Abbildungen der Seite

adduced as proofs of the truth of the Christian Religion by any found and conclusive reasoner. The learned Heyne has discussed this point in his notes on the fecond eclogue of Virgil, p. 73. v. 1. ; and he adds an opinion about prophecy in general, too remarkable to be omitted, but of too delicate a nature to be quoted in any words but his own. “ Scilicet inter omnes populos, magna imprimis calamitate oppressos, Vaticinia circumferri solent, quæ five graviora minari, five lætiora folent polliceri, eaque, necessariâ rerum viciffitudine, melioribus aliquando fuccedentibus temporibus, ferè femper eventum habent. Nullo tamen tempore vaticiniorum insanius fuit ftudium, quàm fub extrema Reipublicæ Romanæ tempora, primosque imperatores; cum bellorum civitium calamitates hominum animos terroribus omnis generis agitatos; ad varia portentorum prodigiorum, & vaticiniorum ludibria convertiffent, Quascunque autem hoc in genere descriptiones, novæ felicitatis habemus, five in Orientis five in Græcis & Romanis poetis, omnes inter fe fimiles funt: bestiæ ac feræ cicures, ferpentes innocui, fruges nullo cultû enatæ, mare plaidum, dii presentes in terris, aliaque ejusmodi in omnibus memorantur. contradi&tion to this opinion the reader is desired to turn to as remarkable a passage at the end of the twenty-first of Bishop Lowth's excellent Lectures on the Hebrew Poetry.




Y Nymphs of Solyma! begin the song:

To heav'nly themes, sublimer strains belong.
The moffy fountains, and the sylvan shades,
The dreams of Pindus and th' Aonian maids,
Delight no more- Thou my voice inspire
Who touch'd Isaiah's hallow'd lips with fire!

Rapt into future times, the Bard begun:
A Virgin shall conceive, a Virgin bear a Son!



VER. 8. A Virgin fall conceive-All crimes shall cease, &c.] Virg. Ecl. iv. ver. 6.

“ Jam redit et Virgn, redeunt Saturnia regna ;

Jam nova progenies coelo demittitur alto.
Te duce, fi qua manent sceleris veftigia noftri,
Irrita perpetua

solvent formidine terrasPacatumque reget patriis virtutibus orbem.” “ Now the Virgin returns, now the kingdom of Saturn returns, now a new progeny is sent down from high heaven. By means of thee, whatever reliques of our crimes remain, shall be wiped away, and free the world from perpetual fears. He shall govern the earth in peace, with the virtues of his father.”

Isaiah, Ch. vii. v. 14.-“ Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a fon." -Ch. ix. v. 6, 7. “ Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; the Prince of Peace: of the increase of his government, and of his peace, there shall be no end: Upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order and to establish it, with judgment, and with justice, for ever and ever.” P.

* Dante fays, that Statius was made a Christian by reading this paffage in Virgil. See L. Gyraldus, p. 534.


[ocr errors]

From a Jesse's root behold a branch arise,
Whose facred flow'r with fragrance fills the skies:
Th’ Ethereal Spirit o'er its leaves shall move,
And on its top descends the mystic Dove.
Ye bheav'ns! from high the dewy nectar pour,
And in soft silence shed the kindly show'r!


VER. 10. with fragrance fills ] Badly translated by Dr. Johnson ;

mulcentesque æthera flores

Cæleftes lambunt animæVer. 13. The heav'ns! from high the dewy neitar pour, And in Soft silence shed the kindly flow'r!] His original says, “ Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteoufness : let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together.”—This is a very noble description of divine grace fhed abroad in the hearts of the faithful under the Gospel dispensation. And the poet understood all its force, as appears from the two lines preceding these,-Tl'Ethereal Spirit, &c. The prophet describes this under the image of rain, which chiefly fits the first age of the Gospel : The poet, under the idea of dew, which extends it to every age. And it was his purpose it should be so understood, as appears from his expression of foft silence, which agrees with the common, not the extraordinary effusions of the Holy Spirit. The figurative term is wonderfully' happy. He who would moralize the ancient Mythology in the manner of Bacon, would say, that by the poetical nečar, is meant the grace of the Theologists.

