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the Carmen Seculare, I cannot but suspect that I might praise or censure it by caprice, without danger of detection; for who can be supposed to have laboured through it? Yet the time has been when this neglected work was so popular, that it was translated into Latin by no common master.
His Poem on the Battle of Ramillies is neceffarily tedious by the form of the stanza : an uniform mass of ten lines, thirty-five times repeated, inconsequential and nightly connected, muft weary both the ear and the understanding. His imitation of Spenser, which consists principally in I ween and I weet, without exclusion of later modes of speech, makes his poem neither ancient nor mo
dern.' His mention of Mars and Bellona, and his comparison of Marlborough to the Eagle that bears the thunder of Jupiter, are all puerile and unaffecting ; and yet more despicable is the long tale told by Lewis in his despair, of Brute and Troynovante, and the teeth of Cadmus, with his fimilies of the raven and cagle, and wolf and lion. By the help of such easy fictions, and vulgar topicks, without acquaintance with life, and without knowledge of art or nature, a poem of any length, cold and lifeless like this, may be easily written on any subject.
In his Epilogues to Phadra and to Lucius, he is very happily facetious; but into the Prologue before the Queen,
the pedant has found his way, with Minerva, Perseus, and Andromeda.
His Epigrams and lighter pieces are; like those of others, fometimes elegant, fometimes trifting, and sometimes dull; among the best are 'the Camelion, and the epitaph on Hohn and Joan.
Scarcely any one of our poets has written so much, and tranflated so little: the verfion of Callimachus is fufficiently licentious', the paraphrafe on St. Paul's Exhortation to Charity is eminently beautiful.
Alma is written in professed imitation of Hudibras, and has at least one accidental resemblance: Hudibras wants a plan, because it is left imperfect; Alma is imperfect, because it seems
never to have had a plan. Prior appears not to have proposed to himself any drift or design, but to have written the casual dictates of the present moment.
What Horace said when he imitated Lucilius, might be said of Butler by Prior, his numbers were not smooth or neat : Prior excelled him in versification, but he was, like Horace, inventore minor; he had not Butler's exuberance of matter and variety of illustration. The spangles of wit which he could afford, he knew how to polish; but he wanted the bullion of his master. Butler pours out a negligent profufion, certain of the weight; but careless of the stamp. Prior has comparatively little, but with D
that little he makes a fine shew. Alma has many admirers, and was the only piece among Prior's works of which Pope said that he should wish to be the author.
Solomon is the work to which he entrusted the protection of his name, and which he expected succeeding ages to regard with veneration. His affection was natural ; it had undoubtedly been written with great labour, and who is willing to think that he has been labouring in vain ? He had infused into it much knowledge and much thought; had often polished it to elegance, often dignified it with splendour, and sometimes heightened it to sublimity: he perceived in it many excellencies, and did