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Homer was rapid in his thoughts, and took all the liberties both of numbers and of expressions, which his language, and the age in which he lived, allowed him. Homer's invention was more copious, Virgil's more confined; so that if Homer had not led the way, it was not in Virgil to have begun heroic poetry; for nothing can be more evident, than that the Roman poem is but the second part of the Ilias; a continuation of the same story, and the persons already formed. The manners of Æneas are those of Hector superadded to those which Homer gave him. The adventures of Ulysses in the Odysses, are imitated in the first six Books of Virgil's AEneis; and though the accidents are not the same, which would have argued him of a servile copying, and total barrenness of invention, yet the seas were the same in which both the Heroes wandered ; and Dido cannot be denied to be the poetical daughter of Calypso. The six latter books of Virgil's poem are the four-and-twenty Iliads contracted; a quarrel occasioned by a lady, a single combat, battles fought, and a town besieged. I say not this in derogation to Virgil, neither do I contradict any thing which I have formerly said in his just praise; for his episodes are almost wholly of his own invention; and the form which he has given to the telling makes the tale his own, even though the original story had been the same. But this proves, however, that Homer taught Virgil to design; and if invention be the first virtue of an epic poet, then the Latin poem can only be allowed the second place. Mr. Hobbes, in the Preface to his own bald translation of the Ilias, studying poetry as he did mathematics, when it was too late, Mr. Hobbes, I say, begins the praise of Homer where he should have ended it. He tells us, that the first beauty of an epic poem consists in diction; that is, in the choice of words, and harmony of numbers. Now the words are the colouring of the work,
which, in the order of nature is last to be considered:
the design, the disposition, the manners, and the thoughts are all before it: where any of those are
wanting or imperfect, so much wants or is imperfect
in the imitation of human life, which is in the very
definition of a poem. Words indeed, like glaring colours, are the first beauties that arise, and strike the sight; but if the draught be false or lame, the figures ill disposed, the manners obscure or inconsistent, or the thoughts unnatural, then the finest colours are but daubing, and the piece is a beautiful monster at the best. Neither Virgil nor Homer were deficient in any of the former beauties; but in this last, which is expression, the Roman poet is at least equal to the Grecian, as I have said elsewhere: supplying the poverty of his language by his musical ear, and by his diligence.
But to return. Our two great poets, being so different in their tempers, one choleric and sanguine, the other phlegmatic and melancholic ; that which makes them excel in their several ways, is, that each of them has followed his own natural inclination, as well in forming the design, as in the execution of it. The very heroes shew their authors: Achilles is hot, impatient, revengeful,
Impiger, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer, etc.
AEneas patient, considerate, careful of his people, and merciful to his enemies; ever submissive to the will of heaven:
quo fata trahunt retrahuntgue, sequamur.
I could please myself with enlarging on this subject, but am forced to defer it to a fitter time. From all I have said, I will only draw this inference,—that the action of Homer, being more full of vigour than that of Virgil, according to the temper of the writer, is of consequence more pleasing to the reader. One warms you by degrees; the other sets you on fire all at once, and never intermits his heat. It is the same difference which Longinus makes betwixt the effects of eloquence in Demosthenes and Tully : one persuades; the other commands. You never cool while you read Homer, even not in the second book, a graceful flattery to his countrymen; but he hastens from the ships, and concludes not that book, till he has made you an amends by the violent playing of a ow machine. From thence
he hurries on his action with variety of events, and ends it in less compass than two months. This vehemence of his, I confess, is more suitable to my temper; and therefore I have translated his First Book with greater pleasure than any part of Virgil : but it was not a pleasure without pains. The continual agitations of the spirits must needs be a weakening of any constitution, especially in age; and many pauses are required for refreshment betwixt the heats; the Iliad of itself being a third part longer than all Virgil's works together.
Born 1633–Died 1716.
SERMON, GENESIS 1. 27.