W. This interpretation of the words rain and dew, and of the common and the extraordinary effufions of the Holy Spirit, is to the last degree forced, and fanciful, and far-fetched. Warburton, it must be confeffed, frequently disgraced his acuteness and great talents, by endeavouring to find out and extort new meanings in the authors whom he undertook to criticise. This interpretation is near a-kin to that marvellous one which he has given to a fpeech in the second Act of Hamlet, where he contends, that the words, “ if the fun breeds maggots in a dead dog, being a God, killing carrion,” point out the supreme caufe diffusing its blessings


a Isai. xi. v.d.

b Ch. xlv. v. 8.


The è sick and weak the healing plant shall aid,

15 From storms a shelter, and from heat a shade. All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail ; Returning “Justice lift aloft her scale; Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend, And white-rob’d Innocence from heav'n descend. 20 Swift fly the years, and rise the expected morn! Oh spring to light, auspicious Babe, be born! See Nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring, With all the incense of the breathing spring :

REMARKS. on mankind, who is, as it were, a dead carrion, dead in original fin, man, instead of a proper return of duty, fhould breed only corruption and vices. Are these sort of interpretations a jot less ridiculous than that of Father Harduin's on the twentieth ode of the second book of Horace, who tells us, this ode is a profopopeia of Christ triumphing and addressing the Jews after his resurrection? That biformis vates alludes to his being in formâ dei, and in forma servi. That the second part of the allegory points to the Dominicans, who should preach and diffuse his gospel to distant nations; that alitem album, meant their white garments; and refidunt pelles cruribus afperæ, their boots.

Ver. 17. ancient fraud] i. e. the fraud of the ferpent. W.

Ver. 23. See Nature] Perhaps the dignity, the energy, and the fimplicity of the original, are in a few passages weakened and diminished by Aorid epithets, and useless circumlocutions.

See Nature haftes her earliest wreaths to bring,
With all the incense of the breathing spring :

VER. 23. See Nature hastes, &c.]
Virg. Ecl. iv. v. 18.

At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula gultu,

Errantes hederas passim cum baccare tellus,
Mixtaque ridenti colocafia fundet acantho-
Ipsa, tibi blandos fundent cunabula flores.”

66 For c Ifai. xxv. V.

4 Ch. ix. v. . 1.4.

See VOL.I.



See lofty Lebanon his head advance,
See nodding forests on the mountains dance :
See spicy clouds from lowly Saron rise,
And Carmel's flow'ry top perfumes the skies !
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers;
Prepare the fway! a God, a God appears:


REMARKS. Are lines which have too much prettiness, and too modern an air. The judicious addition of circumstances and adjuncts is what renders poefy 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 New falls of water murm’ring in his ear *. A ftriking example of a similar beauty may be added from Thomson. Melisander, in the Tragedy of Agamemnon, after telling us he was conveyed in a veffel, at midnight, to the wildest of the Cyclades, adds, when the pitilefs mariners had left him in that dreadful folitude,

I never heard
A sound fo dismal as their parting oars !

On IMITATIONS. “For thee, O Child, shall the earth, without being tilled, produce her early offerings; winding ivy, mixed with Baccar, and Colocafa with smiling Acanthus. Thy cradle fhall pour forth pleasing flowers about thee.”

Isaiah, Ch. xxxv. v. 1. « The wilderness and the folitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rofe."-Ch. lx. V. 13. « The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of thy fanctuary."

Ver. 29. Hark! a glad voice, etc.)
Virg. Ecl. iv. v. 46.

Aggredere ô magnos, aderit jam tempus, honores,
Cara deûm foboles, magnum Jovis incrementum

Isai. xxxv. V.2.

f Ch. xl. v. 3, 4.

* Meff. v. 70.

A God,

« ZurückWeiter »