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Title: The Preface to the Aeneis of Virgil (1718)
Author: Trapp, Joseph
Language: English
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    T H E  Æ N E I S




    _Introduction by_







    David Stuart Rodes, _University of California, Los Angeles_


    Charles L. Batten, _University of California, Los Angeles_
    George Robert Guffey, _University of California, Los Angeles_
    Maximillian E. Novak, _University of California, Los Angeles_
    Thomas Wright, _William Andrews Clark Memorial Library_


    Ralph Cohen, _University of Virginia_
    William E. Conway, _William Andrews Clark Memorial Library_
    Vinton A. Dearing, _University of California, Los Angeles_
    Arthur Friedman, _University of Chicago_
    Louis A. Landa, _Princeton University_
    Earl Miner, _Princeton University_
    Samuel H. Monk, _University of Minnesota_
    James Sutherland, _University College, London_
    Robert Vosper, _William Andrews Clark Memorial Library_


    Beverly J. Onley, _William Andrews Clark Memorial Library_


    Frances M. Reed, _University of California, Los Angeles_


Joseph Trapp's translation of the _Aeneid_ was first published in two
volumes dated respectively 1718 and 1720. Its appearance coincided with
his vacation of his chair as Professor of Poetry at the University of
Oxford, an office which he was the first to hold and to which he had
been elected in 1708.[1] The translation may be seen both as a
valediction to the University by one whose subsequent career was to be
made through the paths of clerical controversy and as a claim for the
attention and patronage of the great world. The dedicatee was William,
Lord North and Grey, and the list of subscribers is rich with the names
of lords temporal and spiritual, including the Lord Primate of Ireland
(Thomas Lindsay), who took four sets. Addison, Arbuthnot, Berkeley,
Thomas Sheridan, Tickell, Swift, Young, and Thomas Warton (who succeeded
Trapp as Professor of Poetry) also subscribed, but not Pope, whose views
on Homer, Trapp criticised and misquoted. The University of Oxford was
generous in its support (Cambridge was less so). We have, thus, in
Trapp's _Aeneid_ a translation of Virgil that was probably read by many
of the important figures of the English Augustan cultural milieu. In
turn, Trapp, writing with highest academic authority, offers in his
Preface an important critical account of Virgil's epic.

Trapp's career was typical of his times, combining literary and critical
activity with religious and political partisanship. He was born into a
clerical family in 1679 (his father was rector of Cherrington,
Gloucestershire) and after proceeding to New College School, Oxford, and
Wadham College, he attracted the attention of the wits by a series of
paraphrases, translations, complimentary effusions (including "Peace. A
poem: inscribed to ... Viscount Bolingbroke, 1713"), and at least one
successful tragedy, _Abra-Mule; or Love and Empire_ (1704). In public
affairs he was active in the defence of Henry Sacheverell, and his
partisanship here must have cemented his relationship with Dr. William
Lancaster, one of the bail for Sacheverell, who was Vice-Chancellor of
Oxford at the time of Trapp's election to the chair of poetry. Less
fortunate was Trapp's association with the dedicatee of the translation
of the _Aeneid_, for Lord North and Grey, who was prominent in seeking
to quash Sacheverell's impeachment (and became a privy-councillor in
1711), was committed to the Tower in 1722 for complicity in the
Atterbury plot and ended his days a wanderer on the continent. That
Atterbury himself was a subscriber to the _Aeneid_ serves further to
underline Trapp's Tory affiliations. The dedication by Trapp of his
Oxford lectures on poetry (_Praelectiones Poeticae_, 1711-19)[2] to
Bolingbroke appears to complete a fatal concatenation of literary and
political association in the light of events after the death of Queen

Nonetheless, Trapp survived and prospered. Under the Tories he had been
for a time chaplain to Sir Constantine Phipps, Lord Chancellor of
Ireland, and shortly afterwards to Bolingbroke, who stood as godfather
to Trapp's son Henry. During the Tory collapse, Peterborough presented
him to the rectorship of Dauntsey in Wiltshire; Dr. Lancaster obtained
for him the lectureship at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster; and in
the 1730s Bolingbroke, restored, preferred him to the rectorship of
Harlington, Middlesex. Other livings and the presidency of Sion College
were to accrue for faithful service, as Trapp turned his pen to the
defence of the established church: first against the Roman Catholics
(for which, perhaps, the University of Oxford created him Doctor of
Divinity in 1728) and later against the Methodists, especially in his
discourses on _The Nature, Folly, Sin, and Danger of being Righteous
over much_ (1739).

Such engagements left him little time for literary creativity in the
years before his death in 1747. However, Trapp finally finished his
labors on Virgil by issuing a translation of the works (1731); and his
poem _Thoughts Upon the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell_
(1734-35) shows him attempting to combine literary pleasure with
theological instruction--a potent mixture forcibly administered to his
parishoners, for it is recorded that he desired in his will that a copy
be presented to each "housekeeper" among them. _The Paradisus Amissus,
Latine Redditus_ appeared in 1741-44. This translation of Milton into
Latin is more than a freak of the neoclassical mind. It is the natural
complement to his earlier translation of the _Aeneid_ into Miltonic
blank verse as well as his attempt to judge the classic sublime by the
achievement of the masterwork of Christian epic, a task that had
preoccupied him as Oxford's Professor of Poetry.

The importance of Trapp's Preface to his version of the _Aeneid_ (and
the extensive notes to the text) lies fundamentally in the fusion of
Miltonic example with neoclassical precept in an attempt both to
understand the Latin text rationally and to communicate the intensely
exciting and moving experience that the _Aeneid_ evokes. This was a new
departure. French Aristotelian criticism of classical epic was
(inevitably) not influenced by Milton. In the English tradition, neither
Dryden in his Dedication of the _Aeneid_ nor Pope in the prefatory
material to the _Iliad_ (with which Trapp frequently takes issue) used
_Paradise Lost_ as the basic touchstone of value. Trapp was to be
sneered at in Delany's "News from Parnassus" for claiming in Pythagorean
vein that the spirit of Milton had descended to him. This was unfair; he
made no such claim. Trapp was trying to discover affinities between past
and present in poetic sensibility and in the use of language. In doing
so, he sought to place a major English poet in relation to Virgil, and
he judged from this example that the English blank verse line had more
of the grandeur of the Latin hexameter than the couplet in the hands
even of Dryden or Pope. His taste told him that the imaginative
invention and force of Milton had more of the Virgilian spirit than the
elegant correctness of English Augustanism. He argues his position with
vigor in the Preface and in his notes, and often with illustrative

The conventional view that Trapp wished to change by the interpolation
of Milton was that, whereas Virgil merited the laurel for judgment and
decorum, Homer possessed greater "fire," "sublimity," "fecundity,"
"majesty," and "vastness" (to use Trapp's terms). Homer was praised as
the great original and inventor; Virgil followed in his steps with more
refinement and rationality, showing everywhere that good sense and
polished concision of expression characteristic of the Augustan age (so,
for instance, René Rapin claimed in the well-known _Comparaison_).[3]
One blossomed with the wild abundance and grandeur of nature; the other
displayed that cultivated order shown in fields and gardens. Trapp
accepts all that was granted to the Roman poet, but he claims for
Virgil, Homeric qualities also: his borrowings are merely the basis for
his invention (witness the tale of Dido); and as for the fire of
sublimity, Trapp, like a critical Prometheus, filches that also. Among
the many instances of the Virgilian fire given in the Preface, he cites
"the Arrival of _Aeneas_ with his Fleet and Forces" in the tenth book.
His translation runs thus:

    Amaz'd stood _Turnus_, and th' _Ausonian_ Chiefs;
    'Till, looking back, they saw the Navy move
    Cov'ring the Sea, and gliding make to Shore.
    Fierce burns his Helm; and from his tow'ring Crest
    Flame flashes; and his Shield's round Bossy Gold
    Vomits vast Fires: As when in gloomy Night
    Ensanguin'd Comets shoot a dismal Glare;
    Or the red Dog-Star, rising on the World,
    To wretched Mortals threatens Dearth, and Plagues,
    With Baleful Light; and saddens all the Sky.          (360 _ff._)

Trapp does not play the trite old game of setting the texts of Homer and
Virgil in comparison, but what comes to his mind at once in his note,
and rightly, given the language of his translation, is Milton describing

                        Like a Comet burn'd,
    That fires the Length of _Ophiucus_ huge
    In th' Artick Sky; and from his horrid hair
    Shakes Pestilence and War.          (II. 708-711)

Similarly, when Aeneas hastens to meet Turnus in the twelfth book,
Miltonic translation and Miltonic original are brought together to show
the similarity between Virgilian and Christian sublime:

                        _Aeneas_ ... with Joy
                Exults; and thunders terrible in Arms.
    As great as _Athos_, or as _Eryx_ great,
    Or Father _Apennine_, when crown'd with Okes
    He waves the ruffled Forest on his Brow,
    And rears his snowy Summit to the Clouds.          (902 ff.)

       *       *       *       *       *

                    On th' other Side _Satan_ allarm'd
    Collecting all his Might, dilated stood;
    Like _Teneriff_, or _Atlas_ unremov'd:
    His Stature reach'd the Sky, and on his Crest
    Sat Horrour plum'd.          (IV. 985-989)

In the light of such illustration, it is not surprising that Trapp, in
the Preface, when he wishes to give the feel of the Virgilian sublime,
quotes Milton's description of the creation:

    Let there be Light, said God; and forthwith Light
    Ethereal, first of Things, Quintessence pure,
    Sprang from the Deep.          (p. xxx)

When he wants to show what grandeur with propriety the English language
can achieve (even in the teeth of Dryden's rendering of Virgil, which he
pertinently censures), he chooses his prime examples from Milton:
witness the account of Satan "Hurl'd headlong, flaming from th' ethereal
Sky...." It was a bold undertaking by Trapp, for Pope's version of
Homer, elegantly correct in couplets, was in the press. Many a man was
to suffer more in _The Dunciad_ for less.[4]

Trapp's immediate critical associates in England clearly are John Dennis
and Joseph Addison, and the origins of Trapp's thinking in classical
antiquity may be found in Longinus. Dennis had united Milton with the
poets of antiquity as an example of the passionate effects of the
religious sublime,[5] while Addison (who had already translated a
fragment of _Aeneid_ III into blank verse) in his _Spectator_ papers on
_Paradise Lost_ had tastefully combined the structural formalism of
Aristotelian criticism of the epic with enthusiastic comment on the
grandeur and beauty of Milton's verse. To these must be added Trapp's
favorite, Roscommon, who in _An Essay on Translated Verse_ (1685)[6] had
interposed an imitation of Milton to illustrate how English verses might
rise to Roman greatness. But it would be unfair to Trapp merely to
reduce him to a series of component sources. He adopts and adapts; and
as far as the criticism of Virgil was concerned, his Preface and his
notes are a refreshing plea for something that he felt had not been
sufficiently emphasized in the _Aeneid_: the ever-varying energetic
passion that Longinian criticism had claimed was an essential quality of
the greatest literary works. Trapp's choice of Miltonic example is only
one means by which he emphasises that to truly respond to the _Aeneid_
(as to any major poem) was to be ravished by an overwhelming emotive
experience. "The Art, and Triumph of Poetry are in nothing more seen,
and felt, than in _Moving the Passions_," he comments in his "Remarks"
on the tragical action of the fourth book to which he prefaced "_An
Essay upon the Nature, and Art of_ Moving the Passions _in Tragedy, and
Epic Poetry_" (I. 377). "A Man cannot command his own Motions, while he
reads This; The very _Verses are alive_" (II. 942) is a typical comment
from his "Remarks" (on breaking the truce in the twelfth book). He
introduces the third book by citing Horace: the poet's art is like
magic, transporting us now to Thebes, now to Athens (I. 365). Sometimes
he throws up his hands in rapture at the _je ne sais quoi_: "Some
Beauties are the more so, for not being capable of Explanation. I feel
it, tho' I cannot account for it" (I. 339). It is to the text the
Preface lays the foundation for this kind of response in its emphasis on
the emotive range of Virgil--on his power to burn and to freeze, to
raise admiration, terror, and pity. "The _Greek_ Poet knew little of the
Passions, in comparison of the _Roman_" his argument runs, setting
Virgil on the peak of Parnassus.

This enthusiastic excitement is firmly controlled in the Preface by the
disciplines of more formal criticism, and here, inevitably, Trapp
follows the same kind of standard authorities as Dryden in his
translation. It would be untypical of the man not to give positive
guarantees of his learning and respectability. He shows that he had
absorbed the arguments of René le Bossu's _Traité du Poème Epique_
(1675) and knows Jean Regnauld de Segrais' translation of the _Aeneid_
(1668). He was familiar with René Rapin's _Réflexions sur la Poétique
d'Aristote_ (1674) and André Dacier's _La Poétique d'Aristote Traduite
en Français. Avec des Remarques_ (1692). The name of J. C. Scaliger
intrudes, if only to be mentioned with distaste; for the pedantic
querulousness of Scaliger's extended comparison of Homer with Virgil
attracted Trapp no more than it did Addison, both critics, in the
English humanistic tradition, being more concerned with an appreciative
and elegant brevity than with exhaustive scholarship. It was necessary
also to show some knowledge of the quarrel of the ancients and moderns;
but Trapp is concerned with the integrity of European culture, not with
the inane counting of points for or against past or present and not at
all with scoring off personal antagonists. In comparison, he makes
Swift, who always sneered at him, and even Pope seem sometimes trivial
and bitchy.

The restrained humanism of the Preface is noticeable. Thus, although the
critical concerns of the age lead Trapp to seek to annex "clear Ideas"
"to the Words, _Action_, _Fable_, _Incident_, and _Episode_," there is
nothing in his writing resembling the prolegomena to the _Aeneid_ in the
Delphin edition,[7] prolegomena that define epic from the doctrine of
Aristotle as the imitation of one action, illustrious, complete, of a
certain magnitude, which by narration in hexameter verse raises eminent
men to the prime virtues by delight and admiration, proceeds to define
the _actio_, _fabula_, _mores_, _sententia_, and _dictio_ in the
abstract, and then demonstrates that the definitions fit the _Aeneid_
(_ergo_ it is an epic poem). This is scientific method ossified. On the
other hand, if one compares Dryden's Dedication of the _Aeneid_, Trapp
equally eschews the quirky digressiveness (and the wholesale
borrowings), which give to Dryden's writing both its sense of personal
and spontaneous insight and yet its prolixity and mere messiness. Trapp
had studied the art to blot. The reader is spared Dryden's extended and
pointless discussion (at second hand) of how long the action of the
_Aeneid_ takes, let alone whether this is the right length for an epic
action or whether Aeneas was too lacrymose to be a hero (presumably
Trapp thought that those who will believe that will believe anything).
Likewise, Dryden's political insights, gathered as much from his own
experience as from Roman history, are also swiftly passed by for more
aesthetic concerns. Perhaps the view of Dryden (and Pope) that the
_Aeneid_ was a party piece like _Absalom and Achitophel_ was
unbalanced,[8] but Trapp might have reflected that, if any man knew
about political poetry, it was John Dryden and that the _Aeneid_ has a
place in the history of the Roman civil wars. But the Oxford professor
was more concerned with the sublime and beautiful.

As a critic of classical epic there can be little reasonable doubt that
Trapp stands comparison with either Dryden or Pope, and the honesty and
value of his critical endeavor are worth respect. He can be cool and
analytical when dispassionate reason is required (witness his account of
how in brevity and morality Virgil surpasses Homer); but he is in no
sense tied by a rigidly formalistic approach, happy to praise even that
"_Variety_" which "justifies the Breach of almost any Rule" (Preface p.
xlvi), or the organic development of structure that seems to be "_no
Method_ at all" (II. 953). Essentially, behind this firm but flexible
criticism, there is a compelling sense that to read a great poem is to
submit to an overwhelming experience; and his criticism is always
hastening to illustration, with the tacit appeal, "It is like this,
isn't it?" What is particularly stimulating, whether one accepts the
claim or not that Virgilian style and sensibility are reflected in
Milton, is the continual illumination of the classics by the vernacular
and particularly by modern example. It seems as if he is claiming that,
to understand the past, we must respond to the literature of our own
culture and that there are no important barriers between antiquity and
the modern world, the appreciation of foreign languages and our own
tongue. All true culture is always immediate and felt vitally as part of
our being. In attempting to express this, Trapp is in touch with what is
best in neoclassicism.

University of Reading.


[1] He had held the chair for the maximum period of ten years permitted
by the original statute. For further particulars, see Thomas Hearne,
_Remarks and Collections_, ed. C. E. Doble (Oxford, 1886), entries for
14 July and 27 July 1708.

[2] There is a translation by William Bowyer, assisted by William
Clarke, entitled _Lectures on Poetry_ (London, 1742).

[3] _Comparaison des poèmes d'Homère et de Virgile_ (Paris, ?1688).

[4] He is identified by the Twickenham editor as the "_T--_" of the line
"_T--s_ and T--the church and state gave o'er," in _The Dunciad_ of 1728
II. 381, but was dropped from the _Variorum_ in 1729. In the Warburton
note of 1743, I.33, he may be alluded to in the gibe at "Professors."

[5] Notably in _The Advancement and Reformation of Modern Poetry_
(London, 1701) and _The Grounds of Criticism in Poetry_ (London, 1704).

