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opened a new and boundless walk for his imagination, the things they shadowed! This is a field in which and created a world for himself in the invention of no succeeding poets could dispute with Homer; and fable. That which Aristotle calls the soul of poetry,' whatever conimendations have been allowed them on was first breathed into it by Homer. I shall begin with this head, are by no means for their invention in hav. considering him in this part, as it is naturally the first; ing enlarged his circle, but for their judgment in and I speak of it both as it means the design of a having contracted it. For when the mode of learning poem, as it is taken for fiction.
changed in following ages, and science was delivered Fable may be divided into the Probable, the Allegori- in a plainer manner, it then became as reasonable in cal, and the Marvellous. The Probable Fable is the the more modern poets to lay it aside, as it was in recital of such actions as, though they did not happen, Homer to make use of it. And perhaps it was no yet might in the common course of nature; or of unhappy circumstance for Virgil, that there was not such as though they did, become fables by the addi- in his time that demand upon him of so great an intional episodes and manner of telling them. Of this vention, as might be capable of furnishing all those sort is the main story of an Epic poem, the return of allegorical parts of a poem. Ulysses, the settlement of the Trojans in Italy, or the The Marvellous Fable includes whatever is superlike. That of the liiad is the anger of Achilles, the natural, and especially the machines of the gods. He most short and single subject that ever was chosen seems the first who brought them into a system of by any poet Yet this he has supplied with a vaster machinery for poetry, and such a one as makes its variety of incidents and events, and crowded with a greatest importance and dignity. For we find those greater number of councils, speeches, battles, and authors who have been offended at the literal notion episodes of all kinds, than are to be found even in of the gods, constantly laying their accusation against those poems whose schemes are of the utmost lati- Homer as the chief support of it. But whatever tude and irregularity. The action is hurried on with cause there might be to blame his machines in a phithe most vehement spirit, and its whole duration em- losophical or religious view, they are so perfect in ploys not so much as fifty days. Virgil, for want the poetic, that mankind have been ever since conof so warm a genius, aided himself by taking in a more tented to follow them; none have been able to enextensive subject, as well as a greater length of time, large the sphere of poetry beyond the limits he has and contracting the design of both Homer's poems set : every attempt of this nature has proved unsucinto one, which is yet but a fourth part as large as his. cessful: and after all the various changes of times The other Epic poets have used the same practice, and religions, his gods continue to this day the gods but generally carried it so far as to superinduce a mul- of poetry. tiplicity of fables, destroy the unity of action, and lose We come now to the characters of his persons; their readers in an unreasonable length of time. Nor and here we shall find po author has ever drawn so is it only in the main design that they have been un- many, with so visible and surprising a variety, or able to add to his invention, but they have followed given us such lively and affecting impressions of them. him in every episode and part of the story. If he Every one has something so singularly his own, that no has given a regular catalogue of an army, they all painter could have distinguished them inore by their draw up their forces in the same order. If he has features than the poet has by their manners. Nothing funeral games for Patroclus, Virgil bas the same for can be more exact than the distinctions he has obserAnchisis ; and Statius (rather than omit them) de- ved in the different degrees of virtues and vices. The stroys the unity of his action for those of Archemorus. single quality of courage is wonderfully diversified If Ulysses visit the shades, the Æneas of Virgil, and in the several characters of the Iliad. That of Achil. Scipio of Sillus, are sent after hiin. If he be detained les is furious and untractable; that of Diomede forfrom his return by the allurements of Calypso, so is ward, yet listening to advice and subject to command; Æneas by Dido, and Rinaldo by Armida. If Achil that of Ajax is heavy, and self-confiding; of Hector, les be absent from the army on the score of a quar- active and vigilant : the courage of Agamemnon is rel through half the poem, Rinaldo must absent him-inspirited by love of empire and ambition ; that of self just as long on the like account. If he gives his Menelaus mixed with softness and tenderness for hero a suit of celestial armour, Virgil and Tasso his people: we find in Idomenus a plain direct solmake the same present to theirs. Virgil has not only dier; in Sarpedon a gallant and generous one. Nor observed this close imitation of Homer, but, where he is this judicious and astonishing diversity to be found had not led the way, supplied the want from other only in the principal quality which constitutes the Greek authors. Thus the story of Simon and the main of each character, but even in the under part of taking of Troy was copied (says Macrobius) almost it, to which he takes care to give a tincture of that word for word from Pisander, as the loves of Dido principal one. For example, the main characters of and Æneas are taken from those of Medea and Ja- Ulysses and Nestor consist in wisdom; and they are son in Apollonius, and several others in the same distinct in this, that the wisdom of one is artificial and
