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Title: An Essay on the Lyric Poetry of the Ancients
Author: Ogilvie, John, 1732-1813
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Ζευς δε Πατηρ ιδηθεν ευτροχον ἁρμα και ἱππους
  Ολυμπονδ’ εδιωκε, θεων δ’ εξεκετο θωκους.

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       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *

          The Augustan Reprint Society

                 JOHN OGILVIE

                     on the
                  LYRIC POETRY
                     of the


               _Introduction by_
                WALLACE JACKSON

             Publication Number 139
     William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
     University of California, Los Angeles


  William E. Conway, _William Andrews Clark Memorial Library_
  George Robert Guffey, _University of California, Los Angeles_
  Maximillian E. Novak, _University of California, Los Angeles_


  David S. Rodes, _University of California, Los Angeles_


  Richard C. Boys, _University of Michigan_
  James L. Clifford, _Columbia University_
  Ralph Cohen, _University of Virginia_
  Vinton A. Dearing, _University of California, Los Angeles_
  Arthur Friedman, _University of Chicago_
  Louis A. Landa, _Princeton University_
  Earl Miner, _University of California, Los Angeles_
  Samuel H. Monk, _University of Minnesota_
  Everett T. Moore, _University of California, Los Angeles_
  Lawrence Clark Powell, _William Andrews Clark Memorial Library_
  James Sutherland, _University College, London_
  H. T. Swedenberg, Jr., _University of California, Los Angeles_
  Robert Vosper, _William Andrews Clark Memorial Library_


  Edna C. Davis, _William Andrews Clark Memorial Library_


  Roberta Medford, _William Andrews Clark Memorial Library_


John Ogilvie (1733-1813), Presbyterian divine and author, was one of a
group of Scottish literary clergy and a fellow of the Edinburgh Royal
Society. Chambers and Thomson print the following generous estimation of
his work:

  Of all his books, there is not one which, as a whole, can be
  expected to please the general reader. Noble sentiments, brilliant
  conceptions, and poetic graces, may be culled in profusion from the
  mass; but there is no one production in which they so predominate,
  (if we except some of the minor pieces,) as to induce it to be
  selected for a happier fate than the rest. Had the same talent which
  Ogilvie threw away on a number of objects, been concentrated on one,
  and that one chosen with judgment and taste, he might have rivalled
  in popularity the most renowned of his contemporaries.[1]

The present letters reproduced here, along with the two volumes of his
_Philosophical and Critical Observations on Composition_ (London, 1774),
are Ogilvie’s major contributions to literary criticism. The remainder
of his work, which is extensive, is divided almost equally between
poetry and theological inquiry. At least one of his poems, “The Day of
Judgment” (1758), was known to Churchill, Boswell, and Johnson, but
unfortunately for Ogilvie’s reputation Johnson “saw nothing” in it.[2]

I shall attempt no special pleading for Ogilvie here; he is and shall
remain a minor neoclassic theorist. At the very least, however, it can
be said that his methods are reasonably various and that, while his
general critical assumptions are not unique, his control is strong. The
fluidity with which he moves from one related position to another
indicates a mind well informed by the critical tenets of his own time.
If he does not surprise, he is nevertheless an interesting and worthy
exemplar of the psychological tradition in later eighteenth-century
criticism; and his historicism provides, and is intended to provide,
an extensive field for the workings of psychological inquiry.

Thus his initial inquiry, in the first letter, into the Aristotelian
principles of imitation and harmony establishes each as “natural” to the
mind, and his distinctions between the separate provinces of reason and
imagination are for the purpose of assigning to each its separate
intellectual capacities. From these orderings follows his idea that
poetry is of an earlier date than philosophy, the product of an
irregular faculty, less governable than the reason and of swifter
development. In turn, these assumptions lead into a form of historical
primitivism in which the products of the first poets were “extemporary
effusions,” rudely imitative of pastoral scenes or celebratory of the
divine being. Thus the first generic distinction Ogilvie makes is
between pastoral poetry and lyric; the function of the former is to
produce pleasure, the latter to raise admiration of the powers presiding
over nature. As poetry is more natural to the young mind than
philosophy, so is the end of pastoral poetry more easily achieved than
that of the lyric. The difference resides essentially in Ogilvie’s
notion that the pastoral poet contemplates “external objects,” while the
lyric poet regards that which is not immediately available to the senses
and consequently requires a more exuberant invention. What follows upon
these reflections is a rather ingenious form of historical progressivism
in which the civilizing powers of the poet provide the principal
justification for lyric poetry. At work in Ogilvie’s thought is a
conception of the mythopoeic function of the earliest poets whose names
have come down to us. Such poets, however, did not create their mythos,
but imbibed it from the earlier Egyptian civilization and formed
disguised allegorical poems. Here the instructive function of the first
poets is related to the enlarging of the reader’s imagination, so that
Ogilvie’s rather shrewd defense of lyric poetry is based upon the
civilizing effects of imaginative appeal.

The infancy of poetry is related to the infancy of civilization, and the
analogical possibilities of the one to the other sustain his argument at
every point. If his historicism is dubious, his discourse is neatly
illustrative of a neoclassic critical method and of the kind of
psychological assumptions upon which such arguments could proceed. From
the rather copious use of allegory and metaphor, as civilizing
instruments, Ogilvie traces the rise of the religious fable as part of
the inevitable sequence of imaginative development. To account,
therefore, for the irregularity of the ode, for the “enthusiasm,
obscurity and exuberance” (p. xxiv) which continue to characterize it,
he refers to its anciently established character, a character not
susceptible to amelioration by speculative rules. He allows, however,
that both the “Epopee” (or epic) and the drama were gradually improved,
and the informing principle of his historical progressivism is again

The modifications of the ode are from the fictitious theology of Orpheus
and Museus to the elegance and grace of Anacreon, Horace, and Sappho. It
is mainly Horace whom Ogilvie has in view as the exemplar of the lyric
poet, though “a professed imitator both of Anacreon and Pindar”
(p. xxx). We can distinguish, therefore, several different criteria
which contribute to Ogilvie’s criticism: (1) a unity of sentiment
consistent with a variety of emotions; (2) a propriety of the passions
in which vivacity is controlled by the circumstances of character; (3) a
just relation between language and sentiment; (4) elegant and pointed
expression (“sallies and picturesque epithets” [p. xxxi.]) both to
heighten the passions expressed and to draw from them their less obvious
effects. Such distinctions define Ogilvie’s typical insistence upon
copying Nature, by which he means that the lyric poet’s task is not only
to follow the workings of the mind, but to heighten passion in a way
that is more consistent with the nature of the passion itself than with
its action in any particular mind. His criticism looks to the
representation of “the internal movements of the mind warmed by
imagination,” yet “exposed in the happiest and most agreeable attitudes”
(p. xxxv). The relation between the empirical and the ideal is a crux
common to Ogilvie and neoclassic theory, not entirely resolved here by
the practical and referential method of citing Horace’s shorter odes.
But it is a subject which comes in for more extended treatment in his
second letter, in my judgment a far more critically ambitious letter and
one in which his very fair critical abilities are more conspicuously

The second letter undertakes to explain the rules of lyric poetry, even
as the first was concerned with the defects and causes of the poetry.
Ogilvie rehearses a characteristic later eighteenth-century view of the
imagination and makes again the conventional distinctions between
faculties appropriate to philosophy and to poetry. His discussion of the
function of judgment is, if anything, more conventional within the
boundaries of neoclassic criticism than is his view of the imagination.
Its typical role as concerned with the “disposition of materials” has a
pedigree extending backward to Hobbes and the critical climate of the
early years of Restoration England. Principally, Ogilvie is eager to
assert that the poet is as judicious as the philosopher, by which,
however, he does not intend to put forth a view of the cognitive
function of the poet, but rather the justice with which he paints the
passions. Essentially, therefore, Ogilvie’s distinction between poet and
philosopher is for the sake of distinguishing between the former’s
greater interest in the passions, the latter’s more proper concern with
the reason. Once again there is nothing unusual in his treatment of the
subject at this time, with the possible exception that Ogilvie’s
conception of the imagination is not so comprehensive as that being
developed by Alexander Gerard, William Duff, and some of the other
contemporary associatioassociationistsnlsts. In order, however, to
emphasize the importance of imagination, by which he largely means the
imagistic liveliness of the poet’s mind, he allows that the imagination
is secondary only in didactic or ethical poetry. Such forms are perhaps
best understood as hybrid, a kind of poetizing of philosophy, a sort of
reasoning in verse, and therefore forms in which the imagination is not
given full exercise. Given his premises it is not surprising that
Ogilvie often emphasizes ornamentation or imagistic display and supports
his position by conceiving of the modern lyric as descended from the
religiously consecrated ode. The sublime and exuberant imagery of the
latter exists reductively as an important virtue of the present lyric.

As Ogilvie develops his argument in the second letter, it is apparent
also that the imagination functions as that faculty which best
contemplates the sublime and the wonderful. The imagination is thus
contemplative and expressive, and both functions are justified through
the passions that admiration evokes. In sum, the imagination is evoked
by the passions, a proposition which suggests why, for Ogilvie, the
characteristic mark of genius is a highly animated sensibility. It is
apparent also that Ogilvie’s criteria include sympathy, for sympathy is
that which compels the transmission of the poet’s sentiments to his
readers. What is dimly present here is a theory of the poetic occasion,
an occasion brought about by the poet’s participation in a common
cultural condition which inspires the communication of sentiments, both
common and important, from one person to another. Corollary to this
proposition is the notion that the poetic achievement is measured by the
uniqueness of the poet’s invention. Thus, it is not merely the poet’s
choice of a sublime subject that is important, but also the excellence
with which he treats an unpromising subject. Ogilvie’s criteria demand
not merely a celerity of imagining, or a facility for the sublime, but a
degree of innovativeness which wins the highest regard.

To follow the argument is to realize that his conception of the
imagination includes judgment, celerity, and innovation. All three
functions are basic to the imaginative act. It is the last, however,
which he most emphasizes; and it is apparent, I think, that one
intention of his argument is to refute the assumption that the sublime
is the principal object of the poetic imagination. It is clear also that
Ogilvie is attentive to the excesses of imagism, even as he makes the
variety of a poet’s images (along with the boldness of his transitions
and the picturesque vivacity of his descriptions) one of the major terms
of critical assessment. Especially, he is attentive to that which
detracts from the principal object, and thus a kind of concentration of
purpose emerges as a tacit poetic value, a concentration to which he
refers as a “succession of sentiments which resemble ... the subject of
his Poem” (lii). Here again Ogilvie has not so much a unity of structure
in view as a unity of the passions, and it is this particular theme
which generally guides his discourse; it is the general premise upon
which his inquiry depends and on which his major justification of lyric
poetry is based. In more modern terms we might here speak of the
principle of the correlative, which Ogilvie rehearses in his treatment
of the correspondence of subject and metaphor, and even indeed of
metaphor as a mode of vision. Poetic discourse, for Ogilvie, does not
depend upon metaphor, but without metaphor such discourse would be

What is important, then, is the principle of propriety, a neat accord
between the figure and the subject, a kind of aperçu. Thus, metaphors
properly employed are “generally short, expressive, and fitted to
correspond with great accuracy to the point which requires to be
illustrated” (pp. liii-liv). Second only to this consideration is that
of color, by which he means tone or emphasis, and here again with a view
toward the overall unity of the passions. It is perhaps worth noting
that both considerations are relevant to Ogilvie’s sense of the
imagination as a judicious faculty operating independently of the
reason, but nevertheless obedient to the laws of logical form, organic
relationships, and proper successions, all of which imply an idea of

Much of the time Ogilvie is occupied with quite familiar and
conventional critical problems. The relation between regularity and
irregularity is one that he particularly stresses, and his resolutions
tend to allow a certain wildness as natural to the imagination, even as
evidence of the faculty. He is, however, more inclined to permit bold
and spirited transitions in the shorter ode than in the longer ode. As
usual Ogilvie’s critical principles are related to the nature of the
work in question, and a greater irregularity is natural to the shorter
ode since it presumes the imitation of the passions. But it is important
to recognize that Ogilvie stresses not only the imitation of the
passions, but the exercise of them as well; and the relation between the
one and the other forms at bottom the larger principles on which his
second letter is based. We might wish to say that he has in view the
education of the passions, not merely by imitating them, but, as it
were, by drawing from the reader his own possibilities for sensible
response. It does not at all imply pre-romantic values to suggest that
Ogilvie’s criticism is directed toward a frank exploitation of the
reader’s emotion. As Maclean makes clear,[3] such interests are hardly
unique to romantic criticism. Bishop Lowth, for example, distinguished
between the internal source and the external source of poetry,
preferring the former because through it the mind is immediately
conscious of itself and its own emotions.[4] Ogilvie does not quite make
the same statement, but his position easily coincides with it; and if,
with John Crowe Ransom,[5] we consider romantic poetry as uniquely
directed toward the exploitation of the feelings, we shall be surprised
by any number of minor eighteenth-century critics who are unabashedly
interested in similar values. Ogilvie’s position very much resembles
Thomas Twining’s view that the “description of passions and emotions by
their sensible effects ... [is what] principally deserves the name of

In accord with the psychological bias informing his essay, Ogilvie tends
to reduce the importance of narrative events in favor of vivid and
picturesque descriptions, for the latter most immediately communicate
themselves to the reader and most expressly realize the translation from
thought to feeling. Once again it is the uniqueness of rendering that he
has in mind, the innovative cast of the poet’s mind which transforms the
familiar and by so doing gives it a newly affective power. It is
important to recognize that Ogilvie shares with his contemporaries a
more limited sense of the varieties of subject-matter than we are likely
to grant. But as this is so for him, and as indeed this condition is a
function of eighteenth-century historiography, it helps to explain the
emphasis he places upon the uniqueness with which the subject is
realized. Over and again such an interest shapes his inquiries and
becomes both an attribute and a test of a poet’s capacity. These remarks
need to be qualified only by his inquiry into personification: for here
it is the expectation of the mind that must not be disappointed, and
that which is iconographically established (the figure of Time, for
example) should not be violated.

While Ogilvie is not a major critic a good part of his charm and
interest for us stems from a mind that is not in the least doctrinaire.
His method is inductive, his appeal is always to the human psychology as
that can be known experientially, and his standards are Aristotelian (if
by such a reference we mean to signify a procedure based upon the known
effects of known works). While there is nothing in these letters that
deviates from the psychological tradition in later eighteenth-century
criticism, it is also evident that Ogilvie is not really an
associationist, and that he is less interested in the creative
functioning of the poet’s imagination than in the precepts of a
psychological humanism which underscore his criteria and give validity
to his remarks on the range and appeal of lyric poetry. In sum, his
historicism exists as a justification for his defense of lyric poetry
and is intended to provide a basis for the psychological bias of his

Duke University


    [Footnote 1: _Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen_
    (Glasgow, 1855), Vol. IV. For a list of Ogilvie’s works consult
    Stephen and Lee, _Dictionary of National Biography_ (Oxford,
    1921-22), Vol. XIV. For an estimation of Ogilvie’s relation to the
    theology of his own day consult James McCosh, _The Scottish
    Philosophy_ (London, 1875).]

    [Footnote 2: _Life of Samuel Johnson_, ed. George Birkbeck Hill
    (Oxford, 1887), I., 421, 425.]

    [Footnote 3: Norman Maclean, “From Action to Image: Theories of
    the Lyric in the Eighteenth Century,” in _Critics and Criticism
    Ancient and Modern_, ed. R. S. Crane (Chicago, 1952), pp.

    [Footnote 4: Ibid., p. 439.]

    [Footnote 5: John Crowe Ransom, _The New Criticism_ (New York,
    1941), p. 15.]

    [Footnote 6: _An Inquiry into the Fine Arts_ (London, 1784),
    p. 6.]


This facsimile of _An Essay on the Lyric Poetry of the Ancients_ (1762)
is reproduced from a copy in the Duke University Library.

               SEVERAL SUBJECTS.

             To Which Is Prefix’d,
                    AN ESSAY
                     on the
         LYRIC POETRY of the ANCIENTS;

          In TWO LETTERS inscribed to
   The Right Honourable JAMES Lord DESKFOORD.

            By _JOHN OGILVIE_, A.M.


 Printed for G. KEITH, at the _Bible-and-Crown_
           in _Gracechurch-Street_.

