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Yet wide was spread their fame in ages past,
Ver. 41. Nor was the work impair’d] Does not this use of the heat of the sun appear to be puerile and far-fetched conceit ? What connexion is there betwixt the two sorts of excesses here mentioned ? My purpose in animadverting so frequently as I have done on this species of false thoughts, is to guard the reader, especially of the younger sort, from being betrayed by the authority of so correct a writer as Pope into such specious and false refinements of style. For the same reason the opposition of ideas, in the three last words of the following line, may be condemned :
“ And legislators seem to think in stone."—Warton. The two lines, for fame, &c. destroy the allegory; and the censure of the critic is just. Not so with respect to the other line, And legislators, &c. which presents no “opposition of ideas ;” but on the contrary, a grand and simple image.
Any letters for to rede
They weren almost off-thawen so,
“ But men said what may ever last.”—P. Ver. 41. Nor was the work impaird, &c.]
“ Tho' gan I in myne harte cast,
“ And not away with stormes beate.”—P. Ver. 45. Yet part no injuries, &c.]
“ For on that other side I sey
The rock's high summit, in the temple's shade,
So Zembla's rocks (the beauteous work of frost)
Ver. 53. So Zembla's rocks] A real lover of painting will not be contented with a single view and examination of this beautiful winter-piece ; but will return to it again and again with fresh delight. The images are distinct, and the epithets lively and appropriate, especially the words pale, unfelt, impassive, incumbent, gather'd. The reader may consult Thomson's Winter, v. 905.-Warton.
Ver. 65. Four faces had the dome, &c.] The Temple is described to be square, the four fronts with open gates facing the different quarters of the world, as an intimation that all nations of the earth may alike be received into it. The western front is of Grecian architecture : the Doric order was peculiarly sacred to heroes and worthies. Those whose statues are after mentioned were the first names of old Greece in arms and arts.-P.
But well I wiste what it
And stood in so cold a place,
Four brazen gates, on columns lifted high,
Westward, a sumptuous frontispiece appear’d,
Ver. 81. There great Alcides, &c.] This figure of Hercules is drawn with an eye to the position of the famous statue of Farnese.-P.
It were to be wished, that our author, whose knowledge and taste of the fine arts were unquestionable, had taken more pains in describing so famous a statue as that of the Farnesian Hercules, to which he plainly refers, for he has omitted the characteristical excellencies of this famous piece of Grecian workmanship ; namely, the uncommon breadth of the shoulders, the knottiness and spaciousness of the chest", the firmness and protuberance of the muscles in each limb, particularly the legs, and the majestic vastness of the whole figure, undoubtedly designed by the artist to give a full idea of strength, as the Venus de' Medicis of beauty. These were the “invicti membra Glyconis,” which, it is probable, Horace proverbially alluded to in his first epistle, v. 30. The name of Glycon is to this day preserved on the base of the figure as the maker of it ; and as the virtuosi, customarily in speaking of a picture or statue, call it their Raphael or Bernini, why should not Horace, in common speech, use the name of the workman instead of the work? To mention the Hesperian apples, which the artist fung backwards, and almost concealed as an inconsiderable object, and which therefore scarcely appear in the statue, was below the notice of Pope.—Warton. Ver. 85. Amphion there the loud] It may be imagined that these exLuxuriatque toris animosum pectus.
Virg. Georg. lib. iii. v. 81.
Citharon's echoes answer to his call,
pressions are too bold ; and a phlegmatic critic might ask, how it was possible to see, in sculpture, arches bending, and towers growing? But the best writers in speaking of pieces of painting and sculpture, use the present or imperfect tense, and talk of the things as really doing, to give a force to the description. Thus Virgil :
Gallos in limine adesse canebat.” “ Incedunt victæ longo ordine gentes,
Quam variæ linguis, habitu tam vestis et armis.” As Pliny says that Clesilochus painted “ Jovem muliebriter ingemiscentem.” And Homer, in his beautiful and lively description of the shield,
-έν δ' άρα τοίσιν
Αυλοί, φόρμιγγές τε βοήν έχον. And again,
Μυκηθμώ δ' από κόπρου επισσεύοντο νομόνδε,
Παρ ποταμών κελάδοντα.In another place,
Λίνον υπό καλόν άειδε. . Upon which Clarke has made an observation that surprises me : quomodo in scuto Depingi potuit, quem caneret citharista ?”
This passage must not be parted with, till we have observed the artful rest upon the first syllable of the second verse :
“Amphion there the loud-creating lyre
Αυτάρ έπειτ' αυτοϊσι βέλος έχεπευκές εφιείς
“ As over them triumphant Death his dart
“ Others on the grass
Couch'd.” And of his blindness,
“ But not to me returns
“ All good to me becomes
Bane." These monosyllables have much force and energy ; the Latin language does not admit of such. Virgil, therefore, who so well understood and copied all the secret arts and charms of Homer's versification, has afforded us no examples ; yet, some of his pauses on words of more syllables in the beginning of lines are emphatical :
“ Vox quoque per lucos vulgo exaudita silentes,
“ Hærent infixi pectore vultus
Verbaque."—Warton. Ver. 88. mountain rolls] Dennis idly objected to these lines, because motion cannot be represented in sculpture. But Virgil, in his shield, represents motion ; in one instance, perhaps, he carries the idea too far : Mulcere alternos.
There might you see the length’ning spires ascend,
The Eastern front was glorious to behold,
Motion may be represented, but not change of motion.-Warton.
Had Warton forgot the description of the woman, represented on the bowl of Theocritus ?- Bowles.
Ver. 96. And the great founder of the Persian name :] Cyrus was the beginning of the Persian, as Ninus was of the Assyrian monarchy. The Magi and Chaldæans (the chief of whom was Zoroaster) employed their studies upon magic and astrology, which was, in a manner, almost all the learning of the ancient Asian people. We have scarce any account of a moral philosopher, except Confucius, the great lawgiver of the Chinese, who lived about two thousand years ago.-P.
Ver. 101. These stopp'd the moon,] These superstitions of the East are highly striking to the imagination. Since the time that poetry has been forced to assume a more sober, and perhaps a more rational air, it scarcely ventures to enter the fairy regions. There are some, however, who think it has suffered by deserting these fields of fancy, and by totally laying aside the descriptions of magic and enchantment. What an exquisite picture has Thomson given us, in his delightful Castle of Indolence !
“ As when a shepherd of the Hebrid isles,
CASTLE OF INDOLENCE, Stan, xxx. b. 1. I cannot at present recollect any solitude so romantic, or peopled with beings so proper to the place and the spectator. The mind naturally loves to lose itself in one of these wildernesses, and to forget the hurry, the noise, and splendour of more polished life ; as in the following beautiful stanza of The Minstrel