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The £:ed of Virgii.

hibit a more animated figure than any other Virgil has drawn.

The management of the subject also is in some respects exceptionable. The six last books re.

. ceived not the finishing hand of the author, and for this reason he ordered his poem to be committed to the flames. The wars with the Latins are in dignity inferior to the more interesting objects previously presented to us ; and the reader is tempted to take part with Turnus against Æneas.

The principal excellency of Virgil, and what he possesses beyond all poets, is .tenderness. His soul was full of sensibility. He felt himself all the affecting circumstances in the scenes he describes; and knew how by a single stroke to reach the beart. In an epic poem this merit is next to sublimity. The second book of the Æneid is one of the greatest master-pieces ever executed. The death of old Priam, and the family pieces of Æneas, Anchises, and Creusa, are as tender as can be conceived. In the 4th book, the unhappy passion and death of Dido are admirable. Tho interview of Æneas with Andromache and Helenus, in the third book ; the episodes of Pallas

; and Evander. of Nisus and Euryalus, of Lausus and Mezentius, are all striking instances of the power of raising the tender emotions. The best and most finished books are the first, second, fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth and twelfth.

Virgil's battles are in fire and sublimity far inferior to Homer's. But in one important episode, the descent into hell, he has outdone Homer in the Odyssey by many degrees. There is nothing in all antiquity, equal in its kind to the sixth book

The Æneid of Virgil.

of the Æneid. The scenery, the objects, and the description, are great, solemn and sublime.

With regard to the comparative merit of these two great princes of epic poetry, it must be al. lowed that Homer was the greater genius, and Virgil the more correct writer.

Homer is more original, more bold, more sublime, and more foreible. In judgment they are both eminent. Homer has all the Greek vivacity; Virgil all the Roman stateliness. The imagination of Homer is the most copious ; that of Virgil the most correct. The strength of the former lies in warming the fancy; that of the latter in touching the heart. Homer's style is more simple and animated; Virgil's more elegant and uniform.


Lucan is inferior to Homer and Virgil ; yet he deserves attention. There is little invention in his Pharsalia ; and it is conducted in too histori. cal a manner to be strictly epic. It may be arranged, however in the epic class, as it treats of great and heroic adventures. The subject of the Pharsalia has all the epic dignity and grandeur ; and it possesses unity of object, viz. the triumph of Cæsar over Roman liberty.

But though the subject of Lucan is confessedly heroic, it has two defects. Civil wars present objects too shocking for epic poetry, and furnish odious and disgusting views of human nature. But Lucan's genius seems to delight in savage scenes.

Lucan's Pharsalia.

The other defect of Lucan's subject is, that it was too near the time in which he lived. This deprived him of the assistance of fiction and machinery; and thereby rendered his work less splendid and amusing. The facts on which he founds his poem were too well known, and too recent to admit fables, and the interposition of gods.

The characters of Lucan are drawn with spirit and force. But though Pompey is his hero, he has not made him very interesting. He marks not Pompey by any high distinction, either for magnanimity or valour. He is always surpassed by Cæsar. Cato is Lucan's favourite character; and whenever he introduces him, he rises above himself.

In managing his story, Lucan confines himself too much to chronological order. This breaks the thread of his narration, and hurries him from place to place. He is also too digressive; frequently quitting bis subject to give us some geographical description or philosophical disquisition.

There are several poetical and spirited descriptions in the Pharsalia ; but the strength of this poet does not lie either in narration or deseription. His narration is often dry and harsh : bis descriptions are often overwrought, and employed on disagreeable objects. His chief merit consists in his sentiments, which are noble, striking, glowing, and ardent. He is the most philosophical, and the most patriotic poet of antiquity. He was a stoic ; and the spirit of that philosophy breathes through his poem. He is elevated and bold; and abounds in well-timed exclamations and apostrophes.


Tasso's Jerusalem.

As his vivacity and fire are great, he is apt to be carried away by them. His great defect is want of moderation. He knows not where to stop. When he would aggrandize his objects, he becomes tumid and unnatural. There is much bombast in his poem. His taste is marked with the corruption of his age ; and instead of poetry, he often exhibits declamation.

On the whole, however, he is an author of lively and original genius. His bigh sentiments and his fire serve to atone for many of his defects. His genius had strength, but no tenderness, nor amenity. Compared with Virgil, he has more fire and sublimer sentiments ; but in every thing

Ise falls infinitely below him, particularly in pu-. rity, elegance and tenderness.

Statius and Silius Italicus, though poets of the epie class, are too inconsiderable for particular criticism.


JERUSALEM DELIVERED is a strictly regular epie poem, and abounds with beauties. The subject is the recovery of Jerusalem from infidels by the united powers of Christendom. The enterprize was splendid, venerable, and heroie ; and an interesting contrast is exhibited between the Christians and Saracens. Religion renders the subject august, and opens a natural field for machinery and sublime description. The action too lies in a country, and in a period of time, sufficiently re

Tasso's Jerusalem.

·mote to admit an intermixture of fable with lis. tory.

Rich invention is a capital quality in Tasso. lle is full of events, finely diversified. He never fatigues his reader by mere war and fighting. He frequently shifts the scene; and from camps and batiles transports us to more pleasing objects; sometimes the solemnities of religion; sometimes the intrigues of love; at other times the adventures of a journey, or the incidents of pastoral life, relieve and entertain the reader. The work at the same time is artfully connected; and in the midst of variety, there is perfect unity of plan.

Many characters enliven the poem; and these distinctly marked and well. supported. Godfrey, the leader of the enterprise, is prudent, modlerate, and brave; Tancred, amorous, generous

and gallant. Rinaldo, who is properly tbe liero of the poem, is passionate and resentful; but full of zeal, honour and heroism. Solyman is high minded; Erminia tender; Armida artful and vi. olent; and Clarinda masculine. In drawing characters, Tasso is superior to Virgil, and yields to no poet but Homer.

He abounds in machinery. When celestial be- . ings interpose, his machinery is noble. But devils, enchanters, and conjurors act too great a part throughout his poem. In general, the marvellous is carried to extravagance. The poet was too great an admirer of the romantic spirit of knight errantry.

In describing magnificent objects, his style is firm and majestic. In gay and pleasing description, it is soft and insinuating. Erminia's pastoral retreat in the seventh book, and the arts and beauty

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