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would perhaps have had better grounds for his opinion; but not sufficient to dethrone the prince of Italian Lyric poets, from his supreme dominion.
Dr. Warton has also attempted to enforce an opinion, that "the writer whose grand characteristical talent is satiric or moral poetry, will never succeed, with equal merit, in the higher branches of his art." If, by higher branches of his art, he meant Lyric Poetry, it is difficult to say upon what principle such preference is founded, or why the dignity and importance of many other departments of poetry should not entitle them to an equal rank. But, dismissing this point, on which enough has before been said, the assertion of Dr. Warton is not founded on experience. Horace was a moral and satiric, and at the same time a lyric poet; and although it has not perhaps been decided in which of these departments he excelled, yet it never was supposed that his excellence in one, defeated his claims in the other. The works of Ariosto, Epic, Lyric, and Satiric, are read with equal pleasure. Benedetto Menzini wrote satires and odes, both of which rank in the highest class. Dryden cultivated various departments with equal success. Gray excelled both in Elegiac and Lyric poetry. In fact, there are but few persons who have greatly distinguished themselves in any one department, without having also displayed their talents in another. If Pope has not succeeded in Lyric poetry as well as in some other respects, it is because he can scarcely be said to have attempted it. Even the very few pieces he has left were written at the solicitation of his friends; the Ode for Music, and the Dying Christian, at the request of Steele ; and the two Choruses, at that of the Duke of Buckingham. He was probably also deterred by the preference generally given to Dryden's Ode, of the justice of which he was fully sensible, and was not disposed after his long toil of Homer, to devote himself again to lighter compositions.
ODE FOR MUSIC
ON ST. CECILIA'S DAY'.
DESCEND, ye Nine! descend and sing;
In a sadly-pleasing strain
Let the warbling lute complain :
The shrill echos rebound:
While in more lengthen'd notes and slow,
The deep, majestic, solemn organs blow.
Hark! the numbers soft and clear
Now louder, and yet louder rise,
And fill with spreading sounds the skies;
Exulting in triumph now swell the bold notes, In broken air, trembling, the wild music floats: "Till, by degrees, remote and small,
The strains decay,
And melt away,
In a dying, dying fall.
1 Our Author, as Mr. Harte told me, frequently and earnestly declared that if Dryden had finished a translation of the Iliad, he would not have attempted one, after so great a master: he might have said, with even more propriety, I will not write a music ode after Alexander's Feast; which the variety and harmony of its numbers, and the beauty, force, and energy of its images, have conspired to place at the head of modern Lyric compositions. The subject of Dryden's ode is superior to this of Pope's, because the former is historical, and the latter merely mythological. Dryden's is also more perfect in the unity of the action; for Pope's is not the recital of one great action, but a description of many of the adventures of Orpheus. Warton.
By Music, minds an equal temper know,
Or, when the soul is press'd with cares,
Warriors she fires with animated sounds;
Pours balm into the bleeding lover's wounds:
Sloth unfolds her arms and wakes,
Intestine War no more our Passions wage,
But when our Country's cause provokes to Arms,
How martial music ev'ry bosom warms!
So when the first bold vessel dar'd the seas,
Descend from Pelion to the main.
Ver. 35.] Dr. Greene set this Ode to music in 1730, as an exercise for his Doctor's Degree at Cambridge, on which occasion Pope made considerable alterations in it, and added the following stanza in this place : Amphion thus bade wild dissension cease,
And soften'd mortals learn'd the arts of peace,
From various discords, to create
Nor slack, nor strain the tender strings,
That strike the subject's answering heart,
And the soft silent harmony that springs
From sacred union and consent of things.
And he made another alteration, at the same time, in stanza iv. v. 51,
and wrote it thus:
Sad Orpheus sought his consort lost;
The adamantine gates were barr'd,
And nought was seen and nought was heard,
Around the dreary coast;
But dreadful gleams, &c.-Warton.
Ver. 40. While Argo] Few images in any poet, ancient or modern, are
Transported demi-gods stood round,
But when, through all th' infernal bounds,
Which flaming Phlegeton surrounds,
Love, strong as Death, the Poet led
What sounds were heard,
What scenes appear'd,
O'er all the dreary coasts!
Shrieks of woe,
And cries of tortur'd ghosts!
But, hark! he strikes the golden lyre;
See, shady forms advance!
more striking than that in Apollonius, where he says, that when the Argo was sailing near the coast where the Centaur Chiron dwelt, he came down to the very margin of the sea, bringing his wife, with the young Achilles in her arms, that he might show the child to his father Peleus, who was on his voyage with the other Argonauts. Apollonius Rhodius, lib. i. v. 558. -Warton.
Ver. 49. But when,] See Divine Legation, book ii. sect. 1, where Orpheus is considered as a Philosopher, a Legislator, and a Mystagogue. In vol. v. of the Memoirs of Inscriptions, &c. p. 117, is a very curious dissertation upon the Orphic Life, by the Abbé Fraguier. He was the first critic who rightly interpreted the words of Horace, Cædibus et fœdo victu, as meaning an abolition of eating human flesh.
Though the Hymns that remain are not the work of the real Orpheus, yet are they extremely ancient, certainly older than the Expedition of Xerxes against Greece.-Warton.
Thy stone, O Sisyphus, stands still,
And the pale spectres dance;
The Furies sink upon their iron beds,
And snakes uncurl'd hang list'ning round their heads.
By the streams that ever flow,
O'er th' Elysian flow'rs;
By those happy souls who dwell
Or Amaranthine bow'rs;
By the heroes' armed shades,
Glitt'ring through the gloomy glades;
By the youths that died for love,
Restore, restore Eurydice to life:
Wand'ring in the myrtle grove,
Oh take the husband, or return the wife!
He sung, and hell consented
To hear the Poet's prayer:
Stern Proserpine relented,
Thus song could prevail
O'er death, and o'er hell,
Ver. 77.] These images are picturesque and appropriate, and are such notes as might
Draw iron tears down Pluto's cheek,
And make hell grant what love did seek.
Pope, being insensible of the effects of music, inquired of Dr. Arbuthnot, whether Handel really deserved the applause he met with. The Duchess of Queensberry told me, that Gay could play on the flute, and that this enabled him to adapt so happily some airs in the Beggar's Opera. -Warton.
Ver. 87.] These numbers are of so burlesque, so low, and ridiculous a kind, and have so much the air of a vulgar drinking song, that one is amazed and concerned to find them in a serious ode. Addison thought this measure exactly suited to the comic character of Sir Trusty in his Rosamond; by the introduction of which he has so strangely debased that very elegant opera. It is observable, that this ludicrous measure is used by Dryden, in a song of evil spirits, in the fourth act of the State of Inno