"The original, from whence [a painter] draws his copy, is an outward object, and his picture, when finish'd, is address'd to the visual sense: whereas the original, from whence the [poet] takes copy, is perceived by the mind's eye, and address'd also to the mental perception of his reader."
— Fielding, Sarah (1710-1768) and Jane Collier (bap. 1715, d. 1755)
Thus, properly speaking, the works, which we call works of invention, ought to contain the history of the mind of man; and he is the best writer, who represents it most truly.
If invention then be only a capacity of finding, and not of creating, we must endeavour (if we would exercise this faculty) to to keep our mind's eye open, and on the search, and not close it up by bending all [Page 4] our thoughts on the gratification of some present humour. The reader also may be said to partake of the invention of the author, when he finds his own acquaintance in the true representations of nature. Thus the reader who hath most truly considered and digested the sentiments which he reads, must be a man of the best taste, and must find most pleasure in the perusal of authors worth the reading. It is but to preserve candor enough to keep up an impartial attention, and instead of being actuated by a false shame of ignorance, to know when properly to confess myself a learner; and I have it in my power, as far as my capacity will reach, to command any knowledge that is extant in the whole universe.
See Fielding, Sarah and Jane Collier, The Cry: A New Dramatic Fable, 3 vols. (London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley in Pall Mall, 1754). <Link to ESTC>