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more than enough. The most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together; nature and art are ransacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allufions; their learning instructs, and their subtilty surprises; but the reader commonly thinks his improvement dearly bought, and though he sometimes admires is seldom pleased.
From this account of their compofitions it will be readily inferred, that they were not successful in representing or moving the affections. As they were wholly employed on something unexpected and surprising, they had no regard to that uniformity of sentiment which enables us to conceive and to excite the pains and the pleasure of other minds: they never enquired what, on any occasion, they should have said or done; but wrote rather as beholders than partakers of human nature; as Beings looking upon good and evil, impassive and at leisure; as Epicurean deities making remarks on the actions of i inen, and the viciffitudes of life, without interest and without émotion. Their courtship was void of fondness, and their lamentation of sorrow. Their wish was. only to say what they hoped had been never said before. - Nor was the sublime more within their reach than the pathetick; for they never attempted that comprehenfion and expanse of thought which at once fills the whole mind, and of which
the first effect is sudden astonishment, and the second rational admiration. Sublimity is produced by aggregation, and littleness by dispersion. Great thoughts are always general, and consist in positions not limited by exceptions, and in descriptions not descending to minuteness. It is with great propriety that Subtlety, which in its original import means exility of particles, is taken in its metaphorical meaning for nicety of distinction. Those writers who lay on the watch for novelty could have little hope of greatness ;, for great things cannot have escaped former obfervation. Their attempts were always analytick; they broke every image into fragments; and could no more repre
Tent, by their slender conceits and laboured particularities, the prospects of nature, or the scenes of life, than he, who diffects a sun-beam with a prism, can exhibit the wide effulgence of a summer noon.
What they wanted however of the sublime, they endeavoured to supply by hyperbole; their amplification had no limits; they left not only reason but fancy behind them; and produced combinations of confused magnificence, that not only could not be credited, but could not be imagined.
Yet great labour, directed by great abilities, is never wholly loft: if they frequently threw away their wit upon false conceits, they likewise sometimes
ftruck out unexpected truth : if their conceits were far-fetched, they were often worth the carriage. To write on their plan, it was at least necessary to read and think. No man could be born a metaphysical poet, nor assume the dignity of a writer, by descriptions copied from descriptions, by imitations borrowed from imitations, by traditional imagery, and hereditary fimilies, by readiness of rhyme, and volubility of syllables.
In perusing the works of this race of authours, the mind is exercised either by recollection or inquiry ; either fomething already learned is to be retrieved, or something new is to be examined. If their greatness feldom elevates, their