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The mention of places remarkably romantic, the supposed habitations of Druids, Bards, and Wizards, is far more pleasing to the imagination, than the obvious introduction of Cam and Ifis, as seats of the Muses.
Upon the whole, the principal merit of these Pastorals consists in their mufical and correct versification ; musical, to a degree of which rhyme could hardly be thought capable ; and in giving the truest 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 obliged every moderate rhymer to be at least melodious.
WARTON. These observations are very juft, but Dr. Warton does not seem sufficiently to discriminate between the softness of individual lines, which is the chief merit of these Pastorals, and the general harmony of poetic numbers. Let it, however, be always remembered, that Pope gave the first idea of mellifluence, and produced a softer and sweeter cadence than before belonged to the English couplet. Dr. Johnson thinks it will be in vain, after Pope, to endeavour to improve the English versification ; and that it is now carried to the ne plus ultra of excellence. This is an opinion, the validity of which I muft be permitted to doubt.
Pope certainly gave a niore correct and finished tone to the English versification, but he sometimes wanted a variety of pause, and his nice precition of every line, prevented, in a few instances, a more musical flow of modulated pasages. But we are to consider what he did, not, what might be done, and surely there cannot be two opinions, respecting his improvement of the couplet, though it does not follow that his general rythm has no imperfection. Sandys, in his version of the Psalms, seems to have attended more than I believe is generally imagined, to the effect of musical harmonies in the couplet. Let me not however be misunderstooi, as if invariably recommending breaks :- far from it -- much less, running one line into the other from carelessness, (not from attention to melody,) which is sometimes the fault of Dryden himself. If, in particular passages, I have ventured to remark, that Pope has introduced false thoughts and conceits, let us remember that we ought not so much to wonder that he admitted any, as that they were not more. Dryden's earlier poems are infinitely more vitiated in this refpect.
IN reading several passages of the Prophet Isaiah, which foretel the coming of Christ and the felicities attending it, I could not but observe a remarkable parity between many of the thoughts, and those in the Pollio of Virgil. This will not seem surprising, when we reflect, that the Eclogue was taken from a Sibylline prophecy on the same subject. One 'may judge that Virgil did not copy it line by line, but selected such ideas as best agreed with the nature of pastoral poetry, and disposed them in that manner which served most to beautify his piece. I have endeavoured the same in this imitation of him, though without admitting any thing of my own; since it was written with this particular view, that the reader, by comparing the several thoughts, might see how far the images and descriptions of the Prophet are superior to those of the Poet. But as I fear I have prejudiced them by my management, I shall subjoin the passages of Isaiah, and those of Virgil, under the fame disadvantage of a literal translation*
* As Pope made use of the old translation of Isaiah in the passages which he subjoined, it was thought proper to use the same, and not have recourse to the more accurate and more ani. mated version of Bishop Lowth.