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of the gods. The poet, to this end, takes off from the vices of Achilles, and adds to the virtues of Ulysses, from both perfecting a character proper for his work in the person of Æneas.

As Virgil copied after Homer, other Epic poets have copied after them both. . Tasso's Gierusalemme Liberata is directly Troy town sacked, with this dif. ference only, that the two chief characters in Homer, which the Latin poet had joined in one, the Italian has separated in his Godfrey and Rinaldo; but he makes them both carry on his work with very great success. Ronsard's Franciade, (incomparably good as far as it goes) is again Virgil's Æneis. His hero comes from a foreign country, settles a colony, and lays the foundation of a future empire. I instance in these as the greatest Italian and French poets in the Epic. In our language Spencer has not contented himself with this submissive manner of imitation; he launches out into very flowery paths, which still seem to conduct him into one great road. His Fairy Queen (had it been finished) must have ended in the acconnt which every knight was to give of his adventures, and in the accumulated praises of his heroine Gloriaua. The whole would have been an heroic poem, but in another cast and figure than any that had ever been written before. Yet it is observable that every hero (as far as we can judge by the Books still remaining) bears

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his distinguished character, and represents some par. ticular virtue conducive to the whole design.

To bring this to our present subject. The pleasures of life do not compensate the miseries: age steals upon us unawares, and death, as the only cure of our ills, ought to be expected, but not feared. This instruction is to be illustrated by the action of some great person. Who, therefore, more proper for the business than Solomon himself? And why may he not be supposed now to repeat what, we take it for granted, he acted, almost three thousand years since? If, in the fair situation where this prince was placed, he was acquainted with sorrow; if, endowed with the greatest perfections of Nature, and possessed of all the advantages of external condition, he could not find happiness, the rest of mankind may safely take the Monarch's word for the truth of what he asserts. And the author who would pursuade that we should bear the ills of life patiently, merely because Solomon felt the same, has a better argument than Lucretius had, when, in his imperious way, he at once convinces and commands that we ought to submit to death withe out repining because Epicurus died.

The whole Poem isa soliloquy: Solomon is the person that speaks: he is at once the hero and the author, but he tells us very often what others say to him. Those chiefly introduced are his Rabbies and Philosophers in the First book, and his Women and their Attendants in the Second : with these the Sacred historý' mention him to have conversed, as likewise with the angel brought down, in the Third book, to help him out of his difficulties, or at least to teach him how to overcome them,

Nec Dens intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus.

i presume this poetical liberty may be very justly al. lowed me on so solemn an occasion.

In my description I have endeavoured to keep to the notions and manners of the Jewish nation at the time when Solomon lived; and where I allude to the customs of the Greeks, I believe I may be justified by the strictest chronology, though a poet is not obliged to the rules that confine an historian. Vir. gil has anticipated two hundred years, or the Trojan hero and Carthaginian queen could not have been brought together: and without the same anachronism several of the finest parts of his Æneas must have been omitted. Our countryman, Milton, goes yet further : he takes up many of his material images some thousands of years after the fall of man; nor could he otherwise have written, or we read, one of the sublimest pieces of invention that was ever yet produced. This likewise takes off the objection that some names of countries, terms of art, and notions in natural philosophy, are otherwisc expressed than can be warranted

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by the geography or astronomy of Solomon's time. Poets are allowed the same liberty, in their descriptions and comparisons, as painters in their draperies and ornaments : their personages may be dressed not exactly in the same habits which they wore, but in such as make them appear most graceful. In this case probability must atone for the want of truth. This liberty has indeed been abused by eminent masters in either science. Raphael and Tasso have shewed their discretion, where PaulVeronese and Ariostoare to answer for theirextravagancies. It is the excess, not the thing itself, that is blameable.

I would say one word of the measure in which this and most poems of the age are written. Heroic, with continued rhyme, as Donne and his contemporaries used it, carrying the sense of one verse most commonly into another, was found too dissolute and wild, and came very often too near prose. As Davenant and Waller corrected, and Dryden perfected it, it is too confined : it cuts off the sense at the end of every first line, which must always rhyme to the next following, and consequently, produces too frequent an identity in the sound, and brings every couplet to the point of an epigram. It is indeed too brokenand weakto convey the sentimentsand representtheimages proper for Epic; and as it tires the writer while he composes It must do the same to the reader while he repeats, especially in a poem of any considerable length,

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to many

If striking out into blank verse, as Milton did, (and in this kind Mr. Philips, had he lived, would have excelled) or running the thought into alternate and stanza, which allows a greater variety, and still preserves the dignity of the verse, as Spencer and Fair. fax have done; if either of these, I say, be a proper remedy for my poetical complaint, or if any other may be found, I dare not determine; I am only inquiring in order to be better informed, without presuming to direct the judgment of others : and while I am speaking of the verse itself, I give all just praise

of my friends, now living, who have in Epic carried the harmony of their numbers as far as the nature of this measure will permit: but, once more, he that writes in rhymes dances in fetters; and as his chain is more extended, he may certainly take larger steps.

I need make no apology for the short digressive pa. negyric upon Great Britain in the first book : I am glad to have it observed that there appears throughout all my verses a zeal for the honour of my coun. try; and I had rather be thought a good Englishman, than the best poet or greatest scholar that ever wrote.

And now as to the publishing of this piece; though I have in a literal sense observed Horace's Nonum prematur in annum, yet have I by no means obeyed our poetical law-giver according to the spirit of the pre

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