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Homer is universally allowed to have had the tor. The course of his verses resembles that of the greatest invention of any writer whatever. The army he describes, praise of judgment Virgil has justly contested with him, and others may have their pretensions oid a tour, word to rugi in tara si as to particular excellencies; but his invention re

porto, mains yet unrivalled Nor is it a wonder if he has ever been acknowledged the greatest of poets, “ They pour along like a fire that sweeps the who moft excelled in that which is the very foun- « whole earth before it.” It is however remarkdation of poetry. It is the invention that in dif- able that his fancy, which is every where vigor. ferent degrees distinguishes all great geniuses: the ous, is not discovered immediately at the begin, utmost stretch of human study, learning, and indus- ning of his poem in its fullest splendour : it grows try, which masters every thing besides, can never in the progress both upon himself and others, and attain to this. It furnishes art with all her mate becomes on fire, like a chariot-wheel, by its own rials, and without it, judgment itself can at best but rapidity. Exa& disposition, just thought, correct steal wifely ; for art is only like a prudent steward elocution, polished numbers, may have been found that lives on managing the riches of nature. in a thousand; but this poetical fire, this “ vivi-, Whatever praises may be given to works of judg- da vis animi," in a very few. Even in works ment, there is not even a single beauty in them where all those are imperfect or neglected, this to which the invention must not contribute: as can overpower criticism, and make us admire in the most regular gardens, art can only reduce even while we disapprove. Nay, where this apthe beauties of nature to more regularity, and pears, though attended with absurdities, it bright. such a figure, which the common eye may better ens all the rubbish about it, till we see nothing take in, and is therefore more entertained with. but its own splendour. This fire is discerned in And perhaps the reason why common critics are Virgil, but difcerned as through a glass, reflected inclined to prefer a judicious and methodical ge- from Homer, more shining than fierce, but every nius to a great and fruitful one, is, because they where equal and constant; in Lucan and Statius, find it easier for themselves to pursue their obfer- it bursts out in sudden, short, and interrupted vations through an uniform and bounded walk of flashes: in Milton it glows like a furnace kept art, than to comprehend the vast and various ex- up to an uncommon ardour by the force of art:

in Shakspeare it strikes before we are aware, like Our author's work is a wild paradise, where, if an accidental fire from heaven; but in Homer, we cannot see all the beauties so distinctly as in and in him only, it burns every where clearly, and an ordered garden, it is only because the number every where irresistibly. of them is infinitely greater. It is like a copious I Íhall here endeavour to show, how this vast nursery, which contains the seeds and first pro- 'invention exerts itself in a manner superior to that ductions of every kind, out of which those who of any

poct, through all the main constituent followed him have but selected some particular parts of his work, as it is the great and peculiar plants, each according to his fancy, to cultivate characteristic which distinguishes him from all and beautify. If some things are too luxuriant, other authors. it is owing to the richness of the soil; and if o- This strong and ruling faculty was likewise a thers are not arrived to perfe&ion or maturity, it powerful far, which, in the violence of its course, is only because they are over-run and oppreit by drew all things within its vortex. those of a stronger nature.

enough to have taken in the whole circle of arts, It is to the lirength of this amazing invention and the whole compass of nature, to supply his we are to attribute that unequalled tire and rap- maxims and reflections; all the inward pallions ture, which is fo forcible in Homer, that no man and affections of mankind, to furnish his characof a true poetical spirit is master of himself when ters; and all the outward forms and images of he reads him. What he writes is of the most ani- things, for his descriptions; but, wanting yet an mating nature imaginable; every thing moves, ampler sphere to expatiate in, he opened a new every thing lives, and is put in action. if a coun- and boundless walk for his imagination, and crecil bé called, or a battle fought, you are not coldly ated a world for himself in the invention of fable. inforned of what was said or done as from a That which Aristotle calls the “ Soul of Poetry," third person; the reader is hurried out of himself was first breathed into it by Homer. I shall be. by the force of the poet's imagination, and turns gin with confidering him in this part, as it is nain one place to a hearer, in another to a specta- I turally the fir tt; and I speak of it both as it meand

tent of nature.

