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COMPARISON OF VIRGIL AND THOMSON.

[Concluded from page 17.)

To the Editors of the Northern Star. I AM reminded by the clouded face of the heavens, the white robe of snow which covers the earth, and the hollow moaning of the rising storm. that I get owe one paper more to your monthly publication.

“ See! Winter comes to rule the varied year,
Sullen and sad, with all his rising train,
Vapours and clouds and storms. Be these my theme,
These that exalt the soul to solemn thought
And heavenly musing.”

I proceed then, without further preface, to the consideration of those passages in this Season which have any resemblance to the Georgics, and to complete the comparison between Thomson and Virgil.

There is only one passage in this Season in which I have traced any resemblance to the Georgics, but this is so strongly marked with the characteristic features of the original froin which it is copied, that it as certainly indicates its origin, as the changes which it points out in the face of the sky intimate the future state of the weather :

“ When from the pallid sky the sun descende,
With many a spot, that o'er his glaring orb
Uncertain wanders, stain'd, red fiery streaks
Begin to flush around.”

Winter, 118-121.
« Hoc etiam, emenso quum jam decedet Olympo,
Profuerit meminisse magis : nam sæpe videmus
Ipsius in voltu varios errare colores ;

Sin maculæ incipient rutilo inmiscerier igni.”

Georg. i. 451-454.

“ But more than all the setting sun survey,
When down the steep of heaven he drives the day,
For oft we find him-finishing his race,
With various colours erring on his face.

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If dusky spots are varied on his brow,
And, streak'd with red, a troubled colour shew."

Dryden.
How striking, in the same passage, is the resemblance between the de-
scription which both poets have drawn of the moon rising in clouded ma.
jesty, and the stars shooting through the darkness of the night :-

“ While rising slow,
Blank, in the leaden-colour'd east, the moon
Wears a wan circle round her blunted horns.”

Winter, 123-125.

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“ Luna, revertentes quum primom conligit ignes, Si nigrum obscuro conprehenderit aëra corou.”

Geurg. i. 427, 428. “When first the moon appears, if then she shrouds Her silver crescent tipp'd with sable clondo."

Dryden.

« The stars obtuse emit a sbiver'd ray,
Or frequent seem to shoot athwart the gloom,
And long bebind them trail the whitening blaze.”

Winter, 127-129.
“Sæpe etiam stellas, vento inpendente, videbis
Præcipites cælo labi, noctisque per ombram
Flammarum longos a tergo albescere tractus."

Geurg. i. 365-367.
“ And oft, before tempestuous winds arise,
The seeming stars fall headlong from the skies,
And, shooting through the darkness, gild the night
With sweeping glories, and long trails of light.”

Dryden.

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Are not the two following lines, which describe the withered leaf borne about by the wind, and the light feather dancing on the surface of the water, à literal translation of the very beautiful and expressive couplet which I shall here subjoin to them, from the same passage in the first Georgic ?

“ Snatch'd in short eddies, plays the wither'd leaf,
And on the flood the dancing feather floats."

Winter, 180, 181.
Sæpe levem paleam et frondes volitare caducas,
Ant summâ nantes in aquâ conludere plumas."

Georg. i. 368, 369.
“ And dancing leaves are lifted from the ground,
And floating feathers in the waters play.”

Dryden.
If, in the second lica of this quotation, the “floating feathers ” of
Dryden are more expressive of the original, “nantes plumas,” than the

dancing feather” of Thomsou, it must be allowed that the " withered leaf” of the imitator, in the first line, is more like the “ frondes caducas” of Virgil than the “ dancing leaves of the translator It occurs to me here, that to make a leaf dance in the last stage of its existence is ridiculous in the extreme: with a dance we usually conuect ideas of revelry and enjoy ment—how different from the melancholy reflections which the falling leaf suggests! Poets cannot be too careful in the correction of their verses, when a single epithet, as we see in the instance before us, can destroy the beauty of a passage.

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The imitation in the lines which follow is too evident to require being pointed out:

“ Even as the matron, at her nightly task,
With pensive labour draws the flaxen tbread,
The wasted taper and the crackling flame
Foretel the blast.”

Winter, 134-137.
« Ne nocturna quidem carpentes pensa puellæ
Nescivere hiemem, testâ quum ardente viderent
Scintillare oleum, et putres concrescere fungos."

Georg. i. 390-392.
“ The nightly virgin, wbile her wheel she plies,
Poresees the storm impending in the skies,
When sparkling lamps their sputt'ring light advance,
And in the sockets oily bubbles dance.

Dryden.
The beautiful and characteristic description which follows, of the
flight of the birds previous to the storm,-the clamorous crows, the wail-
ing owl, the wheeling cormorant, soaring heron, and circling sea-fow)--
strongly resembles the description of the same natural phenomenon in
Virgil :--

« Retiring from the downs, where all day long
They pick'd their scanty fare, a blackening train
Of clamorous rooks thick urge their weary flight,
And seek the closing shelter of the grove."

Winter, 139–142.
-“ Et e pastu decedens agmine magno
Corvorum increpuit densis exercitus alis."

Georg. i. 381, 382.
“ Hage flocks of rising rooks forsake their food,
And, crying, seek the shelter of the wood.”