Having now made our way through this false opinion, we are in the next place to lay down positively what this image of God in man is. It is, in short, that universal rectitude of all the faculties of the soul, by which they stand apt and disposed to their respective offices and operations : which will be more fully set forth, by taking a distinct survey of it, in the several faculties belonging to the soul.
I. In the understanding.
1. And first for its noblest faculty, the understanding: it was then sublime, clear, and aspiring, and, as it were, the soul's upper region, lofty and serene, free from the vapours and disturbances of the inferior affections. It was the leading, controlling faculty; all the passions wore the colours of reason; it did not so much persuade, as command ; it was not consul, but dictator. Discourse was then almost as quick as intuition ; it was nimble in proposing, firm in concluding; it could sooner determine than now it can dispute. Like the sun, it had both light and agility; it knew no rest, but in
motion; no quiet, but in activity. It did not so properly apprehend, as irradiate the object; not so much find, as make things intelligible. It did arbitrate upon the several reports of sense, and all the varieties of imagination; not like a drowsy judge, only hearing, but also directing their verdict. In sum, it was vegete, quick, and lively; open as the day, untainted as the morning, full of the innocence and sprightliness of youth; it gave the soul a bright and a full view into all things: and was not only a window, but itself the prospect. Briefly, there is as much difference between the clear representations of the understanding then, and the obscure discoveries that it makes now, as there is between the prospect of a casement and of a key-hole.
Now it was Adam's happiness in the state of innocence to have these clear and unsullied. He came into the world a philosopher, which sufficiently appeared by his writing the nature of things upon their names; he could view essences in themselves, and read forms without the comment of their respective properties: he could see consequents yet dormant in their principles, and effects yet unborn, and in the womb of their causes: his understanding could almost pierce into future contingents, his conjectures improving even to propheey, or the certainties of prediction; till his fall, it was ignorant of nothing but of sin; or at least it rested in the notion, without the smart of the experiment. Could any difficulty have been proposed, the resolution would have been as early as the proposal; it could not have had time to settle into doubt. Like a better Archimedes, the issue of all his inquiries was an ev'pmka, an ev'pmka, the offspring of his brain without the sweat of his brow. Study was not then a duty, night-watchings were needless; the light of reason wanted not the assistance of a candle. This is the doom of fallen man, to labour in the fire, to seek truth in profundo, to exhaust his time and impair his health, and perhaps to spin out his days and himself, into one pitiful, controverted conclusion. There was then no ring, no struggling with memory, no straining for invention: his faculties were quick and expedite; they answered without knocking, they were ready upon the first summons, there was freedom and firmness in all their operations. I confess, it is difficult for us, who date our ignorance from our first being, and were still bred up with the same infirmities about us with which we were born, to raise our thoughts and imagination to those intellectual perfections that attended our nature in the time of innocence ; as it is for a peasant bred up in the obscurities of a cottage, to fancy in his mind the unseen splendors of a court. But by rating positives by their privatives, and other arts of reason by which discourse supplies the want of the reports of sense, we may collect the excellency of the understanding then, by the glorious remainders of it now, and guess at the stateliness of the building, by the magnificence of its ruins. All those arts, rarities, and inventions, which vulgar minds gaze at, the ingenious pursue, and all admire, are but the reliques of an intellect defaced with sin and time. We admire it now, only as antiquaries do a piece of old coin, for the stamp it once bore, and not for those vanishing lineaments and disappearing draughts that remain upon it at present. And certainly that must needs have been very glorious, the decays of which are so admirable. He that is comely, when old and decrepit, surely was very beautiful when he was young. An Aristotle was but the rubbish of an Adam, and Athens but the rudiments of Paradise.
It was the privilege of Adam innocent, to have these notions also firm and untainted, to carry his monitor in his bosom, his law in his heart, and to have such a conscience as might be its own casuist: and certainly those actions must needs be regular, where there is an identity between the rule and the faculty. His own mind taught him a due dependence upon God, and chalked out to him the just proportions and measures of behaviour to his fellow creatures. He had no catechism but the creation, needed no study but reflection, read no