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In the following Poems, the plan of Fable is somewhat enlarged, and the province so far extended, that the original NARRATIVE and MORAL may be accompanied with imagery, description, and sentiment.
The scenery is formed in a department of Nature adapted to the genius and disposition of POETRY; where she finds new objects, interests, and connexions, to exercise her fancy and her powers. If the execution, therefore, be unsuccessful, it is not the fault of the Plan, but of the Poet.
Op all classes of literature, it is generally admitted, that none is more pleasing to writers, or more interesting to readers of taste, than biographical accounts of characters who have been eminent for their learning or their talents. Indeed, this sort of knowledge has ever been sought after with avidity, for it is to the biography of departed eminence, when composed with characteristic truth, that posterity must refer for examples of every quality and action that is praiseworthy, great, and glorious. But, of all others, the lives of poets have ever proved particularly entertaining; because, as Horace justly observes, they are born, but not made. “ Poeta nascitur, non fit;" and because, in all ages, they have from the greatest to those of the most meagre pretensions, generally experienced the utmost extremes of good and evil, the most extraordinary vicissitudes and shades of calamity.
Gibbon has observed, that "the nobility of the Spencers has been illustrated and enriched by the trophies of a Marlborough, but that the Fairy Queen is the most precious jewel in their coronet;" by which he evidently means, that titles receive additional lustre, when those to whom they descend, or are given, possess poetical qualifications. It therefore follows, that these qualifications, when united with piety and genius, are holden by the world in such deservedly high estimation, that no earthly recompense can reflect o. them additional grandeur.
But the labours of the necrologist, though excessive, are weighed in the scale of impartia and