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“First Saul declar'd his choice, and the just cause
“No longer his wild wrath could he command;
THE PRAISE OF PINDAR.—PAGE 137.
This ode is in the number of those, which Mr. Cowley calls, Pindaric: an exquisite sort of poetry, to which his style was very ill suited ; being, for the most part, careless, and sometimes, affectedly vulgar.—The ideas, in this ode, are from Horace; but the spirit and the expression, are the writer’s own.
The Theban swan does upward bear. Mr. Gray calls him, the Theban eagle; but the imagery of both poets is much the game. — “ tho' he inherit - “Nor the pride, nor ample pinion, “That the Theban eagle bear, “Sailing with supreme dominion “Thro' the azure deep of air.” Progress of Poetry. PAGE 139. For little drops of honey flee. The proper word had been fly, if the rhyme would have given leave. To flee, is properly to move with speed out of the way of danger; to fly, to more with speed on w1NGs.
TO MR. HOBBES.–PAGE 145.
and Mr. Cowley speaks the fashionable, rather than his own sense of him; as appears from the exaggerated strain of his panegyric. However, he does but justice to the vigour of his sense, and the manly elegance of his style: for the latter of which qualities, chiefly, his philosophic writings are now valuable. This I dare boldly tell, 'Tis so like truth, 'twill serve our turn as well.
The writer, indeed, is a poet; but this was rather too boldly said.
Long did the mighty Stagirite retain. Aristotle; so called from the town of Stagira, where he was born, situated near the bay of Strymon in Macedonia. CowLEY.
Saw his own country's short-liv'd leopard slain. Outlasted the Grecian empire, which in the visions of Daniel, is represented, by a leopard, with four wings upon the back, and four heads. Chap. vii. 6. CowLEY.
The stronger Roman-eagle did out-fly. Was received even beyond the bounds of the Roman empire, and out-lived it. CowLey.
Meccha itself, in spite of Mahomet, possess'd. For Aristotle's philosophy was in great esteem among the Arabians or Saracens; witness those many excellent books upon him, or according to his principles, written by Averroes, Avicenna, Avempace, and divers others. In spight of Mahomet: be. cause his law, being adapted to the barbarous humour of those people he had first to deal withal, and aiming only at greatness of empire by the sword, forbids all the studies of learning; which (nevertheless) flourished admirably under the Saracen monarchy, and continued so, till it was extinguished with that empire, by the inundation of the Turks, and other nations. Meccha is the town in Arabia where Mahomet was born. CowLEY.
Virgula dirina, or a divining wand, is a two-forked branch of an hazel-tree, which is used for the finding out either of veins, or hidden treasures, of gold or silver; and being carried about, bends downwards (or rather is said to do so) when it comes to the place where they lie. CowLey.
The Baltic, Eurine, and the Caspian, And slender-limb'd Mediterranean. All the navigation of the ancients was in these seas; they seldom ventured into the ocean; and when they did, did only littus legere, coast about near the shore. Cowley.
To clothe the mighty limbs of thy gigantick sense. The meaning is, that his notions are so new, and so great, that I did not think it had been possible to have found out words to express them clearly; as no wardrobe can furnish cloaths to fit a body taller and bigger than ever any was before: for the cloaths were made according to some measure that then was. Cowley.
To the Trojan hero given. See the excellent description of this shield, made by Vulcan, at the request of Venus, for her son Æneas, at the end of the eighth book of the HEneid, —“et clypei non enarrabile textum.”
whereon was graven all the Roman history. CowLEY.
Then, when they're sure to lose the combat by't. As not a few did, who presumed, with very unequal arms, to try the temper of that magic shield; which time and common sense, however, have at length disenchanted.
PAGE 148. . So contraries on AEtna's top conspire. By making the frosts on AEtna's top a comparison only, and not enlarging directly VOL. II, D D