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Title: Lectures on Poetry - Read in the Schools of Natural Philosophy at Oxford
Author: Trapp, Joseph
Language: English
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                Read in the SCHOOLS of
                  NATURAL PHILOSOPHY
                    At _OXFORD_,

               By JOSEPH TRAPP, _A.M._

       Fellow of _Wadham-College_, and Reader of
         the POETICAL LECTURES lately founded
         in that University, by HENRY BIRKHEAD LL.D.
         sometime Fellow of _All-Souls-College_.

            Translated from the LATIN,
              With additional NOTES.


         Printed for C. HITCH and C. DAVIS in


  THE TRANSLATOR'S _Advertisement_.

The following Lectures, being frequently referred to by the Author of
them in the Preface and Notes to his Translation of _Virgil_,
were thought proper to be communicated to the World in _English_,
that both Works might speak the same Language as well as Sentiment, and
address themselves to the same Sett of Readers. Whatever Reasons have
been given for translating _Virgil_, and writing an _English_
Comment on him, may be urged in behalf of these _English_ Lectures,
which as they are an Illustration of Poetry in general, so are they of
_Virgil_ in particular.

The Notes to this Edition were chiefly added as it went through the
Press: In which though I sometimes differ from my ingenious Author,
yet I hope not with greater Freedom than he has taken with others,
and will pardon in me. I am well aware how easy it is to let some
Mistakes slip in the Heat of Composition: And when these had once pass'd
the Press, the Author, I suppose, was not very sollicitous to re-examine
minutely the subsequent Editions; satisfied with the Approbation he had
received from that learned Body before whom his Lectures were first
delivered. An Honour which I shall never wish to see diminish'd
by any thing I can say, or any one else: And shall now therefore with
much greater Pleasure take this Opportunity of repeating the
following Testimony of them from Mr. _Felton_'s _Preface to his
Dissertation on Reading the Classics_ p. xxi, _&c._

_What a polite Critic may do, if he pleases, and in how different an
Aspect Criticism appears, when formed by Men of Parts and Fire, we
may see in the three Volumes of Dr._ Trapp's Prælectiones
Poeticæ._A Work that cannot be enough commended, whether we consider
the Curiousness of his Observations, the Justness of his Remarks, the
Truth and Importance of his Rules, the Aptness and Beauty of his
Examples, Force and Elegance of his Style, and the Penetration of his
Wit and Judgment: A Piece in such Perfection of Beauty, that he gives
the Rules with the same Spirit we find in the Examples; and maketh those
Dissertations, which in heavy, formal Hands, would have looked crabbed,
dull, and dry, shine in all the Graces, that Life, and Ease, and Vigour
can adorn them with. We see how entertaining the severest Criticisms
are in a Poet's Hand, and what Life and Spirit he can give to the
dryest Part of his Subject, while he prescribes the Rules and fixes the
Laws of Poetic Diction, weigheth the Importance of Words, and considers
the several Ways of Expression peculiar to the Poets. And if Men of
such Learning and such Parts would undertake this Province, I cannot
help repeating it, we should see more and more into the Propriety,
Strength, and Compass, and all the hidden Beauties of the_ Greek _and_
Latin _Tongues._


I have no Occasion to detain the Reader with a Preface in Praise
of Poetry: What I thought proper to say on that Head, he will find
comprised in the following _Introductory Oration_. I shall only just in
a few Words lay before him the Purport of the following Sheets.

Being elected into the Professorship by that venerable Body the
Convocation at _Oxford_, I thought it incumbent on me to discharge my
Duty in it according to the best of my Abilities. The better to do
so, I endeavour in the following Lectures to keep such a Medium in
examining the Sentiments of the several Writers on Poetry that tho' I
pay much Deference to their Authority, yet I don't slavishly adhere to
their Decrees. For Books are to be consider'd as Helps to Learning, not
Fetters to it; and it is just, in these sort of Studies especially,
that every Man, after he has weigh'd the Opinion of others should be at
Liberty to follow his own.

This Method I take to be the most entertaining and the most useful both
to the Writer and the Reader. No one, I am persuaded, will suspect I
pursued it for the sake of Ease; since it is much harder to _digest_
than to _transcribe_. And, indeed, what can be a more arduous Task,
than to unfold the Nature of Poetry in general, and its different
Species; to explain the various Elegances of Style, and its no less
various Defects; to explore the secret Turns of the Mind; to weigh the
minutest _Momenta_ of Wit; to separate in things of so great Delicacy,
Truth from Falshood; to shew by what Springs they delight or ravish
their Readers or Hearers?

I thought proper just to say so much of the Difficulty of the present
Work, not out of a Desire of gaining Praise, but Pardon; that if I have
fallen into any Errors, I may meet with some Favour from the Learned.
For to their Judgment I submit myself, and the Fortunes of this Book;
always ready to receive more full Instruction, and to retract, not to
defend the Mistakes of it.

But arduous and difficult as these Enquiries are, yet not therefore
unpleasant; For it is not to be thought that all Discourses which
deliver Rules and Precepts are dry and unentertaining; some are no less
full of Delight than Advantage. Of which sort is the Subject before us,
elegant in its Nature, and agreeable to the Taste of the most Polite;
who are never better pleased than when they scrutinise into the Laws
of just Writing and true Thought, and have the choicest Examples of
each laid before them. The Mind is charmed with tracing out its own
Operations; and while on so refined a Subject we read Authors of the
same Sentiments with ourselves, we observe with secret Complacence,
similar Ideas arise in our Minds; or if we dissent from a good Writer,
we are ready to join in his Praise tho' not in his Opinion: For such
an one, tho' he misses the Truth, yet deviates with Ingenuity, and is
elegant even in his Mistakes.

The Difficulties then we are speaking of, are such that they don't
deter the Admirers of Polite Literature, but invite them: Such as are
not attended with Uncouthness of Thought or Asperity of Style; but are
like the Labours of Lovers, who, to gain the Good-will of the Fair, go
through the most arduous Tasks and solicite Dangers.

If the Reader will observe in the following Sheets some Errors slipt,
some Defects either in Thought or Expression, he will at worst have
no Reason to complain that I have too importunately loaded him. He
will rather wonder perhaps, on the other Hand, how I durst pretend to
treat of such Variety of Matter in so few Pages: An Accusation, to
which I know not how to give a satisfactory Answer, and which I own I
have often been ready to draw up against myself. I can only declare
that this has been owing either to Chance, or to the Nature of my
Subject, or to my own Inabilities, not to Indolence, for I have omitted
nothing which after the most mature Deliberation I thought proper to
be taken Notice of. In other respects I own I studied _Brevity_ as
much as possible, rejecting many things that offer'd, which I judged
unentertaining, superfluous, and such as would give the Reader rather
Pain than Pleasure; many likewise, which tho' proper Observations in
themselves, yet had been abundantly taken Notice of by others; whose
Writings I had no Inclination to make so free with, as to purloin.

And this, I hope, will not be imputed to me as an Imperfection: For
_Brevity as such_ (to use the Language of the Schoolmen) and considered
in its own Nature, is by no means a Fault; but rather an Excellence, if
we keep clear of those Faults that often adhere to it. If we do Justice
to our Subject and are at the same time perspicuous, we cannot be too
concise; especially in those Works where we propose to _delight_ the
Reader, as well as _profit_ him.

How far this has been effected in the following Sheets, must be left
entirely to his Judgment. I am sure my Endeavour has been not to be
wanting to both these Ends, and I might with more _Ease_ to myself
have wrote a _larger Book_. To treat of Elegance in an inelegant
Manner is a mere Absurdity; and Conciseness is generally an Attendant
of Elegance. Nothing I am sure can afford more Pleasure to the
Understanding than an accurate Enquiry into the Subjects here treated
of: Nothing greater Difficulty to a Writer, who is to act the Critic
and Philosopher, rather than the Historian. Even Metaphysics do not
more try the Mind than Poetry, when we search into the latent Sources
of its Beauties and Allurements. But the Pleasure in the one is much
greater than in the other: This has its _Thorns_; but such as grow on
the _Rose_, tender and yielding, that heighten at once its _Sweetness_
and its _Beauty_.

One Thing I would desire the Reader to observe; that under each Head of
Poetry, I have either wholly omitted every thing that is Historical, or
but lightly touch'd upon it: Not became I think by any Means that Part
of Learning contemptible; but partly because I find it more suitable
to my Nature (such as it is) to search into Things than Facts; and
partly because others, whose Erudition I very much reverence, and to
whom I always refer my Reader, have already in this Respect, deserv'd
well of the Learned. However, in one or two of my Dissertations I could
not come at the _Nature_ of the Subject I treated of without enquiring
into the _History_ of it: as in those upon the _Origin of Poetry in
general_, upon _Epigram_, and _Satire_. But even in them to enter
into a long Detail of Circumstances fetch'd from the Writings of the
Ancients, wou'd be doing Nothing but what had been done before; which
is the Thing I have throughout endeavour'd to avoid. My Aim has been
not to be tedious; and for fear I should be so now, I shall add no
more; but leave my Book to stand or fall by the Opinion of the Learned.


  _The Oration, on entering into the Professorship,_
                  _or First Lecture._
                                                                Page  1
                       LECTURE II, III.
  POETRY _defin'd_                                                 ibid.
  Vossius's _Definition rejected_                                  ibid.
  _Prov'd against_ Vossius, _and Mons._ Dacier,
          _that_ Poetry _does not imitate_
                Actions _only_                                    14,15
  _That_ Poetry _is an_ Art, _properly so call'd_                    15
  _That_ Poetry _consists in_ Imitation
          _and_ Illustration                                      15,16
  _A Comparison between_ Poetry _and_ Painting                    16,17
  _The Meaning and Original of the Word_ Ποιητες                  18,19
  _Prov'd, against Mons_. Dacier,
          _that fictitious Narrations, written in Prose,
                   are not properly_ Poems                        20,21
  _That_ Fiction _is not_ essential _to Poetry_                      21
  _That_ Poetry _does not differ from_ History
          _in the_ Diction _only_                                    22
  _The Difference between_ Poesy, Poetry, _and a_ Poem             ibid.
  _A Comparison between_ Poetry _and_ Music                          23
  _That the End of Poetry is twofold, to instruct,
          and to please_                                             24
  _That_ Instruction _is the principal End of Poetry_             24,25
  _What the secret Sources of Pleasure are,
          which all receive from Poetry_                          25,26
  _That Poetry took its Rise from_ Love                           26,27
  _Owes its first Increase and Progress to_ Religion                 27
  _Who were the first_ Authors _of_ Verses                           28
  _The_ Rise _of Poetry_ fetch'd _farther back:
          Shewn that the_ immediate _Causes of it are
          founded in that Love of_ Imitation _and_
          Harmony _which is natural to all; and that_
          Vossius _has assign'd wrong ones_                          29
  _The Reason why Mankind is so much given to_
          Imitation _and_ Harmony                                    30
  _That Prose is more_ ancient _than Poetry_                      30,31
  _Whether, in Poetry,_ Nature _or_ Industry
          _is of greater Force_                                      31
  _The Meaning of that Saying,_ Poeta nascitur; non fit              32
  _Of the_ Inspiration _attributed to Poets_                       ibid.
  _Explanation of_ poetical Fables _rejected_                        33
  _The Difference between Poetry and Oratory_                        34

                       LECTURE IV, V, VI, VII.
                       OF THE STYLE OF POETRY.
  _What Style is; and in what its Beauty consists_                   37
  _The Style of Poetry so_ singular, _that there
          are many Expressions_ elegant _in the
          Writings of the Poets, which in Prose would be
          contrary to the Rules of_ Grammar                        ibid.
  _Examples cited_                                          38,39,40,41
  _Other Expressions, which tho' not entirely poetical,
          yet are much_ more suitable _to Verse,
          than Prose_                                                42
  _A beautiful Poem may, however, consist of those which
          are common both to Prose and Metre_                        43
  _That it is the Property of Poetry to express the_
          whole of a Thing _sometimes by some one Adjunct_         ibid.
  _Sometimes by a Kind of_ Paraphrase,
          _and little_ Description                                   44
  _To use_ Specials _for_ Generals                                   45
  _That_ Poetry _impresses upon the Mind the
          Images of Things stronger than_ Prose                   46,47
  _That Descriptions are almost peculiar to Poetry_                  47
  _That_ figurative _Expressions are more suitable
          to poetic Writings than Prose; and why_                    51
  _Of the Use and Abuse of_ Metaphors                             51,52
  _Of Books that teach the_ Elements _of_ Rhetoric                   53
  One and the same Thing _express'd_ different Ways,
          _sometimes well, sometimes ill_                            54
  _A Comparison in this Particular, and some others
          between_ Virgil _and_ Ovid                               ibid.
  Repetition of the same Words, _to be avoided
          as much as conveniently may be_                            60
  _Great Regard to be had to the_ Sound _and_
          Order of Words                                             61
  _A Mistake in those who think_ Ovid, Claudian,_and
          others, excel_ Virgil _in Versification_                   62
  _Of Verses that express the Thing they describe by
          their_ Sound _and_ Numbers                           64,65,66
  _Of the Verses in the_ Æneid _that_ break off short                67
  _An unwarrantable Liberty in modern Writers to imitate_
          Virgil, _in this Particular_                               68
  _Or too boldly to violate the_ Laws of Quantity                 68,69
  _Of the true and elegant Use of_ Epithets                          69
  _Divided into two Sorts_                                         ibid.
  _Of those that add to their Substantives_ new
          _and_ distinct Ideas                                    69,70
  _Of those that_ come nearer _to the_ general
          _Nature of their Substantives, and are us'd
          for_ Illustration _and_ Explanation,
          _tho' they don't convey any_ new Idea
          _to it_                                                    71
  _The_ Gradus ad Parnassum, _and other Books of that
          Nature, prejudicial to young Tyro's in Poetry_             73
  _Other Kinds of_ Epithets                                          74
  _Of_ superfluous _and_ redundant _Epithets_                        76
  _A Mistake of those, on the other Hand, who think
          that very_ few Epithets _should be us'd_                   78
  _When a Thing is to be_ strongly _express'd,
          and with great_ Energy, _by all Means
          to_ abstain _from Epithets_                                80
  _All_ Adjectives _and_ Participles _not Epithets_                  81
  _An Enumeration of different Sorts of Style_                       82
  _Of the_ Sublime, _the_ Turgid,
          _and the_ Low Style                                     82-90
  _Of the_ Sarcastical _and_ Severe                                  91
  _Of the_ Florid _Style_                                            92
  Other _Sorts of Style_                                           ibid.
  _The Style to be_ varied; _and not always
          preserve one even Tenor_                                   93
  _Style of_ Comedy _not poetical_                                   94
  _This Question carried on with Respect to Comedies
          writ in the_ English _Tongue_                              95
  _And to those in the_ French                                     ibid.
  _The_ Connexion _between Beauty of_ Expression,
          _and Beauty of_ Thought                                    96

                       LECTURE VIII, IX, X, XI.
  _The Difficulty of treating of this Subject_                     ibid.
  _Definition of_ Wit                                               102
  _The Foundation of true Wit_                                     ibid.
  _The Difference between a Thought_ simply
          _consider'd, and an_ ingenious _one_                      102
  _The Difference between_ Falshood _and_ Fiction                   103
  _Specimens of false or spurious_ Wit                              104
  _Thoughts partly true, partly false_                              105
  _The Difference between true and false Wit_                       106
  _Some Verses have gain'd Esteem, not from Reason,
          or true Merit, but merely from popular Fame_              107
  _The Opinion of the famous_ Boileau, _and a Passage
          translated from him_                                      108
  _That some Thoughts are true, tho' Poetical Fiction
          be added to them_                                         109
  _Care always to be taken, that_ some Truth
          _be the Basis of the Thought_                             112
  _That fine Thoughts and Words ought not to superabound_           113
  _In the right Disposal of them much Art required_                 113
  _Beauty of Thought divided into two Kinds, the_
          Elegant _and the_ Sublime                                 115
  _How these differ_                                               ibid.
  _Of a happy Genius_                                              ibid.
  _Of the_ Impetus _or Poetic Fire_                                 116
  _Of moving the Passions_                                          118
  _Under this Head the Fourth Book of_
          Virgil_'s_ Æneis _considered_                             120
  _Of_ Images                                                   125-129
  _Of_ Antitheta                                                    129
  _Of_ Transitions                                              132-135
  _Of_ Excursions _of another Kind_                                 135
  _Of_ Comparisons                                                  136
  _That_ pretty _Thoughts ill agree with the Passions_              139
  _Of_ Delicate _Thoughts_                                      140,141
  _Of_ Strong _Thoughts_                                            142
  _That_ Severity _and_ Gravity
         _not inconsistent with Wit_                               ibid.
  _Of_ Sentences                                                   ibid.
  _Of_ echoing _Turns_                                              143
  _Of Thoughts that seem to_ contradict _each other_            144,145
  _Of_ Æquivocations _and_ Playing upon Words                   145,146
  _Of Sublimity_                                                    147
  _The Substance of that Idea of Sublimity,
          which_ Longinus _describes_                              ibid.
  _A Mistake of those who think that_ Sublimity
          _is more especially, if not only, suited
          to_ Exultation _and_ Triumph                              149
  _Examples of Sublimity, exciting_ Terror _and_ Pity              ibid.
  _A Stricture upon_ Poetic Licence                                 151

                       LECTURE XII.
  _The History and Origin of_ Epigram                              ibid.
  _No need of dividing Epigrams into so many
          distinct sorts as some do_                                154
  _Epigrams some_ Satirical                                        ibid.
  _Panegyrical_                                                     155
  _Upon the Subject of Love_                                       ibid.
  _Upon any other Subject_                                      155,156
  Religious _Epigrams_                                          156,157
  _And_ sublime                                                     157
  _The Nature of true_ Epigram _in general_                         158
  _Some Poems consisting of a few Verses, in_ Martial
          _and others, not Epigrams properly so called_             158
  _Of the_ Lent Verses _made at Oxford, call'd_
          Carmina Quadragesimalia                                   159
  _Of_ Elogies, Inscriptions, _and_ Epitaphs                       ibid.
  _Of_ Emblems _or_ Symbols                                        ibid.
  _That Epigrams should be_ short                                   160
  _Of the_ Metre _of Epigram_                                       161
  _Of Hendecasyllables_                                            ibid.
  _Whether the Ancients or the Moderns have deserv'd
          greater Praise in this little Kind of Poems_             ibid.
  _They are beautiful, and not without their Difficulty_        161,162

                       LECTURE XIII.
                         OF ELEGY
  _Few have treated of this Species of Poetry_                      163
  _The Nature of it, and the Etymology of the Name_                 164
  Melancholy _Subjects first and principally
          suited to_ Elegy                                         ibid.
  _Afterwards by Analogy others of a very different Kind_       164,165
  Death _and_ Love _the chief Subjects of Elegy_                    165
  _Tho' scarce any other sort of Matter repugnant to it_           ibid.
  _But Circumstances of Joy with less Propriety
          agreeable to it_                                         ibid.
  _Many_ Epistles _are_ Elegies                                     166
  _Of_ Ovid_'s Heroine Epistles; and the Difference
          between them and Elegies commonly so called_             ibid.
  _What the chief Property of_ Elegies                          167,168
  _Very few of our modern Poems, which are styled_
          Elegies, _deserve our Notice_                             169
  _Of the Elegiac_ Metre                                            169
  _Among the Ancients we have scarce any_
          Elegiac _Poets but Latin_                             169,170
  _Of the Elegiac Writers_, Ovid, Tibullus,
          _and_ Propertius                                          170
  Catullus _not so properly reckon'd in the Number_                ibid.
  _Of_ Gallus _a Writer of Elegies_                             170,171

                       LECTURE XIV.
                       OF PASTORALS
  _None of the Ancients have treated
                   of this Species of Poem_                         172
  _The Original of_ Pastoral                                    172-174
  _The peculiar Nature of it_                                       174
  _No Difference between_ Pastorals _and_
          Bucolics _but the Name_                                  ibid.
  Virgil _undeservedly censured, for mixing_
          Philosophy _and the_ Sublime _with Pastoral_             ibid.
  _His Fourth and Sixth Eclogues true Pastorals_                    175
  _As also his Tenth_                                               176
  Eclogue _and_ Idyllium _according to their
          Etymology, include nothing of_ Bucolic
          _or_ Pastoral _in their Meaning_                          177
  _These Poems, the more_ simple _they are,
          the truer_ Pastorals                                     ibid.

  _They contain an elegant sort of_ Simplicity                      178
  _More of the Nature and Turn of this sort of Poem_                179
  _Certain_ vulgar Mistakes
          _concerning this_ Poem _noted_                           ibid.
  _The various_ Subjects _of Pastoral_                              180
  _Whence the_ Delight _arises that is peculiar
          to this Kind of Poem_                                 181,182
  _Of Primitive Simplicity, and a Country Life_                    ibid.
  _A Comparison between the Works of Nature and Art_               ibid.
  _Between_ Theocritus _and_ Virgil                                 183
  _Pastoral less suitable to the present Times_                     186

                       LECTURE XV.
  _Very few Writings now remaining upon this Subject_               187
  _That Poetry is the best adapted to give Rules_                  ibid.
  _Four Kinds of Didactic Poems_                                    189
  _Of_ those _which relate to_ Morality                            ibid.
  ----_to_ Natural Philosophy                                      ibid.
  _The Harmony between Poetry and Natural Philosophy_              ibid.
  Lucretius _the Prince of Poets in this Kind of Writing_           190
  _What Things commendable in him, and what to be blamed_       190,191
  _A Comparison between him and_ Virgil                             192
  _That Poetic Fiction and the
          Explanation of Nature may be elegantly united_            192
  _That this Kind of Writing may at this Day receive
          Improvements from the Advantages of_
          Experimental Philosophy                                   193
  _Of Poems which relate to the Business or
          Pleasures of Life_                                       ibid.
  _Of_ Virgil_'s Georgics_                                         ibid.
  _A Comparison between_ Hesiod _and_ Virgil                        194
  _Of the Various Methods of fetching in
          Ornaments to the_ Georgics                            194-197
  _Few Writers in this Way among the Moderns_                       198
  _Two mention'd_; Rapin _of Gardens,
          and a Countryman of ours_                                 199
  _Of Country Diversions, Hunting, &c. and of_
          Gratius_'s_ Cygnegeticon                                  199
  _Of_ Oppian                                                      ibid.
  _Of Rules concerning the Art of Poetry_                          ibid.
  _A Didactic Poem may be writ upon any Subject_                    200
  _Some Subjects recommended for it hitherto untouch'd_         200,201

                       LECTURE XIII.
                      OF LYRIC POETRY
  _The Original and Antiquity of Odes_                              203
  _The Peculiar Nature of them_                                    ibid.
  _Of_ Digressions _and_ Transitions
          _in Lyric Poetry_                                     204,205
  _Notwithstanding this Liberty, it is the most difficult,
          as it is the most elegant Kind of Writing_                206
  _Two Kinds of Digressions_                                        207
  _This more suitable to Music than other Poetry_                   209
  _Of the Music of the Antients_                                    210
  _Of the various_ Subjects _of Odes_                               211
  Sublimity _and_ Poetic Rage _more suited to them
          than any other Poems_                                     212
  _Treat of_ serious _and_ moral _Subjects_                         213
  _Whence the Pleasure arises that attends Lyric Poetry_        214,215
  _Of_ Pindar                                                       215
  _Of_ Anacreon                                                    ibid.
  _Of_ Horace                                                      ibid.
  _The Ancients excell the Moderns in this Kind of Poetry_         ibid.
  _Of_ Casimire                                                     215
  _Of_ Hannes                                                       216
  _Of_ modern Pindarics                                         216,217
  _Of_ Songs                                                       ibid.

                       LECTURE XVII, XVIII.
                          OF SATIRE
_How the Word is spelt: Of the_ History
          _and_ Origin _of Satire_                                  218
  _Difference between the Satyric Poetry of the_
          Greeks _and the_ Roman _Satire_                           219
  _The Etymology of the Word_                                      ibid.
  Ennius _a Writer of Satires_                                      222
  Pacuvius                                                         ibid.
  Lucilius                                                         ibid.
  Varro                                                             223
  _That Satires not only expose Vices, but give
          Encomiums of Virtue_                                      223
  _Prov'd against Mons._ Dacier, _that the Difference
         between the_ Satyric Poetry _of the_
         Greeks, _and the_ Roman Satire, _is not
         so great as he makes it_                                   225
  _Two Sorts of Satire: The Humourous, like that of_
          Horace; _and the Serious, like_ Juvenal_'s_               227
  _This last the more excellent of the two_                        ibid.
  Vossius _judges wrong of the Nature and
          Difference of Satire_                                     228
  Horace_'s rightly entitled_ Discourses
          _rather than_ Satires                                     232
  _All_ Juvenal_'s are properly_ Satires,
          _except the last_                                        ibid.
  Horace _is not too_ acrimonious _in his Satires_                  233
  _Some Satires are_ Dialogues; _some_ Epistles                    ibid.
  _Some of_ Horace_'s Satires are_ Epistles,
          _and some of his Epistles are_ Satires                   ibid.
 _The different Nature of_ Juvenal_'s_                             ibid.
  Persius _more a_ Philosopher, _than a_ Satirist                 235-6
  _The Moderns not much inferior to the Ancients in
          this Kind of Writing_                                     236

                       LECTURE XIX. _&c._
                    OF THE DRAMA IN GENERAL
  _What_ Poetry _is in the most proper Sense of the Word_ 237
  _Applicable to the_ Drama _and_ Epic,
          _beyond all other sorts of Writing;
          but more especially to the_ Drama                       237-8
  _The Difference between an_ Epic _and_
          Dramatic _Poem_                                           238
  _In what Respects this is preferable to that;
          and so_ vice versa                                       ibid.
  Aristotle _and_ Horace _just touch upon other Species
          of Poetry, and dwell only upon the_ Drama                ibid.
  _Many of the latter Times have treated fully of it_              ibid.
  _What proposed to be treated of in this Discourse_                239
  _Two Species of the_ Drama; Comedy _and_ Tragedy                 ibid.
  Tragic-Comedy _rejected; and for what Reasons_                    239
  _Of a new Species of the_ Drama, _called_ Opera's
          _The Ridiculousness of them_                              240
  _A Short History of the ancient_ Drama,
          _taken from Vossius's_ Institutiones Poeticæ              243
  _The_ Apparatus _of the ancient Drama pass'd by_                  244
  _The Absurdity of the_ Mask _among the Ancients_                  245
  _A Slight Stricture of the_ Soccus _and_ Buskin                   246
  _The Theatrical Music of the Ancients pass'd by likewise_        ibid.
  _A_ Definition _of the_ Drama _in general_                        246
  _That the_ Action _ought to be_ one                               247
  _But that it may rightly sometimes_
          seem _to be two Actions,_ &c.                            ibid.
  _That Kind of_ Drama _the best however,
          where the Action is_ entirely one                        ibid.
  _The Difference between the_ Fable, _the_ Action,
          _and_ Machinery _of the Drama_                            248
  _The_ Manners, different Natures, Characters,
          Passions, _and_ Diction _in the Drama_                    248
  _The Subject Matter of the_ Drama _called the_
          Fable, _tho' it is founded on true History_               250
  _Some Poems are rather_ Dramatical _Histories
          than Drama's_                                            ibid.
  _Our Countryman_ Shakespear _commended_                          ibid.
  _Various Foundations of a Drama.
          1 - True History.
          2 - Some private Action.
          3 - A noted common Story.
          4 - A fable, or Fiction less known.
          5 - The mere Invention of the Poet's Brain_           250,251
  _The last of these the best, and why_                             252
  _Three_ Unities _in the Drama; viz. of_
          Place, Time, _and_ Action                                 253
  _Of_ Action _before spoke of_                                    ibid.
  _Of_ Time                                                        ibid.
  _Of_ Place                                                        254
  _The Necessity of observing these and other Rules_                256
  _To these_ Unities _a Fourth may be added,
          that of_ Characters                                       256
  _Of things partly_ related, _and partly_ acted
          _on the Stage; and the great Difference between
          the Ancients and the Moderns in this Respect_         257,259
  _Of Persons_ adventitious _or_ superfluous,
          _and brought_ only once upon the Stage                    259
  _The Reason ought to appear why each Person comes
          in or goes out_                                           260
  _Of the Division of the Drama into_ Acts;
          _of Acts into_ Scenes                                     261
  _Of_ broken _and_ disjointed _Scenes_                             261
  _Of_ Soliloquies                                                  262
  _Some Rules of the_ coming in, _and_ going out
          _of the_ Number of the Actors, _superfluous_             ibid.
  _Of the_ Number _of the_ Actors                                   263
  Vossius _lays down wrong Rules of the Parts of_
          Action _to be divided to each Act_                        265
  _Of the_ Protasis, Epitasis _and_ Catastrophe          ibid.
  Vossius _gives to these an improper Division in the Drama_        266
  _The_ Catastrophe _ill defined by_ Scaliger
          _or_ Evanthius                                            268
  _The Unfolding of the Plot ought to be_ surprising
          _and yet easy_                                            268
  _The preposterous Artifice of some, who in the very
          Title of their Play, discover the_
          Catastrophe _of it_                                   268,269
  _To these three Parts a fourth_
          (_viz. the_ Catastasis) _improperly added_                269
  _Of_ Incidents                                                   ibid.
  _Intire Scenes not to be added for Ornament sake only_        269,270
  Love _the_ usual, _but not the best
          Subject for a Drama_                                      270
  _The_ Chorus _of the Antients_                                    271
  _Another Place reserv'd for a Comparison between the
          ancient and modern Dramatic Writers_                     ibid.
  _The last Clause of the Definition consider'd,
          containing the_ End _of Drama_                            272

                       LECTURE XXIII, &c.
  _The_ Etymology _of the Word_ Comedy                              273
  _Not very clear, whence this Kind of Poem arose_              273,274
  Three _Species of Comedy; the Old,
          the Middle, and the New_                                  275
  _Of the_ Old _Comedy_                                            ibid.
  _Of the_ Middle, _and the_ New                                277,278
  _A_ Definition _of Comedy, such as it ought to be_                279
  _Division of Comedy into the_ Moral _and_ Ridiculous             ibid.
  Scaliger_'s Definition of Comedy_                                 280
  _Mirth essential to Comedy_                                      ibid.
  _And_ Happiness _in the Conclusion of it_                         281
  _Upon these Heads_ Scaliger _and_ Vossius
          _inconsistent with themselves_                           ibid.
  Vossius_'s Definition of Comedy_                                 ibid.
  Persons _and_ Things _of a_ private _Character,
          suitable to Comedy; neither of them ought to be_
          great, _or_ concerned in the State                        282
  _Nor yet only such as_ are of low Life                           ibid.
  _Two sorts of Comedy; the_ Sublime, _and the_ Low                ibid.
  _The_ Virtues, Vices, _and_ Follies _of Mankind,
          the Subject of Comedy; but more
          especially the_ Follies                                   283
  _Proved against Mons._ Dacier _that the_
          Γελοιος, _or What is Ridiculous,
          is not the_ only _Subject of Comedy,
          tho' it is the_ principal; _and that
          Crimes of a more_ heinous Nature
          _are not to be exposed in it_                             284
  _That not only_ Joy, _but_ all the Passions
          _are concerned in Comedy_                                 288
  _But in a quite different_ Manner _from what
          they are represented in Tragedy_                          289
  _The Difficulty of writing_ true Ridicule                         290
  _Whether Comic Writers may be allow'd to draw the
          Characters_ beyond _Truth_                                291
  _Of the_ Prologue _and_ Epilogue                                  292
  _The_ Chorus, Mimus, _and_ Cantica
          _of the Ancients_                                        ibid.
  _That to write Comedy is a_ difficult _Task,
          notwithstanding it imitates_ common Life                  293
  _Of the_ Diction _of Comedy_                                      294
  _Of_ Aristophanes _and_ Menander; Plautus
          _and_ Terence                                            ibid.
  _A Comparison between the_ Ancients _and the_ Moderns             296
 _Between the_ French _and_ our own _Writers_                       298
  _Whether the English Comedies writ in Prose
          are properly_ Poems                                       298
  _Of the_ French _Comedies writ in_ Rhyme
          _and_ Heroic _Verse_                                      298
  _Whence the Pleasure that arises from Comedy_                     299
  _Why more are delighted with_ Comedy _than_ Tragedy               300

                       LECTURE XVI, _&c._
                         OF TRAGEDY
  _The_ Etymology _of the Word_                                     301
  Aristotle_'s Definition proposed and examined_                    302
  _And_ Vossius_'s_                                                 303
  _A third offered made up of both_                                 304
  _The several Parts of the Definition_                            ibid.
  _Every thing in Tragedy ought to be_ great
          _and_ sublime                                            ibid.
  _Of the_ Subject _of Tragedy_                                    ibid.
  _Of the_ Morals, _the_ Thought _and_
          Diction _of it_                                          ibid.
  _The higher Species of_ Satire _of
          Affinity with Tragedy_                                307,308
  _The part of Tragedy to_ teach Virtue,
          _even the most Heroic, no less than to_ expose Vice       308
  _Tragedy form'd for_ Sublimity                                   ibid.
  _How reconcileable to Nature that Things so_ elevated
          _and composed with so much Art, should be
          represented to make Part of_ Common Conversation          308
  _What has been said of the_ Magnificence _of this Part
          of the Drama not_ equally _applicable to_
          all _Tragedies; since there are two Species of it,
          the one_ sublime, _the other more_ humble                 309
  _Another Distinction between Tragedies; and that it is
          not_ essential _to them to end_ fortunately               310
  _Those, whose_ Catastrophe is unfortunate _the more_
          Tragical: _But such as have a_ fortunate
          Conclusion _require more_ Art, _and
          afford more_ Improvement                                  314
  _Which Characters best adapted to move_ Pity,
          _which Terror, and which both_                            315
  _What species of Tragedy are of all others
          the most Tragical_                                        316
  _Of_ Dramatic Justice                                            ibid.
  _The_ End _of Tragedy_                                            317
  _How Tragedy_ purges the Passions; _and even by
          putting them in Motion_                               319,320
  _What the Source of_ Delight _which_ Tragedy
          _affords, or of that Pleasure which
          flows from_ Melancholy                                323,326
  _A Comparison between the_ Ancients _and_ Moderns
  _Between the_ French _and our Countrymen_                         326

                       LECTURE XXIX, &c.
                 OF THE EPIC OR HEROIC POEM
  _The_ Dignity _and_ Excellence
          _of this Kind of Poem_                                    328
  _Little remains now to be said of it; several Circumstances
          relating to it having fallen in with the
          other Matter I have already discoursed of_                329
  _What_ Bossu _has done upon this Subject_                        ibid.
  Definition _of an_ Epic _or_ Heroic _Poem_                        330
  _The_ Parts _of this Definition_                                 ibid.
  _The Method laid down of this Dissertation_                       331
  _In what Respects_ Tragedy _and_
          Epic _differ and agree_                               331,332
  _Of the_ Action, Place, _and_ Time
          _of the Epic Poem_                                    332,333
  _What the_ Action _of the Poem in the_ strictest
          _or most proper Sense, and from
          whence it_ commences                                      333
  _The Duration of the Action of the_ Iliad, Odyssey,
          _and the_ Æneis                                          ibid.
  _Proved against_ Bossu _and Mons._ Dacier,
          _that an Epic Poem ought not to imitate every Action,
          but_ only _the_ great _Actions of_
          great Personages                                          334
  _Of the_ Forming a Heroe                                          336
  _The Meaning of_ Aristotle, _who asserts that the
          Fable in Epic ought to be_ Dramatical                    ibid.
  _The_ Event _in an Epic Poem ought_ always
          _to end fortunately; and for what Reasons_                336
  _Of the_ Marvelous                                                338
  _The Mistake of some, who confound the_ Marvelous
          _with the_ Improbable                                 338-340
  _Essential to be founded upon History_ partly true                340
  _Of the_ Machines                                                 341
  _Of the_ Versification _of Heroic Poems_                         ibid.
  _A Translation of one Chapter of_ Bossu _explaining
          the_ Nature _and_ Origin _of the Epic Poem_ ibid.
  _The Difference between the Eloquence of the_ Ancients
          _and the_ Moderns                                        ibid.
  _What the first Use of_ Fables                                    342
  _Why Poetry, in_ Aristotle_'s Judgment, is more_
          grave _and_ Philosophical _than_ History              343-346
  _Epic more suited to the_ Manners _and_ Habits
          _than the_ Passions                                       346
  _Yet Epic not without_ Passion                                    347
  _Especially_ Joy _and_ Admiration                                ibid.
  _Of the_ Ancients _and_ Moderns                                   348
  _Of_ Homer _and_ Virgil                                          ibid.
  _Of_ Historical _Poems_                                          ibid.
  _Of_ Lucan                                                        349
  _Of_ Silius Italicus                                             ibid.
  _Of_ Statius                                                      350
  _Of_ Tasso                                                        351
  _Of_ Spencer                                                     ibid.
  _Of_ Milton                                                      ibid.
  _Of too servile an Imitation of_ Homer _and_ Virgil              ibid.
  _Some_ New Subject _must be_ attempted                            352
  _The Conclusion._                                                 354

      N. B. _The several Passages cited from_ Virgil _are printed
          in_ English _from Dr._ Trapp_'s Version. The other
          Poetical Translations without a Name, the Editor is
          to be accountable for, tho' he wishes he had as good
          a Title to the Excellence of two or three of
          them as he has to the Imperfections of the rest._

     The Notes added to this _English_ Edition are distinguish'd
          thus * or thus †; whereas those that were
          before in the _Latin_ are referr'd to by Letters a, b, c, etc.

[** Transcriber Note: All footnotes are treated the same,
                      in numerical order.]


    3. _l._ 31. _for_ our World _r._ their Orbits.
    4. _l._ 3. this House _r._ that House.
   19. _l. antep._ _for_ consistent only with _r._
             confined only to.
  216. _l._ 16. _dele_ Countryman.
  248. _l._ 30. _for_ adsunt _r._ adflent.
             _And_ _l._ 32. _for_ ipse _r._ ipsi.
  317. _l._ 16. _dele_ the

                   POETRY, &_c_.

           The ORATION upon entering into the
             PROFESSORSHIP, or First LECTURE.

                       LECTURE I.

Altho', Gentlemen, I am sensible of the Obligation you have laid upon
me, by making Choice of me to fill this Office, esteeming it an Honour
to receive Commands, much more Favours from so venerable a Body; yet I
must own myself under some Concern, when I consider that I enter into
a Province unattempted by others, and wherein I have no Footsteps to
guide me. For so it has happen'd, that tho' all other Sciences the
World can boast of, have had their Instructors and Professors in this
most flourishing University; POETRY alone, neglected, as it
were, and overlook'd, has hitherto wanted Schools for her Reception.
'Twas much, indeed, that in the very Seat of the Muses that Art shou'd
have found none, which the Muses esteem above all others, and claim
as their peculiar Property: With You it has always been its Choice to
live, and with You it always has liv'd; but has wanted, however, a fix'd
Habitation, and (if I may speak more poetically) has wander'd here among
other Sciences, as _Delos_, _Apollo_'s native Place, did among the
_Ægean_ Islands, till that excellent Gentleman, whose Munificence I now
commemorate, like another _Apollo_, fix'd its Situation, and honour'd it
with an Establishment.

But to omit these imaginary Flights, and to represent Things without
any Colouring, What Thanks are due to him, who has render'd himself a
perpetual _Mæcenas_, not only to Poets, but to Poetry itself; who has
bestow'd Honours upon that Art, which adds the greatest to whatever is
meritorious; who has prescribed it Laws, and secured to it a Patrimony?
But still without a Patrimony it had almost been, if the reverend
and worthy Trustees[1] of the Muses Legacy had not to the Patron's
Benevolence contributed no small Assistance of their own, and deserved
little less Praise by receding from their Due, than the other, by his
original Settlement. One of them[2], especially, who, as he is himself
no small Part of _our_ University, and of _that_ venerable Assembly, and
has an Intercourse with _both_, makes use of it to promote Good-will and
Friendship mutually between them. How near had the Poetical Revenues
been lost, if they had not been in the Hands of Men therefore the most
zealous for Learning and the University, because they were adorned
with the _Insignia_ of each? If these good Men reject our Praises, at
least let them permit us to return our Thanks. To the Living, then, we
gratefully pay the Tribute of Gratitude; to the Deceased, whose Gift
they augmented, that of Glory.

He well knew that Poetry did not boast so much of her learned Poverty
(noted even to a Proverb) as utterly to reject all Acquisitions.
He knew, moreover, that it was no less capable of Rules than other
Arts, and no less deserving of them; that it proceeded upon certain
Principles, which were founded upon Truth and right Reason; that our
Master _Aristotle_, who has accurately treated of the other Sciences,
and whose Authority we follow in them all, had bestowed likewise some
of his Pains on this, and has left upon no Subject greater Monuments,
either of Extent of Genius, or of Care and Application.

They therefore lie under a great Mistake, that think Poetry suited only
to the Theatre, and would have it banished from the Schools, as of too
unbounded a Nature to submit to the Regulation of Precept. Rage, indeed,
is its Property; but a Rage altogether divine; not deviating from
Reason, but rendering it more ornamental and sublime. It may be said,
likewise, to be a Fire; not like our consuming ones, but like those of
the celestial Orbs above, that have not only the Qualities of Heat and
Brightness, but maintaining one uniform Course, are carried round our
World at once with equal Swiftness and Regularity.

We see, then, it is no Absurdity to have Rules prescribed to this
Art. And what could have been thought of, of so delicate and refined
a Nature, as the Office of prescribing them? What more worthy of an
University to accept, or a Courtier to appoint? A Courtier, I say, for
in the City he was an Ornament to the Court; as in the University he
was to this House, which has always had the Credit of abounding, and we
still have the Comfort of seeing it abound with Gentlemen of the most
distinguish'd Wit, Birth, and good Manners. I am sure no Gift could have
been more becoming a Friend of the Muses to bestow, and he was not only
an Admirer, but an Intimate of them; not only a Lover of their Art, but
a skilful Practitioner in it; nor could any one so properly make Poetry
his Heir, as a Poet.

He knew, by Experience, that no Pleasure was equal to the reading
ancient Poets, except that of imitating them. Happy they, that can
partake of both; but the former ought to be the Employment of all, that
desire to have any Taste for Letters, or Politeness. Some there are,
however, to whom these Studies are disagreeable, and who endeavour to
make them so to others: This is not owing to any Fault in Poetry, but in
themselves. Formed as they are of coarse Materials, they have naturally
a Disposition either slow and frozen, callous and unpolite, or harsh
and morose; so, forsooth, whilst they would appear grave, as they are,
they maliciously hate, or superciliously contemn these Exercises, as the
great Disturbers of their Peace. They condemn what they know nothing of;
and despise the Pleasure they want a Capacity to enjoy.

But if at least they pay any Deference to Antiquity (and with these
Men nothing uses to be more sacred, looking upon every Thing with the
greater Veneration, the more antient it is) they ought on this Account
to allow the Art we are speaking of its due Honours. For not to urge
that Poetry is coeval with the World itself, and that the Creator may be
said in working up and finishing his beautiful Poem of the Universe, to
have performed the Part of a Poet, no less than of a Geometrician[3];
it is well known, that those Books have had the greatest Sanction from
Time, that have been dictated by God, or writ by Poets. Those, as it is
fit, have the Precedence: But these follow at no very great Distance.

Nay, why should we make this Difference between the sacred Writers
and Poets, since the sacred Writers were most of them Poets; on
both Accounts deservedly called _Vates_ (_a Word expressing either
Character_) and acted by no feigned Inspiration? That the Devils then,
heretofore, usurping the Title of Gods, gave out their Oracles in Verse,
was owing wholly to their imitating, in this, as well as in other
Particulars, the true God, that so they might gain Honour and Reverence
from their Votaries. If in the Poems of _Job_, and _David_, and the
other sacred Authors, we observe the inexpressible Sublimity of their
Words and Matter; their elegant, and more than human Descriptions; the
happy Boldness of their Metaphors; their spiritual Ardour breathing
Heaven, and winging the Souls of their Readers up to it, triumphing, as
it were, by a royal Authority, over the narrow Rules of mortal Writers,
it is impossible but we must in Transport own, that nothing is wanting
in them, that might be expected from the Strength of Poetry heighten'd
by the Energy of Inspiration.

If this, then, be the Case, who would not wonder at the Ignorance or
Baseness of those, who rashly reproach an Art with Impiety, which has
the Honour of being not only pleasing to God, but taught and dictated
by him. 'Tis true, Poetry, as well as Religion, has, by Length of Time,
been corrupted with Fables; but this is no more to be imputed to the
one than the other; and we can only from hence complain, that by the
Depravity of Mankind the best of Things are most liable to Corruption.

Nor is it any more owing to the Art itself, that it is sometimes
polluted by obscene Writers: To them alone the Infamy redounds: The
Chastity of Poetry is violated like a Virgin's, and tho' it seems to
be the Instrument of doing an Injury to Virtue, yet Virtue is not more
a Sufferer than she is. She acts in her proper Sphere, when, with
her native Purity, she discovers the true Attractives of Virtue, nor
disguises Vice with false ones; when she inflames the Mind of Man with
the Love of Goodness, recounts the Works of the Almighty, and sets forth
all his Praises. Undoubtedly, as the divine and sister Sciences, Poetry
and Music, owe their Origin to Heaven; they love to be employed about
heavenly Things; thither they tend by their native Force, and, like
Fire, seek those blessed Abodes from whence they first descended.

Since Poetry, then, is so venerable, both for its Antiquity, and its
Religion; they are no less to blame, who look upon it as a trifling
Amusement, an Exercise for Boys only, or young Men. The Injustice of
this Calumny is plain from hence, that a good Proficient in this kind
of Writing must not only excel in Wit, Elegance, and Brightness; but
must be endowed with the maturest Judgment, and furnished with all
sorts of Literature. He must, in Truth, turn over the Annals of Time,
and Monuments of History; he must trace the Situation of Countries,
understand the different Manners of Nations; the Actions and Passions
of Mankind in general, must explore the inmost Recesses of the Mind,
and secret Avenues to them; survey the whole System of the Universe;
in short, make himself Master of all Nature. Who cannot but see and
admire the Learning of _Homer_ and _Horace_; in _Virgil_ especially,
his almost universal Extent of Knowledge in both sorts of Philosophy,
in History, Geography, and the chief of all Science, Mathematicks? In
_Lucretius_ we see how perfectly Natural Philosophy and Poetry agree;
and how properly these Schools of ours are appropriated to both: Nor
have the severest Philosophers Reason to complain, that the Company of
the one reflects the least Dishonour on the other.

This I am sure they have not, if we duly consider the Nature of this
admirable Art; from whence it will appear to contain whatever is great
or beautiful in Prose, and besides to be distinguished by its own proper
Ornaments; which it abundantly displays, whilst it pleases our Ears, and
ravishes our Souls with its Harmony; whilst it strongly imprints in our
Minds the Images of the Things it represents; by a becoming Fiction sets
off Truth to Advantage, and renders it more amiable; and by a decent
Liberty keeps those Laws it seems to violate.

Another Reason of its Contempt, at least of the Abatement of its
Esteem, is, that there are such Numbers of Writers, who give Offence
to Men of Learning, by affecting the Title of _Poets_. This is a Fact
we are very sensible of, and lament: I know not how it is, there's
no sort of Learning to which more apply themselves, or fewer attain.
Innumerable Pretenders there are, who, in spite of Genius and Nature,
are daily troubling the World with their wretched Performances; who
write Verse often, that scarce attempt to write any Thing else, and
venture upon the most difficult of all Studies, that are unfit for any.
This profane Mob of Poetasters are deservedly to be condemned, that
arrogate to themselves the Credit of a Title, that no ways belongs to
them; and which is due only to those who _are of elevated Genius, and
Souls divine_. But so far is this from fixing any true Mark of Infamy
on our Art, that it ought to redound to its Credit. For in this its
native Excellence appears, that it is a Mistress, to whom all by natural
Impulse, as it were, pay their Addresses, tho' there are so few, upon
whom she bestows her Favours. Thus Wit, Wisdom, and Religion, have each
those amiable Colours, in which all Mankind endeavour to appear.

Nor need we wonder it meets with such Esteem, since it excels all other
Sciences, by mixing so agreeably _Pleasure_ with _Advantage_. For it
is found experimentally true, that by reading the ancient Poets, but
especially by imitating them, the Mind is polish'd, enlivened, and
enlarged; is enriched with a Stock of various Erudition, as well sacred
as profane; with such Plenty of lofty Ideas, and lively Expressions, as
is no small Addition to the Eloquence of even Prose itself. This no one
will deny, that pays any Deference to _Cicero_'s Opinion or Authority;
who ingenuously tells us he owes no small Assistance to the Poets, runs
out largely in their Praises, and seems to give them the first Place
among the Learned. "We are told, says he[4], by Men of the greatest
Learning, that the Science of all other Things depends upon Precepts
and Art; but a Poet on Nature alone; that he is formed by the Force
of Genius, and inspired, as it were, with somewhat of Divinity." This
Topick he defends, and expatiates upon, with such Warmth, that Oratory
seems never to have shone out brighter, or to have been more pleased
with its own Force, than when it was employed in the Praise of Poetry.

But farther, it ought by all Means to be encouraged, because it raises
the Mind to Virtue and Honour, by delivering down the Examples of great
Men to Immortality. It not only celebrates Heroes, but makes them; and
by lively Copies produces new Originals. What, in short, is it else,
but the utmost Effort of the Mind of Man, that tries all its Nerves,
while it infuses into it a Tincture of universal Learning temper'd
with the greatest Sweetness. For its Votaries it affects with no small
Pleasure, which its infinite Variety abundantly supplies. Oratory,
like a River with all its Pomp of Water, confines its Waves within its
own Banks; but Poetry, like the Ocean, diffuses itself, by a Variety
of Channels, into Rivers, Fountains, and the remotest Springs. What
can be more delightful, than to take a Survey of Things, Places, and
Persons; what more elegant, than to see them represented in beautiful
Pictures? Who is not charm'd with the humorous Turns of Epigram, the
Softness of Elegy, the bantering Wit of one sort of Satire, the Anger
of the other, the Keenness and Poignancy of both? And yet still more
the Ode affects us with its daring Colours, its lofty Conceptions,
its Choice of Expression, its agreeable Variety of Numbers, and (what
is the distinguishing Character of the Lyrics) that Luxuriancy of
Thought, conducted with the severest Judgment, by which it now and then
expatiates into new Matter, connects Things it seem'd to separate, and
falls by Chance, as it were, into its first Subject. Who is there that
does not with Pleasure survey an Epitome of the World in the Dramatic
Poets? The Life, Humours, and Customs of Mankind represented in Comedy;
in Tragedy the tumultuous Passions of the Great, the Turns of Fortune
and wonderful Catastrophes, the Punishment of Villainy and Rewards of
Virtue, and sometimes the Misfortunes of good Men? Who, I say, is not
affected with Pleasure, whether he laughs or weeps with them? For such
is the Force of Poetry, that it makes us pleased with our Tears, and
from Sorrow extorts Satisfaction. But far beyond all this, is the Epic
Poem, that farthest Extent of the human Soul, the utmost Bounds of
Study, and the Pillars, beyond which the Labours of the Mind can never
pass. So abundant is it, that, besides its own peculiar Excellence, than
which nothing can be greater, it comprehends within its Sphere all other
Kinds of Poetry whatever; and is in this Art what the Organ is in Music,
which with various Pipes, inflated with the same Breath, charms us not
only with its own Harmony, but represents that of every other Instrument.

These are not Beauties only in Theory; we have Authors that have shone
in each of these Branches of Poetry: Thus _Martial_ pleases with his
tart Facetiousness, _Catullus_ with his sound Wit, tho' his Verse
is sometimes a little harsh; _Ovid_, _Tibullus_, and _Propertius_,
with their Ease and Fluency in both. The Man that does not admire the
Boldness of _Juvenal_'s Spirit, the Richness of his poetic Vein, and
his fearless Rage in Satire; may he never love, may he never know the
genteel and courtly Turns, the pleasant Sneers, the severe, and yet
inviting Precepts of Virtue, the Remarks on common Life made with the
greatest Penetration, Judgment, and Wisdom, with which the Satires of
_Horace_, and especially his Epistles, are replete. In this kind of
Writing, as we prefer him before all others; so in Lyric Poetry he
stands not only first, but alone. With Regard to Comedy, if there were
nothing remaining but what _Terence_ has left us, _viz._ that Chasteness
of Style, that never-failing Fund of Wit and Judgment, that Humour
clear of vulgar Jests, those beautiful Images of Mankind and Nature,
that exquisite Artifice in working up Plots, and unfolding them; we
should ever have Reason to praise the Art and the Poet. If Tragedy has
receiv'd but small Ornaments from the _Latin_ Writers, as far as they
have come to our Hands; by the _Greeks_ that Loss has been abundantly
compensated. Witness the Thunder and Vigour of _Sophocles_, the Grandeur
and sententious Gravity of _Euripides_, the Art of both, with which they
command the Affections of their Readers, and call forth Pity or Terror
at Pleasure.

The Nature and Limits of this Discourse will not allow me even to touch
upon the Characters of all the other _Greek_ and _Latin_ Writers that
have excell'd in the several Species of Poetry. One, however, it would
be unpardonable to omit, who as he is the greatest of all (not _Homer_
himself excepted) may not improperly bring up the Rear of this shining
Host, the immortal _Virgil_, I mean, beyond all Praises, in all Respects
compleat. Who is not in Love with the plain and unaffected Beauty of
his Eclogues, the finish'd and chaste Elegance of his _Georgics_, and
in them the entertaining Descriptions with which they abound, with
the Variety of their Expressions, the Usefulness of their Precepts in
Husbandry, and their noble Excursions, upon every proper Occasion,
into Subjects of a sublimer Nature? But the divine _Æneid_ who can
turn over without Transport, without being lost, as it were, in a
happy Mixture of Joy and Wonder? Who can help being astonish'd at that
Fire of Imagination temper'd with so cool a Judgment, such Strength
united with so much Beauty? To nothing this Work can with Justice be
compar'd, unless to that, whose Duration will have the same Period, the
great Machine of the Universe. For where shall we find, in any human
Composition, so exact a Harmony between the several Parts, and so much
Beauty in each of them; such an infinite Fecundity of Matter, without
the least Exuberance of Style, or Crowding of Incidents? It would be an
endless Attempt to recount the different Images of Heroes, and other
Personages that appear up and down in it, the Variety of Manners, the
Conflict of Passions, almost every Object of the Imagination beautifully
described, all Nature unfolded, the great Events, the unexpected
Revolutions, the Incentives to Virtue; in the several Speeches the
most finish'd Eloquence; in the Thoughts and Expressions the sublimest
Majesty; in short, the most consummate Art, by which all these Things
are brought into one uniform Piece?

After the mention of _Virgil_ and those other great Names, Silence only
should ensue; but that our Oration naturally addresses itself to him, to
whose Indulgence this Liberty of speaking in the Praise of _Virgil_, and
those other great Names, is owing; our most worthy Vice-chancellor[5],
I mean, who has brought to Light this Poetic Legacy, which had been
buried, as it were, for many Years in Oblivion, and has at length placed
it upon a Foundation that will make it perpetual. Such Attainments, Sir,
have you made in your Study of the publick Welfare! 'tis thus you make
us sensible that none are so faithful and diligent Dispensers of others
Bounty, as the Bountiful! I shall not enter into a Detail of the other
Virtues, that make up your Character: My Business was to mention that
only which relates to our present Function: Permit us, however, to wish
you Length of Days in this World, that such Thanks may in Time be due to
you, as may exceed the Power of Poetry itself to pay.


[1] The Dean and Chapter of _Durham_.

[2] The Reverend Dr. _Fitzherbert Adams_, Prebendary of _Durham_.

[3] It is a known Saying, Ὁ Θεος γεωμετρει, _God performs the
Office of a Geometrician_.

[4] Pro Arch. Poeta, c. v.

[5] The Reverend Dr. _William Lancaster_, S. T. P. Head of _Queen's
College_, and at that Time Vice-chancellor of _Oxford_.

                       LECTURE II, and III.
         _Of the Nature and Origin of Poetry in general._

Before we enter upon the different Branches of the Art we propose
to treat of, it may not be improper to clear our Way, by giving, as
the Schoolmen speak, a general Idea of it, and laying before you a
comprehensive View of whatever is common to all its Parts. None, that
I know of, has given a just Definition of it; not _Aristotle_ himself,
tho' a perfect Master in _Definitions_: And yet there's nothing in the
Subject repugnant to one. To be short, then, Poetry seems in general,
_An Art of imitating or illustrating in metrical Numbers every Being
in Nature, and every Object of the Imagination, for the Delight and
Improvement of Mankind_.

_Vossius_'s Definition[6] (I speak it with humble Deference to so great
a Man) to me is by no means satisfactory, who makes Poetry consist in
being _An Art of representing Actions in Metre_. This Definition falls
too short, and is not comprehensive enough of the Nature of the Thing
defined. For I would ask, is it not the Business of Poetry to represent
every Thing that is capable of being represented? And are Actions the
only Things capable of being represented? This, indeed, is expresly
asserted by _Dacier_, the _French_ Interpreter of _Aristotle_: But to
any one that considers the Passage, it will abundantly appear, that
this Opinion cannot be drawn from _Aristotle_ by a just Interpretation
of him. That great Philosopher, and Prince of Critics, says, that
_Imitators imitate Actions_. Now, can any one, without violating all the
Rules of Reasoning this Philosopher has taught, conclude from hence that
Actions _alone_ are capable of being imitated? He indeed says, or rather
the _French_ Version is made to say, that ALL _that imitate,
imitate Actions_; but in his own Original he says no such Thing; the
Word ALL is added by the Interpreter: His Words are[7],
μιμουνται ὁι μιμουμενοι πραττοντας, i. e. _Imitators imitate Actions_.

But if the Version were true, the Conclusion drawn from it would,
however, be false. For _All_ Imitators may imitate Actions, and yet
possibly not _Actions only_. But there's no need of many Words to prove
_Aristotle_'s Authority unjustly alledged for this Proposition; since he
tells us himself, a little before the Passage above cited[8],
μιμουνται και ηθη και παθη και πραξεις, i. e. _they imitate Manners,
Passions, and Actions_. He thought therefore that not only Actions, but
Manners and Affections, were capable of being imitated. It is certain,
if by Imitation is meant that which impresses upon the Mind a true and
genuine Representation of any Thing, it will be no less repugnant to
common Sense than to _Aristotle_'s, to affirm that nothing but Actions
can be imitated. For, besides them, we see Passions, Things, Places, and
Men are imitated, not only by Poets, but by Painters too. This _Horace_,
the best Interpreter of _Aristotle_, sufficiently intimates, when he
uses the Word _imitari_ in the same Sense with _describere_, _pingere_,
or _sculpere_:

    _Molles imitabitur ære capillos_[9]
    In Brass shall imitate the waving Hair.

Besides, _Vossius_'s Definition is short in another Respect; as it makes
the Object of Imitation too narrow, so it makes the Essence of Poetry
consist _solely in Imitation_; whereas there are some Kinds of it that
have little to do with Imitation, but much in Illustration; as we shall
shew in the Sequel.

That Poetry is an _Art_, is sufficiently plain, and we have no Occasion
to use many Words to prove it. It observes certain Laws and Rules,
is brought to the Test of right Reason, and, lastly, it aims at some
particular End. I cannot but wonder, therefore, why those that fix'd
the Number of the Liberal Arts, as they are commonly reckon'd up,
should have allowed no Place for Poetry and Oratory among them. They
were thought, perhaps, reducible partly to Rhetorick, and partly to
Grammar. But this, I think, they are not, with any Propriety. For, not
to observe that Poetry and Oratory are in their Merit too good, and in
their Extent too great to be included in other Sciences, the Business
of Rhetorick is wholly to polish the Style of both of them; and, by the
Way, as it is now-a-days managed, tends more, perhaps, to the Detriment
and Corruption, than the Credit and Honour of either; but is fully and
professedly concerned in neither. As to Grammar, they can no more be
reduced to that, than all other Sciences whatever; for to all Sciences
Words, whether written or spoken, are subservient. Well, then, _Vossius_
and all agree that Poetry is an _Art_, tho' that great Man has not
sufficiently shewn the peculiar Business of it.

The Definition we have given above, seems to be full, and every Way
compleat, inasmuch as it comprehends the whole Nature of Poetry,
is applicable only to Poetry, and all the Species of it; for all of
them are always concern'd, either in Imitation, or Illustration, or
both at once. Between these two there is some Difference; for he that
beautifully imitates any Thing, always illustrates it; but not on the
contrary; the Rule does not hold _vice versa_. Those Things that relate
to Science, and Discipline, such as the Ideas of the Mind, Virtues,
Vices, Manners, and the like, are _illustrated_ by being explained; but
no one will say, that by being explained they are _imitated_. But, as I
said, it is an undoubted Maxim, that all Kinds of Poetry are employed
one or other of these Ways, or both. In Descriptions of whatever Kind,
in moving the Passions, in Panegyric, in Satire, in Heroics, in Ethics,
the Poet either imitates or illustrates something, or does both; unless,
perhaps, we ought to except the Writers of those short Sentences, that
are mere _moral Sayings_; such as _Pythagoras_, _Phocyllides_, and the
like; who may be said, indeed, to write Verses, but not Poems: They want
the Force, the Elegance, the Style, and peculiar Turn of Thought that
discriminates Poets from other Writers. 'Tis plain, then, the Business
of Poets is either Imitation or Illustration; and that, not only of
Actions, but, as we presumed to lay down in our Definition, of every
Being in Nature, or in the Imagination. The Object, then, of Poetry,
must be enlarged, and those Bounds extended, that _Vossius_ prescribed
to it: For is there any Thing in the real or ideal World, not capable of
being described or illustrated? any Thing which the capacious Stretch of
Poetry will not comprehend?

And since it chiefly consists in Imitation, it may not be amiss,
perhaps, to make a short Comparison between that and Painting. All
Poetry will not admit of this Comparison, but such only as consists
in Description; upon which whatever is in common between them,
depends. Painting, as well as Poetry affects the Passions; That by
Description alone, This by other adventitious Arts. I would here,
however, particularly observe, that Poetry consists much more in
Description, than is generally imagined. For, besides those longer and
set Descriptions of Things, Places, and Persons, there are numberless
others, unobserved by common Readers, contained in one Verse, sometimes
in one Word, to which the whole Beauty of the Thought is owing; and
which wonderfully affect us, for no other Reason but because they are
Descriptions, that is, impress a lively Image of somewhat upon the
Mind. To this it is, that metaphorical Expressions, when selected with
Judgment, owe their Beauty, and their Elegance; every Metaphor being a
short Description.

But to return to our Comparison between Painting and Poetry. They both
agree, in representing to the Mind Images of Things, and ought both
of them to be govern'd by Nature and Probability. So near is their
Affinity, that by a very natural and common Metaphor, Poetry is said
to paint Things, Painting to describe them. Both give us _Draughts_
of the Body, as well as the Soul; but with this Difference, that the
former is chiefly expressed by Painting, the latter by Poetry. It
cannot be denied, but that the Lines of a Face are much more strongly
distinguish'd by Light and Shade, than by any Colouring of Words, tho'
ever so elegant, or well chosen: Add, moreover, that the Attitudes, the
various Positions and Gestures of the Body, the confused Rout and Tumult
of a Battle, the Gloominess or Brightness of a Landscape, the Prospect
of a Building, and the like, are represented to much greater Perfection
by Painters, than Poets; tho', in these Particulars, Description
approaches nearer to Painting than in Portraitures. The Reason of
these Advantages of the Painter's over the Poet's Art, is obvious; for
as the Things represented are the Objects of the Senses, to the Senses
Painting exhibits the Images of them, as well as to the Imagination,
and that according to the exactest Rules of Optics and Proportion:
Whereas the Poet can only apply to the inward Faculties of the Soul, by
the fainter Helps of Words and Sound, of Memory and Recollection. In
Verse, indeed, we find these Things wonderfully described, and every Way
agreeably to Nature; and tho' it is impossible for Words to represent
them to the Mind, as graphically as Colours do to the Eyes; yet perhaps
less Genius is required in the one than in the other. But the inward
Springs and Movements of the Soul, the Actions, Passions, Manners, the
distinguishing Tempers and Natures of Men, are drawn with much more
Accuracy by the Poet, than the Painter. The one can imitate only so much
of the Passions, as appears in the outward Man, in his Countenance,
and Gesture; the other fetches them from the inmost Recesses of the
Heart, describes them as they lurk there, without Disguise, in all their
genuine Conflicts. The Representation we see of these, even in Painting
(as far as Colours can represent them) is exquisite, even to Admiration;
but, upon the whole, after a fair Comparison between the two Arts,
Poetry excels Painting as much as the Soul does the Body, that being
best represented by the former, as this is by the latter.

Poetry, then, being a sort of _Imitation_, those that practise the Art
are not called Ποιηται, _Makers_[10], from _creating_; as if
it was their peculiar Province to produce, out of nothing, new Matter
for their Subject: So far is this from being true, that they propose
always to copy Nature. But this Appellation is given them by way of
Eminence, as their Thoughts are more exercised in _Invention_, and
_forming_ Ideas, than any other Writer's; as such Symmetry and Harmony
is required in their Compositions; and such Artifice in their Fictions
(for they not only adorn their Subject, but generally make it) and,
lastly, such Management and Pains in working up the Machines of their
Poem, and conducting the several Parts of it, so as to make them all
conspire to one uniform Action. In this last Particular Poets remarkably
excel other Writers, as all that are versed in them are sensible. But
among those that are honoured with the Title of Poets, and are such,
all have not an equal Claim to it. To the Epic and Dramatic Writers it
is more peculiarly applicable; to the rest, only, as we term it, by
Analogy. Their Business is Invention, as well as Disposition; the rest
have little to do with the one, much less with the other. So that there
are not only different Degrees of Poets, and subordinate Honours; but
some who are called so only in an improper Sense: For who would mention
_Martial_ and _Virgil_ under the same Predicament?

We said above, that Poetry consisted of _metrical Numbers_: This is a
necessary Part of the Definition, as being the very Essence of Poetry,
properly so called; and tho', as we observed, there may be Verses
without a Poem, there can't be a Poem without Verses. I am obliged,
therefore, once more to dissent from Monsieur _Dacier_; who, not,
indeed, without the Authority of others, maintains[11], that those
fabulous Narratives in Prose, of _Lucian_, _Heliodorus_, and the like,
among the Ancients, and of many others among the Moderns, that are
held in so great Esteem, in _France_, particularly, and _Spain_, are
Poems. I readily own some of them are truly elegant, and give us ample
Testimonies of the Authors Wit and Judgment; nay, and except their
want of Verse, are very little different from Epic Poems. But if even
_Homer_'s _Ilias_, or _Virgil_'s _Æneis_, were to be stript of their
Metre, they would no longer be looked upon as Poems; if we may judge of
the Nature of a Poem from the general Consent of Writers, who always
take it for granted that Verse is an essential Property of it.

Those who are of the other Opinion, think they are supported by no
less Authority than _Aristotle_'s; who asserts τ' εποποιιαν
to consist μονον τοις ψιλοις λογοις, η τοις μετροις. The
foremention'd learned Writer insists, that ψιλοις λογοις
can signify nothing else but plain Prose; that therefore _Aristotle_
admitted some sort of Epic Poem without Metre. Others, that take the
contrary Side, endeavour to shew, that by ψιλοις λογοις is
to be understood a poetical Discourse, not without Metre, but without
_Harmony_ and _Rhythm_; by which _Aristotle_ meant Music, and Measures
which they used to dance to. So that, according to these Interpreters,
the Particle η is not _disjunctive_ in this Place, but
_explanatory_. They that would see the Arguments in Defence of this
Exposition, may consult _Vossius_[12]. But if we grant our Opponents
what they desire, _viz._ that _Aristotle_ meant only Prose by
ψιλοις λογοις, as indeed it is most probable he did; yet it will
not follow that he reckoned such fictitious Narratives, as we are now
speaking of, or indeed any kind of Prose whatever, to be a Species of
Poetry. To make this plain, we must enquire into the genuine Sense
of the other Word εποποιια. Here the _French_ Interpreter
supposes, without any Hesitation, that it signifies nothing else but
an Epic Poem, or the Art of making it. But _Vossius_ proves, to a
Demonstration, that it must have a larger Sense, so as to include the
Epic Poem, and that kind of Fable without Metre, which is the Subject
of our present Debate. The Meaning, then, of _Aristotle_, is this, that
the _Epopœia_ is the _Genus_, one Species of which is the _Epic_
Poem; the other, the _Novel_, or Fable in Prose. Upon this View, then,
we see, that granting ψιλοις λογοις, in _Aristotle_, to denote
only Prose; yet it can't from thence be concluded, that these fictitious
Narratives, or any kind of Prose, can be brought under the Head of
Poetry. To the _Epopœia_ they truly belong, and to nothing else.

Metre, then, we'll conclude to be an essential Part of Poetry. Another
Question arises, whether _Fiction_ is likewise so. Some tell us, that
no one should be entitled a Poet, but he that invents some Fable, and
heightens it with the Decoration of Verse. To this Opinion I can by no
means assent. The first Writers of Verses, no doubt, made them in Praise
of somewhat that was real, and before them. For it is highly probable,
that this Art, as most others, was in its Infancy employ'd about Things
that were most obvious, and easy to the Learner. Now it is certainly
more easy to describe a Subject that already exists, than to form a new
one. _Vossius_[13] thinks, that Love was the first Occasion of Poetry.
Which is not improbable, considering that this Affection is coeval with
Mankind, is universal, and naturally productive of Poetry. True Love,
then, or somewhat true, was the Poets first Theme; afterwards, by Length
of Time, they rose to Things that were more difficult, and blended
artful Devices and Truth together. So that Poetry was before Fiction;
and even since they have been united, there have been many Poets, truly
so called, who have had to do with Fiction. Those that exercise that
Talent with Art, are Poets in a more peculiar Manner, and of a superior
Genius. But if those only were to be honour'd with the Title, the Number
of them would be very small. To all, therefore, it ought to extend, who,
tho' they _invent_ nothing, yet _illustrate_ their Subject with Metre,
animated with the Style and Spirit of Poetry.

I cannot, therefore, sufficiently wonder that the great _Scaliger_[14]
should assert, there was no Difference between Poetry and History,
except in the _Diction_. 'Tis certain he could not mean Poetry in
general; for there are many Sorts of it, which are so totally different
from History, that they have scarce any Thing in common with it. Even
the Epic Poem, tho' it consists much in Narration, yet is distinguish'd
enough from History, by the subject Matter, by the Disposal of the
Parts, and many other Criterions. _Scaliger's_ Opinion may seem true in
respect of one kind of Poetry only, such as that of _Lucan_, which is
properly call'd an Historical Poem: Tho' this may be heighten'd with
that poetic Rage and Fire, which, I presume, is somewhat more than
_Diction_, and incompatible with History.

Tho' we generally use the Words _Poesis_ and _Poetica_, _Poesy_ and
_Poetry_, indiscriminately; yet, if we would speak properly, they ought
to be distinguish'd. By a _Poem_ (a third Word, that often occurs in
this sort of Dissertations) is meant the Work of the Poet; by _Poesy_,
the actual Exercise; by _Poetry_, the Art or Habit.

And since Harmony and Sonorousness are so necessary a Part of Poetry, it
may not be foreign to our Purpose to compare it with Music; especially
as these two entertaining Arts are not only nearly allied in their
Nature, but in Fact also, often united: This we see, especially in Odes
and Songs, and the Entertainments of the Theatre; where Poesy and Music
lend each other their friendly Aid, become joint Associates, and both
conspire to captivate their Hearers. In this, also, they farther agree,
that they have both the same Admirers. I speak of such as have made a
Progress in Letters; for we often meet not only with Lovers of Music,
but Masters in it, that, for want of Learning, have no Taste for the
Pleasures of Poetry. But among those that are advanced in Literature,
an Admirer of one of these Arts, loves the other also; and he that
understands one, has a Knowledge in both, or desires and wishes for it.
From hence it was, no doubt, that the Ancients made the same _Apollo_
the Patron of Poetry and Music, and attributed to the Muses the divinest
Melody, adorning them with the Ensigns of the Harp, and other musical
Instruments. _Aristotle_, likewise, seems to have comprehended Music
under Poetry; and tho' that may not be altogether so proper, since Music
consists of Sound only, without Words, yet it is plain the Affinity
between them is very great. Both charm the Ear with sonorous Measures;
Music, indeed, in a higher Degree, but Poetry comes much nearer to it in
this Respect, than Prose, how flowing or tuneable soever.

Both turn more particularly upon the Harmony of the Parts, and the
proper Disposal of them; both suited to Men of the politest Taste, and
both improve it. In short, so nearly are they the same, that the Word
_Singing_ is equally applied to both. But this Difference there is,
that Poetry is much the more excellent in its kind; because the whole
Circle of Learning enters into its Composition; it applies itself more
particularly to the Soul, as the other to the Senses; and, lastly, the
Advantages of it to Mankind are abundantly greater.

From hence I am naturally led to enquire into the Use and End of
Poetry, which is generally reckoned twofold, _viz._ to _instruct_ and
to _please_. So that we come now to the last Branch of our Definition,
wherein we asserted, that Poetry was design'd _for the Pleasure and
Improvement of Mankind_, according to that well known Saying of _Horace_,

    _Aut prodesse volunt, aut delectare Poetæ._[15]
    A Poet shou'd instruct, or please, or both.

It is agreed, then, by all, that this is the twofold End of Poetry; but
which the principal, is still a Doubt. It may bear a Dispute, indeed,
which is in _Fact_ the principal; but which _ought_ to be so, surely
can be none: For in this, as in all other Arts, the Advantage ought to
be considered before the Pleasure. Some, indeed, of our modern Writers,
think otherwise; and boldly pronounce Pleasure to be the chief End of
Poetry. It can't be denied, but this Opinion is perfectly consonant
to their Writings; in which they not only principally consult their
Reader's Pleasure, but in Opposition to their Advantage. Witness those
lewd Poems with which this divine Art is polluted. But if we would
consult Reason, we should allow that even in Verse what improves us,
ought to be more regarded than what delights us. I own, the severest
Wits, that lay down the most rigid Precepts of Virtue, ought to have a
View to Pleasure in their Compositions; for it is the distinguishing
Mark of the Poet from the Philosopher, that tho' Virtue is the Aim of
both, yet the one presses it closer, indeed, but in a less engaging
Manner. In the dry Method of a Teacher he defines his Subject, he
explains his Terms, and then gives you Rules; the other cloaths his
Precepts in Examples, and imperceptibly insinuates them under the
beautiful Disguise of Narration. I own, likewise, that Readers are
generally more sensible of the Pleasure they receive, than the Profit,
even when it is less proposed by the Writers; for it is That makes the
strongest Impression upon the Imagination: Nay, and I grant, that this
is what Writers themselves ought to study. Yet notwithstanding all this,
Profit may be the chief End of Poetry, and ought to be so; but for that
very Reason Pleasure should be joined to it, and accompany it, as a
Handmaid, to minister to its Occasions. When Children are allured with
the sweeten'd Draught, or gilded Pill, they, as the Physician intended,
consider nothing but the Beauty of the one, or the Taste of the other:
But it is well known, this was not the _chief_ Intent of the Physician
in his Prescription.

