« PoprzedniaDalej »
I NOW venture on a more sublime subject than has hitherto employed my pen, from a desire of knowing whether my abilities will bear a farther trial. This is a curiosity which ought to influence every man. The public are too apt to discourage a young poet who has succeeded in one branch of poetry, and are for confining him to that only in which he has been once successful, as his ne plus ultra; as if that alone was the very thing in which he could shew the whole strength of his genius, when, perhaps, some external circumstance, or
a mere accident, rather than any particular impulse, determined his choice.
Though a poet who attempts the sublimer parts of poetry were not entitled to regard from the public, he would find himself amply rewarded in the happy execution of his voluntary task. To revolve a vast variety of things; to trace the motives of actions to their original source; to draw characters, and, thro' intricate occurrences, gradually to open interesting events, is attended with a thousand pleasures. NATURE is to him an inexhaustible magazine, whence true genius collects every material that can embellish his favourite object: then is the whole mind in action, and talents are awaken'd which would very probably have otherwise lain dormant and unknown.
But it will be said, at this rate we shall have nothing to read but epic poems and tragedies. They who are apprehensive of such a misfortune should know, that when I say such
compositions will give greater and more various pleasures than little pieces to the poet, I mean, it will also be the same with the reader. However, few have leisure or inclination for large performances: most men are taken up with occupations of a different nature: many will chuse to pay their addresses to a less coy mistress than the epic muse; and I dare prophecy we shall never be without master-pieces in every branch of poetry. Far be it from me to depreciate the light and sportive works of fancy; for though I wish for more HOMER'S, I yet think ESOP and ANACREON cannot be too much admired.
Some will be astonished, and others offended, that I have taken for my subject a Scripture history. The latter, I will suppose, are somewhat advanc'd in years, and have, by being immers'd in business, and the arduous task of growing rich, been prevented from looking into new books: these have a zeal for the honour of their religion, and retain all the
prejudices they imbib'd in their youth against poetry, having drawn their knowledge of that divine art from specimens which, a very few excepted, were neither worthy to be known or valued. A poet, in the times of their youth, was esteemed, even by sensible GERMANS, only as a droll fellow, a kind of buffoon. But to those who have perused the BIBLE with so little sense of its beauties, as to make a sin of this undertaking, I have nothing to say; they must be void of taste; and to reason with them would be as ridiculous as to carry a lantern before the blind. It is to those who are capable of reflection I would now address myself. I would wish these to observe, that the works which made poets be consider'd in a contemptible light, were wrote in an age when poetry was in its wretched declension, and far from its original and genuine dignity. It has always been in the retinue of religion, and is of no small service to it, being the most energetic method of conveying sentiments of virtue and devotion. It affords a noble delight to