« VorigeDoorgaan »
By the Reverend
Canon of Worcester.
fimul et jucunda et idonea dicere vitæ
The SECOND EDITION, Corrected,
L O N D ON:
Printed for A. MILLAR, opposite Catherine-Street
in the Strand: And Sold by M.: Cooper, at the Globe in Pater-noster-Row. 1748.
(Price One Shilling.)
s Instruction is the End of Poetry, fo the Powers and Charms which enable it to give
Delight are the Means fubfervient to this End. Whatever is most pleafing is most effectual to engage the Attention, and to stamp lively and lasting Impreffions on the Mind. A Poet therefore ought to make it his secondary Aim to please, in order to instruct with greater Success. With this Aim it was that Proportion and Harmony in Numbers were invented, and that Verfe has been adjusted to so many different Measures and Rules. From hence sprung Tropes and Figures, and all the Ornaments of Language : from hence the whole Art of Poetry derives its Birth.
A Poet who neglects the Instruction of his Readers, whose Writings import Pleasure without Profit to the Mind, and warm the Imagination without en lightning the Understanding, acts an Under- Part in B
his Profeflion, performs but half a Poet's Duty, and scarce merits half his Praise. THE Sister-Arts of Poetry and Painting agree
in this, as in other respects, that their highest Excellence and Perfection alike depend on attaining the End they without touching the Heart, and excites Pleasure without raising any moral Sentiment, is far less valuable than the Piece that equally succeeds in both these Attainments. Herds, and Flocks, and Rivers gliding through flowry Meads, with Peasants and Cottages, Hills and Woods, Light and Shade skilfully intermixed, will form a beautiful Landskip, and will furnish out a pleasing Amusement to the Mind. But when Images of moral Beauty are exhibited to view ; when blended Colours are made expressive of Distress, of Compassion, of Generosity, of Continence ; and the Pencil awakens every tender and kind Affection in our Breasts, as when Alexander visits the Tent of Darius, and the afflicted, female Captivesare suppliant at the Feet of a felf-conquering Hero, how different! how superiour a Pleasure must every one feel !
The foregoing Reflections were occafion'd by an English Poem, which tho' far from being generally read, deserves a general Reading, as well as any Poem either antient or modern. A Performance that abounds with such instructive Doctrines, and with Sentiments of Morality so just, so useful, and so refined, the World has not yet receiv'd. And yet the World has
receiv'd it with too much Ingratitude, and with too much Neglect. The Reader will probably be furprized at the mention of Milton's Paradise Regain'd. It labours under so much Discredit, that some Persons question whether it belongs to the Author whose Name it bears. It's a common Tradition, that Milton always spoke of it as his favourite Work, and prefer'd it to his Paradise Lost. Few Persons besides have judgd so rightly of it. His other Poem perhaps ex-. ceeds it in Fruitfulness of Fancy, in Variety and Compass of Invention, and in Ornaments of Stile. The Verfe of Paradise Regain’d is more artless, and is less embellish'd with Flights of Imagination, and with Figures of Speech. But it supplies à much richer Fund of intellectual Pleasure ; it conveys the most important Truths to the Understanding; it inspires the most large and liberal Notions, and every where dissipates vulgar Prejudices and popular Mistakes.
Nor are fine Descriptions and beautiful Images wanting to entertain his Reader, and to add Life and Lustre to his Subject. But he is sparing of thefe, as being less conducive to his main Design, which was to give a right Direction to the Thoughts and Actions of Men.
The Subject of the Poem is the Temptation of the Son of God in the Wilderness, and his Victory over the Devil. The Characters both of the one and the other are as finely drawn, and are as suitable to the Persons as can be conceiv'd. The one contrives B 2