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times. Can we read Luther's "Familiar Discourses," without discovering the simplicity and ardour of the age, in that Monk who, while emancipating Germany from the Papacy, was himself so often frightened by a number of delusions, that one day he ventured to fling his ink-stand at the Devil? Selden, the age of erudition, of turbulent changes and of unsettled opinions, communicate a weight of thought, a depth of research, and an acuteness of disputation, which we cannot read too often in his "Table-Talk."
SPENCE lived in an age when Taste first appeared among us, and Literature first began to diffuse itself among the nation. By his habits a man of letters
by his skill a classical and elegant critic; and by the sweetness of his manners and perpetual curiosity, SPENCE
was well adapted to promote, as well as to record the many conversations he has preserved for posterity. Pope was "the god of his idolatry," for Pope was the creator of an epoch in our literature. This period was a transition from one age to another. The immortal writer had to open an age of taste and correctness, and to develope the arts of composition; he had to teach us to learn to think; he had to escape from our native but undisciplined invention, and to restrain our prurient imagination in conception and expression; and to polish a diction colloquially feeble or unskilfully perplexed. Literature assumed a new form; the triumphs and the factions of literature arose with the interests they excited in the public feelings, but the progress of his own works was an object, not only of his
egotism, but of the curiosity of other men, and the delight of the retentive fondness of SPENCE.
Some indulgence may however be claimed for one portion of SPENCE'S. ANECDOTES; in the literary class the reader will find many with which he is not unacquainted; but if they appear to him as twice-told, he must recollect that SPENCE was the first teller.
The reader shall no longer be detained in this passage of a Preface; he has now only to open the door, and he will find Pope in a very conversible humour, by his parlour fire-side.
You know there is nothing certain about him (we had been speaking of Homer's blindness.) That life attributed to Herodotus, was scarcely written by that historian; and all the rest have guessed out circumstances for a life for him, from his own writings. I collected every thing that was said of him that was worth notice, and classed it; and then Archdeacon Parnell wrote the essay on his life, which is prefixed to the Iliad. 'Tis still stiff, and was written much stiffer. As it is, I think verily it cost me more pains in the correcting than the writing of it would have done.—Mr. Pope.
What Paterculus says of Homer's not being blind, might be said by him only for
the turn of it. This book is a flimsy thing, and yet nine in ten that read it, will be pleased with it.—The same.
After my reading the Persian Tales (and I had been reading Dryden's Fables just before them) I had some thoughts of writing a Persian Fable; in which I should have given full loose to description and imagination. It would have been a very wild thing, if I had executed it, but might not have been entertaining.-The same.
It might be a very pretty subject for any good genius that way, to write American pastorals; or rather pastorals adapted to several of the ruder nations, as well as the Americans. I once had a thought of writing such, and talked it over with Gay, but other things came in my way and took me off from it.-The same.
If I am a good poet (for in truth I do not know whether I am or not, but if I should be a good poet) there is one thing I value myself upon, and which can scarce be said of any of our good poets; and that is-That I have never flattered any man, nor ever