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viii PRË F A CE.
many folid talents the charm of the finest “ verses that could possibly be written, we cannot “ sufficiently admire or praise him.”
Hear him speak of Longinus. is This matchless writer at once gives the
precept and example *. He read with enthusiasm, “ he wrote with enthusiasm, and he conveys en66 thusiasm into the soul of his reader. Other cri. " tics will make you see the beauties of a poet : “ he makes you feel them; he does not demon
strate, he does not persuade, he entrances, he “ elevates, and, like the sublime which he paints, " he subdues the foul, and transports it whither " hepleases. Woe to the reader, who, while he reads
Longinus, can stop to judge him! But after- wards, when in cool blood he analyses his “ ideas, he there discovers the refined and exqui“ site touch of Horace, the sure and folid judg“ment of Boileau, the vigour and sensibility of " the citizen of Geneva. Such are his leading “ features. Some one has well entitled his book, " The book of Gold. It is the most valuable of all “ the treatises that are in being. It has only one .“ fault, that of being too short. Learn him there“ fore by heart, all ye Mæcenases and poets.
* His own example strengthens all his laws,
And is himself the great sublime he draws. Pope.
P R E F A Ć E.
ix ** Hie murus aheneus esto! Learn him also,
who “ endeavour to read with sentiment and feeling, 66 “and, if I may so say, with judgement. Ye ad“ mirers of Dantè and Ariosto, read him not.
Longinus, the Homer of critics, is all good si fense; he will break your idols. A lover of “ truth, and of bold but judicious fallies, he suf« fers not the starts of a disordered imagination. ** But this great man, who would have condemn"ed to the flames that
Monstrum horrèndum, informe, ingens, “ the Divina Comedia, would have read some of “ its verses with transport. On perusing the
, “ canto of Count Ugolino *, the sentimental soul “ of Longinus would have exclaimed, Homer
• “ has 'nothing so fublime;' and his infallible “ judgement would afterwards have confirmed the o decree. When I styled Longinus a great man, " it was with reason. To superior talents he ad« ded an elevated heart. He was a man of learn
ing, and at once poffeffed (what are very sel“ dom united) genius and taste. As a statesinan, “ he maintained with a noble spirit the glory of “ his queen. To the enlightened understanding “ of a philosopher' he added the constancy of a “ hero; and, if he had not composed his divine " treatise, his death alone would have immorta.
* Thig flocking but picturesque fubject now speaks to all nationis in the universal language of Sir Joshua Reynolds, English Translatur.
E FACE. “ lized him ; a death as glorious to him as " it was infamous to Zenobia and Aurelian.'
The following passage is a farther striking proof of the taste and impartiality of Mr. Sher
“ If I have not named the great Corneille, it is “ not that I by any means deny his claim to that “ title. I did not propose to discuss the French
literature, but only to point out the models of “ good taste; and Corneille does not belong to “ this class. The taste must be formed before he " is read: but here you ask me, must Shak
o speare therefore be studied as a model of good “ taste?' The question is severe, and I will not “ answer it-But, o Truth, thou art my only “ idol. I sacrifice on thy altar my darling poet, " and I answer, No."
The style of this little work will please fome, and will displease others. Such as it is, it is the author's, and not mine. I have not only considered it as my duty to translate his thoughts with the utmost exactness; but I have carried
scruples so far as to preserve, as far as the difference of languages would allow it, the arrangement of his words, the turn of his phrase, and, if I may so express it, the physiognomy of his style *. Thus, whatever opinion may be formed of it, I ought to have no share either in the praises or in the censures. If the object reflected by a faith* The English translator may strictly say the same.
P R E F A C E.
It was my first intention to have given a com-
* Volume II ; of which an English translation was printed, for the author, by Mr. Nichols.