صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Now to thy gentle shadow all are shrunk,

Others the syren sisters warble round,
All melted down in pension, or in punk! 510 And empty heads console with empty sound.
So K*, so B**, sneak'd into the grave,

No more, alas ! the voice of fame they hear,
A monarch's half, and half a harlot's slave. The balm of Dulness trickling in their ear.
Poor W**, nipp'd in folly's broadest bloom, Great C**, H**, P**, R**, K*,
Who praises now? his chaplain on his tomb. Why all your toils ? your sons have learn'd to sing.
Then take them all, oh take them to thy breast, How quick ambition hastes to ridicule !
Thy Magus, goddess ! shall perform the rest." The sire is made a peer, the son a fool.
With that, a wizard old his cup extends ;

On some, a priest succinct in amice white
Which whoso tastes, forgets his former friends. Attends; all flesh is nothing in his sight!
Sire, ancestors, himself. One casts his eyes Beeves, at his touch, at once to jelly turn,
Up to a star, and like Endymion dies: 520 And the huge boar is shrunk into an urn:
A feather, shooting from another's head,

The board with specious miracles he loads,
Extracts his brain; and principle is fled; Turns hares to larks, and pigeons into toads
Lost is his God, his country, every thing; Another (for in all what one can shine ?)
And nothing left but homage to a king!

Explains the seve and verdeur of the vine.
The vulgar herd turn off to roll with hogs, What cannot copious sacrifice atone ?
To run with horses, or to hunt with dogs; Thy truffles, Perigord ! thy hams, Bayonne ?
But, sad example ! never to escape

With French libation, and Italian strain,
Their infamy, still keep the human shape. Wash Bladen white, and expiate Hay's stain. 560

But she, good goddess, sent to every child Knight lifts the head: for what are crowds undone,
Firm impudence, or stupefaction mild; 530 To three essential partridges in one ?
And straight succeeded, leaving shade no room, Gone every blush, and silent all reproach,
Cibberian forehead, or Cimmerian gloom. Contending princes mount them in their coach.

Kind self-conceit to some her glass applies, Next, bidding all draw near on bended knees,
Which no one looks in with another's eyes ; The queen confers her titles and degrees.
But, as the flatterer or dependant paint,

Her children first of more distinguish'd sort,
Beholds himself a patriot, chief, or saint,

Who study Shakspeare at the inns of court,
On others, interest her gay livery flings,
Interest, that waves on party-colour'd wings :
Turn'd to the sun, she casts a thousand dyes,

And, as she turns, the colours fall or rise.


Ver. 553. The board with specious miracles he loads, &c.] Scriblerus seems at a loss in this place. Speciess miracula (says he) according to Horace, were the moa

strous fables of the Cyclops, Læstrygons, Beylla, &e. What REMARKS.

relation have these to the transformation of hares into laiks. Ver. 517. With that, a wizard old, &c.] Here beginneth or of pigeons into toads? I shall tell thre. The Lastry the celebration of the greater mysteries of the goddess, which gons spitted men upon spears as we do lark, upon skewer; tee poet, in his invocation, ver. 5, promised to sing.

and the fair pigeon turned to a toad, is similar to the last Ver. 518. --forgets his former friends.] Surely there virgin Scylla ending in a filthy beast. But here is the dif little needed the force of charms or magic to set aside a use- culty, why pigeons in so shocking a shape should be brought less friendship. For of all the accommodations of fashiona- to a table. Hares, indeed, might be cut into larks, at a se ble life, as there are none more reputable, so there are none cond dressing, out of frugality: yet that seems no probable of so little charge as friendship. "It fills up the void of life motive, when we consider the extravagance be!ore mes with a name of diguity and respect: and at the same time tioned, of dissolving whole oxen and boars into a smal sal is ready to give place to every passion that offers to dispute of jelly; nay, it is expressly said, that all flesh is nothing a possession with it.


his sight. I have searched in Appicus, Pliny, and the feasi Ver. 523, 524. Lost is his God, his country--and nothing of Trimalchio, in vain; I can only resolve it into some mors left but homage to a king!) So strange as this may seem to terious superstitious rite, as it is said to be done by a pried, a mere English reader, the famous Mons. de la Bruyere de- and soon after called a sacrifice, attended (as all ancien clares it to be the character of every good subject in a mo- sacrifices were) with libation and song.

