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attended only by Orontes, who insists on sharing with him in this adventure. When the boat approaches the shore, a violent hurricane rises, which dashes it against the rocks, and beats it to pieces. All the men are drowned but Brutus and Orontes, who swim to land. They find a thick forest, dark and impenetrable, out of which proceeds a dreadful noise.
"All at once the sun was darkened; a thick night comes over them; thundering noises and bellowings are heard in the air, and under ground. A terrible eruption of fire breaks out from the top of a mountain, the earth shakes beneath their feet. Orontes flies back into the wood, but Brutus remains undaunted, though in great danger of being swallowed up, or burnt by the fire. In this extremity he calls upon God: the eruption ceases, and his Guardian Angel appears to Brutus, telling him God had permitted the evil spirit to work seeming miracles by natural means, in order to try his virtue, and to humble the pride of Orontes, who was too confident in his courage, and too little regardful of Providence; that the hill before them was a volcano; that the effects of it, dreadful, though natural, had made the ignorant savages believe the island to be an habitation of fiends; that the hurricane which had wrecked his boat was a usual symptom preceding an eruption; that he might have perished in the eruption, if God had not sent him his good angel to be his preserver.
"He then directs him to seek the south-west
parts of Great Britain, because the northern parts were infested by men not yet disposed to receive religion, arts, and good government, the subduing and civilizing of whom was reserved by Providence for a son that should be born of him after his conquest of England.
"Brutus promises to obey; the angel vanishes. Brutus finds Orontes in a cave of the wood; he is so ashamed of his fear, that he attempts to kill himself. Brutus comforts him, ascribes it to a supernatural terror, and tells him what he had heard from the angel. They go down to the coast, where they find Hanno, with a ship to carry them off.
"The ensuing book describes the joy of Brutus, at sight of the white rocks of Albion. He lands at Torbay, and, in the western part of the island, meets with a kind reception.
"The climate is described to be equally free from the effeminacy and softness of the southern climates, and the ferocity and savageness of the northern. The natural genius of the natives being thus in the medium between these extremes, was well adapted to receive the improvements in virtue he meditated to introduce. They are represented worshippers of the sun and fire, but of good and gentle dispositions, having no bloody sacrifices among them. Here he meets the Druids, at an altar of turf, in an open place, offering fruits and flowers to heaven.
"Then follows a picture of the haven, which is
succeeded by an account of the northern parts, supposed to be infested by tyrants, of whom the Britons tell strange stories, representing them as giants, whom he undertakes to assist them in conquering.
"Among these islands our poet takes notice of the island Mona, groaning under the lash of superstition, being governed by priests.
“Likewise of another, distracted by dismal anarchy, the neighbours eating their captives, and carrying away virgins; which affords room for a beautiful episode, describing the feelings of a passionate lover, who prevailed on Brutus to fly to the rescue of a favourite fair one, whom, by his aid, he recovered from the arms of her brutal ravisher.
"Our poet also speaks of a third, under the dominion of tyranny, which was stronger than the rest, and defended by giants living in castles, high rocks, &c. Some of these giants our poet names, as Corinæus, Gogmagog, &c. Here he proposed to moralize the old fables concerning Brutus, Gogmagog, &c.
Brutus, however, is opposed in his attempt by the priests, conjurers, and magicians; and the priests are supposed to have had secrets, which passed for supernatural, such as the use of gunpowder, &c. He meets with many difficulties likewise from his own people, which interrupt his designs; particularly from one of his kinsmen, who is young, fierce, and ambitious. He is earnest
for conquering all by force, and treating the people who submitted to him as slaves.
"But Brutus gives it as his opinion, not to conquer and destroy the natives of the new-discovered land, but to polish and refine them, by introducing true religion, void of superstition and all false notions of the Deity, which only leads to vice and misery, among people who are uncorrupted in their manners, and only want the introduction of useful arts, under the sanction of a good government, to establish and ensure their felicity.
“This turbulent kinsman likewise endangers a revolt, by taking away a woman betrothed to a Briton.
"Some of Brutus's followers take part with him, and raise a faction, which, by his wisdom and firmness, he suppresses, and brings the discontented back to their duty; who at length unite with him against the giants, their common enemy. It must not be omitted, that the kinsman is represented as repenting of his secession, and much ashamed that Brutus, having left him a victim to female blandishments, went to the war without him.
Brutus, in the end, succeeded in his enterprise against the giants, and enchantment vanished before him; having reduced the fortresses of superstition, anarchy, and tyranny, the whole island submits to good government, and with this the poem was intended to close.
"Such was the outline of this poem, which, if
he had finished, it would not, perhaps, have added much to his reputation.
“He had likewise planned two Odes, or Moral Poems, on the Mischiefs of Arbitrary Power, and the Folly of Ambition. The first was to open
with a view and description of Mount Ætna or Vesuvius, after a long intermission from eruptions; in which was given a picture of all rural felicity, in the most enchanting scenes of vineyards and olive-yards in one place; the products of Ceres in another; and flowery pastures, overspread with flocks and herds in a third; while the shepherds were indulging themselves in their rural dances, songs, and music, and the husbandmen in feats of activity. In the heat of these amusements is heard the rumbling in the bowels of the mountain, the day is overcast, and after other dreadful symptoms of approaching desolation, a torrent of liquid fire breaks out from the mouth, and running down the declivity, carries away every thing in its passage; and, as Milton says—
"All the flourishing works of Peace destroys."
"That on the Folly of Ambition and a Name, was to open with the view of a large champaign desart country; in the midst of which was a large heap of shapeless and deformed ruins, under the shadow of which was seen a shepherd's shed, who at his door was tending a few sheep and goats. The ruins attract the eye of a traveller passing by,