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THIS Simile exceeds any of the above; Firft, As it rifes fo naturally out of the Subject, and was a Comparison fo familiar to ADAM. Secondly, The Angels were marching thro' the Air, and not on the Ground, which gives it another Propriety; and here, I believe, the Poet intended the chief Likeness. Thirdly, The total Kind of Birds much more properly expresses a prodigious Number than any of the former, and gives us an Idea of MICHAEL'S Army exceeding any of these Subjects, to which this Simile is applied in HOMER and VIRGIL, as much in Multitude as the whole Creation of Fowls would do a fingle Flock of any particular Species, or a Collection in any particular Place. Thus, MILTON has raised the Image in Proportion to his Subject.

HOMER describes the TROJANS marching against their Enemies with Shouts and Clamours, which he illuftrates by the last of his two Similes; but, on the contrary, he makes his Countrymen advance with Silence,

Οι δ ̓ ἂς ἴσαν σιγῇ μένεα πνείοντες Αχαιοί

Of which Circumstance we find an Imitati

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on, in a Passage of MILTON, in the Neighbourhood of our laft Quotation from him.

At which Command the Powers militant,

That food for Heaven, in mighty Quadrate join'd,
of Union irrefiftible, mov'd on

In SILENCE their bright Legions, to the Sound
Of inftrumental Harmony, that breath'd

Heroic Ardour to advent'rous Deeds,

If we were to compare these two Defcriptions of HOMER and MILTON together, the latter is certainly by far preferable However, to speak impartially, the above Circumftance appears morê graceful in the Original; the Silence of the GRECIANS is there opposed to the Clamours of the TROJANS; but, in MILTON, there is no fuch Contraft.

THE Beauties of the following Description, which is alfo in Part taken from the above Similes, will be owned by every Reader.

Part more wife

In common, ranged in Figure wedge their Way,
Intelligent of Seafons, and fet forth

Their airy Caravan, high over Seas

Flying, and over Lands, with mutual Wing
Eafing their Flight; fo fteers the prudent Crane
Her annual Voyage, born on Winds; the Air
Floats as they pass; fann'd with unnumber'd Plumes.

MILTON

MILTON, frequently, in an Imitation, does not confine himself to the Paffage he principally takes it from, but renders it more complete by Hints taken from other Places of the fame, or from another Author. Thus, he has taken the Hint of the Metaphor their Caravan, and Part of the laft Line, from these Verses in the first Georgic.

Et e pafta decedens agmine magno

Corvorum increpuit denfis exercitus alis.

I muft obferve, That, as VIRGIL found it fuch an immenfe Labour to improve the Verses of HOMER; of Confequence it must have been a much harder Task for MILTON to improve thofe very ones of VIRGIL: A Task never one but he was equal for. Whereas, of our ordinary Poets, the whole Merit of their Imitations confifts in the Difficulty of imitating, occafioned by Diversity of Subject, as in Centos, &c. and, in these Cafes, the more literal they are, the better.

I must here take Notice of one Kind of Imitations, which has a very ill Effect: When one Poet borrows from another a Part of his Fable, or any Story or Circumstance

of

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of it, which is anywife remarkable, or extraordinary in itself, it betrays the Fiction, and entirely destroys the Probability of his Fable; for we can never believe the Story, when we see from whence it was fo exactly copied.

THIS evidently happens in the first fix Books of the Eneid, where numberless Circumstances of the Hero's Adventures are borrowed from HOMER'S Odyssey: For Inftance, as Vlyffes, by the Favour of Minerva, had entred the City of Alcinous concealed in a Cloud; fo Eneas, by the Help of his Mother, gets into Carthage in the fame Manner; with a Detail of other Refemblances. This is one of the great Reasons why HOMER'S Poems gain more on our Belief, and, confequently, please us, more than the Works of any other Author. MILTON has imitated this very Paffage in a Way not in the least liable to that Fault of which we have found VIRGIL guilty; but which adds highly to the Beauty of his Poem, without diminishing the Credit of it, Vix ea fatus erat, cum circumfufa repente Seindit fe nubes, & in athera purgat apertum. Reftitit Eneas, claraque in luce refulfit,

Os

Os, bumerofque deo fimilis: namque ipfa decoram
Cafariem gnato genetrix, lumenque juventa
Purpureum, & latos oculis afflarat honores.
Quale manus addunt ebori decus, aut ubi flavo
Argentum Pariufve lapis circumdatur auro.

Down a while

He fat, and round about him faw unfeen:

Æneid r.

At last, as from a Cloud, his fulgent Head
And Shape far-bright appear'd; or brighter, clad
With what permissive Glory, fince his Fall,
Was left him, or falfe Glitter.

THIS is a known Rule in History, and I think it will very well bear to be transferred to epic Poetry: However, the Rule itfelf, in either Cafe, will admit of feveral Exceptions; as, if the Circumftance be fuch, as will frequently happen in the Course of Things, without fuppofing an Imitation; or, if it be imitated, not by the Author, but the Perfon of whom he relates it. Thus, to give an Example both of the Rule itself, and this last Exception, we are told, in our Annals, that Hengift, the Saxon, asked of Vortigern as much Land as a Bull's Hide would cover; which being granted, he cut the Hide into Thongs, and fo circumvented him of a Piece of Ground large enough to build a Fort on; which, from the Occafion,

was

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