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bly into the breasts of imitators, and fill those, who naturally are not of a towering genius, with the lofty ideas and fire of others. Was Herodotus alone the constant imitator of Homer? No: 4 Stesichorus and Archilochus imitated him more than Herodotus'; but Plato more than all of them; who, from the copious Homeric fountain, has drawn a thousand rivulets to cherish and improve his own productions. Perhaps there might be a neçessity of my producing some examples of this had not Ammonius done it to my hand.
Nor is such proceeding to be looked upon as plagiarism, but, in methods consistent with the nicest honour, an imitation of the finest pieces, or copying out those bright originals. Neither do I think that Plato would have so much embellished his philosophical tenets with the florid expressions of poetry, a had he
not * Stesichorus, a noble poet, inventor of the Lyric Chorus, was born, according to Suidas, in the 37th Olympiad. Quinctilian Instit. Orat. l. x. c. 1. says thus of him: “ If he had kept in due bounds, he seems to “ have been able to come the nearest to a rivalship " with Homer.” DR. PEARCE.
* Plato, in his younger days, had an inclination to poetry, and made some attempts in tragedy and epic, but finding theni unable to bear a parallel with the verses of Homer, he-threw them into the fire, and ab.
not been ambitious of entering the lists, like a youthful champion, and ardently contending for the prize with Homer, who had a long time engrossed the admiration of the world. The attack was perhaps too rash, the opposition perhaps had too much the air of enmity, but
yet it could not fail of some advantage ; for, as Hesiod says *, Such brave contention works the good of men.
A greater prize than the glory and renown of the ancients can never be contended for,
jured that sort of writing, in which he was convinced he must always remain an inferior: However the style of his prose has a poetical sweetness, majesty, and elevation. Though he despaired of equalling Homer in his own way, yet he has nobly succeeded in another, and is justly esteemed the Homer of philosophers. Cicero was so great an admirer of him, that he said, “ If Jupiter conversed with men, he would talk in the language of Plato.” It was a common report, in the age he lived, that bees dropt honey on his lips as he lay in the cradle. And it is said, that, the night before he was placed under the tuition of Socrates, the philosopher dreamed he had embraced a young swan in his bosom, who, after his feathers were full grown, stretched
, out his wings, and spared to an immense height in the air, singing all the time with inexpressible sweetness. This shews at least what a great opinion they then entertained of his eloquence, since they thought its appearance worthy to bé ushered into the world with omens and prognostics. * Hesiod. in operibus & diebus, ver. 24.
where victory crowns with never-dying applause ; when even a defeat, in such a competition, is attended with honour.
SECTION XIV. If ever therefore we are engaged in a work which requires a grandeur of style and exalted sentiments, would it not then be of use to raise in ourselves such reflections as these? How in this case would Homer, or Plato, or Demosthenes, have raised their thoughts? Or if it be historical-how would Thucydides ? For these celebrated persons, being proposed by us for our pattern and imitation, will in some degree lift up our souls to the standard of their own genius. It will be yet of greater use, if to the preceding
, reflexions we add these-What would Homer. or Demosthenes have thought of this piece? or what judgment would they have passed
It is really a noble enterprise, to frame such a theatre and tribunal, to sit on our own compositions, and submit them to a scrutiny, in which such celebrated heroes must preside as our judges, and be at the same time our evidence. There is yet another motive which may yield most powerful
incitements, if we ask ourselves-What character will posterity form of this work, and of me the author? For if any one, in the moments of composing, apprehends that his performance may not be able to survive him, the productions of a soul, whose views are so short and confined, that it cannot promise itself the esteem and applause of succeeding ages, must needs be imperfect and abortive.
SECTION XV. VISIONS, which by some are called images, contribute very much, my dearest youth, to the weight, magnificence, and force of compositions. The name of an image is generally given to any idea, however represented in the mind, which is communicable to others by discourse ; but á more particular sense of it has now prevailed: " When the imagination is so warmed and " affected, that you seem to behold yourself " the very things you are describing, and to “ display them to the life before the eyes of “ an audience.”
You cannot be ignorant, that rhetorical and poetical images have a different intent. The design of a poetical image is surprise, that of a rhetoricat is perspicuity. However, to move and strike the imagination is a design common to both:
Pity thy offspring, mother, nor provoke Those vengeful Furies to torment thy son.
' Virgil refers to this passage in his fourth Æneid.
Aut Agamemnonis scenis agitatus Orestes,
" There is not (says Mr. Addison, Spectator, No 421.) a “sight in nature so mortifying, as that of a distracted
person, when his imagination is troubled, and his “ whole soul disordered and confused :· Babylon in “ ruins is not so melancholy a spectacle.' : The distraction of Orestes, after the murder of his mother, is a fine representation in Euripides, because it is natural. The consciousness of what he has done, is uppermost in his thoughts, disorders his fancy, and cons founds his reason. He is strongly apprehensive of divine vengeance, and the violence of his fears places the avenging furies before his eyes. Whenever the mind is harassed by the stings of conscience, or the horrors of guilt, the senses are liable to infinite delusions, and startle at hideous imaginary monsters. The poet, who