Thomas Parnell (1679-1718) was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He took orders, but was evidently committed to a literary career. In his own time, as now, he enjoyed most fame as a poet, but he also contributed papers to the Spectator and the Guardian.
From the Preface to the Essay on the Different Styles of Poetry (1713), sigs. A4-A4V; repr. Alexander Chalmers, The Works of the English Poets (1810), IX. 413:
We are much beholden to Antiquity for those excellent Compositions by which Writers at present form their Minds; but it is not so much required of us to adhere merely to their Fables, as to observe their Manner. For if we preclude our own Invention, Poetry will consist only in Expression, or Simile, or the Application of old Stories; and the utmost Character to which a Genius will arrive will depend on Imitation, or a borrowing from others, which we must agree together not to call Stealing, because we take only from the Ancients. There have been Poets amongst ourselves, such as Spencer and Milton, who have successfully ventured further. These Instances may let us see that Invention is not bounded by what has been done before, they may open our Imaginations, and be one Method of preserving us from Writing without Schemes.
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Publication information: Book title: Edmund Spenser, the Critical Heritage. Contributors: R. M.Cummings - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 247.
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