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Assiduous in his bower, the wailing owl
Plies his sad song.”

Winter, 143, 144.

“Nequidquam seros exercet noctua cantos.

Georg. i. 403. How much is the beauty of this passage increased by the image which Thomson has introduced in the beginning of the line, by representing the owl as sitting solitary in her bower. It recalls to our recollection the inimitable lines of Gray :

“Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r

The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wand'ring near her secret bow'r,

Molest ber ancient, solitary reign.”

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“ The cormorant on high
Wheels from the deep, and screams along the land.
Loud shrieks the soaring bern; and with wild wing
The circling sea-fowl cleave the flaky clouds.”

Winter, 144-147.
“Quum medio celeres revolant ex æquore mergi,
Clamoremque ferunt ad litora; quumque marinæ
In sicco ludunt fulicæ; notasque paludes
Deserit, atque altam supra volat ardea nubem.

Georg. i. 361,-364.
“When crying cormorants forsake the sen,
And, stretching to the covert, wing their way;
When sportfui coots run skimming o'er the strand;
When watchful herons leave ' beir watry stand,
And, mounting upward with erected flight,
Gain on the skies, and soar above the sight.”

Dryden.
Having now finished this long and, I am afraid, upinteresting compa-
rison between the Seasons of Thomson and the Georgics of Virgil, I shall
close this communication with one or two general observations.

Those who have had the patience or curiosity to peruse my former papers
on this subject, can scarcely have avoided observing that I have, in many
passages, given Thomson the precedency of Virgil-especially in his eu.
logium on the innocence and happiness of a country-life. This has not
arisen from any insensibility on my part to the merits of Virgil, or from
any wish to depreciate them; and I would, therefore, observe here, that
if he is ever inferior to the author of the Seasons, that inferiority must be
attributed rather to the limits imposed upon him by the nature of his sub-
ject, than to any deficiency of genius in the manner of treating it. In a
poem on agriculture and the planting of trees-a subject much less capable
of poetical embellishment than the Seasons—the digressions must neces-
Barily be more confined and less interesting. The nature of bis work,
therefore, compelled Virgil, iu describing the happiness of a country-life,
(for instance, in the beautiful digression in the second Georgic,) to confine
himself to the pleasures of the husbandman, whose occupations and em-
ployments formed the subject of his poem: the more poetical subject of
Thomson put no such restraint upon bim, and in describing the felicity of
rural retirement, he was, therefore, at liberty to connect with it the plea-
sures of philosophy and mental refinement. This I conceive to be the

reason of Thomson's superiority to Virgil in this passage. The latter, confined in his description, paints the happiness of a peasant, who, retired from the tumults and agitations of the world, passes his days innocently in rural occupations, which are sometimes interrupted by rural sports: the former, in the picture he has drawn of the happiness of a country-life, has not only described the pleasures of innocence but those of knowledge also, and painted, with all the

glowing colours of the richest fancy, the enjoyment of the retired philosopher, who, spending a serene

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and peaceful life “in still retreats and flowery solitudes," not only admires the varied beauty of the scenes which surround him through the different seasons of the year, but draws from them the lessons of instruction and wisdom which they are so well calculated to afford ;

“ To Nature's voice attends from month to month,
And day to day, thro’ the revolving year:
Admiring sees her in her every shape,

And feels her sweet emotions at his heart." I have one more general remark to make, before I conclude, on the difference of the style which these two eminent poets have adopted in their admirable descriptions of nature. The style of Virgil appears to me more simple and less figurative than that of Thomson. It is by no means devoid of poetical ornament or enbellishment, but the ornament is less glittering, and the embellishment more plaio. The poetry of Virgil is distinguished by all the graceful simplicity and elegance of Roman dra pery, but that of Thomson is clothed in all the splendor and magnificence of an Eastern dress: or, if I may be allowed to change the figure, and compare the style of these celebrated describers of nature to one of nature's finest exhibitions, I should say, that the diction of the former sesembled the mild lustre of the opening morn, whilst that of the latter glows with all the radiance of the risen day. My meaning will, perhaps, be rendered more intelligible by an interpretation : in describing the fruitful plains of Italy, Virgil uses the simple and unadorned expression, “ Hæc loca gravidæ fruges implevere;” Thomson, not conteut with such plain langnage, describes the same natural appearance in his eulogy on England, by a figure,~" Thy valleys float with golden waves.”

These observations relate solely to the Georgics, between which and the Seasons the analogy can only be drawn; and with this remark, fearfal of wearying out the patience of your readers, which has been tried long enough, and not wishing to usurp too many of your valuable pages, lest by my dulness I should dim the lustre of your rising Star, and commit an injury where I wished to confer a benefit, I remain your friend and well-wisher,

J. B.

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ON THE AUTHORS OF THE SPECTATORS.

co poopossoost to pododo.

To the Editors of the Northern Star. THE last paper in the seventh volume of the Spectator, No. 555. contains several interesting facts respecting the principal writers engaged in that celebrated work.

“ All the papers," says Steele, “ which I have distinguished by my letter in the name of the Muse CLIO, were given me by the gentleman of whose assistance I formerly boasted in the preface and conclading leaf of

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