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being; thankful for, and pleased with my present state of existence, yet exulting in the hope of quitting it for endless glory and happiness.
0! Sir, tell the unthinking mortals, who will not take the pains of inquiring into those truths which most concern them, and who are led by fashion, and the pride of human reafor, into a contempt for the Sacred Oracles of God; tell them these amazing effects of the power of Christianity: tell them this truth which experience has taught me, that, “ Though Vice is con
ftantly attended by misery, Virtue itself cannot con“ fer happiness in this world, except it is animated “ with the hopes of eternal bliss in the world to
I am, &c.
No. LXXX. Saturday, August 11. 1753.
Non desunt cras quidam, qui fiudiofos ab hujusmodi libris
deterreant, ceu poeticis, ut vocant, da ad morum integritatem officientibus. Ego vero dignos cenfeo quos et omnibus in ludis prælegant adoloscentice literatores, doo fibi legant relegantque fenes.
There are not wanting persons so dull and insensible,
as to deter students from reading books of this kind, which, they say, are poetical, and pernicious to the purity of morals: but I am of opinion, that they are not only worthy to be read by the instructors of youth in their schools, but that the old and experi enced should again and again peruse them.
GREATNESS, novelty, and beauty, are usually and juftly reckoned the three principal sources of the pleasures that strike the imagination. If the Iliad be allowed to abound in objects that may be referred to the first VOL. III.
MARILLAC COLLEGE LIBRARY
fpecies, yet the Odyssey may boast a greater number of images that are beautiful and uncommon. The vaft variety of scenes perpetually shifting before us, the train of unexpected events, and the many sudden turns of fortune in this diverfified poem, must more deeply engage the reader, and keep his attention more alive and active, than the martial uniformity of the Iliad. The continual glare of a fingle coloar that unchangeably predominates throughout a whole piece, is apt to dazzle and disgust the eye of the beholder. I will not, indeed, presume to say with Voltaire, that among the greatest admirers of antiquity, there is scarce one to be found, who could ever read the Iliad with that ea gerness and rapture which a woman feels when the peruses the novel of Zayde, but will however venture to affirm, that the speciofa miracula of the Odyffey are better calculated to excite our curiofity and wonder, and to allure us forward with unextinguished impatience to the catastrophe, than the perpetual tumult and terror that reign through the Iliad.
The boundless exuberance of bis imagitation, his unwearied spirit and fire, axdarovais, has enabled Homer to diversify the descriptions of his battles with many circumstances of great variety fometimes by Tpecifying the different characters, ages, professions, or nations of his dying heroes ; fometimes by describing different kinds of wounds and deaths; and sometimes by tender and pathetic strokes, which remind the rcader of the aged parent who is fondly expecting the return of his son just murdered, of the desolate condition of the widows who will now be enflaved, and of the children that will be dalhed against the stones. But notwithstanding this delicate art and address in
- the poet, the subject remains the fame; and from this
fameness, it will, I fear, grow tedious and insipid to impartial readers : these small modifications and ad. juncts are not fufficiently efficacious to give the grace of novelty to repetition, and to make tautology delightful : the battles are indeed nobly and variously painted, yet fill they are only battles. But when we accompany Ulysses through the manifold perils he onderwent by sea and land, and visit with him the strange nátions to which the anger of Neptune has driven him, all whose manners and customs are described in the
most lively and picturesque terms; when we furvey the wondrous monsters he encountered and escaped,
Antipbaten, Scylamque, des cum Cyclope Charibdin;
Antiphates his hideous feast devour,
when we fee him refuse the charms of Calypso, and the cup of Circe; when we defcend with him into hell, and hear him converfe with all the glorious hieroes, that affitted at the Trojan war; when, after struggling with ten thousand difficulties unforeseen and almost unsurmountable, he is at laft restored to the peaceable poffeffion of his kingdom and his queen ; when luch objects as these are displayed, fo new and so interest. ing ; when all the descriptions, incidents, scenes, and perfons differ so widely from each other, then it is that poetry becomes“ a perpetual feast of nectared sweets," ind a feast of such an exalted nature, as to produce 2 either satiety nor disguft.
But besides its variety, the Odyssey is the most amusing and entertaining of all other poems, on account of the pictures it preserves to us of ancient manners, customs, laws, and politics, and of the domestic life of the heroic ages. The more any nation becomes polished, the more the genuine feelings of nature are disguised, and their manners are consequently less a. dapted to bear a faithful description. Good-breeding is founded on the diffimulation or suppression of such sentiments as may probably provoke or offend those with whom we converse. The little forms and cere. monies which have been introduced into civil life by the moderns, are not suited to the dignity and fimpli. city of the Epic Muse. The coronation feast of an European monarch would not shine half so much in poetry, as the simple supper prepared for Ulyffes at the Phæacian court; the gardens of Alcinous are much fitter for description than those of Versailles; and Nausicaa, descending to the river to wash her gar. ments, and dancing afterwards upon the banks with her fellow virgins, like Diana amidst her nymphs,
“Ρεια δ' αριγνωτη σελεται, καλαι δε τε πασαι,
Though all are fair, the shines above the rest,
is a far more graceful figure, than the most glittering lady in the drawing-room, with a complexion plaister. ed to repair the vigils of cards, and a shape violated by a ftiff brocade, and an immeasurable hoop. The compliment also which Ulysses pays to this innocent unadorned beauty, especially when he compares her to a young palm-tree of Delos, contains more gallantry