[6] The Miltonic passage was added to the second edition (1685). The
poem originally appeared the previous year.

[7] Ed. Carolus Ruaeus, i.e. Charles de la Rue (Paris, 1675).

[8] I have further discussed this point in "What God, What Mortal? The
_Aeneid_ and English Mock-Heroic," _Arion_ 8 (1969), 359-79.


The Preface to Joseph Trapp's translation of _The ÆNEIS of Virgil_,
Volume I (1718) is reproduced from a copy of the first edition in the
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library (Shelf Mark:
*FPR3736/T715V3/1718). A typical type-page (p. vii) measures 231 x 156


    Professor of Poetry in the University of _Oxford_.

    _----Parnassia Laurus
    Parva sub ingenti Matris se subjicit umbra_.


    VOLUME _the_ FIRST.

    Printed in the Year MDCCXVIII.



However Poetry may have been dishonoured by the _Follies_ of some, and
the _Vices_ of others; the Abuse, or Corruption of the best Things being
always the worst: It will, notwithstanding, be ever regarded, as it ever
has been, by the wisest, and most judicious of Men, as the very _Flower_
of human _Thinking_, the most _exquisite Spirit_ that can be extracted
from the _Wit_ and _Learning_ of Mankind. But I shall not now enter into
a formal Vindication of this Divine Art from the many groundless
Aspersions which have been cast upon it by Ignorance, and Ill-nature;
nor display either it's Dignity in it self, or it's Usefulness both in
Philosophy, and Religion; or the delightful Elegancy of it's refined
Ideas, and harmonious Expressions. This I have in some measure
attempted in another[1] Treatise; to which I rather chuse to refer the
Reader, than to repeat what I have already said, tho' in a different
Language from This, in which I am now writing. I shall therefore only
observe at present, that to hate, or despise Poetry, not only argues a
Man deficient in Wisdom, and Learning; but even brings his Virtue and
Goodness under Suspicion: What our _Shakespear_ says of another
melodious Science, being altogether as applicable to This; and Poetry it
self being the Musick of Thoughts, and Words, as Musick is the Poetry of

    _The Man that hath not Musick in his Soul,
    And is not mov'd with Concord of sweet Sounds;
    Is fit for Treasons, Stratagems, and Spoils;
    The Motions of his Spirit are dull as Night,
    And his Affections dark as Erebus:
    Let no such Man be trusted.----_[2]

And as Poetry was by the Heathen stiled the _Language of the Gods_; much
the same may be said by a Christian of the one true Deity: Since a great
part of the Holy Scriptures themselves is to the last degree Poetical,
both in Sentiments, and Diction.

But among all the Species, or Kinds of Poetry; That which is
distinguished by the Name of Epic, or Heroic, is beyond comparison the
Noblest, and most Excellent. _An Heroic Poem, truly such, is undoubtedly
the greatest Work which the Soul of Man is capable to perform._ These
are the first Words of Mr. _Dryden_'s admirable Dedication of his
_English Æneis_ to the present Duke of _Buckingham_: They are translated
indeed from Monsieur _Rapin_; and are likewise the first Words of his
Comparison between _Homer_ and _Virgil_.[3] "The Design of it (continues
Mr. _Dryden_) is to form the Mind to Heroic Virtue by Example; 'Tis
convey'd in Verse, that it may delight, while it instructs; The Action
of it is always One, Entire, and Great. The least, and most trivial
Episodes, or Under-Actions, which are interwoven in it, are Parts either
necessary, or convenient; that no others can be imagined more suitable
to the place in which they are. There is Nothing to be left void in a
firm Building; even the Cavities ought not to be filled with Rubbish,
which is of a perishable Kind, destructive of the Strength: But with
Brick, or Stone, tho' of less pieces, yet of the same Nature, and fitted
to the Cranies. Even the least Portions of them must be of the Epic
kind; All Things must be Grave, Majestical, and Sublime: Nothing of a
foreign Nature, like the trifling Novels, which _Ariosto_,[4] and others
have inserted in their Poems. By which the Reader is misled into another
sort of Pleasure, opposite to That which is designed in an Epic Poem.
One raises the Soul, and hardens it to Virtue; the other softens it
again, and unbends it into Vice." But what makes this Kind of Poem
preferable to all others, is, that it virtually contains and involves
them: I mean their Excellencies and Perfections, besides That which is
proper, and peculiar to it self. This likewise is observed by Mr.
_Rapin_ in the place above-cited: And by this Assertion I do not
contradict what I have cited from Mr. _Dryden_; which I am supposed to
approve, while I transcribe it. For besides that he does not speak, as I
do, of the different _Turns_, and _Modifications_ of _Thinking_, and
_Writing_, but of _trifling Episodes_, or _Under-Actions_, which he says
are improper for this sort of Poetry, and in which I entirely agree with
him; I say, besides This, I do not affirm that an Ode, or an Elegy, for
example, can with propriety be _actually_, and _formally_ inserted in an
Heroic Poem; But only that the regular Luxuriancy, and noble Excursions
of _That_, and the pathetical and tender Complainings of _This_, are not
always forreign to the Nature of an Epic Subject, but are sometimes very
properly introduced to adorn it. The same may be said of the Poignancy
of Satyr; and the natural Images of ordinary Life in Comedy. It is one
Thing to say, that an Heroic Poem virtually includes These; and another,
that it actually puts them into Practice, or shews them at large in
their proper Forms, and Dresses. I do not mention Tragedy; because That
is so nearly ally'd to Heroic Poetry, that there is no Dispute or
Question concerning it. An Epic Poem then is the same to all the other
Kinds of Poetry, as the _Primum Mobile_ is to the System of the
Universe, according to the Scheme of the ancient Astronomy: That great
Orb including all the heavenly Bodies in it's Circumference, and
whirling them round with it's own Motion. And then the Soul of the
Poet, or rather of Poetry, informing this mighty, and regular Machine,
and diffusing Life and Spirit thro' the whole Frame, resembles that
_Anima Mundi_, that Soul of the World, according to the _Platonic_, and
_Pythagorean_ Philosophy, thus admirably represented in the Sixth

    _Principio cœlum, ac terras, camposque liquentes,
    Lucentemque globum Lunæ, Titaniaque astra
    Spiritus intus alit, totamque infusa per artus
    Mens agitat molem, & magno se corpore miscet._

Here we have at once the Soul of Poetry, and the Soul of the World: The
one _exerted_, while the other is _described_. Whether there be any such
Thing as the Last or not, we certainly perceive the First; and however
That be, Nothing, in reality, can give us a justly resembling Idea of
the Fabrick of an Heroic Poem; but That, which alone is superiour to it,
the Fabrick of the Universe.

I speak of an Heroic Poem, properly so called; for I know of but Three,
or Four, which deserve the Glory of That Title. And it's transcendent
Excellence is doubtless the Reason, why so few have attempted a Work of
this Nature; and fewer have succeeded in such their Attempts. _Homer_
arose like Light at the Creation; and shone upon the World, which (at
least so far as we know) was, with respect to that kind of Light, in
total Darkness, before his Appearing. Such was the Fire, and Vivacity of
his Spirit; the Vastness, and Fecundity of his Invention; the Majesty,
and Sublimity of his Thoughts, and Expressions; that, notwithstanding
his Errours and Defects, which must be acknowledged, his controuling,
and over-bearing Genius demanded those prodigious Honours, which in all
Ages have been justly paid him. I say, notwithstanding his Errours and
Defects: for it would have been strange indeed, had he been chargeable
with None; or had he left no room to be refined, and improved upon by
any Successour.

This was abundantly performed by _Virgil_; whose _Æneis_ is therefore
only not perfect, because it did not receive his last Hand. Tho', even
as it now is, it comes the nearest to Perfection of any Heroic Poem; and
indeed of any Poem whatsoever, except another of his Own: I mean his
_Georgicks_; which I look upon to be the most Consummate of all human
Compositions: It's Author for Genius and Judgment, for Nature and Art,
joined together, and taken one with another, being the greatest, and
best of all human Writers. How little Truth soever there may be in the
Prodigies which are said to have attended his Birth; certain it is, that
a Prodigy was then born; for He himself was such: And when God made That
Man, He seems to have design'd to shew the World how far the Powers of
mere human Nature can go, and how much they are capable of performing.
The Bent of his Mind was turned to Thought, and Learning in general; and
to Poetry, and Philosophy in particular. Which we are assured of not
only from the Spirit and Genius of his Works; but from the express
Account which he gives of himself, in Those sweet Lines of the second

    _Me vero primum dulces ante omnia Musæ
    (Quarum sacra fero, ingenti perculsus amore)
    Accipiant, cœlique vias, & sydera monstrent.
    Defectus solis varios, lunæque labores;
    Unde tremor Terris, quâ vi maria alta tumescant
    Objicibus ruptis, rursusque in seipsa residant.
    Quid tantum oceano properent se tingere soles
    Hyberni, vel quæ tardis mora noctibus obstet._

It is true, he here only tells us of his Inclination to Natural
Philosophy; but then he tells it us in Poetry: As few Things are more
nearly related.

For his Temper, and Constitution; if We will believe Mr. _Dryden_[5], it
was Phlegmatick, and Melancholick: As _Homer_'s was Sanguine, and
Cholerick, and This, he says, is the Reason of the different Spirit,
which appears in the Writings of those two great Authors. I make no
doubt, but that _Virgil_, in his _natural Disposition, as a Man_, was
rather Melancholick; as, I believe, most learned, and contemplative Men
ever were, and ever will be. And therefore how does he breath the very
Soul of a Poet, and of a Philosopher; when in the Verses immediately
following Those above-cited, he thus expresses the Thoughtfulness of
both those Tempers, as well as the peculiar Modesty of his Own!

    _Sin has nè possim naturæ accedere partes
    Frigidus obstiterit circum præcordia sanguis;
    Rura mihi, & rigui placeant in vallibus amnes,
    Flumina amem, silvasque inglorius.----_

Methinks, I _see_ him, while I read Those Verses; I am sure I _feel_
him. How delightful must it be, to enjoy so sweet a Retirement! What a
Glory, to be so inglorious! This, I say, is generally the Natural Make
of learned, and ingenious Men; and _Homer_ himself, notwithstanding his
Poetical Fire, was in all probability of the same Complexion. But if we
consider _Virgil as a Poet_; I hope to make it appear, before I have
finished This Preface, that, _as such_, he wanted neither the Sanguine,
nor the Cholerick; tho' at the same time I acknowledge a Man's _natural
Temper_ will _very much incline_ him to one way of Thinking, and
Writing, more than to another.

But tho' his _Genius_ was thus perfect; yet I take his _most
distinguishing_ Character to be the incomparable _Accuracy_ of his
_Judgment_; and particularly his elegant, and exquisite _Brevity_. He is
never luxuriant, never says any thing in vain: _We admire Others_ (says
Monsieur _Rapin_) _for what they say; but we admire_ Virgil, _for what
he does not say_: And indeed his very Silence is expressive, and even
his Omissions are Beauties. Yet is his Brevity neither _dry_, nor
_obscure_; so far otherwise, that he is both the _fullest_, and the
_clearest_ Writer in the World. He always, says enough, but never too
much: And This is to be observed in him, as well when he insists upon a
Thing, as when he slightly passes it over, when his Stile is long, and
flowing, as when it is short, and concise; in This Sense, he is brief,
even where he enlarges; and while he rolls like a Torrent, he has
nothing frothy, or redundant. So that to Him, of all Mankind, are Those
famous Verses of Sir _John Denham_ most particularly applicable:

    _Tho' deep, yet clear; tho' gentle, yet not dull;
    Strong, without Rage; without O'erflowing, full._

Meaning _Rage_ properly so called; not the _Poetical Fury_: For That He
was very far from wanting; as will be seen in it's proper Place. His
avoiding Redundancy therefore proceeded neither from Poverty, nor
Parsimony; but from Elegancy, and Exactness. So correct is he in Those
Parts of his Writings which are allowed to be finished; that I have
often thought what a Treasure That Man would be possessed of (were such
a Thing possible) who could procure the Filings of his Poems; and shew
the World what _Virgil_ would _not_ shew it. The very Chippings of Those
Diamonds would be more valuable than the richest Jewel of the _Indies_.

I have already said enough to involve my self in the now unavoidable
Comparison between _Homer_, and _Virgil_; which has so much employ'd the
Speculations of the Learned. Because it will be justly expected that I
should endeavour at least to give some Reasons for my Assertions; or
rather for my _Opinion_: For I desire that my _Assertions_ may all along
be understood to imply no more. As to _Homer_, nothing can be farther
from my Thoughts than to defraud that prodigious Man of his due Praise.
I have before said a little of it; and (would the Limits of this
Discourse permit) could with Pleasure enlarge upon that Subject. Many of
his Faults, as they are called, are indeed no Faults; but only charged
upon him by ignorant Pretenders to Criticism: Others, if they are really
so, are not His, but are entirely to be imputed to the Manners and
Customs of the Age in which he writ: And even those which are least
justifiable are to be excused upon this single Consideration, that he
was the first of his Species. No Science starts into Perfection at it's
Birth: And it is amazing that the Works of this great Poet come so near
it as they do. Thus as to himself: Then as to others; his Glory in Point
of Precedency is uncontestable; he is the Father of Poets, and of
Poetry; and _Virgil_ particularly has copy'd from him in a multitude of
Instances. But after all, the Question is; Whether upon the whole,
_Homer_'s or _Virgil_'s be the best Poems_, as we have them now; setting
aside all _external Considerations_, relating to Times, and Customs;
Inventing, and Borrowing; Precedency, and Succession; Master, and
Scholar; and regarding only the _internal Advantages_, and
_Disadvantages_, Beauties, and Faults of both; upon the Foundations of
Nature, and Art, of Truth, and Reason. _Homer_'s Faults are to be
excused: I am very glad of it; for I have an exceeding Honour, and Love
for him. But still _They are Faults_: Has _Virgil_ so many? I mean too
in Proportion, and allowing for the unequal Length of their Writings.
_Virgil_ imitated _Homer_, and borrowed from him: But did he not
_improve_, as well as _imitate_; and by borrowing, and adding to his own
vast Fund what the other never parted with, grow richer than him from
whom he so borrowed? In a word, did he not out of two very good Poems
make a better than either of them, or than both of them put together? I
am sensible it may be said on the other hand, that _Homer_ had the
_Disadvantage_, as well as _Glory_ of being the First: He had no body to
rely upon, but himself; whereas _Virgil_ had _Homer_'s Materials,
besides his own. All this I acknowledge; nay at present, and for
Argument's sake, let _Homer_'s be the _greater Glory_: Still is not
_Virgil_'s the _best Poem_? For I agree that in these Comparisons we
ought to make a Distinction between the _Man_, and the _Work_. Or if we
must make the Comparison in the former respect; _Homer_ was _Virgil_'s
Master, Father, what you please: But nothing is more common, than for
the Scholar to excel the Master, and the Son the Father. I think we
ought to lay aside the Prejudices of an undue Veneration for the
_greatest Antiquity_, and argue only from _Reason_; and that not only in
the Comparison of the Ancients with one another; but even in That of the
Ancients with the Moderns. I have a very great Honour for the _Greeks_
and _Romans_; but 'tis because their Writings are generally _good_, not
because they are _ancient_: And when we think they are otherwise than
good, I cannot imagine why we should not say so; provided it be with
Modesty, and with a due Deference to the Opinions of Those who differ
from us, whether they be dead or living. The famous Dispute about
Ancient and Modern Learning would, I believe, be soon determined; were
it not for unreasonable Prejudices to each of Those Names respectively.
The Ancients, _as such_, have the Advantage in This, that they ought to
be honoured as the Inventers of most Arts and Sciences; but then the
Moderns, _as such_, have the Advantage in This, that besides their own
Strength and Sagacity, they have the Models of the Ancients to improve
upon: And very strange it would be, if they should not improve in some
things, as well as lose in others.