various; of the other, natural, open, and regular. But To proceed to the Allegorical Fable: if we reflect they have, besides, characters of courage, and this upon those innumerable knowledges, those secrets of quality also takes a different turn in each from the dil nature and physical philosophy, which Homer is gen- ference of his prudence: for one in the war depends erally supposed to have wrapped up in his allegories, still upon caution, the other upon experience. It what a new and ample scene of wonder may this would be endless to produce instances of these kinds. consideration afford us! how fertile will that imagi- The characters of Virgil are far from striking us in nation appear, which was able to clothe all the pro- this open manner; they lie in a great degree hidden perties of elements, the qualifications of the mind, the and undistinguished, and where they are marked most virtues and vices, in forms and persons ; and to in- evidently, affect us not in proportion to those of Hotroduce them into actions agrecable to the nature of mer. His characters of valour are much alike: even
that of Turnus seems no way peculiar, but as it is in greatness, horror and confusion. It is certain there a superior degree; and we see nothing that differen- is not near that number of images and descriptions in ces the courage of Mnesthus from that of Sergesthus, any Epic poet ; though every one has assisted himCloanthus, or the rest. In like manner it may be re- self with a great quantity out of him: and it is evident marked of Statius's heroes, that an air of impetuosity of Virgil especially, that he has scarce any compariruns through them all; the same horrid and savage sons which are not drawn from his master. courage appears in his Capaneus, Tydeus, Hippome If we descend from hence to the expression, we see don, &c. They have a parity of character, which the bright imagination of Homer shining out in the makes them seem brothers of one family. I believe most enlivened forms of it. We acknowledge him the when the reader is led into this track of reflection, if father of poetical diction, the first who taught that lanhe will pursue it through the Epic and Tragic writers, guage of the gods to men. His expression is like the he will be convinced how infinitely superior in this colouring of some great masters, which discovers itpoint, the invention of Homer was to that of all self to be laid on boldly, and executed with rapidity. others.
It is indeed the strongest and most glowing imaginaThe speeches are to be considered as they flow from ble, and touched with the greatest spirit. Aristotle had the characters, being perfect or defective as they reason to say, He was the only poet who had found agree or disagree with the manners of those who ut- out living words; there are in him more daring figures ter them. As there is more variety of characters in and metaphors than in any good author whatever. the lhad, so there is of speeches, than in any other An arrow is impatient to be on the wing, a weapon poem. Every thing in it has manners (as Aristotle thirsts to drink the blood of an enemy, and the like. expresses it ;) that is, every thing is acted or spoken. Yet his expression is never too big for the sense, but It is hardly credible in a work of such length, how justly great in proportion to it. It is the sentiment small a number of lines are employed in narration. that gwells and fills out the diction, which rises with In Virgil, the dramatic part is less in proportion to it, and forms itself about it: for in the same degree the narrative ; and the speeches often consist of gen- that a thought is warmer, an expression will be brighteral reflections or thoughts which might be equally er; as that is more strong, this will become more just in any person's mouth upon the same occasion. perspicuous: like glass in the furnace, which grows As many of his persons have no apparent characters, to a greater magnitude and refines to a greater clearso many of his speeches escape being applied and ness, only as the breath within is more powerful, and judged by the rules of propriety. We oftener think the heat more intense. of the author himself when we read Virgil, than when To throw his language more out of prose, Homer we are engaged in Homer : all which are the effects seems to have affected the compound epithets. This of a colder invention, that interests us less in the ac- was a sort of composition peculiarly proper to poetry, tion described : Homer makes us hearers, and Virgil not only as it heightened the diction, but as it assisted leaves us readers.
and filled the numbers with greater sound and pomp, If in the next place we take a view of the senti- and likewise conduced in some measure to thicken ments, the same presiding faculty is eminent in the the images. On this last consideration I cannot but sublimity and spirit of his thoughts. Longinus has attribute these also to the fruitfulness of his invention, given his opinion, that it was in this part Homer prin- since (as he has managed them) they are a sort of cipally excelled. What were alone sufficient to supernumerary pictures of the persons or things prove the grandeur and excellence of his sentiments to which they are joined. We see the motion of in general, is, that they have so remarkable a parity with Hector's plumes in the epithet xopusz10205, the landthose of the Scripture : Dupori, in his Gnomologia scape of Mount Neritus in that of vorefundos, and so Homerica, has collected innumerable instances of of others; which particular images could not have this sort. And it is with justice an excellent modern been insisted upon so long as to express them in a writer allows, that if Virgil has not so many thoughts description (though but of a single line) without dithat are low and vulgar, he has not so many that are verting the reader too much from the principal action sublime and noble; and that the Roman author sel-or figure. As a metaphor is a short simile, one of dom rises into very astonishing sentiments, where he these epithets is a short description. is not fired by the Iliad.
