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vere sense of ARISTOTLE with the sublime imagination of LONGINUS. Yet a judicious critic (who is now, I believe, ARCHDEACON OF GLOUCESTER) assures the public, that his patron's mere amusements have done much more than the joint labours of the two Grecians. I shall conclude these Observations with a remarkable passage from the Archdeacon's Dedication :* “ It was not enough, in YQUR ENLARGED VIEW OF THINGS, to restore either of these models (ARISTOTLE or LONGINUS) to their original splendour. They were both to be revived;, or rather A NEW ORIGINAL PLAN OF CRITICISM to be struck out, which SHOULD UNITE THE VIRTUES OF EACH OF THEM. This experiment was made on the two greatest of our own poets, (Shakspeare and Pope,) and by reflecting all the LIGHTS OF THE IMAGINATION ON THE SEVEREST REASON, every thing was effected which the warmest admirer of ancient art could promise himself from such a union. But YOU WENT Farrarn: by joining to these powers A PERFECT INSIGHT INTO HUMAN NATURE; and so ennobling the exercise of literary, by the justest moral censure, you HAVE NOW AT LENGTH ADVANCED CRITICISM TO ITS FULL GLORY."
* See the Dedication of Horace's Epistle to Augustus, with an English commentary and notes.
I was not ignorant, that several years since, the Rer. Di, Jortin had favoured the Public with a DISSERTATION ON THE STATE OF THE DEAD, AS DESCRIBED BY HOMER AND VIRGIL:* but the booh is now grown so scarce, that I was not able to procure a sight of it till after these papers had been already sent to the press. I found Dr. Jortin's performance, as I expected, moderate, learned, and critical. Among a variety of ingenious obserrations, there are two or three which are very closely comected with my present subject.
I had passed over in silence one argument of the Bishop of Gloucester, or rather of Scarron and the Bishop of Gloucester; since the former found the remark, and the latter furnished the inference.
Discite justitiam moniti, et non temnere divos, cries the wfortunate Phlegyas. In the midst of his torments, hic preaches justice and piety, like Ixion in Pindar. A very useful piece of advice, Sit's the French buffoon, for those who were al ready danned to all eternity:
Cette sentence est bonne et belle:
Mais en enfer, de quoi sert-elle ? From this judicious piece of criticism his lordship argues, that Phlegyas was preaching not to
* Sis Dissertations on different Subjects, published in a volume in octavo, in the year 1775. It is the Sixth Dissertation, p. 207–324.
the dead, but to the living; and that Virgil is only describing the mimic Tartarus, which was exhibited at Eleusis for the instruction of the initiated.
I shall transcribe one or two of the reasons, which Dr. Jortin condescends to oppose to Scarron's criticism.
“ To preach to the damned, says he, is labour in vain. And what if it is? It might be part of his punishment, to exhort himself and others, when exhortations were too late. This admonition as far as it relates to himself and his companions in misery, is to be looked upon not so much as an admonition to mend, but as a bitter sarcasm, and reproaching of past iniquities.
“ It is labour in vain. But in the poetical system, it seems to have been the occupation of the damned to labour in vain, to catch at meat and drink that fled from them, &c.
“ His instruction, like that of Ixion in Pindar, might be for the use of the living. You will say, how can that be? Surely nothing is more easy and intelligible. The Muses hear him—The Juses reveal it to the poet, and the inspired poet reveals it to mankind. And so much for Phlegyas and Monsieur Scarron.”
It is prettily observed by Dr. Jortin, « That Virgil, after having shone out with full splendour through the sixth book, sets at last in a cloud.” The ivory GATE puzzles every commentator, and grieves every lover of Virgil: yet it affords no advantages to the Bishop of Gloucester. The objection presses as hard on the notion of an initia
tion, as on that of a real descent to the shades. “ The troublesome conclusion still remains as it was; and from the manner in which the hero is dismissed after the ceremonies, we learn, that in those initiations, the machinery, and the whole show, was (in the Poet's opinion) a representation of things, which had no truth or reality.
Altera candenti perfecta nitens elephanto:
Sed FALSA ad cælum mittunt INSOMNIA manes. “ Dreams in general may be called rain and deceitful, somnia vana, or somnia falsa, if you will. as they are opposed to the real objects which present themselves to us when we are awake. But when false dreams are opposed to true ones, there the epithet falsa has another meaning. True dreams represent what is real, and shew what is true; false dreams represent things which are not, or which are not true. Thus Homer and Virgil, and many other poets, and indeed the nature of the thing, distinguish them.”
Dr. Jortin, though with reluctance, acquiesces in the common opinion, that by six unlucky lines, Virgil is destroying the beautiful system, which it has cost him eight hundred to raise. He explains too this preposterous conduct, by the usual expedient of the Poet's epicurism. I only differ from him in attributing to haste and indiscretion, what he considers as the result of design.
Another reason, both new and ingenious, is assigned by Dr. Jortin, for Virgil explaining away his hero's descent into an idle dream. “ All com munication with the dead, the infernal powers
&c. belonged to the art of magic, and magic was held in abomination by the Romans. Yet if it. was held in A BOMINATION, it was supposed to be real. A writer would not have made his court to James the First, by representing the stories of witchcraft as the phantoms of an over-heated imagination.
Whilst I am writing, a sudden thought occurs to me, which, rude and imperfect as it is, I shall venture to throw out to the public. It is this. After Virgil, in imitation of Homer, had described the two gates of sleep, the horn, and the ivory, he again takes up the first in a different sense:
A VERIS FACILIS DATUR EXITUS UMBRIS.
The TRUE SHADES, VERÆ UMBRÆ, were those airy forms which were continually sent to animate new bodies, such light and almost immaterial natures as could without difficulty pass through a thin transparent substance. In this new sense, Æneas and the Sybil, who were still encumbered with a load of flesh, could not pretend to the prerogative of TRCE SHADES. In their passage over the Styx, they had almost sunk Charon's boat.
- Gemuit sub pondere cymba
Sutilis, et multam accepit rimosa paludem. Some other expedient was requisite for their return; and since the horn gate would not afford them an easy dismission, the other passage, which was adorned with polished ivory, was the only one that remained either for them, or for the poet. VOL. IV. LL