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Ferguson, f. 6.

LECTURE

ON THE

WRITINGS AND GENIUS OF BYRON,

DELIVERED BY

JOHN CLARK FERGUSON, ESQ.,

BEFORE THE

CARLISLE MECHANICS' INSTITUTION,

ON THE 21ST JANUARY, 1856.

CARLISLE:

PRINTED AT THE OFFICE OF A. THURNAM, ENGLISH STREET.

1856.

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LECTURE

ON THE GENIUS AND WRITINGS OF BYRON.

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Before discoursing to you on the merits of Lord Byron's poetry, it may be well for us to enquire what is poetry. In answer to the question I shall give you the opinions of several eminent writers on the subject. Dr. Johnson was of opinion that "a poet is one whose business it is to examine, not the individual, but the species, to remark general properties and large appearances, not to number the streaks of the tulip, or describe the different shades of the verdure of the forest, but to exhibit in his portraits of nature such prominent and striking features, as shall recall the original to every mind." Bailey, the author of Festus, is of opinion that a poet is one who feels great truths and utters them." Wordsworth in one of his essays depicts poetry as "the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge, the impassioned expression, which is in the countenance of all science." 'Poetry," says Shelley, "lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar things as if they were not familiar." Lord Byron himself said of poetry that it is "the feeling of a former world, and a future." Now it seems to me that there is truth in nearly all the remarks I have just read, more or less, and especially in what Dr. Johnson says; but if I were asked for my own opinion in the matter I would say that a poet is one who describes not only the beautiful, and sublime, but the true as well, both in nature and in thought and feeling, and out of the elements which he has to work upon, viz., those with which he is made conversant by the external senses, creates other scenes of beauty and sublimity, expressing all his ideas in more forcible and eloquent language than is to be met with in prose, in the pure acceptation of the word, not describing, as Dr. Johnson says, the details, but the broad characteristics

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