It seemed not

the design of a pocna, and as it is taken for fic- shadowed! This is a field in which no fucceeding tion.

pocts could dispute with Homer; and whatever Fable may be divided into the probable, the commendations have been allowed them on this allegorical, and the marvellous. The probable head, are by no means for their invention in have fable is the recital of such actions as though they ing enlarged his circle, but for their judgment in did not happen, yet might, in the common course having contracted it. For when the mode of of nature: or of such as, though they did, be learning changed in following ages, and science come fabies by the additional episodes and man- was delivered in a plainer manner; it then be. ner of telling them. Of this fort is the main sto- came as reasonable in the more modern poets to sy of an epic poem, the return of Ulysses, the lay it aside, as it was in Homer to make use of it. Settlement of the Trojans in Italy, or the like. And perhaps it was no unhappy circumftance for That of the Iliad is the anger of Achilles, the Virgil, that there was not in his time that demand most short and single subject that ever was chosen upon him of so great an invention, as might be by any poet. Yet this he has supplied with a capable of furnishing all those allegorical parts of vafter variety of incidents and events, and crowd

a poem. ed with a greater number of councils, speeches, The marvellous fable includes whatever is fubattles, and episodes of all kinds, than are to be pernatural, and especially the machines of the found even in those poems whose schemes are of gods. He seems the first who brought them into the utmost latitude and

regularity. The action a system of machinery for poetry, and such a one is hurried on with the most vehement fpirit, and as makes its greatest importance and dignity. For its whole duration employs not so much as fifty we find those authors who have been offended at days. Virgil, for want of so warm a genius, aid- the literal notion of the gods, constantly laying ed himself by taking in a more extensive subject, their accusation against Homer as the chief supas well as a greater length of time, and contract. port of it. But whatever cause there might be to ing the design of both Homer's poems into one, blame his machines in a philosophical or religious which is yet but a fourth part as large as his. view, they are so perfect in the poetic, that man. The other epic poets have used the same practice, kind have been ever fince contented to follow · but generally carried it so far as to superinduce a them : none have been able to enlarge the sphere multiplicity of fables, destroy the unity of action, of poetry beyond the limits he has set : every at. and lose their readers in an unreasonable length tempt of this nature has proved ansuccessful; and of time. Nor is it only in the main design that after all the various changes of times and religionis, they have been unable to add to his invention, his gods continue to this day the gods of poetry. but they have followed him in every episode and We come now to the characters of his persons; part of story. If he has given a regular catalogue and here we thall find no author has ever drawn of an army, they all draw up their forces in ihe so many, with so visible and surprising a variety, same order; if he has funeral games for Patro- or given us such lively and affecting impressions clus, Virgil has the same for Anchises, and Sta- of them. Every one has something so fingularly tius (rather than omit them) destroys the unity his own, that no painter could have distinguished of his action for those of Archemoras. Jf Ulyffes them more by their features, than the poct has visits the shades, the Æneas of Virgil, and Scipio by their manners. Nothing can be more exact of Silius, are sent after him. If he be detained than the distinctions he has observed in the diffefrom his return by the allurements of Calipso, so rent degrees of virtucs and vices. The single quais Æneas by Dido, and Rinaldo by Armida. Iflity of courage is wonderfully divers:Sed in the Achilles be absent from the army on the score of several characters of the Iliad. That of Achilles a quarrel through half the poem, Rinaldo must is furious and untractable ; that of Diomede forabsent himself just as long on the like account. ward, yet listening to advice, and subject to comIf he gives his hero a suit of celestial armour, mand; that of Ajax is heavy, and felf-confiding: Virgil and Talso make the same present to theirs. of Hector, active and vigilant; the courage of Virgil has not only observed this close imitation Agamemnon is inspirited by love of empire and of Homer, but, where he had not led the way, ambition; that of Menclaus mixed with softness supplied the want from other Greek author's. and tenderness for his people : we find in IdomeThus the story of Simon, and the taking of Troy neus a plain direct soldier, in Sarpedon a gallant was copied (says Macrobius) almoft word for and generous one. Nor is this judicious and afto. word from Pilander, as the loves of Dido and nilbing diversity to be found only in the principal Æneas are taken from those of Medea and Jason quality which constitutes the main of each characin Apollonius, and several others in the same inan- ter, but even in the under parts of it to which