Lastly, if we consider his versification, we shall be If we observe his descriptions, images, and similes, sensible what a share of praise is due to his invention we shall find the invention still predominant. To in that. He was not satisfied with his language as he what else can we ascribe that vast comprehension of found it settled in any one part of Greece, but searchimages of every sort, where we see each circumstance ed through its different dialects with this particular of art, and individual of nature, summoned together, view, to beautify and perfect his numbers: he considby the extent and fecundity of his imagination; to ered these as they had a greater mixture of vowels or which all things, in their various views, presented consonants, and accordingly employed them as the themselves in an instant, and had their impressions verse required a greater smoothness or strength. taken off to perfection, at a heat ? Nay, he not only What he most affected was the lonic, which has a gives the full prospects of things, but several unexpect- peculiar sweetness from its never using contractions, ed peculiarities and side-views, unobserved by any and from its custom of resolving the diphthongs into painter but Homer. Nothing is so surprising as the two syllables, so as to make the words open themdescriptions of his battles, which take up no less than selves with a more spreading and sonorous fluency. half the Iliad, and are supplied with so vast a variety With this he mingled the Attic contractions, the of incidents, that no one bears a likeness to another; broader Doric, and the feebler Æolic, which often such different kinds of deaths, that no two heroes are rejects its aspirate, or takes off its accent; and comwounded in the same manner; and such a profusion pleted this variety by altering some letters with the of noble ideas, that every battle rises above the last in license of poetry. Thus his measures, instead of
being fetters to his sense, were always in readiness to the greatest genius, Virgil the better artist. In one run along with the warmth of his rapture, and even we most admire the man, in the other the work: Ho to give a farther representation of his notions, in the mer hurries and transports us with a commanding correspondence of their sounds to what they signified. impetuosity, Virgil leads us with attractive majesty : Out of all these he had derived that harmony, which Homer scatters with a generous profusion, Virgil makes us confess he had not only the richest head, bestows with a careful magnificence: Homer, like the but the finest ear in the world This is so great a Nile, pours out his riches with a boundless overflow: truth, that whoever will but consult the tune of his Virgil, like a river in its banks, with a gentle and verses, even without understanding them (with the constant streamn. When we behold their battles, mesame sort of diligence as we daily see practised in thinks the two poets resemble the heroes they cele the case of Italian operas,) will find more sweetness, brate: Homer, boundless and irresistible as Achilles, variety, and majesty of sound, than in any other lan- bears all before him, and shines more and more as guage or poetry. The beauty of his numbers is al- the tumult increases: Virgil, calmly daring like Ænelowed by the critics to be copied but faintly by Virgil as, appears undisturbed in the midst of the action ; himself, though they are so just to ascribe it to the disposes all about him, and conquers with tranquillity. nature of the Latin tongue : indeed the Greek has And when we look upon their machines, Homer some advantages, both from the natural sound of its seems like his own Jupiter in his terrors shaking words, and the turn and cadence of its verse, which Olympus, scattering the lightnings, and firing the agree with the genius of no other language. Virgil heavens ; Virgil, like the sarne power in his benevowas very sensible of this, and used the ulinost dili-' lenee, counselling with the gods, laying plans for emgence in working up a more intractable language to pires, and regularly ordering his whole creation. whatsoever graces it was capable of; and in particu But after all, it is with great parts as with great vir. lar, never failed to bring the sound of his line to a tues, they naturally border on some imperfection ; beautiful agreement with its sense. If the Grecian and it is often hard to distinguish exactly where the poet has not been so frequently celebrated on this ac- virtue ends, or the fault begins. As prudence may count as the Roman, the only reason is, that fewer sometimes sink to suspicion, so may a great judgment critics have understood one language than the other. decline to coldness; and as magnanimity may run Dionysius of Halicarnassus has pointed out many of up to profusion or extravagance, so may a great inour author's beauties in this kind, as his treatise of the vention to redundancy or wildness. If we look upon Composition of Words. It suffices at present to ob- Homer in this view, we shall perceive the chief observe of his numbers, that they flow with so much jections against him to proceed from so noble a cause ease, as to make one imagine Homer had no other as the excess of this faculty. care than to transcribe as fast as the muses dictated :
: Among these we may reckon some of his Marveland at the same time with so much force and inspirit-lous Fictions, upon which so much criticism has ing vigour, that they awaken and raise us like the been spent, as surpassing all the bounds of probabilisound of a trumpet. They roll along as a plentiful ty. Perhaps it may be with great and superior souls river, always in motion, and always full; while we as with gigantic bodies, which, exerting themselves are borne away by a tide of verse, the most rapid, with unusual strength, exceed what is commonly and yet the most smooth imaginable.