I shall give the particular Reasons for my Opinion of these two great
Poets, before I finish: In the mean time, I hope the Reader will excuse
my Rambling. I am very sensible that I shall not only differ in judgment
from many Criticks of great Name, both Ancient and Modern; but that I am
like to fall under the ready, and natural Censure of being prejudiced my
self, while I warn against it in others. All I can say, is, that I have
endeavoured to divest my self of it as much as possible; but cannot be
positive that I am entirely free from it; being well aware that nothing
in the World is more difficult. For I am sure I have followed _One_
Precept of my Lord _Roscommon_, in his excellent Essay on Translated

    _Examine how your Humour is inclin'd,
    And which the ruling Passion of your Mind;
    Then seek a Poet who that way does bend,
    And chuse an Author, as you chuse a Friend._

And as this is _One_ Circumstance, which is like to make a Man succeed,
as a _Translator_; so it is like to make him err, as a _Judge_. For this
Sort of Friendship (like all others) will certainly incline us to be
partial in favour of the Person whom we praise, or defend. It is in
This, as in every thing else; the Affections will be apt to biass the
Understanding; and doubtless a Man in a great measure judges This, or
That way of Writing to be best, because it is most agreeable to his own
natural Temper. Thus, for Example; One Man judges (as he calls it)
_Horace_'s Satyrs to be the best; Another is for _Juvenal_'s: When, all
this while, strictly speaking, they may not so much differ in
_Judgment_, as _Inclination_: For each of them perhaps will allow Both
to be best _in their Kind_; but the one is chiefly _delighted_ with this
Kind, and the other with that; and _there_ is all the real Difference
between them. And tho' this does not exactly parallel the present Case;
the Poems of _Homer_ and _Virgil_ being more of the same Species, than
the Satyrs of _Horace_ and _Juvenal_; yet it comes very near it: and the
Word _Species_ will admit of more Distinction than is commonly imagined:
These two Heroic Poets being very different in their _Turn_, and
_Manner_ of Thinking, and Writing. But after all, there are in Nature
and Reason certain Rules by which we are to judge in these Matters, as
well as in others; and there are still such things as Truth and
Falshood, notwithstanding Partiality and Prepossession. And this I can
assure my Reader, I am not prejudiced in Behalf of my Author, by
attempting to be his Translator; for I was of the same Opinion, before I
had the least Thought of this daring Enterprize. However, I do not
pretend to decide as a Judge, but only to argue as an Advocate; and a
Man may be allowed to plead with Prejudice, tho' he always ought to
determine without it: For it may do no Mischief at the Bar, tho it be
intolerable upon the Bench. But that my Reader may not be misguided by
it, upon a Supposition that I am; I desire him to consider, that as I
differ from some great Criticks, so I have the Authority of others to
support my Opinion. I need not insist upon _Scaliger_, _Rapin_, and the
incomparable Earl of _Roscommon_, whose Judgments upon this Point are
very well known; but I will produce the Words of _Macrobius_, as
collected by _la Cerda_[6], because he is commonly supposed to be in the
other Interest. It is true, in the Comparison of particular Passages, he
generally prefers _Homer_; yet he says, _Virgilius Homero ditior,
locupletior, cultior, purior, clarior, fortior vi argumentorum,
diligentior, observantior, uberior, pulchrior_. "_Virgil_ is richer, and
fuller than _Homer_, neater, purer, clearer, stronger in the Force of
his Arguments, more diligent, more observing, more copious, more
beautiful." Thus, I say, he speaks, as he is represented by the
above-mentioned Commentator; who only pretends to have picked up those
Words from several scattered Passages in his Writings: Whether they are
faithfully collected, or no (for he does not quote the particular
Places) I have not had the Patience to examine, nor am I at all
solicitous to know. It would be endless to cite _Scaliger_ upon this
Subject; and besides, when I agree with him, it is rather in his Praise
of _Virgil_, than in his Dispraise of _Homer_. I am far from being of
his Opinion in some Particulars, and farther from approving of his Way
and Manner of Proceeding. He inveighs against _Homer_ with as much
Bitterness, as if he had a personal Quarrel with him; prosecutes him
with all the Malice of Criticism, and that too sometimes false
Criticism; and is upon the whole highly injurious to the Character of
that wonderful Poet. Yet I cannot on the other side agree with Madam
_Dacier_, who is at least even with _Scaliger_, by calling him the worst
Critick in the World: _Le plus mechant Critique du Monde_, are the very
Words she uses. On the contrary, I think, he is generally upon these
Occasions rather Hyperbolical in his Expressions, than Erroneous in his
Judgment. I am indeed amazed at the Confidence of Monsieur _de la
Motte_, who treats _Homer_ with the greatest Freedom, and almost with
Contempt, when at the same time he acknowledges he does not understand
one Word of his Language. For my self, I have nothing to say, but that
I have a Right to deliver my Sentiments, as well as another; and, to use
the Words of that noble Poet and Critick above-mentioned,

    _I speak my private, but impartial Sense,
    With Freedom, and I hope without Offence._

And here I cannot but observe, that tho' I am charmed with that fine
Turn of his, after having remarked upon some supposed Faults in _Homer_;

    _But I offend_; Virgil _begins to frown,
    And_ Horace _looks with Indignation down;
    My blushing Muse with conscious Fear retires,
    And whom they like implicitly admires:_

Tho', I say, I am charmed with the Elegancy of the Poet, the Modesty of
the Critick, and the courtly Politeness of the Nobleman; and tho', as I
shall observe hereafter, I am not of his Opinion, as to the Particulars
he takes notice of, in the Verses preceding: yet I do not understand
why, for disapproving of some things in _Homer_, he should apprehend
either the Frowns of _Virgil_, or the Indignation of _Horace_. As
_Virgil_ saw the Beauties of _Homer_, while he imitated them; he no less
saw his Errours, while he avoided them. And as to _Horace_, that _Nil
molitur inepte_, in one Place, and----_Quandoque bonus dormitat
Homerus_, in another, must be regarded as Hyperboles; the one as an
Auxesis, the other as a Meiôsis. Not but that upon the whole, he
certainly admired _Homer_; nor would he have been the good Judge he was,
if he had not. But as he was acquainted with the _Iliad_, and the
_Odyssee_, so had he lived to have been as well acquainted with the
_Æneis_; would he not have preferred the last, before both the first?
Those who differ from me will say he _would not_; and 'tis altogether as
easy for me to say he _would_. The same, and more, may be remarked of
_Aristotle_; who was perfectly acquainted with _Homer_, but not at all
with _Virgil_.

Invention, Fire, and Judgment, will, I think, include all the Requisites
of an Epic Poem. The Action, the Fable, the Manners, the Compass, and
Variety of Matter, seem to be properly comprehended under the First of
these; yet not so as to exclude the Two last. For the particular
Disposition of them all is an Act of the Judgment, as the first Creating
of them is an Act of Invention; and Fire, tho' distinct from Invention,
and Judgment, has a near Relation to them Both, as it assists the one,
and is to be regulated by the other.

By those who commonly discourse of Heroic, and Dramatic Poetry, the
Action, and the Fable seem not to be sufficiently distinguished. The
Action is a great Achievement of some illustrious Person, attended with
an important and memorable Event. The Fable is that Complication of
Incidents, Episodes, and other Circumstances, which tend to the carrying
on of the Action, or give Reasons for it, or at least embellish and
adorn it. I make this Distinction; because Episodes are such, as are
either absolutely necessary, or very requisite. Of the former sort is
that long Narration of _Æneas_, I mean in the main Substance of it,
which is the entire Subject of the Second, and Third Books. This perhaps
will not by some be allowed to be an Episode; because, I think, it is
not commonly called so: For that Word is generally appropriated to
_Actions_, and therefore will be supposed not applicable to a
_Narration_. But I think we shall speak more clearly; if by that Word we
mean (as indeed the [7]Etymology of it imports) whatsoever is
_adventitious_ to the grand Action of the Poem, connected to it, or
inserted in it; whether it be it self an Action, or no. And there is
Ground enough to distinguish This from the immediate, and direct Train,
or Course of the main Action it self; and to shew what may, and may not,
be called an Episode. For Example; The Sailing of the _Trojan_ Fleet
from _Sicily_ in the First Book, it's Arrival there again at the
Beginning of the Fifth, and it's Sailing from thence at the End of that
Book; The Landing at _Cumæ_ in the Beginning of the Sixth; and in
another Part of _Italy_, at the Beginning of the Seventh; The whole
Operations of that Book, and so of all the rest, wherever the Heroe
himself, or his Armies for him, either with or without his Presence, are
directly engaged in the great Affair to be carry'd on, are, all of them,
so many successive Parts of one, and the same Action (the great Action
of the Poem) continued in a direct Line, and flowing in it's proper
Channel. But where any Part comes under any one of the Bye-Characters
above-mentioned, it is properly an Episode, whether it be an Action, or
a Narration. The long Recital of Adventures in the Second and Third
Books is not an _Action_, but it is _Necessary_: The Expedition of
_Nisus_ and _Euryalus_ in the Ninth is not _Necessary_, but it is an
_Action_: And Both are Episodes. Which brings us back to the Distinction
before taken notice of, between Incidents and Episodes, and the several
Kinds of the latter. All Episodes are Incidents; but it is not so on the
Reverse. The Storm in the First Book, driving the Fleet on the Coast of
_Carthage_, is an Incident, but not an Episode; because the Heroe
himself, and the whole Body of his Forces, are concerned in it; and so
it is a _direct_, not a _collateral_ Part of the main Action. But even
Episodes (as I said) must carry on the main Action, or give Reasons for
it, or at least embellish it: And therefore I said they are either
_absolutely necessary_, or _very requisite_. The Narration in the Second
and Third Books is not a _Part_ of the Action; but it _gives Reasons_
for it, and so is _Necessary_: The Adventures of _Nisus_ and _Euryalus_
in the Ninth Book, of _Mezentius_ in the Tenth, and of _Camilla_ in the
Eleventh, are all _requisite_, but not _absolutely necessary_; and yet
they are properly _Parts_ of the main Action, tho' _collateral_, not
_direct_. The Loves of _Dido_ and _Æneas_ in the Fourth Book, the Sports
at the Tomb of _Anchises_ in the Fifth, the Description of Hell in the
Sixth, the Story of _Cacus_, and the Decorations of the Shield in the
Eighth, are all supposed by some to be entirely ornamental, and no Parts
of the main Action. And This perhaps they may imagine to be a great
Point yielded to the Disadvantage of _Virgil_. Admitting it were so,
_Homer_ would gain nothing by it; most of them being taken from him, and
he having more of such _Excrescencies_, if they must be so called. But
This in Reality is no reasonable Objection against either. The Episode
of _Dido_ and _Æneas_ shall be considered in my Remarks upon the Fourth
Book. The Descent into Hell is a direct Part of the Action; the Heroe
going thither to consult his Father's Ghost concerning the Operations of
the War, and the future Fate of Himself, and his Posterity (for _all_
Action, even in an Heroic Poem, does not consist in _Fighting_:) And it
would be very strange, if, in a Work of such a Length, the Poet might
not be allowed to take that Occasion, to describe the Regions thro'
which his Heroe passed, and to make the noblest, and most surprizing
Description that ever the World saw. The same may be said of the
Casting, and Engraving of the Shield, which contains a considerable Part
of the _Roman_ History; as does the Speech of _Anchises_ in the
foregoing Division; both introduced with exquisite Art, and Judgment.
For the rest; granting that they are purely ornamental; and that while
the Poet is describing them, the Action stands still, as the Criticks
express themselves: There let it stand, with all my heart, 'till
_Virgil_ thinks fit to set it a going again. If the Action stands still,
I am sure the Poem does not; and the Reader, I think, must be very
phlegmatick, if his Spirits do. What if those Episodes are not Parts of
the Action? They are Parts of the Poem, and with the greatest Skill
inferred in it. What if they are not absolutely _necessary_? They are
very _convenient_; and that is sufficient. For if we allow that they are
entirely ornamental, we deny that they are impertinent, or superfluous;
no Things in the World being more uniform, or more naturally and
elegantly connected. Nor does _Virgil_ ever commit the Fault of those
whom _Horace_ justly condemns; by whom

    _Purpureus, late qui splendeat, unus & alter
    Assuitur pannus----_

But the Foundation of all this wrong Criticism, is the Errour of
reducing an Heroic Poem to the narrow Rules of the _Stage_. For tho' the
Drama be, in some Respects, more perfect than the Epopée, in others it
is inferiour. And it is not _Virgil_'s Fault, if we will not distinguish
between the Building of a House, and of a City; or between that of a
City, and of the Universe. In a Work of such an Extent as an Epic Poem,
and all delivered in Narration, not represented by Action, these
Interruptions of the main Business (especially when they are some of the
most beautiful Parts of the Poem, as they always are in _Virgil_'s) are
so far from being Improprieties, that they are Excellencies. This
Variety is a Relief to the Mind of the Reader; who is more diverted by
the alternate Rest, and Rapidity of the Action, than he would be by it's
perpetual Motion. Nay the Mind is therefore the more in perpetual
Motion, (tho' in several kinds of it) than if the Action really were so.
For the Poem, as I observed, does not stand still, tho' the Action may.

If what I have discoursed upon Episodes be not in the usual, I think it
is in the clearer way of Expressing; and as such I propose it to
others. _Bossu_, in his excellent Treatise of Epic Poetry, has some
nice Distinctions concerning them; which to me are more subtile, than
perspicuous: But that, I am sensible, may be my Fault, not his. And yet
he seems not to distinguish enough, when he says all Episodes are
necessary Parts of the Action, and makes no Difference between
Necessary, and Convenient. Nay he appears to be inconsistent[8] with
himself upon this Head, and to mistake the Sense of _Aristotle_. To the
Doctrine of which Philosopher I think my Account is more agreeable. For
after he has represented the Action of the _Odyssée_ in a direct Line,
as I have That of the _Æneis_; he immediately adds,[9] _This then is
proper; the rest are Episodes_. By the Word _Proper_, I understand
Immediately, and Directly Necessary. But he no where says that all
Episodes are so in any Sense; but leaves that Matter at large. For tho'
his _French_ Translators, _Bossu_, and _Dacier_ (which latter, I think,
is in the same Errour with the former) use the same Word _Proper_, when
apply'd to Episodes, as when apply'd to the main Action; yet the
Words[10] in the Original are different. _Bossu_ argues, that the
litteral Signification of the Word _Episode_, [something _adventitious_]
cannot take place; because an Episode must not be _added_, or
_superinduced_, but naturally _flow_, or _arise_ from the Subject. As if
a new Person could not enter a Room to a Company already there
assembled, without being impertinent: Surely his Coming may not only be
proper, but necessary; tho' I confess it may not be necessary, and yet
be proper: Which is the very thing I would say of Episodes. According to
this, when _Virgil_ says in the Seventh Book,

    _Hos_ super advenit _Volsca de gente Camilla;_

That Heroine is a mere Intruder; and her Story afterwards in the
Eleventh Book is no _Episode_. In short, it matters not whether we say
those Incidents _flow_, or _arise from_ the Subject; or are _added_, and
_connected to it_; or _inserted_, and _interwoven with_ it: If they are
_natural_, and _proper Parts_ of the _Poem_, That is sufficient; all
the rest is a Dispute about Words, and of no Importance, or
Significancy. However it be, I think I cannot better represent the
several sorts of Episodes which I have mentioned, than by an Instance
nearly ally'd to my Subject; I mean that of a General making a Campaign.
All the important Undertakings, and Performances of Himself, or the
Gross of his Army, or Both, in pursuance of the Design proposed, are
direct Parts of the main Action; and so far the Campaign, and the Poem
agree even in Terms. If he sitting in his Tent either gives, or hears,
the Recital of something past, the Knowledge of which is absolutely
necessary to the Prosecution of his Enterprize; This indeed is not
Action: But still it was said to be absolutely necessary in order to the
Prosecution of his Enterprize. And so is that Narration of _Æneas_ in
the Second, and Third Books, in order to the carrying on of the Action,
and to shew the Reason of it. This in War would not be called an
Episode; but it is so in Poetry. Should the same General detach a Part
of his Army upon a particular Expedition; and the Commander of that Body
behave himself with uncommon Gallantry, and attempt something very
extraordinary, and to be distinguished in History; whether he succeeded
in that Attempt or not: This would indeed be a Part of the Campaign; but
perhaps not a necessary one; because the Campaign might have subsisted,
and have been successful, or unsuccessful, with it, or without it. Such
are the Episodes of _Nisus_ and _Euryalus_; of _Mezentius_; and of
_Camilla_. The Case of the same General's being for some time diverted
from Action by an Amour, or some such Incident, shall be considered in
my Remarks upon the Fourth Book. But should he in Time of Inaction, tho'
the Campaign still continued, entertain his Officers and Soldiers with
warlike Sports and Recreations; or hear the Relation of some memorable
Adventure, in the Place where he encamped (like the Adventure of
_Hercules_, and _Cacus_) tho' no way concerning his own Affairs: These
indeed would not be Parts of the Action of his Campaign; but still might
be very properly recorded in History, and afford great Delight to the
Reader; who would by no Means be offended either with the General, or
the Historian; nor think the History of that Campaign to be less of a
Piece, because the warlike Operations were for some Time suspended. For
we must still remember, that tho' an Epic Poem be widely different from
History in many Circumstances; yet it is more nearly ally'd to it, than
any Dramatic Piece whatsoever. The learned Reader, I fear, will think I
might have troubled him with fewer Words upon this Subject, but such
Readers I presume not to instruct: What I have said may not perhaps be
altogether unuseful to Those who are less conversant in these Matters:
To acquaint them with which, nothing can contribute more, than clear
Ideas annexed to the Words, _Action_, _Fable_, _Incident_, and
_Episode_: All which (especially the last) are ill understood by many,
who yet use them with the greatest Freedom and Familiarity.

