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Virtuous and wise he was, but not severe ;
In the parts that follow are contain'd some lessons for the conduct of life, from which we shall insert a few inaxims.
Vers'd in the woes and vanities of life,
With respect to indolence and luxury we have this lel. fon, which concludes with a definition of virtue and fenfe, and their good effects.
Let nature rest: be busy for yourself,
The gawdy glors of fortune only strikes
But from this disgression (or episode) the poet naturally returns to his subject.
Thus, in his graver vein, the friendly fage
But other cares are mine :
Know then, whatever chearful and serene
He then speaks of the good and bad effects of love, and with regard to consummation, he says ;
Is health your care, or luxury your aim,
The poet then proceeds to other paffons, and the de. scription he has given us of anger and its dreadful cffe&is, is very beautiful and very juft,
But there's a passion, whose tempestuous sway Tears up each virtue planted in the brealt, And takes to ruins proud philofophy. For pale and trembling anger rushes in, With fault'ring speech, and eyes that wildly fare ; Fierce as the tyger, madder than the feas, Desperate, and arm'd with more than human strength. How soon the calm, humane, and polish'd man Forgets compunction, and starts up a fiend! Who pines in love, or wastes with silent cares, Envy, or ignominy, or tender grief, Slowly descends, and ling'ring, to the shades ; But he whom anger flings, drops, if he dies, At once, and rushes apoplectic down ; Or a fierce fever hurries him away. Such fates attend the rafh alarm of fear, And sudden grief, and rage, and sudden joy.
But there are constitutions to which these boisterous fits, these violent sallies of passion, may be sometimes serviceable.
For where the mind a torpid winter leads,
Those however whose blood is apt to boil, and who are easily moved to wrath he wou'd have,
Keep lent for ever ; and forswear the bowl,
And then offers something to the consideration of those whose turbulent tempers move them to seek revenge. While choler works, good friend, you may be
wrong; Distrust yourself, and sleep before you fight. "Tis not too late to-inorrow to be brave; If honour bids, to-morrow kill or die. The
poet then seeks a remedy for these evils, sets the contrary passions in opposition, so that they may counter
act each other; and at last recommends musick as the most effectual.
He then concludes the whole with an encomium on the power of poetry and of music united, which is enrich'd with allusions to ancient fables and historical facts; materials that we have often recommended as proper ornaments for these sort of poems.
But he the muse's laurel justly Mares,
We have dwelt long enough, perhaps too long, on this subject; but as these poems are of such use, that what is taught in this agreeable manner will remain for ever fix'd on the memory, it seem'd the more necessary to be very particular and explicit in the rules, and to give variety of examples. We have only to add to what has been already said, that the great art in the conduct of these poems is so to adorn and enliven the precepts that they may agreeably strike the imagination and to de. liver them in such an indirect manner, that, the form of
instruction being concealed, the reader may grow wiser without perceiving he is taught, and that while the most useful lessons are inculcated, the whole may appear only as an amusement. For this reason it is necessary often to digress from the subject, and to introduce episodes of such a nature that at the end they may lead you naturally to your subject again, and then seem of a piece with it. Many initances of these kinds of digressions may be seen in the authors we have mention'd, but especially in Vire gil, who, after he has been wandering, and to all appearance forgot his husband men and their concerns, is by some happy rural incident, arising naturally out of his subject, brought back to his business again, and connects and makes every thing he has met with conducive to his main design.
In the le digressions and episodes it is also of the utmost consequence to introduce the pathetic, and agitate the affections ; for it is ever to be observed, in works of this nature, that a digreffion properly introduced, and so as to awaken the passions, and strike the heart, is of more importance than a multitude of ornamental descriptions, and will be read again and again with pleasure ; while, to other passages that are merely inftru&ive, the mind can hardly attend a second time, tho? ever so well decorated. The understanding feels no pleasure in being instructed often in the same thing ; but the heart is ever open to an affecting tale, and receives a pleasure every time it is repeated.
With regard to the style or dress of these poems, it hould be so rich as to hide the nakedness of the subject, and the barrenness of the precepts should be lost in the luftre of the language. • It ought (fays Mr. W'arton *) to abound in the most bold and forcible metaphors, the most glowing and picturesque epithets ; it ought to be elevated and enliven’d by pomp of numbers and majesty of words, and by every figure that can lift a language above the vulgar and current expressions,' One may add, that in.no kind of poetry (not even in the sublime ode) is beauty of expression so much to be regarded as in this. For the epic writer should be very cautious of in
* See his Dissertation on Didactic Poetry.