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images which both Collins and Gray thought worth gathering.
| Here Criticism is content to stop; congratulating herself on the termination of a labour irksome, but not overwhelming ; invidious, but not void of use. If she has descended into toò minute an examination, it has not been with a view to darken counsel, but to furnish light. Of fine writing, the perfection is not so well promoted by abstract canons, as by individual illustrations ; by the inculcating what should be written, as by the examination of what has been written. The detection of particular blemishes is more productive of good than the display of general perfection. There is a common-weal in taste, as well as in government. Minute and characteristical exhibitions, of errors as well as of excellence, are necessary for
improvement, in both. Inde tibi, tuæque REIPUBLICÆ, quod imitere, capias ; inde fædum inceptu, fædum EXITU, quod vites. In the execution of this necessary task, Criticism finds herself engaged in much labour, and subjected to much self-denial : impeded by prejudice, and deterred by misconstruction. But the labour is honourable ; and the end useful. She is content to forget the hardships she has suffered; and solace herself with the view of the good she has done.
In examining the Elegy written in a Country Church-yard, she has found much room for censure, and some room for praise. The Piece has been overrated'; and many serious persons, who meditate on death from a sense of duty, consider Conscience as concerned in their finding this Meditation perfect. Of perfections no doubt it contains some ; but it contains blemishes too; and, if
Criticism grant it nothing but its merit, what will be its praise ?
To rate that merit precisely, is perhaps not easy: but, where the premises are, the conclusion may be found. Those who are resolved to fortify themselves in the feeling which they have encouraged themselves to entertain of its perfections, may find many strong positions, in which they may maintain themselves, without immediate danger of being forced. The subject is serious ; the views interesting; the thoughts tender; the versification, in general, smooth; the language not unsuitable. The flights are sometimes bold; often catching : and the execution often striking ; and sometimes natural. But what, of all things, is likely to ensure this performance a lasting and general interest is, that it abounds with images which find a mirrour in every mind, and with sentiments to which every bosom returns an echo. Where so many beauties are, room may be afforded for faults : of these, Criti. cism has not concealed what came in her way; and, to such as may urge her to a farther search, she will content herself with tendering, concerning the Elegy, the admonition which its writer has tendered concerning himself :
NO FARTA ER SEEK ITS MERITS TO DISCLOSE,
NOR DRAW ITS FRAILTIES FROM THEIR DREAD