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permitted to creep among the leaves of ivy and fern that compose the chaplet which adorns your head."* Pope has thus altered this image :
Oh! were I made, by some transforming pow'r,
On three accounts the former image is preferable to the latter : for the pastoral wildness, the delicacy, and the uncommonness of the thought. I cannot forbear adding, that the riddle of the Royal Oak, in the first Pastoral, invented in imitation of the Virgilian enigmas in the third eclogue, savours of pun, and puerile conceit.
Say, Daphnis, say, in what glad soil appears
With what propriety could the tree, whose shade protected the king, be said to be prolific of princes?
Α βομβευσα μελισσα, και ές τεον ανδρον εκοιμαν,
Idyll. iii. 12,
That 'Pope has not equalled Theocritus, will, indeed, appear less surprising, if we reflect, that no original writer ever remained so unrivalled by succeeding copyists as this Sicilian master.
If it should be objected, that the barrenness of invention, imputed to Pope from a view of his PASTORALS, is equally imputable to the Bucolics of Virgil, it may be answered, that, whatever may be determined of the rest, yet the first and last Eclogues of Virgil, are indisputable proofs of true genius, and power of fancy. The influence of war on the tranquillity of rural life, rendered the subject of the first new and interesting : its composition is truly dramatic; and the characters of its two shepherds are well supported, and happily contrasted ; and the last has expressively painted the changeful resolutions, the wild wishes, the passionate and abrupt exclamations, of a disappointed and despairing lover.
Upon the whole, the principal merit of the PASTORALS of POPE, consists in their correct and musical versification ; musical, to a degree of which rhyme could hardly be thought capa
ble; and in giving the first specimen of that harmony in English verse, which is now become indispensably necessary, and which has so forcibly and universally influenced the public ear, as to have rendered every moderate rhymer melodious. POPE lengthened the abruptness of Wallet, and at the same time contracted the exuberance of Dryden.
I remember to have been informed, by an intimate friend of Pope, that he had once laid a design of writing AMERICAN ECLOGUES. The subject would have been fruitful of the most poetical imagery; and, if properly executed, would have rescued the author from the accusation here urged, of having written Eclogues without invention.
Our author, who had received an early tincture of religion, a reverence for which he preserved to the last, was, with justice, convinced, that the Scriptures of God contained not only the purest precepts of morality, but the most elevated and sublime strokes of genuine poesy; strokes as much superior to any thing Heathenism
can produce, as is Jehovah to Jupiter. This is the case more particularly in the exalted prophecy of Isaiah, which Pope has so successfully versified in an Eclogue, that incontestably surpasses the Pollio of Virgil: although, perhaps, the dignity, the energy, and the simplicity, of the original, are in a few passages weakened and diminished by florid epithets, and useless circumlocutions.
See, Nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring,
are lines which have too much prettiness, and too modern an air. The judicious addition of circumstances and adjuncts, is what renders
poesy a more lively imitation of nature than prose. POPE has been happy in introducing the following circumstance: the prophet says, “The parched ground shall become a pool :" Our author expresses this idea by saying, that the shepherd
shall start amid the thirsty wild to hear
A striking A striking example of a similar beauty may be added from Thomson. Melisander, in the Tragedy of AGAMEMNON, after telling us he was conveyed in a vessel, at midnight, to the wildest of the Cyclades, adds, when the pitiless mariners had left him in that dreadful solitude,
* Mess, v, 23.
+ v. 69.
I never heard
On the other hand, the prophet has been sometimes particular, when Pope has been only general. « Lift
thine eyes round about, and see ; all they gather themselves together, they come to thee :--The multitude of CAMELS shall cover thee: the DROMEDARIES of Midian and Ephah : all they from Sheba shall come : they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord. All the Flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee; the Rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee."* In imitating this passage, POPE has omitted the different beasts that in so picturesque a manner characterize the different countries which were to be gathered 10
* Isaiah, c. lx. y: 4, 6, 7,