thought the due proportion of parts, to become Thus on whatever side we contemplate Homer, what miracles in the whole; and, like the old heroes principally strikes us is his invention. It is that which of that make, cominit something near extravagance, forms the character of each part of his work; and ac- amidst a series of glorious and inimitable performcordingly we find it to have made his fable more ex- ances. Thus Homer has his speaking horses, and tensive and copious than any other, his manners more Virgil his myrtles distilling blood, where the latter lively and strongly marked, his speeches more affect- has not so much as contrived the easy intervention ting and transported, his sentiments more warm and of a Deity to save the probability. sublime, his images and descriptions more full and It is owing to the same vast invention, that his sianimated, his expression more raised and daring, and miles have been thought too exuberant and full of cirhis numbers more rapid and various. I hope, in what cumstances. The force of this faculty is seen in nohas been said of Virgil, with regard to any of these thing more, than its inability to confine itself to that heads, I have no way derogated from his character. single circumstance upon which the comparison is Nothing is more absurd or endless, than the common grounded; it runs out into embellishments of addimethod of comparing eminent writers by an opposi- tional images, which, however, are so managed as tion of particular passages in them, and forming a not to overpower the main one. His similes are like judgment from thence of their merit upon the whole. pictures, where the principal figure has not only its We ought to have a certain knowledge of the princi- proportion given agreeable the original, but is also pal character and distinguished excellence of each : set off with occasional ornaments and prospects. it is in that we are to consider him, and in proportion The same will account for his manner of heaping a to his degree in that we are to admire him. No au- number of comparisons together in one breath, when thor or man ever excelled all the world in more than his fancy suggested to him at once so many various one faculty; and as Homer has done this in invention, and correspondent images. The reader will easily Virgil has in judgment. Not that we are to think extend this observation to more objections of the Homer wanted judgment, because Virgil had it in a same kind. more eminent degree; or that Virgil wanted inven If there are others which seem rather to charge him tion, because Homer possessed a larger share of it: with a defect or narrowness of genius, than an excess each of these great authors had more of both than of it, those seeming defects will be found upon examperhaps any man besides, and are only said to have ination to proceed wholly from the nature of the times less in comparison with one another. Homer was he lived in. Such are his grosser representations of
the gods, and the vicious and imperfect manners of his blessed.'t Now among the divine honours, which were heroes. But I must here speak a word of the latter, as paid them, they might have also in common with the it is a point generally carried into extremes, both by gods, not to be mentioned without the solemnity of the censurers and defenders of Homer. It must be a an epithet, and such as might be acceptable to them strange partiality to antiquity, to think with Madame by its celebrating their families, actions, or qualities. Dacier, that those times and manners are so much the What other cavils have been raised against Homer, more excellent, as they are more contrary to ours.'* are such as hardly deserve a reply, but will yet be Who can be so prejudiced in their favour as to magnify taken notice of as they occur in the course of the the felicity of those ages, when a spirit of revenge and work. Many have been occasioned by an injudicious cruelty, joined with the practice of rapine and rob- endeavour to exalt Virgil; which is much the same, bery, reigned through the world; when po mercy was as if one should think to raise the superstructure by shown, but for the sake of lucre, when the greatest undermining the foundation : one would imagine by princes were put to the sword, and their wives and the whole course of their parallels, that these critics daughters made slaves and concubines ? On the other never so much as heard of Homer's having written side, I would not be so delicate as those modern first; a consideration which, whoever compares these critics, who are shocked at the servile offices and two poets, ought to have always in his eye. Some mean employments in which we sometimes see the accuse him for the same things which they overlook heroes of Homer engaged. There is a pleasure in or praise in the other; as when they prefer the fable taking a view of that simplicity, in opposition to the and moral of the Encis to those of the liad, for the luxury of succeeding ages ; in beholdmg monarchs same reasons which might set the Odysses above without their guards, princes tending their flocks, and the Æneis : as that the hero is a wiser man; and the processes drawing water from the springs. When action of the one more beneficial to his country than we read Homer, we ought to reflect that we are rea- that of the other: or else they blame him for not doing ding the most ancient author in the heathen world; what he never designed ; as because Achilles is not and those who consider him in this light, will double as good a prince as Eneas, when the very moral of their pleasure in the perusal of him. Let them think