Scri! narchy: 'Where,' says he, there is no such thing as love This good scholiast, not being acquainted with modern of our country, the interest, the glory, and service of the luxury, was ignorant that these were only the miracles of prince, supply its place.' De la Republique, chap x.

French cookery, and that particularly pigeons en crazrek Of this duty another celebrated French author speaks in- were a common dish. deed a little more disrespectfully; which for that reason we

Ver. 556. Seve and rerdeur] French terms relating to shall not translate, but give in his own words : "L'amour de wines, which signify their flavour and poignancy. la patrie, le grand motif des premiers heros, n'est plus re Et je gagerois que chez le commandeur, gardé que comme une chimère; l'idée du service du roi, Villandri priseroit sa seve et sa verdeur. etendue jusqu'à l'oubli de tout autre principe, tient lieu de

ce qu'on appelloit autrefois grandeur d'ame et fidélité.' St. Evremont has a very pathetic letter to a nobleman in
Boulainvilliers Hist. des Anciens Parlements de France, &c. disgrace, advising him to seek comfort in a good table, and

Ver. 528. Still keep the human shape.) The effects of particularly to be attentive to these qualities in his chama
the Magus's cup, by which is allegorized a total corruption prigne.
of heart, are just contrary to that of Circe, which only repro Ver. 560. Bladen-Ilaye.) Names of gamesters. Blacea
sents the sudden plunging into pleasures. Hers, therefore, is a black man. Robert Knight, Cashier of the South Ses
took away the shape, and left the human mind; his takes Company, who fled from England in 1720, (afterwards par
sway the mind, and leaves the human shape.

doned in 1742) These lived with the utmost magnificence
Ver. 599. But she, good goddess, &c.] The only com- at Paris, and kept open tables frequented by persons of the
fort people can receive, must be owing in some shape or first quality in England, and even by princes of the blood of
other to Dulners; which makes some stupid, others impu-France.
dent, gives self-conceit to romo, upon the flatteries of their

Ibid. Bladen, &c.] The former note of Bladen is a black dependants, presents the false colours of interert to others, man,' is very absurd. The manuscript here is partly oblr and busits, or amuses the rest with idle pleasures or sen- terated, and doubtless could only have been, Wash black suality, till they become easy under any inkimy. Each of moors white, alluding to a known proverb. which sprcies is here shadowed under allegorical persong. Ver. 5:32. Cibberian forehead, or C'immerian gloom.ji.e.

Ver. 567. slic communicates to them of her own virtue, or of her royal

Iler children first of more distinguish'd sort, colleaves. The Cibberian forehead bring to fit them for III would that scholiast discharge his duty, who should

Who study Shakspeare at the innis of court,
wf-conceit, Belf-interest, &e. and the Cimmerion gloom, for
the pleasures of opera and the table.

Scribl. neglect to honour those whom Dulness has distinguished, e

[ocr errors]



Impale a glow-worm, or virtu profess,

The cap and switch be sacred to his grace; Shine in the dignity of F. R. S.

570 With staff and pumps the marquis leads the race; Some, deep free-masons, join the silent race From stage to stage the licensed earl may run, Worthy to fill Pythagoras's place :

Pair'd with his fellow-charioteer the sun. Some botanists, or florists at the least,

The learned baron butterflies design, Or issue members of an annual feast.

Or draw to silk Arachne's subtile line; 590 Nor passid the meanest unregarded : one

The judge to dance his brother sergeant call, Rose a Gregorian, one a Gormogon:

The senator at cricket urge the ball;
The last, not least in honour or applause, The bishop støw (pontific luxury!)
Isis and Cam made Doctors of her laws.

A hundred souls of turkeys in a pie;
Then blessing all, 'Go, children of my care, The sturdy 'squire to Gallic masters stoop,
To practice now from theory repair.

