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instanced from the Tragic Chorus by Gaisford and Hermann,
S. Theb. 295-301. τοὶ μὲν γὰρ ποτὶ πύργοις . . .
The light tripping delicacy, however, of Catullus's Stanza with the favorite Trochee initial, in all respects so very beautiful, is a masterpiece of success, with all the difficulty (ludentis speciem dabit, et torquebitur) of its inimitable execution.
Torquatus volo parvulus
Matris e gremio suæ
Porrigens teneras manus
Dulce rideat ad patrem
Semihiante labello.-Manlius et Junia,
Nothing but the inconsiderate compliment paid by Dr. Bentley, "Epigramma veteris grammatici in PASIPHAEN quo omnes versus Horatianos non ineleganter expressit," could be urged in apology for half a page bestowed upon that Poem. Let so much space be conceded to the exposure of its most flagrant deviations from the model proposed.
v. 7. Optat in formam bovis
has the long syllable in 4to, where Horace (Metre x1.) always has it short.
Non ebur neque aureum.
v. 9. Et Prœtidas dícit beatas....
may not be defended by that solitary instance in Horace, (Metre XIX. 3.)
Hunc Lesbio sacráre plectro.
There is some difference even there.
v. 15. Oraque jungere quærit ori...
has been already cited (Metre XIX. 4.) as the only very bad form, quite unknown to Horace; in which the structure is entirely governed by the scansion.
v. 17. Inlicitisque gaudent;
which, with a dactyl precedent, might close the fourth Alcaic line, can hardly be recognised as tallying with the separate verse,
Lydia, dic per omnes.
(Metre x1. 1.) Not one line is there in the prototype similarly constituted.
To trace the followers of Horace in lyrical imitation, even within the limits of the Alcaic Stanza, is a task not to be attempted here.
The earliest imitator extant appears to have been Statius; whose Ode ad Sept. Severum (4 Sylv. v.) so regular and precise in that Metre, has been justly remarked upon as monotonous, when compared with the freedom and variety of Horace. Nor has it escaped the severe judgment of Louth, De Sacra Poesi Hebræorum (p. 331.) that in merit as a composition, that Ode is very inferior. How well does he describe in what the excellence of Horace's lyric
poetry consists in exordio obvio, nec nimis exquisito, et in ipsam plerumque rem protinus incurrente; in serie rerumper jucundam varietatem subtiliter et artificiose, sed quasi sponte, deductâ; in clausulâ, sine ullo acumine, leni quodam lapsu in loco forsan minime expectato, et nonnunquam veluti
Amongst the moderns, Casimir Sarbievius deservedly ranks perhaps as the highest, the patriot Lyrist of Poland in that her day of greatness and glory; whose minor faults, however, have been freely pointed out in these pages, on account of the very celebrity which has gathered round his name as a Latin Poet.
Muretus, Daniel Heinsius, Grotius, Cardinal Barberini (afterwards Urban VIII.), and our own Milton, might be more rigorously censured (supposing Horace at all the exemplar of their practice) for those neglects of metrical law and the accentual cadence involved in it; which in common with other moderns they largely committed, and which may partly be charged upon the total want in grammarians of any exact knowledge of the subject.
To come down at once to times nearer the present. Even Gray, the Etonian, though exquisite in his observance of the nicest beauty in the hexameters of Virgil, showed himself strangely unacquainted with the rules of Horace's lyric verse. For instance, in the "Mater rosarum," &c., the following stanza is of a nature to startle the classical ear with two or three palpable faults.
Mirare nec tu me citharæ rudem
Amona jucundúmque vér, in
compositum docuere carmen.
What a pity too it is, that the "noble imagery and pathetic sentiment" of his Ode on the Grand Chartreuse should be interrupted by a line so jarring and bad as the
second of those below, in a stanza otherwise of such first
Præsentiorem et conspicimus Deum
Clivosque præruptos, sonantes
Inter aquas nemorumque noctem.