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fame juncture; though BION was born at Smyrna, and MOSCHUS at Syracufe. The former refided, however, fome part of his life, in Italy, where MOSCHUS attended his poetic school, and imbibed his taste and manner. These brothers in genius were contemporary with the great father of paftoral poetry. They have been called his rivals! They have been almost preferred to him by LONGEPIERRE! But whether they ought, in justice, to be considered, at all, in the light of pastoral writers, is a question of doubt; which, however, it might be unprofitable to discuss.
The Epitaph on Adonis is, indisputably, the work of an exuberant invention, and a fine sensibility. Its strains are fo musical and fo melancholy, that they melt upon the ear, and almoft fteal into the heart. Yet, amidst these beauties, we discover a blemish the most unpardonable of all poetic errors. Allured by the richness of ornamented imagery, the poet too frequently overlooks the fimplicity of nature. The puerile idea of the 'boar's white teeth wounding the white fkin;' and the purple blood opposed to the Snowy limbs;' the witticism of the wound of forrow in the bofom of VENUS, as deep as that in the thigh of ADONIS;' the quaint effufion of her tears, as many in number as the drops of blood that trickled from her lover;' and the truly Ovidian transformation of thofe tears and drops of blood into roses and anemonies; and the conceit of flowers blushing with grief-not to mention mountains, woods, hills, fprings, rivers, all huddled together in the most lamentable confufion-these surely are evident indications of a vicious tafte, and a difordered fancy.
The fucceeding Idyllia of BION, particularly Cupid and the Fowler, and the Teacher taught, are fweet and delicate effusions; a few of them resembling the modern fonnet.
The fame may be obferved of the lighter Idyllia of MOSCHUS; particularly the Choice, and the Evening Star. In these little pieces, there is a vein of feeling and agreeable fentiment; without that false polish, that varnish of refinement, so plainly perceivable in the Epitaph on ADONIS. Not that the Epitaph on BION is free from objection. It is evidently formed on the plan of the former elegy; and, though more natural, hath not the merit of a very strict adherence to nature. To throw the fhade of fympathetic melancholy over the scenery of ftill-life, requires indeed the hand of a master. But the true poet will disdain the cold unaffecting combination of fountains, groves, and plants and flowers, all undiftinguishably rueful; except indeed the rose, that turns from red to pale-a stroke of discrimination not eafily overlooked. General images of grief, even though they are founded on the principles of truth and nature, may 'play round the head, but can never reach the heart.' In the Epitaph on BION, we may be foothed, for a moment, by its mournful air, and its melodious numbers: but are we often affected by strokes of genuine pathos? If, inftead of a general defcription of all the feathered tribe warbling their master's elegy, the poet had pictured the grief of a particular
bird, which BION had taught to fing, that had been sheltered beneath his roof, and been accustomed to peck the crumbs from his table, the painting might have had its effect. We are delighted with CATULLUS's Swallow, and AN ACREON'S E 2
Dove. And these poems must have been peculiarly charming, where the swallow or the dove was held in veneration; or endeared (as the latter is in the Eastern countries) by the fondness of domestic familiarity.、
The generalities, however, of this elegiac poem, have been frequently imitated by fucceeding writers; and modern elegy hath found treasures in MosCHUS, which fhe could not find in nature.
If we glance at his other larger Idyllia, his EUROPA, it may be observed, is more interesting than that of OVID, (who is here indeed a pretty close copyift) and the Dialogue between the wife and mother of HERCULES contains several very affecting paffages.
But to conclude. The character of these half-paftoral poets (under the person of BION) cannot be more accurately or more beautifully drawn, than in the following paffage from the Arcadia of Sir WILLIAM JONES:
Firft, in the midst a graceful youth arofe,
His air was courtly, his complexion fair;
• And rich perfumes shed sweetness from his hair,
That o'er his fhoulder wav'd in flowing curls,
• With roses braided, and inwreath'd with pearls;
A wand of cedar for his crook he bore;
His flender foot the Arcadian fandal wore;
Yet that fo rich, it feem'd to fear the ground,
With beaming gems and filken ribbands bound;
The plumage of an oftrich grac'd his head,
And with embroidered flowers his mantle was o'erspread,
TYRT Æ US.
THAT the firft literary productions of every age and
nation were written in verfe, we learn from the concurrent relations of historians, and (what is a furer teftimony) the conftitution of the human mind. Not to infift on philofophical evidence, we must be sufficiently convinced of the fact, while we recollect the Scythian or Runic mythology, the war-fongs of the American tribes, or the flrains of the rude Otaheitans: There is a peculiar fpecies of fimplicity that characterises even the moft elevated and penetrating genius that exifts amidft unpolifhed manners. The objects that fall under its immediate notice are few: these are rapidly collected, and represented with a strength and wildness that speak enthufiaftic emotion, and a fancy firuggling for expanfion. The frequent recurrence of Highland imagery, that difcriminates the poems of OSSIAN with the fameness of original beauty, in all the inartificial contexture peculiar to untutored genius, hath been admitted as no unconvincing argument of their antiquity.*
Their antiquity, indeed, has been inconteftibly proved by the production (though among a few Literati only) of the originals from whence they were tranflated.
The war elegies of TYRTEUS have the fame lineaments of ancient times. They poffefs an inimitable energy; a majestic, yet undiversified fimplicity. There is a boldness in the painting, but no variety. TYRTEUS is ftrikingly a mannerist. His poems abound with repetitions of the fame images and ideas. Of our military poet and his productions, we have a few scattered records among the Greek and Roman writers. We are informed by SUIDAS, that TYRTÆUS flourished a contemporary with the seven wife men of Greece. He is faid to have written on the conduct of life, in elegiac verfe; and, very copioufly, on the art of war. Yet a few mutilated fragments are all that are tranfmitted to us of his works. These, however, are so beautiful, that we cannot but feel an intereft in the fate of their author; while the line to which we have been long familiarized,
TYRTÆUSQUE mares animos in martia bella
naturally leads us to affociate life and action with every
Whether TYRTEUS was born at Athens or Miletus, seems to be an undetermined point. We are told, however, that he was lame, and deformed in his person; and that he kept a school at Athens, till, by the advice of the Oracle at Delphi, he was chofen general of Lacedæmon, in her war against Mene. The latter, it appears, had been victorious in
*See DIODORUS SICULUS, b. 15.