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riors, to exert themselves, for the maintenance of peace, and social order; to clear the world of monsters; to protect the traveller on his way; to preserve the pious and aged pilgrim, or the tender and beautiful virgin, from rapine, impiety, and lust. There were some in. stances of this disposition, in the early heroic ages of Greece, in the persons of individuals, like Theseus and Hercules: but it was in the Gothic heroic ages, that it became general and systematic.-" Then (in the words
of Robertson) to check the insolence of overgrown “ oppressors; to succour the distressed; to rescue the ** helpless from captivity; to protect or to avenge wo* men, orphans, and ecclesiastics, who could not beat " arms in their own defence; to redress wrongs, and, "to remove grievances, were deemed acts of the highest “ prowess and merit. Valour, humanity, justice, cour
tesy, and honour, were the characteristic qualities of “ chivalry. To these were added religion, which min* gled itself with every passion and institution, during " the middle ages, and, by infusing 'a large portion of .64 enthusiastic zeal, gave them such force, as carried ** them to romantic excess. Men were trained to “ knighthood, by a long previous discipline; they were " admitted into the order, by solemnities no less devout " than pompous. Every person of noble birth courted - " that honour; it was deemed a distinction superior to
* royalty, and monarchs were proud to receive it, from . the hands of private gentlemen."*- It is not the business of this essay, to fully enquire into the causes, which gave birth to this singular institution, in which (as Robertson says) valour, gallantry, and religion, were so strangely blended. --The general prevalence of the feudal system, which, though it was a state of perpetual
Robertson, Charles V. Vol. I. p. 70. Dub, edit.
war, rapine, and anarchy, and exposed the weak and unarmed to insults and injuries, yet, contained in itself the germs of redress and reformation; inasmuch, as it bound the lord, and proprietors of territory, by the most solemn ties, to protect their tenants and retainers, contributed to this, in some measure. The introduction of Christianity contributed to this extraordinary institution, still more. . Christianity, as then practised, was characteristic of the times. It was carried to an enthusiastic excess. It was marked with all that ardent passion, and outrageous vehemence, peculiar to the age. Pilgrimages to remote shrines, were favourite acts of devotion, in those days, and were recommended to persons of all ranks and ages, in both sexes, by their strange power of uniting piety and pleasure. These expeditions were not unattended by danger, in those ages of turbulence, when the police was very imperfect, and all the roads were beset, with bands of armed robbers. To forward and protect the pilgrim, on his journey of grace, became 3 favourite occupation, for the courage and enterprise of young and gallant warriors; and great merit and reputation were attached to such services. But the grand source, of the chivalrous spirit of the age, .were the Crusades, the offspring of an ardent devotion, acting on à martial race, filled with restless turbulence, a love of novelty, and a spirit of adventure. " That same dis" position, which prompted so many brave and noble “ personages, to take up arms, in defence of the opis pressed pilgrims in Palestine, incited others, to declare " themselves the patrons and avengers of injured inno 56 cence, at home. When the final reduction of the “ Holy Land, under the dominion of infidels, put an $6 end to these foreign expeditions, the latter, was the $6 only employment left, for the activity and courage of
" adventurers."*_ Be the origin and the effects of this institution what they may, by introducing a refinement of manners, and a spirit of courtesy; it gave occasion, to a more marked and respectful deference, for the fair sex; from which, in time, originated amorous gallantry, uniting love, with the image of war, in tilts and tournaments—the predominance of love, as, a general ruling passion--the cultivation of-erotic poetry, as a distinct .. branch of literary composition.
The foregoing observations were suggested, among many others, on a rapid view, of the heroic ages, under a particular aspect, namely, with a reference to poetry, the only point to which we have occasion to turn our attention, in this essay. The substance of what has been advanced tends to show, that some particular species of composition naturally grow out of particular states of man, and stages of society; and, that the passions, the pursuits, and manners, that prevail in the heroic ages, furnish, exclusively, the occasions, the materials, and subject matter, of certain kinds or branches of poetry, and lead, or determine men, exclusively, to the cultivation of those branches:--while other walks of poetry remain wholly unthought of, and unexplored, like countries as yet undiscovered; because the sentiments, feel. ings, emotions, and situations, about which they are conversant, and which are destined to become their subject matter, when called into existence, have not yet appeared among men; and, also, because, with the occasions, which call for writings of these kinds, men want the talents, and the leisure, which are requisite to bring them to perfection.
* See Robertson, Charles V. Vol. I. p. 69, 70. Dub.
ESSAY THE FOURFIL
GENIUS AND CHARACTERS
In considering the genius and character of Apollonius Rhodius, we are not left to the testimony of ancient writers, disguised either by favour or dislike; or to conjectures drawn from small remnants, and mutilated frag. ments.- Were we left to adjust the claims of Apollonius to reputation, merely by the traditions of ancient critics, he would rank lower than he deserves; but an entire epic poem of this author, considerable in its length, regular in its plan, polished by the last cares of the wri. ter, has fortunately been preserved to us, and furnishes a sufficient exemplification and test, of the genius and spirit of Apollonius. In this work, he has been occa
sionally led to exert his powers, in various strains and -, kinds of writing--the great, the terrible, the impassioned, the tender, the pathetic, the amatory, the grace. ful and elegant, the moral, the argumentative, and the descriptive-by his success in these exertions, must his genius as a writer be estimated.