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admiration of mankind, the Jerusalem of Taflo alone would make a tolerable novel, if reduced to prose, and related without that splendour of versification and imagery by which it is supported; yet, in the opinion of many great judges, the Jerusalem is the least perfect of all these productions; chiefly, because it has least nature and fimplicity in the fentiments, and is most liable to the objection of affectation and conceit. The story of a poem, whatever may be imagined, is the least essential part, of it; the force of the versification, the vivacity of the images, the justness of the descriptions, the natural play of the passions, are the chief circumstances which distinguish the great poet from the prosaic novelist, and give him so high a rank among the heroes in literature: and I will venture to affirm, that all these advantages, especially the three . former, are to be found, in an eminent degrée, in the Epigoniad. The author, inspired with the true genius of Greece, and smit with the most profound veneration for Homer, disdains all frivolous ornaments; and relying entirely on his sublime imagination, and his nervous and harmonious expression, has ventured to present to his reader the naked beauties of nature, and challenges for his partizans all the admirers of genuine antiquity.

There is one circumstance in which the

has carried his boldness of copying antiquity beyond the practice of many, even judicious moderns. He has drawn his personages, not only with all the fimplicity of the Grecian heroes, but also with

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some degree of their roughness, and even of their ferocity. This is a circumstance which a mere modern is apt to find fault with in Homer, and which, perhaps, he will not easily excuse in his imitator. It is certain, that the ideas of manners are so much changed since the age of Homer, that though the Iliad was always among the ancients conceived to be a panegric on the Greeks, yet the reader is now almost always on the side of the Trojans, and is much more interested for the humane and soft manners of Priam, Hector, Andromache, Sarpedon, Æneas, Glaucus, nay, even of Paris and Helen, than for the severe and cruel bravery of Achilles, Agamemnon, and the other Grecian he.

Sensible of this inconvenience, Fenelon, in his elegant romance, has foftened extremely the harsh manners of the heroic ages, and has contented himself with retaining that amiable fimplicity by which these ages were distinguished. If the reader be displeased, that the British poet has not followed the example of the French writer, he must, at least, allow, that he has drawn a more exact and faithful

copy

of antiquity, and has made fewer fa. crifices of truth to ornament.

roes.

There is another circumstance of our author's choice, which will be liable to dispute. It may be thought, that by introducing the heroes of Homer, he has lost all the charms of novelty, and leads us into fictions, which are somewhat stale and threadbare. Boileau, the greatest critic of the French nation, was of a very different opinion : Ff

La

La fable offre à l'esprit mille agrémens divers
Là tous les noms heureux femblent nés pour les vers :
Ulyffe, Agamemnon, Oreste, Idomenée,
Helene, Menelas, Paris, Hector, Enée.

It is certain, that there is in that poetic ground a kind of enchantment, which allures every person of a tender and lively imagination: nor is this impression diminished, but rather much increased, by our early introduction to the knowledge of it in our perusal of the Greek and Latin classics.

The same great French critic makes the apology of our poet in his use of the ancient mythology:

Ainsi dans cet amas de nobles fictions,
Le poete s'egaye en mille inventions,
Orne, eleve, embellit, agrandit toutes chofes,
Et trouve sous sa main des fleurs toujours eclofes.

It would seem, indeed, that if the machinery of the heathen gods be not admitted, epic poetry, at least all the marvellous part of it, must be entirely abandoned. The christian religion, for many reafons, is unfit for the fabulous ornaments of poetry : the introduction of allegory, after the manner of Voltaire, is liable to many objections; and though a mere historical epic poem, like Leonidas, may have its beauties, it will always be inferidy to the force and pathos of tragedy, and must resign to that fpecies of poetry, the precedency which the

former

former composition has always challenged among the productions of human genius. But with regard to these particulars, the author has himself made a sufficient apology in the judicious and spirited preface which accompanies his poem.

But though our poet has, in general, followed so successfully the footsteps of Homer, he has, in particular passages, chosen other ancient poets for his model. His seventh book contains an episode, very artfully inserted, concerning the death of Hercules ; where he has plainly had Sophocles in his view, and has ventured to engage in a rivalship with that great master of the tragic scene. If the sublimity of our poet's imagination, and the energy of his style, appear any where conspicuous, it is in this episode, which we shall not scruple to compare with any poetry in the English language. Nothing can be more pathetic than the complaints of Hercules, when the poison of the centaur's robe begins first to prey upon him.

Sovereign of heaven and earth! whole boundless sway
The fates of men and mortal things obey !
If c'er delighted from the courts above,
In human form, you fought Alcmena's love ;
If fame's unchanging voice to all the earth,
With truth, proclaims you author of my birth ;
Whence, from a course of spotless glory run,
Successful toils and wreaths of triumph won,
Am I thus wretched ? Better, that before
Some monster fierce had drunk my streaming gore;
Or crush'a by Cacus, foe to Gods and men,
My batter'd brains had strew'd his rocky den:
Ff 2

Than,

Than, from my glorious toils and triumphs past,
To fall subdu'd by female arts, at last.
O cool my toiling blood, ye winds, that blow
From mountains loaded with eternal snow,
And crack the icy cliffs : in vain! in vain !
Your rigour cannot quench my raging pain!
For round this heart the furies wave their brands,
And wring my entrails with their burning hands.
Now bending from the fkies, O wife of Jove!
Enjoy the vengeance of thy injur'd love:
For fate, by me, the Thund'ıer's guilt atones,
And punish'd in her son Alcmena groans.
The object of your hate shall soon expire ;
Fix'd on my fhoulders preys a net of fire :
Whom nor the toils nor dangers could subdue,
By false Eurytheus di&tated from you ;
Nor tyrants lawless, nor the monstrous brood,
Which haunts the desert or infefts the flood,
Nor Greece, nor all the barb'rous climes that lic
Where Phæbus ever points his golden eye;
A woman has o'erthrown! ye Gods! I yield
To female arts, unconquer'd in the field.
My arms-alas! are these the same that bow'd
Antaeus, and his giant force subdu'd ?
That dragg'd Nemea's monster from his den ;
And New the dragon in his native fen? .
Alas, alas! their mighty muscles fail,
While pains infernal ev'ry nerve assail.
Alas, alas ! I feel in streams of woe
These eyes diffolv'd, before untaught to flow.
Awake my virtue, oft in dangers try'd,
Patient in toils, in deaths unterrify'd :
Rouse to my aid ; nor let my labours past,
With fame atchieved, be blotted by the last :
Firm and domov'd, the present shock endure,
Once triumph, and for ever relt secure.

Our poet, though his genius be in many re{pects very original, has not disdained to imitate

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