The Art Of Poetry An Epistle To The Pisos

Part 2 out of 3

United by this sympathetick bond,
You grow familiar, intimate, and fond;
Your thoughts, your words your stiles, your Souls agree,
No longer his _interpreter_, but _He_.

_Stooping_ to Lyrick Lays, though not inapplicable to some of the
lighter odes of Horace, is not descriptive of the general character of
the Lyrick Muse. _Musa dedit Fidibus Divas &c._

Pope takes up the same thought in his Essay on Criticism.

Be sure yourself and your own reach to know,
How far your genius, taste, and learning go;
Launch not beyond your depth, but be discreet,
And mark that point where sense and dulness meet.

* * * * *

Like Kings we lose the conquests gain'd before,
By vain ambition still to make them more:
Each might his servile province well command,
Would all but stoop to what they understand.

71.--_A cunning phrase_.] _Callida junctura_.

_Jason de Nores_ and many other interpreters agree that Horace here
recommends, after Aristotle, the artful elevation of style by the use
of common words in an uncommon sense, producing at once an air of
familiarity and magnificence. Some however confine the expression,
_callida junctura_, to signify _compound words_. The Author of the
English Commentary adopts the first construction; but considers the
precept in both senses, and illustrates each by many beautiful examples
from the plays of Shakespeare. These examples he has accompanied with
much elegant and judicious observation, as the reader of taste will be
convinced by the following short extracts.

"The writers of that time had so _latinized_ the English language, that
the pure _English Idiom_, which Shakespeare generally follows, has all
the air of _novelty_, which other writers are used to affect by foreign
phraseology.--In short, the articles here enumerated are but so many
ways of departing from the usual and simpler forms of speech, without
neglecting too much the grace of ease and perspicuity; in which
well-tempered licence one of the greatest charms of all poetry, but
especially of Shakespeare's poetry, consists. Not that he was always and
every where so happy. His expression sometimes, and by the very means,
here exemplified, becomes _hard_, _obscure_, and _unnatural_. This is
the extreme on the other side. But in general, we may say, that He hath
either followed the direction of Horace very ably, or hath hit upon his
rule very happily."

76.--THE STRAIT-LAC'D CETHEGI.] CINCTUTIS _Cethegis_. Jason de Nores
differs, and I think very justly, from those who interpret _Cinctutis_
to signify _loose_, _bare_, or _naked_--EXERTOS & NUDOS. The plain sense
of the radical word _cingo_ is directly opposite. The word _cinctutis_
is here assumed to express a severity of manners by an allusion to an
antique gravity of dress; and the Poet, adds _de Nores_, very happily
forms a new word himself, as a vindication and example of the licence
he recommends. Cicero numbers M. Corn. Cethegus among the old Roman
Orators; and Horace himself again refers to the Cethegi in his Epistle
to Florus, and on the subject of the use of words.

_Obscurata diu papula bonus eruet, atque_
Proseret in lucem speciosa vocabula rer*um;
***need a Latin speaker to check this out***
_Quae priscis memorata_ CATONIBUS _atque_ CETHEGIS,
Nunc situs informis premit & deserta vetustas;
Adsciscet nova quae genitor produxerit usus.

Mark where a bold expressive phrase appears,
Bright thro' the rubbish of some hundred years;
Command _old words_ that long have slept, to wake,
Words, that wife Bacon, or brave Raleigh spake;
Or bid _the new_ be English, ages hence,
For Use will father what's begot by Sense.


This brilliant passage of Pope is quoted in this place by the author of
that English Commentary, who has also subjoined many excellent remarks on
_the revival of old words_, worthy the particular attention of those
who cultivate prose as well as poetry, and shewing at large, that "the
riches of a language are actually increased by retaining its old words:
and besides, they have often _a greater real weight and dignity_, than
those of a more _fashionable_ cast, which succeed to them. This needs
no proof to such as are versed in the earlier writings of any
language."--"_The growing prevalency of a very different humour_, first
catched, as it should seem, from our commerce with the French Models,
_and countenanced by the too scrupulous delicacy of some good writers
amongst ourselves, bad gone far towards unnerving the noblest modern
language, and effeminating the public taste_."--"The rejection of _old
words_, as _barbarous_, and of many modern ones, as unpolite," had so
exhausted the _strength_ and _stores_ of our language, that it was high
time for some master-hand to interpose, and send us for supplies to _our
old poets_; which there is the highest authority for saying, no one ever
despised, but for a reason, not very consistent with his credit to avow:
_rudem esse omnino in nostris poetis, aut inertissimae nequitiae est,
aut fastidii delicatissimi.-- Cic. de fin._ 1. i. c. 2.

[As woods endure, &c.] _Ut silvae foliis_, &c. Mr. Duncombe, in his
translation of our Author, concurs with Monsieur Dacier in observing
that "Horace seems here to have had in view that fine similitude of
Homer in the sixth book of the Iliad, comparing the generations of men
to the annual succession of leaves.

Oipaeer phyllon genehn, toiaede ch ahndron.
phylla ta mehn t anemohs chamahdis cheei, ahllah de thula
Taeletheasa phyei, earos depigigyel(*)ai orae
Oz andron genen. aemen phnei, aeh dahpolaegei.]

"Like leaves on trees the race of man is found,
Now green in youth, now withering on the ground;
Another race the following spring supplies,
They fall successive, and successive rise:
So generations in their turns decay;
So flourish these, when those are past away."

The translator of Homer has himself compared words to leaves, but in
another view, in his Essay on Criticism.

Words are like leaves; and where they most abound,
Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.

In another part of the Essay he persues the same train of thought with
Horace, and rises, I think, above his Master.

Short is the date, alas, of modern rhymes,
And 'tis but just to let them live betimes.
No longer now that golden age appears,
When Patriarch-wits surviv'd a thousand years;
Now length of Fame (our second life) is lost,
And bare threescore is all ev'n that can boast;
Our sons their father's failing language see,
And such as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be.
So when the faithful pencil has design'd
Some bright idea of the Master's mind,
Where a new world leaps out at his command,
And ready Nature waits upon his hand;
When the ripe colours soften and unite,
And sweetly melt into just shade and light;
When mellowing years their full perfection give,
And each bold figure just begins to live;
The treach'rous colours the fair art betray,
And all the bright creation fades away!

_Essay an Criticism._

95.--WHETHER THE SEA, &c.] _Sive receptus, &c._

This may be understood of any harbour; but it is generally interpreted
to refer to the _Portus Julius_, a haven formed by letting in the sea
upon the _Lucrine Lake_, and forming a junction between that and the
Lake _Avernus_; a work, commenced by Julius Caesar, and compleated by
Augustus, or Agrippa under his auspices. _Regis opus!_ Both these
lakes (says Martin) were in Campania: the former was destroyed by an
earthquake; but the latter is the present _Lago d'Averno_. Strabo, the
Geographer, who, as well as our Poet, was living at the time, ascribes
this work to Agrippa, and tells us that the Lucrine bay was separated
from the Tyrrhene sea by a mound, said to have been first made by
Hercules, and restored by Agrippa. Philargyrius says that a storm arose
at the time of the execution of this great work, to which Virgil seems
to refer in his mention of this Port, in the course of his Panegyrick on
Italy in the second Georgick.

An memorem portus Lucrinoque addita claustra,
Atque indignatem magnis strideribus aequor,
Julia qua ponto longe sonat unda refuso,
Tyrrbenusque fretis immittitur aeflut AVERNIS?

Or shall I praise thy Ports, or mention make
Of the vast mound, that binds the Lucrine Lake?
Or the disdainful sea, that, shut from thence,
Roars round the structure, and invades the fence;
There, where secure the Julian waters glide,
Or where Avernus' jaws admit the Tyrrhene tide?

98.--WHETHER THE MARSH, &c. Sterilisve Palus.]

THE PONTINE MARSH, first drained by the Consul Cornelius Cethegus; then,
by Augustus; and many, many years after by Theodorick.

102.--OR IF THE RIVER, &c.] _Sen cursum, &c._ The course of the _Tyber,_
changed by Augustus, to prevent inundations.

110.--FOR DEEDS OF KINGS, &c.] Res gestae regumque, &c.

The ingenious author of the English Commentary, to whom I have so
often referred, and to whom I must continue to refer, has discovered
particular taste, judgement, and address, in his explication of this
part of the Epistle. runs thus.

"From reflections on poetry, at large, he proceeds now to particulars:
the most obvious of which being the different forms and measures of
poetick composition, he considers, in this view, [from v. 75 to 86] the
four great species of poetry, to which all others may be reduced, the
Epick, Elegiack, Dramatick, and Lyrick. But the distinction of the
measure, to be observed in the several species is so obvious, that there
can scarcely be any mistake about them. The difficulty is to know [from
v. 86 to 89] how far each may partake of the spirit of the other,
without destroying that natural and necessary difference, which ought
to subsist betwixt them all. To explain this, which is a point of great
nicety, he considers [from v. 89 to 99] the case of Dramatick Poetry;
the two species of which are as distinct from each other, as any two
can be, and yet there are times, when the features of the one will be
allowed to resemble those of the other.--But the Poet had a further view
in choosing this instance. For he gets by this means into the main of
his subject, which was Dramatick Poetry, and, by the most delicate
transition imaginable, proceeds [from 89 to 323] to deliver a series
of rules, interspersed with historical accounts, _and enlivened by
digressions_, for the regulation of the Roman stage."

It is needless to insist, that my hypothesis will not allow me to concur
entirely in the latter part of this extract; at least in that latitude,
to which; the system of the writer carries it: yet I perfectly agree
with Mr. Duncombe, that the learned Critick, in his observations on this
Epistle, "has shewn, in general, the connection and dependence of one
part with another, in a clearer light than any other Commentator." His
shrewd and delicate commentary is, indeed, a most elegant contrast to
the barbarous analysis of Scaliger, drawn up without the least idea of
poetical transition, and with the uncouth air of a mere dry logician, or
dull grammarian. I think, however, the _Order_ and _Method_, observed
in this Epistle, is stricter than has yet been observed, and that the
series of rules is delivered with great regularity; NOT _enlivened
by digressions_, but passing from one topick to another, by the most
natural and easy transitions. The Author's discrimination of the
different stiles of the several species of poetry, leads him, as has
been already shewn, to consider the diction of the Drama, and its
accommodation to the _circumstances_ and _character_ of the Speaker. A
recapitulation of these _circumstances_ carries him to treat of the due
management of _characters already known_, as well as of sustaining those
that are entirely _original_; to the first of which the Poet gives
the preference, recommending _known_ characters, as well as _known_
subjects: And on the mention of this joint preference, the Author leaves
further consideration of _the_ diction, and slides into discourse upon
the fable, which he continues down to the 152d verse.

Atque ita mentitur, sic veris falsa remiscet,
Primo ne medium, medio ne discrepet imum.

