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A POEM

IN THREE PARTS.

BY JOHN BLAIR LINN, A. M.

CO-PASTOR OF THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN

CHURCH IN THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA.

Natura fieret laudabile carmen, an arte
Quæsitum est. Ego nec studium sine divite vena,
Nec rude quid possit video ingenium: alterius sic
Altera poscit opem res, et conjurat amicè.

HORACE,

PHILADELPHIA:

PUBLISHED BY

ASBURY DICKINS, OPPOSITE CHRIST-CHURCH:

H, MAXWELL, PRINTER, COLUMBIA-HOUSE.

1801.

د)

THE DESIGN.

GENIUS is the highest power of the soul, and opens before the poet a subject interesting and extensive. The different faculties which are subservient to genius, have frequently undergone investigation; while genius itself, has seldom been examined with care. Genius receives assistance from all the intellectual powers; but it is however, to be carefully distinguished from them. We often meet with works of real genius abounding with errors: the defect then, is not in the genius, but in the assisting powers. Taste has been called passive genius. It is necessary to direct the wild sallies of Imagination, and to regulate the course of the inventive mind. Taste is more generally bestowed on mankind than genius, and is dependent on cultivation and rules. Genius, though always incorrect without study and investigation, still overcomes every difficulty and penetrates through the thickest and most hidden recesses. It stoops not to the smaller niceties of taste, but, heedless of them, pours alongits irresistible course. An excellent taste may exist with little invention, but invention is the distinguishing mark of genius. Taste is improved by the comparison of the different grades of sublimity and beauty. Genius, disdaining any imitation, strikes out a path for itself, wild and hazardous, where foot has never trodden. “Genius (says Lord Kaimes) is allied to a warm and inflamable constitution; delicacy. of taste to calmness and sedateness; hence it is common to find genius in one who is a prey to every passion—but seldom delicacy of taste.”

The greatest incorrectness is frequently connected with genius. Numerous errors spring up, in the most fruitful mind. The rich soil which gave birth to the oak, who waves his head in the tempest, also produces weeds and sickly flowers. The slightest impulse is at times sufficient to rouse the full strength of genius. A spark communicated excites the most terrible -explosion. The

greatest river proceeds from the smallest fountain, rolls its waves over a large extent of country, and heaves its billows with the voice of the ocean.

It is supposed that the fall of an apple to the ground directed Newton to the investigation and discovery of the law of gravitation : that the sound of a smith's hammer gave to Pythagoras the first hint of his theory of music; and that a wretched dramatic performance, by an Italian of the name of Adreino, awakened the soul of Milton to the grand conception of Paradise Lost. Genius implies such vast comprehension, such facility in the association of ideas, as enable a person to call in the conceptions that are necessary to execute the design in which he is engaged. We shall always discover that great stores of materials have been collected by his fancy, and subjected to his judgment. He darts with rapidity over the fields of his investigation; and by this rapidity his ardour becomes more inflamed. “ The velocity of his motion sets him on fire, like a chariot wheel which is kindled by the quickness of its revolution."*

Milton.

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