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Still pleas'd to praise, yet not afraid to blame,

if I should say we have lately feen two or three lyric pieces, fuperiour to any he has left us; I mean an Ode on Lyric Poetry, and another to Lord Huntingdon, by Doctor Akenfide; and a Chorus of British Bards, by Mr. Gilbert Weft, at the end of the Institution of the Order of the Garter. Both thefe are written with regular returns of the Strophe, Antiftrophe. and Epode, which gives a truely Pindaric variety to the numbers, that is wanting not only to the beft French and Italian, but even to the best Latin odes. In the pieces here commended, the figures are ftrong, and the transitions bold, and there is a just mixture of sentiment and imagery: and particularly, they are animated with a noble spirit of liberty. I muft refer the reader to the characters of Alcæus and of Milton in the two firft, and to the stanza of Mr. Weft's ode on the barons procuring magna charta, which I chuse to give at length, because it contains almost all

the

the different measures of which the English language feems capable. *

THE next LYRIC compofitions of Pope, are two choruses inserted in a very heavy tragedy, altered from Shakespear by the Duke of Buckingham; in which we fee, that the most accurate obfervation of dramatic rules without genius, is of no effect.

* On yonder plain,

Along whofe willow-fringed fide

These choruses are

The filver-footed Naids, fportive train,

Down the smooth Thames amid the cygnets glide,
I faw, when at thy reconciling word,
Injustice, anarchy, inteftine jarr,

Defpotic infolence, the wasting sword,

And all the brazen throats of civil war

Were hufh'd in peace; from his impetuous throne
Hurl'd furious down,

Abafh'd, difmay'd,

Like a chas'd lion to the favage shade
Of his own forefts, fell Oppreffion fled,
With vengeance brooding in his fullen breaft.
Then Justice fearless rais'd her decent head,
Heal'd every grief, each wrong redrest;
While round her valiant fquadrons ftood,
And bade her awful tongue demand,
From vanquish'd John's reluctant hand,
The DEED OF FREEDOM purchas'd with their blood.

Dodfley's Mifcellanies, vol. ii. pag. 152. See alfo in the

fame volume, an excellent ode of Mr. Cobb.

extremely

*

extremely elegant and harmonious; but are they not chargeable with the fault, which Aristotle imputes to many of Euripides, that they are foreign and adventitious to the fubject, and contribute nothing towards the advancement of the main action? Whereas the chorus ought, Μοριον είναι τ8 ολ8, και σουαΓωνι Ceola, to be a part or member of the one Whole, cooperate with it, and help to accelarate the intended event; as is conftantly, adds the philofopher,, the practise of Sophocles. Whereas these reflections of POPE on the baneful influences of war, on the arts and learning, and on the univerfal power of love, feem to be too general, are not fufficiently appropriated, do not rife from the subject and occafion, and might be inferted with equal propriety in twenty other tragedies. This remark of Ariftotle, tho he does not himself produce any examples, may be verified from the following among many others. In the Phoenicians of Euripides, they fing

Κεφ. η. περί ποιητικής.

a

a long and very beautiful, but ill placed, hymn to Mars; I speak of that which begins fo nobly,

Ω πολυμοχία Αρης, τι ποθ' αιματι

Και θανάτω καλέχη, Βρομια παράμεσος εορίαις ;*

"O woeful Mars! why art thou ftill delight"ed with blood and with death, and why "an enemy to the feafts of Bacchus?" And a still more glaring instance may be brought from the end of the third act of the Troades, in which the story of Ganymede is introduced not very artificially. To thefe may be added that exquifite ode in praise of Apollo, defcriptive of his birth and victories, which we find about the middle of the last act of the Iphigenia in Tauris.†

On the other hand, the choruses of Sophocles never defert the subject of each particular drama, and all their fentiments and reflections are drawn from the fituation of the principal perfonage of the fable. Nay Sophocles hath

v. 793.

‡ v. 795,

† v. 1235. & feq.

artfully

artfully found a method of making those poetical defcriptions, with which the chorufes of the ancients abound, carry on the chief defign of the peice, and has by these means accomplished what is a great difficulty in writing tragedy, has united poetry with propriety. In the Philoctetes the chorus takes a natural occafion, at verfe 694, to give a minute and moving picture of the folitary life of that unfortunate hero; and when afterwards at verfe 855, pain has totally exhausted the ftrength and spirits of Philoctetes, and it is neceffary for the plot of the tragedy that he should fall asleep, it is then, that the chorus breaks out into an exquifite ode to fleep. As in the Antigone, with equal beauty and decorum in an addrefs to the god of love, at verse 791 of that play. And thus laftly, when

* The fubject and fcene of this tragedy, fo romantic and uncommon, are highly pleafing to the imagination. See particularly his description of his being left in this defolate ifland, v. 280. his lamentation for the lofs of his bow. v. 1140. and alfo 1185. and his last adieu to the island. 1508. One may here observe by the way, that the ancients thought bodily pains, and wounds, &c. proper objects to be reprefented on the stage.

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