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be frightened at it think you ? Christianity is not to be loaded with calumnies, she is so already, her only hope is a fair trial.
But to abridge the matter. Do not facts contradict this? Is not the church of Rome full of heresy? Has not the gospel and the right of private judgment gone hand in hand in the reformation ? Is the power and promise of God nothing? Has he not engaged to support his church? Does not every thing proposed to men relate to some operation of their minds ? Does not a rational fancy protect the truth of imagery in poetry, and an honest conscience religion? Strange errors have been proposed which the penetration of church-governors could neither foresee, nor provide against; and it has happened to them as to monstrous images in
poems; they are dead, and buried, and exploded, and the public taste not injured thereby. Take one example; your sagacity will apply it. Here lays now on the desk a folio poem, in xxiv Cantos, intitled Psyche, or love's mystery. This is a second edition, from the university Press. 1702. The author is Dr. Beaumont, late Regius professor of divinity, and master of St. Peter's College in Cambridge. The preface tells you
that the true genius of poetry is little regarded, or “ rather not subject at all to common capacities.” Here follows a verse of that kind from the first canto. It is the devil in council he is speaking of. Three times he shak'd his horns; three tines his mace He brandish'd towards heaven; three times he spew'd Fell sulphur upward: which when on his face
It soused back, foul blasphemy ensued
The devil spewing and swearing till he split hiş mouth! Is not this above common capacities ? Is not this in the true genius of poetry? Is the genius of poetry in danger from such poetical heresy as this ? Farewell.
L E T T E R IV.
Majores nostri, Patres conscripti, neque consilii, neque
audacia unquam eguere : neque superbia obstabat, quo minus aliena instituta, si modo proba, imitarentur.
CÆSAR APUD SALLUST.