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Some weightier arms than crooks and staffs prepare,
Fix'd to destroy, and stedfast to undo.
Wild as his land, in native deserts bred,
By lust incited, or by malice led,
The villain Arab, as he prowls for prey,
Oft marks with blood and wasting flames the way;
Yet none so cruel as the Tartar foe,
To death inur'd, and nurst in scenes of woe.
He said; when loud along the vale was heard
The passions of men are uniform; but, modified by climate, government, manners, and local circumstances, they present an inexhaustible variety, from the Song of Solomon, breathing of cassia, myrrh, and cinnamon, to the Gentle Shepherd of Ramsay, whose damsels carry the milking pails through the frost and snows of their less genial, but not less pastoral country. The province of Pastoral may, in this way, be enlarged to take in all the beautiful and all the grand appearances of nature, which observation or reading may have brought the poet acquainted with.—B.
These Eclogues may be considered as spirited sketches of a new kind of Pastoral, which is susceptible of unlimited variety and improvement.-B.
DESCRIPTIVE AND ALLEGORICAL.
THE genius of Collins was capable of every degree of excellence in lyric poetry. Possessed of a native ear for all the varieties of harmony and modulation, susceptible of the finest feelings of tenderness and humanity, but, above all, carried away by that high enthusiasm, which gives to imagination its strongest colouring, he was, at once, capable of soothing the ear with the melody of his numbers, of influencing the passions by the force of his Pathos, and of gratifying the fancy by the luxury of description.
In consequence of these powers he chose such subjects for his lyric essays as were most favourable for the indulgence of description and allegory; where he could exercise his powers in moral and personal painting; where he could exert his invention in conferring new attributes on images or objects already known and described; where he might give an uncommon eclat to his figures, by placing them in happier attitudes, or in more advantageous lights, and introduce new forms from the moral and intellectual world into the society of impersonated beings.
Such, no doubt, were the privileges which the poet expected, and such were the advantages he derived from the descriptive and allegorical nature of his themes.
It seems to have been the whole industry of our author (and it is, at the same time, almost all the claim to moral excellence his writings can boast) to promote the influence of the social virtues, by painting them in the fairest and happiest lights.
If, therefore, it should appear to some readers, that he has been more industrious to cultivate description than sentiment; it may be observed, that his descriptions themselves are sentimental, and answer the whole end of that species of writing, by embellishing every feature of virtue, and by conveying, through the effects of the pencil, the finest moral lessons to the mind.
After these apologies for the descriptive turn of the following odes, something remains to be said on the origin and use of allegory in poetical composition.
It is not the verbal but the sentimental allegory, not allegorical expression (which, indeed, might come under the term of metaphor) but allegorical imagery, that is here in question.
At the birth of letters, in the transition from hieroglyphi
cal to literal expression, it is not to be wondered if the cus tom of expressing ideas by personal images, which had so long prevailed, should still retain its influence on the mind, though the use of letters had rendered the practical appli cation of it superfluous. Those who had been accustomed to express strength by the image of an elephant, swiftness by that of a panther, and courage by that of a lion, would make no scruple of substituting, in letters, the symbols for the ideas they had been used to represent.
Here we plainly see the origin of allegorical expression, that it arose from the ashes of hieroglyphics; and if to the same cause we should refer that figurative boldness of style and imagery which distinguish the oriental writings, we shall, perhaps, conclude more justly, than if we should impute it to the superior grandeur of eastern genius.
From the same source with the verbal, we are to derive the sentimental allegory, which is nothing more than a continuation of the metaphorical or symbolical expression of the several agents in an action, or the different objects in a
The latter most peculiarly comes under the denomination of allegorical imagery; and in this species of allegory we include the impersonation of passions, affections, virtues and vices, &c. on account of which, principally, the following odes were properly termed by their author, allegorical.—L.
ODE TO PITY.
O THOU, the friend of man assign'd,
And charm his frantic woe:
When first Distress, with dagger keen,
By Pella's Bard,❤ a magic name,
By all the griefs his thought could frame,
Long, Pity, let the nations view
Thy sky-worn robes of tenderest blue,
But wherefore need I wander wide
Deserted stream, and mute?
Wild Arun† too has heard thy strains,
Euripides, who was buried at Pella, a city of Macedonia, after residing there about three years.-C.
A river in Sussex.-The mention of Otway, born as well as Collins near the Arun, probably suggested to his melancholy and indignant mind, an