Now if my Opinion be not received, I hope my avowed Ignorance will at
least be excused; while I confess, that tho' I very clearly apprehend
the Settling of the _Trojan_ Colony in _Italy_ to be the Action of the
_Æneis_; and the Return of _Ulysses_ to be the Action of the _Odyssée_:
yet I do not so well understand how the Anger of _Achilles_ comes to be
called the Action of the _Iliad_. For besides that Anger is a Passion,
not an Action: And if you mean the immediate Effect of that Anger, not
the Anger it self; Standing still, and doing nothing (which was the
Consequence of that Heroe's Resentment) can as little be called an
Action as the Other; I say, not to insist upon This, tho' it is by no
means so trivial a Nicety as some may suppose; the Anger of _Achilles_
is not the _main Subject_ of the Poem, nor the chief Hinge upon which it
turns. The Action of it seems to be the Conquest of _Troy_; the Fable,
the _Trojan_ War; and the Anger of _Achilles_, an important Incident,
serving to aggrandize the Heroe, and consequently the Action, and to
render them more illustrious; as also at the same time to convey that
useful Moral, concerning the fatal Effects of Discord and Contention. It
will be said, that what I have mentioned is not the Action of the Poem,
because _Homer_ has not proposed it as such: But may it not be as well
replied, that _it is_ the Action of the Poem; and therefore he _should
have_ proposed it as such? For what is the Action, appears from the
Stress and Turn of the Work, not from the Title or Exordium; from the
End, not from the Beginning: And of This the Readers are to judge, as
well as of any thing else. Did not _Homer_ then know the Action of his
own Poem? Yes questionless; but he did not mention it in his
Proposition; which may possibly be chargeable upon him as an Errour: He
mentions the most important Incident, but omits the Action. Had the
Exordium set forth the Defeat of the _Trojans_, and the Destruction of
_Troy_, with such a Clause as this, "Tho' that great Event was suspended
by the fatal Anger of _Achilles_, Ἠ μύρι' Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε' ἔθηκε, and so
on, as it now stands; it would, in my humble Opinion, have been more
unexceptionable than it is at present. But I beg Pardon for even seeming
to pretend to correct _Homer_; and speak This with all possible
Submission. It is true, the Conquest of _Troy_ is not compleated in the
_Iliad_; no more is the Settlement of the _Trojans_ by the Building of
the Heroe's City in the _Æneis_: But _Hector_ is killed in the one; as
_Turnus_ is in the other; and the Consequences of Both are very visible.
I acknowledge indeed, that those of the former are not so near in view
as those of the latter. But tho' _Virgil_ in his _Æneis_, and _Homer_
himself in his _Odyssée_, inform us that the Death of _Hector_ was not
the immediate Cause of the Destruction of _Troy_; the War continuing
with great Obstinacy for a considerable time after that Heroe's Death;
as the Stratagem of the Wooden Horse was the immediate Cause of that
City's Destruction; And tho' _Homer_ confines the direct Action of his
_Iliad_ only to a Part of the _Trojan_ War: Yet he takes in the Whole
from the Amour of _Paris_ and _Helen_ to the Burning of the Town, by way
of Narration, and by way of Prophecy; which Artifice, next to Fiction,
is the most proper Character of Epick Poetry, as distinguished from
History. For the Invention of This, we are (at least so far as we know)
solely obliged to _Homer_: And for This alone, if he had done nothing
else, he would have merited that immortal Glory, which for This, and for
a thousand other Excellencies, he now most justly possesses.

The Shortness of the Time, and the Simplicity of the Action, are
Circumstances which, in the Opinion of some, give the _Iliad_ a great
Advantage over the _Æneis_. The first mentioned would be no such
Advantage; if what _Ruæus_ says were true; that the _Iliad_ takes up a
Year: For Monsieur _Segrais_ has made it plain to a Demonstration, that
the _Æneis_ takes up no more. But I wonder _Ruæus_ should affirm That of
the _Iliad_; when it is manifest that the whole Action includes no more
than forty seven Days. As to the Simplicity, or Singleness of which; if
That be the Action which I apprehend, (for, out of Deference to the
commonly received Opinion, I do not insist upon it) the Action is more
complex, than it is generally supposed. But admitting that in the
_Iliad_ the Action is more simple, as well as the Time shorter, than in
the _Æneis_: Doubtless a single Action is better than a complicated one,
_as such_; or in other Words, it is better, if it can be made equally
entertaining. But there is the Difficulty: And for that Reason, it is a
Question not yet decided, whether, even in Pieces for the Theatre,
complicated Actions, all things considered, be not, generally speaking,
preferable to single ones. And there is yet more Reason to prefer the
former in an Epic Poem; which is of a far wider Extent, and partakes the
Nature of History in some Respects, as well as of the Drama in others.
"_Virgil_ (says Mr. _Pope_[11]) for want of so warm a Genius [as
_Homer_'s] aided himself by taking in a more extensive Subject, as well
as a greater Length of Time; and contracted the Design of both _Homer_'s
Poems into one, which is yet but a fourth Part as large as his." The
supposed Coolness of _Virgil_'s Genius shall be considered hereafter. At
present I acknowledge he took what he thought proper out of the _Iliad_
and _Odyssée_, tho' he did not take his _Design_ from either; and his
first six Books resemble the _Odyssée_, as the last six do the _Iliad_:
And his one Poem, 'tis granted, is in Number of Books no more than a
Quarter of _Homer_'s two. But in This the Advantage seems to be on his
Side. For there is, if I do not greatly miscalculate, as much important
Matter, and as great a Variety of Incidents, in _Virgil_'s Twelve, as in
_Homer_'s Forty eight. And yet is _Virgil_'s Poem too much crouded, and
the Matter too thick? I think not. Are not _Homer_'s, on the contrary,
too lean? and is not the Matter too thinly spred? I think it is. When I
say a greater Number of Incidents; I do not mean more Men killed, more
Battles fought, more Speeches spoke, and the like: Those are not
Incidents; and I own _Homer_ has many more of them than _Virgil_. Mr.
_Pope_ admires the Variety of _Homer_'s Battles for this Reason, that
tho' they are so numerous they are not tedious. This is _extraordinary_
indeed, if it be _true_: But whether a Thing be tedious or not, is
Matter of Experience, rather than of Judgment; and so every particular
Person must speak as he finds. Upon his Multitude of Speeches, the most
ingenious Gentleman above-mentioned, (who was certainly _born a Poet_,
if ever Man was) has this Remark: "It is hardly credible, in a Work of
such a Length, how small a Number of Lines are employed in Narration. In
_Virgil_ the Dramatic Part is less in proportion to the Narrative." It
is so; and even in proportion to the different Length of their Works,
_Homer_ has undoubtedly more Speeches than _Virgil_; too many, in my
humble Opinion. _Homer_ has not enough of the Narrative Part; but
_Virgil_ has enough of the Dramatic; if it must be so called. For, by
the way, (tho' I very well remember that _Aristotle_ applies this Word
to the Epopée, and have elsewhere taken notice of it, and have observed
from Monsieur _Dacier_, that he uses it in a different Sense from This
of which we are now speaking) I do not understand why Speech-making in
an Heroic Poem must be called _Dramatic_; and by virtue of that Name
pass for a Beauty. The Drama indeed consists wholly of Speeches; but
then they are spoken by the Persons themselves, who are actually
introduced and represented; not related and recited by the Author as
spoken by others, as they always are in an Epic Poem. _Those_ are both
agreeable, and necessary; _These_, if they take up far the greatest Part
of the Work, being inserted by the everlasting Repetition of those
introducing, and closing interlocutory Tags, Κaί μιν φωνήσας, Τόν δ'
αὖτε προσέειπε, Ὣς ἔφατ', Τὸν δ' ἀπαμειβόμενος, _&c._ are apt to tire
the Reader; nor does the Word _Dramatic_ at all lessen the Disgust which
they give him. I am aware too, that setting aside the Word _Dramatic_,
_Aristotle_ expresly declares for a Multitude of Speeches, and little
Narration in Epic Poetry: But then I beg Leave once for all to make a
Remark upon this Subject, which may be applied to some others; That
_Aristotle_'s Precepts are formed upon _Homer_'s Practice; no _other_
Heroic Poet having _then_ appeared in the World. But since the Case is
now quite altered, to give _Homer_ the Preference to _Virgil_ upon Rules
entirely drawn from his own Practice, would be _begging the Question_
even in the Judgment of _Aristotle_ as a Logician, whatever might be his
Opinion as a Critick. Not but that, after all, a far greater Part even
of _Virgil_'s Poem is employed in Speeches, than one would imagine
without a _very close Attention_: If I may judge of others by my self,
we are deceived by him in this Particular, (so exquisite is his Art) and
even after frequent Readings do not ordinarily take notice that there
are so many Speeches in his _Æneis_ as there really are: An infallible
Sign that they are excellent in themselves, and most skilfully
introduced and connected. I agree that in an Epic Poem they ought to be
_very numerous_; tho' I do not ground that Opinion upon the Reason which
_Aristotle_ assigns; _viz._ That otherwise a Poet would not be an
_Imitator_. For is there no _Imitation_ but in _Speeches_? What are

By more Incidents then I do not mean (as I said) more Men killed, more
Battles fought, more Speeches spoke; but more memorable and surprizing
Events. Take these Poems therefore purely as Romances; and consider them
only with regard to the History, and Facts contained in them, the Plots,
the Actions, Turns, and Events; That of _Virgil_ is more copious, full,
various, and surprizing, and every way more entertaining, than Those of
_Homer_. Then is there any Comparison between the Subjects of the Poems?
Between the Anger of _Achilles_, (if That be the Subject of the _Iliad_)
and the Return of _Ulysses_ in Those of the Greek Poet; and the Founding
of _Rome_, and the Glory of the _Romans_ in That of the Latin one?

It is said by Mr. _Dryden_[12], and others, that _Homer_'s Moral is more
Noble than _Virgil_'s; but for what Reason I know not. The Quarrel of
_Achilles_ and _Agamemnon_ teaches us the ill Consequences of Discord in
a State; and the Story of the Dogs, the Sheep, and the Wolf, in _Æsop_'s
Fables, does the same.[13] This indeed is a very good Lesson; but it
seems too narrow, and particular, to be the _Grand Moral_ of an Heroic
Poem. It is proper, if you please, to be _inserted_ in such a Work; and
many more as important as This are interspersed up and down, and
mentioned among other Things, both in That of _Virgil_, and in Those of
_Homer_. But how much more noble, extensive, and truly Heroic a Moral is
This; That Piety to God, and Justice and Goodness to Men, together with
true Valour, both Active, and Passive, (not such as consists in
Strength, Intrepidity, and Fierceness only, which is the Courage of a
Tyger, not of a Man) will engage Heaven on our Sides, and make both
Prince, and People, victorious, flourishing, and happy? And This is the
Moral of the _Æneis_, properly so called. For tho' _Virgil_ had plainly
another End in view, which was to conciliate the Affections of the
_Roman_ People to the new Government of _Augustus Cæsar_; upon which
_Bossu_, and after him Mr. _Dryden_, have largely, and excellently
discoursed: Yet this is rather of a Political, than of a Moral Nature.
Mr. _Pope_ seeming to acknowledge that the Moral of the _Æneis_ is
preferable to That of the _Iliad_, only says that the same Arguments
upon which that Preference is grounded might set the _Odyssée_ above the
_Æneis_. But as he does not give Reasons for that Assertion, it will be
sufficient to say, that there seems to me to be at least as much
Morality in _Virgil_'s Poem, as in the _Odyssée_ it self; and that
particularly in the Characters of the Heroes, _Æneas_ as much excels
_Ulysses_ in Piety, as _Achilles_ does _Æneas_ in rapid Valour. And for
Virtue in general, the Point between the two Heroes last mentioned is
entirely yielded by every Body in favour of _Virgil_'s; the very Moral
of the _Iliad_ requiring that it's Heroe should be immoral. But sure it
is more artful and entertaining, as well as useful and instructive, to
have the Moral of the Poem so cast and contrived, that the principal
Person in it may be good and virtuous, as well as great and brave. It
will be said, _Homer_ could not avoid that Inconvenience; _Achilles_
having a known Character before: It may be so; and I am glad of that
Excuse: But still _so it is_; and it would have been _better_, if it had
been _otherwise_. Or if you will have it as Mr. _Pope_ puts it, (less, I
think, to _Homer_'s Advantage) He did not design to do otherwise: "They
blame him (says he) for not doing what he never designed: As because
_Achilles_ is not as good, and perfect a Prince as _Æneas_, when the
very Moral of his Poem required a contrary Character." I wish then his
Design had been _different_: Because if it had, it would have been
_better_. If a Man does ill; is it an Answer to say, He designed to do
so? The Account which _Horace_ gives of _Achilles_ is a very true one:

    _Impiger, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer;
    Jura negat sibi nata, nihil non arrogat armis._

Heroic Virtues, no doubt! An admirable Character of a Demi-god!

But who will contend that the _Grecian_ Poet is comparable to the
_Roman_, in his exquisite Understanding of humane Nature, and
particularly in his Art of moving the Passions? Which is one of the most
distinguishing Characters of a Poet, and in which he peculiarly triumphs
and glories. I mention only the fourth _Æneid_, (tho' an hundred other
Instances might be mentioned) and desire That Book alone may be matched
in this respect by all _Homer_'s Works put together. And yet I am not
unmindful of several excellent pathetical Passages in both those
immortal Poems.

What has been hitherto discoursed, includes both Judgment and Invention.
That _Homer_ excels _Virgil_ in the latter of These, is generally taken
for granted. That he invented _before_ him, and invented _more_, is an
undoubted Truth: But it does not from thence follow that he invented
_better_, or that he had a _better Invention_. For to say that _Virgil_
betrays a Barrenness of Genius, or Scantiness of Imagination, (even in
comparison with _Homer_) is a most groundless, and unjust Reflection
upon him. It is his exact Judgment which makes both his Fancy, and his
Fire seem less to Some, than they really are. And then we must consider
that it was the Fashion among the _Romans_ to adopt all Learning of the
_Greeks_ into their own Language: It was so in Oratory, and Philosophy,
as well as in Poetry. And therefore it is no Consequence that _Virgil_
was of a narrower Invention than _Homer_ himself, because in many things
he copied from him: And yet That Inference is continually made, and
those things unreasonably confounded. And after all; _Virgil_ did not
copy so much from _Homer_, as some would make us believe; from whose
Discourse, if we had no other Evidence, one would imagine the Latin to
be little more than a Translation, and an Abridgment of the Greek. The
admirable Choice of his Subject, and Heroe, for the Honour of his
Country; his most artfully interweaving the _Roman_ History, especially
at those three remarkable Divisions in the First, the Sixth, and the
Eighth Books; his Action, and the Main of his Fable; the exquisite
Mechanism of his Poem, and the Disposition of it's Parts, are entirely
his own; as are most of his Episodes: And I suppose it will be allowed
that his Diction and Versification were not taken from _Homer_. To pass
over many other things which might be mentioned, and some of which I
shall mention in my Notes; Why must _Dido_ and _Æneas_ be copied from
_Calypso_ and _Ulysses_? The Reason is plain: _Dido_ and _Calypso_ were
Women, (if the latter, being a Goddess, may be called so;) and _Ulysses_
and _Æneas_ were Men; and between those Men and Women there was a
Love-Adventure, and a Heroe detained by it. That is all the Resemblance
between the Persons immediately concerned. _Jupiter_'s Message by
_Mercury_ indeed is plainly taken from _Homer_ by _Virgil_: But _Virgil_
might very well think of that Imitation, after he had laid the Plan of
_Dido_'s Episode; which is quite of another Nature from _Calypso_'s, and
introduced with a quite different Design. For the same Reason, I
suppose, the Conversation between _Venus_ and _Jupiter_ in the First
_Æneid_ must be taken from _Homer_; because _Thetis_ has a Conference
with that God (in favour of her Son too) in the First _Iliad_. _Virgil_
mentions Sea and Land, Heaven and Earth, Horses and Chariots, Gods and
Men; nay he makes use of Hexameter Verse, and the Letters of the
Alphabet; and _Homer_, tho' in a different Language, had I confess, done
all This before him. But where _Virgil_ really does (as he often does)
imitate _Homer_; how does he at the same time _exceed_ him! What
Comparison is there between the Funeral Games for _Patroclus_, and those
for _Anchises_? Between the Descent of _Ulysses_ into Hell, and that of
_Æneas_? Between the merely ornamental Sculptures upon _Homer_'s
_Vulcanian_ Shield, and the _Roman_ History, and the Triumphs of
_Augustus_ upon _Virgil_'s? In my Notes I shall be more particular: At
present, I cannot forbear saying, that to be _such_ an Improver is at
least almost as much Glory, as to be the original Inventer.[14]

As the Case is stated between these two great Poets by the most moderate
Criticks; _Homer_ excelled in Fire, and Invention; and _Virgil_ in
Judgment. _Invention_ has been already enough considered: _Judgment_,
and _Fire_ are farther to be discoursed of. That _Virgil_ excelled in
Judgment, we all allow. But _how far_ did he excel? Did he not _very
much_? Almost beyond Comparison? I shall here say very little of
_Homer_'s Errours, and _Virgil_'s Excellencies in that Respect. The
latter I shall speak of in my Notes; And the former I have no mind to:
Both, because it has been so frequently, and largely done already; and
also, because it is an uneasy Task; and I had much rather remark upon
Beauties, than upon Faults; especially in one of the greatest Men that
ever lived; and for whom I have an exceeding Love, and Veneration. I
think he is unjustly censured by my Lord _Roscommon_, and Others, for
his _Railing Heroes, and Wounded Gods_. The one was agreeable to the
Manners of those Ages, which he best knew: And as to the other, Those
who are thus wounded are subordinate Deities, and supposed to have
Bodies, or certain Vehicles equivalent to them. Indeed, as _Jupiter_ is
invested with Omnipotence, and other Attributes of the supreme God; I
know not how to account for his being bound and imprisoned by his
Subjects, and requiring the Assistance of a Giant to release him: And
tho' the _Wound_ of _Mars_ may be no Impropriety; yet his _Behaviour_
upon it is very strange: He roars, and runs away, and tells his Father;
and the God of War is the veriest Coward in the Field. Nor can I forbear
thinking, notwithstanding all the Refinements of Criticks, and
Commentators, that the Figure which _Vulcan_ makes in the Synod of the
Gods is a little improper, and unheroical. But, as I said, I care not to
insist upon these Things; nor do I deny that _Virgil_ has Faults, and
that too in his first Six Books, which are most correct, and least
liable to Exception. I shall in my Remarks take Notice of some Passages,
which I think to be such. No _Mortal_ was ever yet the Author of a Work
absolutely perfect: There are but _Two_ such in the World; if we may
properly say so: For the _World_ it self is one of them.

