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It was of gold, and fhone fo bright,
That nevir man fawe fuche a fight," &c.
"The eagle defcends, feizes the poet in his talons, and, mounting again, conveys him to the houfe of Fame; which is fituated, like that of Ovid, between earth and fea. In their paffage thi ther, they fly above the stars; which our author leaves, with clouds, tempefts, hail, and fnow, far beneath him. This aërial journey is partly copied from Ovid's Phaeton in the chariot of the fun. But the poet apologises for this extravagant fiction, and explains his meaning, by alleging the authority of Boethius; who fays, that contemplation may foar on the wings of philofophy above every element. He likewife recollects, in the midft of his course, the description of the heavens, given by Marcianus Capella, in his book De Nuptiis Philologie et Mercurii, and Alanus in his Anticlaudian. At his arrival in the confines of the houfe of Fame, he is alarmed with confufed murmurs iffuing from thence, like diftant thunders or billows This circumftance is alfo borrowed from Ovid's Temple. He is left by the eagle near the house, which is built of materials bright as polished glass, and stands on a rock of ice of exceffive height, and almoft inacceffible. All the Southern fide of this rock was covered with engravings of the names of famous men, which were perpetually melting away by the heat of the fun The Northern fide of the rock was alike covered with names; but being here fhaded from the warmth of the fun, the characters remained unmelted and uneffaced. The Aructure of the house is thus imagined:
"Methoughtin by Saint Gile,
That all was of tone of berille,
Both of the caftle and the toure,
And eke the hall and everie boure:
As flakis fallin in great fnowis."
"In thefe lines, and in fome others which occur hereafter, the poet perhaps alludes to the many new decorations in architecture, which began to prevail about his time, and gave rife to the florid Gothic ftyle. There are inftances of this in his other poems. In his Dreame, printed 1597:
"And of a fute were al the touris,
Subtily carven aftir flouris,
With many a fmal turret hie."
"And in the defcription of the Palace of Pleafaunt Regarde, in the Affemblie of Ladies:
"Fairir is none, though it were for a king
The chambris, and the palirs of a forte,
With bay windows, goodlie as may be thought:
The galeries be al right wel ywrought."
"In Chaucer's life, by Anthony Hall, it is not mentioned that he was appointed clerk of the king's works in the palace of Westmiafter, in the royal manors of Shene, Kenington, Byfleet, and Clapton, and in the mews at Chering.
Again, in 1380, of the works of St. George's chapel at Windfor, then ruinous. But to return:
“All manir of minstrelis,
And jeftours that tellyn tales
Both of weping and cke of game."
"That is, thofe who fung or recited adventures, either tragic or comic, which excited either compaffion or laughter. They were accompanied with the most renowned harpers; among which were Orpheus, Arion, Chiron, and the Briton Glafketion. Behind thefe were placed, "by many a thousand time twelve," players on various inftruments of mufic. Among the trumpeters are named Joab, Virgil's Mifenus, and Theodamus. About these pinnacles were also marshalled the most famous magicians, juglers, witches, prophete fles, forcereffes, and profeffors of natural magic, which ever existed in ancient or modern times; fuch as Medca, Circe, Calliope, Hermes, Limotheus, and Simon Magus. At entering the hall he fees an infinite multitude of heralds; on the furcoats of whom were richly embroidered the armorial ensigns of the moft redoubted champions that ever tourneyed in Africa, Europe, or Afia. The floor and roof of the hall were covered with thick plates, of gold, ftudded with the costlieft gems. At the upper end, on a lofty fhrine, made with carbuncle, fate Fame; her figure is like those in Virgil and Ovid. Above her, as if sustained on her
houlders, fate Hercules and Alexander. From the throne to the gates of the hall ran a range of pillars, with respective infcriptions. On the first pillar, made of lead and iron, stood Josephus, the Jewish historian ("that of the Jewis geftis told"), with feven other writers on the fame fubject. On the fecond pillar, made of iron, and painted all over with the blood of tygers, ftood Statius. On another, higher than the reft, ftood Homer, Dares, Phrygius, Livy, Lollius, Guido of Columna, and Geoffry of Monmouth, writers of the Trojan ftory. On a pillar of " tinnid iron clere," food Virgil; and next to him, on a pillar of copper, appeared Ovid. The figure of Lucan was placed on a pillar of iron, "wroght full fternly," accompanied with many Roman histo rians. On a pillar of fulphur ftood Claudian, so symbolised, beeaufe he wrote of Pluto and Proferpine:
"That bare up all the fame of hell;
Of Pluto and of Proferpine
That queen is of the darke pine."
"The hall was filled with the writers of ancient tales and ro mances, whofe fubjects and names were too numerous to be re. counted. In the mean time crouds from every nation, and of every condition, filled the hall, and each prefented his claim to the queen. A meffenger is dispatched to fummon Eolus from his cave in Thrace, who is ordered to bring his two clarions, called Slander and Praife, and his trumpeter Triton. The praises of each petitioner are then refounded, according to the partial or capricious appointment of Fame; and equal merits obtain very different fuccefs. There is much satire and humour in these requests and rewards, and in the difgraces and honours which are indifcriminately distributed by the queen, without difcernment and by chance. The poet then enters the houfe or labyrinth of Rumour. It was built of fallow twigs, like a cage, and therefore admitted every found. Its doors were alfo more numerous than leaves on the trees, and always ftood open. These are romantic exaggerations of Ovid's inventions on the fame fubject. It was, moreover, fixty miles in length, and perpetually turning round. From this houfe (fays the poet) iffued tidings of every kind, like fountains and rivers from the fea. Its inhabitants, who were eternally employed in hearing or telling news, together with the rife of reports, and the formation of lies, are then humourously defcribed. The company is chiefly compofed of failors, pilgrims, and pardoners. At length
our author is awakened at feeing a venerable perfonage of great authority; and thus the vifion abruptly concludes.
"Pope has imitated this piece with his usual elegance of dietion and harmony of verfification; but, in the mean time, he has not only mifreprefented the ftory, but marred the character of the poem. He has endeavoured to correct its extravagancies by new refinements and additions of another caft; but he did not confider that extravagancies are effential to a poem of fuch a structure, and even conftitute its beauties. An attempt to unite order and exactnefs of imagery with a fubject formed on principles fo professedly romantic and anomalous, is like giving Corinthian pillars to a Gothic palace. When I read Pope's elegant imitation of this piece, I think I am walking among the modern monuments unfuitably placed in Westminster Abbey."
HISTORY OF ENGLISH POETRY, vol. ii.
Little can be added to T. Warton's masterly appreciation of the characteristic merit of this poem; may I be just allowed to memtion, that there is lefs harmony of verfification in this poem, than in most of the preceding; particularly the Rape of the Lock, Elegy to an Unfortunate Lady, and, above all, the Epiftle of Eloifa. The paufe is too generally at the end of the line, and on the fourth and fifth fyllable.
Pope has not quoted the fimile taken from Chaucer's 2d book: if that thou
"Throw in a water, now a stone
"Well wot'it thou it will make anon
"A little roundel, &c."
Chaucer, with a bolder perfonification, fends for Eolus, “that king of Thrace," from "his cave of ftone," to found his "trumpe of golde." Pope bids
"The golden trumpet of eternal praise."
Thefe circumftances may defignate, in fome measure, the character of either Poem. I must confess, I think there can be no comparison between the bold trumpe of Eolus,
"Which he fets to his mouth,
"And blows it, Eaft, and North, and South,"
and the delicate, but lefs animated, tone of the Mufes, in Pope.