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jEneid.* Turnus, at first, suitably to his character, treats her as an impertinent old priestess, whose habit she had indeed borrowed. Upon which she instantly kindles into rage, assumes her own horrid shape in a moment, the serpents hiss around her head, and her countenance spreads forth in all its terrors:
At juveni oranti subitus tremor occupat artus;
In no part of Virgil's writings is there more true spirit and sublimity, than in this interview between Turnus and the Fury, both whose characters are strongly supported. But to return to Fame. Virgil has represented her as a dreadful and gigantic monster, in which conception, though he might have been assisted by the Dis^ Cord of Homer, yet his figure is admirably designed to impress terror. She has innumerable tongues, mouths, eyes and ears; the sound of her wings is heard at the dead of night, as she flies through the middle of the air:
* Ver. 446.
Nocte volat coeli medio, terraeque per umbram
In the day-time she sits watchful on battlements, and on the highest towers, and terrifies great cities, who gaze at her huge and formidable appearance:
Luce sedet custos, aut summi culmine tecti,
It did not suit Pope's purpose to represent Fame as so odious a monster. He has therefore dropped these striking circumstances in Virgil, and softened her features:
20. With her the Temple ev'ry moment grew,
Anon out of the earth a fabric huge
This circumstance of the temple's enlarging with the growing figure of the goddess, is lively, and well imagined. The reader feels a pleasure in having his eye carried through a length of building, almost to an immensity. Extension is certainly a cause of the sublime. In this view the following passage of Thomson may be considered, where he speaks of a lazar-house in his Castle of Indolence :*
Through the drear caverns stretching many a mile,
The sick uprear'd their heads, and dropp'd their woes awhile.
21. Next these a youthful train their vows express'd,
Strokes of pleasantry and humour, and satirical reflections on the foibles of common life, are surely too familiar, and unsuited to so grave and majestic a poem as this hitherto has appeared to
'* Stanza lxix. c. 2. t Ver. 378.
be. Such incongruities offend propriety; though I know ingenious persons have endeavoured to excuse them, by saying, that they add a variety of imagery to the piece. This practice is even defended by a passage in Horace:
Et sermone opus est modo tristi, saepe jocoso,
But this judicious remark is, I apprehend, confined to ethic and preceptive kinds of writieg, which stand in need of being enlivened with lighter images, and sportive thoughts; and where strictures on common life may more gracefully be inserted. But in the higher kinds of poesy, they appear as unnatural, and out of place, as one of the burlesque scenes of Heemskirk would do in a solemn landscape of Poussin. When I see such a line as
"And at each blast a lady's honour dies," . »
in the Temple of Fame, I lament as much to find it placed there, as to see shops, and sheds, 1 and and cottages, erected among the ruins of Dioclesian's Baths.
On the revival of literature, the first writers seemed not to have observed any Selection in their thoughts and images. Dante, Petrarch, Boccace, Ariosto, make very sudden transitions from the sublime to the ridiculous. Chaucer, in his Temple of Mars, among many pathetic pictures, has brought in a strange line,
The coke is scalded for all his long ladell.*
No writer has more religiously observed the decorum here recommended than Virgil.
22. This having heard and seen, some pow'r unknown,
Strait chang'd the scene, and snatch'd me from the throne;
The scene here changes from the Temple of Fame to that of Rumour. Such a change is not Vol. i. D d methinks
* Thus again; "As jEsop's dogs contending for a
bone;" and many others.
t Ver. 417.