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_ “ were those of Genius ; those of Milton
“ of the MAN OF GENIUS. The former, « arises from imagination getting the, “ better of judgment; the latter from “ babit getting the better of inagination, “ Shakespeare's faults were those of a 56 great poets those of Milton of a little. “pedant. When Shakespeare is execra6 ble he-is forexquisitely fo, that he is “inimitable in his blemithes as in his
beauties. The puns of Milton betray " a narrowness of education, and a dege, " nerđey of habiti"? "': ... · Thus far Dr.Johnson's exhibition of Milton in the scale of poetical merit, whichi perhaps at the bottom may amount to no more than that Milton could not make a faddles, or dance upon .
: . " ibe
the rope *. But this too we leave to critics on poetry, of whom we should request to explain the difference between a Genius and a Man of Genius, and by what operation babit, in the abftract, gets the better of imagination ; remarking only for ourselves, that for the balance-marter to reproach Milton for his pedantry is certainly betraying a strange unconfciousness of his own talents, unless he depends upon his reader's fagacity in discriminating a great pedant from a little ope. He is obliged, however, to complete the humiliation of Milton, to put his prose-works into the scale.
** His theological quibbles and per< plexed speculations are daily equalled * See Cibber's Letter to Pope, p. 35. '
“ and excelled by the most abject en“ thufiasts; and if we consider him as a'
prose-writer, he has neither the learn“ing of a scholar, nor the manners of a “gentleman. There is no force in his “ reasoning, no elegance in his style, and “no taste in his composition.” .
Peremptory, but not decisive! To make this go down, even with a moderate tory, it should have been added, that the narrowness of Milton's education prevented, not only his proficiency in the study of the abstruser sciences, but even in the elemental acquisitions of reading or spelling.'
“ We are therefore,” continues the critic, “ to consider him in one fixed “ point of light, that of a great poet,
“ with a laudable envy of rivalling, ** eclipfing, and excelling, all who at“ tempted fublimity of sentiment and “ description.”
Could this be a hopeful attempt in fo wretched a writer of prose? or does the critic propose to entertain his readers with a miracle, or only with a paradox? Immediately however the critic withdraws Milton from this fixed point of light, and places his sublimity of sentiment and description in contrast with Shakespeare's amiable variety ; and concludes, " that “ Shakespeare could have wrote like “ Milton, but Milton could never have 66 wrote like Shakespeare.”
Does not the Doctor here overturn his own metaphysical system? Shakespeare's
judgement, to have qualified him to write
He has however made ample amends
* For May, 1779,
n his eare's