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AXX' am £eipuf 010 \tyvimtotlas airas?
Or as, in the tender Bion,
A<«£ki Ton ASuvii, avu\tlo xaX©' ASwur;
to instance in no more? If we cast a transient view over the most celebrated of the modern lyrics, we may observe, that the stanza of * Petrarch, which has been adopted by all his successors, displeases the ear, by its tedious unifor
* Petrarch was taught the Greek language, which was at that time unknown in Italy, by Barlaham, a learned monk of Calabria; which country having been a colony of Greeks, retained some traces of their tongue. Soon afterwards Boccace learned Greek of Leontius Pilatus, of Thessalonica, who explained Homer to him for three years; after which time Boccace founded a lecture for the explanation of the Iliad and Odyssey. After Boccace's death, the republic of Florence invited Emanuel Chrysoloras, a nobleman of Constantinople, to open an academy for teaching the Greek language about the year 1394, This Chrysoloras came into England, to solicit Richard II. to enter into an alliance against the Turks. Aniong his scholars were Leonardus Aretinus, Paulus Vergerius, Guarinus, Leonicenus, Typhernas, Philelphus, and other famous writers, Petrarch died in the year 1374. Boccace in 1376. Chaucer in 1400. The Greek tongue was brought into England by William Grocyn. He was fellow of New College, ir» Oxford, and died about the year 1520,
mity, and by the number of identical cadences. And, indeed, to speak the truth, there appears to be little valuable in Petrarch, except the purity of his diction. His sentiments, even of love, are metaphysical, and far fetched; neither is there much variety in his subjects, or fancy in his method of treating them. Metastasio is a much better lyric poet. When Boileau attempted an ode, he' exhibited a glaring proof, of what has frequently been hinted in the course of this Essay, that the writer whose grand characteristical talent is satiric or moral poetry, will never succeed, with equal merit, in the higher branches of his art. In his ode on the taking Namur, are' instances of the* Bombastic, of the Prosaic, and of the Puerile. And it is no small confirVol. i. F mation
. . '. i
* An instance of the First is to be found in the third stanza. Of the Second,' in the ninth stanza.
Qui domta Lille, Coutrai,
Of the Third sort, is his making a star or comet fatal to his enemies, of the white feather which the king usually wore in his hat.
mation of the ruling passion of this author, that he could not conclude his ode, but with a severe stroke on his old antagonist Perrault, though the majesty of this species of compositions are so much injured by descending to personal satire. The name of Malherbe is respectable, as he was the first reformer of the French poesy, and the first who gave his countrymen any idea of a legitimate ode; though his own pieces have hardly any thing but harmony to recommend them. The Odes of la Motte, though so highly praised by Sanadon, and by Fontenelle, are fuller of delicate sentiment, and philosophical reflection, than of imagery, figures, and poetry. There are particular stanzas eminently good, but not one entire ode. Some of Rousseau, particularly that to Fortune, and some of his psalms; and one or two of Voltaire, particularly to the king of Prussia, on his accession to the throne, and on Maupertuis's travels to the north, to measure the degrees of the meridian towards the equator; seem to arise above that correct mediocrity which distinguishes the lyric poetry of the French. In this ode of Voltaire, we find aprosopopeia of Americus, and afterwards a speech of Newton, on
the the design of this traveller and his companions, that approach to the sublime;
Comme ils parloient ainsi, Newton dans l'empirge,
Confirmez, disoit il, a la terre eclair^e
.. . f
I hope I shall not transgress a very sensible observation of Pope, who would have a true critic be
Stijl pleas'd to praise, yet not afraid to blame,
if I should say, we have lately seen two or three lyric pieces superior to any he has left us; I mean an Ode on Lyric Poetry, and another to Lord Huntingdon, by Dr. Akenside; and a Chorus of British Bards, by Mr. Gilbert West, at the end of the Institution of the Order of the Garter.* Both these are written with regular returns of the Strophe, Antistrophe, and Epode, which give a truly F 2 Pindaric
* Together with some of the Odes of Mr. William Collins, who had a strong and fruitful imagination; and the Ghorua on Death in Mr. Mason's Caractacus,
Pindaric variety to the numbers, that is wanting not only to the best French and Italian, but even to the best Latin odes. In the pieces here commended, the figures are strong, and the transitions bold, and there is a just mixture of sentiment and imagery; and particularly, they are animated with a noble spirit of liberty. I must refer the reader to the characters of Alcaeus and of Milton in the two first, and to the stanza of Mr. West's Ode on the Barons procuring Magna Charta, which I shall insert at length.
On yonder plain,