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-65 quest of the golden fleece, the other that could * strike an infinite number of forms from the first “ atoms of matter, both of them shall give place to u thee without the least envy, and even the divine 1“ Æneid shall pay thee a just respect. 01100
Thus far Statius concerning Lucan's work; and even Lucan in two places of the Pharsalia has promised himself immortality to his Poem. The first is in the Seventh Book, which I beg leave to give' in prose, though Mr. Rowe has done it a thousand times better in verse. " One day (says he) when these wars shall « be spoken-of in ages yet to come, and among na166 tions far remote from this clime, whether from the 66 voice of fame alone, or the real value I have given of them by this my history, those that read it shall " alternately hope and fear for the great events therein 66.contained. In vain (continues he) hall they offer
up their vows for the righteous cause, and 'stand " thunderstruck at so many various turns of fortune ;
nor shall they read them as things that are already -- past, but with that concern as if they were yet to “ come, and shall range themselves, o Pompey;' on “ thy side.” 5 ro ei siis oota Solo
The other paslage, which is in the Ninth Book, may be translated thus ::36 Oh! Cæfar, profane thou
not through envy the funeral monuments of these
great patriots, that fell here sacrifices to thyiambi« tion. If there may be allowed any renown to a " Roman Muse, while Homer's verses shall be 5“ thought worthy of praise, they that shall live after
$t us, shall read his and mine together : My Phar« falia shall live, and no time nor age shall consign it sf to oblivion."
This is all that I can trace from the ancients, or himself, concerning Lucan's life and writings; and indeed there is scarce any one autħor, either ancient or modern, that mentions him but with the greatest respect and the highest encomiums, of which it would be tedious to give more instances.
I design not to enter into any criticism on the Pharfalia, though I had ever so much leisure or ability for it. I hate to oblige a certain set of men, thạt read the ancients only to find fault with them, and seem to live only on the excrements of authors. I beg leave to tell these gentlemen, that Lucan is not to be tried by those rules of an Epic Poem, which they have drawn from the Iliad or Æneid; for if they allow him not the honour to be on the same foot with Homer or Virgil, they must do him the justice at least, as not to try him by laws founded on their model. The Pharsalia is properly an Historical Heroic Poem, because the subject is a known true story. Now with our late critics, Truth is an unnecessary trifle for an Epic Poem, and ought to be thrown alide as a curb to invention, To have every part a mere web of their own brain, is with them a distinguishing mark of a mighty genius in the Epic way. Hence it is, these critics observe, that the favourite poems of that kind do always produce in the mind of the reader the highest wonder and furprize; and the more improbable
the story is, fill the more wonderful and furprizing Much good may this notion of theirs do them; but, to my taste, a fact very extraordinary, in its kind, that is attended with furprizing circumstances, big with the highest events, and conducted with all thç arts of the most confummate wisdom, does not strike the less strong, but leaves a more lasting impression on my mind, for being true,
If Lucan therefore wants these ornaments, he might have borrowed from Helicon, or his own invention ; he has made us more than ample amends, byt the great and true events that fall within the compass of his story. I am of opinion, that, in his first design of writing this poem of the civil wars, he resolved to treat the subject fairly and plainly, and that fable and invention were to have had share in the but the force of custom, and the design he had to induce the generality of readers to fall in love with liberty, and abhor Slavery, the principal design of the poem, induced him to embellish it with some fables, that without them his books would not be fo universally read : so much was fable the delight of the Roman people.
If any fhall object to his privilege of being examined and tried as an historian, that he has given in to the poetical province of invention and fiction, in the Sixth book, where Sixtus enquires of the Thessalian witch Erietho the event of the civil war, and the fate of Rome; it
may be answered, that perhaps the story was true, er at least it was commonly believed to be so in his
time, which is a sufficient excuse for Lucan to have inserted it. It is true, no other author mentions it. But it is usual to find some one passage in one hirtorian, that is not mentioned in any other, though they treat of the farne subject. For though I am fully persuaded that all these Oracles and Responses, so famous in the pagan world, were the mere cheats of priests ; yet the belief of them, and of magic and witchcraft, was universally received at that time. Therefore Lucan may very well be excused for fallingin with a popular error, whether he himself believed it or no, especially when it served to enliven and embellish his story. If it be an error, it is an error all the ancients have fallen into, both Greek and Roman : And Livy, the prince of the Latin historians, abounds in such relations. That it is not below the dignity and veracity of an historian to mention such things, we have a late instance in a noble author of our time, who has likewise wrote the civil wars of his country, and intermixt in it the story of the ghost of the duke of Buckingham's father.
In general, all the actions that Lucan relates in the course of his history are true ; nor is it any impeachment of his veracity, that sometimes he differs in place, manner, or circumstances of actions, from other writers, any more than it is an imputation on them, that they differ from him. We ourselves have seen, in the course of the late two famous wars, how differently almost every battle and siege has been represented, and sometimes by those of the same fide, when at the same time there be a thousand living witnesle:, ready to contradict any falsehood, that partiality should impose upon the world. This I may affirın, the most important events, and the whole thread of action in Lucan, are agreeable to the universal consent of all authors, that have treated of the civil wars of Rome. If now and then he differs from them in lefler incidents or circumitances, let the critics in history decide the question : for my part, I am willing to take them for anecdotes first discovered and published by Lucan, which may at least conciliate to him the favour of our late adınirers of Secret History.
After all I have said on this head, I cannot but in some measure call in queition some parts of Cæsar's character as drawn by Lucan ; which seem to me not altogether agreeable to truth, nor to the universal consent of history.
I wish I could vindicate him in some of his personal representations of men, and Cæfar in particular, as I can do in the narration of the principal events and series of his story. He is not content only to deliver him down to posterity, as the subverter of the laws and liberties of his country, which he truly was, and than which, no greater infamy can poflibly be cast upon any name: but he describes him as pursuing that aborninable end, by the most execrable methods, and fome that were not in Cæsar's nature to be guilty of. Cæsar was certainly a man far from revenge, or delight in blood; and he made appear, in the exercise of the supreme power, a noble and generous inclination to clemency upon all occasions : even