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Page:Samuel Johnson (1911).djvu/177

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This consideration cannot but abate, in some measure, the reader's esteem for the work and the author. To love excellence, is natural; it is natural likewise for the lover to solicit reciprocal regard by an elaborate dis- play of his own qualifications. The desire of pleasing has in different men produced actions of heroism, and effusions of wit; but it seems as reasonable to appear the champion as the poet of an " airy nothing," and to quarrel as to write for what Cowley might have learned from his master Pindar to call " the dream of a shadow."

��THE metaphysical poets were men of learn- ing, and to show their learning was their whole endeavour : but, unluckily resolving to show it in rhyme, instead of writing poetry they only wrote verses, and very often such verses as stood the trial of the finger better than of the ear; for the modulation was so imperfect that they were only found to be verses by counting the syllables.

If the father of criticism has rightly de- nominated poetry re^v* mpnTiw, an imitative art, these writers will, without great wrong, lose their right to the name of poets ; for they cannot be said to have imitated any thing:

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