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fhift to run over the paffages he has copied from Virgil. We are all on fire amidft the magical feats of limen, and the enchantments of Armida :

Magnanima menfogna, hor quando è il vero
Si bello, che fi poffa à te preporre ?"

I speak at least for myfelf; and muft freely own, if it were not for these lyes of Gothick invention, I should fcarcely be difpofed to give the Gierufalemme Liberata a fecond reading.

I readily agree to the lively obfervation, "That impenetrable armour, enchanted caftles, invulnerable bodies, iron men, flying horfes, and other fuch things, are easily feigned by them that dare*." But, with the obferver's leave, not fo feigned as we find them in the Italian poets, unless the writer have another quality, befides that of courage.

One thing is true, that the fuccefs of thefe fictions will not be great, when they have no longer any footing in the popular belief: And the reafon is, that readers do not ufually do, as they ought; put themselves in the circumstances of the poet, or rather of thofe, of whom the poet writes. But this only shows, that fome ages are not fo fit to write epick poems in, as others; not, that they should be otherwife written. It is alfo true, that writers do not fucceed fo well in painting what they havę heard, as what they believe themselves, or at least obferve in others a facility of believing. And on this account I would advise no modern poet to revive thefe faery tales in an epick poem. But ftill this is nothing to the cafe in hand, where we are confidering the merit of epick poems, written under other circumftances.

* Mr. Hobbes's Letter. HURD.

The Pagan Gods and Gothick Faeries were equally out of credit, when Milton wrote. He did well therefore to fupply their room with angels and devils. If thefe too fhould wear out of the popular creed (and they feem in a hopeful way, from the liberty fome late criticks have taken with them,) I know not what other expedients the epick poet might have recourfe to; but this I know, the pomp of verse, the energy of defcription, and even the fineft moral paintings, would stand him in no stead. Without admiration (which cannot be effected but by the marvellous of celeftial intervention, I mean, the agency of fuperiour natures really exifting, or by the illufion of the fancy taken to be fo,) no epick poem can be long-lived. I am not afraid to inftance in the Henriade itfelf; which, notwithstanding the elegance of the compofition, will in a fhort time be no more read than the Gondibert of Sir W. Davenant, and for the fame reason.

Criticks may talk what they will of Truth and Nature, and abufe the Italian poets, as they will, for tranfgreffing both in their incredible fictions. But, believe it, thefe fictions with which they have ftudied to delude the world, are of that kind of creditable deceits, of which a wife ancient pronounces with affurance, "That they, who deceive, are honester than they who do not deceive; and they, who are deceived, wiser than they who are not deceived."

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But the reader may be ready to afk, if there be any truth in this reprefentation, "Whence it has come to pass, that the claffical manners are still admired and imitated by the poets, when the Gothick have long fince fallen into difufe ?**

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Dr. Hurd alludes to the edition of the Paradife Loft by Bentley. TODD.

The answer to this queftion will furnish all that is now wanting to a proper difcuffion of the prefent fubject.

One great reafon of this difference certainly was ; That the ableft writers of Greece ennobled the fyftem of heroick manners, while it was fresh and flourishing; and their works, being mafter-pieces of compofition, fo fixed the credit of it in the opinion of the world, that no revolutions of time and tafte could afterwards fhake it. Whereas the Gothick having been disgraced in their infancy by bad writers, and a new set of manners fpringing up before there were any better to do them justice, they could never be brought into vogue by the attempts of later poets; who, in fpite of prejudice, and for the genuine charm of thefe highly poetical manners, did their utmoft to recommend them. But, further, the Gothick fyftem was not only forced to wait long for real genius to do it honour; real genius was even very early employed against it.

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There were two causes of this mishap. The old romancers had even outraged the truth in their extravagant pictures of chivalry: And Chivalry itself, fuch as it once had been, was greatly abated. So that men of fenfe were doubly disgusted to find a reprefentation of things unlike to what they obferved in real life, and beyond what it was ever poffible fhould have exifted. However, with thefe difadvantages there was ftill fo much of the old spirit left, and the fafcination of thefe wondrous tales was fo prevalent, that a more than common degree of fagacity and good fenfe was required to penetrate the illufion.

It was one of this character, I fuppofe, that put the famous queftion to Ariofto, which has been fo often repeated that I fhall fpare the reader the dif


guft of hearing it. Yet long before his time an immortal genius of our own (fo fuperiour is the fense of some men to the age they live in) faw as far into this matter, as Ariofto's examiner. This fagacious perfon was Dan Chaucer; who, in a reign that almost realised the wonders of romantick chivalry, not only difcerned the abfurdity of the old romances, but has even ridiculed them with incomparable fpirit.

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His Rime on Sir Topaz, in the Canterbury Tales, is a manifeft banter on these books, and may be confidered as a fort of prelude to the adventures of Don Quixote. I call it a manifeft banter: For we are to obferve that this was Chaucer's own tale, and that, when in the progrefs of it the good fenfe of the Hoft is made to break in upon him, and interrupt him, Chaucer approves his difguft, and, changing his note, tells the fimple inftructive tale of Melibœus, a moral tale virtuous, as he chooses to characterise it; to fhow, what fort of fictions were moft expreffive of real life, and most proper to be put into the hands of the people. One might further obferve that the Rime of Sir Topaz itself is fo managed as with infinite humour to expose the leading impertinencies of books of chivalry, and their impertinencies only; as may be seen by the different conduct of this tale, from that of Cambufcan, which Spenfer and Milton were fo pleased with, and which with great propriety is put into the mouth of the Squire.

But I must not anticipate the obfervations which the reader will take a pleasure to make for himself on these two fine parts of the Canterbury Tales. Enough is faid to illuftrate the point, I am

See the queftion cited in Mr. Warton's Remarks on the Plan and Conduct of this Poem. ToDD.

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now upon, "That thefe phantoms of chivalry had the misfortune to be laughed out of countenance by men of fenfe, before the fubftance of it had been fairly and truly reprefented by any capable writer."

Still, the principal reafon of all, no doubt, was, That the Gothick manners of Chivalry, as fpringing out of the feudal fyftem, were as fingular, as that fyftem itself: So that, when that political conftitution vanifhed out of Europe, the manners, that belonged to it, were no longer feen or underftood. There was no example of any fuch manners remaining on the face of the earth: And as they never did fubfift but once, and are never likely to fubfift again, people would be led of course to think and speak of them, as romantick, and unnatural. The confequence of which was a total contempt and rejection of them; while the claffick manners, as arifing out of the customary and ufual fituations of humanity, would have many archetypes, and appear natural even to those who faw nothing fimilar to them actually fubfifting before their eyes.

Thus, though the manners of Homer are perhaps as different from ours, as thofe of Chivalry itself, yet as we know that fuch manners always belong to rude and fimple ages, fuch as Homer paints; and actually fubfift at this day in countries that are under the like circumftances of barbarity, we readily agree to call them natural, and even take a fond pleasure in the furvey of them..

The queftion then is eafily anfwered, without any obligation upon me to give up the Gothick manners as vifionary and fantaftick. And the reafon appears, why the FAERIE QUEENE, one of the nobleft productions of modern poetry, is fallen into fo general a neglect, that all the zeal of its commentators is efteemed officious and impertinent,

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