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not discover that it wanted that without which all others are of small avail, the power of engaging attention and alluring curiosity.
Tediousness is the most fatal of all faults; negligences or errors are single and local, but tediousness pervades the whole; other faults are censured and forgotten, but the power of tediousness propagates itself. He that is weary the first hour, is more weary the second; as bodies forced into motion, contrary to their tendency, pass more and more Nowly through every successive interval of space.
Unhappily this pernicious failure is that which an author is least able to discover. We are seldom tiresome to our. D 2
selves; and the act of composition fills and delights the mind with change of language and succession of images; every couplet when produced is new, and novelty is the great source of pleasure. Perhaps no man ever thought a line superfluous when he first wrote it, or contracted his work till his ebullitions of invention had subsided. If he should controul his desire of immediate renown, and keep his work nine years unpublished, he will be still the author, and still in danger of deceiving himfelf; and if he consults his friends, he will probably find men who have more kindness than judgement, or more fear to offend than desire to instruct.
The tediousness of this poem proceeds not from the uniformity of the subject, for it is sufficiently diversified, but froin the continued tenour of the narration; in which Solomon relates the successive vicissitudes of his own mind, without the intervention of any other speaker, or the mention of any other agent, unless it be Abra; and the reader is only to learn what he thought, and to be told that he thought wrong. The event of every experiment is foreseen, and therefore the process is not much regarded.
Yet the work is far from deserving to be neglected. He that shall peruse it will be able to mark many passages, to which he may recur for instruction
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or delight; many from which the poet may learn to write, and the philosopher to reason.
If Prior's poetry be generally confidered, his praise will be that of correctness and industry, rather than of compass of comprehension, or activity of fancy. He never made any effort of invention : his greater pieces were all tissues of sentiment; and his smaller, which consist of light iinages or single conceits, were not always his own. I have traced him among the French Epigrammatists, and have been informed that he poached for prey among obscure authors. The Thief and the Cordelier is, I suppose, generally considered as an original production; with how much jul
tice this Epigram may tell, which was written by Georgius Sabinus, a poet now little known or read, though once the friend of Luther and Melancthon :
De Sacerdote furem consolante.
Qyidain facrificus furem comitatus euntem
Huc ubi dat fontes carnificina neci.
Jam cum cælitibus (fi modo credis) eris.
Hofpes apud superos sis meus oro, refert. Sacrificus contra ; mihi non convivia fas eft
Ducere, jejunans hac edo luce nihil.
What he has valuable he owes to his diligence and his judgement. His diligence has justly placed him amongst most correct of the English poets ;