his poem required a contrary character: it is thus that they are growing acquainted with nations and people Rapin judges in his comparison of Homer and Virgil. that are now do more; that they are stepping almost Others select those particular passages of Homer, three tbousand years back into the remotest antiquity, which are not so laboured as some that Virgil drew and entertaining themselves with a clear and surpris- out of them; this is the whole management of Scaliing vision of things no where else to be found, the ger in his Poetices. Others quarrel with what they only true mirror of that ancient world. By this means take for low and mean expressions, sometimes through alone their greatest obstacles will vanish; and what a false delicacy and refinement, oftener from an igusually creates their dislike will become a satisfaction. norance of the graces of the original; and then triumph
This consideration may further serve to answer for in the awkwardness of their own translations : this is the constant use of the same epithets to his gods and the conduct of Perault in his Parallels. Lastly, there beroes, such as the far-darting Phæbus, the blue-eyed are others, who, pretending to a fairer proceeding, Pallas, the swift-footed Achilles, &c. which some distinguish between the personal merit of Homer, have censured as impertinent and tediously repeated. and that of his work; but when they come to assign Those of the gods depended upon the powers and the causes of the great reputation of the Iliad, they offices then believed to belong to them, and had con- found it upon the ignorance of his times and the pretracted a weight and veneration from the rites and judice of those that followed: and in pursuance of solemn devotions in which they were used: they were this principle, they make those accidents (such as the a sort of attributes with which it was a matter of reli- contention of the cities, &c.) to be the causes of his glon to salute thein or all occasions, and which it was fame, which were in reality the consequences of his an irreverence to omit. As for the epithets of great merit. The same might as well be said of Virgil or men, Mons. Boileau is of opinion, that they were in the any great author, whose general character will innature of surnames, and repeated as such; for the fallibly raise many casual additions to their reputation. Greeks having no names derived from their fathers, This is the method of Mons. de la Motte; who yet were obliged to add some other distinction of each per- confesses upon the whole, that in whateverage Homer son ; either naming his parents expressly, or his place had lived, he must have been the greatest poet of his of birth, profession, or the like: as Alexander the son of nation, and that he may be said in this sense to be Philip, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, Diogenes the Cy- the master even of those who surpassed him. hic, &c. Homer, therefore, complying with the custom In all these objections we see nothing that contraof his country, used such distinctive additions as bet- dicts his title to the honour of the chief invention ; ter agreed with poetry. And indeed we have some- and as long as this (which is indeed the characterthing parallel to these in modern times, such as theistic of poetry itself remains unequalled by his followbalties of Harold Harefoot, Edmund Ironside, Ed- ers, he still continues superior to them. A cooler Ward Longshanks, Edward the Black Prince, &c. judgment may commit fewer faults, and be more apIf yet this be thought to account better for the proprie- proved in the eyes of one sort of critics : but that ty than for the repetition, I shall add a farther conjec- warmth of fancy will carry the loudest and most ture
. Hesiod, dividing the world into its different ages, universal applauses, which holds the heart of a reader bas placed a fourth age between the brazen and the under the strongest enchantment. Homer not only iron one, of' Heroes distinct from other men ; a divine appears the inventor of poetry, but excels all the inrace who fought at Thebes and Troy, are called demi- ventors of other arts in this, that he has swallowed gods, and live by the care of Jupiter in the islands of the up the honour of those who succeeded him. What
* Preface to her Homer.
| Hesiod. lib. i. ver. 155, &c.
he has done admitted no increase, it only left room vilely creeping in his train, while the poet himself is for contraction or regulation. He showed all the all the time proceeding with an unaffected and equal stretch of fancy at once; and if he has failed in majesty before them. However, of the two exsome of his flights, it was but because he attempted tremes, one could sooner pardon frenzy than frigidity : every thing. A work of this kind seems like a mighty no author is to be envied for such commendations as tree which rises from the most vigorous seed, is im- he may gain by that character of style, which his proved with industry, flourishes and produces the friends must agree together to call simplicity, and the finest fruit : nature and art conspire to raise it : plea- rest of the world will call dulness. There is a gracesure and profit join to make it valuable: and they who ful and dignified simplicity, as well as a bald and find the justest faults, have only said, that a few bran- sordid one, which differ as much from each other as ches (which run luxuriant through a richness of na- the air of a plain man from that of a sloven; it is one ture) might be lopped into form to give it a more thing to be tricked up, and another not to be dressed regular appearance.
