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C ο Ν Τ Ε Ν Τ S.
Reverence due to the Ancients, and praise of them, ver. 181, &c.
Causes hindering a true Judgment, 1. Pride, ver. 208.
Imperfect Learning, ver. 215. 3. Judging by parts, and
or too apt to admire, ver. 384. 5. Partiality-
&c. 10. Envy, ver. 466. Against Envy and
PART III. Ver. 560, &c.
yer. 563. Modesty, ver. 566. Good-breeding, ver. 572.
And of an impertinent
is hard to say, if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill; But, of the two, less dang'rous is th' offence To tire our patience, than mislead our sense.
Some NOTES. An Essay] For a person of only twenty years old to have produced such an Essay, so replete with a knowledge of life and manners, such accurate observations on men and books, such variety of literature, such strong good fense, and refined taste and judgment, has been the subject of frequent, and of just admiration. It may fairly entitle him to the character of being one of the first of critics, though surely not of poets, as Dr. Johnson afferts. For Didactic poetry being, from its nature, inferior to Lyric, Tragic, and Epic poetry, we should confound and invert all literary rank and order if we compared and preferred the Georgics of Virgil to the Æneid, the Epistle to the Pisos, to the Qualem Ministrum of Horace, and Boileau's Art of Poetry to the Iphigenie of Racine. But Johnson's mind was formed for the Didactic, the Moral, and the Satyric; and he had no true relish for the higher and more genuine species of poetry. Strong couplets, modern manners, present life, moral fententious writings alone pleased him. Hence his tasteless and groundless objections to The Lycidas of Milton, and to The Bard of Gray. Hence his own Irene is so frigid and uninteresting a tragedy; while his imitations of Juvenal are so forcible and pointed. His Lives of the Poets are unhappily tin&ured with this narrow prejudice, and confined notion of poetry, which has occafioned many false