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From Jesse's root behold a branch arise,
Whose sacred flow'r with fragrance fills the skies:
Th’ Ethereal Spirit o'er its leaves shall move, 11
And on its top descends the mystic Dove.
Ye 3 heav'ns! from high the dewy nectar pour,
And in soft silence shed the kindly show'r!

REMARKS.

“ Drop

Ver. 10. with fragrance fills] Badly translated by Dr. Johnson;

mulcentesque æthera flores

Cælestes lambunt animæVer. 13. Ye head'ns! from high the dewy nectar pour, And in soft silence shed the kindly show'r!] His original says, down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness : let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together."- This is a very noble description of divine grace shed abroad in the hearts of the faithful under the Gospel dispensation. And the poet understood all its force, as appears from the two lines preceding these,—Th' Ethereal Spirit, &c. The prophet describes this under the image of rain, which chiefly fits the first age of the Gospel : The poet, under the idea of dew, which extends it to every age. And it was his purpose it should be so understood, as appears from his expression of soft silencé, which agrees with the common, not the extraordinary effusions of the Holy Spirit. The figurative term is wonderfully happy. He who would moralize the ancient Mythology in the manner of Bacon, would say, that by the poetical nectar, is meant the grace of the Theologists. W.

This interpretation of the words rain and dew, and of the common and the extraordinary effusions of the Holy Spirit, is to the last degree forced, and fanciful, and far-fetched. Warburton, it must be confessed, frequently disgraced his acuteness and great talents, by endeavouring to find out and extort new meanings in the authors whom he undertook to criticise. This interpretation is near akin to that marvellous one which he has given to a speech in the second act of Hamlet, where he contends, that the words, “if the sun breeds maggots in a dead dog, being a God, kissing carrion," point out the supreme cause diffusing its blessing on mankind, who is, as it were, a dead carrion, dead in

· Isai. xi. v. I.

: Ch. xlv. v. 8.

The • sick and weak the healing plant shall aid! 15
From storms a shelter, and from heat a shade.
All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail;
Returning justice lift aloft her scale;
Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend,
And white-rob'd Innocence from heav'n descend. 20
Swift fly the years, and rise the expected morn!
Oh spring to light, auspicious Babe, be born!
See Nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring,
With all the incense of the breathing spring:

REMARKS. original sin, man, instead of a proper return of duty, should breed only corruption and vices. Are these sort of interpretations a jot less ridiculous than that of Father Harduin's on the twentieth ode of the second book of Horace, who tells us, this ode is a prosopopeia of Christ triumphing and addressing the Jews after his resurrection ? That biformis vates alludes to his being in forma dei, and in forma servi. That the second part of the allegory points to the Dominicans, who should preach and diffuse his gospel to distant nations ; that alitem album, meant their white garments; and residunt pelles cruribus asperæ, their boots.

Ver. 17. ancient fraud] i. e. the fraud of the serpent. W.

Ver. 23. See Nature] Perhaps the dignity, the energy, and the simplicity, of the original, are in a few passages weakened and diminished by florid epithets, and useless circumlocutions.

See Nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring,

With all the incense of the breathing spring : are lines which have too much prettiness, and too modern an

IMITATIONS. Ver. 23. See Nature hastes, &c.] Virg. Ecl. iv. v. 18.

" At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu,

Errantes ederas passim com baccare, tellus,
Mixtaque ridenti colocasia fundet acantho-
Ipsa tibi blandos fundent cunabula flores."

* Isai. xxv. V. 4.

5 Ch. ix. v. 7.

25

See lofty Lebanon o his head advance,
See nodding forests on the mountains dance:
See spicy clouds from lowly Saron rise,
And Carmel's flow’ry top perfumes the skies !
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers;
Prepare the way! a God, a God appears:

30

REMARKS.

air. The judicious addition of circumstances and adjuncts is what renders poesy a more lively imitation of nature than prose. Pope has been happy in introducing the following circumstance: the prophet says, “ The parched ground shall become a pool;" our Author expresses this idea by saying, that the shepherd

shall start amid the thirsty wild to hear New falls of water murm’ring in his ear'. A striking example of a similar beauty may be added from Thomson.“ Melisander, in the Tragedy of Agamemnon, after telling us he was conveyed in a vessel, at midnight, to the wildest of the Cyclades, adds, when the pitiless mariners had left him in that dreadful solitude,

I never heard
A sound so dismal as their parting oars !