580 And drown his lands and manors in a soup.
All my commands are easy, short, and full: Others import yet nobler arts from France,
My sons ! be proud, be selfish, and be dull. Teach kings to fiddle, and make senates dance.
Guard my prerogative, assert my throne;

Perhaps more high some daring son may soar, This nod confirms each privilege your own. Proud to my list to add one monarch more. 600

And, nobly conscious, princes are but things

Born for first ministers, as slaves for kings,

Tyrant supreme! shall three estates command, suffer them to lie forgotten, when their rare modesty would And make one mighty Dunciad of the land ! have left them nameless. Let us not, therefore, overlook More she had spoke, but yawn'd-All nature nods : the services which bave been done her cause, by one Mr. What mortal can resist the yawn of gods ? kell, of Lincoln's-inn; but in reality, a gentleman only of Churches and chapels instantly it reach'd : the Danciad; or, to speak him better, in the plain language (St. James's first, for leaden G- preach'd :) the last edition: who, nobly eluding the solicitude of his/Then catch'd the schools; the Hall scarce kept careful father, very early retained himself in the cause of awake; Vulness against Shakspeare, and with the wit and learning The convocation gaped, but could not speak : of his ancestor Tom Thimble in the Rehearsal, and with the air of good nature and politeness of Caliban in the Tempret, hath now happily finished the Dunce's progress, in per

REMARKS. sonal abuse. For a libeller is nothing but a Grub-street critic ron to seed.

Ver. 585. The cap and switch, &c.] The goddess's poLamentable is the Dulness of these gentlemen of the Dun- litical balance of favour, in the distribution of her rewards, ciad. This Fungoso and his friends, who are all gentlemen, deserves our notice. It consists of joining with those

hohave exclaimed much against us for reflecting his birth, in nours claimed by birth and high place, others more adapted the words, a gentleman of the last edition,' which we he's to the genius and talents of the candidates. And thus her by declare concern not his birth, but his adoption only; and great forerunner, John of Leyden, king of Munster, entered mean do more than

that he is become a gentleman of the on his government by making his ancient friend and comlust edition of the Danciad. Since gentlemen, then, are so panion, Knipperdolling, general of his borse, and hangman. expous, we think it proper to declare, that Mr. Thomas And had but fortune seconded his great schemes of reforTrimble, who is here said to be Mr. Thomas Edward's an- mation, it is said he would have established his whole cestor, is only related to him by the Muse's side. Scridl. household on the same reasonable footing. Scribl.

'This tribe of men, which Scriblerus has here so well ex Ver. 590. Arachne's subtile line;] This is one of the For lified, our poet hath elsewhere admirably characterized most ingenious employments assigned, and therefore recomin that happy line,

mended only to peers of learning of weaving stockings of A brain of feathers, and a heart of lead,

the webs of spiders, see the Phil. Trans.

Ver. 591. The judge to dance his brother serjeant call;] For the satise extends much farther than to the person who Alluding perhaps to that ancient and solemn dance, entitled, corsioned it, and takes in the whole species of those on A call of sergeants. when a good education (to fit them for some useful and Ver. 593. Teach kings to fiddle.) An ancient amuselearned profession) has been bestowed in vain. That worth- ment of sovereign princes (viz.) Achilles, Alexander, Nero; leza tand

though despised by Themistocles, who was a republicar.--of ever-listless loiterers, that attend

Make senates dance, either after their prince, or to PoinNo canae, no trust, no daty, and no friend;

toise, or Siberia.

Ver. 606. What mortal can resist the yawn of gods ?] eho, with an understanding too dissipated and futile for the This verse is truly Homerical; as is the conclusion of the fles of civil life; and a heart too lumpish, narrow, and action, where the great mother composes all, in the same cvetrarted for those of social, bucome fit for nothing; and manner as Minerva at the period of the Odyssey. It may, so turn wils and critics, where sense and civility are neither indeed, seem a very singular epitasis of a poem, to end as reauired nor expected.

this does, with a great yawn; but we must consider it as the Ver. 571. Some, deep free-masons, join the silent race.) yawn of a god, and of powerful effects. It is not out of naThe poet all along expresses a very particular concern for ture; most long and grave councils concluding in this very this silent race. Ile has here provided, that in case they manner: nor without authority, the incomparable Spenser till oot waken or open (as was before proposed) to a hum-having ended one of the most considerable of his works mmg-bird or a cockle, yet at worst they may be made free with a roar; but then it is the roar of a lion; the effects minsans; where taciturnity is the only essential qualifica- thereof are described as the catastrophe of the poem. tion, as it was the chief of the disciples of Pythagoras Ver 607. Churches and chapels, &c.] The progress of

Ver. 576. A Gregorian, one a Gormogon:] A sort of lay- the yawn is judicious, natural, and worthy to be noted. brothers, slips from the roots of the free-masons.

