Imágenes de página

ceded the death of Julius Cæfar. This naturally leads him to implore the gods, for the preservation of Augufius and of Rome, and with this supplication he concludes his first Georgic.

After the signs in the heavens, portending the change of weather, which are too many to be. here inserted, the prodigies that are supposed to have preceded Cefar's death, and the destructive war occasioned by it, are very artfully introduced ; and, tho' no one can believe that Nature suffered these commotions in behalf of a man who had enslaved his country, yet all will be pleased with the poet's address, and the circumstances he has aflimulated on the occasion.

The sun reveals the secrets of the sky;
And who dares give the Source of Light the lie?
The change of empires often he declares,
Fierce tumult, hidden treasons, open wars.
He first the fate of Casar did foretel,
And pitied Rome, when Rome in Cæfar fell.
In iron clouds conceal'd the public light,
And impious mortals fear'd eternal night.

Nor was the fact foretold by him alone :
Nature herself stood forth, and seconded the sun.
Earth, air, and seas, with prodigies were fign’d,
And birds obscene, and howling dogs divind.
What rocks did Ætna's bellowing mouth expire
From her torn entrails ! and what foods of fire !
What clanks were heard, in German skies afar,
Of arms and armies, ruhing to the war !
Dire earthquakes rent the solid Alps below,
And from their summits shook th'eternal snow :
Pale spectres in the close of night were seen ;
And voices heard of more than mortal men.
in silent groves, dumb sheep and oxen spoke,
And streams ran backward, and their beds forsook :
The yawning earth disclos'd th' abyss of hell :
The weeping statues did the wars foretel ;
And holy sweat from brazen idols fell.
Then rising in his inight the King of Floods
Ruth'd thro' the forests, tore the lofty woods ;
And rolling onward with a sweepy sway,
Bore houses, herds, and lab'ring hinds away..


Blood sprang from wells, wolves howld in town by night,
And boding vi&tims did the prietts affright.
Such peals of thunder never pour'd from high,
Nor forky light'nings flash'd from such a sullen by.
Red meteors ran across th' ethereal space,
Stars disappear'd, and comets took their place.
For this, th' Emathian plains once more were strow'd
With Roman bodies, and just heaven thought good
To fatten twice those fields with Roman blood.
Then after length of Time, the lab'ring swains,
Who turn the turfs of those unhappy plains,
Shall rusty piles from the plough'd furrows take,
And ever empty helmets pass the rake.
Amaz'd at antique titles on the stones
And mighty relicks of gigantic bones.

[ocr errors]

The subject of the second book is planting, in which the poet points out all the different methods of raising trees ; speaks of their variety, and lays down rules for the management of each He then describes the soils that are suitable to the different plants ; makes a di. gression in praise of his native country ; gives fome directions for discovering the nature of each soil ; lays down rules for dressing vines, olives, &c, and concludes with a fine panegyrick on rural life.

As this Georgic abounds with beauties, we shall confider it more particularly, and give the reader fome examples of the manner in which he has treated the subject. What he has said with respect to the grafting and ma. nagement of trees, is worthy of our admiration.

'Tis usual now, an inmate graff to see
With insolence invade a foreign tree:
Thus pears and quinces from the crab-tree come ;
And thus the ruddy cornel bears the plum.
The thin-leav'd arbute, hazel-graffs receives,
And planes huge apples bear, that bore but leaves.
Thus maftful beech the briftly chesnut bears,
And the white alh is white with blooming pears,
And greedy swine from grafted elms are fed,
With falling acorns, that from oaks are bred.

But various are the ways to change the state
Of plants, to bud, to graft, t'inoculate.
For where the tender rinds of trees disclose
Their fhooting gems, a fwelling knot there grows ;
Just in that space a narrow Nit we make,
Then other buds from bearing trees we take :
Inserted thus, the wounded rind we close,
In whole moist womb th' admitted infant grows.
But when the smoother bole from knots is free,
We make a deep incision in the tree ;
And in the solid wood the slip inclose,
"The bat’ning bastard shoots again and grows ;
And in short space the laden boughs arise,
With happy fruit advancing to the skies.
The mother plant admires the leaves unknown
Of alien trees, and apples not her own.

