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fame jun&ture; though Bion was born at Smyrna, and Moschus at Syracuse. The former resided, however, some part of his life, in Italy, where Moschus attended his poetic school, and imbibed his taste and manner. These brothers in genius were contemporary with the great father of pastoral poetry. They have been called his rivals! They have been almost preferred to him by LONGEPIERRE! But whether they ought, in justice, to be considered, at all, in the light of pastoral writers, is a question of doubt; which, however, it might be unprofitable to discuss.
The Epitaph on Adonis is, indisputably, the work of an exuberant invention, and a fine sensibility. Its strains are so musical and so melancholy, that they melt upon the ear, and almost steal into the heart. Yet, amidst these beauties, we discover a blemish the moft unpardonable of all poetic errors. Allured by the richness of ornamented imagery, the poet too frequently overlooks the fimplicity of nature. The puerile idea of the boar's white teeth wounding the white skin;' and the purple blood opposed to the snowy limbs;' the witticism of the wound of sorrow in the bosom of Venus, as deep as that in the thigh of Adonis;' the quaint effusion of her tears, as many in number as the drops of blood that trickled from her lover;' and the truly Ovidian transformation of those tears and drops of blood into roses and anemonies; and the conceit of flowers blushing with grief—not to mention mountains, woods, hills, springs, rivers, all huddled together in the most lamentable confusion-these surely are evident indications of a vicious taste, and a disordered fancy.
The succeeding Idyllia of Bion, particularly Cupid and the Fowler, and the Teacher taught, are sweet and delicate effusions; a few of them resembling the modern sonnet.
The same may be observed of the lighter Idyllia of Moschus; particularly the Choice, and the Evening Star. In these little pieces, there is a vein of feeling and agreeable sentiment; without that false polish, that varnish of refinement, fo plainly perceivable in the Epitaph on ADONIS. Not that the Epitaph on Bion is free from objection. It is evidently formed on the plan of the former elegy; and, though more natural, hath not the merit of a very strict adherence to nature. To throw the shade of sympathetic melancholy over the scenery of still-life, requires indeed the hand of a master. But the true poet will disdain the cold unaffecting combination of fountains, groves, and plants and flowers, all undistinguishably rueful; except indeed the rose, that turns from red to pale-a stroke of discrimination not easily overlooked. General images of grief, even though they are founded on the principles of truth and nature, may ' play round the head, but can never reach the heart.' In the Epitaph on Bion, we may be soothed, for a moment, by its mournful air, and its melodious numbers: but are we often affected by strokes of genuine pathos? If, instead of a general description of all the feathered tribe warbling their master's elegy, the poet had pictured the grief of a particular bird, which Bion had taught to fing, that had been sheltered beneath his roof, and been accustomed to peck the crumbs from his table, the painting might have had its effect. We are delighted with CATULLUS's Swallow, and ANACREON's
Dove. And these poems must have been peculiarly charming, where the swallow or the dove was held in veneration; or endeared (as the latter is in the Eastern countries) by the fondness of domestic familiarity.
The generalities, however, of this elegiac poem, have been frequently imitated by succeeding writers; and modern elegy hath found treasures in Moschus, which she could not find in nature.
If we glance at his other larger Idyllia, his EUROPA, it may be observed, is more interesting than that of OVID, (who is here indeed a pretty close copyist) and the Dialogue between the wife and mother of HERCULES contains several very affecting passages.
But to conclude. The character of these half-pastoral poets (under the person of Bion) cannot be more accurately or more beautifully drawn, than in the following passage from the Arcadia of Sir WILLIAM JONES:
• First, in the midst a graceful youth arose, Born in those fields where crystal Mele flows: • His air was courtly, his complexion fair; • And rich perfumes shed sweetness from his hair, · That o'er his shoulder wav'd in flowing curls, • With roses braided, and inwreath'd with pearls; · A wand of cedar for his crook he bore; · His slender foot the Arcadian sandal wore; " Yet that so rich, it seem'd to fear the ground,
With beaming gems and silken ribbands bound; • The plumage of an ostrich grac'd his head, ☆ And with embroidered flowers his mantle was o'erspread,
HAT the first literary productions of every age and . · nation were written in verse, we learn from the concurrent relations of historians, and (what is a surer testimony) the constitution of the human mind. Not to insist on philosophical evidence, we must be sufficiently convinced of the fact, while we recollełł the Scythian or Runic mythology, the war-songs of the American tribes, or the strains of the rude Otaheitans: There is a peculiar species of fimplicity that characterises even the most elevated and penetrating genius that exists amidst unpolished manners. The objects that fall under its immediate notice are few: these are rapidly collected, and represented with a strength and wildness that speak enthusiastic emotion, and a fancy struggling for expanfion. The frequent recurrence of Highland imagery, that discriminates the poems of OSSIAN with the sameness of original beauty, in all the inartificial contexture peculiar to untutored genius, hath been admitted as no unconvincing argument of their antiquity.*
* Their antiquity, indeed, has been inconteftibly proved by the production (though among a few Literati only) of the originals from whence they were translated. E 3
The war elegies of TYRTÆUs have the same lineaments of ancient times. They possess an inimitable energy; a majestic, yet undiversified simplicity. There is a boldness in the painting, but no variety. TYRTÆus is strikingly a mannerist. His poems abound with repetitions of the same images and ideas. Of our military poet and his productions, we have a few scattered records among the Greek and Roman writers. We are informed by SUIDAS, that TYRTÆUS flourished a contemporary with the seven wise men of Greece. He is said to have written on the conduct of life, in elegiac verse; and, very copiously, on the art of war. Yet a few mutilated fragments are all that are transmitted to us of his works. These, however, are so beautiful, that we cannot but feel an interest in the fate of their author; while the line to which we have been long familiarized,
TYRTÆUSQUE mares animos in martia bella
Verfibus exacuit naturally leads us to associate life and action with every verse we read. That splendid circumstance, alluded to by HORACE, must have excited curiosity in all who love literature and the muse.
Whether TYRTÆUS was born at Athens or Miletus, seems to be an undetermined point. We are told, however, that he was lame, and deformed in his person; and that he kept a school at Athens, till, by the advice of the Oracle at Delphi, he was chosen general of Lacedæmon, in her war against Milene* The latter, it appears, had been victorious in
* See DIODORUS SICULUS, b. 15.