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The fpurioufnefs of thofe Sibylline verfes which have been applied to our Saviour, has been so fully demonstrated by many able and judicious critics, that, I imagine, they will not be again adduced as proofs of the truth of the Chriftian Religion, by any found and conclufive reafoner. The learned Heyne has difcuffed this point in his notes on the fecond eclogue of Virgil, p. 73. v. 1.; and he adds an opinion about prophecy in general, too remarkable to be omitted, but of too delicate a nature to be quoted in any words but his own. "Scilicet inter omnes populos, magna imprimis calamitate oppreffos, Vaticinia circumferri folent, quæ five graviora minari, five lætiora folent polliceri, eaque, neceffariâ rerum viciffitudine, melioribus aliquando fuccedentibus temporibus, ferè femper eventum habent. Nullo tamen tempore vaticiniorum infanius fuit ftudium, quàm fub extrema Republicæ Romanæ tempora, primofque imperatores; cum bellorum civilium calamitates hominum animos terroribus omnis generis agitatos; ad varia portentorum prodigiorum, et vaticiniorum ludibria convertiffent. Quafcunque autem hoc in genere descriptiones, novæ felicitatis habemus, five in Orientis five in Græcis et Romanis poetis, omnes inter fe fimiles funt: beftiæ ac feræ cicures, ferpentes innocui, fruges nullo cultû enatæ, mare placidum, dii prefentes in terris, aliaque ejufmodi in omnibus memorantur." In contradiction to this opinion the reader is defired to turn to as remarkable a paffage at the end of the twenty-first of Bishop Lowth's excellent Lectures on the Hebrew Poetry. WARTON.
A SACRED ECLOGUE.
Rapt into future times, the Bard begun :
VER. 5. Delight no more-] This pause and words are evidently from Dryden, a greater HARMONIST, if I may say so, than Pope : "The lovely shrubs and trees that shade the plain, "Delight not all."
I mention this because it is the firft break we have had in the couplet.
VER. 8. A Virgin fball conceive -All crimes fhall cease, &c.] Virg. Ecl. iv. ver. 6.
"Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna
Te duce, fi qua manent fceleris veftigia noftri,
"Now the Virgin returns, now the kingdom of Saturn returns, now a new progeny is fent down from high heaven. . By means of thee, whatever reliques of our crimes remain, shall be wiped away, and free the world from perpetual fears. He hall govern the earth in peace, with the virtues of his father." Ifaiah.
• Dante fays, that Statius was made a Christian by reading this paffage in Virgil. See L. Gyraldus, p. 534. WARTON.
From Jeffe's root behold a branch arife,
Whofe facred flow'r with fragrance fills the fkies.:
VER. 13. Fe Heav'ns! &c.] Dr. Warburton has a note on this paffage, in which he labours to prove, that the Prophet defcribes the "Ethereal Spirit," under the idea of rain, which he
fuits the first age of the gospel; the Poet, under the idea of dew, which extends it to every age!
Dr. Warton juftly obferves, that Warburton frequently difgraced his acuteness and great talents, by endeavouring to find out and extort new meanings, in the Authors he undertook to criticize. He adds, "This interpretation is near a-kin to that "marvellous one which he has given to a speech in the second A& " of Hamlet, where he contends that the words, if the fun breeds "maggots in a dead dog, being a God, kiffing carrion,' point out "the fupreme caufe diffusing its bleffings on mankind, who is, as “it were, a dead carrion, dead in original fin, man, instead of a proper return of duty, fhould breed only corruption and vices. "Are thefe fort of interpretations a jot lefs ridiculous than that of "Father Harduin's on the twentieth ode of the fecond book of "Horace, who tells us, this ode is a profopopeia of Chrift tri"umphing and addreffing the Jews after his refurrection? That "biformis
Isaiah, ch. vii. ver. 14. Behold a Virgin fhall conceive and bear a fon.". -Ch. ix. ver. 6, 7. "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; the Prince of Peace: of the increase of his government, and of his peace, there shall be no end: Upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order and to establish it, with judg ment, and with juftice, for ever and ever.”
VER. 14. And in foft filence fhed the kindly show'r!] From Dryden's Don Sebastian.
"But bed from nature like a kindly fhew'r."
a Ifai. ch. xi. ver. 1.
Ch. xlv. ver. 8.
The fick and weak the healing plant fhall aid,
From storms a fhelter, and from heat a shade.
All crimes fhall cease, and ancient fraud fhall fail;
Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend,
And white-rob'd Innocence from heav'n defcend. 20
"biformis vates alludes to his being in formá dei, and in formá ss fervi. That the second part of the allegory points to the Do"minicans, who should preach and diffuse his gospel to distant ❝ nations; that alitem album, meant their white garments; and "refidunt pelles cruribus afpera, their boots!”
VER. 17. ancient fraud] i. e. the fraud of the serpent.
See Nature haftes her earliest wreaths to bring,
VFR. 23. See Nature] Perhaps the dignity, the energy, and the fimplicity of the original, are in a few paffages weakened and diminished by florid epithets, and ufelefs circumlocutions.
VER. 23. See Nature haftes, &c.] Virg. Ecl. iv. ver. 18.
Errantes hederas paffim cum baccare tellus,
Ifai. ch. xxv. ver. 4.
Are lines which have too much prettiness, and too modern an air. The judicious addition of circumstances and adjuncts is what ren
4 Ch. ix. ver. 7.
See lofty Lebanon his head advance,
See nodding forefts on the mountains dance:
And Carmel's flow'ry top perfumes the skies!
ders poefy a more lively imitation of nature than profe. Pope has been happy in introducing the following circumstance: the prophet fays, "The parched ground fball become a pool;" our Author expreffes this idea by faying, that the shepherd
shall start amid the thirsty wild to hear New falls of water murm'ring in his eart.
A ftriking example of a fimilar beauty may be added from Thomfon. Melifander, in the Tragedy of Agamemnon, after telling us he was conveyed in a veffel, at midnight, to the wildest of the Cyclades, adds, when the pitiless mariners had left him in that dreadful folitude,
I never heard
A found fo difmal as their parting oars!
On the other hand, the prophet has been fometimes particular, when Pope has been only general. "Lift up thine eyes round about, and fee; all they gather themselves together, they come to thee:
-The multitude of camels fhall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah: all they from Sheba fhall come: they shall bring gold and incenfe, and they shall fhew forth the praises of the Lord. All the flocks of Kedar fhall be gathered together unto thee; the rams
"For thee, O Child, shall the earth, without being tilled, produce her early offerings; winding ivy, mixed with Baccar, and Colocafia with Smiling Acanthus. Thy cradle fball pour forth pleafing flow'rs about thee."
Ifai. ch. xxxv. ver. 1. "The wilderness and the folitary place shall be glad, and the defert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.—Ch. Ix. ver. 13. The glory of Lebanon fhall come unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of thy fanctuary."
e Ifaiah, ch. xxxv. ver. 2.
† Meff. ver. 70.