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EPIC POE M.
He goes to Epirus; from thence he travels all over Greece; collects all the scattered Trojans; and redeems them with the treasures he brought from Italy.
Having collected his scattered countrymen, he confults the oracle of Dodona, and is promised a fettlement in an Island, which, from the description, appears to have been Britain. He then puts to fea, and enters the Atlantic Ocean.
The First Book was intended to open with the appearance of Brutus at the Straits of Calpe, in fight of the Pillars of Hercules (the ne plus ultra). He was to have been introduced debating in council with his captains, whether it was advisable to launch into the great Ocean, on an enterprise bold and hazardous as that of the great Columbus.
One reason, among others, affigned by Brutus, for attempting the great Ocean in fearch of a new country was, that he entertained no profpect of introducing pure manners in any part of the then known world; but that he might do it among a people uncorrupt in their manners, worthy to be made happy, and wanting only arts and laws to that purpose.
A debate enfues. Pifander, an old Trojan, is rather for fettling in Betica, a rich country near the Straits, within the Mediterranean, of whose wealth they had heard great fame at Carthage.
Brutus apprehends that the foftness of the climate, and the gold found there, would corrupt their manners; befides, that the Tyrians, who had established great commerce there, had introduced their fuperftitions among the natives, and made them unapt to receive the inftructions he was defirous to give.
Cloanthes, one of his captains, out of avarice and effeminacy, nevertheless defires to fettle in a rich and fertile country, rather than to tempt the dangers of the Ocean, out of a romantic notion of heroifm.
This has fuch an effect, that the whole council being dismay'd, are unwilling to pass the Straits, and venture into the great Ocean; pleading the example of Hercules for not advancing farther, and urging the prefumption of going beyond a God. To which Brutus, rifing with emotion, anfwers, that Hercules was but a mortal like them; and that if their virtue was fuperior to his, they would have the fame claim to divinity for that the path of virtue was the only way which lay open to Heaven.
At length he refolves to go in a single ship, and to reject all fuch daftards, as dared not accompany
Upon this, Orontes takes fire, declares he will attend him through any dangers; that he wants no oracle, but his own courage and the love of glory; that it was for merchants like the Tyrians, not for heroes like them, to make trading fettlements in a country for the fake of its wealth.
All the younger part of the council agree to the sentiments of Orontes; and, for the love they bear to Brutus, determine to be the companions of his enterprise; and it is refolved to fet fail the next day. That night, Hercules appears to him in a vifion, applauding and confirming the sentiments he had that day delivered in council, and encouraging him to persevere in the pursuit of the intended enterprise.
The Second Book opens with a picture of the Supreme God in all his majefty, fitting on his throne in the highest Heaven. The fuperintending Angel of the Trojans empire (the Regnum Priami vetus) falls down before the throne, and confeffes his justice in having overturned that kingdom, for the fins of the princes, and of the people themfelves. But adds, that after having chaftifed and humbled them, it would now be agreeable to his mercy and goodness, to raise up a new state from their ruins, and form a people who might ferve him better; that, in Brutus, his providence had a fit instrument for such a gracious defign.
This proftrate Angel is raised by the Almighty, and permitted to attend upon Brutus in his voyage to Britain, in order to affift him in the reduction of that Island.
The Guardian Angel, in purfuance of this commiffion, flies from Heaven to the high Mountain of Calpe; and from thence causes an east wind to blow, which carries the fleet out of the Straits weftward to the Canary Islands, where he lands.
Here was to have been a description of Teneriff, and of the Volcanos, as likewise of a most delicious Iland, which is described to be without inhabitants. A great part of his followers are disposed to settle here. What more, fay they, can we wish for ourfelves, than fuch a pleafing end of all our labours?