                 M. DCC. LXII.


  [Transcriber’s Note:
  Although the facsimile includes this full Table of Contents,
  only the introductory section-- the Essay on Lyric Poetry--
  was reprinted.]


  LETTER I.                                 Page iii
  LETTER II.                                   xxxix

ODES, &c.

  _To MELANCHOLY_                                  1
  _To the GENIUS OF SHAKESPEAR_                    8
  _To TIME_                                       16
  _To SLEEP_                                      23
  _To EVENING_                                    29
  _To INNOCENCE_                                  36


  BOOK I.                                         49
  BOOK II.                                        79


  The 148th PSALM paraphrased                    107
  VERSES to a Lady,
      with VOLTAIRE’S _Temple of Taste_          112
  A TOWN ECLOGUE                                 116
  JUPITER and the CLOWN. A Fable                 120
  An Elegy on the DEATH of a LINNET              128
  An EVENING PIECE                               131
  To Miss ---- with a Flower                     134
  SAPPHO’s Ode to VENUS translated               136
  To the Memory of Mrs. ----                     138
  To the Memory of Mr. H*** M***. An Elegy       143
  To the Memory of the late
      pious, and ingenious Mr. HERVEY            147
  The Third Chapter of HABAKKUK paraphrased      152

                     on the
                  LYRIC POETRY
                     of the

                Humbly Inscribed
                    to the
                RIGHT HONOURABLE
             JAMES Lord DESKFOORD.

                   E S S A Y
                     on the
          LYRIC POETRY of the ANCIENTS.



It is an observation, no doubt, familiar to your Lordship, that Genius
is the offspring of Reason and Imagination properly moderated, and
co-operating with united influence to promote the discovery, or the
illustration of truth. Though it is certain that a separate province is
assigned to each of these faculties, yet it often becomes a matter of
the greatest difficulty to prevent them from making mutual
encroachments, and from leading to extremes which are the more
dangerous, because they are brought on by an imperceptible progression.
--Reason in every mind is an uniform power, and its appearance is
regular, and invariably permanent. When this Faculty therefore
predominates in the sphere of composition, sentiments will follow each
other in connected succession, the arguments employed to prove any point
will be just and forcible; the stability of a work will be principally
considered, and little regard will be payed to its exterior ornament.
Such a work however, though it may be valued by a few for its intrinsic
excellence, yet can never be productive of general improvement, as
attention can only be fixed by entertainment, and entertainment is
incompatible with unvaried uniformity[1].

    [Footnote 1: Neque ipsa Ratio (says the elegant and sensible
    Quintilian speaking of Eloquence) tam nos juvaret, nisi quæ
    concepissemus mente, promere etiam loquendo possemus,--ita, ut non
    modo orare, sed quod Pericli contigit fulgerare, ac tonare
    videamur. Institut. Orat. Lib. XI. c. 16.]

On the contrary, when Imagination is permitted to bestow the graces of
ornament indiscriminately, we either find in the general that sentiments
are superficial, and thinly scattered through a work, or we are obliged
to search for them beneath a load of superfluous colouring. Such, my
Lord, is the appearance of the superior Faculties of the mind when they
are disunited from each other, or when either of them seems to be
remarkably predominant.

Your Lordship is too well acquainted with this subject not to have
observed, that in composition, as in common life, extremes, however
pernicious, are not always so distant from each other, as upon
superficial inspection we may be apt to conclude. Thus in the latter,
an obstinate adherence to particular opinions is contracted by observing
the consequences of volatility; indifference ariseth from despising the
softer feelings of tenderness; pride takes its origin from the disdain
of compliance; and the first step to avarice is the desire of avoiding
profusion. Inconveniencies similar to these are the consequences of
temerity in canvassing the subjects of speculation. The mind of an
Author receives an early bias from prepossession, and the dislike which
he conceives to a particular fault precipitates him at once to the
opposite extreme. For this reason perhaps it is, that young authors who
possess some degree of Genius, affect on all occasions a florid
manner[2], and clothe their sentiments in the dress of imagery. To them
nothing appears so disgusting as dry and lifeless uniformity; and
instead of pursuing a middle course betwixt the extremes of profusion
and sterility, they are only solicitous to shun that error of which
Prejudice hath shown the most distorted resemblance. It is indeed but
seldom, that Nature adjusts the intellectual balance so accurately as
not to throw an _unequal weight_ into either of the scales. Such
likewise is the situation of man, that in the first stage of life the
predominant Faculty engrosseth _his attention_, as the predominant
Passion influenceth _his actions_. Instead therefore of strengthening
the weaker power by assisting its exertions, and by supplying its
defects, he is adding force to that which was originally too strong; and
the same reflection which discovers _his error_, shows him likewise the
difficulty of correcting it. Even in those minds, in which the
distribution was primarily equal, education, habit, or some early bias
is ready to break _that perfect poise_ which is necessary to constitute
consummate excellence.

    [Footnote 2: This is the manner which Quintilian appropriates
    particularly to young persons. --In juvenibus etiam uberiora paulo
    & pene periclitantia feruntur. At in iisdem siccum, & contractum
    dicendi propositum plerunque affectatione ipsa severitatis invisum
    est: quando etiam morum senilis autoritas immatura in
    adolescentibus creditur. Lib. II. c. 1.]

From this account of the different manners, in which the faculties of
the mind exert themselves in the sphere of competition, your Lordship
will immediately observe, that the Poet who attempts to combine distant
ideas, to catch remote allusions, to form vivid and agreeable pictures;
is more apt from the very nature of his profession to set up a _false
standard_ of _excellence_, than the cool and dispassionate Philosopher
who proceeds deliberately from position to argument, and who employs
Imagination only as the Handmaid of a superior faculty. Having gone thus
far, like persons who have got into a track from which they cannot
recede, we may venture to proceed a step farther; and affirm that the
_Lyric Poet_ is exposed to this hazard more nearly than any other, and
that to prevent him from falling into the extreme we have mentioned,
will require the exercise of the closest attention.

That I may illustrate this observation as fully as the nature of the
subject will permit, it will be expedient to enquire into the end which
Lyric Poetry proposeth to obtain, and to examine the original standards
from which the rules of this art are deduced.

Aristotle, who has treated of poetry at great length, assigns two causes
of its origin,--_Imitation_ and Harmony; both of which are natural to
the human mind[3]. By Imitation he understands, “whatever employs means
to represent any subject in a natural manner, whether it hath a real or
imaginary existence[4].” The desire of imitating is originally stamped
on the mind, and is a source of perpetual pleasure. “Thus” (says the
great Critic) “though the figures of wild beasts, or of dead men, cannot
be viewed as they naturally are without horror and reluctance; yet the
Imitation of these in painting is highly agreeable, and our pleasure is
augmented in proportion to that degree of resemblance which we conceive
to subsist betwixt the Original and the Copy[5].” By Harmony he
understands not the numbers or measures of poetry only, but that music
of language, which when it is justly adapted to variety of sentiment or
description, contributes most effectually to unite the pleasing with the
instructive[6]. This indeed seems to be the opinion of all the Ancients
who have written on this subject. Thus Plato says expressly, that those
Authors who employ numbers and images without music have no other merit
than that of throwing prose into measure[7].

    [Footnote 3: Εοικασι δε γεννησαι μεν ὁλως την Ποιητικην, αιτιαι
    δυο και αυται φυσικαι. Το μιμεισθαι συμφυτον τοις ανθρωποις, &c.
    Και Ἁρμονια και ρυθμος εξ αρχης οἱ πεφυκοτες προς αυτα μαλιστα
    κατα μικρον προαγοντες εγεινησαν την Ποιησιν‧ Arist. Poet. c. 4.]

    [Footnote 4: The Reader of curiosity may see this subject
    particularly discussed in Dacier’s Remarks on the Poeticks of
    Aristotle, c. 4.]

    [Footnote 5: Ἁ γαρ αυτα λυπηρως ὁρωμεν, τουτων τας εικωνας τας
    μαλιστα ηκριβωμενας, χαιρομεν θεωρουντες, οἱτινες θηρεων τε μορφας
    των αγριοτατων και νεκρων, &c. Poet. c. 4.]

    [Footnote 6: Τα γαρ μετρα ὁτι μοιρον των ρυθμων εστι, φανερον. Ub.

    [Footnote 7: Ρυθμον μεν και σχηματα μελους χωρις λογους ψιλους εις
    μετρα τιθεντες. The persons who do this, he compares to Musicians.
    Μελος δε αυ και ρυθμους ανευ ρημα{των} ψιλη κιθαριξει τε και
    αυλησει προσχρωμενοι. Plat. de Legib. Lib. XI.]

You will no doubt be of opinion, my Lord, upon reflecting on this
subject, that Poetry was originally of an earlier date than Philosophy,
and that its different species were brought to a certain pitch of
perfection before that Science had been cultivated in an equal degree.
Experience informs us on every occasion, that Imagination shoots forward
to its full growth, and even becomes wild and luxuriant, when the
reasoning Faculty is only beginning to open, and is wholly unfit to
connect the series of accurate deduction. The information of the senses
(from which Fancy generally borrows her images) always obtains the
earliest credit, and makes for that reason the most lasting impressions.
The sallies of this irregular Faculty are likewise abrupt and
instantaneous, as they are generally the effects of a sudden impulse
which reason is not permitted to restrain. As therefore we have already
seen, that the desire of imitating is _innate_ to the mind (if your
Lordship will permit me to make use of an unphilosophical epithet) and
as the first inhabitants of the world were employed in the culture of
the field, and in surveying the scenery of external Nature, it is
probable that the first rude draughts of Poetry were extemporary
effusions, either descriptive of the scenes of pastoral life, or
extolling the attributes of the Supreme Being. On this account Plato
says that Poetry was originally Ενθεος Μιμησις[8], or an inspired
imitation of those objects which produced either pleasure or admiration.
To paint those objects which produced pleasure was the business of the
pastoral, and to display those which raise admiration was the task
consigned to the Lyric Poet. --To excite this passion, no method was so
effectual as that of celebrating the perfections of the Powers who were
supposed to preside over Nature. The Ode therefore in its first
formation was a song in honour of these Powers[9], either sung at solemn
festivals or after the days of Amphion who was the inventor of the Lyre,
accompanied with the musick of that instrument. Thus Horace tells us,

  _Musa dedit fidibus Divos, puerosque Divorum_[10],

  The Muse to nobler subjects tun’d her lyre,
  Gods, and the sons of Gods her song inspire.  FRANCIS.

    [Footnote 8: Plat. Io.]

    [Footnote 9: Nec prima illa post secula per ætates sane complures
    alio Lyrici spectarunt, quam ut Deorum laudes ac decora, aut
    virorum fortium res preclare gestas Hymnis ac Pæanibus, ad templa
    & aras complecterentur;--ut ad emulationem captos admiratione
    mortales invitarent. Strad. Prolus. 4 Poet.]

    [Footnote 10: Hor. de Art. Poet.]

In this infancy of the arts, when it was the business of the Muse,
as the same Poet informs us,

  _Publica privatis secernere, sacra prophanis;
  Concubitu prohibere vago, dare jura maritis,
  Oppida moliri, leges includere ligno[11]._

  Poetic Wisdom mark’d with happy mean,
  Public and private, sacred and profane,
  The wandering joys of lawless love supprest,
  With equal rites the wedded couple blest,
  Plann’d future towns, and instituted laws, &c.  FRANCIS.

your Lordship will immediately conclude that the species of Poetry which
was first cultivated (especially when its end was to excite admiration)
must for that reason have been the _loosest_ and the most
_undetermined_. There are indeed particular circumstances, by the
concurrence of which one branch of an Art may be rendered perfect, when
it is first introduced; and these circumstances were favourable to the
Authors of the Eclogue. But whatever some readers may think, your
Lordship will not look upon it as a paradox, to affirm that the same
causes which produced this advantage to pastoral poetry, contributed in
an equal degree to make the first Lyric Poems the most vague, uncertain,
and disproportioncd standards.

    [Footnote 11: Id. ibid.]

In general it may be observed, that the difficulty of establishing rules
is always augmented in proportion to the variety of objects which an Art
includes. Pastoral Poetry is defined by an ingenious Author, to be an
imitation of what may be supposed to pass among Shepherds[12]. This was
accomplished the more easily by the first performers in this art,
because they were themselves employed in the occupation which they
describe, and the subjects which fell within their sphere must have been
confined to a very narrow circle. They contented themfelves with
painting in the simplest language the external beauties of nature, and
with conveying an image of that age in which men generally lived on the
footing of equality, and followed the dictates of an understanding
uncultivated by Art. In succeeding ages, when manners became more
polished, and the refinements of luxury were substituted in place of the
simplicity of Nature, men were still fond of retaining an idea of this
happy period (which perhaps originally existed in its full extent, only
in the imagination of Poets) and the character of a perfect pastoral was
justly drawen from the writings of those Authors who first attempted to
excel in it[13].

    [Footnote 12: Toute Poesie est une imitation. La Poesie Bucolique
    a pour but d’imiter ce qui a passe et ce qui ce dit entre les
    Bergers. Mem. de Lit. V. III. p. 158.]

    [Footnote 13: Elle ne doit pas s’en tenir a la simple
    representation du vrai reel, qui rarement seroit agreable; elle
    doit s’elever jusqu’au _vrai ideal_, qui tend’ a embellir le vrai,
    tel qu’il est dans la nature, et qui produit dans la Poesie comme
    dans la Peinture, le derniere point de perfeftion, &c. Mem. de
    Lit. ub. sup.]

Though we must acknowledge, that the poetic representations of a _golden
age_ are chimerical, and that descriptions of this kind were not always
measured by the standard of truth; yet it must be allowed at the same
time, that at a period when Manners were uniform and natural, the
Eclogue, whose principal excellence lies in exhibiting simple and lively
pictures of common objects and common characters, was brought at once to
a state of greater perfection by the persons who introduced it, than it
could have arrived at in a more improved and enlightned aera.

You will observe, my Lord, that these circumstances were all of them
unfavourable to Lyric Poetry. The Poet in this branch of his Art
proposed as his principal aim to excite Admiration, and his mind without
the assistance of critical skill was left to the unequal task of
presenting succeeding ages with the rudiments of Science. He was at
liberty indeed to range through the ideal world, and to collect images
from every quarter; but in this research he proceeded without a guide,
and his imagination like a fiery courser with loose reins was left to
pursue that path into which it deviated by accident, or was enticed by
temptation. In short, Pastoral Poetry takes in only a few objects, and
is characterized by that simplicity, tenderness, and delicacy which were
happily and easily united in the work of an ancient Shepherd. He had
little use for the rules of criticism, because he was not much exposed
to the danger of infringing them. The Lyric Poet on the other hand took
a more diversified and extensive range, and his imagination required a
strong and steady rein to correct its vehemence, and restrain its
rapidity. Though therefore we can conceive without difficulty, that the
Shepherd in his poetic effusions might contemplate only the _external
objects_ which were presented to him, yet we cannot so readily believe
that the mind in framing a Theogony, or in assigning distinct provinces
to the Powers who were supposed to preside over Nature, could in its
first Essays proceed with so calm and deliberate a pace through the
fields of invention, as that its work should be the perfect pattern of
just and corrected composition.

From these observations laid together, your Lordship will judge of the
state of Lyric Poetry, when it was first introduced, and will perhaps be
inclined to assent to a part of the proposition laid down in the
beginning, “that as Poets in general are more apt to set up a false
standard of excellence than Philosophers are, so the Lyric Poet was
exposed to this danger more immediately than any other member of the
same profession.” Whether or not the preceding Theory can be justly
applied to the works of the first Lyric Poets, and how far the Ode
continued to be characterised by it in the more improved state of
ancient Learning, are questions which can only be answered by taking a
short view of both.

It is indeed, my Lord, much to be regretted, that we have no _certain
guide_ to lead us through that labyrinth in which we _grope for the
discovery_ of Truth, and are so often _entangled in the maze_ of Error
when we attempt to explain the origin of Science, or to trace the
manners of remote antiquity. I should be at a loss to enter upon this
perplexed and intricate subject, if I did not know, that History has
already familiarized to your Lordship the principal objects which occur
in this research, and that it is the effect of extensive knowledge and
superior penetration to invigorate the effort of Diffidence, and to
repress the surmises of undistinguishing Censure.

