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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 lifications of the mind, the virtues and vices, in produce instances of thefe kinds. The characters
other upon experience. It would be endless to forms and persons; and to introduce them into of Virgil are far from striking us in this open mara
rier; they lie in a great degree hidden and undi- | Nothing is so surprising as the deferiptions of liis finguibed, and where they are marked most evi- battles, which take up no less than half the Iliad, destly, affect us not in proportion to those of Ho- and are fupplied with fo vzít a variety of incidents, mer. His characters of valour are much alike; that no one bears a likeness to another; fuch difcren 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 wc fee 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 Scrgelibus, Cloanthus, or the ret. In like man- the last in greatness, horror, and confufion. It is ner, it may be remarked of S atius's heroes, that certain there is not near that number of images an air of impetuosity runs through them all; the and descriptions in any cric poct; though every fame horrid and savage courage appears in his one has atlifted himsell with a great quantity out Capaneus, Tydeus, Hippomedon, &c. They have of him: and it is evident of Virgil especially, a parity of character, which makes them seem that he has scarce any comparisons which are not brothers or one famiij. I believe when the reader drawn from his matter. is led into this track of reflection, if he will pursue If we descend from hence to the expression, we it through the epic and tragic writers, he will be see the bright imagination of Homer Shining out csavinced how infinitely fuperior in this point the in the most enlivened forms of it. We acknowinvention of Honer was to that of all others. ledge hini the father of poctical diction, the first
The speeches are to be considered as they flow who taught that language of the gods to merr. from the characters, being perfect or defective as His expreffion is like the colouring of some great they agree or disagree with ihe manners of those matters, which discovers itself to be laid on who utter them. As there is more variety of boldly, and executed with rapidity. It is indeed characters in the Iliad, so there is of speeches, the firongest and most gloving imaginable, and than in any other poem. Every thing in it has touched with the createst spirit
. Aristotle had manners (as Aristotle expresses it) that is, every reason to fly, He was the only poet who had thing is acted or spoken. It is hardly credible found out lising words; there are in him more ir a work cr fuch length, how finall a number of daring figures and metaphors thau in any good lines are employed in narration. In Virgil the author whatever. Aa ar:ow is impatient to be dramatic part is less in proportion to the narra- on the wing, and a weapon thirsis to drink the tive; and the speeches often consist of general re- blood of an enemy, and the like; yet his exprefa flections or thoughts, which might be equally just fion is never too big for the fine, but justly great in any person's mouth upon the same occafion. in proportion it. It is the festiment that swells As many of his perfons have ! apparent charac- • and fills out the diction, which rises from it, and ters, so many of his speeches efcape being applied forms itself about it: for in the same degree that and judged by the rule of propriety. We oftener a thought is warmer, an expression 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 peripicuous: like glass in the furrace, which are the effects of a colder invention, that interests grows to a greater magnitude, and refines to a Ex less in the adion described. Homer makes us greater clearnois, only as th: broath within is hearers, and Virgil leaves us readers.
more powerful, and the heat more intense. If, in the next place, we take a view of the finti- To throw his language more out of profe, HoTretts, the same presiding faculty is eminent i mer seems to have affected the compound epithets. the fub inity and spirit of his thoughts. Lon This was a fort of composition peculiarly proper gines has given his opinion, that it was in this to poetry, not only as it heightened the diction, part Homer principally excelled. What were but as it allifted and filler the numbers with alone fufficient to prove the grandeur and ex- greater found and pomp, and likewise conduced cellance of his sentinients in general, is, that they in fonre meafure to thicken the images. On this have fo rurarkable a parity with those of the last confideration I cannot but attribute these also fcriptore; Duport, in his Gnomolocia Homerica, to the fruitfulnes of his invention, fince (as he has collzeed innumerable instances of this fort has managed them, they are a fort of fupernuAnd it is with justice an excellent modern writer mery pictures of the perfors or things to which allows, that if Virgil has not so many thoughts they are joined. We see the motions of Hector's that are low and vulgar, he has not so many that plumes in the epithet xapulzivnos, the landscape of are (oblime and noble; and that the Ronian au- Mount Neritus in that of sivodipur.205, and to of thor se doon rises into very astonishing sentiments, others; which particular images could not have wbore he is not fired by the Iliad.
