« السابقةمتابعة »
Messías, who was to perform this mediatorial office in so striking a manner, that it cannot be doubted but that all those characteristics meet and are fulfilled in the person of Chrift:
That his birth, doctrines, miracles, prophecies, death and passion, with other evidences, are so fatisfactory for the confirmation of our belief in his divine mission, that our faith as Christians is grounded upon irrefragable proofs :
Lastly, That the vague opinions of our own diffenting brethren, and the futile cavils of a recent publication by a distinguished writer of the Jewish nation, are such weak and impotent affaults upon our religion, as only serve to confirm us in it the more.
If I have effected this to the fatisfaction of the serious reader I shall be most happy, and as for those who seek nothing better than amusement in these volumes, I will apply myself without delay to the easier task of furnishing them with matter more suited to their taste.
Mufa dedit fidibus Divos, puerosque Deorum, Et pugilem viftorem, et equum certamine primıım, Et juvenum curas, et libera vina referre.
IN n times of very remote antiquity, when
men were not so lavish of their wit as they have since been, Poetry could not furnish employment for more than Three Muses; but as business grew upon their hands and departments multiplied, it became neceffary to enlarge the commiffion, and a board was constituted consisting of Nine in number, who had their several presidencies allotted to them, and every branch of the art poetic thenceforth had its peculiar patronefs and superintendant.
As to the specific time when thefe three fenior goddesses called in their fix new alfeffors it is matter of conje&ture only ; but if the poet Hefiod was, as we are told, the first who had the honour of announcing their names and characters to the world, we may reasonably suppose this was done
upon the inmediate opening of their new commission, as they would hardly enter upon their offices without apprising all those, whom it might concern, of their accession.
Before this period the three eldest sisters condescended to be maids of all work; and if the work became more than they could turn their hands to, they have nobody but themselves and their fellow deities to complain of; for had they been content to have let the world go on in its natural course, mere mortal poets would not probably have overburthened either it or them; but when Apollo himself (who being their president should have had more confideration for their ease) begot the poet Linus in one of his terrestrial frolics, and endowed him with hereditary genius, he took a certain method to make work for the muses: Accordingly we find the chaste Calliope herself, the eldest of the fisterhood, and who should have set a better example to the family, could not hold out against this heavenly bastard, but in an unguarded moment yielded her virgin honours to Linus, and produced the poet Orpheus : Such an instance of celestial incontinence could not fail to shake the morals of
the most demure; and even the cold god dess Luna caught the flame, and smuggled a bantling into the world, whom maliciously enough she named Musaus, with a fly design no doubt of laying her child at the door of the Parnaffian nunnery.
Three such high-blooded bard's as Linusg Orpheus and Museus, fo fathered and for mothered, were enough to people all Greece with poets and musicians; and in truth they were not idle in their generation, but like true patriarchs spread their families over all the shores of Ionia and the islands of the Archipelago : It is not therefore to be wondered at, if the three fister muses, who had enough to do to nurse their own children and descendants, were disposed to call in other helpmates to the task, and whilst Greece was in its glory, it may well be supposed that all the nine sisters were fully employed in bestowing upon every votary a portion of their attention, and answering every call made upon them for aid and inspiration : Much gratitude is due to them, from their favoured. poets, and much hath been paid, for even to the present hour they are invoked and worshipped by the sons of
verse, whilst all the other deities of Olympus have either abdicated their thrones, or been dismisfed from them with contempt ; even Milton himself in his sacred epic invokes the heavenly muse, who inspired Mofes on the top of Horeb or of Sinai; by which he ascribes great antiquity as well as dignity to the character he addresses.
The powers afcribed to Orpheus were under the veil of fable emblems of his influence over favage minds, and of his wisdom and eloquence in reclaiming them from that barbarous state: Upon, these impressions civilization and society took place: The patriarch, who founded a family or tribe, the legislator, who established a state, the priest, prophet, judge or king, are characters, which, if traced to their first sources, will be found to branch from that of poet : The first prayers, the first laws, and the earliest prophecies were metrical ; prose hath a later origin, and before the art of writing was in existence, poetry had reached a very high degree of excellence, and some of it's noblest productions were no otherwise preserved than by tradition. As to the facred quality of their first poetry the Greeks are agreed,