The Inhabitants of Greece who make so eminent a figure in the records of
Science, as well as in the History of the progression of Empire, were
originally a savage and lawless people, who lived in a state of war with
one another, and possessed a desolate country, from which they expected
to be driven by the invasion of a foreign enemy[14]. Even after they had
begun to emerge from this state of absolute barbarity, and had built a
kind of cities to restrain the encroachments of the neighbouring
nations, the inland country continued to be laid waste by the
depredations of robbers, and the maritime towns were exposed to the
incursions of pirates[15]. Ingenious as this people naturally were, the
terror and suspence in which they lived for a considerable time, kept
them unacquainted with the Arts and Sciences which were flourishing in
other countries. When therefore a Genius capable of civilizing them
started up, it is no wonder that they held him in the highest
estimation, and concluded that he was either descended from, or inspired
by some of those Divinities whose praises he was employed in rehearsing.

    [Footnote 14: Thucyd. Lib. I.]

    [Footnote 15: Id. ibid.]

Such was the situation of Greece, when Linus, Orpheus, and Museus, the
first Poets whose names have reached posterity, made their appearance on
the theatre of life. These writers undertook the difficult task of
reforming their countrymen, and of laying down a theological and
philosophical system[16]. --We are informed by Diogenes Laertius, that
Linus, the Father of Grecian Poetry, was the son of Mercury and the Muse
Urania, and that he sung of the Generation of the world, of the course
of the sun and moon, of the origin of animals, and of the principles of
vegetation[17]. He taught, says the same Author, that all things were
formed at one time, and that they were jumbled together in a Chaos, till
the operation of a Mind introduced regularity.

    [Footnote 16: Authors are not agreed as to the Persons who
    introduced into Greece the principles of philosophy. Tatian will
    have it that the Greek Philosophy came originally from Ægypt.
    Orat. con. Graec. While Laertius (who certainly might have been
    better informed) will allow Foreigners to have had no share in it.
    He ascribes its origin to Linus, and says expressly, Αφ’ Ἑλληνων
    ηρξε φιλοσοφια ἡς και αυτο το ονομα την Βαρβαρον απεστραπτε
    προσηγοριαν. Laer. in Prœm.]

    [Footnote 17: This account of the subjects on which Linus wrote,
    suggests a further prejudice in favour of Laertius’s opinion as to
    the origin of Greek Philosophy. He has preserved the first line of
    his Poem.

      Ην ποτε χρονος οὑτος εν ὡ ἁμα παντ’ επεφυκει. Id. ibid.]

After all, however, we must acknowledge, that so complex, so
diversified, and so ingenious a system as the Greek Theology, was too
much for an _uninstructed_ Genius, however exuberant, to have conceived
in its full extent. Accordingly we are told, that both Orpheus and
Museus travelled into Ægypt, and infused the traditionary learning of a
cultivated people into the minds of their own illiterate countrymen[18].
To do this the more effectually, they composed Hymns, or short sonnets,
in which their meaning was couched under the veil of beautiful allegory,
that their lessons might at once arrest the imagination, and be
impressed upon the Memory[19]. This, my Lord, we are informed by the
great Critic, was the first dress in which Poetry made its

    [Footnote 18: Herod. Lib. I. c. 49.]

    [Footnote 19: Univ. Hist. Vol. VI. p. 221.]

    [Footnote 20: Οἱ μεν γαρ σεμνοτεροι τας καλας εμιμουντο πραξεις
    και τας των τοιουτων τυχας‧ οἱ δε ευτελεστεροι τας των φαυλων
    πρωτον ψογους ποιουντες, ὡσπερ ἑτεροι ὙΜΝΟΥΣ και ΕΓΚΩΜΙΑ. Arist.
    Poet. c. 4.]

Of Orpheus we know little more with certainty, than that the subjects of
his poems were the formation of the world, the offspring of Saturn, the
birth of the Giants, and the origin of man[21]. These were favourite
topics among the first Poets, and the discussion of them tended at once
to enlarge the imagination, and to give the reasoning faculty a proper
degree of exercise. This Poet however, though he obtained the highest
honours from his contemporaries, yet seems to have managed his subjects
in so loose a manner, that succeeding Writers will not allow him to have
been a Philosopher[22]. At present we are not sufficiently qualified to
determine his character, as most of the pieces which pass under his name
are ascribed to one Onomacritus, an Athenian who flourished about the
time of Pisistratus. That the writings of Orpheus were highly and
extensively useful, is a truth confirmed by the most convincing
evidence. The extraordinary effects which his Poetry and Music are said
to have produced, however absurd and incredible in themselves, are yet
unquestioned proofs that he was considered as a superior Genius, and
that his countrymen thought themselves highly indebted to him. Horace
gives an excellent account of this matter in very few words.

  _Sylvestres homines, Sacer, Interpresque Deorum
  Cædibus, & victu fœdo deterruit Orpheus,
  Dictus ob hoc lenire tigres, rabidosque leones._[23]

  The wood-born race of men when Orpheus tam’d,
  From acorns, and from mutual blood reclaim’d.
  The Priest divine was fabled to assuage
  The tiger’s fierceness, and the lion’s rage.  FRANCIS.

    [Footnote 21: Orph. Argonaut.]

    [Footnote 22: Εγω δε ει τον περι θεων εξαγορευσαντα τοιαυτα‧ χρη
    φιλοσοφον καλειν ουκ οιδα τινα δει προσαγορευιν τον το ανθρωπειον
    παθος αφειδουντο τοις θεοις προστριψαι, και τα σπασιως ὑπο τοιων
    ανθρωπων αισχρουργουμενα, και τω ταυτης φωνης οργανω. Laer. ub.

    [Footnote 23: Hor. de Art. Poet.]

Museus, the Pupil of Orpheus, is as little known to posterity as his
Master. His only genuine production which has reached the present times
is an Ode to Ceres, a piece indeed full of exuberance and variety[24].
The Ancients in general seem to have entertained a very high opinion of
his Genius and writings, as he is said to have been the first person who
composed a regular Theogony, and is likewise celebrated as the inventor
of the Sphere[25]. His principle was that all things would finally
resolve into the same materials of which they were originally
compounded[26]. Virgil assigns him a place of distinguishied eminence in
the plains of Elysium.

       _---- sic est affata Sibylla.
  Musæum ante omnes, medium nam plurima turba
  Hunc habet, atque humeris extantem suspicit altis[27]._

       ---- The Sibyl thus address’d
  Musæus, rais’d o’er all the circling throng.

    [Footnote 24: The beautiful story of Hero and Leander, which was
    written by a person of his name, is thought to have been the work
    of a Grammarian who lived about the 5th century: a conjecture
    supported by very probable evidence. See Kenneth’s life of Museus,
    p. 10.]

    [Footnote 25: Diogen. Laert. ub. sup.]

    [Footnote 26: Diogen. Laert. ub. sup.]

    [Footnote 27: Æneid. Lib. 6.]

It is generally allowed that Amphion, who was a native of Bæotia,
brought music into Greece from Lydia, and invented that instrument (the
Lyre) from which Lyric Poetry takes its name[28]. Before his time they
had no regular knowledge of this divine art, though we must believe that
they were acquainted with it in some measure, as dancing is an art in
which we are informed that the earliest Poets were considerable

    [Footnote 28: It may not be amiss here to give the reader some
    idea of the structure of the Ancient lyre, whose music is said to
    have produced such wonderful effects. This instrument was composed
    of an hollow frame, over which several strings were thrown,
    probably in some such manner as we see them in an harp, or a
    dulcimer. They did not so much resemble the viol, as the neck of
    that instrument gives it peculiar advantages, of which the
    Ancients seem to have been wholly ignorant. The Musician stood
    with a short bow in his right hand, and a couple of small thimbles
    upon the fingers of his left: with these he held one end of the
    string, from which an acute sound was to be drawn, and then struck
    it immediately with the bow. In the other parts he swept over
    every string alternately, and allowed each of them to have its
    full sound. This practice became unnecessary afterwards, when the
    instrument was improved by the addition of new strings, to which
    the sounds corresponded. Horace tells us, that in his time the
    lyre had seven strings, and that it was much more musical than it
    had been originally. Addressing himself to Mercury, he says

                 ---- _Te docilis magistro.
      Movit Amphion lapides canendo:
      Tuque Testudo, resonare septem
                 Callida nervis;
      Nec loquax olim, neque grata_ &c. Carm. Lib. III. Od. 11.

    For a further account of this instrument, we shall refer the
    reader to Quintilian’s Institutions. Lib. XII. c. 10.]

    [Footnote 29: Particularly Orpheus and Museus. Lucian says in the
    general. Τελετην αρχαιαν ουδεμιαν εστιν εὑρειν ανου ορχησεως. Lib.
    de Salt.]

Such, my Lord, was the character of the first Lyric Poets, and such were
the subjects upon which they exercised invention. We have seen, in the
course of this short detail, that these Authors attempted to civilize a
barbarous people, whose imagination it was necessary to seize by every
possible expedient; and upon whom chastised composition would have
probably lost its effect, as its beauties are not perceptible to the
rude and illiterate. That they employed this method principally to
instruct their countrymen is more probable, when we remember that the
rudiments of learning were brought from Ægypt, a country in which Fable
and Allegory remarkably predominated[30]. By conversing with this
people, it is natural to suppose that men of impetuous imaginations
would imbibe their manner, and would adopt that species of composition
as the most proper, which was at the same time agreeable to their own
inclination, and authorised as expedient by the example of others.

From the whole, my Lord, we may conclude with probability, that the
Greek Hymn was originally a loose allegorical Poem, in which Imagination
was permitted to take its full career, and sentiment was rendered at
once obscure and agreeable, by being screened behind a veil of the
richest poetic imagery.

    [Footnote 30: This allegorical learning was so much in use among
    the Ægyptians, that the Disciples of a Philosopher were bound by
    an oath. Εν ὑποκρυφοις ταυτα εχειν‧ και τοις απαιδευτοις και
    αμνητοις μη μεταδεδιναι. Vid. Seld. de Diis Syr.]

The loose fragments of these early writers which have come down to our
times, render this truth as conspicuous as the nature of the subject
will permit. A Theogony, or an account of the procession of fabulous
Deities, was a theme on which Imagination might display her inventive
power in its fullest extent. Accordingly Hesiod introduces his work with
recounting the genealogy of the Muses, to whom he assigns “an apartment
and attendants, near the summit of snowy Olympus[31].” These Ladies, he
tells us, “came to pay him a visit, and complimented him with a scepter
and a branch of laurel, when he was feeding his flock on the mountain of
Helicon[32].” Some tale of this kind it was usual with the Poets to
invent, that the vulgar in those ages of fiction and ignorance might
consider their persons as sacred, and that the _offspring of their
imaginations_ might be regarded as _the children of Truth_.

    [Footnote 31:    ---- Ἡσιν αοιδη
      Μεμβλεται, εν στηθεσσιν ακηδεα θυμον εχουσαις
      Τυτθον απ’ ακροτατης κορυφης νιφεντος Ολυμπου.
      Ενθα σφιν λιπαροι τε χοροι, και δωματα καλα.
          Theog. a lin. 61.]

    [Footnote 32:
      Ὡς εφασαν Ηουραι Μεγαλου Διος αρτιεπειαι·
      Και μοι σκεπτρον εδον, δαφνης εριθελεος οζον
      Δρεψασθαι θηητον· επενευσαν δε μοι αυδην &c.
          Theogon. l. 30.]

From the same licentious use of Allegory and Metaphor sprung the Fables
of the wars of the Giants, of the birth and education of Jupiter, of the
dethroning of Saturn, and of the provinces assigned by the Supreme to
the Inferior Deities; all of which are subjects said to have been
particularly treated by Orpheus[33]. The love of Fable became indeed so
remarkably prevalent in the earliest ages, that it is now impossible in
many instances to distinguish real from apparent truth in the History of
these times, and to discriminate the persons who were useful members of
society, from those who exist only in the works of a Poet, whose aim was
professedly to excite Admiration. Thus every event of importance was
disfigured by the colouring of poetic narration, and by ascribing to one
man the separate actions which perhaps were performed by several persons
of one name[34], we are now wholly unable to disentangle truth from a
perplexed and complicated detail of real and fictitious incidents.

    [Footnote 33: Orph. Hym. in Apollon. Rhod.]

    [Footnote 34: Of this, History furnisheth many examples. When one
    man made an eminent figure in any profession, the actions of other
    persons who had the same name were ascribed to him; and it was
    perhaps partly for this reason that we find different cities
    contending for the honour of giving birth to men of Genius, or
    eminence. Callimachus in his Hymn to Jupiter makes an artful use
    of this circumstance.

      Εν δοιη μαλα θυμος· επει γενος αμφεριστον.
      Ζευ σε μεν Ι’ δαιοισιν εν ουρεσι φασι γενεσθαι
      Ζευ σε δ’ εν Αρκαδιη· ποτεροι Πατερ εψευσαντο
      Κρητες αει ψευσται· και γαρ ταφον, ὡ ανα σειο
      Κρητες ετεκτηναντο· συ δ’ ου θανες· εσσι γαρ αιει.
          Callim. p. 4.]

It appears likewise from these shreds of antiquity, that the subjects of
the Hymn were not sufficiently limited, as we sometimes find one of them
addressed to several Deities, whose different functions recurring
constantly to the mind must have occasioned unavoidable obscurity[35].
The Poet by this means was led into numberless digressions, in which the
remote points of connection will be imperceptible to the reader, who
cannot place himself in some situation similar to that of the Writer,
and attend particularly to the character and manners of the period at
which he wrote.

    [Footnote 35: Thus Theocritus.

      Ὑμνεομες Ληδας. Τε και αιγιοχω Διος Ὑιω,
      Καστορα και φοβερον Πολυδευκεα πυξ ερεθιζεν
      Ὑμνεομες και Δις, και το Τριτον.]

Your Lordship, without the testimony of experience, would hardly believe
that a species of composition which derived its origin from, and owed
its peculiarities to the circumstances we have mentioned, could have
been considered in an happier æra as a pattern worthy the imitation of
cultivated genius, and the perusal of a polished and civilized people.
One is indeed ready to conclude, at the first view, that a mode of
writing which was assumed for a particular purpose, and was adopted to
the manners of an illiterate age, might at least have undergone
considerable alterations in succeeding periods, and might have received
improvements proportioned to those which are made in other branches of
the same art. But the fact is, that while the other branches of poetry
have been gradually modelled by the rules of criticism, the Ode hath
only been changed in a few external circumstances, and the enthusiasm,
obscurity and exuberance, which characterised it when first introduced,
continue to be ranked among its capital and discriminating excellencies.

To account for this phenomenon, my Lord, I need only remind your
Lordship of a truth which reflexion has, no doubt, frequently
suggested;--that the rules of criticism are originally drawen, not from
the speculative idea of perfection in an art, but from the work of that
Artist to whom either merit or accident hath appropriated the most
established character. From this position it obviously follows, that
such an art must arrive at once to its highest perfection, as the
attempts of succeeding performers are estimated not by their own
intrinsic _value_ or demerit, but by their conformity to a standard
which is previously set before them. It hath happened fortunately for
the republic of letters, that the two higher species of poetry are
exempted from the bad consequences which might have followed an exact
observation of this rule. An early and perfect standard was settled to
regulate the Epopee, and the Drama was susceptible of _gradual
improvement_, as Luxury augmented the subjects, and decorated the
machinery of the theatre. We have already seen that Lyric Poetry was not
introduced with the advantages of the former, and reflection must
convince us, that it is not calculated to gain the slow and
imperceptible accessions of the latter. We may observe however in the
general, that as the opinions of the bulk of mankind in speculative
matters are commonly the result of accident rather than the consequences
of reflection, so it becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible, in
some instances to point out a defect in an _established model_ without
incurring the censure of the multitude. Such, my Lord, is the nature of
man, and so trifling and capricious are the circumstances upon which his
sentiments depend.

Accustomed as your Lordship has been to survey the improved manners of
an enlightned age, you will contemplate with pleasure an happier aera in
the progression of Science, when the Ode from being confined wholly to
fictitious Theology, was transposed to the circle of Elegance and the
Graces. Such is its appearance in the writings ot Anacreon, of Horace,
and in the two fragments of Sappho.

