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Now louder, and yet louder rise,
And fill with spreading sounds the skies; 15 Exulting in triumph now swell the bold notes, In broken air, trembling, the wild music floats;
'Till, by degrees, remote and small,
The strains decay,
20 In a dying, dying fall.
By Music, minds an equal temper know,
Nor swell too high, nor sink too low. If in the breast tumultuous joys arise, Music her soft, assuasive voice applies ;
Or, when the soul is press’d with cares,
Exalts her in enliv’ning airs.
Melancholy lifts her head,
List’ning Envy drops her snakes ;
wage, And giddy Factions hear away their rage.
Ver. 35.] Dr. Greene set this ode to music in 1730, as an exercise for his Doctor's Degree at Cambridge, on which occasion Pope made considerable alterations in it, and added the following „stanza in this place:
Amphion thus bade wild dissension cease,
Enflam'd with glory's charms:
45 And half unsheath'd the shining blade : And seas, and rocks, and skies rebound
To arms, to arms, to arms!
Amphion taught contending kings,
From various discords, to create
The music of a well-tun'd state;
Those useful touches to impart,
That strike the subject's answering heart,
From sacred union and consent of things. And he made another alteration, at the same time, in stanza iv. v. 51, and wrote it thus :
Sad Orpheus sought his consort lost;
Warton. Ver. 40. While Argo] Few images in any poet, ancient or modern, are more striking than that in Apollonius, where he says, that when the Argo was sailing near the coast where the Centaur Chiron dwelt, he came down to the very margin of the sea, bringing his wife, with the young Achilles in her arms, that he might shew the child to his father Peleus, who was on his voyage with the other Argonauts. Apollonius Rhodius, lib. i. v. 558. Warton.
But when, through all th' infernal bounds,
Love, strong as Death, the Poet led
To the pale nations of the dead,
And the pale spectres dance;
Ver. 49. But when] See Divine Legation, book i. sect 1. where Orpheus is considered as a Philosopher, a Legislator, and a Mystagogue. In vol. v. of the Memoirs of Inscriptions, &c. p. 117, is a very curious dissertation upon the Orphic Life, by the Abbé Fraguier. He was the first critic who rightly interpreted the words of Horace, Cædibus et fædo victu, as meaning an abolition of eating human flesh.
Though the Hymns that remain are not the work of the real Orpheus, yet are they extremely ancient, certainly older than the Expedition of Xerxes against Greece.
O'er th’ Elysian flow'rs;
Or Amaranthine bow'rs;
Wand’ring in the myrtle grove,
He sung, and hell consented
To hear the Poet's prayer :
him back the fair.
Ver. 77.] These images are picturesque and appropriated, and are such notes as might
Draw iron tears down Pluto's cheek,
And make hell grant what love did seek. Pope, being insensible of the effects of music, inquired of Dr. Arbuthnot, whether Handel really deserved the applause he met with. The Duchess of Queensberry told me, that Gay could play on the flute, and that this enabled him to adapt so happily some airs in the Beggar's Opera.
Warton. Ver. 07.] These numbers are of so burlesque, so low, and ridiculous a kind, and have so much the air of a vulgar drinking
A conquest how hard and how glorious !
Tho' fate had fast bound her
With Styx nine times round her, Yet Music and Love were victorious.
But soon, too soon, the lover turns his eyes :
Now under hanging mountains,
song, that one is amazed and concerned to find them in a serious ode. Addison thought this measure exactly suited to the comic character of Sir Trusty in his Rosamond ; by the introduction of which he has so strangely debased that very elegant opera. It is observable, that this ludicrous measure is used by Dryden, in a song of evil spirits, in the fourth act of the State of Innocence.
Warton. Ver. 97.] These scenes, in which Orpheus is introduced as making his lamentations, are not so wild, so savage, and dismal, as those mentioned by Virgil ; and convey not such images of desolation and deep despair, as the caverns on the banks of Strymon and Tanais, the Hyperborean deserts, and the Riphæan solitudes. And to say of Hebrus, only, that it rolls in meanders, is fat and feeble, and does not heighten the melancholy of the place. He that would have a complete idea of Orpheus's anguish and situation, must look at the exquisite figure of him (now in the possession of Sir Watkin Williams Wynne) painted by Mr. Dance, a work that does honour to the true genius of the artist, and to the age in which it was produced.