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louer is universally allowed to have had the The course of his verses resembles that of geareft invention of any writer whatever. The the army he describes, prasle of judgment Virgil has justly contested wita him, and oihers may have their pretensions oidi
ag τσαν, ωσεί το πνεί χων πάσα as to particular excellencies; but his invention re
кото, , 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 most 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 vigoferent degrees diftinguishes all great geniuses: the rous, is not discovered immediately at the beginatmost stretch of human ftudy, learning, and indus- ning of his poem in its fullett iplendour : it grows try, which mesters 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 itselfcan at best but rapidity. Exact difpofition, juft thought, correct feal wisely; 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 “ vivia Whatever praises may be given to works of judg * da vis animi,” in a very few. Even in works thent, 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 criticitin, 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 abfurdities, ic brightfuch a figure, which the common eye may better ens all the rubbish about it, till we fre nothing take in, and is therefore more entertained with. but its own splendour. This fire is difcerned in And perhaps the reason why common critics are Virgil, but discerned as through a glais, retiected inclined to prefer a judicious and methodical ge- from Homer, more fining 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 fudden, Thort, and interrupied rations through an uniform and bounded walk of Rafhes: in Milton it glows like a furnace lupta art, than to comprehend the vast and various ex- up to an uncommon ardour by the force of art: tent of nature.
in Shakspeare it strikes before we are aware Our author's work is a wild paradise, where if like an accidental fire from heaven; bnt in Ho. we cannot see all the beauties so distinctly as in mer, and in him only, it burns every where clearan ordered garden, it is only because the number ly, and every where irresistibly: of them is infinitely greater. It is like a copious I shall here endeavour to show, how this vast nursery, which contains the seed, and first pro. invention exerts itself in a manner superior to that ductions of every kind, cut of which those who of any poet, through all the main continuent in lowed him have but selected some particular parts of his work, as it is the great and peculiar plants, earh 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 perfection or maturity, it powerful far, which, in the violence of its course, is only because they are over-run and oppreft by drew all things within its vortex. It seemed not those oí a itronger nature.
enough to have taken in the whole circle of arts, It is to the itrength of this amazing invention and the whole compass of nature, 'to supply his we are to tribute that unequalled fire and rap- maxims and reflections; all the inward parlions ture, which is so forcible in Homer, that no man and affections of mankind, to furnish his charac. of a true poctical spirit is matter of himself when ters; and all the outward fornis and images of he reads him. What he writes is of the most ani- things, for his defcriptions ; but, wanting yet an inating, 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 be called, or a batile fought, you are not cold-ated a world for himself in the invention of fable. iy informed 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 thall beby the force of the poet's imagination, and turns gin with considering him in this part, as it is nain one place to a hearer, in another to a specta- leurally the first; and I speak of it both as it means
the delign of a poem, and as it is taken for actions agreeable to the nature of the things they fiction.
shadowed! This is a field in which no succeeding Fable may be divided into the probable, the poets could dispute with Homer; and whatever allegorical, and the marvellous. The probable commendations have been allowed them on this fable is the recital of such actions as though they head, are by no means for their invention in havdid not happen, yet might, in the commun course ing enlarged his circle, but for their judgment in of nature : or of such as, though they did, be. having contracted it. For when the mode of come fables by the additional episodes and man. learning changed in following ages, and science ner of telling them. Of this sort is the main sto was delivered in a plainer manner; it then bery of an epic poem, the return of Ulyfles, the came as reasonable in the more modern poets to settlement of the Trojans in Italy, or the like. I lay it aside, as it was in Homer to make use of it. That of the Iliad is the anger of Achilles, the
And perhaps it was no unhappy circumstance for most short and single subject that ever was chosen Virgil, that there was not in his time that demand by any puet. Yet this he has supplied with a
upon him of fo great an invention, as might be vafter variety of incidents and events, and crowd capable of furnishing all those allegorical parts of ed with a greater number of councils, speeches,
The marvellous fable includes whatever is subattles, and episodes of all kinds, than are to be found even in those poems whose schemes are of per natural, and especially the machines of the the utmost latitude and irregularity. The action gods. He seems the firtt who brought them into is hurried on with the most vehement spirit, and
a system of machinery for poetry, and such a one its whole duration employs not so much as fifty
as makes its greatest importance and dignity. For
we find thote authors who have been offended at days Virgil, for want of so warm a genius, aided himself by taking in a more extenlive subject, their accusation against Homer as the chief Tup
the literal notion of the gods, constantly laying as well as a greater length of time, and contract. ing the design of both Homer's poems into one,
port of it. But whatever cause there might be to
blame his machines in a philosophical or religious which is yet but a fourth part as large as his, The other epic poets have used the fame practice, kind' have been ever since contented to follow
view, they are so perfect in the poetic, that manbut 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 fet: every atand lose their readers in an unreasonable length tempt of this nature has proved unsuccessful; and of time. Nor is it only in the main design that after all the various changes of tinies and religions, 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 chara&ters of his persons ; part of Itory. If he has given a regular catalogue and here we shall find no author has ever drawn of an army, they all draw up their forces in the so many, with so visible and surprising a variety, same order. If he has funeral games for Patro or given us such lively and afle Aing impresions clus, Virgil has the same for Anchises; and Sta of them. Every one has something to fingularly tius (rather than omit them) destroys the unity his own; that no painter could have diftinguished of his action for those of Archemoras. If Ulysses them more by their features, than the poet has visits the shades, the Æneas of Virgil, and Scipio by their manners. Nothing can be morc exact of Silius, are sent after him. If he be detained than the distinctions he has observed in the diffe. from his return by the allurements of Calypso, so rent degrees of virtues and vices. The single quais Æneas by Dido, and Rinaldo by Armida.' Iflity of courage is wonderfully diverfified in the Achilles be absent from the army on the score of several characters of the Iliad. That of Achilles e quarrel through half the poem, Rinaldo must is furious and intractable ; 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 fuit of celestial armour,
mand; that of Ajax is heavy, and self-confiding: Virgil and Taffo make the same present to theirs.
of Hector, active and vigilant; the courage uf 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 Menelaus mixed with softness fupplied the want from other Greek authors. and tenderness for his people : we find in IdomcThus the story of Simon, and the taking of Troy
neus a plain direct soldier, in Sarpedon a gallant was copied (tay's Macrobius) almost word for
and generous one. Nor is this judicious and astoword from Pilander, as the loves of Dido and nishing diversity to be found only in the principal Æneas are taken from those of Medea and Jalon quality which constitutes the main of each characin pollonius, and several others in the lame
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 flect upon those innumerable knowledges, those i find in this, that the wisdom of one is artificial
and Nestor confit in wisdom; and shey are disecrets of nature and phyfical philosophy, which and various, of the other natural, open and reguHomer is generally suppoled to have wrapped up
lar. But they have, befides, characters of couin his allegories, ivhat a new and ample scene of rage; and this quality also takes a different turn wonder may this contideration afford us! how fer- ! in each from the difference of his prudence ; for tile will that imagination appear, which was able to clothe all the properties of elements, the qua
one in the way depends ftill upon caution, the
other upon experience. It would be endless to lifications of the mind, the virtues and vices, in produce instances of thefe kinds. The characters forms and persons; and to introduce them into of Virgil are far from striking us in this open mara