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Nor tell what presents Atreus' fon prepares,
To reconcile Achilles to the wars;
Or † by what God's aufpicious conduct led,
From Polyphemus' den Ulyffes fled.
Pleas'd with the toil, and on the profpect bent,
Our fouls leap forward to the wish'd event.
No call of nature can our fearch restrain,
And sleep, and thirst, and hunger, plead in vain.
Glad we pursue the labour we embrac’d,
And leave reluctant, when we leave at last.
See! how the bard, triumphant in his art,
Sports with our paffions, and commands the heart;
Now here, now there, he turns the varying fong;
And draws at will the captive foul along;
Rack'd with uncertain hints, in every sense
We feel the lengthen'd anguifh of fufpenfe.
When Homer once has promis'd to rehearse
Bold Paris' fight, in many a sounding verse,
He foon perceives his reader's warm defire
Wrapt in the event, and all his foul on fire;
The poet then contrives fome fpecious stay,
Before he tells the fortune of the day.
Till Helen to the king and elders show,
From fome tall tower, the leaders of the foe,
And name the heroes in the fields below.
When chafte Penelope, to gain her end,
Invites her fuitors the tough bow to bend ;
See Iliad. Lib. XIX. + Odyff. 9. § Odyffey 21.
(Her nuptial bed the victor's promis'd prize)
With what addrefs her various arts the plies!
Skill'd in delays, and politickly flow
To fearch her treasures for her hero's bow.
None lead the reader in the dark along,
To the last goal that terminates the song;
Sometimes th' event must glance upon the fight,
Not glare in day, nor wholly fink in night.
'Tis thus Anchifes to his fon relates
The various series of his future fates;
For this the prophets fee, on Tyber's shore,
Wars, horrid wars, and Latiuni red with gore,
A new Achilles rifing to deftroy
But raife his mind with profpects of fuccefs,
And give the promise of a lasting peace..
This knew the hero when he fought the plains,
Sprung from his ships, and charg'd th' embattled fwains Hew'd down the Latian troops with matchless might, (The first, aufpicious omen of the fight,)
And at one blow gigantic Theron kill'd,
Bold, but in vain, and foremost of the field;
Thus too Patroclus with his lateft breath
Foretold his unregarding victor's death:
His parting foul anticipates the blow,
That waits brave Hector from a greater foe.
Thou too, poor Turnus, just before thy doom:
Could't read thy end, and antedate a tomb,,
*See Virg. Æneid. Lib.
VL. V.. 890.
+ Ibid. Lib. III. v. 458.. § Ibid. Lib. V. v. 531.
When o'er thy head the baleful fury flew,
And in dire omens fet thy fate to view :
A bird obfcene, fhe flutter'd o'er the field,
And scream'd thy death, and beat thy founding fhield.
For lo the time, the fatal time is come,
Charg'd with thy death, and heavy with thy doom.
When Tuinus, though in vain, shall rue the day;
Shall curfe the golden belt he bore away;
Shall wish too late young Pallas' spoils unfought,
And mourn the conqueft he so dearly bought.
Th' event fhould glimmer through its gloomy fhrowd,
Though yet confus'd, and struggling in the cloud.
So, to the traveller, as he journies on
To reach the walls of fome far diftant town,
If, high in air, the dubious turrets rife,
Peep o'er the hills, and dance before his eyes ;
Pleas'd the refreshing prospect to furvey,
Each ftride he lengthens, and beguiles the way.
More pleas'd (the tempting fcene in view) to go,
Than penfively to walk the gloomy vales below.
Unless the theme within your bofom roll,
Work in each thought, and run through all the foul;
Unless you alter with inceffant pain,
Pull down, and build the fabrick o'er again;
In vain, when rival-wits your wonder raise,
You'll ftrive to match those beauties which you praise.
To one juft fcope with fixt defign go on;
Let fovereign reason dictate from her throne,
By what determin'd methods to advance,
But never trust to arbitrary chance.
Where chance prefides, all objects wildly join'd,
Crowd on the reader, and distract his mind ;
From theme to theme unwilling is he toft,
And in the dark variety is loft.
You fee fome Bards, who bold excursions make
In long digreffions from the beaten track;
And paint a wild unneceffary throng
Of things and objects foreign to the fong;
For new descriptions from the road depart,
Devoid of order, difcipline, and art.
So, many an anxious toil and danger past,
Some wretch returns from banishment at last ;
With fond delay to range the fhady wood,
Now here, now there, he wanders from the road;
From field to field, from fream to ftrear he roves,
And courts the cooling fhelter of the groves.
For why fhould Homer * deck the gorgeous car,
When our rais'd fouls are eager for the war?
Or dwell on every wheel, when loud alarms,
And Mars in thunder calls the hofts to arms?
When with his heroes we fome daftard † find,
Of a vile afpect, and malignant mind;
His awkward figure is not worth our care;
His monstrous length of head, or want of hair,
Not, though he goes with mountain shoulders by,
Short of a foot, or blinking in an eye.
Such trivial objects call us off too long
From the main drift and tenor of the fong.
*Vid. Hom. Iliad, Lib. V. v. 722.
+ Ibid. Lib. II. v. 212.
Drances* appears a jufter character,
In council bold, but cautious in the war;
Factious and loud the listening throng he draws,
And fwells with wealth, and popular applause;
But, wirat in our's would never find a place,
The bold Greek language may admit with grace.
Why fhould I here the ftratagems recite,
And the low tricks of every little wit?
Some out of time their stock of knowledge boaft,
Till in the pedant all the Bard is lost.
Such without care their useless lumber place;
One black, confus'd, and undigested mafs,
With a wild heap encumbers every part,
Nor rang'd with grace, nor methodiz'd with art.
But then in chief, when things abstruse they teach,
Themes too abftracted for the vulgar reach;
The hidden nature of the deities;
The fecret laws and motions of the skies;
Or from what dark original began
The fiery foul, and kindled up the man :
Oft they in odious inftances engage,
And for examples ranfack every age,
With every realm; no hero will they pass,
But act against the rules of time and place.
Avoid, ye youths, thefe practices; nor raise
Your fwelling fouls to fuch a thirst of praise.
Some Bards of eminence there are, we own,
Who fing fometimes the journies of the fun,
The rifing ftars, and labours of the moon :
*neid. Lib. XI. v. 336.