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Alas! on one alone our all relies,
PLAN OF AN EPIC POEM.
As ENEAS was famed for his piety, so his grandson's characteristic was benevolence; this first predominant principle of his character, prompted his endeavours to redeem the remains of his countrymen, the descendants from Troy, then captives in Greece, and to establish their freedom and felicity in a just form of government.
He goes to Epirus ; from thence he travels all over Greece ; collects all the scattered Trojans; and redeems them with the treasures he brought from Italy.
Having collected his scattered countrymen, he consults the oracle of Dodona, and is promised a settlement in an Island, which, from the description, appears to have been Britain. He then puts to sea, and enters the Atlantic Ocean.
The First Book was intended to open with the appearance of Brutus at the Straits of Calpe, in sight of the Pillars of Hercules (the ne plus ultra). He was to have been introduced debating in council with his captains, whether it was advisable to launch into the great Ocean, on an enterprise bold and hazardous as that of the great Columbus.
One reason, among others, assigned by Brutus, for attempting the great Ocean in search of a new country was, that he entertained no prospect of introducing pure manners in any part of the then known world; but that he might do it among a people uncorrupt in their manners, worthy to be made happy, and wanting only arts and laws to that purpose.
A debate ensues. Pisander, an old Trojan, is rather for settling in Betica, a rich country near the Straits, within the Mediterranean, of whose wealth they had heard great fame at Carthage.
Brutus apprehends that the softness of the climate, and the gold found there, would corrupt their manners; besides, that the Tyrians, who had established great commerce there, had introduced their superstitions among the natives, and made them unapt to receive the instructions he was desirous to give.
Cloanthes, one of his captains, out of avarice and effeminacy, nevertheless desires to settle in a rich and fertile country, rather than to tempt the dangers of the Ocean, out of a romantic notion of heroism.
This has such an effect, that the whole council being dismayed, are unwilling to pass the Straits, and venture into the great Ocean; pleading the example of Hercules for not advancing farther, and urging the presumption of going beyond a God. To which Brutus, rising with emotion, answers, that Hercules was but a mortal like them; and that if their virtue was superior to his, they would have