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hints, which composed the elegy, and directing them to one principal view; and supperadding a personal address, he became the author of what is here styled the Elegiac epiftle; beautiful models of which we have in his Heroides, and the Epifles from Pontus. We see then the difference of this from the didałtic form. They have both one principal end and point in view. But the Didactic, being of a cooler and more fedate turn, pursues its design uniformly and connects easily. The Elegiac, on the contrary, whose end is emotion, not infruction, hath all the abruptness of irregular disordered paflion, It catches at remote and distant hints, and starts at once into a digressive train of thinking, which it requires fožne degree of enthusiasın in the reader to follow.

Further than this it is not material to my prefent design to pursue this subject. More exact ideas of the forın and constitution of this epistle, must be fought in that best example of it, the natural Roman poet. It may only be observed of the different qualities, necessary to those, who aspire to excel in these two species; that, as the one would make an impression on the heart, it can only do this by means of an exquisite fenfibility of nature and elegance of mind; and that the other, attempting in the most inoffensive manner, to inform the head, muft demand, to the full accomplishment of its purpose, fuperior good sense, the widest knowledge of life, and, above all, the politeness of a consummate address. That the former was the characteristic of Ovid's genius hath been observed, and is well known. How far the latter description agrees to HORACE, can be no secret to those of his readers who have any share, or conception, of these talents themselves. But matter, of this nicer kind are properly the objects, not of criticism, but of sentiment. Let it suffice then to examine the poet's practice, fo far only, as we are enabled to judge of it by the standard of the preceding rules. * III. These rules are reducible to three. 1. that there be an unity in the subject. 2. a connexion in the method : and, 3. that such connexion be easy. All which I suppose to have been religiously observed in the poet's conduct of this, i. e. the didactic epiftle. For,


[1.] The subject of each epiftle is one : that is, one single point is prosecuted through the whole piece, notwithftanding that the address of the poet, and the delicacy of the subject, may sometimes lead him through a devious tract to it. Had his interpreters attended to this practice, fo consonant to the rule of nature before explained, they could never have found an art of poetry in the epistle, we are about to examine.

[2.] This

[2.] This one point, however it hath not been seen [e], is constantly pursued by an uniform, consistent method; which is never more artificial, than when leaft apparent to a careless inattentive reader. This should have stimulated his learned critics to seek the connexion of the poet's own ideas, when they magifterially fet themselves to transpose or vilify his method.

[3.] This method is every where fufficiently clear and obvious; proceeding if not in the stricteft forms of disposition, yet, in an easy, elegant progress, one hint arising out of another, and infenfibly giving occasion to succeeding ones, just as the cooler genius of this kind required. This, lastly, should have prevented those, who have taken upon themselves to criticize the art of poetry by the laws of this poem, from concealing

[e] J. Scaliger says, Epifiolas, Græcorum more, Phom cylide argue Tbeoguidis (Horatius] fcripfit: præceptis philojoplie diosis minime que inter fe cohærentibus. And of this Epiftle, in particular, he prefumes to fay, De Arte queres quid fentiam. Quid? Equidem quod de Arte fine arte traditâ. And to the faine purpose another great Critic; Non folum antiquorum itobñrar in morali. bus. hoc habuere, ut croazbiar. non fervarent, fed etiain alia de quibuscunque rebus præcepta. Sic Epiftola Horatiš ad Pijones de Poëtica perpetuum ordinem féricmque NULLAM babet'; sed úno præcepto ad aliud tranfilit, quanvis NULLA fit materice affinitas ad fenfum connectendum. {Salmasii Not. in Epictetum et Siinplicium, p. 13. Lugd. Bat. 1640.]


their ignorance of its real views under the cover of such abrupt and violent transitions, as might better agree to the impaffioned elegy, than to the fedate didactic epiftle.

To set this three-fold character, in the fullest light, before the view of the reader, I have attempted to explain the Epistle to the Pisos, in the way of continued commentary upon it. And, that the coherence of the several parts may be the more distinctly seen, the Commentary is rendered as concise as possible; some of the finer and less obvious connexions being inore carefully observed and drawn out in the notes.

For the kind of interpretation itself, it must be allowed, of all others, the fittest to throw light upon a difficult and obscure subject, and, above all, to convey an exact idea of the scope and order of any work. It hath, accordingly, been so considered by several of the foreign, particularly the ITALIAN, critics; who have esfayed long since to illustrate, in this way, the very piece before us. But she success of these foreigners is, I am sensible, a slender recommendation of their method. I chuse therefore to, Test on the single authority of a great author, who, in his edition of our English Horace, the best that ever was given of any classic, hath now retrieved, and established the full credit of it. What was the amusement of his pen, becomes


indeed, the labour of inferior writers. Yet, on these unequal terms, it can be no discredit to have aimed at some resemblance of one of the least of those merits, which shed their united honours on the name of the illustrious friend and commentator of Mr. Pope.

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