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and conformity of ftyle and colouring, for the fimplex duntaxat & unum, which Horace prefcribes, as requifite to make the whole picture beautiful and perfe&t. As precept, however true in theory, or ufeful in praétice, would be but dry and tedious in verfe, efpecia]ly if the recital be long ; I found it neceffary to form fome ftory, and give a kind of body to the poem. Under what fpecies it may be comprehended, whether Didafcalic or Heroic, I leave to the judgment of the critics ; de. firing them to be favourable in their cenfure ; and not folicitous what the poem is called, provided it may be accepted. The chief perfonage or chara&ter in the epic, is always proportioned to the defign of the work, to carry on the narration and the moral. Homero intended to fhew us in his Iliad, that diffentions amongft great men obftru&t the execution of the nobleft enterprizes, and tend to the ruin of a ftate or kingdom. His Achilles therefore is haughty, and paflionate, impatient of any reftraint by laws, and arrogant in arms. In his Odyffes the fame poet endeavours to explain, that the hardeft difficulties may be overcome by labour, and our fortune reftored after the fevereft affliétions. Ulyffes therefore is valiant, virtuous, A 3 and and patient. Virgil's defign was to tell us, how from a fmall colony eftablifhed by the Trojans in Italy, the Roman empire rofe, and from what antient families Auguftus (who was his prince and patron) defcended. His hero therefore was to fight his way to the throne, £till diftinguifhed and prote&ted by the favour of the Gods. The poet to this end takes offfrom the vices of Achilles, and adds to the virtues of UlyfTes ; from both perfeéting a chara&ter proper for his work

in the perfon of Æneas. As Virgil copied after Homer, other Epic poets have copied after them both. Taffo's Gierufalemme Liberata is direétly Troy Town facked ; with this difference only, that the two chiefi chara&ters in Homer, which the Latin poet had joined in one, the Italian has feparated in his Godfrey and Rinaldo: but he makes them both. carry on his work with very great fuccefs. Ronfard's Franciade, (incomparably good as far as it goes) is again Virgil's Æneis. His hero comes from a foreign country, fettles a colony, and lays the foundation of a future empire. I inftance in thefe, as the greateft Italian ang French poets in the Epic. In our language Spencer has not contented himfelf with this fubmißive manner of imitation: he lanches out into very very flowery paths, which ftill feem to condu&t him into one great road. His Fairy Queen (had it been finifhed) muft have endcd in the account, which, every knight was to give of his adventures, and in the accumulated praifes of his heroine Gloriana. The whole would have been an Heroic poem, but in another caft and figure, than any that had ever been written before. Yet it is obfervable that every hero (as far as we can judge by the books ftill remaining) bears his diftinguifhed charaéter, and reprefents fome parti

cular virtue conducive to the whole defign. To bring this to our prefent fubje&. The pleafures of life do not compenfate the miferies : age fteals upon us unawares ; and death, as the only cure of our ills, ought to be expeéted, but not feared. This inftru&tion is to be illuftrated by the aétion of fome great perfon. Who therefore more proper for the bufinefs, than Solomon himfelf ? and why may he not be fuppofed now to repeat what, we take it for granted, he a&ted almoft three thoufand years fince ? If in the fair fituation where this prince was placed, he was acquainted with forrow ; if endowed with the greateft perfe&tions of nature, and poffefíed of all the advantages of external condition, he could not find happinefs ; the reft of mankind A 4 may

may fafely take the monarch's word for the truth

of what he afferts. And the author who would perfuade, that we fhould bear the ills of life pa

tiently, merely becaufe Solomon felt the fame, has a better argument, than Lucretius had, when in his imperious way, he at once convinces and commands, that we ought to fubmit to death without repining, becaufe Epicurus died.

The whole poem is a foliloquy : Solomon is the perfon that fpeaks : he is at once the hero and the author ; but he tells us very often what others fay to him. Thofe chiefiy introduced are his rabbies and philofophers in the firft book, and his women and their attendants in the fecond : with thefe the facred hiftory mention him to have converfed ; as likewife with the angel brought down in the third book, to help him out of his difficulties, or at leaft to teach him how to overcome them.

Nec deus interfit nifi dignus vindice nodus,

I prefume this poetical liberty may be veryjuftly alJowed me on fo folemn an öccafion. In my defcription I have endeavoured to keep to the notions and manners of the Jewifh nation at the time when Solomon lived: and where I allide to the cuftoms of the Greeks, I believe Imay

may be juftified by the ftri&teft chronology ; though a poet is not obliged to the rules that

confine an hiftorian. Virgil has anticipated two

-hundred years ; or the Trojan hero and Carthaginian queen could not have been brought to

gether : and without the fame anachronifm feve

ral of the fineft parts of his Æneis muft have

been omitted. Our countryman Milton goes

yet farther. He takes up many of his material

images fome thoufands of years after the fall

of man : nor could he otherwife have written,

or we read one of the fublimeft pieces of inven

tion that was ever yet produced. This likewife

takes off the objeétion, that fome names of

countries, terms of art, and notions in natural

philofophy are otherwife expreffed, than can be

warranted by the geography or aftronomy of

Solomon's time. Poets are allowed the fame

liberty in their defcriptions and comparifons, as painters in their draperies and ornaments : their

perfonages may be dreffed, not exaétly in the

fame habits which they wore, but in fuch as appear moft graceful. In this cafe probability

muft atone for the want of truth. This liberty has indeed been abufed by eminent mafters in

either fcience. Raphael and Taffo have fhewed their difcretion, where Paul Veronefe and Ariofto

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