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imagination, and may introduce episodes like the fables of Aristeus and Orpheus in the Georgics : But these digressions should always flow naturally from the subject, like small streams which wander from their native channel ; they should always be concise and illustrative of some truth advanced in the poem. In didactic poetry a skilful arrangement should be observed. The branches of its argument are always numerous, and of different hues; in order to render these harmonious and to avoid the incoherence of transition, much attention and art are necessary. As in a building the pillars should be placed where the greatest supports are required, and the ornaments should be exhibited where they will produce the most striking effect; so in a poem of the didactic nature, the arguments should be arranged so as best to uphold the doctrines maintained; and the sentiments and illustrations should follow each other in that order which experience declares is the most impressive.
The different kinds of didactic poetry are as numerous as the different forms of truth. take of a nature entirely speculative; others deliver precepts which conduce to practice and to the regulation of life. Hesiod has written tracts on husbandry. Lucretius has written a poem on nature. Virgil's Georgics deliver useful directions to rural
life. Horace, Vida, and Boileau have taught the art of poetry. The Fleece of Dyer delights the lover of nature and instructs the husbandman. Pope has exhibited Man in various characters and under different circumstances. Somervile has unkennelled the hounds, mounted the steed, blown the horn of the huntsnian, and led on the chase. Akenside has unfolded the pleasures of imagination. Armstrong has taught the art of preserving health ; and Polwhele has exhibited the orator, and prescribed rules for his direction.
After this view of the qualities necessary to the didactic poet, and of the difficulties attending the plan and the execution of didactic poetry; with the examples before me, of those great masters of genius, and of science, who have trodden its rugged paths with the toil and patience of years, I have ventured with the haste, eagerness, and rashness of youth, to invoke the same muse who has rewarded their toils, and to direct my course amidst regions hitherto unexplored.---May I hope to be heard ?
GENIUS is the highest power of the soul, and opens before the poet a subject interesting and extensive. The different faculties which are subservient to its influence, have frequently undergone investigation; while genius itself, has seldom been examined with care. Genius receives assistance from all the intellectual powers; but it is, however, to be carefully distinguished from them. We often meet with works of great invention, abounding with errors: the defect then, is not in the genius, but in the assisting powers. Taste has been called passive genius. It is necessary to direct the wild sallies of imagination, and to regulate the course of the inventive mind. Taste is more generally bestowed on mankind than genius, and is dependent on cultivation and rules. Genius, though always incorrect without study and investigation, still overcomes every
difficulty and penetrates through the thickest and most hidden recesses.
It stoops not to the smaller niceties of taste, but heedless of them, pours along its irresistible course. An excellent taste may exist with little invention, but invention is the distinguishing mark of genius. Taste is improved by the comparison of the different grades of sublimity and beauty. Genius, disdaining any imitation, strikes out a path for itself, wild and hazardous, where foot has never trodden. nius (says Lord Kaimes) is allied to a warm and inflammable constitution; delicacy of taste to calmness and sedateness; hence it is common to find genius in one who is a prey to every passion -but seldom delicacy of taste.”
The greatest incorrectness is frequently connected with genius. Numerous errors spring up in the most fruitful inind. The rich soil which gave birth to the oak, which waves its head in the tempest, also produces weeds and sickly flowers. The slightest impulse is at times sufficient to rouse the full strength of genius. A spark communicated excites the most terrible explosion. The greatest river proceeds from the smallest fountain, rolls its waves over a large extent of