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While in more lengthen'd notes and flow,
Hark! the numbers soft and clear
And fill with spreading sounds the skies ;
'Till, by degrees, remote and small,
The strains decay,
And melt away,
music, and Mr. Gray, whose musical feelings were exquisite, with a knowledge of the art, gave him an idea for the overture, which seemed equally proper and striking. In this respect, as well as many others, he resembled Milton.
The name and the genius of Cowley gave, for many years, a currency and vogue to irregular odes, called Pindaric. One of the best of which species is that of Cobb, called, the Female Reign ; . and two of the worst, Sprat’s Plague of Athens, and Bolingbroke's Almahide. Congreve is thought to be the firit writer that gave a specimen of a legitimate Pindaric ode, with strophe, antistrophe, and ode, elucidated with a sensible and judicious preface on the subject. But it does not seem to have been observed, that, long before, Ben Jonnson had given a model of this very species of a regular Pindaric ode, addrest to Sir Lucius Cary and Sir H. Morrison, page 233 of his works, folio, in which he entitles each stanza the turne, the counter-turne, and the stand. Though Congreve's ode is not extraordinary, yet the discourse prefixed to it has a great deal of learning. Dr. Akenside frequently mentioned to me, as one of the best of the regular Pindaric odes, Fenton's to Lord Gower, 1716. Mr. Gray was of opinion, that the stanzas of these regular odes ought not to consift of above nine lines each, at the most.
VER. 7. Let the loud trumpet found, &c.] Our Author, in his rules for good writing, had said, that the found should be an echo
Nor swell too high, nor fink too low.
25 Or, when the soul is press’d with cares,
Exalts her in enliv'ning airs.
List'ning Envy drops her snakes ;
But NOTES. to the sense. The graces it adds to the harmony are obvious. But we should never have seen all the advantages arising from this rule, had this ode not been written. In which, one may venture to say, is found all the harmony that poetic found, when it comes in aid of sense, is capable of producing.
W. This panegyric is certainly carried too high: this ode is not the consummation of true poetic harmony.
Ver. 22.] This stanza much resembles the fifth of Congreve's music ode ; the second of which, by the way, is uncommonly good. It is remarkable that Pope knew nothing of music, and had no ear for it; as had Milton, Gray, and Mason: the last of whom is an excellent performer and composer.
VER. 35. Dr. Greene set this ode to music, in 1730, as an exercise for his Doctor's Degree at Cambridge, on which occasion Pope made considerable alteration in it, and added the following ftanza in this place.
Amphion thus bade wild distension cease,
And soften'd mortals learn'd the arts of peace,
Enflam'd with glory's charms:
Amphion taught contending kings,
From various discords, to create
The music of a well-tun'd state;
Those useful touches to impart,
That strike the subject's answering heart,
From facred union and consent of things. And he made another alteration, at the same time, in ftanza iv. .51, and wrote it thus;
Sad Orpheus sought his confort loft ;
But dreadful gleams, &c.
VER.40. While Argo] Few images in any poet, ancient or modern, are more striking than that in Apollonius, where he says, that when the Argo was failing near the coast where the Centaur Chiron dwelt, he came down to the very margin of the fea, bringing his wife with the young Achilles in her arms, that he might thew the child to his father Peleus, who was on his voyage with the other Argonauts. Apollonius Rhodius, Lib. v.
Each chief his sev’nfold shield display'd,
To arms, to arms, to arms!
Love, strong as Death, the Poet led
NOTES: VER. 48. To arms, to arms,] Which effects of the fong, however lively, do not equal the force and spirit of what Dryden ascribes to the fong of his Grecian artist; whose imagery in this passage is so alive, so sublime, and fo animated, that the poet himself appears to be strongly poffefsed of the action described, and consequently places it fully before the eyes of the reader.
Mr. St. John, afterwards Lord Bolingbroke, happening to pay a morning visit to Dryden, whom he always respected, found him in an unusual agitation of spirits, even to a trembling. On enquiring the cause, “ I have been up all night, (replied the old bard); my musical friends made me promise to write them an ode for their Feast of St. Cæcilia: I have been so ftruck with the subject which occurred to me, that I could not leave it till I had completed it: here it is, finished at one fitting.” And immediately he shewed him this ode, which places the British lyric poetry above that of any other nation. This anecdote, as true as it is curious, was imparted by Lord Bolingbroke to Pope, by Pope to Mr. Gilbert West, by him to my ingenious friend Mr. Berenger, who communicated it to me. The rapidity, and yet the perfpicuity of the thoughts, the glow and the expressiveness of the images, those certain marks of the first sketch of a master, conspire to corroborate the fact. It is not to be understood, that this piece was not afterwards reconsidered, retouched, and corrected.
Ver. 49. But when] See Divine Legation, Book ii. fect. 1. Where Orpheus is considered as a Philosopher, a Legislator, and a Mystagogue. In vol. v. of the Memoirs of Inscriptions, &c.
What sounds were heard,
But hark! he strikes the golden lyre ;
And the pale spectres dance; The Furies sink upon their iron beds, And snakes uncurl'd hang list ning round their heads.
O'er the Elysian flow'rs;
NOTES. P. 117, is a very curious dissertation upon the Orphic Life, by the Abbé Fraguier. He was the first critic who rightly interpreted the words of Horace, Cædibus & fædo victû, as meaning an abolition of eating human fesh.
Though the Hymns that remain are not the work of the real Orpheus, yet are they extremely ancient, certainly older than the Expedition of Xerxes against Greece.
VER. 66.] This line is taken from an ode of Cobb.
Ver. 68. Dance ;) A most improper, because ludicrous image