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to the fashion of the times, by Alphonso the character of generosity, should be so king of Naples. He wrote five different much changed as to be capable of avarice. works in verse; and, according to his own I have learned to give away many things, account in one of his letters, they con- but to sell nothing; particularly books; sisted of ten books of satires, five books than which I esteem nothing of greater of miscellaneous poems, the Sfortiad in value. But this book of Homer is so dear eight books, ten books of epigrams, and to my heart, and affords me so much three of Greek poems. The number of pleasure, that life itself can furnish noverses in the whole, as calculated by him- thing more delightful. Therefore pardon self, amounted to thirty-three thousand me in this one thing. If I can gratify you eight hundred. He has omitted in this in any thing else, you may command me, computation, his Nicholaus, a poem in and shall not be disappointed.” My patwo books, and in sapphic verse, which per will not admit a number of citations, he composed in honour of Pope Nicholas and I will therefore content myself with the Filih, by whom he was greatly es- referring the lover of elegant latinity and teemed, and who had invited him, by a literary anecdotes to the original collection. large present, to undertake the translation It is a circumstance which adds to our of Homer into Latiu. He was scarcely surprise in contemplating this example of less voluminous in prose, but less original, literary industry, that Philelphus was very as his prosaic works consist chiefly of much engaged in wars and in embassies ; translations from Lysias, Aristotle, Xeno- so true is it, that the greatest exertions of phon, Hippocrates, and Plutarch; though mind are compatible with the most ache has also written two books of Con- tive life. His writings are not free from vivia, three entitled Commentationes Flo- faults, or from that inaccuracy which prorentinæ, five on Moral Discipline, and ceeds from haste; but he is still a stupenthe Life and Exploits of Francis Sfortia, dous instance of diligence and excelleoce. in compliment to whom the Sfortiad, Who but must lament, that, after having which has been mentioned already, was done so much to enlighten a dark age, and composed. There are also Orations, of enjoyed the friendship of princes and popwhich Erasmus speaks rather unfavour. tiffs, he should die in his eighty-second ably in his Ciceronianus,
year so poor, that his bed, and the utenBut the only work of Philelphus which siis of his kitchen, were sold to pay the I have had an opportunity of inspecting, expences of his funeral ? But few men of is the Epistles, of which this prolific au- real genius love money; and of the lithor, in the course of a long life, has writ- berality of Philelphus, the fragment which ten no fewer than thirty-seven books. I have inserted is an ample testimony. These abound with eloquence, and with I hope it will not be tedious or disasuch literary anecdotes and particulars, as greeable to the reader, if I mention a few cannot but afford amusement to the curie circumstances relative to the friend and ous scholar. Though Morhoff rather contemporary of Philelphus, Theodore slights them, yet Erasmus, a much better Gaza, of whom he speaks in his epistle, as judge, acknowledges that they resemble having transcribed for him a very fine Cicero,
copy of Homer's Iliad. I present the reader with an extract T'heodore Gaza was born at Thessalofrom one of them, which I happen to be nica, but received part of his education in reading at the time I am writing, and Italy. He was an elegant writer both in which characterizes the spirit of the au- the Greek and the Latin languages; but thor, and the great attachment which he he displayed his abilities chiefly in transhad to books. Cardinal Bessario, the lation; a most useful labour when the patriarch of Constantinople, had applied learned languages were imperfectly underto him, desiring him to sell his copy of stood. His translated parts of Aristotle, Homer's Iliad, to which request Philel- Theophrastus, and Hippocrates, into Laphus thus replies: “ That copy of Ho- tin; and the treatise of Cicero on Old Age mer's Iliad which the very learned Theo- into Greek. He wrote also a treatise on dore Gaza has written out for me, I Grammar in four books, which has been value so much, that I would not part greatly celebrated. Greek learning, and with it to any man, for all the treasures indeed all ancient, learning, is greatly inof Cresus. Í am really surprised that debted to this distinguished reviver of it, you should think that I, who always had Theodore Gaza.
