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Now louder, and yet louder rise,
And fill with spreading sounds the skies; 15 Exulting in triumph now swell the bold notes, In broken air, trembling, the wild music floats; "Till, by degrees, remote and small, The strains decay,
And melt away,
In a dying, dying fall.
By Music, minds an equal temper know,
Or, when the soul is press'd with cares,
Warriors she fires with animated sounds;
Pours balm into the bleeding lover's wounds:
Melancholy lifts her head,
Morpheus rouses from his bed,
Sloth unfolds her arms and wakes, List'ning Envy drops her snakes; Intestine War no more our Passions wage, And giddy Factions hear away their rage.
Ver. 35.] Dr. Greene set this ode to music in 1730, as an exercise for his Doctor's Degree at Cambridge, on which occasion Pope made considerable alterations in it, and added the following stanza in this place:
Amphion thus bade wild dissension cease,
But when our Country's cause provokes to Arms, How martial music ev'ry bosom warms!
So when the first bold vessel dar'd the seas,
Descend from Pelion to the main.
Amphion taught contending kings,
That strike the subject's answering heart,
And he made another alteration, at the same time, in stanza iv. v. 51, and wrote it thus:
Sad Orpheus sought his consort lost;
The adamantine gates were barr'd,
And nought was seen and nought was heard,
Around the dreary coast;
But dreadful gleams, &c.
Ver. 40. While Argo] Few images in any poet, ancient or modern, are more striking than that in Apollonius, where he says, that when the Argo was sailing near the coast where the Centaur Chiron dwelt, he came down to the very margin of the sea, bringing his wife, with the young Achilles in her arms, that he might shew the child to his father Peleus, who was on his voyage with the other Argonauts. Apollonius Rhodius, lib. i. v. 558. Warton.
But when, through all th' infernal bounds,
What scenes appear'd,
O'er all the dreary coasts!
Fires that glow,
Shrieks of woe,
And cries of tortur'd ghosts!
But, hark! he strikes the golden lyre;
See, shady forms advance!
Thy stone, O Sisyphus, stands still,
Ixion rests upon his wheel,
And the pale spectres dance;
The Furies sink upon their iron beds,
And snakes uncurl'd hang list'ning round their heads.
Ver. 49. But when] See Divine Legation, book ii. sect 1. where Orpheus is considered as a Philosopher, a Legislator, and a Mystagogue. In vol. v. of the Memoirs of Inscriptions, &c. p. 117, is a very curious dissertation upon the Orphic Life, by the Abbé Fraguier. He was the first critic who rightly interpreted the words of Horace, Cædibus et fædo victu, as meaning an abolition of eating human flesh.
Though the Hymns that remain are not the work of the real Orpheus, yet are they extremely ancient, certainly older than the Expedition of Xerxes against Greece.
By the streams that ever flow,
By those happy souls who dwell
In yellow meads of Asphodel,
Or Amaranthine bow'rs;
By the heroes' armed shades,
Glitt'ring through the gloomy glades;
By the youths that dy'd for love,
Wand'ring in the myrtle grove,
Restore, restore Eurydice to life:
Oh take the husband, or return the wife!
He sung, and hell consented
To hear the Poet's prayer:
Stern Proserpine relented,
Thus song could prevail
O'er death, and o'er hell,
Ver. 77.] These images are picturesque and appropriated, and are such notes as might
Draw iron tears down Pluto's cheek,
And make hell grant what love did seek.
Pope, being insensible of the effects of music, inquired of Dr. Arbuthnot, whether Handel really deserved the applause he met with. The Duchess of Queensberry told me, that Gay could play on the flute, and that this enabled him to adapt so happily some airs in the Beggar's Opera. Warton.
Ver. 87.] These numbers are of so burlesque, so low, and ridiculous a kind, and have so much the air of a vulgar drinking
A conquest how hard and how glorious!
With Styx nine times round her,
But soon, too soon, the lover turns his eyes:
No crime was thine, if 'tis no crime to love.
Now under hanging mountains,
Beside the falls of fountains,
Or where Hebrus wanders,
song, that one is amazed and concerned to find them in a serious ode. Addison thought this measure exactly suited to the comic character of Sir Trusty in his Rosamond; by the introduction of which he has so strangely debased that very elegant opera. It is observable, that this ludicrous measure is used by Dryden, in a song of evil spirits, in the fourth act of the State of Innocence.
Ver. 97.] These scenes, in which Orpheus is introduced as making his lamentations, are not so wild, so savage, and dismal, as those mentioned by Virgil; and convey not such images of desolation and deep despair, as the caverns on the banks of Strymon and Tanais, the Hyperborean deserts, and the Riphæan solitudes. And to say of Hebrus, only, that it rolls in meanders, is flat and feeble, and does not heighten the melancholy of the place. He that would have a complete idea of Orpheus's anguish and situation, must look at the exquisite figure of him (now in the session of Sir Watkin Williams Wynne) painted by Mr. Dance, a work that does honour to the true genius of the artist, and to the age in which it was produced. Warton.