This Rule relates principally to the more perfect and sublimer Kinds of
Poetry, and especially the Epic and Dramatic. For we don't pretend that
Epigram, Elegy, Songs, and the like, conduce much to the Improvement
of Virtue. It is enough, if these Writings keep within the Bounds of
Chastity, and give no Offence to Good-manners. Poets sometimes write,
not so much to move others Passions, as to indulge their own. And as
Pleasure is the chief, or, perhaps, the only _Effect_ of this sort of
Levities, so it may very innocently be proposed by Authors as the chief
_End_ of them. Tho' even from these lesser Flights one Advantage arises,
that they improve the Wit, and polish the style, both of the Writer and
the Reader; a Circumstance that may be observed in Favour of all Kinds
of Poetry.

If it be asked, What are those inward Sensations of Pleasure with
which Poetry affects us, or from whence it is Mankind are so highly
delighted with that Way of Writing; I answer, this may in some Measure
be collected from what has been already said, and farther, from what
we shall have Occasion to say hereafter under the subject Matter of
Poetry. At present let the following Considerations suffice: It is
obvious enough why Harmony of Verse should please us, since that's a
Pleasure that arises from a proper Disposition of Sounds, which make
their Way directly to the Senses. But still we feel a much higher, from
the Images of Things beautifully painted, and strongly impressed upon
the Mind. As we are naturally desirous of Truth, we are glad to find our
Ideas confirmed by those of others; for from thence we conclude ours are
just, and agreeable to Nature. This Assimilation of Ideas is still more
pleasant, when it arises from some sudden unforeseen Impression; for all
Impressions upon the Mind, whether of Joy or Grief, are more affecting,
the swifter they are made, and the more unexpected; the slower they are,
the more languid. This is confirmed no less by Experience, than Reason.
Since the Impressions, then, of Poetry, are of the vehement kind, it is
no Wonder so much Pleasure should attend them, especially when the Ideas
we speak of are heighten'd with all the Elegance of Expression. This
Pleasure is likewise in some Measure to be attributed to the natural
Love of Mankind for Imitation, the Reason of which we shall attempt to
give in its proper Place. From these Principles we may account for the
Pleasure that arises from Description, as well as that from Fiction.

The Pleasure we receive from the Variety of Thought, and sudden
Transitions in Poetry, seems owing to our natural Love of Novelty;
for so imperfect is the Happiness of us Mortals, that every Thing by
Constancy grows nauseous and insipid to us.

With Regard to the Passions, why some of them should give us greater
Pleasure, the more they are put in Motion, is plain; but how Delight
should flow from Pity, Terror, and even Sorrow itself, seems truly
wonderful, and difficult to account for. And, indeed, to do Justice to
this Question, we ought to know the secret Springs of the Soul, and to
lay open the Foundations of human Happiness and Misery: Which, because
it will require a distinct Dissertation, we shall pass by, at present;
reserving it for a more full Enquiry, when we come to treat more
particularly of the Nature of Tragedy.

We have already, in a few Words, shewn, wherein the Advantages of Poetry
consist; no one can be a Stranger to them: This Art will receive no less
Honour, if we look back into its Antiquity. If it took its Rise from
Love, (the Opinion, which, in Conformity with _Vossius_, we have above
proposed as most probable) yet to Religion it owes its Increase and
Progress; and it may be question'd, which of the two is its true Parent.
_Dacier_ calls it the Offspring of Religion; and it is certain, in the
earliest Ages of the World it was usual to sing Hymns to the Honour
of God upon the solemn Festivals; upon those especially, when after
the In-gathering of Harvest they offer'd up to him the First-fruits,
and prais'd him for the Blessings they were now in Possession of. In
Course of Time, Poetry, which had hitherto depended wholly upon Nature,
and knew not the Name of Art, by the Corruption of Mankind grew itself
corrupted. To bring it back to its Purity, it was the Care of the wiser
Part of Men to lay it under certain Laws and Regulations. From hence
arose the _Art_ of Poetry. It is a great Dispute among the Learned,
what Nation produced the first Poets. The _Greeks_, who to their own
refined Taste ascribe the Origin of all Learning and Arts, laid Claim,
likewise, to this, and instanced in _Orpheus_, _Linus_, and _Musæus_,
as the first Poets. But _Vossius_[16] proves it very probable that this
Triumvirate of Poetry never existed; and that they are not proper,
but common Names, derived from the old _Phœnician_ Language. Be
that as it will, (for I am little disposed to engage in so minute a
Controversy) I agree with the same _Vossius_, that Shepherds (I may
add, or Husbandmen) found out the Use of Poetry; and that they lived
in _Greece_, near those celebrated Mountains and Springs, _Helicon_,
_Parnassus_, _Aganippe_, _Hippocrene_, _Pirene_, and the like, that
were therefore sacred to the Muses and _Apollo_. But still it does not
appear, that Poetry owes its first Original to the _Greeks_, (for,
as the forementioned learned Author goes on[17]) "if we examine this
Matter by the Scripture, we shall find the People of God, the first
Inhabitants of the Earth, from whom all Nations are descended, have the
best Title to this Honour. Poetry flourished among the _Israelites_, not
only before the _Trojan War_, but before the coming of _Cadmus_ into
_Bœotia_, who first taught the _Greeks_ the Use of Letters. And tho'
we were utterly ignorant of what is mentioned concerning the _Hebrew_
Poetry, yet the Antiquity of Music would teach us that the Original of
Verse must be owing to the Oriental Nations; for little Doubt is to be
made but Singing begun in the very Infancy of the World. This is farther
confirmed, from what we read of _Jubal_, the seventh from _Adam_, who
is styled the Father of such as handle the Harp and Organ. Antiently,
then, Musicians and Poets were the same."

But to examine still farther into the Origin of Poetry, (for what we
have hitherto said relates only to the _Subject_, and the _Authors_, not
to the immediate _Occasion_ of it:) Now this seems to be owing to the
Love implanted in Mankind of _Imitation_ and _Harmony_. _Vossius_ very
undeservedly ascribes it to the three following Causes, _viz. Nature_,
an _Attempt_ to write Verse, and _a finish'd Skill_. By _Nature_ he
understands not only the ευφυια, or Happiness of Parts, but
the ὁρμη, the Impetus, usually styled the Poetic Fire. I am
very sensible of the Advantage of these, and of their Necessity to
constitute a good Poet; but much doubt whether they are to be reckoned
(what he and I both speak of) the efficient Causes of Poetry. No one can
_excel_ in Poetry, without a Genius peculiarly turn'd for it; but the
Question is, what _general_ Reason can be assign'd, that gives all Men,
even those that have no Talent for it, as well as those that have, a
natural Inclination to it. As to the poetic Fire, it may be reckoned a
Concomitant of Poetry, but not the Cause of it. No more can an Attempt
to write Verses, which is rather the Thing itself in its first State of
Imperfection; much less can the Perfection of any Thing be the Cause of
its being perfected; that's absurd, and a mere Contradiction in Terms.

The Reason, then, of the Thing in Question, must be fetch'd from the
Love of Imitation and Harmony. To this Principle it is owing, that among
the most barbarous Part of Mankind we meet with Attempts in Painting,
Music, and Poetry. For it is a great Mistake to think that these Arts
are consistent only with such refin'd Nations as are Mistresses of all
other Arts: No, they are Things of an universal Nature, and agreeable,
as it were, to all Mankind, from the very Composition of their Being.
Only with this Difference, that in those Parts of the World where
Learning and Manners are cultivated, these Arts are nurtur'd, and rise
in Perfection; but where the People are rude, and unpolished, they
suffer in the common Calamity of the Place. But still, even there, the
Seeds shoot forth; witness those barbarous, uncouth Songs, the mean
Instruments of Music, and imperfect Sketches in Painting, which are
found, according to the Relation of Travellers, among the _Indians_, and
almost Savage People of the North.

This Fondness of Mankind for imitating, proceeds, probably, from nothing
else but their Desire of _Knowledge_ and _Power_. To produce something
out of nothing, is the peculiar Property of the Almighty: As Man,
therefore, cannot create, it is his Ambition to approach as near to the
Exercise of that Power, as his Nature will allow him; and that can be
only by imitating Things already made.

His Passion for Harmony is no Wonder; because whatever we call beautiful
arises from a just Proportion, and proper Arrangement of its Parts. It
is this composes the whole Frame of the Universe; and the more perfect
every Individual of it is, the greater Share of Harmony it possesses.

So much for the Original and Cause of Poetry. Of its Antiquity, in
Comparison of Prose, I need say but very little, since that seems,
beyond all Doubt, to have been prior to it, in Point of Time, tho'
behind it in Dignity. Some, indeed, have asserted, that Poetry was the
ancienter, out of a Zeal, I suppose, to its Honour, which needs no false
Supports: But this Opinion is by no means credible. 'Tis certain, all
Learners proceed, as Nature directs them, from the plainest and easiest
Things, to those that are more compounded and difficult: For Men to
speak Verse before Prose, is the same as if they should pretend to run,
or dance, before they could stand, or walk. It is a very weak Argument,
with which _Strabo_ (as _Vossius_ cites it) endeavours to maintain the
contrary Opinion. To prove Verse the ancientest Way of Writing, he
observes, that Prose is styled _Oratio Pedestris_, [as if we should
say creeping Prose.] "Now Speech was carried, before it ventured to
walk. _Vossius_ artfully replies, that it was called _Pedestris_, not
because Men against Nature condescended to it, but because they mounted
above it, as it were, and left it upon the Earth: For Prose seems to
creep, when compared with the Loftiness of Poetry. Now, to retort the
Argument, there's no Doubt but Men walk'd first, before they ventured
on Horseback." If any one would see more of this, he may consult
_Vossius_. That Poetry, as an Art, flourish'd before Oratory, or that
the celebrated Professors of the one are not so ancient as those of the
other, is clear from History; but that Men spoke Verse before Prose, is
past all Credit, or Probability.

If any Question should arise about the Prevalence of Nature and Art in
Poetry, I cannot answer it better than in the Words of _Horace_[18]:

    _Natura fieret laudabile carmen, an arte,
    Quæsitum est; Ego nec studium sine divite vena,
    Nec rude quid prosit video ingenium; alterius sic
    Altera poscit opem res, & conjurat amice._

    Some think, that Poets may be form'd by Art,
    Others maintain, that Nature makes them so.
    I neither see what Art without a Vein,
    Nor Wit without the Help of Art can do;
    But mutually they need each other's Aid.

But if this is the Case, whence comes that Saying so common in every
one's Mouth, _That a Man must be born, not made a Poet_; whereas, in
_Horace's_ Judgment, a Man is both born and made so? In answer to this,
No more to be sure is intended by the Proverb, than that Strength of
Genius enters more into the Composition of a Poet, than the Refinements
of Art; tho' both are necessary to the forming him a great one. Writings
that betray a true poetic Spirit, how unpolish'd soever they are, extort
from us Praise and Admiration; but those that are cold and lifeless,
tho' form'd upon the most scrupulous Observation of the Laws of Poetry,
are neglected, or condemn'd. The Sloth or Inaccuracy of the one, demands
our Censure; but the stupid Rigidness, and labour'd Dulness of the
other, provokes at once our Rage, our Hate, and Disdain. It is of little
Consequence that _Horace_ seems to put these upon the Foot of Equality.
A Poet that lays down general Rules in Verse, and in so short a Compass,
cannot be supposed to enter minutely into every Distinction. Besides,
the Saying above may be true in this Respect; that Poetry _especially_,
and beyond all other Sciences, requires a Fecundity of Nature; and
besides such a _peculiar_ Turn of Wit, as is _seldom_ found, and _few_
are blest with.

And this is partly the Reason, why Poets were said to be _inspired_;
partly, I say, for the chief Reason is probably owing to that Fire, or
more than, human Impulse, called by the _Greeks_ ενθυσιασμος,
which distinguishes them from other Writers. That this was no real
Inspiration in the ancient Poets, (except in those sacred ones that
communicated God's Will to Mankind) nor is now so in the Moderns, I
suppose needs no Proof; but it is certain, however, that not only the
Poets said it was, but the Heathens, also, thought it divine. Hence
arose that more than common Reverence, the Populace paid to them. Hence
the Title given of them of _sacred_, and _divine_. Hence that solemn
Invocation of the Muses and _Apollo_, and sometimes other Deities, with
which the Poets, and the Poets only, introduce their Works.

I have no Inclination to spend my Time in examining into the Fables
which have long since become an Appendage to Poetry, nor to search out
the hidden Meaning of them: I leave that Task to those whom we call the
Mythologists; let them, if they please, explain the Allegory of the two
Tops of _Parnassus_, of the Number Nine among the Muses, the Mystery of
the Wings of _Pegasus_, and of the Fountains rising at the Stroke of his
Hoof. These, I would only observe, are the Stains of Poetry, contracted
from the Corruption of Heathenism, which infected Religion no less with
its trifling Puerilities; and it is but just that we, upon whom the
clearer Light of Truth has shone, should at length learn to despise such
ridiculous Tales, which, by Repetition, are now grown nauseous; and to
refine Poetry, as well as true Religion, from the Dross and Alloy of

There are some other Things, of less Moment, which I shall pass over
with barely mentioning. Poets had anciently Crowns of Laurel and Ivy,
to denote by those Ever-greens the Immortality they gain to themselves,
and confer on others. Mountains, Groves, and Springs, were sacred to
the Muses, because Poets naturally fly from the Noise and Tumult of the
City, to the peaceful Solitude of the Country; that so, disengaged from
Care and Interruption, they may dedicate the utmost Efforts of Nature to
their beloved Profession: Besides,

    _Carmina secessum scribentis, & otia quærunt_[19]:

    Leisure and green Retreats the Poets court.

Because Verse flows naturally there, and the Fancy is strangely awaken'd
into Poetry with the Pleasures of Solitude around it.

Lastly, Another Question may possibly be ask'd, and deservedly too, (for
it is a Matter of some Importance to know) how far Poetry and Oratory
agree, and wherein they differ. To give a direct Answer to this, we
say, that Eloquence is common to both; Eloquence, therefore, ought to
be consider'd as twofold; that of Oratory, and that of Poetry. Those
Things that come under the Title of Eloquence in general, relate to both
Arts; such as, Topicks of Praise, whether of Persons, Facts, or Things;
Topicks of Exhortation, Congratulation, Consolation, and the like, with
which the Orator, as well as the Poet, excites Anger, Love, Pity, and
all other Passions. Both observe alike a proper Decorum of Manners,
according to Age, Fortune, and Condition of Life. Ardent Expressions,
and lively Thoughts, are the Embellishments of both. In both the Diction
is elevated, or familiar, grave, florid, or strong, as Occasion serves.
For all these Things, as I said before, are Branches of Eloquence in
general, are drawn from the same Heads of Invention, and illustrated
by Examples fetch'd from Orators or Poets. So that it is impossible
almost for him that treats of one of these Arts, not to mention some
Things that are in common to both. However, the Difference between them
is very great; and Poetry has several other Characteristics besides
that of Metre; a Style, for instance, peculiar to itself, Fiction,
copious Descriptions, poetic Fire, and (to add no more) a certain
Licence, denied to Orators, in the due Exercise of which the Poet's Art
is chiefly conspicuous. These are all worthy an accurate and distinct
Consideration, and such an one hereafter, perhaps, they may come under.

The technical Measure of Verses, and the different Sorts of them, I
leave to the Grammarians, whose Business it is to scan Syllables,
to weigh Dactyls and Spondees, Trochees and Iambics; to teach the
Difference between Heroic, Elegiac, Alcaic, Sapphic, Anapæstic Verse,
and many others, with which the fruitful Field of Poetry abounds: Not
that these Things are to be despised: but only as they are more proper
to be taught in the School, than the University. It is not my Business
to dwell upon so barren a Soil, or to trifle my Time about the Externals
of Poetry; but to enter into the Spirit of it, and make Things, not
Words, the Subject of my Enquiries.


[6] Voss. de Art. Poet. &c. p. 21.

[7] Περι ποιητικης, cap. 2.

[8] cap. 1.

[9] De Art. Poet. V. 33.

[10] Ποιεω, in the _Doric_ and _Æolic_ Dialects is writ ποεω,
whence Ποητες, _Poeta_. See _Chishul's Inscript. Sigea_,
§ ult. A _Maker_ in our own Language under Queen _Elizabeth_, was the
common Appellation for a Poet, agreeably to the _Greeks_, with whom,
likewise, the Verb ποιεω simply signified to _make Verses_.
See _Taylor's Lysias_, Ed. 4to, p. 27.

[11] In Aristot. Poet. c. 1.

[12] De Art. Poet. p. 7, 8.

[13] P. 13.

[14] See Voss. de Art. Poet. p. 11.

[15] De Art. Poet. v. 333.

[16] De Art. Poet. p. 78, 79.

[17] P. 80, 81.

[18] Art. Poet. v ℣ 408.

[19] Ov. Trist. 1. El. 1.

                       LECTURE IV, V, VI, VII.
                      _Of the Style of Poetry._

My present Design being to give some Account of the Thought and Diction
peculiar to Poets, I must first premise, that there are many Things
relating to this Subject, which Words can scarce come up to, and are
much better conceived than expressed. Every one will be satisfied of
this, that considers of how delicate a Nature Poetry is; how variously
it diversifies both Words and Things, by such Bounds as have a very
close Connection, upon which, however, the Beauty of the Thought and
Diction often turns[20]. These, tho' clearly enough distinguished in
the Mind; yet, such is the Weakness of Words, can never be explained in
Writing. A true Judgment, duly exercised in reading the best Poets, and
in making proper Reflections upon them, is the only Means of arriving
at this Part of Knowledge. The outer Lines of it, which afford proper
Matter for a Dissertation, I shall endeavour to represent to you, as
well as I can.

But I would here, likewise, farther observe, that Writing and Thinking
are (at least ought to be) so nearly allied, that it is impossible for
any one, in treating of _Style_, not to mention some Things that relate
to _Thought_ likewise. This, therefore, will be my Case. At present,
however, I shall confine my self _chiefly_ to the former, reserving the
latter for another intire Dissertation.

By Style I understand a Method of Writing peculiar to every Writer, Art,
or Science; or that which distinguishes Writings and Writers from one
another. The Beauty of it consists in such a proper Choice of Words, and
in so apt a Connexion of them, as may express the Conceptions of the
Mind clearly, and at the same Time cloathed with a becoming Dignity.
The Style of Poetry is extremely various; because every Species of this
divine Art has a Diction proper to itself; we shall just touch upon
the several Kinds in this Dissertation, as we shall treat more fully,
perhaps, of each, when we come to examine them separately. Our chief
Business, at present, is, to speak of the Style of Poetry in _general_,
and shew wherein the Difference consists between that and Prose.

Now this is so great, that the Poets use many Phrases, even with
the greatest Elegance, which a Prose Writer could not, without the
Imputation of false _Latin_, or the Guilt of Solecism. Instances of such
Expressions, reducible to no certain Rule, are very frequent. To mention
only a few: Adjectives and Participles that describe the Situation or
Part of the Body, very elegantly require the following Noun to be put
in the accusative Case, in Imitation of the _Greek_ Construction; v.g.
_Stratus membra sub arbuto_; _Ære caput refulgens_; _saucius ora_;
_Lacerum crudeliter ora_, and the like[21].

Adjectives of the Neuter Gender, and singular Number, and sometimes of
the plural, are used adverbially. So, _Triste micans_; _Dulce ridentem
Lalagen amabo, dulce loquentem_; _Cometa ferale rubens_; _torva tuentem,

Many Adjectives govern a Genitive, in a Manner altogether poetical.
_Irritus incepti_; _non modicus voti_; _melior dextræ_; _Pubes læta
laborum_; _egregius linguæ_; _Pravus togæ, inglorius ausi_; _anhelus
laboris_; _integer vitæ scelerisque purus_; _lassus maris & viarum,
militiæque_; _seri studiorum_; _fortunatus laborum_; _fessi rerum_;
_trepidi rerum_; and numberless others of the same Sort. Often,
likewise, and with no less Elegance, they govern an Infinitive: _Orpheus
blandus ducere quercus_; _superare pugnis nobilis_; _celer sequi; vultus
nimium lubricus aspici_; _durus componere versus_; _Adria facilis
moveri_; _fortis tractare serpentes_; _doctus Phœbi dicere laudes_;
_cantare periti_; and the like.

Adjectives, and their Substantives, denoting Number and Multitude, are
used in the singular Number: As, _Populus frequens_; _multa rosa_;
_innumera avis_; _quam multo repetet Græcia milite_; _licet illi plurima
manet lacrima_.

To mention but one Observation more: Some Adjectives, which in common
Prose agree with their Substantives, are turned into the Neuter Gender
and plural Number, and the Substantives into the Genitive Case: As,
_Ultima mundi_; _ardua montis_; _cuncta terrarum_; _prospera rerum_;
_dura rerum_; _aspera ponti_; _acuta belli_; _strata viarum_; _opaca
locorum_; and many more to the like Purpose.

It would be endless, to produce all the Examples that come under these
Rules; they abound in every Page almost of the best Poets, especially
the _Lyric:_ For the _Lyrics_ chiefly delight in the true poetic Style,
as may be collected from the Examples I have here produced, most of them
from the Odes of _Horace_. But there are, besides, various poetical
Expressions, which tho' not reducible to any particular Class, yet occur
up and down in Reading, and are worthy of treasuring up in the Memory.
Such are frequent in _Virgil_:

    ----_dederatque comam diffundere ventis_[22].

                            And giv'n the Winds,
    To wanton in her Tresses.

    _Ut cum carceribus sese effudêre quadrigæ,
    Addunt se in spatia, & frustra retinacula tendens
    Fertur equis auriga, neque audit currus habenas_[23].

    As when the Racers from the Barriers start,
    Oft whirling round the Goal, the Charioteer
    Vainly attempts to check the flying Steeds.
    Himself is born away, the dusty Car
    Swift smoaks along, nor bounding hears the Reins.

And many in _Juvenal_:

    _Sic laudamus equum, facilis cui plurima palma
    Fervet, & exultat rauco victoria Circo:
    Nobilis hic, quocunque venit de gramine, cujus
    Clara fuga ante alios, & primus in æquore pulvis_[24].

                        We commend a Horse
    (Without Regard of Pasture, or of Breed)
    For his undaunted Mettle, and his Speed;

    Who wins most Plates, with greatest Ease, and first
    Prints with his Hoofs his Conquest on the Dust.
                                                   _G. Stephens._

But especially in the Prince of the Lyric Poets:

            Janua limen._

    In rusty Silence mourns your Gate. _Oldsworth._

    ----_& ademptus Hector
    Tradidit fessis leviora tolli
            Pergama Graiis._

    _Qua pinus ingens, albaque populus,
    Umbram hospitalem consociare amant
      Ramis, & obliquo laborat
        Lympha fugax trepidare rivo._

    There where the Poplar and the stately Pine
    Meet in a Shade, and closely twine,
    To form the Bow'r with thick entangled Bows,
    And where the limpid Stream in curling Murmurs
       flows. _Oldsworth._

    _Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa
    Perfusus liquidis urget odoribus,
      Grato, Pyrrha, sub antro?
        Cui flavam religas comam,
          Simplex munditiis?_

    Beneath the rosy Bow'r,
      _Chloë_, what am'rous Boy
    Sweet as the dewy Flow'r
        Now tastes your Lips,
            (Delusive Joy!)
    Now leaning on your Breast,
    Urges to be supremely blest?
    For whom do you prepare
      (Neat Negligence of Dress!)
    The Tresses of your golden Hair? _&c._
    _Vivet extento Proculeius ævo,
    Notus in fratres animi paterni;
    Illum aget, penna metuente solvi,
          Fama superstes._

    When Fame of _Proculeius_ sings,
    She mounts on everlasting Wings;
    His free and gen'rous Actions prove
    A Father's in a Brother's Love. _Oldsworth._
    _Brachia, & vultum, teretesque suras,
    Integer laudo; fuge suspicari,
    Cujus octavum trepidavit ætas
          Claudere lustrum._

    Her Face, her Neck, her Breast, her Arms,
    I praise, not taken with her Charms;
      Suspicious Thoughts remove;
    Let almost forty feeble Years
    Secure thy Mind from jealous Fears,
    And tell that _Horace_ is too old for Love.

I shall omit any more Examples; tho' what I have hitherto laid before
you, I dare say, have brought their own Reward with them, as they are
true Specimens of poetic Elegance, and abundantly illustrate what I had
to say upon this Head. To alledge all that relate to it, would be only
to transcribe the greatest Part of the best Poets. And as the Beauty
of the poetic Style chiefly consists in its own Peculiarities, those
that would thoroughly understand it, must endeavour, with Diligence and
Application, to make it familiar to them.

Nor is the Style of Poetry distinct from Oratory in _Greek_ and _Latin_
only; the same Difference runs thro' all Tongues, both modern and
ancient, _English_ as well as foreign. To this is owing that Difficulty,
which the Learners of a new Language complain of much more in reading
the Poets, than the Prose Writers. The Reason why the former use such a
Variety of Style so remote from that of the latter, seems to be owing to
this; that as Poetry requires a peculiar Way of Thinking, it affects,
likewise, a peculiar Manner of Writing and Speaking, that so it may be
set off at as great a Distance from Prose as possible. Besides, as it is
confined within the strict Rules of Measure, it is but just to allow it
a greater Liberty of Diction, and so compensate, in some Degree, that
Inconvenience with this Advantage.

The Expressions I have hitherto produced are purely poetical, which,
beautiful as they are in Verse, if once resolved into Prose, become
flat and insipid; you would acknowledge them, indeed, to be poetical
Materials, but rudely scattered, and disjointed; and, as _Horace_
describes it,

    ----_Invenias disjecti membra Poetæ[31]_.

    Dissected Fragments of a Poet's Limbs.

Other Phrases there are, which tho' not merely poetical, yet are
much more suitable to Verse than Prose: They may well enough be used
sparingly, and with Caution, by an Orator, or an Historian; but if
they occur frequently, they are Blemishes in his Composition, and mere
Affectation. Of this Stamp are, _Campus pinguis sanguine_; the Field now
sated with Blood: _Vela vento turgida_; the turgid Sails: _Duces sordidi
pulvere honesto_, or _non indecora_; with honourable Dust besmeared; and
the like.

But tho' the Expressions above, that are purely poetical, or that are
chiefly so, conduce much to the Beauty of a Poem, yet good Verse may be
made of those only that are common to all Kinds of Writing. For Proof of
this one Example shall suffice, from the Odes of _Horace_:

    _Sæpius ventis agitatur ingens_[32]
    _Pinus, & celsæ graviore casu
    Decidunt turres, feriuntque summos
          Fulmina montes._

    Storms often vex the stately Oak,
    High Mountains feel the Thunder's Stroke;
    And lofty Tow'rs, when Winds prevail,
    Are ruin'd with the greater Fall.

In these Verses, tho' truly beautiful, there is not so much as one
Phrase, not one Word, but what might with Propriety be used in Prose.
It is observable, however, that even these, and the like Expressions,
when transposed, and taken out of Metre, lose all their Elegance: For
tho' every Word, considered in itself, is agreeable to either Style, yet
there is somewhat so distinguishing in the poetical, as throws a Beauty
upon Words, which, out of Metre, would appear insipid, or absurd; and
yet, tho' we are sensible of the Thing, it is impossible to assign a
Reason for it.

Another Peculiarity there is in the Style of Poetry, that a Thing is
often express'd, not by Name, but by some concomitamt Circumstance, or
Adjunct belonging to it; by which Means the Mind is led on to an entire
Conception of it, by pleasing Intervals, as it were, and a successive
Gradation of Thought. Thus _Virgil_,

    _Depresso incipiat jam tum mihi taurus aratro
    Ingemere, & sulco attritus splendescere vomer._

                Ev'n then my Steers and Plough,
    In the deep Furrows shall begin to groan.


    ----_prunis lapidosa rubescere corna._

    And on the Plumbs the stony Cornel grew.

And in the same Book,

    _Impositos duris crepitare incudibus enses._

                       Nor the Spatt'ring of the Steel,
    On Anvils form'd, and hammer'd into Swords.

These, perhaps, and the like, might be reduced to the Head of
Descriptions; but they are very short and imperfect ones, and, if I may
so speak, are from their very Imperfection the more perfect. The Mind
of Man does not love to have every Thing too minutely laid before it;
it pleases itself in having Room for Exercise, and to walk alone, as it
were, without leading.

There are many other Things, which Poets chuse to express
paraphrastically, and in short Descriptions, rather than in simple
Terms. Every Body is acquainted with the usual little Images they
give us (the larger ones I have at present nothing to do with) of the
Morning, Night, Noon, and Evening; as

    _Oceanum interea surgens Aurora reliquit._

    Mean while Aurora rising from the Sea.
    _Vertitur interea cœlum, & ruit Oceano nox._

    Mean while the Hemisphere rolls round, and Night
    Swift rushes from the Sea.
    _Nunc etiam pecudes umbras & frigora captant,
    Nunc virides etiam occultant spineta lacertas._

    Our Cattle now the cooling Shades enjoy,
    Now the green Lizards lurk in prickly Brakes.

    _Et jam summa procul villarum culmina fumant,
    Majoresque cadunt altis de montibus umbræ._

    And now the Village Tops at Distance smoke.
    And lofty Shades from lofty Mountains fall.

So of Winter, Summer, Spring, and Autumn; as,

    _Vere novo, gelidus canis cum montibus humor
    Liquitur, & Zephyro putris se gleba resolvit._

    With Spring's first Op'ning, when dissolving Snows
    From hoary Mountains run, and _Zephyr_ slacks
    The crumbling Glebe.
    ----_Jam venit Æstas
    Torrida, jam læto turgent in palmite gemmæ._

                   Now scorching Summer comes,
    And in the fruitful Tendrils swells the Gems.

Numberless other Descriptions there are of this Sort, which we admire in
Poetry, and yet in Prose we should laugh at.

'Tis usual, likewise, in Poetry, (which is another Peculiarity) to
denote Men, Places, Rivers, Mountains, by various Names taken from any
of their Adjuncts. This is so well known, that I have no need, out of
the Multitude of Examples, to produce any. 'Tis no less common to put
Particulars for Generals; thus _Virgil_:

    ----_Vestro si munere tellus
    Chaoniam pingui glandem mutavit arista,
    Poculaque inventis Acheloïa miscuit uvis._

                          If the Earth
    By your Indulgence chang'd _Chaonian_ Mast
    For Corn, and from the new discoulour'd Grape
    With _Acheloïan_ Bev'rage mingled Wine.

And in another Place,

    ----_Quot Ionii veniant ad littora fluctus,_

    How many Waves roll to th'_Ionian_ Shore.

So _Horace_,

    ----_Tristitiam & metus
    Tradam protervis in mare Creticum
    Portare ventis._----

    To _Cretan_ Seas I give my Cares,
    The Sport of wanton Winds.


    ----_Nec mare Caspium
    Vexant inæquales procellæ._

    Nor ruffling Storms still toss the _Caspian_ Floods.

And a little after,

    ----_Aut Aquilonibus
    Querceta Gargani laborant._

    Nor the bleak North torments th'_Appulian_ Woods.

Not a little elegant is this Manner of Writing, since, by an agreeable
Variety of Particulars, it continually represents to the Mind somewhat
new, and sets before it fresh Entertainment; whereas Generals, being
always the same, grow cold and lifeless, by their too frequent

Tho' Oratory may seem to be more adapted to express our Conceptions, as
being not confined by the Fetters of Metre; yet Poetry, it is certain,
makes a stronger Impression upon the Mind, and conveys a livelier Image
to the Imagination, and that at once with such Elegance and Brevity,
as the Force of Prose can never come up to. In Proof of this, I might
produce Multitudes of Examples; but none more full than that of _Horace_,

    Pulchrior multo, juvenumque prodis
          Publica cura._

    And still shine out more bright and fair,
    The publick Grief, and publick Care.

A Passage, this, entirely poetical, and not only beautiful in itself,
but more proper to convey an Idea of the Thing intended, than all that
the Power of Oratory can furnish.

To the Style of Poetry _Descriptions_ likewise are almost peculiar.
'Tis true, they occur frequently in Prose; but then they are used
either with Impropriety, or with Caution; or the Writings themselves
are of a Kind that borders near upon Poetry, and therefore borrows
Descriptions from it. Historians, indeed, describe Things, Places, and
Persons; but not so much for the Sake of Ornament, as Necessity; that
the Series of their Narration may appear clear and perspicuous to their
Readers. Orators likewise attempt Descriptions, when they have Occasion
for them to work upon the Passions. But neither the one nor the other
affect them as a Decoration to their Writings, which Poets generally
do very successfully, making use of these sort of Colourings, either
of general Things or Particulars, in Miniature or at full Length, as
Occasion serves, not only with a Design to move the Passions, but to
please the Fancy. Great Judgment is required in the due Exercise of
this Art, and a puerile Wit never betrays itself more apparently, than
by forcing in Descriptions, out of mere Ostentation, that have no
Connection with the Subject, and are consequently a Burden to it. But
nothing is more beautiful, when a proper Choice is made of them; nothing
more agreeable to the Nature of Poetry; few Things more peculiar to it.
A Prose Writer does not only on Purpose use fewer Descriptions than
the Poet, but in Reality is less capable of them. The very Essence of
Poetry consists chiefly in Imitation; and such a Power it has in placing
Things before the Eye of the Reader, as Prose entirely wants; and can
be conceived only, not expressed[48]. An Historian might record the
Omens and Prodigies that attended the Death of _Julius Cæsar_; but it
is impossible he should come up to that admirable Description of them
_Virgil_ has left us. He might recount, for instance, the surprizing
Eruption of Mount _Ætna_; but could never find out Words to represent it
in so lively Colours as these,

    ----_Quoties Cyclopum effervere in agros
    Vidimus undantem, ruptis fornacibus, Ætnam,
    Flammarumque globos, liquefactaque volvere saxa?_

          How oft have we beheld
    Loud thund'ring _Ætna_ from Vulcano's burst,
    Deluge with liquid Fire Cyclopean Fields,
    And toss huge Balls of Flame, and molten Stones?

Were an Historian to relate the Circumstance, in the Fourth Book of
_Virgil_'s _Æneis_, he would tell us at once, that _Dido_ had struggled
long with a secret Passion for _Æneas_; but no Expressions out of
Verse, could fix in the Mind so strong a Sense of that inward Disease
with which she labour'd, as those wonderful Lines at the Beginning of
the Narrative:

    _At Regina, gravi jamdudum saucia cura,
    Vulnus alit venis, & cæco carpitur igni._

    But with consuming Care the restless Queen,
    Already bleeding, nourishes a Wound.

And what follows, all the Efforts of Prose can never equal: That,
particularly, which the Poet subjoins, after he had described her
sacrificing to the Gods, and consulting the Oracle:

    _Heu! vatum ignaræ mentes! quid vota furentem,
    Quid delubra juvant? est mollis flamma medullas
    Interea, & tacitum vivit sub pectore vulnus._

          Wretched the Ignorance
    Of Augurs! what, alas! do Vows or Shrines
    Avail, to heal her Frenzy? A soft Flame
    Feeds on her Vitals, and a living Wound
    Silent, uneven, bleeds inward in her Breast.

The whole Description is wonderful, and sufficiently testifies the Power
of Poetry, beyond that of Prose. I beg Leave, however, to add one or two
Instances more. The Poet describing the Queen just dying for Love, adds,

    _Nunc eadem, labente die, convivia quærit;
    Iliacosque iterum demens audire labores
    Exposcit, pendetque iterum narrantis ab ore._

          At Ev'ning she renews
    Her Banquets; fondly begs again to hear
    The Trojan Wars; again, while he relates,
    She listens fix'd, and hangs upon the Sound.

And a few Lines after:

    _Sola domo mœret vacua, stratisque relictis
    Incubat; illum absens absentem auditque videtque;
    Aut gremio Ascanium, genitoris imagine capta,
    Detinet, infandum si fallere possit amorem._

    Lonely she pines within the empty Court,
    Lies on the Couch which just before she left;
    Him absent, absent still, she hears and sees.
    Sometimes his Father's Image all her Soul
    Possessing, young _Ascanius_ on her Lap
    She long detains; if possible, to cheat,
    With that Amusement, her unbounded Love.

Among the other fatal Predictions of the unhappy Queen's Death, an
Historian might mention the foreboding Noise of the Scrietch-Owl; but
would fall infinitely short of the inexpressible Elegance with which it
is described in the two following Lines:

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

              And on her Palace-Top
    The lonely Owl, with oft repeated Scream,
    Complains, and spins into a dismal Length
    Her baleful Shrieks.

I have produced, perhaps, already, too many Examples; but I cannot
forbear adding one more, which exceeds Admiration itself: It is the
Description of _Tityos_, in the Sixth _Æneid_, suffering Punishment in
the Shades below.

    _Necnon & Tityon, terræ omniparentis alumnum,
    Cernere erat: per tota novem cui jugera corpus
    Porrigitur; rostroque immanis vultur obunco
    Immortale jecur tundens, fœcundaque pœnis
    Viscera, rimaturque epulis, habitatque sub alto
    Pectore; nec fibris requies datur ulla renatis._

    There _Tityus_, Son of the all-bearing Earth,
    One might behold: Whose Body's monstrous Bulk
    Lies stretch'd o'er nine whole Acres; and a huge
    Portentous Vulture, with her hooky Beak
    Pouncing his everlasting Liver, thrives
    Upon his Entrails, fruitful of their Pains;
    Rummages for her Meals, inhabits deep
    Beneath his Breast; nor do the Fibres find
    The least Relief from Torment still renew'd.

From the whole, I suppose it abundantly plain, that there is an Energy
in the poetic Style, as it is much more adapted to copying Nature, than
Oratory is, with all its Rhetoric.

[Sidenote: _Fifth Lecture._]

'Tis farther to be observed, that figurative Expressions are far more
frequent in Poetry, than Prose, as they are far more suitable to it;
because it consists much more in the Embellishments of Style, in the
Liveliness of Description, and impressing the Images of Things upon the
Imagination. For tho' it rejects all false Colouring, and too great
Affectation of Pomp, yet from the very Nature of it we may judge it
takes in more real Ornaments than Prose. As to _Tropes_ or _Figures_, as
they are usually called, many of them are never used in Oratory, some
but seldom, and very sparingly; others, again, agree naturally with it,
particularly, the _Irony_, _Metonymy_, _Synechdoche_, and _Metaphor_.
Tho' the last of these, for the Reason before alledg'd, is more the
Property of Poetry. Some of the Figures are so familiar, and natural,
that they are every Day used in common Speech, even by the Vulgar, of
which Sort we may reckon those above, and some others. Metaphors never
fail of being beautiful, when applied with mature Judgment, and a lively
Wit; that is, when they are drawn from Nature, connect Ideas that have a
due Relation to each other, and are not too much wrested to a foreign
Sense. But nothing is more insipid, more ridiculous, or absurd, when
these Rules are transgress'd in the Choice of them; which is the Case,
very often, of our modern Writers, to their eternal Disgrace.

Nothing can shew more the Elegance of Metaphors, and their Agreement
with Nature, than those that are taken from Men and living Creatures,
and applied to Trees and Plants. For as these have a sort of Life
ascrib'd to them (call'd the vegetative) and are really endued with it;
the Transition is easy to Creatures of a higher Rank, that are endued
with it in a more proper Sense. Hence we hear so often, not only among
the Poets, but in Prose, and even in common Conversation, of Trees and
Plants being _alive_ or _dead_, _healthy_ or _sickly_. Nay, often human
Passions and Affections are attributed to them: Plants, in particular
(to omit other Instances) are often said to _love_ or _hate_ this Soil
or that. So _Virgil_, speaking of them,

    _Sponte sua quæ se tollunt in luminis auras,
    Infœcunda quidem, sed læta, & fortia, surgunt._

    Those which unbidden spring to upper Air,
    Steril, indeed, but strong and healthy rise.

And afterwards,

    _Exuerint silvestrem animum, cultuque frequenti,
    In quascunque voces artes, haud tarda sequentur._

                           Will in Time unlearn
    Their salvage Temper, and not slow obey
    With frequent Culture, what your Art commands.

Again, in the same Book,

    _Inque novos soles audent se gramina tuto
    Credere, nec metuit surgentes pampinus Austros._

          To new Suns the Herbs
    Dare trust themselves; nor aught the tender Vine
    From rising _Auster_ fears.

There are many other Metaphors of different Kinds, which tho' they may
seem, as indeed they are, a little of the boldest, yet are agreeable to
Nature, and true Elegance. As that of _Virgil_,

    _Insequitur nimbus peditum_;

    A Storm of Foot succeeds.

And in another Place,

    ----_It toto turbida cælo
    Tempestas telorum, & ferreus ingruit imber._

    An Iron Tempest, and a Storm of Darts
    Hovers aloft, and blackens all the Sky.

These lofty Metaphors, however, are to be used with great Judgment, for
fear they should seem too far fetch'd, and the Style more swelling than

As I am now upon the Subject of Figures, I can't help making a Remark
or two on those Books of Rhetorick that are usually read in Schools.
They contain, indeed, many Things of Use, and worthy of Observation: But
surely there's no Necessity that an Art designed for the Refinement of
the Minds of Youth, should be treated of in so rough a Method, so full
of dry, logical Definitions, as must be hard for Boys to understand,
and much harder to remember. Nor is there any Need of all those
Sub-divisions of Figures, one under another, which, when Boys have once
made themselves Masters of, before they have Judgment enough to use
them, they think their Business is to adorn their little Performances
with these sort of Flowers, as they call them, and fling them in, at
any Rate, without any Regard to Propriety: Their Style, by being thus
overcharged, as it were, instead of appearing with fresh Vigour,
abounds only with disagreeable Excrescencies. A Knowledge of these
Things will be much better arrived at by Experience, than Precept: And
every one that is conversant with the best Authors, that reads them with
Understanding, and true Relish, cannot but be acquainted with all the
Figures of Speech, and the Art of using them, tho' he never heard so
much as their Names, or their Definitions.

It is common with all Sorts of Writers to express the same Thing by
different Modes of Speech, and such Variety is often reckoned a Proof
of their Elegance. Now Poets have in this Particular a greater Liberty
allow'd them, than any other Writers, for the Reason I have often
mention'd, because their Works consist more in Ornament and Decoration.
But the Exercise of this Liberty ought to be conducted with great
Judgment and Caution; lest, by an ill Use of it, the Style grow too
luxuriant. The just Medium, and the vicious Extreme, cannot be better
learnt than by making a Comparison between _Virgil_ and _Ovid_. Both
of them, you'll see, express the same Thought different Ways; the one
never fails of Beauty, the other falsly aims at it. _Ovid_ tells you
the very same Thing, in many Words, and sometimes with very little
Difference between them: _Virgil_ illustrates one Thing in _general_,
by distinguishing its several Species or Adjuncts, and his Description
of each is perfectly new. A few Examples, out of many, will make this
plain. Says _Ovid_,

    _Omnia pontus erat, deerant quoque littora ponto._

    For all was Sea, nor had the Sea a Shore. _Sandys._

And in another Place,

    _O! ego quantum egi! quam vasta potentia nostra est!_

    What Feats I've wrought! how mighty is my Pow'r!

And in the next Verse almost,

    ----_Sic est mea magna potestas._

    ----So mighty is my Pow'r.

In the Sixth Book _Niobe_ magnifying her own Happiness, and extolling
herself above Measure, boasts thus,

    _Sum felix; quis enim negat hoc? felixque manebo;
    Hoc quoque quis dubitat? tutam me copia fecit.
    Major sum quam cui possit Fortuna nocere_; &c.
    _Excessere metum bona jam mea_, &c.

    Thrice happy I, for who can that contest?
    Or who deny that I shall long be blest?
    By Plenty crown'd I dread no Change of Fate,
    Despise both Fortune's Friendship, and her Hate.
    My Bliss is plac'd above the Reach of Fear, &c.

But to omit other Instances, only take a View of _Narcissus_ in the same
Poet, desperately in Love with himself:

    _Cunctaque miratur, quibus est mirabilis ipse;
    Se cupit imprudens, & qui probat ipse probatur.
    Dumque petit, petitur; pariterque accendit & ardet:_ &c.
    _Atque oculos idem qui decipit, incitat, error._

    By his own Flames consum'd the Lover lies,
    And gives himself the Wound by which he dies.


And afterwards, as if all he had done was nothing, he only changes the
Person, and brings in _Narcissus_ himself speaking thus:

    _Ille ego sum, sensi; nec me mea fallit imago;
    Uror amore mei, flammas moveoque, feroque;
    Quid faciam? roger? anne rogem? quid deinde rogabo?
    Quod cupio mecum est; inopem me copia fecit._

    Ah! wretched me, I now begin, too late,
    To find out all the long perplex'd Deceit:
    It is myself I love, myself I see,
    The gay Delusion is a Part of me.
    I kindle up the Fires by which I burn,
    And my own Beauties from the Well return.
    Whom shou'd I court? how utter my Complaint?   }
    Enjoyment but produces my Restraint,           }
    And too much Plenty makes me die for Want,     }

Very justly may the last Words, with some small Alteration, be applied
to _Ovid_ himself, in whom a Fecundity of Words occasioned a Barrenness
of Sense. How far is this from him, _qui nil molitur inepte_, who ne'er
attempts a Thought in vain? _Virgil_, I mean, much better entitled, in
my Opinion, to that Character, than he for whom _Horace_ design'd it.
With how much greater Propriety does that divine Poet express the same
Thing in different Ways, where he describes the Manner of Grafting and

    _Et sæpe alterius ramos impune videmus
    Vertere in alterius; mutatamque insita mala
    Ferre pyrum, & prunis lapidosa rubescere corna._

    Oft too we see one Tree's ingrafted Sprays
    Change to another's, nor repent that Change.
    The Pear's hard Trunk with alien Apples bend:
    And on the Plumb's the stony Cornel grew.

    _Inseritur vero ex fœtu nucis arbutus horrida;
    Et steriles platani malos gessere valentes,
    Castaneæ fagos; ornusque incanuit albo
    Flore pyri, glandemque sues fregere sub ulmis._

    But with a Filberd's Twig the prickly Arbutus
    Is grafted: Oft the barren Plane has borne
    The ruddiest Apples: Chesnuts bloom'd on Beech,
    The wild Ash blossom'd with the Flow'rs of Pears,
    Snow-white; and Swine crack'd Acorns under Elms.

By this Comparison of _Ovid_ and _Virgil_, how tedious seem the
Trifles, and how nauseous the Repetitions of the former; how various
the Description, how diffusive, and yet how chaste the Elegance of the
latter? The one with wonderful Art represents, as I said, the same
Thing, or the same Thought, by different Species or Adjuncts; the other
gives you the same Thing ten Times over, under the very same Species,
by changing the Words only; from which superabundant Luxuriance, as his
Style must needs want Nerves, so must his Readers Patience. I would not,
however, condemn it throughout; he has many Passages that are worthy of
Praise, and some, of _Virgil_ himself. Of this Sort is that Description
of the Fate of _Niobe_'s Children:

    _E quibus Ismenos, qui matris sarcina quondam
    Prima suæ fuerat, certum dum flectit in orbem
    Quadrupedis cursus, spumantiaque ora coërcet;
    Hei mihi! conclamat: medioque in pectore fixa
    Tela gerit, frœnisque manu moriente remissis,
    In latus à dextro paulatim defluit armo._

    Of these _Ismenos_, who by Birth had been
    The first fair Issue of the fruitful Queen,
    Just as he drew the Rein, to guide his Horse
    Around the Compass of the circling Course,
    Sigh'd deeply, and the Pangs of Smart express'd,
    While the Shaft stuck engorg'd within his Breast:
    And the Reins dropping from his dying Hand,
    Gently he fell upon the yielding Sand.

But in many Places, it must be own'd, he is guilty of that Luxuriance I
just now mention'd; I cannot, therefore, sufficiently wonder at their
Ignorance, who presume to compare him to _Virgil_. But of this, perhaps,
I shall have a more convenient Opportunity hereafter; when I make a
farther Comparison between some other Authors. I beg Leave, at present,
as I have cited a remarkable Place out of _Virgil_'s _Georgics_, to
present you with one or two more, that are no less deserving your
Attention: I am sure, nothing can shew the Force and Elegance of the
poetic Style, more than what that Model of Perfection has left us, even
upon the plainest, and most ignoble Subject. Among his Precepts of
Agriculture, he gives you these, in the following Words:

    _Sæpe etiam steriles incendere profuit agros,
    Atque levem stipulam crepitantibus urere flammis.
    Sive inde occultas vires & pabula terræ
    Pinguia concipiunt; sive illis omne per ignem
    Excoquitur vitium, atque exudat inutilis humor:
    Seu plures calor ille vias, & cæca relaxat
    Spiramenta, novas veniat qua sucrus in herbas;
    Seu durat magis, & venas astringit hiantes_, &c.

    Oft too it has been painful found, to burn
    The barren Fields with Stubble's crackling Flames.
    Whether from thence they secret Strength receive,
    And richer Nutriment: Or by the Fire
    All latent Mischief, and redundant Juice,
    Oozing sweats off; or whether the same Heat
    Opens the hidden Pores, that new Supplies
    Of Moisture may refresh the recent Blades:
    Or hardens more, and with astringent Force
    Closes the gaping Veins: _&c._

Nothing can exceed the Beauty of this Passage, unless that where he
describes the various Methods of Grafting and Inoculating:

    _Nec modus inserere, atque oculos imponere simplex;
    Nam qua se medio trudunt de cortice gemmæ,
    Et tenues rumpunt tunicas, augustus in ipso
    Fit nodo sinus; huc aliena ex arbore germen
    Includunt, udoque docent inolescere libro.
    Aut rursum enodes trunci resecantur, & alte
    Finditur in solidum cuneis via: deinde feraces
    Plantæ immittuntur; nec longum tempus, & ingens
    Exiit ad cœlum ramis felicibus arbos,
    Miraturque novas frondes, & non sua poma._

    Nor single is the Manner to ingraft,
    Or to inoculate. For where the Gems
    Bud from the middle Bark, and gently burst
    The filmy Coats; ev'n in the Knot is made
    A small Incision: From an alien Tree
    An Eye is here enclos'd, and taught to grow
    Congenial, blending with the humid Rind.
    Or else into the knotless solid Trunk
    They force a Cleft with Wedges; then insert
    The fertile Sprigs: Nor long the Time; to Heav'n
    The Tree with loaden Branches shoots away,
    Admires new Leaves, and Apples not her own.

I hope I shall deserve your Pardon for producing these Examples; they
are of no ordinary Nature, for that very Reason because their Subject
is so. I know very well, how absurd it would be to repeat to you, upon
this Head, all the beautiful Passages that occur in the best Poets: What
else would this be, but to transcribe the greatest Part of them? But I
thought it not improper to give you these Specimens from the _Georgics_,
that you might view in them the Force of Poetry and _Virgil_, who was
able to throw such a Splendor upon so mean Materials, and make them at
once the Pleasure and Envy of Posterity.

To shun the Repetition of the same Words, as much as possible, is a
Precept not only applicable to Poets, but to all other Writers; because
the same Sounds tire the Ears of the Reader. Here those Figures of
Elegance, the _Epizeuxis_ and _Anadiplosis_, are manifestly excepted.
Some, however, out of a Detestation of this Fault, fall into a greater;
and in their Zeal for Variety, by wresting Words from their natural
Signification, are guilty of the very worst Fault in Writing, Obscurity.
The best Writers never run into this Extreme, but chuse rather to
repeat the same Words, than use others in an improper Sense, as may be
seen very frequently in _Virgil_. It is probable, indeed, a Desire of
Elegance first brought in a Diversity of Words; for if Convenience only
were considered, each Conception of the Mind would have but a single
Word appropriated to it: Whereas now, in learning a new Language, to
our great Trouble we find many Words affixed to one Idea, or many Ideas
to one Word. Nor is Disagreeableness of Sound to be avoided only in the
Repetition of the same Words, but often (for the Rule does not always
hold) in using different Words of the same Termination. As these in

    ----_tarda per densa cadavera prorâ._

'Tis certain, in poetical Compositions we ought to have great Regard
to Harmony, and to endeavour to captivate the Ear, as well as please
the Imagination of our Readers. For tho' nothing is more contemptible
than _versus inopes rerum, nugæque canoræ, poor shallow Verse, mere
bubbling Trifles_, that have no other Recommendation but Sound; yet they
err, on the other Hand, who have a View only to the Sense, and none to
the Musick that should echo to it. This was the Case of many of our
Countrymen, of _Couley_, particularly, and others of the last Age; who,
studious only for the Beauty of Thought, neglected, or did not rightly
understand the Melody of Verse: Till at length our _Dryden_ arose, who
added to _English_ Poetry what it only wanted, Numbers, Harmony, and
Accuracy; by which Means, if we are not too partial in our Judgment of
ourselves, it now bears the Laurel from all the Nations in _Europe_.

The best Poets among the Antients were solicitous about the Disposal of
their Words, as well as the Choice of them. It is an Elegance, which,
tho' often unobserved, pleases the Mind insensibly. And yet any one,
with the least Attention, will perceive, that there's not a little
Difference, whether the same Word is placed in one Part of a Verse, or
another. How much, for Instance; would that of _Virgil_

    _Admonet in somnis, & turbida terret imago_

suffer in the Change, if it were read,

    ----_& imago turbida terret!_

Various Examples there are, of this Sort, which it would be needless
to alledge. But I would here observe, that the Harmony of Verse does
not only consist in its being free from all Asperity, and flowing
gently with one steddy Course: Some Asperity is often necessary; a
Poem may labour for the Want of, and offend the Ears even with its
Smoothness. Many, therefore, much wrong their Judgment, who prefer
_Ovid_, _Claudian_, and others, to _Virgil_, on this Account; because,
forsooth, they find less Roughness in their Verse: Whereas the very
Want of this is their Defect; and _Virgil_ does not more excel them
in Versification, than in every other Requisite of a good Poet. He is
generally harmonious, full, and fluent; and if he does not always keep
one even Tenor, this is not owing to any Inability, but, as we observed
before, in another Particular, the Effect of his Choice. He knew it
would be more grateful to his Reader to change, now and then, the usual
Smoothness of Style, and mix with it somewhat of an agreeable Harshness.
His Periods, likewise, he concludes very variously; generally, indeed,
where the Verse ends, but often in different Parts of it, with this
Foot or that, as the Sound requires. In the Conduct of this Variety, of
as small a Moment as it may seem, there's no little Labour, nor less
Elegance. It is rarely aimed at by _Ovid_, _Claudian_, _Statius_, and
the rest, who fall short of _Virgil_ in that boasted Sweetness of Verse,
whenever his Subject demands it of him. It is a great Mistake to think
_Ovid_'s Negligence is a Matter of Merit, and that his Verses flow with
the more Ease, for his Want of Care in their Composition; because, as
it is urged, they are not so much the Effect of Study, as of Nature.
Every Excellence in Writing must proceed from both; the more a Poem is
laboured, the more natural it shall often seem; and its Stiffness may
be owing to Neglect. To illustrate what I have said of _Virgil_, by one
Example, out of many: In which of the abovemention'd Poets shall we
find any Lines, I will not say that exceed in Harmony and Softness his
Description of _Orpheus_ and _Eurydice_, but come near it? The whole is
sweet; but nothing can be more so than the following Part of it.

    _Illa quidem Stygia nabat jam frigida cymba:
    Septem illum totos perhibent ex ordine menses,
    Rupe sub aëria, deserti ad Strymonis undam,
    Flevisse, & gelidis hæc evolvisse sub antris,
    Mulcentem tigres, & agentem carmine quercus.
    Qualis populea mœrens Philomela sub umbra
    Amissos queritur fœtus, quos durus arator,
    Observans, nido implumes detraxit; at illa
    Flet noctem, ramoque sedens miserabile carmen
    Integrat, & mœstis late loca questibus implet._

    She, shiv'ring, in the _Stygian_ Sculler sail'd:
    He, sev'n whole Months, 'tis said, beneath a bleak
    Aerial Cliff, on _Strymon_'s Desart Bank,
    Wept lonesome; and in freezing Caves revolv'd
    This mournful Tale; while crouding Oaks admir'd
    His Lays, and Tygers soften'd at the Sound.
      As when, complaining in melodious Groans,
    Sweet _Philomel_ beneath a Poplar Shade,
    Mourns her lost Young; which some rough Village Hind
    Observing, from their Nest, unfledg'd, has stole:
    She weeps all Night; and perch'd upon a Bough,
    With plaintive Notes repeated fills the Grove.

In reading these, and the like Passages, how naturally may we apply to
the Poet, what he does to his _Daphnis_?

    _Tale tuum carmen nobis, divine poeta,
    Quale sopor fessis in gramine, quale per æstum
    Dulcis aquæ saliente sitim restinguere rivo._

    Such, heav'nly Poet, is thy Verse to me,
    As Slumbers to the Weary on the Grass;
    Such as fresh purling Rills, in Summer's Heat,
    To thirsty Travellers.

And again,

    _Nam neque me tantum venientis sibilus Austri,
    Nec percussa juvant fluctu tam littora, nec quæ
    Saxosas inter decurrunt flumina valles._

                       For neither does the Breeze
    Of whisp'ring _Zephyr_, when it rises fresh,
    Bless me so much: Nor Waves that beat the Shore;
    Nor Rivers, which thro' stony Vallies glide.

Whether it was from Chance, or Design, that these Verses, by their very
Sound, represent the Thing they describe, is not worth enquiring. It
is certain, some Words are so naturally formed for this Purpose, and
Poetry for the proper Disposal of them, that this Felicity can't well
be avoided; and 'tis to Chance alone we are often indebted for these
beautiful Echo's. Sometimes, however, they are the undoubted Effect of
Art. Whence soever they proceed, they frequently occur, and are an ample
Proof of the Force and Elegance of the poetic Style. That of _Virgil_ is
well known, where we see the Ox knock'd down, and hear the Noise of his
sudden Fall, and lumpish Weight,

    _Sternitur, exanimisque tremens procumbit humi bos._

                       Down falls the Beast
    Dead, trembling, to the Ground.

In the same Book, in the Description of the Naval Course, we have the
following Lines:

    _Ille inter navemque Gyæ scopulosque sonantes
    Radit iter lævum interior, subitusque priorem
    Præterit, & metis tenet æquora tuta relictis._
    He betwixt _Gyas_, and the sounding Rocks,
    Interior, skims the Left Hand Way, and swift
    Outstrips his Rival, and beyond the Goal
    Smooth shoots along, and gains the safer Seas.

What could better express the swift Motion with which the Ship brush'd
by its Rival, and sail'd away clear of the Shelves, into the open Sea.
In the last Verse, particularly, the Words seem with their Briskness to
protrude one another, and skim away to the Goal. In another Part of the
Description the same Image is thus represented:

    _Agmine remorum celeri, ventisque vocatis,
    Prona petit maria, & pelago decurrit aperto._

                      With his rowing Crowd,
    And all the Winds invited to his Sails,
    Gains the prone Deep, and swiftly shoots away
    Upon the Ocean.

After this, follows that beautiful Comparison of the sailing of this
Ship, and the Flight of the Dove, the Swiftness and Evenness of which is
thus most admirably express'd:

    ----_Mox aëre lapsa quieto
    Radit iter liquidum, celeres neque commovet alas._

    Then smoothly gliding thro' the quiet Air,
    Skims the thin Way, nor moves her nimble Wings.

On the other Hand, how clearly do we see the dishonourable Tardiness
with which the inglorious Ship drags on, after she had bulged upon the

    _Cum savo à scepulo multa vix arte revulsus,
    Amissis remis, atque ordine debilis uno,
    Irrisam, sine honore, ratem Sergestus agebat._

                  When with much Art and Pain,
    Torn from the cruel Rock his Oars half lost,
    And one Side maim'd, _Sergestus_ tugg'd along
    His slow dishonour'd Skiff.

Can any Thing move slower than the Verse, or with greater Art? But what
deserves all Admiration, or rather what exceeds it, is, the same Poet's
Description of the Giants Attempt against Heaven, by heaping Mountain
upon Mountain.

    _Ter sunt conati imponere Pelio Ossam
    Scilicet, atque Ossæ frondosum involvere Olympum._

    Thrice they assay'd on _Pelion_ to heave
    _Ossa_; on _Ossa_ still more high to roll
    Woody _Olympus_.

How the Verse labours! _Conati imponere--Pelio Ossam_--Without any
Elision of the Vowels, it moves on with Difficulty, and totters, as it
were, with an unweildy Load, to represent to us the stupendous Image
of the straining of the Giants. In the Words, _atque Ossæ frondosum
involvere Olympum_, there seems to be a Redundancy of Syllables, and we
see in them the enormous Superstructure rise higher and higher, by one
Layer of Mountains heaped upon another.

Since, then, it is the Nature of Poetry to express the Things it
describes by the very Sound of the Verse; how little Share of the
Spirit of it have they, who, by an unnatural Constraint, smother their
Thoughts with Words that are dumb to the Sense? And yet this is a Fault
many are guilty of; who will set before you a rapid Torrent in the slow
Length of an _Alexandrine_; rural Pleasures, in Words that represent the
Clangor of a Trumpet; the Din of War, with the soft and easy Strain of
Elegy; the Triumphs of Love, with the rough and unpolish'd Address of a
Clown; and debase this divine Art with a thousand such Contradictions.
A Lover of _Virgil_, that reads him with Discernment, will never fall
into these, and the like Enormities; for which Reason, 'tis from him I
produced the several Examples that have illustrated each Part of this
Dissertation. No one can have Reason to complain of their Number; for
nothing else could have so display'd the hidden Charms of Poetry. Let me
recommend it, therefore, to my young Audience, who are fired with the
Love of so engaging an Art, to make him the Bent of all their Care and
Application; let _Virgil_ be often in your Hand, and never out of your

    _Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna._

    Read him by Day, and meditate by Night.

[Sidenote: _Sixth Lecture._]

It is a common Opinion, that those mutilated Verses that occur up and
down in the _Æneis_, were left so by the Author out of Design, and to
add a certain Beauty to his Style. I am rather inclined to think them
the Marks of an imperfect Work, and that they would have been fill'd up
by the Author, if he had put his last Hand to that divine Performance.
It is an agreed Point, that the _Georgics_ are more correct than the
_Æneis_; now in them we don't find any of these Mutilations, and in the
_Æneis_ one that leaves the Sense imperfect. In a Place or two, indeed,
some seeming Reason may be assign'd for this sudden breaking off; _viz._
to represent more naturally the Thing in Description. As in this:

    _Italiam non sponte sequor_----

    'Tis with Regret I seek
    Th' _Italian_ Coasts.

Tho' even here, I would observe by the Way, the unalterable Resolution
of _Æneas_, and his abrupt leaving the Queen, might have been express'd
as well, if his Speech had ended where it does now, and the Verse been
continued on afterwards. It is certain, no good Account can be given of
most of these _Hiatus's_; and therefore it is very difficult to find out
the Elegance of them. There may be a Grace, possibly, in some seeming
Defects; as in those false Quantities, which _Virgil_ sometimes, but
sparingly admits, to awaken in his Reader an Attention to the Rules of
Poetry, by so becoming a Violation of them. But tho' a Lisp, a Mole,
or a slight Cast of the Eye, may add new Beauties to the Beautiful,
Lameness and Deformity never can.

But whatever is the Determination concerning _Virgil_ (for I would not
be too peremptory in mine) modern Writers, and especially those of our
own Country, take, undoubtedly, too great a Liberty in imitating him,
who purposely leave many half Lines, both in their _English_ and _Latin_
Poems. This is often but an Indulgence of their Sloth; sometimes of
their Want of Words, or of Wit; they leave part of a Verse, because they
know not how to finish it; and sometimes, perhaps, it is owing to an
Affectation of Elegance. To me, I must confess, these Gaps, in Reading,
are always offensive; not to say absurd and ridiculous. But so it is,
they receive a Sanction, it seems, from the Authority of _Virgil_.
Allowing he left some designedly, it does not follow our Writers have
a Pretence to the same Liberty. They shall have it in abundance, if
they'll attempt another _Æneis_. In the mean Time, I would have them
consider a little the Difference between a Poetical Essay, and an Epic
Poem; or if that be their Attempt, the Difference, still, between theirs
and _Virgil_'s.

Nor are they guilty of less Presumption, who, under the sacred Name of
_Virgil_, arrogantly transgress the Laws of Quantity. In the Course
of a long Work, that requires the greatest Nicety and Conduct, such a
Liberty, when used with Caution and Modesty, is not only excuseable, but
elegant: But what is this to our little poetical Businesses? In vain is
_Virgil_ here alledg'd, of all Authorities the greatest, or _Cæsura_,
of all Figures the usefullest! 'Tis true, that immortal Poet uses this
License sometimes, not only in the _Æneis_, but in the _Georgics_, and
even in the _Eclogues_: The Prince of Poets, and the great Arbiter of
Verse, might claim a discretionary Power of suspending the Laws of it,
as he saw Occasion; but for us to invade his Prerogative, under Pretence
of imitating his Example, is the same as if a Subject should usurp the
Authority of a King, and justify himself by that very Authority. We are
not, however, totally debarr'd this Liberty; nor yet indulged it in the
same Degree with _Virgil_; much less ought we to extend it beyond him.

Scarce any Thing is of greater Difficulty, or Moment, in the poetic
Style, than the true Use of Epithets. Nothing loads a Poem, or tires the
Reader more, than too great a Redundancy of them. Now they are always
redundant, unless their Substantives receive from them either new Ideas,
or some Illustration and Ornament too of their own. And yet with the
Observation of these Rules, it is possible they may be redundant, that
is, a Poem may be clogg'd with too many of them. I shall lay before you
some Examples of both Kinds of Epithets; and shall take Care to make
Choice of such as may not only illustrate the Point before us, but many
other Beauties of the poetic Style.

Of the former Sort of Epithets, that add new and distinct Ideas to their
Substantives, the following Verses will furnish many. In _Virgil_'s most
admirable Description of the Plague raging among the Cattle, in the
third Book of the Georgics, we have these Lines:

    _Sæpe in honore Deum medio stans hostia ad aram,--
    Inter cunctantes cecidit moribunda ministros._

    Oft standing at the Altar, and with Wreaths,
    And woolly Fillets bound, the Victim Bull,
    In the mid Honour of the Gods, fell dead
    Between the ling'ring Sacrificer's Hands.

And a few Lines after:

    _Labitur infelix studiorum, atque immemor herbæ
    Victor equus_.----

    Unhappy of his Toils, the Victor Steed
    Sinks, and forgets his Food.


    _Tum vero ardentes oculi, atque attractus ab alto
    Spiritus, interdum gemitu gravis; imaque longo
    Ilia singultu tendunt; it naribus ater
    Sanguis, & obsessas fauces premit aspera lingua._

    His Eyes are all inflam'd; from his deep Breast
    His Breath with Labour heaves; long Sobs and Groans
    Distend his Entrails: From his Nostrils drops
    Black ropy Gore, and to his Jaws his Tongue
    Clotted with Filth, and Putrefaction, cleaves.


    _Ecce! autem duro fumans sub vomere taurus
    Concidit, & mixtum spumis vomit ore cruorem,
    Extremosque ciet gemitus: it tristis arator,
    Mœrentem abjungens fraterna morte juvencum,
    Atque opere in medio defixa relinquit aratra._

    Smoking beneath the Plough the sturdy Steer
    Falls down, and spues a Flood of Gore and Foam,
    And groans his last: The pensive Hind unyokes
    His mourning Fellow Lab'rer, and amidst
    Th' unfinish'd Furrow leaves the sticking Share.

In the foremention'd Description of the Fate of _Orpheus_ and _Eurydice_:

    _Illa, quis & me, inquit, miseram, & te perdidit, Orpheu?
    Quis tantus furor? en! iterum crudelia retro
    Fata vocant, conditque natantia lumina somnus.
    Jamque vale; feror ingenti circumdata nocte,
    Invalidasque tibi tendens, heu! non tua, palmas._

                  She; Who, my _Orpheus_, who
    Has Me unfortunate and Thee undone?
    What Fury This? Again the cruel Fates
    Remand me back; Sleep seals my swimming Eyes.
    And now Farewel: With Darkness round enclos'd
    I flit away; and vainly stretch to Thee
    (Ah! now no longer Thine) these helpless Hands.

In these Examples there are only two Epithets, _viz._ _ater_ and _duro_,
the second Sort of which I shall speak of presently. But the rest, you
may observe, as in _cunctantes ministros, equus infelix studiorum,
ardentes oculi, aspera lingua, defixa aratra, &c._ add a new Idea, quite
distinct from the general Nature of the Substantive, and rising from the
special Adjuncts and Circumstances of the Thing described.

The second Sort of Epithets are those, that are not so distant from the
general Nature of the Substantives, and yet not perfectly coincident
with it; but bring with them Light and Ornament, tho' not new Ideas. As
in the abovemention'd Description of _Virgil_:

    ----_Timidi damæ, cervique fugaces,
    Nunc interque canes, & circum tecta vagantur._
         Now the tim'rous Hinds and Deer
    Among the Dogs, and round the Houses, rove.

And in the first _Æneid_:

    _Nimborum in patriam, loca fœta furentibus Austris,
    Æoliam venit; hic vasto rex Æolus antro
    Luctantes ventos, tempestatesque sonoras
    Imperio premit._----

         The Goddess to _Æolia_ comes,
    The Land of Storms, where struggling Gusts of Air
    Engender: Here, in his capacious Cave,
    Great _Æolus_ with absolute Command
    Controls, imprisons, and confines in Chains,
    The noisy Tempests, and reluctant Winds.

In _timidi damæ, cervi fugaces_, and _tempestates sonoras_, the
Epithets we see are of near Affinity with the Substantives; for they
express some Adjuncts, or Properties, which are always inherent in
them. Therefore are of a different Kind from _tristis aratror, natantia
lumina, invalidas palmas_, and the rest above cited, that exhibit Ideas
totally distinct from the universal Nature of the Subject, and agree
with it only _pro hic & nunc_, as the Schoolmen speak. The Epithets of
this distinct Kind entertain the Mind with a more agreeable Variety;
but those of the other require, perhaps, more Care and Judgment in the
proper Choice of them: For tho' they border upon the general Nature
of their Substantives, expressing, as we said, some of their inherent
Qualities; yet, we likewise observed, they don't perfectly coincide
with them, but express an Idea somewhat different, and yet not totally
so. These Expressions, for Instance, the _fearful Deer_, and the _loud
Tempests_, are not like those Absurdities we shall have Occasion
hereafter to expose; such as _burning Fire_, _cold Ice_, which are
but other Words for _hot Heat_, and _cold Cold_; but represent to us
some _special_, and less _essential_ Adjuncts of their Substantives;
and therefore are not to be indiscriminately used upon every Occasion,
but then only, when they are agreeable to the Nature of the Subject.
For Instance, because _Virgil_ has said, the _fearful Deer_, and
_flitting Stags_, it by no means follows that these Epithets are always
applicable, whenever _Stags_ or _Deer_ shall happen to be mention'd. In
the Place he used them, they were proper, because the Wonder of what he
was describing turn'd wholly upon the Circumstance they describe, _viz._
that the Plague, which was common to all the Beasts, brought them all
to such an Equality and Unanimity, that even those that were by Nature
_fearful_, and formed for _Flight_, associated with such as lived upon
Rapine and Slaughter. So, again, because the same Author has _Luctantes
ventos, tempestatesque sonoras_, we are not to conclude we may use the
same Epithets, with the same Words, at any Time. He made Choice of them
to remind his Reader of the Difficulty of _Æolus_'s Province to restrain
the Impetuosity of the boisterous Winds.

Upon this Occasion, I cannot but think, the _Gradus ad Parnassum_, and
other Books of that Stamp, no small Prejudice to Learners. Here Boys
meet with Heaps of undistinguish'd Epithets, and synonymous Words,
before they are come to Maturity of Judgment to make a proper Choice
of them; and consequently blindly pick out such as the _Hiatus_ of the
Verse requires, with little Regard to Sense, and less to Propriety and
Elegance. By relying upon these Helps, they give themselves up to Sloth,
their Ideas are confounded, and their Judgments corrupted. The Patrons
of these sort of Books have nothing to urge in their Defence, but that
by facilitating the Scholar's Pains, they allure him to that Study,
which he would otherwise have declined, on account of its Difficulty.
But, before these Helps were thought of, Poetry was in as flourishing a
Condition as in our Time; and it seems much more adviseable for the Boys
to receive all proper Assistances from their Master, or School-fellows,
than from these _Fasciculi_. To banish them from the Schools, would only
have this Consequence; that it would put the Youth upon reading the best
Poets, in order to whet their Imagination, and ripen their Judgment. If
these Books are to any allowable, let them be indulged, not to Boys, but
to confirm'd Poets, who have Judgment enough to select proper Words out
of them. But to these such childish Helps are contemptible. All Things,
therefore, consider'd, it would be no Disadvantage to Poetry, if the
_Gradus ad Parnassum, Flores Poetarum, Elegantiæ Poeticæ_, and the other
_Thesaurus's_ of this Nature, were committed to the Flames, or for ever
buried in Oblivion. But to return:

There are other Epithets, of so _general_ a Nature, that in all
_poetical Descriptions_ they are _always_ applicable to their
Substantives, and yet are different from those I just now mention'd,
that _perfectly coincide_ with them. As in _Virgil_:

    _Jamque rubescebat radiis mare, & æthere ab alto
    Aurora in roseis fulgebat lutea bigis._

    And now the Ocean redden'd with the Rays;
    And in her rosy Car the blushing Morn
    Shone from the Sky.

And in _Ovid_:

    ----_Ecce! vigil nitido patefecit ab ortu_

    _Purpureas Aurora fores, & plena rosarum

    Soon as the Morn, in orient Purple drest,
    Unbarr'd the Portals of the roseate East.
                                           _Pope_, _Odyss._ IV. 411.

The Epithets, _lutea_, _roseis_, _vigil_, _purpureas_, _&c._ may always
be used, in the Description of a bright Morning: And the same Thing may
be observ'd of general Descriptions of the Night, the four Seasons of
the Year, and the like.

There are others, again, of a middle Kind between the two Sorts of
Epithets I have above laid down; which tho' they do not add to their
Subjects _distinct Ideas_, yet are _much farther off_ from the general
Nature of them, than these I have here mention'd. Of this Sort are the
following in the foremention'd Description of the Plague among the

    _Hinc læti vituli vulgo moriuntur in herbis,
    Et dulces animas plena ad præsepia reddunt._

    In ev'ry Pasture, on the verdant Grass,
    The Calves all die, and render their sweet Souls
    Before the plenteous Racks.

And again:

    _Non umbræ altorum nemorum, non mollia possunt
    Prata movere animum; non qui per saxa volutus
    Purior electro campum petit amnis._

    No Shades of Groves, no grassy Meads can move
    His Soul; nor Streams, which rolling o'er the Stones,
    Purer than Crystal, glide along the Fields.

