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quæque ipse miserrima vidi,
M DCCC XXII.
THE SHIPWRECK is one of those happy productions, in which talent is seen in so exquisite adaptation to the nature of the subject, that it is difficult to determine whether the author is the most indebted to his subject, or the subject to the author. No one who had not passed through the circumstances which Falconer describes could have painted them as he has done; and of the comparatively few who have had the opportunity of drinking in the fearful inspiration of such scenes, and survived to tell of them, Falconer is the first who appears to have possessed the genius' requisite to retain and embody the impression, with the vigour of imagination and the fidelity of memory. It was not more necessary
that he should be a poet than that he should be a seaman. He was eminently both; and the Poem is as perfect in every technical excellence, as it is in respect to the simplicity of its plan, the classical elegance of its composition, and the pathos of its narrative. It is altogether a unique production.
Falconer originally designed the Poem (as appears from an advertisement prefixed to the second edition, published in 1764), for the entertainment of “ the gentlemen of the sea;” but he complains that they had not formed one tenth of the purchasers. He printed that edition in a cheaper form, expressly with a view to render it more acceptable to the inferior officers. Falconer was thoroughly the seaman; he was warmly attached to the profession, and prided himself more on bis nautical science than on his literary talents. The author of the SHIPWRECK compiled a “ Universal Dictionary of the Marine,” a work which cost him years of extraordinary