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miliar to his earliest conceptions; and he expatiated in this element as in one most congenial to his nature.
After describing genius, and fixing on invention as its most suitable criterion, he proceeds to show the alliance between genius and fancy, judgment and sympathy. He then, in a rapid manner, describes the progress of genius, and illustrates the independence of rules, which it sometimes manifests, by the example of Shakspeare, Ossian, Ariosto, and Burns.
The influence of culture on genius naturally calls to the poet's mind the image of Edwin, and the various forms of excellence which genius is qualified to uphold leads him into an enumeration of celebrated names, in various departmens of prose and verse.
Some of the moral stimulants and effects of genius are next displayed; narrative is called in to the aid of precept, and the poem closes with a concise view of the progress of genius in different countries; Egypt, Greece, Italy, Britain, and America. To his na. tive country the poet is patriotically partial, and not only predicts her future eminence in literature, hut deems the progress she has already made by no means contemptible.
The merit of this performance has received the best testimony of which merit of this kind is susceptible, in the approbation of the public. The work, in a few months after its first appearance, demanded a new edition, and it has been published in a very splendid style in Europe.
Several smaller pieces were published in the same volume with this poem, some of which have merit considerably above me. diocrity, and manifest a genius in the writer which only wanted the habits of reflection and revision to entitle him to a high rank in the fraternity of poets.
Mr. Linn's temperament was sanguine, and his health at all times extremely variable. From his earliest infancy, he was liable to fits of severe indisposition, which, to one of his peculiar temper, were of far more importance than they would have proved to another. There was a powerful sympathy between his body and mind. All disorders in the former produced confusion and despondency in the latter. He was always prone to portend an unfavourable issue to his disease, and being deeply impressed with the belief that he was doomed to an early grave, every sickness was considered as the messenger appointed to fulfil his destiny.
It was not, however, till the year 1802 that his constitution received any lasting or material injury. In the summer of this year, he set out on a journey to New York. The weather being extremely hot, and the chaise affording no effectual protection from the rays of a burning sun, he was suddenly thrown into a swoon, which was followed by an ardent fever. This accident occurred near Woodbridge, in New-Jersey, and he was carried from the road, by some passengers, to the hospitable roof of Dr. Rowe, a clergy man of that place.
From this attack he recovered sufficiently in a few days, to enable him to return home; but from that period to his death, every day's experience evinced that this accident had done his constitution an irreparable mischief. His nervous system appeared, for sometime, to have been chiefly affected, and in a way particularly distressful and deplorable, since it interfered with his duty as a preacher. In attempting to speak, his brain was frequently seized with a torpor and dizziness, which made it difficult for him to keep himself from falling. The same affection sometimes attended him while walking or sitting. Its visits were capricious and uncertain. It would sometimes afford him a respite of days or weeks. Its returns were sudden and unlooked for, and it always brought in its train a heavy dejection of mind, and equally unfitted him for the performance of his public duties, and for obtaining relief from any solitary occupation or social amusement.
No one could struggle with his infirmity more strenuously than Mr. Linn. His family can bear witness to his efforts to fulfil his public duties, notwithstanding this secret enemy. So successful were these efforts, that he often preached with his usual enersy and eloquence, when nothing but the rails of his pulpit sup. ported him, and when a deadly sickness pervaded his whole frame.
That his powers of reasoning and reflection were unimpaired lay this accident, he very soon afforded an incontestible proof, in the spirit with which he carried on a short controversy, during this year, with Dr. Priestley.
Dr. Priestley, who acquired so much celebrity in Europe, had, a few years before this, taken up his abode in the United States. His zeal for knowledge was by no means diminished by the circumstances which occasioned his exile, and his attachment to the controversial mode of advancing knowledge was as ardent as ever. His numerous publications, however, during the early years of his residence among us, were chiefly confined to politics and chymistry. His moral and theological effusions failed to waken the spirit of controversy, till the publication of a short treatise on the merits of Socrates, in the year 1802. In this performance, Dr. Priestley drew a comparison between Jesus Christ and Socrates, in which the former was degraded, agreeably to the socinian system, to the level of mere humanity, while the merits of the latter were exalted to a higher pitch than, in the opinion of Mr. Linn, strict justice allowed.
This comparison was instituted between the two persons, in relation to their moral qualities only, and Priestley's design was to maintain the superiority of Jesus, even admitting the most favour. ble suppositions that have been formed with regard to the character of Socrates, and the least favourable ones with regard to Christ. In both these points, however, he was deemed by some to be highly blamable, inasmuch as he admitted and argued upon suppositions erroneous and unjust in both cases.
The great fame and veteran skill of Priestley, and the consciousness of his own youth and inexperience, did not intimidate Mr. Linn from stepping forth in a cause in which religion and morality were deeply interested. Those points in the conduct of the Athenian sage, which had been hastily admitted as authentic by Dr. Priestley, underwent an impartial and rigid scrutiny from his young opponent; the dreams of traditional credulity were subjected to a critical investigation; and while the character of Sc. crates was degraded to its proper point in the scale, the transcendent merits of Christ, both in bis human and divine capacity, were urged with unusual eloquence.
The true nature and office of Christ could not fail of coming strongly into view on this occasion, and a second reply, to a second publication of Mr. Linn, was the last and dying effort of Priestley on this sublunary stage, in favour of the socinian doctrines.
The merits of Mr. Linn in this controversy seem to be generally acknowledged, both by the friends and enemies of the cause which he espoused. The latter withheld not their admiration from the knowledge and genius displayed in these productions, and which, while they would do credit to any age, were peculiarly honourable and meritorious in so youthful an advocate.
If he has treated his venerable adversary with undue asperity, as some of Dr. Priestley's adherents are disposed to believe, his youth, and the importance of the tene!s he supported, will abundantly plead his excuse with impartial minds. Instead of deserv. ing blame for that degree of warmth which he displayed, he is ra. ther entitled to eminent praise, for preserving his warmth within such rigid limits. Those who are acquainted with the spirit of religious disputes will only be surprised at the moderation which so ardent and impetuous a mind was able to maintain, in so delicate a controversy, and of which it is difficult to find another example.
There was no one, however, who regarded these asperities with less indulgence than himself. For Dr. Priestley's attainments in the physical sciences, he entertained a high veneration, and abhorred that spirit of animosity and rancour, with which literary controversies are generally managed. His own conduct in this respect, though so little culpable, gave him regrets, which the death of his opponent contributed to augment.
During this period, he likewise indulged himself in putting to. gether the materials of a poem, to which he intended to entrust his future fame, as a poel. The scheme was somewhat of an epic nature, but he did not intend to restrict himself by any technical rules or canons. He merely aspired to produce a narrative in verse, which should possess the qualities which render verse delightful, and make a narrative interesting and instructive.
The poem which he left behind him, and which his friends have deemed it but justice to his memory to publish, is, in some respects, sufficiently entire for the press, hut is, in fact, only a fragment of a plan, copious and comprehensive. It is contained in the present volume, and will come before the public tribunal with many silent apologies for its defects. The writer is disabled from revising and correcting his own labours, and sacred modesty forbids a surviving friend to prune or to retrench, without any warrant but his own frail judgment. It may be said to be, like its author, called to its account burthened with those imperfections, which a longer preparation and probation might have lessened or removed.
(To be concluded in our next.)