_Virgil_ then greatly excelled _Homer_ in Judgment: So much, that had he
been greatly excelled by him in Fire, the Advantage, upon the Comparison
in these two Respects, would have been on his Side. But I shall not
consider, on the other hand, how far _Homer_ exceeded _Virgil_ in Fire;
because I utterly deny that he exceeded him in it at all.

This, I am sensible, will seem a bold Assertion. Many who, upon the
Whole, prefer _Virgil_, give him up here: Many, I say; for Some do not.
And never was any Author more injured, than he has been, by some
Criticks, especially _Modern ones_, in the Article of Genius, and
Poetical Fire. What do these Gentlemen call Fire? Or how much Fire would
they have? It is impossible to instance in Particulars here; I shall do
That in my Notes: I can now only refer to some general Heads, among a
Multitude more, which I cannot so much as mention. In the First Book,
_Juno_'s Speech, _Æolus_, the Storm, the Beginning of _Dido_'s Passion:
Almost the whole Second Book throughout: _Polyphemus_, and _Ætna_ in the
Third: The Sports, and the Burning of the Ships, in the Fifth: The
Sibyl's Prophetick Enthusiasm, and the Descent into Hell in the Sixth:
_Juno_'s Speech again, the Fury _Alecto_, the Occasion of the War, and
the Assembling of the Forces in the Seventh: The Story of _Cacus_ in the
Eighth, the _Cyclops_, and the Shield: In the Ninth, the Beginning of
warlike Action; at

    _Hic subitam nigro glomerari pulvere nubem
    Prospiciunt Teucri, & tenebras insurgere campis,_ &c.

_Nisus_ and _Euryalus_; and the amazing Exploits of _Turnus_ in the
Enemy's City: In the Tenth, the Arrival of _Æneas_ with his Fleet and
Forces, at

    _Ardet apex capiti, cristisque à vertice flamma
    Funditur, & vastos umbo vomit aureus ignes,_ &c.

It is needless, and would be almost endless, to recite the Rapidity of
the War in the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Books; _Mezentius_;
_Camilla_; the Speeches of _Turnus_, to _Drances_, to _Latinus_, to his
Sister _Juturna_; and lastly, the single Combat between _Æneas_ and Him:

    _At Pater Æneas, audito nomine Turni,
    Deserit & muros, & summas deserit arces;
    Præcipitatque moras omnes, opera omnia rumpit,
    Lætitia exultans, horrendumque intonat armis:
    Quantus Athos,_ &c.

Which reminds me, by the way, that the same Persons, who blame _Virgil_
for want of Fire, blame his Heroe for want of Courage; and with just as
much Reason. I agree, that each of these Poets in his Temper and Spirit
extremely resembles his Heroe: And accordingly, _Homer_ is no more
superior to _Virgil_ in _true Fire_, than _Achilles_ is to _Æneas_ in
_true Courage_. But what necessarily supposes the Poetical Fire, and
cannot subsist without it, has not been yet mentioned upon this Head;
tho' it was taken Notice of upon another: I mean, _Moving the Passions_,
especially those of Terrour and Pity. The Fourth Book throughout I have
above referred to: The Death of _Priam_; The Meeting of _Æneas_ and
_Andromache_; _Nisus_ and _Euryalus_ again: _Evander_'s Concern for his
Son before his Death, and his Lamentation after it; The Distress of
_Juturna_, and the Fury in the Shape of an Owl flapping upon the Shield
of _Turnus_, are some Instances selected out of many. The Truth is, (so
far as it appears from their several Works) the _Greek_ Poet knew little
of the Passions, in comparison of the _Roman_.

It must be observed, that tho' most of the Instances, which I have now
produced out of _Virgil_, are taken from warlike Adventures; yet it is a
great Errour to think (as some do) that all Fire consists in Quarrelling
and Fighting: as do nine Parts in ten of _Homer_'s, in his _Iliad_. The
Fire we are speaking of, is _Spirit_ and _Vivacity_; _Energy_ of
_Thought_, and _Expression_; which way soever it _affects us_; whether
it fires us by _Anger_, or _otherwise_; nay, tho' it _does not fire us
at all_, but even produces a _quite contrary Effect_. However it may
sound like a Paradox; it is the Property of this Poetical Flame to chill
us with Horrour, and make us weep with Pity, as well as to kindle us
with Indignation, Love, or Glory: It is it's Property to cool, as well
as to burn; and Frost and Snow are it's Fuel, as much as Sulphur.

    _----Jamque volans, apicem, & latera ardua cernit
    Atlantis duri, cœlum qui vertice fulcit;
    Atlantis, cinctum assidue cui nubibus atris
    Piniferum caput, & vento pulsatur, & imbri:
    Nix humeros infusa tegit, tum flumina mento
    Præcipitant senis, & glacie riget horrida barba._

In these Lines we have the Images of a hoary old Man, a vast rocky
Mountain, black Clouds, Wind and Rain, Ice and Snow; One shrinks, and
shivers, while one reads them: And yet the World affords few better
Instances of Poetical Fire; which is as much shewn in describing a
Winter-piece, as in describing a Battle, or a Conflagration. However, as
it appears from the Examples before cited, _Virgil_ was not deficient
even in That sort of Fire which is commonly called so, the fierce, the
rapid, the fighting: And where he either shews not That, or none at all,
'tis not because he _can't_, but because he _w'on't_; because 'tis not
proper. To explain my self, I refer the Reader to my Remark upon V. 712
of the First Book. Excepting some uncorrect Verses, _Virgil_ never
flags: Or when he appears to do so, it is on purpose; according to that
most true Opinion of my Lord _Roscommon_:

    _For I mistake; or far the greatest Part
    Of what some call Neglect, was study'd Art.
    When_ Virgil _seems to trifle in a Line;
    'Tis like a Warning-piece, which gives the Sign,
    To wake your Fancy, and prepare your Sight
    To reach the noble Height of some unusual Flight._

His very Negligences are accurate, and even his Blemishes are Beauties.
Besides; a considerable Number of Verses together may have little, or no
Fire in them; and yet be very graceful, and deserve great Praise.
_Virgil_ (which I think is not so observable in _Homer_) can be elegant,
and admirable, without being in a Hurry, or in a Passion. He is
sometimes higher indeed, and sometimes lower: but he always flies; and
that too (as Mr. _Segrais_ judiciously observes) always at a Distance
from the Ground: He rises, and sinks, as he pleases; but never flutters,
or grovels. Can the same be as truly said of _Homer_? His Fire in the
main is divine; but as I think he has too much of it in some Places, has
he not too little in others? Mr. _Dryden_ says, [15]_Milton runs into a
flat Thought, sometimes for a hundred Lines together_. Which, I think,
is not true: He sometimes flags in many Lines together; and perhaps the
same may be as truly said of his Greek Master. In _Homer_ methinks I see
a Rider of a noble, generous, and fiery Steed; who always puts him upon
the Stretch, and therefore sometimes tires him: _Virgil_ mounted upon
the same, or such another, gives him either the Reins, or the Curb, at
proper times; and so his Pace, if not always rapid, as it should not be,
is always stately, and majestick; and his Fire appears by being
suppressed, as well as by being indulged. For the Judgment of this
incomparable Poet, in alternately suppressing, and indulging his Divine
Fury, puts me in mind of his own _Apollo_ overruling and inspiring his
own _Sibyl_; which whole Passage, by the way (for I shall cite but Part
of it) is it self one of the noblest Instances of Poetical Fire this Day
extant in the whole World. My Application a little perverts it: But That
is a small Circumstance in Allusions.

    _At Phœbi nondum patiens immanis in antro
    Bacchatur vates, magnum si pectore possit
    Excussisse Deum_; tanto magis ille fatigat
    Os rabidum, fera corda domans, fingitque premendo.

But afterwards;

    _Talibus ex adyto dictis Cumæa Sibylla
    Horrendas canit ambages, antroque remugit,
    Obscuris vera involvens_; ea fræna furenti
    Concutit, & stimulos sub pectore vertit Apollo.

What was my Lord _Roscommon'_s Precept, was _Virgil_'s Practice,

    _To write with Fury, but correct with Phlegm:_

Things very consistent in their own Nature. And therefore I must insist
that _Virgil_ was no way deficient in Poetical Fire; and that _Homer_
excelled him not in that Particular. By which last I always mean, that
either _Homer_ had not _more_ of it, or if he had _more in the Whole_,
he had _too much_ in _some_ Instances, and _too little_ in _others_. If
His were _more_ than _Virgil_'s, (tho' even That I question) it was not
_better_; no nor _so good_: considering how their Fire was disposed, or
(if I may so speak) situated in their several Constitutions; and what
use they severally made of it in their Writings. And therefore upon this
Article I must take the Liberty to say, Mr. _Pope_ is not just to
_Virgil_, as well as to some other Poets, in the Preface to his
admirable Translation of _Homer_. "This Fire (says he) is discerned in
_Virgil_; but discerned as through a Glass, reflected, and rather
shining than warm, but every-where equal and constant: In _Lucan_, and
_Statius_, it bursts out in sudden, short, and interrupted Flashes: In
_Milton_, it glows like a Furnace, kept up to an uncommon Fierceness by
the Force of Art: In _Shakespear_, it strikes before we are aware, like
an accidental Fire from Heaven: But in _Homer_, and in Him only, it
burns every where clearly, and every where irresistibly." Supposing his
Account of _Lucan_ and _Statius_ to be true: I no more know how to
distinguish it from his Account of _Shakespear_, than I agree with him
in the Character he gives of that great Man. For Fires from Heaven do
not _often_ strike; and when they do, are of no long Continuance: And so
_Shakespear_'s, like That of the other Two before mentioned, is supposed
to _burst out in short, sudden, and interrupted Flashes_: For Instance,
like Lightning; which is the only Fire from Heaven that we ordinarily
see, or hear of, and even That not very frequently. For if any other
Celestial flashes are here meant, they indeed may be more Divine; but
they are much more rare, and short, than Those of _Statius_ and _Lucan_.
Whereas _Shakespear_, in my Judgment, has more of the Poetical Fire,
than either of those Poets. _Milton_ indeed had more of it than He: and
therefore I am no less suprized at the Character here given of his Fire,
that _it glows like a Furnace, kept up to an uncommon Fierceness by the
Force of Art_: Because, tho' his Art, Learning, and Use of Books,
especially of _Homer_, be very great; yet he is most distinguished by
natural Genius, Spirit, Invention, and Fire; in all which perhaps he is
not very much inferiour to _Homer_ himself. Whose Fire again does not, I
conceive, _burn every where clearly, and irresistibly_: Or if it did, it
would be no Commendation. For the small Praise here given to _Virgil_,
is, in my Opinion, no true Praise at all: His Fire is not every where
equal: and it would be a Fault in him, if it were; as I have above
observed. But waving That; Surely such an Account of _Virgil_'s Fire was
never given by any Critick before. _It is discerned_: As faint, and
lessening an Expression, as could have been thought of. And how is it
even _discerned_? Only _through a Glass_: And lest we should imagine
That Glass to be a _Burning-Glass_; it is _reflected_, and _rather
shining, than warm_. Now I desire to be informed, what truer Idea any
one can have of the coldest, and most spiritless Writer in the World;
supposing him only to be a good Judge, and a Man of tolerable Parts. If
I am my self a little warm upon this Subject, I hope it may be pardoned
upon such an Occasion; when so great a Genius as _Virgil_'s is unjustly
censured by so great a Genius as Mr. _Pope_'s. However it be; _Homer_,
according to this Account, remains the Sun of Poetry: For I know of no
other Luminary (to which he may be compared) whose Fire _burns every
where clearly, and every where irresistibly_. Whereas, if we must pursue
these Similes of Light, and Fire, (tho', like other Similes, they do not
answer in every Particular) I should rather say, as I hinted in the
Beginning of this Preface, that the Fire of Poetry arose in _Homer_,
like Light at the Creation; shining, and burning, it is true, but
enshrined in a Cloud: But was afterwards transplanted into _Virgil_, as
into the Sun; according to the Account which _Milton_ gives of Both:[16]

    _Let there be Light, said God; and forthwith Light
    Ethereal, first of Things, Quintessence pure,
    Sprang from the Deep; and from her native East
    To journy thro' the airy Gloom began,
    Sphear'd in a radiant Cloud: For yet the Sun
    Was not; She in a cloudy Tabernacle
    Sojourn'd the while.----_


    _Of Light by far the greater Part he took,
    Transplanted from her cloudy Shrine, and plac'd
    In the Sun's Orb, made porous to receive
    And drink the liquid Light; firm to retain
    Her gather'd Beams, great Palace now of Light._

If it be said, that according to this Account, _Homer_ has the
Advantage; because _all_ the Light is supposed to have been first in
him, and only a _Part_ of it (tho' the greatest) transferred to
_Virgil_: it must be remembered that we are only making a _Comparison_:
For if it were an exact _Parallel_, we must conceive (which we are far
from doing) that the _very individual_ Fire of the _Greek_ Poet was
transferred into the _Roman_; and that the one ceases to exist
separately from the other. But besides; admitting _Homer_ to have the
Advantage _so far_ as this Objection supposes; yet still _Virgil_ has it
_upon the Whole_, even with respect to Fire, of which we are now
discoursing. Tho' the Light in the cloudy Shrine were _more_ than That
in the Sun; yet in the Sun it is placed in a _higher_, and more
_regular_ Sphere; more _aptly disposed_ for _warming_ and
_illuminating_, and more _commodiously situated_ for the Delight and
Benefit of Mankind. "The _Roman_ Author (we are told) seldom rises into
very astonishing Sentiments, where he is not fired by the _Iliad_.[17]"
Tho' I absolutely deny the Matter of Fact yet supposing it were true,
still _fired he is_: The Poetical Spirit is in him, however he came by
it; and that too _better_, if not _more_, than in him from whom he is
imagined to have received it. How far the Reader will be of my Opinion
upon this Head I know not: But to me the Truth of what I have urged
resembles the _Things_ of which I have been speaking: It _shines_ like
the _Light_, and _burns_ like the _Fire_.

As to _Similes_, _Homer_ is supposed to have the full Propriety of
_Them_; and even the greatest Part of _Virgil_'s must be His. That a
great Number of _Virgil_'s are taken from him, I deny not; but most of
them are exceedingly improved by being transplanted: Tho' I believe if
he had taken fewer from _Homer_, and given us more of his own, his Poem
would have been so much the better. Not that he really has copy'd from
_Homer_ in this Instance, near so much as some Criticks pretend; and he
has more Similes entirely his own; than the aforesaid Criticks will
allow him. In my Remarks I shall mention some Particulars.

Generally speaking, _Homer's Descriptions_ are admirable. But even in
this View, I think Those are unjust to _Virgil_, who do not allow that
he excels his Master. Consider the several Instances already cited, upon
the Article of Poetical Fire; for most of them may be equally applied to
This. What Images! what Paintings! what Representations of Nature! what
Nature it self, do we find and feel in them! Besides a Multitude of
others, which cannot now be so much as mentioned: I must here again
refer to my Notes for Particulars.

For _Style_, _Diction_, and _Verification_, _Homer_, I acknowledge, is
allowed the Triumph, even by the Generality of _Virgil_'s Party:
particularly by _Rapin_; as he is likewise by him in the Instances of
_Fire_, and _Description_, above-mentioned. However, that I may not be
thought singular in my Opinion, a Character which I by no means desire;
it may be considered that I agree with _Scaliger_ in his express
Assertions, and with my Lord _Roscommon_ in his Hints and Insinuations,
not to mention other Authorities; when I frankly declare my Sentiments,
that the _Roman_ Poet is superiour to the _Grecian_ even in this
Respect. The _Greek_ Language, it is true, is superiour to the _Latin_,
in This, as well as in every thing else; being the most expressive, the
most harmonious, the most various, rich, and fruitful, and indeed, upon
all Accounts, the best Language in the World. But if notwithstanding
this great Advantage, _Virgil_'s Diction and Versification be preferable
to _Homer_'s; his Glory for That very Reason will be so much the
greater. _Homer's Epithets_, for the most part, are in _Themselves_
exceedingly beautiful; but are not many of them _superfluous_? Whether
many, nay all, of those Particles which are commonly (and indeed, I
think, falsly enough) called Expletives, be significant or no, I do not
now dispute: But admitting them to be so; are not too many little Words,
whether _Expletives_, nay whether _Particles_, or not, often crouded
together? Ἤ εἰ δή ποτέ τοι κατὰ, _&c._ and Ἦ ῥὰ νύ μοί ποτὲ καὶ σὺ,
_&c._ are not, I own, very agreeable Sounds to my Ears; and many more of
the same Kind are to be met with. Moreover, does not _Homer_ make an ill
use of one great Privilege of his Language, (among many others) I mean
That of dissolving Diphthongs, by so very frequently inserting a Word of
five, or six Syllables, to drag his Sense to the End of a Verse, which
concludes with the long Word aforesaid? Those Words, even at the End of
a Verse, are sometimes indeed very agreeable: But are they not often
otherwise? Especially at the Close of a Paragraph, or Speech; when for
the most part too they are Epithets: and yet more especially, when those
Epithets are of little Significancy? I shall give but one Instance,
tho' it were very easy to produce many; and That shall be the last Line
of the _Iliad_: Upon which, compared with the last of the _Æneis_, I
cannot but think that

    _Vitaque cum gemitu fugit indignata sub umbras_,

is a nobler Conclusion of an Heroic Poem, than

    Ὣς οἲ γ' ἀμφίεπον τάφον Ἕκτορος ἱπποδάμοιο.