First it seizeth the churches and chapels, then catcheth the Ver. 51. Each privilege your own, &c.] This speech schools, where, though the boys be unwilling to sleep, the c Dainese to her sons at parting, may possibly fall short marters are not. Next Westminster-hall, much more hard, of the reader's expectation; who may imagine the goddess indeed, to subdue, and not totally put to silence even by the might give them a charge of more consequence, and, from goddess. Then the convocation, which though extremely soeb a theory as is before delivered, incite them to the prac-desirous to speak, yet cannot. Even the house of comtise of something more extraordinary, than to personate mons, justly called the sense of the nation, is lost (that is to renning footmen, jorkeys, stage-coachmen, &c.

say suspended) during the yawn; (far be it from our author But if it be well considered, that whatever inclination to suggest it could be lost any longer!) but it spreadeth at they might have to do mischief, her sons are generally ren- large over all the rest of the kingdom to such a degree, that dered harmless by their inability; and that it is the common Palinurus himself (though as incapable of sleeping as Jupieffect of Dulness (even in her greatest efforts) to defeat herter) yet noddeth for a moment; the effect of which, though own desigo; the poet, I am persuaded, will be justified, and ever so momentary, could not but cause some relaxation, it will be allowed that these worthy persons, in their several for the time, in all public affairs.

Scribl. Tanks, do as much as can be expected from them. Ver. 610.' The convocation gaped, but could not speak;1


Lost was the nation's sense, nor could be found, Before her, fancy's gilded clouds decay,
While the long solemn unison went round: And all its varying rainbows die away.
Wide, and more wide, it spread o'er all the realm, Wit shoots in vain his momentary fires,
E'en Palinurus nodded at the helm;

The meteor drops, and in a flash expires.
The rapour mild o'er each committee crept ; As one by one, at dread Medea's strain,
Unfinish'd treaties in each office slept ;

The sickening stars fade off the ethereal plain; And chiefless armies dozed out the campaign! As Argus' eyes, by Hermes' wand oppress'd, And navies yawn'd for orders on the main. Closed one by one to everlasting rest ;

O muse! relate (for you can tell alone, Thus at her felt approach, and secret might, Wits have short memories, and dunces none) 620 Art after art goes out, and all is night: 610 Relate who first, who last resign'd to rest ; See skulking truth to her old cavern fled, Whose heads she partly, whose completely bless'd: Mountains of casuistry heap'd o'er her head ! What charms could faction, what ambition lull, Philosophy, that lean'd on Heaven before, The venal quiet, and entrance the dull;

Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more. Till drown'd was sense, and shame, and right, and Physic of metaphysic begs defence, wrong

And metaphysic calls for aid on sense! O sing, and hush the nations with thy song! See mystery to mathematics fly!

In vain! they gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die. In vain, in vain, the all-composing hour

Religion, blushing, veils her sacred fires, Resistless falls! the muse obeys the power. And unawares morality expires.

650 She comes ! she comes ! the sable throne behold Nor public flame, nor private dares to shine; Of night primeval, and of Chaos old!

630 Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine !

Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos! is restored ;

Light dies before thy uncreating word: Implying a great desire so to do, as the learned scholiast on

Thy hand, great Anarch ! lets the curtain fall the place rightly observes. Therefore, beware, reader, lest And universal darkness buries all. thou take this gape for a yawn, which is attended with no desire but to go to rest, by no means the disposition of the convocation; whose melancholy case in short is this: she was, as is reported, infocted with the general influence of the

REMARKS. goddess: and while she was yawning carelessly at her ease, soareth again to the skies. As prophecy hath ever been ono a wanton courtier took her at advantage, and in the very of the chief provinces of poesy, our poet here foretels from nick clapped a gag into her chops. Well, therefore, may we what we feel, what we are to fear; and, in the style of other know her meaning by her gaping; and this distressful pos: prophets, hath used the future

tense for the preterit ; since sad example of the effects of Dulness and Malice, uncheck of some even of our most adored authors, in divinity, phi ed and despised.

