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Virtuous and wife he was, but not fevere;
In the parts that follow are contain'd fome leffons for the conduct of life, from which we fhall infert a few inaxims.
Vers'd in the woes and vanities of life,
With respect to indolence and luxury we have this lef fon, which concludes with a definition of virtue and fenfe, and their good effects.
Let nature reft: be bufy for yourself,
The gawdy glofs of fortune only ftrikes
But from this difgreffion (or episode) the poet naturally returns to his fubject.
Thus, in his graver vein, the friendly fage
'The lawless powers. But other cares are mine:
Know then, whatever chearful and ferene
He then speaks of the good and bad effects of love, and with regard to confummation, he fays;
Is health your care, or luxury your aim,
The poet then proceeds to other paffions, and the decription he has given us of anger and its dreadful effects, very beautiful and very juft.
But there's a paffion, whofe tempeftuous fway Tears up each virtue planted in the breast, And shakes to ruins proud philofophy. For pale and trembling anger rufhes in, With fault'ring fpeech, and eyes that wildly ftare; Fierce as the tyger, madder than the feas, Defperate, and arm'd with more than human ftrength. How foon the calm, humane, and polish'd man Forgets compunction, and ftarts up a fiend! Who pines in love, or waftes with filent cares, Envy, or ignominy, or tender grief, Slowly defcends, and ling'ring, to the fhades ; But he whom anger flings, drops, if he dies, At once, and rushes apoplectic down; Or a fierce fever hurries him away.
Such fates attend the rash alarm of fear,
But there are conftitutions to which thefe boisterous fits, these violent fallies of paffion, may be fometimes ferviceable.
For where the mind a torpid winter leads,
Those however whofe blood is apt to boil, and who are eafily moved to wrath he wou'd have,
Keep lent for ever; and forfwear the bowl.
And then offers fomething to the confideration of those whofe turbulent tempers move them to seek revenge.
While choler works, good friend, you may be wrong; Diftruft yourself, and fleep before you fight. 'Tis not too late to-morrow to be brave; If honour bids, to-morrow kill or die.
The poet then feeks a remedy for thefe evils, fets the contrary paffions in oppofition, so that they may counter
act each other; and at laft recommends mufick as the moft effectual.
He then concludes the whole with an encomium on the power of poetry and of mufic united, which is enrich'd with allufions to ancient fables and historical facts; materials that we have often recommended as proper ornaments for these fort of poems.
But he the mufe's laurel justly shares,
A poet he, and touch'd with heaven's own fire;
We have dwelt long enough, perhaps too long, on this fubject; but as thefe poems are of fuch ufe, that what is taught in this agreeable manner will remain for ever fix'd on the memory, it seem'd the more necessary to be very particular and explicit in the rules, and to give variety of examples. We have only to add to what has been already faid, that the great art in the conduct of thefe poems is fo to adorn and enliven the precepts that they may agreeably ftrike the imagination; and to deliver them in fuch an indirect manner, that, the form of
inftruction being concealed, the reader may grow wifer without perceiving he is taught, and that while the most ufeful leffons are inculcated, the whole may appear only as an amusement. For this reafon it is neceffary often to digrefs from the fubject, and to introduce episodes of fuch a nature that at the end they may lead you naturally to your fubject again, and then feem of a piece with it. Many inftances of these kinds of digreffions may be seen in the authors we have mention'd, but especially in Virgil, who, after he has been wandering, and to all appearance forgot his husbandmen and their concerns, is by fome happy rural incident, arifing naturally out of his fubject, brought back to his bufinefs again, and connects and makes every thing he has met with conducive to his main defign.
In thefe digreffions and episodes it is alfo of the utmost confequence to introduce the pathetic, and agitate the affections; for it is ever to be observed, in works of this nature, that a digreffion properly introduced, and fo as to awaken the paffions, and ftrike the heart, is of more importance than a multitude of ornamental defcriptions, and will be read again and again with pleafure; while, to other paffages that are merely inftructive, the mind can hardly attend a second time, tho' ever so well decorated. The understanding feels no pleasure in being inftructed often in the fame thing; but the heart is ever open to an affecting tale, and receives a pleasure every time it is repeated.
With regard to the style or dress of these poems, it fhould be fo rich as to hide the nakedness of the fubject, and the barrenness of the precepts fhould be loft in the luftre of the language. It ought (fays Mr. Warton *) to abound in the most bold and forcible metaphors, the moft glowing and picturefque epithets; it ought to be elevated and enliven'd by pomp of numbers and majefty of words, and by every figure that can lift a language above the vulgar and current expreffions,' One may add, that in no kind of poetry (not even in the fublime ode) is beauty of expreffion fo much to be regarded as in this. For the epic writer fhould be very cautious of in
*See his Differtation on Didactic Poetry.