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And tho' sometimes they near approach the fun,
We are now to speak of those preceptive poems that treat of the business and pleasures of mankind; and here Virgil claims our first and principal attention, who in his Georgics has laid down the rales of husbandry in all its branches with the utmost exactness and perfpicuity, and at the same time embellished them with all the beauties and graces of poetry. Tho' his subject was hufbandry, he has delivered his precepts, as an ingenious author ob ferves, not with the fimplicity of a ploughman, but with the addtefs of a poet. The meanest of his rules are laid down with a kind of grandeur, and be breaks the clods, and toffes about the dung with an air of gracefulness *. Of ' the different ways of conveying the fame truth to the mind, he takes that which is pleafanteft ; and this chiefly distinguishes poetry from prose, and renders Virgil's rules of husbandry inore delightful and valuable than any other.
These poems which are esteemed the most perfect of the author's works are, perhaps, the best that can be proposed for the young fudents imitation in this manner of writing; for the whole of his Georgics is wrought up with wonderful art, and decorated with all the flowers of poetry.
In the first of the four books, he proposes the general design of each Georgic, and afier a solemn invocation of all the heathen deities, who are supposed to be any ways concerned in rural affairs, he addresses himself particularly to Auguftus Cæfar, whom he compliments with Die vinity: then falling in with his subject, he speaks of the different kinds of tillage, that are suitable to different foils; traces out the origin of agriculture ; pretents us with a catalogue of the implements of husbandry, and points out the business peculiar to each season. He next describes the changes of the weather, and the signs in the heavens and the earth, by which the approaching change may be foretold; and in compliment to Augufus, introduces some prodigies which are said co have pre
* Mr, Addison.
ceded the death of Julius Cæfar. This naturally leads him to implore the gods, for the preservation of AuguJtus and of Rome, and with this supplication he concludes his first Georgic.
After the ligns in the heavens, portending the change of weather, which are too many to be here inserted, the prodigies that are supposed to have preceded Cæsar's death, and the destructive war occasioned by it, are very artfully introduced ; and, tho' no one can believe that Nature suffered these commotions in behalf of a man who had enslaved his country, yet all will be pleased with the poet's address, and the circumstances he has allimulated on the occasion.
The fun reveals the secrets of the sky;
Nor was the fact foretold by him alone :
Blood fprang from wells, wolves howl'd in town by night,
The subject of the second book is planting, in whiih the poet points out all the different methods of raising trees ; speaks of their variety, and lays down rules for the management of each. He then describes the soils that are suitable to the different plants ;, makes a dia gression in praise of his native country ; gives some directions for discovering the nature of each foil ; lays down rules for dressing vines, olives, &c. and concludes with a fine panegyrick on rural life.
As this Georgic abounds with beauties, we shall confider it more particularly, and give the reader fome ex. amples of the manner in which he has treated the subject. What he has said with respect to the grafting and management of trees, is worthy of our admiration.
'Tis usual now, an inmate graff to see
But various are the ways to change the state
Here Virgil, in considering the effects of the union between trees of different kinds, attends particularly to those circumstances that feemed the most wonderful and which not only expressed the capacity and tendency. of trees to be thus united, but excited at the same time admiration and pleasure in the mînd.--His method of tranfplanting trees is altogether as beautiful, and can. cludes with a fine reflection on the force and power of custom.
Some peasants, not t’omit the nicest care,
But because precepts laid down one after another, notwithstanding all the poet's endeavours to make them entertaining, would by degrees tire, Virgil suffers the reader sometimes to rest for the sake of a pertinent and
pleasing digression, or leads him out of the road to entertain him with a beautiful description.--Such is that of Italy.
Bat neither Median woods, (a plenteous land)
The following description is of the same beautiful cast; and the reader will observe that these, and indeed all the descriptions in Virgil, are so artfully introduced, that they seem to arise naturally out of the principal argument and design of the poem.
But easy quiet,' a secure retreat,