A thousand things of the same, or of the like Nature, might be
mentioned: And I am aware that such Observations will by some Criticks
be called _modern Criticisms_. But be That as it will; I am for Truth
and Reason, whether it be called Ancient, or Modern.

To display the Excellence of _Virgil_'s Style, Diction, and
Versification, cannot be the Business of this Preface: Here again I must
refer to my Notes. I only observe, that nothing can be more sublime, and
majestick, than some Parts; nothing more sweet, and soft, than others;
nothing more harmonious, flowing, numerous, and sounding than both his
Soft, and his Sublime. As to which latter, when he describes the Fury,
Noise, and Confusion of War, I recollect That of my Lord _Roscommon_;

    _Th'_ Æneian _Muse, when she appears in State,
    Makes all_ Jove's _Thunder on her Verses wait._

And That of _Virgil_ himself:

    _----Quo non præstantior alter
    Ære ciere viros, Martemque accendere cantu._

For those Lines may as well be applied to the Trumpet of _Virgil_, as of
_Misenus_. Not but that in this way of Writing, I mean the Martial, and
the Furious, _Homer_, setting aside his Redundancy, is at least equal to
_Virgil_; perhaps superiour. But then he is not comparable to him in the
other Part, the smooth, the soft, and the sweetly flowing. This in
_Virgil_ always puts me in mind of some Verses of his own, which I have
elsewhere cited: Verses, which, in the Sixth Eclogue, the Speakers
apply to each other; and which, above all Writers, are most applicable
to Him, who gives Speech to them both.

    _Tale tuum carmen nobis, divine Poeta,
    Quale sopor fessis in gramine, quale per æstum
    Dulcis aquæ saliente sitim restinguere rivo.
    Nam neque me tantum venientis sibilus Austri,
    Nec percussa juvant fluctu tam littora, nec quæ
    Saxosas inter decurrunt flumina valles._

But the exquisite Art of _Virgil_'s Versification is seen in his varying
the Pauses, and Periods, and Cadence of his Numbers; in being rough or
smooth, soft or vehement, long or short, _&c._ according to the Nature
of the Ideas he would convey to the Mind: in which, I think, he exceeds
all Writers, whether Ancient or Modern; and is in particular the best
Versifier, as well as, upon the whole, the best Poet in the World.

Upon the Subject of _Speeches_, Mr. _Pope_ tells us, "That in _Virgil_
they often consist of general Reflections, or Thoughts, which might be
equally just in any Person's Mouth upon the same Occasion. As many of
his Persons have no apparent Characters; so many of his Speeches escape
being applied, and judged by the Rule of Propriety. We oftner think of
the Author himself, when we read _Virgil_, than when we are engaged in
_Homer_. All which are the Effects of _a colder Invention_, that
interests us less in the Action described: _Homer_ makes us Hearers, and
_Virgil_ leaves us Readers." I have the Misfortune to be of a quite
different Sentiment. If _Virgil_ outshines _Homer_ in any thing, it is
especially in his _Speeches_. Which are all, so far as it is necessary,
adapted to the Manners of the Speakers, and diversified by their several
Characters. Nor do I know of any one Beauty by which _Virgil_ is more
peculiarly distinguished, than That of his Speeches: Considering the
Sweetness and Softness of some, the Cunning and Artifice of others; the
Majesty and Gravity of a third sort; the Fire and Fury of a fourth: In
which two last Kinds especially we have the united Eloquence of Oratory,
and Poetry; and read _Tully_ involved in _Virgil_. That the Characters
of the Heroes are more particularly marked and distinguished in the
_Greek_, than in the _Latin_, I readily acknowledge. In That the
_Iliad_ excels the _Æneis_; and, I think, in nothing else. And the
Controversy between these two great Poets Should, in my Opinion, be thus
determined: "That _Virgil_ is very much obliged to _Homer_; and
_Homer_'s Poems, upon the whole, very much exceeded by _Virgil_'s."

But I am sensible, that by arguing for _Virgil_ I have all this while
been arguing against my self. For the more excellent the Author, the
more presumptuous the Translator. I have however thus much to plead in
my Excuse, That this Work was very far _advanced_, before it was
_undertaken_; having been for many Years the Diversion of my leisure
Hours at the University, and growing upon me by insensible Degrees; so
that a great _Part_ of the _Æneis_ was _actually translated_, before I
had _any Design_ of _attempting the Whole_. But with regard to the
_Publick Office in Poetry_, with which the University of _Oxford_ was
afterwards pleased to honour me, (an Honour which I Now enjoy, and which
I shall Forever gratefully acknowledge) I thought it might not be
improper for me to review, and finish this Work; which otherwise had
certainly been as much neglected by Me, as perhaps it will now be by
Every body else.

It is to That renowned Seat of Learning and Virtue, (the Pride and Glory
of our Island!)

    _----cujus amor mihi crescit in horas,_

and my Love and Veneration for which I Shall never be able to express:
It is to That famous University, I say, that I owe a very considerable
Part of my Encouragement in this Undertaking; tho' at the same time I
have great and signal Obligations to many _Others_, who were not only
Subscribers to it themselves, but Promoters of it by their Interest in
their Friends. With the most grateful Sense of the Favour, and Honour
done me, I return my _general_ Thanks to _All_ Those of the Nobility,
and Gentry, and all Others, who appear as my Subscribers: But These my
_especial Benefactors_ are desired to accept of my more _particular_
Acknowledgments. Even These (many of whom are Persons of Quality) are so
numerous, that to mention them would be to transcribe a great Part of my
List into my Preface: And Since I cannot properly name them _All_, I
think it the best Manners to name _None_. I wish for Their sakes, as
well as my Own, that, when they have read this Translation, they may
not repent of the _generous Encouragement_ they have given it.

One Thing of which, I hope, I may say; and That is, that _it is a
Translation_. And if it be; I believe I may add, that it is almost the
only one in Verse, and of a considerable Length. And this I am very far
from speaking, upon the Account of any great Opinion which I have
conceived of my own Performance. For besides that a Translation may be
very _close_, and yet very _bad_. Others could have done the same thing
much better, if they would: But they thought it either impracticable, or
improper. They have been so averse from the Folly of rendering Word for
Word, that they have ran into the other Extreme; and their Translations
are commonly so very licentious, that they can scarce be called so much
as Paraphrases. Whereas, were it practicable to translate _verbatim_ in
the strictest Sense; and yet preserve the Elegance, and Sublimity, and
Spirit of the Author, as much as if one allowed one's self a greater
Latitude: That Method ought to be chosen before the other. And in
proportion, the nearer one approaches to the Original, the better it is;
provided the Version be in other Respects no way prejudiced, but rather
improved by it: A Thing, in my Apprehension, by no Means inconceivable.
A Translator should _draw the Picture_ of his Author: And in Painting,
we know, _Likeness_ is the _first_ Beauty; so that if it has not _That_,
all the rest are insignificant. Draw _Virgil_ as _like_ as you can; To
think of _improving_ him is _arrogant_; and to flatter him, is
_impossible_. I have not added, or omitted very many Words: Many indeed
are varied; the Sense of the Substantive in the Latin, being often
transferred to the Adjective in the English; and so on the Reverse: with
a great Number of such like Instances, which it is needless to mention.
Yet many Lines are translated Word for Word: But, upon the Whole, to
give a tolerable, and yet a perfectly litteral Version, I take to be in
the Nature of Things absolutely impossible.

I am sensible too, as I said before, that it may be a true Translation,
a close Translation; and yet, after all, a very bad Translation. Whether
This be so, or not, is with all imaginable Deference submitted to the
Judgment of the World. To render the bare Sense, and Words of a Poet, is
only to paint his Features, and Lineaments; but to render his _Poetry_,
that is, the _peculiar Turn_ of his Thoughts, and Diction, is to paint
his _Air_ and _Manner_. And as the Air of a Face arises from a Man's
_Soul_, as well as from his Body; it is just the same here: Or rather,
This peculiar Turn of the Poet's Sentiments and Expressions _is it self_
the Soul of his Poetry: If we are asked what That is; the Answer must
be, if we may properly compare a _Mode_ to a _Substance_, that the Soul
of Poetry, like the Soul of Man, is perceivable only by its Effects;
like That, immaterial, and invisible; and like That too, immortal.

But then all this being taken care of, certainly the nearer to the
Original, the better: Nay indeed it is impossible to hit the Air right;
unless you hit the Features, from which the Air, so far as it relates to
the Body, rises, and results. Should my Translation be approved of for
the Spirit of Poetry; I should not be sorry, nay I should be glad, if at
the same time it served for a Construing-Book to a School-Boy. But still
whenever it happens (as it very often does, and must) that a close
Version, and a graceful Expression are inconsistent; the latter is
always to be preferred. A _less litteral Translation_ is very frequently
beautiful; but nothing can justify _an ill Verse_. In This Case, one
departs from the Original by adhering to it; and such an Author as
_Virgil_ might justly say of his bad Translator, what _Martial_ says of
his bad Neighbour;

    _Nemo tam prope, tam proculque nobis._

For the Version would retain more not only of the _Beauty_, but of the
_real Sense_ of the Original; and so _upon the whole_, be more _like_
it: If it were a less faithful Interpretation of Words and Expressions.

Here therefore we can no longer pursue the Comparison between Painting
and Translating: When true Beauty is to be imitated, the Features cannot
be too exactly traced in the One, to make a handsom Likeness; but Words
may be too exactly rendered in the Other. Upon this Head I cannot avoid
transcribing a Passage from the ingenious, and (in all Instances, but
one) judicious Dr. _Felton_'s Dissertation upon _Reading the Classicks
addressed to the Lord Marquis of_ Granby. "When therefore ([18]says He)
you meet with any Expressions which will not be rendered without this
Disadvantage, the Thing to be regarded is the Beauty and Elegance of the
Original; and your Lordship, without minding any thing but the Sense of
the Author, is to consider how that Passage would be best expressed in
_English_, if you were not tied up to the Words of the Original: And you
may depend upon it, that if you can find a Way of expressing the same
Sense as beautifully in _English_; you have hit the true Translation,
tho' you cannot construe the Words backwards, and forwards into one
another: For then you certainly have translated, as the Author, were he
an _Englishman_, would have wrote." And since I have cited thus much
from That Treatise; I will borrow a little more from it upon the Nature,
and Difficulty of Translations in general: Because it entirely expresses
my Sentiments, in far better Words than I am able to make use of.
"[19]'Tis no exceeding Labour for every great Genius to exert, and
manage, and master his own Spirit: But 'tis almost an insuperable Task
to compass, to equal, to command the Spirit of another Man. Yet this is
what every Translator taketh upon himself to do; and must do, if he
deserves the Name. He must put himself into the Place of his Authors,
not only be Master of their Manner as to their Style, their Periods,
Turn, and Cadence of their Writings; but he must bring himself to their
Habit, and Way of Thinking, and have, if possible, the same Train of
Notions in his Head, which gave Birth to Those they have selected, and
placed in their Works." For the Rest, I refer my Reader to the
Dissertation it self; of which I would say that it is a most curious and
delicate Piece of Wit, and Criticism, and polite Learning; did I not
fear that (for a Reason which I will not mention) it would look like
Vanity in Me to do common Justice to it's Author. At the same time I
must acknowledge that the Doctor represents a Translation of _Virgil_
after Mr. _Dryden_'s as a desperate Undertaking: Which would be no small
Mortification to me; were not mine of a different Nature from His: Of
which more in it's proper Place.

Endeavouring to resemble _Virgil_ as much as possible, I have imitated
him in his _Breaks_. For tho' I am satisfied he never intended to leave
those Verses unfinished, and therefore he is in that Particular absurdly
mimicked by some Moderns in their Original Writings; yet _unfinished
they are_: And this Imitation is not (with Mr. _Dryden_'s Leave) "like
the Affectation of _Alexander_'s Courtiers, who held their Necks awry,
because He could not help it." For besides that a _wry Neck_ is one
thing, and a _Scar_ is another; _Apelles_ in a _Picture_ ought to have
imitated his Master's Imperfection, if he intended to draw an exact
Likeness, tho' his _Courtiers_ were ridiculous Flatterers for doing the
Same in their _Gestures_.

A Work of This Nature is to be regarded in Two different Views; both as
a _Poem_, and as a _Translated Poem_. In the one, all Persons of good
Sense, and a true Taste of Poetry, are Judges of it; tho' they are
skilled in no Language, but their Own. In the other, Those only are so;
who besides the Qualification just mentioned, are familiarly acquainted
with the Original. And it may well admit of a Question, to which of
these Species of Readers a good Translation is the more agreeable
Entertainment. The Unlearned are affected like Those, who see the
Picture of One whose Character they admire; but whose Person they never
saw: The Learned, like Those who see the Picture of one whom they love,
and admire; and with whom they are intimately acquainted. The Reason of
the first Pleasure is clear; but That of the last requires a little more
Consideration. It may all, be resolved into the Love of Imitation,
Comparison, and Variety; which arises from the Imperfection of human
Happiness; for a Reason which I have elsewhere[20] assigned. Delightful
therefore it is to compare the Version with the Original: Through the
whole Course of which Comparison, we discover many retired Beauties in
the Author himself, which we never before observed. Delightful it must
be to have the same Ideas started in our Minds, different ways; and the
more agreeable those Ideas are in themselves, the more agreeable is this
Variety. Therefore, the better we understand a Poet, the more we love
and admire him; the more Pleasure we conceive in reading him well
translated: As we most delight to see the Pictures of Those whom we best
love; and to see the Persons themselves in Variety of Dresses. Upon
which Account, I will be bold to affirm; that he who says he values no
Translation of this, or that Poem, because he understands the Original,
has indeed no true Relish, that is, in effect, no _true Understanding_
of _Either_.

It is indeed no less certain on the Reverse, that a Man is as much
provoked to see an ill Picture of his Friend, or Mistress, as he is
pleased to see a good one; and it is just the same in Translations. But
it is evident that the _bare Understanding_ of a Poet (as that Word is
commonly used) is not the _only_ Argument of one's _truly_ understanding
him: that is, understanding him as a _Poet_. Because what I have just
now said, concerning the Agreeableness of a good Translation, holds as
true, when it is from our own Language to another, as when it is from
another to our own. It may be presumed that _Milton_'s _Paradise Lost_,
being in _English_, is well _understood_ (vulgarly speaking) by
_Englishmen_. But notwithstanding That, were it possible (as I think it
is not) to have all That amazing Poem as well translated into _Latin_,
or _Greek_, as some Parts of it certainly may be; with what Pleasure
should we read it! And he who would not read such a Translation with
Pleasure, will, I believe, be allowed by all who have a right Taste of
Poetry not _truly_ to understand the Original. Besides what I have said
concerning the Delight arising from Imitation, Comparison, and Variety,
which respects the Relation between the Version, and the Original; the
Translator's Work, even to Those who understand the Original, is in a
great measure a _New Poem_: The Thought, and Contrivance are his
Author's; but his Language, and the Turn of his Versification, and
Expressions, are his own. What I have offered upon this Subject relates
to Translations in general: Of my own in particular I have nothing to
say, but what I have said before; which is to submit it to the Judgment
of Others.

In Pursuance of my Design of endeavouring to be as like _Virgil_ as
possible; I have chosen Blank Verse, rather than Rhime. For besides that
the Fetters of Rhime often cramp the Expression, and spoil the Verse,
and so you can both translate more closely, and also more fully express
the Spirit of your Author, without it, than with it; I say besides This,
supposing other Circumstances were equal, Blank Verse is _in it self
better_. It is not only more Majestick, and Sublime, but more Musical,
and Harmonious: It has more _Rhime_ in it, according to the ancient, and
true Sense of the Word, than Rhime it self, as it is now used. For in
it's original Signification, it consists not in the Tinkling of Vowels,
and Consonants; but in the metrical Disposition of Words, and Syllables,
and the proper Cadence of Numbers; which is more agreeable to the Ear,
without the Jingling of like Endings, than with it. The Reader may say,
To whose Ear is it so? To Yours perhaps; but not to Mine. And I grant
all This to be matter of Fact, rather than of Reason; and to be
determined by Votes, rather than Arguments. And accordingly a great
Majority of the best Genius's, and Judges in Poetry now living, with
many of whom I have frequently conversed upon this Subject, have
determined in favour of this way of Writing. And among Those who are
dead, the same was the Opinion not only of my Lord _Roscommon_ (to omit
others,) but of [21]Mr. _Dryden_ Himself; who was the best Rhimer, as
well as the best Poet, of the Age in which he lived. And indeed let but
a Man consult his own Ears.