But he also was unfortunate, and adds composed on occasions of distress and to the number of those whom Providence mourning: The 42d Psalm, in particular, has exhibited to prove, that the rewards is, in the highest degree, tender and plainof virtuous and useful labour do not con- tive. But the most regular and perfect sist in riches, honours, or any thing else elegiac composition in the Scripture, perwhich the rulers of this world are able to haps in the whole world, is the book, enbestow. Poor Gaza had dedicated his titled the Lamentations of Jeremiah. As Translation and Commentaries on Aristo- the prophet mourns in that book over the tle's Book on Animals to Pope Sixtus the destruction of the temple, and the Holy Fourth, in hopes of procuring from his City, and the overthrow of the whole state, patronage a little provision for his old age. he assembles all the affecting images which The Pope gave him only a purse with a a subject so melancholy could suggest. few pieces in it, and accompanied his gift The composition is uncommonly artificial. with a manner which induced Gaza to By turns the prophet, and the city of conclude that it was the last favour he Jerusalem, are introduced, as pouring forth should receive. Gaza received it in si- their sorrows; and in the end, a chorus of lence; and as he walked home, all melan- the people send up the most earnest and choly and indignant, along the banks of plaintive supplications to God. The lines the 'Tiber, he threw the purse into the of the original too, as may, in part, appear stream, and soon after died of vexation from our translation, are longer than is and disappointment.
usual in the other kinds of Hebrew poetry; I have introduced these examples with and the melody is rendered thereby more a view to animate the student to indus- flowing, and better adapted to the queriary; and at the same time, to teach him monious strain of elegy. to seek his reward in his own heart, in the The Song of Solomon affords us a high approbation of Heaven, in the private sa. exemplification of pastoral poetry. Con. tisfactions of study; and not to depend sidered with respect to its spiritual meantoo much on princes, pontiffs, or even ing, it is undoubtedly, a mystical allegory; popular favour.
in its form, it is a dramatic pastoral, or a 8 134. On the different kinds of Poetical the character of shepherds ; and, suitably
perpetual dialogue between personages in Composition in the Sacred Books, and of to that form, it is full of rural and pastoral
; the distinguishing Charucters of the chief images, from beginning to end. Ibid. Writers. 1st. of the Didactic.
The several kinds of poetical composi- $ 136. On the Lyric Poetry of Scripture. tion which we find in scripture, are chiefly Of lyric poetry, or that which is intendthe didactic, elegiac, pastoral, and lyric. Of ed to be accompanied with music, the the didactic species of poetry, the Book of Old Testament is full. Besides a great Proverbs is the principal instance. The number of hymns and songs, which we nine first chapters of that book are highly find scattered in the historical and prophe. poetical, adorned with many distinguished tical books, such as the song of Moses, graces, and figures of expression. At the the song of Deborah, and many others of 10th chapter, the style is sensibly altered, like nature, the whole book of Psalms is and descends into a lower strain, which is to be considered as a collection of sacred continued to the end; retaining however odes. In these, we find the ode exhibited that sententious, pointed manner, and that in all the varieties of its form, and supartful construction of period, which distin- ported with the highest spirit of lyric guishes all the Hebrew poetry. The Book poetry; sometimes sprightly, cheerful, and of Ecclesiastes comes likewise under this triumphant; sometimes solemn and maghead; and some of the Psalms, as the nificent; sometimes tender and soft. From 119th in particular.
Blair. these instances, it clearly appears, that
there are contained in the holy scriptures $ 135. Of the Elegiac and Pastoral Poetry full semplifications of several of the chief of Scripture. kinds of poetical writing.
Ibid. Of elegiac poetry, many very beautiful specimens occur in scripture; such as the $ 137, A Diversity of Style and Manner lamentation of David over his friend Jo- in the different Composers of the Sacred nathan; several passages in the prophetical
Books. On Job, David, and Isaiau. books; and several of David's Psalms, Among the different composers of the
sacred books, there is an evident diversity “cus ; in sensibus, fervidus, acerbus, in
, of style and manner; and to trace their “ “ dignabundus; in imaginibus, fecundus, different characters in this view, will con- “truculentus, et nonnunquam ponè defortribute not a little towards our reading “mis; in dictione, grandiloquus, gravis, their writings with greater advantage. austerus, et interdum incultus; frequens The most eminent of the sacred poets are, “ in repetitionibus, non decoris aut gratiæ the author of the Book of Job, David, and causa, sed ex indignatione et violentia. Isaiah. As the compositions of David are Quicquid susceperit tractandum id seof the lyric kind, there is a greater variety“ dulo persequitur ; in eo unicè hæret de
“ of style and manner in his works, than in “ fixus ; a proposito raro deflectens. In those of the other two. The manner in "cæteris, a plerisque vatibus fortassè suwhich, considered merely as a poet, David peralus; sed in eo generè, ad quod vichiefly excels, is the pleasing, the soft, "detur a natura unicè comparatus, nimiand the tender. In his Psalms, there are "rum, vi, pondere, impetu, granditate, many losty and sublime passages; but, in nemo unquam eum superavit.” The strength of description, he yields to Job: same learned writer compares Isaiah to in sublimity, he yields to Isaiah. It is a Homer, Jeremiah to Simonides, and Ezesort of a temperate grandeur, for which kiel to Æschylus. Most of the book of David is chiefly distinguished; and to this Isaiah is strictly poetical; of Jeremiah and he always soon returns, when,
upon some Ezekiel, not above one half can be held occasions, he rises above it. The psalms to belong to poetry. Among the minor in which he touches us most, are those in prophets, Hosea, Joel, Micah, Habakkuk, which he describes the happiness of the and especially Nahum, are distinguished righteous, or the goodness of God; ex- for poetical spirit. In the prophecies of presses the tender breathings of a devout Daniel and Jonah, there is no poetry, mind, or sends up moving and affectionate
Ibid. supplications to heaven. Isaiah is, without exception, the most sublime of all poets.
§ 139. On the Book of Job. This is abundantly visible in our transla- It only now remains to speak of the tion; and, what is a material circum- book of Job. It is known to be extremely stance, noneof the books of scripture appear ancient; generally reputed the most anto have been more happily translated than cient of all the poetical books; the authe writings of this prophet. Majesty is thor uncertain. It is remarkable, that this his reigning character; a majesty more book has no connection with the affairs or commanding and more uniformly support- manners of the Jews, or Hebrews. The ed, than is to be found among the rest of scene is laid in the land of Uz, or Idumæa, the Old Testament poets.
possesses, which is a part of Arabia; and the imageindeed, a dignity and grandeur, both in ry employed is generally of a different kind his conceptions and expressions, which are
from what I before showed to be peculiar altogether unparalleled, and peculiar to to the Hebrew poets.
to the Hebrew poets. We meet with no himself. There is more clearness and or- allusions to the great events of sacred hisder too, and a more visible distribution of tory, to the religious rites of the Jews, parts, in his book, than in any other of the to Lebanon or to Carmel, or any of the prophetical writings.
Blair. peculiarities of the climate of Judæa. We
find few comparisons founded on rivers or § 138. On Jeremiah.
