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Agamemnon's Prayer, in the third Book, is yet more humorous than any thing we have quoted.
Jupiter! who, every Friday,
And trudge it home with all our heart. The Reader will perceive from these quotations, that this work is by no means destitute of humour; and with those who are fond of this kind of versification, it might have passed off very well, had not the bounds of decency been, in many places, so insufferably transgressed.
We remember to have feen a burlesque translation of part of the Iliad, printed about 130 years ago; before Cotton's Virgil travestie appeared. It was done with as much humour and drollery as Mr. Cotton's, or the present performance; and, if we remember rightly, with more decency than either of them.
The House of Superftition, a Poom. By the Rev. Mr. Denton.
4to. 6 d. Hinxman.
HE Muses are the handmaids of Truth, and are never
more happily employed than when they are adding new ornaments to her person, or bringing new votaries to her temple It was in confideration of this their high office that they were said to descend from heaven, and to derive their origin from Jove. To discover and expose the mazes of fraud and error, to exhibit the clear images of things in their ideal mirror, and to direct mankind in the paths of truth and nature, were essential parts of their sublime commission. It is therefore with great propriety that Mr. Denton, one of their Priests, but neither of the highest nor of the lowest order,
has invoked their aslistance to describe the House of Superftition; a monster that has spread deftruction over the face of the earth. His Picture, however, is but a miniature, it is only a small sketch of the habitation of that infernal fiend, in which but a few of her diabolical attendants are introduced. As the House of Superftition is evidently written in the style and manner of Mr. Thomson's Castle of Indolence, we wonder the Author did not so far avail himself of his precedent, as to describe the unhappy consequences in which the votaries of Superftition were involved, when they had been once deluded into her house. Here would have been a fine field for invention, for as Superstition has various forms, and produces differeni effects on different minds, a great variety of characters and circumstances might have been introduced ; and in such a complicated scene of human misery, the pathetic powers of Poetry might have found abundant matter for affecting descriprion and elegant complaint. Thus too the cause of Truth would have been more effectually supported; and as the Poet has at last represented her dispersing the gloom of Superstition, and snatching the sacred volume from her hand, he would have appeared with much greater lustre, had the been described as rescuing from misery and darkness those wretched beings, whose unhappy circumstances had before been represented and deplored. Of these hints the Author may, if he pleales, avail himself in some future Edition. We shall now enquire into the merits of his Poem.
Thus the House of Superstition makes its appearance to the Poet, in a vision:
As when fair Morning dries her pearly tears,
The Mountain lifts o'er milts its lofty head;
With the grey ruft of rolling years o'erspread.
And her lip-12 bour'd orisons she plies
Or evening skirts with gold the western skies;
And many a C:oss she makes, and many a Bead lets fall.
the House of Superstition is here described with no more propriety than the city of London would be, were a number of houfes and spires thrown together in perspective, without either the Monument or St. Paul's.
Near to the Dome a magic Pair reside,
Prompt to deceive, and practis'd to confound; These two beings are Ignorance and Error. Ignorance is represented as a stupid, listless wretch, that lies in a dark cave without exerting any of his faculties. The picture of Error is as follows:
Where boughs entwining form an artful fhade,
And in Saint glimmerings just admit the light,
And in Truth's form deceives the transient sight.
Her beaming lustre when fair Truth imparts ;
And cheat th' unpractis’d mind with mimic arts. She cleaves with magic wand the liquid skies, Bids airy forms appear, and scenes fantastic rife. Error is properly enough described as affecting the appearance and qualities of Truth; and this is certainly a more agreeable image of her than that in the Fairy-Queen, which is enough to make a delicate Reader do a very indelicate thing.
The Porter that is here provided for the House of Superfti tion is Prejudice, a very proper person indeed; but though the Author has rightly enough represented him as blind, we do not see any propriety in calling him decrepid : perhaps it might not be amifs to change that epithet for one that should describe his obstinate and untractable temper. The bowl of infatuating liquor which he offers to every traveller, and by that means makes them see objects in false lights, is a proper fymbol.
The sovereign Pontiff is honoured with a place in this House, and is thus described :
The first appear'd in pomp of purple pride,
With triple crown erect, and ihroned high;
To lock or ore che portals of the sky:
Heaven's gracious gift to light the wandering mind,
To lift fall’n man, and light him to the kies!
And 'mazed mortals blindly must obey;
And near him loathsome heaps of reliques lay.
Penance and Indulgence are the personages next described as inhabitants of the House of Superstition, and then follows this just description of a Monk.
With shaven crown, in a sequester'd cell,
A lazy Lubbard there was seen to lay ;
And indolently snore the hours away.
The mystic rites of Hymen's hallow'd tie
As crimes of fouleft stain, and deepest dye.
Th most deter:able person that we find in the family of Superstition, is PersECUTION. This monster is her eldeft. born, and the most diabolical of all her offspring. No colours can be too horrible to paint him. With what detestation must every liberal mind reflect on those dreadful scenes of massacre and ruin which he produced among mankind, when affecting the authority of the benevolent author of Christianity, he trampled on his humane precepts; and, like the Thief in the Gospel, came only to steal, to kill, and to destroy. Happy, could we boast that this enlightened age were free from all marks of his impious violence! but while Suo perstition retains the least influence among mankind, PERSECUTION can never die. It must however seem strange, if, in a free country, from which the errors of Popery are banished, Religion should at any time think it necessary to call in the aid of the Civil Power, when only her truth is called in question, or he is attacked by the Telum imbelle of Ridicule ! Such proceedings would certainly be inconlistent with the true spirit of CHRISTIANITY, which professes only to pray for its Perfecutors.
Mr. Denton's defcription of Perfecution is as follows:
Fierce PERSECUTion sate, and with ftrong breath
And feasts on Murders, Massacres, and Death.
To stretch or mangle to a certain fize;
To hear their doleful shrieks and piercing cries:
After these quotations, it will scarce be necessary to inform the Reader that this is a tolerable Poem. But there is nothing striking or uncommon in the thoughts; the verfification is not always elegant, nor the language correct. The Author's principles however are noble, free, and manly; and cannot be too much applauded.
Resignation. In two Parts, and a Porfiript to Mrs. B--,
4to. 2 s. Owen. EL
L Ambition de la emprenta es una Colpa que no basta arre
pentirse *, fays an antient Spanish Writer; and the truth of his remark we have frequently occasion to observe and lament. It is not, however, to be wondered at; for Fame is a mistress whose favours we never cease to court, from the vigour of youth to the impotence of age. The candidates for literary reputation in particular are rarely satisfied with the portion of fame they have acquired; while they behold others straining for those laurels with which they have been already crowned, they are ready to conclude that it could only happen through their own inadivity, that new competitors have ventured into the field. Forgetting that the Aonian tree affords an eternal supply of branches, they seem apprehensive left
every new garland that is provided for the brow of merit, Mould take something from their own t- forgetting too that .
The ambition of appearing in print is a fault paft repentance. + These reflections were partly occafioned by the following Stanza in this Poem.
And since of Genius in our Sex,
O ADDISON! with thee