he takes care to give a tincture of that principal To proceed to the allegorical fable: if we re- For example, the main characters of Ulyfles fied upon those innumerable knowledges, those and Nestor conlist in wisdom; and they are diSecrets of nature and physical philosophy, which stinct in this, that the wisdom of one is artificial Homer is generally supposed to have wrapped up and various, of the other natural, open and regu. in his allegories, what a new and ample scene of lar. But they have, besides, characters of couwonder may this consideration afford us! how fer. rage; and this quality also takes a different turn tile will that imagination appear, which was able in each from the difference of his prudence; for to clothe all the properties of elements, the qua. one in the war depends ftill upon caution, the lifications of the mind, the virtues and vices, in other upon experience. It would be endless to forms and persons; and to introduce them into produce instances of these kinds. The characters actions agreeable to the nature of the things they of Virgil are far from friking us in this open man Ber; they lie in a great degree hidden and undi- / Nothing is so surprising as the descriptions of his tinguished, and where they are marked most evi- battles, which take up no less than half the Iliad, dently, affe&t us not in proportion to those of Ho- and are supplied with so vast a variety of incidents, mer. His characters of valour are much alike; that no one bears a likeness to another; such difeven that of Turnus seems no way peculiar but as



ferent kinds of deaths, that no two heroes are it is in a superior degree; and we see nothing that wounded in the same manner; and such a profudifferences the courage of Mnestheus from that of fion of noble ideas, that every battle rises above Sergefthus, Cloanthus, or the rest. In like man. the last in greatness, horror, and confusion. It is ner, it may be remarked of Statius's heroes, that certain there is not near that number of images an air of impetuofity runs through them all; the and descriptions in any epic poet; though every fame horrid and savage courage appears in his one has aflilted himself with a great quantity out Capaneus, Tydeus, Hippomedon, &c. They have of him: and it is evident of Virgil especially, that a parity of character, which makes them seem he has scarce any comparisons which are not drawn brothers of one family. I believe when the reader from his master. is led into this track of reflection, if he will pursue If we descend from hence to the expression, w it through the epic and tragic writers, he will be see the bright imagination of Homer shining out convinced how infinitely superior in this point the in the most enlivened forms of it. We acknow. invention of Homer was to that of all others. ledge him the father of poetical diAion, the first

The speech are to be considered as they flow who taught that language of the gods to men. from the characters, being perfect or defective as His expreslion is like the colouring of some great they agree or disagree with the manners of those masters, which discovers itself to be laid on who utter them. As there is more variety of boldly, and cxecuted with rapidity. It is indeed charaders in the Iliad, so there is of speeches the strongest and most glowing imaginable, and than in any other poem. Every thing in it has touched with the greatest spirit. Aristotle had manners (as Aristotle expresses it) that is, every reason to say, He was the only poet who had thing is aded or spoken. It is hardly credible found out living words; there are in him more in a work of such length, how small a number of daring figures and metaphors than in any good lines are employed in narration. In Virgil ehe author whatever. An arrow is impatient to be dramatic part is left in proportion to the narra- on the wing, and a weapon thirsts to drink the tive; and the speeches often consist of general re- blood of an enemy, and the like; yet his expreffications or thoughts, which might be equally just fion is never too big for the sense, but justly great in any person's mouth upon the same occasion. in proportion to it. It is the sentiment that swells As many of his persons have no apparent charac. and fills out the diction, which rises from it, and ters, so many of his speeches escape being applied forms itself about it: for in the fame degree that and judged by the rule of propriety. We oftener a thought is warmer, an expresion will be think of the author himself when we read Virgil, brighter; as that is more strong, this will become than when we are engaged in Homer : all which more perspicuous : like glass in the furnace, which are the effects of a colder invention, that interefts grows to a greater magnitude, and refines to a us less in the action described : Homer makes us greater clearness, only as the breath within is bearers, and Virgil leaves us readers.

