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from the best poet, for versification at least, that England has to boaft of.
High on his helm celestial lightnings play,
Iliad, v. 51
Strength and omnipotence invest thy throne.
Iliad, viii. 576.
So filent fountains, from a rock's tall head,
Iliad, ix. 19.
His clanging armour rung.
Iliad, xii. 94,
Fear on their cheek, and horror in their eye.
Iliad, xv. 4.
The blaze of armour fiath'd against the day.
Iliad, xvii. 736.
As when the piercing blafts of Boreas blow.
Iliad, xix. 380.
And like the moon, the broad refulger.t fhield
Hiad, xix. 402
No--could our swiftness o'er the winds prevail,
Iliad, xix. 460.
The humid sweat from ev'ry pore descends.
Iliad, xxiii. 829.
Redundant epithets, such as humid in the last citation, are by Quintilian disallowed to orators ; but indulged to poets,* because his favourite poets, in a few instances, are reduced to such epithets for the fake of versification ; for instance, Prata canis albicant pruinis of Horace, and liquidos fontes of Virgil.
As an apology for such careless expressions, it may well fuffice, that Pope, in submitting to be a translator, acts below his genius. In à translation, it is hard to require the same fpirit or accuracy, that is cheerfully bestowed on an original work. And to support the reputation of that author, I shall give some instances from Virgil and Horace, more faulty by redundancy than any of those above mentioned :
Sæpe etiam immenfum cælo venit agmen aquarum,
Georg. lib. i. 322.
Poftquam altum tenuere rates, nec jam amplius ullæ
Æneid, lib.ii. 192.
Hinc tibi copia
Horat. Carm. lib. 1. 9de 17.
Videre fe Nos vomerem inversum boves
Horat. epod. ii. 63.
* L. 8. cap. 6. sect. 2.
Here I can luckily apply Horace's rule against himfelf:
Eit brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu se
Satir. lib. 1. fat. X. g.
I close this chapter with a curious inquiry. An object, however ugly to the fight, is far from being so when represented by colours or by words. What is the cause of this difference? With respect to painting, the cause is obvious : a good picture, whatever the subject be, is agreeable by the pleasure we take in imitation ; and this pleasure overbalancing the disagreeableness of the subject, makes the picture upon the whole agreeable. With respect to the description of an ugly object, the cause follows. To connect individuals in the social state, no particular contributes more than language, by the power it pofle iles of an expeditious communication of thought, and a lively representation of transactions. But nature hath not been satisfied to recommend language by its utility merely : independent of utility, it is made fusceptible of many beauties, which are directly felt, without any intervening reflection.* And this unfolds the mystery; for the pleasure of language is so great, as in a lively description to overbalance the disagreeableness of the image raised by it. This, however, is no encouragement to choose a disagreeable subject ; for the pleasure is incomparably greater where the subject and the description are both of them agreeable.
The following description is upon the whole agreeable, though the subject described is in itself dismal :
* See chap. 18.
+ See chap. 2. part 4,
Nine times the space that measures day and night
furnace flam'd; yet from those flames
Paradise Lost, b. 1. l. 50.
An unmanly depression of spirits in time of danger is not an agreeable sight ; and yet a fine description or representation of it will be relished :
K. Richard. What must the King do now? must
he submit ?
an obscure grave.
Os, I'll be bury'd in the King's high-way ;
Richard II. a£t 3. fc. 6.
Objects that strike terror in a spectator, have in poetry and painting a fine effect. The picture by raising a flight emotion of terror, agitates the mind; and in that condition every beauty makes a deep impression. May not contrast heighten the pleasure, by opposing our present security to the danger of encountering the object represented
The other shape,
Paradise Loft, book 2. 7. 666.
Now storming fury rose,
Paradise Lost, book 6. l. 207.
But that I am forbid