, and is
in action. If a council be called, or a battle fought, you are not coldly informed of what was said or done as from a third person; the reader is hurried out of himself by the force of the Poet's imagination, and turns in one place to a hearer, in another to a spectator. The course of his verses resembles that of the army he describes.
oid že icar, woai ne augi Owo caca viucilo. Vol. VI.