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descendant of Junius Brutus to assert the glories of his race? Such a regard to a word, and such insensibility to the thing itself, may be excused in the populace of Rome; but to a philosopher of an enlarged mind it was surely of little moment under what appellation public liberty was oppressed.
Such are the reflections, which an accurate examination of the character of Brutus has suggested to an enemy of tyranny, under every shape: who will neither be awed by the frown of power, nor silenced by the hoarse voice of popular applause. The monarch and the patriot are alike amenable to the severe but candid inquisition of truth.
• Devizes, Feb. Sth, 1762. Q. HORATII FLACCI EPISTOLAE AD
PISONES ET AUGUSTUM;
WITH AN ENGLISH COMMENTARY AND NOTES.
To which are added, two Dissertations; the one on the Provinces of the Drama, the other on Poetical Imitation ; with a Letter to Mr. Ma. son : in two volumes 12mo. The second edition. Cambridge. 1757.
MR. Hurd, the supposed author of this performance, is one of those valuable authors who cannot be read without improvement. To a great fund of well-digested reasoning, he adds a clearness of judgment, and a niceness of penetration, capable of taking things from their first principles, and observing their most minute differences. I know few writers more deserving of the great, though prostituted name of critic; but, like many critics, he is better qualified to instruct, than to execute. His manner appears to me harsh and affected, and his style clouded with obscure metaphors, and needlessly perplexed with expressions exotic, or technical. His excessive praises (not to give them a harsher name) of a certain living critic and divine, disgust the sensible reader, as much as the contempt affected for the same person, by many who are very unqualified to pass a judgment upon him.
Horace's Art of Poetry, generally deemed an unconnected set of precepts, without unity of deVOL. IV. . .
sign or method, appears under Mr. Hurd's hands, an attempt to reform the Roman stage, conducted with an artful plan, and carried on through the most delicate transitions. This plan is unrivalled in Mr. Hurd's Commentary. If ever those transitions appear too finely spun, the concealed art of epistolary freedom will sufficiently account for it. The least Mr. Ilurd must convince us of is, that, if Horace had any plan, it was that which he has laid down. Every part of dramatic poetry is treated of, even to the satires and attellanes; its metre, subject, characters, chorus, explained and distinguished. The rest of the epistle contains those precepts of unity and design, accuracy of composition, &c. which, though not peculiar to the dramatic poet, are yet as necessary to him as to any other.
I shall say little more of the Epistle to Augustus, than that the subject matter is much plainer than in the other, but the connexion of parts far more perplexed. In the two lines from 30 to 32, a critic must be very sharp-sighted, to discover so complicated an argument as Mr. Hurd finds out there: however, his own Commentary is far superior to that on the Art of Poetry; and rises here into a very elegant paraphrase. As my business lies more with Mr. Hurd than with Horace, I shall only select one of the numerous beauties of this Epistle ; it is that elegant encomium upon the modern poets, which extends from v. 113 to 139. Every one must observe that fine gradation, which, from describing the poet as a happy, inoffensive
creature, exalts him at last into a kind of mediator between the gods and men. But an art more refined, and nicely attentive to its object, only employs those praises, which belong equally to good and to bad poets. Every one complained of the multitude of bad poets; even these, replies Horace, are not to be despised; such poetry is an employment, which makes its possessor good and happy, by abstracting him from the cares of men; he may turn it to the useful purposes of a virtuous education; and the gods, who attend more to the piety, than the talents of the bard, will listen with pleasure to his hymns.
I shall now consider some of Mr. Hurd's notes upon these Epistles, and then pass to his larger discourses. .
l'pon v. 94, he starts a new train of thought Vol. i.p 68 upon the use of poetical expressions in tragedy. The herd of critics allow them to the hero in his calmer moments, and forbid them in his more passionate ones. On the contrary, (says Mr. Hurd, and I think with reason, it is that very passion that calls them forth, by rouzing every faculty, and exciting images suitable to the grandeur of his situation. Anger indeed, which exalts the mind, inspires more bold and daring images; those of grief are more weak, humble, and broken: but when passion sleeps, it is fancy alone that can create figures, and fancy is a very improper guide for the severe genius of dramatic poetry. Perhaps the natural correspondency between 12