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As the occasion of this poem was real, not fictitious; so the method pursued in it was rather imposed by what spontaneously arose in the Author's mind on that occasion, than meditated or designed. Which will appear very probable from the nature of it. For it differs from the common mode of poetry; which is, from long narrations to draw short morals. Here, on the contrary, the narrative is short, and the morality arising from it makes the bulk of the Poem. The reason of it is, that the facts mentioned did naturally pour these moral reflections on the thought of the Writer,
OF THE SEVENTH NIGHT.
In the Sixth Night, arguments were drawn from Nature
in proof of Immortality; here others are drawn from Man: from his Discontent-from his passions and Powers~from the gradual growth of reason from his fear of Death—from the nature of Hope, and of Virtue—from Knowledge and love, as being the most essential properties of the soul—from the Order of Creation from the nature of Ambition, Avarice, Pleasure. A digression on the grandeur of the Passions. Immortality alone can render our present state intelligible. An objection from the Stoic's disbelief of immortality answered. Endless questions unresolvable, but on supposition of our Immortality. The natural, must melancholy, and pathetic complaint of a worthy man, under the persuasion of no Futurity. The gross absurdities and horrors of Annihilation urged home on Lorenzo. "The souls vast Importance from whence it arises. The Difficulty of being an infidel—the Infamy—the Cause, and the character, of an infidel state.
What true free-thinking is. The necessary punishment of the false. Man's ruin is from himself. An infidel accuses himself of Guilt and Hypocrisy; and that of the worst sort. His obligation to Christians-What danger he incurs by Virtue-Vice recommended to him—His high pretences to Virtue and Benevolence exploded. The conclusion, on the nature of Faith, Reason, and Hope; with an apology for this attempt.
There are three distinct stages in the development of the faculties, at which the taste undergoes a perceptible modification, correspondent to the progress of the intellectual character. The first stage is, when the imagination begins to exert its newly awakened perceptions, and the whole scene of mental vision presents a field of discovery and wonder. Then all that is vast, or wild, or distant, or grand, it matters not how improbable the fiction, or how remote from human feelings and human interests, so that it is decked out in the vivid colors of romance,) is seized, and appropriated by the mind, with emotions keen as they are indefinite, and laid up as the elements of future hopes and day dreams. The passions succeed the imagination in the order of development: as the child begins to enlarge into incipient manhood, while the delusions of romance fade around him, new instincts, new wants are awakened, and he begins to feel himself alone. The taste participating in this change, demands excitement of a different kind. The softer colouring of rural nature, the gentler accents of tender or of heroic sentiment, scenes of beauty instead of tales of wonder, now have their turn in pleasing; and emotions of enthusiasm, tinctured perhaps with devotional or melancholic feeling, swell and agitate the breast. The agitations of passion subside as the objects of life acquire dictinctness, and as the sun of intellect approaching its zenith, shortens the shadows which they cast. Then, according to the direcrion which the character assumes, either the affections of the heart undertake the conquest of the imagination, and the taste becomes
disciplined to reality, or the selfishness of our nature becomes all exerted in the toil of worldly acquisition; and neither the poetry of fable, nor the poetry of life, can please any longer. The