Having dispatched the fable, the Poet proceeds, and with some Solemnity
of Order, to the consideration of the characters; not in regard to
suitable _diction_, for of that he has already spoken, but in respect to
_the manners_; and, in this branch of his subject, he has as judiciously
borrowed from _the Rhetoricks_ of Aristotle, as in the rest of his
Epistle from the _Poeticks_. He then directs, in its due place, the
proper conduct of particular incidents _of the fable_; after which he
treats of _the_ chorus; from whence he naturally falls into the history
of theatrical musick; which is, as naturally, succeeded by an account of
the Origin of _the Drama_, itself, which the Poet commences, like master
Aristotle, even from the Dithyrambick Song, and carries it down to the
establishment of the New Greek Comedy; from whence he passes easily
and gracefully, to _the_ Roman stage, acknowledging the merits of the
Writers, but pointing out their defects, and assigning the causes.
He then subjoins a few general observations, and concludes his long
discourse on _the_ drama, having extended it to 275 lines. This
discourse, together with the result of all his reflections on Poets and
Poetry, he then applies in the most earnest and _personal_ manner to the
elder Piso; and with a long and most pathetick _peroration_, if I may
adopt an oratorical term, concludes the Epistle.


Commentators differ concerning the import of this expression--exiguos
_Elegos_, the _Elegy's_ small _song_. De Nores, Schrevelius, and
Desprez, think it refers to the humility of the elegiack stile and
subjects, compared with epick or lyrick sublimity. Monsieur Dacier
rather thinks that Horace refers here, as in the words _Versibus
impariter junctis,_ "Couplets unequal," to the use of pentameter, or
short verse, consisting of five feet, and joined to the hexameter, or
long verse, of six. This inequality of the couplet Monsieur Dacier
justly prefers to the two long Alexandrines of his own country, which
sets almost all the French poetry, Epick, Dramatick, Elegiack, or
Satyrick, to the tune of Derry Down. In our language, the measures are
more various, and more happily conceived. Our Elegy adopts not only
_unequal couplets_, but _alternate rhymes_, which give a plaintive tone
to the heroick measure, and are most happily used in Gray's beautiful
_Elegy in a Country Church yard.

135.--THY FEAST, THYESTES!] Caena Thyestae.

The story of Thyestes being of the most tragick nature, a banquet on his
own children! is commonly interpreted by the Criticks, as mentioned by
Horace, in allusion to Tragedy in general. The Author of the English
Commentary, however, is of a different opinion, supposing, from a
passage of Cicero, that the Poet means to glance at the _Thyestes of
Ennius,_ and to pay an oblique compliment to Varius, who had written a
tragedy on the same subject.

The same learned Critick also takes it for granted, that the Tragedy of
Telephus, and probably of _Peleus_, after-mentioned, point at tragedies
of Euripedes, on these subjects, translated into Latin, and accomodated
to the Roman Stage, without success, by _Ennius, Accius, or Naevius_.

One of this Critick's notes on this part of the Epistle, treating on the
use of _pure poetry_ in the Drama, abounds with curious disquisition and
refined criticism.

150.--_They must have_ passion _too_.] dulcia _sunto_. The Poet,
with great address, includes the sentiments under the consideration of

--_Effert animi motus_ interprete lingua.
_Forces expression from the_ faithful tongue.

Buckingham has treated the subject of Dialogue very happily in his Essay
on Poetry, glancing, but not servilely, at this part of Horace.

_Figures of Speech_, which Poets think so fine,
Art's needless varnish to make Nature shine,
Are all but _Paint_ upon a beauteous face,
And in _Descriptions_ only claim a place.
But to make _Rage declaim_, and _Grief discourse_,
From lovers in despair _fine_ things to _force_,
Must needs succeed; for who can chuse but pity
A _dying_ hero miserably _witty_?

201.----BE NOT YOUR OPENING FIERCE!] _Nec sic incipies_, Most of the
Criticks observe, that all these documents, deduced from _the Epick_,
are intended, like the reduction of the Iliad into acts, as directions
and admonition to the _Dramatick_ writer. _Nam si in_ EPOPaeIA, _que
gravitate omnia poematum generae praecellit, ait principium lene esse
debere; quanto magis in_ tragoedia _et_ comoedia, _idem videri debet_?
says de Nores. _Praeceptum de intio grandiori evitaado, quod tam_ epicus
_quam_ tragicus _cavere debet_; says the Dauphin Editor. _Il faut se
souvenir qu' Horace appliqae a la Tragedie les regies du Poeme Epique.
Car si ces debuts eclatans sont ridicules dans la Poeme Epique, ils
le sont encore plus dans la Tragedie_: says Dacier. The Author of the
English Commentary makes the like observation, and uses it to enforce
his system of the Epistle's being intended as a Criticism on the Roman
drama. [ xviii] 202---Like _the rude_ ballad-monger's _chant of old_]
_ut scriptor_ cyclicus olim.] _Scriptor_ cyclicus signisies an itinerant
Rhymer travelling, like Shakespeare's Mad Tom, to wakes, and fairs, and
market-towns. 'Tis not precisely known who was the Cyclick Poet here
meant. Some have ascribed the character to Maevius, and Roscommon has
adopted that idea.

Whoever vainly on his _strength_ depends,
Begins like Virgil, but like Maevius ends:
That Wretch, in spite of his forgotten rhimes,
Condemn'd to live to all succeeding times,
With _pompous nonsense_, and a _bellowing sound_,
Sung _lofty Ilium_, _tumbling_ to the _ground_,
And, if my Muse can thro' past ages fee,
That _noisy, nauseous_, gaping fool was _he_;
Exploded, when, with universal scorn,
The _Mountains labour'd_, and a _Mouse_ was born.

_Essay on Translated Verse_.

The pompous exordium of Statius is well known, and the fragments of
Ennius present us a most tremendous commencement of his Annals.

horrida romoleum certamina pango duellum!
this is indeed to split our ears asunder
With guns, drums, trumpets, blunderbuss, and thunder!

211.--Say, Muse, the Man, &c.] Homer's opening of the Odyssey. his rule
is perhaps no where so chastely observed as in _the Paradise Lost_.
Homer's [Greek: Maenin aeide thea]! or, his [Greek: Andra moi
ennepe,Mgsa]! or, Virgil's _Arma, Urumque cano_! are all boisterous and
vehement, in comparison with the calmness and modesty of Milton's meek

Of Man's first disobedience, &c.

2l5.--_Antiphates, the Cyclops, &c_].- _Antiphatem, Scyllamque, & cum
Cyclope Charybdim_. Stories, that occur in the Odyssey. 218-19--Diomed's
return--the Double Egg.]

The return of Diomede is not mentioned by Homer, but is said to be the
subject of a tedious Poem by Antimachus; and to Stasimus is ascribed a
Poem, called the Little Iliad, beginning with the nativity of Helen.

227.--Hear now!] _Tu, quid ego, &c._

This invocation, says Dacier justly, is not addressed to either of the
Pisos, but to the Dramatick Writer generally.

229.---The Cloth goes down.] _Aulaea manentis._ This is translated
according to modern manners; for with the Antients, the Cloth was raised
at the Conclusion of the Play. Thus in Virgil's Georgicks;

Vel scena ut versis disceedat frontibus, atque
Purpurea intexti tollant aulaea Britanni.

Where the proud theatres disclose the scene;
Which interwoven Britons seem to _raise;_
And shew the triumph which their _shame_ displays.


230.--Man's several ages, &c.] _aetatis cujusque, &c._ Jason Demores
takes notice of the particular stress, that Horace lays on the due
discrimination of the several Ages, by the solemnity with which he
introduces the mention of them: The same Critick subjoins a note also,
which I shall transcribe, as it serves to illustrate a popular passage
in the _As you Like It_ of Shakespeare.

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their _exits_ and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts:
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms:
And then, the whining school-boy with his satchel,
And shining morning-face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then, the lover;
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eye-brow. Then, a soldier;
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel;
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then, the justice
In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and flipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side;
His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes,
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

_Animadverti_ a plerisque _hominis aetatem_ in septem divisam esse
partes, infantiam, pueritiam, adolescentiam, juventutem, virilitatem,
senectutem, & _ut ab illis dicitur_, decrepitatem. _In hac vero parte
nihil de_ infantiae _moribus Horatius, cum nihil ea aetas praeter
vagitum habeat proprium, ideoque infantis persona minime in scena induci
possit, quod ipsas rerum voces reddere neque dum sciat, neque
valeat. Nihil de moribus item hujus aetatis, quam, si latine licet_,
decrepitatem _vocabimus_, quae aetas quodammodo infantiae respondet:
_de_ juventute _autem_ & adolescentia _simul pertractat, quod et
studiis, et natura, & voluntate, parum, aut nihil inter se differant.
Aristoteles etiam in libris ad Theodectem omisit_ & pueritiam, &
_merito; cum minime apud pueros, vel de pueris sit orator habiturus
orationem. Ille enim ad hoc ex aetate personarum differentiam adhibet,
ut instituat oratorem, quomodo morata uti debeat oratione, id est, eorum
moribus, apud quos, & de quibus loquitur, accommodata._

It appears from hence, that it was _common_ for the writers of that
time, as well as Shakespeare's Jaques, to divide the life of Man into
seven ages, viz. _Infancy, Childhood, Puberty, Youth, Manhood, Old Age_,
and _Decrepitude_; "which last, (says Denores) in some sort answers to
Infancy," or, as Shakespeare expresses it, IS second childishness.

"Before Shakespeare's time," says Warburton, "_seven acts_ was no unusual
division of a play, so that there is a greater beauty than appears at
first sight in this image." Mr. Steevens, however, informs us that the
plays of that early period were not divided into acts at all. It is most
probable therefore that Shakespeare only copied the moral philosophy
(the _Socraticae chartae_) of his own day, adapting it, like Aristotle
and Horace, to his own purpose; and, I think, with more felicity, than
either of his illustrious predecessors, by contriving to introduce, and
discriminate, _every one of_ the seven ages. This he has effected
by assigning station and character to some of the stages, which to
Aristotle and Horace appeared too similar to be distinguished from
each other. Thus puberty, youth, manhood, and old age, become under
Shakespeare's hand, _the_ lover, _the_ soldier, _the_ justice, and the
lean and flipper'd pantaloon; while the _natural qualities_ of the
infant, the boy, and the dotard, afford sufficient materials for
poetical description.

262.--_Thus_ years advancing _many comforts bring,
and_ flying _bear off many on their wing_.]

_Multa ferunt_ anni venientes _commoda secum,
multa_ recedentes _adimunt_.

Aristotle considers the powers of the body in a state of advancement
till the 35th year, and the faculties of the mind progressively
improving till the 49th; from which periods they severally decline. On
which circumstance, applied to this passage of Horace, Jason de Nores
elegantly remarks, _Vita enim nostra videtur ad_ virilitatem _usque,
qua_ in statu _posita est_, quendam quasi pontem _aetatis_ ascendere,
_ab eaque inde_ descendere. Whether Addison ever met with the commentary
of De Nores, it is perhaps impossible to discover. But this idea of
_the_ ascent _and_ declivity _of the_ bridge _of_ human life, strongly
reminds us of the delightful _vision of_ mirza.

288.--_An actor's part_ the Chorus _should sustain_.] _Actoris partes_
Chorus, &c.

"See also _Aristotle_ [Greek*: oes. ooiaet. k. iae.] The judgment of two
such critics, and the practice of wise antiquity, concurring to
establish this precept concerning the Chorus, it should thenceforth, one
would think, have become a fundamental rule and maxim of the stage. And
so indeed it appeared to some few writers. The most admired of the
French tragic poets ventured to introduce it into two of his latter
plays, and with such success that, as one observes, _It should, in all
reason, have disabused his countrymen on this head: l'essai heureux de
M. Racine, qui les [choeurs] a fait revivre dans_ athalie _et dans
_esther_, devroit, il semble, nous avoir detrompez sur cet article._ [P.
Brumoi, vol. i. p. 105.] And, before him, our _Milton_, who, with his
other great talents, possessed a supreme knowledge of antiquity, was so
struck with its use and beauty, as to attempt to bring it into our
language. His _Sampson Agonistes_ was, as might be expected, a master-
piece. But even his credit hath not been sufficient to restore the
Chorus. Hear a late Professor of the art declaring, _De _Choro _nihil
disserui, quia non est essentialis dramati, atque a neotericis penitus_,
et, me judice, merito repudiatur. [Prael. Poet. vol. ii. p. 188.] Whence
it hath come to pass that the chorus hath been thus neglected is not now
the enquiry. But that this critic, and all such, are greatly out in
their judgments, when they presume to censure it in the ancients, must
appear (if we look no further) from the double use, insisted on by the
poet, For, 1. A _chorus _interposing, and bearing a part in the progress
of the action, gives the representation that _probability_, [Footnote:
_Quel avantage ne peut il [le poete] pas tirer d'une troupe d'acteurs,
qui remplissent sa scene, qui rendant plus sense la continuite de
l'action qui la sont paroitre VRAISEMBLABLE puisqu'il n'est pas naturel
qu'elle sa passe sans point. On ne sent que trop le vuide de notre
Theatre sans choeurs. &c. _[Les Theatre des Grecs. i. p. 105 ] and
striking resemblance of real life, which every man of sense perceives,
and _feels_ the want of upon our stage; a want, which nothing but such
an expedient as the chorus can possibly relieve. And, 2. The importance
of its other office [l. 196] to the _utility _of the representation, is
so great, that, in a moral view, nothing can compensate for this
deficiency. For it is necessary to the truth and decorum of characters,
that the _manners_, bad as well as good, be drawn in strong, vivid
colours; and to that end that immoral sentiments, forcibly expressed and
speciously maintained, be sometimes _imputed _to the speakers. Hence the
sound philosophy of the chorus will be constantly wanting, to rectify
the wrong conclusions of the audience, and prevent the ill impressions
that might otherwise be made upon it. Nor let any one say, that the
audience is well able to do this for itself: Euripides did not find even
an Athenian theatre so quick-sighted. The story is well known, [Sen. Ep.
115.] that when this painter of the _manners _was obliged, by the rules
of his art, and the character to be sustained, to put a run of bold
sentiments in the mouth of one of his persons, the people instantly took
fire, charging the poet with the _imputed _villainy, as though it had
been his _own_. Now if such an audience could so easily misinterpret an
attention to the truth of character into the real doctrine of the poet,
and this too, when a Chorus was at hand to correct and disabuse their
judgments, what must be the case, when the _whole _is left to the
sagacity and penetration of the people? The wiser sort, it is true, have
little need of this information. Yet the reflexions of sober sense on
the course and occurrences of the representation, clothed in the noblest
dress of poetry, and enforced by the joint powers of harmony and action
(which is the true character of the Chorus) might make it, even to such,
a no unpleasant or unprofitable entertainment. But these two are a small
part of the uses of the chorus; which in every light is seen so
important to the truth, decorum, and dignity of the tragic scene, that
the modern stage, which hath not thought proper to adopt it, is even,
with the advantage of, sometimes, the justest moral painting and
sublimest imagery, but a very faint shadow of the old; as must needs
appear to those who have looked into the ancient models, or, diverting
themselves of modern prejudices, are disposed to consult the dictates of
plain sense. For the use of such, I once designed to have drawn into one
view the several important benefits arising to the drama from the
observance of this rule, but have the pleasure to find myself prevented
by a sensible dissertation of a good French writer, which the reader
will find in the VIII tom. of the History of the Academy of Inscriptions
end Belles Lettres.--Or, it may be sufficient to refer the English
reader to the late tragedies of Elfrida and Caractacus; which do honour
to modern poetry, and are a better apology, than any I could make, for
the ancient Chorus.----Notes on the Art of Poetry.

Though it is not my intention to agitate, in this place, the long
disputed question concerning the expediency, or inexpediency, of the
Chorus, yet I cannot dismiss the above note without some farther
observation. In the first place then I cannot think that _the judgment
of two such Criticks_ as Aristotle and Horace, can be decisively quoted,
_as concurring with the practice of wise antiquity,_ to establish the
chorus. Neither of these _two Criticks_ have taken up the question,
each of them giving directions for the proper conduct of _the Chorus,_
considered as an established and received part of Tragedy, and indeed
originally, as they both tell us, _the whole_ of it. Aristotle, in his
Poeticks, has not said much on the subject and from the little he has
said, more arguments might perhaps be drawn, in favour of the omission,
than for the introduction of _the Chorus._ It is true that he says, in
his 4th chapter, that "Tragedy, after many changes, paused, _having
gained its natural form:"_ [Greek transliteration: 'pollha': moiazolas
metazalousa ae tragodia epausto, hepei hesche taen heauiaes phusin]. This
might, at first sight, seem to include his approbation of the Chorus, as
well as of all the other parts of Tragedy then in use: but he himself
expressly tells us in the very same chapter, that he had no such
meaning, saying, that "to enquire whether Tragedy be perfect in its
parts, either considered in itself, or with relation to the theatre, was
foreign to his present purpose." [Greek: To men oun epischopein,
eiapa echei aedae hae tragodia tois ikanos, ae ou, auto te kath auto
krinomenon, kai pros ta theatra, allos logos.]

In the passage from which Horace has, in the verses now before us,
described the office, and laid down the duties of the CHORUS, the
passage referred to by the learned Critick, the words of Aristotle are
not particularly favourable to the institution, or much calculated to
recommend the use of it. For Aristotle there informs us, "that Sophocles
alone of all the Grecian writers, made _the_ CHORUS conducive to the
progress of the fable: not only even Euripides being culpable in this
instance; but other writers, after the example of Agathon, introducing
Odes as little to the purpose, as if they had borrowed whole scenes from
another play."

[Greek: Kai ton chorus de ena dei upolazein tan upochriton. Kai morion
einai tch olch, chai sunagonis*e mae osper par Euripidae, all osper
para Sophochlei. Tois de loipois ta didomena mallon ta muthch, ae allaes
Tragadias esi di o emzolima adchoi, protch arxanto Agrathonos tch
toichtch Kai tch diaphsrei, ae aemzot ma adein, ae raesin ex allch eis
allo armotteen, ae eteitodion oleos [per. poiaet. ch. iii.]]

On the whole therefore, whatever may be the merits, or advantages of
_the_ CHORUS, I cannot think that the judgment of Aristotle or Horace
can be adduced as recommendation of it. As to _the probability given
to the representation, by CHORUS interposing and bearing a part in the
action;_ the Publick, who have lately in a troop of singers assembled on
the stage, as a Chorus, during the whole of presentations of Elfrida
and Caractacus, are competent to decide for themselves, how far such an
expedient, gives a more _striking resemblance of human life,_ than the
common usage of our Drama. As to its importance in a _moral_ view, to
correct the evil impression of vicious sentiments, _imputed_ to the
speakers; the story told, to enforce its use for this purpose, conveys
a proof of its efficacy. To give due force to sentiments, as well as to
direct their proper tendency, depends on the skill and address of the
Poet, independent of _the_ Chorus,

Monsieur Dacier, as well as the author of the above note, censures the
modern stage for having rejected the Chorus, and having lost thereby
_at least half its probability, and its_ greatest ornament; so that
our Tragedy is _but a very faint shadow of the_ old. Learned Criticks,
however, do not, perhaps, consider, that if it be expedient to revive
_the_ Chorus, all the other parts of the antient Tragedy must be revived
along with it. Aristotle mentions Musick as one of the six parts of
Tragedy, and Horace no sooner introduces _the_ CHORUS, but he proceeds
to _the _pipe _and _lyre. If a Chorus be really necessary, our Dramas,
like those of the antients, should be rendered wholly _musical_; the
_Dancers _also will then claim their place, and the pretentions of
Vestris and Noverre may be admitted as _classical_. Such a spectacle,
if not more _natural_ than the modern, would at least be consistent; but
to introduce a groupe of _spectatorial actors_, speaking in one part
of the Drama, and singing in another, is as strange and incoherent a
medley, and full as _unclassical_, as the dialogue and airs of _The
Beggar's Opera!_

290.--_Chaunting no Odes between the acts, that seem_
unapt, _or _foreign _to the _general theme.]

_Nec quid medios, &c._

On this passage the author of the English Commentary thus remarks. "How
necessary this advice might be to the writers of the Augustan age cannot
certainly appear; but, if the practice of Seneca may give room for
suspicion, it should seem to have been much wanted; in whom I scarcely
believe _there is_ one single instance, _of the _Chorus being employed
in a manner, consonant to its true end and character."

The learned Critick seems here to believe, and the plays under the name
of Seneca in some measure warrant the conclusion, that _the _Chorus
of the Roman Stage was not calculated to answer the ends of its
institution. Aristotle has told us just the same thing, with an
exception in favour of Sophocles, of the Grecian Drama. And are such
surmises, or such information, likely to strengthen our prejudices on
behalf of _the _CHORUS, or to inflame our desires for its revival?


_Ille bonis saveatque, &c._

"_The Chorus_," says the poet, "_is to take the side of the good and
virtuous_, i. e. is always to sustain a moral character. But this will
need some explanation and restriction. To conceive aright of its office,
we must suppose the _Chorus _to be a number of persons, by some probable
cause assembled together, as witnesses and spectators of the great
action of the drama. Such persons, as they cannot be wholly uninterested
in what passes before them, will very naturally bear some share in
the representation. This will principally consist in declaring their
sentiments, and indulging their reflexions freely on the several events
and mistresses as they shall arise. Thus we see the _moral_, attributed
to the Chorus, will be no other than the dictates of plain sense; such
as must be obvious to every thinking observer of the action, who is
under the influence of no peculiar partialities from _affection_ or
_interest_. Though even these may be supposed in cases, where the
character, towards which they _draw_, is represented as virtuous."

"A Chorus, thus constituted, must always, it is evident, take the part of
virtue; because this is the natural and almost necessary determination
of mankind, in all ages and nations, when acting freely and
unconstrained." _Notes on the Art of Poetry._

297.--FAITHFUL AND SECRET.]--_Ille tegat commissa._

On this _nice part_ of the duty of _the_ CHORUS the author of the
English Commentary thus remarks.

"This important advice is not always easy to be followed. Much indeed
will depend on the choice of the subject, and the artful constitution
of the fable. _Yet, with all his care, the ablest writer will sometimes
find himself embarrassed by the_ Chorus. i would here be understood to
speak chiefly of the moderns. For the antients, though it has not been
attended to, had some peculiar advantages over us in this respect,
resulting from the principles and practices of those times. For, as it
hath been observed of the ancient epic Muse, that she borrowed much of
her state and dignity from the false _theology_ of the pagan world,
so, I think, it may be justly said of the ancient tragic, that she has
derived great advantages of probability from its mistaken _moral_. If
there be truth in this reflection, it will help to justify some of the
ancient choirs, that have been most objected to by the moderns."

After two examples from Euripides; in one of which the trusty CHORUS
conceals the premeditated _suicide_ of Phaedra; and in the other abets
Medea's intended _murder of her children_, both which are most ably
vindicated by the Critick; the note concludes in these words.

"In sum, though these acts of severe avenging justice might not be
according to the express letter of the laws, or the more refined
conclusions of the PORCH or ACADEMY; yet there is no doubt, that they
were, in the general account, esteemed fit and reasonable. And, it is to
be observed, in order to pass a right judgment on the ancient Chorus,
that, though in virtue of their office, they were obliged universally
to sustain a moral character; yet this moral was rather political and
popular, than strictly legal or philosophic. Which is also founded on
good reason. The scope and end of the ancient theatre being to serve
the interests of virtue and society, on the principles and sentiments,
already spread and admitted amongst the people, and not to correct old
errors, and instruct them in philosophic truth."

One of the censurers of Euripides, whose opinion is controverted in
the above note, is Monsieur Dacier; who condemns _the_ CHORUS in this
instance, as not only violating their _moral_ office, but _transgressing
the laws_ of Nature _and of_ God, _by a fidelity_; so vicious _and_
criminal, _that these women_, [_the_ Chorus!] _ought to fly away in
the Car of Medea, to escape the punishment due to them_. The Annotator
above, agrees with the Greek Scholiast, that _the Corinthian women (the_
Chorus) _being free_, properly desert the interests of Creon, and keep
Medea's secrets, _for the sake of justice_, according to their custom.
Dacier, however, urges an instance of their _infidelity_ in the ION of
Euripides, where they betray the secret of Xuthus to Creusa, which the
French Critick defends on account of their attachment to their mistress;
and adds, that the rule of Horace, like other rules, is proved by the
exception. "Besides (continues the Critick in the true spirit of French
gallantry) should we so heavily accuse the Poet for not having made _an
assembly of women_ keep a secret?" _D'ailleurs, peut on faire un si
grand crime a un poete, de n'avoir pas fait en sorte qu'une troupe
de femmes garde un secret?_ He then concludes his note with blaming
Euripides for the perfidy of Iphigenia at Tauris, who abandons these
faithful guardians of her secret, by flying alone with Orestes, and
leaving them to the fury of Thoas, to which they must have been exposed,
but for the intervention of Minerva.

On the whole, it appears that the _moral importance_ of _the_ CHORUS
must be considered _with some limitations_: or, at least, that _the_
CHORUS is as liable to be misused and misapplied, as any part of modern

300.--_The_ pipe _of old_.]--_Tibi, non ut nunc, &c._

"This, says the author of the English Commentary, is one of those many
passages in the epistle, about which the critics have said a great deal,
without explaining any thing. In support of what I mean to offer, as the
true interpretation, I observe,

"That the poet's intention certainly was not to censure the _false_
refinements of their stage-music; but, in a short digressive history
(such as the didactic form will sometimes require) to describe the rise
and progress of the _true_. This I collect, I. From _the expression
itself_; which cannot, without violence, be understood in any other way.
For, as to the words _licentia_ and _praeceps_, which have occasioned
much of the difficulty, the _first_ means a _freer use_, not a
_licentiousness_, properly so called; and the _other_ only expresses a
vehemence and rapidity of language, naturally productive of a quicker
elocution, such as must of course attend the more numerous harmony of
the lyre:--not, as M. Dacier translates it, _une eloquence temeraire et
outree_, an extravagant straining and affectation of style. 2. From _the
reason of the thing_; which makes it incredible, that the music of the
theatre should then be most complete, when the times were barbarous, and
entertainments of this kind little encouraged or understood. 3. From
_the character of that music itself_; for the rudeness of which, Horace,
in effect, apologizes in defending it only on the score of the imperfect
state of the stage, and the simplicity of its judges."

The above interpretation of this part of the Epistle is, in my opinion,
extremely just, and exactly corresponds with the explication of De
Nores, who censures Madius for an error similar to that of Dacier. _Non
recte sentire videtur Madius, dum putat potius_ in Romanorum luxuriam_
invectum horatium, quam_ de melodiae incremento _tractasse_.

The musick, having always been a necessary appendage to _the_ Chorus,
I cannot (as has already been hinted in the note on I. 100 of this
version) confider the Poet's notice of the Pipe and Lyre, as a
_digression_, notwithstanding it includes a short history of the rude
simplicity of the Musick in the earlier ages of Rome, and of its
subsequent improvements. _The_ Chorus too, being originally _the whole_,
as well as afterwards a legitimate _part_ of Tragedy, the Poet naturally
traces the Drama from its origin to its most perfect state in Greece;
and afterwards compares its progress and improvements with the Theatre
of his own country. Such is, I think, the natural and easy _method_
pursued by Horace; though it differs in some measure from the _order_
and _connection_ pointed out by the author of the English Commentary.

314.--For what, alas! could the unpractis'd ear
Of rusticks revelling o'er country cheer,
A motley groupe; high, low; and froth, and scum,
Distinguish but shrill squeak, and dronish hum?
--_Indoctus quid enim saperet, liberque laborum,
Rusticus urbano confusus, turpis honesto?_

These lines, rather breaking in upon the continuity of the history of
theatrical musick, _create_ some obscurity, which has given birth, to
various interpretations. The author of the English Commentary, who
always endeavours to dive to the very bottom of his subject, understands
this couplet of Horace as a _sneer_ on those grave philosophers, who
considered these _refinements_ of the musick as _corruptions_. He
interprets the passage at large, and explains the above two lines in
these words. "Nor let it be objected than this _freer harmony_ was
itself an abuse, a corruption of the severe and _moral_ musick
of antient times. Alas! we were not as yet so _wise_, to see the
inconveniences of this improvement. And how should we, considering the
nature and end of these theatrical entertainments, and the sort of men
of which our theatres were made up?"

This interpretation is ingenious; but Jason De Nores gives, I think,
a more easy and unforced explanation of this difficult passage, by
supposing it to refer (by way of _parenthesis_) to what had just been
said of the original rude simplicity of the Roman theatrical musick,
which, says the Poet, was at least as polished and refined as the taste
of the audience. This De Nores urges in two several notes, both which I
shall submit to the reader, leaving it to him to determine how far I am
to be justified in having adapted my version to his interpretation.

The first of these notes contains at large his reproof of Madius for
having, like Dacier, supposed the Poet to censure the improvements that
he manifestly meant to commend.

_Quare non recte videtur sentire Madius, dum putat potius in Romanorum
luxuriam invectum Horatium, quam de melodiae incremento tractasse,
cum_ seipsum interpretans, _quid fibi voluerit per haec, luce clarius,

Tibia non ut nunc orichalco vincta, tubaeque AEmula. Et,
Sic priscae motumque, & luxuriam addidit arti
Tibicen, traxitque vagus per pulpita vestem:
Sic etiam fidibus voces crevere feveris,
Et tulit eloquium infolitum fecundia praeceps.

_Ad quid enim tam longa digressione extra, rem propositam in Romanos
inveberetur, cum de iis nihil aliud dicat, quam eos genio ac
valuptatibus indulgere: cum potius_ veteres Romanos insimulare
videatur ionorantiae, quod ignoraverint soni et musices venustatem et
jucunditatem, illa priori scilicet incondita et rudi admodum contenti,
_dum ait_; Indoctus quid enim saperet, liberque laborum, Rusticus urbano
confusus, turpis honesto?

The other note is expressly applied by way of comment on this passage

[Indoctus quidenim saperet?] Reddit rationem quasiper digressionem,
occurrens tacitae objectioni quare antea apud Romanos musica melodia
parva aut nulla pene fuerat: quia, inquit, indocti ignarique rerum
omnium veteres illi nondum poterant judicare de melodia, utpote apud eos
re nova, atque inufitata, neque illius jucunditatem degustare, quibus
verbis imperitiam eorum, rusticatatemque demonstrat.

Upon the whole De Nores appears to me to have given the true sense of
the passage. I am no friend to licentious transpositions, or arbitrary
variations, of an author's text; yet I confess, I was strongly tempted,
in order to elucidate his perplexed passage, to have carried these two
lines of Horace four lines back, and to have inserted them immediately
after the 207th verse.

_Et frugi, castus, verecundusque coibat._

The English reader, who wishes to try the experiment, is desired to read
the four lines, that compose my version, immediately after the 307th

_With modest mirth indulg'd their sober taste._

3l8.--The Piper, _grown luxuriant in his art._]

320.--_Now too, its powers increas'd_, The Lyre severe.]

Sic priscae--arti
tibicen, &c.
sic fidibus, &c.

"This is the application of what hath been said, in general, concerning
the refinement of theatrical music to the case of _tragedy_. Some
commentators say, and to _comedy._ But in this they mistake, as will
appear presently. M. _Dacier_ hath I know not what conceit about a
comparison betwixt the _Roman_ and _Greek_ stage. His reason is, _that
the lyre was used in the Greek chorus, as appears, he says, from
Sophocles himself playing upon this instrument himself in one of his
tragedies._ And was it not used too in the Roman chorus, as appears from
Nero's playing upon it in several tragedies? But the learned critic
did not apprehend this matter. Indeed from the caution, with which his
guides, the dealers in antiquities, always touch this point, it should
seem, that they too had no very clear conceptions of it. The case I take
to have been this: The _tibia_, as being most proper to accompany the
declamation of the acts, _cantanti fuccinere_, was constantly employed,
as well in the Roman tragedy as comedy. This appears from many
authorities. I mention only two from Cicero. _Quam multa_ [Acad. 1. ii.
7.] _quae nos fugiunt in cantu, exaudiunt in eo genere exercitati: Qui,
primo inflatu Tibicinis, Antiopam esse aiunt aut Andromacham, cum nos
ne suspicemur quidem_. The other is still more express. In his piece
entitled _Orator_, speaking of the negligence of the Roman writers, in
respect of _numbers_, he observes, _that there were even many passages
in their tragedies, which, unless the_ TIBIA _played to them, could not
be distinguished from mere prose: quae, nisi cum Tibicen accesserit,
orationi sint solutae simillima._ One of these passages is expressly
quoted from _Thyestes_, a tragedy of _Ennius_; and, as appears from
the measure, taken out of one of the acts. It is clear then, that the
_tibia_ was certainly used in the _declamation_ of tragedy. But now the
song of the tragic chorus, being of the nature of the ode, of course
required _fides_, the lyre, the peculiar and appropriated instrument
of the lyric muse. And this is clearly collected, if not from express
testimonies; yet from some occasional hints dropt by the antients. For,
1. the lyre, we are told, [Cic. De Leg. ii. 9. & 15.] and is agreed
on all hands, was an instrument of the Romon theatre; but it was not
employed in comedy, This we certainly know from the short accounts of
the music prefixed to Terence's plays. 2. Further, the _tibicen_, as
we saw, accompanied the declamation of the acts in tragedy. It remains
then, that the proper place of the lyre was, where one should naturally
look for it, in the songs of the chorus; but we need not go further than
this very passage for a proof. It is unquestionable, that the poet is
here speaking of the chorus only; the following lines not admitting
any other possible interpretation. By _fidibus_ then is necessarily
understood the instrument peculiarly used in it. Not that it need be
said that the _tibia_ was never used in the chorus. The contrary seems
expressed in a passage of Seneca, [Ep. ixxxiv.] and in Julius Pollux
[1. iv. 15. Sec. 107.] It is sufficient, if the _lyre_ was used solely, or
principally, in it at this time. In this view, the whole digression is
more pertinent, and connects better. The poet had before been speaking
of tragedy. All his directions, from 1. 100, respect this species of the
drama only. The application of what he had said concerning music, is
then most naturally made, I. to the _tibia_, the music of the acts; and,
2. to _fides_, that of the choir: thus confining himself, as the tenor
of this part required, to tragedy only. Hence is seen the mistake, not
only of M. Dacier, whose comment is in every view insupportable; but, as
was hinted, of Heinsius, Lambin, and others, who, with more probability,
explained this of the Roman comedy and tragedy. For, though _tibia_
might be allowed to stand for comedy, as opposed to _tragoedia_, [as in
fact, we find it in 1. ii. Ep. I. 98,] that being the only instrument
employed in it; yet, in speaking expressly of the music of the stage,
_fides_ could not determinately enough, and in contradistinction to
_tibia_, denote that of tragedy, it being an instrument used solely,
or principally, in the chorus; of which, the context shews, he alone
speaks. It is further to be observed, that, in the application here
made, besides the music, the poet takes in the other improvements of the
tragic chorus, these happening, as from the nature of the thing they
would do, at the same tine. _Notes on the Art of Poetry._

3l9.--with dance and flowing vest embellishes his part.]

_Traxitque vagus per pulpita vestem._

"This expresses not only the improvement arising from the ornament of
proper dresses, but from the grace of motion: not only the _actor_,
whose peculiar office it was, but the _minstrel_ himself, as appears
from hence, conforming his gesture in some sort to the music.

"Of the use and propriety of these gestures, or dances, it will not be
easy for us, who see no such things attempted on the modern stage, to
form any very clear or exact notions. What we cannot doubt of is,
1. That the several theatrical dances of the antients were strictly
conformable to the genius of the different species of composition, to
which they were applied. 2. That, therefore, the tragic dance, which
more especially accompanied the Chorus, must have been expressive of
the highest gravity and decorum, tending to inspire ideas of what is
_becoming, graceful, and majestic;_ in which view we cannot but perceive
the important assistance it must needs lend to virtue, and how greatly
it must contribute to set all her graces and attractions in the fairest
light. 3. This idea of the ancient tragic dance, is not solely formed
upon our knowledge of the conformity before-mentioned; but is further
collected from the name usually given to it, which was [Greek
transliteration: Emmeleia] This word cannot well be translated into our
language; but expresses all that grace and concinnity of motion, which
the dignity of the choral song required. 4. Lastly, it must give us a
very high notion of the moral effect of this dance, when we find the
severe Plato admitting it into his commonwealth. _Notes on the Art of

326--he who the prize, a filthy goat, to gain,
at first contended in the tragick strain.
_Carmine qui tragico, vilem certavit ob bircum._

If I am not greatly deceived, all the Editors, and Commentators on this
Epistle, have failed to observe, that the _historical_ part of it,
relative to the Graecian Drama, commences at this verse; all of them
supposing it to begin, 55 lines further in the Epistle, on the mention
of Thespis; whom Horace as early, as correctly, describes to be the
first _improver_, not _inventor_ of Tragedy, _whose_ original he marks
_here._ Much confusion has, I think, arisen from this oversight, as I
shall endeavour to explain in the following notes; only observing this
place, that the Poet, having spoken particularly of all the parts of
Tragedy, now enters with the strictest _order_, and greatest propriety,
into its general history, which, by his strictures on the chorus, he
most elegantly, as well as forcibly, connects with his subject, taking
occasion to speak _incidentally_ of other branches of the Drama,
particularly the satyre, and the Old Comedy

323--_Soon too--tho' rude, the graver mood unbroke,_
Stript the rought satyrs, _and essay'd a joke.
Mox etiam_ agrestes saytros, &c.

"It is not the intention of these notes to retail the accounts of
others. I must therefore refer the reader, for whatever concerns the
history of the satiric, as I have hitherto done of the tragic and comic
drama, to the numerous dissertators on the ancient stage; and, above
all, so the case before us, to the learned Casaubon; from whom all that
hath been said to any purpose, by modern writers, hath been taken. Only
it will be proper to observe one or two particulars, which have been
greatly misunderstood, and without which if will be impossible, in any
tolerable manner, to explain what follows.

"I. The design of the poet, in these lines, is not to fix the origin of
the satyric piece, in ascribing the invention of it to Thespis. This
hath been concluded, without the least warrant from his own words, which
barely tell us, 'that the representation of tragedy was in elder Greece
followed by the _satires;_' and indeed the nature of the thing, as well
as the testimony of all antiquity, shews it to be impossible. For the
_satire_ here spoken of is, in all respects, a regular drama, and
therefore could not be of earlier date than the times of Aeschylus,
when the constitution of the drama was first formed. It is true indeed,
there was a kind of entertainment of much greater antiquity, which by
the antients is sometimes called _satyric,_ out of which (as Aristotle
assures us) tragedy itself arose, [Greek: *illegible] But then
this was nothing but a chorus of satyrs [Athenaeus, 1. xiv.] celebrating
the festivals of _Bacchus,_ with rude songs and uncouth dances; and had
little resemblance to that which was afterwards called _satiric;_ which,
except that it retained the chorus of satyrs, and turned upon some
subject relative to Bacchus, was of a quite different structure, and, in
every respect, as regular a composition as tragedy itself."

"II. There is no doubt but the poem, here distinguished by the name of
satyri, was in actual use on the Roman stage. This appeals from the turn
of the poet's whole criticism upon it. Particularly, his address to the
Pisos, 1. 235 and his observation of the offence which a loose dialogue
in this drama would give to a _Roman_ auditory, 1. 248, make it evident
that he had, in fact, the practice of his own stage in view."

"III. For the absolute merit of these satires, the reader will judge
of it himself by comparing the Cyclops, the only piece of this kind
remaining to us from antiquity, with the rules here delivered by Horace.
Only it may be observed, in addition to what the reader will find
elsewhere [_n._ 1. 223.] apologized in its favour, that the double,
character of the satires admirably fitted it, as well for a sensible
entertainment to the wise, as for the sport and diversion of the vulgar.
For, while the grotesque appearance and jesting vein of these fantastic
personages amused the one, the other saw much further; and considered
them, at the same time, as replete with science, and informed by a
spirit of the most abstruse wisdom. Hence important lessons of civil
prudence, interesting allusions to public affairs, or a high, refined
moral, might, with the highest probability, be insinuated, under the
slight cover of a rustic simplicity. And from this instructive cast,
which from its nature must be very obscure, if not impenetrable, to us
at this day, was, I doubt not, derived the principal pleasure which the
antients found in this species of the drama. If the modern reader would
conceive any thing of the nature and degree of this pleasure, he may
in part guess at it, from reflecting on the entertainment he himself
receives from the characters of the clowns in Shakespeare; _who_, as the
poet himself hath characterized them, _use their folly, like a stalking
horse, and, under the presentation of that, shoot their wit._" [_As you
like it._]--_Notes on the Art of Poetry._ [Footnote: This, and all the
extracts, which are quoted, _Notes on the Art of Poetry_, are taken from
the author of the English Commentary. ]

This learned note, I think, sets out with a misapprehension of the
meaning of Horace, by involving his _instructions_ on the Satyrick
drama, with his account of its _Origin_. Nor does he, in the most
distant manner, insinuate, tho' Dacier has asserted the same thing, that
_the_ satyrs owed their first introduction to _Thespis_; but relates,
that the very Poets, who contended in _the Goat-Song_, to which tragedy
owes its name, finding it too solemn and severe an entertainment for
their rude holiday audience, interspersed the grave strains of tragedy
with comick and _satyrical_ Interludes, producing thereby a kind of
medley, something congenial to what has appeared on our own stage, under
the name of Tragi-comedy. Nor, if I am able to read and comprehend the
context, so the words of Horace tell us, "that the representation of
Tragedy was, in 'elder Greece,' _followed_ by _the_ satyrs." The Satyrs
composed a part of the Tragedy in its infancy, as well as in the days
of Horace, if his own words may be quoted as authority. On any other
construction, his directions, concerning* the conduct of the _God_ or
_Hero_ of the piece, are scarcely reconcilable to common sense; and it
is almost impossible to mark their being incorporated with the Tragedy,
in more expressive terms or images, than by his solicitude to prevent
their broad mirth from contaminating its dignity or purity._Essutire
leves indigna_ tragaedia _versus ut sestis matrona moveri jussa diebus,_
intererit satyris _paulum pudibunda_ protervis.

_The_ cyclops of Euripides, the only Satyrick drama extant, written at
a much later period, than that of which Horace speaks in this place,
cannot, I think, convey to us a very exact idea of _the Tragick
Pastorals_, whose _origin_ he here describes. _The_ cyclops, scarce
exceeding 700 lines, might be played, according to the idea of some
criticks, after another performance: but that cannot, without the
greatest violence to the text, be supposed of the Satyrick piece here
mentioned by Horace. The idea of _farces_, or _after-pieces_, tho' an
inferior branch of the Drama, is, in fact, among the refinements of
an improved age. The writers of an early period throw their dramatick
materials, serious and ludicrous, into one mass; which the critical
chymistry of succeeding times separates and refines. The modern stage,
like the antient, owed its birth to the ceremonies of Religion. From
_Mysteries_ and _Moralities_, it proceeded to more regular Dramas,
diversifying their serious scenes, like _the_ Satyrick poets, with
ludicrous representations. This desire of _variety_ was one cause of the
agrestes satyros. _Hos autem loco chori introductor intelligit, non, us
quidam volunt, in ipsa tragoedia, cum praesertim dicat factum, ut grata
novitate detinerentur spectatores: quod inter unum & alterum actum sit,
chori loco. in tragoedia enim ipsa, cum flebilis, severa, ac gravis sit,
non requiritur bujusmodi locorum, ludorumque levitas, quae tamen inter
medios actus tolerari potest, & boc est quod ait, incolumi gravitate.
Ea enim quae funt, quaeve dicuntur inter medios actus, extra tragordiam
esse intelligentur, neque imminuunt tragoedioe gravi*tem._--DE NORES.