Ver. 615, 618. These verses were written many years losophy, physics, metaphysics, &c. who are too good, is: ago, and may be found in the state poems of that time. So deed, to be named in such company. that Scriblerus is mistaken, or whoever else have imagined Night and Chaos, here represented as advancing to extite

Ibid. The sable throne behold] The sable thrones of this poem of a fresher date.

Ver. 620. Wits have short memories,)] This seems to guish the light of the sciences, in the first place blot ont the be the reason why the poets, when they give us a catalogue, colours of fancy, and damp the fire of wit, before they proconstantly call

for help on the muses, who, as the daughters ceed to their work. of memory, are obliged not to forget any thing. So Homer, the saying of Democritus, that. Truth lay at the bottom of a

Ver. 641. Truth to her old cavern fled,]. Aluding to Iliad B. II.

deep well, from whence he had drawn her;' though Butler Πληθυν δ' ουκ αν εγω μυθησομαι ουδ' ονομησα,

saya, 'He first put her in, before he drew her out." Ει μη 'Ολυμπιαδες Μουσαι, Διος αιγιομοιο Ver. 649. Religion, 'blushing, veils her sacred fires, Ougat:pos, pavaru+*6'

Plushing as well at the memory of the past overflow of Dul And Virgil, Æn. VII.

ness, when the barbarous learning of so many age ** Et meministis enim, divæ, et memorare potestis:

wholly employed in corrupting the simplicity, and defilisg Ad nos vix tenuis fama perlabitur aura.

the purity of religion, as at the viow of these ber false supa

ports in the present; of which it would be endless to recotst But our poet had yet another reason for putting this task the particulars. However, amidst the extinction of all other upon the muse, that, all besides being asleep, she only could lights, she is said only to withdraw hers! as hers alone in relate what passed.

Scribl. its own nature is unextinguishable and eternal. Ver. 644. The venal quiet, and, &c.) It were a problem Ver. 650. And unawares morality expires.] It appears worthy the solution of Mr. Ralph and his patron, who had from hence that our poet was of very different sentiments lights that we know nothing of, which required the greatest from the author of the Characteristics, who has written & effort of our goddess's power--to entrance the

dull, or to formal treatise on virtue, to prove it not only real, but doraquiet the venal. For though the venal may be more unruly ble without the support of religon. The word Unawares than the dall, yet, on the other hand, it demands a much alludes to the confidence of those men, who suppose that greater expense of her virtue to entrance than barely to morality would flourish best without it, and consequently to quiet.

Scribi. the surprise such would be in (if any such there are) wbo, Ver. 629. She comes! she comes! &c.] Here the muse, indeed, love virtue, and yet do all they can to rool out the ike Jove's eagle, after a sudden stoop at ignoble game, religion of their country.




PREFACE. Homer is universally allowed to have had the are not coldly informed of what was said or done as greatest invention of any writer whatever. The from a third person ; the reader is hurried out of praise of judgment Virgil has justly contested with himself by the force of the poet's imagination, and him, and others may have their pretensions as to par- turns in one place to a hearer, in another to a specticular excellences; but his invention remains yet tator. The course of his verses resembles that of the unrivalled. Nor is it a wonder if he has ever been army he describes, acknowledged the greatest of poets, who most excelled in that which is the very foundation of poetry.

