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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 its influence, 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 great invention, 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 along its 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, which waves its 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 will 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 he quickness of its revolution.”

Since then invention is the infallible criterion of genius, and invention in poetry is active imagination ; since taste is necessary in order to form a polished genius, and taste is dependent on the judgment and sensibility ; it is evident that genius is intimately allied with all these powers, and its correctness and improvement must proceed from their universal or partial conjunction.

If such then is the exalted nature of genius, the joy and satisfaction which are connected with it are entitled to the same eminence. All those pleasures which Addison las traced from the source of imagination belong to genius; for genius is the parent of imagination. The subjects upon which genius is exercised should be also respected and revered; for they are the fields of pure

and rational satisfaction. Whatever affords a proper

* Milton.

entertainment, whatever softens the calamities of human life, is useful. Literature, next to religion, is the fountain of our greatest consolation and delight. Though it is a solemn truth that the profoundest erudition disconnected with religion cannot enlighten the dark region beyond the grave, or afford consolation on the bed of death; yet, when in union with religion, literature renders men more eminently useful, opens wider their intellect to the reception of divine light, banishes religious superstition, and bows the knee with purer adoration, before the throne of God. Literature, on the rugged journey of life, scatters flowers; it overshadows the path of the weary, and refreshes the desert with its streams. He who is prone to sensual pursuits, may seek his joy in the acquirement of silver and gold, and bury his affections with the treasure in his coffers. The nobler-soul, enlightened by genius and taste, looks far above these possessions; his riches are the bounty of knowledge, his joys are those which the wealth of the miser cannot purchase. He contemplates nature in her various forms, and


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