In general it is true, but not always, that Herbs are _joyful_, Meadows
_soft_, Rivers _pure_, and the Breath of Calves sweet.

These are the general Rules, and such as are rarely or never to be
transgress'd, in the Choice of Epithets: But to insert them only to fill
up a Verse, when they are entirely idle and useless, and the Description
is neither advanced, heightened, or illustrated by them, is the greatest
Fault almost a Writer can be guilty of. From hence the Style is _barren_
and _jejune_; the Sense _relax'd_ and _enervated_. And yet this Fault,
great as it is, not only Boys, but some even of the Ancients, and many
of our modern Writers, run into. _Buchanan_, in his Paraphrastical
Version of the Psalms, has these Verses:

    _Dum procul à patria, mœsti, Babylonis in oris,
           Fluminis ad liquidas forte sedemus aquas._

Two Lines after he goes on thus:

    _Flevimus, & gemitus luctantia verba repressit,
         Inque sinus liquidæ decidit imber aquæ._

We had no Occasion to be reminded _once_, much less _twice_ in the
Compass of five Verses, that _Water_ was _liquid_; 'tis a Circumstance
that served as little for the Information of the Reader, as for the
Illustration of what the Poet was describing. _Ovid_ is often guilty
this Way; as in the following Verse:

    _Eque_ sagittifera _prompsit duo tela pharetra._

                            Two fatal Shafts
    Forth from his _Arrow-bearing_ Quiver drew.

To produce more Instances, would be needless: One small Scruple, I
confess, arises to me upon this Head, from observing that _Horace_ and
_Virgil_ seem to use some few of these redundant Epithets; and 'twas
for this Reason I said above, the Rule I had laid down ought _rarely_
or _never_ to be violated. But whatever we determine concerning those
great Authorities (for I know not how to impeach them) it is certain
they very sparingly allow themselves this Liberty; and the Writers,
perhaps, of that Age, paid so great a Veneration to _Homer_, that
they sometimes affected even to imitate his Faults. Notwithstanding,
therefore, this Exception, (and what Rule is without one?) I may venture
to affirm, that the Laws I proposed, in relation to Epithets, ought
punctually to be observed. It is farther to be noted, that the Words
_meus_, _tuus_, and _suus_, (which are not properly Epithets) are often
brought into a Verse out of Idleness, only to fill it up, and make it
flat and languid. Thus _Ovid_, in the Story of _Phaeton_,

    ----_Balænarumque prementem
    Ægæona_ suis _immania terga lacertis._

    _Himself Ægæon_ with his Hand _does_ guide
    A Whale's enormous Bulk.
    _Tum pater ora_ sui _sacro medicamine nati

    Then o'er his _own_ Son's Face a Tincture pours.

And afterwards:

    _Vixque_ suis _humeris candentem sustinet axem._

In the pentameter Verse these Pronouns, it is well known, are remarkably
serviceable to constitute the last Foot; but it is one of the poorest
Expedients that can be thought of!

I said that _Homer_'s Faults were, perhaps, studiously imitated by the
best Writers; for if _Homer_ may at this Time of Day be criticized upon,
it would be hard to assign a Reason for the Frequency of his Epithets,
many of which are insignificant and superfluous, or to shew wherein
consists the Elegance of these sort of Expressions, and innumerable
others of the like Nature, that occur up and down in him[98].

    ----θοη παρα νηì μελαινη.
    Θιν' εφ' αλòς πολιης, 'ορóων 'επì óινοπα πóντον.

              Sad retiring to the sounding Shore,
    O'er the wild Margin of the Deep he hung. _Pope._

    ----λευκωλενος Ἡρη, white arm'd _Juno_

    ----βοωπις ποτνια Ἡρη, her full-ey'd Majesty.

These are Difficulties I only propose, not presuming to assert any Thing
against the ancientest, and almost the Prince of Poets.

On the other Hand, they are under no less an Error, that will admit
only of _very few Epithets_, and arrogantly banish the Use of them.
It is certain, they are not only wonderfully adapted to Description,
but so peculiarly to Poetry, that the Beauty of its Style chiefly
consists in them. They exhibit to the Mind Ideas of _Qualities in the
Concrete_, (as the Logicians speak) which strike the Imagination no
less than those that are express'd in the _Abstract_. 'Tis plain, from
what appears above, that the Writings of the best Poets are full of
them, and particularly _Virgil_'s. But tho' the Examples already alleg'd
might seem sufficient, yet I beg Leave to add a very remarkable one,
where every Substantive has its proper Epithet, to heighten and adorn
the Sense. The Passage I mean is at the Beginning of the celebrated
Description of the Infernal Shades:

    _Vestibulum ante ipsum, primisque in faucibus orci,
    Luctus, & ultrices posuére cubilia
    Curæ; Pallentesque habitant Morbi, tristisque Senectus,
    Et Metus, & malesuada Fames, & turpis Egestas,
    (Terribiles visu formæ!) Letumque, Laborque,
    Tum consanguineus leti Sopor, & mala mentis_

    _Gaudia, mortiferumque adverso in limine Bellum;
    Ferreique Eumenidum thalami, & Discordia demens,
    Vipereos crines vittis innexa cruentis.
    In medio ramos annosaque brachia pandit
    Ulmus opaca, ingens; quam sedem somnia vulgo
    Vana tenere ferunt, foliisque sub omnibus hærent._

    Just in the Entrance and first Jaws of Hell,
    Grief and revengeful Cares their Couches plac'd;
    And pale Diseases, querulous old Age,
    Fear, ill-persuading Hunger, and foul Want;
    (Forms dreadful to behold) and Death, and Pain;
    And Sleep akin to Death; the Mind's false Joys;
    The Furies Iron Bed; and Discord wild,
    Her vip'rous Locks with bloody Fillets bound.
    Full in the midst a tall and dusky Elm
    Displays its Boughs, and aged Limbs: This Seat
    (Such is the Fame) fantastick Dreams possess,
    And stick beneath the Leaves.----

We meet with but few Lines of this Poet free from Epithets; many have
two, and some three: Nay, sometimes 'tis the Height of Elegance to join
more to the same Substantive, without a Conjunction between: As,

    _Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens._----

    An Eyeless Monster, hideous, vast deform!
    ----_Loricam ex ære rigentem,
    Sanguineam, ingentem._----

                The Corslet stiff with Brass,
    Sanguine, immense.

A Style, therefore, destitute of Epithets, will gain no more Admirers,
than a Body made up of nothing but Nerves and Bones: And as the Beauty
of this consists in not being too much emaciated, nor yet over-charged
with Flesh; so does that of the other in a just Proportion of these
sort of Adjuncts, when they are neither wanting, nor too much abound.
Verbs and Substantives I suppose to be in Style, what Bones and Nerves
are in a Body; because they contain more Strength, tho' not more
Beauty than Epithets; which therefore, whenever Emphasis and Energy is
required, are totally omitted. Thus _Virgil_:

    _Aude, hospes, contemnere opes, & te quoque dignum
    Finge Deo._----

    Dare to scorn Wealth, brave Guest; presume thyself
    Worthy to emulate a God.

And again:

    _Est hic, est animus lucis contemptor, & istum
    Qui vita bene credit emi, quo tendis, honorem._

    Here too, here dwells a Soul that with Contempt
    Regards this vital Air, and thinks with Life
    That Fame well bought, to which thy Soul aspires.

And at the Conclusion of that admirable Description of _Æneas's_ Shield
made by _Vulcan_, thus the divine Poet closes his eighth Book:

    _Talia per clypeum Vulcani, dona parentis,
    Miratur, rerumque ignarus imagine gaudet,
    Attollens humero famamque & fata nepotum._

    Such Figures on the broad _Vulcanian_ Shield,
    His Mother's Gift, the Hero pleas'd admires
    In Ignorance; and on his Shoulder high
    Upheaves the Fame and Fortune of his Race.

The last Verse is express'd with all the Strength and Weight imaginable,
because without one Epithet. The Reason of this Effect seems to be,
that Ideas in the _Concrete_ are no more than Adjuncts of those in the
_Abstract_; now that which supports, must needs be stronger than what is
supported. To the same Purpose, when this is our Aim, all synonymous
Expressions must be avoided; for the shorter and closer the Style, the
stronger; but the Matter of it, by being spread among a Variety of
Words, is thinned, and, consequently, weakened. The Poet, no doubt,
is indulged much more in Epithets and Synonyma's, than the Orator;
his Province consisting more peculiarly in Colouring, Description and
Decoration. But both of them ought to take Care that these musical and
bewitching Elegances are not too redundant; for a Style, whether in
Prose or Verse, cannot be attended with a greater Fault than a verbose

Some, thro' Ignorance of what an _Epithet_ is, may be apt in their
Reading to make a wrong Enumeration of them; for all _Adjectives_ and
_Participles_ do not (as many think) come under this Appellation, but
those only which are annex'd to Substantives, by way of _Ornament_
and _Illustration_; not such as make up the essential Part of the
Description. In the following Lines of _Virgil_,

    _Diverso interea miscentur mœnia luctu;
    Et magis atque magis (quanquam secreta parentis
    Anchisæ domus, arboribusque obtecta recessit)
    Clarescunt sonitus, armorumque ingruit horror._

    Mean while, with Cries confus'd the Walls resound:
    And tho' my Father's Palace, fenc'd with Trees,
    Stood from the Hurry of the town retir'd;
    The Noise grows loud, and th' undistinguish'd Din
    Of clashing Arms rolls near.

there is not an Epithet; neither _diverso_, _secreta_, or _obtecta_,
comes under that Denomination, but are Adjectives or Participles of the
other Kind.

[Sidenote: _Seventh Lecture._]

We come now to enumerate the different Kinds of Style made use of by
Poets, and to shew briefly wherein they consist, and to what sort of
Verse and Subject each is suitable. To begin, then, with that which is
first in Dignity, and therefore ought to be so in Place; the _sublime_,
I mean, whose Property it is to express lofty Ideas in no vulgar Strain,
but with Words sonorous, pompous, and majestic. This Style is, in the
first Place, proper for the Epic Poem; in the next, to some sort of
Odes; after that, to Tragedy; then to the severer kind of Satire; and,
in short, to all Poems of less Note, that partake of the Heroic, or
the Buskin. There are others that make Excursions into it, such as the
_Georgics_, and all of the Didactic, or Philosophical Kind, whenever
they digress into a more noble Field of Matter, to which their Subject
sometimes naturally leads them. But to Comedy, the lower kind of Satire,
and Pastoral, it is never agreeable; to Elegy very seldom. In behalf
of the first of these, that Place of _Terence_ will be urged, which
_Horace_ seems to have had in his View, when he says,

    _Interdum tamen & vocem Comœdia tollit._

    Yet Comedy sometimes may raise her Voice. _Rosc._

But this Rage of _Chremes_, which _Horace_ mentions, is not, perhaps,
so much an Instance of a Comic Sublime, as of a borrowed Tragic Fury.
In relation to Pastoral, if _Virgil_'s fourth Eclogue be objected, I
answer, that the Poet himself confesses he leaves his proper Subject for
a more lofty one, and begins his Poem with a sort of an Apology for it:

    _Sicelides Musæ, paulo majora canamus;
    Non omnes arbusta juvant, humilesque myricæ.
    Sicilian_ Muses, raise a loftier Strain;
    Not all in Groves and lowly Shrubs delight.

Not that I suppose Pastoral totally to reject the Sublime, as I shall
have Occasion to shew more fully hereafter.

For the present, I suppose, it will suffice to produce one or two
Instances, out of innumerable, of the Style we are upon. In the second
_Æneid_, _Venus_, shewing her Son what Gods were united for the
Destruction of _Troy_, gives us this Specimen of it:

    _Non tibi Tyndaridis facies invisa Lacænæ,
    Culpatusve Paris; Divûm inclementia, Divûm,
    Has evertit opes, sternitque à culmine Trojam._

    'Tis not _Tyndarian Helen_'s hated Form,
    Nor much blam'd _Paris_; Heav'n, inclement Heav'n
    O'erturns this Realm, and levels tow'ring _Troy_.

And a little after:

    _Hic ubi disjectas moles, avulsaque saxis
    Saxa vides, mistoque undantem pulvere fumum;
    Neptunus muros, magnoque emota tridenti
    Fundamenta quatit, totamque à sedibus urbem
    Eruit; hic Juno Scæas sævissima portas
    Prima tenet, sociumque furens à navibus agmen
    Ferro accincta vocat.
    Jam summas arces Tritonia (respice) Pallas
    Insedit, nimbo effulgens, & Gorgone sæva.
    Ipse Pater Danais animos, viresque secundas
    Sufficit, ipse Deos in Dardana suscitat arma_.

    Here, where you see that Rubbish, Heaps confus'd,
    Stones wrench'd from Stones, and thick redounding Smoke
    Blended with Clouds of Dust; great _Neptune_ shakes
    The Walls, and with his massy Trident heaves
    The City from its deep Foundations. There
    Relentless _Juno_, girt with Steel, has seiz'd
    The _Scæan_ Gates; and raging from their Ships
    Calls her confed'rate Forces.
    Next (that Way bend thy Eyes) the lofty Tow'rs
    _Tritonian Pallas_ has possess'd; there sits,
    With her dire _Gorgon_. In a beamy Cloud,
    Effulgent _Jove_ himself the _Grecian_ Troops
    With Courage, and new Strength supplies; himself
    Excites the Gods against the _Dardan_ Arms.

Again, a few Lines after:

    _Dixerat; & spissis noctis se condidit umbris.
    Apparent diræ facies, inimicaque Trojæ
    Numina magna Deum._

    She said; and in th'involving Shades retir'd:
    The direful Shapes appear, and Foes to _Troy_,
    Forms of the awful Gods.

And in the last Book, the Poet thus introduces _Æneas_ going to engage
with _Turnus_:

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

    But Prince _Æneas_, hearing _Turnus'_ Name,
    Forsakes the Walls, forsakes the lofty Tow'rs,
    Breaks all Delay, all other Toil; with Joy
    Exults; and thunders terrible in Arms.

Instances of this Style fill every Page, almost, of the _Æneis_; and in
the Odes of _Horace_ are very frequent; _v. g._

    _Justum & tenacem propositi virum,
    Non civium ardor prava jubentium,
    Non vultus instantis Tyranni,
      Mente quatit solida; neque Auster
    Dux inquieti turbidus Adriæ,
    Nec fulminantis magna Jovis manus:
      Si fractus illabatur orbis,
        Impavidum ferient ruinæ._

      The Man whose Principles are true,
        In Heart resolv'd to act aright,
      Nor impious Faction's madding Crew,
        Nor frowning Tyrant can affright;
    Unshaken, like a Tow'r he stands, and braves
    The Impotence of great or little Slaves.
      The Elements may war around,
        Fierce Winds may rave, huge Billows roll,
      _Jove_'s Lightning flash, his Thunder sound,
        And shock the World----but not his Soul:
    He Nature's Wreck can view, without Surprize,
    Amidst the shining Ruin of the Skies.
                                          _T. Hare._

_Claudian_, tho' his Style is frequently too swelling, and borders
upon the Bombast, yet often hits upon the true Sublime: Thus in the
celebrated Description of the Victory which the Emperor _Theodosius_
gained, by the Advantage of the Winds:

    _Te propter, gelidis Aquilo de monte procellis
    Obruit adversas acies, revolutaque tela
    Vertit in autores, & turbine reppulit hastas.
    O! nimium dilecte Deo; cui fundit ab antris
    Æolus armatas hyemes, cui militat æther,
    Et conjurati veniunt ad classica venti._

    For thee the friendly North in social Show'rs,
    Wide o'er the hostile Troops his Fury pours.
    To their launch'd Jav'lins points a backward Road,
    And Storms retort the missive Deaths they vow'd.
    Great _Jove_ for thee, thou Heav'n's peculiar Care!
    Sends forth his wing'd Militia of the Air.
    Confed'rate Seasons round thy Standards join,
    And mustring Winds attend thy Trumpet's Sign.

Between the Sublime of _Virgil_ and _Claudian_ there's a manifest
Difference; the Ideas of the latter are not so just, nor the Diction so
pure: He can only be said to be less faulty, when he writes best.

'Tis a remarkable Property of this Style, to be bold and figurative;
to abound, especially, with Metaphors and Hyperboles; the Use of
which requires great Care and Judgment. It is distinguish'd, on the
one Hand, from the turgid, rumbling Bombast, which is much affected
by those who are possess'd with a false Spirit of Poetry, and no true
Judgment to direct it; and consists either of empty sounding Words, or
unnatural Sentences, or absurd Metaphors, or rash Hyperbole's. There are
innumerable Examples of it in _Claudian_; _v. g._

    _Sol, qui flammigeris mundum complexus habenis,
    Volvis inexhausto redeuntia secula motu,
    Sparge diem meliore coma; crinemque repexi
    Blandius elato surgant temone jugales,
    Efflantes roseum frænis spumantibus ignem._

    Light of the Spheres, that with unwearied Ray
    On flaming Harness roll'st the golden Day,
    Undrain'd and sprightly seest fresh Seasons born,
    With softer Tresses shed this fatal Morn.
    Let thy hot Coursers spring with sleeker Manes,
    And rosy Fires breath o'er the foaming Reins.

In another Place:

    ----_compage soluta
    Fulgidus umbrosa miscebitur axis Averno._
          Dissolv'd the Fabrick of the World,
    The Sun's bright Axis in _Avernus_ hurl'd.

And again:

    ----_Clypeus nos protegat idem,
    Unaque pro gemino desudet cardine virtus._

          One Shield shall us protect,
    And for its double Charge one Safeguard sweat.

So _Statius_, in the very Beginning of his _Sylvæ_:

    _Quæ super imposito moles geminata Colosso
    Stat Latium complexa forum_, &c.

    This Mass, on which the great Colossus rides,
    The Forum with a wide Embrace bestrides.

To omit others, thus _Casimire_:

    ----_Currite candidis
    Horæ quadrigis._

    With snowy Steeds, ye nimble Hours, fly.

In another Place:

    _Anni nubibus insident,
    Incertis equitant lustra Favoniis,
          Cæco secula turbine._

          Years ride on Clouds,
    About uncertain Zephyrs Lustrums play,
    And on black Whirlwinds Ages die away.

There are many other Instances of this kind in the same Poet; who seems
to have been peculiarly delighted with this hard and unnatural Way of

The _Sublime_, on the other Hand, is distinguished from the _Humble_;
which has its Elegance as it is used in its proper Place. It is proper,
when we would describe, in a familiar and easy Manner, the common
Concerns of Life; and agrees more especially with Comedy, the lower kind
of Satire, and Epistles; and, as Occasion serves, may be admitted in all
Sorts of Poems. Instances of it are very numerous:

    _Qui, fit, Mæcenas, ut nemo, quam sibi sortem
    Seu ratio dederit, seu fors objecerit, illa
    Contentus vivat, laudet diversa sequentes?_

    Whence comes, my Lord, this gen'ral Discontent?
    Why do all loath the State that Chance hath sent,
    Or their own Choice procur'd? But fondly bless
    Their Neighbours Lots, and praise what they possess.

    _Prima dicte mihi, summa dicende Camæna,
    Spectatum satis, & donatum jam rude quæris,
    Mæcenas, iterum antiquo me includere ludo.
    Non eadem est ætas, non mens_, &c.

    My Lord, _Mæcenas_, whom I gladly chuse,
    The first, and the last Subject of my Muse;
    Tho' I have fought enough, and well before,
    And now dismist, have Leave to fight no more;
    You strive to bring me on the Stage again:
    My Age is not alike, unlike my Brain.

It is needless to add any more: _Terence_'s Comedies, and _Horace_'s
Satires and Epistles, consist entirely almost of this Style, and are
abundant Proof of its Elegance.

The Style of Pastorals is likewise of the humble Kind, but still
distinct from what I have now been instancing in. The one, as I said,
is suited to Comedy, Satire, and Epistles; the other to Bucolics: The
former represents common Life, and more especially as it appears within
the City; the latter draws all its Images from the Country; that looser
and freer, this sweeter and more elaborate. But of these Things more
hereafter, when we come to treat of this delightful Species of Poetry
separately. At present let it be observ'd, that there is a middle Kind
of Style between the Sublime and the Humble, suitable to every Branch of
Poetry. This of _Ovid_ is a Specimen of it:

    _Arma gravi numero, violentaque tela parabam
      Edere, materia conveniente modis.
    Par erat inferior versus; risisse Cupido
      Dicitur, atque unum surripuisse pedem.
    Quis tibi, sæve Puer, dedit hoc in carmina juris?
      Pieridum vates, non tua turba, sumus._

    Whilst I to sing in lofty Verse prepare,
    The bloody Triumphs of destructive War,
    The Urchin _Cupid_ mock'd my rash Design,
    And stole one Foot from each alternate Line.
    But who, my Boy, gave thou this great Command?
    We are the Muses, not the Lovers Band.

Innumerable are the Instances of this middle Style among the Poets,
especially in _Virgil_'s _Georgics_, which are chiefly writ in that Way.
For it is to be particularly observ'd, that, because the Matter of a
Poem is low, it by no means follows the Thoughts and Diction must be so
too, and that there's no necessary Connexion between a common Subject
and a vulgar Style. To prescribe Rules for Sowing, Harvest, and other
Matters of Husbandry, is a slight Subject, but not therefore to be
treated with the Unpoliteness of a Clown. Tho' the Poem be preceptive
in its Nature, it may be elegant in its Manner; it may be employ'd upon
Things of small Moment, yet they may be cloath'd with Ornament, and
heighten'd by Description. But Comedy, and the looser kind of Satire, as
they regard only the Manners of Men in common Life, are chiefly adapted
to the low Style.

It then becomes faulty, when any Thing of a sublime Nature, at least
above the common Level, is introduced with some low creeping Expression.
Thus _Ovid_, where he speaks of the Council of the Gods:

    ----_tenuere silentia cuncti._

    The great Immortals held their Tongues.

And describing _Phaeton_ run away with by the Horses of the Sun:[123]

    _Succutiturque alte, similisque est currus inani._

    The Driver thrown, the Car as empty flies.
    _Nec scit qua sit iter, nec si sciat, imperet illis._

    Nor knows the Way, nor, if he knew, could guide.

And in the fourth Book, after he had described the Interview between
_Pyramus_ and _Thisbe_ well enough,

    _Ad nomen Thisbes oculos jam morte gravatos
    Pyramus erexit_,----

    His swimming Eyes he rais'd at _Thisbe_'s Name.

he thus miserably concludes the Verse:

    ----_visaque recondidit illa._

    And having seen her, clos'd them up again.

In another Place,

    _Sensit abesse dolos, numerumque accessit ad harum._

    All safe she found, and join'd herself to them.

In the seventh Book:

    Carminibus grates, & Diis auctoribus horum._

    You secret Transports on your Charms bestow,
    And on the Gods, the Authors of them, too.

Nothing can be more palpable than the Absurdities I have here produced:
In _Ovid_ they are almost unpardonable, who, as he wanted not Genius,
must needs have fallen into them thro' gross Inadvertency and Supineness.

There's another Species of Style, called the _Sarcastical_ and
_Invective_, suited, as Reason will tell us, more peculiarly to Satire.
But we shall no where find a more lively Instance of it than in _Virgil_:

    _Cantando Tu illum? aut unquam tibi fistula cera
    Juncta fuit? non tu in triviis, indocte, solebas
    Stridenti miserum stipula disperdere carmen?_

    Thou him in piping! Had'st thou e'er a Pipe
    Jointed with Wax?. Wert thou not wont, thou Dolt,
    In the Cross-ways, upon a screeching Straw
    To murder a vile Tune with viler Notes?

Here, it is plain, the Mordacity lies in the Expression more than
the Thought; which is no more than that the Shepherd mention'd was a
miserable Piper; but the Words are emphatically cutting, _in triviis,
stridenti, miserum, stipula, disperdere_; each of which is arm'd with
Poignancy, and dresses out the Image with fresh Ridicule. On the other
Hand, sometimes the Invective turns wholly upon the Thought; as in
another Verse of _Virgil_:

    _Qui Bavium non odit, amet tua carmina, Mævi._

    Who hates not _Bavius_, be he doom'd to love
    Thy Metre, _Mævius_!

A keener Satire cannot be conceived; but the Force of it consists in
the Sense only; the Words, considered separately, have nothing of that
Kind in them. The former, therefore, is the proper Instance of the
Invective Style; because in the Style the whole Invective is contained.
It may justly be wonder'd that I should fetch Examples of the _Style_
and _Thought_ of Satire, from a Poet endow'd by Nature with the sweetest
Disposition, and led by his Subject to a very different Way of Writing:
But he had a Genius so adapted to every Thing, that he could write
Satire in spite of his own good Nature. These Examples are a sufficient
Proof, that if he had turn'd his Thoughts that Way, he would have gain'd
the Laurel from all other Competitors; and I must ingenuously confess,
that, in my Mind, _Juvenal_ himself has nothing more severe than this
_Virgilian_ Acrimony.

The _Florid_ Style is set off with Tropes, Figures, and especially
Metaphors. The Use and Abuse of these, I have already spoke of; to avoid
Repetition, therefore, I would here only observe, That all Sorts of
Poems admit of figurative Expressions, and receive fresh Ornament from
them, when the Subject requires them, and Judgment is used in the Choice
of them; but that this Style is suitable, in the first Place, to the
sublimer Kind of _Ode_, and, in the next, to the _Epic_ Poem.

A Style, likewise, is said to be easy or strong; short or diffuse;
clear or obscure; sweet, soft, and fluent; or rough, and unpleasant.
The several Properties of these, to what Subject, and to what Poem each
is suitable, may be collected from this Dissertation, and the Examples
produced; and are partly so self-evident, that all further Explication
or Example would be needless. I only observe, in one Word, that a clear
Style is never faulty, an obscure and an uncouth one always so; but
that the easy or strong, the short or prolix, the loose or close, the
brisk or slow, the sweet and soft, or the rough and harsh, are all of
them sometimes proper, sometimes improper, according to the Subject
Matter of the Poem they appear in. 'Tis farther to be observ'd, That
the rough Style, artfully enrich'd with a few antiquated Words, has a
certain Majesty in it, which adds a Grandeur to Tragedy especially, and
a Sublimity to the Epic Poem: That this Liberty, however, is to be used
with Judgment and Caution, lest it appear dull and stiff, instead of
lofty and majestic. On the other Hand, that Elegies, particularly, and
some sort of Pastorals, require the sweet and flowing Style, and utterly
reject all Asperity: Lastly, That some of the Appellations by which
Style is distinguish'd are applied to Thought likewise; as _sublime_,
_low_, _satirical_, _elegant_, &c. and some of them not so: For a
_brisk_ or _slow Thought_, a _concise_ or _prolix Thought_, &c. are
Terms which the Schools are yet Strangers to.

Elegance enters into the Composition of every Style that has any Merit
in it, pervades every Part, and is, as it were, the Soul to it. What
Elegance is, and wherein it consists, has been already shewn, at the
Entrance of this Dissertation.

But tho' every Kind of Poem has a Style peculiar to itself, yet we
are not to preserve one even Course of Writing from the Beginning to
the End, but to rise or fall, to be sweet or rough, to be concise or
to expatiate, _&c._ according to the Variety of Matter into which our
Subject leads us. _Virgil_, in that Description of Prodigies which I
have before cited, sometimes uses the short Diction:

    _Vox quoque per lucos vulgo exaudita silentes
    Ingens; & simulacra modis pallentia miris
    Visa sub obscurum noctis; pecudesque locutæ,
    Infandum! sistunt amnes; terræque dehiscunt;
    Et mœstum illacrimat templis ebur; æraque sudant._

    And oft in silent Woods were Voices more
    Than human heard: And Spectres wond'rous pale
    Seen in the Dusk of Ev'ning: Oxen spoke,
    (Horrid to tell!) Earth yawn'd, and Streams stood still,
    In Temples mourning Iv'ry wept; and Brass

But in the next Words, where he is to express a great Inundation, he
thus breaks out into an Exuberancy of Style:

    _Proluit insano contorquens vortice silvas
    Fluviorum Rex Eridanus, camposque per omnes
    Cum stabulis armenta tulit._

           _Eridanus_, supreme of Rivers,
    With roaring Inundation o'er the Plains
    Whirl'd Woods away, and Cattle with their Stalls.

It is a great Fault, to be always upon the Sublime: In those Poems,
whose Subject leads them to be most so, some Things occur, that ought
to be express'd in the plainest Diction, that scarce admit, much less
require the lofty or the splendid.

Lastly, 'tis to be observed, that the Style of _Comedy_ is not properly
a poetical Style, but an elegant kind of Prose. It would be absurd if
it were otherwise; since the Language of Comedy is to imitate familiar
Discourse, and such as passes in common Conversation. For this Reason,
some (as _Horace_ tells us) have made a Doubt whether this Species of
the Drama is to be accounted a Species of Poetry, or not:

    _Idcirco quidam, Comœdia, necne, poema
    Esset, quæsivere; quod acer spiritus, ac vis,
    Nec verbis, nec rebus, inest; nisi quod pede certo
    Differt sermoni, sermo merus._

    And therefore some do doubt (tho' some allow)
    If _Comedy_ be _Poetry_, or no:
    Because it wants that Spirit, Flame and Force,
    And bate the Numbers, 'tis but plain Discourse.

'Tis Certain the _Style_ of the ancient Comedy had nothing poetical in
it but the Feet and Measure, and those very little different from Prose;
and rejected all those Modes of Speech, which we have mention'd above as
peculiar to Poetry. What, therefore, Comedy has in common with Poetry,
does not consist in the Diction, but partly in the Measure, and chiefly
in the Invention, the Conduct of the Plot, and the Disposal of the Parts.

I am very sensible a great Question may arise in relation to our
Comedies, whether they are to be deem'd Poems, since they want those
metrical Numbers, which in our former Dissertation we made essential to
a Poem. This Question undoubtedly bears much harder upon our _English_
Comedies, than upon the ancient _Greek_ and _Latin_ ones; which are
manifestly writ in some certain Measure, tho' a loose one, and the
nearest possible to Prose; but our's pretend to be nothing else but
Prose, only with a Distich or two at the Conclusion of every Act. It may
be question'd, likewise, on the other Hand, whether the _French_ Poets
are to be commended, who write entire Comedies not only in Ryme, but
even Heroic Verse. These Doubts I shall at present wave, since a more
proper Opportunity will offer to discuss them fully, when I make Comedy
the Subject of an entire Dissertation.

As _Style_ is my present Subject, and I shall make _Thought_ my next; it
may not be improper to inquire into the Relation between the Beauty of
the one and the other, and what Connexion there is between writing well,
and thinking justly, and how they mutually conspire to promote each
other. This Enquiry is somewhat of a middle Nature between the Subject
of our present Discourse and the following; and, like a Partition Wall,
may serve to join, and yet divide them.

I lay it down for a Rule, that no one can write clearly, or elegantly,
that does not think so. If you are obscure to yourself, you must
have great good Luck indeed, if you are perspicuous to others. And
if your Thought is bad, shining Language only serves to make both
ridiculous. 'Tis like dressing up a disagreeable Person in rich Cloaths,
which receive Disgrace from the Wearer, and make his Deformity more
contemptible. On the other Hand, 'tis scarce possible, but he whose
Thoughts are clear and bright, will be so in his Style too, provided
he is well vers'd in the best Authors, and Master of the Language he
writes in. When we speak or write, our Thoughts break forth, like the
Light, diffuse themselves around, and, by their natural Force, enter the
Minds of our Hearers or Readers, as that does the Eyes of the Beholders.
Words (if we may believe _Quintilian_) almost necessarily follow a
clear Imagination, as the Shadow does a Substance. And if once we have
a Conception of any Thing beautiful or sublime, suitable Expressions
will arise, if we think proper to make use of them. If we think proper,
I say, to make use of them; for it is not to be supposed, that the one
will necessarily accompany the other, whether we will let them or not,
or that _Quintilian_ meant to extend the _Necessity_ so far. It is
possible the Thoughts may be beautiful and sublime, and the Words, out
of Choice, plain and simple; and the Plainness of these may sometimes
not only shew, but add to the Sublimity of those. To this Purpose
_Longinus_ cites that short Narration of the divine Historian, as a
remarkable Instance of Sublimity: _And God said, Let there be Light, and
there was Light_. So _Horace_:

             [134]----_Sapere aude,

    Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise. _Cowley._

And _Virgil_:

    _Ostendent terris hunc tantum Fata, neque ultra
    Esse sinent._

                  Him the Fates shall shew
    To Earth, and only shew him; nor shall there
    Permit his longer Stay.

In which, and many other Places, the Words are without Ornament, but
the Thought sublime. Thus Beauty sometimes appears the most amiable in
its native Charms, and unaffected Neatness: Thus Majesty has been seen
to beam forth the strongest when all the Ensigns of it have been laid
aside, and it stood supported by its own Strength. Words, then, are to
the Thought, what Cloaths are to the Body; what I have to say farther
upon this Head, shall be illustrated by this Comparison.

On the other Hand, there are many sublime and beautiful Thoughts that
require Words of the same Nature; they appear pitiful without them, and
fall short of their proper Dignity. Witness those Instances we have
produced from _Ovid_ of the creeping Style, and many more might be
produced. Thus frequently, I may say generally, rich Attire, and costly
Ornaments, add to the Beauty even of the most beautiful; and Kings
who appear by Nature formed for Majesty, display it usually to most
Advantage, when deck'd with the Imperial Purple.

But tho' the Thoughts may be beautiful or sublime, while the Words that
express them are plain and simple; yet the Rule will not hold inverted:
Words can have neither Beauty, nor Sublimity, unless the Thoughts have
both. I mean _true_ Beauty, and _true_ Sublimity; because if these are
wanting in the Thought, that Sparkling which appears in the Diction, is
only a false Light; as fine Cloaths are no longer fine when bestowed
upon some dishonest Form; they are far from being an elegant Dress, when
they ill become the Wearer. And if the Thought, in this Case, is not
sublime, all the Magnificence of Diction is ridiculous Affectation, and
mere Bombast. Only one Kind of Poem ought to be excepted; which tho' it
has no _Latin_ Name, is well enough known in all the modern Languages of
_Europe_: The _Doggrel_ Kind I mean; which abounds much in an ingenious
Liberty of Jesting, and dressing up little Things in pompous Words. But
in all serious Writing, this Rule holds universally.

But tho' beautiful Expressions cannot make the Thought beautiful, yet
they strongly recommend its Beauty, and even improve it; as Dress and
Ornament cannot create a Face, yet they may assist its Charms, and add
to those that Nature has bestow'd upon it. In Proof of this, I might
produce innumerable Examples that are to be met with every where in the
Writings of the best Poets. When _Virgil_ had excellently described
the broken and shattered Condition of _Sergestus's_ Ship, which we
mention'd above, it was undoubtedly a beautiful Thought to compare it
working along with one Bank of Oars, to the labour'd Motion of a wounded
Serpent. But how does the Poet heighten the Beauty of the Comparison in
the following Manner of describing it?

    _Qualis sæpe viæ deprensus in aggere serpens,
    Ærea quem obliquum rota transiit, aut gravis ictu
    Seminecem liquit, saxo lacerumque, viator:
    Nequicquam longos fugiens dat corpore tortus;
    Parte ferox, ardensque oculis, & sibila colla
    Arduus attollens; pars vulnere clauda retentat
    Nexantem nodos, seque in sua membra plicantem._

                       As when a Snake
    Is catch'd (as oft it happens) on a Ridge
    Of rising Ground; whose Body cross'd aslant
    A brazen Wheel has mangled on the Road;
    Or some sour Passenger, with heavy Blow,
    Has left half dead, and shatter'd with a Stone:
    He flying twists his Length in tortuous Wreaths,
    Part fierce with ardent Eyes, and hissing Tongue,
    Uprears aloft his swelling Neck in Air;
    Part damag'd in the Wound retards him crush'd
    Wriggling his Spires, and knitting Knots in vain.

_Aristæus_'s Entrance into the subterraneous Grotto's of the Water Nymph
_Cyrene_, is thus described by the same Poet:

    ----_Simul alta jubet discedere late
    Flumina, qua juvenis gressus inferret; at illum
    Curvata in montis faciem circumstetit unda,
    Accepitque sinu vasto, misitque sub amnem.
    Jamque domum mirans genitricis, & humida regna,
    Speluncisque lacus clausos, lucosque sonantes,
    Ibat, & ingenti motu stupefactus aquarum,
    Omnia sub magna labentia flumina terra
    Spectabat diversa locis_, &c.

          At once she bids on either Side retire
    The Rivers, that the Youth unhurt might pass:
    Him, like a Mountain, arch'd, the standing Waves
    Surround; their spacious Bosom open wide,
    And spread his Entrance to the hoary Deep.
    And now admiring at his Mother's Court,
    And liquid Realms, the Lakes in Caverns pent,
    And sounding Groves, he goes, and wond'ring hears
    The rumbling Billows; nor less wond'ring sees
    The various Streams, which subterraneous glide
    Thro' the vast Globe.

The Thought, the Fiction, is perfectly beautiful; but who is so blind,
as not to see that these poetical Ideas receive no small Embellishment
from the Elegance of the Expression; or so dull, as not to love and
admire both the Art and Ingenuity of the Writer? We see, then, that the
Elegance of Thought is much promoted by that of Diction; and this is
true of all Sorts of Thought, as well the beautiful, as the sublime,
but more particularly of that which consists of _Comparison_ and
_Description_. On the other Hand, that the Elegance and Sublimity of
Thought conduces much to the Elegance and Sublimity of Expression, is
too clear to need either Proof or Example; Thought being, as it were,
the Life of Words, and (as the Schoolmen speak) that which gives them
their _essential Form_. Upon the whole, then, beautiful Thoughts and
Expressions mutually help and adorn each other, as a goodly Personage
and a rich Attire. Wherein consists the Beauty of Thought, shall be the
Subject of our next Enquiry.


[20] Take a remarkable Instance from Mr. _Dryden's Love for Love_,
where, from making use of a seeming Metaphor, he is drawn into a false

    _Her Words were like soft Flakes of falling Snow,
    Which_ MELTED _as they fell_.

If her Words died away, as Snow _melts_, neutrally, 'tis no great
Recommendation of them. But the Idea that should be conveyed to the
Reader is, that they _melted_ the Hearer, as they fell; and then the
Comparison is spoil'd, and may more truly be applied to the Conception
of the Poet, which melts away by the Force of Reason, as Snow does by
the Approach of the Sun.

[21] Hor. & Virg. passim.

[22] Æn. I. 323.

[23] Geor. I. 512.

[24] Sat. VIII. 58.

[25] Hor. L. 1. Od. 25.

[26] Lib. 2. Od. 4.

[27] Od. 3.

[28] Lib. 1. Od. 5.

[29] Lib. 2. Od. 2.

[30] Lib. 2. Od. 8.

[31] Lib. 1. Sat. 4. ℣ 62.

[32] Lib. 2. Od. 10.

[33] Geor. I. 45.

[34] Geor. II. 34.

[35] ℣ 540.

[36] Æn. XI. 1.

[37] II. 50.

[38] Eclog. II. 8.

[39] Eclog. I. 83.

[40] Geor. I. 43.

[41] Eclog. VII. 47.

[42] Geor. I. 7.

[43] Geor. II. 108.

[44] Hor. 1. Od. 6.

[45] L. 2. Od. 9

[46] L. 2. Od. 9

[47] Lib. 2. Od. 8.

[48] 'Tis the Business of the Poet to give _Life_, _Motion_, or
_Sound_ to almost every Thing he describes, which in Oratory would be
ridiculous: Thus, for Example, put into Prose, _Juvenal_'s_----jam tum
mihi barba sonabat_, or _Virgil_'s Description of an Oak grafted on an
Elm,----Glandemque _sues fregere sub ulmis_; with these lively Images
you would gain the Reader's Smile, not his Admiration.

[49] Geor. I. 471.

[50] Æn. IV. 1.

[51] ℣ 65.

[52] ℣ 77.

[53] ℣ 82.

[54] ℣ 462.

[55] VI. 595.

[56] Geor. II. 47.

[57] ℣ 51.

[58] ℣ 332.

[59] Æn. VII. 793.

[60] XII. 283.

[61] Metamorph. I. 292.

[62] II. 521.

[63] ℣ 522.

[64] L. VI. 193.

[65] L. III. 424.

[66] ℣ 463.

[67] Geor. II. 32.

[68] ℣ 69.

[69] Metam. L. VI. 223.

[70] Geor. I. 84.

[71] Geor. II. 73.

[72] Geor. IV. 506

[73] Eclog. III. 45.

[74] Ec. ℣ 82.

[75] Æn. V. 481.

[76] ℣ 169.

[77] ℣ 211.

[78] ℣ 216.

[79] ℣ 270.

[80] Geor. I. 281.

[81] Æn. IV. 361.

[82] ℣ 486.

[83] ℣ 498.

[84] ℣ 505.

[85] ℣ 115.

[86] Geor. IV. 493.

[87] L. III. 539.

[88] Æn. I. 55.

[89] Æn. VII. 25.

[90] Metam. II. 112.

[91] Geor. III. 494.

[92] ℣ 520.

[93] Psal. cxxxvii.

[94] Metam. I. 468.

[95] L. II. 9, 10.

[96] ℣ 122.

[97] ℣ 229.

[98] What can be said for them, see in Mr. _Pope_'s Preface to the

[99] ℣ 273.

[100] Æn. III. 658.

[101] L. VIII. 621, 622.

[102] VIII. 364.

[103] IX. 205.

[104] VIII. 729.

[105] Æn. II. 298.

[106] Art. Poet. ℣ 93.

[107] _Æn._ II. 601.

[108] ℣ 608.

[109] ℣ 620.

[110] XII. 697.

[111] L. III. Od. 3.

[112] De Tertio Consulat. Honorii.

[113] In Probin. & Olybr. Consulat.

[114] De rapt. Pros. L. I.

[115] In Eutrop. L. II.

[116] Equus Max. Domit.

[117] L. I. Od. 3.

[118] Od. 7.

[119] Hor. Serm. I. L. 1.

[120] Epist. I. L. 1.

[121] Am. L. I. Eleg. 1.

[122] Met. L. I. 204.

[123] Mr. _Addison_, not far from this Place, sinks in his Translation
too much in the same Manner:

    Mean while, the restless Horses neigh'd aloud,
    Breathing out Fire, and _pawing where they stood_.

[124] L. II. 167.

[125] ℣ 171.

[126] L. IV. 144.

[127] L. II. 447.

[128] L. VII. 148.

[129] Eclog. III. 25.

[130] ℣ 90.

[131] Geor. I. 476.

[132] ℣ 481.

[133] Lib. I. Sat. IV. 45.

[134] Lib. I. Ep. II. ℣ 40.

[135] Æn. VI. 869.

[136] Æn. V. 273.

[137] Geor. IV. 359.

                       LECTURE VIII, IX, X, XI.
            _Of the Beauty of Thought in Poetry; or of_
                       _Elegance and Sublimity._

In our former Dissertation we treated of the Style of Poetry: From
_Words_ we pass on to _Things_, and propose to speak of the Beauty of
Thought; to shew wherein the Elegance and Sublimity of it consists; the
Reason and Foundation of it; and to enumerate its different Species.

Every one must be sensible, as well as myself, what a difficult Subject
I engage in. If therefore I sometimes err, in so abstruse a Path, I
trust I have a prevailing Plea for your Pardon.

In the preceding Dissertation we have abundantly shewn, that the
_Diction_ of Poetry is very different from that of Prose; but between
the _Thought_ of the one and the other (excepting only Fiction) the
Difference is not so great. What, therefore, I shall say upon this Head,
will, for the most part, be in common both to the Poet and the Orator;
for the Beauty of Thought is generally the same, whether it is express'd
in Verse or Prose. But because Poetry is our Province, I judged it
proper to produce the Examples that illustrate my Subject, from the
Writings of the best Poets.

Writers have taken much Pains to give us a complete Definition of
_Thought_; and some have openly declar'd, that it is not capable of a
Definition. Among these, our Countryman _Cowley_ bears the first Place,
who directly asserts, that _Wit_ (for that is the Word we often use
for those Expressions that are the Effect of it) can only be defin'd
in negative Terms. But (with the Leave of the Learned) this Word, and
the Idea affix'd to it, is as capable of a positive and adequate a
Definition, as many others which we define the most logically, and boast
of having the clearest Notion of. _Wit_, then, in the largest Sense of
the Word, seems to be nothing else, but _a Thought formed so agreeably
to Nature and right Reason, and impressed upon the Mind with such
Clearness, Vivacity, and Dignity, as excites Pleasure or Admiration_.

_Wit_ we take, as we said, in _its largest Extent_. For it is not here
understood in that vulgar and narrow Sense by which it denotes only
Jokes and pointed Turns; but contains every Conception of the Mind that
is beautiful; whatever Elegance or Sublimity the Imagination is capable

_A Thought formed agreeably to Nature and right Reason_, is, in this
Definition, the _Genus_; what follows contains the _Difference_. By the
former Part of the Definition we understand a _Thought that is founded
upon solid and just Principles_, which is twofold, either a Thought
_simply_ consider'd, or a _beautiful_ Thought. Every ingenious Thought,
then, is well founded, but every Thought that is well founded, is not an
ingenious one.

It was necessary to make this the _Genus_ of the _Definition_, that
true Wit might be distinguish'd from false. Thoughts of real Beauty are
always form'd upon Truth, Nature, and right Reason. If they are not
built upon this Foundation, or flow from a less noble Spring, they are
to be rank'd among those _false Brillants_, as they are term'd by our
modern, and especially the _French_, Writers, which may serve to please
Boys, and some others of as little Judgment, but will always be despis'd
by Men of Taste, and of Understanding, who adhere to the infallible
Maxim laid down by _Horace_:

    _Scribendi recte_ sapere _est & principium & fons._

    Sound Judgment is the Ground of writing well.

Thoughts are the Images of Things, as Words are of Thoughts; and
we all know that Images and Pictures are only so far true, as they
are true Representations of Men and Things. Those Passages in
_Virgil_, _Terræque, urbesque recedunt_, and the like, where Things
are represented not as they _are_, but as they _seem_ to be, are no
Objection to what I advance. For Poets, as well as Painters, think it
their Business to take the Likeness of Things from their Appearance.
When they do this, their Thoughts are just, according to the strictest
Rules of Reason; for in Description or Painting that is _truly_
express'd, which is express'd as the Thing _appears_ to be. Neither
_Metaphors_, _Hyperboles_, _Ironies_, nor even _equivocal_ Expressions,
when properly used, nor _Fiction_ or _Fable_, are any Deviation from
this Rule of right Thinking: For there is a wide Difference between
_Falseness_ and _Fiction_, between that which is _truly_ false, (if
I may so speak) and that which is only so in Appearance. Tropes and
Fictions are raised, as it were, upon the Foundation of right Reason.
Truth is the Basis of them, and receives new Lustre from such airy
Disguises. All this will be sufficiently plain in the Sequel of this
Dissertation, and from the Examples to be produced in it. But, in the
first Place, it may not be improper to give one or two Instances of
false Wit; that so we may settle the Difference between what is true,
and counterfeit.

We frequently meet with Passages that want even common Sense, and yet
have somewhat of a ridiculous Brightness in them. A certain Poet gives
us a miserable Description of the Fate of _Pyramus_ and _Thisbe_, and
tells us, that the Sword, when died with the _Blood_ of the unhappy
Lover, blush'd, from a Consciousness of its Crime. No,[139] rather let
the unhappy Writer blush, from a deep Sense of that Elegance which Boys
would be asham'd to own. Another of the same Form, I know not his Name,
tells us, that Lovers always abound with Wit, because _Venus_ sprung
from the _salt_ Ocean. It would be endless to mention all the Turns of
this sort, which take their Rise from the feign'd Names or Adjuncts of
the Heathen Deities.

Modern Writers, all over _Europe_, are many of them wonderfully fond of
these sort of Trifles, especially in their Epigrams and Love-Verses. And
some cannot refrain from them even in their larger Compositions. Several
of our Top Poets of the former Age, (for in the present these kind of
Witticisms are in less Request) abound much with these shining Spots:
Nor are the Ancients, (I instance in _Ovid_) wholly free from them. I
can't help here observing, what an inexhaustible Fund of Conceits our
modern Poets are supplied with from the Eyes of the Fair Sex; which,
as they are the fruitful Parents of various Mischiefs, so are they,
likewise, it seems, of spurious Wit.

There is another Species of Thought which does not, like the former,
deviate from Truth and right Reason, yet is a Violation of the Laws of
Beauty and Accuracy, and is an Instance of false Wit, tho' not of false
Conception. In the _Troas_ of _Seneca_, _Hecuba_ lamenting that the
Body of _Priamus_ should lie unburied, thus expresses her Grief:

    ----_Ille, tot regum parens,
    Caret sepulchro Priamus, & flamma indiget,
    Ardente Troja._----[140]

    _Priam_, the Father of a Race of Kings,
    Now wants a Grave, nor finds a
    Fun'ral Fire, While his own City burns.

How poor a Thought, upon so great and sublime a Subject? How childish a
Reflection, that while _Troy_ was all in Flames, the Body of _Priamus_
should want Funeral ones? How much better does _Virgil_ describe the
very same Circumstance?

    _Hæc finis Priami fatorum, hic exitus illum
    Sorte tulit; Trojam incensam & prolapsa videntem
    Pergama; tot quondam populis, terrisque, superbum
    Regnatorem Asiæ: jacet ingens littore truncus,
    Avulsumque humeris caput, & sine nomine corpus._

    Such was the End of _Priam_'s Fate; the last
    Concluding Scene which Destiny decreed
    To _Asia_'s Lord; once o'er so many Realms
    And Nations, sov'reign Monarch; having seen
    His _Troy_ in Flames, and tumbling to the Ground:
    Upon the Shore the Royal Body lies
    Expos'd; the Head from off the Shoulders torn;
    A Trunk dishonour'd, and without a Name.

Here every Thing is great, full of Majesty, and suitable to the Subject.
The Poet knew better than to sport with Conceits upon so solemn an
Occasion; tho' _Ovid_ is perpetually hunting after them: But this is
never _Virgil_'s Fault; and ought to have been as studiously avoided by
_Seneca_: For Tragedy is of as sublime a Nature as Epic.

That celebrated Passage of _Lucan_, at first Appearance, I confess,
sounds great:

    ----_Cœlo tegitur, qui non habet urnam._

    The Heav'ns entomb the Man that wants an Urn.

The Assertion is true, but the Wit is _false_. It is applied to the
Soldiers that died in the Field, and lay unburied: And tho' we should
grant that the Heavens and the Stars were Materials of greater Value
than Brass and Marble; yet they are a kind of Monument, that, like Death
itself, is common to all; and, in spite of this _Stoical_ Maxim of the
Poet, all Mankind must think it more honourable to be laid at Rest in a
Grave, than expos'd to Birds and Beasts, who at last may boast of the
same Canopy of the Sky, that these unburied Heroes enjoy'd.

Sometimes it happens, that there is a Mixture of true Thought and false;
or the Conception is partly one, partly the other. Thus in that noted
Epigram by a Modern:

    _Lumine Acon dextro, capta est Leonilla sinistro;
      Et potis est forma vincere uterque Deos.
    Blande Puer, lumen quod habes concede sorori;
      Sic Tu cæcus Amor, sic erit Illa Venus._

    _Strephon_ and _Phyllis_ each one Eye have lost,
    Yet may of Beauty more than Mortal boast.
    Let his bright Orb to her the Boy resign,
    He would a _Cupid_, she a _Venus_ shine.

The Epigram _seems_ elegant, and _is_ really so; but the different Parts
of it are not perfectly reconcileable. For if _Strephon_ and _Phyllis_
exceeded the Gods in Beauty, what great Wonder is it, he should become
_Cupid_, she _Venus_? Besides, 'tis absurd to suppose that he should be
either willing, or able to transfer his Eye to his Sister. There is,
however, in these Lines a true epigrammatic Spirit; and nothing can have
more of it than the last of them. For as in Reasoning a true Conclusion
may be drawn from false Premises; so in Writing an elegant Thought may
flow from false Wit. I would not have it objected, that I here draw a
Comparison between Things that are no way allied; for all Beauty, not
only in the argumentative Way of Writing, but even in polite Literature,
depends upon the Rules of Logic, and strict Reasoning.

The Passages I have here produced are a few Instances of false
Eloquence. Wit, therefore, differs from a plain solid Thought, as a
polish'd Diamond from a rough one; and as that does not cease to be a
Diamond by being polish'd, so a Thought loses nothing of its Solidity
by its Elegance. We all know, that a Diamond is not less distinguish'd
from other Stones by its Solidity, than its Lustre: The Difference,
therefore, between true and false Wit, is much the same as between the
Gems of the East, and those of our _British_ Rocks.

Some Verses I have known (but not by what Means) that owe all their
Success to popular Applause, and ill-grounded Fame, instead of Merit. No
one can be a Stranger to the celebrated Epigram of _Sanazarius_ upon the
City of _Venice_; and who shall now dare to question its Title to Fame,
after so long a Prescription?

    _Viderat Adriacis Venetam Neptunus in undis
      Stare Urbem, & toti ponere jura mari.
    Nunc mihi Tarpeias quantumvis, Jupiter, arces
      Objice; & illa tui mœnia Martis, ait:
    Si pelago Tyberim præfers, Urbem aspice utramque;
      Illam homines dices, hanc posuisse Deos._

    In th'_Adriatic_ Gulf, when _Neptune_ saw
    _Venice_ arise, and give to Seas the Law;
    Now, _Jove_, said he, _Tarpeian_ Tow'rs oppose,
    And the proud Walls of _Mars_ compare with those.
    The _Tyber_ to the Sea prefer! and then
    One own the Work of Gods, and one of Men.

I submit with humble Deference to the Judgment of the Learned; but, if
I may freely speak my Sentiments, I have often wonder'd at the good
Fortune of _Sanazarius_, who, by six empty Verses, got not only so
great a Name, but (which is more substantial) so great a Sum of Money.
The Verses, indeed, are smooth and harmonious; they have the outward
Appearance of an Epigram, and contain a poetical Fiction of _Jupiter_
and _Neptune_: But take away these (and these, without somewhat else,
signify little) what else, in the Name of Elegance, does the Poet tell
us, but that _Venice_ is preferable to _Rome_? In naked and simple Terms
he says, that the former looks more like the Work of the Gods, than the
latter. Where is the _Acumen_, the Wit, or the Turn? The Shell, indeed,
of an Epigram, we see; but not so much as the Shadow of Wit.

The first, and principal Species of Wit, is, undoubtedly, that which
does not depend on poetical Fiction, but upon Truth itself. What the
_French_ Poet[144] says upon this Head, in the Preface to his Works, is
very just; and I think I cannot do better than give you his Sentiments
in an _English_ Dress. "Now, if any Man asks me, says he, what this
Agreeableness and this Salt is? I answer, That it is a _Je ne sçay
quoy_, that may be better conceiv'd than describ'd. But yet, in my
Opinion, it principally consists in offering nothing to the Reader but
true Thoughts, and just Expressions. The Mind of Man is naturally full
of an infinite Number of confus'd Ideas of _Truth_, which he often-times
perceives but by Halves; and nothing pleases him more, than when any of
these Ideas are presented to him well illustrated, and set in a good
Light. What is a new brillant, extraordinary Thought? It is not, as the
Ignorant persuade themselves, a Thought which no Body ever had, nor
ought to have. But, on the contrary, a Thought which every Body ought
to have had, and which some one bethinks himself of expressing first.
_Wit_ is not _Wit_, but as it says something every Body thought of,
and that in a lively, delicate, and new Manner. Let us consider, for
Example, the famous Reply of _Lewis_ XII. to some of his Ministers, who
advised him to punish several Persons that in the former Reign (when
he was only Duke of _Orleans_) had made it their Business to prejudice
him, _A King of_ France, _says he, revenges not the Injuries done to a
Duke of_ Orleans. How comes this Saying to strike us so suddenly? Is
it not plainly, because it presents to our Eyes a Truth which all the
World is sensible of, and which expresses better than all the finest
Discourses of Morality, _That a great Prince, after his Accession to the
Throne, ought no longer to act by private Movements, nor to have any
other View but the Glory and general Good of his Kingdom?_" Thus far
that celebrated Author, who seems very happily to have illustrated the
Subject we are upon.

We have many elegant Thoughts, likewise, founded upon Truth, with a
Mixture of poetical Fiction; as in that Epigram of _Martial_ address'd
to _Lucifer_, the Night before _Cæsar_'s Return to _Rome_: After the
first Invocation,

    _Phosphore, redde diem; quid gaudia nostra moraris?
      Cæsare venturo, Phosphore, redde diem._

    Thou bright Forerunner of the golden Day,
    When _Cæsar_ comes, what clogs thy rosy Way?

At some Distance he adds:

    _Quid cupidum Titana tenes? jam Xanthus & Æthon
      Fræna volunt; vigilat Memnonis alma Parens._

    Why hold'st thou _Phœbus_, lab'ring to be freed? }
    His fiery Coursers arm themselves for Speed,     }
    And fair _Aurora_ quits her dewy Bed.            }

He then subjoins:

    _Tarda tamen nitidæ non cedunt sidera luci;
      Et cupit Ausonium Luna videre Ducem._

    But scarce the lagging Stars desert the Skies,
    And pensive _Cynthia_ for the Triumph sighs.

'Tis an undoubted Truth, that Time seems long to those that are big with
Expectation. The Poet, therefore, having, for this Reason, chid the
Tardiness of the Moon and Stars, nothing could be more elegant, than
from this very Circumstance to take a further Occasion of complimenting
the Prince, by finding out another Reason of their Delay; _viz._ that
those bright Attendants (for the Poet suppos'd them endow'd with Sense)
stay'd the longer, that they might be the happy Spectators of _Cæsar_'s
triumphal Entry. He then gives a new Turn to his Reflections, and thus
concludes the Epigram:

    _Jam, Cæsar, vel nocte veni; stent astra licebit,
      Non deerit populo, Te veniente, dies._

    Yet let not _Cæsar_ wait the rising Morn,
    Or damp our Blessings till the Day's Return:
    His Light shall cheer us with as bright a Ray,
    And without _Phœbus_ usher in the Day.

This is ingenious enough, but a little of the boldest. The Prince of
Lyric Poets is more modest upon the same Occasion:

    _Lucem redde tuæ, Dux bone, patriæ;
    Instar veris enim, vultus ubi tuus
    Affulsit populo, gratior it dies,
      Et soles melius nitent._

    Ah! quickly come, and with you bring
    A brighter Sun, a brighter Spring:
    Plenty and Mirth with you appear,
    The World looks gay, when you are here.

He does not say the Approach of _Cæsar_ would restore the Day, but only
increase it; that is, would add to its Gaiety and Lustre: And true it
is, that Men whose Breasts are fill'd with Joy, think every Thing about
them partakes of that Quality.

There are other Thoughts, which tho' founded more upon poetical Fiction
than the former, yet come into the Number of true and elegant ones.
Thus our foremention'd _Martial_, in his Epitaph upon _Canace_, after
having beautifully describ'd the Disease of which the Lady died, in the
following Verses:

       [147]----_Horrida vultum
      Inficit, & tenero sedit in ore lues;
    Ipsaque crudeles ederunt oscula morbi,
      Nec data sunt nigris tota labella rogis._

    A horrid Cancer seiz'd her beauteous Face,
    Prey'd o'er her Charms, and rifled ev'ry Grace;
    Nor spar'd those Lips that ravish'd with a Kiss,
    The inexhausted Treasuries of Bliss!

Thus goes on:

    _Si tam præcipiti fuerant ventura volatu,
      Debuerant alia fata venire via:
    Sed Mors vocis iter properavit claudere blandæ,
      Ne posset duras flectere lingua Deas._

    Determin'd Fate, with his unerring Dart,
    Might, without mangling, have attack'd the Heart;
    But knowing well her Voice would Life prolong,
    He seiz'd the Pow'rs of her enchanting Tongue.

These Kinds of Fictions, tho' very numerous, are no ways repugnant to
Reason, and have not only a Claim to our Pardon, but to our Praise and

[Sidenote: _Ninth Lecture._]

In these, and the like Instances, the great Care is, to have Truth for
the Foundation of what we afterwards advance. As we see it is in the
Example produced from _Martial_. We are allow'd in strictest Reason to
describe others Merit, or our own Grief, in Terms a little heighten'd:
If the Lady, then, whose Death the Poet laments, had, in reality, a
soft and melting Voice, he might justly say it was persuasive enough to
have restrained the Hand of Fate, could it but have found an Utterance:
But Death, fearful of its Power, had seiz'd that Passage, and cut off
the Force of Eloquence. Thus far a Poet may be allow'd to proceed; but,
in good Truth, very little farther. He treads here, as it were, upon a
Precipice; and this Expression of _Martial_, is, perhaps, the utmost
Bound of poetic Truth; the next may carry him into the Ocean of false
Thought. However, this is certain, that all these ingenious Devices
must be built upon something that has an Existence in Nature, and that
it is absurd to make Fiction the Basis, and the Superstructure too;
as they do, more especially, who from the Heathen Mythology supply us
with Fable in great abundance. The antiquated Stories of the Heathen
Gods ought to afford Matter only for Comparison and Allusion, and even
then ought to be brought in with Caution, and to be mention'd only as
Beings once suppos'd to have an Existence. In short, even the lightest
Excursions of Wit ought to be founded upon Reality; and those empty
Trifles are justly contemn'd, which are neither Panegyric nor Satire,
neither illustrate nor explain any Thing, but the wonderful Acuteness of
the Writer. Tho' a beautiful Composition of Thought and Words is the
greatest Master-piece of Nature, yet 'tis possible for an Oration, or
Poem, to be too full of them, tho' never so much diversified. Whatever
Subject, therefore, you endeavour to adorn, let not your Poem be loaded
with Wit. Jewels have always been in Esteem, and ever will be so; yet to
see a Garment disfigur'd all over with different Sorts of them, would
be matter of Ridicule, rather than Admiration; and the most elegant
Epicure would be but little pleas'd with an Entertainment that consisted
of nothing else but Dainties. The same Rule is not less applicable to
Poetry, than Prose; the Reason of it holds equally in both. Poetry,
indeed, admits of greater Ornament, but right Reason always abhors
Luxury, whether in Prose or Verse. The too great Plenty of whatever is
exquisite, does not gratify, so much as satiate both the Senses and
the Understanding; and what in itself is valuable, by Super-abundance
becomes ridiculous. By this faulty kind of Writing the Mind is depriv'd
of that Refreshment and Recreation it takes in passing to and fro from
Things that are excellent, to those that are less so; and of that
Delight which springs from Surprize; neither of which it is capable of,
where all Things appear with undistinguish'd Lustre. 'Tis a foolish
Ambition, therefore, to work up all the beautiful Thought and Diction
you can possibly croud together. We ought always, indeed, to avoid in
both whatever is mean or vulgar, and, as _Longinus_[148] says, is _below
the Dignity of the Subject_; to be always, I say, above the Populace,
tho' sometimes plain, and without Ornament. It is impossible for a
Writer, from the Nature of his Subject, to be upon the Sublime from one
End to the other: Some Things must occur, that require the common Style,
but if they did not, the Rule ought still to be observ'd, for the
Reasons I have before alledg'd. Let Authors take Example from Nature,
who diversifies the great Poem of the World with Spring and Summer. In
each Season, 'tis true, all Things appear pleasant; but how much less
would they be so, nay, how distasteful, if the Fields were cover'd with
nothing else but Flowers? Vivid and smiling they are throughout, but not
all over beset with Nosegays. Flowers grow in their proper and peculiar
Soil; so the Ornaments of a Poem should seem naturally to arise out of
the Matter of it, not forced by Labour, but promoted only by proper
Culture. We ought, indeed, to imitate Art, and it is no mean Specimen
of it, when we intermix these Beauties so skilfully, that they mutually
correspond, and set off each other; in the same Manner that the Florist
disposes his party-colour'd Beds, and the Nymph her odorous Garlands.

             [149]----_Candida Nais
    Pallentes violas, & summa papavera carpens,
    Narcissum, & florem jungit beneolentis anethi.
    Tum casia, atque aliis intexens suavibus herbis,
    Mollia luteola pingit vaccinia caltha._

    For thee the lovely _Nais_ crops the Head
    Of Poppies, and the Violet's pale Flow'rs,
    With the Narcissus, and sweet Anise join'd;
    Then mingling Cinnamon, and other Herbs
    Of fragrant Scent, with the soft Hyacinth,
    The saffron Bloom of Marygolds adorns.


    _Et vos, ô lauri, carpam, & te, proxima myrte;
    Sic positæ quoniam suaves miscetis odores._

    You, too, ye Laurels; and thee, Myrtle, next;
    Because thus mix'd, you fragrant Odours blend.

Beauty in Writing may be consider'd as twofold: Either the _Elegant_,
or _Sublime_. The latter is manifestly distinct from the former; for
there may be Elegance often, where there is no Sublimity; but it may
be question'd, on the other Hand, whether every Thing _sublime_ is not
_elegant_. To me, indeed, it seems not so; or, if we must determine
otherwise, it must be said, that Elegance join'd with Sublimity is
often a different Species of Elegance. Whatever, indeed, is _sublime_,
is _beautiful_. So _Pallas_ is describ'd by the Poets, but with a
Beauty peculiar to herself, awful, majestic, surrounded with an amiable
Grandeur, quite different from the Charms of _Venus_, who is possess'd
with all the soft Attractives, who is all over elegant, but very little
sublime. But however this Question be determined, in the Sequel of this
Discourse I shall examine into the Properties of each of these Beauties
distinctly, and afterwards join'd together.

That noble and happy Sublimity of Thought, which by _Longinus_ is
termed,[151] το περι τας νοησεις ἁδρεπηβολον, is impossible
to be learn'd by Precept: 'Tis the Gift of Nature only, tho' it may be
much assisted by Art. This peculiar Turn of Mind _Virgil_ thus at once
describes, and remarkably exemplifies:

    _Me vero primum dulces ante omnia Musæ,
    Quarum sacra fero, ingenti perculsus amore,
    Accipiant, cœlique vias & sidera monstrent,_ &c.
    _Sin has ne possim naturæ accedere partes,
    Frigidus obstiterit circum præcordia sanguis;
    Rura mihi, & rigui placeant in vallibus amnes,
    Flumina amem, silvasque inglorius._

    Me may the Muses, whose vow'd Priest I am,
    Smit With strong Passion for their sacred Song,
    Dear above all to me, accept; and teach
    The heav'nly Roads, the Motions of the Stars, _&c._
          But if the colder Blood
    About my Heart forbid me to approach
    So near to Nature, may the rural Fields,
    And Streams obscure, which glide along the Vales,
    Delight me; Groves and Rivers may I love.

He shews us he is abundantly endow'd with that Strength of Imagination
he pretends to want, and at the same Time gives us a Specimen of it.

The same must be said of that Fire and Energy in Poetry, which
_Longinus_ calls[153] το σφοδρον, και ενθουσιαστικον παθος,
_viz._ that it is owing to the Indulgence of Nature, and to be regulated
only, not acquir'd by Precept. All we can do, is to produce some
Examples of it, and make a few Observations upon them. The first shall
be that of _Virgil_, in the sixth _Æneis_, where the Poet displays the
sacred Rage of the Sibyl, and his own:

    _Ventum erat ad limen; cum virgo, poscere fata
    Tempus, ait: Deus, ecce! Deus. Cui talia fanti
    Ante fores subito non vultus, non color unus,
    Non comptæ mansere comæ; sed pectus anhelum,
    Et rabie fera corda tument; majorque videri,
    Nec mortale sonans; afflata est numine quando
    Jam propiore Dei. Cessas in vota, precesque,
    Tros, ait, Ænea? Cessas?_

            And now they reach'd
    The Portal: When the Virgin, 'Tis the Time
    Now t' enquire the Doom of Fate; Behold,
    The God, the God, she cry'd. While thus she spoke,
    Before the Doors her Looks, her Colour chang'd,
    Sudden; her Hair in wild Confusion rose.
    Enthusiastic Fury heav'd her Breast,
    And throbbing Heart; more large her Form appear'd;
    Nor spoke the mortal Accents; when inspir'd
    By the more present God. Dost thou delay,
    _Trojan Æneas_, thy Requests, and Vows?
    Dost thou delay? she cry'd.

And after _Æneas_ had ended his Supplication to her:

    _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 impatient in her Grot
    _Apollo_'s swelling Priestess wildly raves;
    Reluctant, lab'ring from her Breast to heave
    Th' incumbent God: So much the more he curbs
    Her foamy Mouth, subdues her madding Heart,
    And pressing forms her.

And lastly, at the End of the Sibyl's Answer:

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

    Thus the _Cumæan_ Sibyl, from her Shrine,
    Sings mystic Verse; and bellows in her Cave,
    Involving Truth in Darkness: As she foams,
    _Apollo_ shakes the Reins, and goads her Breast.

This is one Species of poetic _Pathos_, or Enthusiasm; _viz._ which
consists in the Marvellous, and raises Admiration, by impressing upon
the Mind something great, unusual, and portentous, and is styled by the
_Greeks_ ὁρμη, by the _Latins_ _Impetus_, or _furor poeticus_.
There are other Kinds of it, which excite Grief, Pity, Terror, and work
upon the other Passions. If the _Spirit_ of the Poet is most admir'd in
the former, the Reader's is at least as much affected by the latter. And
since it is the great Art of Poetry to work upon the Passions, it may
not be improper to dwell a little upon this Branch of it. How sweet is
that Complaint of _Phyllis_ to _Demophoon_, in _Ovid_? How wonderfully
adapted to move Compassion?

    _Credidimus blandis, quorum tibi copia, verbis;
      Credidimus generi, nominibusque tuis;
    Credidimus lacrimis: an & hæ simulare docentur?
      Hæ quoque habent artes; quaque jubentur, eunt.
    Diis quoque credidimus, quo jam tot pignora nobis?
      Parte satis potui qualibet inde capi._

    On thy soft Speeches I with Rapture hung,
    The boundless Treasures of thy melting Tongue.
    Thy Name I credited, thy Birth, thy Line:
    Art thou by Falsehood Man, by Birth divine?
    Thy Tears resistless! do they flow by Art,
    Th'obedient Tides of Nature, and the Heart!
    These have their Frauds, and find the subtle Path,
    As you direct, to steal a Lover's Faith.
    The Gods, too, I believ'd, by whom you swore;
    Each Motive was too much, what needed more?

No one was a greater Master of this Secret than _Ovid_; none understood
Nature more than he, or express'd her various Conflicts better: And
he has left us abundance of Instances of it in his _Epistles_ and
_Metamorphoses_. To pass over others, I shall produce only that Passage
where he describes the Passion of _Medea_ for _Jason_:

    _Concipit interea validos Æetias ignes:
    Et luctata diu, postquam ratione furorem
    Vincere non potuit; Frustra, Medea, repugnas,
    Nescio quis deus obstat, ait; mirumque, nisi hoc est,
    Aut aliquod certe simile huic, quod amare vocatur.
    Nam cur jussa patris nimium mihi dura videntur?
    Sunt quoque dura nimis: cur, quem modo denique vidi,
    Ne pereat timeo? Quæ tanti causa timoris?
    Execute virgineo conceptas pectore flammas,
    Si potes, infelix; si possem, sanior essem.
    Sed trahit invitam nova vis; aliudque cupido,
    Mens aliud suadet; video meliora, proboque,
    Deteriora sequor._

    Mean while, _Medea_, seiz'd with fierce Desire,
    By Reason strives to quench the raging Fire;
    But strives in vain: Some God, she said, withstands,
    And Reason's baffled Counsel countermands.
    What unseen Pow'r does this Disorder move?
    'Tis Love--at least 'tis like what Men call Love.
    Else wherefore should the King's Commands appear
    To me too hard? But so, indeed, they are.
    Why should I for a Stranger fear, lest he      }
    Should perish, whom I did but lately see;      }
    His Death, or Safety, what are they to me?     }
    Wretch from thy Virgin Breast this Flame expel,
    And soon--Oh! cou'd I, all wou'd then be well!
    But Love, resistless Love, my Soul invades;
    Discretion this, Affection that persuades.
    I see the right, and I approve it, too;
    Condemn the wrong--and yet the wrong pursue.
                   _Tate_ and _Stonestreet_.

After this, the Poet wonderfully describes the dubious Strife between
Love and Shame, Reason and Affection, as he does in many other Places.
I know, very well, that Objections have been rais'd against this very
Passage I have cited, and that _Ovid_ is compar'd with _Apollonius
Rhodius_ and _Virgil_, even upon these Topics, much to his Disadvantage.
I can't deny but that when he does best, he often falls short of that
Sublimity in which he was naturally deficient; that when he shines most,
he generally abounds with an unhappy Luxuriancy of Thought, disagreeable
Repetitions, unseasonable and absurd Conceits; that his Style is loose
and incorrect: However, let him have his due Praise, let him be allow'd
to draw the Out-lines of Nature truly, tho' he does not keep accurately
to every Feature of her.

But if you want Perfection upon this Head, consult _Virgil_, who, as
he excels in all other Kinds of Writing, so, especially, in describing
and moving the Passions, in the fourth _Æneis_ especially; which may
with Justice be styled an _Epic Tragedy_. And since no Age, Nation, or
Language, has yet produced a Work that lays open so wonderfully the
various Tumults of the Soul; I shall perform, perhaps, no disagreeable
Office, if I lay before you an Epitome of this Part of it, so far as
relates to the Passions.

In the Beginning, the unfortunate Queen, in Conversation with her
Sister, thus discovers the Effects of _Love_:

    _Anna soror, quæ me suspensam insomnia terrent?
    Quis novus hic nostris successit sedibus hospes?
    Quam sese ore ferens! quam forti pectore, & armis!_

    What Dreams, my dearest _Anna_, discompose
    My Rest? What wond'rous Stranger at our Court
    It here arriv'd! how God-like he appears!
    In Mien how graceful! and how brave in Arms!

And a few Lines after:

    _Anna (fatebor enim) miseri post fata Sichæi
    Conjugis, & sparsos fraterna cæde penates;
    Solus hic inflexit sensus, animumque labantem
    Impulit; agnosco veteris vestigia flammæ._

    My Sister, (for to thee I will disclose
    My inmost Thoughts) since poor _Sichæus_ fell,
    And with his Blood, spilt by a Brother's Hand,
    Sprinkled our Household Gods; this only Man
    Has warp'd my Inclinations, and unfix'd
    My stagg'ring Resolution: I perceive
    The Signs and Tokens of my former Flame.

Now _Shame_, on the other Hand, exerts its Power, and claims to be
heard, in Opposition to Love:

    _Sed mihi vel tellus, optem, prius ima dehiscat,
    Vel Pater omnipotens adigat me fulmine ad umbras,
    Pallentes umbras Erebi, noctemque profundam;
    Ante, Pudor, quam te violem, aut tua jura resolvam:_

    But may the yawning Earth devour me quick,
    Or _Jove_ with Thunder strike me to the Shades,
    Pale Shades of _Erebus_, and Night profound;
    E'er, Modesty, I break thro' thy Restraints,
    Or violate thy Laws.

