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N reading several passages of the Prophet Isaiah,
which foretell the coming of Christ and the felicities attending it, I could not but observe a remarkable parity between many of the thoughts, and those in the Pollio of Virgil. This will not seem surprising, when we reflect, that the Eclogue was taken from a Sibylline prophecy on the same subject. One may judge that Virgil did not copy it line by line, but selected such ideas as best agreed with the nature of paftoral poetry, and disposed them in that manner which served most to beautify his piece. I have endeavoured the fame in this imitation of him, though without admitting any thing of my own ; since it was written with this particular view, that the reader, by comparing the several thoughts, might see how far the images and deferiptions of the Prophet are superior to those of the Poet. But as I fear I have prejudiced them by my management, I shall subjoin the passages of Isaiah, and those of Virgil, under the fame disadvantage of a literal translation, P.
In Imitation of VIRGIL'S POLLIO.
Y Nymphs of Solyma! begin the song:
To heav'nly themes sublimer strains belong
Rapt into future times, the Bard begun:
Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna ;
Irrita perpetua folvent formidine terras
“ Now the Virgin returns, now the kingdom of Saturn re“ turns, now a new progeny is sent down from high heaven. By “ means of thee, whatever reliques of our crimes remain, shalt “ be wiped away, and free the world from perpetual fears. He “ Thall govern the earth in peace, with the virtues of his Father.
ISAIAH, Ch. vii. * 14. *s Behold a Virgin shall conceive and “ bear a Son. --- Chap. ix. * 6,7. Unto us a Child is born, unto “ us a Son is given; the Prince of Peace: of the ingrcase of his Vol. I,
From a Jesse's root behold a branch arise,
IMITATIONS. “ government, and of his peace, there shall be no end: Upon “ the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order and to “ ftablish it, with judgment, and with justice, for ever and ever. P.
REMARKS. Ver. 13. Ye Heav'ns ! from high the dewy nečlar pour, And in soft silence thed the kindly show'r !] His Original says, “ Drop “ down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down “ righteousness : let the earth open, and let them bring forth “ falvatiori, and let righteousness spring up together."---This is a very noble description of divine grace Thed abroad in the hearts of the faithful under the Gospel dispensation. And the poet understood all its force, as appears from the two lines preceding thele,--- Th' Ætherial Spirit, etc. The prophet describes this under the image of rain, which chiefly fits the firft age of the Gospel : The poet, under the idea of dew, which extends it to every age. And it was his purpose it should be so understood, as appears from his expression of soft silence, which agrees with the common, not the extraordinary effufions of the Holy Spirit. The figurative term is wonderfully happy. He who would moralize the antient Mythology in the manner of Bacon, must say, that by the poetical nectar, is meant theological grace.
VER. 17. ancient fraud.] i. e. the fraud of the Serpent a Ifai. xi. 1. Ch. xlv. x 8. Ch. xxv. ¥ 4. Ch. ix. 7. 25
Peace o’er the world her olive wand extend,
At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu,
Ipfa tibi blandos fundent cunabula flores.
ISAIAH, Ch. xxxv. * 1. " The wilderness and the folitary
place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as “the rose.” Ch. Ix. Ý 13. “ The glory of Lebanon shall come
unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the box together,
Aggredere ô magnos, aderit jam tempus, honores,
Ch. xl. x 30 4: