Изображения страниц




EPISTLEI. Page 1. The Author of this Epistle was descended from the Parnells who had been long seated at Congleton in Cheshire, but on the Restoration withdrew to Ireland, in consequence of their adherence to the Commonwealth party. In the capital of that kingdom our Poet was born in 1676, and, having been instructed in the classics by Dr. Jones, was admitted into Trinity College, Dublin, at the age of thirteen. In July 1700, he took his master's degree and orders; and about four years after was collated by the Bishop of Clogher, to that archdeaconry. Prior, however, to this period, he marrried a Miss Anne Minchin, who was remarkable both for beauty and merit. By her, he had two sons and a daughter. The latter sur.vived him, but both the former died

The loss of his wife, preyed greatly on his spirits and considerably hastened his own dissolution. Dying on his way to Ireland, at Chester, he was there buried in Trinity church. Dr. Parnell lived in habits of intimacy with the great and the witty, and was loved and sought after by all who knew him. It appears from Swift's Journal to Stella, that our Author, who was introduced to Bolingbroke, by the Dean, adopted several of his hints for improving this Epistle.


Allegory is in itself so retired a way of writing, that it was thought proper to say something before hand concerning this Piece, which is entirely framed upon it. The design, therefore, is to shew the several styles which have been made use of by those who have endeavored to write in verse. The scheme, by which it is carried on, supposes an old Grecian Poét couching his observations or instructions within an "Allegory; which Allegory is wrought out upon the 'single word Flight, as in the figurative way it signifies a thought above the common level : here Wit is made to be Pegasus, and the Poet his Rider, who flies by several countries where he must not touch, by which are meant so many vicious Styles, and arrives at last at the Sublime. This way of Writing is not only very engaging to the fancy, whenever it is well performed; but it has been thought also one of the first that the Poets made use of. Hence arose many of those stories concerning the Heathen Gods, which at first were invented to insinuate Truth and Morality more pleasingly, and which afterwards made Poetry ite self more solemn, when they happened to be received into the Heathen Divinity. And indeed there seems to be no likelier way by which a Poetical Genius may yet appear as an Original, than that he should proceed with a full compass of thought and knowledge, either to design his plan, or to beautify the parts of it, in an allegorical manner. We are much beholden to An. tiquity for those excellent compositions by which Writers at present form their minds; but it is not so much required of us to adhere meerly to their fables, as to observe their manner. For, if we preclude our own invention, Poetry will consist only in expression, or simile, or the application of old stories; and the utmost character to which a Genius can arrive will depend on imitation, or a borrowing from others, which we must agree together not to call stealing, be. cause we take only from the Ancients. There have been Poets amongst ourselves, such as Spenser and Milton, who have successfully ventured further, These instances may let us see that Invention is not bounded by what has been done before : they may open our imaginations, and be one method of preserving us from Writing without schemes. As for what relates any further particularly to this Poem, the Reader will observe, that its aim is Instruction, Perhaps a representation of several mistakes and dif, ficulties, which happen to many who write Poetry, may deter some from attempting what they have not been made for: and perhaps the description of seve: ral beauties belonging to it may afford hints towards forming a Genius for delighting and improving mankind. If either of these happen, the Poem is useful; and upon that account its faults may be more easily excused.

Page 2. Where wings, &c.] These and the like conceits of putting Poems into several shapes by the different lengths of lines, are frequent in old Poets of most languages. 20. And he's Septimius, and his Acme she :] .

With such a husband, such a wife,
With Acme and Septimius' life. COWLEY,



Page 21. This, and the Seventh Epistle, to Thomson, were published in Dublin 1733, and reprinted in London in 1734

Commendatory Verses by W. Walsh, of the county of Clare; C. White, B. A. of Trinity College, Dublin; and R. Lloyd, B. A. of Fanstown near Charleville, accompanied them.

You fly to deserts but to blaze the more;] The coming of his Lordship to Ireland. ibid. Sage Temple,

-] Sir William. 30. And all those voices make one harmony.] This excellent allegory of Plato, intimates that all things obey the divine law, and concur to produce those effects which are the consequences of the causes thạt God has established. 31.

-Mantegna- -] Born at Padua 1431, was conspicuous for his historical pictures and skill in perspective. The best of his pieces are the Triumphs of Julius Caesar, at Hampton-Court.

32. And from the stone sweet harmony rebounds.] The statue of Memnon, son of Aurora, was made of stone. See Herodotus.

32. Beside his chisel let Mount Athos stand.] It was proposed to Alexander the Great, to turn Mount Athos into the statue of this monarch, with the ocean in a bason in one hand, and a large city in the other. 33.

-his caru'd Venus -] The Venus de Medicis.

ibid. And thunder-bolts descend in figur’d stone ;] This curious representation is on the pillar of Antonine. It exhibits Jupiter raining on the army of Marcus Aurelius, and fulminating on that of his enemies. Hence the Christian Legion was called the thundering.

ibid. Here let thy graver through rock-diamond run,] These lines are to be understood of antiques, arms, and cyphers, cut in precious stones. Pyrgoteles, a celebrated sculptor, hardly engraved on aught but jewels. 34.

-him of Tyre.] Hieram. ibid. -The Tuscan lifts th' imperial urn.] Trajan's pillar at Rome was the first of this order, the spire of which was appointed for the Emperor's ashes. See Evelyn on Architecture.

ibid. --the neat lonic shaft- -] Of this order was the famous temple of Diana at Ephesus, which took up two hundred years in building. See Palladio. 36. So wild Lycaon fled his own abode, Chang'd, &c.

-] The story of Lycaon might possibly have been taken from that of Nebuchodonosor ; for priding himself in those gardens, which he caused to be built for his Queen, who

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »