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The spurioufness of those Sibylline verses 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 Christian Religion, by any found and conclufive reasoner. The learned Heyne has difcuffed this point in his notes on the second 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. 6. Scilicet inter omnes populos, magna ime primis calamitate oppressos, 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 insanius 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. Quascunque autem hoc in genere descriptiones, novæ felicitatis habemus, five in Orientis five in Græcis et Romanis poetis, omnes inter se similes funt: bestiæ ac feræ cicures, ferpentes innocui, fruges nullo cultû enatæ, mare placidum, di presentes in terris, aliaque ejusmodi in omnibus memorantur." In contradi&tion to this opinion the reader is defired to turn to as remark. able a passage at the end of the twenty-firit of Bifhop Lowth's excellent Lectures on the Hebrew Poetry.
A SACRED ECLOGUE.
Ye Nymphs of Solyma ! begin the song:
To heav'nly themes sublimer strains belong.
Rapt into future times, the Bard begun :
. from Dryden, a greater HARMONIST,
may say so, than Pope : “ The lovely shrubs and trees that shade the plain,
“ Delight not all.” I mention this because it is the first break we have had in the couplet.
IMITATIONS. Ver. 8. A Virgin fball conceive - All crimes shall cease, &c.] Virg. Ecl. iv, ver. 6.
“ Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna
Jam nova progenies cælo demittitur alto.
solvent formidine terras Pacatumque reget patriis virtutibus orbem." « Now the Virgin returns, now the kingdom of Saturn resurns, now a new progeny is jent down from high heaven. . By means of thee, whatever reliques of our crimes remain, shall be wiped away, anıl free the world from perpetual fears. He shall govern the earth in peace, with the virlues of his father.”
Isaiah. • Dante says, that Statius was made a Christian by reading this passage in Virgil. See L. Gyraldus, p. 534.
From * Jesse's root behold a branch arise,
REMARKS. Ver. 13. Ye 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 i suits the first age of the gospel; the Poet, under the idea of dew, which extends it to every age !
Dr. Warton juftly observes, that Warburton frequently disgraced 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& “c of Hamlet, where he contends that the words, if the sun breeds
maggots in a dead dog; being a God, kissing carrion,' point out “the supreme cause diffufing its blessings on mankind, who is, as " it were, a dead carrion, dead in original fin, man, instead of a
proper return of duty, should bred only corruption and vices. “ Are these fort of interpretations a jot less ridiculous than that of “ Father Harduin's on the twentieth ode of the second book of “ Horace, who tells us, this ode is a profopopeia of Christ tri“umphing and addressing the Jews after his resurrection? That
“ biformis MITATIONS. Ilaiah, ch. vii. ver. 14. "Behold a Virgin fall conceive and bear a son.” -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
Pope. ment, and with justice, for ever and ever.”
VER. 14. And in fot filence bed the kindly show'r!] From Dryden's Don Sebaltian.
“ But bed from nature like a kindly show'r." STEVENS: a Ifai. ch. xi. ver. I.
Ch. xlv. ver. 8.
The sick and weak the healing plant shall aid, 15
REMARKS, “ biformis vates alludes to his being in forma dei, and in forma " servi. - That the second part of the allegory points to the Do* minicans, who should preach and diffuse his gospel to diftant 6s nations; that alitem album, meant their white garments; and “ refidunt pelles cruribus asperæ, their boots !". VER. 17. ancient fraud] i.e. the fraud of the serpent.
WARBURTON. VFR. 23. See Nature] Perhaps the dignity, the energy, and the fimplicity of the original, are in a few passages weakened and diminished by florid epithets, and ufeless circumlocutions.
See Nature haftes her earliest wreaths to bring,
With all the incense of the breathing spring : Are lines which have too much prettiness, and too modern an air. The judicious addition of circumstances and adjuncts is what ren
ders IMITATIONS. VER. 23. See Nature haftes, &c.] Virg. Ecl. iv. ver. 18. " At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu,
Errantes hederas passim cum baccare tellus,
4 Ch. ix. ver. 7.
See lofty Lebanon his head advance,
REMARKS. ders poefy a more lively imitation of nature than profe. Pope has been happy in introducing the following circumstance: the prophet says, “ The parched ground ball become a pool;" our Author expresses this idea by saying, that the shepherd
-shall start amid the thirsty wild to hear New falls of water murm'ring in his eart. A striking example of a fimilar beauty may be added from Thomson. Melisander, in the Tragedy of Agamemnon, after telling us he was conveyed in a vessel, at midnight, to the wildest of the Cyclades, adds, when the pitilefs mariners had left him in that dreadful folitude,
I never heard A found so dismal as their parting oars ! On the other hand, the prophet has been sometimes 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 shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephab: all they from Sheba fball come : they fball bring gold and incense, and they sball fbew forth the praises of the Lord. All the flocks of Kedar ball be gathered together unto thee; the rams
IMITATIONS. “ For thee, O Child, soall the earth, without being tilled, produce her early offerings ; winding ivy, mixed with Baccar, and Colocasia with smiling Acanthus. Tby cradle shall pour forth pleahng flow'rs about thee."
Ifai. ch. xxxv. ver. I. “The wilderness and the folitary place fall be glad, and the desert fall rejoice and blossom as the rose.—Ch. lx. ver. 13. The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of thy fan&uary."
Pope. • Isaiah, ch. xxxv. ver. 2.
+ Mes. ver. 70.