Οι δ' αρ' ισαν, ωσιι τι πυρι χθων πασα σεμοιτο. It is the invention that in different degrees distin- "They pour along like a fire that sweeps the whole guishes all great geniuses: the utmost stretch of earth before it.' It is, however, remarkable that his human study, learning, and industry, which masters fancy which is every where vigorous, is not discoevery thing besides, can never attain to this. It fur-vered immediately at the beginning of his poem in its nishes Art with all her materials, and without it Judg- fullest splendour: it grows in the progress both upon ment itself can at best but steal wisely: for Art is himself and others, and becomes on fire, like a chaonly like a prudent steward, that lives on managing riot-wheel, by its own rapidity. Exact disposition, the riches of Nature. Whatever praises may be just thought, correct elocution, polished nambers, given to works of judgment, there is not even a single may have been found in a thousand; but this poetic beauty in them to which the invention must not con- fire, this 'vivida vis animi,' in a very few. Even in tribute: as in the most regular gardens, Art can only works where all those are imperfect or neglected, reduce the beauties of Nature to more regularity, and this can overpower criticism, and make us admire such a figure, which the common eye may bet- even while we disapprove. Nay, where this appears, ter take in, and is therefore more entertained with. though attended with absurdities, it brightens all the And perhaps the reason why common critics are in- rubbish about it, till we see nothing but its own splenclined to prefer a judicious and methodical genius to dour. This fire is discerned in Virgil

, but discerned a great and fruitful one, is, because they find it easier as through a glass, reflected from Homer, more shifor themselves to pursue their observations through ning than fierce, but every where equal and constant : an uniform and bounded walk of Art, than to com- in Lucian and Statius it bursts out in sudden, short, prehend the vast and various extent of Nature. and interrupted flashes : in Milton it glows like a

Our author's work is a wild Paradise, where, if we furnace kept up to an uncommon ardour by the force cannot see all the beauties so distinctly as in an or- of art: in Shakspeare, it strikes before we are aware, dered garden, it is only because the number of them like an accidental fire from heaven; but in Homer, is infinitely greater. It is like a copious nursery, and in him only, it burns every where clearly, and which contains the seeds and first productions of every where irresistibly. every kind, out of which those who followed him I shall here endeavour to show how this vast inhave but selected some particular plants, each accor- vention exerts itself in a manner superior to that of cording to his fancy, to cultivate and beautify. If any poet, through all the main constituent parts of some things are too luxuriant, it is owing to the rich his work, as it is the great and peculiar characteristic ness of the soil; and if others are not arrived to per- which distinguishes him from all other authors. section or maturity, it is only because they are over- This strong and ruling faculty was like a powerful run and oppressed by those of a stronger nature. star, which, in the violence of its course, drew all

It is to the strength of this amazing invention we things within its vortex. It seemed not enough to are to attribute that unequalled fire and rapture which have taken in the whole circle of arts, and the whole is so forcible in Homer, that no man of a true poetical compass of nature, to supply his maxims and reflecspirit is master of himself while he reads him. What tions: all the inward passions and affections of manhe writes, is of the most animated nature imaginable ; kind, to furnish his characters; and all the outward every thing moves, every thing lives, and is put in forms and images of things for his descriptions; but action. If a council be called, or a battle fought, you wanting yet an ampler sphere to expatiate in, he 2 D


opened a new and boundless walk for his imagination, the things they shadowed! This is a field in which and created a world for himself in the invention of no succeeding poets could dispute with Homer; and fable. That which Aristotle calls the soul of poetry," whatever commendations have been allowed them on was first breathed into it by Homer. I shall begin with this head, are by no means for their invention in har. considering him in this part, as it is naturally the first; ing enlarged his circle, but for their judgment in and I speak of it both as it means the design of a having contracted it. For when the mode of learning poem, as it is taken for fiction.

changed in following ages, and science was delivered Fable may be divided into the Probable, the Allegori- in a plainer manner, it then became as reasonable in cal, and the Marvellous. The Probable Fable is the the more modern poets to lay it aside, as it was in recital of such actions as, though they did not happen, Homer to make use of it. And perhaps it was no yet might in the common course of nature ; or of unhappy circumstance for Virgil, that there was not such as though they did, become fables by the addi- in his time that demand upon him of so great an incional episodes and manner of telling them. Of this vention, as might be capable of furnishing all those sort is the main story of an Epic poem, the return of allegorical parts of a poem.

