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of winter within the Polar Circle, and of a thaw, and con
cludes the poem with moral refiećtions on a future state.
preme Being, are pious and beautiful.
As yet 'tis midnight deep. The weary clouds, Slow-meeting, mingle into folid gloom. - | Now, while the drowsy world lies loft in sleep, | Let me afsociate with the ferious Night, And Contemplation her fedate compeer ; Let me shake off th’intrufive cares of day, And lay the meddling senses all afide.
As thus, the snows arife; and foul, and fierce ; All winter drives along the darken'd air; In his own loose-revolving fields, the fwain Difaster'd stands; fees other hills ascend, Of unknown joyless brow; and other scenes, Qf horrid prospect, shag the tracklefs plains : Nor finds the river, nor the forest, hid Beneath the formless wild ; but wanders on From hill to dale, still more and more astray ; Impatient flouncing thro' the drifted heaps, Stung with the thoughts of home; the thoughts of home H 5 --
Rush on his nerves, and call their vigour forth
AH little think the gay licentious proud,
Imbitter'd all our bliss. Ye good distrest !
HE method of writing Precepts in verse, and embellishing them with the graces of poetry, had its rife, we may suppose, from a due confideration of the frailties and perverfeness of human nature ; and was intended to engage the affections, in order to improve the mind and amend the heart. Were it possible to inspećt into the minds of men, and fee their inmost thoughts, we should find, I am afraid, that most of the human race are fond of appearing wifer than they are, and though they wish for knowledge are unwilling to confess the want of it, or to feek after fcience for fear of being thought ignorant. Yet there are others, especially amongst our youth, who are under no apprehenfion of this kind, but fly from knowledge only because the roads to it are rugged, and the approaches difficult of access. To footh therefore the vanity of the one, and to remove the indolence of the other, poetry was called in to the aid of science, which by its peculiar gracefulness and address could foften the appearance of instruction, and render rules that were dull and difagreeable, fprightly and
entertaining. The inventor of didaćtic poetry knew not .
only the defects of mankind, but likewife the force and power of a genteel and winning address : He confider'd that ignorance and inattention were not the only enemies to science ; but that pride, impatience, and affećtation, were likewife to be vanquished ; and therefore adorned and enriched his precepts, that pleasure might allure the one, and keep the other in countenance, .
Men must be taught as if you taught them not,
Knowledge that is conveyed thus indirectly, and without the appearance of a dićtator, will be learned with more ease, fink deeper into the understanding, and fo fix itself in the mind as not to be easily obliterated. And these confiderations, we may suppose, induced the priests and bards of old to deliver their laws and religious maxims in verse. Didactic or Preceptive Poetry, has been usually employed either to illustrate and explain our moral duties ; our philosophical enquiries ; our business and pleasures ; or in teaching the art of criticism or poetry itself. It may be adapted, however, to any other subjećt, and may, in all cafes, where instrućtion is designed, be employed to good purpose. Some subjećts, indeed, are more proper than others, as they admit of more poetical ornaments, and give a greater latitude to genius ; but whatever the subjećt is, those precepts are to be laid down that are the most useful, and they should follow each other in a natural easy method, and be delivered in the most agreeable engaging manner. What the profe writer tells you ought to be done, the poet often conveys under the form of a narration, or fhews the necessity of in a description ; and by representing the aćtion as done, or doing, conceals the precept that should enforce it. The poet, likewife, instead of telling the whole truth, or laying down all the rules that are requifite, felećts fuch parts only as are the most pleafing, and communicates the rest indirećtly, without giving us an open view of them; yet takes care that nothing shall escape the reader's notice with which he ought to be acquainted. He discloses just enough to lead the imagination into the parts that are concealed, and the mind, ever gratified with its own discoveries, is complimented with exploring and finding them out ; which, tho' done with ease, seems fo confiderable as not to be obtained but in consequence of its own adroitness and fagacity. But this is not sufficient to render didaćtic poetry always pleasing ; for where precepts are laid down one after an