Here Virgil, in considering the effects of the union between trees of different kinds, äitends particularly to those circumstances that seemed the most wonderful, and which not only expressed the capacity and tendency of trees to be thus united, but excited at the same time admiration and pleasure in the mind.--His method of transplanting trees is altogether as beautiful, and con. cludes with a fine reflection on the force and


of custom.

Some peasants, not e’omit the nicest care,
Of the same foil their nursery prepare,
With that of their plantation ; left the tree
Transplanted, fou'd not with the soil agree.
Besides, to plant it as it was, they mark
The heav'n's four quarters on the tender bark;
And to the north or south restore the fide,
Which at their birth did heat or cold abide.
So strong is custom, each effects can use
In tender fouls of pliant plants produce.

But because precepts laid down one after another, notwith landing all the poet's endeavours to make them entertaining, would by degrees tire, Virgil suffers the reader sometimes to rest for the sake of a pertinent and

pleasing digreffion, or leads him out of the road to entertain

him with a beautiful description.-Such is that of Italy.

But neither Median woods, (a plenteous land)
Fair Ganges, Hermus rolling golden sand,
Nor Bactria, nor the richer Indian fields,
Nor all the gommy Thores Arabia yields ?
Nor any foreign earth of greater name,
Can with sweet Italy contend in fame.
Nor bulls whose noftrils breathe a living flame
Have turn'd our turf, no teeth of serpents here
Were fown, an armed hoft, an iron crop to bear.
But fruitful vines, and the fat olives freight,
And harvests heavy with their fruitful weight,
Adorn our fields; and on the chearful green,
The grazing flocks and lowing herds are seen.
The warrior horse here bred, is taught to train :
There Aows Clitunnus thro' the flow'ry plain ;
Whose waves, for triumphs after prosp'rous war,
The victim ox, and snowy sheep prepare.
Perpetual spring our happy climate fees;
Twice breed the cattle, and twice bear the trees ;
And summer suns recede by flow degrees.

The following description is of the fame beautiful cast; and the reader will observe that there, and indeed all the descriptions in Virgil, are so artfully introduced, that they feem to arise naturally out of the principal argument and design of the poem.

But easy quiet, a secure retreat,
A harmless life that knows not how to cheat,
With home-bred plenty the rich owner bless,
And rural pleasures crown his happiness.
Unvex'd with quarrels, undisturb'd with noise,
The country-king his peaceful realm enjoys :
Cool grots, and living lakes, the flow'ry pride
Of meads, and streams that thro' the valley glide ;
And shady groves that easy scep invite,
And after toilsome days, a soft repose at night.
Wild beasts of nature in his woods abound;
And youth, of labour patient, plough the ground,

Inur'd to hardship, and to homely fare.
Nor venerable age is wanting there,
In great examples to the youthful train :
Nor are the Gods ador'd with rites profane.
From hence Aprea took her flight, and here
The prints of her departing steps appear.

Virgil begins his third book with an invocation to some of the rural deities, and then, after complimenting Augustus, addresses himself to Mecanas, and enters on his subject; which contains rules for the breeding and management of horses, oxen, sheep, goats, and dogs : and with these rules are interwoven descriptions of chariot races, of the battle of the bulls,, of the force of love, and of the Scythian winter. He then speaks of the diseases incident to cattle, and concludes this Georgic with the description of a fatal murrain, which had raged among the Alps.

The whole book is wrought up with great art, and the descriptions in particular are extremely beautiful. His rules for training up young calves to the yoke, and of. breaking horfes to the different employments they were intended for, are also very happily expressed.

The calf by nature and by genius made
To turn the glebe, breed to the rural trade.
Set him betimes to school ; and let him be
Instructed there in rules of husbandry ;
While yet his youth is flexible and green ;
Nor bad examples of the world has seen.
Early begin the stubborn child to break;
For his soft neck, a supple collar make
Of bending ofiers ; and (with time and care.
Inur'd that easy servitude to bear)
Thy flatt'ring method on the youth pursue :
Join'd with his school-fellows by two and two,
Persuade 'em first to lead an empty wheel,
That scarce the dust can raise or they can feel :
In length of time produce the lab'ring yoke
And thining shares, that make the furrow smoke.
Ere the licentious youth be thus reftrain'd,
Or moral precepts on their minds have gain’d;

« AnteriorContinuar »