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consorts of these great personages, are briefly announced by the Sibyl;
the first, as being the happy instrument of units ing the Trojans and the Latines; the latter, as having effected a work no less salutary, by, reconciling the Sabines to the Romans after their rape of the Sabine virgins. But, notwithstanding the grace of novelty which this introduction of female characters into the poet's Elysium may justly boast of, and the exquisite taste and delicacy with which some of them are touched (those of Lucretia and Virginia in particular), methinks his neglecting to bring upon the scene the two inost distinguished male worthies of his country, must be considered as a capital error; especially since he could have found an employment for them, so excellently adapted to their situation and character; for would there not have been infinitely more propriety in ushering in Scipio to the ac. quaintance of Romulus or Æneas, and describing him as seeking the path to true glory at their mouth, rather than at that of Alexander the Great?- There was so striking a contrast between that monarch and the young Roman, in the vicious unbridled passions of the one, and the mild virtues, the amiable well-regulated affections of the other and, at the same time, so happy a resemblance between the latter and Æneas in particular, in the distinguishing characteristics of each, piety and valour; that this consideration alone, one would think, might have determined the poet to send him with that inquiry to the Trojan, in preference of the Grecian, chief:
Similique cupidine rerum
Add to this, that it is paying a poor compliment to all the heroes of Rome, and particularly to those two, their great progenitor and their legislator, to represent one of their descendants as tarnishing, in effect, the lustre of their atchievements, and tearing, as it were, the laurels from their brows, by thus placing the crown of glory on the head of the King of Macedoni
-- Quanto exsuperat tua gloria cunctos
Nor is it more agreeable to poetical probability, than to the model held out by Virgil*,' or to the truth of nature, if we consider the indignant republican spirit, and stern haughtiness, that marked the Roman character, to represent one of the first and greatest of that name as holding converse with a foreigner and a king.
I will venture, yet further, to hazard an opinion, that the taunting air and insult, with which Scipio accosts Amilcar, is as unworthy of him as a man, as the obsequious courtly strain, in which he offers incense to Alexander, is unbecoming him as a Roman. It must, however, be confessed, that, if 'his address to Amilcar be a blemish, it is a beautiful one, and such as we would not willingly part with ; since it gives the poett an opportunity of displaying, to great advantage, the terrible graces which distinguish this fierce and imperious commander. Haying learned, from the conversation, that a general havock and destruction marked the progress of Annibal's arms in Italy, the disdainful shade stalks majestically away, after uttering this malignant exultation :
-Quod si Laurentia vastat
Another thing, which has always struck me as an egregious øversight in this author, in his daring to try his hand at a
* Æneas, indeed, as decorum required, addresses Dido; but no one else, except his friends and his countrymen, Anchises, Deiphobus, and Palinurus.
+ It amazes one to observe the character which Scaliger gives of this au. thor: “ Silium expediamus, quem equidem postremum bonorum poetarum existimo; quin ne poetam quidem. Non nervos, non numeros, non spiritum habet. Adeo vero ab omni veuere alienus est, ut nullus invenustior sit.”Poetic. lib. VI. cap. 6. And yet, notwithstanding the severity of this criti. cism, there certainly are many indisputable proofs of a fine genius, and an elegant taste in various parts of his poem : in those beautiful lines on the Power of Music, in the eleventh book-the Encomium on Ennius in the twelfth that on Homer in the thirteenth-the strokes upon Virgil and Cicero in the eighth—but more particularly in the address of Pleasure and Virtue to Scipio in the beginning of the fifteenth book. The intelligent reader will, probably, think the judgment of that critic far from being infallible, who could be capable of* preferring Martial to Catullus, and oft pronouncing Fracastorius the best poet after Virgil. Very different is the opinion of a critic of another sort and size; from whose sentence in these matters, there lies no appeal: “Silium Italicum, poetam meo quidem judicio præstantem, Ciceronis apprime studiosum fuisse, &c.”-Muret. Var. Lect. lib. II. cap. 14. * Lib. III. cap. 125.