torrents; these were not familiar objects in When we compare him with the rest of Arabia. But the longest comparison that the poetical prophets, we immediately see occurs in the book, is to an object frequent in Jeremiah a very different genius. Isaiah and well known in that region, a brook employs himself generally on magnificent that fails in the season of heat, and disapsubjects. Jeremiab seldom discovers any points the expectation of the traveller. disposition to be sublime, and inclines al- The poetry, however, of the book of ways to the tender and elegiac. Ezekiel, Job, is not only equal to that of any other in poetical grace and elegance, is much of the sacred writings, but is superior to inferior to them both; but he is distin- them all, except those of Isaiah alone. As guished by a character of uncommon force Isaiah is the most sublime, David the most and ardour. To use the elegant expres- pleasing and tender, so Job is the most desions of Bishop Lowth, with regard to this scriptive of all the inspired poets. A peProphet:-“ Est atrox, vehemens, tragi- culiar glow of fancy, and strength of de
'scription characterise the author. No no object could be more splendid and digwriter whatever abounds so much in meta- pified than the Trojan war. So great a phors. He may be said, not to describe, confederacy of the Grecian states, under but to render visible, whatever he treats one leader, and the ten years' siege which of. A variety of instances might be given. they carried on against Troy, must have Let us remark only those strong and lively spread far abroad the renown of many micolours, with which, in the following pas- litary exploits, and interested all Greece sages, taken from the 18th and 20th chap. in the traditions concerning the heroes ters of his book, he paints the condition who had most eminently signalized themof the wicked : observe how rapidly his selves. Upon these traditions, Homer figures rise before us : and what a deep grounded his poem; and though he lived, impression, at the same time, they leave on as is generally believed, only two or three the imagination. “Knowest thou not this centuries after the 'Trojan war, yet, through “ of old, since man was placed upon the the want of written records, tradition must, “ earth, that the triumphing of the wicked by his time, have fallen into the degree " is short, and the joy of the hypocrite, of obscurity most proper for poetry; and “ but for a moment? Though his excel- have left him at full liberty to mix as much “ lency mount up to the heavens, and his fable as he pleased, with the remains of “ head reach the clouds, yet he shall perish true history. He has not chosen, for his “ for ever. He shall fly away as a dream, subject, the whole Trojan war; but, with " and shall not be found; yea, he shall be great judgment, he has selected one part of “chased away, as a vision of the night. it, the quarrel betwixt Achilles and Aga
eye also which saw him, shall see memnon, and the events to which that “ him no more; they which have seen quarrel gave rise; which, though they take “ him, shall say, where is he?-He shall up forty-seven days only, yet include the
ack the poison of asps, the viper's most interesting and most critical period tongue shall slay him. In the fullness of of the war. By this management, he has “ his sufficiency, he shall be in straits; given greater unity to what would have
every hand shall come upon him. He otherwise been an unconnected history of “ shall flee from the iron weapon, and battles. He has gained one hero, or prin“the bow of steel shall strike him through, cipal character, Achilles, who reigns “ all darkness shall be bid in his secret throughout the work; and he has shewn “places. A fire not blown shall consume the pernicious effect of discord among con“ bim. The heaven shall reveal his ini- federated princes. At the same time, I “ quity, and the earth shall rise up against admit that Homer is less fortunate in his “ him. The increase of his house shall subject than Virgil. The plan of the
depart. His goods shall flow away in Æneid includes a greater compass and “ the day of wrath. The light of the more agreeable diversity of events : whereas “wicked shall be put out; the light shall the Iliadis almost entirely filled with battles. “ be dark in his tabernacle. The steps
The praise of high invention has in every “of his strength shall be straitened, and age been given to Homer, with the great“ his own counsel shall cast him down., est reason. The prodigious number of in“ For be is cast into a net, by his own cidents, of speeches, of characters divine “ feet. He walketh upon a spare. Ter- and human, with which he abounds; the “ rors shall make him afraid on every side; surprising variety with which he has diver" and the robber shall prevail against him. sified his battles, in the wounds and deaths, “ Brimstone shall be scattered upon his and little history pieces of almost all the “ habitation. His remembrance shall po- persons slain, discover an invention next to “rish from the earth, and he shall have boundless. But the praise of judgment is, “ no name in the street. He shall be drie in my opinion, no less due to Homer, than “ven from light into darkness. They that of invention. His story is all along “ that come after him shall be astonished conducted with great art. He rises upon “ at his day. He shall drink of the wrath us gradually; his heroes are brought out, “ of the Almighty.”
one after another, to be objects of our at
tention. The distress thickens as the poem $140. On the Iliad of Homer.
