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LECTURES

ON

GENERAL LITERATURE,

POETRY, &c.

BY

JAMES MONTGOMERY.

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LECTURES ON POETRY.

LECTURE I.

THE PRE-EMINENCE OF POETRY AMONG THE FINE ARTS.

Apologue. SiR PHILIP SIDNEY begins his Defence of Poesie in the following manner :-"When the right virtuous E. W. and I were at the emperor's court together, we gave ourselves to learn horsemanship of Gio. Pietro Pugliano-one that, with great commendation, had the place of an esquire in his stable; and he, according to the fertileness of the Italian wit, did not only afford us the demonstration of his practice, but sought to enrich our minds with the contemplation therein, which he thought was most precious. But with none, I remember, mine ears were at any time more loaden than when (angered with our slow payment, or moved with our learnerlike admiration) he exercised his speech in praise of his faculty. He said, soldiers were the noblest of mankind, and horsemen were the noblest soldiers. He said, they were the masters of war, and the ornaments of peace; speedy goers, and strong abiders; triumphers both in camps and courts : nay, to so unbelieved a point he proceeded, as that no earthly thing bred so much wonder to a prince as to be a good horseman; skill in government was but pedanteria in comparison. Then would he add certain praises, by telling what a peerless beast the horse was; the only serviceable, courtier without flattery: the beast of most beauty, faithfulness, courage, and such more, that, if I had not been a piece of a logician before I came to him, I think he would have persuaded me to have wished myself a horse. But thus much, with his no few words, he drove into me,-that self-love is better than any gilding to make that seem gorgeous wherein ourselves are parties. Wherein, if Pugliano's strong affection and weak arguments will not satisfy you, I will give you a nearer example of myself, who (I know not by what mischance, in these my not old years and idlest times), having slipped into the title of a poet, am provoked to say something unto you, in defence of that my unelected vocation; which if I handle with more good-will than good reasons, bear with me, since the scholar is to be pardoned that followeth in the steps of his master."

Thus far Sir Philip Sidney.

Without assuming or disclaiming any personal application of the foregoing apologue, the writer of the following strictures believes that he could not more fitly have introduced them to the liberal and enlightened auditory before whom he is permitted to read them ; who will thus be prepared both to expect, and, he trusts, to pardon, no small measure of extravagance in them.

The General Claims of Poetry to Pre-eminence. Poetry is the eldest, the rarest, and the most excellent of the fine arts. It was the first fixed form of language; the earliest perpetuation of thought: it existed before prose in history, before music in melody, before painting in description, and before sculpture in imagery. Anterior to the discovery of letters, it was employed to communicate the lessons

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