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without any settled habitation; whose only wealth is their fiocks and herds; and who have yet carried on, through all ages, an hereditary war with all mankind, though they neither cover nor envy their poffeffions.
CH A P. X.
IMLAC'S HISTORY CONTINUED.
HEREVER I went, I found that poetry
was confidered as the highest learning, and regarded with a veneration somewhat approaching to that which man would pay to the Angelick Na
And yet it fills me with wonder, that, in almost all countries, the most ancient poets are confidered as the best: whether it be that every other kind of knowledge is an acquisition gradually ats tained, and poetry is a gift conferred at once; or that the first poetry of every nation surprised them as a novelty, and retained the credit by consent which it received by accident at first: or whether, as the province of poetry is to describe Nature and Passion, which are always the same, the first writers took poffeffion of the most striking objects for description, and the most probable occurrences for fiction, and left nothing to those that followed them, but transcription of the fame events, and new combinations of the fame images. Whatever be the reason, it is commonly observed that the early writers are in poffeffion of nature, and their followers of art: that the first excel in strength and
invention, and the latter in elegance and refinement.
“ I was desirous to add my name to this illustrious fraternity. I read all the poets of Persia and Arabia, and was able to repeat by memory the volumes that are suspended in the mosque of Mecca. But I foon found that no man was ever great by imitation. My desire of excellence impelled me to transfer my attention to nature and to life. Nature was to be my subject, and men to be my auditors: I could never describe what I had not seen: I could not hope to move those with delight or terrour, whose interests and opinions I did not understand.
Being now resolved to be a poet, I saw every thing with a new purpose; my sphere of attention was suddenly magnified: no kind of knowledge was to be overlooked. I ranged mountains and deserts for images and resemblances, and pictured upon my mind every tree of the forest and flower of the valley. I observed with equal care the crags of the rock and the pinnacles of the palace. Sometimes I wandered along the mazes of the rivulet, and sometimes watched the changes of the summer clouds. To a poet nothing can be useless. Whatever is beautiful, and whatever is dreadful, must be familiar to his imagination : he must be conversant with all that is awfully vast or elegantly little. The plants of the garden, the animals of the wood, the minerals of the earth, and meteors of the sky, must all concur to store his mind with inexhaustible variety : for every idea is useful for the enforcement or decoration of inoral or religious truth; and he, who knows most, will have most power of diversifying his scenes, and of gratifying his reader with remote allusions and unexpected instruction.
“ All the appearances of nature I was therefore careful to study, and every country which I have furveyed has contributed something to my poetical powers.”
“In so wide a survey, said the prince, you must surely have left much unobserved. I have lived, till now, within the circuit of these mountains, and yet cannot walk abroad without the sight of fomething which I had never beheld before, or never heeded."
“ The business of a poet, said Imlac, is to examine, not the individual, but the species; to remark general properties and large appearances; he does not number the streaks of the tulip, or describe the different shades in the verdure of the forest. He is to exhibit in his portraits of nature such promi. nent and striking features, as recall the original to every inind; and must neglect the minuter discriminations, which one may have remarked, and another have neglected, for those characteristicks which are alike obvious to vigilance and carelessness.
“ But the knowledge of nature is only half the talk of a poet; he must be acquainted likewise with all the modes of life. His character requires that he estimate the happiness and misery of every condition; observe the power of all the passions in all their combinations, and trace the changes of the human mind as they are modified by various inftitutions and accidental influences of climate or custom, from the sprightliness of infancy to the de
spondence spondence of decrepitude. He must divest himself of the prejudices of his age or country; he must consider right and wrong in their abstracted and invariable state; he must disregard present laws and opinions, and rise to general and transcendental Truths, which will always be the lune: he must therefore content himtelf with the flow progrels of his name; contemn the applause of his own time, and commit his claims to the justice of posterity. He must write as the interpreter of nature, and the legillator of mankind, and consider himself as presiding over the thoughts and manners of future generations; as a being superior to time and place.
" His labour is not yet at an end: he must know many languages and many sciences; and; that his style may be worthy of his thoughts, must, by incessant practice, familiarize to himself every delicacy of speech and grace of harmony.”
C Η Α Ρ. ΧΙ.
IMLAC'S NARRATIVE CONTINUED.
A HINT ON
MLAC now felt the enthusiastick sit, and was pro
ceeding to aggrandize his own profession, when the prince cried out, “ Enough! thou hast convirced me, that no human being can ever be a poet. Proceed with thy narration."
“ To be a poet, laid Imlac, is indeed very difficult.” “ So difficult, returned the prince, that I will at present hear no more of his labours. Tell me whither you went when you had seen Persia.”
« From Persia, said the poet, I travelled through Syria, and for three years resided in Palestine, where I conversed with great numbers of the northern and western nations of Europe; the nations which are now in poffeflion of all power and all knowledge; whose armies are irrefiftible, and whose fleets command the remotest parts of the globe. When I compared these men with the natives of our own kingdom, and those that surround us, they appeared alınost another order of beings. In their countries it is difficult to wish for any thing that may not be obtained : a thousand arts, of which we never heard, are continually. labouring for their convenience and pleasure; and whatever their own climate has denied them is supplied by their-commerce.”
“ By what means, said the prince, are the Europeans thus powerful, or why, since they can so easily visit Asia and Africa for trade or conquest, cannot the Afiaticks and Africans invade their coasts, plant colonies in their ports, and give laws to their natural princes? The same wind that carries them back would bring us thither.”
They are more powerful, Sir, than we, answered Imlac, because they are wiser; knowledge will always predominate over ignorance, as man governs the other animals. But why their knowledge is more than ours, I know not what reason can be given, but the unsearchable will of the Supreme Being.”
“ When, said the prince with a sigh, shall I be able to visit Palestine, and mingle with this mighty confluence of nations? Till that happy moment shall Vol. XI.