Anacreon was nearly contemporary with that Onomacritus, whom we have
mentioned as the Author of those poems which are ascribed to Orpheus.
He flourished between the 60th and the 70th Olympiad. His pieces are the
offspring of genius and indolence. His subjects are perfectly suited to
his character. The devices which he would have to be carved upon a
silver cup are extremely ingenious.

       ---- Διος γονον
  Βακχον Ευιον ἡμιν.
  Μυστιν αματε Κυπριν
  Ὑμεναιοις κροτουσαν.
  Και Εροτας αποπλους
  Και χαριτας γελωσας, &c.[36]

    ---- The race of Jove,
  Bacchus whose happy smiles approve;
  The Cyprian Queen, whose gentle hand
  Is quick to tye the nuptial band;
  The sporting Loves unarm’d appear,
  The Graces loose and laughing near.

    [Footnote 36: Anac. Carm. p. 35.]

Sweetness and natural elegance characterise the writings of this Poet,
as much as carelessness and ease distinguished his manners. In some of
his pieces there is exuberance and even wildness of imagination, as in
that particularly which is addressed to a young girl, where he wishes
alternately to be transformed into a mirror, a coat, a stream,
a bracelet, and a pair of shoes, for the different purposes which he
recites[37]. This is meer sport and wantonness, and the Poet would
probably have excused himself for it, by alledging that he took no
greater liberties in his own sphere than his predecessors of the same
profession had done in another. His indolence and love of ease is often
painted with great simplicity and elegance[38], and his writings abound
with those beautiful and unexpected turns which are characteristic of
every species of the Ode[39].

    [Footnote 37: Anac. p. 87.]

    [Footnote 38: This appears remarkably in that piece, where he
    gives so ingenuous a character of himself.

      Ὁν μοι μελει Γυγου
      Του Σαρδεων Ανακτος
      Το σημερον μελει μοι.  p. 28.]

    [Footnote 39: The reader will find a striking example of this
    beauty, in the Ode addressed to a swallow, where he runs a
    comparison betwixt the liberty of that bird and his own bondage.

      Συ μεν φιλη χελιδων, &c.  p. 60.]

Though we must allow Anacreon to have been an original Genius, yet it is
probable, as I formerly observed, that he took Lyric Poetry as he found
it; and without attempting to correct imperfections, of which he might
have been sensible, made on the contrary the same use of this which a
man of address will do of the foibles of his neighbour, by employing
them to promote his own particular purposes. We may conclude indeed from
the character of this Poet, that he was not fitted to strike out new
lights in the field of Science, or to make considerable deviations from
the practice of his Predecessors. He was, no doubt, of opinion likewise,
that his manner was authorised in some measure by the example of the
Mitylenian Poetess, whose pieces are celebrated for softness and
delicacy[40], and who possessed above all others the art of selecting
the happiest circumstances which she placed likewise in the most
striking points of view[41]. Longinus produceth, as a proof of this, her
fine Ode inscribed to a favourite attendant, in which the progression of
that tumultuous emotion, which deprived her of her senses, is described
with peculiar elegance and sensibility[42].

    [Footnote 40: Thus Horace represents her

      _Æoliis fidibus quærentem
      Sappho puellis de popularibus_. Lib. II. Od. 13.]

    [Footnote 41: Θεου ἡ Σαπφω τα συμβαινοντα ταις ερωτικαις μανιαις
    παθηματα εκ των παρεπομενων, και εκ της αληθειας, αυτης ἑκαστοτε
    λαμβανει, &c. De Lub. c. 10.]

    [Footnote 42: Longinus speaks with transport of this beautiful
    fragment of antiquity. Ου θαυμαζεις ὡς ὑπ’ αυτο την ψυχην το σωμα
    τας ακοας την γλωσσαν τας οψεις την χροαν, πανθ’ ὡς αλλοτρια
    διοιχομενοι επιζητει. Και καθ’ ὑπεναντιωσεις ἁμα ψυχεται, καιεται,
    αλογιστει, φρονει--ἱνα μη εν τι περι αυτην παθος φαινεται, παθων
    δε ΣΥΝΟΔΟΣ.  De. Lub. c. 10.]

We are at a loss to judge of the character of Alcæus, the countryman and
rival of Sappho, because scarce any fragment of his writings has reached
the present times. He is celebrated by the Ancients as a spirited
Author, whose poems abounded with examples of the sublime and vehement.
Thus Horace says, when comparing him to Sappho, that he sung so forcibly
of wars, disasters, and shipwrecks, that the Ghosts stood still to hear
him in silent astonishment[43]. The same Poet informs us, that he
likewise sung of Bacchus, Venus, the Muses, and Cupid[44]. From these
sketches of his character we may conclude that his pieces were
distinguished by those marks of rapid and uncontrolled imagination,
which we have found to characterise the works of the first Lyric Poets.

    [Footnote 43:
      _Te sonantem plenius aureo
      Alcæe plectro, dura navis,
      Dura fugæ mala, dura belli.
      Utrumque sacro digna silentio
      Mirantur Utmbræ dicere._  ----Hor. ub. sup.]

    [Footnote 44:
      _Liberum & Musas, Veneremque & illi
      Semper hærentem puerum canebat,
      Et Lycum nigris oculis nigroque
        Crine decorum._  Carm. Lib. I. Od. 32.]

Your Lordship needs not be told, that the Roman Poet who had the
advantage of improving upon so many originals, takes in a greater
variety of subjects than any of his predecessors, and runs into more
diffuse and diversified measure. I have said, my Lord, that his subjects
are more diversified, because in the character of a Lyric Poet we must
consider him as a professed imitator both of Anacreon and of Pindar. In
the former point of view he falls under our immediate cognisance; in the
latter we shall take a view of him afterwards, when we come to examine
the works of that great Original, whose example he follows.

The Reader will observe, that in the shorter Odes of Horace there is
commonly one leading thought, which is finely enlivened with the graces
of description. A constant Unity of sentiment is therefore preserved in
each of them, and the abrupt starts and sallies of passion are so
artfully interwoven with the principal subject, that upon a review of
the whole piece, we find it to be a perfect imitation of Nature. This
Poet (whose judgment appears to have been equal to his imagination) is
particularly careful to observe propriety in his most irregular
excursions, and the vivacity of his passion is justified by the
circumstances in which he is supposed to be placed. The diction of these
poems is likewise adapted with great accuracy to the sentiment, as it is
generally concise, forcible, and expressive. Brevity of language ought
indeed particularly to characterise this species of the Ode, in which
the Poet writes from immediate feeling, and is intensely animated by his
subject. Delicacy is likewise indispensibly requisite, because the
reader is apt to be disgusted with the least appearance of constraint or
harshness in a poem, whose principal excellence lies in the happy and
elegant turn of a pointed reflection. In short, little sallies and
picturesque epithets have a fine effect in pieces of this kind, as by
the former the passions are forcibly inflamed, and by the latter their
effects are feelingly exposed.

Of all these delicate beauties of composition, the Odes of Horace abound
with pregnant and striking examples. Sometimes he discovers the strength
of his passion, when he is endeavouring to forget it, by a sudden and
lively turn which is wholly unexpected. Thus he tells Lydia,

  _Non si me satis audias,
  Speres perpetuum dulcia barbare
  Lædentem oscula, quæ Venus
  Quinta parte sui nectaris imbuit[45]._

    [Footnote 45: Carm. Lib. I. Od. 13.]

Sometimes his pictures are heightned with beautiful imagery, and he
seizeth the imagination before he appeals to reason. Thus, when he is
advising his friend not to mourn any longer for a man who was dead,
instead of proposing the subject immediately he says,

  _Non semper imbres nubibus hispidos
  Manant in agros_, &c.[46]
  Not always snow, and hail, and rain
  Defend, and beat the fruitful plain.  CREECH.

    [Footnote 46: Carm. Lib. II. Od. 9.]

On other occasions he breaks abruptly into a short and spirited

  _Auditis? an me ludit amabilis
  Insania? audire et videor pios
  Errare per lucos, amœnæ
  Quos et aquae subeunt et auræ[47]._

  Dos’t hear? or sporting in my brain,
  What wildly-sweet deliriums reign!
  Lo! mid Elysium’s balmy groves,
  Each happy shade transported roves!
  I see the living scene display’d,
  Where rills and breathing gales sigh murmuring thro’ the shade.

    [Footnote 47: Id. Lib. III. Od. 4.]

On some subjects he is led imperceptibly into a soft melancholy, which
peculiar elegance of expression renders extremely agreeable in the end
of this poem. There is a fine stroke of this kind in his Ode to
Septimus, with whom he was going to fight against the Cantabrians.
He figures out a poetical recess for his old age, and then says,

  _Ille te mecum locus, et beatæ
  Postulant arces, ibi tu calentem
  Debita sparges lachryma favillam
          Vatis amici[48]._

  That happy place, that sweet retreat.
  The charming hills that round it rise,
  Your latest hours, and mine await;
  And when your Poet Horace dyes;
  There the deep sigh thy poet-friend shall mourn,
  And pious tears bedew his glowing urn.  FRANCIS.

    [Footnote 48: Carm. Lib. II. Od. 6.]

Upon the whole, my Lord, you will perhaps be of opinion, that though the
subjects of this second species of the Ode are wholly different from
these of the first; yet the same variety of images, boldness of
transition, figured diction, and rich colouring which characterised this
branch of poetry on its original introduction, continue to be uniformly
and invariably remarkable in the works of succeeding performers.
Reflection indeed will induce us to acknowledge, that in this branch of
Lyric Poetry the Author may be allowed to take greater liberties than we
could permit him to do in that which has formerly been mentioned. It is
the natural effect of any passion by which the mind is agitated, to
break out into short and abrupt sallies which are expressive of its
impetuosity, and of an imagination heated, and starting in the tumult of
thought from one object to another. To follow therefore the workings of
the mind in such a situation and to paint them happily, is in other
words to copy Nature. But your Lordship will observe, that the
transitions of the Poet who breaks from his subject to exhibit an
historical detail whose connection with it is remote, or who is
solicitous to display the fertility of a rich imagination at the expence
of perspicuity, when it is not supposed that his passions are inflamed:
you will observe, my Lord, that his digressions are by no means so
excusable as those of the other, because obscurity in the latter may be
an excellence, whereas in the former it is always a blemish.

It is only necessary to observe farther on this head, that the
difference of the subjects treated by Anacreon and Horace, from those of
Orpheus, Museus, &c. is owing to the different characters of the ages in
which they lived. We could not indeed have expected to meet with any
thing very serious, at any period, from so indolent and careless a
writer as Anacreon. But Luxury even in his time had made considerable
progress in the world. The principles of Theology were sufficiently well
established. Civil polity had succeeded to a state of confusion, and men
were become fond of ease and affluence, of wine and women. Anacreon
lived at the court of a voluptuous Monarch[49], and had nothing to
divert his mind from the pursuit of happiness in his own way. His Odes
therefore are of that kind, in which the gentler Graces peculiarly
predominate. Sappho and Horace were employed in the same manner. The
Lady had a Gallant, of whom it appears that she was extremely fond, and
the Roman Poet lived in a polite court, was patronized by a man of
distinguished eminence, and was left at full liberty to pursue that
course of life to which he was most powerfully prompted by inclination.

    [Footnote 49: Polycrates, Tyrant of Samos.]

The poetic vein in these Writers takes that turn, which a stranger must
have expected upon hearing their characters. Their pieces are gay,
entertaining, loose, elegant, and ornamented with a rich profusion of
the graces of description. The reader of sensibility will receive the
highest pleasure from perusing their works, in which the internal
movements of the mind warmed by imagination, or agitated by passion, are
exposed in the happiest and most agreeable attitudes. This, perhaps, is
the principal excellence of the looser branches of poetic composition.
The mind of the Poet in these pieces is supposed to be intensely kindled
by his subject. His Fancy assumes the rein, and the operation of reason
is for a moment suspended. He follows the impulse of enthusiasm, and
throws off those simple but lively strokes of Nature and Passion, which
can only be felt, and are beyond imitation.

                     _Ut sibi quivis
  Speret idem, sudet multum, frustraque laboret
  Ausus idem_[50]!

  All may hope to imitate with ease:
  Yet while they drive the same success to gain,
  Shall find their labour and their hopes are vain.  FRANCIS.

    [Footnote 50: Hor. de Art. Poet.]

The unequal measures which are used in these shorter Odes, are likewise
adapted with great propriety to the subjects of which they treat. Horace
says, that this inequality of numbers was originally fixed upon as
expressive of the complaints of a lover; but he adds, that they became
quickly expressive likewise of his exultation.

  _Versibus impariter junctis Querimonia primum
  Post etiam inclusa est voti sententia compos[51]._

  Unequal measures first were taught to flow,
  Sadly expressive of the Lover’s woe.

    [Footnote 51: Id. ibid.]

These looser and shorter measures distinguish this branch of the Ode
from the Hymn which was composed in heroic measure[52], and from the
Pindaric Ode (as it is commonly called) to which the dithyrambique or
more diversified stanza was particularly appropriated. Of the shorter
Ode therefore it may be said with propriety,

    _Son stile impetueux souvent marche au hazarde
    Chez un beau disordre est un effect de l’art[53]._

    [Footnote 52: Aristotle expressly mentions this circumstance, when
    he explains the Origin of the Drama. Παραφανεισας δε της Τραγωδιας
    και Κωμωδιας, οἱ εφ’ ἑκατερον τη ποιησεν ἁρμωντες κατα την οικειαν
    φυσιν οἱ μεν αντι των Ιαμβων, Κωμωδοποιοι εγενοντο‧ οἱ δε αντι των
    Επων τραγωδιδασκαλοι, δια τω μειζω και ενεμοτερα τα σχηματα ειναι
    ταυτα εκεινων. Arist. Poet. c. 4.]

    [Footnote 53: Boil. Art. Poet.]

Thus, my Lord, we have taken a view of the Lyric poetry of the Ancients,
as it appeared originally in the works of the earliest Poets, and as it
was afterwards employed to enliven a train of more elegant and delicate
sentiment. I have attempted, in the course of this enquiry, to follow
the lights which Antiquity throws on this subject as closely as
possible, to explain facts by placing them in connection, and to
illustrate reasoning by example.

Your Lordship’s acquaintance with the principles of civil Government,
and your experience of the effects of education have enabled you to
observe the _character_, which the Manners _of an age_ stamp upon the
productions of the Authors who live in it. Experience will convince us,
that these general revolutions resemble more nearly than we are apt to
imagine at first view, the circumstances of an Individual at the
different periods of life. In one age he is captivated by the beauties
of description, at another he is fond of the deductions of Philosophy;
his opinions vary with his years, and his actions, as directed by these,
are proportionably diversified. In all these circumstances however, the
original bias which he received from Nature remains unalterable, and the
peculiarity of his character appears conspicuous, notwithstanding the
accidental diversity of fluctuating sentiments. It is to be expected in
such a situation, that changes similar to these will usually take place
in arts which are susceptible of perpetual mutation; and of this a
particular instance is exhibited in the preceding detail. Another branch
of this subject remains to be considered, and on this I shall give your
Lordship the trouble of perusing a few remarks in a subsequent letter.
Permit me only to observe, from what hath already been advanced, that
the ingredients of Genius are often bestowed by Nature, when the polish
of Art is wanted to mould the original materials into elegant
proportion. He who possesseth the former in the highest degree may be a
Shakespear or an Æschylus; but both were united in forming the more
perfect characters of Demosthenes and Homer.


The view, my Lord, of the Lyric Poetry of the Ancients which has been
taken in the preceding part of this Essay, may probably have suggested a
Question to your Lordship, to which it is necessary that an answer
should be given, before I enter upon that part of the subject which
remains to be considered. From the observations formerly made, I am
afraid that your Lordship has been looking upon my procedure, as you
would have viewed that of the honest Irishman, who pulled an old house
about his ears, before he had reflected that it was necessary to
substitute a better in its room. In the same manner you will perhaps
think, that I have taken a good deal of pains to point out the _Defects_
of Lyric Poetry, and to assign the _Causes_ which originally produced
them; without however establishing the rules of this branch of the Art,
and without enquiring what proportion of poetic embellishment naturally
belongs to it, considered as distinguished from every other species.