The distinction made by _De Nores_ of _the satyrs_ not making a part of
the tragedy, but barely appearing between the acts, can only signify,
that the Tragick and Comick Scenes were kept apart from each other. This
is plain from his laying that they held the place of the Chorus; not
sustaining their continued part in the tragick dialogue, but filling
their chief office of singing between the acts. The antient Tragedy was
one continued representation, divided into acts by the Chant of _the
CHORUS_; and, otherwise, according to modern ideas, forming _but one
act_, without any interruption of the performance.

These antient Satyrick songs, with which the antient Tragedians
endeavoured to enliven the Dithyrambicks, gave rise to two different
species of poetry. Their rude jests and petulant raillery engendered
_the Satire_; and their sylvan character produced _the Pastoral_.

Stript the rough Satyrs, and ESSAYED A JOKE

--Agrestes Satyros nudavis, & asper,
INCOLUMI GRAVITATE, jocum tentavit.

"It hath been shewn, that the poet could not intend, in these lines, to
_fix the origin of the satiric drama_. But, though this be certain, and
the dispute concerning that point be thereby determined, yet it is to
be noted, that he purposely describes the satire in its ruder and less
polished form; glancing even at some barbarities, which deform the
Bacchic chorus; which was properly the satiric piece, before Aeschylus
had, by his regular constitution of the drama, introduced it under a very
different form on the stage. The reason of this conduit is given in
_n._ on l. 203. Hence the propriety of the word _nudavit_, which
Lambin rightly interprets, _nudos introduxit satyres,_ the poet hereby
expressing the monstrous indecorum of this entertainment in its first
unimproved state. Alluding also to this ancient character of the
_satire,_ he calls him _asper,_ i.e. rude and petulant; and even adds,
that his jests were intemperate, and _without the least mixture of
gravity._ For thus, upon the authority of a very ingenious and learned
critic, I explain _incolumi gravitate,_ i. e. rejecting every thing
serious, bidding _farewell,_ as we may say, _to all gravity._ Thus [L.
in. O. 5.].

_Incolumi Jove et urbe Roma:_

i.e. bidding farewell to Jupiter [Capitolinus] and Rome; agreeably to
what is said just before,

_Anciliorum et neminis et togae
OBLITUS, aeternaeque Vestae._

or, as salvus is used more remarkably in Martial [I. v. 10.]

_Ennius est lectus salvo tibi, Roma, Marone:
Et sua riserunt secula Maeonidem._

"_Farewell, all gravity, is as remote from the original sense of the
words _fare well,_ as _incolumi gravitate_ from that of _incolumis, or
salvo Morona_ from that of _salvas._"

Notes on the Art of Poetry.

The beginning of this note does not, I think, perfectly accord with what
has been urged by the same Critick in the note immediately preceding; He
there observed, that the "satyr here spoken of, is, _in all respects,_
a regular Drama, and therefore _could not be of earlier date,_ than the
times of Aeschylus.

Here, however, he allows, though in subdued phrase, that, "though this
be certain, and the dispute concerning that point thereby determined,_
yet it is to be noted, _that he purposely describes the satyr_ in its
ruder and less polished form; _glancing even at some barbarities, which
deform_ the bacchic chorus; which was properly the Satyrick piece,
_before_ Aeschylus had, by his regular constitution of the Drama,
introduced it, _under a very different form,_ on the stage." In
a subsequent note, the same learned Critick also says, that "the
connecting particle, _verum, [verum ita risores, &c.]_ expresses the
opposition intended between the _original satyr_ and that which the Poet
approves." In both these passages the ingenious Commentator seems, from
the mere influence of the context, to approach to the interpretation
that I have hazarded of this passage, avowedly one of the most obscure
parts of the Epistle. The explanation of the words incolumi gravitate,
in the latter part of the above note, though favourable to the system of
the English Commentary, is not only contrary to the construction of all
other interpreters, and, I believe, unwarranted by any acceptation of
the word _incolumis,_ but, in my opinion, less elegant and forcible
than the common interpretation.

The line of the Ode referred to,

INCOLUMI _Jove, et urbe Roma?_

was never received in the sense, which the learned Critick assigns to

The Dauphin Editor interprets it,
STANTE _urbe, & Capitolino Jove Romanos protegente._
Schrevelius, to the same effect, explains it,
SALVO _Capitolio, quae Jovis erat sedes._

These interpretations, as they are certainly the most obvious, seem also
to be most consonant to the plain sense of the Poet.

330.--_For holiday spectators, flush'd and wild,
With new conceits and mummeries were beguil'd.
Quippe erat_ ILLECEBRIS, _&c._

Monsieur Dacier, though he allows that "all that is here said by Horace
proves _incontestibly_, that the Satyrick Piece had possession of the
Roman stage;" _tout ce qu' Horace dit icy prouve_ incontestablement
_qu'il y avoit des Satyres_; yet thinks that Horace lavished all these
instructions on them, chiefly for the sake of the atellane fables. The
author of the English Commentary is of the same opinion, and labours
the point very assiduously. I cannot, however, discover, in any part
of Horace's discourse on _the_ satyrs, one expression glancing towards
_the_ atellanes, though their oscan peculiarities might easily have been
marked, so as not to be mistaken.

335.--_That_ GOD _or_ HERO _of the lofty scene,
May not, &c.
Ne quicumque_ DEUS, _&c._

The Commentators have given various explanations of this precept. _De
Nores_ interprets it to signify _that the same actor, who represented a
God or Hero in the_ Tragick _part of the Drama, must not be employed
to represent a Faun or Sylvan in the_ Satyrick. _Dacier has a strange
conceit concerning the joint performance of a _Tragedy_ and _Atellane_
at one time, the same God or Hero being represented as the principal
subject and character of both; on which occasion, (says he) the Poet
recommends to the author not to debase the God, or Hero of _the_
Tragedy, by sinking his language and manners too low in _the_ atellane;
whose stile, as well as measure, should be peculiar to itself, equally
distant from Tragedy and Farce.

The author of the English Commentary tells us, that "Gods and Heroes
were introduced as well into the _Satyrick_ as _Tragick_ Drama, and
often the very same Gods and Heroes, which had born a part in THE
PRECEDING TRAGEDY; a practice, which Horace, I suppose, intended, by
this hint, to recommend as most regular."

The two short notes of Schrevelius, in my opinion, more clearly explain
the sense of Horace, and are in these words.

_Poema serium, jocis_ Satyricis _ita_ commiscere--_ne seilicet is, qui
paulo ante_ DEI _instar aut_ herois _in scenam fuit introductus, postea
lacernosus prodeat._

On the whole, supposing _the_ Satyrick _Piece_ to be _Tragi-Comick_, as
Dacier himself seems half inclined to believe, the precept of Horace
only recommends to the author so to support his principal personage,
that his behaviour in the Satyrick scenes shall not debase the character
he has sustained in the TRAGICK. No specimen remaining of the Roman
Satyrick Piece, I may be permitted to illustrate the rule of Horace by a
brilliant example from the _seroi-comick_ Histories of the Sovereign
of our Drama. The example to which I point, is the character of _the_
Prince _of_ Wales, in the two Parts of _Henry the Fourth_, Such a
natural and beautiful decorum is maintained in the display of that
character, that the _Prince_ is as discoverable in the loose scenes with
Falstaff and his associates, as in the Presence Chamber, or the closet.
after _the natural_, though mixt dramas, of Shakespear, and Beaumont and
Fletcher, had prevailed on our stage, it is surprising that our
progress to _pure_ Tragedy and Comedy, should have been interrupted, or
disturbed, by _the regular monster of_ Tragi-comedy, nursed by Southerne
and Dryden.



The author of the English Commentary proposes a conjectural emendation
of Horace's text--honodrata instead of inornata--and accompanied with a
new and elevated sense assigned to the word dominantia. This last word
is interpreted in the same manner by _de Nores_. Most other Commentators
explain it to signify _common words_, observing its analogy to the Greek
term [Greek: kuria]. The same expression prevails in our own tongue--_a_
reigning _word_, _a reigning _fashion_, &c. the general cast of _the_
satyr, seems to render a caution against a lofty stile not very
necessary; yet it must be acknowledged that such a caution is given by
the Poet, exclusive of the above proposed variation.

_Ne quicumque_ DEUS------
_Migret in obscuras_ HUMILI SERMONE _tabernas_,
_Aut dum vitat humum_, NUBES & INANIA CAPTET.

350.--_Davus may jest, &c.]--Davusne loquatur, &c._

It should seem from hence, that the common characters of Comedy, as well
as the Gods and Heroes of Tragedy, had place in _the_ Satyrick Drama,
cultivated in the days of Horace. Of the manner in which the antient
writers sustained the part of Silenus, we may judge from _the_ CYCLOPS
of Euripides, and _the_ Pastorals of Virgil.

Vossius attempts to shew from some lines of this part of the Epistle,
[_Ne quicumque Deus, &c._] that _the_ satyrs were _subjoined_ to the
Tragick scenes, not _incorporated_ with them: and yet at the same moment
he tells us, and with apparent approbation, that Diomedes quotes
our Poet to prove that they were blended with each other: _simul ut
spectator_, inter res tragicas, seriasque, satyrorum quoque jocis, &
lusibus, _delectaretur_.

I cannot more satisfactorily conclude all that I have to urge, on the
subject of the Satyrick Drama, as here described by Horace, than by one
more short extract from the notes of the ingenious author of the English
Commentary, to the substance of which extract I give the most full
assent. "The Greek Drama, we know, had its origin from the loose,
licentious raillery of the rout of Bacchus, indulging to themselves the
freest follies of taunt and invective, as would best suit to lawless
natures, inspirited by festal mirth, and made extravagant by wine. Hence
arose, and with a character answering to this original, the _Satiric
Drama_; the spirit of which was afterwards, in good measure, revived
and continued in the Old Comedy, and itself preferred, though with
considerable alteration in the form, through all the several periods of
the Greek stage; even when Tragedy, which arose out of it, was brought
to its last perfection."

