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121. With this advice of Vida, perfectly agrees that of Erafmus; who recommends a careful and habitual perusal of the best writers, particularly thofe who excel, like Tully, in a copious

fluency of expreffion; and he exhorts the ftudent to a peculiar attention to rhetorical figures; ftoring them up in his memory for the purpose of imitation, and learning by frequent use, to have them always at hand. Erafmus de copia vertorum. c. 9.

125. This is recommended, among others, by Aristotle, in his Poetics; who obferves that by this means, the poet having the whole subject before his eyes, as if he were a spectator of the actions he relates, will perceive what is proper to infert, and avoid absurdity and inconfiftency.

141. Petronius advises the young orator,

"Det primos verfibus annos,

Mæoniumque bibat felici pectore fontem ;

to dedicate his earliest years to verse, and to drink largely at the Mæonian fount." To the future bard this injunction is still more applicable. But there is fome danger in attempting compofition too early: for he who engages in it, while his talents are totally unequal to the task, will most likely be discouraged, before his faculties begin to expand. It is infinitely better to be late in attempting compofition, than to produce fuch pieces as we often fee extorted by neceffity, and carry the marks of infinite labour and toil.-Nature may be affifted, but cannot be forced with impunity and he who fhall oblige a boy to write before he is capable, will feldom fail to fix him irrecoverably, not a scholar or a poet, but a pedant or a dunce.

143. It is well obferved by Erafmus, on the mode of ftudy, that the beft arts fhould be learned from the ableft mafters. For what, fays he, can be so foolish, as to learn with much trouble and fatigue, what you are afterwards conftrained, with still greater difficulty, to unlearn? But nothing is more eafily learned, than what is true and excellent. Whereas, if error and false tafte be ever obtruded upon the mind, it is wonderful with what difficulty they are erased. To the fame purpose is a remark of Quintilian; who having observed, that we are naturally moft tenacious of what we learn in youth, emphatically adds, Non affuefcat ergo, ne dum infans quidem eft, fermoni qui dedifcendus eft; let him not therefore be accustomed, while yet a child, to a mode of speaking which must be unlearned again.

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To these may be added the advice of Plutarch, who says, in his treatise on education, that when boys are of fufficient age to be committed to the care of a master, fingular caution should be obferved in the choice of a proper perfon; we un redwold ανδροπούεις, ή βαρβαροις τα λεπνα παραδονίες, by no means commiting children to obfcure and barbarous understrappers.

157. The poet here seems to aim a ftroke at thofe fucceffors of the angelic and irrefragable doctors of the eleventh to the thir teenth and fourteenth centuries, who preferved the fcholaftic pedantry without the ability of their mafters, and were just able to keep up an humble imitation of their unintelligible jargon of the effence of univerfals, the fubftantial form of founds, infolubles, hæçceities and intrinfic modes. An education conducted on fuch wild and chimerical principles, could not fail to introduce a falfe

and barbarous tafte; and to cultivate a mode of féntiment and expreffion directly contrary to that pure, perfpicuous elegance, which is certainly the first charm of compofition, whether in verfe or profe. Who can read, but with contempt or indigna tion, the works of an author, who, through ignorance or affectation, is perpetually involved in darkness, and obfcures science with a cloud of duft?

Equally contemptible, is the laborious difcuffion of useless and impertinent queftions. Of this fort is that, fo long and learnedly inveftigated, concerning a hog driven to market with a rope faftened to him, and the other end held by a man; on which it is demanded, whether the hog is taken to market by the man, or the man by the hog! Much of a piece with this is the queftion of the afs in dilemma, between two bundles of hay, and fo equally attracted by each, that it was judged by the fophifts, he could touch neither. There was a time, when fuch impertinencies were dignified with the name of philofophy. At prefent we give them their proper name, pedantry run mad.

171. The fame reason why young ftudents should be entrusted only to the beft living inftructors, will equally prove the ne ceffity of their being early trained to the study of the best writers. On this account Virgil is with great propriety recommended, fince he is certainly one of the greatest mafters of language, and adopted into the Latin tongue all the sweetness and majesty of Plato, with whofe writings he was intimately acquainted. To Virgil his mafter Homer will be added of courfe. Quintilian thinks that thefe fhould be among the firft books read by the

learner for, fays he, "though at first his powers may be too limited to relish their beauties, it is to be remembered that these are to be read over and over. In the mean time, his genius being improved by the fublimity of heroic verse, and his judgment expanded by the grandeur of the subject, he will be impressed by degrees with the most excellent fentiments,"

178. Of Afcanius or Iulus, fon of Æneas and Creufa, frequent mention is made in different parts of the Æneid. Of Laufus, flain as he comes to the rescue of his father Mezentius, fee an account in the tenth Æneid; of Pallas flain by Turnus, in the fifth-and of Euryalus by Volfcens, in the ninth, verse 432, It is remarked by Triftram, that the poet introduces the unhappy fate of these young warriors, either because proximity of age has a fingular tendency to excite attention, or because relations of melancholy events have a peculiar influence on tender and inexperienced minds.

202. From Vida's mode of expreffion in this paffage, one might suppose, on the first reading, that he was about to recite a catalogue, and to introduce a fort of review of the Greek and Latin poets. To this idea the following verfes feem full in point

"Nam, quia non paucos parte ex utraque poetas,

Noftrofque, Graiofque tibi fe offerre videbis,

Quos hic evites, quibus idem fidere tutus

Evaleas, dicam, ne quis te fallere poffit.

Haud multus labor autores tibi prodere Graios,

Quos inter potitur fceptris infignis Homerus."

This, however, he has not done, but in a general and compendious manner; fimply referring to fome of the Latin poets, and obferving upon the whole, that the Greek writers who lived near the time of Homer were fuperior to the moderns. As this is the cafe, I have given the paffage a turn fomething different, and couched it in terms lefs precife and decifive than my author:


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Homer is indifputably the father of Epic verfe. Diony

fius of Halicarnaffus fays, in allufion to a paffage in the Iliad, that he may justly be considered as the Kogupa

and fource,

Εξ έ πως παλὲς πολαμοι να πατα θαλασσα

Και πασαι κρήναι,

Exoxos, the head

whence flow all the feas and rivers, and all the tributary ftreams of verfe.

222. In this and the following verses, the poet has an eye to the ftate of Greece, from the first irruption of the barbarians to the prefent time; not without a particular allufion to the Turks, who are in poffeffion of those countries and islands once included in the general name of Greece, and fo famous for the cultivation of the arts, which their prefent poffeffors hold in fovereign contempt. Vida had more reafons than one for his reflections on this barbarous race. Italy, and Europe in general, was, about this time, threatened with an invasion under the famous Solyman; fo that religion, patriotifm, and the love of letters all confpired to give an edge to his indignation. Voltaire confidered it as one

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