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All our attention, and prepares us for some such pleasing incident a few lines higher, in that noble encomium upon Homer, which he puts into the mouth of the Sibyl; who, after expatiating to Scipio on the merits of the venerable bard, judiciously closes the whole with this fine stroke, admirably calculated to recal his thoughts (as it instantly recals ours) to his Trojan ancestors--namely, that the inuse of this divine poet had likewise immortalized his mother country, Troy.
- Et VESTRAM tulit usque ad sidera TROJAM. Now, I appeal to the judgment of the critical reader, whether these words, and the place they are found in, do not naturally make him expect to see the young Roman introduced to some of the heroes of the Dardan race ? and whether he is not disappointed to find the poet slurring over the name of Hector with the same undistinguishing marks of cursory attention as that of Achilles, ----stupet Æacide, stupet Hectore magno,--without suffering it to excite peculiar emotions of pleasure and admiration in the breast of Scipio; and still more so to behold these emotions excited in him by the appearance of Agamemnon and Menelaus, Nestor and Ajax ?
Ajacisque-gradum, venerandaqùe Nestoris ora
If these may be deemed improprieties, and certainly they seem to be such, by what name shall we call the total omission of Romulus and Æneas ? - The poet, in order, we may presume, to animate his hero, by great examples, to the púrsuit of honest fame, selects the most conspicuous characters of antiquity to pass in review before him; and, to incite him, as a Roman, to direct that passion solely to the good of his
country, to make that the ultimate object of his ambition, and thence to expect the truest and most durable renown, points out to him, by the Sibyl, a group of his immortal countrymen, who, devoting their labours and their lives to that noble end, had finished, in her service, the same career of glory that he was himself now going to enter upon. Is it not reasonable here to look for, do we not anxiously expect to find, at the head of this illustrious band of Romans, Æneas the father of that people, and Romulus the founder of their state? It is true, Lavinia and Hersilia, the
consorts of these great personages, are briefly announced by the Sybil; the first, as being the happy instrument of unit: ing the Trojans and the Latines; the latter, as having effected a work no less salutary, by reconciling the Sabines to the Romans after their rape of the Sabine virgins. But, notwithstanding the grace of novelty which this introduction bf female characters into the poet's Elysium may justly boast of, and the exquisite taste and delicacy with which some of them are touched (those of Lucretia and Virginia in parti. cular), methinks his neglecting to bring upon the scene the two most distinguished male worthies of his country, must be considered as a capital error; especially since he could have found an employment for them, so excellently adapted to their situation and character; for would there not have been infinitely more propriety in ushering in Scipio to the acquaintance of Romulus or Æneas, and describing him as seeking the path to true glory at their mouth, rather than at that of Alexander the Great ?–There was so striking a contrast between that monarch and the young Roman, in the vicious unbridled passions of the one, and the mild virtues, the amiable well-regulated affections of the other; and, at the same time, so happy a resemblance between the latter and Æneas in particular, in the distinguishing characteristics of each, piety and valour; that this consideration alone, one would think, might have determined the poet to send him with that inquiry to the Trojan, in preference of the Grecian, chief:
Similique cupidine rerum
Add to this, that it is paying a poor compliment to all the heroes of Rome, and particularly to those two, their great progenitor and their legislator, to represent one of their descendants as tarnishing, in effect, the lustre of their atchievements, and tearing, as it were, the laurels from their brows, by thus placing the crown of glory on the head of the King of Macedon :
Quanto exsuperat tua gloria cunctos
Nor is it more agreeable to poetical probability, than to the model held out by Virgil *, or to the truth of nature, if we consider the indignant republican spirit, and stern haughtiness, that marked the Roinan character, to represent one of the first and greatest of that name as holding converse with a foreigner and a king:
I will yenture, yet further, to hazard an opinion, that the taunting air and insult, with which Scipio accosts Amilcar, is as unworthy of him as a man, as the obsequious courtly strain, in which he offers incense to Alexander, is unbecoming him as a Roman. It must, however, be confessed, that, if his address to Amilcar be a blemish, it is a beautiful one, and such as we would not willingly part with; since it gives the poett, an opportunity of displaying, to great advantage, the Ķerrible graçes which distingyish this fierce and inperious commander. Having learned, from the conversation, that a general havock and destruction marked the progress of Annibal's arms in Italy, the disdainful shade stalks majestically away, after uttering this malignant exultation :
Quod si Laurentia vastat
Celsus abit gressu, majorque recessit imago. Another thing, which has always struck me as an egregious pversight in this author, is his daring to try his hand at a
* Æneas, indeed, as decorum required, addresses Dido; but no one else, except his friends and his countrymen, Anchises, Deiphobus, and Palinurus.