368.--_To a short syllable, a long subjoin'd, Forms an _IAMBICK FOOT.]
_Syllaba longa, brevi subjetta, vocatur Iambus._

Horace having, after the example of his master Aristotle, slightly
mentioned the first rise of Tragedy in the form of _a_ Choral Song,
subjoining an account of _the_ Satyrick Chorus, that was _soon_ (mox
_etiam_) combined with it, proceeds to speak particularly of the Iambick
verse, which he has before mentioned generally, as the measure best
accommodated to the Drama. In this instance, however, the Poet has
trespassed against _the order and method_ observed by his philosophical
guide; and by that trespass broken the thread of his history of the
Drama, which has added to the difficulty and obscurity of this part of
his Epistle. Aristotle does not speak of _the_ Measure, till he
has brought Tragedy, through all its progressive stages, from the
Dithyrambicks, down to its establishment by Aeschylus and Sophocles. If
the reader would judge of the _poetical beauty_, as well as _logical
precision_, of such an arrangement, let him transfer this section of the
Epistle [beginning, in the original at v. 251. and ending at 274.]
to the end of the 284th line; by which transposition, or I am much
mistaken, he will not only disembarrass this historical part of it,
relative to the Grascian stage, but will pass by a much easier, and more
elegant, transition, to the Poet's application of the narrative to the
Roman Drama,

The English reader, inclined to make the experiment, must take the lines
of the translation from v. 268. to v. 403, both inclusive, and insert
them after v. 418.

_In shameful silence loft the pow'r to wound._

It is further to be observed that this detail on _the_ IAMBICK is not,
with strict propriety, annext to a critical history of _the_ SATYR,
in which, as Aristotle insinuates insinuates, was used _the_ Capering
_Tetrameter_, and, as the Grammarians observe, _Trisyllabicks_.


Pope has imitated and illustrated this passage.

Be Homer's works your study and delight,
Read them by day, and meditate by night;
Thence form your judgment, thence your maxims bring,
And trace the Muses upwards to their spring.
Still with itself compar'd, his text peruse!
And let your comment be the Mantuan Muse!

_Essay on Criticism._

_Dicitur, &c._

It is surprising that Dacier, who, in a controversial note, in
refutation of Heinsius, has so properly remarked Horace's adherence to
Aristotle, should not have observed that his history of the Drama opens
and proceeds nearly in the same order. Aristotle indeed does not name
Thespis, but we cannot but include his improvements among the changes,
to which the Critick refers, before Tragedy acquired a permanent form
under _AEschylus_. Thespis seems not only to have embodied _the_ CHORUS,
but to have provided a theatrical apparatus for an itinerant exhibition;
to have furnished disguises for his performers, and to have broken the
continuity of _the_ CHORUS by an _Interlocutor_; to whom AEschylus
adding another personage, thereby first created Dramatick Dialogue;
while at the same time by a _further diminution of the_ CHORUS, by
improving the dresses of the actors, and drawing them from their
travelling waggon to a fixt stage, he created _a regular theatre_.

It appears then that neither Horace, nor Aristotle, ascribe _the origin_
of Tragedy to Thespis. the Poet first mentions the rude beginning of
Tragedy, (_carmen tragicum_) _the_ Goat-song; he then speaks of _the
Satyrick Chorus_, soon after interwoven with it; and then proceeds
to the _improvements_ of these Bacchic Festivities, by Thespis, and
AEschylus; though their perfection and final establishment is ascribed
by Aristotle to Sophocles. Dacier very properly renders this passage,
_On dit que Thespis fut le premier jui inventa une especi de tragedie
auparavant inconnue aux Grecs._ Thespis is said to be the first inventor
of a species of Tragedy, before unknown to the Greeks.

Boileau seems to have considered this part of the Epistle in the same
light, that I have endeavoured to place it.

La Tragedie informe & grossiere au naissant
n'etoit qu'un simple Choeur, ou chacun en danfant,
et du Dieu des Raisins entonnant les louanges,
s'essorcoit d'attirer de fertiles vendanges.
la le vin et la joie eveillant les esprits,
_du plus habile chantre un Bouc etoit le prix._
Thespis sut le premier, qui barbouille de lie,
promena par les bourgs cette heureuse folie;
et d'acteurs mal ornes chargeant un tombereau,
amusa les passans d'un spectacle nouveau.
aeschyle dans le Choeur jetta les personages;
d'un masque plus honnete habilla les visages:
sur les ais d'un Theatre en public exhausse,
fit paroitre l'acteur d'un brodequin chausse.

L'art poetique, _chant troisieme._

417.--_the sland'rous Chorus drown'd In shameful silence, lost the pow'r
to wound._

Chorusque turpiter obticuit, _sublato jure nocendi._

"Evidently because, though the _jus nocendi_ was taken away, yet that
was no good reason why the Chorus should entirely cease. M. Dacier
mistakes the matter. _Le choeur se tut ignominuesement, parce-que la
hi reprimasa licence, et que ce sut, a proprement parler, la hi qui le
bannit; ce qu' Horace regarde comme une espece de sietrissure. Properly
speaking,_ the law only abolished the abuse of the chorus. The ignominy
lay in dropping the entire use of it, on account of this restraint.
Horace was of opinion, that the chorus ought to have been retained,
though the state had abridged it of the licence, it so much delighted
in, of an illimited, and intemperate satire, _Sublatus chorus fuit,_
says Scaliger, _cujus illae videntur esse praecipuae partet, ut
potissimum ques liberet, laedertnt."

Notes on the Art of Poetry._ If Dacier be mistaken in this instance, his
mistake is common to all the commentators; not one of whom, the learned
and ingenious author of the above he excepted, has been able to extract
from these words any marks of Horace's predilection in favour of a
Chorus, or censure of "its culpable omission" in Comedy. De Nores
expresses the general sense of the Criticks on this passage.

[Turpiter.] _Quia lex, declarata Veteris Conaetdiae scriptorum
improbitate, a maledicendi licentia deterruit.--Sicuti enim antea
summa cum laude Vetus Comediae, accepta est, ita postea summa est cum
turpitudine vetantibus etiam legibus repudiata, quia probis hominibus,
quia sapientibus, quia inte*s maledixerit. Quare Comaediae postea
conscriptae ad hujusce Veteris differentiam sublato choro, novae
appellatae sunt._

What Horace himself says on a similar occasion, of the suppression of
the Fescennine verses, in the Epistle to Augustus, is perhaps the best
comment on this passage.

--quin etiam lex
Paenaque lata, malo quae nollet carmine quenquam--
describi: vertere modum formindine fustis
ad bene dicendum delectandumque redacti.

421.---Daring their Graecian masters to forsake,
And for their themes domestick glories take.

Nec minimum meruere decus, vestigia Graeca
Ausi deserere, & celebrare domestica facta.

The author of the English Commentary has a note on this passage, replete
with fine taste, and sound criticism.

"This judgment of the poet, recommending domestic subjects, as fittest
for the stage, may be inforced from many obvious reasons. As, 1. that
it renders the drama infinitely more _affecting:_ and this on many
accounts, 1. As a subject, taken from our own annals, must of course
carry with it an air of greater probability, at least to the generality
of the people, than one borrowed from those of any other nation. 2.
As we all find a personal interest in the subject. 3. As it of course
affords the best and easiest opportunities of catching our minds, by
frequent references to our manners, prejudices, and customs. And of how
great importance this is, may be learned from hence, that, even in that
exhibition of foreign characters, dramatic writers have found themselves
obliged to sacrifice sacrifice truth and probability to the humour of
the people, and to dress up their personages, contrary to their own
better judgment, in some degree according to the mode and manners of
their respective countries [Footnote: "L'etude egale des poetes de
differens tems a plaire a leurs spectateurs, a encore inssue dans la
maniere de peindre les caracteres. Ceux qui paroissent sur la scene
Angloise, Espagnols, Francoise, sont plus Anglois, Espagnols, ou
Francois que Grecs ou Romains, en un mot que ce qu'ils doivent etre. II
ne faut qu'en peu de discernement pour s'appercevoir que nos Cesars et
nos Achilles, en gardant meme un partie de leur charactere primitif,
prennent droit de naturalite dans le pais ou ils sont transplantez,
semblables a ces portraits, qui sortent de la main d'un peintre Flamand,
Italien, ou Francois, et qui portent l'empreinte du pais. On veut plaire
a sa nation, et rien ne plait tant que le resemblance de manieres et de
enie." P. Brumoy, vol. i. p. 200.] And, 4. as the writer himself, from an
intimate acquaintance with the character and genius of his own nation,
will be more likely to draw the manners with life and spirit.

"II. Next, which should ever be one great point in view, it renders the
drama more generally useful in its moral destination. For, it being
conversant about domestic acts, the great instruction of the fable more
sensibly affects us; and the characters exhibited, from the part we
take in their good or ill qualities, will more probably influence our

"III. Lastly, this judgment will deserve the greater regard, as the
conduct recommended was, in fact, the practice of our great models, the
Greek writers; in whose plays, it is observable, there is scarcely a
single scene, which lies out of the confines of Greece.

"But, notwithstanding these reasons, the practice hath, in all times,
been but little followed. The Romans, after some few attempts in this
way (from whence the poet took the occasion of delivering it as a
dramatic precept), soon relapsed into their old use; as appears from
Seneca's, and the titles of other plays, written in, or after the
Augustan age. Succeeding times continued the same attachment to Grecian,
with the addition of an equal fondness for Roman, subjects. The reason
in both instances hath been ever the same: that strong and early
prejudice, approaching somewhat to adoration, in favour of the
illustrious names of those two great states. The account of this matter
is very easy; for their writings, as they furnish the business of our
younger, and the amusement of our riper, years; and more especially make
the study of all those, who devote themselves to poetry and the stage,
insensibly infix in us an excessive veneration for all affairs in which
they were concerned; insomuch, that no other subjects or events seem
considerable enough, or rise, in any proportion, to our ideas of the
dignity of the tragic scene, but such as time and long admiration have
consecrated in the annals of their story. Our Shakespeare was, I think,
the first that broke through this bondage of classical superstition. And
he owed this felicity, as he did some others, to his want of what is
called the advantage of a learned education. Thus uninfluenced by the
weight of early prepossession, he struck at once into the road of nature
and common sense: and without designing, without knowing it, hath
left us in his historical plays, with all their anomalies, an exacter
resemblance of the Athenian stage, than is any where to be found in its
most processed admirers and copyists.

"I will only add, that, for the more successful execution of this rule
of celebrating domestic acts, much will depend on the aera, from
whence the subject is taken. Times too remote have almost the same
inconveniences, and none of the advantages, which attend the ages
of Greece and Rome. And for those of later date, they are too much
familiarized to us, and have not as yet acquired that venerable cast and
air, which tragedy demands, and age only can give. There is no fixing
this point with precision. In the general, that aera is the fittest for
the poet's purpose, which, though fresh enough in pure minds to warm and
interest us in the event of the action, is yet at so great a distance
from the present times, as to have lost all those mean and disparaging
circumstances, which unavoidably adhere to recent deeds, and, in some
measure, sink the noblest modern transactions to the level of ordinary

_Notes on the Art of Poetry._

The author of the essay on the writings and genius of Pope elegantly
forces a like opinion, and observes that Milton left a list of
thirty-three subjects for Tragedy, all taken from the English Annals.

423.--_Whether the gown prescrib'd a stile more mean,
or the inwoven purple rais'd the scene.

