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• That Pope has not equalled Theocritus, will, indeed, appear less surprising, if we reflect, that no original writer ever remained so unrivalled hy succeeding copyists as this Sicilian master.
. If it should be objected, that the barrenness of invention, imputed to Pope from a view of his Pastorals, is equally imputable to the Bu, colics of Virgil, it may be answered, that, whatever may be determined of the rest, yet the first and last Eclogues of Virgil, are indisputable proofs of true genius, and power of fancy. The influence of war on the tranquillity of rural life, j rendered the subject of the first new and interesting: its composition is truly dramatic; and the characters of its two shepherds are well supported, and happily contrasted: and the last has expressively painted the changeful resolutions, the wild wishes, the passionate and abrupt exclamations, of a disappointed and despairing lover.
\Upon the whole, the principal merit of the Pastorals of Pope, consists in their correct ] and musical versification^musical, to a degree, i of which rhyme could hardly be thought capable;
ble; and in giving the first specimen of that harmony in English verse, which is now become indispensably necessary, and which has so forcibly and universally influenced the public ear, as to have rendered every moderate rhymer melodious. Vjpope lengthened the abruptness of Waller, and at the same time contracted the exuberance of
I remember to have been informed, by an intimate friend of Pope, that he had once laid a design of writing American Eclogues. The subject would have been fruitful of the most poetical imagery; and, if properly executed, would have rescued the author from the accusation here urged, of having written Eclogues without invention.
Our author, who had received aft early tincture of religion, a reverence for which he preserved to the last, wa&, with justice, convinced, that the Scriptures of God contained not only the purest precepts of morality, but the most elevated and sublime strokes of genuine poesy; strokes as much superior to any thing Heathenism I can can produce, as is Jehovah to Jupiter. This is the case more particularly in the exalted prophecy of Isaiah, which Pope has so successfully versified in an Eclogue, that incontestably surpasses the Pollio of Virgil: although, perhaps, the dignity, the energy, and the simplicity, of the original, are in a few passages weakened and diminished by florid epithets, and useless circumlocutions.
See, Nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring.
are lines which have too much prettiness, and too modern an air. The judicious addition of circumstances and adjuncts, is what renders poesy a more lively imitation of nature than prose. Pope has been happy in introducing the following circumstance: the prophet says, "The parched ground shall become a pool:" Our author expresses this idea by saying, that the shepherd
—shall Start amid the thirsty wild to hear
A striking example of a similar beauty may be 1 added from Thomson. Melisander, in the Tra-. gedy of Agamemnon, after • telling us he was conveyed in a vessel, at midnight, to the wildest of the Cyclades, adds, when the pitiless manners had left him in that dreadful solitude,
— — I never heard
A sound so dismal as their parting oars!
'On the other hand, the prophet has been sometimes particular, when Pope has been only general. "Lift up thine eyes round about, and see; all they gather themselves together, they come to
thee :- The multitude of Camels shall cover
thee: the Dromedaries of Midian and Ephah: all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord. All the Flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee; the Rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee."* In imitating this passage, Pope has omitted the different beasts that in so picturesque a manner characterize the different countries which were to be gathered together
* Isaiah, c. lx. v. 4, 6, 7.
gether on this important event, and says only,' in undistinguishing terms,
.. . '. t
See, barbarous nations at thy gates attend, . •..,' .' ," .»
As prosperity and happiness are described in this Eclogue by a combination of the most pleasing and agreeable objects, so misery and destruction are as forcibly delineated in the same Isaiah, by the circumstances of distress and desolation, that were to attend the fall of that magnificent city, Babylon: and the latter is, perhaps, a more proper and interesting subject for poetry than the former; as such kinds of objects make the deepest impression on the mind; terror being a stronger sensation than joy. Accordingly, a noble ode on the destruction of Babylon, taken from the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah, has been written by Dr. Lowth; whose Latin prelections on the inimitable poesy of the Hebrews, abounding in remarks