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all orators or poets, all philosophers, or all blockheads. This would break in upon that beautiful and useful variety, with which the Author of nature has adorned the rational as
well as the material creation. There is in
every mind a tendency, though perhaps differently inclined, to what is great and excellent. Happy they, who know their own peculiar bent, who have been blessed with op
portunities of giving it the proper culture and polish, and are not cramped or restrained in the liberty of shewing and declaring it to
others? There are many fortunate concurrences, without which we cannot attain to any quickness of taste or relish for the Sublime. I hope what has been said will not be thought an improper Introduction to the following Treatise, in which (unless I am deceived) there is a just foundation for every Remark that has been made. The author appears sublime in every view, not only in what he has written, but in the manner in which he acted, and the bravery with which he died; by all acknowledged the Prince of Critics, and by no worse judge than Boileau esteemed a Philosopher, worthy to be ranked with Socrates and Cato.
OU remember, my dear Terentianus, that when we read over together “Cecilius's Treatise on the Sublime, we thought it too mean for a subject of that nature, that it is entirely defective in its principal branches, and that consequently its advantage (which ought to be the principal aim of every writer) would prove very small to the readers. Besides, though in every treatise upon any science two points are indispensably required; the first, that the science, which is the subject of it, be fully explained; the second (I mean in order of writing, since in excellence it is far the superior), that plain directions be given, how and by what method such science may be attained ; yet Cecilius, who brings a thousand instances to shew what the Sublime is, as if his readers were wholly ignorant of the matter, has omitted, as altogether unnecessary, the method which, judiciously observed, might enable us to raise our natural genius to any height of this Sublime. But perhaps, this writer is not so much to be blamed for his omissions, as commended for his good designs and earnest endeavours. You indeed have laid your commands upon me, to give you my thoughts on this Sublime; let us then, in obedience to those commands, consider whether any thing can be drawn from my private studies, for the service of those who write for the world, or speak in public. -
'Who this Terentianus, or Posthumius Terentianus,
was, to whom the author addresses this Treatise, is not
possible to be discovered, nor is it of any great importance. But it appears, from some passages in the sequel of this work, that he was a young Roman, a person of a bright genius, an elegant taste, and a particular friend to Longinus. What he says of him, I am confident, was spoken with sincerity more than complaisance, since Longinus must have disdained to flatter, like a modern dedicator. * Cecilius was a Sicilian rhetorician. He lived under Augustus, and was contemporary with Dionysius of Halicarnassus, with whom he contracted a very close friendship. He is thought to have been the first who wrote on the Sublime. D 2 (which
* Those who write for the world, or speak in public.] I take all this to be implied in the original work woxitizoic.
But I request you, my dear friend, to give me your opinion on whatever I advance, with that exactness, which is due to truth, and that sincerity which is natural to yourself. .” For well did the * sage answer the question, In what do we most resemble the Gods? when he replied, In doing good and speaking truth. But since I write, my dear friend, to you, who are versed in every branch of polite learning, there will be little occasion to use many previous words in proving, that the | Sublime is a certain eminence or perfection of y language, and that the greatest writers, both in verse and prose, have by this alone obtained the prize of glory, and filled all time with their renown. For the Sublime not only per- / suades, but even throws an audience into transport. The Marvellous always works with more surprising force than that which barely persuades or delights. In most cases, it is wholly in our own power either to resist or yield to persuasion. But the Sublime, endued with strength irresistible, strikes home, and triumphs over every hearer. Dexterity of invention, and good order and economy in composition, are not to be discerned from one or two passages, nor scarcely sometimes from
the whole texture of a discourse; but “the Sublime, when seasonably addressed, with the rapid force of lightning has borne down all before it, and shewn at one stroke the compacted might of genius. But these, and truths like these, so well known and familiar to himself, I am confident my dear Terentianus can undeniably prove by his own practice.
“The Sublime, when seasonably addressed, &c.] This sentence is inimitably fine in the original. Dr. Pearce has an ingenious observation upon it. “It is not easy “ (says he) to determine, whether the precepts of Lon“ginus, or his example, be most to be observed and “followed in the course of this work, since his style is “possessed of all the Sublimity of his subject. Accord“ingly, in this passage, to express the power of the Sub“ lime, he has made use of his words, with all the art “ and propriety imaginable. Another writer would “have said 31&Qope and svěawyvral, but this had been too “dull and languid. Our author uses the preterperfect “tense, the better to express the power and rapidity “with which sublimity of discourse strikes the minds “of its hearers. It is like lightning (says our author) “ because you can no more look upon this, when present, “ than you can upon the flash of that. Besides, the struc“ture of the words in the close of the sentence is admi“rable. They run along, and are hurried in the cele“rity of short vowels. They represent to the life the “rapid motion either of Lightning, or the Sublime.”