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P R E F A C E.
THE period, in which Longinus florished, with his particular character as a man, and.his talertts and erudition as a Writer, have been so copiously handled by the ingenious Mr. Smi? H, whose Translation has done justice to " the Sublime," that it would be vairi to enlarge upon those topics. I will therefore content myself with offering a sew cursory reflections on the genius of my Author, and the spirit of his Performance; for fashion demands a preface, by way of Master ofthe Ceremonies to usher a production to public view.
The garden of Criticism has almost constantly been over-run with the weeds of Ill.management. The earlier laborers, who have ranged its walks with a methodical exactness, have facrificed beauty to decorum, A 4 while while thessnicul conceits': os 'modern refinement have'turned them into an open lawn, preserving crily in favorite corners some inelegant ornaments: on the whole, they shew a forwardness to differ from, but riert a taste to improve upon, ancient errors.
The former, to speak literally, have, with
Aristotle, cramped the imagination within
the trammels of rule; and the latter have
by indulging a critical affectation, created
elegance, but destroyed majesty; in corrs#••
quence of which, pieces of ease and levity
liave assumed the place of sublimer writings." y• .• ..•.. «.•..* 'bii'/ .. . i'cff.•c
Without detracting from the excellence
os' those ancients, whose works have escaped
oblivion, Longinus must be consessed to *.'.. i oi.tal Ib/i . .. • . .■..; .•c; .71-: < '• alivy claim superior veneration; if * candor of
"disposition, and rectitude pf judgement ^ if
•.„... .t•iii'o.' . . .' • J'la.u . i.: .. ■j[qa
• L6fccitjtfs died in the year of Christ 27^, end, inconsequence, 29$'years afterViRori,
who died 19 years before the birth of our Savior.
; .- ..,.;.• . L-,.;v .; :::• .v.rwf. ':.:•:\y^t a knowledge of the art he treats, and impartial reflection upon the passages he discusles, are qualities essential to a critic. But his own performance is the best criterion of his merits.
It may appear strange, that this masterly writer should have slumbered in mouldy libraries for so considerable an interval:
ar' ': .
;Jkmay therefore be worthy of a remark, that in a composition devoted to criticism the mention jpf writers, who were an ornament to the Augustan age, is totally neglected. Several examples produced by our critic to elucidate figures occasionally discussed, are borrowed from Homer. Collateral ones rarely fail in Vi Roil. This peculiarity cannot be accounted for, other. . wise than from the reflection, that learning and genius, however exalted in public estimation, are whimsically narrowed by the fame principles, which actuate inserior dispositions. Lon. Cinus was a favorite with Zenobia, who dignified herself with the title of Queen of the £ast, and dictated, at the instigation of that .celebrated Amazon, the spirited challenge to but the history of letters affords many instances of such checks to their progress* | and the channel of Learning has never been more fatally stoped, than when Ignorance and Tyranny have condemned its authors to obscurity; an obscurity, from which many an ancient valuable has been drawn by the success of accident; as, on the other hand, many a modern master.piece has been
Aurelian, Emperor of Rome, which ended in her captivity, and his destruction. Surely iiONGiNtrs must have been as converssnt with the excellencies of Virgil's Poetry, as he consesses himself to have. been with the declamations of CIcf.ro! His plan may be concluded more immediately to have admitted a compliment to the former. He could not, as a critic of taste and erudition, have construed \ * the Mantuan in the insignisicant light of a plagiary of the Greek. It is indeed observable, that Lokgikus osfers the largest portion of incense to the merits of Grecian writers; and thereby too frequently injures his favorites, no less than himself; for beauties arc imagined in 'passages, where defects are rather to be noticecK