She then _complains_ of _Æneas_'s concealing his Departure; she
_expostulates_ with him of the Injury he intended her; and full, at the
same Time, of _Fear_ and _Grief_, she thus endeavours to work upon his

    _Dissimulare etiam sperasti, perfide, tantum
    Posse nefas? tacitusque mea decedere terra?
    Nec te noster amor, nec te data dextera quondam,
    Nec moritura tenet crudeli funere Dido?_ &c.

    And could'st thou hope, Perfidious, to conceal
    So black a Crime? and silent leave my Coasts?
    Cannot my Love, nor thy once plighted Faith,
    Nor _Dido_'s cruel, and untimely Death,
    Detain thee?

But as soon as she hears _Æneas_ openly declare his firm Resolution,
from Tears and Intreaties she bursts out into _Passion_, _Rage_, and

    _Talia dicentem jamdudum aversa tuetur,
    Huc illuc volvens oculos, totumque pererrat
    Luminibus tacitis, & sic accensa profatur.
    Nec tibi Diva parens, generis nec Dardanus auctor,
    Perfide; sed duris genuit te cautibus horrens
    Caucasus, Hyrcanæque admorunt ubera tigres._

    Thus, while he spoke, she silently intent,
    Ey'd him averse, and roll'd her glaring Balls
    Around; from Head to Foot survey'd him o'er,
    Speechless a while; and thus her Rage reply'd:
    Nor art thou of a Goddess-mother born;
    Nor is thy Birth from _Dardanus_ deriv'd,
    Perfidious Wretch: But _Caucasus_, with Rocks
    Horrid disclos'd thee from its flinty Sides,
    And fierce _Hyrcanian_ Tygers gave thee Suck.

Throughout the whole Speech (every Line of which is beautiful beyond all
Comparison) she exclaims, interrogates, calls Gods and Men to witness,
loads her Lover with Threats and Curses; in short, the Tempest of her
Soul runs so high, as if it never more would know a Calm. What, then,
says _Dido_, when she appears next?

    _Improbe Amor, quid non mortalia pectora cogis?
    Ire iterum in lacrimas, iterum tentare precando,
    Cogitur, & supplex animos submittere amori._

                               Cruel Love,
    To what Extremes does not thy tyrant Pow'r
    Urge mortal Breasts? Again dissolv'd in Tears,
    Spight of her Rage and Pride, again she tries
    Suppliant Intreaties, and submissive bows
    Her haughty Soul to Love.

After this, she implores, conjures her Sister to be her Mediator in
this momentous Affair, and to convey to _Æneas_ her softest Entreaties;
than which, nothing can be more pathetic, and adapted to move

    _Hunc ego si potui tantum sperare dolorem,
    Et perferre, soror, potero. Miseræ hoc tamen unum
    Exequere, Anna, mihi; solam nam perfidus ille
    Te colere, arcanos animi tibi credere sensus;
    Sola viri molles aditus, & tempora nôras.
    I, soror; atque hostem supplex affare superbum._

    Could I have e'er expected such a Blow
    Of cruel Fate as this; my Soul could then
    Have borne it: Yet this only Favour grant
    Thy wretched Sister; for that faithless Man
    To thee, alone, uncommon Rev'rence paid,
    Trusted his Secrets with thee; thou, alone,
    Didst know the soft Approaches to his Soul,
    And all the proper Seasons of Address:
    Go, Sister; and this Message suppliant bear.

In the foregoing Speech she broke out into these Reproaches:

    _Nusquam tuta fides: ejectum littore, egentem,
    Excepi, & regni demens in parte locavi;
    Amissam classem, socios à morte reduxi.
    Heu! furiis incensa feror,_ &c.

    True Faith is no where to be found. Him toss'd
    On Shore, of all Things indigent, I here
    Receiv'd, and made him Partner of my Throne:
    (Fool that I was) repair'd his shatter'd Fleet,
    And hospitably sav'd his Friends from Death.
    Furies distract me.

But in what different Terms does she expostulate in this?

    _Non ego cum Danais Trojanam exscindere gentem
    Aulide juravi, classemve ad Pergama misi;
    Nec patris Anchisæ cineres, manesve revelli:
    Cur mea dicta negat duras demittere in aures?_

                   I never did conspire
    At _Aulis_ with the _Greeks_, to overturn
    The _Trojan_ State, nor sent a Fleet to _Troy_;
    Nor e'er disturb'd his bury'd Father's Dust.
    Why does he stop his unrelenting Ears
    To my Intreaties?

Before, she had thus express'd her Rage:

    ----_Neque te teneo, neque dicta refello.
    I, sequere Italiam ventis; pete regna per undas;
    Spero equidem mediis (si quid pia numina possunt)
    Supplicia hausurum scopulis_, &c.

    I nor detain thee, nor refel thy Words.
    Away for _Latium_ by the Winds; go, seek
    Thy Kingdom o'er the Waves. For me, I hope,
    If the just Gods have Pow'r, thou wilt receive
    Thy due Reward among the Rocks.

Behold, now, another Strain!

    _Quo ruit? extremum hoc miseræ det munus amanti;
    Expectet facilemque fugam, ventosque ferentes.
    Non jam conjugium antiquum, quod prodidit, oro;
    Nec pulchro ut Latio careat, regnumque relinquat;
    Tempus inane peto, requiem, spatiumque furori,
    Dum mea me victam doceat fortuna dolere._

                Whither does he fly
    So hasty? This last Favour let him grant
    To his unhappy Lover; let him wait
    An easy Voyage, and permitting Winds.
    I now no more petition him to yield
    The Rites of Nuptials, which he has betray'd;
    Nor urge him to relinquish his gay Hopes
    Of _Italy_, and Empire: All I beg,
    Is but a soothing Interval, some Rest,
    And Respite to my Passion; till my Fate
    Shall to Misfortune reconcile my Soul,
    Subdu'd by Grief, and teach me how to mourn.

That Man must be as void of Sense, as of Humanity, that does not feel
in himself the strongest Emotions of Pity and Admiration, of Grief and
Pleasure, when he reads so moving a Complaint; than which, I may venture
to pronounce, there is not a greater Master-piece, either in Art or

I might justly fear lying under the Imputation of Prolixity in citing
these Passages, if the Beauty of them did not compensate for their
Number. As no one ever touch'd the Passions like _Virgil_, you'll
forgive the Liberty I have taken in recalling to your Mind so many
pleasing Instances of his Power.

What _Longinus_ calls[170] φαντασιαι, and others, as he
tells us, ειδωλοποιιαι the _Roman_ Writers style _Visions_,
or _Imaginations_, and the modern _Images_. These, then, operate,
"when (as _Longinus_[171] speaks) a Man has so strong an Imagination
of the Things he describes, that he seems to be in Transport, as it
were, to behold them with his own Eyes, and places them before those
of his Hearers." What _Longinus_ adds immediately afterwards, in
relation to these Images, I must confess I don't rightly comprehend,
or (with all Deference to so great Authority) I cannot assent to.
Ὁς δ' ἑτερου τι ἡ ῥητορικη φαντασια βουλεται, και ἑτερον
ἡ παρα ποιηταις, ουκ αν λαθοι σε. Ουδ' ὁτι της μεν εν ποιησει
τελος εστιν εκπληξις, της δ' εν λογοις εναργεια. Which _Tollius_ thus
paraphrastically translates: "You cannot be ignorant, I suppose, that
Oratorical Visions intend one Thing, and Poetical another; that the Aim
of the latter is to affect the Hearers with Terror; of the former to
express every Thing so strongly, that it may be rather seen, than heard
by the Audience. The one we may properly call Evidence, or Illustration;
the other Consternation, or Amazement." I own, I say, this is what
I cannot well digest; for neither is it true that the Images, which
Poetry impresses, affect us with Terror only, for all Sorts of Images
are impress'd by Poetry; nor is it the peculiar Property of Oratory _to
express every Thing so strongly, that it may be rather seen, than heard
by the Audience_; since Poetry has a much larger Share in this Province
than Oratory. The only Difference between them in this Particular is,
that all Images are impress'd more _strongly_ by the one; but all are
_truly_ impress'd by both. This is a Difficulty in _Longinus_, which
not one of his numerous Commentators has touch'd upon. If, therefore,
I am fallen into any Mistake, I hope I shall be the easier pardoned,
as I have none of the Helps of the Learned to conduct me out of it.
But however that be, all are agreed that the Images excited, both by
Oratory and Poetry, strike the Mind with a sudden Force. To prove this,
_Longinus_ recites the Speech of _Orestes_[172], where he cries out,
that he sees his Mother and the Furies stand before him; which _Virgil_
has wonderfully imitated, in the following Passage:

    _Eumenidum veluti demens videt agmina Pentheus,
    Et solem geminum, & duplices se ostendere Thebas:
    Aut Agamemnonius, scenis agitatus, Orestes,
    Armatam facibus matrem, & serpentibus atris,
    Cum fugit, ultricesque sedent in limine Diræ._
    So raving _Pentheus_ Troops of Furies sees,
    Two Suns, and double _Thebes_: So mad with Guilt,
    _Orestes_, agitated on the Stage,
    Flies from his Mother's Ghost, with Torches arm'd,
    And black infernal Snakes; revengeful Fiends
    Sit in the Doors, and intercept his Flight.

As I have occasionally mention'd this remarkable Place, it may not
be amiss to observe, that Images are no where better impress'd, than
throughout that Description, where _Dido_ is represented under the
Conflicts of Love, and dismay'd with Prodigies. I shall only cite one
Part of it, and the rather, because it contains a mere intellectual Idea
not subject to the Senses, which yet is as clearly impress'd, as if it
were the proper Object of them: An infallible Proof of the Skill of the

             [174]----_Agit ipse furentem
    In somnis ferus Æneas; semperque relinqui
    Sola sibi, semper longam incomitata videtur
    Ire viam, & Tyrios deserta quærere terra._

                  In her Dreams
    Cruel _Æneas_ persecutes her Soul
    To Madness. Still abandon'd to herself,
    Cheerless, without a Guide, she seems to go
    A long, a tedious Journey, and to seek
    Her _Tyrian_ Subjects on deserted Coasts.

To conclude; in a word, every Conception of the Mind, join'd to a
beautiful Description, is an Image. I cannot produce a better Proof of
this, than that Passage in _Homer_, where _Astyanax_ shrinks at the
Sight of his Father array'd in Armour.

    Ὁς ειπων, ὁυ παιδος ορεξατο Φαιδιμος Ἑκτωρ, κ. λ.

    Thus having spoke, th' illustrious Chief of _Troy_
    Stretch'd his fond Arms to clasp the lovely Boy.
    The Babe clung crying to his Nurse's Breast,
    Scar'd at the dazling Helm, and nodding Crest.

To which may be added, the following Description of _Virgil_, out of
innumerable others:

         [177]----_Viridi fœtam Mavortis in antro
    Procubuisse lupam, geminos huic ubera circum
    Ludere pendentes pueros, & lambere matrem
    Impavidos; illam tereti cervice reflexam
    Mulcere alternos, & corpora fingere lingua._

               In the mossy Cave of _Mars_
    A female Wolf lay suckling; at her Teats
    Two sporting Infants hung, and lick'd their Dam,
    Intrepid: She her sleek round Neck reclin'd,
    Smooth'd them, by Turns, and form'd them with her Tongue.

And that Night Piece of his, in the seventh _Æneis_, where we see the
Ship under Sail, by Moon-shine:

    _Aspirant auræ in noctem; nec candida cursum
    Luna negat; splendet tremulo sub lumine pontus.
    Proxima Circææ raduntur littora terræ,
    Dives inaccessos ubi Solis filia lucos
    Assiduo resonat cantu, tectisque superbis
    Urit odoratam nocturna in lumina cedrum,
    Arguto tenues percurrens pectine telas.
    Hinc exaudiri gemitus, iræque leonum
    Vincla recusantum, & sera sub nocte rudentum;
    Setigerique sues, atque in præsepibus ursi
    Sævire, ac formæ magnorum ululare luporum._

                       A Breeze at Night
    Springs fresh; nor does the silver Moon deny
    Her Beams, which tremble on the glimm'ring Waves.
    Next, coasting, close by _Circe_'s Shores they sail;
    Where she, the wealthy Daughter of the Sun,
    With ceaseless singing makes the Groves resound,
    Groves inaccessible; and in the Rooms
    Of her proud Palace, for nocturnal Light,
    Sweet Cedar burns: While thro' the slender Web
    Her whistling Shuttle flies along the Loom.
    Hence Groans are heard; the Noise of Lions, fierce,
    Rebellious to their Chains, and roaring loud
    In Dead of Night; the Grunt of bristly Boars;
    The Rage of Bears, reluctant, in their Stalls;
    And huge portentous Forms of howling Wolves.

[Sidenote: _Tenth Lecture._]

It would be entering upon too large a Field, to enquire into all the
Variations, and Turns of Thought and Style, which Verse and Prose
are capable of: Such as, Interrogations, Exclamations, the different
Disposition of Tropes and Figures, the elegant Repetition of Words,
the no less elegant Abruptness in Sentences, the Want of Connexion,
Apostrophe, Prosopopœia, the Change of Numbers, Persons, Cases,
Tenses; and a Multitude of other Incidents, which are reducible to
Thought, as well as Style. Since the Variety of these is as infinite,
as their Elegance is exquisite, it is impossible to explain them all
by Rules, or illustrate them by Example. _Longinus_ has mentioned some
few, and our modern Books of Rhetoric are full of them. But the Want of
Precept will be abundantly compensated to the Learner, by a good Taste,
and a diligent Application to the Study of the best Authors.

Among the many Embellishments of Writing, few are attended with greater
Beauty than _Antitheta_. The Reason is obvious, because Contraries
illustrate, and recommend each other by Comparison. Of this the
following Passage in _Virgil_ is a remarkable Instance; where we have a
beautiful Irony and Antithesis, at the same Time:

    _Egregiam vero laudem, & spolia ampla refertis,
    Tuque, puerque tuus, magnum & memorabile nomen;
    Una dolo Divûm si fœmina victa duorum est._

    Prodigious Trophies you indeed have gain'd,
    You, and your Boy; vast Praise, a deathless Name;
    If by the Fraud of two celestial Pow'rs
    One Woman be subdu'd.

Near a-kin to it, is that Antithesis in _Ovid_:

             [180]----_Quæ gloria vestra est;
    Si juvenes puerum, si multi fallitis unum?_

    Will you, my Friends, united Strength employ,
    Against one many, Men against a Boy?

When the Thoughts are thus set against each other, they appear with
Energy, and strike the Mind with redoubled Force.

Another Elegance in a Writer, is to convey the whole of his Idea to the
Reader, by expressing only some Circumstances of it.

    _Dixerat; atque illam media inter talia ferro
    Collapsam aspiciunt comites, ensemque cruore
    Spumantem, sparsasque manus._

    Thus, while she spoke, th' Attendants saw her fall,
    The Sword all frothing, and her Hands besmear'd
    With Blood.

Thus _Virgil_ describes _Dido_ killing herself: An inferior Poet, no
doubt, would have represented her in the fatal Act, rushing upon the
Sword with all her Strength, the Blood gushing out, and that Part of
her Body which receiv'd the Wound expos'd to View. But how much better
are all these passed over, and suggested to us only by their Adjuncts
and Effects? There is another Example, of this kind, in the fourth
_Georgic_, which is truly wonderful:

    _Illa quidem, dum te fugeret per flumina præceps,
    Immanem ante pedes hydrum moritura puella
    Servantem ripas alta non vidit in herba.
    At chorus æqualis Dryadum clamore supremos
    Implerunt montes; flerunt Rhodopeiæ arces_, &c.

    She doom'd to Death, while, heedless, thee she fled,
    Along the River's Side, before her Steps,
    In the high Grass saw not the monstrous Snake,
    Which, unperceiv'd, lay lurking on the Bank.
    But all the beauteous Quire of Woodland Nymphs,
    Her Fellows, fill'd with Shrieks the lofty Hills;
    The _Rhodopeian_ Mountains wept, _&c._

How concise, and ingenious! This Artifice of insinuating only the Sense
to the Reader, is so useful in Epigram, that the whole Thought often
turns upon it. Thus in that of _Martial_:

    _Pexatus pulchre, rides mea, Zoile, trita;
      Sunt hæc trita quidem, Zoile; sed mea sunt._

    My Threadbare Coat is scorn'd by Liv'ry-_John_:
    'Tis true, 'tis Threadbare--but it is my own.

The Turn, you see, is witty, and facetious! But how poor a Joke had it
been, if the Poet had only said, however true it was, that the Clothes
which _Zoilus_ wore were not his own? But I fear, I transgress the very
Rule I am recommending: I shall therefore add no more, than only to
remind the Reader, that what I have said under another Head[184], might
more properly come under this, _viz. That the Mind of Man does not love
to have too minute a Detail of Particulars; but takes a Pleasure in
having Room for Imagination, and in forming a Judgment of what is not
express'd, from what is._

And since I have casually mention'd Transitions, I would here observe,
that the Elegance of them is equal to their Difficulty: The great Secret
consists either in digressing of a _sudden_ to some new Subject, and
giving the Reader the Pleasure of a Surprize; and yet continuing on the
Thread of the Discourse so artfully, that he may admire a _Connection_,
where, at first, there seem'd to be none: Or in such a gradual
Transition from Thought to Thought, of near Affinity with each other,
that the Mind may be imperceptibly led to a very different Subject,
without being sensible of the intermediate Steps of the Digression.
Thus, in the Rainbow, the neighbouring Colours are so like each other,
that 'tis hard to say where this ends, or that begins; yet there's a
wide Difference, if we leave out the intermediate Shades, and compare
the Rays of the two Extremes. My Meaning, perhaps, will appear clearer
from Example. _Horace_ begins his 29th Ode, of the third Book, in the
following Manner:

    _Tyrrhena regum progenies, tibi
    Non ante verso lene merum cado,
      Cum flore, Mæcenas, rosarum,
        Pressa tuis balanus capillis
    Jamdudum apud me est,_ &c.

      My noble Lord, of Royal Blood,
      That from the _Tuscan_ Monarchs flow'd,
    I have a Cask ne'er pierc'd before;
      My Garlands wreath'd, my Crowns are made,
      My Roses pluck'd to grace thy Head;
    As fair and sweet as e'er _Præneste_ bore.

And concludes it thus:

    _Non est meum, si mugiat Africis
    Malus procellis, ad miseras preces
      Decurrere, & votis pacisci,
        Ne Cypriæ, Tyriæque, merces
    Addant avaro divitias mari:
    Tunc me biremis præsidio scaphæ
      Tutum per Ægæos tumultus
        Aura feret, geminusque Pollux._

      When spreading Sails rough Tempests tear,
      I make no lamentable Pray'r;
    I do not bargain with the Gods,
      Nor offer costly Sacrifice
      To save my precious _Tyrian_ Dyes
    From adding Riches to the greedy Floods.
      E'en 'midst these Storms I'll safely ride,
      My Bark shall stem the highest Tide,
    Tho' Tempests toss, and th'Ocean raves;
      _Castor_ shall gather gentle Gales,
      And _Pollux_ fill my spreading Sails,
    And bear me safe thro' the _Ægæan_ Waves.

Between the Beginning and Ending, consider'd in themselves, how wide a
Difference? And yet, if we examine the Gradation of Thought thro' the
whole Ode, we shall see the most elegant Connection. In the Beginning,
the Poet invites his Statesman Friend to Supper: "I have prepared every
Thing for your Reception, says he; leave, for a While, the City, the
Business and Riches of it; 'tis a Pleasure often to Men of high Station,
to partake of the Change of Low Life. Forget Politics for a While,
and be not over anxious for the Nation's Welfare. Providence conceals
Futurity from us Mortals: Let us therefore, in Prudence, make the best
of the present; all else is carry'd down by the Stream of Time, and
what is past returns no more. Fortune is fickle; I am pleas'd, when she
smiles; but disregard her Frowns, contented with Poverty and Virtue.
Care is the inseparable Attendant of Riches; I compound to want the one,
that I may be secure from the other. I have no Business, when Storms
roar, to fall into Tears," _&c_. Behold a Chain connected, and yet
conceal'd with the greatest Art.

Sometimes it is necessary that the Transition should appear open, and
design'd; but often otherwise. In the following Passage, we shall see
a Specimen of either Sort; I mean, of the formal, and of the sudden
Transition. _Turnus_ having, in the eleventh _Æneis_, had a good many
Words with _Drances_, and in great Passion thrown out these, among the

    _Nunquam animam talem dextra hac (absiste moveri)
    Amittes; habitet tecum, & sit pectore in isto._

                     A Soul like that (dismiss
    Thy Terror) by this Hand thou ne'er shalt lose;
    There let it dwell, and in that Breast remain.

thus turns his Discourse to the King:

    _Nunc ad Te, & tua, magne Pater, consulta revertor.
    Si nullam nostris ultra spem ponis in armis,
    Si tam deserti sumus, ut semel agmine verso
    Funditus occidimus, nec habet fortuna regressum;
    Oremus pacem, & dextras tendamus inermes.
    Quanquam ô! si solitæ quicquam virtutis adesset;
    Ille mihi ante alios fortunatusque laborum,
    Egregiusque animi, qui, ne quid tale videret,
    Procubuit moriens, & humum semel ore momordit._

    To you, great Monarch, and to your Debates,
    I now return. If you no more repose
    Hope in our Arms; if by one Battle lost,
    We perish whole, and Fortune knows no Change;
    Let us beg Peace, and stretch our Hands unarm'd.
    (Yet Oh! did any of our pristine Worth
    And Virtue still remain; that Man to me
    Would in his glorious Toils most blest appear,
    Who, rather than behold a Thing like this,
    Fell once for all, and dying bit the Ground.)

Reverence due to Majesty requir'd that _Turnus_ should direct his
Discourse from _Drances_ to the King, by some solemn Address. But after
_dextras tendamus inermes_, to _Quanquam ô! si solitæ quicquam virtutis
adesset_, the Transition is sudden, and unexpected. The Mind, by this
Means, is transported from one Contrary to another; a sure Indication of
the Force of Eloquence, and of its powerful Operation on its Hearers.

In Narrations 'tis no small Art to make a Transition from one Fact to
another: Several Instances of this, we have in _Ovid_'s _Metamorphoses_,
the Nature of which Work requir'd them; where the Connection, indeed,
is sometimes neat and artful, sometimes hard and forced, not to say

Under this Head we may reckon those Excursions of another kind, in
which the Poet, by some sudden Allusion or Comparison, diverts from his
Subject to a new Matter, and immediately returns to it again. I shall
explain myself better by Example. _Juvenal_, describing the various
Inconveniencies of the City, mentions these, among the rest:

           [186]----_Rhedarum transitus arcto
    Vicorum inflexu, & stantis convicia mandræ,
    Eripiunt somnum Druso, vitulisque marinis._

    The Drover who his Fellow Drover meets
    In narrow Passages of winding Streets;
    The Waggoners that curse their standing Teams,
    Wou'd wake ev'n drowsy _Drusus_ from his Dreams.

His Intent, as I said, was to recount the Disadvantages of a City Life;
and mentioning, among them, the Obstructions in the Streets, from Chairs
and Coaches, he takes Occasion, by the bye, to reproach the Sloth and
Laziness of _Drusus_. So again, enumerating the Miseries of Old Age, he

               [187]----_Circumsilit, agmine facto,
    Morborum omne genus; quorum si nomina quæras
    Promptius expediam, quot amaverit Hippia mœchos,
    Quot Themison ægros Autumno occiderit uno,
    Quot Basilus socios, quot circumscripserit Hirrus
    Pupillos,_ &c.

    In fine, he wears no Limb about him sound:
    With Sores and Sicknesses belleaguer'd round:
    Ask me their Names, I sooner cou'd relate
    How many Drudges on salt _Hippia_ wait;
    What Crouds of Patients the Town Doctor kills,
    Or how, last Fall, he rais'd the Weekly Bills;
    What Provinces by _Basilus_ were spoil'd,
    What Herds of Heirs by Guardians are beguil'd.

These Excursions are chiefly suitable to _Satire_; and there's no Branch
of it attended with greater Wit and Poignancy.

I have not Room here, to treat of _Comparisons_ in the Manner they
deserve; they being so various, that they would require an entire
Dissertation. When they are ill drawn, nothing is more ridiculous; when
well, nothing more beautiful. No kind of Style is excluded from them,
and they are not only an Ornament, but often an Illustration of the
Subject. They ought always to appear natural, never forced, or far
fetch'd. Avoid, therefore, the Fault of those Writers, who find out what
they call _Similies_ first, and afterwards Matter to apply to them. Not
that they are guilty of it, whose Comparisons don't in every Respect
coincide with what they were brought to illustrate. Even the most
elegant of them agree sometimes with the Description but in one Adjunct.
Thus _Virgil_, in the eighth _Æneis_:

    _Dixerat; & niveis hinc atque hinc Diva lacertis
    Cunctantem amplexu molli fovet: ille repente
    Accepit solitam flammam; notusque medullas
    Intravit calor, & labefacta per ossa cucurrit.
    Haud secus atque olim tonitru cum rupta corusco
    Ignea rima micans percurrit lumine nimbos._

    She said; and round him threw her snowy Arms,
    And warm'd him, wav'ring, with a soft Embrace:
    He soon receives the wonted Flame, which flies
    Swift thro' his Marrow, and his melting Bones;
    As when in Thunder, lanc'd along the Sky,
    A Streak of Fire runs streaming thro' the Clouds.

Upon a nice Scrutiny, the Parallel between Love and Thunder will hold
but very little: And yet no good Judge, I believe, will dispute the
Elegance of the above Comparison.

On this Head our Moderns seem to excel the Ancients, and to have found
out an Use of Comparisons which they were utter Strangers to. Theirs are
merely ornamental; ours often contain the Points of Epigram, the Jibes
of Satire, and the Banters of Comedy; an Art which _Ovid_, _Martial_,
_Juvenal_, _Horace_ and _Terence_ knew very little of. It will not be
allow'd me to produce Instances here; but innumerable I could produce,
if a Mixture of different Languages, and especially of our own, would
not sound disagreeable in these _Latin_ Dissertations[189]. 'Tis true,
Tragic and Epic Poets ought totally to avoid these witty Allusions;
which are below the Severity of their Style, and the Dignity of their
Compositions. The Comparisons that serve for Illustration only, come
within their Province; such as we meet with very frequently in _Homer_
and _Virgil_: Tho' (to say the Truth) even the best Writers among the
Ancients seem on this Head to labour under a Poverty of Matter. In the
Description of a Battle, for Instance, the Similes of a Lion, a Bull,
a Serpent, an Eagle, and other Animals of the fiercer kind, recur too
frequently under some small Variations. But in After-Ages the Increase
of Arts, and Sciences, and of Religion more particularly, open'd a
new Field, which has minister'd abundantly not only to the Emolument
of Mankind in general, but in this, and in all other Respects, to the
Refinement of Wit.

If I must give my Opinion of those _luxurious Comparisons_ that deviate
from the Subject, which _Homer_, chiefly, among the Ancients, and
_Milton_, among the Moderns, run into; I must confess, they neither
deserve Commendation, nor are capable of Defence. But as they have the
Sanction of so great Authority, it is not for me to pass Judgment on
them, but leave every one to follow his own.

If I remember right, there are few or no Similes in the Tragedies of
the ancient Poets. Among the Moderns, no kind of Writing abounds more
with them; and it must be own'd, they are often much to be admir'd:
But very different are some of these; such, in particular, as are
introduced uttered by Persons labouring under the Height of Passion,
or in the Agonies of Death; than which, nothing can be more absurd,
or unpardonable. As I have casually mention'd this Error in Writing,
I would farther observe, your _pretty Thoughts_, as they are commonly
call'd, are neither suitable in a Passion, nor proper to raise one; they
only serve in Descriptions to play upon the Imagination, not to put the
Affections in Motion. A Breast struggling with Anger, Grief, or Desire,
is little sollicitous to express its Anguish in fine wrought Turns of
Wit, which will never be able to move the Reader to any Thing else but
Madness at the Author's Folly. The plainer Commotions of the Mind are
express'd, the better; here the chief Elegance is to want Ornament, and
'tis the great Master-piece of Art to conceal itself in representing
Nature. Some Figures, indeed, are not only allowable in these Cases,
but necessary; those, in particular, which impress upon the Mind the
various Conflicts of the Soul; for such are the Language of Persons who
feel these Tumults, tho' they were never taught to express them by the
Rules of Rhetoric. But Metaphors and Antitheses, and all Decorations
of that kind, must be us'd sparingly, excepting only those Metaphors
which Orators sometimes call forth to express their Rage, with all the
Fire of Eloquence. This I then rather observe, that I might not seem
to contradict _Longinus_; who, speaking of a Multitude of Metaphors,
says[190], they are then most useful, _when the Passions swell like a
Torrent_. He produces an Instance out of _Demosthenes_, where the Orator
indeed appears in Agitation; but still they are different from those we
are now speaking of, and not so much the Effect of Nature, as of Art:
And even here the Metaphors are far from being bold, nor much distorted
from their literal Sense. 'Tis certain, _Longinus_ did not propose
this as a _general_ Rule; nor is it possible to represent those Throws
and Labours of the Soul in Oratory, which appear in Tragic and Epic
Characters; where Joy, Grief, and Anger, glow more intensely, as well
as more naturally. But if the Orator feels the same Emotions, and in
the same Degree, it is certain he must abstain from the abundant use of

[Sidenote: _Eleventh Lecture._]

Before I conclude this Dissertation, I would lay before my Audience, as
clear an Idea of the different Kinds of Thought which have not yet been
touch'd upon, as Words can convey, and so nice a Subject will admit of.
The _Mordacity_ of the _severe_ and _jocose_ Satire, has been already
describ'd, and some Examples produc'd of each.

There are Thoughts, likewise, of the _delicate_ Kind, whose Excellence
does not consist in their _Acuteness_, but in an artful and agreeable
Turn; which don't strike the Imagination at once with Wonder; but move
it gently, with a more even Tenor. In this soft Strain, _Phædra_ begins
her Epistle to her dear _Hippolytus_:

    _Qua, nisi Tu dederis, caritura est ipsa, salutem
      Mittit Amazonio Cressa puella viro._

    That Health, _Hippolytus_, from me receive,
    Which to the Writer you alone must give.

I could easily have excused _Ovid_ making use of so beautiful a
Turn twice, if he had kept it without any Variation. For in his
_Metamorphoses_, _Byblis_ writes to her Brother almost in the same Terms:

    _Quam, nisi Tu dederis, non est habitura, salutem,
    Hanc tibi mittit amans._

    Thy Lover, gentle _Caunus_, wishes thee
    That Health, which thou, alone, canst give to me.
                                       _Steph. Harvey_, Esq.

But here, for want of the Word _ipsa_, the Elegance is quite lost,
and the Emphasis spoil'd. In the same Poet, _Helen_, under a Pretence
of dissuading _Paris_ from persevering in his Addresses to her, pays a
Compliment to his Beauty, and shews the just Sense she has of her own;
and, at the same Time, artfully insinuates, that she has no Aversion to
his Love, but rather a secret Passion for him: And expresses all this
with wonderful Address, in one Verse:

    _Disce, meo exemplo, formosis posse carere._

                      From my Example learn,
    To bear the Want of what has Pow'r to charm.

Nothing can be more ingenious. This single Line so teems with Thought,
that it would bear, nay require a long Examination, to discover all
its Beauties. At every Word some new Idea arises, which I shall, at
present, leave to the Reflection of others, that I may not anticipate so
great a Pleasure. Under this Head of _delicate Thought_, we may reckon
that celebrated Compliment with which _Horace_ begins his Epistle to

    _Cum tot sustineas, & tanta negotia solus,
    Res Italas armis tuteris, moribus ornes,
    Legibus emendes; in publica commoda peccem,
    Si longo sermone morer tua tempora, Cæsar._

    When you alone sustain the weighty Cares
    Of all the World, and manage Peace and Wars:
    The _Roman_ State by Virtue's Rules amend,
    Adorn with Manners, and with Arms defend;
    To write a long Discourse, and waste your Time,
    Against the publick Good, wou'd be a Crime.

The Address is as genteel as it is ingenious, and it is hard to say
whether we should admire in it more the Poet, or the Courtier.

_Strong Thoughts_ are such as strike us neither with _Acuteness_, their
_Suddenness_, nor their _Delicacy_; but are full of Sense and Solidity,
carry Weight in their Meaning, and sink deep in the Understanding. As in
that of _Virgil_:

    _Disce, Puer, virtutem ex me, verumque laborem,
    Fortunam ex aliis._

    True Toil and Virtue learn, dear Youth, from me;
    Fortune from others.

For it is a great Mistake to think, that Gravity and Severity in
Writing is inconsistent with Wit and Ingenuity. There's Elegance in
moral and philosophical Reflections; and nothing can have more of it
than those Sentences that are scatter'd up and down in the Narrations,
but especially the Speeches, in _Virgil_. In the eleventh _Æneis_, the
confederate _Latin_ Princes deliberate in Council what Steps to take
after their late Defeat; _Turnus_, in a Speech upon that Occasion,
observes, that since they had Forces enough left to continue the War,
they were not reduced to the sad Necessity of suing for Peace. The moral
Reflection he introduces, will be clearer seen, by considering the
Verses before and after it.

    _Sin & Trojanis cum multo gloria venit
    Sanguine, sunt illis sua funera, parque per omnes
    Tempestas; cur indecores in limine primo
    Deficimus? cur ante tubam timor occupat artus?
    Multa dies, variusque labor mutabilis ævi,
    Rettulit in melius; multos alterna revisens
    Lusit, & in solido rursus fortuna locavit.
    Non erit auxilio nobis Ætolus, & Arpi?
    At Messapus erit_, &c.
                If Glory to our Foes
    Came purchas'd at a vast Expence of Blood:
    If they too have their Fun'rals; and thro' all
    The Tempest rag'd with equal Fury; why
    Faint we inglorious, in the first Attempt,
    And shrink with Fear before the Trumpet's Sound?
    Oft has Vicissitude of changeful Time
    By various Turns to better State restor'd
    Distress'd Affairs: Many with pleasing Sport
    Fortune, alternately revisiting,
    Has mock'd, and on a solid Base repos'd.
    Will not _Ætolian Arpi_ give us Aid?
    Yet will _Messapus_, &c.

These _echoing Turns_, much affected by the Moderns, tho' little us'd by
the Ancients, have sometimes their Beauty, sometimes not: I can by no
means agree with a certain Writer of ours, who tells us, that there's
only one Example of this Kind in _Virgil_, and instances in that of
_Orpheus_ looking back upon _Eurydice_:

    _Cum subito incautum dementia cepit amantem,
    Ignoscenda quidem, scirent si ignoscere Manes!_

             When suddenly a Frenzy seiz'd
    Th' unwary Lover; yet a venial Crime
    Cou'd aught be venial, when the _Manes_ judge.

He might with more Justice have produced that famous Sentence in the
second _Æneis_:

    _Una salus victis, nullam sperare salutem_.

                To vanquish'd Men
    The only Safety is to hope for none.

Or those melodious Verses in the eighth Eclogue:

    _Sævus amor docuit natorum sanguine matrem
    Commaculare manus: crudelis tu quoque mater;
    Crudelis mater magis an puer improbus ille?
    Improbus ille puer, crudelis tu quoque mater._

    Inhuman Love th' unnat'ral Mother taught
    To dip her Hands in her own Children's Blood:
    Cruel indeed the Mother; was she then
    More cruel? or more impious that dire Boy?

You see what a beautiful Effect this Repetition of the Words and
Thoughts has; and how much Melancholy it adds to the Complaint. It is
obvious from hence to observe, that _Virgil_ could have far excell'd
_Ovid_ in these lighter Conceits, if he had not chose to let his Genius
soar to much higher Flights. Under this Head we may add the following
Passage from _Ovid_:

    _Si, nisi quæ facie poterit te digna videri,
      Nulla futura tua est; nulla futura tua est._

    If to no Charms thou wilt thy Heart resign,
    But such as merit, such as equal thine;
    By none, alas! by none thou canst be mov'd,
    _Phaon_ alone by _Phaon_ must be lov'd.

The Elegance of these Lines consists in giving a new Sense to the same
Words; they reverberate, as it were, the Motions of the Mind, and
by that Means affect it with Surprize and Admiration. But there are
many who love to be sporting thus with Words, that are even without
Meaning, and have no Thought in them to be reflected. They are a
sort of _nominal_ Turns, that our Youth are wonderfully studious of,
especially in their Prose Writings, and which conduce not a little to
the Corruption of their Taste.

There are Thoughts, likewise, of near Affinity with these, that consist
in _Contraries_, and are sometimes beautiful, often ridiculous. Of the
beautiful Kind, is that of _Martial_ to _Cæsar_:

    _Vox diversa sonat, populorum est vox tamen una;
      Cum verus patriæ diceris esse Pater._

    While you their Country's Guardian they proclaim,
    Their Tongues are diff'rent, but their Voice the same.

_Ovid_ with less Success:

    _Non ego poscenti quod sum cito tradita Regi,
      Culpa tua est; quamvis hoc quoque culpa tua est._

In the former Instance, there's only a _seeming Contrariety_, which is
built upon solid Truth; the latter approaches too near a Contradiction,
I fear, indeed, it is one. To many of these elegant Fancies (among the
Admirers of which Crowds of our modern Writers are desirous of being
number'd) that Sneer of _Martial_ may with much Justice be applied:

    _Pauper videri Cinna vult, & est pauper._

    _Cinna_'s as really poor as he wou'd seem.

They are seeming _Contradictions_, and (strange as this new Species of
Wit is) are in Reality what they seem: Or, if they deserve any better
Name, they are an empty Sound of Words, _meer Noise, and Nonsense_.

Tho' the greatest Part of modern Wit turns entirely on this playing
upon Words, I don't mean in Conversation only, (where these Trifles
are hardly, very hardly tolerable) but even in the severest Writings,
yet every Man of common Sense is so convinced of the Absurdity of
prostituting it to the Abuse of Words, that I shall dwell no longer
upon so disagreeable, so contemptible a Subject. I would only observe,
that the Ancients are but little guilty of this Fault: That of
_Terence_[204], _Inceptio est amentium, haud amantium_; and of _Cicero_,
cited by _Juvenal_,

    _O fortunatam, natam, me consule, Romam._

    Fortune fortun'd the happy Day of _Rome_,
    When thou a Consul sole consol'd her Doom.

and some others, tho' they consist of a Gingle, which I could wish
such excellent Writers had wholly abstain'd from, yet they are not
_equivocal_ Expressions, nor do they contain a double Sense. _Ovid_'s

    _Injustaque justa peregit_,

    And solemniz'd the Death himself had wrought.

I know not how to find an Excuse for. And it must be own'd, that
_Plautus_ often runs into these Puerilities; for which Reason, it is
probable, he falls under the Censure of _Horace_:

    _At proavi nostri Plautinos & numeros &
    Laudavere sales; nimium patienter utrumque,
    (Ne dicam stulte) mirati._

    'Tis true, as I have heard, the former Times
    Clapt _Plautus' Jokes_, and his uneven Rhimes.

And it can't be denied but _Terence_, and some of the best Writers, have
some little Touches of this Epidemical Distemper. There are few of these
Conceits but are _merely equivocal_, that is, vary as little in the
Thought, as in the Expression; a sort of Collision, from whence, 'tis
possible, some Sparks of Wit may sometimes, but very rarely, be struck
out. Thus much I thought proper to lay before you, in Relation to the
_Elegance_ of _Thought_ in Poetry, both true and false.

I have little Occasion to enlarge distinctly upon the _Sublime_,
because many Things relating to it fell in with what I have before
advanced. However, as this was one of the Topics I propos'd to treat
of, it is necessary I should say somewhat to it, before I conclude
this Dissertation. I cannot better explain to you the Nature of the
_Sublime_, and the Manner of its affecting us, than by giving you the
Sense of _Longinus_[208] upon it, not in a literal Version, but by
representing the Substance of him in a few Words. Whence is it that
Writers of this Class, in a divine Impetuosity seem regardless of
Accuracy, and scorn to be confin'd within the vulgar Rules of Exactness?
The Truth is, Nature has form'd Man of an inquisitive Genius, and plac'd
him in the World to behold and admire the Wonders of it; not as an idle
Spectator, but as one concern'd in its busiest Scenes, eager for Action,
and panting after Glory. To this End, he is strongly actuated by a Love
and Desire of every Thing that is great and divine. The vast Expanse of
the Universe cannot bound his Imagination; he extends his Thoughts into
other Worlds, and is lost only in Infinity.

    ----_Vivida vis animi pervincit, & extra
    Procedit longe flammantia mœnia mundi._

    His vigorous and active Mind is hurl'd
    Beyond the seeming Limits of the World.

And, in Truth, if we contemplate a Hero, whose Life is one continu'd
Series of great Actions, we then may make some Estimate of what we
were born to. Hence, then, it is, that Fountains and Rivulets, which
answer all the common Conveniencies of Life, never in a great Degree
awaken our Attention. But when we view the _Rhine_, the _Nile_, the
_Danube_, but, above all, the Ocean, we stand fix'd at once with Awe
and Wonder. So again, without any Emotion, we behold the daily Fires,
of our own making, how long soever they continue burning: But we gaze
with Astonishment at any sudden Light in the Heavens, tho' it vanishes,
perhaps, as soon as it appears. Nor is there any Thing more wonderful in
Nature than the Eruptions of Mount _Ætna_, which sometimes discharges
from its Caverns Stones, and Deluges of Fire:

    ----_Horrificis juxta tonat Ætna ruinis:
    Interdumque atram prorumpit ad æthera nubem,
    Turbine fumantem piceo, & candente favilla,
    Attollitque globos flammarum, & sidera lambit.
    Interdum scopulos, avulsaque viscera montis,
    Erigit eructans, liquefactaque saxa sub auras
    Cum gemitu glomerat, fundoque exæstuat imo._

                     But _Ætna_ thunders nigh
    In dreadful Ruins. With a Whirlwind's Force
    Sometimes it throws to Heav'n a pitchy Cloud,
    Redden'd with Cinders, and involv'd in Smoke;
    And tosses Balls of Flame, and licks the Stars.
    Sometimes with loud Explosion high it hurls
    Vast Rocks, and Entrails from the Mountain torn,
    With roaring Noise slings molten Stones in Air,
    And boils, and bellows, from its lowest Caves.

Upon the whole, we may draw this Conclusion, that Things of common Use
or Necessity, lose all their Wonder, by their Frequency; but whatever
is unusual, and beyond the Course of Nature, strikes our Attention, and
calls forth our Admiration.

I before observ'd, and therefore need not insist upon it farther here,
that the opposite to _Sublime_ is _Bombast_ and _Fustian_. I observ'd
likewise, that the _Sublime_ was not incompatible with the _plain_
Style, tho' chiefly adapted to the _Heroic_, and produc'd Examples of
both; for what I said in Relation to Style, I told you, in the Beginning
of this Dissertation, was _sometimes_ applicable to Thought. I would
now add, that 'tis a great Mistake to think that the _Sublime_ is only,
or chiefly suited to Joy, Triumphs, and pompous Descriptions; for
nothing has more of that Quality than those Ideas that command _Pity_
and _Terror_. I shall produce one, but a very remarkable Instance of
each, taken almost from the same Place. _Turnus_, when his Forces were
defeated, and his own Death approaching, dissuades his Sister _Juturna_
from any farther fruitless Offices of her Love, in this Heroical

                  [211]----_Sed quis olympo.
    Demissam tantos voluit te ferre labores?
    An fratris miseri letum ut crudele videres?
    Nam quid ago? aut quæ nunc spondet fortuna salutem?
    Vidi oculos ante ipse meos me voce vocantem
    Murranum, quo non superat mihi charior alter,
    Oppetere ingentem, atque ingenti vulnere victum.
    Occidit infelix, ne nostrum dedecus Ufens
    Aspiceret: Teucri potiuntur corpore, & armis.
    Exscindine domos (id rebus defuit unum)
    Perpetiar? dextra nec Drancis dicta refellam?
    Terga dabo? & Turnum fugientem hæc terra videbit?
    Usque adeone mori miserum est? Vos ô mihi, Manes,
    Este boni; quoniam Superis aversa voluntas.
    Sancta ad vos anima, atque istius inscia culpæ
    Descendam, magnorum haud unquam indignus avorum._
                     But who sent you down
    Dispatch'd from Heav'n, and will'd you to endure
    Such Labours? Was it that you might behold
    Your most unhappy Brother's cruel Death?
    For now what Measures can I take? What Hope
    Of new Success can any Fortune shew?
    Before these Eyes myself _Murranus_ saw
    (Than whom to me no dearer Name survives)
    Calling on me for Help, I saw him fall
    Mighty, and with a mighty Wound subdu'd.
    There _Ufens_ fell, unfortunate, nor liv'd
    To see our Shame: The _Trojan_ Victors keep
    The full Possession of his Corps and Arms.
    Shall I endure (that only now remains)
    The City to be raz'd? Nor with my Sword
    Refel the Taunts of _Drances_? Shall I shew
    My Back? And shall this Earth see _Turnus_ fly?
    Is Death so terrible? Ye Gods of Hell,
    Be kind; since those of Heav'n abhor my Pray'r.
    To you a guiltless Ghost I will descend,
    Unsully'd with this Stain, nor ever prov'd
    Unworthy of my great Forefather's Fame.

It is impossible not to be wrapt into an Extasy, as it were, of Pity and
Wonder, to behold so majestic Sorrow, and such exalted Misery. Nor less
sublime is that Terror, with which the Fury possesses the Breast of the
same unhappy Hero, when she is sent by _Jupiter_ to carry the fatal Omen:

    _Postquam acies videt Iliacas, atque agmina Turni,
    Alitis in parvæ subito collecta figuram,
    Quæ quondam in bustis, aut culminibus desertis,
    Nocte sedens, serum canit importuna per umbras;
    Hanc versa in faciem Turni se Pestis ad ora
    Fertque, refertque sonans, clypeumque everberat alis._
    Soon as the _Trojan_ Troops, and _Turnus_' Bands
    She sees; she changes, lessen'd, to the Shape
    Of a small Bird, which sitting on the Tops
    Of Tombs, and old deserted Tow'rs, by Night,
    Shrieks thro' the Shades, ill-omen'd: Thus transform'd
    The Fiend o'er _Turnus_' Visage, screaming, flies
    This Way, and that; and flaps upon his Shield
    With flutt'ring Pinions.

I appeal to every Reader, whether at these Lines his Blood does not run
cold within him, whether he does not feel the same dismal Effects that
_Turnus_ did:

    _Illi membra novus solvit formidine torpor;
    Arrectæque horrore comæ, & vox faucibus hæsit._

                         Him unusual Fear
    Stiff'ning benumbs; uprose his Hair erect,
    And to his Mouth his Speech with Horror cleav'd.

When I first engag'd in this new Province, I thought to have treated
largely, and in a set Dissertation, on _poetic Licence_. But I now think
that Design superfluous, having spoke so largely of it, when I treated
of the _Diction_ and _Thought_ of Poetry, and of the _Elegance_ and
_Sublimity_ of each. I then observ'd, that tho' Poets have a Method
of Writing peculiar to themselves, and are allow'd many Liberties in
it, from which other Writers are debarr'd; yet that they are indulg'd
in nothing but what is built upon the Foundation of Truth, and solid
Reason: Agreeably to that of _Horace_,

             [214]----_Pictoribus, atque Poetis,
    Quidlibet audendi semper fuit æqua potestas.
    Scimus, & hanc veniam petimusque damusque vicissim:
    Sed non ut placidis cocant immitia, non ut
    Serpentes avibus geminentur, tigribus agni._

    Painters and Poets have been still allow'd
    Their Pencils and their Fancies unconfin'd.
    This Privilege we freely give and take:
    But Nature, and the common Laws of Sense,
    Forbid to reconcile Antipathies,
    Or make a Snake engender with a Dove,
    And hungry Tygers court the tender Lambs.

Nothing now remains, but to entreat you Gentlemen, that make up my
Audience, candidly to accept these mean Attempts of mine upon so
_difficult_ a Subject.


[138] Art. Poet. ℣ 309.

[139] See the Preface to Monsieur _Boileau_'s Works.

[140] Act 1. Sc. 1.

[141] Æn. II. 554.

[142] Lib. VII.

[143] Anthol. Poem. Ital.

[144] _Boileau_.

[145] Lib. VIII. Epig. 21.

[146] Lib. IV. Od. 5.

[147] Lib. XI. Epig. 92.

[148] Περι ὑψους, ℣ 43.

[149] Virg. Eclog. II. ℣ 46.

[150] ℣ 54.

[151] Περι ὑψους, ℣ 8.

[152] Geor. II. 475.

[153] Περι ὑψους, ℣ 8.

[154] ℣ 45.

[155] ℣ 77.

[156] ℣ 98.

[157] Ovid. Epist. II. ℣ 49.

[158] Met. L. VII. ℣ 9.

[159] ℣ 9.

[160] ℣ 20.

[161] ℣ 25.

[162] ℣ 305.

[163] ℣ 362.

[164] ℣ 412.

[165] ℣ 419.

[166] ℣ 373.

[167] ℣ 425.

[168] ℣ 380.

[169] ℣ 492.

[170] Περι ὑψους, § 15.

[171] Ibid.

[172] Ibid.

[173] Æn. IV. 469.

[174] ℣ 465.

[175] Il. VI. 466.

[176] See his Note on the Place, ℣ 595.

[177] Æn. VIII. 630.

[178] ℣ 8.

[179] L. IV. ℣ 93.

[180] Met. L. III. ℣ 654.

[181] Æn. L. IV. ℣ 663.

[182] ℣ 456.

[183] Lib. II. Epig. 58.

[184] P. 56.

[185] ℣ 407.

[186] Sat. III. 236.

[187] Sat. X. 218.

[188] ℣ 387.

[189] See, more especially, Mr. _Waller_'s Poems.

[190] Περι ὑψους, § 32.

[191] Ovid. Ep. IV. 1.

[192] Metam. IX. 529.

[193] Ep. XIX. 97.

[194] Lib. II. Epist. 1.

[195] Æn. XII. 435.

[196] Lib. XI. ℣ 419.

[197] Geor. IV. 488.

[198] ℣ 354.

[199] ℣ 47.

[200] Ovid. Ep. XV. 39.

[201] Lib. de Spect. Epig. 3.

[202] Ep. III. 7.

[203] Lib. VIII. Epig. 19.

[204] Andr. I. 3.

[205] Sat. X. 122.

[206] Metam. L. II. ℣ 627.

[207] De Art. Poet ℣ 270.

[208] Περι ὑψους, § 35.

[209] Lucret. Lib. I. ℣ 73.

[210] Æn. III. 571.

[211] Æn. XII. 634.

[212] ℣ 861.

[213] ℣ 867.

[214] De Art. Poet. ℣ 9.

                       LECTURE XII.
      _Of Epigram, and other lighter Species of Poetry._

Designing to treat of the several Species of Poetry, I thought proper to
begin with the lowest, and so gradually proceed to others of a higher
Kind, till at last I come to the Epic or Heroic Poem.

Epigram shall be the chief Subject of this Discourse. But as there are
other small Poems, which will scarce deserve a distinct one, I shall
here make such Observations upon them as may be necessary.

The Account we have of Epigram, both of the Name and Thing, is this:
It was usual, it seems, among the Ancients, to cut short Inscriptions
under the Statues of their Gods, which they call'd επιγραφαι,
and επιγραμματα. These Inscriptions serv'd as _Lemmata_, or
Subjects for little poetical Conceits, which were afterwards themselves
term'd Epigrams. That upon the Statue of _Venus_ made by _Praxiteles_,
is well known.

    Γυμνην οιδε Παρις με, και Αγκισης, και Αδονις.
      Τους τρεις οιδα μονους, Πραξιτελες δε ποθεν?

    And what, said she, does this bold Painter mean?
    When was I bathing thus, and naked seen?

In Course of Time, other Poems of like Nature, whatever their Subject
was, went by the Name of Epigrams, on account of their Affinity with
those to which that Title was first appropriated. Epigrams are divided
into various Heads; the greater, the less, the equal[215], the simple,
the compound, the digressive, _&c._ But so minute a Distinction is
needless, since they may be made upon any Subject. Some are satirical,
as that of _Martial_,

    _Quem recitas meus est, O Fidentine, Libellus;
      Sed male cum recitas, incipit esse tuus._

    'Tis true, in Print I own my humble Muse;
    But when the Laureat shall my Lines traduce,
    _Tartuffe_ in _England_ justly I disown;
    _The Food was mine, the Excrement's his own._

and in another Place:

    _Quid Te, Tucca, juvat vetulo miscere Falerno
      In Vaticanis condita musta cadis?
    Quid tantum fecere boni tibi pessima vina?
      Aut quid fecerunt optima vina mali?
    De nobis facile est; scelus est jugulare Falernum,
      Et dare Campano toxica sæva mero.
    Convivæ meruere tui fortasse perire;
      Amphora non meruit tam pretiosa mori._

    What mean'st thou, _Tucca_, with Tocay to join
    The vapid Refuse of dull Rhenish Wine?
    Do you the cordial Juice such Treach'ry owe,
    Prepost'rous Charity the Cut-throat show?
    To spoil Tocay, however fare your Guest,
    Is Murder, without Benefit of Priest.
    Poison allow the Merit of your Friend;
    But the poor Cask deserv'd a better End.

This, I should think, is the best kind of Epigram; for if the Nature
of it in general consists in being acute, whatever is satirical, must
always be so. Not but that there are other proper Subjects of it. Some
panegyrical, directly contrary to the former; many of which we have in
_Martial_ upon the Emperor _Domitian_, and in others. That of _Virgil_
is famous.

    _Nocte pluit tota, redeunt spectacula mane;
      Divisum imperium cum Jove Cæsar habet._

    The Show'rs brought on the Night, the Shews the Day:
    Thus _Jove_ and _Cæsar_ bear an equal Sway.

And the Inscription by a Modern design'd for the Palace of the late King
of _France_:

    _Non orbis gentem, non urbem gens habet ullam,
      Urbsve domum, dominum nec domus ulla, parem._

    The world no Realm, no Realm a City sees,
    No City House, no House a Lord like this.

In which, tho' there is not that witty Turn which is usually reckon'd
essential to Epigram; yet the Climax is so finely work'd up, that it
well deserves the great Praises that have been given it. There are other
Epigrams of the Love Kind; as the following one in the Anthology of
_Italian_ Poets:

    _Me lætis Leonilla oculis, me Lydia torvis
      Aspicit; hæc noctem nuntiat, illa diem.
    Has Cytherea meo stellas præfecit amori;
      Hæc meus est Vesper, Lucifer illa meus._

    One with a sleepy, one a smirking Ray,
    _Fusca_ the Night foretels, _Lucy_ the Day.
    _Venus_ ordain'd, that each by Turns shou'd move,
    The Morning, and the Ev'ning Star of Love.

Here, indeed, we have the true _Form_ and _Shape_ of an Epigram, it has
all the _Appearance_ of Wit and Elegance; but I fear it offends against
right Reason and Nature. Some there are, upon various Circumstances or
Events, which are scarce reducible to any Class. As this of _Martial_,
upon the City _Ravenna_, where there is a great Scarcity of Water:

    _Callidus imposuit nuper mihi caupo Ravennæ;
      Cum peterem mixtum, vendidit ille merum._

    By a _Ravenna_ Vintner once betray'd,
    So much for Wine and Water mixt I paid.
    But when I thought the purchas'd Liquor mine,
    The Rascal fob'd me off with only Wine.

And upon the Boy whose Throat was cut with an Icicle.

    _Quid non sæva sibi voluit Fortuna licere?
      Aut ubi mors non est, si jugulatis, aquæ?_

    What various Deaths are we decreed to feel,
    If Waters poignard like the stubborn Steel?[220]

And this _Greek_ Epigram:

    Χρυσον ανηρ ἑυρων ελιπε βροχον, αυταρ ὁ χρυσον
      Ον λιπεν ουχ ἑυρων, ἡψευ ον ἑυρε βροχον.

    The Noose just tying, _Cotta_ found a Purse,          }
    The Rope serv'd _Strephon_, who, by Fate's Reverse,   }
    Had lost the Gold,--_to one a Blessing, one a Curse_. }

Here, again, the true Spirit of Epigram seems wanting; we have no
Point of Wit, but only a plain Narration of Fact. But still, the Words
are so elegantly opposed to each other, and in so short a Compass,
that we shall scarce meet with any Thing which exceeds it. While I am
speaking of the different Subjects of Epigram, I would observe, that
Religion is sometimes one. And as nothing is so suitable to Poetry
as the _Marvellous_, nothing can afford more Matter for it than the
_Christian_ Religion, which so much abounds with Miracles. I shall shew,
perhaps, hereafter, how well adapted it is for Poems of the highest
Kind, when I come to speak of _sacred Poetry_; but how proper a Subject
it is for Epigram, is self-evident. For tho' these sort of Verses are
often ludicrous, and trifling; yet they sometimes breathe a Spirit of
Sublimity, every way becoming them. There are many of _Martial_ of this
Kind. That, for Instance, to the Emperor _Domitian_, upon his erecting
to himself a triumphal Arch, and a Temple to Fortune:

    _Hic, ubi Fortunæ Reducis fulgentia late
      Templa nitent, felix area nuper erat.
    Hic stetit, Arctoi formosus pulvere belli,
      Purpureum fundens Cæsar ab ore jubar.
    Hic lauro redimita comas, & candida cultu,
      Roma salutavit voce, manuque, ducem.
    Grande loci meritum testantur & altera dona;
      Stat sacer, edomitis gentibus, arcus ovans.
    Hic gemini currus numerant elephanta frequentem;
      Sufficit immensis aureas ipse jugis.
    Hæc est digna tuis, Germanice, porta triumphis;
      Hos aditus urbem Martis habere decet._

    Here late a happy Plain, where shines the Dome
    Sacred to _Fortune safe conducting home_.
    Here stopt great _Cæsar_, in his ruddy Car,
    With Dust resplendent of the northern War;
    While _Rome_ with White bedeck'd, and Laurels crown'd,
    With eager Voice and Hand her Genius own'd.
    Here stands (for such the Merit of the Place)
    An Arch Triumphant o'er the _Dacian_ Race.
    Two Chariots, drawn by Elephants, proclaim
    His double Conquest, and their double Shame.
    In Gold both Teams he reins with equal Hand,
    Alone sufficient for the wide Command.
    Portals like this, great _Cæsar_, well become
    The Mistress of the World, and Lord of _Rome_.

And in another Place, upon _Pompey_ and his Sons:

    _Pompeios juvenes Asia atque Europa, sed ipsum
      Terra tegit Libyes, si tamen ulla tegit:
    Quid mirum, toto si spargitur orbe? jacere
      Uno nun potuit tanta ruina loco._

    _Asia_ and _Europe_ _Pompey_'s Sons contain,
    Himself, if buried, lies in _Afric_'s Plain.
    Nor wonder, if throughout the Globe are hurl'd
    The mighty Ruins which once shook the World.

If it be ask'd in what the Nature of Epigram in general consists; I
reply, Acuteness and Facetiousness are its chief Characteristicks. It
ought not to be mix'd, but uniform; to tend only to one Point, which is
always to be express'd with Strength and Poignancy in the last Verse.
This is above all to be regarded: If the last Verse be flat and languid,
or faulty in any Respect, it spoils the whole, how beautiful soever the
several Parts are.

This, I say, is, in general, the Nature of Epigrams; to which, however,
there are, perhaps, some few Exceptions, that are not so remarkable for
their Acuteness and Facetiousness, as for their Softness and Delicacy,
or some other Elegance. I have given Instances of one or two already;
whether they are to be look'd upon as Epigrams, or to be class'd under
some other Species of Poetry, I am little sollicitous. It is certain,
there are some short beautiful Poems which cannot come within this
Denomination; several in _Martial_, particularly, and many which
you, Gentlemen, compose for your Lent Exercises upon philosophical
Subjects; which, as they have already gain'd you great Reputation, so
would they farther extend it, if a judicious Collection of them were
publish'd[223]. The greatest Part of these are true Epigrams, witty
and facetious. Some are Descriptions, Allusions, or poetical Fictions,
elegant and beautiful, by whatever Name they are call'd, matters not.
No one, I think, could justly object to you, that you affected a barren
Subject for Poetry, the better to shew the Strength of your Parts, and
Liveliness of your Invention; like a certain Monarch, who industriously
chose a Place for his stately Fountains, incapable of having Water
brought to it but at a prodigious Expense, only that he might leave
a Monument of the Greatness of his Power and Magnificence: For as
different as Poetry and Philosophy may seem to be, the one affords
abundant Matter for the other, by furnishing the Mind with a Variety of
Ideas, and diverting it continually into new Channels.

_Elogiums_ and _Inscriptions_ are to be reduced to this Head, and
_Epitaphs_ likewise; the Elegance of which chiefly consists in an
expressive Brevity. They should not have so much as one Epithet,
properly so called; nor two Words synonymous. Some of these are true
Metre, others are something between Prose and Verse, without any set
Measure, but the Words perfectly poetical[224].

These little Compositions are often very beautiful: And I might add
to them _Emblems_, or _Symbols_; by which I mean certain Figures,
painted or cut, metaphorically expressing some Action, with an imperfect
Sentence at Bottom, which in some measure explains the Sense of the
Device, but leaves the Reader to supply the rest. The Painting is
call'd the Body of the Emblem, the Sentence at Bottom, the Soul of it.
These are Compositions purely poetical, and are often full of Thought
and Elegance, I may add, of poetical Action too. A certain _French_
Writer[225] (and among the _French_ this Invention is in most Esteem)
has writ a long and accurate Dissertation upon Emblems; wherein he has
precisely defin'd their Nature, explain'd their different Species,
laid down Rules for their Composition, and for distinguishing the true
from the false; and, lastly, has produc'd Variety of Examples of them.
I shall lay before you one Instance from him, that you may the better
judge both of their Nature and Elegance. To express the Secresy of the
King of _France_'s Counsels, as well as the terrible Effects of them
to his Enemies, the Sun was represented behind a Cloud, with this half
Verse at Bottom:

    ----_Tegiturque, parat dum fulmina._----

    Conceal'd while he prepares his Bolts.

This is an Invention which I take to be modern, entirely unknown to the
Ancients. And tho' the _French_ Author I just mention'd may (according
to the Genius of his Nation) attribute, perhaps, more to it than it
deserves; yet it certainly deserves its Praise, for Elegance and

But to return to Epigrams: Whatever you write, _be short_. Those,
perhaps, are the best, which don't exceed eight Lines; for the rest,
they cannot be too short. This Rule, however, I don't propose as a
general one. Some Epigrams may be beautiful, tho' longer; one of which I
have already cited in this Discourse.

As to the Verse; in _Latin_ (for of that Language I here principally
speak) Hexameter and Pentameter are the most proper, tho' others are not
to be excluded; for Iambics and Hendecasyllables are frequently made use

Many of the Hendecasyllable Poems are rather Odes than Epigrams: Some
seem to be of a mix'd Nature; and Poetry has nothing more beautiful than
both. _Catullus_ is reckon'd the Prince in this Kind of Writing, whom
others, both Ancients and Moderns, have very happily imitated, and some,
perhaps, excell'd. The Nature of them consists in being lax and free, in
chusing light Subjects, especially those of Love; and sometimes serious
ones, as Epitaphs, and the like. It is always soft and sweet, full of
tender Diminutives, and of Repetitions of the same Verse at proper

Whether the Ancients or Moderns have deserv'd best of these light Kinds
of Poetry, but especially of Epigram, is hard to say. It is certain,
the latter have a Turn of Wit which the former were Strangers to; but
still I dare not decide the Preference. But leaving that Dispute, we
shall all agree in this common Maxim, _Inest sua gratia parvis_; Little
Things have their Beauty; and sometimes not a little Beauty. Tho' they
are small in Bulk, yet they are great in Value; and not only Wit and
Ingenuity are requir'd in the Composition of them, but true Reason, and
solid Judgment:

    _In tenui labor, at tenuis non gloria._----
    Slight is the Subject, but not so the Praise.

Sometimes the Pains requir'd in this Kind of Composition is very great;
but then they are always repaid by it. To which we may often apply what
_Virgil_ says of the Bees:

    _Ingentes animos augusto in pectore versant._

    Their little Bodies mighty Souls inform.


[215] _Vossius_'s Division is here hinted at, but, I think, not clearly
express'd: Epigrams, says he, are twofold,

1. When a Person, Fact, or Thing, is simply describ'd.

2. When somewhat is inferr'd from what was laid down, whether

from its being greater, less, equal, or contrary.

[216] Lib. I. Epig. 39.

[217] Lib. I. Epig. 19.

[218] Lib. III. Ep. 57.

[219] Lib. IV. Ep. 18.

[220] Thus applied, more out of Humour, than an ill Opinion of a certain
Person's Success:

    Fortune, we yield to thy capricious Will:
    A Drop of _Ward_'s can cure, a Drop of Water kill!

[221] Lib. VIII. Epig. 65.

[222] Lib. V. Epig. 75.

[223] This has since been done in a Book intituled, _Carmina
Quadragesimalia_, printed at _Oxford_ 1723, 8_vo._ reprinted at _London_
1741, 12_mo._

[224] Too _poetical_ often in another Sense, when they give Characters
absolutely false; from whence the _French_ have a witty Saying, _Il ment
comme une Epitaphe_, He lies like an Epitaph.

[225] P. Bouhours, Entretiens d'Ariste & Eugene, Dial. ult.

[226] Geor. IV. 6.

[227] ℣ 83.

                       LECTURE XIII.
                        _Of Elegy._

This is a Subject, which, if I am not mistaken, very few have largely
treated of. _Scaliger_, indeed, and some others, have just mention'd
it, and made some short Strictures upon it: But no one, that I know of,
except _Vossius_, of the better Sort of Writers, have writ a professed
Dissertation of this Species of Poetry, tho' it is the sweetest, the
most engaging, and every way worthy our Consideration. Who the Inventor
was, _Horace_ professes himself ignorant:

    _Quis tamen exiguos elegos emiserit Auctor,
    Grammatici certant; & adhuc sub judice lis est._

    But to whose Muse we owe that Sort of Verse,
    Is undecided by the Men of Skill.

Nor is this an Enquiry of much Moment. Under the Title of Elegy, is
generally and primarily understood a mournful Poem, bewailing the Loss
of some Person lately dead; and sometimes has any other melancholy
plaintive Circumstance for its Subject. _Scaliger_ calls it a Poem
proper for _Complaints_:

                   [229]----_Neu_ miserabiles
    _Decantes elegos_;

says _Horace_, addressing himself to _Tibullus_, the best of Eleglic
Writers. This appears clear enough, from the Etymology of the Word;
either from ελεος, or (as others more justly) from ι,
a Particle of Grief, and λεγειν to _speak;_ not from εν λεγειν,
as some have ill judg'd, because, forsooth, we generally
speak in Praise of whose Deaths we lament. It is certain, this Sort of
Poem was anciently, and from its first Origin, made use of at Funerals.
That, therefore, of one famous Elegiac Poet upon the Death of another,
of equal Fame, of _Ovid_, I mean, on _Tibullus_, deserves, in the most
proper Sense, this Title: The Writer himself observes as much, in the
following Lines:

    _Flebilis indignos Elegeia solve capillos;
      Ah! nimis ex vero nunc tibi nomen erit._

    In wild Disorder let thy Tresses flow,
    Thy Name now too much verify'd by Woe!

By which Words, however, he intimates, that some other Poems, besides
Funeral ones, went under the Name of Elegies. _Horace_ is very express:

    _Versibus impariter junctis querimonia primum,
    Post etiam inclusa est voti sententia compos._

    In Verses _long_ and _short_ Grief first appear'd,
    In those they mourn'd past Ills, and future fear'd:
    But soon these Lines with Mirth and Joy were fill'd,
    And told when Fortune, or a Mistress smil'd.

From whence we learn, that Deaths are not the only Subjects of Elegy,
but that by Degrees it was employ'd upon other Things that had nothing
mournful in them, nay, that turn'd upon Gaiety and Festivity. _Ovid_'s
Books of Love, the Poems of _Tibullus_ and _Propertius_, are entitled
_Elegies_; and yet so far are they from being sad, that they are
sometimes scarce serious. _Ovid_, particularly, takes too great a
Liberty in this Kind of Poem, and lets his Joy break out to Excess.
But if we look back to the Original, both of the Name and Thing, we
shall find that Writings of this Sort are styled _Elegies_ only in an
improper Sense of the Word. One and the same Title, therefore, was
indiscriminately given to Poems on different Subjects, but which agreed
in their Verse, and Manner of Writing.

The chief Subjects to which Elegy owes its Rise, are Death and Love:
The Connexion between which, it is not my Business here to examine. The
Writings of the Poets, I have above mention'd, chiefly consist of Love;
tho' Elegies admit almost of any Matter, especially if it be treated
of seriously. The Contempt of Riches, the Pleasures of the Country,
are in great measure the Subject of them, in which a little Love is
generally interspers'd. Some, but few, in _Tibullus_ and _Propertius_,
have nothing of Death or Love; which, however, have been always the
chief Subjects of this Kind of Poem. That Elegy, therefore, ought to
be esteem'd the most perfect in its Kind, which has somewhat of both
at once: Such, for Instance, where the Poet bewails the Death of his
_Corinna_, his _Delia_, or _Lycoris_, or of some Youth or Damsel falling
a Martyr to Love. Among the Love Elegies, those are to be placed next,
which are full of that melancholy Complaint which Lovers seldom want
Matter for. Yet there are some of a very different Temper; but which, as
I observ'd before, are improperly rank'd in the Number of Elegies. Some,
again, are full of Joy and Triumph: As in _Ovid_,

    _Ite triumphales circum mea tempora lauri._

    Triumphant Laurels, round my Temples twine.

Others satirical: As that of the same Poet, where, describing an old
Woman, he breaks out into these Imprecations against her:

    _Dii tibi dent nudosque lares, inopemque senectam,
      Et longas hyemes, perpetuamque sitim._

    May'st thou with Poverty and Age be curst,
    The Length of Winter, and the Summer's Thirst.

Others are jocose in different Ways, Instances of all which we meet with
in _Ovid_.

Many Elegies are writ in the Epistolary Manner, as is obvious, to every
one that has but the least Knowledge of the Poets I have now cited.
Under this Head, therefore, _Ovid_'s _Heroine_ Epistles (as they are
usually call'd, from their being writ by Ladies of Prowess and Renown)
come very properly to be mention'd, since they partake of the Nature
of Elegy, not only on account of their Verse, but Sentiment. They are
deservedly esteem'd the best Part of that Poet's Works; as his Book _De
Tristibus_, tho' the truest Elegies, are the worst. Nothing can have a
more delicate Turn than some of these Epistles. I have given Instances
of this elsewhere; and have no need of repeating them here, or producing
new ones. His _Heroine_ Epistles differ from his Elegiac in this, that
the former are fictitious, and personate the Character of some one
or other mention'd in fabulous History; the latter are address'd, in
the Poet's own Name, to his Friends of either Sex. Setting aside this
Circumstance, and that of their Length, there is very little Difference
between them. To return, therefore, to Elegy, according to the common
Acceptation of the Word; its chief Property is to be easy and soft; to
flow in one even Current, and captivate the Ear with Melody. It must be
free from all Asperity, from every Thing that is harsh, or unpleasant.
For, as _Propertius_ sweetly expresses it:

    _Carmina mansuetus lenia quærit Amor._

    Soft flow the Lines that gentle Love indites.

And nothing is often more harmonious than Complaints; the Music of Birds
is said by the Poets to be expressive of them, as in _Ovid_:

    _Et latere ex omni dulce queruntur aves._

                  And all around
    The Birds return a sweetly plaintive Sound.

How vocal are Tears, how moving poetic Grief! Hear _Tibullus_ thus
bewailing his Sickness in a foreign Land:

    _Ibitis Ægæas sine me, Messala, per undas,
      O! utinam memor es ipse, cohorsque, mei!
    Me tenet ignotis ægrum Phæacia terris;
      Abstineas avidas, mors modo nigra, manus.
    Abstineas, mors atra, precor; non hic mihi mater,
      Quæ legat in mœstos ossa perusta sinus:
    Non soror, Assyrios cineri quæ dedat odores,
      Et fleat effusis ante sepulchra comis._

    While you, _Messala_, tempt th' _Ægæan_ Sea,
    I am prevented to attend your Way.
    But Oh! I wish you still may condescend
    To bear a kind Remembrance of your Friend.
    Oppress'd with Sickness, wearied out with Pains,
    _Phæacia_ me in unknown Lands detains,
    Sick, and a Stranger, in a foreign Land.
    Black Death, withdraw thy dire capacious Hand;
    Black Death, keep off, I pray, no Mother here
    Can gather up this Dust with pious Care:
    No Sister here with decent Grief can come       }
    To please my Shade, and, off'ring rich Perfume, }
    With flowing Hair lament before my Tomb.        }

Hear _Ovid_ thus lamenting the Death of the same Poet, which follow'd
from that Sickness. He speaks to Elegy:

    _Ille tui Vates operis, tua fama, Tibullus,
      Ardet in extructo corpus inane rogo.
    Ecce Puer Veneris fert eversamque pharetram,
      Et fractos arcus, & sine luce facem.
    Aspice, demissis ut eat miserabilis alis,
      Pectoraque infesta tundat aperta manu._

    Thy Poet, and Promulger of thy Fame,
    _Tibullus_ burns upon the Fun'ral Flame.
    With Torch extinct, and Quiver downward born,
    See _Cupid_, once sincere! attend his Urn.
    Now beats his Breast, his tender Hands now wrings,
    Broken his Shafts, and pendulous his Wings.

While the one dies thus, while the other so laments his Death, how
justly are they both render'd immortal? They that thus write, and thus
deserve Elegies, are such as least need them. Some _Descriptions_ in
Elegy are not less affecting; as of the Elysian Fields, in the same
Passage of _Tibullus_:

    _Hic choreæ, cantusque vigent; passimque vagantes
      Dulce sonant tenui gutture carmen aves.
    Fert casiam non culta seges, totosque per agros
      Floret odoratis terra benigna rosis.
    Ac juvenum series, teneris immista puellis,
      Ludit, & assidue prælia miscet Amor._
    There Songs perpetual charm the list'ning Ear,     }
    Whilst all the feather'd Wand'rers of the Air,     }
    To join the Sound, their warbling Throats prepare. }
    Cassia from ev'ry Hedge unbidden breathes,
    And to the Gales its fragrant Sweets bequeaths;
    The bounteous Earth its purple Product yields,
    And od'rous Roses paint the blushing Fields:
    There Trains of blooming Youths, and tender Maids,
    Sport on the Green, and wanton in the Shades;
    While busy Love attends them all the Way,
    Joins in the Conflict, and provokes the Fray.

With this Kind of Poem, every Thing that is epigrammatical, satirical,
or sublime, is inconsistent. Elegy aims not to be witty or facetious,
acrimonious or severe, majestic or sublime; but is smooth, humble,
and unaffected; nor yet is she abject in her Humility, but becoming,
elegant, and attractive.

