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originally ftruck out by fome unexpe&ted hit of genius, which has given a caft, and fupported a turn of thought peculiar to the work.
But, as freedom and impartiality are the foul of criticifm, I beg leave to observe, that amidst all his beauties our author has Jeme defects. And who indeed can be without them? Happily for his character, they are not fo numerous as to difcredit his compofition; and are reprefented, not to indulge a malevolent wantonnefs, but as a decent facrifice to truth.
Whether LONGINUS placed too great a confidence in memory, which often mifleads the wifeft, or made ufe of incorrect editions, or whether (which feems to be as probable as either) he acquiefced in the run of paffages, as they were reported to him, he has evidently mifquoted several. HERODOTUS, and other profe-writers in particular, (for quotations from poetical ones muft be ufually more exact, on account of the
the metre) afford fufficient proofs of the
That paffage from the book of Ge nefis, representing the fublime fimplicity of MOSES, has been injudiciously and erroneously introduced. The critic has added words at the clofe, which are not to be met with in the original, and has attempted to foreftall the reader's judgement by an exclamation of his own, which, in my opinion, rather weakens than dignifies the fentiment.+
+ The paffage rans thus in LONGINUS: “ Εἶπεν ὁ θεὸς, φησὶ, τί; γενέσθω φῶς; καὶ “ ἐγένετο. γενέσθω γῆ, καὶ ἐγένετο.” Mr. SMITH thinks, rí gives a beauty and ftrength to the thought. It is at ali events an unfair additionThe laft fentence yesodw yn is not in the original, and takes off the fublimity and expreffiveness of the former part, "Let there be "light!-and there was light."
It must likewise be admitted, that LONGINUS exhibits unfuitable examples to prove the propriety of fome figures, which he treats; that feveral definitions of figures are unfatisfactory; and that the former parts of thofe definitions fometimes convey a different idea of their genuine ufe, from the latter.
Indulgent to these few and inferior blemishes, and conscious of his more striking excellencies, a true critic (for fuch there may be in an age difhonored with a fwarm of false ones) will cheerfully follow the guidance of LONGINUS: he will take tafte and genius for his model, and not affect a fading, or disgraceful reputation by the aid of novelty, witticifm, and fcurrility: he will reflect, that POPE has obtained honor by his poetic commendation * of
See Effay on Criticifm, a correct and judi cious piece, where the feveral observations on authors are generally founded on reafon, and al ways expreffed in elegant verfification.
our author; as well as by feveral critical reflections borrowed from this golden trcatife" he will obferve, that the elegant ADDISON, the standard of polite writing, has adopted his candor, and transfufed his fpirit into the vindications of our + English Homer, from the afperfions of malicious dullness.I As
The papers in the Spectator, to which this ailudes, are fufficient evidence of the writer' tafte, and knowledge in criticism; but, if clofer and more profound reafoning is required, it will be obferved in the philofophical Effays on the Imagination, which are an ornament to that work.
That ADDISON was in many pieces an indifferent poet, is obvious; but in others he certainly is to be regarded. It is to be lamented, that his fame as a critic should be called in quef
tion this was by no means the language of his own time; a time, in points of ingenious literature, preferable to the prefent. But the oftentatious and inconclufive commentator on POPE has led the way to this invidious reflection; and
ino Asta contraft to the merits of ADDISON, it may not be presumption to introduce a foreign author,, unfortunate in his remarks on English History, and notoriously injudicious in his criticisms on English Genius, which he does not, perhaps will not, comprehend. To fpeak the best of VOLTAIRE, his whole eminence may be conftrued to proceed from a fpecious vivacity, rather than the folidity and attention requifite to immortalife a writer,
In hiftorical productions he is wantonly hazardous of conjectures, which, in many reflections, as well as that upon the Foreft-work of WILLIAM the Firft, are intruded in defiance of proof. His history of CHARLES XII. of Sweden is a jumble
he has too many idolaters, blindly devoted to his opinions, which they either have not honefly or understanding to examine.
*See Lord LYTTELTON's laborious Hiftory
of the Life of HENRY II. Vol. I. p. 455 and
456.-May I be excufed, if, after fuch an ad
mired authority, I venture the remark, that