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A person of no small rank has informed me, that Mr. Addison was inexpressibly chagrined at this noble conclusion of WindsorForest, both as a politician and as a poet. As a politician, because it so highly celebrated that treaty of peace which he deemed so pernicious to the liberties of Europe; and as a poet, \ because he was deeply conscious that his own | Campaign, that gazette in rhyme, contained I no strokes of such genuine and sublime poetry as the conclusion before us.
It is one of the greatest and most pleasing arts of descriptive poetry, to introduce moral sentences and instructions in an oblique and indirect manner, in places where one naturally K^y^ expects only painting and amusement. We have virtue, as Pope remarks,* put upon us . / by surprize, and are pleased to find a thing where we should never have looked to meet with it. I must do a pleasing English poet the justice to observe, that it is this particular art
* Iliad. B. 16. in the notes: Ver. 465.
that is the very distinguishing excellence of Cooper's-hill; throughout which, the de
^ scriptions of places, and images raised by the ^poet, are still tending to some hint, or leading \j into some reflection, upon moral life, or political institution; much in the same manner as the real sight of such scenes and prospects
y^/is apt to give the mind a composed turn, and incline it to thoughts and contemplations that have a relation to the object. This is the great ,charm of the incomparable Eiegy written in a Country Church-Yard. Having mentioned the rustic monuments and simple epitaphs of the swains, the amiable poet falls into a very natural reflection:
For who, to dumb forgetful nessa prey,
Of this art Pope has exhibited some speciens in the poem we are examining, but not o many as might be expected from a mind so strongly inclined to a moral way of writ* 1 ing.
ing. After speaking of hunting the hare,, he immediately" subjoins, much in the spirit of Denham,
Beasts urg'd by us their fellow-beasts pursue,
Where he is describing the tyrannies formerly exercised in this kingdom,
Cities laid waste, they stormM the dens and caves,
He instantly adds, with an indignation becom? ing a true lover of liberty,
For wiser brutes were backward to be slaves.f
But I am afraid our author, in the following passage, has fallen into a fault rather uncommon in his writings, a reflection that is very far-fetched and forced;
Here waving groves a chequer'd scene display,
* Ver. 123. But a critic of taste objected to me the use of the word undo; and of the word backward in a subsequent line. t Ver. 50.
As some coy nymph her lover's warm address
Bohours would rank this comparison among
A pathetic reflection, properly introduced \Jinto a descriptive poem, will have greater force
and beauty, and more deeply interest a reader, V/than a moral one. When Pope, therefore, has
described a pheasant shot, he breaks out into
a very masterly exclamation;
Ah! what avail his glossy varying dyes,
His purple crest, and scarlet-circled eyes,
The vivid green his shining plumes unfold,
His painted wings, and breast that flames with gold ?f
This exquisite picture heightens the distress, and powerfully excites the commiseration of
* Ver. 17. f Ver. 115.
the reader. Under this head, it would be unpardonable to omit a capital, .and, I think, one of the most excellent ex'.nples extant, of the beauty here intended, in the third Georgic of Virgil.* The poet having mournfully described a steer struck with a pestilence, and falling down dead in the middle of his work, artfully reminds us of his former services;
Quid labor aut benefactajuvatit? Quid vomers terras
This circumstance would have been sufficient, as it raised our pity from a motive of gratitude j but with this circumstance the tender Virgil was not content; what he adds, therefore, of the natural undeviating temperance of the animal, who cannot have contracted disease by excess, and who for that reason deserved a better fate, is moving beyond compare;
• . Atqui non Massica Bacchi
Munera, non illis epulae nocuere repostae! Frondibus, et victu pascuntuf simplicis herbae; VOL. 1. D Pocula
* Ver. 525.
t By the epithet Craves, Virgil insinuates, after his manner, the difficulty and laboriousnes.* of the work.