« ZurückWeiter »
It is somewhat difficult to settle the exact limits bea twixt genius and taste : that genius cannot exist without taste, that is, without a relish for its peculiar exercises, cannot be called in question * ; but whether we can completely difcern the excellencies of an author, without poffefsing an equal portion of his genius, is perhaps a matter of doubt. There is however a pleasure which attends the invention or fabrication of a work, diftinct. from an after survey of its beauties; and the first of these, one would think, is peculiar to the author alone; the last, in common with his readers. It may indeed be replied, that we cannot be said completely to enter into the views of an author, if we cannot follow him in all his progress; if we do not go back with him in his effort, view along with him the materials as they lie rudely scattered through nature, and arrange them with him into that goodly fabric which we mutually survey with so much delight. But whether we can follow him in this progress, and enter fully into his conceptions, without that force, that grasp, and that activity of mind which the auihor poffeffes, is not so evident: certain it is that we cannot do justice to any work of merit, without completely comprehending it; and that we can be said completely to compreherid it, without viewing it in every respect, as the author has done, I do not fee; and this operation we know cannot be performed withoạt the same powers of mind, and the same fenfibilities of enjoyment.
As a very conclusive proof of what has been mentioned above, it may be observed, that the number of eminent critics has been as few, perhaps fewer, than the number of eminent poets : the reason is obvious; to that sensibility and ardour which is requisite to catch the flame of high genius, there muft be superadded dil.
*We fufpect the aubor here may be in a mistake. Great compass of men. tal power, which we thould imagine constitutes the eflence of genius, may certainly exist, where that peculiar modification of it called tasie is so: to be fowud.
cernmeñit of judgement, and coolness of attention; and these qualities are not to be often expected' ünited among mankind. An accomplished crític is then ä higher, and more respectable character than that of a poet; he must have the imagination of the poet, and that judge.nent which distinguishes himfelf.
Completely to relish the beauties of poetry, is then the lot of a few ; but to view them at a distance, to have a glimmering prospect, is diffufed through a multitude ; and those who have this incomplete knowledge, are generally of that class denominated people of taste; though incapable of discerning what is high in invená tion, or all that is beautiful in execution, they see enough to please; part they can entirely, comprehend, part faintly and dimly; and for what is bey: ’nd their reach, they are compensated with the pleasure of being supposed capable of following the opinion of the few who can decide with precision, on these high subjects.
These. obfervations cannot apply to ftatuary and pain-, ting, as a great share of merit in these arts, depends upon mechanical operation..
Towards the latter part of this essay, the ingenious writer seems not to have
been sufficiently guarded in the ufe of his terms ? o her fuojects than those oftafte, may be the objects of criticism; and in judging of these, or in ot er words, properly criticising them, those faculties that have been supposed to constitute a fine taste, seem as little required in the critic, as in the writer whose works he examines.
- To the Editor of the Bee. SIR. .
; Amidst the multiplicity of applications fimilar to the present, should you think the following worthy a place in your miscellany, an infertion of it will oblige a reader.
the ministers of state, from the revolution to the present time, I find that my progress has been but small, as I am too frequently attracted by other and indispensible
avocations. If what is annexed, is held to merit public attention, I may be induced to methodise my materials, and send you the work complete. At present I transmit you the abridged characters of a few eminent states. men, as a specimen of my manner and stile. :
I am, Sir, Your Servant, .T. R.
:Sir Robert Walpole. Sir Robert WALPOLE had a great fluency and readiness of language, though deftitute of nervosity or elegance. He possessed a certain reasiness of foul and callousness of sentiment, which made him proof against all attacks, and raised him fuperior to every embarraff=!" ment. By an unwearied attention to figures and cal. culation, he had acquired a little knowledge in the subject of finance. The maxim which he uniformly pursued, and shamefully avowed, was, that every man' had his price. He ridiculed the very ideas of patriotifm and public fpirit, thought self interest the wifeft principle by which a man could be actuated, and bribe. ry, the most elevated and comprehensive system that ever entered into the human mind.
Lord Carteret. ; . ..in This statesinan was possessed of the fineft abilities, the most elegant taste, the most fplendid eloquence; all the treasures of polite literature were his own, and he perfectly understood the interests and the politics of every court in Europe. Had his integrity kept pace with his talents, he was formed to be the brightest ornament of the court in which he lived. His patronage might have given new vigour to the republic of letters, and his political skill, new lustre to the annals of Britain.
Had toil'd for many hours ;
Of balmy herbs and flow'rs.'
Each hill and dale well knew his song ; i
Then why new scenes explore? ....
To crown his plunderd store. 4. ill
There, buzzing round her beauteous lips,
Their tempting sweets to spoil; ii.
He's seized amid the toil.: i
By him and me be taught :
. in January 19: 1791.*.
Epitaphium Felis Fortini.
«« Esse apibus partem divinæ mentis.”
Infernos tandem cogor adiere lacus :
" Elyfios soles, Elysumque nemus.".
Sed, bene fi merui, faciles regina filentum ,
Da mihi faltem una nocte redire Domum: Nocte redire domum, dominoque hæc dicere in aurem, • Te tua fida etiam trans Styga felis amat."...!
Imitated, and applied to a Ladya
Epitaph on a Cat. Titu!! DEATH, that fell tyrant, to one end who brings Cats, dogs, and lørds, and ministers, and kings, Has seized my cat; with age and pains oppreft, She mewed, the licked my face and funk to reft. . ! Farewell, thou mildest of the taby race, IT Ah! ne'er shall such a puffy fill thy place.'
Stern Pluto's queen received my favourite Puss
“ In blest Elysium's bow'rs of deathless green, " Where never mastiff foe to cat was seen; “ With endless joys, Squalina, thou shalt dwell, " For thou on earth did'st fill thy station well ; “ Did'st well perform great Jove's allotted talk; . * From Cats, from Men, 'tis all that heaven can ask !"