Excerpt from The Works of Samuel Johnson, LL. D, Vol. 4 of 12: To Which in Prefixed, an Essay on His Life and Genius; Containing Rambler, Vol. I The epic writers have found the proemial part of the poem such an addition to their undertaking, that they have almost unanimously adopted the first lines of Homer, and the reader needs only be in formed of the subject, to know in what manner the poem will begin.
But this solemn repetition is hitherto the peculiar distinction of heroic poetry it has never been le gally extended to the lower orders of literature, but seems to be considered as an hereditary privilege, to be enjoyed only by those who claim it from their alliance to the genius of Homer.
The rules which the injudicious use of this pre rogative suggested to Home, may indeed be ap plied to the direction of candidates for inferior fame; it may be proper for all to remember, that they ought not to raise expectation which it is not in their power to satisfy, and that it is more pleas mg to see smoke brightening into flame, than flame sinking into smoke.
This precept has been long received, both from regard to the authority of Horace, and its confor mity to the general opinion of the world yet there have been always some, that thought it no devia tion from modesty to recommend their own labours.
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