    _----Him the Almighty Pow'r
    Hurl'd headlong, flaming from th' ethereal Sky,
    With hideous Ruin, and Combustion, down
    To bottomless Perdition; there to dwell
    In Adamantine Chains, and penal Fire;
    Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to Arms.
    Nine times the Space that measures Day, and Night
    To mortal Men, he with his horrid Crew
    Lay vanquish'd, rowling in the fiery Gulph,
    Confounded, tho' immmortal----_

Who that hears This, can think it wants Rhime to recommend it? Or rather
does not think it sounds far better without it? I purposely produced a
Citation, beginning and ending in the Middle of a Verse; because the
Privilege of resting on this, or that Foot, sometimes one, and sometimes
another, and so diversifying the Pauses, and Cadences, is the greatest
Beauty of Blank Verse, and perfectly agreeable to the Practice of our
Masters, the _Greeks_, and _Romans_. This can be done but rarely in
Rhime: For if it were frequent, the Rhime would be, in a manner, lost by
it: The End of almost every Verse must be something of a Pause; and it
is but seldom that a Sentence begins in the Middle. The same may be said
of placing the Verb after the Accusative Case; and the Adjective after
the Substantive; both which, especially the last, are more frequent in
Blank Verse, than in Rhime. This Turn of Expression likewise is
agreeable to the Practice of the Ancients; and even in our own Language
adds much to the Grandeur, and Majesty of the Poem, if it be wrought
with Care, and Judgment. As does also the judicious interspersing (for
_judicious_, and _sparing_ it must be) of _antique_ Words, and of such
as, being derived from _Latin_, retain the Air of That Language: Both
which have a better Effect in Blank Verse, than in Rhime; by Reason of a
certain Majestick Stiffness, which becomes the one, more than the other.
_Milton_ indeed has, I think, rather too much of This: And perhaps the
most ingenious Mr. _Philips_ has too much imitated him in it; as he has
certainly well nigh equalled him in his most singular Beauties. I speak
of this Stiffness only in some particular Passages, for which it is
proper: For Blank Verse, when it pleases, can be as smooth, as soft, and
as flowing, as Rhime. Now these Advantages alone (were there no other)
which Blank Verse has above Rhime, would more than compensate for the
Loss of that Pleasure which comes from the Chiming of Syllables; the
former, by reason of those Advantages, being, all things considered,
even more musical, and harmonious, as well as more noble, and sublime,
than the latter.

Upon Varying the Pauses it is to be observed, that Two Verses together
should rarely pause at the same Foot; for a Reason too plain to be
mentioned. I said _rarely_; because there is no Law so strict in Things
of This Nature, but that it is sometimes a Vertue to break it. And tho'
it be one great Privilege in this sort of Verse, to make a full Period
at the Beginning, or in the Middle of a Line; yet you may do it too
often. _Milton_, I think, does so; who sometimes gives you thirty, or
forty Verses together, not one of which concludes with a full Period.
But to return to our Comparison.

Tho' all This be rather Matter of Sense, than of Reason; yet I appealed
to the best Genius's, and Judges in Poetry; because it is a great
Mistake to think that all Ears are equally Judges. It may as well, nay
better, be affirmed that all Persons have equally Ears for Musick. This
Sentiment is not _purely_ Organical, and depends not _solely_ upon the
Mechanism of Sense. The Judgment has _a Share_ in it: Or if it has not;
there is (which amounts to much the same) so close an Union between the
Soul and Body of Man, as also between the Spirit and the Diction, which
may be called the Soul and Body of Poetry; that the Poetical Turn of any
Person's Mind affects the very Organs of Sense. Readers of vulgar and
mean Tastes may relish Rhime best; and so may Some even of the best
Taste; because they have been habituated to it. But the more they
accustom themselves to Blank Verse; the better they will like it:

    _----Si propius stes,
    Te capiet magis----_

After all, I cannot agree with Those, who _entirely condemn_ the Use of
Rhime even in an Heroic Poem; nor can I absolutely reject That in
Speculation, which Mr. _Dryden_, and Mr. _Pope_ have ennobled by their
Practice. I acknowledge too that, in some particular Views, tho' not
upon the Whole, This Way of Writing has the Advantage over the other.
You may pick out more Lines, which, singly considered, look mean, and
low, from a Poem in Blank Verse, than from one in Rhime: supposing them
to be in other respects equal. Take the Lines singly by themselves, or
in Couplets; and more in Blank Verse shall be less strong, and smooth,
than in Rhime: But then take a considerable Number together; and Blank
Verse shall have the Advantage in both Regards. Little, and ignoble
Words, as _Thus_, _Now_, _Then_, _Him_, &c. on the one Hand; and long
ones, as _Elements_, _Omnipotent_, _Majesty_, &c. on the other, would in
a Poem consisting of Rhime sound weak, and languishing, at the End of a
Verse: because the Rhime draws out the Sound of those Words, and makes
them observed, and taken notice of by the Ear: Whereas in Blank Verse
they are covered, and concealed by running immediately into the next
Line. And yet a considerable Number of Lines are not, in the Main,
Prosaick, or Flat; but more Noble, than if they were all in Rhime. For
Instance, the following Verses out of _Milton_'s _Paradise Lost_, Book

    _Of Heav'n were falling, and these Elements----_

    _Instinct with Fire, and Nitre hurry'd him----_

taken singly, look low, and mean; but pray read them in Conjunction with
others; and then see what a different Face will be set upon them.

    _----Or less than if this Frame
    Of Heav'n were falling, and these Elements
    In Mutinie had from her Axle torn
    The stedfast Earth. At last his sail-broad Vans
    He spreads for flight; and in the surging Smoke,_ &c.

    _----Had not by ill chance
    The strong Rebuff of some tumultuous Cloud
    Instinct with Fire, and Nitre, hurry'd him
    As many miles aloft. That fury stay'd;
    Quench'd in a boggy Syrtis, neither Sea,
    Nor good dry Land: Nigh founder'd on he fares,
    Treading the crude Consistence----_

Thus again in the VIth Book.

    _Had to her Center shook. What wonder? when----_

    _Had not th' Eternal King Omnipotent----_

    _And limited their Might; tho' number'd such----_

These Verses disjointed from their Fellows make but an indifferent
Figure: But read the following Passage and I believe you will
acknowledge there is not one bad Verse in it:

    _So under fiery Cope together rush'd
    Both Battles maine, with ruinous Assault,
    And inextinguishable Rage: All Heav'n
    Resounded; and had Earth been then, all Earth
    Had to her Center shook. What wonder? when
    Millions of fierce encountring Angels fought
    On either side; the least of whom could wield
    These Elements, and arm him with the force
    Of all their Regions. How much more of pow'r,
    Army 'gainst Army, numberless, to raise
    Dreadful Combustion, warring, and disturb,
    Tho' not destroy, their happy native Seat:
    Had not th' Eternal King Omnipotent
    From his strong Hold of Heav'n high over-rul'd
    And limited their Might; tho' number'd such
    As each divided Legion might have seem'd
    A num'rous Host in strength, each armed hand
    A Legion----_

In Short, a Poem consisting of Rhime is like a Building in which the
Stones are all (or far the greatest part of them) _hewn with equal
Exactness_; but are all of a Shape, and not so well jointed: _Every one_
of them, _by it self_, is better squared, than _some_ in another
Building, in which they are of different Figures. But tho' in this
latter there shall be a few, which, taken separately, do not look so
well: yet some _running into others_, and all being _better adjusted_
together; it shall not only _upon the Whole_, but with regard to any
_considerable Part_, by it self, be a stronger, and a more beautiful
Fabrick, than the former.

But we are told that Blank Verse is not enough distinguished from Prose.
The Answer must be, It is according as it is. That of our _English_
Tragedies, I confess, is not; tho' very proper for the Purpose to which
it is apply'd. This indeed is what the _French_ rightly call _Prose
mesurée_, rather than Verse. But much worse is to be said of _any_ Poem,
which is only written in the Shape of Metre, but has no more of Verse in
it, than of Rhime; no Harmony, or Prosody, no true Metrical Cadence;
half the Lines concluding with double Syllables, as _Torment_,
_Greatness_, and the Participles ending in _ing_. This deserves not so
much as the Name of _Prose on Horseback_; 'Tis Prose upon Crutches; and
of all Prose the vilest. But if Blank Verse be laboured, as it ought to
be; it is sufficiently distinguished from Prose. We have no Feet, nor
Quantities, like the Ancients; and nothing in our poor Language will
ever supply That Defect: Rhime is at least as far from doing it, as the
more Advantageous Variety of Cadences in Blank Verse: Which requires so
much the more Care, and Art, to work it up into Numbers, and Support it
from groveling into Prose.

Which naturally leads us to observe further, that many Imperfections,
both in Thought, and Expression, will be overlooked in Rhime, which will
not be endured in Blank Verse: So that the same may be said of This,
which _Horace_ applies to Comedy;

    Sudoris minimum; sed habet----tanto
    Plus oneris, quanto veniæ minus----_

I do not say, Rhime is, all things considered, more easy than the other:
That Point cannot be well determined; because it relates to the
particular Genius's of particular Persons. For my own part, if I never
made one good Verse, I have made many good Rhimes: But supposing Both to
be equally easy, I should chuse Blank Verse, for the Reasons already

After all which, if some Gentlemen are resolved that _Blank Verse shall_
be _Prose_; they have my free Leave to _enjoy their Saying_: provided I
may have Theirs to think they mean nothing by it; unless they can prove
that Rhime is essential to Metre; consequently that the _Goths_, and
_Monks_ were the first Inventers of Verse; and that _Homer_, and
_Virgil_, as well as _Milton_, wrote nothing but Prose.

_Milton_ indeed has _too many_ of those looser and weaker Verses; as he
has some Lines which are no Verses at all. These for Instance,

    _Burnt after them to the bottomless Pit:_

    _In the Visions of God; It was a Hill:_

are Lines consisting of ten Syllables; but they are no more _English_
Verses, than they are _Greek_ ones. Many _irregular_ and _redundant_
Verses, and more of an ill Sound and Cadence, are to be met with in his
Poem; sometimes a considerable Number of them together. Whether This was
_Negligence_ in him, or _Choice_, I know not. Certain it is from the
main Tenour of his Verification, than which nothing can be more
heroically sonorous, that it was not Want of Ear, Genius, or Judgment.
What is the true Cadence of an _English_ Verse, is sufficiently known to
the Ears of every one who has a Taste of Poetry. Sometimes it is not
only allowable, but beautiful, to run into harsh, and unequal Numbers.
Mr. _Dryden_ himself does it; and we may be sure he knew when he did it,
as well as we could tell him. In a Work intended for Pleasure, _Variety_
justifies the Breach of almost any Rule, provided it be done but
_rarely_. Among the Ancient Poets, what are many of those _Figures_ (as
we call them) both in Prosody, and Syntax, but so many Ways of making
_false Quantity_, and _false Grammar_, for the sake of _Variety_? False,
I mean, ordinarily speaking; for Variety, and That only, makes it
elegant. _Milton_ however has too much irregular Metre: But if his
overruling Genius, and Merit might in Him _authorize_ it, or at least
_excuse_ it; yet _nobis non licet esse tam audacibus_: especially when
I am translating _Virgil_, the most exact, and accurate Versificator in
the World: A Character, however, which he would not deserve (for the
Reason just mentioned) were he not in _some_ Verses irregular, and
unaccurate. I am sure I have truly imitated him in _That_; I wish I may
have done so in _any thing else_.

Two Things remain to be taken notice of, equally relating to Rhime, and
Blank Verse. It is a known Fault in our Language, that it is too much
crouded with _Monosyllables_: Yet some Verses consisting wholly of them
sound well enough: However, the fewer we have of them, the better it is.
I believe there are as few of them in this Translation as in any
_English_ Poem of an equal Length; which is all I shall say upon This

The Other is the _Elision of Vowels_: Upon which, in my Opinion, the
Criticks have ran into Extremes on both Sides. Mr. _Dryden_ declares for
it as a general Rule which he has observed without Exception, in his
Translation of the _Æneis_;[22] and is utterly against _a Vowel gaping
after another for want of a Cesura_, as he expresses himself. Another
great Master and Refiner of our Language[23] is for very little, or no
Abbreviation; if I do not mistake his Meaning. It is true, in the
Letter, to which I refer, he instances only in cutting off the Vowel E
at the End of our Participles ending in _ed_; but I presume his Argument
is equally designed against the Elision of a Vowel before a Vowel in two
different Words: And, if I do not forget, he has declared himself of
That Opinion, when I have had the Honour and Pleasure of his most
agreeable and instructive Conversation. But with humble Submission to
both these great Men, the Elision seems sometimes proper, and sometimes
not, in the Particle _The_; for upon That, and the Particle _To_, the
Question chiefly turns; _He_, and _She_ being but very rarely
abbreviated by any tolerable Writer: And therefore Mr. _Dryden_
expresses himself too much at large, when he speaks of Vowels in
general. And when this Elision is proper, and when not, the Ear is a
sufficient Judge. The _French_, we know, continually use it in their
_Le_, and that in Prose, and common Discourse, as well as in Verse:
_L'Amour_, _L'Eternel_, _L'Invincible_, &c. As also in their Pronouns,
_me_, _te_, and _se_. In our _English_ Poetry, I think it may be either,
_Th' Eternal_, _Th' Almighty_; or _The Eternal_, _The Almighty_; but
rather the former: It should be always, _The Army_, _The Enemy_; never
_Th' Army_, or _Th' Enemy_. And so in other Instances: Of which the Ear
(which by the way will never endure the Sound of _Th' Ear_) is always to
be Judge. But of these Things too much.

The Kind of Verse therefore, which I have chosen, distinguishes this
Translation from Those of Others, who have gone before me in this bold
Undertaking: For I had never heard of Dr. _Brady_'s Design, 'till long
after This was in a great Forwardness. And His being not yet executed;
He is not to be reckoned among my Predecessors: of whom I presume it is
expected that I should now give some Account. When I say my Translation
is thus distinguished from Those of Others, I speak of our own
Countrymen; because _Hannibal Caro_'s _Italian Æneis_ is in Blank Verse,
such as it is: For [24]Mr. _Dryden_'s Character of it is a very true one;
and I need not add any thing to it. Few Persons were ever more
familiarly acquainted with the _Æneis_, had a truer Gust, and Relish of
it's Beauties, or enter'd more deeply into the Sentiments, into the very
Soul, and Spirit of it's Author, than Monsieur _Segrais_. His Preface is
altogether admirable; and his Translation perhaps almost as good as the
_French_ Language will allow; which is just as fit for an Epic Poem, as
an ambling Nag is for a War-Horse. It is indeed my Opinion of the
_French_; that none write better _of_ Poetry, and few (as to _Metre_)
worse _in_ it. Their Language is excellent for Prose; but quite
otherwise for Verse, especially Heroic. And therefore tho' the
Translating of Poems into Prose is a strange, modern Invention; yet the
_French_ Transposers are in the right; because their Language will not
bear Verse. The Translation of the _Æneis_ into _Scotish_ Metre by
_Gawin Douglas_ Bishop of _Donkeld_, is said to be a very extraordinary
Work by Those who understand it better than I do: There being added to
it a long List of great Men, who give him a wonderful Character, both as
an excellent Poet, and a most pious Prelate. What Mr. _Pope_ says of
_Ogilby's Homer_, may as well be apply'd to his _Virgil_, that his
Poetry is too mean for Criticism. Mr. _Dryden_ tells us, that no Man
understood _Virgil_ better than the Earl of _Lauderdale_; and I believe
few did. His Translation is pretty near to the Original; tho' not so
close, as it's Brevity would make one imagine; and it sufficiently
appears that he had a right Taste of Poetry in general, and of
_Virgil_'s in particular. He shews a true Spirit; and in many Places is
very beautiful. But we should certainly have seen _Virgil_ far better
translated by a Noble Hand; had the Earl of _Lauderdale_ been the Earl
of _Roscommon_; or had the _Scotish_ Peer followed all the Precepts, and
been animated with the Genius of the _Irish_.

But the most difficult, and invidious Part of my prefacing Task is yet
to come. How could I have the Confidence to attempt a Translation of
_Virgil_, after Mr. _Dryden_? At least to publish it; after Mr. _Pope_
has in effect given us his Opinion before-hand, that such a Work must be
unsuccessful to any Undertaker (much more to so mean a one, as I am) by
declaring that _He_ would never undertake it _Himself_? I do not say he
makes That Inference; but if his _Modesty_ would not suffer him to do
it, his _Merit_ must oblige others to do it for him. I so far agree with
That most ingenious Gentleman, that Mr. _Dryden_'s is, in many Parts, a
noble, and spirited Translation; and yet I cannot, upon the Whole, think
it a good one; at least, for Mr. _Dryden_. Not but that I think his
Performance is prodigious, and exceedingly for his Honour, considering
the little time he allowed himself for so mighty a Work; having
translated not the _Æneis_ only, but all _Virgil_'s Poems in the Compass
of three Years. Nobody can have a truer Respect for That great Man, than
I have; or be more ready to defend him against his unreasonable
Accusers; who (as Mr. _Pope_ justly observes) envy, and calumniate him.
But I hope I shall not be thought guilty of either (I am sure they are
the Things of the World which I abhor) if I presume to say that his
Writings have their dark, as well as their bright Side; and that what
was said of somebody else may be as well applied to Him: _Ubi bene, nemo
melius; Ubi male, nemo pejus_.

