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did trace,

life. But what I have here said of epick and dramatick poems does not extend to such writings, the very frame and model of which is designed to be Allegorical; in which, therefore, as I said before, fuch unsubstantial and fymbolical actors may be very properly admitted.

Every Book of the Faerie Queene is fruitful of these visionary beings, which are invented and drawn with a surprising strength of imagination. I shall produce but one instance here, which the reader may compare with that just mentioned in Virgil, to which it is no way inferior; it is in Book II. where Mammon conduets Guyon through a cave under ground to show him his treasure. At length they came into a larger {pace, 6. That stretcht itselfe into an ample playne,

Through which a beaten broad high way
“ That streight did lead to Plutoe's griefly rayne:
“ By that wayes side there fate infernall Payne, ,
" And fast beside him fat tumultuous Strife;
“ The one in hand an yron whip did strayne,

“ The other brandished a bloody knife; " And both did gnash their teeth, and both did threaten

« On the other side in one confort there fate

“ Cruell Revenge, and rancorous Despight,
“ Difloyall Treason, and hart-burning Hate ;
“ But gnawing Gealofy, out of their light

Sitting alone, his bitter lips did bight;
" And trembling Feare still to and fro did fly,
“ And found no place wher fafe he shroud him might:

“ Lamenting Sorrow did in darknes lye;
" And Shame his ugly face did hide froin living eye,
" And over them fad Horror with grim hew

“ Did alwaies fore, beating his yron wings;
“ And after him owles and night-ravens Hew,
“ The hatefull messengers of heavy things,
“ Of death and dolor telling fad tidings:
“ Whiles sad Celeno, fitting on a clifte,
“ A song of bale and bitter forrow fings,

" That hart of Aint asonder could have rifte; " Which having ended after him the flyeth swifte. “ All these before the gates of Pluto lay, &c.”

The posture of Jealousy, and the motion of Fear, in this defcription, are particularly fine. These are instances of Allegorical perfons, which are shown only in one transient view. The reader will every where meet with others in this Author, which are employed in the action of the poem, and which need not be mentioned here.

Having thus endeavoured to give a general idea of what is meant by Allegory in poetry, and shown what kind of persons are frequently employed in it, I shall proceed to mention some properties which seem requisite in all well-invented fables of this kind.

There is no doubt but men of critical learning, if they had thought fit, might have given us rules about Allegorical writing, as they have done about epick, and other kinds of poetry; but they have rather chosen to let this forest remain wild, as if they thought there was something in the nature of the foil which could not so well be restrained and cultivated in enclosures. What Sir William Temple observes about rules in general, may perhaps be more particularly applicable to this ; that “they may possibly hinder fome from being very bad poets, but are not capable of making any very good one. Notwithstanding this, they are uteful to help our observation in diftinguishing the beauties and the blemishes in such works as have been already produced. I shall therefore beg leave to mention four qualities which I think are essential to every good Allegory; the three first of which relate to the Table, and the last to the Moral.

The first is, that it be lively and surprising. The Fable, or literal sense, being that which most immediately offers itself to the reader's observation, must have this property, in order to raise and entertain his curiosity. As there is, therefore, more invention employed in a work of this kind than in mere narration, or defcription, or in general amplifications on any subject, it confequently requires à more than ordinary heat of fancy in its first production. If the Fable, on the contrary, is flat, spiritless, or barrren of invention, the reader's imagination is not affected, nor his attention engaged, though the instruction conveyed under it be ever so useful or important.

The second qualification I shall mention is elegance, or a beautiful propriety and aptness in the Fable to the subject on which it is employed. By this quality the invention of the poet is restrained from taking too great a compass, or losing itfelf in a confufion of ill-forted ideas. Such representations as that mentioned by Horace, of dolphins in a wood, or boars in the fea, being fit only to surprise the imagination, without pleasing the judgment. The fame Moral may likewise be expressed in different Fables, all of which may be lively and full of fpirit, yet not equally elegant, as various dresses may be made for the fame body, yet not equally becoming. As it therefore requires a heat of fancy to raise images and resemblances, it requires a good taste to distinguish and range them, and to choose the most proper and beautiful, where there appears an almost distracting variety. I may compare this to Æneas searching in the wood for the golden bough; he was at a loss where to lay his hand, till his mother's doves, descending in his fight, flew before him, and perched on the tree where it was to be found.

it may

Another effential property is, that the Fable be every where consistent with itself. As licentious as Allegorical fiction may seem in some respects, it is, nevertheless, subject to this restraint.' The poet is, indeed, at liberty in choosing his story, and inventing his perfons, but, after he has introduced them, he is obliged to sustain them in their proper characters, as well as in more regular kinds of writing. It is difficult to give particular rules under this head; it may fuffice to say that this wild nature is, however, fubje&t to an economy proper to ittelf; and, though

tometimes teem extravagant, ought never to be abfurd. Most of the Allegories in the Faerie Queene are agreeable to this rule; but in one of his other poems the Author has manifestly tranfgressed it; the poem I mean is that which is called Prothalamion. In this the two brides are figured by two beautiful swans failing down the river Thames. The Allegory breaks, before the reader is prepared for it; and we see them, at their landing, in their true shapes, without knowing how this sudden change is effected. If this had been only a fimile, the poet might have dropped it at pleasure; but, as it is an Allegory, he ought to have made it of a piece, or to have invented some probable means of coming out of it.

The last property I shall mention is, that the Allegory be clear and intelligible; the Fable being designed only to clothe and adorn the Moral, but not to hide it, should, methinks, resemble the draperies we admire in fome of the ancient statues, in which the folds are not too many, nor too thick, but fo judiciously ordered, that the shape and beauty of the limbs may be seen through them.

It must be confeffed, that many of the ancient Fables appear to us, at this distance of time, very perplexed and dark; and, if they had any Moral at all, it is so closely couched, that it is very difficult to difcover it. Whoever reads the Lord Bacon's Wisdom of the Ancients, will be convinced of this. He has employed a more than ordinary penetration to decipher the most known traditions in the Heathen mythology; but his interpretations are often far-fetched, and so much at random, that the reader can have no assurance of their truth. It is not to be doubted that a great part of these fables were allegorical, but others might have been ftories designed only to amuse, or to practise upon the credulity of the vulgar; or the doctrines they contained might be purposely clouded, to conceal them from common knowledge. But though, as I hinted in the former part of this discourse, this may have been a reason among philofophers, it ought not to be admitted among poets.

An Allegory which is not clear is a riddle, and the fenfe of it lies at the mercy of every fanciful interpreter.

Though the epick poets, as I have shown, have sprinkled fome Allegories through their poems, yet it would be absurd to endeavour to understand them every where in a myftical fenfe. We are told of one Metrodorus Lampfacemus, whose works are lost, that turned the whole writings of Homer


fturned the whole writings of "Iomer into an Allegory :) Mr. Hughes seems not to have kuown that another work of this kind existed, which is in Greek, viz. Allegoriæ Homericæ quæ fub Heraclidis nomine feruntur, &c.” This allegorical performance (of which the French criticks fpeak contemptuously) was first published by Aldus at the end of his edition of Æfop's Fables in 1505. Conrad Gefuer republished this little tract, with a Latin version. It was again issued from the press, at Gottingen in 1782, by N. Schow, M.A. To which is added, “ Ejufdem Commentatio Critica in Stoicorum et Grammaticorum Allegorias Homericas, una cum adnotatione critica in lectionem libelli.” A critical Letter from Heyne to the editor is prefixed. TODD.

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