at all. Simplicity is the mean between ostentation Having now spoken of the beauties and defects of and rusticity. the original, it remains to treat of the translation, with This pure and noble simplicity is no where in such the same view to the chief characteristic. As far as perfection as in the Scripture and our author. One that is seen in the main parts of the poem, such as may affirm, with all respect to the inspired writings, the fable, manners, and sentiments, no translator can that the divine Spirit made use of no other words prejudice it but by wilful omissions and contractions. but what were intelligible and common to men at As it also breaks out in every particular image, de- that time, and in that part of the world; and as Homer scription, and simile; whoever lessens or too much is the author nearest to those, his style must of course softens those, takes off from this chief character. It bear a greater resemblance to the sacred books than is the first grand duty of an interpreter, to give his that of any other writer. This consideration (toauthor entire and unmaimed ; and for the rest, the gether with what has been observed of the parity of diction and versification only are his proper province; some of his thoughts) may methinks induce a transsince these must be his own; but the others, he is to lator on the one hand to give into several of those take as he finds them.
general phrases and manners of expression, which It should then be considered what methods may have attained a veneration even in our language from afford some equivalent in our language for the graces being used in the Old Testament; as on the other, to of these in the Greek. It is certain no literal trans- avoid those which have been appropriated to the lation can be just to an excellent original in a superior Divinity, and in a manner consigned to mystery and language: but it is a great mistake to imagine (as religion. many have done) that a rash paraphrase can make For a farther preservation of this air of simplicity, amends for this general defect; which is no less in a particular care should be taken to express with danger to lose the spirit of an ancient, by deviating all plainness those moral sentences and proverbial into the modern manners of expression. If there be speeches which are so numerous in this poet. They sometimes a darkness, there is often a light in anti- have something venerable, and as I may say oracular, quity, which nothing better preserves than a version in that unadorned gravity and shortness with which almost literal. I know no liberties one ought to they are delivered : a grace which would be utterly take, but those which are necessary for transfusing lost by endeavouring to give them what we call a the spirit of the original, and supporting the poetical more ingenious (that is, a more modern) turn in the style of the translation : and I will venture to say, paraphrase. there have not been more men misled in former times Perhaps the mixture of some Græcisms and old by a servile dull adherence to the letter, than have words after the manner of Milton, if done without too been deluded in ours by a chimerical and insolent much affectation, might not have an ill effect in a hope of raising and improving their author. It is not version of this particular work, which most of any to be doubted that the fire of the poem is what a other seems to require a venerable antique cast. But translator should principally regard, as it is most certainly the use of modern terms of war and golikely to expire in his managing: however, it is his vernment, such as platoon, campaign, junto, or the safest way to be content with preserving this to his like (into which some of his translators have fallen) utmost in the whole, with endeavouring to be more cannot be allowable ; those only excepted, without than he finds his author is, in any particular place. It which it is impossible to treat the subjects in any is a great secret in writing to know when to be plain, living language. and when to be poetical and figurative ; and it is what There are two peculiarities in Homer's diction Homer will teach us, if we will but follow modestly which are a sort of marks, or moles, by which every in his footsteps. Where his diction is bold and lofty, common eye distinguishes him at first sight: those let us raise ours as high as we can; but where his is who are not his greatest admirers look upon them as plain and bumble, we ought not to be deterred from defects, and those who are, seem pleased with them imitating him by the fear of incurring the censure of as beauties. I speak of his compound epithets, and a mere English critic. Nothing that belongs to of his repetitions. Many of the former cannot be Homer seems to have been more commonly mistaken done literally into English without destroying the than the just pitch of his style : some of his transla- purity of our language. I believe such should be tors having swelled into fustian in a proud confidence retained as slide easily of themselves into an English of the sublime; others sunk into flatness in a cold compound, without violence to the ear or to the reand timorous notion of simplicity. Methinks I see ceived rules of composition : as well as those which these different followers of Homer, some sweating and have received a sanction from the authority of our straining after him by violent leaps and bounds (the best poets, and are become familiar through their use certain signs of false mettle ;) others slowly and ser-lof them; such as the cloud-compelling Jove, &c. As