+ It amazés one to observe the character which Scaliger gives of this author: "Silium expediamus, quem equidem postremum bonorum poetarum existimo 3. quin ne poetam quidem. Non nervos, non numeros, non spiritum habet. Adeo vero ab omni venere alienus est, ut nullus invenustior sit.”Poetic. lib. VI. cap. 6. And yet, notwithstanding the severity of this criticism, there certainly are many indisputable proofs of a fine genius, and an elegant taste, in various parts of his poem : in those beautiful lines on the Power of Music, in the ele. venth book-the Encomium on Ennius in the twelfth--that on Homer in the thirteenth-the Strokes upon Virgil and Cicero in the eighth--but more particularly in the address of Pleasure and Virtue to Scipio in the beginning of the fifteenth book. The intelligent reader will, probably, think the judgment of that critic far from being infallible, who could be capable of* preferring Martial to Catullus, and oft pronouncing Fracastorius the best poet after Virgil. Very dif. ferent is the opinion of a critic of another sort and size, from whose sentence, in these matters, there lies no appeal: “Silium Italicum, poetam meo quidem judicio præstantem, Ciceronis apprime studiosum fuisse, &c."--Muret. Var. Lect, libII. cap. 14,
• Lib. III. cap. 125.
+ Lib. VI. cap. 4.
sketch of Cåsår ånd Pompey, (which, however, has nothing
Q, 1772, May
LI, Critique on Shakespeare.
“ Or to take drms against à sea of troubles; "*
Against assail of troubles.” In defence of the text, I beg leave to observe, that there is a passage in the Prometheus Vinctus of Æschylus, the Athenian Shakespeare, from which one stroke of the ima. gery might seem to have been literally copied:
Δυσχειμερον γε πελαγος ατηρας δυης.
The stormy sea of dire calamity: and another, in which the figure is, certainly, as harsh as that,-—" To take arms against a sea of troubles ;"
My plaintive words in vain confus'diy beat
I would not, however, be supposed to offer thismilarity of expression as an argument, that Shakespeareas conversant in Æschylus; any more than I take th“ resem, blance,” which some critics have discovered, between the leading ideas of Malvolio in the Twelfth ight, and those of Alnaschar in the Arabian Nights Entelinments,' to prove him acquainted with Arabic. All th: is hereby intended is, to shew, from the example of a geus as bold and eccentric as his own, that the harsh corructing of a metaphor, or the jumbling of different ones in e same sen-, tence, is not peculiar to Shakespeare, nor a sucient reason to authorise an alteration of his text, Wigan, Sept. 23.
MR. URBAN, IN your Magazine for September, I produed a passage or two from Æschylus, to prove, that Shakeseare is not singular in the use of this metaphor, " A sea i troubles," with which two of his commentators are so muh offended as to propose each a different emendation. support of the text, to the authority of the old Greek bad, may be added the suffrages of two modern poets. Baudus, in an elegant copy of Latin lambics, written in a fit of sickness, and addressed to his friends, has the following ieautiful passage, where we find an expression perfectlysimilar to that of Shakespeare, I shall inake no apologyfor the length of the quotation, not doubting but every eader of taste will think one unnecessary.
“ Dulces amici, Baudius vobis abit