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BY JOSEPH HARPUR, LL.B.
OF TRINITY COLLEGE, OXFORD.
Η ΤΩΝ ΛΟΓΩΝ ΚΡΙΣΙΣ ΠΟΛΛΗΣ ΕΣΤΙ ΠΕΙΡΑΣ ΤΕΛΕΥΤΑΙΟΝ ΕΠΙΓΕΝΝΗΜΑ.
THE speculations contained in the following Treatise are entirely founded on ancient philosophy. The method adopted by the ancients in the search of truth, was to consider the necessary and immutable relations of universal ideas. For as all scientific knowledge must necessarily be adequate and permanent, it cannot be of particulars, which are indefinite and perpetually changing; but must be only of universals, which are definite and fixt. To acquire the knowledge of permanent causes and universal principles, is consequently the end proposed in all philosophical researches. Of Philosophical Criticism therefore the object is, not to point out the defects or the excellen
cies of particular works; but rather to discover the universal principles on which the specific character, the powers and the essential properties of the Art treated of, depend.
To elucidate such principles with regard to Poetry, is the design of the following Essay.
For this purpose, the Author has first considered how Poetry, as a composite, may be resolved into its Matter and its Form; as well the generic Form, which essentially distinguishes Poetry from other arts, as the specific Forms, by which its productions are essentially distinguished from each other. He has then inquired into the principles on which its power depends, and has endeavoured to discover the primary constituent elements of its capital excellencies, by tracing them to the essential nature of mind in general, and of those properties of the human mind which Poetry particularly addresses.-And thus, by resolving such
composites as Imagery, Beauty, Sublimity, Style and others of the like complex nature into their elementary ideas, he has attempted to ascertain of how many, and of what things they are compounded; and to show how their several characters depend on and flow from those their essential and constituent parts.
In this research he has found it necessary to pursue many abstract speculations, and to confirm and elucidate his doctrines by the authorities of those philosophers of antiquity whom he has followed as his guides. Hence it has happened, that in several parts of his work, and especially in the notes and quotations which he has thought necessary to illustrate it, many things have been introduced which may appear more adapted to metaphysical or logical inquiries, than either to poetry or to criticism.-But he considered that as all Art operates according to a system of rules founded on right Reason; and as Truth, the object of Reason, is one and universal,