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happieft effects. It gave to the world a multitude of scholars, and a variety of literary performances, far fuperior to any thing of the fame period in the modern languages of Europe. Many of them might even challenge a place with the most distinguished fpecimens of English poetry fince Shakespeare and Milton.

Pope, whofe tafte was as exquifite as were his own verses, selected from the Italians a beautiful collection of latin poems; and it is more than probable, from the imitations found in his writings, that to his intimate acquaintance with these he owed no inconfiderable fhare of his poetic merit. Nature had certainly intended him for a poet. But he was too judicious to depend solely on nature. No man was ever more affiduous in felecting flowers from every quarter.

The labours of Vida have been varioufly appreciated; most considering him as in the first rank, if not the first latin poet fince the revival of learning; while fome give the preference to Sannazarius, Fracaftorius, and others. But in difcuffions of this nature, the humour of individuals is more frequently confulted than found judgment and critical acumen. Matters of taste

are not easily adjufted. I fhall therefore content myself with faying, that Vida seems not unworthy the character that has been given him, as the best and most accurate imitator of the Mantuan bard.

In poetical compofition every man will take for his model, not perhaps the beft author, but the author moft congenial to his tafte. Some will prefer Virgil or Homer; fome Catullus or Tibullus; fome Ovid or Lucan: and critics are not wanting who are infinitely delighted with the point and waggery of Martial.

Our author's attachment to Virgil bordered on idolatry. It is vifible in every page of his writings. He feems to have confidered no other poet as at all approaching to a competition; and in every thing but invention, prefers him, without hesitation, to Homer himself. Perhaps there was in this not only the bias of his own genius, but a fpark of nationality; and it is not improbable that what he fays in the Poetics, in allufion to a paffage in Virgil, that he who treats of the excellencies of foreign countries, fhould take care to exalt Italy above them all, was a picture of his own mind; an ebullition of national vanity, the

more excufable as it is fo common; and productive of a natural retrofpect from our country to ourselves. It is like the love of fome people to their children; which is frequently more vain than rational; an idolatrous fondness, not so much for their intrinfic merit, or for any other reafon, as because they spring from what they love ftill more fondly, their exquifite felves.

In the unqualified commendation of his great model, our poet feems to have forgotten, that perfection is no attribute of humanity; that if it be true that Homer fometimes nods, the fame may be faid of his fucceffor; and that if the former was on some occafions unfeasonably minute in his descriptions, the latter feems, in fome places, to have funk beneath the weight of his subject; has fallen, more than once, into abfurdity and contradiction; was not always attentive to probability; and has been cenfured, with fome juftice, for not having fufficiently marked, like Homer, the lights and fhades, the distinguishing features in the characters of his heroes, and the particular fpecies of eloquence, or courage, or other quality that distinguished them from each other.

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The claim of Vida to fuccessful imitation, which implies no fmall degree of merit, is acknowledged by every candid and ingenuous critic. His writings poffefs, not as fome have faid, a small, but a large proportion of the Virgilian grace and beauty. The learned Scaliger, who with all his fingularities was an able critic, makes no fcruple to compare many of his verses with thofe of his mafter: and the numerous lift of fubfcribers to the Oxford edition of his works, in 1722, affords ample proof how much they were valued by that learned and venerable body. His talents as a writer have a double claim upon our attention. He was not only an excellent poet, but an accurate and judicious critic; and he was so in that early period of literature, when fcience was but juft emerging from the obscurity of the middle ages.

It is remarkable that what seems at first to have been confidered by many, and is ftill confidered by fome, as the best of our author's pieces, is most certainly the worst. The Chriftiad, though it contains many excellent paffages, is not comparable to his other poems. It is often greatly laboured, and of course deficient in that eafy fluency of verfification which is visible in the reft. The

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fpeeches are frequently too long; and the work
wants in general that curiofa felicitas, that happy
propriety of sentiment and expreffion, which he
was well able to have communicated to a fubject
to which he felt himself equal. He was perfectly
fenfible of it's defects, for which he modeftly
apologized; and for which too feveral reasons
may be affigned. It was rather an extorted than
a voluntary theme; and we know what he has
faid in the Poetics on that fubject.

Atque ideo quodcunque audes, quodcunq; paratus
Aggrederis, tibi fit placitum, atque arriferit ultro
Ante animo, nec juffa canas, nifi forte coactus
Magnorum imperio regum, fi quis tamen ufquam eft
Primores inter noftros qui talia curet.

Omnia fponte fua, quæ nos elegimus ipfi,

Proveniunt, duro affequimur vix juffa labore.

Poet. 1. 1. 50.

His two earlieft patrons died not long after he undertook it. The poem lay for some time untouched; and it is probable, would fcarcely have been refumed, had he not been ftimulated to that purpose by the intreaties of Pope Clement. His reluctance on this occafion did honour to his feel. ings. It arofe, not from any difinclination to the

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