Among our modern Poems, we have few entitled Elegies; those only that
are made on Funeral Occasions: But we have many that may be call'd so,
in the larger Sense of the Word, as it was used by the Ancients, and we
have above explain'd it: Many very ingenious ones on Love; and others of
a melancholy and soft Turn.

Among the Ancients, Hexameters and Pentameters were so peculiar to
Elegy, that this Kind of Metre is usually styled _Elegiac_; nor is any
more soft, or more harmonious. Instead of it, we, in our own Tongue, use
the Heroic.

The Writers in this Way that Antiquity has handed down to us, are
all in _Latin_. Some there were more early among the _Greeks_, as
_Callimachus_, _Philetas_, and others; the Fragments only of whose
Writings have been sav'd from the Wreck of Time. They that would know
which they are, may consult the learned _Vossius_, and others; it being
beside my Purpose to enquire into Facts and History.

Among the _Latins_, _Ovid_, _Tibullus_, and _Propertius_, bear the first
Rank; with whom _Catullus_ is sometimes join'd: But not so properly,
his Merit being chiefly in his Hendecasyllables, and some other wanton
Verses, and his elegant Poem on the Argonautic Expedition. There is
nothing of his Elegiacal, except the Measure of some of his Verses;
and they so uneven, that they scarce deserve the Name of Verse; so
rough, that they cannot be read without Offence to the Ear, nay, to
the very Teeth. _Ovid_ is generally reckon'd, and that deservedly, the
first in this Class, no one having equall'd his Numbers, nor exceeded
his Diction. I submit it only, for it is a Matter of Doubt, whether
_Tibullus_ is not less diffuse, and more correct. There is one Fault in
_Ovid_, which is unpardonable, his perpetual and nauseous Repetition of
_mei_, _tui_, and _sui_, in the last Foot of his Pentameters. How much
more beautiful would they have been, if this Fault had been avoided,
which might have been done with little Care. And yet a sixth Part, at
least, are so terminated, than which, nothing can be more lifeless and
insignificant. _Tibullus_ and _Propertius_ rarely fall into this Fault,
but into another, especially the latter of them, from which _Ovid_ is
free; I mean the concluding the Pentameter with Words of three or more
Syllables; whereas Harmony requires a Word of no more than two. One
Writer in this Way it would be unpardonable to pass over, tho' we have
little remaining of him, if he is the same (as it is probable he is
not) with him to whom _Virgil_ has given Immortality by mentioning him
in his Works: For immortal, sure, he must needs be, of whom the best of
immortal Poets has given this Eulogy:

    _Pierides, vos hæc facietis maxima Gallo,
    Gallo, cujus amor tantum mihi crescit in horas_, &c.

    You shall for _Gallus_ dignify this Verse,
    _Gallus_, for whom my Friendship grows each Hour.

This from _Virgil_'s Eclogues, which Species of Poetry will be the
Subject of our next Discourse.


[228] Art. Poet. ℣ 77.

[229] L. I. Od. 33.

[230] Ov. Amor. L. III. El. 9.

[231] De Art. Poet. 75.

[232] Amor. Lib. II. Eleg. 12.

[233] Lib. I. Eleg. 9.

[234] L. I. El. 9.

[235] Amor. L. III. El. 1.

[236] L. I. El. 3.

[237] Amor. L. III. El. 8.

[238] L. I. El. 3.

[239] Eclog. X. 72.

                       LECTURE XIV.
                      _Of Pastorals._

This, also, is another Species of Poetry, not professedly treated of by
any of the Ancients, nay, not so much as mention'd amongst their various
Precepts relating to this Art. The later _Latin_ Critics have bestow'd
some Pains upon it; but our modern ones, of the present Age, much more;
and (to speak my own Judgment, which I shall always be ready to submit
to better) seem to have attributed too much Honour to it, and to have
rais'd more Dust, than the Importance of the Subject deserv'd. Not but
that I think it a very elegant Kind of Writing, and every Way worthy of
Imitation. As it is now incumbent on me to say somewhat of it, agreeably
to my present Design, I shall put together what I think most material
relating to it, without making any Difference between what I have
advanced new, or others have observed before me.

In the first Ages of the World, before Men were united in Cities,
and had learnt the studied Arts of Luxury, they lead in the Country
plain harmless Lives; and Cottages, rather than Houses, might be said
to be their Habitation. Those happy Times abounded with Leisure and
Recreation: To feed the Flock, and cultivate the Land, was the only
Employ of its peaceable Inhabitants; the former the joint Care of the
Women and the Men. Hence arose abundant Matter for Love and Verse. Nay,
when the World was grown older, and Mankind so numerous, that they
began to secure themselves in Walls, and to introduce what we call a
more civil Life, yet still Shepherds and Husbandmen maintain'd their
primitive Honour. Country Affairs, but especially the Care of the Flock,
was not only the Labour of the Vulgar, but the Exercise of the Rich and
Powerful, nay, of Princes of either Sex. This appears sufficiently, from
sacred History, in the Example of _Jacob_, _Rachel_, _Moses_, and the
other Patriarchs: From the Testimony of Heathen Writers; as in that of

    _Nec te pœniteat pecoris, divine Poeta,
    Et formosus oves ad flumina pavit Adonis._

    Them, heav'nly Poet, blush not thou to own:
    Ev'n fair _Adonis_ did not scorn to tend
    Along the River's Side his fleecy Care.

And in another Place, to omit other Instances:

    _Quem fugis, ah! demens? habitarant Dii quoque silvas,
    Dardaniusque Paris._

    Whom fly'st thou, thoughtless? Gods have liv'd in Woods;
    And _Trojan Paris_.

From what has been said, it is easy to see the Origin of _Pastorals_.
It appears to have been a very ancient Species of Poetry, tho' I can
by no means agree with _Scaliger_[242], in thinking it the oldest,
which is an Honour I shall hereafter shew to be due to the Lyric Kind,
Shepherds, 'tis true, were the first Poets; but Odes and Hymns, not
Pastorals, were their original Compositions. However, Pastorals, as I
said, are undoubtedly of very great Antiquity; and the _Song of Solomon_
in sacred Writ comes under this Denomination; from whence, 'tis very
observable, _Theocritus_ has borrow'd literally many Expressions; making
use of the Version of the Seventy-two, with whom he was cotemporary.

The Nature of this Kind of Poem is to be sweet, easy, and flowing,
and simple beyond all others: And yet not so humbly simple, (which is
a common Mistake) as if it represented only the Characters of poor
ignorant Shepherds, and the Thoughts of modern Rustics. The Scene,
indeed, of Bucolics (for that is another Name for Pastorals, the former
derived from the Herds, as the latter from the Flocks, that are the
different Objects of the rural Care) ought always to be laid in the
Country. Nor ought it to be diversify'd with any Thing repugnant to
such a Situation; nay, Views, and little Descriptions of Lawns and
Groves, ought always to be interspers'd in these Poems, whatsoever the
Subject of them be. Yet there may be a Mixture of Images of a different
Kind, and much elevated above the Apprehension of the Vulgar. _Virgil_,
therefore, is very undeservedly censured by many for having introduced
Philosophy, and even somewhat of the Sublime, into his Eclogues: For
since, as we observ'd, many of the ancient Shepherds were Persons, I
need not say of the better, but even of the first Rank, it is no great
Wonder if some of them were Scholars, and Philosophers. 'Tis a Mistake
to say that _Virgil_'s fourth and fifth Eclogues are not Pastorals; and
that nothing sublime, but every Thing simple and rustic, is compatible
with this Kind of Poetry. They are Pastorals, undoubtedly; tho' of a
different Kind from the common ones. There is a certain Sublimity,
agreeable enough to Pastorals; a Sublimity that arises from Philosophy
and Religion, not from the Tumults of War, the Pomps of a Court, or
the Refinements of the City. I don't see, therefore, why that divine
Eclogue; _Sicelides Musæ_, &c. (divine I may call it, on many Accounts)
should not be allow'd a Place among the Pastorals. The rural Muses are
invok'd; the Woods are celebrated; many Things expresly relate to the
Country, and nothing repugnant to it. The Subject, indeed, is great; the
Words and Thoughts sublime; sublimer, I may say, than the Poet himself
was aware of. For it is the Opinion of the most learned Divines, to
which I very readily adhere, that he by happy Error celebrates from the
Sibylline Oracles the Birth of _Christ_, which was then approaching;
and it is evident, that many of the Lines describe the Nature of the
Messias, and of his Kingdom, in Terms of near Affinity with the sacred
Writings[243]. And nothing, surely, could be more proper, than that the
Prince of Poets should promulge that joyful News in Pastorals, which was
first proclaim'd from Heaven to Shepherds. That Objection drawn from
the Invention of War and Ships, both which the Poet touches upon in the
following Lines, is of little Moment.

    _Alter erit tum Tiphys, & altera quæ vehat Argo
    Delectos heroas; erunt etiam altera bella,
    Atque iterum ad Trojam magnus mittetur Achilles._
    Another _Tiphys_ o'er the Main shall waft
    The chosen Chiefs, another _Argo_ guide;
    New warlike Expeditions shall be form'd,
    And great _Achilles_ sail again for _Troy_.

These are only incidental Ornaments of the Poem, not properly the
Subject of it. Now it is impossible that the Argonautic Expedition,
so famous throughout the World, should be unknown to Shepherds of
Birth and Education. And as little probable is it, that they should be
ignorant of the _Trojan_ War, occasion'd by one of their own Profession.
It is repugnant, indeed, to Pastorals, to turn wholly upon warlike
Affairs; but it is a very different Thing to bring them in only as
Embellishments. This is what may be justly pleaded for all the Eclogues
of _Virgil_, where Arms are mentioned; excepting only the tenth:

    _Nunc insanus amor duri me Martis in armis
    Tela inter media, atque adversos detinet hostes._

    Now frantic Love amidst thick Darts and Foes
    Detains me in the rigid Toil of Arms.

Which, I confess, raises in me some Difficulty; because the Speaker
introduc'd is manifestly a Soldier. But it must be observ'd, that he
does not at the same Time personate a Shepherd, as is manifest, from his
Speech to the _Arcadians_, when he expresses his Envy of their happy

    _Atque utinam è vobis unus, vestrique fuissem
    Aut custos gregis, aut maturæ vinitor uvæ._

    O had kind Fortune made me one of you,
    Keeper of Flocks, or Pruner of the Vine.

Had he been _one of them_, he would have join'd two contradictory
Ideas; for a Shepherd in Arms, who could have born? But if it be
ask'd, Why then is the chief Person in the Pastoral drawn of a very
different Character from Pastoral; it is sufficient to answer, That
_Virgil_ so thought fit; and there is nothing absurd, or unnatural,
in such a Conduct. For the State of the Case is no more than this:
_Gallus_, engag'd in Camps, happens to fall in Love, and retires to
the Solitude of the Country, to give vent to his Passion. Shepherds,
Nymphs, _Sylvanus_, _Pan_, and even _Apollo_ himself, lend their kind
Endeavours to asswage it. Thus far every Thing is natural, elegant, and
truly pastoral. And the whole Poem is of the same Nature, excepting only
the two Verses I have now cited. Leave out these, and even _Gallus_'s
Complaint is perfectly rural, and all the Thoughts drawn from the
Country. In short, so far am I from assenting to those Critics who would
exterminate this from the Number of Pastorals, that I would place it
the very first of all. The sixth Eclogue of _Virgil_, which I just now
mention'd, is full of Philosophy and Religion: And that's a sort of
Sublime, which, I before observ'd, was very consistent with Pastoral.
The fourth I have likewise spoke to. The rest of them are Pastoral,
without any Objection; tho' the Etymology of the Word _Eclogue_ by no
means implies it; which signifies no more than _Select Poems upon any
Subject whatsoever_. The Word _Idyllium_ is as little expressive of
_Pastorals_, nor are all _Theocritus_'s such: It is deriv'd from ειδος,
Species; and the Word _Idyllia_ imports no more than _Poems of
various Sorts_.

It must be own'd, however, that the greatest Essential in Pastoral is
_Simplicity_; and that these Lines have much less of the Nature of it,

    _Aspice convexo nutantem pondere mundum,
    Terrasque, tractusque maris_, &c.

                    See the globous Weight
    Of Earth, of Heav'n, of Ocean, nod and shake.

than the following:

    _Forte sub arguta consederat ilice Daphnis,
    Compulerantque greges Corydon & Thyrsis in unum,
    Thyrsis oves, Corydon distentas lacte capellas._

    By chance, beneath the Covert of an Oak,
    That whisper'd with the Breezes, _Daphnis_ sate;
    And _Corydon_ and _Thyrsis_ to one Place
    Together drew their Flocks; _Thyrsis_, his Sheep;
    His milch Goats, _Corydon_.

But then it ought to be elegantly simple, for the Plowmen should appear
in their Holyday Garments. Thus we see Shepherds and Shepherdesses
introduced upon the Stage; and tho' they bring Crooks in their Hands,
and Straw Hats on their Heads, yet their Dress is nearly rural, and
above the Habit of the Vulgar. In _Virgil_ we have frequent Examples
of this polite Rusticity, in those Places, especially, where Love
is concern'd. I shall only produce one, out of many, where _Damon_,
desperately in Love with the fair, but cruel _Nisa_, vents his Passion
in these Words:

    _Sepibus in nostris parvam te roscida mala
    (Dux ego vester eram) vidi cum matre legentem;
    Alter ab undecimo tum me jam ceperat annus,
    Jam fragiles poteram à terra contingere ramos:
    Ut vidi! ut perii! ut me malus abstulit error!_

    Thee, with thy Mother, in our Meads I saw,
    Gathering fresh Apples; I myself your Guide;
    Then thou wert little; I, just then advanc'd
    To my twelfth Year, cou'd barely from the Ground
    Touch with my reaching Hand the tender Boughs:
    How did I look! how gaze my Soul away!
    How did I die! in fatal Error lost!

How unartful the Complaint, but yet how lovely?

Tho' the Style of Pastoral is humble, it is not sordidly mean, nor
slovenly careless, neither resembling the Diction of Comedy, which is
almost Prose; nor of the bantering Satire, which is one Degree farther
from it: But is sweet, pleasant, and easy; elegant with Plainness, and
but poetically low:

    _O tantum libeat mecum tibi sordida rura,
    Atque humiles habitare casas, & figere cervos!_

    O! were but thy Delight with me to dwell,
    In lowly Cottages, and rural Shades
    By thee despis'd! _to drive the Kids a-field
    With a green Wand_, and shoot the flying Deer!

Antique Phrases, Ænigma's, Proverbs, superstitious Fables, are no
unbecoming Ornaments of this Sort of Poetry.

It generally consists of Dialogue, in which some little dramatical
Action ought to be represented, a rural Scene described, Interlocutors
under different Circumstances, and a certain Plot carried on to a
Conclusion. For 'tis not to be imagin'd, as many, now a-days do, that
every Dialogue between two Shepherds, full of the bleating of Flocks,
is a proper Pastoral. No, 'tis a Thing that requires more Labour, Art,
and Judgment, than we are generally aware of: Nor is any Kind of Poem
less tolerable, if ill, or even moderately perform'd. Who can bear those
Crowds of Pastorals, as they are inscrib'd, that are daily publish'd
in _Latin_ and _English_, upon the Death of Princes, or Friends? They
are all cast in the same Mould; read one, you read all. _Daphnis_ asks
_Thyrsis_ the Reason of his Grief, whether he has lost a Goat; or
_Amaryllis_, or _Neæra_, has been unkind to him. The Answer is, his
Sorrow is owing to no such Cause; but that _Pan_, or _Phyllis_, or
any one else is dead. Say you so, says _Daphnis_, I thought all along
that _Pan_ had been immortal, or _Phyllis_, I am sure, deserv'd to
have been so. They then join in celebrating, alternately, the Praises
of the deceas'd. Birds, Sheep, Woods, Mountains, Rivers, are full of
Complaints. We are told how the croaking Raven foreboded the dismal
Event; Oaks were riv'd with Thunder; every Thing, in short, is wondrous
lamentable, and in the most emphatical Sense miserable.

The Subjects of Pastoral are as various as the Passions of human Nature,
nay, it may, in some measure, partake of every Kind of Poetry, but with
this Proviso, that the Scene of it ought always to be in the Country,
and the Thoughts never contrary to those that are bred there. Some of
these short Strictures of Wit between contending Shepherds, favour
something of Epigram: Thus in _Virgil_;

    _Fraxinus in silvis pulcherrima, pinus in hortis,
    Populus in fluviis, abies in montibus altis:
    Sæpius at si me, Lycida formose, revisas;
    Fraxinus in silvis cedet tibi, pinus in hortis._

    In Groves the Beech, in Gardens is the Pine
    Most beautiful; the Poplar near the Streams;
    On the high Mountain's Tops, the stately Fir.
    Yet, lovely _Lycidas_, if oft thou come
    To visit me; thou, beauteous, shalt excel
    The Pine in Gardens, and the Beech in Groves.

The second Eclogue is _Elegiac_, containing a Love Complaint; so is the
latter Part of the fifth, bewailing the Death of _Daphnis_. The Songs,
and Pipe, seem reducible to some Kind of _Ode_. And I see no Reason, why
the third Eclogue may not be deem'd a short rural _Comedy_, representing
the Manners, the Follies, little Tricks, and Quarrels of low Country
Life; intermix'd, likewise, with various Strokes of _Satire_, many
Examples of which we have elsewhere produced. _Damon_'s Complaint; in
the former Part of the eighth Eclogue, is _tragical_, and ends thus:

    _Præceps aerii specula de montis in undas
    Deferar; extremum hoc munus morientis habeto._

                    From yon aerial Rock
    Headlong I'll plunge into the foamy Deep.
    Take this last Gift, which dying I bequeath.

But the Thoughts and Diction of the fourth Eclogue, I before observ'd,
favour much of the Heroic.

The Pleasure that arises from this Kind of Poetry, is owing to those
beautiful rural Scenes, which it represents; and to that innate Love,
which human Nature, depraved as it is, still retains for its primitive
Simplicity. Simplicity and the Country I join together, because in Fact
they were both united. We are born with a Love for a Country Life, for
Nature always pleases us more than Art, not only as it is prior to it
in Point of Time, but as the Works of God are more perfect, and more
various, than those of Men. Nay, Art itself is then most pleasing, when
it represents Nature. Thus Architecture affects the Mind with less
Pleasure and Wonder than Poetry, or its Sister Painting because that is
the Effect of Art only, these of Nature likewise. And tho' it may be the
Business of one Art to describe another, yet it never is so successfully
employ'd, as when Nature sits for the Description. Thus, in Painting,
the Prospect of a magnificent Structure is beautiful; but how much more
agreeable is _that_ which is diversified with Woods, Flowers, Rivers,
Mountains, Cottages, Birds, Flocks, Herds, and Husbandmen? And how much
would the Pleasure be still heighten'd, could the Picture convey to us
the Fragrancy of Flowers, the Warbling of Birds, the Lowing of Oxen,
the Bleating of Sheep, and all those other Gratifications that are the
Objects, not of the Sight, but of the Hearing, and other Senses. Since
Nature, then, and the Country, are the same, and Cities the Effect of
Art and Refinement; it is no Wonder, if the former has the Preference.
It pleads Prescription for our Choice; if we date our own Infancy from
that of the World, we are all by Birth Inhabitants of the Fields and
Woods: Thither, therefore, we naturally tend, and, as _Ovid_ says, less
justly, upon another Occasion,

    ----_documenta damus, qua simus origine nati._

            Give Proofs of our Original.

For, I'll be bold to say, that they who prefer a City Life, have a
natural Affection for a Country one. It is _Horace_'s Observation:

    _Nempe inter varias nutritur silva columnas,
    Laudaturque domus, longos quæ prospicit agros;
    Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret._

    That House is most esteem'd, he wisely builds,
    That hath a Prospect to the open Fields.
    Strive to expel strong Nature, 'tis in vain,
    With doubled Force she will return again. _Creech._

And those that make the City Life their Choice, do so, as the
Schoolmen speak, only _by Accident_; either to indulge their Vices and
Extravagancies; or on account of some Inconveniencies which the Country
_sometimes_ labours under; as the Want of Company, or the Opportunity
of gaining or increasing a Fortune; not out of any Distaste of the
Pleasures of the Country. Who can help sympathizing with _Horace_'s
Citizen, and wish him Success in so reasonable a Request?

    _O rus, quando ego te aspiciam? quandoque licebit
    Nunc veterum libris, nunc somno, & inertibus horis,
    Ducere sollicitæ jucunda oblivia vitæ?_

    Oh! when shall I enjoy my Country Seat?
    Oh! when remov'd from Noise to quiet Peace,
    Amidst my learned Books, my Sleep and Ease,
    While Hours do smoothly flow, and free from Strife
    Forget the Troubles of a busy Life?

And it is impossible to read _Virgil_'s Description of the Country, in
his second _Georgic_, without being in Love with the Subject, as well
as the Poet. Upon the whole, since Innocence and the Country are even
now so agreeable to human Nature, it is easy to see from what Source the
Pleasure of Pastoral Poetry springs.

As _Theocritus_ is the first that attempted this Way of Writing, so
has he excell'd all others that have follow'd him. _Virgil_ copies,
and in some Places literally translates him. He has sometimes, however
ventur'd to deviate from his Original, by throwing in a Mixture of the
Sublime. If _Theocritus_'s are truer Pastorals; _Virgil_'s may be said,
_perhaps_, to be the better Poems. I speak this with some Hesitation;
for, it must be own'd, the _Idyllia_ are truly beautiful; and the Author
of them, I think, ought to be rank'd among the best Poets. The Sweetness
of his Versification (owning partly to his own Ingenuity, and partly to
his Doric Dialect) is equall'd by none. Take, only as a Specimen, what
first offers, the very Beginning of the first _Idyllium_:

    Θ. Ἁδυ τι το ψιθυρισμα, και, ἁ πιτυς, αιπολε, τηνα,
    Ἁ ποτι ταις παγαισι, μελισδεται ἁδυ δε και τυ
    Συρισδες· μετα Πανα το δευτερον αθλον αποισηι, κ.λ.

    Αι. Ἁδιον, ω ποιμαν, το τεον μελος, η το καταχες
    Την απο τας πετρας καταλειβεται hυψοθεν hυδωρ.
    Αικα ται Μωσαι ταν οιιδα δωρον αγωνται,
    Αρνα τυ σακιταν λαψηι γερας· αι δε κ' αρεσκηι
    Τηναις αρνα λαβειν, τυ δε ταν οιν hυστερον αξεις.
    Θ. Ληις, ποτι ταν νυμφαν, ληις, αιπολε, τηδε καθιξας, κ.λ.
    Th. Hadu ti to psithyrisma, kai, ha pitus, aipole, têna,

    _Thyr._ Goatherd, that Pine-tree's Boughs by yonder Spring,
      In pleasing Murmurs mix, and sweetly sing:
      And thou dost sweetly pipe; dear charming Swain,
      And well deserv'st the next Reward to _Pan_, &c.

    _Goat._ And sweeter Notes thy Pipe, dear Shepherd, fill,
      Than murm'ring Springs, that roll from yonder Hill
      When Muses claim a Sheep, a Lamb's thy Due;
      When they a Lamb, thou shalt receive a Ewe.

_Thyrsis_ then proceeds to lament, in the softest Verse that is
possible, _Daphnis_'s unhappy Love, the Beginning of which only I shall
recite to you:

    Παι ποκ' αρ' ησθ' ὁκα Δαφνις ετακετο· παι ποκα, νυμφαι·
    Η κατα Πηνειω καλα τεμπεα, η κατα Πινδω·
    Ου γαρ δη ποταμοιο μεγαν ῥοον ειχετ' Αναπω,
    Ουδ' Αιτνας σκοπιαν, ουδ' Ακιδος ἱερον hυδωρ.

    Where were you, Nymphs? Where did the Nymphs reside?
    Where were you then, when _Daphnis_ pin'd and dy'd?
    On _Pindus_' Top, or _Tempe_'s open Plain,
    Where careless Nymphs, forgetful of the Swain?
    For not one Nymph by swift _Asopus_ stood,
    Nor _Ætna_'s Cliff, nor _Acis_' sacred Flood.

These harmonious Lines, _Virgil_ imitates, in the following ones, but
does not equal.

    _Quæ nemora, aut qui vos saltus habuere, puellæ_, &c.

    What Groves, ye Nymphs, detain'd you hence? what Lawns?

What _Bion_ and _Moschus_ have done in this Kind, among the _Greeks_,
the Learned are no Strangers to. Among the Latins, we have nothing
remaining of _Calphurnius Siculus_ and _Aurelius Nemesianus_, but their
Names[257]. The Syrinx, or Shepherd's Pipe; the Form, the Number, and
the Manner of disposing the _Oaten Reeds_; the Names of the first
Inventors of this Sort of Poetry, and other Things of the like Nature,
I pass over, as foreign to my Province. Whoever is studious this Way,
may consult the Writers of poetical History. I would only observe,
that it seems universally agreed upon, that Pastoral owes its Rise and
Increase to _Sicily_.

I cannot but think it a Poem less suitable to modern Times, on account
of the Difference in the Circumstances of human Life, from what it was
anciently. As the Condition of Shepherds is now mean and contemptible;
it seems too forced a Prosopopœia to affix to them any Character
of Politeness, or to introduce them as Men of Wealth and Education:
These Things are contradictory to Truth, and therefore leave no Room
for Fiction. The very Foundation, then, of Pastorals, as they are
accommodated to the present Times, seems wholly taken away. But setting
aside this, it must be own'd, several of the Moderns have attempted
them very successfully, both in their own Tongue, and in _Latin_.
The _Italians_ and _French_ generally want the Bucolic Genius: Their
Shepherds are too genteel; as well bred as Citizens at least, if not
as Courtiers, and fall into other Absurdities of the same Kind. Our
Countryman _Spencer_ has succeeded much better; and one or two of the
present Age seem justly to have deserv'd the Prize.


[240] Eclog. X. 17.

[241] Eclog. II. 60.

[242] Mr. _Fontenelle_, and Mr. _Pope_, in their Discourses on Pastoral
Poetry, are of _Scaliger_'s Opinion. But I might observe, in Favour of
Dr. _Trapp_'s, that the most ancient _Greek_ Poets, whose Names are
preserv'd, are not supposed to have been Pastoral Writers. The _Greeks_
seem to have been persuaded that their Hymns were the first Productions
in Verse: See _Spanheim_'s Notes on _Callim._ p. 2, 3, _&c._

[243] See Bull. Primitiv. & Apostol. Tradit. p. 20, 21.

[244] Eclog. IV. 34.

[245] ℣ 44.

[246] ℣ 35.

[247] Virg. Eclog. IV. 50.

[248] VII. 1.

[249] VIII. 37.

[250] Eclog. II. 28.

[251] Eclog. VII. 65.

[252] ℣ 59.

[253] Met. L. I. ℣ 415.

[254] Lib. I. Ep. X. 21.

[255] Lib. II. Sat. VI. ℣ 56.

[256] Eclog. X. 9.

[257] A small Mistake, which, I suppose, _Joannes Antonius Viperanus_
led our Author into, tho' _Vossius_ expresly guards against it. _Inter
Latinos unum habemus Virgilium----quem liceat imitari_, says _Anton.
Viperanus_; from whence _Vossius_ imagines he never saw those two
Bucolic Writers, (which is more than his Words necessarily imply) and
takes Care to let us know, we have four Eclogues of _Nemesianus_,
and seven of _Calpurnius_. Mr. _Fontenelle_ gives no disadvantageous
Character of both of them, and, in some Particulars, prefers
_Calpurnius_ to _Virgil_ himself. _Fabricius_ mentions seven or eight
Editions of these two Poets, and they may be seen in the _Corpus
Poetarum Latinorum_, publish'd in our Author's Time.

                       LECTURE XV.

Human Nature, at the same Time it is desirous of Knowledge, is cautious
of confessing its Want of it. The Precepts, therefore, design'd for
its Information, must not be obtruded with Moroseness, but insinuated
with Mildness; and even its Vanity soothed, to remove its Ignorance.
Instructions are the better receiv'd, and sink the deeper upon the Mind,
in proportion to the Address with which they are convey'd. There's Sort
of Obsequiousness due from the Teacher to the Scholar, and even in this
Sense that Maxim of _Juvenal_ holds true:

    _Maxima debetur puero reverentia._

Hence it is, that Precepts deliver'd in Verse, are imbib'd with so much
Pleasure; and are held in so great Esteem, that they constitute one
distinct Species of Poetry. Many Rules we have already given, concerning
the other Branches of it, and are now come to teach even the Art of
Teaching. Upon this Subject I am under little Temptation of rifling the
Stores of the Learned: I don't know one that has treated of it, except
the ingenious Author of the _Essay on Virgil's Georgics_, prefix'd to
Mr. _Dryden_'s Translation of them. And he, indeed, has so exhausted
the Subject, that it is as hard to come after him, as it is after the
great _Dryden_, or his greater Original.

From what has been said, it appears, that Poetry is in its Nature
adapted to deliver Precepts of any Kind, which are sure to be learnt
with more Ease, and retain'd the more faithfully by the Help of it.
Laws, and religious Maxims, were anciently promulged in Verse; and
Priests and Poets were the same: And even to this Day it is a prudent
Custom to have religious Lessons drawn up in Verse for the Sake of
Youth: In this Respect it may more truly be said

    ----_pueris dant crustula blandi
      Doctores, elementa velint ut discere prima._

    Thus Teachers bribe their Boys with Figs and Cake,
    To mind their Books.

For by Poetry the very _Elements_ that are taught are soften'd into
Allurements. The common Grammar, we see, is Verse; and tho' the Language
of it, indeed, is Prose, whatever the Measure be, yet it is a sufficient
Proof, that, in the Opinion of the past and present Age, Precepts and
Poetry are no ways inconsistent: And it were to be wish'd, that not only
Rules of Rhetoric and Logic, but of Philosophy, and all other Sciences,
were drawn up in a more entertaining Manner. Not that _technical Words_,
or _Terms of Art_, as they are call'd, should be excluded; for it is
impossible any Science should be without them: But they might be so
dress'd up, as to invite, not deter the Pains of the Learner. But these
are Observations less material to our Purpose, and I only make them by
the Way. I now proceed to observe, that there are four Kinds of Didactic
Poems, _viz._ those that relate to moral Duties; or philosophical
Speculations; or the Business or Pleasures of Life; or, lastly, to
Poetry itself.

Of the _moral_ Poems we shall say but little. We have elsewhere
observ'd, that these have scarce any Thing of Poetry in them but their
Measure, and therefore hardly deserve to be class'd under the Head
of it: Such are _Pythagoras_'s _Golden Verses_; the _Sentences_ of
_Theognis_; the Ποιημα Νουθετικον of _Phocylides_. We have
nothing of this Kind of the _Latin_ Writers, or of our own[260], worth
mentioning; and, in short, they have nothing in common with a Poem,
except this, that a Life led according to the strictest Rules of Virtue,
resembles the best, and the noblest.

But, on the other Hand, nothing shines more in Verse, than Disquisitions
of natural History. We then see the strictest Reasoning join'd to the
politest Expression. Poetry and Philosophy are happily united: The
latter affords abundant Matter for Description; it opens a large Field
for Fancy, and strikes out new Ideas, which the other expresses with
suitable Dignity. What Subject can be a more poetical one than

    ----_Errantem Lunam, Solisque labores,
    Unde hominum genus, & pecudes, unde imber, & ignes,
    Unde tremor terris, qua vi maria alta tumescant
    Obicibus ruptis, rursusque in seipsa residant;
    Arcturum, pluviasque Hyadas, geminosque Triones:
    Quid tantum Oceano properent se tingere soles
    Hyberni, vel quæ tardis mora noctibus obstet?_
    The wand'ring Moon, the Labours of the Sun;
    Whence Men, and Beasts, whence Rain, and Lightnings come;
    The Constellations of the northern Cars,
    _Arcturus_, and the show'ry _Hyades_:
    Why Suns, in Winter, haste so swift to tinge
    Themselves in Ocean; and what Cause retards
    The sluggish Nights.

What can be more suitable to the Dignity of a Poem, than to celebrate
the Works of the great Creator? What more agreeable to the Variety of
one, than to describe the Journies of the heavenly Orbs, the Rise of
Thunder, and other Meteors, the Motion of the Earth, and the Tides
of the Sea; the attractive Force of the Magnet, the impulsive Motion
of Light, and the slower Progression of Sound; and innumerable other
Wonders, in the unbounded Storehouse of Nature. I shall say nothing,
at present, of _Aratus_ among the _Greeks_, or of _Manilius_ among
the _Latin_ Writers; _Lucretius_, alone, shall suffice, instead of
all the rest. He, indeed, is so far from celebrating the Creator,
that he supposes there is none; but, allowing him his Hypothesis, his
Poem is truly philosophical. He had deserv'd much greater Praise,
had he corrected his Notions in Philosophy, and his Style in Poetry;
for in this Particular, also, he is often deficient. The Asperity of
his Versification must be imputed rather to the Times he liv'd in,
(_viz._ the Age between _Ennius_ and _Virgil_) than to the Subject he
treated of; which, whatever the common Opinion be, not only admits of
the Harmony of Numbers, but requires it. The following Directions of
_Virgil_ about burning the Turf, part of which we cited before, upon
another Occasion, don't lose any Thing of their Philosophy by their

    [262] _Sive inde occultas vires, & pabula terræ
    Pinguia concipiunt, sive illis omne per ignem
    Excoquitur vitium, atque exudat inutilis humor;
    Seu plures calor ille vias, & cæca relaxat
    Spiramenta, novas veniat qua succus in herbas:
    Seu durat magis, & venas astringit hiantes,
    Ne tenues pluviæ, rapidive potentia solis
    Acrior, aut Boreæ penetrabile frigus adurat._

    Whether from thence they secret Strength receive,
    And richer Nutriment: Or by the Fire
    All latent Mischief, and redundant Juice,
    Oozing sweats off: Or whether the same Heat
    Opens the hidden Pores, that new Supplies
    Of Moisture may refresh the recent Blades.
    Or hardens more, and with astringent Force
    Closes the gaping Veins; lest driv'ling Show'rs
    Shou'd soak too deep, or the Sun's parching Rays,
    Or _Boreas_' piercing Cold shou'd dry the Glebe.

And even _Lucretius_ himself is sometimes more flowing and sonorous, not
only when he addresses himself to _Venus_, as in the following beautiful

    _Te, Dea, te fugiunt venti, te nubila cœli,
    Adventumque tuum; tibi suaves dædala tellus
    Summittit flores; tibi rident æquora ponti,
    Pacatumque nitet, diffuso lumine, cœlum._

    At thy Approach, great Goddess, strait remove
    Whate'er are rough, and Enemies to Love;
    The Clouds disperse, the Winds do swiftly waft,
    And reverently in Murmurs breathe their last.
    The Earth with various Art (for thy warm Pow'rs
    That dull Mars feels) puts forth her gawdy Flow'rs.
    To pleasure thee, ev'n lazy Lux'ry toils,
    The roughest Sea puts on smooth Looks, and Smiles:
    The well-pleas'd Heav'n assumes a brighter Ray
    At thy Approach, and makes a double Day.

But sometimes, likewise, when he unfolds the Principles of Matter, the
Causes of Things, and the Phænomena of Nature. It is certain, _Virgil_
is much indebted to him, tho' he has much improv'd his Manner.

Another Imperfection in _Lucretius_ is, that he never makes any
Excursions into poetical Fiction. Some Digressions he has, but they
are rather philosophical, than poetical; and therefore don't diversify
the Subject, nor afford the Reader sufficient Refreshment. He has
some, indeed, philosophical; but then they are impious, such as reason
against Providence, the Foundations of Religion, and the Immortality
of the Soul. One, however, I must except, that upon the Plague of
_Athens_; which contains, indeed, a poetical Description, but nothing
of poetical Fable. It must be own'd, this Poet reasons too much in the
Manner of the Schools, the Philosopher appears too open, he wants the
Gentility to conceal his Beard, and temper his Severity. Poetry and
Philosophy, indeed, were both to be join'd together, but the one ought
to be as the Handmaid to the other; which _Virgil_ would not have fail'd
to have taken care of, had he been engag'd on such a Subject. Not so
_Lucretius_, who appears more a Philosopher than a Poet, and yet of
Poets not the meanest: _Virgil_, in his _Georgics_, appears more a Poet
than a Husbandman, and yet of Husbandmen the greatest.

I can't see why, in a Work of this Kind, Nature may not be so explain'd,
as to admit sometimes of poetical Fiction; in the same Manner that
_Virgil_ describes the _Cyclops_ forging the Thunderbolts?

    [264] _Tres imbris torti radios, tres nubis aquosæ
    Addiderant, rutili tres ignis, & alitis Austri:
    Fulgores nunc terrificos, sonitumque, metumque,
    Addiderant operi, flammisque sequacibus iras._
    Three Forks of darted Hail, of wat'ry Cloud
    Three more they added; three of glaring Fire,
    As many of the winged southern Wind;
    Then dreadful Flashes, and the roaring Noise,
    And Rage, and Terror, and avenging Flames.

Here the Formation of the Thunder is poetically feign'd; the Matter and
the Adjuncts explain'd physically; Philosophy is made the Basis, and
Poetry the Superstructure.

I know of no modern Poem of this Sort worth mentioning, except
_Buchanan's Sphere_, which is a Work by no means contemptible. But
as Natural Philosophy has, by the Help of Experiments, been lately
brought to much greater Perfection than ever; this Kind of Poetry, no
doubt, would have made proportionable Advances, if the same Age that
shew'd a _Boyle_, a _Halley_, and a _Newton_, had produc'd a _Virgil_;
or if we had not been so much worse Poets than the Ancients, as we
are better Philosophers. We have, indeed, some poetical Essays on
the[265]_Circulation of the Blood_, the _Air-pump_, the _Microscope_,
and the _Telescope_, and the like: But these are short _Descriptions_,
no ways reducible to the Species of Poetry before us. 'Tis true, they
may in some Sense be reduc'd under the Title of _Didactic_, tho' not of
_Preceptive_ Poetry; they _teach_ by _Description_, not by _Precept_.

But the next Kind I mention'd, relating to the _Business_ or _Pleasures_
of Life, do both. Under this Head _Virgil_'s _Georgics_ stand foremost,
containing the most useful Rules for Husbandry in all its Branches,
Agriculture, the Method of raising Trees, or Cattle, or tending of
Bees. The Pleasure that naturally results from reading them, is chiefly
owing to the Pleasure and Advantage which attends a Country Life. Here
_Virgil_ has _imitated Hesiod_, as he has _Theocritus_ in his Eclogues,
and _Homer_ in the _Æneis_; I should rather have said, has _exceeded_
each in their peculiar Way of Writing, unless, perhaps, we ought to
except _Theocritus_: But _Hesiod_ he his left so far behind him, that
he scarce deserves to be mention'd in the Comparison. The good old Man
of _Ascræa_ is at best but a downright Yeoman, whereas _Virgil_ appears
with the Learning of a Scholar, and the Elegance of a Gentleman. From
his _Georgics_, then, all the Maxims that relate to this Subject must be

The first Rule I would lay down, is, That we ought to select with
Judgment such Circumstances as are capable of shining in Verse; not that
we are to omit the gravest Precepts, but to express them by their most
poetical Adjuncts:

    _Jam vinctæ vites, jam falcem arbusta reponunt;
    Jam canit extremos effœtus vinitor antes:
    Sollicitanda tamen tellus, pulvisque movendus;
    Et jam maturis metuendus Jupiter uvis._

    And now the Vines are ty'd, nor longer ask
    The Pruning Hook; the weary Dresser now
    With Songs salutes his outmost Ranks complete:
    Yet must we still sollicit the dull Mold;
    And the ripe Grapes have still to fear from _Jove_.

I need not explain myself any farther. To produce all the Instances
of this Kind, would be to transcribe the _Georgics_. 'Tis with the
same View the great Author of them is so copious upon the different
Properties of Trees and Cattle; the Combat of Bulls; the Conduct and
Politics of Bees, and the like.

To vary the Form of Instruction, and to add Life to his Precepts, he
sometimes instils them as Matters of Fact, and conveys them under the
Appearance of a Narration:

    _Quid dicam, jacto qui semine cominus arva
    Insequitur, cumulosque ruit male pinguis arenæ?_

    What shou'd I say of him; who, having sown
    His Grain, with ceaseless Industry proceeds,
    And spreads abroad the Heaps of barren Sand?
    _Quid, qui, ne gravidis procumbat culmus aristis,
    Luxuriem segetum tenera depascit in herba?_

    Or what of him; who, lest the Stalks, o'ercharg'd
    By the plump Ears, shou'd sink beneath their Weight,
    Crops their Luxuriance in the tender Blade?

And in another Place:

    _Et quidam seros hyberni ad luminis ignes
    Invigilat, ferroque faces inspicat acuto;
    Aut dulcis musti Vulcano decoquit humorem,
    Et foliis undam trepidi despumat aheni._

    One watches late by Light of Winter Fires;
    And with the sharpen'd Steel for Torches splits
    The spiky Wood.----
    Or of sweet Must boils down the luscious Juice;
    And skims with Leaves the trembling Cauldron's Flood.

Sometimes he foretels the ill Consequences of a contrary Practice:

    _Quod nisi & assiduis terram insectabere rastris,
    Et sonitu terrebis aves, & ruris opaci
    Falce premes umbras, votisque vocaveris imbrem;
    Heu! magnum alterius frustra spectabis acervum,
    Concussaque famem in silvis solabere quercu._

    Unless then with assiduous Rakes thou work
    The Ground, and chase the Birds with scaring Noise;
    And with the crooked Pruner lop the Shades
    Of spreading Trees, and pray to Heav'n for Show'rs,
    Another's Store, in vain, alas! admir'd,
    Thou shalt behold, and from a shaken Oak
    Thy hungry Appetite in Woods relieve.

Or he describes the ill Effects he has observ'd to attend it:

    _Semina vidi equidem multos medicare serentes,
    Et nitro prius, & nigra perfundere amurca,_ &c.

    _Vidi lecta diu, & multo spectata labore,
    Degenerare tamen._

    Many I've known to medicate their Seed,
    In Nitre steep'd, and the black Lees of Oil;
          And tho' o'er mod'rate Fire
    Moist, and precipitated, and with Pain
    Long try'd, and chosen, oft they have been prov'd Degen'rate.

By this agreeable Variety the Reader's Attention is wonderfully
awaken'd, tho' he sees not the Reason of it; and the Poet's Art is the
more to be admir'd, because it escapes Observation.

But the greatest Ornaments of this sort of Poems, are the frequent
_Excursions_ into some more noble Subject, which seem'd naturally to
arise out of that the Poet is treating of. Sometimes, for Instance, he
runs back into _History_ and _Antiquity_, or, perhaps, the very Origine
of Things:

    _Ante Jovem nulli subigebant arva coloni,_ &c.
    E're _Jove_ was King, no Hinds subdu'd the Glebe.

And again:

    _Prima Ceres ferro mortales vertere terram
    Instituit,_ &c.

    'Twas _Ceres_ first taught Mortals with the Share
    To cut the Ground.

Sometimes he makes Reflections on the Condition of Human Life:

    _Optima quæque dies miseris mortalibus ævi
    Prima fugit, subeunt morbi, tristisque senectus,_ &c.

    The best of Life, which wretched Mortals share,
    First flies away: Diseases, sick Old Age,
    And Pain, and Death's Inclemency, succeed.

At another Time he heightens his Subject with _Astronomy_, and _Natural
Philosophy_; an Instance of which I have already cited, from the
_Georgics_: But I cannot help adding one more, not only as it makes very
remarkably for our present Purpose, but is, moreover, an abundant Proof
of what I before advanc'd, that Natural Philosophy might be express'd
in the sweetest Numbers, and consequently is capable of much smoother
Versification than that of _Lucretius_. The Poet, then, having mention'd
the Noise of Crows as a Sign of fair Weather, proceeds thus:

    _Haud equidem credo, quia sit divinitus illis
    Ingenium, & rerum fato prudentia major:
    Verum ubi tempestas, & cœli mobilis humor
    Mutavere vias, & Jupiter humidus Austris
    Densat erant quæ rara modo, & quæ densa, relaxat;
    Vertuntur species animorum; & pectora motus
    Nunc alios; alios, dum nubila ventus agebat,
    Concipiunt: Hinc ille avium concentus in agris,
    Et lætæ pecudes, & ovantes gutture corvi._

    Not that I think an Ingeny divine
    To them is giv'n, or Prescience of Events
    In Fate superior: But when changeful Winds
    Alter the various Temper of the Sky;
    And the moist Ether what before was dense
    Relaxes, and condenses what was rare:
    The shifting Phantasms of their Minds are turn'd;
    And now within their Breasts new Passions move,
    Diff'rent from those they felt, when driving Blasts
    Dispers'd the Clouds: Hence that Concent of Birds
    Chirping in Chorus; hence the Joy of Beasts,
    And Flocks of Crows exulting in the Fields.

Often he digresses into _Fable_ and _Fiction_, as in that beautiful
Episode of _Orpheus_ and _Eurydice_: And still more often into _poetical
Descriptions_, as those of the perpetual Spring in _Italy_, and the
bleak Winter in _Scythia_; of the Happiness of a Country Life; of the
various Prognostications of the Weather; of the Prodigies that foretold
the Death of _Cæsar_; and, to name no more, of the Murrain among the
Cattle. Of which, I wonder the foremention'd Author of the _Essay
on Virgil's Georgics_ should say, that _Virgil_ seems in it to have
summon'd up all his Might to equal the Description of the Plague in
_Lucretius_, since the one is as much beyond the other in the Ingenuity
of the Composition, as it is inferior to it, in the Dignity of the
Subject; and the Plague in _Lucretius_ is exceeded by that of _Virgil_,
as much as Beasts are by Men. Upon the whole, this is deservedly
esteem'd the most finish'd Piece of all _Virgil_'s Works; I need not
add, that it is the compleatest in its Kind, of any we now have, or the
World ever saw.

The Moderns have produc'd nothing in this Kind, except _Rapin_'s Books
of Gardening, and the celebrated Poem on Cyder by an ingenious Author,
that not long since resided among us; who, if he had enjoy'd the
Advantage of _Virgil_'s Language, would have been second to _Virgil_ in
a much nearer Degree. As long as the fluctuating State of our Tongue
will permit, this _English Georgic_ shall infallibly flourish,

    ----_& honos erit huic quoque Pomo._

    And to this Apple Honours shall be paid.

Among the _Pleasures_ of a Country Life, we may reckon _Hunting_,
_Fishing_, _Hawking_, and the like; which are excellent Subjects for
Didactic Verse, and are very fruitful of poetic Matter. We have only
some Essays of this Sort, and those by modern Hands, except only
_Gratius_'s _Cynægeticon_, which owes all its Value to Fortune, rather
than any true Merit of its own; _viz._ that it has the Advantage of
being writ in the _Augustan_ Age, and being recommended by _Ovid_, a
Contemporary, in the following Verse,

    _Aptaque venanti Gratius arma dabit._

    And _Gratius_ to the Hunter Arms supplies.

_Oppian_'s _Halieutica_ and _Cynegetica_ are scarce to be reckon'd among
the Writings of the Ancients, but to be plac'd rather in the Middle

The Rules for writing upon these Subjects are the same with what I have
mention'd under the _Georgics_; I have no Occasion, therefore, to add
new ones here. The same may be said for that Species of Poetry, that
consists in teaching the _Art of Poetry_; the Manner of Writing is the
same, as far as the Difference of the Matter will admit.

The Pieces that have been writ in this Way, are known to all; and Poetry
seems never to have employ'd her Time better, than upon herself. The
Ancients have left us only one Specimen of this Kind, but such as may
compensate for all the rest, _Horace_'s Epistle to the _Piso's_; a Work
that ought to be got by Heart by all true Lovers of Poetry, in which
'tis hard to say, whether we should admire the Wit or Judgment most,
both in the Choice of the Precepts, and the Manner of delivering them.
Among the Moderns, the celebrated _French_ Poet[277], and several of our
Countrymen[278], have succeeded, each in his native Tongue, very happily.

These are the several Kinds of Didactic Poetry, with which the Writers
of the past or present Age have furnish'd us. In this Number I might
reckon Ovid _of the Art of Love_; but I pass it by, on account of its
Levity, not to say its Indecency. Much less excusable are _Claudius
Quilletus_, and _Hieronymus Fracastorius_, among the Moderns; who, it
were to be wish'd, had chosen Subjects less obnoxious to Censure.

I would, however, observe, that any Thing in the World may be the
Subject of this Kind of Poem: The Business or Recreations of the City,
or the Country; even the Conduct of common Life, and civil Converse: But
none more suitable than Arts and Sciences. And among those, which of
them so proper to receive Instructions from the Hand of Poetry, as its
two Sister Arts, Painting and Music? In the former, particularly, there
is Room for the most entertaining Precepts concerning the Disposal of
Colours; the Arrangement of Lights and Shades; the secret Attractives of
Beauty; the various Ideas which make up that one; the distinguishing
between the Attitudes proper to either Sex, and every Passion; the
representing Prospects, of Buildings, Battles, or the Country; and,
lastly, concerning the Nature of Imitation, and the Power of Painting.
What a boundless Field of Invention is here? what Room for Description,
Comparison, and poetical Fable? How easy the Transition, at any Time,
from the Draught to the Original, from the Shadow to the Substance?
And, from hence, what noble Excursions may be made into History, into
Panegyric upon the greatest Beauties or Hero's of the past or present
Age? The Task, I confess, is difficult; but, according to that noted,
but true Saying,[279]So are all Things that are great. Let the Man,
therefore, that is equal to such an Undertaking, be fir'd with a noble
Ambition to attempt a Work untouch'd before; and let the _Georgics_,
which have been our great Example, furnish him with this noble Incentive:

    ----_Tentanda via est, qua me quoque possim
    Tollere humo, victorque virum volitare per ora._

    A Way by me, too, must be try'd, to raise
    Myself from Earth, and fill the Mouths of Men.


[258] Sat. XIV. ℣ 47.

[259] Hor. L. I. ℣ 25.

[260] Mr. _Pope_ has since struck out a new Scheme of Ethic Poems, in
which he has deserv'd as much of the Moral World, as Sir _Isaac Newton_
did of the Natural.

[261] Virg. Æn. L. I. 746. & Georg. II. 479, &c.

[262] Georg. I. 86.

[263] Lib. I. ℣ 6.

[264] Æn. VIII. 429.

[265] Mus. Angl. Vol. I. & II.

[266] Geor. II. 416.

[267] Geor. I. 104.

[268] ℣ 111.

[269] ℣ 291.

[270] ℣ 155.

[271] ℣ 193.

[272] ℣ 125.

[273] ℣ 147.

[274] Geor. III. 66.

[275] Geor. I. 415.

[276] _Nemesianus_'s _Cynegeticon_, I suppose, is omitted, as being
still of a later Age, tho' he had the good Fortune, as _Vossius_
observes, to be read in the Schools in the Time of _Charles the Great_;
and may still bear to be read in better Times than when Emperors could
not write their own Name.

[277] _Boileau_.

[278] Earl of _Roscommon_, and Mr. _Pope_.

[279] Difficilia quæ Pulchra.

[280] Geor. III. 8.

                       LECTURE XVI.
                   _Of_ LYRIC POETRY.

                   Spoke in the THEATRE,
               before the _Philological Act_,
                      _July 10, 1713_.

The Subject I now engage in, however mean it may appear in my Hands, is
not only noble in itself; but, at this Time, peculiarly seasonable: At
this Time, I say, when Odes and Music are the Instruments of our present
Festivity, and Peace restor'd to _Europe_, under the Conduct of the
greatest and best of Queens, the happy Occasion of it. And no Kind of
Poetry is so proper to express either our Joy, or the Heroes Triumphs,
as the Lyric:

    _Quem virum, aut heroa, lyra, vel acri
      Tibia sumes celebrare, Clio?_

    What Man, what Hero wilt thou claim,
    What Godhead, Muse? For whom inspire
    Thy warbling Pipe or Lyre?

Since, then, it is incumbent upon me to bear a Part in this Solemnity,
let me prevail with my usual Audience, and those additional Guests
that make up this chearful Assembly, to restrain their Impatience for
the Verses and Orations, that are to follow, only while I lay before
them the Original and Antiquity of Lyric Poetry, the distinguishing
Properties of it, the Variety of its Matter, and the Difference between
modern Writers in this Way, and the ancient.

That this is the most ancient Kind of Poem, is pretty evident. _Jubal_,
in sacred Writ, is said to be the first Inventor of musical Instruments;
and little Doubt is to be made, but vocal Music was added to them. And
we are farther told, by a _Jewish_ Author, of venerable Antiquity[282],
tho' his Works are not admitted into the Canon, that the same _which
found out musical Tunes, recited Verses in Writing_. We have before
observ'd, that Poetry took its Rise from those Festival Hymns which
were sung at the Conclusion of Harvest, in Gratitude to the Deity.
Odes, therefore, and Poetry, date their Original from the same Æra:
And, in Truth, if we consider the internal Motions of the Soul, it
will seem very probable that Poetry, which is so peculiarly adapted
to express the several Emotions of Joy, or Praise, or Gratitude, owes
its Rise to Nature herself, and was therefore join'd with Music. We
have no Instance of Poetry older than the celebrated Song, or rather
Ode, of _Moses_[283]. The Antiquity of the other Hymns mention'd in
sacred History, and, particularly, the Collection of them in the Book
of _Psalms_, is so well known, that I shall dwell no longer upon this

As to the Nature of the Lyric Poem, it is, of all Kinds of Poetry, the
most poetical; and is as distinct, both in Style, and Thought, from
the rest, as Poetry in general is from Prose. I have before observ'd,
the Peculiarity of its Diction; the Thought, only, now comes under
Consideration. Now this is the boldest of all other Kinds, full of
Rapture, and elevated from common Language the most that is possible;
so that what _Horace_ says at the Beginning of one of his Odes, may not
improperly be applied to all the rest:

    _Odi profanum vulgus, & arceo._

    I hate, I scorn the Vulgar Throng.

Some Odes there are, likewise, in the free and loose Manner, which seem
to avoid all Method, and yet are conducted by a very clear one; which
affect Transitions, seemingly, without Art, but, for that Reason, have
the more of it; which are above Connexion, and delight in Exclamations,
and frequent Invocation of the Muses; which begin and end abruptly, and
are carried on thro' a Variety of Matter with a sort of divine _Pathos_,
above Rules and Laws, and without Regard to the common Forms of Grammar.

Hence, then, we learn the chief Property of Lyric Poetry, _viz._ that
it abounds with a Sort of Liberty which consists in Digressions and
Excursions. _Pindar_ set his Successors this Example, insomuch that this
Style, when applied to Odes, is generally call'd Pindaric; not that he
is to be esteem'd the Inventor of it: For it is plain that he, and the
rest of the _Grecians_, receiv'd their Learning from the Nations of the
East, the _Jews_ and _Phœnicians_: And it is well known, the eastern
Eloquence abounded not only with Metaphors, and bold Hyperboles, but in
long Digressions; as is sufficiently evident from the sacred Writings.
The _Roman Pindar_ often imitates the _Theban_, and sometimes exceeds
him, even in his characteristic Excellence. Thus in that Ode, where
he addresses himself to the Ship that bore so valuable a Freight as

    _Sic te, Diva potens Cypri_, &c.

at the Conclusion of the eighth Verse, he inveighs against the Temerity
of Mankind, and pursues this Argument to the End of the Ode, which is
not a very short one. So, again, speaking of the Tree which had like to
have fallen upon him,

    _Ille & nefasto te posuit die_, &c.

a few Lines after he adds;

    _Quam pene furvæ regna Proserpinæ,
    Et judicantem vidimus Æacum,
      Sedesque descriptas piorum; &
        Æoliis fidibus querentem

    Sappho puellis de popularibus;
    Et Te sonantem plenius aureo,
      Alcæe, plectro, dura navis,
        Dura fugæ mala, dura belli?_

    How near was I to Realms of Night?
    Where _Minos_ does in Judgment sit;
    Where pious Shades walk o'er the Plains;
    Where _Proserpine_ and Darkness reigns:

      Where _Sappho_'s warbling Measures tell
    By what disastrous Cause she fell:
    _Alcæus_, in sublimer Strains,
    Of Toils by Sea and Land complains.

He then expatiates into their Praises, and so concludes this elegant
Ode with them. It is, indeed, just Matter of Complaint, that we have
only some Fragments of both these Poets remaining, to whom we owe the
Invention of the two chief Kinds of Lyric Poetry. In this loose Way of
Writing, the Poet just touches upon the Subject at first propos'd, and
strait diverts to another:

           [287]----_Cætera fluminis
    Ritu feruntur, nunc medio alveo
      Cum pace delabentis Etruscum
        In mare, nunc lapides adesos
    Stirpesque raptas, & pecus, & domos,
    Volventis una, non sine montium
      Clamore, vicinæque silvæ;
        Cum fera diluvies quietos
    Irritat amnes._

      All worldly Things, like Waters, flow,
      Sometimes too high, sometimes too low:
    Sometimes the even Current gently glides
      Down to the Deep, and oft with mighty Roar
    Bears Rocks upon its swelling Tides,
      Sweeps Herds and Houses from the Shore,
    And Trunks of Trees; the Rivers quit their Bounds,
    Whilst ev'ry lofty Hill, and neighb'ring Wood resounds.

Nothing can describe the unbounded Nature of this Kind of Ode better
than those Lines of _Horace_, which, at the same Time, give us a lively
Instance of it. We may add, to the same Purpose, his Description of the
_Theban_ Poet;

    _Monte decurrens velut amnis, imbres
    Quem super notas aluere ripas,
    Fervet, immensusque ruit profundo
        Pindarus ore._

    _Pindar_'s a mighty raging Flood,
      That from some Mountain flows,
    Rapid, and warm, and deep, and loud,
      Whose Force no Limits knows.

From what has been said, some will be induc'd to think, that to write a
Lyric Poem, which is indulg'd with so many Liberties, is the easiest
Thing imaginable: But, in Reality, it is the most difficult in every
Respect, except its Shortness, as it is the most elegant. It demands not
only a flowing Imagination, Brightness, Life, Sublimity, and Elegance,
but the nicest Art, and finest Judgment, so as to seem luxuriant, and
not to be so; and under the Shew of transgressing all Laws, to preserve
them. For it is not impossible but a Writer's Fire may be temper'd with
the severest Judgment; and Poets may be said, tho' Lovers cannot, to be
_mad with Reason_.

Those Digressions which quite leave the Subject, and never return to it
again, please me less than some others of a very different Kind. The
former, no doubt, are defensible, and sometimes highly commendable;
for a Poet is not always oblig'd to dwell upon the same Argument from
one End to the other; and I would rather call them Transitions, than
Digressions: But the Digressions which I chiefly admire, are such as
_take Occasion_ from some _Adjunct_ or _Circumstance_ of the Subject,
to pass on to _somewhat else_ not totally distinct from it, with which
the Imagination having been diverted for some Time, new Matter starts
up, and from some new Adjunct of that, the Poet is brought back, of
a sudden, to his first Design. I cannot produce a better Instance of
this, out of _Horace_ himself, than from a late Ode of one of our own
Countrymen[289], who, since he has paid the Debt of Nature, may, without
Envy, receive the Tribute of our Praise; that beautiful Ode, I mean,
upon the Death of the famous Dr. _Pocock_; where the Poet describes his
Travels to the East, in these Words[290]:

    _Quin nunc requiris tecta virentia
    Nini ferocis, nunc Babel arduum,
      Immane opus! crescentibusque
        Vertice sideribus propinquum!
    Nequicquam; amici disparibus sonis
    Eludit aures nescius artifex,
      Linguasque miratur recentes,
        In patriis peregrinus oris.
    Vestitur hinc tot sermo coloribus,
    Quot Tu, Pococki, dissimilis Tui
      Orator effers_, &c.

    Now _Ninus'_ Walls you search with curious Eye,
    Now _Babel_'s Tow'r, the Rival of the Sky.
    In vain! the mad Attempt new Tongues confound,
    The Toil eluded by discordant Sound:
    To his own Sire the Son _Barbarian_ grown,
    Unletter'd, starts a Language not his own.
    Hence various Bounds to Nations set by Speech; }
    But not to You, who, Orator in each,           }
    His proper Tongue th'admiring Native teach.    }

With what Elegance does the Poet divert from his Purpose, that he may
bring in a beautiful Description of _Babel_, and the Confusion of
Tongues: Then, with no less Elegance, he returns to the Praise of his
venerable Traveller, surprizingly skill'd in most of them. Afterwards,
with a peculiar Delicacy, his Comment upon _Joel_ is hinted at, and from
thence Occasion taken to represent that terrible Day of the Lord, which
the Prophet speaks of, and then the holy Ardour of his Interpreter:

    _Ac sicut albens perpetua nive
    Simul favillas, & cineres sinu
      Eructat ardenti, & pruinis
        Contiguas rotat Ætna flammas:
    Sic te trementem, te nive candidum,
    Mens intus urget, mens agit ignea_
      _Sequi reluctantem Joelem
        Per tonitru, aereasque nubes._

    _Annon pavescis, dum Tuba pallidum
    Ciet Sionem? dum tremulum polo
      Caligat astrum, atque incubanti
        Terra nigrans tegitur sub umbra?
    Quod agmen! heu! quæ turba sequacibus
    Tremenda flammis! quis strepitantium
      Flictus rotarum est! O Pococki
        Egregie! O animose Vatis
    Interpres abstrusi! O simili fere
    Correpte flamma!_----

    As _Ætna_'s lucid with perpetual Snow,
    While heaving Flames within its Entrails glow;
    O'er the hoar Frost the raging Fury's spread,
    And ruddy Flouds of Fire beam round its Head:
    So trembling thou, and venerably white,
    Thy urging Soul tries sacred _Sion_'s Height,
    Attends thy _Joel_, clad in dark Array,
    Where Clouds and Lightnings mark his awful Way.
    Hark! dost not shudder while the Trumpet's Sound
    The tott'ring Tow'rs of _Solyma_ rebound?
    Behold what Troops come rolling from afar
    With Gleams of Terror, and the Din of War!
    In the bright Front consuming Fires ride,
    And Slaughter stalks indignant by their Side.
    Oh! whither, whither tends thy eager Course,
    Rapt by thy own, thy kindred Prophet's Force?

The Matter and Thoughts are sublime and elegant, the Transitions artful;
and it is, in short, all over wonderful.

This, likewise, is a Peculiarity in Lyric Poetry, that (as the Name
implies) it is attended with musical Instruments more than any other.
_More than any other_, I say, because there's no Necessity that Odes
should be always sung; they are often repeated: Nor is Music so
peculiar to them, as to be suitable to no other Poems; for the Flute
was anciently join'd with Elegy; and now a-days we see other Kinds of
Poetry accompanied with Music, nay, even Prose itself; tho' anciently,
I say, it was thought more _peculiarly_ adapted to the Ode. Hence we
find many Ideas among the Lyrics, that we meet with no where else; hence
the frequent mention of musical Instruments, I may say the frequent
Invocation of them.

    ----_Age dic Latinum,
                 Barbite, carmen._
    ----_Nec turpem senectam
       Degere, nec cithara carentem._

           [293]----_Si neque tibias
    Euterpe cohibet, nec Polyhymnia
    Lesboum refugit tendere barbiton._

Which are Circumstances that often throw an additional Ornament on a

The Ancients have left us very imperfect Accounts of their Music. They
that would see a Description of their chief Instruments, the Harp and
Flute, may consult _Vossius_, and others. But the Manner of their
_Composing_ has been scarce touch'd upon by any. For my Part, I cannot
but think it was more simple than our modern Way, and consisted of fewer
Divisions. And my Reason is, because we meet with very few Encomiums
of this Art, or of those that excell'd in it; nay, scarce any of their
Names are handed down to Posterity. There's frequent mention, indeed,
among the Lyrics, of musical Instruments, as Adjuncts of that Kind of
Poetry; but it is scarce credible the Ancients should have said so
little of this Art, if it had flourish'd as much in their Time, as it
does in ours. As, therefore, we are much inferior to them in Lyric
Poetry, so in its Sister Science we far exceed them. We have not their
_Horaces_; nor had they those masterly Hands which are now, or lately
have been the Admiration of all _Europe_; none to be compar'd with our
_British Orpheus_[294], or his worthy Successor[295], that receives, on
this Day, Academical Honours.

The proper Subjects for _Odes_, are almost all comprehended in the
following Lines of _Horace_:

    _Musa dedit fidibus divos, puerosque deorum,
    Et pugilem victorem, & equum certamine primum,
    Et juvenum curas, & libera vina referre._

    Gods, Heroes, Conquerors, _Olympic_ Crowns,
    Love's pleasing Cares, and the free Joys of Wine,
    Are proper Subjects for the Lyric Song.

Heroes and Triumphs, we before observ'd to be the principal Subjects;
and _Horace_, accordingly, places them first. But, in Course of Time,
Love and Entertainments were likewise thought very suitable ones.
_Horace_ has left us several of both Sorts, writ with a Sweetness and
Elegance that always distinguish him: Nay, he more than once insinuates,
that light Subjects come peculiarly within his Province, and that he
stands in need of Apology when he presumes to meddle with greater:

    _Nos convivia, nos prælia virginum_, &c.

    Of Treats we sing, and Love Intrigues.

And after a Recital of _Juno_'s Speech to the Gods, he concludes:

    _Non hæc jocosæ conveniunt lyræ;
      Quo, Musa, tendis?_

    Stay, Muse; this suits but ill the sportive Lyre.

But these Expressions are the Effects of the Poet's Modesty, not to
be understood critically; not as spoken of Lyrics in general, but
of his own, which with a becoming Decency, he says, are unequal to
greater Subjects. For the Ode in its own Nature is _chiefly_ adapted
to the Sublime; and nothing can have more of that Quality than some of
_Horace_'s. Who, for Instance, can read, without Rapture,

    _Motum ex Metello Consule civicum_, &c.

    _Jam nunc minaci murmure cornuum
    Perstringis aures; jam litui strepunt;
      Jam fulgor armorum fugaces
        Terret equos, equitumque vultus.

    Audire magnos jam videor duces
    Non indecoro pulvere sordidos;
      Et cuncta terrarum subacta,
        Præter atrocem animum Catonis._

    Methinks I hear the horrid Din of Arms:
      Bright gleaming Armour paints the Field:
    The rattling Trumpet pours its dread Alarms:
      The Brave lie low in Dust, the Valiant yield:
    Revenge and Honour the stern Warrior warms,
      And ev'ry Breast, but _Cato_'s, is with Horror fill'd.

Or this:

    _Descende Cœlo, & dic, age, tibia,
      Regina, longum, Calliope, melos_, &c.

And to mention one more:

    _Qualem ministrum fulminis alitem_, &c.

And many others I might produce, from the same Poet, of equal Sublimity.

But in the Verses abovemention'd he has omitted one Subject very
suitable to the Ode, and which he himself has often happily attempted;
that, I mean, which relates to moral Reflections; which not only affords
the greatest Advantage to the Reader, but, for aught I know, the
greatest Elegance to the Writer. Many of his Odes are full of it:

    _Æquam memento rebus in arduis
      Servare mentem_, &c.

    Be calm, my Friend, be easy, and sedate,
    And bend your Soul to ev'ry State.
    _Cedes coemptis saltibus, & domo,
    Villaque flavus quam Tiberis lavit
      Cedes, & extructis in altum
        Divitiis potietur hæres._

    You must your Fields and pleasant Seat forego,
      Where _Tiber_'s yellow Waters flow;
    You must to _Pluto_'s gloomy Realm repair,
    And leave your Heaps of Wealth to a luxurious Heir.


    _Eheu! fugaces, Posthume, Posthume,
      Labuntur anni_, &c.

And, to omit innumerable other Instances of this Nature, I will add only
his Ode on Avarice:

    _Crescit indulgens sibi dirus hydrops,
    Nec sitim pellit, nisi causa morbi
    Fugerit venis, & aquosus albo
               Corpore languor._

    'Tis great this Passion to controul,
    For 'tis the Dropsy of the Soul:
    Unless you purge each sickly Vein,
    'Twill thirst, and drink, and thirst again.

These moral Odes are often interspers'd with Encomiums on a Country
Life, on moderate Circumstances, and the like; which always afford
Matter for entertaining Descriptions:

    _Vivitur parvo bene, cui paternum
    Splendet in mensa tenui salinum;
    Nec leves somnos timor, aut cupido
              Sordidus, aufert._

    Blest he with little, on whose thrifty Board
    That Salt still shines, that call'd his Father Lord;
    No vexing Fears his Breast can seize,
    No sordid Lust will break his Ease.

Upon the whole, then, we see, that the Ode may be either Sublime, or
of the lower Strain; jocose or serious; mournful or exulting; even
satirical sometimes, epigrammatical never. It may consist of Wit, but
not of that Turn which is the peculiar Characteristic of Epigram. They
that have a Mind to know the various Classes of Odes, with their uncouth
Titles, into which they are by some Writers distinguish'd; may consult
_Vossius_, _Scaliger_, and others. This to me is an Enquiry not more
superfluous than disagreeable; since any Thing, we find, may be the
Subject of them, if they are but dress'd up in their own peculiar Manner.

From whence the Pleasure arises with which this Kind of Poetry affects
us, may be known from what we have before discours'd of the Pleasure
of Poetry in general, when we examin'd how it address'd itself to the
Passions, the common Principles of human Nature, and human Happiness.
I would only now observe, that what we said of Poetry in general, is
applicable to the Lyric more particularly: Besides the Advantages of
a florid and figurative Style, it commands that Sweetness and Variety
of Numbers; that Diversity of Thought; that Elegance of Conciseness;
that Energy of Expression; that Quickness of Transition, and Liberty of
Excursion; that lively Ardour, and noble Sublimity, which can never fail
to raise in the Soul all those agreeable Sensations, we before describ'd.

It is not my Design to give an historical Account of the ancient Writers
in this Kind of Poetry: _Vossius_ reckons up several among the _Greeks_
of both Sexes; we have nothing but Fragments of all of them remaining,
except the Poems of _Pindar_ and _Anacreon_. The former I have already
spoke of; those of the latter are so few, and the peculiar Nature of
them so well known, that tho' they deserve much Praise, they need no
farther Explication. Among the _Romans_, we have none of any Note,
except _Horace_; but he, alone, indeed, is equal to many; and we may
venture to affirm, that his Odes exceed any Collection of Poems the
learned World has yet been bless'd with.

To come now to later Times; it must be own'd, the Moderns are excell'd
by the Ancients in no Kind of Writing more than this; they succeed best,
when they make use of their Language; for many of the Moderns are very
good Masters of it. _Casimire_ is often very happy this Way; but often
harsh, turgid, and pompously empty; of which the present Solemnity
reminds me of one Instance. The Poet is speaking in Praise of a Peace
lately made; and after he had begun well enough,

    _Jam minæ sævi cecidere belli,
    Jam prophanatis male pulsa terris
    Et salus, & pax._

he goes on thus,

      ----_niveis revisit
    Oppida bigis._

Then comes, a little after:

    _Grandinat gemmis, riguoque cælum
              Depluit auro._

The Verses are smooth and sonorous; only they have the Misfortune to
want common Sense. But in another Ode he is much happier, unless,
perhaps, a little too bold:

    _Vive, jucundæ metuens juventæ,
    Crispe Lævini; fugiunt avaræ
    Mensium lunæ, nimiumque volvi
              Lubricus Æther._

But the Lines that follow, a little after, are perfectly just, and

    _Quod tibi larga dedit hora dextra,
    Hora furaci rapuit sinistra;
    More fallentis tenerum jocosæ
              Matris alumnum._

Our Countryman _Hannes_ needed only to have writ more to have made
himself second to _Horace_ in all future Ages. But the Odes that are
writ in the modern Languages, in _French_, _Italian_, and _English_,
have nothing of the Genius of the Ancients. Ours, which generally go
under the Name of _Pindarics_, are such empty, trifling Performances,
that they are below even the Censure of a Critic. A Heap of Verses,
tho' never so insipid and ridiculous, form'd as little upon the Laws of
Reason, as of Metre, a monstrous Product of the Brain, shall be call'd,
forsooth, a _Pindaric_! a Scandal which it is to be wish'd the Learned
would no longer suffer to be offer'd to so sacred a Title. Our Songs and
Catches, likewise, which are daily set to Music, whatever Charms they
may borrow from thence, have very rarely any of their own; nay, it is
observable, that often the worst Verses are set to Music best; as if
true Poetry, and good Music, Sisters as they are, cou'd never agree:
Which is a Reproach that redounds no less to the Dishonour of Music,
than the former, I just mention'd, was to _Pindar_. But better Times
appear, in which we hope to see these, and all other Arts, improv'd to
their utmost Perfection; in this happy Age, I mean, wherein (that I may
conclude my Discourse as I began, with a View at once to our present
Solemnity, and our present Subject)

    _Jam Fides, & Pax, & Honor, Pudorque
    Priscus, & neglecta redire Virtus
    Audet, apparetque beata pleno
              Copia cornu._

    Now _Honour_, _Chastity_ and _Peace_,
      _Virtue_ and banish'd _Faith_, return;
    Now Plenty broods a fair Increase,
      And fills with Flow'rs her fragrant Horn.


[281] Hor. Carm. Lib. I. Od. 12.

[282] Son of _Sirach_, _Ecclus_ xliv, 5.

[283] _Deut._ xv.

[284] Lib. III. Od. 1.

[285] Lib. I. Od. 3.

[286] Lib. II. Od. 13.

[287] Lib. III. Od. 29.

[288] Lib. IV. Od. 2.

[289] Mr. _Edmund Smith_, of _Christ-Church, Oxon_.

[290] Mus. Angl. Vol. II.

[291] Hor. Lib I. Od. 32.

[292] Lib. I. Od. 31.

[293] Lib. I. Od. 1.

[294] _Henry Purcell._

[295] Dr. _Croft._

[296] Art. Poet. ℣ 83.

[297] Lib. I. Od. 6.

[298] Lib. III. Od. 3.

[299] Lib. II. Od. 1.

[300] Lib. III. Od. 4.

[301] Lib. IV. Od. 4.

[302] Lib. II. Od. 3.

[303] Ibid.

[304] Od. 14.

[305] Od. 2.

[306] Lib. II. Od. 16.

[307] Casimir. Lib. I. Od. 1.

[308] Ibid.

[309] Od. 5.

[310] Hor. Carmen Seculare.

                       LECTURE XVII, XVIII.
                           _Of_ SATIRE.

It is Merit enough for a Writer on a Subject that has been often
canvass'd, if he can reduce into a short Compass whatever hath been said
before, and add something material of his own. Whether I have done this
in the present Case, must be submitted to the Judgment of the Audience;
I am sure I shall make it my Endeavour, not only to represent my own
Sentiments in an advantageous Light, but those of others; for I have a
large Field of Writers before me, on this Subject; not only _Horace_,
_Quintilian_, and the rest of the Ancients, but the learned _Casaubon_,
_Scaliger_, _Vossius_, _Dacier_, and some others.

