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the first of these, I must inform my reader, that it is my design, as soon as I have finished my general reflections on these four several heads, to give particular instances from the poem of beauties and imperfections which may be observed under each of them. as also of such other particulars as may not properly fall under any of them. This I thought necessary to premise, that the reader may not judge too hastily of this criticism, or pronounce it imperfect before he has seen the whole extent of it.

The sentiments, in an epic poem, are the thoughts and behaviour which the author ascribes to the persons whom he introduces, and are just when they are conformable to the characters of the several persons. The sentiments have likewise a relation to things as well as persons, and are perfect when they are such as are adapted to the subject. If, in either of these cases, the poet endeavours to argue or explain, to magnify or diminish, to raise love or hatred, pity or terror, or any other passion, we ought to consider whether the sentiments he makes use of are proper for those ends Homer is censured by the critics for his defect as to this particulars in everal parts of, the lliad and Odyssey; yet those who have treated this great poet with candour, have attributed this defect to the times in which he lived. It was the fault of the age, and not of Homer, if there wants that delicacy in some of his sentiments which now appears in the works of men of a much inferior genius. Besides, if there are blemishes in any particular thoughts, there is an infinite beauty in the greatest part of them. In short, if there are many poets who would not have fallen into the meanness of some of bis sentiments, there are not any who could have risen up to the greatness he has displayed in others. Vir. gil has excelled all in the propriety of his sentiments. Milton shines likewise very much in this particular; nor prendere a dire. del primo, debbo avvertire il mio lettore che è mio divisamento, subito finite le mie rifessioni generali sopra questi quattro capi, di dare alcuni esempi tolti dal poema di beltà e difetti che potrian notarsi in alcun di quei capi , come pure di altrettali che propriamente non cadono sotto veruno di essi. Ciò pensai dover premettere, chè il lettore non giudichi troppo presto di questa critica, o la pronunci imperfetta prima di averla veduta tutta.

I sentimenti nel poema epico, sono i pensieri e i costumi che l'autore attribuisce alle persone introdotte, e sono giusti quando sono conformi ai caratteri delle diverse persone. I sentimenti dicono parimente relazione e alle cose e alle persone, e sono perfetti quando SODO convenienti al subbietto. Se in ogpun di questi casi cerca il poeta di mostrare o di spiegare, di awplificare o di diminuire, di destare amore od odio, pietà o terrore o qualche altra passione, noi dobbiam considerare se i sentimenti de' quali fa uso sono propri di questi fini. Omero è censurato dai critici sica come peccante in questo punto in varie parti dell' Iliade e dell' Odissea ; ma quei che trattarono questo poela con sincerità , attribuirono questo difetto ai tempi in cui visse. Fu peccato dell'età e non di Omero, la mancanza di quella delicatezza in taluni de' suoi sentimenti che trovași ora nelle opere d' uomini di genio molto inferiore. Di più se v'è del biasimevole in qualche particolari pensieri v'è un'infioita bellezza pella massima parte di essi. Ia somma se v ha di molti poeti che non siano caduti nella mediocrità di alcuni suoi sentimenti , non ve n'ha uno che abbia potuto levarsi alla grandezza che egli ba dispiegato negli altri. Virgilio ha sorpassato tutti nella proprietà de' suoi sentimenti. Milton pure distinguesi must we omit one consideration which adds to his honour and reputation. Homer ad Virgil introduced persons whose characters are commonly hnown, and such as are to be met with either in history or in ordinary conversation. Milton's characters, most of them, lie out of na. ture, and were to be formed purely by his own invention. It shows a greater genius in Shakespeare to have drawn his Calyban than his Hotspur or Julius Cæsar: the one was to be supplied out of his own imagination, wliereas the other might have been formed upon tradition, and observation. It was much easier, therefore, for Homer to find proper sentiments for an assembly of Grecian generals, than for Milton to diversify bis infernal council with proper characters, and inspire them whit a variety of sentiments. Te Loves of Dido and Æneas are only copies of what has passed between other persons. Adam and Eve, before the fall, are a different species from that of mankind, who are descended from them; and none but a poet, of the most unbounded invention, and the most exquisite judgement, could have filled their conversation and behaviour with so many apt circumstances during their state of innocence.

