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But see, Orion sheds unwholesome dews;
In reading several passages of the prophet Isaiah, which foretell the coming of Christ, and the felicities attending it, I could not but observe a remarkable parity between many of the thoughts and those in the Pollio of Virgil. This will not seem surprising, when we reflect that the eclogue was taken from a sibylline prophecy on the same subject. One may judge that Virgil did not copy it line by line, but selected such ideas as best agreed with the nature of pastoral poetry, and disposed them in that manner which served most to beautify his piece. I have endeavoured the same in this imitation of him, though without admitting any thing of my own; since it was written with this particular view, that the reader, by comparing the several thoughts, might see how far the images and descriptions of the prophet are superior to those of the poet. But as I fear I have prejudiced them by my management, I shall subjoin the passages of Isaiah, and those of Virgil, under the same disadvantage of a literal translation.
YE nymphs of Solyma! begin the song:
Rapt into future times, the bard begun:
i Virg. Ecl. iv. ver. 6.
Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna;
Pacatumque reget patriis virtutibus orbem. "Now the virgin returns, now the kingdom of Saturn returns, now a new progeny is sent down from high heaven. By means of thee, whatever relics of our crimes remain, shall be wiped away, and free the world from perpetual fears. He shall govern the earth in peace, with the virtues of his father.'
Isaiah, ch. vii. ver. 14. 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.' Chap. ix. ver. 6, 7. Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, the Prince of Peace: of the increase of his government, and of his peace, there shall be no end: upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order and to establish it, with judgment and with justice, for ever and ever.'