Puslapio vaizdai

acteristical part. Here he is without a rival. His lively and spirited exhibition of characters, is, in a great measure, owing to his being so dramatic a writer, abounding everywhere with dialogue and conversation. There is much more dialogue in Homer than in Virgil; or, indeed, than in any other poet. BLAIR.


My observations, hitherto, have been made upon the Iliad only. It is necessary to take some notice of the Odyssey also. Longinus's criticism upon it is not without foundation, that Homer may, in this poem, be compared to the setting sun, whose grandeur still remains, without the heat of his meridian beams. It wants the vigour and sublimity of the Iliad; yet, at the same time, possesses so many beauties, as to be justly entitled to high praise. It is a very amusing poem, and has much greater variety than the Iliad; it contains many interesting stories and beautiful descriptions. We see everywhere the same descriptive and dramatic genius, and the same fertility of invention that appears in the other work. It descends indeed from the dignity of gods, and heroes, and warlike achievements; but, in recompense, we have more pleasing pictures of ancient manners. stead of that ferocity which reigns in the Iliad, the Odyssey presents us with the most amiable images of hospitality and humanity; entertains us with many a wonderful adventure, and many a landscape of nature; and instructs us by a constant vein of morality and virtue, which runs through the poem.





VIRGIL possesses beauties which have justly drawn the admiration of ages, and which, to this day, hold the balance in equilibrium between his fame and that of Homer. principal and distinguishing excellency of Virgil, and which, in my opinion, he possesses beyond all poets, is tenderness. Nature had endowed him with exquisite sensibility; he felt every affecting circumstance in the scenes he describes; and, by a single stroke, he knows how to reach the heart. This, in

an epic poem, is the merit next to sublimity; and puts it in an author's power to render his composition extremely interesting to all readers.

The chief beauty, of this kind, in the Iliad, is the interview of Hector with Andromache. But, in the Æneid, there are many such. The second book is one of the greatest master-pieces that ever was executed by any hand; and Virgil seems to have put forth there the whole strength of his genius, as the subject afforded a variety of scenes, both of the awful and tender kind. The images of horror, presented by a city burned and sacked in the night, are finely mixed with pathetic and affecting incidents. Nothing, in any poet, is more beautifully described than the death of old Priam; and the family-pieces of Eneas, Anchises, and Creusa, are as tender as can be conceived. In many pas,

sages of the Æneid the same pathetic spirit shines; and they have been always the favourite passages in that work. The fourth book, for instance, relating the unhappy passion and death of Dido, has been always most justly admired, and abounds with beauties of the highest kind. The interview of Æneas with Andromache and Helenus, in the third book; the episodes of Pallas and Evander, of Nisus and Euryalus, of Lausus and Mezentius, in the Italian wars, are all striking instances of the poet's power of raising the tender emotions. For we must observe, that though the Æneid be an unequal poem, and, in some places, languid, yet there are beauties scattered through it all; and not a few, even in the last six books. The best and most finished books, upon the whole, are the first, the second, the fourth, the sixth, the seventh, the eighth, and the twelfth. BLAIR.

30.-ON THE COMPARATIVE MERIT OF HOMER AND VIRGIL. UPON the whole', as to the comparative' merit of these two great princes of epic poetry, Homer and Virgil', the former' must, undoubtedly, be admitted to be the greater genius'; the latter' to be the more correct' writer. Homer was an original' in his art, and discovers both the beauties' and the defects' which are to be expected in an original' author, compared with those who succeed' him; more boldness', more nature' and ease', more sublimity' and force'; but

greater irregularities' and negligences' in composition. Virgil' has, all along, kept his eye upon Homer'; in many` places, he has not so much imitated', as he has literally translated' him. The description of the storm', for instance, in the first' Æneid, and Æneas's speech' upon that occasion, are translations from the fifth book of the Odyssey'; not to mention almost all the similes' of Virgil, which are no other than copies of those of Homer'. The preeminence in invention', therefore, must, beyond doubt, be ascribed to Homer. As to the pre-eminence in judgment', though many critics are disposed to give it to Virgil', yet, in my' opinion, it hangs doubtful'. In Homer', we discern all the Greek vivacity; in Virgil', all the Roman stateliness'. Homer's' imagination is by much the most rich and copious'; Virgil's' the most chaste and correct'. The strength of the former' lies, in his power of warming the fancy'; that of the latter', in his power of touching the heart'. Homer's' style is more simple and animated'; Virgil's' more elegant and uniform. The first' has, on many occasions, a sublimity' to which the latter never' attains; but the latter', in return, never sinks below a certain degree of epic dignity', which cannot so clearly be pronounced of the former'. Not, however, to detract from the admiration due to both' these great poets, most of Homer's` defects may reasonably be imputed, not to his genius', but to the manners of the age' in which he lived; and for the feeble passages of the Æneid', this' excuse ought to be admitted, that the Eneid' was left an unfinished' work. BLAIR.