Permit me therefore to observe, that my intention in the preceding
remarks will be greatly mistaken, if, when I have been endeavouring to
expose the _abuse_ of imagination, it should be thought, either that I
would wholly repress the excursions of this noble Faculty, or that I
would confine its exercise within narrow limits. It must be obvious to
every person who reflects on this subject, that Imagination presides
over every branch of the Poetic Art, and that a certain infusion of her
peculiar beauties is necessary to constitute its real and essential
character. The Poet therefore of every denomination may be said with
great propriety in an higher sense than the Orator, “to paint to the
eyes, and touch the soul, and combat with shining arms[54].” It is from
this consideration that Horace says, speaking of Poetry in general,

  _Descriptas servare vices, operumque colores,
  Cur ego si nequeo ignoroque, Poeta salutor_[55]?

    [Footnote 54: Les grands Orateurs n’emploient que des expressions
    riches capables de faire valoir leurs raisons. Ils tachent
    d’eblouir les yeux, et l’esprit, et pour ce sujet ils ne
    combattent qu’avec des armes brillantes. Lam. Rhet. Liv. IV.
    c. 13.]

    [Footnote 55: Hor. de Arte Poet.]

Though the influence of imagination on every species of Poetry is so
obvious, as not to stand in need of illustration, yet we must observe at
the same time, that this power is exerted in different degrees[56], as
the Poet is led by the nature of that subject to which his Genius hath
received the most remarkable bias. Thus the simple beauties of the
Eclogue would appear in the same light, when transposed to the Epopee,
as plants brought to forced vegetation in a Green-house must do to those
who have seen them flourishing in their native soil, and ripened by the
benignity of an happier climate. In the one case they are considered as
unnatural productions, whose beauty is surpassed by the Natives of the
soil; in the other they are regarded as just and decent ornaments, whose
real excellence is properly estimated. The same remark may be applied
indiscriminately to all the other branches of this art. Though they are
originally the offspring of _one Parent_, yet there are certain
characteristic marks, by which a general resemblance is fully
distinguished from perfect similarity.

    [Footnote 56: Una cuique proposita lex, suus decor est. Habet
    tamen omnis Eloquentia aliquid commune. Quintil. Instit. Lib. X
    c. II.]

It is necessary to observe in general on this subject, that whatever
degree of superiority the reasoning Faculty ought ultimately to possess
in the sphere of Composition, we are not to consider this Power as
acting the same part in the work of a Poet, which it should always act
in that of a Philosopher. In the performance of the latter, an appeal to
reason is formally stated, and is carried on by the process of connected
argumentation; whereas in that of the former the Judgment is
_principally_ employed in the disposition of materials[57]. Thus the
Philosopher and the Poet are equally entitled to the character of
judicious, when the arguments of the one are just and conclusive, and
when the images of the other are apposite and natural.

    [Footnote 57: In the Epopee we judge of the Genius of the Poet,
    by the variety and excellence of those materials with which
    Imagination enricheth his subject. His Judgment appears in the
    disposition of particular images, and in the general relation
    which every subordinate part bears to the principal action of the
    Poem. Thus it is the business of this Faculty, as an ingenious
    Critic says, “Considerer comme un corps qui no devoit pas avoir
    des membres de natures differentes, et independens les uns des
    autres.” Bossu du Poem. Epiq. Liv. II. ch. 2. It is true indeed,
    that Tragedy is rather an address to the passions than to the
    imagination of mankind. To the latter however we must refer all
    those finer strokes of poetic painting, which actuate so forcibly
    the affections and the heart. We may, in short, easily conceive
    the importance of a warm imagination to the Dramatic Poet, by
    reflecting upon the coldness and indifference with which we peruse
    those pieces, which are not enlivened by the sallies of this
    Faculty when it is properly corrected. Though we must acknowledge
    that Passion seldom adopts the images of description, yet it must
    be owned at the same time, that neither can a person who wants
    imagination feel with sensibility the impulse of the Passions.
    A Poet may even merit a great encomium who excels in painting the
    effects, and in copying the language of Passion, though the
    Disposition of his work may be otherwise irregular and faulty.
    Thus Aristotle says of a celebrated dramatic Poet, Και Ὁ Ευριπιδης
    ει και τα αλλα μη ευ οικονομει, αλλα ΤΡΑΓΙΚΩΤΑΤΟΣ γε των Ποιητων
    φαινεται. De Poet. c. 13. Upon the whole therefore, Didactic or
    Ethical Poetry is the only species in which Imagination acts but a
    secondary part, because it is unquestionably the business of
    reason to fix upon the most forcible arguments, as well as to
    throw them into the happiest disposition. We have seen however,
    in some late performances, what superior advantages this branch of
    the Art receives from a just and proper infusion of the poetic

When your Lordship reflects on the Nature and End of Lyric Poetry,
it will appear to be at least as much characterised by the Graces of
ornament as any other species whatever. We have already seen that the
Ode was early consecrated to the purposes of Religion, and that it was
intended to raise Admiration by extolling the attributes of the Supreme
Being. On a subject of this nature the Poet probably thought, that
sublime and exuberant imagery was necessary to support the grandeur of
those sentiments which were naturally suggested to his mind[58]. Even
when these original topics were laid aside, and the Lyric Muse acted in
another sphere, her strains were still employed, either to commemorate
the actions of Deified Heroes, or to record the exploits of persons whom
rank and abilities rendered eminently conspicuous.

    [Footnote 58: For this reason, says an ingenious and learned
    Critic, L’Ode monte dans les Cieux, pour y empronter ses images et
    ses comparaisons du tonnerre, des astres, et des Dieux memes, &c.
    Reflex. Crit. Vol. I. Sect. 33.]

All these subjects afford a noble field for the play of imagination, and
it is a certain truth that the purity of composition is generally
defective, in proportion to that degree of sublimity at which the Poet
is capable of arriving[59]. Great objects are apt to confound and dazzle
the imagination. In proportion as this faculty expands to take them in,
its power of conceiving them distinctly becomes less adequate to the
subject; and when the mind is overwrought and drained as it were of
sentiment, it is no wonder that we find it sometimes attempting to
repair this loss, by substituting in the room of true sublimity an
affected pomp and exuberance of expression.

    [Footnote 59: Εγω δε οιδα μεν ὡς αἱ ὑπερβολαι μεγεθους φυσαι
    ἡκιστα καθαραι. Το γαρ εν παντα ακριβες, κινδυνος σμικροτητος‧ εν
    δε τοις μεγεθεσιν ὡσπερ εν τοις αγαν πλουτοις, ειναι τε χρη και
    παραλιγωρουμενον. Μη ποτε ηδε τουτο και αναγκαιουσιν, το τας μεν
    τα{πειν}ας και μεσας φυσεις δια το μηδαμη παρακινδυνευειν μηδε
    εφιεσθαι των ακρων, αδαμαρτητου ὡς επι το πολυ και ασφαλεστερας
    διαφερειν. Longin. de Sublim. Sect. 33.]

That we may conceive more fully the propriety of this observation with
regard to Lyric Poetry, I shall now proceed to enquire what part
Imagination naturally claims in the composition of the Ode, and what are
the errors into which the Poet is most ready to be betrayed.

As to the first, I need not tell your Lordship, that whatever Art
proposeth as an ultimate end to excite Admiration, must owe its
principal excellence to that Faculty of the mind which delights to
contemplate the sublime and the wonderful. This indeed may be called the
sphere, in which Imagination peculiarly predominates. When we attempt,
even in the course of conversation, to paint any object whose
magnificence hath made a strong impression upon the memory, we naturally
adopt the boldest and most forcible epithets we can think of, to convey
our own idea as compleatly as possible to the mind of another. We are
prompted by a powerful propensity to retouch our description again and
again, we select the most apposite images to animate our expression;
in short, we fall without perceiving it, into the stile and figures of
poetry. If then Admiration produceth such an effect upon the mind in the
more common occurrences of life, we may conceive the superior influence
which it must have upon the imagination of a Poet, when it is wound up
to the highest pitch, and is placing a great object in every point of
light by which its excellence may most conspicuously appear. It will at
least be obvious, that in such a situation the feelings of the heart
must be more intensely animated than in any other, not only because
Genius is supposed to be the Parent of Sensibility, but as the person
who is possessed of this quality exerts the full force of his talents
and art to produce one particular effect. He endeavours (as Longinus
expresseth it) “not to be seen himself, but to place the idea which he
hath formed before the very eye of another[60].”

    [Footnote 60: De Sublim. Sect. 32.]

It is a common mistake among people who have not examined this subject,
to suppose that a Poet may with greater ease excite Admiration when his
theme is sublime, than when it is such as we have been more accustomed
to contemplate[61]. This opinion is indeed plausible at the first view,
because it may be said that we go half-way to meet that Author, who
proposeth to reach an end by means which have an apparent probability to
effectuate it; but it will appear upon reflection, that this very
circumstance, instead of being serviceable, is in reality detrimental to
the Poet.

    [Footnote 61: The reader will observe, that Admiration through
    the whole of this part of the Essay is taken in the largest sense,
    as including a considerable degree of wonder, which is however a
    distinct feeling. The former is excited principally by the
    sublime; the latter by the new and uncommon. These feelings are
    united, when a subject of moderate dignity is treated in a sublime
    manner. See the Essay, p. 47, 48.]

Admiration is a passion which can never be excited in any person, unless
when there is something great and astonishing, either in the general
disposition of a work or in some of the separate members of which it is
formed. Thus we admire a whole piece, when we observe that the parts
which compose it are placed in a striking and uncommon combination, and
we even consider one happy stroke as an indication of genius in the
Artist. It frequently happens that the subject of a Poem is of such a
nature, as that its most essential members cannot be set in any light
distinct from that in which custom and experience has led us to consider
them. Thus when the Poet addressed an Hymn to Jupiter, Diana, or Apollo,
he could not be ignorant that his readers were well apprised of the
general manner, in which it was necessary to treat of these Personages,
and that they would have been offended, if he had presumed to differ in
any material point from the opinions handed down by traditionary
evidence. It was therefore necessary, that the Poet should manage a
subject of this kind in the same manner as Rubens and Caypel have
painted the Crucifixion, by either varying _the attitude_ of the
principal object to make it more sublime and admirable, or by rendering
some _inferior figure_ picturesque and animated which had escaped the
notice of his Predecessors. When therefore a sublime object is not shown
in some great and uncommon point of view, the Poet sinks in our esteem
as much as he would have risen in it, if we had found his Genius equal
to his Ambition.

As I have already borrowed one illustration from painting, permit me to
recall to your Lordship’s memory, that noble figure by which the Church
of Rome permitted Raphael to represent the Eternal Father, a figure
which has always been considered as one of the greatest ornaments of the
galleries of the Vatican[62]. Any person may conclude that the
difficulty of succeeding in this great attempt, must have bore some
proportion to the _temerity_ (shall we call it) of venturing to design
it. If this celebrated Artist had failed of throwing into that figure an
Air wholly extraordinary, his Design would either have been considered
as rash, or his imagination censured as deficient.

    [Footnote 62: Raphael is said to have stolen the expression of
    this figure from Michael Angelo, who was at work on the same
    subject in another part of the Vatican. We are indebted for this
    curious anecdote to the ingenious Abbe du Bos. See his Reflex.
    Crit. sur la Poes. et la Peint. Vol. II.]

On the contrary, the Poet who chuseth a more unpromising subject, and
displays an unexpected fertility of invention in his manner of treating
it, is admired as an Original Genius, and the perusal of his work
excites in our mind the most agreeable mixture of surprize and pleasure.

It must immediately occur to any reader who peruseth the Hymn of
Callimachus to Jupiter, that the subject was too great to be properly
managed by the correct and elegant genius of that writer. Instead of
enlarging (as we should have naturally expected) on any particular
perfection of this Supreme Deity, or even of enumerating in a poetical
manner the attributes which were commonly ascribed to Him, he entertains
us coldly with traditionary stories about His birth and education; and
the sublime part of his subject is either wholly omitted, or
superficially passed over. Thus speaking of the bird of Jove, he says

  Θηκαο δ’ οιωνον μεγ’ ὑπειροχον αγγελεωτην,
  Σων τεραων‧ ἁτ’ εμοισι φιλοις ενδεξια φαινοις[63].

  Thy bird, celestial messenger, who bears
  Thy mandate thro’ the sky;--O be his flight
  Propitious to my friends!

    [Footnote 63: Callim. Hymn. in Jov. a lin. 68.]

Pindar introduceth this King of the feathered race in a much nobler and
more animated manner. He exhibits with true poetic enthusiasm, as an
instance of the power of harmony, the following vivid picture.

  -- -- -- -- -- εὑ-
  δει ανα σκαπτω Διος αιετος, ω-
  κειαν πτερυγ’ αμφοτερω-
  θεν χαλαξεις,
  Αρχος αιωνων‧ -- --
  -- -- ὁ δε κνωσσων
  ὑγρον νωτον αιωρει, τεαις
  ρεπαισι κατασχομενος[64].

  The birds fierce Monarch drops his vengeful ire;
  Perch’d on the sceptre of the Olympian King,
  The thrilling darts of harmony he feels,
  And indolently hangs his rapid wing,
  While gentle sleep his closing eye-lids seals;
  And o’er his heaving limbs, in loose array
  To every balmy gale the ruffling feathers play.  WEST.

    [Footnote 64: Pind. Pyth. I.]

Homer never touches this sublime subject, without employing the utmost
reach of his invention to excite admiration in his reader.

  Ζευς δε Πατηρ ιδηθεν ευτροχον ἁρμα και ἱππους
  Ολυμπονδ’ εδιωκε, θεων δ’ εξεκετο θωκους.
  Τω δε και ἱππους μεν λυσε κλυτος Εννοσιγαιος
  Ἁρματα δ’ αμβρωμοισι τιθει, κατα λιτα πετασσας.
  Αυτος δε χρυσειον επι θρωνον ευρυοπα Ζευς
  Ἑζετο, τω δε ὑπο ποσσι μεγας πελεμιζετ’ Ολυμπος[65].

  ---- The Thund’rer meditates his flight
  From Ida’s summits to th’ Olympian height.
  Swifter than thought the wheels instinctive fly,
  Flame thro’ the vast of air, and reach the sky.
  ’Twas Neptune’s charge his coursers to unbrace,
  And fix the car on its immortal base, &c.
  He whose all-conscious eyes the world behold,
  Th’ eternal Thunderer, sate thron’d in gold.
  High heav’n the footstool of his feet He makes,
  And wide beneath him all Olympus shakes.  POPE.

    [Footnote 65: Iliad. Lib. VIII.]

I have mentioned these examples, as they shew the light in which a great
object will be contemplated by a man of genius; and as the reader will
observe that our admiration is not merely excited by the dignity of the
theme, but that it results from the great and uncommon circumstances
which are happily thrown into the description. Pindar, no doubt, found
it a much easier task to raise this passion in favour of Theron, whom he
artfully introduceth to the reader’s attention, after enquiring of his
Muse what God or what distinguished Heroe he should attempt to

    [Footnote 66: This is one of the most artful and best conducted of
    Pindar’s Odes. The introduction is abrupt and spirited, and the
    Heroe of the Poem is shown to great advantage.

      Αναξιφορμιγγες ὑμνοι
      τινα θεον, τιν’ ἡροα,
      τινα δ’ ανδρα κελαδησομεν;
      ητοι πισα μεν Διος‧
      Ολυμπιαδα δ’ εστα-
          σεν Ηρακλεης, &c.
      Θηρωνα δε τετραοριας
      ἑνεκα νεκαφορου
      γεγωνητεον, οπε &c.  Pind. Olym. 2da.]

It is however obvious, from what hath been advanced on this subject,
that whatever may be the nature of the theme on which the Poet insists,
it is the business of Fancy to enliven the whole piece with those
natural and animating graces which lead us to survey it with admiration.
From the whole therefore it appears, that this Faculty of the mind
claims an higher share of merit in the competition of the Ode than in
any other species of Poetry; because in the other branches of this art
different ends may be obtained, and different expedients may be fallen
upon to gain them; but the most perfect kind of Lyric Poetry admits only
of that end, to the attainment of which fertility of Imagination is
indispensably requisite.