advances; and every thing is so contrived The subject of the Iliad must unques- as to aggrandize Achilles, and to render tionably be admitted to be, in the main, him, as the poet intended he should be, happily chosen. In the days of Homer, the capital figure,
But that wherein Homer excels all wri- dromache. But, in the Æneid, there are ters, is the characteristical part. Here he many such. The second book is one of is without a rival. His lively and spirited the greatest master-pieces that ever was exhibition of characters, is, in a great mea- executed by any hand: and Virgil seems sure, owing to his being so dramatic a wri
to have put forth there the whole strength ter, abounding every where with dialogue of his genius, as the subject afforded a vaand conversation. There is much more riety of scenes, both of the awful and tendialogue in Homer than in Virgil; or, in- der kind. The images of horror, presentdeed, than in
ed by a city burned and sacked in the $ 141. On the Odyssey of HOMER.
night, are finally mixed with pathetic and
affecting incidents. Nothing, in any poet, My observations, hitherto, have been is more beautifully described than the made upon the Iliad only. It is necessary death of old Priam; and the family-pieces to take some notice of the Odyssey also. of Æneas, Anchises, and Creusa, are as Longinus's criticism upon it is not without tender as can be conceived. In many pasfoundation, that Homer may, in this poem, sages of the Æneid, the same pathetic spibe compared to the setting sun, whose rit shines, and they have been always the grandeur still remains, without the heat of favourite passages in that work. The his meridian beanis. It wants the vigour fourth book, for instance, relating the unand sublimity of the Iliad; yet, at the same happy passion and death of Dido, has been time, possesses so many beauties, as to be always most justly admired, and abounds justly entitled to high praise. It is a very with beauties of the highest kind. The amusing poem, and has much greater va- interview of Æneas with Andromache and riety than the Iliad; it contains many in- Helenus, in the third book; the episodes
!; teresting stories, and beautiful descriptions. of Pallas and Evander, of Nisus and EuryWe see every where the same descriptive alus, of Lausus and Mezentius, in the Itaand dramatic genius, and the same fertility lian wars, are all striking instances of the of invention, that appears in the other work. It descends indeed from the dignity tions. For we must observe, that though
poet's power of raising the tender emoof gods and heroes, and warlike achiev- the Æneid be an unequal poem, and, in ments; but in recompense, we have more pleasing pictures of ancient manners. In- ties scattered through it all; and not a
some places, languid, yet there are beaustead of that ferocity which reigns in the few, even in the last six books. The best Iliad, the Odyssey presents us with the and most finished books, upon the whole, most amiable images of hospitality and hu
are the first, the second, the fourth, the manity; entertains us with many a wonderful adventure, and many a landscape twelfth.
sixth, the seventh, the eighth, and the
Ibid. of nature; and instructs us by a constant vein of morality and virtue, which runs $143. On the comparative Merit of Hothrough the poem.
MER and VIRGIL § 142. On the Beauties of Virgil. Upon the whole, as to the comparative
Virgil possesses beauties which have merit of those two great princes of epic justly drawn the admiration of ages, and poetry, Homer and Virgil; the former which, to this day, hold the balance in must undoubtedly be admitted to be the equilibrium between his fame and that of greater genius; the latter, to be the more Homer
. The principal and distinguishing correct writer. Homer was an original in excellency of Virgil
, and which, in my his art, and discovers both the beauties and opinion, he possesses beyond all poets, is the defects, which are to be expected in an tenderness. Nature had endowed him original author, compared with those who with exquisite sensibility; he felt every succeed himn; more boldness, more nature affecting circumstance in the scenes he de- and ease, more sublimity and force; but scribes ; and by a single stroke, he knows greater irregularities and negligences in how to reach the heart. This, in an epic composition. Virgil has, all along, kept poem, is the merit next to sublimity; and his eye upon Homer; in many places he puts it in author's power to render his has not so much imitated, as he has litecomposition extremely interesting to all rally translated him. The description of readers.
the storm, for instance, in the first Æneid, The chief beauty of this kind, in the and Æneas's speech upon that occasion, Iliad, is the interview of Hector with An- are translations from the fifth book of the