IMITATIONS. “ For thee, O Child, shall the earth, without being tilled, produce her early offerings ; winding ivy, mixed with Baccar, and Colocasia with smiling Acanthus. Thy cradle shall pour forth pleasing flowers about thee."

Isaiah, Ch. xxxv. v. 1. “ The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.”—Ch. Ix. v. 13. “ The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of thy sanctuary." P.

Ver. 29. Hark! a glad voice, &c.] Virg. Ecl. iv. v. 48. “Aggredere o magnos (aderit jam tempus) honores,

Cara deûm soboles, magnum Jovis incrementum

6 Isai. xxxv. v. 2.

7 Ch. xl. v. 3, 4. • Mess. v. 70.

A God, a God! the vocal hills reply,
The rocks proclaim th' approaching Deity.
Lo, earth receives him from the bending skies!
Sink down, ye mountains, and, ye valleys, rise;
With heads declin’d, ye cedars, homage pay;

35 Be smooth, ye rocks; ye rapid floods, give way!

REMARKS.

On the other hand, the prophet has been sometimes particular, when Pope has been only general. “ Lift up thine eyes round about, and see; all they gather themselves together, they come to thee : The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah : all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee; the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee'.” In imitating this passage, Pope has omitted the different beasts that in so picturesque a manner characterize the different countries which were to be gathered together on this important event; and says, only in undistinguishing terms,

See barbarous nations at thy gates attend,
Walk in thy light, and in thy temple bend;
See thy bright altars throng'd with prostrate kings ;

And heap'd with products of Sabæan springs'.
Ver. 26.] An improper and burlesque image!

Ver. 35. With heads declin'd] All is here uniformly solemn and majestic; not debased by any of those mean images that Cowley has so unaccountably introduced into his imitation of the 34th chapter of this sublime prophet. The sword of God is

IMITATIONS.
Ipsi lætitia voces ad sidera jactant
Intonsi montes; ipsæ jam carmina rupes,
Ipsa sonant arbusta : Deus, Deus ille, Menalca !"

Ecl. v. ver. 62. ." Oh come and receive the mighty honours: the time draws nigh, O beloved offspring of the Gods, O great increase of Jove ! The uncultivated mountains send shouts of joy to the stars, the

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The Saviour comes! by ancient bards foretold !
Hear him, ' ye deaf, and all ye blind, behold!
He from thick films shall

purge

the visual ray, And on the sightless eye-ball pour the day:

40

REMARKS. called the Scarlet Glutton. And see the marvellous burlesque in the following lines;

The lion then shall to the leopard say,

Brother leopard come away!
The vultures shall find the bus'ness done!

Th' unbury'd ghosts shall sadly moan,

The satyrs laugh to hear them groan ! Ver. 39. He from thick films shall purge the visual ray,] The sense and language shew, that by visual ray, the poet meant the sight, or, as Milton calls it, indeed something less boldly, though more exactly, the visual nerve. However, no critic would quarrel with the figure which calls the instrument of vision by the name of the cause. But though the term be noble and sublime, yet the expression of thick films is faulty; and he fell into it by a common neglect of the following rule of good writing,

“ That when a figurative word is used, whatsoever is predicated of it ought not only to agree in terms to the thing to which the figure is applied, but likewise to that from which the figure is taken.” Thick films agree only with the thing to which it is applied, namely, to the sight or eye; and not to that from which it is taken, namely, a ray of light coming to the eye. He should have said thick clouds, which would have agreed with both. But these inaccuracies are not to be found in his later

poems.

W.

IMITATIONS. very rocks sing in verse, the very shrubs cry out, A God, a God!”

Isaiah, ch. xl. v. 3, 4. “ The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord! make straight in the desert a high way for our God! Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.” Ch. iv. v. 23. “ Break forth into singing, ye mountains ! O forest, and every tree therein! for the Lord hath redeemed Israel." P.

• Isai. xliii. v. 18. Ch. xxxv. v.

5, 6.

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