You will recollect, my Lord, a petition laid down in the beginning of
this Essay;--that “when Imagination is permitted to bestow the graces of
ornament indiscriminately, sentiments are either superficial, and thinly
scattered through a work, or we are obliged to search for them beneath a
load of superfluous colouring.” I shall now endeavour to evince the
truth of this reflection, by enquiring more particularly what are the
faults into which the Lyric Poet is most ready to be betrayed, by giving
a loose rein to that Faculty which colours and enlivens his composition.

It may be observed then in general, that we usually judge of the Genius
of a Lyric Poet by the variety of his _images_, the boldness of his
_transitions_, and the picturesque vivacity of his _descriptions_.
I shall under this head trouble your Lordship with a few reflections on
each of these considered separately.

By the Images which are employed in the Ode, I mean those illustrations
borrowed from _natural_ and often from _familiar_ objects, by which the
Poet either clears up an obscurity, or arrests the attention, and
kindles the imagination of his reader. These illustrations have very
distinct uses in the different species of poetic composition. The
greatest Masters in the Epopee often introduce metaphors, which have
only a general relation to the subject; and by pursuing these through a
variety of circumstances, they disengage the reader’s attention from the
principal object. This indeed often becomes necessary in pieces of
length, when attention begins to relax by following too closely one
particular train of ideas. It requires however great judgment in the
Poet to pursue this course with approbation, as he must not only fix
upon metaphors which in some points have a striking similarity to the
object illustrated, but even the digressive circumstances must be so
connected with it, as to exhibit a succession of sentiments which
resemble, at least remotely, the subject of his Poem[67]. It must be
obvious, at first view, that as the Lyric Poet cannot adopt this plea,
his metaphors will always have the happiest effect, when they correspond
to the object in such a manner, as to shew its compleat proportions in
the fullest point of view, without including foreign and unappropriated
epithets. This however is not the course which a Writer of imagination
will naturally follow, unless his judgment restrains the excursions of
that excentric faculty. He will, on the contrary, catch with eagerness
every image which Fancy enlivens with the richest colouring, and he will
contemplate the external beauty of his metaphor, rather than consider
the propriety with which it is applied as an illustration. It is
probably owing to this want of just attention to propriety, that the
first Lyric Poets have left such imperfect standards to the imitation of

    [Footnote 67: The reader will meet with many examples of this
    liberty in the Iliad, some of which Mr. Pope has judiciously
    selected in the notes of his translation. Milton, in the same
    spirit, compares Satan lying on the lake of fire, to a Leviathan
    slumbering on the coast of Norway; and immediately digressing from
    the strict points of connection, he adds, “that the mariners often
    mistake him for an island, and cast anchor on his side.” Par.
    Lost, B. II. In this illustration it is obvious, that though the
    Poet deviates from close imitation, yet he still keeps in view the
    general end of his subject, which is to exhibit a picture of the
    fallen Arch angel. See Par. Lost, B. I.]

When we examine the works of later Poets among the Ancients, we find
that even those of them who are most exceptionable in other
circumstances, have yet in a great measure corrected this mistake of
their predecessors. In the lyric Odes of Euripides and Sophocles, the
metaphors made use of are generally short, expressive, and fitted to
correspond with great accuracy to the point which requires to be
illustrated[68]. Pindar is in many instances equally happy in the choice
of his images, which are frequently introduced with address, and produce
a very striking effect[69].

    [Footnote 68: The reader may consider, as an example, of the
    following verses of the Ode of Sophocles to the Sun.

      Πολλα γαρ ὡστ’ ακαμαντος
      η Νωτου η Βορεα τις
      κυματα ευρει ποντω
      βαντ’ επιοντα τ’ ιδοι
      οὑτο δε τον καδμογενη
      τρεφει‧ το δ’ αυξει βιοτου
      πολυπονον ὡστε πελαγος
      κρητιον.  Soph. Trachin.]

    [Footnote 69: Of this the reader will find a noble instance in
    Pindar’s first Pythian Ode, where he employs from the verse
    beginning ναυσιφορηταις δ’ αδρασεα, &c. to the end of the stanza,
    one of the happiest and most natural illustrations that is to be
    met with either in the works of Pindar, or in those of any Poet
    whatever. The abrupt address to Phœbus, when he applies the
    metaphor, is peculiarly beautiful.]

It is likewise necessary that the Poet should take care in the higher
species of the Ode, to assign to every object that precise degree of
colour, as well as that importance in the arrangement of sentiments
which it seems peculiarly to demand. The same images which would be
considered as capital strokes in some pieces can be admitted only as
secondary beauties in others; and we might call in question both the
judgment and the imagination of that Poet who attempts to render a faint
illustration adequate to the object, by clothing it with profusion of
ornament. A defect likewise either in the choice, or in the disposition,
of images, is conspicuous in proportion to the importance of the
subject, as well as to the nature of those sentiments with which it
stands in more immediate connection. It is therefore the business of the
Lyric Poet, who would avoid the censure of competing with inequality,
to consider the colouring of which particular ideas are naturally
susceptible, and to discriminate properly betwixt sentiments, whose
native sublimity requires but little assistance from the pencil of art,
and a train of thought which (that it may correspond to the former)
demands the heightening of poetic painting. The astonishing inequalities
which we meet with, even in the productions of unquestioned Genius, are
originally to be deduced from the carelessness of the Poet who permitted
his imagination to be hurried from one object to another, dwelling with
pleasure upon a favourite idea, and passing slightly over intermediate
steps, that he may catch that beauty which fluctuates on the gaze of

I shall only observe further on this subject, that nothing is more
contrary to the end of Lyric Poetry, than that habit of spinning out a
metaphor which a Poet sometimes falls into by indulging the sallies of
imagination. This will be obvious, when we reflect that every branch of
the Ode is characterised by a peculiar degree of vivacity and even
vehemence both of sentiment and expression. It is impossible to preserve
this distinguishing character, unless the thoughts are diversified, and
the diction is concise. When a metaphor is hunted down (if I may use
that expression) and a description overwrought, its force and energy are
gradually lessened, the object which was originally new becomes
familiar, and the mind is satiated instead of being inflamed.

We must not think that this method of extending an illustration
discovers always a defect or sterility of the inventive Faculty. It is,
in truth, the consequence of that propensity which we naturally feel to
consider a favourite idea in every point of light, and to render its
excellence as conspicuous to others as it is to ourselves. By this means
sentiments become _superficial_, because the mind is more intent upon
their _external dress_, that their _real importance_. They are likewise
_thinly scattered through a work_, because each of them receives an
higher proportion or ornament than justly belongs to it. We frequently
judge of them likewise, in the same manner as a birthday suit is
estimated by its purchaser, not by the standard of intrinsic value, but
by the opinion of the original proprietor. Thus to superficial readers,

  ------ _verbum emicuit si forte decorum,
  Si versus paulo concinnior unus aut alter
  Injuste totum ducit, venditque poema[70]._

  One simile that solitary shines
  In the dry desart of a thousand lines,
  Or lengthen’d thought that gleams thro’ many a page,
  Has sanctified whole poems for an age.  POPE.

    [Footnote 70: Hor. Epist. Lib. II. Epist. 1.]

Custom, my Lord, that sovereign arbiter, from whose decision in literary
as well as in civil causes, there frequently lies no appeal, will lead
us to consider boldness of transition as a circumstance which is
peculiarly characteristic of the Ode. Lyric Poets have in all ages
appropriated to themselves the liberty of indulging imagination in her
most irregular excursions; and when a digression is remotely similar to
the subject, they are permitted to fall into it at any time by the
invariable practice of their Predecessors. Pindar expressly lays claim
to this privilege.

  Εγκαμιων γαρ αωτες Υυμνων
  επ’ αλλοτ’ αλλον ως τε με-
  λισσα θυνει λογον.[71]

  The song that spreads some glorious name
  Shifts its bold wing from theme to theme;
  Roves like the bee regardless o’er,
  And culls the spoils of every flower.

    [Footnote 71: Pin. Pyth. Ode X.]

We must indeed acknowledge in general, that when an high degree of
spirit and vivacity is required to characterize any species of
composition, the Author may be allowed to take greater liberties than we
should grant to another, whose subject demanded regularity and
connection. Let it however be observed at the same time, that this
freedom is often granted, not because the theme indispensibly requires,
but because we naturally expect it from the genius of the Writer. We
justly suppose, that the Philosopher seldom mistakes his talents so far
as to be solicitous of shining in a sphere, for which he must know
himself to be wholly disqualified; and from the work of a Poet who
addresseth imagination, we look for those marks of wildness and
incoherence which discover the extent of that faculty.

I have acknowledged in a former part of this Essay, that the shorter Ode
not only admits of bold and spirited transitions, but that these are in
many instances necessary to constitute a perfect imitation of
nature[72]. This observation however cannot be applied with so much
propriety to the other kinds of it, because the transport of passion is
abrupt, instantaneous, and the mind returns suddenly to the point from
which it had digressed. On the contrary, as the passions cannot be kept
on their full stretch for any considerable time, we expect that in the
higher species of Lyric Poetry, the Poet will keep the principal object
more immediately in his eye, and that his transitions will never make us
lose sight of it so far, as not to recall with ease the intermediate
points of connection.

    [Footnote 72: Letter I. p. xxxiii.]

When this rule is not violated, we can enter with pleasure into the
design of the Poet, and consider his work as a whole in which every
separate member has its distinct and proper use. Thus, when Pindar is
celebrating Aristagoras, we can easily observe that the Poet’s oblique
encomium on the Father and friends of his Heroe, is introduced with
great propriety, as every remark of this kind reflects additional lustre
on the character of the principal personage[73]. We are even sometimes
highly entertained with digressions, which have not so near a relation
to the subject of the Ode as the last mentioned circumstance; because
though the immediate design is not going forward, we can still however
keep it in view with the same ease, as a traveller can do the public
road, from which he willingly makes an excursion to survey the
neighbouring country. Thus the noble panegyric upon the whole people
of Rhodes, and the account of their Founder Tlepolemus, which we meet
with in the Ode inscribed to Diagoras the Rhodian; these are happy and
beautiful embellishments, whose introduction enlivens the whole piece
with a proper variety of objects[74].

    [Footnote 73: Pin. Nem. Ode XI.]

    [Footnote 74: Id. Olym. Ode VII.]

The same principle which induceth us to approve of Poet’s transitions in
the preceding instances, must (as your Lordship will immediately
conceive) lead us to condemn those which are far-fetched, pursued too
closely, or foreign to the subject of the poem. This is frequently the
consequence of following the track of imagination with implicit
compliance, as the Poet without being sensible of his mistake runs into
one digression after another, until his work is made up of incoherent
ideas; in which, as Horace expresseth it,

      velut ægri somnia vanæ
  Finguntur species, ut nec pes, nec caput uni
  Reddatur formæ[75].

This is the character of the Ode to Thrasidæus the Theban, in which the
Poet is insensibly led from one digression to another, until his readers
lose sight of the principal subject which is dropped almost as soon as

    [Footnote 75: Hor. de Art. Poet.]

    [Footnote 76: Pind. Pyth. Ode XI.]

The last circumstance mentioned as characteristic of the Ode, was a
certain picturesque vivacity of description. In this we permit the Lyric
Poet to indulge himself with greater freedom than any other, because
beauties of this kind are necessary to the end of exciting admiration.
It is the peculiar province of imagination to give that life and
expression to the ideas of the mind, by which Nature is most happily and
judiciously imitated. By the help of this poetical magic the coldest
sentiments become interesting, and the most common occurrences arrest
our attention. A man of Genius, instead of laying down a series of dry
precepts for the conduct of life, exhibits his sentiments in the most
animating manner, by moulding them into symmetry, and superadding the
external beauties of drapery and colour[77]. His reader by this
expedient is led through an Elysium, in which his Fancy is alternately
soothed and transported with a delightful succession of the most
agreeable objects, whose combination at last suggests an important moral
to be impressed upon the memory. The Ancients appear to have been fully
sensible of the advantages of this method of illustrating truth, as the
works not only of their Poets, but even those of their Philosophers and
Historians abound with just and beautiful personifications[78]. Their
two allegorical Philosophers, Prodicus and Cebes, carry the matter still
further, and inculcate their lessons, by substituting in place of cool
admonition a variety of personages, who assume the most dignified
character, and address at the same time the imagination, the passions,
and even the senses of mankind[79]. These Authors consider man as a
creature possessed of different, and of limited faculties, whose actions
are directed more frequently by the impulse of passion, than regulated
by the dictates of reason and of truth[80].

    [Footnote 77: Thus the reader, who would pay little regard to the
    person who should forbid him to trust the world too much, will yet
    be struck with this simple admonition, when it appears in the work
    of a genius.

      Lean not on earth, ’twill pierce thee to the heart;
      A broken reed at best, but oft’ a spear,
      On its sharp point Peace bleeds, and Hope expires.
          NIGHT THOUGHTS.]

    [Footnote 78: Thus Xenophon, the simplest and most perspicuous of
    Historians, has borrowed many noble images from Homer; and Plato
    is often indebted to this Poet, whom yet he banished from his
    Commonwealth. Cicero in his most serious pieces studies the
    _diction_, and copies the _manner_ of the Greek Philosopher; and
    it evidently appears, that Thucydides has taken many a _glowing
    Metaphor_ from the Odes of Pindar. We might produce many examples
    of this from their writings, if these would not swell this note to
    too great a length. The reader of taste may see this subject fully
    discussed in Mr. Gedde’s ingenious Essay on the Composition of the

    [Footnote 79: Δει δε τους μυθους συνισταναι, και τη λεξει
    συναπεργαζεσθαι οντι μαλιστα προς ομματων τεθεμενον. Οὑτο γαρ αν’
    εναργεστατα ὁρων ὡσπερ παρ αυτοις γιγνομενος τοις πραττομενοις,
    εὑρισκοι το πρεπον, και ἡκιστα αν’ λανθανοιτο τα ὑπεναντια.
        Arist. Poet. c. 17.]

    [Footnote 80: Thus Cicero tells us. Nec est majus in dicendo, quam
    ut Orator sic moveatur, ut impetu quodam animi, & perturbatione
    magis quam concilio regatur. Plura enim multo homines judicant
    odio, & amore, & cupiditate, &c. quam veritate & præscripto.
        De Orat. Lib. II. c. 42.]

It is obvious, that in Lyric Poetry the Author cannot run into this
series of methodised allegory, because the subjects of the Ode are real
incidents which would be disfigured by the continued action of
fictitious personages. His descriptions therefore ought to be concise,
diversified, and adapted properly to that train of sentiment which he is
employed to illustrate. When this is the case, we are highly entertained
with frequent personifications, as these are criterions by which we
estimate the genius of the Poet.

I need not, my Lord, to suggest on this branch of my subject, that it
requires the utmost delicacy to personify inanimate objects so justly,
as to render them adapted in every circumstance to the occasion on which
they are introduced. Your Lordship however will permit me to observe,
that as the happiest effect is produced upon the mind of the reader by
the judicious introduction of an ideal personage; so he is apt to be
disgusted in an equal degree, when the conduct of the Poet in this
instance is in the smallest measure irregular or defective. When an
intellectual idea falls under the cognizance of an external sense, it is
immediately surveyed with an accuracy proportioned to its importance,
and to the distance at which we suppose it to be placed. We judge of
Virtue and Vice, when represented as persons, in the same manner as we
judge of men whose appearance is suggested by memory; and we therefore
expect that these ideal figures shall be discriminated from each other
by their dress, attitudes, features, and behaviour, as much as two real
persons of opposite characters always are in the familiar intercourse of
ordinary life. In reality we assign a particular shape, complection, and
manner to the creatures of imagination, by the same rule which leads us
to ascribe a certain assemblage of features to a person whom we have
never seen, upon seeing his character particularly displayed, or upon
listening to a minute detail of his actions. Nay, odd as it may appear,
it is yet certain, that in many instances our idea of the imaginary
person may be more distinct and particular than that of the real one.
Thus we often find that the representation exhibited by Fancy of the
figure of an Heroe, whose actions had raised admiration; I say, we find
that this representation has been wide of the truth, when we come either
to see the original, or a faithful copy of it: but our ideas of
imaginary persons are generally so exact, that upon seeing a group of
these displayed on a plate, we are capable to give each its proper
designation, as soon as we observe it. Thus Anger, Revenge, Despair,
Hope, &c. can be distinguished from each other almost as easily when
they are copied by the pencil, as when _we feel their influence on our
own minds, or make others observe it on our actions_.

From this detail it obviously follows, that as our ideas of imaginary
personages are more just and accurate, than those which are excited
merely by a particular relation of the actions of real ones; so we will
judge with more certainty of the precise colouring which belongs to the
former, and of the propriety with which they are introduced, than we can
possibly do with regard to the latter. A Painter may deceive us, by
throwing into the face of an Heroe, whom we have never seen, particular
marks of resolution and fortitude, which form only a part of his
character. But we cannot be deceived with regard to the signatures which
show the predominancy of these virtues, with whatever degree of justice
they may be applied. This observation has equal force, when we refer it
to the allegorical personages of the Poet. The least impropriety in the
colouring, dress, or arrangement of objects, is immediately perceptible,
and we pass a favourable judgment, when faults of this kind are ascribed
to inattention. In short, the imaginary persons who are introduced in a
poem, must on all occasions be distinguished by peculiar characters, and
the manners attributed to each of them ought to be such as can be
applied with no propriety to any other object. Every picture must
therefore be, as Pope somewhere has it,

  Something whose truth convinc’d at sight we find.
  That gives us back the image of the mind.

A little reflection will enable us to discover the reason of this
difference betwixt our ideas of allegorical and of real personages.
We are (as I formerly observed) often mistaken in our notions of the
latter of these, because the mind cannot receive a sufficient degree
of information, concerning the person, to be able to form any perfect
judgment of his address or demeanour. Upon hearing, for instance,
a recital of the actions of a man who is unknown to us, our idea of
him is taken from the passion which appears to have predominated in his
conduct; but we are not acquainted with numberless little peculiarities
which enter into a complicated character, and have their corresponding
expressions imprinted on the countenance. Thus when we consider only the
martial exploits of the celebrated Duke de Vendome, we have the idea of
an Heroe full of spirit and impetuosity; but this idea would be very
imperfect as a representation of his character, if we did not know
likewise that he was slovenly, voluptuous, effeminate, and profuse[81].

    [Footnote 81: Volt. Siec. Louis XIV. c. 21.]

These different ingredients, which enter into the mind of a real agent,
ought likewise to be nicely estimated as to the degrees in which they
predominate, before we could be properly qualified to judge of their
influence on his external appearance. As it is evidently impossible that
we can ever be thoroughly apprised of the former, it is therefore
obvious that our judgment of the latter must be always imperfect. On the
contrary, we are never at a loss to conceive a just idea of one simple
expression, because the Original from which the Copy is drawn exists in
our own mind. We are likewise naturally taught to distinguish properly
the insignia of imaginary creatures. Thus Fear is always known by her
_bristled hair_, Admiration by his _erected eyes_, Time has his _scythe_
and his _hour-glass_, and Fortune (unchangeable in one sense) stands
_blind_ on the _globe_, to which she was exalted by Cebes[82].

    [Footnote 82: Cebet. Tab.]

I ought, my Lord, to apologize for the length of this Digression on the
nature of allegorical Persons; a subject which I have treated more
particularly, as I do not remember to have seen it canvassed minutely by
any Writer either ancient or modern.

I shall only observe further on this head, that though a Poet is seldom
in hazard of being grossly faulty, with respect to the dress and
insignia of his personages, yet intemperate imagination will induce him
to use this noble figure too frequently by personifying objects of small
comparative importance; or by leaving the simple and natural path, to
entangle himself in the labyrinth of Fiction. This is the fault which
we have already found to characterise the writings of the first Lyric
Poets, from which we should find it an hard task to vindicate their
successors, even in the most improved state of ancient learning. Instead
of producing examples of this intemperance, which the Greek Theology was
peculiarly calculated to indulge, I shall only observe in general, that
we are mistaken in thinking that the Genius of a Poet is indicated by
the diversified incidents which enter into his Fable. True Genius, even
in its most early productions, be discovered rather by _vivid_ and
_picturesque descriptions_, than by any circumstances however
extraordinary in the _narration_ of _events_. It is no difficult matter
to conceive a series of fictitious incidents, and to connect them
together in one story, though it requires judgment to do this in such a
manner, as that the whole may have some happy and continued allusion to
truth. We can imagine, for instance, with great ease something as
impossible as Ariosto’s Magician pursuing the man who had taken off his
head. But it will be found a much more difficult task, either to throw
out one of those strokes of Nature which penetrate the heart, and cleave
it with terror and with pity; or to paint Thought in such striking
colours, as to render it immediately visible to the eye[83].

    [Footnote 83: Upon the principle established here, we may account
    in some measure for Voltaire’s apparently paradoxical assertion,
    with regard to the comparative merit of Homer and Tasso. The
    Italian (says that spirited writer) has more conduct, variety and
    justness than the Greek. Admitting the truth of this reflection,
    we might still reply, that the principal merit of the Iliad,
    considered as the production of Genius, lies in the grandeur of
    the sentiments, the beauty and sublimity of the illustrations, and
    the _original_ strokes which are wrought into the description of
    the _principal Actors_. In all these respects we may venture to
    affirm, that Homer remains without a superior among Authors
    unaided by Inspiration; and the reader must be left to judge
    whether or not it is from these criterions that we estimate the
    Genius of a Poet. Our Author proceeds upon the same principles to
    compare the Orlando Furioso with the Odyssey, and give a
    preference to the former. The merit of these works may be
    ascertained in some measure, by the rules we have already
    established. We need only to add further on this head, that among
    many beauties we meet with examples of the turgid and bombast in
    the work of Ariosto; from which that of the Greek Poet is wholly
    free. The two first lines of his Poem,

      _Le Donne, e Cavalieri, l’arme, gli amore,
      Le Cortesie l’audaci impresi io canto._

    if they do not put one in mind of the Cyclic Writer mentioned by
    Horace, who begins his Poem with

      _Fortunam Priami cantabo, & nobile bellum._

    yet are of a very different strain from those which introduce the

      Ανδρα μοι ενεπε Μουσα πολυτροπον, ὅς μαλα πολλα
      Πλαγκθη &c.

    I cannot help thinking that the whole of this introduction is
    remarkably simple and unornamented, though a very judicious and
    ingenious Critic seems to be of a contrary opinion.]

The noblest instances of this personification are to be found in the
Sacred Writings. Nothing can exceed the majesty, with which the descent
of the Almighty is described by the Prophet Habakkuk. “Before Him (he
tells us) went the Pestilence, &c.” then suddenly addressing the Deity
in the second person, he says “the Mountains _saw Thee_, and they
_trembled_, the Overflowing of the waters _passed by_, the _Deep uttered
his voice_, and _lift up his hands_ on high[84].” In another place, the
Deluge is nobly animated, in order to display the Omnipotence of God.
“The waters (says the Psalmist) stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke
they _fled_, at the voice of thy thunder they _hasted away_.”

    [Footnote 84: Hab. ch. iii. v. 3.]

From this simple and impartial view of the Lyric Poetry of the Ancients,
considered as one branch of a cultivated Art, your Lordship will perhaps
be inclined to conclude, that in the Arts, as in the characters of men,
those which are susceptible of the highest excellence, are likewise
frequently marked with the most striking defects. This mixture of beauty
and deformity, of grandeur and meanness, which enters so often into the
action as well as the speculation of mankind, ought to be considered as
the characteristic of the human mind, which in the chimerical pursuit of
perfection is hurried by its own impetuosity from one extreme to
another. Your Lordship has, no doubt, frequently observed, that there is
upon the whole a greater uniformity in the characters of men than
superficial enquiry would lead us to conceive. A temptation operating
forcibly on the ruling passion will produce in a temper naturally gentle
and equal, an irregularity as remarkable, and sometimes carried to a
greater length, than the most powerful stimulus is able to excite in a
man of warm passions, and florid imagination. This is a fact, of which
experience will suggest examples to every person who is conversant with

We ought not therefore to wonder, when we observe in the writings of a
Great Genius beauties and blemishes blended promiscuously, and when we
find the Poet’s imagination distinguished only by those marks of
inaccuracy which appear in the actions of others, and which are
ultimately to be derived from the complicated ingredients of the human

I have been led into this train of reflection, as it will enable us to
account for the inequalities which are to be met with in the writings of
Pindar, exposed as they have been to the admiration, and to the censure
of posterity. Whatever propriety the preceding rules may have with
regard to Lyric Poetry, it is certain that this Poet is not the standard
from whose work they are deduced. We have already seen that He himself
disclaims all conformity to the shackles of method, and that he insists
upon the privilege of giving a loose rein to the excursions of
imagination. The consequences of this proceeding are eminently
conspicuous in every part of his writings. His composition is coloured
with that rich imagery which Fancy throws upon the coldest sentiments,
his digressions are often too frequent and but remotely connected with
the principal subject, his personifications are bold and exuberant, and
he has made as free an use of theological fable as any Poet among the

The learned and ingenious Translator of Pindar has suggested several
striking pleas in his favour, both with respect to the _connection of
his thoughts_ and the _regularity of his measure_[85]. To resume on the
present occasion any part of what he hath advanced, would be equally
useless and improper. As to the first, I shall only add to this
Gentleman’s observations, that all the writings of Pindar which have
reached the present times are of the panegyrical kind, in which _remote
circumstances_ and _distant allusions_ are often referred to with great
propriety; that sometimes several Odes are inscribed to _the same
person_; and that all of them are wrote on subjects too _exactly
similar_ to afford room for _continued variety of description_, without
allowing him frequently to digress. It is obvious that in these
circumstances the Poet must have been forcibly prompted to indulge the
natural exuberance of his genius, that he might gain materials to fill
up his subject, and that he might pay a compliment to his Patron by some
digression on the merit of his Ancestors, as well as by an encomium on
his personal qualities[86]. If these considerations do not fully
apologize for the excursions of this Great Genius, they render them at
least more excusible in him, than the same liberties without an equal
inducement can possibly be in any of his imitators.

    [Footnote 85: Mr. West. See the Preface and Notes of his

    [Footnote 86: It is generally to be supposed, that a Poet in a
    panegyrical address to his Patron will select with solicitude
    every circumstance in his character and actions which excite
    approbation, in order to render his encomium as perfect and
    compleat as possible. When therefore he is unexpectedly engaged to
    retouch a subject which he had formerly discussed, we ought to
    expect, either that he will fix upon _new points of panegyric_,
    which is always a matter of the greatest difficulty; or we must
    indulge him in the liberty of calling in _adventitious
    assistance_, when he is deprived of other materials. This appears
    on many occasions to have been the case of Pindar. No less than
    four of his Odes are inscribed to Hiero King of Syracuse, all on
    account of his victories in the Games of Greece. Two Odes
    immediately following the first to Hiero are addressed to Theron
    King of Agrigentum; Psaumis of Camarina is celebrated in the 4th
    and 5th Olympic; and the 9th and 10th are filled with the praises
    of Agesidamus the Locrian. Every reader must make _great
    allowances_ for a Poet, who was so often obliged to retouch and to
    _diversify_ subjects of one kind.]

After all however we must acknowledge, that Pindar has rendered his
pieces obscure on many occasions by giving too much scope to a wild
imagination; and perhaps the true reason for which he took this liberty
was that he _imitated the example of his Predecessors_. He had seen the
first Lyric Poets indulging the boldest sallies of Fancy, and applying
to particular purposes the Mythology of their country; and as their
writings had been held in admiration by succeeding ages, instead of
being exposed to the researches of criticism, he was encouraged to
proceed in the same course, by the expectation of obtaining a similar
reward. From a passage formerly quoted, it would appear that Pindar
thought himself peculiarly exempted from conforming to rules of any kind
whatever[87], and we can suppose this opinion to have proceeded
originally from no other foundation than his knowledge of the practice
of former authors.

    [Footnote 87: Vide supra, p. 57.]

I am sufficiently aware, my Lord, that some readers may object to the
preceding theory, that it is probable, if Pindar had been of opinion
that Lyric Poetry in his time stood in need of material emendations, the
same fertility of invention which enabled him to reach the heighth of
excellence in this art, without however altering its original
principles; that this would have led him likewise to invent new rules,
and to supply the deficiencies of his Predecessors. I will venture to
affirm, that this is the only species of invention, in which we have
seldom reason to expect that an Original Genius will attempt to excel.

It hath often been observed, that the earliest productions of a Great
Genius are generally the most remarkable for wildness and inequality.
A sublime imagination is always reaching at something great and
astonishing. Sometimes it seizeth the object of its pursuit, and at
others, like a person dizzy with the heighth of his station, it staggers
and falls headlong. When the mind of such a person ripens, and his
judgment arrives at its full maturity, we have reason to expect that the
strain of his competition will be more confident and masterly; but his
imagination, cramped by the rules which have been formerly laid down,
will be still desirous of _breaking_ the _old fetters_, rather than
felicitous of _inventing new ones_. Though therefore it must be
acknowledged that the same Faculty which is able to invent characters,
and to _colour_ sentiment may likewise discover the rules and principles
of an Art, yet we have no ground to hope that it will often be employed
to effectuate a purpose which an Author may consider as in some measure

To compensate for the blemishes formerly mentioned, the writings of
Pindar abound with the most instructive moral sentiments, as well as
with the most exquisite beauties of descriptive poetry. The Poet often
throws in a reflection of this kind in the most natural manner, as it
seems to arise spontaneously from the subject. Thus he prepares the mind
to hear of the catastrophe of Tlepolemus by an exclamation perfectly
apposite, and appropriated to the occasion.

  Αμφι δ’ ανδρω-
  πων φρεσιν αμπλακιαι
  Αναριθμητοι κρεμανται
  τουτο δ’ αμηκανον εὑρειν
  Ὁτι νυν, και εν τελευ-
  τα φερτατον ανδρε τυχειν. Pin. Olym. VII.

  But wrapt in error is the human mind,
    And human bliss is ever insecure;
  Know we what fortune yet remains behind?
    Know we how long the present shall endure?  WEST.

This method of introducing moral observations adds peculiar dignity and
importance to Lyric Poetry, and is likewise happily suited to the Ode,
whose diversified composition naturally admits of it.

I shall only observe further with regard to Pindar, that his character
is eminently distinguished by that noble superiority to vulgar opinions,
which is the inseparable concomitant of true genius. He appears to have
had his Zoilus as well as Homer, and to have been equally fallible of
the extent and sublimity of his own talents. Thus he compares his
enemies to a parcel of crows and magpies pursuing an eagle.

The learned Abbe Fraquier in a short dissertation on the character of
Pindar affirms, that one will discover too obvious an imitation of this
Poet in those pieces of Horace which are sublime and diversified[88]. He
mentions, as examples of this, his celebrated Odes to Virgil[89] and to
Galatea[90], intended to dissuade them from going to sea; and that in
which he so artfully represents to the Roman people the danger and
impropriety of removing the seat of the Empire to Troy[91]. Upon
comparing these with the Odes of Pindar, he says that we shall find more
strength, more energy, and more sublimity in the works of the Greek,
than in those of the Roman Poet[92]. In the three Odes formerly
mentioned, he observes that the digressions never lead us far from the
principal subject, and the Poet’s imagination appears to be too much
confined to one place. On the contrary, Pindar never curbs the
exuberance of his Genius. He celebrates promiscuously in the same Ode,
Gods, Heroes, and persons who have made a shining figure in their age
and country, by imitating illustrious examples[93].

    [Footnote 88: Ce son des tableaux d’un Eleve habile, ou l’on
    reconnoit la maniere du Maitre, bien qu’ on n’y retrouve pas a
    beaucoup près tout son genie. Mem. de Liter. Tom. III. p. 49.]

    [Footnote 89: Car. Lib. I. Od. 3.]

    [Footnote 90: Id. Lib. III. Od. 27.]

    [Footnote 91: Carm. Lib. III. Ode 3.]

    [Footnote 92: Il est aise d’en marquer la difference sans parler
    de celle du stile qui dans Pindare a toujours plus de force, plus
    d’energie, & plus de noblesse que dans Horace, &c. Mem. de Lit.
    ubi supra.]

    [Footnote 93: Id. ibid.]

