into Statius*, Lucan, Claudian, or Seneca the tragedian; authors, who by their forced conceits, by their violent metaphors, by their swelling epithets, by their want of a juft decorum, have a strong tendency to dazzle, and to mislead inexperienced minds, and taftes unformed, from the true relish of poffibility, propriety, fimplicity and nature. Statius had undoubtedly invention, ability and spirit; but his images are gigantic and outrageous, and his sentiments tortured and hyperbolical. It can hardly, I think, be doubted, but that Juvenal intended a fevere fatire on him, in thefe well known lines which have been commonly interpreted as a panegyric.

Curritur ad vocem jucundam et carmen amica
Thebaidos, latam fecit cum Statius urbem,

* Writers of this flamp are always on the ftretch. They difdain the natural. They are perpetually grafping at the vaft, the wonderful, and the terrible. σε Καν έκαςον αυτών προς αυγής ανασκοπής, εκ το φοβερό κατ' ολίγον ύπονοςει προς το ευκαταφρόνητοι.--Κακοι δε ογκοι, και επισωμάτων και λογων, οι χαυνοι και αναληθείς, και μήποτε περεις αυτές ἡμας εις τεναντίον υδεν γαρ φασι, ξηρότερον υδρωπικό.” Longinus, ep, v‡us 71. y. Sect. iii. They should read the fenfible difcourfe of S. Wedrenfels, of Baile, De Meteoris Orationis.


Promifitque diem; tanta dulcedine captos
Afficit ille animos, tantaque libidine vulgi
Auditur: fed, cum fregit fubfellia versu,

In these verses are many expreffions, here marked with italics, which feem to hint obliquely, that Statius was the favourite poet of the vulgar, who were eafily captivated with a wild and inartificial tale, and with an empty magnificence of numbers; the noisy roughness of which, may be particularly alluded to in the expreffion, fregit fubfellia verfu. One cannot forbear reflecting on the short duration of a true taste in poetry, among the Romans. From the time of Lucretius, to that of Statius, was no more than about one hundred and fortyseven years; and if I might venture to pronounce fo rigorous a sentence, I would say, that the Romans can boast of but eight poets who are unexceptionably excellent; namely, TERENCE, LUCRETIUS, CATULLUS, VIRGIL, HORACE, TIBULLUS, PROPERTIUS, PHÆDRUS. These only can be called legitimate models of just thinking

and writing, Succeeding authors, as it happens in all countries, refolving to be original and new, and to avoid the imputation of copying, became distorted and unnatural; by endeavouring to open an unbeaten path, they deserted fimplicity and truth; weary of common and obvious beauties, they must needs hunt for remote and artificial decorations Thus was it that the age of Demetrius Phalerëus fucceeded that of Demofthenes, and the false relish of Tiberius's court, the chaste one of Auguftus. Among the various causes however that have been affigned, why poetry and the arts have more eminently flourished in fome particular ages and nations, than in others, few have been fatisfactory and adequate, What folid reafon can we give why the Romans, who to happily imitated the Greeks in many respects, and breathed a truly tragic spirit, could yet never excel in tragedy, though io fond of theatrical fpectacles? Or why the Greeks, so fruitful in every species of poetry, yet never produced but one great epic poet? While on


the other hand, modern Italy, can fhew two or three illustrious epic writers, yet has no Sophocles, Euripides, or Menander. And France, without having formed a fingle Epopëa, has carried dramatic poetry to fo high a pitch of perfection in Corneille, Racine. and Moliere.

For a confirmation of the foregoing remark on Statius, and for a proof of the ftrength and spirit of POPE's youthful translation, I shall select the following paffage.

He fends a monfter horrible and fell,
Begot by furies in the depth of hell.

The peft a virgin's face and bofom wears;
High on a crown a rising snake appears.


Guards her black front, and hiffes in her hairs:
About the realm fhe walks her dreadful round
When night with fable wings o'erfpreads the ground:
Devours young babes before their parent's eyes,
And feeds and thrives on public miferies *.

Oedipus, in Statius, behaves with the fury

B. I. ver. 701.


of a bluftering bully; in Sophocles*, with that patient fubmiffion, and pathetic remorfe, which are fuited to his lamentable condition.

Art thou a father, unregarding Jove!

And fleeps thy thunder in the realms above!
Thou, fury, then, some lasting curse entail,
Which o'er their children's children fhall prevail;
Place on their heads that crown diftain'd with gore,
Which these dire hands from my flain father tore.

OVID is also another writer of a bad taste, on whom POPE employed some of his youthful hours; in tranflating the stories of Dryope and Pomona. Were it not for the useful mythological knowledge they contain, the works of Ovid ought not to be fo diligently read. The puerilities and affectations with which they abound, are too well known to be here infifted on. I

See his addrefs to the furies in the Edipus Coloneus of Sophocles, beginning at the words, TOTVI SEIVOTES, at verfe 85, down to verfe 117. And afterwards, when be becomes more particularly acquainted with the unnatural cruelty of his fons, yet his refentment is more temperate. See verfe 433 down to verse 472, of the fame most enchanting tragedy.


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