Conjectures on original composition: In a letter to the author of Sir Charles Grandison. ...

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Printed for A. Millar, 1759 - 113 pages

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Page 65 - as I and others were taking with him an evening walk, about, a mile out of Dublin, he stopped short; we passed on; but perceiving he did not follow us, I went back and found him fixed as a statue, and earnestly gazing upward at a noble elm, which in its uppermost branches was much withered and decayed. Pointing at it, he said, ' I shall be like that tree, I shall die at top.
Page 74 - I say, considered, why should it seem altogether impossible, that heaven's latest editions of the human mind may be the most correct, and fair ; that the day may come, when the moderns may proudly look back on the comparative darkness of former ages, on the children of antiquity; reputing Homer and Demosthenes, as the dawn of divine genius; and Athens as the cradle of infant fame ; what a glorious revolution would this make in the rolls of renown? What a rant, say you, is here?
Page 82 - ... liquors, separately clear as crystal, grow foul by mixture, and offend the sight. So that he had not only as much learning as his dramatic province required, but, perhaps, as it could safely bear. If Milton had spared some of his learning, his muse would have gained more glory than he would have lost by it.
Page 80 - Jonson, he tells us, was very learned, as Sampson was very strong, to his own hurt. Blind to the nature of tragedy, he pulled down all antiquity on his head, and buried himself under it. " Is this ' care's incumbent cloud,' or ' the frozen obstructions of age?
Page 41 - ... to go beyond their predecessors ; in the former, to follow them. And since copies surpass not their originals, as streams rise not higher than their spring, rarely so high ; hence, while arts mechanic are in perpetual progress and increase, the liberal are in retrogradation...
Page 63 - But whence arise such warm advocates for such a performance? From hence, viz. before a character is established, merit makes fame; afterwards fame makes merit. Swift is not commended for this piece, but this piece for Swift. He has given us some beauties which deserve all our praise; and our comfort is that his faults will not become common; for none can be guilty of them, but who have wit as well as reputation to spare. His wit had been less wild, if his temper had not jostled his judgment.
Page 9 - Imitations are of two kinds; one of nature, one of authors: The first we call originals, and confine the term "Imitation
Page 38 - In the fairyland of fancy, genius may wander wild ; there it has a creative power, and may reign arbitrarily over its own empire of chimeras.
Page 19 - After all, the first ancients had no merit in being originals: they could not be imitators. Modern writers have a choice to make, and therefore have a merit in their power. They may soar in the regions of liberty or move in the soft fetters of easy imitation; and imitation has as many plausible reasons to urge as pleasure had to offer to Hercules. Hercules made the choice of an hero and so became immortal.
Page 10 - Originals are, and ought to be, great Favourites, for they are great Benefactors; they extend the Republic of Letters, and add a new province to its dominion: Imitators only give us a sort of Duplicates of what we had, possibly much better, before; increasing the mere Drug of books, while all that makes them valuable, Knowledge and Genius, are at a stand.

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