From the observations made on the manner of Horace in a preceding part
of this Essay, it is sufficiently obvious, that his Genius in Lyric
Poetry was principally fitted to excel in the composition of the shorter
Ode; and that his imagination was not so equal as that of Pindar to the
higher and more perfect species. Of the three Pieces, however, which
this Author hath mentioned as imitations of the Greek Poet, we can only
admit one to have been compleatly attempted in the manner of this Great
Master. It is that which regards the design of removing the imperial
seat to Troy. The other two Odes are highly beautiful in their kind; but
the subjects are not treated at so much length, nor with that variety of
high poetic colouring which characteriseth so eminently the writings of
the latter. The Ode to the Roman people is indeed composed in an higher
strain, and is full of that enthusiasm which the subject might naturally
be supposed to excite in the mind of a Poet, who was animated by the
love of his country. Through the whole of this noble performance, the
address of the Author, and the emphatical energy with which the
sentiments are conveyed, deserve to be equally the objects of
admiration. The Poem opens with a just and poetical description of the
security of Virtue; from which the Poet takes occasion to introduce an
artful compliment to Augustus, whom he ranks with Bacchus and Romulus;
on the ascent of which last to heaven, Juno expresseth her aversion to
the repeopling of Troy. She breaks abruptly into the subject, in a
manner expressive of eager solicitude.

  ---- _Ilion, Ilion,
  Fatalis incestusque Judex
  Et Mulier peregrina vertit
  In pulverem[94]._

  Troy,--perjured Troy has felt
  The dire effects of her proud tyrant’s guilt;--
  An Umpire partial and unjust,
  And a lewd woman’s impious lust,
  Lay heavy on her head, and sunk her to the dust.  ADDISON.

    [Footnote 94: Car. Lib. III. Od. 3.]

She then proceeds in the most artful manner to insinuate, that as the
destruction of this city was occasioned by her ingratitude to the Gods,
as well as by the particular injury done to her and Minerva, if Troy
should be thrice rebuilt by the hand of Apollo, the Greeks would thrice
be permitted to overturn it; and

  ---- _ter Uxor
  Capta, virum puerosque ploret[95]._

  Thrice should her captive dames to Greece return,
  And their dead sons, and slaughter’d Husbands mourn.  ADDISON.

    [Footnote 95: Id. ibid.]

The prosperity which she promiseth to the Roman arms is therefore
granted, only upon condition that they never think of rebuilding this
detested city.

From the preceding short account of this celebrated Ode, it will appear
that the transitions are extremely artful, the sentiments noble, and
that the whole conduct is happy and judicious. These, if I mistake not,
are the distinguishing excellencies of the larger Odes of Horace, in
which the Poet’s _didactic_ genius is remarkably conspicuous. Perhaps
however, your Lordship, like the French Critic, is at a loss to find in
all this, the energy, the vehemence, the exuberance of Pindar. Horace
himself was perfectly sensible of the superior excellence of the Greek
Poet, and never rises to truer sublimity than when he is drawing his
character. The following image is great, and appropriated to the

  _Monte decurrens velut amnis, imbres
  Quem super notas aluere ripas
  Fervet, immensusque _ruit_ profundo
  Pindarus ore[96]._

  Pindar like some fierce torrent swoln with show’rs,
  Or sudden Cataracts of melting Snow,
  Which from the Alps its headlong Deluge pours,
  And foams, and thunders o’er the Vales below,
  With desultory fury borne along,
  Rolls his impetuous, vast, unfathomable song.  WEST.

    [Footnote 96: Car. Lib. IV. Od. 2.]

I know not, my Lord, how it happens, that we generally find ourselves
more highly pleased with excess and inequality in poetic composition,
than with the serene, the placid, and the regular progression of a
corrected imagination. Is it because the mind is satiated with
uniformity of any kind, and that remarkable blemishes, like a few barren
fields interspersed in a landschape give additional lustre to the more
cultivated scenery? Or does it proceed from a propensity in human nature
to be pleased, when we observe a great Genius sometimes _sinking as far
below the common level_, as at others, he is capable of _rising above
it_? I confess, that I am inclined to deduce this feeling more
frequently from the _former_ than from the _latter_ of these causes;
though I am afraid that the warmest _benevolence_ will hardly prevail
upon your Lordship not to attribute it in some instances to _a mixture
of both_.

Whatever may be in this, it is certain that the Odes of Horace, in which
he has professedly imitated Pindar, are much more correct and faultless
than these of his Master. It would, perhaps, be saying too much, to
affirm with some Critics, that the judgment of the Roman Poet was
superior to that of his Rival; but it is obvious, that the operation of
this Faculty is more remarkable in his writings, because his imagination
was more ductile and pliable. --Upon the whole, therefore, we shall not
do injustice to these two great men, if we assign to their works the
same degree of comparative excellence, which the Italians ascribe to the
pieces of Dominichino and Guido. The former was a _great_ but an
_unequal Genius_; while the more corrected performances of the latter
were _animated by the Graces_, and _touched by the pencil of

    [Footnote 97: The Reader will observe, that nothing has been said
    in this Essay on the regularity of the measure of Pindar’s Odes.
    This subject is treated so fully in the preface of Mr. West’s
    Translation, that we need only here to refer the curious to his
    remarks. The Ancient Odes are always to be considered as songs
    which were set to musick, and whose recital was generally
    accompanied with dancing. If we may be permitted to form an idea
    of this music, from the nature and composition of the Ode, it must
    have been a matter of great difficulty to excel in it, as it is
    certain that poems which abound with sentiments are more proper to
    be set to music, than those which are ornamented with imagery.
    These sister-arts usually keep pace with each other, either in
    their improvement or decay. Ne ci dobbiamo (says an ingenious
    Foreigner, speaking of the modern Italian music) maravigliare,
    ce corrotta la Poesia, s’e anche corrotta la musica; perche come
    nella ragior poetica accennammo, tutte le arti imitative hanno
    una idea commune, dalla cui alterazione si alterano tutte,
    e particolarmenti la musica dall alterazion del la poesia si cangia
    come dal corpo l’ombra. Onde corrotta la poesia da e soverchi
    ornamenti e dalla copia delle figure, ha communicato anche il suo
    morbo alla musica, ormai tanto sfigurata, che ha perduta quasi la
    natural est pressione. Gavina della Traged. p. 70.]

I am afraid, that your Lordship is now thinking it high time to
bring the whole of this detail to a period.----Upon reviewing the
observations made on the Lyric Poetry of the Ancients through the
preceding part of this Essay, you will find that the subject has been
considered under the three following heads. In the first part I have
attempted to lay before your Lordship, the state of Lyric Poetry in the
earliest ages, as it appears from what we can collect either of the
character of the writings of Amphion, Linus, Orpheus, Museus, and
Hesiod. In the course of this enquiry I have had occasion to assign the
causes, whose concurrence rendered this branch of the poetic Art less
perfect at its first introduction than any of the other species. --Upon
advancing a little further, a richer and more diversified prospect
opened to the imagination. In _the first dawn_ of this more enlightened
period, we meet with the names of Alcaeus and Sappho, who, without
altering _the original character_ of the Ode, made a considerable change
on the _subjects_ to which it was appropriated; and in _the full
meridian_ of Science, we find this second form of Lyric Poetry brought
to its highest perfection in the writings of Horace. --Some remarks on
the nature of those beauties which are peculiarly characteristic of the
_higher species_ of the Ode, and on the part which Imagination
particularly claims in its composition, led me to mention, a few rules,
the exact observation of which will, perhaps, contribute to render this
species of poetry more correct and regular, without retrenching any part
of its _discriminating_ beauties, and without straitning too much the
Genius of the Poet. With this view I have endeavoured to characterize
impartially the pindaric manner, by pointing out _its excellencies_, by
enumerating _its defects_, and by enquiring from what particular causes
the latter are to be deduced.

I consider it, my Lord, as a circumstance particularly agreeable on the
present occasion, that the Persons who are most capable to observe the
_defects_ of an Author, are likewise commonly the readiest to _excuse
them_. Little minds, like the fly on the Edifice, will find many
inequalities in _particular members_ of a work, which an enlarged
understanding either overlooks as insignificant, or contemplates as _the
mark of human imperfection_. I am, however, far from intending to
insinuate, that feelings of this nature will prevail on your Lordship to
consider real blemishes merely as the effects of an inadvertency, which
is excusable in proportion to the intricacy of a subject. I have been
induced to throw together the preceding remarks, with an intention to
rescue Lyric Poetry from the contempt in which it has been unjustly held
by Authors of unquestioned penetration, to prove that it is naturally
susceptible of the _highest poetic beauty_; and that under proper
regulations, it may be made subservient to purposes as beneficial as any
other branch of the Art. These facts will indeed be sufficiently obvious
to persons unacquainted with the Ancients, by perusing the works of
eminent _Poets_ of the present age, whose names it would be superfluous
to mention. I dismiss this attempt, and the pieces which accompany it,
to the judgment of the public, with that timidity and diffidence which
the review of so many great names, and the sense of Inexperience are
fitted to inspire. Whatever may be the fate of either, I shall remember,
with pleasure, that they have afforded me an opportunity of testifying
that high and respectful esteem, with which I have the Honour to be,


    Your Lordship’s
      Most Obliged,
  and Most Obedient Servant,

        J. OGILVIE.

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *

Errata (Noted by Transcriber):

  a native of Bæotia  [_error for Bœotia_]
  [Footnote 32] Ὡς εφασαν Ηουραι  [_error for Κουραι_]
  [Footnote 34] Ζευ σε μεν Ι’ δαιοισιν ... [_error for Ἰδαιοισιν_]
  [Pindar, Pythian X] Εγκαμιων γαρ αωτες Υυμνων  [_error for ὑμνων_]
    _Le Donne, e Cavalieri, l’arme, gli amore,
    Le Cortesie l’audaci impresi io canto._
      [_errors for amori ... imprese_]
  [Odyssey] Πλαγκθη [_error for Πλαγχθη_]
  [Footnote 97] Gavina [_error for Gravina_]

Supplementary Notes:

1. Handwriting

The facsimile of the title page includes two handwritten lines between
“Lord Deskfoord” and the author’s name:

  The last Earl of Findlater who died _1812_ without issue
  Title claimed by Sir W^m Ogilvie Bart of Carnousie,
      who died Feb 20^th _1861_

The two lines were probably written at different times: the first uses
long “s” while the second had to have been written in or after 1861. The
underlined year “1812” is an error for 1811 (October). The William
Ogilvie (more often spelled Ogilvy) of the second line was born in 1810,
so his claim to the title cannot have been immediate. He does not appear
to have been related to the book’s author.

2. Italian

The quotation from Gravina (misspelled Gavina), _Della Tragedia_, is
given exactly as printed in note 97, including clear errors. The passage
appears in the 1819 _Opere Scelte_ (Selected Works) as:

Né ci dobbiamo maravigliare, se corrotta la poesia, si è anche corrotta
la musica: perché, come nella Ragion Poetica accennammo, tutte le arti
imitative hanno una idea comune, dalla cui alterazione si alterano
tutte; e particolarmente la musica dall’ alterazion della poesia si
cangia, come dal corpo l’ombra. Onde corrotta la poesia dai soverchi
ornamenti e dalla copia delle figure, ha comunicato il suo morbo anche
alla musica, ormai tanto figurata, che ha perduta quasi la natural

3. Greek

The printed Greek used no diacritics, except for the one word ὅς
(including accent) in the Odyssey quotation. All other rough-breathing
marks have been added by the transcriber. Line breaks in verse citations
are as in the original.

The errors are unusual. Instead of confusing similar letters such as υ
and ν, or garbling diacritics, the Greek passages read as if they were
learned orally, and written down from memory. Substitutions of ο for ω
and ι for ε are especially common. The more significant differences
between Ogilvie’s text and “standard” readings are given here.

Aristotle, _Poetics_ 1448b (in footnotes 3, 5, 6 as “c. 4”):

  Και Ἁρμονια και ρυθμος εξ αρχης
  _or:_ τῆς ἁρμονίας καὶ τοῦ ῥυθμοῦ ... ἐξ ἀρχῆς

  οἱτινες θηρεων τε μορφας των αγριοτατων και νεκρων
  _or:_ οἷον θηρίων τε μορφὰς τῶν ἀτιμοτάτων καὶ νεκρῶν

  Τα γαρ μετρα ὁτι μοιρον των ρυθμων ...
  _or:_ τὰ γὰρ μέτρα ὅτι μόρια τῶν ῥυθμῶν ...

Plato, _Leges_ 669de (in footnote 7 as “Lib. XI”):

  Μελος δε αυ και ρυθμους ανευ ρημα{των}  [_end of word illegible_]
  _or:_ μέλος δ’ αὖ καὶ ῥυθμὸν ἄνευ ῥημάτων

Hesiod, _Theogony_ 31 (in footnote 31 as l. 63):

  Δρεψασθαι θηητον· επενευσαν δε μοι αυδην
  _or:_ δρέψασαι, θηητόν· ἐνέπνευσαν δέ μοι αὐδὴν

Aristotle, _Poetics_ 1449a (in footnote 52 as “c. 4”):

  ... οἱ δε αντι των Επων τραγωδιδασκαλοι, δια τω μειζω
    και ενεμοτερα τα σχηματα ειναι ...

  _or:_ ... οἱ δὲ ἀντὶ τῶν ἐπῶν τραγῳδοδιδάσκαλοι, διὰ τὸ μείζω
    καὶ ἐντιμότερα τὰ σχήματα εἶναι ...

Callimachus I. 68-69 (body text and footnote 63):

  Θηκαο δ’ οιωνον μεγ’ ὑπειροχον αγγελεωτην,
  Σων τεραων‧ ἁτ’ εμοισι φιλοις ενδεξια φαινοις

  _or:_ θήκαο δ’ οἰωνῶν μέγ’ ὑπείροχον ἀγγελιώτην
  σῶν τεράων‧ ἅ τ’ ἐμοῖσι φίλοις ἐνδέξια φαίνοι

Iliad VIII. 438-443 (body text and footnote 65):

  Ζευς δε Πατηρ ιδηθεν ευτροχον ἁρμα και ἱππους
  Ολυμπονδ’ εδιωκε, θεων δ’ εξεκετο θωκους.
  Τω δε και ἱππους μεν λυσε κλυτος Εννοσιγαιος
  Ἁρματα δ’ αμβρωμοισι τιθει, κατα λιτα πετασσας.
  Αυτος δε χρυσειον επι θρωνον ευρυοπα Ζευς
  Ἑζετο, τω δε ὑπο ποσσι μεγας πελεμιζετ’ Ολυμπος.

  _or:_ Ζεὺς δὲ πατὴρ Ἴδηθεν ἐύ̈τροχον ἅρμα καὶ ἵππους
  Οὔλυμπον δὲ δίωκε, θεῶν δ’ ἐξίκετο θώκους.
  τῷ δὲ καὶ ἵππους μὲν λῦσε κλυτὸς ἐννοσίγαιος,
  ἅρματα δ’ ἂμ βωμοῖσι τίθει κατὰ λῖτα πετάσσας:
  αὐτὸς δὲ χρύσειον ἐπὶ θρόνον εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς
  ἕζετο, τῷ δ’ ὑπὸ ποσσὶ μέγας πελεμίζετ’ Ὄλυμπος.

Pindar, _Pythian_ I. 33 (footnote 69)

  ναυσιφορηταις δ’ αδρασεα
  _or:_ ναυσιφορήτοις δ’ ἀνδράσι

Aristotle, _Poetics_ 1455a (in footnote 79 as “c. 17”):

  Δει δε τους μυθους συνισταναι, και τη λεξει συναπεργαζεσθαι
  οντι μαλιστα προς ομματων τεθεμενον. Οὑτο γαρ αν’ εναργεστατα ὁρων
  ὡσπερ παρ αυτοις γιγνομενος τοις πραττομενοις, εὑρισκοι το πρεπον, και
  ἡκιστα αν’ λανθανοιτο τα ὑπεναντια.

  _or:_ δεῖ δὲ τοὺς μύθους συνιστάναι καὶ τῇ λέξει συναπεργάζεσθαι
  ὅτι μάλιστα πρὸ ὀμμάτων τιθέμενον: οὕτω γὰρ ἂν ἐναργέστατα [ὁ] ὁρῶν
  ὥσπερ παρ’ αὐτοῖς γιγνόμενος τοῖς πραττομένοις εὑρίσκοι τὸ πρέπον καὶ
  ἥκιστα ἂν λανθάνοι [τὸ] τὰ ὑπεναντία.

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