Nor is it sufficient for an epic poem to be filled with such thoughts as are natural, unless it abound also with such as are sublime. Virgil in this particular falls short of Homer. He has not, indeed, so many thougbts that are low and vulgar; but, at the same time, he has not so many thoughts that are sublime and noble. The truth is, Virgil seldom rises into very astonishing sentiments where he is not fired by the Iliad; he everywhere charms and pleases us by the force of his own genius, but seldom elevates and transports us where he does ont borrow his hints from Homer.

Milton's chief talent, and indeed bis distinguishing ex

di molto in questo particolare; ne dobbiamo omettere una sola considerazione che accresce il suo onore e la sua fama. Omero e Virgilio introdussero persone di caratteri comunemente conosciuti, e da potersi trovare da ognuno nella storia , @ nella volgare conversazione. I caratteri di Milton sono per la più parte oltre natura e doveano essere foggiati dalla sua invenzione. Mostrasi più ingegno in Shakespeare nell'aver dipinto il suo Caliban che il suo Hotspur o Giulio Cesare : l' uno dovea essere creato dalla sua imaginazione, quando gli altri poteano essere formati sulla tradizione, sulla storia e sull'osservazione. Fu dunque più facile ad Omero il trovare sentimenti propri per una assemblea di generali greci, che a Milton il diversificare il suo concilio infernale con acconci caratteri ed ispirarvi varietà di sentimenti. Gli amori di Didone e di Enea sono mere copie di quanto avvenne ad altri. Adaino ed Eva prima del peccato sono una differente specie dal genere umano disceso da loro ; e tranne un poeta di vasta invenzione e fine giudizio, niun potea fiorire i loro parlari e costumi di tante belle circos stanze durante lo stato loro d' innocenza.

Nè basta ad un epico poema l' essere pieno di pensieri che sieno naturali, se pur non vi abbondano i sublimi. In ciò Virgilio la cede ad Omero. Non ha egli per verità , tanti pensieri bassi e volgari , ma Bon ne ha nel tempo medesimo de' così sụblimi e cosi nobili. Il vero è che Virgilio di rado si leva a' sentimenti maravigliosi ove non sia infuocato dall' Iliade ; dovunque egli de incanta e diletta pel valore del suo proprio genio, na raramente ci sublima e rapisce in que' luogbi in cui non prende a' suoi slanci le mosse da Omero.

La principale abilità di Milton, e veramente la sua

cellence, lies in the sublimity of his thought. There are others of the moderos who rival him in every other part of poetry, but in the greatness of his sentiments lie triumphs over all the poets, both modern and ancient, Homer only excepted. It is impossible for the imagination of man to distend itself with greater ideas than those which he has combined in his first, second, and sixth books. The seventh, which describes the creation of the world, is likewise wonderfully sublime, thougla not so apt to excite emotion in the mind of the reader, nor, consequently, so perfect in the epic way of writing; because it is filled with less action. Let the judicious reader compare what Longinus has observed on several passages in Homer, and he will find parallels for most of them in the Paradise Lost.

From what has heen said we may infer, that as there are two kinds of sentiments, the natural and the sublime, which are always to be pursued in an heroic poem; there are also two kinds which are carefully to be avoided. The first are such as are affected and unnatural, the second such as are mean and vulgar. As for the first kind of thoughts, we meet with few in Virgil; he has none of those trifling points and puerilities that are so often to be met with in Ovid, none of the epigrammatic turns of Lucan, none of those swelling sentiments which are so frequenty in Statius and Clandian, or of those mixed embellishments of Tasso. —- Every thing is just and natural. His sentiments shew that he bad a perfect insight into human nature, and that he knew every thing which was most proper to affect it.

As many thoughts may be natural which are low and groveling, an epic poet should therefore not only avoid such sentiments as are unnatural and affected, but also such as are mean and vulgar. Homer has opened a great

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