been infifted upon to long as to exprefs them in a If we observe his defcriptions, images, and description (though but of a fivgle line) without fails, we shall find the invention still preciomi- diverting the reader too much from the principal 7*. To what else can we ascribe that vast com- action or figure. As a metaphor is a short fimile, feb-fon of images of every fort where we fee one of those epithets is a thort description. ab circumstance of art, and individual of nature Lastly, if we consider his versification, we fall farmered together by the extent and fecundity of be sensible wliat a Mhare of praise is due to his inbis inazination; to which all things in their va- vention in that. He was nor fatisfied with his Toas views presented themselves is an instant, and language as he found it fettled in any one part of kad their impreffions taken off to perfection at a Greece, but fearched through its differing dialects hear? Nay, he not only gives us the full prospects with this particular view, to beautify and perfect of things, but several unexpected peculiarities and his numbers : he confidered these as they had a Ide-vies, unobserved by any painter but Homer.' great mixture of vowels and confonants, and ac
cordingly enployal them as the verse required the common method of comparing eminent writers either a greater imoothness or sirengti. What he by an oppohtioa of particular paffagis in them, molt atfected was the lonic, which has a peculiar and forming a judgment from thence of their fweetness from its never using contractions, and merit upon the whole. We ought to have a cerfrom its custom of rcíolving the diphthongs into tain knowledge of the principal character and two syllabks; so as to make the words open them- distinguished excellence of each: it is in that we Selves with a more fpreiding and sonorous Alu- are to consider him, and in proportion to his deency. With this iie mingled the Attic contrac- grec in that ve art to admire him. No author or tions, the broader Doric, and the fecbler Folic, man ever excelled all the world in more than one which often reje&s 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 fome letters witir the licence of poetry. Thus his Homer wanted judgment, because Virgil had it in mfures, instead of being fetters to his sense, were a more eminent degree; or that Virgil wanted always in readiness to run aleng with the warmth invention, because Homer poflefTed a larger share of his rapture, and even to give a farther repre- of it: each of these great authors had more of sertation 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 io have less in comparison with one another. these he has derived that harmony, which makes Homer was the greater genius, Virgil the better us confes he had not only the richest head, but artist. In one we most admire the man, in the the finest car 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 commanding impetuofity, Virgil leads his verses, even without understanding them (with us with an attractive majesty : Homer scatters the fame fort of diligence as we daily fee practiicd with a generous profufion, Virgil bestows with a in the case of Italian operas) will find more sweet
careful magnificence: Homer, like the Nile, pours ncss, variety, and majesty of found, than in any out his riches with a boundles overflow; Virgil other language or poetry. The beauty of his muni- like a river in its banks, with a gentle and bers is alloved by the critics to be copied but
stant Ilream. When we behoid their battles, mefaintly by Virgil hinıfelf, though they are so juli thiaks the two poets resemble the heroes they to afcribe it to the nature of the Latin tongue:
celebrate: Homer, boundless and irrofisible as indeed, the Greek has some advantares both irom Achilles, bears all before him, and shines more the natural found of its words, and the tura and and more as tile tumult increases; Virgil, calmly cadence of its verse, which agree with the genius, daring like Ancas, appears undisturbed in the of no other language: Virgii was very sensible of midst of the action; disposes all about him, and this, and used the utmot diligence in working up corquers with tranquillity. And when we look a more intradable language to whatsoever graces upon their machines, llomer seems like his own it was capable of; and in particular never failed Jupiter in his terrers, shaking Olympus, scattering to bring the found of his line to a beautiful agree- the lightnings, and firing the heavens; Virgil, ment with its sense. If the Grecian poet has not like the same power in liis benevolence, counselbeen so freqnently ceiebrated on this account as ling with the gois, laying plans for empires, and the Roman, the only reaton is that fewer critics regularly ordering his whole creation. have understood one language than the other. But, after all, it is with great parts, as with Dionysius of Halicarnassus has pointed out many great virtucs; they naturally border on some iniof our author's bearties in this kind, in his trea- perfccion; and it is often liard to distinguish extise of the Composition of Words. It suilices at adly 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 niuch case, as to make one imagine to- may a zrcat jucgment decline to coldness; and as mer had no other care than to tranforibe as fast as magnaninity may run up to profufion or extra vathe mufes dictated: and at the same time with so gauce, so may a great invention to redundancy much force and inspired vigour, that they awaken or wildness. If we look usen Homer in this view, and raise us like the sound of 2 trumper. They we shall perceive the chief objecions against him ro' along as a plentiful river, always in motion, to proceed from fo noble a cause as the excess of an lalways full: while we are borne away by a this facults: tiiie of verse, the nost rapid, and yot the inoit Amoug thef: we reckon some of luis marvellous fmooth imaginable.
fictions, upon which so much criticism has been Tlus, on whatever fide we contorplate Ho- sport, as furpasing all the bounds of probability. mer, what principally frikes us is his invertien. Perhaps it nay be with great and superior fouis, It is that which firms the character of cah rart as with gigantic bodies, which exerting themselves of his work; ard accordirely we find it to Lave with unutual ftrength, exceed vlat is commonly made his fave more cxtunire and copious that thought the due proportion of parts, to become any other, his manners more lively and prorg?s miracles in the whole; and like the old heroes of marked, his speeches more afccting and trani- that make, coinnit fomething near extravagance, ported, his sentiments more warm and fublime; amid a series of glories and inimitable performliis images and dcscriptions are full and arinated, Thus liomor has liis speaking horses, and his expreflion more raised and daring, and his Virgil his myrtics ciftillig blood, where the larnumbers more rapid and various. i hope in what ter has not so much as contrived the casy interhas been fa d of Virgil, with regard to any of these vention of a deity to save the probability. heads, I have no ways derogated from his chao It is owing to the fame van invention, that his racter. Nothing is more absurd or endless, than simiies have been thought too exuberant and full