Ulysses, the settlement of the Trojans in Italy, or the The Marvellous Fable includes whatever is super · like. That of the Iliad is the anger of Achilles, the natural, and especially the machines of the gods. He most short and single subject that ever was chosen seems the first who brought them into a system of by any poet. Yet this he has supplied with a vaster machinery for poetry, and such a one as makes its variety of incidents and events, and crowded with a greatest importance and dignity. For we find those greater number of councils, speeches, battles, and authors who have been offended at the literal notion episodes of all kinds, than are to be found even in of the gods, constantly laying their accusation against those poems whose schemes are of the utmost lati- Homer as the chief support of it. But whatever tude and irregularity. The action is hurried on with cause there might be to blame his machines in a phithe most vehement spirit, and its whole duration em- losophical or religious view, they are so perfect in ploys not so much as fifty days. Virgil, for want the poetic, that mankind have been ever since con of so warm a genius, aided himself by taking in a more tented to follow them; none have been able to enextensive subject, as well as a greater length of time, large the sphere of poetry beyond the limits he has and contracting the design of both Homer's poems set : every attempt of this nature has proved unsucinto one, which is yet but a fourth part as large as his. cessful: and after all the various changes of times The other Epic poets have used the same practice, and religions, his gods continue to this day the gods but generally carried it so far as to superinduce a mul- of poetry. tiplicity of fables, destroy the unity of action, and lose We come now to the characters of his persons; their readers in an unreasonable length of time. Nor and here we shall find no author has ever drawn so is it only in the main design that they have been un- many, with so visible and surprising a variety, or able to add to his invention, but they have followed given us such lively and affecting impressions of them. him in every episode and part of the story. If he Everyone has something so singularly his own, that no has given a regular catalogue of an army, they all painter could have distinguished them more by their draw up their forces in the same order. If he has features than the poet has by their manners. Nothing funeral games for Patroclus, Virgil has the same for can be more exact than the distinctions he has obserAnchisis ; and Statius (rather than omit them) de- ved in the different degrees of virtues and vices. The stroys the unity of his action for those of Archemorus. single quality of courage is wonderfully diversified If Ulysses visit the shades, the Æneas of Virgil, and in the several characters of the Iliad. That of AchilScipio of Sillus, are sent after him. If he be detained les is furious and untractable ; that of Diomede forfrom his return by the allurements of Calypso, so is ward, yet listening to advice and subject to command; Æneas by Dido, and Rinaldo by Armida. If Achil that of Ajax is heavy, and self-confiding; of Hector, les be absent from the army on the score of a quar- active and vigilant : the courage of Agamemnon 9 rel through half the poem, Rinaldo must absent him-inspirited by love of empire and ambition ; that of self just as long on the like account. If he gives his Menelaus mixed with softness and tenderness for hero a suit of celestial armour, Virgil and Tasso his people: we find in Idomenus a plain direct sol make the same present to theirs. Virgil has not only dier; in Sarpedon a gallant and generous one. Not observed this close imitation of Homer, but, where he is this judicious and astonishing diversity to be found had not led the way, supplied the want from other only in the principal quality which constitutes the Greek authors. Thus the story of Simon and the main of each character, but even in the under part of taking of Troy was copied (says Macrobius) almost it, to which he takes care to give a tincture of that word for word from Pisander, as the loves of Dido principal one. For example, the main characters of and Æneas are taken from those of Medea and Ja- Ulysses and Nestor consist in wisdom; and they are son in Apollonius, and several others in the same distinct in this, that the wisdom of one is artificial and manner.

various; of the other, natural, open, and regular. But To proceed to the Allegorical Fable: if we reflect they have, besides, characters of courage, and this upon those innumerable knowledges, those secrets of quality also takes a different turn in each from the difnature and physical philosophy, which Homer is gen- ference of his prudence: for one in the war depends erally supposed to have wrapped up in his allegories, still upon caution, the other upon experience. It what a new and ample scene of wonder may this would be endless to produce instances of these kinds consideration afford us! how fertile will that imagi- The characters of Virgil are far from striking us ia nation appear, which was able to clothe all the pro- this open manner; they lie in a great degree hidden perties of elements, the qualifications of the mind, the and undistinguished, and where they are marked most virtues and vices, in forms and persons; and to in- evidently, affect us not in proportion to those of Hotroduce them into actions agreeable to the nature of mer. His characters of valour are much alike: even

« السابقةمتابعة »