A Difficulty occurs upon our first Entrance; for a Doubt has been made
about the Name of _Satire_, and the Orthography of it: The Reason of
which Doubt will appear, from the uncertain History we have of this Kind
of Poem. It cannot be denied, but that the _Grecian_ Satire differ'd
from the _Roman_; but yet the Difference seems not so great, as some
are apt to imagine: The former was of the dramatic Kind, a Sort of
Interlude annex'd to Tragedy, to remove from the Audience too melancholy
Impressions. It is _Horace_'s Observation,

    _Carmine qui Tragico vilem certavit ob hircum,
    Mox etiam agrestes Satiros nudavit, & asper
    Incolumi gravitate jocum tentavit; eo quod
    Illecebris erat, & grata novitate, morandus

    The first Tragedians found that serious Style
    Too grave for their uncultivated Age,
    And so brought wild and naked Satires in,
    (Whose Motion, Words, and Shape, were all a Farce)
    As oft as Decency wou'd give them Leave;
    Because the mad ungovernable Rout,
    Full of Confusion, and the Fumes of Wine,
    Lov'd such Variety, and Antic Tricks.

The _Scene_ was laid in the Country, the _Persons_ Satyrs, and rural
Deities. Sometimes Peasants and Rustics were mix'd with them. The
Subject was jocose, and full of Sneer and Banter; the Style a Medium
between Comedy and Tragedy. This, as I said, was the satirical Poetry of
the _Grecians_; but Satire, as we now have it, is entirely _Roman_, if
we may believe _Quintilian_, who says[312], _Satira quidem tota nostra
est_; or _Horace_[313], who styles _Ennius_ the _Inventor of a Poem
unknown to the_ Grecians, meaning _Satire_, according to the Opinion
of most of his Interpreters. _Scaliger_, however, expresly denies it
to be of _Roman_ Original; and there is Reason, indeed, as we shall
see hereafter, to understand those Expressions of _Quintilian_ and
_Horace_ with some Abatement. Those that will not allow it to be deriv'd
from the _Grecians_, but entirely _Roman_, maintain, that _Satira_
should be writ with an _i_, not a _y_; and that it is not deriv'd from
_Satyrus_, but _Satur_; _Satira_, therefore, is the same as _Satura_,
as _Maximus_ anciently _Maxumus_. Now _Satur_ signifies _full_ of a
Mixture of Things, as _Lanx Satura_, a Dish full of Varieties; and, as
_Dacier_ observes[314], "those Laws were call'd _Leges Saturæ_[315],
which contain'd several Heads and Titles under them; as the
_Julian-Papian-Poppæan_ Law, which was otherwise call'd the _Miscella_,
which is but another Word for _Satura_. Hence that Expression, _per
Saturam legem ferre_, when the Votes of the Senators were not taken in
Order, or counted, but were given together promiscuously. And this is
properly _per Saturam sententias exquirere_, which is an Expression
_Sallust_ makes use of after _Lælius_. Nor is this all; some Books
anciently bore this Title; as _Pescennius Festus_ left _Historias
Saturas_, or _per Saturam_." Thus far _Dacier_. _Satire_, then, when
applied by a Metaphor to Writing, is a Miscellaneous Poem, full of
Variety of Matter: According to that of _Juvenal_,

    _Quicquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira, voluptas,
    Gaudia, discursus, nostri est farrago libelli._
    Whatever since that golden Age was done,
    What Human Kind desires, and what they shun,
    Rage, Passions, Pleasures, Impotence of Will,
    Shall this satirical Collection fill.

But however various the Matter of it is, it ought always to have
somewhat of Keenness and Invective, to expose the Vices and Follies of
Mankind with Raillery, or chastise them with Severity. Before Plays were
brought to _Rome_, the _Saturnine_ and _Fescennine_ Verses were much in
Vogue: They were a Sort of rude and unpolish'd Compositions, at best,
full of Contumely, and often of Ribaldry. Whence _Horace_,

    _Fescennina per hunc inventa licentia morem
    Versibus alternis opprobria rustica fudit._

    Hence grew the Liberty of the looser Muse,
    Hence they grew scurrilous, and wou'd abuse.

Afterwards, as the _Romans_ grew more polite, these kind of Verses
refin'd in Proportion: But they retain'd, still, their Jibes and Banter
and kept so far to their first Institution, as to make the Follies of
human Life the Object of their Ridicule. From hence proceeded _Satire_,
so call'd from the _Farrago_ and Variety of Matter it contain'd. It
was improv'd, likewise, with Music and Dancing, which, considering its
being carried on in Dialogue, made it resemble somewhat of the dramatic
Kind; nor had the _Romans_ any Thing, yet, that came so near the Drama
as this did. Afterwards, when they had receiv'd both Tragedy and
Comedy from the _Grecians_, they were so taken with the Novelty, that
Satire, for some Time, lay neglected. But coming again into Esteem,
it was added, as a Kind of _Exodium_, to Comedy. Thus Things went on
for some Years, till _Ennius_ arose, endu'd with Wit, and true poetic
Fire, who observing how fond the People were of seeing the Vices of
Mankind expos'd upon the Stage, thought a Poem on the same Subject,
without the Decoration of Scenes and Action, might have the same Effect.
Accordingly, he attempted Satires in the same Form we now see them, only
he did not confine himself to the Hexameter, but made use of all Sorts
of Measure. The Remains we have of this Poet, are noble Indications of
the Strength of his Genius; and _Horace_ and _Virgil_ have shewn what
Opinion they had of his Writings, by borrowing so much from them. After
_Ennius_, succeeded _Pacuvius_; but his Works are all lost, excepting
some Fragments, and those of uncertain Authority. Next came _Lucilius_,
of whom, likewise, we have only some Fragments remaining. But his
Excellencies and Imperfections are very amply set forth by _Horace_,
whose Words I have no Occasion to cite here. I would observe, however,
that those Lines,

    ----_Quid, cum est Lucilius ausus
      Primus in hunc operis componere carmina morem?_

    How, Sir, _Lucilius_, that did first engage
    In writing Satires, and that lash'd the Age.

are not so to be understood, as if he was the first that attempted
Satire; which both _Ennius_ and _Pacuvius_, as we just now observ'd,
had done before him: But that _Lucilius_ improv'd it so far as to give
it that new Face, under which it appear'd in _Horace_'s Time: For that
his Satires were of the same Form with _Horace_'s, is maintain'd by
Monsieur _Dacier_ against _Casaubon_[319]. It must be allow'd, however,
that one Species of Satire owes its Perfection to _Horace_, as another
does to _Juvenal_; both which we shall hereafter speak of separately.
A third Kind was the _Varronian_ or _Menippean_ Satire, so call'd from
_Menippus_, a Cynic Philosopher, among the _Grecians,_ whose Doctrine
_Varro_ follow'd. It was a Sort of Medley, consisting not only of all
Kinds of Verse, but of Verse and Prose mix'd together; a Specimen
of which we have in _Petronius_'s _Satyricon_[320]. We have none of
_Varro_'s poetical Works remaining, except some small Fragments; which
is the more to be lamented, considering the Character _Quintilian_ gives
of him, That he was the most learned of all the _Romans_.

The Word _Satire_ was anciently taken in a less restrain'd Sense than
it is at present, not only as denoting a severe Poem against Vice, but
as consisting of Precepts of Virtue, and the Praises of it: And even in
the Satires, as they are call'd, of _Horace_, _Juvenal_, and _Persius_,
&c. which are principally levell'd against the Weakness, the Follies,
or Vices of Mankind; we find many Directions, as well as Incitements to
Virtue. Such Strokes of Morality, _Horace_, particularly, is full of;
and in _Juvenal_ they occur very frequently. Thus,

    _Permittas ipsis expendere numinibus, quid
    Conveniat nobis, rebusque sit utile nostris:
    Charior est illis homo, quam sibi._

    Intrust thy Fortune to the Pow'rs above,
    Leave them to manage for thee, and to grant
    What their unerring Wisdom sees thee want:
    In Goodness, as in Greatness, they excel;
    Ah! that we lov'd ourselves but half as well.

And afterwards:

    _Monstro, quod ipse tibi possis dare; semita certe
    Tranquillæ per virtutem patet unica vitæ._

    The Path to Peace is Virtue: What I show,
    Thyself may freely on thyself bestow.

All of them sometimes correct Vice, like Moralists, I may say, like
Divines, rather than Satirists: What less can we say of this of

    _O curvæ in terras animæ, & cœlestium inanes!_

    O Souls, in whom no heav'nly Fire is found.

Sentiments, these, one would think, were fetch'd from true Religion, not
from unassisted Reason; and which we might expect from the _Christian_,
more than the _Stoic_.

Notwithstanding the learned Arguments which _Casaubon_, _Dacier_, and
others have urg'd, for the Etymology of the Word Satire, I can't but
think their Opinion has more Probability in it than Truth; nor can any
sufficient Reason be assign'd, why it may not be as well deriv'd from
_Satyrus_, a Satyr, as from _Satur_, full. There's certainly too much
Reason to think that some Things in _Horace_, _Juvenal_, and _Persius_,
were borrow'd from the suppos'd Manners and Customs of Satyrs; and I
cannot but lament, that Writers so deserving in all other Respects,
should reprove some Vices in such a Manner, as to teach them; and
that while they are recommending Virtue, they should throw in some
Expressions so injurious to it. This Controversy, then, about the _Name_
of _Satire_, (which, it must be own'd, is the more material, because it
in a great Measure defines its _Nature_) I shall leave in Uncertainty,
with _Vossius_, rather than determine upon it positively with _Dacier_.

For I cannot but be surpriz'd to see this last Author so confidently
assert[324], "That _Satire_ is a Species of Poetry unknown to any but
the _Romans_, and has no Relation to the satirical Compositions of
the _Grecians_, as some learned Men, by Mistake, have thought[325]."
Now, I'll be bold to say, that not only _some_, but _most_, if not
all the Learned, have thought so, and still think the same; and even
Mons. _Dacier_ himself, I reckon among the Number, how much soever
he seems here to have forgot himself. I appeal not only to what I
have before said upon this Subject myself, but to what I have cited
from him, whether it does not appear that the _Roman Satire_ had some
_Affinity_ with the _Grecian_, and, particularly, that it ow'd its
Rise to it.[326]_Vossius_, speaking of the _Grecian_, tells us, "That
the Discourse was agreeable to the Characters of the Speakers; full of
Ribaldry, Ridicule, and Scurrility. The Failings of Men were the Objects
of their Scoffs, and to excite Laughter the Aim of them. _Horace_, in
his Art of Poetry,

    _[327]Verum ita risores, ita commendare dicaces
    Conveniet Satyros, ita vertere seria ludo."_

    Yet Satires shou'd observe this decent Rule,
    And so turn serious Things to Ridicule,
    As, _&c._ _Creech._

Now will any one say, the _Grecian_ and _Roman_ Satire had nothing of
this in common between them? Are Lasciviousness, Ridicule, and Banter,
the exposing Vice, and the exciting Laughter, Properties in which the
_Roman_ Satire had no Share? We readily grant, indeed, that as it
appear'd in a _different Form_, it was not the very _same Kind_ of Poem
with the _Grecian_: But surely there was some, nay, a great deal of
Affinity between them; and the one, particularly, owes its Rise to the

[Sidenote: _Eighteenth Lecture._]

Thus much for the Etymology, the History of the Rise and Progress of
Satire. With Respect to the Nature and different Species of it, I
can by no means subscribe to _Vossius_'s Opinion, who observes[328],
"That, as the Vices of Mankind may be corrected either publickly, or in
private, the latter Method is much the more suitable to Satire: And that
_Juvenal_ and _Persius_, setting aside the Metre, have deviated more
from the true Nature of it, than _Lucian_ in his Dialogues, or _Julian_
in his _Cæsars_. For the former shew their ill Nature more than their
Wit, and don't so much put Vice out of Countenance, as themselves out of
Temper; whereas the latter always keep up their Humour, and mix their
Reproof with Facetiousness[329]." According to this, the _Horatian_
Satire is the only true one; and the Writings of _Juvenal_ and _Persius_
have no Pretence to that Title. But the truer State of the Case is
this: Satire in _general_, is a Poem design'd to reprove the Vices and
Follies of Mankind: It is twofold; either the _jocose_, as that of
_Horace_, or the _serious_. like that of _Juvenal_. The former hidden,
the latter open. That generally makes Sport with Vice, and exposes it to
Ridicule: This probes it to the Bottom, and puts it to Torture: And so
far is it from not deserving the Title of Satire, that, in my Opinion,
it is the more noble Species of it; and the genteel Jokes of _Horace_,
how ingenious soever, are less affecting than the poetic Rage, and
commendable Zeal of _Juvenal_. I shall speak to both Kinds, as _Persius_
has well distinguish'd them, where he describes the Difference between
_Lucilius_ and _Horace_'s Way of Writing:

       [330]----_Secuit Lucilius urbem
    Te Lupe, te Muti, & genuinum fregit in illis.
    Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
    Tangit, & admissus circum præcordia indit,
    Callidus excusso populum suspendere naso._
    Yet old _Lucilius_ never fear'd the Times,
    But lash'd the City, and dissected Crimes.
    _Mutius_ and _Lupus_ both by Name he brought;
    He mouth'd 'em, and betwixt his Grinders caught.
    Unlike in Method with conceal'd Design,
    Did crafty _Horace_ his low Numbers join;
    And, with a sly insinuating Grace,
    Laugh'd at his Friend, and look'd him in the Face:
    Wou'd raise a Blush, where secret Vice he found;
    And tickle, while he gently prob'd the Wound.
    With seeming Innocence the Crowd beguil'd;
    But made the desp'rate Passes when he smil'd.

_Vossius_ still erring upon the same String, says, "It is not so much
the Business of Satire to reprove all Sorts of Vice, as those that are
the proper Subjects of Laughter[331]." If this Maxim is true, _Juvenal_
will scarce find a Place among the Satirists: For tho' he may sometimes
laugh, he is, for the Generality, serious; and shews the Lash much
more than his Teeth. Nay, his Smiles are very different from those of
_Horace_; they are not the genteel ones of a Courtier, but mix'd with
Gall and ill Nature; such as _Virgil_ describes:

    _Ad quem subridens mista Mezentius ira._

    To whom _Mezentius_ with malignant Smile.

The Argument which _Vossius_ cites for his Opinion, makes against it,
rather than for it. He urges[332], "that those Vices are the proper
Subjects of Satire, that were so of the ancient Comedy: Hence _Horace_;

    "_Si quis dignus erat describi, quod malus, aut fur,
    Aut mœchus foret, aut sicarius, aut alioqui
    Famosus, multa cum libertate notabant._"

    If they were to describe a vile, unjust,
    And cheating Knave, or scourge a lawless Lust,
    Or other Crimes; regardless of his Fame,
    They shew'd the Man, and boldly told his Name.

I ask, then, are Thieves, Whoremasters, and Robbers, guilty of those
less Crimes which are only to be expos'd to Ridicule?

But the same learned Writer goes on: "The Diction of Satire, says
he[334], ought to resemble Prose rather than Poetry, and appear with as
much Ease as if it flow'd _Extempore_. _Juvenal_ has had little Regard
to this Rule, whose Style is Epic[335]; and _Persius_ still less, who is
swelling, and lofty. Whereas nothing is so great an Ornament to Satire,
as an Appearance of Truth and Simplicity, with which bold Metaphors are
very inconsistent." Here he takes for granted that there is only one
Kind of Satire, such as _Horace_ writ; which is begging a Question, that
can by no means be granted him. All he says may be very true, in respect
to that one Kind, but not at all applicable to the rest; and to blame
_Juvenal_ for not writing in the familiar Style, is the same Absurdity,
as if he should arbitrarily lay it down as an universal Rule, that every
Dramatic Piece ought to be writ so too; and then very gravely tell us,
_That_ Sophocles _has had little Regard to this Maxim_. For, to say the
Truth, there is scarce less Difference between the two Kinds of Satire,
than there is between Comedy and Tragedy. But I cannot conceive what
possess'd this Writer, when, to prove his Position, that Satire ought
to be writ in the low Style, he urges this of _Horace_[336]:

    "_Non ego inornata, & dominantia nomina_ SOLUM,
    _Verbaque, Pisones, satyrorum scriptor amabo_."

    You must not think that a satiric Style
    Allows of scandalous and brutish Words.

"Here, says he, it is evident, that the Character of a Satirist is not
to affect Ornament, but Strength and Propriety." Now, not to observe
that _Horace_ is not speaking of the Satire of his own Time, but of
the satirical Drama that was us'd as an Interlude in Tragedy; to pass
by, I say, the Occasion of the Words, the Sense of them is so far
from favouring the Opinion they are brought for, that they directly
overthrow it: He says, that in this Kind of Writing he does not chuse
ONLY Words of common Use, proving therefore that Satire may
be writ in a sublimer Style. _Vossius_, I suppose, here took _non_ for

In the same Discourse he observes[338], "That it is the Business of
the Satirist not so much to correct the Manners of past Times, as of
the present. _Persius_, says he, often transgresses this Rule; for he
taxes few of his own Age, and those only under general Names; such
as _Titius_, or _Mævius_. His Poems, therefore, scarce deserve to be
call'd Satires, because they affect no one particularly. And _Juvenal_
sometimes deviates from this indubitable Rule." I cannot help making
a few Remarks on these Assertions, which will not a little serve to
illustrate the Subject before us. In the first Place, I can't see why
it is the Business of a Satirist to correct Mankind in Individuals,
rather than in general. He may chuse, indeed, either Way, and it is hard
to say which is more peculiarly his Province. But if any Difference
is to be made, I should take the Side against _Vossius_, and avoid
reproving Particulars. It is undoubtedly fairer to aim our Shafts
against the Vice, rather than the Man. The latter, indeed, is sometimes
justifiable, against some notorious Monsters, that deserve to be the
Butts of Mankind: But even here the Poet does not point them out by
their real Names, but under fictitious Characters; which is another
Particular I have been oblig'd to observe against the foremention'd
Author; who, for what Reason I know not, makes it essential to Satire
to characterise by Name; a Property which I should much rather leave
to the Libeller, than the Poet. _Horace_ and _Juvenal_, it is true,
sometimes assume this Liberty; but, for the Generality, 'tis Vice they
reprove in the Abstract; and when they seem to mention Names, it is to
be observ'd, that we, at this Distance of Time, know not whether they
are real or borrow'd ones. The other Observation of _Vossius_'s, _That
it is the Business of a Satirist not so much to correct the Manners of
past Times, as of the present_, I readily assent to; and is so evident a
Proposition, that it is needless to assert it. The Living, not the Dead,
are capable of Amendment; the latter are accidentally only, brought
upon the Stage, that the former, through their Sides, may receive the
more advantageous Wound. To this End, we often see _Juvenal_'s Example

    [339]----_Experiar, quid concedatur in illos,
    Quorum Flaminia tegitur cinis atque Latina._

    Since none the Living Villains dare implead,
    Arraign them in the Persons of the Dead.

Which, by the Way, is a Confirmation of what we before alledg'd against
_Vossius_'s Opinion, _viz._ That, in _Juvenal_'s at least, the Living
ought to be noted in Satire under their real Names. But it is Time we
should now return to the two different Species of it which I before

They both agree in being pungent and cutting; yet are distinguish'd
by very evident Marks: The one is pleasant and facetious; the other
angry and austere: The one smiles; the other storms: The Foibles of
Mankind, are the Object of the one; greater Crimes, of the other:
The former is always in the low Style; the latter generally in the
Sublime: That abounds with Wit only; this adds to the Salt Bitterness
and Acrimony. _Horace_'s Satires are of so fine and delicate a Turn, as
may much easier be conceiv'd, than express'd: They are rightly term'd
_Discourses_, for some of them are scarce reducible under either Species
of Satire. _Juvenal_'s are all true Satires, except the fifteenth, which
is of uncertain Authority. So far is _Vossius_ from being in the right,
when he makes _Horace_ almost the only Satirist, and scarce admits
_Juvenal_ to the Title of one.

It is not very clear, then, why _Horace_ should say of himself,

    [340]_Sunt quibus in Satira videar nimis acer._

    Some fancy I am bitter when I jeer,
    Beyond the Rules of Satire too severe. _Creech._

or who they were that thought so. I cannot, indeed, come into the
Opinion of others whom he mentions:

    [341]----_Sine nervis altera, quicquid
    Composui, pars esse putat, similisque meorum
    Mille die versus deduci posse._

    Some, that my Verse is dull, and flat; and say
    A Man may write a Thousand such a Day.

But surely too much Warmth was never his Fault; he ought sometimes,
perhaps, to be condemn'd for the Want of it.

Either Kind of Satire may be writ in the Dialogue or Epistolary
Manner, and we have Instances of both Forms in _Horace_, _Juvenal_,
and _Persius_. As some of _Horace_'s, which are call'd Satires, are as
truly Epistles; so many of his Epistles might as well be call'd Satires.
For Example,[342]_Qui fit Mecænas_, &c. might, with equal Reason, be
reckon'd among the Epistles; and[343]_Prima dicte mihi_, &c. among the
Discourses or Satires, if the Author or Editor had so thought fit.

The distinguishing Nature of _Juvenal_ cannot be better known, than from
the very Beginning of his Satires:

    _Semper ego auditor tantum? nunquamne reponam,
    Vexatus toties rauci Theseide Codri?_ &c.

    Still shall I hear, and never quit the Score,
    Stunn'd with hoarse _Codrus Theseid_, o'er and o'er.

At the first Onset, he declares open War, and gives sufficient
Intimation of the Strength of his Spirit, and what the Reader may expect
from it. He first sharpens his Style against the scribbling Poets of
his Age; and when he had, in a sarcastical Manner, mention'd the
Reasons that induced him to _write_,

    ----_Stulta est clementia, cum rot ubique
    Vatibus occuras, perituræ parcere chartæ._

    But since the World with Writing is possest, }
    I'll versify in Spite; and do my best,       }
    To make as much waste Paper as the rest.     }

He sallies forth, a few Lines after, into a more extensive Field of
Satire, and with no less Wit than Gall, tells us the Reasons why he
chose this _Kind_ of _Writing_:

    _Cur tamen hoc potius libeat decurrere campo,
    Per quem magnus equos Auruncæ flexit Alumnus,
    Si vacat, & placidi rationem admittitis, edam.
    Cum tener uxorem ducat spado, Mævia Tuscum
    Figat aprum, & nuda teneat venabula mamma;
    Patricios omnes opibus sum provocet unus,
    Quo tondente gravis juveni mihi barba sonabat;
    Cum pars Niliacæ plebis, cum verna Canopi,
    Crispinus, Tyrias humero revocante lacernas,
    Ventilet æstivum digitis sudantibus aurum,
    Nec sufferre queat majoris pondera gemmæ;
    Difficile est, Satiram non scribere: nam quis inquæ
    Tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, us tentat se?_

    But why I lift aloft the Satire's Rod,
    And tread the Path that fam'd _Lacilius_ trod,
    Attend the Causes which my Muse have led:
    When sapless Eunuchs mount the Marriage-Bed,
    When mannish _Mævia_, that two-handed Whore,
    Astride an Horseback hunts the _Tuscan_ Boar,
    When all our Lords are by his Wealth out-vy'd,
    Whose Razor on my callow Beard was try'd;
    When I behold the Spawn of conquer'd _Nile_,
    _Crispinus_ both in Birth and Manners vile,
    Pacing in Pomp with Cloak of _Tyrian_ Dye,
    Chang'd oft a Day for needless Luxury;
    And finding oft Occasion to be fann'd,
    Ambitious to produce his Lady Hand;
    Charg'd with light Summer Rings, his Fingers sweat,
    Unable to support a Gem of Weight:
    Such fulsome Objects meeting ev'ry where,
    'Tis hard to write, and harder to forbear.

In these, and the Lines that follow, he lays down the chief Heads of
Satire he design'd to treat of; this he does in an elegant and poetical
Manner, not by proposing them in general Terms, but by Particulars.
Afterwards, having weigh'd the Reasons his Friend alledges to dissuade
him from so dangerous an Attempt, he replies, with a Quickness and
Vivacity Worthy of a Satirist:

    _Qui dedit ergo tribus patruis aconita, vehetur
    Pensilibus plumis, atque illinc despiciet nos?_

    Shall they who drench'd three Uncles in a Draught
    Of pois'nous Juice, be then in Triumph brought?

What a Poignancy in the Words, and how swift a Turn in the Thought?

I agree with _Vossius_, but for a different Reason from his, that
_Persius_ scarce deserves a Place among the Satirists. He has dropp'd,
indeed, many fine Expressions in describing the Beauty of Virtue, and
the Deformity of Vice: But he wants Poignancy and Sting; he never
laughs, and strikes but seldom: He does not correct Faults so much,
as find them; his Reproof, at best, is too mild, and more like the
Evenness of a _Philosopher_, than the Severity of a _Satirist_.

To come now to our own Times. There are few Kinds of Writing, in which
the Moderns, of our own Country especially, are less exceeded than in
this[348]; I mean in that Species of it in which _Juvenal_ writ: For
the _Horatian_ Satire is but little affected among us. That Author,
particularly[349], who not long since attack'd the _Jesuits_, tho' his
Works, either through want of Care, or Judgment, or, more probably,
considering his Youth, for want of both, are not so correct as might
have been wish'd; yet his shewn a true poetical Vein, and a Fire not
unworthy _Juvenal_ himself. No one can be a Stranger to _Dryden_, who,
as he exceeds others in every Kind of Poetry, so, in this, exceeds
himself. But to pass by the rest of our own Countrymen whom I might
mention, that deservedly celebrated _French_ Poet[350] has so happily
blended _Horace_ and _Juvenal_ together, that he seems to have found
out a beautiful Species of Satire between both. He claims the poetical
Laurel, but in Satire more particularly, from all the Writers of this
Age, by universal Consent; and that is an Authority, to which I shall
never think fit to oppose my private Judgment, whatever it is.


[311] De Art. Poet. ℣ 220.

[312] Instit. L. I. c. x.

[313] L. I. Sat. X. 66.

[314] Prafat. in Horatii Satiras, De Orig. & Progressu Satiræ Romanæ.

[315] Mons. _Dacier_, who borrow'd the Observation from _Is. Casaubon_,
should have mention'd some Authority for this Expression of _Leges
Saturæ_; because _Vossius_, who allows the like Use of the Word, yet
questions the Grammarians in this Instance. _Festus_ cites, _Imperium,
quod Plebes per saturam dederat, id abrogatum est_. Again, _Dein
postero die, quasi per saturam sententiis exquisitis, in deditionem
accipitur_, "ubi _per saturam_ valet collectim ac raptim. At non video,
says _Vossius_, ut hinc colligi possit, fuisse Romanis legem ullam, quæ
_satura_ diceretur."

[316] Sat. I. 85.

[317] Lib. II. Epist. I. ℣ 155.

[318] Lib. I. Sat. II. ℣ 62.

[319] _Casaubon_ expresly says, that _Horace_ imitated _Lucilius_; his
Point was not to prove that _Lucilius_'s Satires were of a different
Kind from _Horace_'s, but from _Ennius_'s. Mons. _Dacier_, on the
contrary, maintains, that the Satires of _Horace_, _Lucilius_, and
_Ennius_, were all of the same Species. And yet, I think, very hardly
reconciles his Opinion with Antiquity. He produces _Quintilian_:
_Alterum illud & prius Satiræ_ GENUS, _quod non solum Carminum varietate
mistum condidit Terentius Varro_. _Quintilian_, says he, did not suppose
that _Varro_ liv'd before _Lucilius_: What then? why he imitated
_Ennius_'s Satire, which was _alterum & prius_ GENUS, a different and
prior _Kind_ to that of _Lucilius_.

[320] _Lucilius_ made use, in the same Poem, of different Sort of
Verses: _Ennius_ of different Sort of Verses, but not in the same
Poem: _Varro_, of Prose and Verse together: _Horace_ kept to one Metre
throughout his Satires.

[321] Sat. X. 347.

[322] ℣ 363.

[323] Sat. II. 61.

[324] He says no more than _Quintilian_, l. x. as cited before, _Satira
quidem tota nostra est_; and even _Horace_, _Græcis intactum Carmen_.

[325] De Orig. & Progr. Satiræ Rom.

[326] Hist. Poet. L. II. c. ix. p. 41.

[327] ℣ 225.

[328] Instit. Poet. Lib. III. c. 9, 41.

[329] _Vossius_'s Opinion seems to be the Result of his Enquiry into
the Original of Satire, which he observes to have arose out of the old
Comedy. From whence he maintains, that the chearful bantering Humour
should be still kept up, and not be forfeited for Moroseness: And for
the same Reason, the Style should be near allied to Prose. In both which
Particulars, and indeed in all the others which he mentions, he sets
_Horace_ for an Example.

[330] Sat. I. ℣ 114.

[331] P. 40.

[332] Ibid.

[333] Lib. I. Sat. IV.

[334] P. 43.

[335] P. 44.

[336] Ibid.

[337] I don't see how _nihilo inornata_ would make more for _Vossius_'s
Sense. But do not _Horace_'s Words imply, that a Writer of Satires
should CHIEFLY use common Words, tho' he allows he is not always oblig'd
to use no other? A common Style is the general Rule, tho' there may be
some Exceptions to it.

[338] P. 40, 41.

[339] Sat I. ad finem.

[340] Lib. II. Sat. I. ℣ 1.

[341] ℣ 2.

[342] Lib. I. Sat. I.

[343] Lib. I. Ep. I.

[344] Sat. I ℣ 1.

[345] ℣ 17.

[346] ℣ 19.

[347] ℣ 158.

[348] Modern Satires will always appear with an Advantage, which the
Ancients want, _viz._ we are better acquainted with the Characters;
which is a Reason why they will please best, not of their real

[349] _Oldham_.

[350] _Boileau_.

                       LECTURE XIX, _&c._
                  _Of the_ DRAMA _in general_.

We are come, at last, to that Species of _Poetry_ which is chiefly
and primarily so call'd, because it agrees best with the Sense of the
original Word, ποιειν, whence _Poema_ is deriv'd. For such
is the comprehensive Signification of this Word, that it denotes not
only the Invention, but the Contexture of the Fable, the Conduct of
the Action, and the Disposal of the Parts: All which concern the two
Sorts of Poems that now remain to be discours'd of, _viz._ the Epic
and Dramatic, but more especially the latter. The former, indeed, is,
upon the whole, more noble in its Nature; but, in some Circumstances,
is inferior to the other; in the Action, particularly, as the Etymology
of the Word _Drama_, from δραν, to _act_, implies. In Epic,
indeed, Heroes and Gods are represented speaking: But the Poet there
performs only the Part of an Historian, and the Speeches are no more
than Narrations. Whereas, in the Dramatic Writings, the Persons
themselves are introduced, every Thing is transacted in our Sight, and
our Eyes and Ears at once are gratified. Now _Horace_'s Observation is
undoubted just:

    _Segnius irritant animos demissa per aurem,
    Quam quæ sunt oculis commissa fidelibus._

    But what we hear, moves less than what we see.

Besides, the Action in the Drama is much more simple, and compendious,
than in the Epic; it takes up less Time, and therefore requires more
Art to conduct it. It excites in the Mind more rapid Motions, and
consequently makes the Pleasure and Admiration more intense. For these,
and other Reasons, _Aristotle_, in the last Chapter of his Book of
Poetry, does not scruple to give the Preference to Tragedy before Epic.
Not that I think he reckons it a more noble Kind in _general_, (for
that would be contrary to Truth and Reason) but only so far as its
Sphere extends: And this is a Difference, which, I humbly conceive,
is very distinguishable. This Excellence of the Drama, which I here
speak of, is the Reason, no doubt, why, tho' his Book bears the Title
of _Poetry_ in general, yet he dwells solely upon that Species of it.
I am not ignorant, indeed, that this Work of his, as it is now extant,
is imperfect, and part of it lost. But by what we have now remaining,
the rest of it appears to have been spent on the same Subject. And
_Horace_, the best Interpreter of _Aristotle_, in his famous Epistle to
the _Piso's_, keeps chiefly in this Track. The other Kinds of Poetry he
does but lightly touch: But the Laws of the Drama he treats of fully and
professedly. After his Example, various Writers upon the _Art of Poetry_
in different Ages and Languages, have chose to dwell chiefly upon
the _Drama_, and have left abundance of elaborate Treaties upon that
Subject. I shall make it my Business to collect what others have said,
into as short a Compass as I can, and explain more fully what I have now
to add of my own.

The principal Species of the Drama are two, Comedy and Tragedy: Some
others there are, of less Note; as Pastoral, and Satire, both which we
have already spoke of. Tragi-Comedy I don't reckon one of them, because
I think it the greatest Absurdity in Nature, and is not so properly a
Species distinct from the other two I first mention'd, as the Abuse
and Corruption of them. For what can be more ridiculous, than, in the
Compass of three Hours, to distract the Mind with Joy and Grief, in such
a Manner, that the two contrary Passions may debilitate, or totally
extinguish each other? How ill are such incoherent Parts united? And
what is it but a monstrous Production?

               [352]----_Turpiter atrum
    Desinit in piscem mulier formosa superne._

    A Handsome Woman with a Fish's Tail.

How irrational a Transition is it, from beholding the Conflicts of
Kings and Heroes with Misfortunes, to descend, on a sudden, to low
Scenes of Ribaldry, and to return again from these to so moving a
Spectacle! A Poem, indeed, should be adorn'd with Variety, but not
with Inconsistencies. The Passions, likewise, and Affections of the
Mind, should be bent and bow'd down; but so bent, that they may not
grow languid, but recover new Strength. This poetic Kind of Prodigy, I
think, is altogether modern, and chiefly of _British_ Extraction; for
it was the last Age produc'd Multitudes of them in our own Tongue. I
know very well that the learned _Vossius_[353], speaking of the Plays
of the Ancients divided into _Prætextatæ_ and _Togatæ_, observes,
that "there was a _mix'd_ Kind, call'd _Tabernariæ_, where some of the
Persons appear'd in the _Prætexta_, others in the _Toga_. Thus _Festus_
in _Pomponius Lætus_: _The_ Togatæ _were of two kinds_, viz. _the_
Prætextatæ, _when the Actors represented Persons of Quality, such as
had the Liberty of wearing the_ Prætexta; _and the_ Tabernariæ, _when
Persons of low Rank were mix'd with others of Birth and Figure_. From
hence it is plain, if the _Prætextatæ_ were a Sort of Tragedies, and the
_Togatæ_ Comedies; the _Tabernariæ_ being of a mix'd Nature, were what
_Plautus_ calls Tragi-Comedies. Such is the _Amphitryo_ of _Plautus_,
and _Hercules Licymnius_ of the _Greeks_." And as absurd as these Poems
were, they agreed so far, only, with our Tragi-Comedies, that they
mix'd Persons of high and low Rank together; but they never debas'd the
Misfortunes of the former with the Lasciviousness of the latter, as
is usual with our Writers. As to the _Mimi_, _Pantomimi_, the _Nomi_,
and the _Attellani_, they don't so much come within the Province of a
Criticism on Poetry, as of a History of it; since the Writings of the
Ancients, in this Way, are now quite out of Date. They that are desirous
of this Part of Knowledge, may consult other Writers, and _Vossius_
particularly. But there's another Species of Dramatic Folly, which the
Ancients were utter Strangers to, the _Opera_'s, I mean, introduc'd
among us from foreign Parts, by the mercenary Traffic of Eunuchs and
Courtezans: Among us, I say, and it is with Shame I speak it, who set
a Value upon every Thing that is foreign; and are laugh'd at, on that
Account, by the very Foreigners we admire. Too fatal an Indication this,
of the Depravity of our Taste, as well as of our Manners, when we place
the Height of our Pleasure in those Things, which it would be too much
to honour, even with a Toleration. Metre, no doubt, is very suitable
to Poetry, especially to the Dramatic Kind, and ought often to be us'd
there, as it is a proper Instrument of raising or soothing the Passions:
But that the whole Drama should be Sing-Song, that the Actors should
always appear

    _Et_ cantare _pares, & respondere paratos._

                        Well pair'd to sing,
    And ready with each other's Skill to vie.

that the most insignificant Action, as well as the deepest Passion,
should be express'd in Tune; and whether they send a Message, or read a
Letter; whether they quarrel, fight, kill, or are kill'd; whether they
laugh, or storm, or die; that this should all be perform'd in Song, is
somewhat more monstrous than the Poets ever yet describ'd[355]. Whatever
Share of Poetry these Performances can pretend to, is so wretchedly
silly, that it does not deserve our Notice. Those Words of _Horace_ are
truly applicable to them, and in a more proper Sense, than he was ever
aware of:

    ----_Versus inopes rerum, nugæque_ canoræ.

    Mere sounding Trifles, Verses void of Sense.

'Tis then for the Music, only, they are follow'd. My sincere Wishes
are, that Music may for ever flourish; but by no Means at the Expulsion
of Poetry, whereas both Comedy and Tragedy seem, at present, to have
been banish'd our Country, and yielded up the Stage to the _Opera_;
I will farther add, if I may say so much, with humble Submission to
better Judges, even Music itself, when join'd with these empty Rhythms,
seems too light and childish, and, by the frequent Repetition of the
same Sound, tiresome. And tho' I readily grant, that the great Masters
of _Italy_, in former Ages, far exceeded ours; yet we have now such
Artists, as, from imitating the immortal _Purcell_, are arriv'd to a
greater Perfection than any which _Italy_, _France_, or _Germany_ send
us. For, you must know,

    ----_Huc omnes tanquam ad vivaria currunt._

    Chas'd from their Woods and Bogs the Padders come,
    To this vast City, as their native Home.

They live upon us; our ambitious Poverty, our Luxury, Folly, and
Vices, are all subservient to their Advantage; to the utter Neglect
and Contempt of our own Countrymen. Broken and unnerv'd _Britains_!
into what a shameful Effeminacy are we sunk? Far, far be it from us, to
detract, in the least, from the Merit of our Neighbours; but let us not
be injurious to our own Countrymen, merely because they are such: Let
the Rule hold, not only in greater Things, but even in these of less
Moment, (which are yet of greater than they seem to be)

    _Vincat amor patriæ_----

                His Country's Love
    Shall conquer.

    [359]----_Non possum ferre, Quirites,
    Græcam urbem._

                To speak my Mind,
    I hate in _Rome_ a _Grecian_ Town to find.

Having thus set aside these spurious Offsprings, Comedy and Tragedy
remain now to be discours'd of distinctly, after I have first said
something of what relates to them in common, that is, to Dramatic Poetry
in general.

The History of the ancient Drama, both _Greek_ and _Roman_, as it
does not come within my present Design, I leave to be learnt from
_Vossius_, and others. I shall only lay before you the following Passage,
from his _Poetical Institutions_, which may serve for a short View of
it. [360]"The Drama, says he, owes its Rise to Days of Festivity. For
in ancient Times 'twas usual for Men, when they had collected in the
Fruits of the Earth, to meet together, that they might sacrifice to the
Deity, and unbend their Minds from the Fatigues of the Harvest. Hence
arose two Sorts of Poetry; the one graver, in Praise of the Gods; the
other jocose, full of Lampoon against one another. Under the former
Head we may reckon the _Dithyrambics_ of _Bacchus_, Hymns to the Gods,
and Panegyrics upon Heroes. Under the second _Iambics_, and _Phallic_
Verses. The first Essays were rough, and unpolished; but, by Degrees,
the great Actions of Gods and Heroes grew more numerous, and increas'd
into set Fables: So, in like manner, the jocose Compositions began to
come under proper Regulations. Thus from the former Kind arose Tragedy;
from the latter, Satire, Comedy, and Mimic." Thus he, agreeable to
which, is _Virgil_, in his _Georgics_:

    ----_Baccho caper omnibus aris
    Cæditur, & veteres ineunt proscenia ludi._

                An horn'd He-Goat,
    Sacred to _Bacchus_, on each Altar bleeds;
    And ancient Interludes adorn the Scene.

And _Horace_, in his Epistle to _Augustus_:

    _Agricolæ prisci fortes, parvoque beati,
    Condita post frumenta, levantes tempore festo
    Corpus, & ipsum animum_, &c.

    The ancient Swains, those temp'rate happy Swains,
    Contented Sov'reigns of their little Plains,
    When all their Corn was hous'd, wou'd make a Feast,
    Unbend their Minds, and lay them down to rest;
    Their Cares dissolv'd into a happy Thought,
    And Minds enjoy'd the Rest their Labour sought.

For the same Reason, I shall pass over all the Apparatus of the ancient
_Drama_, of which the foremention'd learned Author, and many others,
have treated fully; the Form, for Instance, and Ornaments of the
Theatre, the _Scene_, _Proscenium_, _Pulpitum_, _Orchæstra_; the Habits
of the Actors, as the _Toga_, _Pallium_, _Soccus_, _Cothurnus_, and many
other Particulars of the like Nature. I cannot help, indeed, making
this one Remark, that the Mask of the Ancients has been, to me, Matter
of Astonishment. For can any Thing in the World be more contradictory to
Reason? The great Aim of the Drama has always been, to represent Nature
herself, and conceal Art, as much as possible: The Poet, therefore,
thought it his Business to draw the Characters of Men, as they really
were. Is it the Custom, then, I beseech you, either for Kings and
Heroes, on the one Hand, or the Commonalty, on the other, to walk about
with Masks on? Why, then, do they appear with them, upon the Stage? If
it is the Excellence of the Poet to counterfeit Nature, why are so much
Pains thrown away, to convince the Spectators, that what they see is but
an imperfect Copy of her. This Artifice might do well enough in Puppet
Shews: But that the immortal Works of _Sophocles_ and _Terence_ should
be murdered with so monstrous a Device, is perfectly amazing. Besides,
(to omit the Impediment they must be to the Actor's Speech) is it usual
for Men to preserve the same Countenance in all the possible Variety
of Circumstances? Why, then, must they do so upon the Stage? Where are
the different Passions, of Joy or Sorrow, and the various Turns of the
Muscles that express them? At this Rate, indeed, _Horace_'s Rule is
preserv'd according to the Letter, tho' very far from the Sense of it:

           [363]----_Servetur ad imum
    Qualis ab incepto processerat, & sibi constet._

    Let all the Parts agree, and be alike.

I cannot help wondering, that _Horace_, and the rest of the great
Critics of _Greece_ and _Rome_, should have borne with this _Opprobrium_
of the Theatre[364]. How much better is it for the Persons to appear as
they do among us, with their own Face, and, to use our own academical
Term, each habited according to his _Degree_. Nor am I perfectly
satisfied with the Sock and Buskin of the Ancients, tho' undoubtedly a
less Absurdity than the Mask; for we all know, that the Commonalty did
not, in Fact, wear the Sock, nor the Nobility the Buskin; and why Actors
should appear only as Actors, I can see no Reason, since it is the
Business of the Poet to imitate Nature, and conceal Art and Fiction as
much as possible.

As I before determin'd to pass over the History, and the Decoration
of the Drama, so I had much less Inclination to describe the musical
Instruments that were made use of in it; this is rather the Province of
Musicians and Antiquaries, than Poets or Criticks. The various Kinds of
Flutes, the _Tibicines_, _Choraules_, _Pythaules_, &c. are abundantly
explain'd by _Vossius_, whom we have often had Occasion to mention.

To come, then, at last, to the Subject that properly concerns us:
The Drama, I define to be, _A Poem containing some certain Action,
and representing a true picture of human Life, for the Delight and
Improvement of Mankind_.

A certain _Action_ I say, in the singular, because it ought to be but
_one_; two do but distract the Minds of the Audience, and create more
Uneasiness than Pleasure. In many, indeed, I may say most Tragedies,
as well as Comedies, but in Comedies more particularly, two Actions
seem to be carried on; but they are often only seemingly two, not so
in Reality. One of them is so subservient to the other, so united, and
interwoven with it, that it must be reckon'd rather a Part of the same,
than a distinct Action. Like a small River that branches out from a
greater, which returns to its first Channel, and is totally lost in it.
But in some Plays the Action is entirely one, and tho' the other Kind
may be justly admitted, nay, often admir'd; yet this must be allow'd
the more excellent of the two; for it requires a much nicer Art to
excite Pleasure and Admiration by a proper Conduct of one simple Tale,
than from a Variety of surprizing Incidents. Besides, when the Mind
is solicitous only about one Event, the Thoughts are more close and
compact, the Expectation more attentive, the Concern more exquisite, and
the Impressions strike deeper than when it is distracted and weaken'd
between two different Prospects. Here, therefore, _Horace_'s Rule is
more _peculiarly_ directed, tho' propos'd by him in general:

    ----_Sit quod vis simplex duntaxat & unum._

True, indeed, it is, according to the Principles of Nature, and
Natural Philosophy, that all Things, the more simple they are, and
less compounded, are the more perfect, and less subject to Change
and Corruption, to Vice and Error. This appears manifestly, from a
Comparison between the Body and Soul, the Creature and the Creator.

[Sidenote: _Twentieth Lecture._]

Tho' the Words, _Fable_, _Action_, and _Design_, are frequently
us'd indiscriminately, they have each of them peculiar and distinct
Ideas. By the _Action_ is meant some Adventure of one or other of the
principal Persons, attended by a great and memorable Event. By the
_Fable_, or Plot, a Heap of Incidents, Episodes, and Other Things,
which are subservient to the carrying on the Action, and bringing it
to a Conclusion. The _Design_ is a particular Disposal of the several
Parts, so as they may be artfully interwoven, and unfolded. What we
call the _Distinction_ of _Persons_ or _Characters_, the _Passions_,
_Thought_ and _Diction_, are certain Adjuncts and Circumstances adhering
to the Persons represented. These Things, tho' of the greatest Moment,
and the chief Concern of the Poet, which we shall treat of singly in
their proper Place, it shall suffice to have mention'd only at present;
because they don't so properly come under the Head we are upon, of the
_Drama_ in _general_. When we come to the distinct species of it, these
will then offer themselves very naturally.

I would now, however, observe, that those general Precepts of _Horace_
relate to the Drama, where he speaks _first_ of the _Passions_,
_Thought_, and _Diction_:

    _Non satis est pulchra esse poemata; dulcia sunto,
    Et, quo unque volent, animum auditoris agunto.
    Ut ridentibus arrident, ita fientibus adsunt
    Humani vultus: Si vis me flere, dolendum est
    Primum ipse tibi; tunc tua me infortunia lædunt,
    Telephe, vel Peleu: male si mandata loqueris,
    Aut dormitabo, aut ridebo. Tristia mœstum
    Vultum verba decent, iratum plena minarum,
    Ludentem lasciva, severum seria dicta.
    Format enim natura prius nos intus ad omnem
    Fortunarum habitum; juvat, aut impellit ad iram,
    Aut ad humum mœrore gravi deducit, & angit:
    Post effert animi motus, interprete lingua._

    He that wou'd have Spectators share his Grief,
    Must write not only well, but movingly,
    And raise Mens Passions to what Height he will.
    We weep and laugh, as we see others do.
    He only makes me sad, who shews the Way,
    And first is sad himself. Then, _Telephus_,
    I feel the Weight of your Calamities,
    And fancy all your Miseries my own;
    But if you act them ill, I sleep, or laugh:
    Your Looks must alter, as your Subject does,
    From kind to fierce, from wanton to severe;
    For Nature forms and softens us within,
    And writes our Fortunes Changes in our Face.
    Pleasure enchants, impetuous Rage transports,
    And Grief dejects, and wrings the tortur'd Soul,
    And these are all interpreted by Speech.

Next of the _Characters_, or the different Circumstances, and
Dispositions of the Persons:

    _Si dicentis erunt fortunis absona dicta,
    Romani tollent Equites, Peditesque cachinnum.
    Intererit multum Davusne loquatur, an Heros,
    Maturusne senex, an adhuc florente juventa
    Fervidus, an matrona potens, an sedula nutrix,
    Mercatorne vagus, cultorne virentis agelli,
    Colchus, an Assyrius, Thebis nutritus, an Argis._

    But he whose Words and Fortune disagree,
    Absurd, unpitied, grows a public Jest.
    Observe the Characters of those that speak,
    Whether an honest Servant, or a Cheat;
    Or one whose Blood boils in his youthful Veins,
    Or a grave Matron, or a busy Nurse,
    Extorting Merchants, careful Husbandmen,
    _Argives_ or _Thebans_, _Asians_ or _Greeks_.

The subject Matter of this Kind of Poem, is call'd the _Fable_ tho' it
is often grounded upon true History; because the greatest Part of it
is fabulous, tho' the Fiction be intermix'd with Matter of Fact. When
it is not so, it ought to be styled rather a _Dramatical History_,
than _Drama_; of which Sort are many of the Plays of our celebrated
Countryman[368], who has crowded together the Annals of some of our
Kings, without any Regard to the dramatical Rules of Time or Place. But
in other Respects, he

    ----_Spirat tragicum satis, & feliciter audet._

    With happy Boldness draws a tragic Scene.

Yes, extremely happy, and in _these_ Works, but more especially in his
truer Tragedies, has deserv'd well of Posterity.

But often the Drama, properly so call'd, is built upon true History;
as the _Octavia_ of _Seneca_, and many of our modern Tragedies, both
_English_ and _French_, (for _Comedy_ has rarely such a Foundation; but
is either rais'd from some private Fact, which, tho' true, is below
History; or from Fiction only;) sometimes, indeed, it is built upon
Fable, but such as is common, and well known; as the _Trachiniæ_ of
_Sophocles_, _Oedipus_, &c. the Author disposing of the Fable according
to his own Fancy, and giving it a new Appearance: According to that of

    _Publica materies privati juris erit, si
    Nec circa vilem, patulumque moraberis orbem,
    Nec verbum verbo curabis reddere, fidus Interpres._

    For what originally others writ,
    May be so well disguis'd, and so improv'd,
    That with some Justice it may pass for yours.

Sometimes it is built upon the Poet's Invention only, who forms an
entire Plot out of his own Head. Most of the Ancients, both _Greeks_
and _Romans_, form'd their Tragedies upon fabulous History; most of
the Moderns either upon true History, or upon Fiction of their own
Invention, or such as has been borrow'd from Romances of later Writers;
which tho' they are fabulous, are not, however, trite and vulgar, like
several of the Ancients; as the _Medea_, for Instance, _Hercules_,
_Iphigenia_, and the like.

In the Foundation of the Drama, _Horace_'s Rule, in the first Place,
ought to be observ'd:

    _Aut famam sequere, aut sibi convenientia finge,

    Follow Report, or feign coherent Things.

If it is built either upon true or fabulous History, let nothing be
introduc'd contrary to the Notices we have receiv'd from Fame or
History, of the Persons concern'd in it. For, in this Case, the Faith
of the one, and the Report of the other, would openly contradict the
Fiction. A noble Critic of ours[372] has severely lash'd a certain
Poet[373] for this Fault, _viz._ for representing _Hannibal_ soft,
effeminate, and languishing in the Blandishments of Love; and _Scipio_
passionate, and head-strong. But if the whole is Fiction, let it be
Fiction according to Probability. Let the Writer take care that the
Parts don't disagree, and contradict each other. Here, again, _Horace_'s
Maxim is of Force:

    _Si quid inexpertum scenæ committis, & audes
    Personam formare novam; servetur ad imum
    Qualis ab incepto processerit, & sibi constet._

    If your bold Muse dare tread unbeaten Paths,
    And bring new Characters upon the Stage,
    Be sure you keep them up to their first Height.

To _follow Fame_ in an honest Sense, and to form a good Poem out of
History, requires much Art, and no small Invention. But a Poet that
works wholly upon his own Stock, shews scarce less Art, but certainly
more Invention. The latter is, in my Judgment, the more noble Task. As
it is wholly new, it is sure to afford more Pleasure to the Audience,
and Honour to the Writer: He may be said, in some Sense, to _create_ his
Materials, and is, therefore, in the most proper one, a _Poet_.

I am well aware, that what I have here advanc'd, seems to contradict the
following Opinion of _Horace_:

    _Difficile est proprie communia dicere; tuque
    Rectius Iliacum carmen deducis in actus,
    Quam si proferres ignota, indictaque primus._

    New Subjects are not easily explain'd,
    And you had better chuse a well-known Theme,
    Than trust to an Invention of your own.

But not to insist that the Authority of the best of Poets and Criticks
is not to supersede Reason and Experience; it is to be observ'd, that
dramatical Invention has been much improv'd since the Times in which
_Horace_ writ: And had he seen some of our late Tragedies, form'd upon
Fiction only, he would, perhaps, have retracted his Opinion. It is a
difficult Thing, I allow, _to express_ COMMON _Things in a
proper Manner_, that is, to change and heighten some noted,[376]stale
Subject, so as to give it a new Appearance, and make it the Writer's
own; and the Observation is of great Weight: But, all Things consider'd,
whether we regard the Difficulty or the Elegance, the Judgment or
Ingenuity of each Composition; greater Glory seems to be due to him that
produces a new Plan of his own Invention, than that changes, and gives
new Life to an old one.

According to the modern Criticks, every regular Play consists of three
Unities, _viz._ of _Time_, _Place_, and _Action_. I have already spoke
of the last: The first, I would observe, is very improperly styled an
_Unity_. _Place_ and _Action_ may admit of Number; but _Time_, howsoever
extended, does not cease to be _one_, with Respect to the Action which
is continu'd by it. This Observation, I own, is but of little Moment,
since all that make use of the Term, sufficiently understand the Meaning
of it, however inaccurately express'd.

As to _Time_, _Aristotle_, and after him the great _Vossius_, and
others, will not allow it above the Compass of one Day; for which
Reason, the _Heautontimoroumenos_ of _Terence_ is reckon'd faulty,
because it takes up an entire Day, and part of another. But if we were
to reduce Things to the greatest Exactness, the Action of the Drama
ought not to be longer than Representation of it upon the Stage. This,
no doubt, would be the compleatest Rule, could it be practis'd. But tho'
it will rarely or never pass for a Probability, that so great Events
should fall out in so short a Time, yet we ought to come as near to this
Maxim as we can. To see the Ten Years _Trojan_ War crowded into the
narrow Limits of one Tragedy, about three or four Hours long, appears,
at first View, not only improbable, but impossible, and will be rejected
by the Audience as a monstrous Imposition on their Understanding.

The Unity of _Place_ ought to be preserv'd, for the same Reason I before
alledg'd for the Unity of _Time_. The one supposes the other; for if
_Place_ is varied, _Time_ must be so too. If the Action takes up but a
few Hours, it is impossible it should be carried on in Places widely
distant. On the other Hand, if it is transacted partly at _London_, and
partly at _Oxford_, a few Hours will not be sufficient. But there's
another Reason, with Regard even to Place itself, why this Rule,
concerning the Unity of it, ought to be observ'd. What an Absurdity is
it, for a Spectator to suppose himself one Minute at _Rome_, and the
next at _Paris_? We cannot but despise a Poet, who is such a Bungler at
Fiction, as, in a different Sense from that of _Horace_,

    ----_Modo me Thebis, modo ponit Athenis._

    Now places me at _Athens_, now at _Thebes_.

It is beyond the Power of any Magic to transport us into different
Places, not only at the same Time, but even while we are in the same
Place. The usual Limits of the Drama are within the Compass of one Town
or City: This some think too great, others too narrow an Extent. Larger
it certainly ought not to be: Nor is this probably too large. For tho'
it may not seem very natural for the Audience to be carried from one
End of the City to the other; yet it may be impossible, perhaps, to
represent the Action itself, and some other Circumstances attending it,
in less Compass; and, as we said before of Time, when we cannot come up
to Truth, it must suffice to come as near to it as possible. For, as
_Horace_ says, upon another Occasion,

    _Est quadam prodire tenus, si non datur ultra._

    What if of farther Progress you despair,
    'Tis somewhat, surely, to have gone so far.

However, they are much more in the wrong, who confine the general Scene
within one Room, or Chamber; for it is ridiculous to suppose, that
Persons of most distant Circumstances should meet, or Actions of the
most different Kind be perform'd, in the same Place, or in so narrow
an one. Truth, then, seems to lie, as it generally does, between both
Extremes; and one House, perhaps, may be said to be the just Extent of
the dramatical Scene. It ought not to be of greater Extent, because
Persons of all Ranks and Qualities are, in Reality, contain'd under one
Roof, and Actions of all Kinds perform'd in that Compass. It ought not
to be of a narrower; because the Spectators, whether they sit in the
Pit, or Boxes, may very easily conceive different Parts of the same
House represented in the Scenes, since the Theatre is large enough to
contain one House entire, and both the Persons of the Drama, and the
Spectators themselves, may be suppos'd to move from one Side of it
to the other. These Unities of Action, Time, and Place, ought very
carefully to be observ'd. For tho' a Play, form'd upon the most regular
Plans, will gain but little Applause, if it is destitute of the true
poetic Spirit; so will it deserve as little, how much soever it may be
set off with Decoration, if it offends against the Rules of the Drama.
The former, with all its Regularity, is cold and lifeless; the latter,
with all in Brightness, absurd and ridiculous. Let Rules be first the
Basis of the Poem, and from a right Disposal of these, let the Ornaments
arise naturally, and with Ease. Colouring in Painting, is, no doubt,
an Excellence; but we are not to be so studious of it, as to neglect
Proportion, and transgress the Laws of Optics. Besides, great Judgment
and Caution must be us'd, that we don't adhere so close to one Rule, as
to violate another. _Horace_'s Observation is here undoubtedly just:

    _In vitium ducit culpæ fuga, si caret arte._

    Thus Fear of Erring, join'd with want of Skill,
    Is a most certain Way of erring still.

A Misfortune, which, in this Case, it is very difficult to guard against.

To these three Unities, as they are usually reckon'd up, we may not
improperly add a fourth: That of _Character_, which I just mention'd
before, but now design to explain more fully. By a _Character_, I
understand, that Assemblage of Circumstances which discriminates one
Man from another; such as Age, Fortune, Manners, and Inclination.
In this Respect, then, let each _Person_ be _one_ from Beginning to
the End. Not that he is always to betray the same Sentiments, or one
Passion; this would be as absurd as it is tedious; but that he should
never speak, nor act repugnant to his own _fundamental Character_. An
old or young Man, for Instance, a King or Servant may, nay, ought, as
Occasion serves, to shew the common Passions of Joy or Sorrow. But for
an old Man to be introduced in the first Act; and to appear a young
one in the second, is inverting Nature. Again, the Meek may sometimes
sally into a Warmth, and the Breast of the Passionate be calm; a Change
which often introduces in the Drama very affecting Variety: But if the
natural _Disposition_ of the former was to be represented as boisterous,
and that of the latter mild and soft, they would both act out of
Character, and contradict their Persons. The Temper of a Man, I own,
is sometimes entirely chang'd; a vicious Disposition may be reform'd,
and a good one corrupted: But this is a Change which cannot be wrought
in so short a Time as the Action of the Drama takes up. It may be much
doubted, therefore whether the unravelling of the Plot in _Terence_'s
_Adelphi_ is agreeable to Truth and Nature, where _Demea_, from an old
Miser, turns, of a sudden, profuse, and lays aside his Moroseness, for
Good-nature; and _Micio_, who had hitherto liv'd single, and dreaded the
married State as the greatest of Sins, in his old Age, at last, by the
Persuasion of his Brother and Nephew, marries an old Woman, without a

[Sidenote: _Twenty-first Lecture._]

The _English_ Drama differs in nothing more from the ancient, than in
Narration and Action. Of both these Heads, _Horace_ delivers himself

    _Aut agitur Res in scenis, aut acta refertur.
    Segnius irritant animos demissa per aurem,
    Quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus, & quæ
    Ipse sibi tradit spectator: Non tamen intus
    Digna geri promes in scenam; multaque tolles
    Ex oculis, quæ mox narret facundia præsens.
    Nec pueros coram populo Medea trucidet,
    Aut humana palam coquat exta nefarius Atreus;
    Aut in avem Progne mutetur, Cadmus in anguem:
    Quodcunque ostendis mihi sic, incredulus odi._

    Some Things are acted, others only told;
    But what we hear, moves less than what we see:
    Spectators only have their Eyes to trust,
    But Auditors must trust their Ears and you;
    Yet there are Things improper for a Scene,
    Which Men of Judgment only will relate.
    _Medea_ must not draw her murd'ring Knife,
    And spill her Children's Blood upon the Stage;
    Nor _Atreus_ there his horrid Feast prepare:
    _Cadmus_'s and _Progne_'s Metamorphosis,
    (She to a Swallow turn'd, he to a Snake)
    And whatsoever contradicts my Sense,
    I hate to see, and never can believe.

We then have more Action, and less Narration, than the Ancients, who,
in this Particular, are imitated in Tragedy, by the _French_, and most
other Nations. But if our _British_ Writers may presume to dissent from
so great Authority, I would ask, Why may not Ladies of the first Rank
be suppos'd to speak in Comedy; or Heroes sometimes combat, or even
die upon the Stage, in Tragedy? There's no Absurdity in this; nothing
contrary to Art or Nature; often much conducive to Terror or Compassion.
No one, indeed, would bear to see _Atreus_ represented boiling human
Flesh; it is too ghastly a Spectacle to be expos'd to View; and, instead
of Pity, or Terror, would excite Detestation. For the same Reason,
_Medea_, killing her Sons, should not be exhibited. But there are still
some images of Death less shocking, which may be well adapted to the
Stage. I own, however, we are apt to introduce some Things publickly,
which had better have been sunk in Narration, and some in Silence, if
Regard were had to the inviolable Rules of Modesty, Decency, and Virtue.
Upon the whole, then, the Ancients brought too little into Action, and
we too much.

Upon this Head, I would only observe farther, that I have one Scruple
remaining from these Words, _incredulus odi_, in the Passage I above
cited from _Horace_. Things that are not at all _incredible_, may, for
several other Reasons, be improper to be represented, tho' they may make
a very becoming Narration: And what exceeds all Belief, we shall no
more bear to hear, than behold. And even those Instances which _Horace_
mentions as improper to be represented, have nothing _incredible_ in
them, but upon _other Accounts_ are not fit to be obtruded upon the
Spectators. The Answer to this Objection is, that the Words _incredulus
odi_ are not to be taken separately, but jointly. Of the Sights _Horace_
mentions, some are _odious_, others _incredible_; not _incredible_ in
the _Nature of Things_, for they are suppos'd to be Miracles exceeding
all human Power; but _incredible_ in _theatrical Representation_. Such
monstrous Changes, as of _Progne_ into a Bird; _Cadmus_ into a Serpent;
are too gross to be impos'd upon the Senses: They are Representations,
therefore, not so much _odious_, as _ridiculous_.

There is one Fault which almost all the dramatic Writers, both Tragic
and Comic, Ancient and Modern, have fallen into; that, I mean, of
introducing a Person who has no other Business but to hold out a
Dialogue, and hear a Story. This, to omit other Examples, is the Case,
in two of _Terence_'s Comedies, the _Andria_, and _Phormio_. In the
former of which, _Sofia_ is introduc'd, that _Simo_ may lay before him
the whole Plot of the Play; afterwards we neither see him, nor hear a
Word of him more. In the latter, _Davus_ holds a Colloquy with _Geta_,
only to hear the Amours of _Phædria_ and _Antipho_, which he has nothing
to do with: Then he goes off the Stage, and never sets Foot upon it
more: Whereas, all that support a Dialogue of any Moment, ought, in
some Measure, to be interested in the Business of the Play, from one
End to the other. But these adventitious Persons destroy the Beauty
and Symmetry of it; which ought not, like Gothick Buildings, to be
disfigur'd with Props and Buttresses, and other superfluous Out-works;
but form'd rather according to the Rules of _ancient_ Architecture,
where all the Columns, and several Parts of the Fabrick, mutually
support each other; where there's nothing but what is necessary, nothing
but what is beautiful; and the whole therefore beautiful, because every
Thing is necessary.

But farther; that all the Parts may rightly cohere together, some Reason
should appear, why each Person goes out, and comes in. This is a Rule of
great Moment, tho' generally over-look'd; and yet there is nothing in
the whole Compass of the Drama, more elegant, or more difficult; nothing
in which Art and Judgment are more nearly concern'd. _Exit_ such an one,
says the Poet; _enter_ another: But a Reason may often be ask'd, both
for one, and the other. It is not enough to answer, it was necessary,
for the Author's main Design, that it should be so. The Audience ought
to be appriz'd of the Business for which the several Persons come in,
and go out, and on what Account the Stay of any of them would have been
improper. With these Notices, every Thing will appear to them easy and
natural; but Otherwise, forc'd, and inconsistent. As a Play is divided
into Acts, so are the Acts into Scenes. The former the more ancient
Division of the two. The Act concludes, when the Stage is left entirely
empty; and a new one begins, as soon as one or more Persons come on
again; the intermediate Time being taken up with Dancing or Music. The
Scene changes as every Actor comes in, or goes out, according to the
general Opinion; but in mine, I think a Play had better be divided into
Acts only, without any Distinction of Scenes between the Acts: For the
Place, during one Act, is always the same, and without intermission of
Persons or Discourse. Thus, I say, it is, in all Performances, that are
writ according to the true Rules of the Drama. But if any one shall
maintain, that the Scene ought to change with every Actor's coming in,
or going out, I shall not contend much about it, since it is a Dispute
about Words, rather than Things. This, however, is certain, that what
we call _broken_ Scenes, ought to be totally avoided; those, I mean,
where, in one and the same Act, the Play is disjointed, and the Stage,
for some Time, left vacant. To omit the innumerable Instances I might
give of this, among the Moderns, as well as Ancients, I shall mention
_Terence_ only, and one only of his Plays, the _Eunuch_. In the third
Act, _Thais_, _Thraso_, _Parmeno_, _Gnatho_, and _Pythias_, make up the
second Scene; and at the Conclusion of it they all leave the Stage.
In the third Scene _Chremes_ appears alone, and, for some Time, talks
by himself; at length, _Pythias_ comes in to him, and, after a few
Speeches, both go out together: In the next Scene enters _Antipho_, he
again alone. In the first Scene of the fourth Act _Dorias_ comes in
alone; she goes out, and then comes _Phædria_ alone. This incoherent
Connexion of the several Parts of a Play, is not less disagreeable than
it would be in Architecture. The different Parts of a Fabrick are to
be divided; but in an artful and commodious Manner. The several Acts
in a Play resemble the Wings of a Building; but broken Scenes are like
gaping, disjointed Walls.

This leads me naturally to say somewhat of _Soliloquies_, too much in
Use with _Terence_, and others. They are not, indeed, totally to be
rejected, but very suitable to some sort of Matter, provided they are
sparingly us'd; particularly, they serve to unload the Mind of too
much Grief or Joy; but are of more especial Use in Speeches of the
deliberative Kind. They are more adapted to Tragedy than Comedy; for
it is most natural for Men to converse with themselves, when Matters
of Moment and Concern lie heavy upon their Minds[381]. But _Terence_
often introduces a Person, not to deliberate about Difficulties, but to
relate what has pass'd. In which Case, the Narration must be made to the
Audience, or the Walls; and it is hard to say which of the two is the
more absurd Supposition.

_Donatus_, speaking upon this Subject of the Drama, lays it down for a
Rule, as _Vossius_ cites him, that _no Person ought to go off the Stage,
above five Times_. And _Vossius_[382] himself says, immediately after:
_That this Rule, tho' it holds good in Tragedy, where the Persons,
as they are grave, so are likewise few; yet in Comedy is not always
regarded_. No, say I, nor ought it to be regarded, either in Tragedy, or
Comedy. And if I may be so bold as to dissent from so great a Name as
_Horace_, I cannot see the Reason of that Rule of his, pretty much to
the same Purpose:

    ----_Nec quarta loqui persona laboret._

    And in one Scene no more than three shou'd speak.

What should hinder, but every one may go in or out above five, six, or
even ten Times, either in Tragedy, or Comedy, if he pleases? Or where's
the Impropriety of more than three Speakers upon the Stage at once?
There are Maxims that have no Foundation in Truth, nor do they in the
least promote the Order of the Drama, or the Pleasure of the Audience.
They don't flow from the Nature of Things, but only from the arbitrary
Will of the Directors. A Poet shackles himself to no Purpose, with these
Fetters; and only makes his Performance appear stiff and lifeless, with
the Severity of them. He might with as much Reason prescribe to himself
the determinate Number of Lines his Play should consist of. In all these
Things a Writer is left to his Liberty, and the only Rule that can be
given is, to observe none.

As little do I see the Reason of _Vossius_'s[384] Rule, in regard to the
Number of Actors: _That there should not be above fourteen_. To be sure
there ought not to be more; and, if we except the Mutes, concerning whom
there's no Occasion to lay down any Rule, there ought not, perhaps, to
be so many. But for the Reasons I before mention'd, I cannot see any for
fixing a determinate Number. Every Thing of this Nature is to be left
entirely to the Discretion of the writer.

Nor is there any Necessity, from the _Nature_ of the _Thing_, that
there should be just five Acts in a Play, according to that of _Horace_,

    _Neve minor, neu sit quinto productior actu
    Fabula, quæ posci vult, & spectata reponi._

    Five Acts are just the Measure of a Play.

After him, _Vossius_, and others, _In a Play there are neither more nor
less than Five Acts_. So, indeed, the Ancients have determin'd, and
Custom has prevail'd; and this, no doubt, is a very proper Division;
but there's no Foundation for it in Nature, and even the Acts are now,
and always have been, of uncertain Length. And _Vossius_, in the same
Discourse[386], observes, _Some think a Play may consist only of four
Acts, provided it be of a proper Length, such as may be seen with
Pleasure, and understood with Ease. And 'tis a Remark of_ Lambinus_'s
that_ Tully, _and some others of the Ancients, mention the third and
fourth as the last Act, without any Notice of the fifth; so that the
fourth may be understood the last. Nay, in his first Epistle to his
Brother_ Quintus, _the third seems to be the last Act. The Words are
these_: "Illud te ad extremum & oro, & hortor, ut tanquam poetæ boni,
& actores industrii solent, sic tu in extrema parte & conclusione
muneris, ac negotii tui, diligentissimus sis; ut hic tertius annus
imperii tui, tanquam tertius actus, perfectissimus, atque ornatissimus,
fuisse videatur. _Lastly, I beg and intreat you to exert yourself in the
Conclusion of your Office, as artful Poets, and good Actors use to do;
that so this third Year of your Command, may be like the third Act of
a Play, the most perfect and ornamental." Unless_ Tully _meant no more
than that as Poets have a chief Regard to the last Act, you should have
the same for your third Year; which is to you, your last Act._

I can by no means agree with the learned Author concerning the
Distribution of the Business that is to be perform'd in each Act; who
delivers himself in this Manner: "The first Act opens the Plot, but not
the Event of it; because it would afford less Surprize, to be known
before-hand. The second brings on the Design into Action. The third
raises some Embarras. The fourth shews the Way by which all Difficulties
may be remov'd. The last artfully removes them." I readily grant, the
first Act ought to _open the Plot_. But this may be partly done in the
second; nor is it necessary the _whole_ of it should be laid open in
the first. The first, likewise, as well as the second, may _produce it
into Action_: The second, as well as the third, may _raise an Embarras_;
and the fourth no less than the other two. The fourth ought not openly
to discover how _Difficulties may be remov'd_, the Business, rather, of
the fifth, which does that, and somewhat more. In this Case, then, (as
I said before in another) Rules are arbitrarily prescrib'd, without any
Foundation in Nature; but all these Things are to be dispos'd according
to the free Discretion of the Writer. Were it otherwise, the Audience
would, in some Measure, know before-hand what they are to expect in
every Act. There's no Necessity that one or the other Part of Action
should be peculiar to this or that Act; nor are any Rules requir'd about
it, except those which we are now coming to, that relate to what are
term'd _Protasis_, _Epitasis_, and _Catastrophe_.

[Sidenote: _Twenty-second Lecture._]

The threefold Division of the Drama, into _Protasis_, _Epitasis_, and
_Catastrophe_, or, as others, in the Terms of _Aristotle_, to the
very same Effect, into _Prologue_, _Episode_, and _Exode_, seems very
natural and easy; tho' neither of these Divisions is peculiar to any
Act. By _Protasis_ is meant that Part which is a Narrative of what has
pass'd, and an Introduction to what is to follow: In the _Epitasis_,
_Incidents_ as they are call'd by the Moderns, arise; all Things are
in Confusion, involv'd in Doubts and Difficulties; and the Audience
_anxious, and trembling for the Birth of Fate_. The _Catastrophe_ clears
up every Thing; and is nothing else but the Discovery, or winding up
of the Plot. But these Parts, as I said before, are not assignable to
any particular ones of the Drama: There's no Necessity that all the
_Protasis_ should be contain'd in the first Act. The _Catastrophe_,
indeed, has its peculiar Place; for it ought to be entirely contain'd,
not only in the last Act, but even in the very Conclusion of it; and
when the Plot is finish'd, the Play should be so too. The _Epitasis_
runs thro' the whole, except the Beginning, and the Conclusion; the
former is taken up entirely with part of the _Protasis_, or the whole
of it; the latter with the _Catastrophe_. 'Tis the _Epitasis_, then,
that supports the Weight and Burden of the Poem, upon which the Crisis
of the Action chiefly turns. It far exceeds, therefore, the other two,
in Extent; as it contains all the Revolutions of Circumstances, the
sudden Changes, and surprizing Events, till, at length, we come to the
_Catastrophe_, the last, and most surprizing Event of all.

If what we have now said is true, 'tis plain _Vossius_ has not given a
right Account of this Matter. "Of these Parts in Comedy, the _Protasis_,
says he[387], is contain'd in the first Act, and sometimes, likewise,
in the second: The _Epitasis_ in the second, sometimes the third, and
fourth, but very rarely any Part of it in the fifth: The _Catastrophe_
takes up sometimes the fourth Act, or Part of it, but always the
whole fifth, or almost the whole. From whence it appears, that the
Division of the _Greeks_, into _Protasis_, _Epitasis_, _Catastrophe_
and _Choricus_, is a better one than that of the _Romans_ into five
Acts: For the _Greek_ Division distinguishes the Drama into Parts that
differ in _Nature_; whereas the other Division into Acts, considers
them only as different in _Quantity_, without regard to any internal
Distinction." Now to pass over his mentioning _Comedy_, whereas Tragedy
is equally concern'd in this Division, I allow it to be very true, that
the _Protasis_ is contain'd in _the first Act, and sometimes in the
second likewise_; and I will add, sometimes in any other Act; tho' this
seems to contradict _Vossius_'s Opinion in another Place, where he says,
_The first Act unfolds the Plot_, as if that was the peculiar Business
of the first Act. I grant, also, that the _Epitasis_ is contain'd in
the second, the third, and fourth; but let me add, likewise, partly in
the first, and partly in the fifth: For there's no Act to which the
_Epitasis_ is not suitable; and I must be so bold as to deny, what this
learned Author asserts, that _there's rarely any Part of it in the
fifth_; so far is this from being true, that some of it ought always to
be in the fifth. Nor do I grant _that the Catastrophe takes up sometimes
the fourth Act, or Part of it, but always the whole fifth, or almost the
whole_. For the _Catastrophe_ ought to turn, as we say, upon a Point, to
start up, on a sudden; as soon as that is discover'd, the Play should
conclude; and this End once obtain'd, all the Action cease: Otherwise,
the Curiosity of the Audience will be pall'd, and what promis'd
Pleasure, will then appear insipid and tedious. Nor had _Vossius_ any
good Reason to compare this Division of _Protasis_, _Epitasis_, and
_Catastrophe_, with that of five Acts, as if these two Divisions were
inconsistent[388], whereas, from what has been said, it appears, they
are very compatible, nay, I may say, include each other.