more powerful, and the heat more intense. If, in the next place, we take a view of the senti- To throw his language more out of prose, Homents, the same presiding faculty is eminent in mer seems to have affecłed the compound epithets. the sublimity and spirit of his thoughts. Longi- This was a sort of composition peculiarly proper nus has given his opinion, that it was in this part to poetry, not only as it heightened the diaion, Homer principally excelled. What were alone but as it afliled and filled the numbers with

greatfufficient to prove the grandeur and excellence of er sound and pomp, and likewise conduced in his sentiments in general, is, that they have so re- some measure to thicken the images. On this markable a parity with those of the scripture; last consideration, I cannot but attribute these also Duport, in his Gnomologia Homerica, has col- to the fruitfulness of his invention, fince (as he leđed innumerable instances of this fort. And it has managed them) they are a sort of supernume. is with justice an excellent modern writer allows, rary pictures of the perfons or things to which that if Virgil has not so many thoughts that are they are joined. We see the motions of Hector's low and vulgar, he has not so many that are fu- pluines in the epithet xapulaionos, the landscape of blime and noble; and chat the Roman author sel- Mount Neritus in that of sivoriquador, and so of dom rises into very aftonishing sentiments, where others; which particular images could not have he is not fired by the Iliad.

been infifted upon so long as to express them in a If we observe his descriptions, images, and description (though but of a single line) without fimiles, we shall find the invention still predomi- diverting the reader too much from the principal Dant. To what clse can we ascribe that vait com- action or figure. As a metephor is a short fimile, prehension of images of every fort, where we fee one of these epithets is a short description. each circumstance of art, and individual of nature Lastly, if we consider his versification, we shall summoned together by the extent and fecundity of be sensible what a fare of praise is due to his inhis imagination; to which all things in their va- vention in that. He was not satisfied with his rious views presented themselves in an instant, and language as he found it settled in any one part of had their impressions taken off to perfection at a Greece, but searched through its differing dialects heat! Nay, he not only gives us the full prospects with this particular view, to beautify and perfect of things, but several unexpe&ed peculiarities and his numbers: he considered these as they had a Ide-views, upobserved by any painter buc Homer. great mixture of vowels and consonants, and ac

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cordingly employed them as the verse required the common methhd of comparing eminent writers either a greater smoothness or strength. What he by an opposition of particular passages in them, nost affected was the lonic, which has a peculiar and forming a judgment from thence of their sweetness from its never using contractions, and merit upon the whole. We ought to have a cer. from iis custom of resolving the diphthongs into tain knowledge of the principal character and two syllables, so as to make the words open them- distinguished excellence of each: it is in that we selves with a more spreading and sonorous flu- are to consider him, and in proportion to his deency. With this he mingled the Attic contrac- gree in that we are to admire him. No author or tions, the broader Doric, and the feeble Eolic, man ever excelled all the world in more than one which often rejects its aspirate, or takes off its faculty; and as Homer has done this in invention, accent; and completed this variety by altering Virgil has in judgment. Not that we are to think some letters with the licence of poetry. Thus his Homer wanted judgment, because Virgil had it in measure, instead of being fetters to his sense, were a more eminent degree; or that Virgii wanted always in readiness to run along with the warnith invention, because Homer possessed a larger share of his rapture, and even to give a farther repre- of it: cach of these great authors had more of sentation of his notions, in the correspondence of both than perhaps any man besides, and are only their sounds to what they signified. Out of all said to have less in comparison with one another. these he has derived that harunony, which makes | Homer was the greater genius, Virgil the better us confess he had not only the riched head, but artist. In one we most admire the man, in the the finest ear in the world. This is so great a other the work: Homer hurries and transports truth, that whoever will but consult the tune of us with a cominanding impetuosity, Virgil leads his verses, even without understanding them (with us with an attractive majesty: Homer scatters the same fort of diligence as we daily

