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All of which may be either satyrical or encomiastic;-grave or gay.

In the minor poems, the merit consists in the interest and congruity of the thoughts, and the elegance of the language in which those thoughts are expressed. The higher class are lengthened and varied; and, much of them being necessarily narrative, they require to be strewed over with flowers and studded with gems, which, by their odours and sparkling, may keep up the attention of the auditors during the duller recitations of the tale. The direct means employed for this purpose are, --in the first place, the due use and admixture of those figures of speech which we have already described; and, secondly, a sort of Religion, (or rather Superstition) which, in different forms, but in every nation, has always been peculiar to the bard.

The untutored observer ascribes the various phenomena of nature to the will of invisible powers, endowed like himself with conscious existence. The thunder rolls over his head; and he supplicates the god of the thunder. The rivers overflow their banks and fertilize, or lay waste, the plains; and he creates, in imagination, the naiads and the demons of the streams. Thus were formed the numerous deities of every savage nation; and the conflicts of the elements were

ignorantly believed to arise from the wars of their gods. The mythologies (or fabulous religions) of all countries have had a like origin; and, it was probably after the lapse of many ages that the philosophers of Egypt (or possibly of a still more ancient nation) succeeded in classifying the discordant multitude of the popular divinities; the chief of whom, fixing their abodes among the stars, still, occasionally, visited the earth; and, (according to the subsequent fictions) held their synods on Mount Olympus. The Greek poets and their Roman imitators, extended the empire of imagination. They peopled every fountain, every hill, and every grove with beings of celestial origin; and, in addition, those immortals of mortal creation played a splendid part in all the pursuits of human life. The petty affairs of families were influenced by their Lares, or household gods; while the more momentous transactions of nations were directed by the hierarchy of the heavens. It is hence that the poems of Greece and Rome are as much the histories of the gods as of men; the actions being intermingled in the same manner as the fairies, ghosts, and witches of the north are interwoven in the tales and ballads of our ruder ancestors. The learning of modern Europe, however, following that of the Greeks and Romans, has familiarized us with the classic mythology, which has become the creed of the poets of the present time, to the exclusion of the equally fabulous legends of the Celts and the Scandinavians.

A Tale (from to tell) is, literally, any thing told, and may relate events that are either real, or feigned. When those events are believed to have really happened, the Tale is termed a History. A Romance is a Tale of interesting or wonderful adventures, and has its name from those that were recited by the Troubadours, (inventors) or wandering minstrels, who, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, enlivened the warlike courts of the greater portion of Europe, with stories of the military achievements of crusading knights; of their gallantry and the unshaken fidelity of each to the lady whom he loved. A corrupted Latin dialect, called Provençal, or Provincial, by the inhabitants of Rome, and Romanzo, or Romish, by the Gothic nations, was, at that period, spoken along the northern coast of the Mediterranean, from Murcia, in Spain, through the whole of the south of France to Pisa in Italy; and extending inland along the Ebro, the Rhone and the Po. It was in this language that the Troubadours spoke, or sung; and hence their Tales were termed Romances. Some of those pieces were spoken in prose; oftener in rhyme;-and, occasionally, in a miscellaneous union of prose-narrative and song: but in neither form were they, in all cases, worthy of the name of poems as this term is applied by the taste of our age and country.

Interesting stories have been recounted, from time immemorial,-in every stage and class of society. Persian, Arabian, and Turkish Tales have, long ago, found their way into the remotest corners of Europe; and, by introducing their airy mythologies, have softened the ruder superstitions of the Gothic tribes. The indigenous inhabitants of the North had long listened only to tales of strong excitement. War was the occupation of their chiefs. The lives of men were put to peril, or sacrificed, in every line of their blood-stained ballads; and even the humble abodes of rural life were haunted by the ghosts of the murdered and alarmed by the yells of fiends. The infernal demons ranged uncontrouled over the earth; and stimulated their human agents, the Sorcerers and Witches,-in wreaking their vengeance upon mankind. The Elves and Fairies (or Fays) were of later origin, and shew, by their gentler manners and moonlight gambols, that they have been imported from a warmer clime. They are identical with the Persian Peri and the Arabian Ginn, the latter of which have their dwellings in an imaginary country called Ginnistan, the same which we term Fairy Land. The Genies of the Arabians (of which Genie is the singular) have not, like the Fairies, been naturalized in Europe. Those were divided into good and evil; and, in so far, they bore some resemblance to the Angels and Devils of the Christian world. The magicians, male or female, were able to call forth one or other of those genies to obey their will; but they did so by the power of their art, and by certain incantations: not, as the Sorcerers and Witches of the early ages of Christianity, by previously pawning their souls, for the acquisition of the power.

The Romances of Knight-errantry, so admirably ridiculed by Cervantes in his Don Quixote, originated in Spain, which, at a certain period, was imbued with the superstitions of the Moors. The wild prose legends of Amadis de Gaul were the groundwork of the fine poetical fictions of Ariosto and Tasso. A lady shut up in durance and distress was commonly to be relieved by the prowess of some redoubted knight. Her champion had not only to encounter every natural and human opposer: his antagonists were giants of

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