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J. Jonsius.

fine a city once crowned the place. Tyrants and barbarians are not less pernicious to learning and improvement, than to cities and nations. Bare names are preserved and handed down to us, but little more. Who were the destroyers of all the rest, we know with regret, but the value of what is destroyed, we can only guess and deplore.

What countryman Longinus was, cannot Di. Pearce. certainly be discovered. Some fancy him a

Syrian, and that he was born at Emisa, because an uncle of his, one Fronto, a rhetorician, is called by Suidas an Emisenian. But others, with greater probability, suppose

him an Athenian. That he was a Grecian, is plain †

from two * passages in the following Treatise;
in one of which he uses this expression, If
we Grecians; and in the other he expressly
calls Demosthenes his countryman. His name
was Dionysius Longinus, to which Suidas
makes the addition of Cassius; but that of his
father is entirely unknown; a point (it is true)
of small importance, since a son of excellence
and worth, reflects a glory upon, instead of
receiving any from, his father. By his mother
Frontonis he was allied, after two or three re-
moves, to the celebrated Plutarch.
* See Sect. XII.


We are

also at a loss for the eifsployment of his parents, their station in life, and the beginning of his education ; but a + Remnant of his own writings informs us, that his youth was spent X in travelling with them, which gave him an opportunity to increase his knowledge, and open his mind with that generous enlarge ment, which men of sense and judgment will unavoidably receive, from variety of objects and diversity of conversation. The improvement of his mind was always uppermost in his thoughts, and his thirst after knowledge led him to those channels by which it is conveyed. Wherever men of learning were to be found, he was present, and lost no opportunity of forming a familiarity and intimacy with them. Ammonius and Origen, philosophers of no small reputation in that age, were two of those whom he visited and heard with the greatest attention. As he was not deficient in vivacity of parts, quickness of apprehension, and strength of understanding, the progress

of his improvement must needs have been equal to his industry and diligence in seeking after it. He was capable of learning whatever he desired, and no doubt he desired to learn whatever was commendable and useful.

+ Fragment. quintum.


The Travels of Long nus ended with his arrival at Athens, where he fixed his residence. This city was then, and had been for some ages, the University of the world. It was the constant resort of all who were able to teach, or willing to improve; the grand and lasting reservoir of philosophy and learning, from whence were drawn


rivulet and stream that watered and cultivated the rest of the

world. Here our author pursued the studies * of humanity and philosophy with the greatest

application, and soon became the most remarkable person in a place so remarkable as Athens. Here he published his Treatise on the SUBLIME, which raised his reputation to such a height, as no critic, either before or since, durst ever aspire to. He was a perfect master of the ancient writings of Greece, and intimately acquainted not only with the works but the very genius and spirit with which they were written.

His cotemporaries there had such an implicit faith in his judgment, and were so well convinced of the perfection of his taste, that they appointed him judge of all the ancient authors, and learned to distinguish between the genuine and spurious productions of antiquity, from his opinions and sentiments about them. He was looked



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by them as infallible and unerring, and there-
fore by his decrees were fine writing and fine
sense established, and his sentence stainped its
intrinsic value upon every piece. The in- :
trusting any one person with so delicate a
commission, is an extraordinaryinstance of
complaisance: it is without a precedent in
every age before, and unparalleled in any of.
the succeeding; as it is fit it should, till another
Longinus shall arise. But in regard to him,
it does honour to those who lodged it in his
hands. For no classic writer ever suffered in
character from an erroneous censure of Lon-
ginus. He was, as 'I observed before, a per-
fect master of the style and peculiar turn of Х
thought of them all, and could discern every
beauty or blemish in every composition. In
vain might inferior critics exclaim against this
monopoly of judgment. , Whatever objections
they raised against it, were mere air and unre-
garded sounds. And whatever they blamed,
or whatever they commended, was received
or rejected by the Public, only as it met with
the ation of Longinus, or was confirm- Eunapius.
ed and ratified by his sovereign decision.

His stay at Athens seems to have been of
long continuance, and that city perhaps had
never enjoyed so able a Professor of fine


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learning, eloquence, and philosophy united. Whilst he taught here, he had, amongst others, the famous Porphyry for his pupil. The system of philosophy which he went upon, was the Academic; for whose founder, Plato, he had so great a veneration, that he celebrated the anniversary of his birth with the highest solemnity. There is something agreeable even in the distant fancy; how delightfulthen must those reflections have been, which could not but arise in the breast of Longinus, that he was explaining and recommending the doctrine of Plato, in those oalm retreats where he himself had written; that he was teaching his scholars the eloquence of Demosthenes, on the very spot, perhaps, where he had formerly thundered ; and was professing Rhetoric in the place where Cicero had studied !

The mind of our Author was not so contracted, as to be fit only for a life of stillness and tranquillity. Fine genius, and a true philosophic turn, qualify not only for study and retirement, but will enable their owners to shine, I will not say in more honourable, but in more conspicuous views, and to appear on the public stage of life with dignity and honour. And it was the fortune of Longinus

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