see practised with a generous profusion, Virgil bestows with a in the case of Italian operas), will find more sweet- careful magnificence: Homer, like the Nile, pours ness, variety, and majesty of sound, than in any out his riches with a boundless overflow: Virgil, other language of poetry. The beauty of his num- like a river in its banks, with a gentle and conbers is allowed by the critics to be copied but ftest stream. When we behold their battles, mefaintly by Virgil himself, though they are so just thinks the two poets resemble the heroes they to ascribe it to the nature of the Latin tongue: celebrate : Homer, boundless and irrefittible as indeed, the Greek has some advantages both from Achilles, beats all before him, and shines more the natural sound of its words, and the turn and and more as the tumult increases; Virgil, calmly cadence of its verse, which agree with the genius daring like Æneas, appears undifturhed in the of no other language: Virgil was very sensible of midst of the action; disposes all about him, and this, and used the utmost diligence in working up conquers with tranquillity. And when we look a more untractable language to whatsoever graces upon their machines, Homer seems like his own it was capable of; and in particular never failed Jupiter in his terrors, shaking Olympus, scattering to bring the found of his line to a beautiful agree the lightnings, and firing the heavens; Virgil, ment with its fenfe. If the Grecian poet has not like the same power in his benevolence, counfels been so frequently celebrated on this acconnt as ling with the gods, laying plans for empires, and the Roman, the only reason is, that fewer critics regularly ordering his whole creation. have understood the one language than the other. But, after all, it is with great parts, as with Dionyfius of Halicarnasius has pointed out many great virtues; they naturally border on some imof our author's beautics in this kind, in his trca- perfection; and it is often hard to distinguish extise of the Composition of Words. It suffices at actly where the virtue ends, or the fault begins. present to observe of his numbers, that they flow As prudence may sometimes sink to suspicion, so with so much ease, as to make one imagine Ho. may a great judgment decline to coldness; and as mer had no other care than to transcribe as fast as magnanimity nay run up to profusion or extrathe mufus dictate: and at the same time with so vagance, fo may a great invention to redundancy much force and inspired vigour, that they awaken or wildness. If we look upon Homer in this view, and raise us like the found of a trumpet. They we shall perceive the chief objections against him roll along as a plentiful river, always in motion, to proceed from so noble a caule as the excess of and always full: while we are borne away by a

this faculty. tide of verse, the moit rapid, and yet the most Among those we reckon some of his marvellous smooth imaginable.

fictions, upon which so much criticism has been Thus, on whatever side we contemplate Ho- spent, as furpalling all the bounds of probability. ner, what principally strikes us is his invention. Perhaps it may be with great and superior souls, It is that which forms the character of each part as with gigantic bodies, which exerting themselves of his work; and accordingly we find it to have with unusual strength, exceed what is commonly made his fable more extensive and copious than thought the due proportion of parts, to become any other, his manners more lively and strongly miracles in the whole; and like the old heroes of marked, his speeches more affecting and trans- that make, commit something near extravagance, ported, his sentiments more warm and sublime ; amidst a series of glories and inimitable performs his images and descriptions are full and animated, ances. Thus Homer has his speaking horses, and his expreflion more raised and daring, and his Virgil his myrtles distilling blood, where the lat. numbers more rapid and various. I hope in what ter has not so much as contrived the easy inter, has been laid of Virgil, with regard to any of these vention of a dcity to save the probability. heads, I have no ways derogated from his cha- It is owing to the fame vast invention, that his racter. Nothing is more absurd or endless than | limiles have been thought too exuberant and full

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