* Lib. VL cap. 4.
sketch of Cæsar and Pompey, (which, however, has nothing new in it to recommend or to palliate the attempt) when the principal outlines of their character had been pencilled out in so masterly a manner by Virgil. And what renders this oversight still more extraordinary is, that the recent contest between Vitellius and Otho afforded the noblest character for the poet's Elysium, by the death of the latter; which we find making, afterwards, so exquisitely fine a figure even in the hands of the historian.
Wigan, April 24. 1772, May.
LI. Critique on Shakespeare.
“ Or to take arms against a sea of troubles," has given great offence to the critics, on account of the harshness of the metaphor, Mr, Pope proposes to read siege instead of sea; and bishop Warburton peremptorily pronounces, “Without question Shakespeare wrote
-Against assail of troubles." In defence of the text, I beg leave to observe, that there is a passage in the Prometheus Vinctus of Æschylus, the Athenian Shakespeare, from which one stroke of the ima, gery might seem to have been literally copied: Αυσχειμερον με πελαγος ατηρας δυης,
V. 671. The stormy sea of dire calamity : and another, in which the figure is, certainly, as harsh as thạt, "To take arms against a sea of troubles ;"
Θολεροι δε λογοι πατουσ' ευκη
V. 810, 11.
My plaintive words in vain confus’dly beat
I would not, however, be supposed to offer this similarity of expression as an argument, that Shakespeare was conversant in Æschylus; any more than I take the blance,” which some critics have discovered, “between the leading ideas of Malvolio in the Twelfth Night, and those of Alnaschar in the Arabian Nights Entertainments," to prove him acquainted with Arabic. All that is hereby intended is, to shew, from the example of a genius as bold and eccentric as his own, that the harsh constructing of a metaphor, or the jumbling of different ones in the same sen, tence, is not peculiar to Shakespeare, nor a sufficient reason to authorise an alteration of his text.
Wigan, Sept. 23. 1772, Sept.
MR. URBAN, IN your Magazine for September, I produced a passage or two from Æschylus, to prove, that Shakespeare is not singular in the use of this metaphor, “A sea of troubles,” with which two of his commentators are so much offended as to propose each a different emendation. In support of the text, to the authority of the old Greek bard, may be added the suffrages of two modern poets. Baudius, in an elegant copy of Latin Iambics, written in a fit of sickness, and ad. dressed to his friends, has the following beautiful passage, where we find an expression perfectly similar to that of Shakespeare. I shall make no apology for the length of the quotation, not doubting but every reader of taste will think one unnecessary.
“Dulces amici, Baudius vobis abit
Non hæc mali taberna, curarum mare,
Dominici Baudii Epistol. Cent. I. Epist. viii. We meet with another instance of the same metaphor, in a curious modern Greek song, which the very ingenious M. de Guys has given us, in his Sentimental Journey through Greece, (vol. iii. p. 95.) as a proof, and certainly no bad one, that the poetic fire of ancient Greece is not altogether extinguished. I transcribe no more than is necessary for my pur
pose; the rest
Μί δυσοκίαις πολεμώ βάσανα ως το λεμό
Είμαι, και κεντέυω, και να χάθω κοντευω
Μ' ανήμες ολέθριες, σφόδρες και εναλιες.
« I struggle with all the misfortunes of nature, plunged into an abyss of misery. Wandering, floating on this OCEAN OF DISTRESS, my frail bark must soon be overwhelmed. Contrary impetuous winds raise the angry waves, which besiege me, and urge them on to my destruction. i pant for breath in the midst of a thick fog.”
Wigan, Nov. 20, 1772, Nov.
LII. Critical Remarks on the Tragedies of Seneca
MR. URBAN, IN reading Seneca's Tragedies, I lately met with the follo lowing passage, Nec Damæ trepidant Lupos:
Herc. Oet. v. 1057,
which I beg leave to present to your correspondent J. 2