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Thirdly, It ought to humble the pride of Ge. nius to consider, that it is liable to fall into the greatest speculative absurdities.' Genius, joined with extensive power, and a beneficent disposition, can indeed scarcely fail to secure the happiness, the esteem, and the affection of mankind. Rectitude of conduct in public life, depends much more upon a quick and almost intuitive discernment of
propriety, than upon long and complex trains of reasoning; but in the closet, the man of Genius appears in a great measure to lofe his preeminence.
Human nature is so unequal to the investigation of truth, that a mind of the highest powers, which ventures to confide in its own superiority, is quickly lost in a labyrinth of perplexity and
Truth is to be attained, as far as it is attainable by so weak and imperfed a being as man, by patient, laborious, and attentive consideration ; by divesting ourselves of passion and prejudice, by commencing our enquiries with doubt and distidence, and by extending a candid and equal regard to the arguments on every side, and weighing them in the balance of strict and impartial justice. The man of Genius is frequently deficient in alınost all these essential requisites for the discovery of moral truth. Full of ardour and enthusiasm, and elate with the consciousness of superior talents, he thinks it fuperfluous to devote that portion of time and patience to the investi
gation of truth, which its nature indispensably requires. He forms his opinions with precipitation, and, when once formed, his pride is engaged to vindicate and support them. As his feelings are strong, and the faculty of associaLion vigorous and powerful, his first opinions, originally formed on very slight grounds, foon degenerate into inveterate prejudices; and in this state of mind he treats with contempt or indignation all arguments, but such as have a tendency to confirm him in error; and his fuperiority of Genius only ferves, by supplying him with endless fallacies, to plunge him deeper and deeper into the abyfles of absurdity and extravagance. This is a point long ago determined by a judge, whose knowledge of human nature I suppose no one will venture to call in question.
None are so surely caught when they are catch’d,
Love's Labour Lot.
I have always, however, thought a man of Genius, entangled in absurdity, an object of compassion, rather than of ridicule. To exult over an antagonist of this description, is to triumph in the weakness of human nature. « On ** doit,” says the Marq. de Mirabeau, very generously, “ une indulgence presqu' illimitée aux “ grands hommes quand ils ont evidemment tort.”
Fourthly, It is a prevailing opinion, and I think it is an opinion founded on fact, that melancholy is a very frequent attendant on Genius How is this to be accounted for ? Enthusiasm, of ardour of mind, is certainly a striking characteristic of Genius: but this is a quality apparently incompatible with melancholy, which deprives the mind of every degree of force and vigour, and leaves it without any proper
any proper stimulus to action. The diffis culty may perhaps be solved, by supposing that enthusiasm is natural to Genius, and melancholy only an accidental and adventitious quality. None are so liable to disappointments in the world as men of Genius, and melancholy is the natural consequence of disappointment-Their feelings, too refined for their own happiness, are wounded by negleet; sometimes, perhaps, by insult. Their taste for beauty and order, is shocked by the scenes of folly, vice, and misery, perpetually presented to their view ; the common concerns of life appear them flat, infipid, and uninteresting. They first grow weary of the world, and then of themselves. The best remedy forthis disease ofthemind is religion; I mean that religion which is founded on reason and on truth, and which inspires a firm belief in the existence of an infinitely powerful, wise, and bene-, ficent Being; and a full persuasion, that the prefent system of things is, in all its parts, consistent with the natural and moral perfe&ions of its divine Author; and that the course of events is tending to a happy and glorious consummation. This
religion, sublimed by faith, and invigorated by hope, exacts from us, first, the deepest reverence and gratitude to God, and next, unbounded love and benevolence to mankind. It informs us, that the great object of life ought to be the advancement of human happiness -A truly noble and animating principle of action in itself; but how much more so, when we have ground to believe, that no effort directed to this end shall be finally loft. No effort wholly lost, perhaps, with respect to others; and as to ourselves, we have a divine assurance, that even a cup of cold water, given in the true fpirit of Christian benevolence, shall not fail to meet with its reward.
REMARKS On Pope's ESSAY ON MAN.
ARIOUS and discordant have been the
opinions of critics and commentators, respecting this celebrated performance. That it possesses a distinguished share of poetic excellence, none, however, I think, have yet ventured to deny. Voltaire goes so far as to affirm, that to this Essay Pope is indebted for that pre-eminence which he ascribes to him, when compared with his illustrious predecessor, Dryden: but that Pope is actually entitled to this claim of fuperiority, is at least very problematical; and, if it was allowed, I should imagine that the Rape of the Lock, the Epistle of Eloise, the Eclogue of the Mesliah, and fome other pieces that might be mentioned, would generally be considered as affording a better foundation for this claim to rest upon, than the Eifay on Man; in which Poetry holds a subordinate place, and in which it is merely employed, though with the happiest success, to embellish and illustrate the most abstruse lesions of philofophy. Dryden, indeed, has, in his Hind and Panther, given us a