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THE

ADVENTURER.

N° 92. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 1753.

Cum tabulis animum censoris sumet honesti.

HOR

Bold be the critic, zealous to his trust,
Like the firm judge inexorably just.

TO THE ADVENTURER.

SIR,

In the papers of criticism which you have given to the public, I have remarked a spirit of candour and love of truth, equally remote from bigotry and captiousness ; a just distribution of praise amongst the ancients and the moderns; a sober deference to reputation long established, without a blind adoration of antiquity; and a willingness to favour later performances, without a light or puerile fondness for novelty. I shall

, therefore, venture to lay before you, such observations as have risen to my mind in the consideration of Virgil's pastorals, without any inquiry how far my sentiments deviate from established rules or common opinions.

VOL. XXV.

B

If we survey the ten pastorals in a general view, it will be found that Virgil can derive from them very little claim to the praise of an inventor. To search into the antiquity of this kind of poetry, is not my present purpose ; that it has long subsisted in the east, the Sacred Writings sufficiently inform us; and we may conjecture, with great probability, that it was sometimes the devotion, and sometimes the entertainment of the first generations of mankind. Theocritus united elegance with simplicity; and taught his shepherds to sing with so much ease and harmony, that his countrymen despairing to excel, forbore to imitate him; and the Greeks, however vain or ambitious, left him in quiet possession of the garlands whịch the wood-nymphs had bestowed upon him.

Virgil, however, taking advantage of another language, ventured to copy or to rival the Sicilian Bard : he has written with greater splendor of diction, and klevation of sentiment : but as the magnificence of his performances was more, the simplicity was less : and, perhaps, where he excels Theocritus, he some. times obtains his superiority by deviating from the pastoral character, and performing what Theocritus pever attempted.

Yet, though I would willingly pay to Theocritus the honour which is always due to an original author, I am far from intending to depreciate Virgil ; of whom Horace justly declares, that the rural muses have appropriated to him their elegance and sweetness, and who, as he copied Theocritus in his design, bas resembled him likewise in his success ; fur, if we except Calphurnius, an obscure author of the lower ages, I know not that a single pastoral was written after him by any poet, till the revival of literature.

But though his general merit has been univer.

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