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he should have omitted the opportunity of describing at length its venerable ancient castle, and the fruitful and extensive prospects * which it commands. He slides with dexterity and address from speaking of the miseries of the civil war to the blessings of peace, f Old Father Thames is raised, and acts, and speaks, with becoming dignity. And though the trite and obvious insignia of a river god are attributed, yet there is one circumstance in his appearance highly picturesque,
His sea-green mantle waving with the wind.t
The relievo upon his urn is also finely imagined:
The figur'd streams in waves of silver roll'd.
* The great improvements lately made near WindsorLodge, by the Duke of Cumberland, particularly the magnificent lake and cascade, highly deserve to be celebrated by some future Pope; and would have contributed not a little to the beauty of the poem now before us.
f Ver. 324-. + Ver. 350. || Ver. 335.
He has with exquisite skill selected only those rivers as attendants of Thames, who are his subjects, his tributaries, or neighbours. I cannot resist the pleasure of transcribing the passage:
First the fam'd authors of his ancient name,
As I before produced a passage of Milton which I thought superior to a similar one of Pope, I shall, in order to preserve impartiality, produce another from Milton, in which I think him inferior to the last quoted passage; except, perhaps, in the third line; first remarking, that both authors are much indebted to Spenser, f and perhaps to Drayton.
Rivers, arise ! whether thou be the son
Of utmost Tweed, or Ouse, or gulphy Dun;
* Ver. 339.
f Fairy Queen, B. iv. C. II.
Or Trent, who, like some earth-born giant, spreads
His thirty arms along th' indented meads;
Or sullen Mole, that runneth underneath;
Or Severn swift, guilty of maiden's death;
Or rocky Avon, or of sedgy Lee,
Or coaly Tine, or ancient hallow'd Dee;
Or Humber loud, that keeps the Scythian's name j
Or Medway smooth, or royal-towerM Thame.*
The poets, both ancient and modern, are obliged to the rivers for some of their most striking; descriptions. The Tiber and the Nile of Virgil, the Aufidus of Horace, the Sabrina of Milton, and the Scamander of Homer, are among their capital figures.
The influences and effects of peace, and its consequence, a diffusive commerce, are expressed by selecting such circumstances as are best adapted to strike the imagination by lively pictures; the selection of which chiefly constitutes true poetry. An historian, or prosewriter, might say, *' Then shall the most distant nations croud into my port:" a poet sets
* At a vacation exercise, &c. Ver. 91. Milton was now aged but nineteen.
before your eyes "the ships of uncouth form,"' that shall arrive in the Thames.*
And feather'd people croud my wealthy side;
And the benevolence and poetry of the succeeding wish are worthy admiration.
Till the freed Indians, in their native groves,
The two epithets, native and sable, have peculiar elegance and force; and as Peru was parti* cularly famous for its long succession of Incas, and Mexico for many magnificent works of massy gold, there is great propriety in fixing the restoration of the grandeur of each to that object for which each was once so remarkable^
The group of allegorical personages that succeeds the last mentioned lines, are worthy
* Ver. 400. et seq, f Ver. 409.
the pencil of Rubens or Julio Romano: it may, perhaps, however, be wished that the epithets barbarous, (discord,) mad, (ambition,) hateful, (envyJ * had been particular and picturesque, instead of general and indiscriminating; though it may possibly be urged, that, in describing the dreadful inhabitants of the portal of hell, Virgil has not always used such adjuncts and epithets as a painter or statuary might work after; he says only ultrices Cxivlm, mortiferum Bellum, mala Mentis Gaudia; particularly, malcsuada is only applied to Fames,' instead of a word that might represent the meagre and ghastly figure intended. I make no scruple of adding, that in this famous passage, Virgil has exhibited no images so lively and distinct, as these living figures painted by Pope, each of them with their proper insignia and attributes:
Envy her own snakes shall feel,
And Persecution mourn his broken wheel: