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dulging himself in too florid a manner of expreffion, efpecially in the dramatic parts of his fable, where he introduces dialogue: And the writer of tragedy cannot fall into fo naufeous and unnatural an affectation, as to put laboured defcriptions, pompous epithets, ftudied phrafes, and high-flown metaphors, into the mouths of his characters. But as the didactic poet fpeaks in his own person, it is neceffary and proper for him to use a brighter colouring of ftile, and to be more fludious of ornament. And this is agreeable to an admirable precept of Ariftotle, which no writer fhould ever forget,
that diction ought moft to be labour'd in the unactive, that is the defcriptive parts of a poem, in which the opinions, manners and paffions of men are not reprefented; for too glaring an expreffion obfcures the manners and the fentiments.'
We have already obferved that any thing in nature may be the fubject of this poem. Some things however will appear to more advantage than others, as they give a greater latitude to genius, and admit of more poctical ornaments. Natural history and philofophy are copious fubjects. Precepts in thefe might be decorated with all the flowers in poetry; and, as Dr. Trapp obferves, how can poetry be better employed, or more agreeably to its nature and dignity, than in celebrating the works of the great Creator, and defcribing the nature and generation of animals, vegetables, and minerals; the revolutions of the heavenly bodies; the motions of the earth; the flux and reflux of the fea; the caufe of thunder, lightning, and other meteors; the attraction of the magnet; the gravitation, cohefion, and repulfion of matter; the impulfive motion of light; the flow progreffion of founds; and other amazing phænomena of nature. Most of the arts and fciences are also proper fubjects for this poem, and none are more fo than its two fifter arts, painting and mufic. In the former, particularly, there is room for the moft entertaining precepts concerning the difpofal of colours; the arrangement of lights and fhades; the fecret attractives of beauty; the various ideas which make up the one; the diftinguishing between the attitudes proper to either fex, and every paffion; the reprefenting profpects of buildings, battles,
or the country; and laftly, concerning the nature of imitation, and the power of painting. What a boundlefs field of invention is here? What room for defcrip. tion, comparison, and poetical fable? How eafy the tranfition, at any time, from the draught to the original, from the fhadow to the fubitance? and from hence, what noble excurfions may be made into history, into panegyric upon the greatest beauties or heroes of the paft or present age? The task, I confefs is difficult; but, according to that noted, but true faying, fo are all things that are great!'
Tale implies nothing more than a relation of a fimple action, and therefore fhould not be embaraffed with a multitude of foreign circumftances, but may admit of fuch digreflions as arife naturally from the fubject, and do not break in upon, or obfcure the main defign. It fhould inculcate fome useful icfion, and be both interefling and perplexing, in order that it may excite and fupport the attention of the reader; for great part of the pleasure or entertainment which the mind receives from a well-written Tale, will be found to arife from the fufpenfe and anxiety we are kept in; and which, (as in the plot of a Tragedy or Comedy) fhould not be removed till the end. Were the whole fcope and defign, or, if I may fo fpeak, the point of the Tale first dif covered, the reader would grow languid and indifferent, and have nothing to attend to but the diction and verfi. fication.
The reader will find thefe rules illuftrated in the HERMIT, a Tale, by Mr. PARNEL; which we efteem an excellent example.
The HERMIT. A Tale.
By Mr. PARNEL.
Far in a wild, unknown to publick view,
A life fo facred, fuch ferene repose,
So when a fmooth expanfe receives impreft
To clear this doubt, to know the world by fight,
The morn was wafted in the pathlefs grafs, And long and lonesome was the wild to pafs; But when the southern fun had warm'd the day, A youth came pofting o'er a croffing way; His rayment decent, his complexion fair, And foft in graceful ringlets wav'd his hair. Then near approaching, Father, hail! he cry'd ; And hail, my fon, the rev'rend Sire reply'd : Words follow'd words, from queftion anfwer flow'd, And talk of various kind deceiv'd the road; 'Till each with other pleas'd, and loth to part,
While in their age they differ, join in heart:
While thus they pafs, the fun his glory fhrouds, The changing skies hang out their fable clouds ; A found in air prefag'a approaching rain, And beafts to covert fcud a-cross the plain. Warn'd by the figns the wand'ring pair retreat, To feek for fhelter at a neighbouring feat; 'T'was built with turrets, on a riling ground, And frong, and large, and unimprov'd around; Its owner's temper, tim'rous and severe, Unkind and griping, caus'd a defart there.
As near the Mifer's heavy doors they drew, Fierce rifing gufts with fudden fury blew ; The nimble light'ning mix'd with how'rs began, And o'er their heads loud rolling thunder ran. Here long they knock, but knock or call in vain Driv'n by the wind, and batter'd by the rain. At length fome pity warm'd the master's breast, ('Twas then, his threshold first receiv'd a guest.) Slow creaking turns the door with jealous care, And half he welcomes in the fhiv'ring pair; One frugal faggot lights the naked walls, And nature's fervor thro' their limbs recalls: Bread of the coarseft fort, with eager wine, (Each hardly granted) ferv'd them both to dine; And when the tempeft first appear'd to cease, A ready warning bid them part in peace.
With ftill remark the pond'ring Hermit view'd In one fo rich, a life fo poor and rude, And why fhou'd fuch, (within himself he cry'd) Lock the loft wealth a thousand want befide ? But what new marks of wonder foon took place, In every fettling feature of his face!
When from his veft the young companion bore
But now the clouds in airy tumults fly, The fun emerging opes an azure sky; A fresher green the smelling leaves display, And glitt'ring as they tremble, cheer the day; The weather courts them from the poor retreat, And the glad mafter bolts the wary gate.