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Quem perimis: sibi nec restingui Tartara poscunt,
“ Were you with ardent love of virtue fir’d,
“ Quid si autem invenies quod credimus, ultima cum to Sustulerit tenebrisque perennibus obruerit nox, Nempe Deum ultorem, quem non cognoveris antè, Vel potius notum famâ neglexeris ? Eheu! Horresco reputans: tibi luditur alea, Quinti, Magna nimis. Quoquò te vertas, fit tua pejor Conditio nostra. Neque enim, si fallimur, hujus Erroris dabimus poenas: sors æqua manebit Nos omnes; uno simul involvemur inani:
Tu, si deciperis, contrà; sine fine futurus
“But should you find (what merits firmest faith),
The Anti-Lucretius is not a refutation of Lucretius only, but of those in general who seem to have been favorers of Atheism. Democritus, Aristotle, Epicurus, Hobbes, and Spinosa, are confuted; and among the number of those whom he has opposed, we are sorry to find Newton, Locke, and Gassendus, whose opinions concerning a vacuum, &c., he has taken great pains to obviate; but his reasonings on natural subjects seem chiefly drawn from the stores of Des Cartes, in whose amusing systems our author had been early initiated ; and it is but natural to controvert any opinions that tend to discover the futility of our former researches into nature. If the translator proceeds in this performance (as we sincerely hope he will), some notes added in those places where the author erroneously controverts the great men already mentioned, would certainly be not less useful than pleasing to the English reader. His vacuums and his gravity of atoms, may be given up to Lucretius, while still our obliga.
tions will remain to the author for impugning the rest of his doctrines.*
[From the Monthly Review, 1757. Odes. By Mr. Gray. 4to.] As this publication seems designed for those who have formed their taste by the models of antiquity, the generality of readers cannot be supposed adequate judges of its merit; nor will the poet, it is presumed, be greatly disappointed if he finds them backward in commending a performance not entirely suited to their apprehensions. We cannot, however, without some regret behold those talents so capable of giving pleasure to all, exerted in efforts that, at best, can amuse only the few; we cannot be hold this rising poet seeking fame among the learned, without hinting to him the same advice that Isocrates used to give his scholars, “ study the people."! This study it is that has con
* [Another translation of the first book of the “ Anti-Lucretius” was published in 1767, by George Canning, Esq., father of the late Right Honorable George Canning. Mr. Canning died the 11th of April 1771; upon which day his eminent and highly-gifted son had completed his first year.]
+ [“ My friends tell me that the Odes do not succeed, and write me many topics of consolation on that head. In short, I have heard of nobody but an actor and a doctor of divinity that profess their esteem for them.”-Gray to Dr. Hurd, Aug. 25, 1757.
“ Dr. Warburton is come to town, and I am told likes them extremely; he says the world never passed so just an opinion upon any ihing as upon them ; for that, in other things, they have affected to like or dislike, whereas here they own they do not understand, which he looks upon to be very true ; but yet thinks they understand them as well as Milton or Shakspeare, whom they are obliged, by fashion, to admire. Mr. Garrick's verses to me you have seen.”—The Same to Dr. Warton, Oct. 7, 1757.]
(Mr. Southey, who has introduced this passage into his Life of Cowper, vol. i. p. 325, was not aware that Goldsmith was the critic.]
ducted the great masters of antiquity up to immortality. Pindar himself, of whom our modern lyrist is an imitator, appears entirely guided by it. He adapted his works exactly to the dispositions of his countrymen. Irregular, enthusiastic, and quick in transition, he wrote for a people inconstant, of warm imaginations, and exquisite sensibility. He chose the most popular subjects, and all his allusions are to customs well known, in his days, to the meanest person.*
His English imitator wants those advantages. He speaks to a people not easily impressed with new ideas; extremely tenacious of the old; with difficulty warmed ; and as slowly cooling again. How unsuited then to our national character is that species of poetry which rises upon us with unexpected flights! where we must hastily catch the thought, or it flies from us; and, in short, where the reader must largely partake of the poet's enthusiasm, in order to taste his beauties! To carry the parallel a little farther: the Greek poet wrote in a language the most proper that can be imagined for this species of composition ; lofty, harmonious, and never needing rhyme to heighten the numbers. But, for us, several unsuccessful experiments seem to prove that the English cannot have Odes in blank verse ; while, on the other hand, a natural imperfection attends those which are composed in irregular rhymes ;—the similar sound often recurring where it is not expected, and not being found where it is, creates no small confusion to the reader,—who, as we have not seldom observed, beginning in all the solemnity of poetic elocution, is, by frequent disappointments of the rhyme, at last obliged to drawl out the uncomplying numbers into disagreeable prose.
# The best Odes of Pindar are said to be those which have been destroyed by time; and even they were seldom recited among the Greeks, without the adventitious ornaments of music and dancing. Our Lyric Odes are seldom set off with these advantages; which, trifling as they seem, have alone given immortality to the works of Quinault.
It is by no means our design to detract from the merit of our author's present attempt: we would only intimate that an English poet,—“one whom the Muse has marked for her own," could produce a more luxuriant bloom of flowers by cultivating such as are natives of the soil, than by endeavoring to force the exotics of another climate : or, to speak without a metaphor, such a genius as Mr. Gray might give greater pleasure, and acquire a larger portion of fame, if, instead of being an imitator, he did justice to his talents, and ventured to be more an original. These two Odes, it must be confessed, breathe much of the · spirit of Pindar; but then they have caught the seeming obscurity, the sudden transition, and hazardous epithet, of his mighty master; all which, though evidently intended for beauties, will, probably, be regarded as blemishes by the generality of his readers. In short, they are in some measure a representation of what Pindar now appears to be, though perhaps not what he appeared to the states of Greece, when they rivalled each other in his applause, and when Pan himself was seen dancing to his melody.
In conformity to the ancients these Odes consist of the strophe, antistrophe, and epode, which, in each Ode, are thrice repeated. The strophes have a correspondent resemblance in their structure and numbers; and the antistrophe and epode also bear the same similitude. The poet seems, in the first Ode particularly, to design the epode as a complete air to the strophe and antistrophe, which have more the appearance of recitative. There was a necessity for these divisions among the ancients, for they served as directions to the dancer and musician ; but we see no reason why they should be continued among the moderns; for, instead of assisting, they will but perplex the musician, as
* (" And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.”—Elegy in a Country Church Yard.)