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and that our ignorance of those reasons makes us differ from them.

It often happens that an author's reputation is endangered in succeeding times, by that which raised the loudest applause among his cotemporaries: nothing is read with greater pleasure than allusions to recent facts, reigning opinions, or present controversies; but when facts are forgotten, and controversies extinguished, these favourite touches lose all their graces; and the author in his descent to posterity must be left to the mercy of chance, without

any power of ascertaining the memory of those things, to which he owed his luckiest thoughts and his kindest reception.

On such occasions, every reader should remember the diffidence of Socrates, and repair by his candour the injuries of time; he should impute the seeming defects of his author to some chasm of intelligence, and suppose, that the sense which is now weak was once forcible, and the expression which is now dubious formerly determinate.

How much the mutilation of ancient history has taken away from the beauty of poetical performances, may be conjectured from the light which a lucky commentator sometimes effuses, by the recovery of an incident that had been long forgotten: thus, in the third book of Horace, Juno's denunciations against those that should presume to raise again the walls of Troy, could for many ages please only by splendid images and swelling language, of which no man discovered the use or propriety, till Le Fevre, by shewing on what occasion the Ode was written, changed

wonder to rational delight. Many passages yet un. doubtedly remain in the same author, which an exacter knowledge of the incidents of his time would clear from objections. Among these I have always numbered the following lines :

Aurum per

medios ire satellites,
Et perrumpere amat saxa, potentius
Iclu fulmineo. Concidit Auguris

Argivi domus ob lucrum
Demersa excidio. Diffidit urbium
Portas vir Macedo, et subruit æmulos
Reges muneribus. Munera navium

Sævos illaqueant duces.

Stronger than thunder's winged force,
All-powerful gold can spread its course,
Thro' watchful guards its passage make,
And loves thro' solid walls to break :
From gold the overwhelming woes,
That crush'd the Grecian augur rose :
Philip with gold thro' cities broke,
And rival monarchs felt his yoke;
Captains of ships to gold are slaves,
Tho' fierce as their own winds and waves.--FRANCIS.

The close of this passage, by which every reader is now disappointed and offended, was probably the delight of the Roman court: it cannot be imagined, that Horace, after having given to gold the force of thunder, and told of its power to storm cities and to conquer kings, would have concluded his account of its efficacy with its influence over naval commanders, had he not alluded to some fact then current in the mouths of men, and therefore more interesting for a

time than the conquests of Philip. Of the like kind may be reckoned another stanza in the same book :

Jussa coram non sine conscio
Surgit marito, seu vocat institor
Seu navis Hispanæ magister

Dedecorum pretiosus emptor.

The conscious husband bids her rise,
When some rich factor courts her charms,
Who calls the wanton to his arms,
And, prodigal of wealth and fame,
Profusely buys the costly shame.-FRANCIS.

He has little knowledge of Horace who imagines that the factor or the Spanish merchant, are mentioned by . chance: there was undoubtedly some popular story of an intrigue, which those names recalled to the memory of his reader.

The flame of his genius in other parts, though somewhat dimmed by time, is not totally eclipsed; his address and judgment yet appear, though much of the spirit and vigour of his sentiment is lost: this has happened to the twentieth Ode of the first

book :

Vile potabis modicis Sabinum
Cantharis, Græcâ quod ego ipse testa
Conditum levi ; datus in theatro

Cùm tibi plausus,
Chare Mecenas eques. Ut paterni
Fluminis ripa, simul et jocosa
Redderet laudes tibi Vaticani

Montis imago.

A poet's beverage humbly cheap,

(Should great Mæcenas be my guest)
The vintage of the Sabine grape,
in sober


shall crown the feast :
'Twas rack'd into a Grecian cask,

Its rougher juice to melt away;
I seal'd it too-a pleasing task!

With annual joy to mark the glorious day,
When in applausive shouts thy name

Spread from the theatre around,
Floating on thy own Tiber's stream,

And Echo, playful nymph, return’d the sound.-FRANCIS.

We here easily remark the intertexture of a happy compliment with an humble invitation

but certainly are less delighted than those, to whom the mention of the applause bestowed upon Mæcenas, gave occasion to recount the actions or words that produced it.

Two lines which have exercised the ingenuity of modern critics, may, I think, be reconciled to the . judgment, by an easy supposition : Horace thus addresses Agrippa :

Scriberis Vario fortis, et hostium
Victor, Mæonii carminis alite.

Varius, a swan of Homer's wing,
Shall brave Agrippa's conquests sing.

That Varius should be called " A bird of Homeric

song," appears so harsh to modern ears, that an emendation of the text has been proposed : but surely the learning of the ancients had been long ago obliterated, had every man thought himself at liberty to corrupt the lines which he did not understand. If we imagine that Varius had been by any of his cotemporaries celebrated under the appellation of Musarum Ales, the swan of the Muses, the language of Horace becomes graceful and familiar; and that such a compliment was at least possible, we know from the transformation feigned by Horace of himself.

The most elegant compliment that was paid to Addison, is of this obscure and perishable kind;

When panting Virtue her last efforts made,
You brought your Clio to the virgin's aid.

These lines must please as long as they are understood ; but can be understood only by those that have observed Addison's signatures in the Spectator.

The nicety of these minute allusions I shall exemplify by another instance, which I take this occasion to mention, because, as I am told, the commentators have omitted it. Tibullus addresses Cynthia in this

manner :

Te spectem, suprema mihi cùm venerit horain

Te teneam moriens deficiente manu.

Before my closing eyes, dear Cynthia stand,
Held weakly by my fainting trembling hand.

To these lines Ovid thus refers in his elegy on the death of Tibullus :

Cynthia decedens, felicius, inquit, amata

Sum tibi ; viristi dum tuus ignis eram,
Cui Nemesis, quid, ait, tibi sunt mea damna dolori?

Me tenuit moriens deficiente manu.

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