_Scaliger_[389] defines the Catastrophe to be a _Turn of Affairs that
were before embroil'd into an unexpected Calm_; and _Evanthius_,(as
_Vossius_[390] cites him) a _Turn of Affairs to a happy Conclusion,
after the Audience have been Witnesses to what has pass'd_. Both wrong:
For (as the same _Vossius_ well observes) both Definitions suit only a
Comic Catastrophe, not a Dramatic one in general. His own Definition is
just, That _it is the End of a Play, where Fortune is seen to terminate
in good or ill Success_.

The great Care in the _Catastrophe_ is, that the clearing up of all
Difficulties may appear wonderful, and yet easy, simple, and natural.
What _Cicero_ says of Friendship, is true of the Dramatic Fable, it is
a Knot that must be _untied_, not _cut_: And in such a Manner, that
tho' all admire the Event, yet, at the same Time, are sensible within
themselves, that the Stream of Affairs could scarce have taken another
Course. This, I confess, is a difficult Task; indeed nothing can be more
so, than to raise our Astonishment from the regular Effects of Nature.
There are, however, some Instances of this Art, that can never be enough
admir'd; among the modern Writers especially, and no where more than
among those of our own Country; who, in the Conduct and Design of the
Drama, in my Opinion, leave the Ancients very far behind them.

Another Thing the Poet should take Care of is, to conceal the Event from
the Audience till the Conclusion of the Play. The Reason of this is so
plain, that I need not assign any. I cannot, therefore, but wonder at
the preposterous Artifice of some Writers, who shew the Catastrophe of
the Play, in the very Title of it. We have an _English_ Tragedy, truly
excellent in all other Respects, entitul'd, _Venice Preserv'd; or the
Plot discover'd_. How much better would this have become the last Page,
than the first? Here one may apply the Words of a late ingenious Poet of
our own, tho' in a little different Sense[391]:

    _Vestibulum ante ipsum, primoque in limine_,
               FINIS _Scribitur_

Too soon, undoubtedly, for the Author's Reputation, is _Venice
preserv'd_; too soon _the Plot discover'd_, for the Reader's Diversion.

To these three Parts of the Drama, _Scaliger_ adds a fourth; _viz._
the _Catastasis_ which he defines to be[392], _The full Growth of the
Fable, while Things are at a Stand in that Confusion to which the Poet
has brought them_. But I can't see how this differs from _Epitasis_, in
which, according to his own Definition, _all Things appear involv'd in
Confusion, or Uncertainty_.

What the Moderns call _Incidents_, are such Events as start up of a
sudden in the Course of the _Drama_, that are concomitant to the main
Design, and conduce to the bringing on the _Catastrophe_ and yet are
not of so great Moment as to constitute distinct, or even subordinate
Actions. These are very serviceable in exciting Admiration; and the
nicest Art is shewn in the proper Conduct of them to that Purpose.

There's one Fault, which both ancient and modern Writers are often
guilty of, _viz._ of introducing entire Scenes, or the greatest Part of
them, only that the Actors may have an Opportunity of making some fine
Speeches, and the Authors of shewing their Wit; without contributing,
in the least, to the main Business of the Drama: Whereas, in Truth, no
Scene, of any Length, ought to be writ only for Decoration. There may,
nay, must be many ornamental Parts; but no considerable one should be
_nothing else_ but Ornament. As, in Architecture, sumptuous Edifices
are embellish'd with Entablatures, Relievo's, and Sculpture; but no
Part of them, of any Bulk, or Weight, should be added, for nothing else
but Embellishment. The Reason is, because the very Essence of Beauty
consists in a genuine Simplicity; such as Nature shews in the wonderful
System of the Universe.

Among the Moderns, the chief, almost the only Subject of Tragedy, as
well as Comedy, is _Love_; not so with the Ancients, who seem, in this
Particular, to have judg'd better than we do. For tho' it must be
allow'd _Love_ is the most prevailing Passion of human Nature, and the
great Businesses of the World, both public and private, are chiefly
govern'd by it; yet there are others, as Ambition, and Friendship, to
name no more, which may either singly, or jointly, be the proper Subject
of the Drama; tho' I own its Progress would be much facilitated, if
predominant _Love_ interven'd to accelerate the Springs of Action.
This Passion, like the _Primum Mobile_ in the ancient System, drives
round the lesser Fires, as so many Stars, within its own _Vortex_;
and is, therefore, by its active Power, far the most productive of
Thoughts, Words, and Events; and the best adapted to excite Pleasure
and Admiration. But, for that Reason, as it is an Attempt the most
difficult, so is it the most noble, to please an Audience without this
Ingredient, which both the Ancients and Moderns have sometimes very
happily effected. All _Terence_'s Comedies are upon the Subject of
Love; not so those of _Aristophanes_: But, among the Moderns, I have
not seen one without it. Tragedies there are many, absolutely free from
it, especially ancient ones; as those of _Sophocles_, and _Euripides_,
which are adapted to infuse Terror, rather than Compassion; and don't so
much aim at appearing soft and delicate, as grand and magnificent. And
among the Moderns, especially our Countrymen, we have the Tragedies of
_Sejanus_, _Catiline_, and _Julius Cæsar_, to name no more, who all meet
their Fate without any Love to hasten it. But the Poets of the present,
and foregoing Age, are full of Love, not only in their Tragedies and
Comedies, but in every other Composition: That of _Terence_, tho' in
a different Sense, may be applied to each of them, _amore abundas_;
they _abound with Love_, or rather run over with it. But more of this,
perhaps, when we come to speak of Tragedy and Comedy distinctly.

To the same Place I must likewise postpone, what remains to be said of
the _Chorus_ of the Ancients, for this, as I once before hinted, they
added over and above to the _Protasis_, _Epitasis_, and _Catastrophe_.
I pass it over here, because it is not, like these I have now treated
of, an essential Part of the Drama, and is totally laid aside by the
Moderns, in my Opinion very deservedly. I shall, however, make some
Observations upon it, in a proper Place, since it made a Part of the old
Comedy, and was continu'd in all the Tragedies of the Ancients.

Nor shall I here draw a Comparison between the ancient dramatic Writers
and the Moderns; this I shall attempt in the distinct Dissertations that
are to follow. I would only observe, in a Word, that as we have more bad
Plays than they, so have we more that are truly beautiful; they have
fewer that deserve Censure, and fewer that merit Praise; they more
correct, we strike out into brighter Excellencies.

Thus much may suffice to explain the Definition we at first laid down,
of a dramatic Performance, except what relates to the last Clause of
it, that it is form'd _for the Delight and Improvement of Mankind_.
Of the first, _viz._ _the Delight_, I have said enough already: And
as to _Improvement_, it ought to be the End of all Poetry in general,
but of the _Drama_ more particularly, whose Business it is to set
before our Eyes the different Courses of Life; the Virtues and Vices,
Happiness and Misery, that attend Mankind in each of them. The Drama is
so exact a Picture of Human Life, that sometimes we are said to copy
That; according to that noted Saying, _Totus mundus agit Histrioniam;
The World is but a theatrical Entertainment_: Which Comparison is
beautifully carried on by _Lucian_ in his Dialogue, entituled,
Χαρων, or Επισκοπαντες. It ought, therefore, to be an
invariable Rule, which is but sometimes follow'd, to direct the Plot
to some moral End, and upon winding up the Catastrophe, to leave it
upon the Audience with some useful Precept. How little this has been
observ'd, by the Poets of the last and present Age, I am asham'd to say;
most of whose Writings, but Comedies in particular, are so full of Filth
and Obscenities, that, far from serving the Cause of Virtue, they are
the very Panders of Lust and Impurities. I could wish to see some Remedy
applied to so great an Evil. In the mean Time, let all good Men shun the
Contagion; and let not the Infamy of it fall upon Poetry itself, but
upon her impure Professors.


[351] De Art. Poet. ℣ 180.

[352] Hor. De Art. Poet. ℣ 3.

[353] Instit. Poet L. II. c. 7.

[354] Virg. Eclog. VII. ℣ 5.

[355] And yet it seems to be an agreed Point among many of the Learned,
that the Plays of the Ancients were acted in a Kind of Recitative set
to the Flute. See this proved by _Crusius_, in his Lives of the _Roman_
Poets, in the Introduction to Dramatic Poets, § IV. Dr. _Bentley_, in
his Preface to _Terence_, takes it for granted. See, likewise, _Cic.
ad. Brutum_, § 55. The Objections which Dr. _Trapp_ makes against it,
would hold, in some Degree, against Chanting: And perhaps both may be
accounted for, from the same prudential Reason, _viz._ That the Voice,
when continued for some Time very elevated, naturally falls into a Tone,
and yet it was necessary it should be very elevated in the ancient
Theatre, which was very large, as well as in Cathedrals. To prevent the
Disagreeableness of this, it was regulated by a sort of Music.

[356] Hor. De Art. Poet. ℣ 322.

[357] Juv. Sat. III.

[358] Æn. L. VI.

[359] Juv. Sat. III.

[360] Lib. II. c. II.

[361] L. II ℣ 380.

[362] ℣ 139,--℣ 155.

[363] De Art. Poet. ℣ 126.

[364] The forecited Author, Mr. _Crusius_, thinks them to have been of
great Use and Expediency to the Ancients; "Their Stage being very large,
and their Plays acted by Day-light, the natural Features of the Face, at
such a Distance, and without the Help of false Lights, could not appear
distinguishable enough, to express the several Characters. Besides
the adapting Masks to each Character, very much contributed to the
Entertainment of the Audience; since hereby they could better imagine
they saw the Persons represented in the Play, than we can, who are still
apt to lose the Character in the Player; not to mention this other
Disadvantage of the same Face appearing in the different Characters of
Prince and Pimp, Hero and Villain, old and young." _Ibid._ Sect. III. So
that what they lost in expressing the Variety of Passion, they gain'd in
the Variety of Character.

[365] De Art. Poet. ℣ 23.

[366] ℣ 99.

[367] ℣ 112.

[368] _Shakespear._

[369] Horat. ad Aug. ℣ 166.

[370] De Art. Poet. ℣ 131.

[371] ℣ 119.

[372] _John_ Earl of _Rochester_.

[373] _Nat. Lec._

[374] ℣ 125.

[375] ℣ 128.

[376] _Materiam vulgarem, notam, & e medio petitam._ But _Roscommon_
above, and, I think, most of the Commentators, make _communia_ to be
the same with what follows, _ignota indictaque_, i.e. _common_, till
you took them, such as were no-body's Property before. In this Sense,
_Horace_, as Dr. _Trapp_ says, contradicts his Opinion of new Subjects
being better than old.

[377] Ad Aug. ℣ 213.

[378] Lib. I. Ep. I. 32.

[379] De Art. Poet. ℣ 31.

[380] ℣ 179.

[381] Besides, in the ancient Tragedy the Chorus justified Soliloquies,
who were supposed to be humane By-standers, where the Scene was laid:
Among the Rules given to the Chorus in _Horace_, one is, that they
should keep secret what they heard, _Ille tegat commissa_, Ar. Poet.
℣ 200.

[382] Instit. Poet. Lib. II. cap. 5.

[383] De Arte Poet. ℣ 192.

[384] Instit. Poet. Lib. II. c. 5.

[385] De Art. Poet. ℣ 189.

[386] Inst. Poet. L. II. c. 5.

[387] Inst. Poet. L. II. p. 24.

[388] Nor, with Submission, does _Vossius_ suppose them inconsistent.

[389] Poet. L. I. c. 9.

[390] Inst. Poet. L. II. c. 5.

[391] Auctio Davisiana.

[392] Poet. L. I. c. 9.

                       LECTURE XXIII, _&c._
                          _Of_ COMEDY.

Having discours'd of the Nature and Genius of the Drama in general;
the three great Unities, _viz_. of _Action_, _Time_, and _Place_;
the Variety and Distinctness of the Characters; the Contrivance and
Management of the Plot, and other Things of that Sort; Comedy comes next
to be consider'd separately, as it falls under the general Rules of the
_Drama_ which are already mention'd, and as it is distinguish'd from
Tragedy, which shall be treated of hereafter.

The Word _Comedy_ is deriv'd from Κωμη, _a Village_, and
ωδη, _a Song_; because, consisting only of a _Chorus_, and
fram'd without Dialogue or Diversity of Characters, it was sung
originally in _Villages_, and was therefore call'd a _Country Catch_;
its first Appearance being entirely different from that Dress, which
it afterwards assum'd, and still continues to wear: Or it was call'd
Comedy from κωμος and ωδη, because at Feasts (which
were under the Care of the God _Comus_) it was usually one Part of the

When or where _Comic_ Poetry had its Original, is a Question not to be
determin'd, which _Aristotle_ accounts for in this Manner;[393]
Αι μεν ουν της τραγωδιας μεταβασεις, και δι' ὡν εγενοντο, ου
λεληθασιν. Ἡ δε κωμωδια, δια το μη σπουδαζεσθαι εξ αρχης, ελαθεν.
_We are acquainted_ (says he) _with the Alterations and Improvements
made in Tragedy, and with the Authors of them; but Comedy, because
less Regard was paid to it at first, we know little or nothing of_.
The Dignity of Tragic Poetry was the Reason why the _Greeks_ began to
improve it much earlier, and to take more Pains in it, and therefore its
Rise and Progress is much better known. But altho' Tragedy was sooner
refin'd, and brought under the Rules of Art, yet it is probable, that
some rude Attempts in Comedy were more ancient: Because it seems natural
to imagine, that Mankind, upon gathering in the Fruits of the Earth,
and receiving the other Blessings of Providence, should be excited with
Sentiments of Joy, affected with an innocent Gaiety, and led on to some
festival Sports, before they could think of writing Poems upon the
Miseries and Misfortunes of other Men; and because a Life plain, and
without Shew, was more ancient than State and Magnificence[394].

Before I divide my Subject, I shou'd now, according to the Rules of
Method, define it, which I wou'd comply with, if the several Parts of
it wou'd properly fall under any one Definition, that wou'd equally
extend to all of them. But as there were three Sorts of Comedy, and the
Definition, which I propose to give, takes in only the two last and best
of them, which are now in Use, it may be proper to observe, before I
offer any Definition, that these three Sorts of Comedy were the _Old_,
the _Middle_, and the _New_.

The _old_ was of two Kinds, 1. There was the very oldest of all, of
which not the least Remains are now left; but the Writers of it, as
_Aristotle_ tells us, were _Epicharmus_ and _Phormis_, _Sicilians_; and
_Crates_ the _Athenian_. Their Performances were rough and artless,
innocent and sententious. 2. There was, what we now more expresly call
the _old_ Comedy; the Masters in which were _Eupolis_ and _Cratinus_,
whose Works are lost, and _Aristophanes_, who was the last in that Way
of Writing. It was sharp, and satirical, and extremely abusive; even Men
of the first Rank, whether the Facts were true or false, if they were
suspected only of any criminal Behaviour, were brought upon the Stage
without any Disguise, call'd by their own Names, and us'd as severely as
possible. This is what _Horace_ alludes to in one of his Satires:

    _Eupolis, atque Cratinus, Aristophanesque Poëtæ,
    Atque alii, quorum Comœdia prisca virorum est,
    Si quis dignus erat describi, quod malus, aut fur,
    Aut mœchus foret, aut sicarius, aut alioqui
    Famosus, multa cum libertate notabant._

    _Cratin_ and _Eupolis_, that lash'd the Age,
    Those old Comedian Furies of the Stage;
    If they were to describe a vile, unjust,
    And cheating Knave, or scourge a lawless Lust,
    Or other Crimes; regardless of his Fame,
    They shew'd the Man, and boldly told his Name.

_Dignus erat describi_, deserv'd to be expos'd, _i. e._ in the Poet's
Opinion; for we are not to imagine, that all Persons who underwent that
theatrical Discipline, did really deserve it: It is well known, how ill
_Aristophanes_ us'd the very best of the _Athenians_, the almost divine
_Socrates_. Besides, it might, and probably did often happen, that a Man
who had in Justice deserv'd Correction, might be too much a Sufferer
in the Measure of it. But, however, to point its Satire in plain Terms
against the greatest Men, and the greatest Crimes, was a Liberty which
this old Comedy assum'd; an unreasonable Liberty upon all Accounts,
and not to be endur'd. For Men of the first Rank, and Crimes of the
blackest Die, are not the proper Characters or Objects of Comedy, as
will be shewn more at large hereafter: And in writing Satire directly
to name Men, whatsoever Rank they are of, is inconsistent with all the
sober Rules of Poetry: As, in the Comedy of the _Clouds_, _Aristophanes_
brings _Socrates_ upon the Stage by Name, as one of the Persons of the
_Drama_. Indeed, this Liberty of Abuse and Defamation, was allow'd
chiefly to the _Chorus_, and was most in Use during the Democracy of the
_Athenians_, especially in the Time of the _Peloponnesian_ War. But when
the Thirty Tyrants had seiz'd the Government, they thought proper to
make a Law against it. This _Horace_ speaks of, in his Art of Poetry:

    _Successit vetus his Comœdia, non sine multa
    Laude; sed in vitium libertas excidit, & vim
    Dignam lege regi; Lex est accepta, Chorusque
    Turpiter obticuit, sublato jure nocendi._
    Next these, old Comedy did please the Age,
    But soon their Liberty was turn'd to Rage;
    Such Rage, as Civil Pow'r was forc'd to tame,
    And by good Laws secure Men's injur'd Fame.
    Thus was the _Chorus_ lost, their railing Muse
    Grew silent, when forbidden to abuse.

The most learned _Gerrard Vossius_ has oblig'd us with so good an
Account of the Rise and Progress of the two other Sorts of Comedy, I
mentioned, that I am capable of giving it no Improvements; it is as
follows: [397]"The Government, for fear of being too freely us'd, took
away the Chorus, which was generally extreamly abusive. Instead of it,
succeeded παρεκβασεις, or Digressions, which, like the old
_Chorus_, were Breaks in the Action, but design'd chiefly to censure
or expose the Poets: If any other Persons were struck at, it was not
done rudely, but in a modest and decent Manner. The Vices of all the
Citizens, were, without Exception, brought under the Lash, but no Body
was nam'd: Or if any particular Person was pointed at, it was covertly,
and in Disguise. And this Sort of Comedy, after the third was invented,
was call'd the _Middle_ Comedy; introduc'd between the Old and New, but
had a greater Resemblance with the Old. The most celebrated Authors of
this Middle Comedy at _Athens_, were _Philiseus_ and _Stephanus_; as is
mention'd in the _Prolegomena_ to _Aristophanes_. It was a Rule with
them to name no Body, but Gentlemen of their own Profession; a Liberty
which others were very willing to allow them: In this, alone, they
follow'd the Old Comedy, which did the same Thing." Most, if not all
the modern Comedies, are of this Sort, except in the last Particular,
especially those of our own Country; as will be very evident, from
what we have to offer upon this Subject hereafter. Such, then, was the
_Middle_ Comedy, and was succeeded by the _New_, which we have the
History of from the same Hand.

"Afterwards, in the Reign of _Alexander the Great_, to expose the Vices
of great Men, even without naming them, was look'd upon as an Offence
to the Government. Comedy, by this Means, entirely lost its ancient
Privilege of Correction, and a new Way of Writing was introduc'd, to
work up an imaginary Story, and instead of _Chorus's_, or _Digressions_,
to make Use of Prologues." _Vossius_ then gives us a long Account of
the Writers of this new Comedy, which we don't think proper to repeat;
and observes, "That _Menander_'s Character was universally allow'd to
be superior to all of them. In these Comedies the Liberty of Scandal,
and all the Bitterness of Abuse, was in great Measure laid aside:
The _Chorus_ (as before observ'd) was entirely dropp'd, and the new
Invention, _Prologue_, now succeeded. Comedy, at its first Appearance,
was nothing else but a _Chorus_; afterwards, Variety of Persons and
Characters were introduc'd, and the _Chorus_ taken away: So that it
was first of all a _Chorus_ only, without Dialogue; and then Dialogue,
without a _Chorus_. This new Comedy differ'd very much from the old;
the Plots in the old Comedy were chiefly taken from real Stories,
in this always from fictitious ones; that was abusive, this had its
pointed Satire, but no scandalous and unmannerly Reflections. Nor were
the Parts of it divided in the same Manner, or into the same Number of
Acts. There was a great Variety of Measures in the old Comedy, but only
_Trochaic_, or _Iambic_, in the new: And, lastly, the Style of this
was more correct and elegant than the old, whose Language, as it was
more elevated, so was it less regular and uniform." This new Comedy was
the only Sort that ever appear'd upon the _Roman_ Stage, introduc'd
thither by _Livius Andronicus_, the Author of Dramatic Poetry among
the _Romans_. _Plautus_ and _Terence_ proceeded upon the same Plan,
especially _Terence_; for _Plautus_'s Way of Writing has a greater
Resemblance of the _Middle_ Comedy. And therefore, tho' _Aristophanes_,
considering when he liv'd, and the Nature of his Poetry, was so much,
and so justly celebrated; yet, rejecting utterly the old Comedy, the two
last Sorts are such only as ought to be included in the general Idea of
Comic Poetry: Or, perhaps, by uniting both the last together, a just
Notion of Comedy may be better form'd, which, I think, may be defin'd in
this Manner: _Comedy is a Sort of Dramatic Poetry, which gives a View of
common and private Life, recommends Virtue, and exposes the Vices and
Follies of Mankind in a humorous and merry Way of Writing_.

This Idea of Comedy, is what arises rather from joining both Sorts
together, than what properly belongs to either of them: For neither,
taken separately, come up to it. Virtue had not its just Commendation in
the _Middle_ Comedy, nor Vice its due Correction in the _New_: There was
too much Mirth in one, and Gravity in the other. This, therefore, is the
Definition of a perfect Comedy, not as it _always_, or indeed _generally
is_, but as it is _sometimes_, and _always ought_ to be. "Comedy (says
_Vossius_) is divided by some _Greek_ and _Roman_ Criticks into the
_Moral_ and the _Merry_: The first gives a natural and sober View of
common Life; the other is all over Pleasantry and Ridicule." And this
was undoubtedly a very convenient Division, because it takes the Case
as it really is. Of the first Kind, are _Terence_'s Comedies, of the
last _Plautus_'s: But both of them had been more perfect, if they had
fallen a little more into each other's Way of Writing; if _Terence_ had
endeavour'd more to make us laugh, and _Plautus_ to be more serious.

Comedy is defin'd by _Scaliger_[398], to be _a Dramatic Poem,
representing the Business of Life, whose Event is fortunate, and Style
familiar_. But to represent the Business of Life, belongs to the
_Drama_ in general, and may equally be applied to Tragedy or Comedy;
and therefore ought not to make Part of the distinguishing Character of
either of them. Comedy, indeed, ought always to end fortunately, and the
Style should be familiar: But both these are included under that Branch
of our Definition which says, it must be _in a humorous or facetious Way
of Writing_. Mirth and Raillery, tho' essential to this Sort of Poetry,
are not taken Notice of in _Scaliger_'s Definition, and, in _Vossius_'s
Opinion[399], are not at all necessary in the Idea of it. But is it
possible to have any Notion of Comedy, where Mirth and Humour have no
Place in it? _Scaliger_ says, in another Place[400], tho' not very
consistently, that it was common, both in Tragedy and Comedy, to have
the Play sometimes _conclude with a Mixture of Grief and Gladness_. He
seems to have forgot his own Definition of Comedy, where he would have
it always _end successfully_. He mentions, indeed, many Comedies[401],
_where there it a Mixture of Mirth and Sorrow in them_; and the
Observation might have been as true of all the rest. For it is scarce,
if at all possible, that all the Persons concern'd in an Action should
rejoice in the most fortunate and successful Conclusion of it; because,
where-ever any Emulation or Competition rises, it is impossible that
every Body should succeed: And were it possible, it would be improper;
for Vice should always receive its Punishment, and Virtue its Reward.
It is therefore to no Purpose to give us the Instances of _Thraso_ in
_Terence_'s _Eunuch_, of _Chremes_ in his _Phormio_, or of others, who
at the End of the Play go off in some Concern. For (not to observe that
their Sorrow is very much soften'd in the Conclusion) to make the Event
prosperous, it is enough, that in general, and in the main Point, it
turns out successfully, and that all the Audience, tho' not all the
Persons concern'd in the Action, are dismiss'd in good Humour. What
_Scaliger_ says of Tragedies, (which we shall speak of hereafter) is
very true, that the _Catastrophe_ neither is, nor always ought to be
unfortunate. But certainly a Comedy ought always to end chearfully.
And this may serve, by way of Answer, to what _Vossius_ has observ'd
about the double _Catastrophe_ of some Comedies, which, with regard to
different Persons, _are joyful and unfortunate_[402].

_Vossius_ defines Comedy in this Manner,[403]_A Dramatic Poem, copying
the Actions of the principal Citizens, and common People, in a familiar
Style, not without Mirth and Raillery_. He therefore manifestly
contradicts[404] himself, when he affirms, afterwards, that Mirth is
not _essential to Comedy_. Having given us this Definition, he proceeds
thus: "But if we consider Comedy, as it _has generally been_ written, we
might call it, _a Representation not only of public, but private Life_."
Yes, truly, if we consider Comedy as it _ought to_ be written, we may
venture to say, that it is a Copy of the Actions of _private Men_, and
not of the chief _Magistrates_. For by the Actions of the _principal
Citizens_[405] he means (as it appears plainly afterwards) those, who
are concern'd in the Government, and in the Administration of Public
Affairs, which are by no Means a proper Subject for Comedy.

[Sidenote: _Twenty-fourth Lecture._]

But we said Comedy was a View of _common and private Life_: Not
that the lower Sort of People only are to be represented in it; for
Gentlemen, and even Nobility, not only may, but ought sometimes to be
introduc'd, if they do not appear in a public Character; but by no Means
Princes, or Monarchs, or even Persons of lower Station in Government,
as concern'd in public Affairs; Circumstances which are proper for
Tragedy, not at all for Comedy. Much less should a Deity be introduc'd;
for which Reason, _Aristophanes_, in his _Plutus_, and _Plautus_, in
his _Amphitryo_, break thro' the Rules of Comic Poetry, by bringing
_Jupiter_ and _Mercury_, and other Deities, upon the Stage. There is,
indeed, as Comedy has been manag'd, two Sorts of it, the _Genteel_,
and the _Low_; the one consisting of Persons of Character and inferior
Life both together; the other of the Vulgar only; and is not properly
Comedy, but Farce, nor so suitable to my Definition of it. For this
gives a View but of _one Side_ of private Life, and that the least
creditable. Nor yet are Persons of Condition only to be represented,
because we should still see but _one_, tho' the better Side of Life; and
because by this Means we should want Mirth and Raillery, and the true
Comic Spirit; which are all best kept up by Persons of low Degree, or
rather by a mix'd Conversation between those of different Circumstances.
Thus _Terence_, who, in _Cæsar_'s Opinion, wanted somewhat of this _Vis
Comica_, would have had scarce any of it, if we had been entertain'd
only with the grave Appearance of his _Chremeses_ and _Simo's_,
_Phædria's_ and _Antipho's_; and all the lower Characters of _Davus_,
_Parmeno_, or _Geta_, and such merry Fellows had been omitted.

An Image of common and private Life takes in the Virtues, Vices,
and Follies of Mankind; and represents them in their true Colours;
Virtue as amiable, Vice as odious, and Folly as ridiculous. Nor does
this at all contradict their Definition of Comedy, which _Aristotle_
has given; where he seems to determine, that whatsoever is truly
valuable, and worthy of Commendation, is by no means a proper Subject
for Comedy.[406] Ἡ δε κωμωδια, εστιν, ὡσπερ ειπομεν, μιμησις φαυλοτερων
μεν, ου μεντοι κατα πασαν κακιαν, αλλα του αισχρου εστι το γελοιον
μοριον.  _Comedy, as we said, is an Imitation of the worse Part
of Mankind, but not thro' all the Enormities of Vice; for it is only
some Degree of it that is ridiculous._ In this Definition, _Aristotle_,
according to his usual Manner, gives a short and succinct Account
of his Subject, not a full and perfect Explication of it. And I may
venture to say, that I have offer'd nothing that is inconsistent with
this Description, by affirming that _Virtue_, as well as _Vice_ and
_Folly_, is a proper Subject for Comedy. For when he tells us, that the
Characters in Comedy are to be copied from the more ignominious Part
of Mankind, he does not say, they are to be copied from them _only_:
Nor does he mean, that none else are to be represented in it, but that
none else are to be _expos'd_, and turn'd to _Ridicule_. And Vices will
always appear the more odious and ridiculous, when they are plac'd in
full Light against their opposite Virtues.

Mons. _Dacier_, who has given us a Translation, and Notes upon this
Part of _Aristotle_, affirms, that _Ridicule is the only Subject of
Comedy_[407]; which is neither true in Fact, nor agreeable to his
Author's Meaning. I am sensible that the _chief_ Business of Comedy is
Ridicule, but not the _only_ one. _Aristotle_ intimates, indeed, what we
not only grant, but contend for, that great and scandalous Enormities,
as they raise some Degree of Horror in our Minds, and are proper for
Tragedy, are not so for Comic Writers. But they may bring lesser
Failings upon the Stage, and perhaps some which are rather odious than
ridiculous: Nor does that great Philosopher advance any Thing to the
contrary: For in those Words, αλλα του αισχρου εστι το γελοιον μοριον,
he only shews, what we readily allow, that the _chief_ Subject
of Comedy is Ridicule: And he plainly insinuates, that scandalous and
great Crimes are not proper for it, when he defines it _an Imitation
of the worse Part of Mankind, but not practising every Kind of Vice_.
And yet Mons. _Dacier_ defends _Aristophanes_, and other Writers of the
old Comedy, who (as _Horace_ observes, in the Verses before mention'd)
expos'd the worst Sort of Crimes upon the Stage, tho' he insists, at the
same Time, that nothing is to be admitted in Comedy, but what is the
Subject of Ridicule. He attempts, indeed, to reconcile their Practice
with this Opinion, by observing, that those old Poets painted even the
greatest Enormities in that Light which made them rather ridiculous than
detestable, and that the Audience were to consider them only in that
View: But it is very evident, that horrid and abominable Vices (such
were some of those which _Horace_ mentions, and these Writers expos'd)
as Murder, for Instance, can by _no sort_ of Colouring be ridiculous,
nor, in the Nature of Things, become the Object of Jest and Merriment. I
own there may be some Circumstances attending the greatest Crimes, which
may excite rather Contempt or Laughter, than Horror or Detestation,
as may be observ'd in the Instances of _Theft_ and _Adultery_, which
_Horace_ mentions: Nor do I deny, that, _in this View_, they may
have a Place in Comedy, provided they are but seldom, and with great
Caution, represented: Tho', notwithstanding all the Caution that is
possible, they had better be omitted. For, upon _the whole_, all Things
consider'd, such Actions are shocking, and can never be so truly
ridiculous, as they are detestable. However, to let them make the most
of this Concession, it can never be admitted as an Excuse for those
Poets who represent Things and Persons as ridiculous, which are in no
Respect whatever the Objects of Ridicule. I mention Persons, as well
as Things: For Mons. _Dacier_ defends _Plautus_ for introducing Kings
and Gods upon the Stage in his _Amphitryo_, and yet, notwithstanding,
pronounces it to be true Comedy, for this Reason, forsooth, because
_the Subject_ (says he) _in itself tragical, is by the Poet turn'd into
Ridicule_. Which is so far from being a just Vindication of him, that it
is the very Fault he stands accus'd of. For what is this, but inverting
the very Nature of Things? It is not _Poetry_, but _Buffoonry_; nor can
the Author of such Dramatic Performances be consider'd as a _Poet_,
but a _Droll_. Such Prodigies may possibly occasion a Laugh among the
Vulgar, who think nothing _marvellous_, but what is _monstrous_; but
Men of Taste, and Judgment, will always treat them with Contempt and
Aversion. To return, then, from Persons to Things. If we restrain
Comedy from meddling with enormous Vices, do we not seem to contradict
_Horace_'s Judgment, who says,

             [408]----_Ridiculum acri
    Fortius & melius magnas plerumque secat res:
    Illi, scripta quibus Comœdia prisca viris est,
    Hoc stabant, hoc sunt imitandi._

    Great Faults are rounded off with oily Sneer,
    Not mall'able by Strokes the most severe.
    This was the Drift of all those ancient Plays,
    In this they may be follow'd, and with Praise.

_Great_ Faults may, I own, but not the _greatest_: _Follies_ the
greatest, if you will, and sometimes great _Crimes_, which (as was
observ'd before) may have something ridiculous in the Manner of their
Commission. Nor did the Writers of the old Comedy _always_ expose
the greatest Crimes, but Crimes of a less Note, and Follies of the
first Magnitude, and are in _this Respect worthy of Imitation_. But
notwithstanding the ingenious and refin'd Observations of the _French_
Translator, _Aristotle_'s Rule will for ever stand in Opposition to his
Sentiments, and exclude such abominable Characters from being introduc'd
in Comedy, under Pretence of exposing them.[409] Το γαρ γελοιον
εστιν αμαρτημα τι, και αισχ ανωδυνον, και ου φθαρτικον. Οιον, ευθυς,
το γελοιον προσωπον αισχρον τι, και διεστραμμενον ανευ οδυνης.
_What we laugh at, is only lesser Failings, some Immorality that is not
shocking, and attended with no fatal Consequences: As, to use an obvious
Instance, a ridiculous Face is ugly, and ill-shap'd, but without any
Appearance of Calamity._ And is this Description of Ridicule ever to
be reconcil'd with the most heinous Crimes, such as the Writers of the
old Comedy have sometimes expos'd? Do such black Offences affect us
with no Sorrow; are no fatal Consequences occasion'd by them? I don't
then plead the Practice of these Poets against _Aristotle_'s Opinion,
(which yet is a Difficulty Mons. _Dacier_ endeavours to guard against)
but from the Nature and Reason of the Thing I arraign their Practice:
Tho' were the Point to be decided by Authority, I should always have a
greater Reverence for the Judgment of _Aristotle_, than the Example of

Crimes, then, of this Stamp, can never agree with Comedy; not that we
are for running into the other Extream, and asserting (as I observ'd
before) that Ridicule is the only, because it is the principal Subject
of it. _Inferior_ Crimes, of the more _odious_ Kind, may properly enough
be introduc'd upon that very Account, because they are _odious_: Tho'
those that are equally odious, and ridiculous, are much more _proper_
for it; as Avarice, Arrogance, Superstition, and the like. And others,
of a different Turn, if represented in private Life, may, nay, ought
to be expos'd on the Comic Stage, as Luxury, and the preposterous
Affectation of appearing great without a Fortune, provided this is
done in a merry Way, and the Humour is not lost in the Discipline. But
Murder, Rebellion, ambitious Thirst of Power, and other Vices of that
Strain, belong only to Tragedy. But the _Follies_ of Mankind (as they
are usually term'd) that are not so much _Crimes_, as _Imperfections_,
that offend against the Rules of _Decency_ rather than _Morality_, are
_merely_, and in _every View_, ridiculous; and, upon that Account,
furnish the _most proper_ Matter for Comedy.

But here it is necessary to observe, that all the Virtues, Vices, and
Follies, we have been speaking of, take in the Passions of every Kind:
For it is a very great Mistake to imagine that Comedy should be from
one End to the other, a continu'd Scene of Gaiety and Mirth: Some Parts
of it may be grave, sententious, and even sorrowful. Nor will any one,
I believe, who is a Judge in this Way of Writing, ever find Fault with
_Terence_, who, in the _Andria_, (to omit many other Passages) brings
_Pamphilus_ on the Stage under all this Concern.

    _Hoccine est humanum factum, aut inceptum?
                        hoccine officium patris?_

    Was there ever such a Thing done, or thought of
    yet by Man? Is this the Tenderness of a Father?

And a little afterwards,

    ----_Sed nunc quid primum exequar?
    Tot me impediunt curæ, quæ meam animum divorse trahunt:
    Amor, misericordia hujus, nuptiarum sollicitatio,
    Tum patris pudor, qui me tam leni passus est animo usque adhuc
    Quæ meo cunque animo libitum est facere; eine ego ut
               advorser? hei mihi!
    Incertum est quid agam._

          But, as the Case now stands, where shall I begin first?
            So many Difficulties cumber and distract my Soul at once;
            on one Side, Love, Pity for that dear Creature, and the
            pressing Importunities I am under to marry: On the other,
            the Reverence due to my Father, who has hitherto indulg'd
            me in all that Heart could wish; and shall I now turn Rebel
            to him at last? Mine is a wretched Situation; which Way to
            turn, I know not.

And tho' the Style of Comedy is generally familiar, yet it is sometimes
capable of the _Sublime_. So _Horace_ observes, in his Art of Poetry:

    _Interdum tamen & vocem Comœdia tollit,
    Iratusque Chremes tumido delitigat ore._

    Yet Comedy sometimes may raise her Voice,
    And _Chremes_ be allow'd to foam and rail.

Where Interpreters are of Opinion, that _Horace_ alludes to that Passage
in the _Heautontimorumenos_:

           [412]----_Non si ex capite sis meo
    Natus, item ut aiunt Minervam esse ex Jove; ea causa magis
    Patiar, Clitipho, flagitiis tuis me infamen fieri._

          No! had you sprung out of my very Brain, as they say
            _Pallas_ did from _Jove_'s, I wou'd not bear to see
            myself disgrac'd by your Debauches.

But there is a wide Difference between that Distress, which prevails
in Tragedy, and that which occasionally appears in Comedy. The one
is like a Storm in Winter, which covers the Sky all over with Clouds
and Darkness, only a few transient Gleams of Light interspers'd: The
other is like a Summer's Day, which is generally serene and bright, and
sometimes, tho' seldom, a little over-cast.

The whole Compass, then, of our Passions, may be represented in Comedy,
as well as Tragedy; but in a _Manner_ intirely different, on account
of the Difference of the Characters from which they arise. For it is
certainly true, on the one Hand, that the Foundations of human Happiness
and Misery, all the Springs and Sources of our Affections, are, in the
main, the same, and common to all Mankind: But, it is as evident, on
the other, that every Man, according to his Station in Life, expresses
those Affections in a different Manner, and with peculiar Images. Thus,
in a human Body, the several Parts are in all Men nearly the same; but
the great Variety in their Condition, Education, and Ways of living,
makes the same Variety in their Appearance and gives a different Turn,
even to their Countenance. A Monarch may be as merry as any of his
Subjects; but how different is the Air of his Mirth, from that jovial
Rusticity with which the merry Peasant overflows! A Shepherd, or Swain,
may feel all the Anguish and Distress of Love; but how unlike are
his Complaints to those which a Prince or Sultan would pour out upon
these Occasions! Nay, and the lowest Part of Mankind are not without
_Ambition_; but how widely distant is it from the high and boundless
Views with which Monarchs are affected!

But tho' every Passion may be properly represented in Comedy, yet
the first Place must always be assign'd to Ridicule; that should be,
thro' the whole, the prevailing Turn. But how difficult it is for an
Author to succeed in _just Ridicule_, is very obvious, not only to
them who have attempted it, but to every Body who has duly consider'd
this Way of Writing. It is no easy Performance to rally the Follies
of Mankind in an agreeable Manner; and to _laugh with a good Grace_,
is no vulgar Attainment. But most of the Moderns seem to be quite of
another Opinion, and think, that nothing is more easy, than to _make a
Man ridiculous_. And it must be own'd, that _Laughing_, in their Way,
is one of the easiest Things imaginable, with whom a wry Face is a
Joke, and every Joke a certain Mark of Wit: But _Horace_ and _Terence_
were unluckily of another Way of thinking Our Witlings, whilst they
divert themselves with the Follies of others, expose their own; and the
Laughter they are so ready to raise, returns upon themselves. But, to
say the Truth, our present Taste for Ridicule is itself ridiculous, and
that not only in Comedy, but many _other Compositions_, especially in
_Prose_, which have met with great Approbation from many; with whom, to
invert the Nature of Things, and misrepresent with trivial Gestures,
and low Mimickry, is reckon'd a Proof of a great Genius. Sometimes,
indeed, there may be a great deal of Wit in this Sort of Burlesque, in
describing Heroes and great Actions in ludicrous and low Images, and
setting off Trifles with the Air and Majesty of the Sublime: But if this
is coarsly done, the Composition languid, and over-run with Foppery,
nothing is more nauseous. To trifle in a sprightly Manner, is exceeding
pleasant; but nothing more odious than an affected Dulness, and being
downright foolish: Which is too often the Case with these Wits, who are
wonderfully pleas'd with their own most ingenious Compositions; who are
dealing perpetually in Ironies, and making Sport (as they imagine) with
others. There is, indeed, a peculiar Beauty in an easy and well-turn'd
Irony, which these toothless Snarlers know nothing of; but to utter a
heavy and palpable Falsity, under the Shew of it, is mere Stupidity.

    _Res est severa voluptas_----

        True Pleasure's sacred Name revere;
    Itself is solid, and its Laws severe.

A Maxim, which, if all Writers would remember, the best Judges would be
more agreeably entertain'd in reading them.

[Sidenote: _Twenty-fifth Lecture._]

It may be ask'd, Whether Writers, who would professedly expose the
Follies and Vices of Mankind, ought to make their Figures larger than
the Originals, or describe them exactly as they are, without Addition or
Improvement. Each Side of the Question is not without its Authorities.
_Plautus_ is alledg'd in Favour of the first Opinion, and _Terence_ of
the last. But granting that _Aristophanes_ and _Plautus_, among the
Ancients, and most of the modern Comic Writers, have taken too much
Liberty in this Point; yet it is an allow'd Privilege to Poets, as
well as Painters, not to be confin'd, either in Panegyric, or Satire,
to the strict Rules of Truth. Such Heightnings are no more than meer
_Hyperboles_; nor do those write, or these paint, _contrary_ to Truth,
but _above_ it. The Strokes must be daring and strong, if you would draw
Men, or Characters, to the Life: It is not enough barely to draw the
Outlines of Vice and Folly, if you intend to make the one ridiculous,
or the other detestable; some Colourings must be added, both by the
Painter, and the Poet.

_Prologues_ were anciently made use of only before Comedies; but with
us they are equally suited to them and Tragedy. They who have a Mind
to know the several Sorts of them, may consult _Vossius_. The Ancients
had no _Epilogue_, which is intirely modern, and us'd in common both to
Tragedy or Comedy. _Terence_'s Prologues have no Wit, and very little
Fancy in them; which cannot be said of our Prologues and Epilogues,
full, as they often are, of the most lively Entertainment.

They who wou'd be acquainted with the _Chorus_, the _Cantica_, and the
_Pantomimes_ of the Ancients, must consult _Vossius_ and _Scaliger_,
and such Writers: For these Particulars belong rather to the History of
Poetry, than to any Branch of Critic. The Use of them, especially the
Pantomimes, was to relieve the Audience, that it might not grow weary of
the Play: A Practice which can never be mention'd to their Honour: For
it is a certain Evidence of a bad Taste, when an Audience cannot bear to
sit out a dramatic Entertainment, without being reliev'd by such low
Diversions: But we have the less Reason to wonder at this, who have seen
in our own Time and Nation, Rope and Ladder-Dancers, and other wonderful
Artists of that Class, not only admitted upon the Stage, but (to our
Shame be it spoken) receiv'd there with the utmost Applause. The Age,
indeed, even of _Augustus_, fell into much the same Depravity, which
_Horace_ thus rallies for it:

    ----_Media inter carmina poscunt
    Aut ursum, aut pugiles._

    Let _Hockley-hole_ Diversions grace the Stage,
    And Dog with Bear, _Stokes_ with his Wife engage.

They, surely, must be of very low Genius, that cannot be content with a
Comedy, unless it is disgrac'd with somewhat lower, a ridiculous Farce.

From what we have said of the Nature and Turn of this Kind of Poem, that
it is a Representation of common and private Life; some Persons will,
perhaps, imagine it to be a Work of Amusement, compos'd without much
Difficulty, or Genius. But this is so far from making it easier, that it
increases the Difficulty of writing it. Take _Horace_'s Opinion,

    _Creditur, ex medio quia res arcessit, habere
    Sudoris minimum; sed habet Comœdia tanto
    Plus oneris; quanto veniæ minus._

    As Comedy takes all its Characters
    From common Life, 'tis thought a Work of Ease;
    Yet where the less Indulgence is allow'd,
    The greater Pains and Judgment are requir'd.
                                             _Ch. Carthy._

Nor yet do we, therefore, affirm in general, that Comedy is a Work of
greater Difficulty or Genius than Tragedy, which was the Opinion of
_Antiphanes_, a Comic Poet, as _Vossius_ tells us[415], whom the Reader
may consult for the Arguments and Replies on both Sides.

The Language of Comedy is by that learned Author[416] consider'd in two
Lights; in general, with regard to its Elegance; and more particularly,
as it relates to the Stage. "As to Elegance, he says, that the Language
of _Aristophanes_, and other Writers of the old _Greek_ Comedy, was
more correct and beautiful than _Menander_'s and other Writers of the
new. Among the _Latins_, _Terence_, for Beauty, and Purity of Style, is
superior to all; _Plautus_ is honour'd but with the second Place, tho',
in _Varro_'s Judgment, he deserv'd the first." But no Body has been
so indulgent to _Varro_'s Opinion, as to approve of it[417]. _Horace_
thought very differently, whose Sentiments of _Plautus_ appear from the
Verses already quoted. He proceeds, "If we consider the Language with
regard to the _Drama_, it must be suitable to the Subject, and not at
all sublime; but, on the contrary, easy and familiar, and not set off
with too many Ornaments." It is needless to say more upon this Subject,
because I have already observ'd, in a former Lecture, that the Style of
Comedy is not properly poetical, but an elegant Kind of Prose.

The Names of the _Greek_ Comic Poets have been taken Notice of already.
Among the _Romans_, the most distinguish'd were two, whose Works
are lost, _Cæcilius_, and _Afranius_; and two, which we now have,
_Plautus_, and _Terence_. _Horace_ has observ'd of them,

    _Vincere Cæcilius gravitate, Terentius arte._

    Compar'd in Character, _Cæcilius_' Part
    Is Gravity, and _Terence_'s is Art.

The latter Part of this Observation is clear and obvious, but what that
Gravity was, in which _Cæcilius_ excell'd _Terence_, and which itself
seems in him to superabound, is difficult to guess. By _Art_, says
_Acro_, as _Vossius_ quotes him, is meant, the Propriety of Language,
in which _Terence_ was superior to all other Poets. But I should
rather think, as _Vossius_ does, that by _Art_ is meant the Management
and Disposition of the Plot; in which he far excell'd _Plautus_
also. In Comedy, as the same learned Author observes, the _Romans_
are much inferior to the _Greeks_; and he cites _Quintilian_[419] in
Support of his Opinion, who has deliver'd his Thoughts of _Terence_
with great Freedom. _Miratus sæpius ego sum, qui tanta fuerit populi
Romani gravitas atque constantia, tantusque latinæ dictionis amor, ut_
Terentianis _fabulis capi potuerit; in quibus tam pauci risus, usque
adeo rara scommata, &c. Sed agnosco tempora: Vivebant tum Scipiones;
Catonesque erant in pretio: Et incrementa fiebant tum temporis illius
imperii. Moribus populi in voluptatem prolabentibus, oratio facta est
solutior._ "I have wonder'd," says he, (and I am no less surpriz'd at
the Man's wonderful Way of Thinking) "that the _Romans_ should have so
much Gravity and Composure in their Tempers, such a violent Affection
for the Elegancies of their own Language, as to be fond of _Terence_'s
Plays, where there is so little Mirth, scarce a Joke to be found. But it
was the Turn of that Age: The _Scipio's_, and _Cato's_, were their Men
of Taste, and in high Esteem: They were all Gravity, and their Thoughts
ran only upon Conquests, and Increase of Power. But as the Morals of
that People grew less severe, their Writings had in them more Gaiety
and Pleasure." This is _Quintilian_'s Opinion, as partial, as it is
severe. The Verses which _Cæsar_ wrote upon _Terence_, and _Suetonius_
has handed down to us, are so well known, that it might be thought an
unpardonable Omission, when we are treating upon this Subject, to take
no Notice of them:

    _Tu quoque, tu in summis, ô dimidiate Menander,
    Poneris, & merito, puri sermonis amator;
    Lenibus atque utinam dictis adjuncta foret vis
    Comica, & æquato virtus polleret honore
    Cum Græcis, neque in hac despectus parte jaceres:
    Unum hoc maceror, & doleo tibi deesse, Terenti._

    And thou, who mak'st _Mænander_'s Beauties thine,
    Shalt foremost in the List of Writers shine;
    Correct in Language, chaste in ev'ry Thought,
    In all the Rules of Art without a Fault.
    Oh! did thy gently-pleasing Scenes impart
    As much the Force of Nature, as of Art,
    Did but those Strokes of Wit attend thy Lines,
    Which thro' the _Grecian_ Page distinguish'd shines,
    Thy Works with Rapture wou'd be studied o'er,
    Nor _Roman_ Elegance have wish'd for more.

But granting that _Terence_ was no way remarkable for his Talent at
Wit and Repartee, yet (with Submission to so great a Judge) so sharp
and severe a Censure seems more than he deserves. For there are many,
and those of the best Taste, who are more pleas'd with a Writer, that
perpetually keeps up an agreeable Smile, and an easy Chearfulness; than
one, who is every now and then throwing them into Fits of Laughter, and
violent Emotions.

Our modern Comedy, as I observ'd before, has a much greater Resemblance
with what the Ancients call'd the _Middle_ Comedy, than either the
_Old_, or _New_. It is much graver, and less satirical than the first,
and has more delicate Touches of Wit and Raillery than the last.
_Terence_ seems neither by Genius, nor Inclination, to have had the
least Turn for the sharp and satirical Way of Writing: His Excellency
lies rather in copying the common Characters of Human Nature, and
drawing them in the exactest Manner, and truest Light; than in painting
any of its Extravagancies, whether in Vice, or Folly. The modern
Comedies have certainly more Wit and Humour in their Composition, than
the ancient; more Art in working up, and unravelling their Plots; and a
greater Variety of Persons concern'd in them: And especially in genteel
Comedy, our Characters have more good Breeding, and Politeness; and
even in Low Life, our comical Figures are more ridiculous. But then,
on the other Hand, the Language of _Terence_ is more pure and correct,
more expressive and elegant than ours: He has drawn his Characters more
natural, and more accurately observ'd the Rules of Art. But to give
the Moderns an absolute Superiority in this Way of Writing, they have
nothing more to do, than to prune and retrench some Excrescencies,
without studying for any further Improvements: Let them abate of their
Luxuriancy, and the Business is done at once. Nay, they seem to me
already superior to them in all other Respects, except (which I am
asham'd to own) in that intire Regard to Modesty which is preserv'd in
all _Terence_'s Characters. If we compare the modern Comic Writers
in the several Parts of _Europe_, Mons. _Rapin_ tells us, that the
_Spaniards_ have one or two, but one, especially, that is considerable;
the _Italians_ have none worth taking Notice of. The Dispute, therefore,
will lie betwixt the _French_ and us. And who has more Wit and Humour,
is more elegant in Style, or natural in his Characters, than _Moliere_?
Tho', in general, if we are not too partial to our own Performances, we
are in this, as in all other Parts of Poetry, superior to the _French_;
but the Superiority is no where so disputable.

As to our _English_ Comedies, which are written in Prose, if any
over-nice Critic questions whether they can be justly reckon'd poetical
Compositions, because in the Definition of Poetry, which we have already
given, some Sort of Numbers are made essential to it; the plain Answer
is this: If we keep close to the Terms of that Definition, our Comedies
may justly be consider'd as Poems, in every other Respect but this:
The Definition is form'd upon the universal Practice of the Ancients,
who are, and ought to be our great Masters in this Art; and it is more
reasonable to continue, than alter it, in Compliance with the Practice
of modern Writers. But the Question, whatever Way it is determin'd, is
only an idle Controversy about Words, and of very little Moment: For
the Verses of the ancient Comedies differ'd so little from Prose, that
the nicest Ear could not always distinguish them: They had their proper
Measures, but so loose and uncertain, that it is often difficult to
determine which is the true Way of scanning them: And in Comedy more
regular and confin'd Measures had been ridiculous. How inexcusable,
then, is the Practice of the _French_ Poets, who have written whole
Comedies in Rhyme, and Heroic Verse? Rhymes are ridiculous enough in
Tragedy; but that an easy and familiar Conversation, such as Comedy is
suppos'd to be, should be all in Rhyme and Epic Verse, has something in
it so extravagantly absurd, that I am surpriz'd a Nation, so remarkable
for Wit and good Sense, could bear with it.

The Source of those agreeable Reflections, that Comedy supplies us with,
is so obvious, that it needs no Enquiry. Mirth is always pleasing, and
so is a lively Representation of Human Nature, of the Incidents of
common Life, and those Characters which are every Day before us. Nor is
the Cause of that ill-natur'd Pleasure less easy to be assign'd, which
arises from Satire, and Ridicule: Every Body is so civil to himself, as
to suppose he is not the Person aim'd at. Who, upon these Occasions,
ever thinks of _Horace_'s Observation?

    ----_Quid rides? mutato nomine de Te
    Fabula narratur._

    What, dost thou laugh, and think that thou art free?
    Fool, change the Name, the Story's told of thee.

The Images, then, of the Vices and Follies of other Men, flatter that
Pride, which is too natural to Mankind; who are apt to think their own
Characters rais'd, by the Ruin of others: This is such a Pleasure as we
ought to be asham'd of. But some there are, of a quite different Turn,
who are as much delighted with the Moral of the Play, the Success of
Virtue, and the Punishments or Disappointments which Vice meets with
in it: And others have no Regard to any Character but the Poet's, are
taken only with the Turns of Wit, and the Genius of the Writer. But
_Errors_ and _Imperfections_ are the great Source of Delight in all
Dramatical Performances, especially in Comedy, which has, in general,
more Friends and Admirers than Tragedy: Because there are few Persons
of so great a Genius, or so refin'd a Taste, as to be sensible of those
generous and agreeable Emotions, which arise from Tenderness, and
Compassion, and even Distress itself. Scenes of Mirth are pleasing to
every Imagination, those of Sorrow only to a few. I can only wish, that
these different Passions which arise from the Gravity of Tragedy, or the
Gaiety of Comedy, were made useful and instrumental to Virtue; and that
our Theatres were not more frequented for the Amusements they supply us
with, than for the Lessons of Morality and good Sense instill'd in them.


[393] Περι Ποιητικης, c. V.

[394] As to the prior Antiquity of Comedy or Tragedy, History must be
our only Guide; for I think it cannot be suppos'd that either of them
existed, before Mankind knew what State and Magnificence was. Both had
their Rise from the Songs at the Feasts of _Bacchus_. _Susarion_ is said
to be the Inventor of the first, and _Thespis_ of the latter. So _Marm.
Arundel. &c._ And yet _Horace_ says, _Successit vetus his Comœdia_,
having spoken before of Tragedy and Satire; which is reconcil'd by
supposing _Epicharmus_ (who liv'd later than _Thespis_) the _Inventor_
of Comedy in _Horace_'s Judgment, because he was the first _Writer_ of
it. See _Bentley's Answer to Boyle_, p. 238, 199, 200.

[395] Lib. I. Sat. IV. ℣ 1.

[396] ℣ 281.

[397] Inst. L. II. c. 27. p. 139, 140.

[398] Poetic. L.I. c. V. p. 27.

[399] P. 123.

[400] P. 45, & 367.

[401] P. 45.

[402] P. 125.

[403] P. 110.

[404] No more than he himself was aware. He observes, if, as St.
_Jerome_ says, it is a Copy of common Life, for the Improvement of the
Audience, it need not be mix'd with Mirth, were it not for the Sake of
pleasing them.

[405] _Vossius_ takes Care to tell us, that this Definition is suited
to the Old Comedy; and gives us others from _Camerarius_ and _Jul.
Scaliger_, that comprehend the New.

[406] De Poetica, cap. V.

[407] In Poet. Arist. p. 58, 59.

[408] L. I. Sat. X. ℣ 14.

[409] Cap. V.

[410] Andria, Act. I. Scen. penult.

[411] De Art. ℣ 93.

[412] Act. V. Scen. IV. 12.

[413] Ad August. ℣ 185.

[414] ℣ 168.

[415] Inst. Poet. L. II. c. XXIV.

[416] Ibid. c. XXV.

[417] _Lipsius_ was of _Varro_'s Mind, who says, in a Letter to _A.
Schottus_, _Terentium amo, admiror; sed Plautum magis_. This blind Love
for _Plautus_, led him into a strange Affectation of his Style, for
which he was expos'd by _Henry Stephens_, in his Book entitled, _De
Lipsii Latinitate Polæstra_.

[418] Ad Aug. ℣ 59.

[419] A Mistake. _Vossius_, L. II. c. XXIII. cites _Antonius Lullius
Balearis_ melioris notæ Rhet.

[420] Lib. I. Sat. I. 69.

                       LECTURE XXVI, _&c._
                         _Of_ TRAGEDY.

In discoursing upon the Drama in general, I have already mention'd the
Origin of Tragedy. The Word is deriv'd from τραγος, _a Goat_,
and ωδη, _a Song_: because a Goat was the Reward propos'd to
the Competitors in this Art; as _Horace_ has plainly intimated:

    _Carmine qui tragico vilem certavit ob hircum._

    The first Competitors in Tragic Strain,
    When a poor Goat was all the Victor's Gain.

For they deserve no Regard, who would derive τραγωδια, as if it
were τρυγωδια, from τρυξ, _the Lees of wine_; because
the Actors, before _Æschylus_ invented the Use of Masks, discolour'd
their Faces with Wine Lees. This Etymology is harsh, and unnatural[422];
the other is easy, and agreeable to the Rules of Analogy, without
changing so much as one Letter, as the other does.[423]Their Opinion,
who think it was call'd τραγωδια, as if it were
τραχεια ωδη, a _rough Song_; has still less Countenance from the
Analogy of that Language, or the Nature of the Poem. But it is not worth
While to dwell upon these Trifles.

_Aristotle_, whose Discourse on Poetry is employ'd chiefly on this
Subject, defines Tragedy in this Manner,[424] Εστιν ουν τραγωδια
μιμησις πραξεως σπουδαιας, και τελειας, μεγεθος εχουσης, ἡδυσμενω
λογω, χωρις εκαστου των ειδων εν τοις μοριοις δρωντων, και ου δι'
επαγγελιας, αλλα δι' ελεους, και φοβου, περαινουσα την των τοιουτων
παθηματων καθαρσιν. _Tragedy is the Imitation of a serious, entire,
and important Action, in an agreeable Style, the different Sorts of
which Style must be regularly varied in the several Parts; and not
by Narration, but by the Means of Terror and Pity purging the like
Passions in us._ All I would observe of this Definition, at present,
is, that there are two Parts of it which want some Explication. The
first is, χωρις εκαστου των ειδων εν τοις μοριοις δρωντων;
that is, says[425]_Vossius_, "That the several Sorts of Style should not
be mix'd together, but brought in separately in their several Parts.
For _Aristotle_ adds, immediately after, _Some Parts are perform'd in
Metre only, some with Music_[426]." This Clause, therefore, of the
Definition, can belong only to the ancient Tragedy, and not to our
modern, which is entirely without a Chorus. The other Difficulty is, in
ου δι επαγγλελιας. _Vossius_ and _Dacier_ are both of Opinion,
that this Part of the Definition was added for no other Reason, but to
distinguish Tragedy from Epic Poetry, which is form'd, not upon Action,
but Narration. But still there is a Doubt left, which neither of them
attempt to clear up: Must we, therefore, exclude all Sort of Narration
from Tragedy? Has not _Horace_, and all the Poets and Critics after him,
made a proper Distinction between Things represented and related in the

    _Aut agitur res in scenis, aut acta refertur._

    Some Things are acted, others only told.

The Answer to which Question, I think, is this; That there is
undoubtedly a Dramatic Narration, but always related by some Persons in
the Play, not by the Poet himself, as in Epic Poetry; and this latter
Sort of Narration is what _Aristotle_ meant in the Definition before us.
There is no Occasion to explain the several Parts of it any further,
since _Vossius_ has express'd the Substance more clearly, and fully, in
the following Definition.[428]_Tragedy is a Dramatic Poem, imitating
some great, but unfortunate Event, in a grave and majestic Style_: To
which, says he, if you please, you may add, _to raise the Passions,
and purge the Mind from them_. All this is intelligible, and to the
Point: But I wonder this learned Writer should think the last Clause
rather not impertinent, than essential, by that negligent Introduction,
_that you may add it if you please_; which, as _Dacier_ observes with
great Judgment, is much the best Part of _Aristotle_'s Definition, and
deserves, of all others, to be most accurately explain'd. He should
also (as _Aristotle_ has done) have particularly mention'd the two
prevailing Passions of _Pity_ and _Terror_, which are the proper Objects
of Tragedy, and chiefly affected by it: And further, in Imitation
of the same great Author, the Beauties of the Style should not have
been intirely forgot. I shall therefore, from these two Definitions,
endeavour to form a third, much clearer than _Aristotle_'s, and more
compleat than _Vossius_'s. _Tragedy is a Dramatic Poem, imitating some
great, but unfortunate Event, in a grave, majestic, and entertaining
Style, to raise the Passions, especially those of Pity and Terror, and
to purge the Mind of them._

This Definition, expresly, or by Implication, contains these several
Parts; _the Argument, or the Subject Matter, the Sentiments, the
Language and Versification, the Characters and Manners, and, lastly, the
Moral, or the propos'd Effect_. All which agree in this, that they ought
to be great and sublime; for with Regard to all these, Tragedy is the
noblest Kind of Poetry, except one.

The Subject is always some serious and important Event, as the Expulsion
of a Tyrant, the Death of a Hero, and the like; which Event turns, and
depends intirely upon some violent Passion, either good or bad; as
Ambition, Revenge, Friendship, and especially Love, (for Love, as I
have before observ'd, is the chief Subject of the modern Drama, whether
Tragedy, or Comedy;) or else upon the divine Justice, which gives either
to Virtue, or Vice, or to both at once, their proper Retributions. It
is likewise necessary, that the Manners, the Thoughts, the Language,
(for these are so nearly allied, that they are much better consider'd
jointly, than separately) should be grave, sublime, and magnificent.
Hence _Horace_, in his Art of Poetry, after laying down Rules for the
Style of Comedy,

    _Versibus exponi tragicis res comica non vult_,

goes on thus,

    _Indignatur item privatis, & prope socco
    Dignis carminibus narrari cœna Thyestæ._

    A Comic Subject loves an humble Verse:
    _Thyestes_ scorns a low and Comic Style.

And again:

    _Effutire leves indigna Tragœdia versus,
    Ut festis matrona moveri jussa diebus,
    Intererit Satyris paulum pudibunda protervis._

    For Tragedy shou'd blush as much, to stoop
    To the low mimick Follies of a Farce,
    As a grave Matron wou'd, to dance with Girls.

And _Ovid_:

    _Omne genus scripti gravitate Tragœdia vincit._

    In Majesty the Tragic Muse excels.

I am entirely of[432]_Vossius_'s Opinion, who says, "that Tragedy is
nearly allied to Epic Poetry, nay, often superior to it, in the Choice
of Words, and Majesty of Expression." Which makes _Horace_ say of it,

    _An Tragica desævit & ampullatur in arte?_

    Or swell with noble Rage the Tragic Style.
                                            _Ch. Carthy._

Not that all the Persons in Tragedy are suppos'd to speak with equal
Dignity, which is as inconsistent with the Nature of Things, as of Men;
nor should the Language of a Messenger, or a Nurse, be as sublime as
that of a Monarch, or a Deity: Tho' great Care ought to be taken, that
nothing mean or trifling appear in these lower Characters, much less
like Joke or Repartee, (a Fault which modern Writers, especially those
of our own Country, are shamefully guilty of) lest Tragedy should sink
below itself. A judicious Tragic Poet will be less concern'd at the
Hiss, than the Laugh of an Audience.

Nor should the highest Characters talk _always_ with equal Majesty,
for that is as great an Absurdity; much less should they fall into
Expressions of Low Life, improper for Tragedy, even when they are
talking about Things of no Moment: For even in them there is a Sort of
Dignity, inseparable from Kings and Heroes. Mr. _Dryden_, therefore, has
well observ'd, that in _Seneca_'s _Hippolytus_ the Poet very judiciously
makes _Theseus_ order his Servants to open the Door (a very familiar
Circumstance) in pompous Words:

    _Reserate clusos Regii postes Laris._

    Unbar the Portals of the Royal Dome.

In expressing Grief, when void of Anger, (for Anger is insolent in all
Circumstances, and in great Men always swelling) the Style of Tragedy
abates something of its Majesty, and descends almost into the Ease and
Freedom, not of Comedy, (as[435]_Vossius_, less accurately, expresses
it) but of familiar Conversation. "Especially if Heroes are introduc'd
fallen from the Height of Fortune; whose Spirits are less rais'd, and
their Language, of Course, is less tragical." As Anger, therefore,
raises the Style of Comedy; Sorrow sinks that of Tragedy: Both which
_Horace_ observes, in these Words:

    _Interdum tamen & vocem Comœdia tollit,
    Iratusque Chremes tumido delitigat ore:
    Et Tragicus plerumque dolet sermone pedestri;
    Telephus, & Peleus, cum pauper, & exul uterque,
    Projicit ampullas, & sesquipedalia verba,
    Si curat cor spectantis tetigisse querela._

    Yet Comedy sometimes may raise her Voice,
    And _Chremes_ be allow'd to foam and rail:
    Tragedians too lay by their State, to grieve:
    _Peleus_ and _Telephus_, evil'd and poor,
    Forget their swelling and gigantick Words,
    If they wou'd have Spectators share their Grief.

The Reason of which is too plain, to want Explication. By _Sermo
pedestris_, the Poet means a more familiar Style, but without Meanness;
not quite degenerating into Prose, much less into what is vulgar, rude,
or scurrilous: Tho' plain, it should be elegant; tho' humble, and
complaining, yet graceful, and truly poetical. The Thoughts may, and
often ought to be great, even when the Language is far otherwise. For
there is a Sort of majestic and heroical Humility; and tho' Kings and
Queens don't express their Grief in pompous and sonorous Words, yet
there is some Difference betwixt theirs, and vulgar Sorrows. There is
the same Distinction of Style, as in the Habit of Mourners. The Monarch
may exchange his Purple for Sable, yet, in his Behaviour, in his Looks,
there is such a Reserve of Majesty, as will easily distinguish him from
a private Person in the same Attire.

As we observ'd elsewhere, there were two Sorts of Satire, the one of a
lower Kind, and less confin'd; the other of a graver and severer Turn,
and more sublime: So the former is suited to Comedy, the latter to
Tragedy: For it is the Business of the one to ridicule the Follies of
Mankind, and of the other to lash Vices, and Crimes of a deeper Dye.
Hence _Juvenal_, a Writer of the sublimer Kind of Satire, seems to
propose the Tragic Style for his Imitation.

    _Grande Sophocleo carmen bacchamur hiatu._

                The Satyr in a Rage,
    Struts in the Buskins of the Tragic Stage.

Nor is it less the Province of Tragedy to improve Virtue, than correct,
and expose Vice; Virtue, I say, and that heroic too: For Tragedy is a
Sort of heroic Drama; no Kind of Poetry is more sacred; none, to which
the noblest and best Sentiments are so suitable; none, in which more
exalted Precepts of Virtue are, or, at least, may be deliver'd.

Tragedy, therefore, is, in all Respects, adapted to the Sublime: But if
it should be ask'd, how I can reconcile this to Nature, that Men, of
what Quality and Rank soever, should be suppos'd, in their private and
common Conversation, to make such solemn Speeches, of so much Art and
Elegance; when, in Fact, they rarely, if ever, talk in such Language: I
must ingenuously own, that this Objection lies stronger against those
Poems in which Actions are represented, than in which they are barely
describ'd; and therefore, in this Respect, Tragedy must give Place
to Epic. It may be observ'd, however, that even in Comedy, (which is
suppos'd to be less concern'd in this Objection) it is impossible to
imagine, that Persons should really support a Conversation, as they
are represented to do, upon the Stage, and that it is full as natural
to ascribe this Sublimity of Style to Kings and Heroes, as those smart
Repartees, and fine Turns of Wit, to Persons of inferior Rank. But,
upon the whole, the true Apology to be made for both, is, that these are
_probable_ Circumstances, if not _true ones_: It is enough, if they bear
a near Resemblance to Truth, or if, as _Horace_ has well express'd it,

    _Ficta voluptatis causa sint proxima veris._

    What was for Pleasure feign'd, be near the Truth.

For it is impossible that any Degree of Fiction should be the very
Truth. Poets, as well as Painters, are allow'd to go beyond the Life:
Nay, this is the very Point that shews their Skill most. When these
imaginary Touches affect as strongly as real Truths; if we can be
agreeably deceiv'd, even in spite of Conviction, how great is the Art,
and how just the Triumph of the Deceiver? And this is what _Horace_
means, in the following Lines:

    _Ille per extentum funem mihi posse videtur
    Ire Poeta, meum qui pectus inaniter augit,
    Irritat, mulcet, falsis terroribus implet,
    Ut magus, & modo me Thebis, modo ponit Athenis._

    I freely own, that Poet seems to shew
    The greatest Force of Genius, and of Art,
    Whose pow'rful Images can fill the Soul
    With Terrors not her own; can Pity raise,
    Or Joy, or soft Complacency diffuse:
    Who, by the wond'rous Magic of his Pen,
    With strong Deception on my Fancy plays,
    Now fixes me at _Athens_, now at _Thebes_.
                                                     _Ch. Carthy._

[Sidenote: _Twenty-seventh Lecture._]

But I must just take Notice, that what we have advanc'd concerning
the Sublimity of this Drama, is applicable to all Tragedies, but not
equally to all. For as (what I have before observ'd) there are two
Sorts of Comedies; the one taken from Characters of a higher Rank, the
other perfectly low: So there are two Sorts of Tragedies, the one quite
sublime, the other of a more humble Nature; the first representing Kings
and Heroes, and the latter, Men of private Life, but of considerable
Character and Station in it. This, indeed, is intirely modern; the
Punishments or Misfortunes of Tyrants, and Princes, being the only
Subjects of the ancient Tragedy. We said, that tho' it is form'd upon
the Calamities of private Men, yet of such whose Authority and Station
in Life make them considerable; because, tho' the Afflictions of
common People afford Matter for Compassion, yet not for Tragedy, their
Fortunes, and their Manners, being far below the Spirit of this Sort of
Poetry, and the Dignity of its Style and Versification. Some of the best
Performances of our own Writers, are of this Sort, affecting us not so
much with Terror, as Compassion; in exciting which, the Moderns seem far
superior to the Ancients.

Tragedies, likewise, admit of another Distinction, with Regard to their
Event, either fortunate, or unfortunate. It is sufficient to be true
Tragedy, that Incidents of Distress and Sorrow are carried on thro'
the whole, tho' the principal Persons come off fortunately at last: I
say, the _principal Persons_; because even in this Species, that ends
happily, it is necessary that some Characters should be unhappy in the
Conclusion, especially the worst, or rather they only. For I can by no
means approve of those Tragedies of ours, in which Persons of equal
Innocence and Virtue, of the same Rank and Eminence, are punish'd and
rewarded promiscuously. It is so, I own, in human Life; but a single
Dramatic Piece is not design'd to give us an intire View of it: Let it
therefore be truly one, and entirely consistent. It may, indeed, very
justly leave the best, and most distinguish'd Characters, in Distress at
last; which (as shall be observ'd hereafter) is the most affecting Sort
of Tragedy. But if _some_ innocent and virtuous Persons are fortunate,
let them be _all so_, and the bad only left miserable; otherwise the
Drama will be inconsistent: And these opposite Agitations of Mind will
weaken and destroy each other. Let the Audience go home either in a
pleasant or melancholy Humour; if you attempt both, you succeed in

But to return to the twofold Division, we observ'd, of this species of
the Drama. "In Tragedies (says[440]_Vossius_) that are truly tragical,
the first Scenes are usually more sedate, and the last dreadful. Thus,
what a terrible Conclusion has the _Phœnissæ_ of _Euripides_, where
_Oedipus_, with his Eyes put out, is by _Creon_ banish'd from _Thebes_,
of which he had once been King? So, again, in his _Hecuba_, we see
_Polymestor_ in the same Distress; _Hecuba_ bewailing the Murder of her
Son, and the blind _Polymestor_ relating the Calamities which the Oracle
had denounc'd against _Hecuba_, _Agamemnon,_ and _Cassandra_.[441]But
if _Orestes_ and _Ægisthus,_ who were determin'd Enemies, had been
reconcil'd, and parted without Blood-shed, the Tragedy had been less
perfect. For, as we observ'd, Tragedy, in this respect, differs
from Comedy, because this always ends happily, the other generally
unhappily. _And such should be the Conclusion of a Tragedy, according
to the Rules of Art; but sometimes an unexpected Happiness arises
from the greatest Distress: when this is the Case, the Poet departs
from the Rules of Art, in Compliance with the Taste of his Audience,
who had rather go home chearful, than melancholy._ In the _Electra_,
both of _Sophocles_ and _Euripides_, the Plot takes this prosperous
Turn, tho' _Sophocles_ has shewn much greater Skill in the Conduct of
it. _Sophocles_'s _Philoctetes_ in _Lemnus_, concludes in the same
Way; as does _Euripides_'s _Iphigenia_ in _Aulis_; his _Iphigenia_ in
_Tauri_; and _Alcestis_; where, by _Hercules_'s Assistance, _Admetus_
has his Wife restor'd. And so his _Orestes_; for when _Pylades_ and
_Orestes_, incens'd at _Menelaus_, because he would not assist them
against _Tyndarus_, had determin'd to put _Helena_, and his Daughter
_Hermione_, to Death; _Helena,_ by the Favour of the Gods, is taken up
into Heaven, and _Hermione_ (_Menelaus_ coming first to her Relief,
and _Apollo_ interposing, to end the Controversy) is, by the Direction
of that God, married to _Orestes_, who now expiated from his Mother's
Blood, is made King of _Argos_. And his _Helena_ again, concludes
happily; where she, having artfully escap'd from _Theoclymenus_,
returns to her Husband _Menelaus_, and sails, with a prosperous Gale,
into _Greece_. So, likewise, his Tragedies of _Hippolytus_, _Rhosus_,
and _Ion_. Even _Ezekiel_, the _Jewish_ Tragic Poet, (as _Clemens
Alexandrinus_ calls him, _Strom_. Book I.) was the Author of a Drama,
which he entituled, Εζαγωγη, or the _bringing out_; from whence
_Eusebius_ has transcrib'd no small Part into his _Evang. Præp._ Book
IX. Chap. IV. And what Event could be more joyful, than the bringing
that People out of _Ægypt_? _Nor does Tragedy lose its Name_, (as
_Vossius_ further observes) _tho' the Conclusion is fortunate; because
a melancholy Catastrophe is no Part of its Essence. Otherwise great
Part of the Tragedies of_ Euripides, _that are come to our Hands, would
cease to be Tragedies. Wherefore, in Respect to the Essence of this
Poem, it is sufficient, if it has upon the whole the real Appearance
of Distress._ So that the distinguishing Property of it may appear, in
representing the doubtful and disastrous Fortunes of great Men. Tho' I
cannot deny, (says he) but that such Tragedies borrow something from the
Nature of Comedy. For the Nature of Tragedy is to be mournful, which is
undeniable, since Terror and Commiseration are the chief Ends propos'd
by it. When it is otherwise, it is only, as we said, in Compliance with
the Taste of the People. Hence _Aristotle_ says, that Poets fall into
this Way of Writing, δια το των θεανρον ασθενειαν, that is,
to humour the wrong or weak Judgment of an Audience. But as the Populace
are mutable, and inconstant, sometimes approving one Thing, sometimes
another; the best Way is to keep close to the Nature of Tragedy, and not
without great Necessity to depart from it."