Vel qui praetextas, vel qui docuere togatas._

The gown (_Toga_) being the common Roman habit, signisies _Comedy;_
and the inwoven purple _(praetexta)_ being appropriated to the higher
orders, refers to Tragedy. _Togatae_ was also used as a general term to
denote all plays, which the habits, manners, and arguments were Roman;
those, of which the customs and subjects were Graecian, like the Comedies
of Terence, were called _Palliatae_.

429.--But you, bright heirs of the Pompilian Blood,
Never the verse approve, &c.

Vos, O Pompilius Sanguis, &c.

The English commentary exhibits a very just and correct analysis of this
portion of the Epistle, but neither here, nor in any other part of it,
observes the earnestness with which the poet, on every new topick,
addresses his discourse _the Pisos;_ a practice, that has not passed
unnoticed by other commentators.

[On this passage De Nores writes thus. _Vos O Pompilius Sanguis!] Per
apostrophen_ sermonem convertit ad pisones, eos admonens, ut sibi
caveant _ab bujusmodi romanorum poetarum errore videtur autem_ eos ad
attentionem excitare _dum ait, Vos O! et quae sequntur._

434.--_Because_ DEMOCRITUS, _&c.] Excludit sanos Helicone poetas

_De Nores_ has a comment on this passage; but the ambiguity of the Latin
relative renders it uncertain, how far the Critick applies particularly
to _the Pisos_, except by the _Apostrophe_ taken notice of in the last
note. His words are these. _Nisi horum_ democriticorum _opinionem
horatius hoc in loco refutasset, frustra de poetica facultate_ in hac
AD PISONES EPISTOLA _praecepta literis tradidisset, cum arte ipsa
repudiata_, ab his _tantummodo insaniae & furori daretur locus._

443.--_Which no vile_ _CUTBERD'S razor'd hands profane. Tonfori_ LYCINO.]

_Lycinus_ was not only, as appears from Horace, an eminent Barber; but
said, by some, to have been created a Senator by Augustus, on account of
his enmity to Pompey.


_Respicere examplar vitae, morumque jubebo_ doctum imitatorem, _& veras
hinc ducere voces._

This precept seeming, at first sight, liable to be interpreted as
recommending _personal imitations_, De Nores, Dacier, and the Author of
the English Commentary, all concur to inculcate the principles of Plato,
Aristotle, and Cicero, shewing that the truth of representation (_verae
voces_) must be derived from an imitation of _general nature_, not from
copying _individuals_. Mankind, however, being a mere collection
of _individuals_, it is impossible for the Poet, not to found his
observations on particular objects; and his chief skill seems to consist
in the happy address, with which he is able to _generalize_ his ideas,
and to sink the likeness of the individual in the resemblance of
universal nature. A great Poet, and a great Painter, have each
illustrated this doctrine most happily; and with their observations I
shall conclude this note.

Chacun peint avec art dans ce nouveau miroir,
S'y vit avec plaisir, ou crut ne s'y point voir.
L'Avare des premiers rit du tableau fidele
D'un Avare, souvent trace sur son modele;
Et mille fois un Fat, finement exprime,
Meconnut le portrait, sur lui-meme forme.

BOILEAU, _L'Art Poet_. ch. iii.

"Nothing in the art requires more attention and judgment, or more of
that power of discrimination, which may not improperly be called Genius,
than the steering between general ideas and individuality; for tho' the
body of the whole must certainly be composed by the first, in order to
communicate a character of grandeur to the whole, yet a dash of the
latter is sometimes necessary to give an interest. An individual model,
copied with scrupulous exactness, makes a mean stile like the Dutch; and
the neglect of an actual model, and the method of proceeding solely from
idea, has a tendency to make the Painter degenerate into a mannerist.

"It is necessary to keep the mind in repair, to replace and refreshen
those impressions of nature, which are continually wearing away.

"A circumstance mentioned in the life of Guido, is well worth the
attention of Artists: He was asked from whence he borrowed his idea of
beauty, which is acknowledged superior to that of every other Painter;
he said he would shew all the models he used, and ordered a common
Porter to sit before him, from whom he drew a beautiful countenance;
this was intended by Guido as an exaggeration of his conduct; but his
intention was to shew that he thought it necessary to have _some model_
of nature before you, however you deviate from it, and correct it from
the idea which you have formed in your mind of _perfect beauty_.

"In Painting it is far better to have a _model_ even to _depart_ from,
than to have nothing fixed and certain to determine the idea: There is
something then to proceed on, something to be corrected; so that even
supposing that no part is taken, the model has still been not without

"Such habits of intercourse with nature, will at least create that
_variety_ which will prevent any one's prognosticating what manner
of work is to be produced, on knowing the subject, which is the most
disagreeable character an Artist can have."

_Sir Joshua Reynolds's Notes on Fresnoy._


Albinus was said to be a rich Usurer. All that is necessary to explain
this passage to the English reader, is to observe, that _the Roman Pound
consisted of Twelve Ounces._

487.--_Worthy the _Cedar _and the_ Cypress.]

The antients, for the better preservation of their manuscripts, rubbed
them with the juice of _Cedar,_ and kept them in cases of _Cypress._

496.--Shall Lamia in our sight her sons devour,
and give them back alive the self-same hour?]

_Neu pranse Lamiae vivum puerum extrabat alvo._

Alluding most probably to some Drama of the time, exhibiting so
monstrous and horrible an incident.

503.--The Sosii] Roman booksellers.

A wretched poet, who celebrated the actions, and was distinguished by
the patronage, of Alexander.

527.--If Homer seem to nod, or chance to dream.]

It may not be disagreeable to the reader to see what two poets of our
own country have said on this subject.

--foul descriptions are offensive still,
either for being _like,_ or being _ill._
For who, without a qualm, hath ever look'd
on holy garbage, tho' by Homer cook'd?
Whose railing heroes, and whose wounded Gods,
make some suspect he snores, as well as nods.
But I offend--Virgil begins to frown,
And Horace looks with indignation down:
My blushing Muse with conscious fear retires,
and whom they like, implicitly admires.

--Roscommon's _Essay on Translated Verse._
A prudent chief not always must display
Her pow'rs in equal ranks, and fair array:
But with th' occasion and the place comply,
Conceal his force, nay seem sometimes to fly.
Those oft are stratagems, which errors seem,
Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream.
POPE'S _Essay on Criticism._


_Ut pictura poesis._

Here ends, in my opinion, the _didactick_ part of this Epistle; and it
is remarkable that it concludes, as it begun, with a reference to the
Analogy between Poetry and Painting. The arts are indeed congenial, and
the same general principles govern both. Artists might collect many
useful hints from this Epistle. The Lectures of the President of the
Royal Academy are not rarely accommodated to the study of Painters; but
Poets may refine their taste, and derive the most valuable instruction,
from the perusal of those judicious and elegant discourses.



We are now arrived at that portion of the Epistle, which I must confess
I am surprised, that any Commentator ever past, without observing the
peculiar language and conduct of the Poet. There is a kind of awful
affection in his manner, wonderfully calculated to move our feelings and
excite our attention. The Didactick and the Epistolary stile were never
more happily blended. The Poet assumes the air of a father advising his
son, rather than of a teacher instructing his pupils. Many Criticks have
thrown out a cursory observation or two, as it were extorted from them
by the pointed expressions of the Poet: but none of them, that I have
consulted, have attempted to assign any reason, why Horace, having
closed his particular precepts, addresses all the remainder of his
Epistle, on the nature and expediency of Poetical pursuits, to _the
Elder Piso only. I have endeavoured to give the most natural reason for
this conduct; a reason which, if I am not deceived, readers the whole of
the Epistle interesting, as well as clear and consistent; a reason which
I am the more inclined to think substantial, as it confirms in great
measure the system of the Author of the English Commentary, only shewing
_the reflections on the drama in _this Epistle, as well as in the
Epistle to Augustus, to be _incidental_, rather than the _principal
subject_, _and main design_, of the Poet,

_Jason De Nores_, in this instance, as in most others, has paid more
attention to his Author, than the rest of the Commentators. His note is
as follows.

[O major juvenum!] _Per apostrophen _ad majorem natu __ex pisonibus
convertis orationem, reddit rationem quare summum, ac perfectissimum
poema esse debeat utitur autem proaemio quasi quodam ad _benevolentiam
& attentionem _comparandum sumit autem _benevolentiam _a patris & filii
laudibus:_ attentionem_, dum ait, "hoc tibi dictum tolle memor!" quasi
dicat, per asseverationem,_firmum _omnino et _verum.

543.--_Boasts not _MESSALA'S PLEADINGS,_ nor is deem'd _AULUS IN

The Poet, with great delicacy, throws in a compliment to these
distinguished characters of his time, for their several eminence in
their profession. Messala is more than once mentioned as the friend and
patron of Horace.

562.--_Forty thousand sesterces a year_.]

The pecuniary qualification for the Equestrian Order. _Census equestrem
summam nummorum. _

565.--_Nothing_, IN SPITE OF GENIUS, YOU'LL _commence_]

_Tu nihil, invita dices faciesve Minerva._

Horace, says Dacier, here addresses the Elder Piso, as a man of mature
years and understanding; _and be begins with panegyrick, rather than
advice, in order to soften the precepts he is about to lay down to him._

The explication of De Nores is much to the same effect, as well as that
of many other Commentators.

567.--But grant you should hereafter write. Si quid tamen olim

"This," says Dacier, "was some time afterwards actually the case, if we
may believe the old Scholiast, who writes that _this _PISO _composed

568.--Metius.] A great Critick; and said to be appointed by Augustus as a
Judge, to appreciate the merit of literary performances. His name and
office are, on other occasions, mentioned and recognized by Horace.

570.--Weigh the work well, AND KEEP IT BACK NINE YEARS!
nonumque prematur in annum!]

This precept, which, like many others in the Epistle, is rather
retailed, than invented, by Horace, has been thought by some Criticks
rather extravagant; but it acquires in this place, as addressed to the
elder Piso, a concealed archness, very agreeable to the Poet's stile and
manner. Pope has applied the precept with much humour, but with more
open raillery than need the writer's purpose in this Epistle.

I drop at last, but in unwilling ears,
This wholesome counsel----KEEP YOUR PIECE NINE YEARS!

Vida, in his Poeticks, after the strongest censure of carelessness
and precipitation, concludes with a caution against too excessive an
attention to correctness, too frequent revisals, and too long delay of
publication. The passage is as elegant as judicious.

Verum esto hic etiam modus: huic imponere curae
Nescivere aliqui finem, medicasque secandis
Morbis abstinulsse manus, & parcere tandem
Immites, donec macie confectus et aeger
Aruit exhausto velut omni sanguine foetus,
Nativumque decus posuit, dum plurima ubique
Deformat sectos artus inhonesta cicatrix.
Tuque ideo vitae usque memor brevioris, ubi annos
Post aliquot (neque enim numerum, neque temporar pono
certa tibi) addideris decoris satis, atque nitoris,
Rumpe moras, opus ingentem dimitte per orbem,


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