This may be affirmed of his Works in general; but I am now obliged to
consider his Translation of the _Æneis_ in particular. As he was the
great Refiner of our _English_ Poetry, and the best Marshaller of Words
that our Nation had then, at least, produced; and all, who have followed
him, are extremely indebted to him, as such: his Versification here, as
every where else, is generally flowing, and harmonious; and a multitude
of Beauties of all kinds are scattered through the Whole. But then,
besides his often grosly mistaking his Author's Sense; as a Translator,
he is extremely licentious. Whatever he alledges to the contrary in his
Preface; he makes no Scruple of adding, or retrenching, as his Turn is
best served by either. In many Places, where he shines most as a Poet,
he is least a Translator; And where you most admire Mr. _Dryden_, you
see least of _Virgil_. Then whereas my Lord _Roscommon_ lays down this
just Rule to be observed by a Translator with regard to his Author,

    _Fall, as he falls; and as he rises, rise:_

Nothing being more absurd than for those two Counter-parts to be like a
Pair of Scales, one mounting as the other sinks; Mr. _Dryden_ frequently
acts contrary to this Precept, at least to the latter Part of it: Where
his _Author_ soars, and towers in the Air, _He_ often grovels, and
flutters upon the Ground. Instances of all these Kinds are numerous. If
I produce a few, it is not to detract from his Translation, in order to
recommend my own: I detest That base Principle of little, and envious
Spirits: And besides, I am sensible that it would be as foolish, as
ungenerous: For of Mine, the World _will_, and _ought to be_ judge,
whatever I say, or think; and it's Judgment in these Matters is never
erroneous. It is not therefore that I am acted by the Spirit of
_malevolent_ Criticism, or Criticism _commonly so called_; which is
nothing but the Art of finding Fault: But I do it, partly to _justify_
my _Undertaking_ (tho' of a different Kind from His, which is what I
_chiefly_ insist upon) not to _recommend_ my _Performance_; partly for
the Instruction, and Improvement of my self, and others; for the sake of
Truth, and _true Criticism_; that is, right, and impartial Judgment,
joined with good Nature, and good Manners; prone to _excuse_, but not to
_falsify_; and _delighting_ to dwell upon _Beauties_, tho' _daring_ to
remark upon _Faults_.

Were we to make a few scattered Strictures upon the First Book only; we
should observe that he leaves out a very material Word in the very
_first_ Line: And That too happens to be the Word _First_: As if That
stood for Nothing, in _Virgil_'s Verse; and as if _First_ would not have
stood as well as _Forc'd_ in his own. Especially, since there are two
Adjectives more of the same Signification [_Expell'd_, and _Exil'd_ in
the next Verse but one] agreeing with the same Substantive, all three to
express the single Epithet _Profugus_: Which, by the way, is Tautology,
and utterly unlike _Virgil_'s Manner; who never says any thing in vain,
and whose chief Beauty is Brevity. In the very next two Lines,
_Italiam_, _Lavinaque Littora_ are left out; tho' necessary to the
Design of the Poem: Not to mention his strange Transposing of _sævæ
memorem Junonis ob iram_. V. 28. _Long cited by the People of the Sky_,
is entirely added. As is, V. 41. _Electra's Glories, and her injur'd
Bed_; and the two following Lines. The Addition of three Verses together
is too much in all Reason. V. 66. _Then as an Eagle grasps the trembling
Game_, is wholly his own. And so is V. 107, 108. _The charming Daughters
of the Main Around my Person wait, and bear my Train._ V. 144,
145.----_Whose dismember'd Hands yet bear The Dart aloft, and clench the
pointed Spear_. As there is no Hint of This in _Virgil_; so I doubt it
is not Sense in it self. For how the Hand of a Body, which has been dead
seven Years, can hold a Spear aloft, I cannot imagine. V. 220. _And
quenches their innate Desire of Blood_. This is not only added; but too
gross, and horrid for _Virgil_'s Meaning in that Place. V. 233. After,
_Two Rows of Rocks_ (which, by the way, is no Translation of _geminique
minantur in coelum scopuli_) the next Words are totally omitted;
_Quorum sub vertice late Æquora tuta silent_. V. 459. _Then on your Name
shall wretched Mortals call_, is not included in _Multa tibi ante aras
nostra cadet hostia dextra_. He is speaking of _himself_, and his
_Friends_ in particular; not of _wretched Mortals_ in general; of
_Thanksgiving_, not of _Prayer_. V. 886.----_You shall find, If not a
costly Welcome, yet a kind_, is no more in _Virgil_, than it is like his
Stile. But as for the _Flatnesses_, and low _prosaick_ Expressions,
which are not a few, and which even the Rhime neither covers, nor
excuses; I will for several Reasons forbear to transcribe any of them.
These _Errata_ which I have mentioned in the First Book only, (and there
are in it many more such, which I have not mentioned) are either in
_adding to_, or _curtailing_, or _mistaking_ the Sense of the Original.

But upon the Article of adding to his Author, and altering his Sense,
there is one Fault in Mr. _Dryden_ which is not to be pardoned. I mean
when he does it directly contrary not only to the _Sense_, but to the
_Temper_ and _Genius_ of his Author; and that too in those Instances
which injure him not only as a _good Poet_, but as a _good Man_. As
_Virgil_ is the most chaste, and modest of Poets, and has ever the
strictest Regard to Decency; after the Prayer of _Iarbas_ to _Jupiter_
in the Fourth Book, he proceeds thus:

    _Talibus orantem dictis, arasque tenentem
    Audiit omnipotens; oculosque ad mœnia torsit
    Regia, &_ oblitos famæ melioris amantes.

What could be more well-mannered, more delicate, and truly _Virgilian_,
than the Sweetness, and Softness of that remote, insinuating Expression,
_oblitos famæ melioris amantes_? For this Piece of a Verse Mr. _Dryden_
gives us Three entire ones; which I will not transcribe. The two first
are totally his own; and to One who is not himself _insensible of
Shame_, those fulsom Expressions must be very nauseous. Part of the last
Verse indeed is _Virgil_'s; and it comes in strangely, after the odious
Stuff that goes before it. If _Virgil_ can be said to be remarkable for
any one good Quality more than for Modesty, it is for his awful
Reverence to Religion. And yet, as Mr. _Dryden_ represents him
describing _Apollo_'s Presence at one of his own Festivals, he speaks
Thus; Book iv. V. 210.

    _Himself, on Cynthus walking, sees below
    The merry Madness of the sacred Show._

_Virgil_ says, He walks on the Top of _Cynthus_; That's all: The rest is
Mr. _Dryden_'s. And it is exactly of a Piece with a Passage in the Third
Georgick; in which, without any sort of Provocation, or the least Hint
from his Author, He calls the _Priest_ the _Holy Butcher_. If Mr.
_Dryden_ took Delight in abusing Priests, and Religion; _Virgil_ did
not. It is indeed wonderful that a Man of so fine, and elevated a
Genius, and at the same time of so good a Judgment, as Mr. _Dryden_
certainly was, could so much as endure those clumsey Ideas, in which he
perpetually rejoices; and that to such a degree, as to thrust them into
_Translations_, contrary not only to the Design, and Meaning, but even
to the Spirit, and Temper, and most distinguishing Character of his
Author. Thus in his Translation of the last Lines of _Homer_'s First
Iliad he describes the Gods, and Goddesses as being drunk; and that in
no fewer than three Verses, and in some of the coarsest Expressions
that our Language will admit of: Whereas the Original gives not the
least Intimation of any such thing; but only says that they were
_sleepy_, and went _to bed_. And therefore here again I cannot be of Mr.
_Pope_'s Opinion, _that it is a great Loss to the Poetical World that
Mr._ Dryden _did not live to translate the Iliad_. If we may judge of
what the Whole would have been by the Specimen which he has left us; I
think it was a Gain to the Poetical World that Mr. _Dryden_'s Version
did not hinder us from Mr. _Pope_'s. Which may be said, without any
great Compliment to the latter.

As to the Instances of Mr. _Dryden_'s sinking, where his Author most
remarkably rises, and being flat where his Author is most remarkably
elegant; they are many: But I am almost tired with Quotations; quite
tired with such invidious ones, as these are; it being (as I said) much
more agreeable to my Temper to remark upon Beauties, than upon Faults,
and Imperfections; especially in the Works of great Men, who (tho' they
may have written many things not capable of being defended, yet) have
written many more, which I can only admire, but do not pretend to equal.
And That is the present Case. I shall therefore mention but one Example
of this Kind; And it is the unutterable Elegancy of these Lines in the
Fourth Book, describing the Scrietch-Owl:

    _Solaque culminibus, ferali carmine bubo
    Sæpe queri_, & longas in fletum ducere voces.

How is This translated in the following Verses? Or rather is it
translated at all?

                        _----With a boding Note
    The solitary Scrietch-Owl strains her Throat;
    And on a Chimney's Top, or Turret's height,
    With Songs obscene disturbs the Silence of the Night._

To produce more Instances would be needless; because One general Remark
supersedes them all. It is acknowledged by every body that the First Six
Books in the Original are the best, and the most perfect; but the Last
Six are so in Mr. _Dryden_'s Translation. Not that even in These
_Virgil_ properly sinks, or flags in his Genius; but only he did not
live to correct them, as he did the former. However, they abound with
Beauties in the Original; and so indeed they do in the Translation,
more, as I said, than the First Six: Which is visible to any one that
reads the Whole with Application.

I observed in the last place, that where Mr. _Dryden_ shines most, we
often see least of _Virgil_. To omit many other Instances, the
Description of the _Cyclops_ forging Thunder for _Jupiter_, and Armour
for _Æneas_, is elegant, and noble to the last degree in the _Latin_;
and it is so to a very great degree in the _English_. But then is the
_English_ a Translation of the _Latin_?

    _Hither the Father of the Fire by Night
    Thro' the brown Air precipitates his Flight:
    On their eternal Anvils here be found
    The Brethren beating, and the Blows go round._

Our Language, I think, will admit of few things more truly Poetical,
than those four Lines. But the two first are set to render

    _Huc tunc Ignipotens cœlo descendit ab alto._

There is nothing of _coelo ab alto_ in the Version; nor of _by Night,
brown Air_, or _precipitates his Flight_ in the Original. The two last
are put in the room of

    _Ferrum exercebant vasto Cyclopes in antro,
    Brontesque, Steropesque, & nudus membra Pyracmon._

_Vasto in antro_ in the first of these Lines, and the last Line entirely
are left out in the Translation. Nor is there any thing of _eternal
Anvils_ (I wish there were) or _here be found_, in the Original: And
_the Brethren beating, and the Blows go round_, is but a loose Version
of _Ferrum exercebant_. Much the same may be said of the whole Passage
throughout; which will appear to Those who compare the _Latin_ with the
_English_. In the whole Passage Mr. _Dryden_ has the true Spirit of
_Virgil_; but he would have had never the less of it, if he had more
closely adhered to his Words, and Expressions.

Sometimes he is _near enough_ to the Original; And tho' he _might have
been nearer_, he is altogether admirable, not only as a _Poet_, but as a
_Translator_. Thus in the Second Book;

          _Pars ingentem formidine turpi
    Scandunt rursus equum, & nota conduntur in alvo._

    _And some, oppress'd with more ignoble Fear,
    Remount the hollow Horse_, and pant in secret there.

And in the Twelfth, after the last Speech of _Juturna_;

    _Tantum effata, caput glauco contexit amictu,
    Multa gemens, & se fluvio Dea condidit alto._

    _She drew a length of Sighs; no more she said,
    But with her azure Mantle wrap'd her Head;
    Then plung'd into her Stream with deep Despair_,
    And her last Sobs came bubbling up in Air.

Tho' the last Line is not expressed in the Original, yet it is in some
measure imply'd; and it is in it self so exceedingly beautiful, that the
whole Passage can never be too much admired. These are Excellencies
indeed; This is truly Mr. _Dryden_. _Si sic omnia dixisset_, tho' he had
approached no nearer to the Original than This; my other Criticisms upon
his Translation had been spared. And after all, I desire that Mine,
being in a different sort of Verse, may be considered as an Undertaking
of _another kind_, rather than as an Attempt to _excel His_. For tho' I
think even That may very well _be done_; yet I am too sensible of my own
Imperfection, to presume to say it can be done by _Me_. I have nothing
to plead, besides what I have already alledged, in Excuse of my many,
and great Faults, in the Execution of This bold Design; but that I was
drawn into it, not by any Opinion of my Abilities to perform it, but by
the inexpressible Passion which I have always had for this incomparable
Poet. With a View to whom, I will here insert a noble Stroke out of my
Lord _Roscommon_'s excellent _Essay on Translated Verse_: Which, I
think, is proper to stand in This Place, both as a Conclusion of my
Preface, and as a Kind of Poetical Invocation to my Work:

    _Hail mighty_ MARO! _May That sacred Name
    Kindle my Breast with Thy celestial Flame;
    Sublime Ideas, and apt Words infuse:
    The Muse instruct my Voice, and THOU inspire the Muse._


[1] _Prælectiones Poeticæ._

[2] _Merchant of Venice._

[3] _De tous les Ouvrages dont l'Esprit de l'Homme est capable, le Poem
Epique est sans doute le plus accompli._

[4] _For so it should certainly be read; tho' both in the Folio and
Octavo Editions, 'tis_ Aristotle.

[5] _Preface to his Fables._

[6] Elogia Virgilii Cap. IV Major _Homero_.

[7] _The Word was originally applied to Dramatic Poetry, and from thence
transferred to Epic._ Aristotle _uses it in more Senses than one; which
seem not to be rightly distinguished by his Interpreters. However we are
for that Reason more at Liberty to apply it, as we think most proper._

[8] _For he mentions several Episodes, which he allows to be truly such;
which yet are only convenient, not necessary. And besides, he says, p.
100, and in other Places_, Une Episode est une partie necessaire de
l'Action: _And yet, p. 102_, Le premier plan de l'Action contient
_seulement ce qui est propre & necessaire_ à la Fable; _& n'a aucune
Episode. By which he_ seems at least _to allow that an Episode may not
be necessary._

[9] Τὸ μεν οὖν ἰδιον τοὖτο, τὰ δ' ἄλλα ἐπεισόδια. Poetic. Cap XVII.

[10] _The one is ἴδιον, the other is οἰκεῖον. The former is of a more_
close, restrained, _and_ peculiar _Signification, than the latter: The
former relating_ most properly _to a Man_'s Person; _the latter to his_

[11] _Preface to_ Homer.

[12] _Dedication of the Æneis._

[13] _See_ Bossu, _Chap. IX._

[14] _Upon the Article of_ Virgil's _Invention, see M._ Segrais _at
large in his admirable Preface to his Translation of the_ Æneis; _and
from him Mr_. Dryden _in his Dedication of the_ Æneis, _p. 226_, &c. _of
the Folio Edition._

[15] _Preface_ to Juvenal.

[16] Paradise lost, _Book VII._

[17] _Preface to Mr._ Pope's Homer.

[18] P. 142. _Second Edition._

[19] _P. 158._

[20] _Præl. Poet._ Vol. I. Præl. 2.

[21] _Verses before L._ Roscommon's _Essay. And Preface to his_ Virgil.

[22] _Preface to it._

[23] _Dr._ Swift _in his Letter to the Earl of_ Oxford.

[24] _Preface to his_ Virgil.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Spelling: English spelling in the 18th century had many differences from
present-day spelling, and most of the spelling has therefore been
retained without alteration.

The following may also be correct, and have been retained:
"Excrescencies" (Preface p. xiii), "it self" (Preface p. xvii), "w'on't"
(Preface p. xxvii), "encountring" (Preface p. xliv, a quotation from
Milton PL Book 6), "forreign" (Preface p. xlviii), "litteral" (Preface
p. xv), "Scotish" (Preface p. xlviii), "grosly" (Preface p. xlix).

The spelling "Aeneid" is standard in the Introduction, and the spelling
"Æneid" is standard in the Preface.

The following more obvious typos have been amended: "parishoners" to
"parishioners" (Introduction p. iv) "mnch" to "much" (Preface p. xlv
line 14) "Transprosers" to "Transposers" (Preface p. xlviii line 23)

Missing period has been inserted on the following pages in the Preface:
p. xv (after "rest are Episodes"), p. xlii (after "Vertue to break it"),
and p. l (after "Erroneous").

Footnotes 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13 and 15 in the Preface have been
particularly difficult to decipher.

Missing period has been added at the end of footnotes 5, 11, 15 and 19.

Incorrectly placed breathings and diacritics on diphthongs in the Greek
text have been correctly placed.

Inconsistent positioning of footnote numbers has been retained.

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