Thus that great Man, whose Sentiments I should entirely approve of, if
they did not seem, in one Particular, a little inconsistent. He says, it
is not essential to Tragedies to end unhappily, which is certainly true;
and yet is of Opinion, that such as do not end so, borrow something from
the Turn of Comedy, because the very Nature of Tragedy is mournful.
If by Nature he means the most distinguishing Property, his Opinion
is, indeed, indisputable, but his Consequence is not just; because (as
appears already, from both our Dissertations upon this Subject) Sorrow
may be the prevailing Passion in a Drama, which, nevertheless, may
conclude successfully. For every Scene of it, from the first to the
last, may supply us with proper Objects of Terror and Compassion. If by
Nature _Vossius_ understands the whole Essence of Tragedy, he is not
only mistaken, but plainly contradicts[442] himself; as appears from the
Passages already quoted. The best Way, therefore, of determining this
Point, seems to be, that _both_ these Sorts are _true Tragedies_, but
the one _more tragical_ than the other.

However, that which is least tragical, and ends happily, requires
more Art to write, and is read with more Advantage. With Regard to
the first Particular, I shall beg Leave to cite the Authority of Mr.
_Dryden_. [443]"Neither is it (says he) so trivial an Undertaking, to
make a Tragedy end happily; for it is more difficult to save, than it
is to kill. The Dagger, and the Cup of Poison, are always in Readiness;
but to bring the Action to the last Extremity, and then, by probable
Means, to recover all, will require the Art and Judgment of a Writer,
and cost him many a Pang in the Performance." As to the Advantage, the
Rewards and Punishments, by this Means, are more equitably adjusted:
Which, indeed, may be tolerably affected in those Tragedies, which
end unfortunately; For there, the chief Characters, being generally
wicked, meet with that Punishment they deserve, and so strike a Terror
into the Audience, which is accompanied, likewise, with some Mixture
of Pity; for it is not necessary they should be notoriously wicked, to
merit Punishment. Besides, sometimes they _repent_ before they go off
the Stage; as we have seen in two or three _English_ Tragedies lately
publish'd, which have met with that Applause they justly deserv'd: And
even the Punishment of Robbers and Assassins, how justly soever they may
deserve it, raises some Degrees of Compassion in us. I may add, farther,
that in this Kind of Tragedy the _Under-characters_, which are innocent
and virtuous, may at the Conclusion be rewarded for those Virtues,
whatsoever Misfortunes they have struggled with before. Upon the whole,
from comparing what has been said, it is plain, that even in those
Tragedies which end unhappily, there is a _Possibility_ that poetical
Justice (as it is call'd) may be preserv'd: Tho' the other Sort is
_better_ adapted to this Purpose, where the _chief Characters_ receive
their proper Reward, the Virtuous made happy, and the Wicked miserable.

Terror is chiefly excited in us by a Representation of bad Men punish'd
with Misfortunes; Pity with a Mixture of Terror, by a View of good Men
under the same Circumstances; both Passions indifferently, by those who
are not remarkable either for their Virtues, or their Vices. I have put
the Case of good Men punish'd with Misfortunes, for it is consistent
with the exactest Justice of the Drama, to make the most innocent meet
the most disastrous Fate; a Sort of Tragedy the most tragical, of which
our own Stage supplies us with many Instances. This Practice, I say,
must be consistent with poetical Justice, which is strictly so with the
divine. It was, indeed, less equitable upon the ancient Stage, when the
Heathens knew very little of the Rewards and Punishments of a future
State: But with us _Christians_ the Case is entirely different.

But tho' it is no Injustice to represent good Men labouring under
Distress, even at the last; yet the Wicked should never come off in
real Triumph, and Satisfaction: They should always, at least, be so
far Sufferers, that if Death is not inflicted on them, nor any other
external Punishment; yet they should feel the Anguish of their own
Minds, and not enjoy any secret Satisfaction in their Vices. On the
other Hand, tho' good Men, to raise our Compassion, are sometimes
put to Death; yet we should, even then, see them supported by a just
Consciousness of their own Innocence, and the Hopes of a better Life:
For tho' the Things of this World are dispos'd of in so dark and
uncertain a Manner as to make us often lament the Condition of the
best of Men; yet Poets, like Preachers, should not fail to remind the
Audience, that there certainly will be eternal Punishments and Rewards

"_The best Tragedies_ (says[444]_Vossius_) _are those where the
Characters are neither perfectly virtuous, nor extreamly wicked_."
If this Rule is to be confin'd to some of the Characters only, it is
just; but will not hold, if extended to all of them. "For the Design
of Tragedy is to raise Terror and Pity." No Doubt of it. "But when the
Wicked are unfortunate, we are not much dispos'd either to be terrify'd,
or touch'd with Compassion at it. For _who_ (as _Tully_ says) _is
ever mov'd at the Punishment of a Traitor, or a Parricide_? It should
rather raise a Sort of Satisfaction in us, to think that Justice has
overtaken those that have so well deserv'd it?" But, with Submission to
the great Names of _Cicero_ and _Vossius_, all good and generous Minds
are affected with _Compassion_ at the Execution of Rebels and Traitors;
and nothing can be more _terrible_ than the Punishment inflicted upon
some of them. "Nor should they be Characters of unblemish'd Virtue; for
the Calamities of a good Man raise a secret Indignation; and it looks
like a Sort of Inhumanity to suppose that the best of Men may be most
miserable; to which I may add, that such a Representation may have some
Influence in deterring weak and unthinking Minds from Virtue." There
might be some Reason to believe so, if there was no other Life but the
present; otherwise 'tis a weak Suspicion. Besides, is there no other
Occasion to introduce good Characters upon the Stage, but to _make them
miserable_? Has not he himself already[445] determin'd, that there are
some Tragedies which end unhappily, and others happily? What he has
farther advanc'd upon this Subject, is generally right. "Therefore the
_properest_ Characters for the Stage, are those of a middle Nature,
between the two Extreams of Virtue and Vice; whose Errors, rather than
Crimes, make them unfortunate; as _Oedipus_ in _Sophocles_: Or who are
reduc'd, by Necessity, to commit some wicked Action, it being the last
Expedient; as _Medea_ first kills her Brother _Absyrtus_, and afterwards
her own Children. Not that these Characters are always requisite;
for _Ægisthus_ and _Clytæmnestra_ are unpardonably wicked; _Electra_
is good; _Orestes_ rather virtuous, than not; _Agamemnon_ cannot be
said to be bad, for tho' he sacrifices _Iphigenia_ in _Aulis_, it is
only in Obedience to the Oracle, and against his own Inclination. Nor
can _Hercules_ be said to appear in an indifferent Light, but rather
in a good one. Wherefore we are not to conclude that those Tragedies
must be entirely condemn'd, which are not in all Respects agreeable
to _Aristotle_'s Rules; but rather, that those are the best, which
are conformable to them." The _most tragical_ (with Submission to the
learned Author) rather than the _best_, if the Rules he speaks of are
really _Aristotle_'s. For I am not satisfied, I confess, that they are
his, nor does _Vossius_ direct us where to find them[446]: Otherwise I
am entirely of his Opinion in the rest I have quoted from him; except
that I do not perfectly understand how it is possible for Men to act
wickedly, _ratione summa_[447].

[Sidenote: _Twenty-eighth Lecture._]

We are come now to the Conclusion of the Definition; in the last Clause
of which, expressing the Invention of Tragedy, after these Words,
_to raise the Passions, particularly those of Pity and Terror_; we
have the following, and _to purge the Mind from them_. It remains,
therefore, for us to shew, by what Means Tragedy _purges the Passions_,
and that by putting them in Motion, which seems to promise a quite
contrary Effect: And when that is done, just to point out whence that
Pleasure arises, which we receive from Tragedy; or from what the Causes
discoverable in the inmost Recesses of our Nature, our Minds are
delighted with Sorrow, and feel a pleasing Anguish, even from Terror and
Commiseration. To these Enquiries, I shall, at present, content myself
with a short Answer, which shall be enlarg'd hereafter, in a Work that
will be publish'd in our own Tongue, a few Months hence, and which
has already had the Honour of being encourag'd, by the Subscriptions
of several Gentlemen in this Body; to whom I here return my publick
Acknowledgments. The Work I mean, is an _English Translation of Virgil's
Æneis_: Where, in some Observations upon the fourth Book, this nice
and difficult Point shall be discuss'd at large. In the mean Time, the
Nature of my present Design makes it necessary for me just to touch upon
it here.

Are the Passions, then, to be purg'd, even by their being put in
Agitation? Yes; and why not? Bile and Phlegm, and other Humours in the
Human Body, cannot be carried off, unless they are first fermented, and
put in Motion: Nay, Humours are often expell'd by Medicines of the same
Nature and Temperament; as Acids by Acids; Bitters by Bitters; and so
of the rest. Some of the Passions, therefore, are purg'd by themselves,
as Terror, and Pity; others, again, by the Means of these two. Terror
and Pity, as I have said, have this Effect upon themselves; because
such dramatical Representations make us more accustom'd to miserable
and dreadful Objects; on which Account they become more familiar to
us, and, consequently, affect us with less Misery and Terror. "By this
Means, (says[448]_Vossius_) Tragedy is said περαινειν την των
τοιουτων παθηματων καθαρσιν, to purge and relieve the Mind from such
Perturbations; just as (to mention one Instance out of many) the View
of those Calamities, which have formerly been the Lot of great Men,
teaches others to bear their present Afflictions with Patience. To
which Purpose, _Athenæus_ has quoted some elegant Verses of _Timocles_,
at the Beginning of his sixth Book." And in another Place, says
_Vossius_, [449]"The Design of Tragedy is to strike a Terror in the
Audience, ικπληζαι, as _Polybius_ expresses it in his second
Book, where he is discoursing against _Phylarchus_ of the different Ends
which Historians and Tragic Poets have in View. The Audience feel this
Emotion from a View of the Calamity before them, and the Anguish is
still heighten'd by the Dignity of the Sufferers. But the Design of this
Emotion is to purge the Mind from those very Passions. For, as a Veteran
Soldier, or Physician, by being often conversant with Objects of real
Misery, have this Advantage, that they make no greater Impression upon
them, than they ought; so, in Tragedy, by seeing the violent Effects of
the Passions, the Mind is taught to restrain them within due Bounds.
Hence it is plain, why _Aristotle_ says, as we observ'd, that the End
of Tragedy is to _purge the Passions_; in which he differs entirely
from _Plato_, who look'd upon Tragedies as the Inflammatories of them,
_Aristotle_ as their proper Correctives."

To which I may add, that when the Passions have been long exercis'd with
imaginary Distress, their Strength is so much abated, that they have the
less left to exert upon real Misery. The Observation which _Simo_ makes
in _Terence_ about deceiving _Davus_ with the Appearance of a Wedding,
may be almost as justly applied to the Excess of Passion (for the Excess
is what we speak of, since the Passions are in themselves good).

    _Simul sceleratus Davus, si quid consili
    Habet, ut consumat nunc, cum nihil obsint doli._

Taking the Question, then, in this View, the Passions may be sometimes
purg'd by the Violence of their own Agitations: As Wind, which is
nothing else but Air in a more rapid Motion, carries off those noxious
Vapours that are mix'd with it, and would otherwise be the Occasion of

The Passions, therefore, of Terror and Pity, are purg'd by their own
Operations, and the rest by their Means. For Tragedies not only give us
a Representation of violent and licentious Love, of Anger, Ambition,
Revenge, and the like; but the Audience, by the Impressions of Terror
and Pity, are made to feel the Effects of them. Yet there seems to be
a Sort of Fallacy in this. Are not some Passions rais'd to enormous
Heights, and a wild Licentiousness, even by their being represented;
especially that of Love, which seems to be the whole Business of our
modern Tragedies. Have not such Ideas so strongly impress'd more
Influence upon the Imagination, than the poetical Medicines can carry
off, which are not applied till after the Fit is begun, only by
describing the criminal Excess, or fatal Consequence of these Passions?
As human Nature is but too prone to indulge the Extravagance of them,
may it nor be justly said,

    _Sponte sua properant, labor est inhibere volantes?_

    The Coursers of themselves will run too fast,
    The Art must be to moderate their Haste.

Are they not more inflam'd by the Representation, than corrected by the
Remedy? To these, and all other Scruples of this Sort, this seems to be
the proper Answer: That these Effects are, or are not to be expected,
just according to the Nature and Manner of the Performance. As the Case,
in Fact, is, an Audience is more likely to receive ill Impressions, than
Instruction, from modern Tragedies: It is one Thing to shew the Passions
by their _Symptoms_, (to use the Language of the Physicians) _i.e._ by
their _Appearances_ and _Effects_; another to represent and _excite_
them by all the Methods of _Insinuation_ and _Allurement_. In this the
later Tragedies, especially those of our own Country, are scandalously
faulty: Not so the ancient, nor the _Grecian_ Writers, who shame us
_Christians_, by making the Glory of Chastity their own. But Tragedies
that are form'd upon the Plan of Reason, and of Virtue, please the Mind
without corrupting it: They furnish the Imagination with agreeable
Images, without conveying any dangerous Poison under the Cover of them;
they unbend the Mind, without debasing it to Softness, and Effeminacy:
They describe and represent the Passions, as they are seated in all
the tumultuous Disorder in the Soul; but this is so far from exciting
us to the same Extravagance, that it is the sure Way to deter us from
it. There is, I own, something pleasant in such Descriptions; but the
Pleasure rises from no vicious Source, from no bad Principle; but from
the Imitation, the Elegance, and the Art of the Poet, which strikes
out such lively Images of human Nature; and, lastly, from the pleasing
Anguish which Terror and Compassion raise within us: Which suggests to
me the other Enquiry, that of accounting for the secret Causes of this

_Vossius_ seems by no Means to give a full Solution of this Difficulty.
"It may be a Question (says he[451]) how Tragedy can supply us with
Delight, which is the End of all Poetry, since it represents Sorrow and
Distress; and the Misfortunes, especially those of great Persons, can
give no Satisfaction to a virtuous Mind. In Answer to this Difficulty,
we may observe, that the Pleasure arises not from the Calamities of
others, but from the Art of the Poet. How much does the Sight of real
Dragons and Monsters fill us with Terror! but the Pictures of them
give us Pleasure, because we are entertain'd with the Skill of the
Painter. Besides, it is some Satisfaction, to be acquainted with such
Misfortunes, because they may make us more cautious and prudent." What
_Scaliger_ has said, is much to the same Purpose. "But here (says
he[452]) it may be objected, that Delight is included in the very
Definition of Poetry: But, in Tragedy, how can the Anguish of Sorrow,
Mourning and Distress, be entertaining? The Reason is, because Pleasure
does not flow from Joy only, but from acquiring any Sort of Learning.
Now the Spectator has the Benefit of making such an Acquisition; thus
we behold Pictures with Pleasure, and are delighted with the most
hideous Forms." But neither of these Answers come up to the Point:
Undoubtedly great Part of the Pleasure that is given us, arises, as we
before observ'd, from the Skill of the Poet, but from Nature a much
greater, which _Vossius_ and _Scaliger_[453] take no Notice of. Indeed,
we may learn, and our Prudence may, and ought to be improv'd by these
Representations: But the Mind, in the Pleasure it receives, has no
Regard to these prudential Considerations. The Pleasure, therefore, of
Pity, seems to arise, first, from hence, that if Things go well with us,
another Man's Miseries, plac'd in View before us, make us more sensible
of our own Happiness, and teach us to feel the Value of it: According to
_Lucretius_'s Observation, so often quoted:

    _Suave, mari magno, turbantibus æquora ventis,
    E terra magnum alterius spectare laborem;
    Non quia vexari quenquam est jucunda voluptas,
    Sed, quibus ipse malis careas, quia cernere suave est._

    'Tis pleasant, when the Seas are rough, to stand
    And view another's Danger safe at Land:
    Not 'cause he's troubled, but 'tis sweet to see
    Those Cares and Fears, from which ourselves are free.

If we are in Affliction, the Representation of the like Miseries makes
our own more supportable. In both these Cases, the Pleasure arises
from the Comparison, a Principle to which great Part of the Misery and
Felicity of human Life is owing. It is commonly said, that _no Body is
miserable but by Comparison_; and it may be as truly said, that _no Body
is happy but by Comparison_. But perhaps it may be here observ'd, that
this Solution does not reach the Difficulty: Pity has no Relation to
ourselves, but to others; I should rather think it has to both: And how
much soever we apply it to others, the Estimate is made from ourselves.
Nor is this alone sufficient to explain fully the Point in Question:
Another Cause of this Pleasure is, the Operation of the Mind upon
itself, or (what the Schools call) its _reflex Act_. It contemplates
that generous and humane Disposition, which inclines it towards others,
and is conscious that this Commiseration does, in some Measure, arise
from it. Perhaps it may be objected, that these two Principles are
not consistent, since the one is an Evidence of Self-love, the other
of a great and generous Mind: I shall take another Opportunity, as I
have said, of shewing the strict Alliance there is between these two
Principles; and that Self-love, taken in its full Latitude, ought to
be allow'd as the Source of all our Passions, and the great Principle
of human Actions[455]. As to Terror, the Delight it gives us in
Tragedy, comes from hence; at first, (so rapid is the Current of our
Ideas) we are affected with this Appearance of Distress, as if it was
real; and then, by an agreeable Turn of Thought, we recollect, that
this is all imaginary, and that there is no Danger. There are other
Circumstances[456], which I shall take no Notice of at present, nor stay
to enlarge upon those Hints I have given, because I shall examine them
more at large in the foremention'd Dissertation.

_Æschylus_, _Sophocles_, and _Euripides_, the only _Greek_ Tragic Poets
that we have now left, are well known.

If we compare the ancient and modern Writers of Tragedy, the latter
are much superior in forming and unravelling the Plot. The former
have shewn a good deal of this Contrivance in their Comedies, but in
their Tragedies very little; the Moderns in both. The chief Design
of the ancient Tragic Poets was, to raise Terror, rather than Pity;
of the Moderns, Compassion rather. The former excel in the Greatness
and Magnificence of their Sentiments; the latter in the Variety, and
passionate Parts of them. In one you have more Excellencies, in the
other fewer Faults. Among the Moderns, none deserve any Comparison but
the _French_ Writers and our own: They, indeed, are elegant, ingenious,
exact in observing Rules, and fond of imitating the Ancients; but want
Spirit, Vigour, and poetic Fire:

    _Non spirant tragicum satis, aut feliciter audent._

The _English_ are not to be charg'd with this Defect; nor does the
Impetuosity of their Genius hinder their having a Regard to the Rules of
Art. Mons. _Rapin_ allows that they excel all the Nations in _Europe_,
except his own: Whence we may be allow'd to conclude, that there is no
great Reason for that Exception.


[421] De Art. Poet. ℣ 220.

[422] Another Reason against it is, that Τρυγωδια never
signifies _Tragedy_, but _Comedy_ only. _Casaubon_, indeed, _de Satyr.
Poesi_, says, it originally comprehended both. But his Opinion depends
solely on the _Etymolog. Mag._ which is contradicted by all the other
Lexicographers. The Authorities he produces from _Aristotle_ and
_Athenæus_, make nothing for his Purpose. See _Bentley_ against _Boyle_,
p. 306, 307, 308. Which I mention the rather, because the ingenious Mr.
_Crusius_ has not in this, and some other Instances, profited by that
learned Author's Observations.

[423] See _Vossius_ Inst. Poet. L. II. c. XI.

[424] Περι Ποιητικης, cap. VI.

[425] Inst. Poet. L. II. c. XI.

[426] Besides the Chorus, the Monologues, call'd _Cantica_, were set
to Music; the Dialogues in a Kind of Recitative. See _Crusius_, _ubi
supra_, § IV.

[427] Art. Poet. ℣ 179.

[428] Ibid.

[429] Art. Poet. ℣ 89.

[430] ℣ 231.

[431] Trist. L. II. ℣ 381.

[432] C. XIV.

[433] Ep. III. L. I. ℣ 14.

[434] Act. III. Scen. I.

[435] Inst. Poet. Lib. II. c. XIV.

[436] Art. Poet. ℣ 93.

[437] Sat. VI. ℣ 635.

[438] Art. Poet. ℣ 338.

[439] Ad Aug. ℣ 210.

[440] Lib. II. c. XIII. p. 68.

[441] I am at a Loss here to know what _Vossius_ means, who seems to
intimate, that in the _Hecuba_ of _Euripides_, the Death of _Ægisthus_
added to the Terror and Distress of the Play. But as _Agamemnon_
himself is one of the Persons in the Drama, there could be no Thoughts
of revenging a Death, which had not happen'd. In the _Electra_, there
is an account of _Ægisthus_'s Death; but that Incident is not of so
much Consequence there, as _Vossius_ seems to make it in the Tragedy
he alludes to. It is therefore most probable, that what is here said
relates to the _Electra_ of _Sophocles_; where the concluding Scene
represents the meeting of _Orestes_ and _Ægisthus_, and the latter is
conducted off the Stage, only to be put to Death in the same Place where
he kill'd _Agamemnon_. A short Sentence has probably been originally
left out in _Vossius_, which would have clear'd this Matter, in Words to
this Effect; _Sic tristis exitus in Sophoclis Electra, ubi Ægisthus_,
&c. It is much our Author, who, upon many other Occasions, has censur'd
_Vossius_, should pass over a Mistake of this Nature.

[442] _Vossius_ guards against all the Inconsistence he is here charg'd
with, which is no more than this; That it is _essential_ to a Tragedy,
form'd κατα την τεχνην, to end unfortunately, but not so to
one made _ad populum_. He borrow'd his Sentiment from _Aristotle_, De
Arte Poetica, εστιν δε ουχ ἁυτη απο τραγωιδιας ἡδονη, αλλα
μαλλον της κωμωιδιας οικεια _this is not a Pleasure that arises from
Tragedy, but rather of the Nature of Comedy_, c. XIV. Ed. Heins. al.

[443] Epist. Ded. to the _Spanish Fryar_.

[444] Inst. Poet. L. II. C. XIII. p. 61.

[445] Those Tragedies that are writ according to the _nicest Rules
of Art_, he said before, upon the Authority of _Aristotle_, do NOT
end happily: And upon the same Authority he says, in _such_ Plays
the Characters are neither extremely wicked, nor perfectly virtuous.
_Aristotle_, as a Heathen, was right in his Opinion, according to
Dr. _Trapp_'s Theory; _Vossius_, who follows him throughout, is not
inconsistent. As to the Opinion in general, I will not pretend to
determine, since it is _dignus vindice nodus_.

[446] They are very easy to be found in c. XIV. of _Aristotle_'s Art
of Poetry, according to _Dan. Heinsius_'s Edition; c. XIII. in others.
All that _Vossius_ has advanc'd above, is only a Comment on that
Chapter. Does _Vossius_ say the BEST Tragedies are conformable to these
Rules? So does _Aristotle_, ἡ μεν κατα την τεχνην καλλιστη
τραγωδια εκ ταυτης της συστασεως εστι, p. m. 270, _&c._ That we are
not affected with Compassion or Terror at the Sufferings of the Wicked?
so does _Aristotle_, ουτε ελεεινον, ουτε φοβερον φαινεται το
συμβαινον, p. 269. That a middle Character is to be chosen? so does
_Aristotle_, ὁ μεταξυ αρα τουτων λοιπος, εσι δεγοιουτος, _&c._

[447] _Ratio_ in _Vossius_, is not us'd for _prudentia_, as Dr. _Trapp_
seems to take it, but in the same Sense with that noted Saying, _ratio
ultima regum_, the last Expedient, or Resort of Kings. The Instances
alledg'd illustrate this: _Medea_ is forc'd to kill her Brother
_Absyrtus_, to secure her own Escape; and her Children afterwards, to
prevent them from falling into such Hands as would execute greater
Cruelties upon them. The Circumstance of _Oedipus_, made unfortunate not
by real Crimes, is very well describ'd by Mr. _Lee_:

    To you, good Gods, I make my last Appeal,
    To clear my Virtues, or my Crimes reveal:
    If in the Maze of Fate I blindly run,
    And backward trod those Paths I ought to shun,
    Impute my Errors to your own Decree;
    My Hands are guilty, but my Heart is free.

[448] Inst. Poet. L. II. c. XI. p. 47.

[449] Inst. Poet. L. II. c. XIII. p. 65.

[450] Ter. And. Act I. Scen. I.

[451] Inst. Poet. L. II. c. XI. p. 47.

[452] Poet. Lib. III. p. 373.

[453] Both borrow their Solution from _Aristotle_, c. IV. who tells
us, that the _Pleasure_ the Mind takes is, in _learning_ the Likeness
between the Representation and the Original.

[454] Lib. II. ℣ 1.

[455] See this beautifully illustrated, in Mr. _Pope_'s _Ethic
Epistles_, III. 270, _&c._

[456] Mr. _Addison_ has treated this Subject with great Accuracy, in
_The Spectator_, Vol VI. No. 418.

                       LECTURE XXIX, _&c._
                 _Of_ EPIC, _or_ HEROIC POETRY.

We are, at length, by just Degrees, advanc'd to the last, as it is
the best, and most perfect Kind of Poetry: And no Wonder we should
finish our Dissertations here, where the utmost Bounds are set to human
Compositions. What _Scaliger_ said of _Buchanan_, tho' in a Strain of
excessive Flattery, when applied to a _Man_; may be justly true of a
_Thing_, of Epic Poetry in particular:

    _Namque ad supremum perducta Poetica culmen
      In te stat; nec quo progrediatur, habet._

    Nature's great Efforts can no farther tend,
    Here fix'd her Pillars, all her Labours end.

For Mr. _Rapin_ has very justly observ'd, An Epic, or Heroic Poem,
properly so call'd, is, undoubtedly, the greatest Work which the Soul
of Man is capable of performing. We have already observ'd, in our first
Lecture, that all the other Branches of this divine Art are summ'd up,
and included in this one: And in a Dissertation which I have written in
another Language[457], I have attempted to give a short Account of the
Reason of it. What I have now to say upon this Subject, which is so
much superior to all others, for the Excellence and Extent of it, is not
so much as the Dignity of it deserves; because I have already enter'd
into many Particulars, which belong to it, as the Nature of the Subject,
I undertook to discuss, made it necessary; particularly, when I gave a
View of Poetry in general, and the several particular Branches of it;
when I treated of the _Poetic Style, the Beauty of its Thoughts, or the
Elegance and Sublimity of them, of the Drama in general, and Tragedy_, a
Species of it. For these Sorts of Poetry have many Things in common:

                ----_Alterius sic
    Altera poscit opem res, & conjurat amice._

And several Things, which have a Relation to this Subject, I have
consider'd more at large elsewhere, in another[458]Language. What I
mean, will, perhaps, be better understood in the Progress of this
Discourse; for nothing, Gentlemen, can be more disagreeable to you and
me, than a needless Repetition of the same Things, and saying what has
been said a thousand Times over.

Mons. _Bossu_, a _French_ Gentleman, and an excellent Critic, has given
us a Discourse upon Epic Poetry, in his own Language, which is well
known; a Treatise every Way worthy of the Applause which the Learned
have bestow'd upon it. But it had been no Derogation to its Merit, if
some Parts of it had been a little more concise: For the Author, how
eminent soever for Penetration of Thought, Soundness of Judgment, and
Variety of Erudition; seems to pursue his Observations too minutely,
and gives us Distinctions without End. And too many Distinctions must
obscure, rather than explain the Meaning of a Writer. An Epic, or
Heroic Poem, may be thus defin'd: _It is a Poem express'd in Narration,
form'd upon a Story partly real, and partly feign'd; representing, in
a sublime and flowing Style, some glorious and fortunate Action, that
is distinguish'd by a Variety of great Events; to form the Morals, and
inflame the Mind with the Love of heroic Virtue._ This Definition is
more regular in Form, and more comprehensive, as to the Matter of it,
than Mons. _Bossu_'s: He, following the Method of his own Definition,
divides his whole Work into six Books; the first treats of the Nature of
an Epic Poem, which includes the Fable; the second, the Matter, or the
Action of the Poem; the third, the Form, or the Narration; the fourth,
the Moral, or the Characters of the Persons concern'd; the fifth, the
Machinery, or the Appearance and Influence which the Gods have in it;
the sixth, concludes with the Thoughts, and the Style.

He pursues each of these Articles at large, and discusses them with
a great deal of Wit, Learning, and Judgment; but the Method he has
chosen, seems not so proper. The _Nature_ of the Thing defin'd contains
all the Particulars of it, and therefore ought not to have been a
distinct Branch of his Division, which should (as is usual) have been
so form'd, as to have distinguish'd only three different Parts of the
Definition, namely, the Matter, the Form, and the End: The _Matter_
includes the Action and the Fable, under which are rang'd the Incidents,
Episodes, Characters, Morals, and Machinery; the _Form_ comprehends the
Way, or Manner of the Narration, whether by the Poet himself, or by
any of the Persons introduc'd, whose Discourses are related: To this
Branch, likewise, belongs the moving of the Passions, the Descriptions,
Discourses, Sentiments, Thoughts, Style, and Versification; and beside
these, the Similes, Tropes, Figures, and, in short, all the Ornaments
and Decorations of the Poem. The _End_ is to improve our Morals, and
increase our Virtue, which is of itself so plain and obvious, that there
is no Occasion to say much about it.

I thought it requisite just _to mention_ the several Parts of Epic
Poetry, tho' I do not design to _enlarge_ upon all of them: Because,
in the Course of these Lectures, I have already touch'd upon several
of them, as they fell in with Arguments of the same Kind; many of
them have been particularly consider'd, _viz._ the Action, and the
Fable, (for these are almost the very same, both in Epic and Dramatic
Poetry) the Morals, Characters, the different Kinds of Narration, the
Passions, Descriptions, Sentiments, the Sublimity of Style and Thought,
the Versification, Comparisons, Tropes, Figures, and all the other
Embellishments of Poetry: What remains, therefore, is only to offer some
scatter'd Observations upon those Heads, which relate more especially
to Epic Poetry, with such Remarks, as have not yet been taken Notice
of. And, after all, this will look more like the Gleanings, than the
Harvest. When I have done this, I propose to translate one Chapter of
_Bossu_ where he explains the Nature and Origine of Epic Poetry. It is a
short one, but remarkable for its Elegance and Perspicuity. And, lastly,
I shall add some Reflections upon the most celebrated Writers of Epic
Poetry, both ancient and modern.

_Aristotle_, in his Book of Poetry, the only one that is now left, has
allotted only two Chapters for the Consideration of Epic separately;
tho' he often mentions it, in shewing the Relation it bears to Tragedy:
The Reason of which is very evident, because most of what he said of
the one, might be applied to the other; and therefore, in those two
Chapters, he has done very little more than adjust the Rules of the
Drama to Epic Poetry, observing, all along, that Distinction between
these two Sons of Poetry, which the Nature of them required; and
interspersing, now and then, the Praises of _Homer_. I might (if you
would excuse the Comparison) say the same Thing of these Dissertations,
which is one Reason why I have not treated this Subject more at large.

There is the same Difference between the Fable and the Action, both
in Epic and Tragic Poetry, namely, the Action is an Achievement of
some eminent Person, which produc'd some great and memorable Event.
The Fable is the Complication of all those Incidents, Episodes, and
other Circumstances, which promote the Action, and carry it to its
proper Period, or else which serve to illustrate, or to embellish and
adorn it. Episodes are either absolutely necessary, or very requisite:
All Episodes are not Incidents[459], tho' all Incidents are Episodes;
because some Incidents are not _adventitious_ to the Action, (which,
as the Etymology of the Word implies, is essential to an Episode) but
make up the very Form and Series of it: Or (to use a more harsh and
inelegant Expression) they are not _collateral_, but _direct_ Parts of
it; these, and many other Particulars of this Sort, for the Reason so
often mention'd, will not be enlarg'd upon at present.

The Action, in Epic Poetry, must, of Necessity, be _one_, as well as
in Tragedy; tho' it may, and ought to be more comprehensive. As to
the Place of Action, there is no confining it to any certain Bounds;
Epic has certainly a much larger Range than Tragedy; but the more it
keeps within Compass, the more perfect and entire the Action seems to
be. _Aristotle_ expressly says, that as to Time, there is no fixing it
to any determin'd Period. _Homer_'s _Iliad_ does not contain above the
Space of forty-seven Days[460]; the _Odyssee_ (as _Bossu_[461], and,
after him, _Dacier_, are of Opinion) takes up eight Years, and six
Months; the _Æneid_ almost seven Years. But, in this Point, these great
Criticks seem not to have made so just a Determination; for not every
Thing that is related by the Poet, or the Persons he has introduc'd,
makes, strictly speaking, a Part of the Action, but that, only, which is
perform'd by the Hero, and his Associates, from that Place, where you
enter upon the Poem, to the Conclusion of it. For Instance; the Action
of the _Æneid_, in a strict and proper Sense, does not begin at the
building of the wooden Horse:

    ----_Fracti bello, fatisque repulsi._ Æn. II. 13.

But from the Time that _Æneas_ set Sail from one of the Ports of

    _Vix è conspectu Siculæ telluris in altum._ I. 38.

And taking the Question in this View, Mons. _Segrais_, in the Preface to
his admirable _French_ Translation of the _Æneid_, has demonstrated,
that the Action of that divine Poem falls within the Compass of one
Year. And we may observe almost the same Thing of _Homer_'s _Odyssee_.

I think _Dacier_ has mistaken the Meaning of _Aristotle_ in another
Place, tho' there, also, he follows _Bossu_; and that is, with Regard to
the Actions or Adventures of the Persons. Epic (says that Philosopher)
is μιμησις σπουδαιων, which _Dacier_ translates thus; _the
Imitation of the Actions of illustrious Persons_, not of illustrious
Actions. And perhaps that is not amiss: But I cannot be of his Opinion,
when he declares, that if the Persons are illustrious, it is of no
great Moment, whether the Actions are so, or not. He very justly
affirms, that the most glorious Actions of private Men are not a proper
Subject for an Heroic Poem; but then the other Point must be given
against him, that it is necessary, that _not the Person only, but the
Action, should be illustrious_. All the Actions, even of _Alexander_ or
_Cæsar_, _Achilles_ or _Æneas_, are surely not proper for Epic. I agree,
therefore, that _Aristotle_ must be understood to mean the Actions of
Heroes; but then he would also imply, the Actions of Heroes, as Heroes.
And, no doubt, _Horace_ was of the same Opinion, (tho' _Dacier_ brings
him in as an Evidence on his Side) when he says,

    _Res gestæ regumque, ducumque._

_i.e._ considering them as Kings and Generals; for the Words immediately
following, which _Dacier_ takes no Notice of, are,

    ----_& tristia bella._

What _Bossu_ further advances[463] in Support of his Opinion, is of
no great Moment, _viz._ that the little Enmities in the _Iliad_, and
in the _Odyssey_ the Return of an Exile into his Country, are Actions
equally suitable to private Men and Heroes. I confess, (and so does
he) that _Æneas_'s restoring his Country, as it were, and laying the
Foundation of a new Kingdom; are much more heroical: But even those
above-mention'd, as they are set off by _Homer_, with their heroical
Circumstances, could not but have been great, tho' they had been done
by private Men. In the _Iliad_, indeed, and more especially in the
_Odyssey_, some Things are related below the Majesty of Epic; as for
Instance, what the Poet tells us of _Ulysses_'s Herdsman and Swineherd;
which _Ovid_ has thought fit to copy in _Penelope_'s Epistle to that

    _Hoc faciunt custosque boum, longævaque nutrix,
      Tertius immundæ cura fidelis haræ._

    Thus the old Nurse, the Hind, and Hogherd pray,
    True Servants all, and faithful in their Way.

These, I own, are not represented as the Actions of the Hero himself;
but still are unworthy to be mention'd in an Heroic Poem. The Simplicity
of ancient Times is alledg'd, in Excuse for Things of this Nature; and,
for my Part, I am willing to admit it: But, certainly, let the Men live
in what Age you please, they stood in Need of some Excuse. _Virgil_ has
nothing of this Kind; who has a much better Right than _Homer_ to that
Encomium of _Horace_[465],

    ----_Qui nil molitur inepte._

Throughout the _Æneid_ there is nothing mean, nothing dishonourable,
nothing that is not truly heroic. As to the forming of a Hero, he is not
to be represented adorn'd with every Virtue, as a Character entirely
perfect, because there is no such Thing in Nature; but he may advance as
near as possible to that Perfection. _Ulysses_ and _Æneas_, indeed, are
at no great Distance from it; but what Sort of a Hero is _Achilles_!

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

    Impatient, rash, inexorable, proud,
    Scorning all Judges, and all Laws, but Arms.

These are heroical Virtues, no doubt! an admirable Image of a Demi-god!
But more of this in another Place.

There are two Things which chiefly distinguish Epic from Tragedy, the
_Manner of the Representation_, and the _Event_, or _Catastrophe_. As to
the former, it is certain, that Tragedy is form'd upon Action, and Epic
upon Narration. For what _Aristotle_ says of Epic,[467] ὁτι δει
τους μυθους καθαπερ ἑν ταις τραγωδιαις συνισταναι δραματικους, _that
the Fable, as in Tragedy, ought to be dramatical_, it is plain, from
the very Words, must be understood of the _Fable_, which ought to be
active, _i.e._ lively, full of Motion, and growing warmer, as it comes
nearer the Conclusion; and has no Relation to the _Form_, or _Manner of
representing_, or _imitating_, which, as every Body knows, in Heroic
Poetry is, and always was, narrative, and not dramatic.

They differ, also, in the Event, or Conclusion. In Tragedy, the
Conclusion is _generally_ unfortunate, but _never_ so in Epic; the
Reasons of which Rule are, _First_, The Examples of _Homer_, and
_Virgil_, who are, and ought te be our Guides, and Masters; even
_Achilles_, the Hero of the Poem as he is, tho' very undeservedly, comes
off with Success; and much more should _Ulysses_ and _Æneas_. In this
Particular these Writers have been universally follow'd by all, who
wou'd be thought Epic Writers; for which Reason, _Statius_ (as _Bossu_
has observ'd) rather chose to break the Unity of the Action, than make
his _Thebais_ end unfortunately, after the miserable Fratricide of
_Eteocles_ and _Polynices_. And not only the Authority of these Poets,
but the very Reason of the Thing, supplies us with Arguments for this
Rule. _First_, Altho' in Tragedy (where the Action is much shorter, more
simple, and finish'd, as it were, at a Heat) an unfortunate Conclusion
may be so far from displeasing, that it may be agreeable to the
Audience; yet in Epic, after such a Series and Variety of Adventures,
after sustaining so many, and so great Difficulties, the Reader must be
out of Humour with the Poet, unless the whole should conclude happily
at last. _2dly_, The chief End of Tragedy is, to purge the Passions,
especially those of Terror and Pity, by a short and brisk Emotion; but
the Design of Epic Poetry is, by more slow and leisurely Operations, to
remove bad Habits, and restore good ones; to subdue Vice, and recommend
Virtue; which would be done with a very ill Grace, if the Hero of the
Poem, or the Prince endu'd with heroic Virtue, (for such he either is,
or ought to be) should come to a deplorable End. _3dly_, An Epic Poem,
properly so call'd, is, and always must be written in Honour of the
Country, or the Religion of the Author; between which, and the Hero,
there is a near Relation; and therefore he ought to come off in Triumph
at last. _Bossu_ inclines to this Opinion, nay, _expressly_ determines,
that this is the _truer_ Conduct. I have ventur'd to advance a Step
further, being of Opinion, for the Reasons now alledg'd, it is not only
proper, but essential to Heroic Poetry; and, in Consequence of that
Opinion, have made a happy Conclusion Part of the Definition. The two
Differences, therefore, that we spoke of, between Tragedy and Epic, are
(as the Schools term it) _specific_ Differences, the others are only
_accidental_; those are Differences in _Nature_, these only in _Degree_,
_Extent_, or _Greatness_.

[Sidenote: _Thirtieth Lecture._]

The Moderns seem to mistake that Part of Epic and Tragedy which
contains the το θαυμασον, or the _wonderful_, confounding
the _wonderful_ with the _improbable_, and using those two Words
promiscuously. If it was really so, the το θαυμασον would
always be faulty; for that is always faulty, which is improbable.
These poetical Prodigies would be improbable, if they were represented
to be perform'd by any human Power: But the Case is quite different.
The Divine Power, and the Agency of the Gods, make all this agreeable
to Reason. Thus, in _Homer_, that the Horses should speak; and, in
_Virgil_, that the Myrtle Roots should drop Blood, is wonderful, but
not improbable: For our most ingenious Translator of _Homer_ seems
to be mistaken, when he asserts, that these were perform'd without
the Interposal of the Gods. As to the latter, _Virgil_[468] expresly
declares it to be a Prodigy:

    _Horrendum, & dictu video mirabile monstrum._

And a little after,

       [469]----_Nymphas venerabat agrestes,
    Gradivumque Patrem, Geticis qui præsidet arvis,
    Rite secundarent visus, omenque levarent._

        I implore the rural Nymphs,
    And _Mars_, who o'er the _Getic_ Field presides,
    The Omen to avert, and grant Success.

But plainer still, in what follows:

    _Monstra deum refero._

As to _Homer_, he, in express Terms, asserts, that _Juno_ made the Horse

    Αυδηεντα δο εθηκε θεα λευκωλεν Ἡρη.

    Then, strange to tell, (so _Juno_ will'd) he broke
    Eternal Silence, and portentous spoke.

In such Cases as these, whatsoever is possible, is probable: If you
determine otherwise, Poetry is depriv'd of one of its best Ornaments,
its greatest Fund of Surprize. And the same Observation extends to some
Parts of the wonderful, which are not accounted for by a divine Power:
As in the Instance of _Polyphemus_, and the other _Cyclops_, in _Homer_
and _Virgil_. That there were really Giants, is an Opinion, which not
only the Ancients believ'd, but the Scriptures have confirm'd: But
whether _such_ Giants were ever in Being, as are there describ'd, is a
Point of no Moment. Therefore _Virgil_'s Description of _Polyphemus_ is
very injudiciously censur'd by some Criticks:

       [472]----_Graditurque per æquor
    Jam medium, nec dum fluctus latera ardua tinxit._

        Then stalk'd along
    Thro' the mid Ocean; nor did yet the Waves
    Tinge his tall Sides.

And afterwards:

    _Clamorem immensum tollit; quo pontus, & omnes.
    Intramuere undæ, penitusque exterrita tellus
    Italiæ, curvisque immugiit Ætna cavernis._

    He rais'd a hideous Yell; at which the Sea
    Trembled, and all its Waves: _Italia_ quak'd;
    And _Ætna_ bellow'd thro' its winding Caves.

This is so far from being improbable, or carrying the Hyperbole too far,
that nothing can be more elegant and sublime; especially if we consider
the Nature of Fear, which always enlarges what is great, and raises a
Train of Horrors upon one another. It is, indeed, very hyperbolical; but
the Nature of the Thing describ'd, not only excuses, but demands that
Boldness. I own _Homer_ has a few Examples of the improbable; and there
is one Instance of this Kind in _Virgil_; I mean where _Camilla_ is
describ'd in those most elegant Verses,

    _Illa vel intactæ segetis per summa volaret
    Gramina, nec teneras cursu læsisset aristas;
    Aut mare per medium fluctu suspensa tumenti
    Ferret iter, celeres neque tingeret æquore plantas._

    She o'er the Tops of untouch'd Corn wou'd fly,
    Skimming along, nor hurt the tender Grain;
    Or run, supported on a swelling Wave,
    Thro' the mid Sea, nor tinge her nimble Feet.

The Lines are exceeding beautiful, and therefore the more is the Pity
that the Thing is impossible.

In my Definition of Epic Poetry, I inserted this Clause, _that it must
be form'd upon a Story partly real, and partly fictitious_: For both
these are equally necessary. In Tragedy, which is so much shorter, the
Performance may not only be excusable, but commendable, tho' the whole
Fable should be fictitious: But in a long Work, such as an Heroic Poem
is, the Reader will be tir'd, unless he has the Pleasure of finding some
Truth interwoven with the Fable. Besides, an Heroic Poet writes, or
ought to write after the Examples of _Homer_ and _Virgil_, in Honour
of the Country he belongs to, or the Religion he professes; and then it
must be necessary that he should have some Regard to popular Opinions,
or true History. This is requisite, at least to the well-being, if not
the very being of an Heroic Poem.

Little need be said about the Machinery, which, among the ancient
Heathens, was the Agency of their false Gods, and of Angels and Demons
among us _Christians_; its Beauty and Magnificence being well known. The
Dignity of an Heroic Poem would scarce be kept up without it, especially
since the το θαυμαστον or the Marvellous, depends upon it. I
shall say no more, but refer the Reader to the fifth Chapter of _Bossu_.

The Versification of Heroic Poetry is what no Body is a Stranger to,
which, among the _Greeks_ and _Romans_ consisted of Hexameters. This
Kind of Verse is so peculiar to Epic, that when it is us'd upon other
Occasions, it is commonly call'd Heroic Verse. It is needless to observe
how numerous, and sublime, and beautiful, in all Respects, it is, and
how much it has tended to ennoble those Languages: Our _English_ Verse
comes nearest to it, both in Gravity and Majesty, but at how great
Distance? which yet, is, at least, both in Strength and Energy, far
superior to the _French_ and _Italian_.

I have made these few scatter'd Reflections upon Heroic Poetry, and
propose to add no more, at present, for a Reason I have hinted before.
As to the Nature and Origin of it, I shall only offer the following
clear and succinct Account from the second Chapter of the first Book of
the learned _Bossu_.

"The most considerable Difference my Subject presents me with, between
the Style of the Ancients and Moderns, is, that our Way of Speaking is
plain, proper, and without Circumlocution; whereas theirs was full of
Mysteries and Allegories: The Truth was generally conceal'd under those
ingenious Inventions, which, for their Excellence, are call'd _Fables_,
or _Sayings_; as if there was as much Difference between those fabulous
Discourses of the Wife, and the ordinary Language of the Vulgar, as
there is between the Language proper to Men, and the Sounds which Beasts
use, to express their Passions and Sensations.

"The first Use of Fables was to speak of the divine Nature, according to
the Notions they had of it. This sublime Subject caused the first Poets
to be styl'd _Divines_, and Poetry _the Language of the the Gods_. They
divided the divine Attributes, as it were, into so many Persons, because
the Weakness of the Human Mind could not well conceive or explain so
much Power and Action in a Simplicity so great and indivisible, as that
of God is. And perhaps they were jealous of the Advantages they receiv'd
from such excellent and refin'd Learning, which they thought the vulgar
Part of Mankind were not worthy of.

"They could not tell us of the Operations of this Almighty Cause,
without speaking, at the same Time, of its Effects: So to _Divinity_
they added _Physiology_, and treated of it in the same Manner, without
quitting the Umbrages of their allegorical Expressions.

"But _Man_ being the chief, and most noble of all the Effects which God
produc'd, and nothing being so proper, or so useful to _Poets_, as this
Subject, they added it to the former, and treated of _Morality_ in the
same Way that they did of _Divinity_ and _Physicks_. And from Morality
thus discours'd of, Art has form'd that Kind of _Poem_ and Fable which
we call _Epic_.

"The Poets did the same Thing in _Morality_, which
the Divines did in _Theology_. That infinite Variety in the divine
Actions and Operations, so much above our Understanding, forc'd them,
as it were, upon dividing the single Idea of the one, and uncompounded
divine Essence, into several Persons, under the Names of _Jupiter_,
_Juno_, _Neptune_, and the rest: On the contrary, the Nature of _Moral
Philosophy_ being such as never lays down Rules for any particular
Thing, has oblig'd the _Epic Poets_ to unite in one single idea, in one
and the same Person, and into one Action, which appear'd extraordinary,
all that look'd like it in different Persons, and in different Actions,
which might be thus contain'd as so many _Species_ under their _Genus_.

"Therefore, when _Aristotle_ says[475], φιλοσφωτερον, και σπουδαιοτερον
ποιησις ιστοριας ισιν, _That Poetry is more
philosophical, and more serious, than History_, he says this, not so
much to magnify the Excellence of this Art, as to explain the Nature of
it. _Poetry_, says he, _teaches Morality, not by a bare Recital, as an
Historian, who tells us what_ Alcibiades _did, or suffer'd_, (which is
_Aristotle_'s own Instance;) _but by proposing all that a Person, let
the Poet call him by what Name he pleases, ought either necessarily,
or most probably to have said, or done, upon such an Occasion_. It
is in this Manner, that it lays down either the unhappy Consequences
of ill-judg'd Designs, and wicked Actions; or else the Rewards of
good Actions, and the Satisfaction one receives from a Design form'd
by Virtue, and conducted by Prudence. Thus in _Epic_, according to
_Aristotle_, let the Names be what they will, yet the _Persons_ and the
_Actions_ are feign'd, _allegorical_, and _universal_, not _historical_
and _particular_.[476] Ἡ μεν Ποιησις μαλλον τακαθολου, ἡ δ'
ιστορια τα καου ἑκαστον; λεγει, i.e. _Poetry represents Things rather
in general, but History in particular._ _Horace_ is likewise of the same
Mind, who is not satisfy'd with saying, that Poets teach _Morality_ full
as well as _Philosophers_; but prefers _Homer_ to all of them:

    _Qui quid sit pulchrum, quid turpe, quid utile, quid non,
    Plenius, ac melius Chrysippo, & Crantore dicit._

    Who has what's base, what's decent, just and good,
    Clearer than _Crantor_, or _Chrysippus_ show'd.

"The Reason why _Poets_ excel _Philosophers_ in this Respect is, that
every Sort of _Poem_ is an _Imitation_. Now Imitation is extremely
natural, and pleases every Body; and therefore nothing is more likely
to engage the Passions, and the Attention, of an Audience. Besides,
Imitation is Instruction by Examples, and Examples are the most proper
Methods of Persuasion; because they prove that such or such a Thing is
feasible. In short, Imitation is so much the Essence of Poetry, that the
Art it self, as _Aristotle_ informs us, owes its very Original to it.
And _Horace_ recommends it very particularly to the Poet, which he is

    _Respicere exemplar vitæ, morumque, jubebo
    Doctum imitatorem, & veras hinc ducere voces._

    Those are the likeliest Copies, which are drawn
    By th' Original of Human Life.

"But tho' the _Poets_ become _moral Philosophers_, they do not cease
to be _Divines_; on the contrary, the _Morality_ they treat of, does
indispensably oblige them to have a Vein of Theology run thro' all their
Works: Because the Knowledge, the Fear, and the Love of God, in a Word,
Piety and Religion are the chief, and most solid Foundations or the
other Virtues, and of all _Morality_.

The _Presence of the Deity_, and the Superintendence which so august a
Cause has over the Action, obliges the _Poet_ to represent this _Action_
as great, important, and manag'd by _Kings_ and _Princes_. Hence

    _Res gestæ regumque, ducumque._

    To write of great Commanders, and of Kings.

Upon the same Account he is oblig'd to think and speak in an elevated
Way, above the Vulgar, and in a Style that may, in some Measure, keep up
the Character of the divine Persons he introduces. To this End serves
the poetical and figurative Expression, and the Majesty of _Heroic
Verse_. As _Horace_ again:

    ----_Cui mens divinior atque os
    Magna sonaturum, des nominis hujus honorem._

    No, he alone can claim that Name, that writes
    With Fancy high, and bold and daring Flights.

"But all this being divine and marvellous, may quite ruin all
_Probability_, without which an Action is not likely to persuade.
Therefore the Poet should take special Care, as to this Point, since his
chief Business is to instruct Men, and _form them to Virtue_.

"To all this the _Poets_ are oblig'd, by the very Nature of these
Things, which they propose for the Subjects of their Poems and
Instructions. The Manner of teaching them usefully and methodically, has
likewise oblig'd them to add several other Rules.

"Epic Poetry is directed to the _Morals_ and the _Habits_, rather than
the _Passions_. These rise on a sudden, and their Heat is soon over;
but the _Habits_ are more calm, and come on, and go off more leisurely:
Therefore the _Epic Action_ cannot be contain'd in one single Day, as
the _Dramatic_. It must have a longer, and more just Space allow'd it,
than the Action of _Tragedy_, which is directed to the _Passions_.

"This Distinction makes _Tragedy_ and _Epic_ differ very much: The
Violence of _Tragedy_ requires a great deal more lively and brisk
Representation than a bare _Recital_. It is all Action, the Poet never
speaks, as he does in _Epic_, where there are no Actors.

"But if, in this Respect, _Epic_ is inferior to _Tragedy_, yet it is
superior both to _Philosophy_ and _History_; because it is a great deal
more active than bare _Philosophy_, and the Recitals of _History_: And
tho' it does not, like _Tragedy_, represent the Action to the Eyes
of the Spectators, yet it ought, more frequently than _History_, to
break off the Narration, by intermixing the Speeches of the Persons
represented. This _Aristotle_ directs, when he says, that _the Narration
of Epic ought to be dramatic_, _i.e._ active." [I differ from the
learned Author in the Meaning of this Passage, and agree with _Dacier_,
as I said before: But it is a Matter of no great Moment. The Speeches
of the Persons may be _included_ in this Rule of _Aristotle_'s; but it
seems more applicable to the _Fable_, which is the _Matter_ of the
Poem, than to the _Form_, which is the Way of representing it. But
_Bossu_ adds,]

"_Epic_ has, likewise, its _Passions_, which give it no small Advantage
over _Philosophy_ and _History_; but in this it is still inferior to
_Tragedy_: For tho' it has a Mixture of all the _Passions_, yet _Joy_
and _Admiration_ are the most essential to it. These, indeed, contribute
most towards the making us wise Men: _Admiration_ and _Curiosity_ are
the Cause of _Sciences_; and nothing engages the Mind so forcibly as
_Pleasure_; so that these two Passions must never be wanting in a Work
invented with a View to teach us what we are indispensably oblig'd to

"To conclude: Because Precepts ought to be concise, that they may be
more easily understood, and more strongly retain'd in the Memory; and
because nothing can be more effectual to this Purpose than the proposing
one single Idea, and collecting all Things so well together, that they
may be present to the Mind at once; the _Poets_ have reduc'd all to
one single Action, under one and the same Design, and in a Body whose
Members and Parts should be homogeneous. Hence arise two of _Horace_'s
Rules: The one,

    _Quicquid præcipies, esto brevis, ut cito dicta
    Percipiant animi dociles, teneantque fideles._

    Let all your Precepts be succinct and clear,
    That ready Wits may comprehend them soon.

the other,

    _Denique sit quod vis simplex duntaxat, & unum._"

    Be what you will, so you be still the same.

This is _Bossu_'s Account of the Origin and Nature of Epic Poetry.

[Sidenote: _Thirty-first Lecture._]

Under this Head there is very little Room to make any Comparison
between the Ancients and the Moderns; for these latter Ages have scarce
produc'd any Thing that deserves the Name of an Epic Poem. We know
our Countryman, Mr. _Dryden_'s Judgment, about a Poem of _Chaucer_'s,
truly beautiful, indeed, and worthy of Praise; namely, that it was not
only equal, but even superior to the _Iliad_ and _Æneid_: But we know,
likewise, that his Opinion was not always the most accurate, nor form'd
upon the severest Rules of Criticism. What was in Hand, was generally
most in Esteem; if it was uppermost in his Thoughts, it was so in his
Judgment too. I am sure, the Opinion is too monstrous to deserve a
serious Refutation. But even among the Ancients themselves, if you
except _Homer_ and _Virgil_, you will scarce find one that is truly an
Epic Poet. The heroic Laurels are due to them only; nor has the World
produc'd _two more such Heroes_, no, nor one. How far a Comparison is to
be made between this immortal Pair, and what, in my Opinion, is to be
determin'd, _with Regard to their different Merits_, I have declar'd at
large in another Place[483], and given some Reasons for my Sentiments;
namely, that _Virgil_ is much indebted to _Homer_; but that _Homer_'s
Works are inferior to _Virgil_'s.

The Poems of _Lucan_ and _Silius Italicus_, are rather historical, than
heroic; their Actions are _real_, not _fictitious_; _particular_, not
_universal_: But partake, in some Measure, of the Nature of Epic; as
they are Poems of a considerable Length, express'd in Narration, and
written in Heroic Verse; each of them have their Heroes; the Thoughts
and Language are sublime, or they would have us think so, and there
are some Degrees of Fiction interwoven with Truth. They are reducible,
therefore, to this Class, and their Authors have a Right to be mention'd
in it. _Lucan_, however liable to Censure in some Things, is, upon the
whole, far from being a mean Writer, and deserves a very considerable
Character. He is sometimes harsh, and over-stoical; sometimes cold,
and too nearly allied to Prose; and, again, on the other Hand, he is
swelling, bombast, and affects a Way of Expression ridiculously lofty;
and yet, in many Things, very elegant and sublime, and full of an heroic
Spirit. As to _Silius Italicus_, _Pliny_, in one of his Epistles[484],
has given the following Character: _Scribebat carmina majore cura, quam
ingenio. Virgilii natalem, religiosius quam suum, celebrabat; Neapoli
maxime, ubi monumentum ejus adire, ut templum, solebat_ "He wrote
Verses with more Pains, than Genius; he observ'd _Virgil_'s Birth-Day
more religiously than his own, especially at _Naples_, where he us'd to
frequent his Monument as if it had been a Temple." And since he lov'd
_Virgil_ so passionately, that he almost ador'd him, it is strange
he should not have come nearer to his Style. The same may be said of
_Lucan_. How much unlike to _Virgil_'s! It is, also, as evident, that
_Statius_ rather admir'd _Virgil_ than imitated him. He therefore says
very justly,

    ----_Nec tu divinam Æneida tenta._

But what follows is not so well:

    _Sed longe sequere, & vestigia semper adora._

For this, with an Appearance of Modesty, insinuates, that he follow'd
_Virgil_: But at how great a Distance! with what unequal Steps! How
unlike is his Way of Writing, and Thinking! But even _Statius_ is not
without his Beauties, tho' his Poem is not properly Epic; for the Heroes
of his _Thebais_ are too much upon a Level, no one is superior to the
rest; and, besides, there are two Actions, one unfortunate; and the
other happy. _Tasso_ is, indeed, truly heroic, and has justly attain'd
no small Esteem. But, to pass by other Particulars, he is too full of
Magic, Enchantments, Machinery, and aerial Personages. Of the same Fault
our Countryman _Spencer_ is still more remarkably guilty, who treads
almost perpetually upon enchanted Ground, and the greatest Part of whose
Characters are Fairies, Ghosts, Magicians and Giants. He is all over
Allegory, pursues not one Action but several, and such as have so little
Relation to each other, that it is difficult to see any Connection.
But, in other Respects, this most ingenious Writer was born a Poet, if
any one ever was. If we consider his Versification, and especially his
Copiousness of Invention, he is justly celebrated, among the Poets of
the first Class.

If _Milton_ did not write an Heroic Poem, properly so call'd, yet he
certainly wrote an excellent one, such as deserves, or rather is above
all Commendation. He is no slavish Imitator of _Homer_ and _Virgil_,
he opens a Way entirely new, and entirely his own: In Fruitfulness
of Invention, Sublimity of Genius, in the Weight and Lustre of his
Thoughts and Words, and, lastly, in the Perfection of his Judgment,
he is, perhaps, equal to either of them, tho' he wrote in a Language
much inferior to both theirs, especially _Homer_'s; and is particularly
much less correct than _Virgil_. Let other Moderns imitate _Milton_,
by imitating _Homer_ and _Virgil_ less: Let them improve and form
themselves, as much as possible, by their Genius, their Judgment, and
their Way of Writing and Thinking: To do this, is to imitate; but to
transcribe their Poems, or, at least, a great Part of them, into their
own, is not Copying, but Stealing.

    _Nec circa vilem, patulumque moraberis orbem
    Nec verbum verbo curabis reddere, fidus

Nor think it essential to an Heroic Poem, to describe the Anger of some
great General, the Return of a King into his own Country, a Colony
transplanted from one Region to another, the Description of _Æolia_, and
the Winds, the solemn Celebration of Funeral Games, a Descent into Hell,
or a Hero furnish'd with celestial Armour: But rather avoid these, and
many other Subjects, which are treated of by _Homer_ and _Virgil_; and
for that very Reason, because they are so. Whoever attempts an Heroic
Poem, must form a new Plan, and guard against the Stroke of _Horace_'s

    _O imitatores, servum pecus._

Let him strike out with that noble and daring Spirit of _Lucretius_;

    _Avia Pieridum peragro loca, nullius ante
    Trita solo; juvat integros accedere fontes,
    Atque haurire; juvatque novos decerpere flores,
    Insignemque meo capiti petere inde coronam,
    Unde prius nulli velarunt tempora Musæ._

    I feel, I rising feel poetic Heats,
    And now inspir'd, trace o'er the Muses Seats,
    Untrodden yet: 'Tis sweet to visit first
    Untouch'd and Virgin Streams, and quench my Thirst.
    I joy to crop fresh Flow'rs, and get a Crown,
    For new and rare Inventions of my own.
    So noble, great, and gen'rous, the Design,    }
    That none of all the mighty tuneful Nine      }
    E'er grac'd a Head with Laurels like to mine. }

Besides the Writers I have mention'd, there are many others of an
heroical Genius, tho' they never wrote an Heroic Poem. Among the
_Latius_, _Claudian_, a Writer of the middle Age, is the most eminent;
upon whose Beauties and Defects I have already made a few Observations:
And among those of our own Country, the late Mr. _Dryden_; besides
others now alive, who, for that Reason, cannot so well be mention'd
without Offence.


I have now gone through the several Particulars I propos'd to treat of
in the Course of these Lectures: What I have too lightly touch'd upon,
or entirely omitted, I leave to my Successors to discuss more fully,
who will supply my Defects, and correct my Errors. Nothing now remains,
but to return to you, Gentlemen, my heartiest Thanks, and to testify my
sincerest Wishes for your Prosperity. I should quit this Office with
more Regret, did I not consider, that, at any Time, to have receiv'd
Marks of your Favour, will for ever remain to me those of Honour.
Nothing is in my Power to return for them, but my most ardent Prayers
for the Welfare of this University, that as it daily receives fresh
Ornaments in Buildings, so it may make new Acquisitions (if there is
Room for any) in Learning and Virtue, and in its Reputation for both;
and that you may be as secure from the Attempts, as you are above the
Reproaches of your Enemies. And, surely, unless we are much deceiv'd
in our Hopes, and our Wishes biass us with too fond Credulity, we may
esteem as fresh Omens of our Happiness, those numerous Towers that
rise sacred to the Muses, even in the most difficult Times; insomuch,
that if we retire from the University but a few Months, we are almost
Strangers to it upon our Return, and verify the old Saying, tho' from
a very different Reason, _Oxonium quærimus in Oxonio_, we seek for
_Oxford_ within her own Walls. It is amazing, then, that Men, who boast
of the greatest Zeal for their Country, should hate and despise that
which is the distinguishing Ornament of it. It would be blind Partiality
in us, if, in other Respects, we pretended to excel the whole Earth.
Brave, as we are, yet so are the _French_, so the _Germans_. Are we
powerful by Sea, and rich in Commerce? the _Dutch_ are also: And it
would be the Height of Arrogance, to claim to ourselves the Laurels, in
Point of Learning and Ingenuity. But that the _English_ Universities
are not to be parallel'd, is the Confession and Admiration of all the
World: Even one of them, the less of the Two, I need not say equals, but
exceeds all Foreign Ones together. This Glory is our peculiar Property,
which yet some endeavour to extinguish, who would be thought strenuous
Defenders of their Country. If you ask me the Reason for it, I know of
none but what the old Saying in _Terence_ supplies me with, _Mala mens,
malus animus_, Bad Principles produce bad Designs. To such I wish true
Repentance. As to myself, Words are too weak to express the Sentiments
of my Heart for that Candour and Affection with which you have honour'd
me with your Attendance, have pardon'd my Mistakes, and accepted my weak
Endeavours. May the _Oxford_ Muses flourish, for ever flourish, more
and more; and may you, the Encouragers and Promoters of them, go on to
promote them, and, by your Increase in Poetry, and all other Arts and
Sciences, in Virtue and Learning, afford to Poets perpetual Subjects of


_Addenda & Corrigenda._

Page 15. _l._ 3. _Vossius_'s Definition is short as it makes the Essence
of Poetry consist solely in Imitation.] _Add this Note_, The Author of
_Observations on Poetry occasioned by the late Poem on Leonidas_, p. 71.
finds the same Fault with _Aristotle_; who "by this, says he, excludes
all descriptive Poetry; and accordingly he (_Aristotle_) directs the
epic poet to introduce his characters, and write in dialogue, as much
as possible, for this reason, that when the poet speaks himself, he
is not an imitator. _Plato_ has more justly distinguish'd, that some
kinds of Poetry consist wholly in imitation, as tragedy and comedy;
some in narration only, where the poet speaks in his own person, as
odes; whereas some, as the epic, contain a mixture of both." For my
Part, I cannot think it any great Violence put upon Words to allow that
_Description_ or _Narration_ is _Imitation_. It is certain _Aristotle_
uses the Word _Imitation_ in this Sense, c. 3. και ναρ ιν τοις
αυ τοις και αιτα μιμε αθ αι ισιν, οτι μεν απαγρελλο, η ἑτιρον τε
γιγιομενσις, _A Poet may imitate the same Things either by Narration,
or by assuming the Character of some other Person_: And c. 22, 23. he
distinguishes περι της οιτε ορθτειν μιμησιως], ανδ [Γρεεκ:
περι της δραγεαστικης, and περι της δραγεαστικης,
between _Dramatic Imitation_, and _Narrative_:
and c. 2. & 4. he mentions the _Dithyrambics_ and _Nomi_, Hymns in
Honour of _Bacchus_ and _Apollo_, and other Odes, as Instances of
Poetic Imitation. Now, I need not observe, that if in these Hymns and
Odes, Actions, as _Dacier_ contends, were _imitated_ by Description or
Narration, other Things may likewise. Nay Plato himself has omitted
_descriptive_ Poetry, as well as _Aristotle_ if it is not included under

But still, if it is, the ingenious Author will not allow it to be
_Imitation_, upon the Authority of _Plato_. Now as to _Plato_, _Dan.
Heinsius_ long since observed, that tho', with Dr. _Pemberton_, he
sometimes speaks of _Imitation_ as a _Species_ of Poetry, yet at other
times he agrees with _Aristotle_, in making it the _Genus_. In short,
these two Philosophers are agreed, that All Poetry is Imitation; but
Dramatic Imitation, or that which is supported by Dialogue, is more
peculiarly so.

Next let us see if Dr. _Pemberton_'s own Account of Poetry will not
lead us to think _Description_ to be _Imitation_. He observes, p.
75. _That it is the peculiar Office of the Poet_, in Opposition to
the Prose-writer, _to exhibit continually sensible_ IMAGES
_of things_. Now _Images_ are surely _Likenesses_ or _Imitations_;
and whether these are the genuine Images of the Poet's Subject, or
adventitious ones fetch'd in to illustrate it, still 'tis all Imagery:
_Imitation_ is his distinguishing Character. Again, p. 98. he observes,
_The language of comedy receives its poetic Air not by departing from
the ordinary forms of speech, but by keeping more close to them_.
So that where we almost lose Sight of Poetry, the Traces of it are
preserved by Imitation. Upon the whole 1. we see _Plato_ and _Aristotle_
use Imitation in a larger Sense than Dr. _Pemberton_ was aware of; and
2. the Doctor naturally falls into the Sentiments of both, while he
opposes one of them.

_Vossius_, it seems, and _Dacier_ go farther, and suppose that
_Aristotle_ makes _Poetry consist in the Imitation of_ ACTIONS
_only_. But the Words, c. 2. as Dr. _Trapp_ observes, very well bear
another Sense, ιπειδη μιμενται ον μιμουμενοι πορθοντας, &c.
_Since Imitators_, or Poets _imitate Actions_, i.e. as well as other
things; or possibly thus, joining ποθιτδοιδας to μιμουμενοι,
_since those that imitate Actions are Imitators,--such
Actions_, he goes on, _must be either good or bad_.

As to _Dacier_, I cannot well make him consistent with himself:
_Aristotle_, says he, c. 2. rem. 1. _lays it down as an undoubted
Principle, that_ ALL _those that imitate, imitate Actions; and
indeed it is so, for there is nothing else but Actions which can be
imitated_. And yet upon _Aristotle_'s saying that Music is Imitation, he
observes, that _whatever employs means to shew and represent_ ANY
SUBJECT _as naturally as may be, whether it_ DOES REALLY
EXIST _or no, is called Imitation_. Does he by _Actions_ above mean
_Effects_? _Aristotle_, it must be own'd, instances in Actions as the
Objects of Poetic Imitation, being to treat of Epic and Dramatic Poetry
particularly. But he ascribes the Rise of Poetry in general to the
Desire of Imitation, and the Pleasure we take in comparing the Likeness
of Copies with their Originals. And this Faculty surely is exercised not
only in viewing the Description of a Man, but of a Mountain; not only in
representing the Conflicts of Passion, but

    _A painted Meadow and a purling Stream._

_P. 154. l. 10, 11, r. thus_

    _Tartuffe_ in _English_ freely I resign;
    _The Excrement is his, the Food was mine._

_P. 303. l. 2. add this Note_, I make no Doubt, but for ιπαγγελιας
we should read with _Sylburgius_ απαγγελιας the
former being never used for _Narration_, the latter more than once by
_Aristotle_, as c. 2. ὁτε μεν απαγγελλοντα, and c. 6.
και απαγγελιας ειναι

_P. 333. Note † change thus_] _Bossu_ distinguishes very
clearly, and to the same Purpose with Dr. _Trapp_, between the Narration
the Poet himself makes, and that which he represents the Hero to make.
In the former View, the Action of the _Odyssee_ takes up Eight Years
and six Months, and the _Æneid_ almost seven Years. But in the latter,
_Bossu_ reduces the _Odyssey_ to fifty eight Days; and the _Æneis_
either to a Year and somewhat more, or else to a single Campaign,
beginning where Dr. _Trapp_ does. See _Bossu_ Book II. ch. xviii. and
Book III. c. xii.


[457] Preface to my _English_ Translation of _Virgil_'s _Æneis_.

[458] Ibid.

[459] The Reader will understand this Distinction much better by the
Examples which the Author has mention'd in his Preface to the _Æneis_;
and I shall, for that Reason, take the Liberty to transcribe some of
them. "The Storm, in the first Book of _Virgil_, driving the Fleet on
the Coast of _Carthage_, is an Incident, not an Episode, because the
Hero himself, and the whole Body of his Forces, are concern'd in it; and
so it is a direct, and not a collateral Part of the main Action. The
Adventures of _Nisus_ and _Euryalus_, in the 9th Book, are Episodes, not
Incidents; _i.e._ not direct Parts of the main Action."

[460] Thus prov'd by _Bossu_: The _Iliad_ begins with the Plague, which
lasts ten Days. The Poet allows for the Recovery of the _Grecians_ 10,
Battles that follow 5, Funeral Rites of _Patroclus_ 11, and of _Hector_
11; in all, 47.

[461] The _Odyssey_, according to the same Author, Book III. c. XII.
takes up 58 Days. And the _Æneis_ is reduc'd within half a Year, or
a single Campaign, beginning where Dr. _Trapp_ does. I know not how
_Bossu_ came to be so misrepresented.

[462] Art. Poet. ℣ 73.

[463] Book II. c. XIX.

[464] ℣ 103.

[465] De Art. Poet. ℣ 121.

[466] Ibid. ℣ 121.

[467] Περι ποιητικης, cap. XXIII.

[468] Æn. L. III. ℣ 26.

[469] ℣ 34.

[470] ℣ 59.

[471] Il. XIX. ℣ 407.

[472] Æn. III. 664.

[473] Ibid. 672.

[474] Æn. VII. 808.

[475] Περι ποιητικης, c. IX.

[476] Ibid.

[477] Lib I. Ep. II. 3.

[478] De Art. ℣ 317.

[479] ℣ 73.

[480] Lib. I. Sat. IV. 43.

[481] De Art. Poet. ℣ 335.

[482] Ibid. 23.

[483] See p. 45. of the Author's Preface to the _Æneis_, where the
Comparison between these two Poets is drawn out at large. As the
Case is commonly stated, _Homer_ excell'd in _Fire_ and _Invention_,
and _Virgil_ in Judgment; but Dr. _Trapp_ does not allow _Homer_'s
Superiority in any Respect. "It is a great Error (says he) to think that
all Fire consists in quarrelling and fighting, as do three Parts in four
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;
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 Horror, and make us weep with Pity, as well as kindle us
with Indignation, Love, or Glory. Not that _Virgil_ is deficient in that
Sort of Fire, the fierce, the rapid, the fighting."

Mr. _Pope_'s Sentiments of these two Poets are somewhat different; the
Reader shall have the Pleasure of comparing them; "This Fire (says he)
is discern'd in _Virgil_, but discern'd as thro' a Glass, reflected, and
more shining than warm, but every where equal and constant: In _Lucan_,
and _Statius_, it bursts out in sudden, short, and interrupted Flames:
In _Milton_ it glows like a Furnace, kept 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." _Pope_'s
Translation of _Homer_'s _Iliad_. Dr. _Trapp_ criticizes on this Passage.

[484] Lib. III. Ep. VII.

[485] Thebaid. L. X.

[486] De Art. Poet. 132.

[487] Lib. I. Ep. XIX. 19.

[488] Lucret. IV. 1.

_Just Published._

Selectæ e profanis Scriptoribus Historiæ, quibus admista sunt varia
honeste vivendi Præcepta, ex iisdem Scriptoribus deprompta. Editio

Mons. _Rollin_, in his _Method of Studying the Belles Lettres_, Vol.
I, p. 84, concludes a very advantageous Character of this Work in the
following Words:

"I know of no Book, which may be more useful, and at the same time
more agreeable to Youth. It contains excellent Principles of Morality,
collected with great Order and Judgment, with very affecting Passages of
History upon every Article."

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