"Fancy precedes [Judgment], and conquers all the mind"

— Smart, Christopher (1722-1771)

1763, 1791
"Fancy precedes [Judgment], and conquers all the mind"
Metaphor in Context
The Prologue is here subjoined.
In ancient days, as jovial Horace sings,
When laurell'd Bards were law givers, and kings,
Bold was the Comic Muse, without restraint
To name the vicious, and the vice to paint;
Th'enliven'd picture from the canvas flew,
And the strong likeness crouded on the view.
Our Author practices more general rules,
He is no niggard of his knaves and fools;
Both small and great, both pert and dull his Muse
Displays, that every one may pick and chuse:
The rules dramatic though he scarcely knows
Of time and place, and all the piteous prose
That pedant Frenchmen snuffle through the nose.
Fools; who prescribe what Homer shou'd have done,
Like tattling watches, they correct the sun.
Critics, like posts, undoubtedly may show,
The way to Pindus, but they cannot go.
Whene'er immortal Shakespeare's works are read,
He wins the heart before he strikes the head;
Swift to the soul the piercing image flies
Swifter than Harriot's wit, or Harriot's eyes;
Swifter than some romantic trav'llers thought,
Swifter than British fire when William fought.
Fancy precedes, and conquers all the mind,
Deliberating Judgment slowly comes behind;
Comes to the field with blunderbuss and gun,
Like heavy
Falstaff, when the work is done;
Fights when the battle's o'er, with wond'rous pain,
By Shrewsbury's clock, and nobly slays the slain.

The Critic's censures are beneath our care,
We strive to please the generous and the fair;
To their decision we submit our claim,
We write not, speak not, breathe not, but for them.
Searching "conque" and "mind" in HDIS (Poetry)
3 entries in ECCO and ESTC (1763, 1791).

Text from The Poems of the Late Christopher Smart ... Consisting of His Prize Poems, Odes, Sonnets, and Fables, Latin and English Translations: Together With Many Original Compositions, Not Included in the Quarto Edition. To Which Is Prefixed, an Account of His Life and Writings, Never Before Published. 2 vols. (London: Printed and Sold by Smart and Cowslade; and sold by F. Power and Co., 1791).

Published as "Prologue to the Grateful Fair" in The Poetical Calendar. Containing a Collection of Scarce and Valuable Pieces of Poetry: With Variety of Originals and Translations, by the Most Eminent Hands. Intended As a Supplement to Mr. Dodsley's Collection. Written and Selected by Francis Fawkes, M. A. and William Woty. 12 vols. 2nd ed. (London: Printed by Dryden Leach; for J. Coote, 1763). See vol. IV, pp. 121-2.

Reading in Katrina Williamson and Marcus Walsh, eds., Christopher Smart: Selected Poems (New York: Penguin Books, 1990).
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.