AN Alehouse-keeper near Islington, who had long lived at the sign of the French King, upon the commencement of the last war pulled down his old sign, and put up that of the Queen of Hungary. Under the influence of her red face and golden sceptre, he continued to sell ale, till she was no longer the favourite of his customers; he changed her, therefore, some time ago, for the King of Prussia, who 'may probably be changed, in turn, for the next great man that shall be set up for vulgar admiration.

In this manner the great are dealt out, one after the other,

to the gazing crowd. at one of them, he is taken in, and another exhibited in his room, who seldom holds his station long; for the mob are ever pleased with variety.

When we have sufficiently wondered

I must own I have such an indifferent opinion of the vulgar, that I am ever led to suspect that merit which raises their shout; at least I am certain to find those great, and sometimes good men, who find satisfaction in such acclama tions, made worse by it; and history has too frequently taught me, that the head which has grown this day giddy with the roar of the million, has the very next been fixed upon a pole.

We have seen those virtues which have, while living, retired from the public eye, generally transmitted to posterity, as the truest objects of admiration and praise. Perhaps the character of the late Duke of Marlborough may one day be set up, even above that of his more-talked-of predecessor; since an assemblage of all the mild and amiable virtues are far superior to those vulgarly called the great ones. I must be pardoned for this short tribute to the memory of a man, who, while living, would as much detest to receive any thing that wore the appearance of flattery, as I should to offer it.

There is scarce a village in Europe, and not one university, that is not furnished with its little great men. The head of a petty corporation, who opposes the designs of a prince, who would tyrannically force his subjects to save their best clothes for Sundays; the puny pedant, who finds one undiscovered quality in the polypus, or describes an unheeded process in the skeleton of a mole, and whose mind, like his microscope, perceives nature only in detail; the rhymer, who makes smooth verses, and paints to our imagination, when he should only speak to our hearts; all equally fancy themselves walking forward to immortality, and desire the crowd behind them to look on. The crowd takes them at their word. Patriot, philosopher, and poet, are shouted in their train. "Where was there ever so much merit seen? no times so important as our own! ages, yet unborn, shall gaze with wonder and applause!" To such music the important pigmy moves forward, bustling and swelling, and aptly compared to a puddle in a storm.

I have lived to see generals who once had crowds hallooing after them wherever they went, who were bepraised by newspapers and magazines, those echoes of the voice of the vulgar, and yet they have long sunk into merited obscurity, with scarce even an epitaph left to flatter. A few years ago the herring-fishery employed all Grub-street; it was the topic in every coffee-house, and the burden of every ballad. We were to drag up oceans of gold from the bottom of the sea; we were to supply all Europe with herrings upon our own terms. At present we hear no more of all this. We have fished up very little gold that I can learn ; nor do we furnish the world with herrings as was expected. Let us wait but a few years longer, and we shall find all our expectations a herring-fishery. GOLDSMITH.


'Tis not for thee, O man! to murmur at the will of the Almighty. When the thunders roar, the lightnings shine on the rising waves, and the black clouds sit on the brow of the lofty hill; who then protects the flying deer, swift as a sable cloud, tost by the whistling winds, leaping over the rolling floods, to gain the hoary wood; whilst the lightnings shine on his chest, and the wind rides over his horns? when the wolf roars, terrible as the voice of the Severn; moving majestic as the nodding forests on the brow of Michel-stow, who then commands the sheep to follow the swain, as the beams of light attend upon the morning?-Know, O man! that God suffers not the least member of his work to perish, without answering the purpose of their creation. The evils of life, with some, are blessings; and the plant of death. healeth the wound of the sword.-Doth the sea of trouble and affliction overwhelm thy soul, look unto the Lord, thou shalt stand firm in the days of temptation, as the lofty hill of Kinwulf; in vain shall the waves beat against thee; thy rock shall stand.

Comely as the white rocks; bright as the star of the evening; tall as the oak upon the brow of the mountain; soft as the showers of dew, that fall upon the flowers of the field, Ethelgar arose, the glory of Exanceastre (Exeter): noble were his ancestors, as the palace of the great Ken


« AnkstesnisTęsti »