Page:Notes on the State of Virginia (1802).djvu/208

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194
NOTES ON VIRGINIA.

catch.[1] Whether they will be equal to the compoſition of a more extenſive run of melody, or of complicated harmony is yet to be proved. Miſery is often the parent of the moſt affecting touches in poetry. Among the blacks is miſery enough, God knows, but no poetry. Love is the peculiar œſtrum of the poet. Their love is ardent, but it kindles the ſenſes only, not the imagination. Religion indeed has produced a Phyllis Whately; but it could not produce a poet. The compoſitions publiſhed under her name are below the dignity of criticiſm. The heroes of the Dunciad are to her, as Hercules to the author of that poem. Ignatius Sancho has approached nearer to merit in compoſition; yet his letters do more honor to the heart than the head. They breathe the pureſt effuſions of friendſhip and general philanthropy, and ſhew how great a degree of the latter may be compounded with ſtrong religious zeal. He is often happy in the turn of his compliments, and his ſtile is eaſy and familiar, except when he affects a Shandean fabrication of words. But his imagination is wild and extravagant, eſcapes inceſſantly from every reſtraint of reaſon and taſte, and, in the courſe of its vagaries, leaves a tract of thought as incoherent and eccentric as is the courſe of a meteor through the ſky. His ſubjects ſhould often have led him to a proceſs of ſober reaſoning: yet we find him always ſubſtituting ſentiment for demonſtration.—Upon the whole, though we admit him to the



  1. The inſtrument proper to them is the Banjar, which they brought hither from Africa, and which is the original of the guitar, its chords being preciſely the four lower chords of the guitar.