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improving. In the number of books in an epic poem, varying from six to two dozen, an odd number has been hitherto little known. It comes, therefore, as a gratuity in the present instance ; and Mr Hoyle, surpassing Virgil himself in generosity, gives us thirteen books, as the conscientious baker gives thirteen rolls to the dozen.

Yet this generous profusion of an author in multiplying his pages, though it may please the purchaser who loves to have bulk of volume for his money, and may read as much or as little as he pleases, is sometimes rather troublesome to peevish critics: and we must honestly confess, that on the first perusal of this importa ant article, our fortitude forsook us at the prospect of thirteen books, on which no ray of interest or entertainment appeared to dawn. Returning, however, to a sense of the duty and dignity of our profession, we resolved to scorn the trifling allurement of mere amusement, and apply our aged eyes to the task of measuring Mr Hoyle's poetical altitude, not by the random guess of our own calculation, but by the quadrant and plummet of Aristotelian criticism. After applying this suret test to the performance, our veneration for the poem has considerably increased.

Aristotle hath remarked, that the epic poem should be distinguished from history, by its poetical form, and by the liberty of fiction which it assumes.

Whether the reverend author before us has sufficiently fulfilled this ordonnance with regard to fiction, we do not feel bold enough in so important a question to decide ; but certain it is, that his poem will never be mistaken for the book of Exodus in scripture. In the first place, Exodus of the Pentateuch, is known to be an history; but the Exodiade is expressly named an epic poem in the title-page. In the next place, Exodus is divided into chapters of prose; Mr Hoyle's performance is divided into books of blank verse. In the third place, the bible Exodus is inspired; whereas the Exodiade of Mr Hoyle bears evident marks of human achievement.

Instead of failing in attention to the rule above-mentioned, it gives us pain to remark, that our author has gone a little too far in establishing the distinction between his work and holy writing. It behoved him, we think, as a grave divine, to have stuck closely, in all the important facts, to the text and order of Scripture. Every one knows how much of our interest in the original story of Exodus depends upon the ten plagues of Egypt. Of these, the stagnant and bloody waters were the first; and immediately after these, came the plague of lice; a visitation which, as coming home to the business and bosoms of men,' we have no doubt tormented the court of Pharaoh, more than all the nine other plagues put together. Where so much depended on the agency of those heaven-commissioned vermin, much ought to have been described A a 2

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by the poet. The rage of Pharaoh, and the confusion of his seraglio under these tormentors, might have furnished sufficient horrors for the page of Mr Hoyle, or the pencil of Mr Fuseli. What does Mr Hoyle do? He is afraid to name them; he slurs them over by circumlocution. Now this, we think, is abandoning truth, scripture, and simplicity, without any apology; and making a cowardly submission to false and modern refinement. We trust we shall not be accused of national prejudices on so delicate a subject : but to suppress a whole plague of Egypt for the sake of a name, is really too much. No man who has had occasion to attend to the subject, will pretend to consider it as insignificant. We dare swear Pharaoh himself thought with Goldsmith, that

• These little things are great to little men.' All that is said, however, of this sublime plague, is hurried over in a slight allusion in a speech addressed to Pharaoh, by one of his jugglers, or high priests, or courtiers—for at this period, those professions seem not to have been divided. The Egyptian court show-men, it is well known, had maintained for some time an unequal rivalship with Moses, whose miracles they made ingenious, but fruitless, efforts to imitate,-either by collusion, as some suppose, with the devil, after the manner of Dr Faustus,-or, like Boaz and Bresław, by slight of hand deception. The latter, we think, is the niore orthodox supposition. Howsoever it happened, they were able to play off but a few entertainments, when the genuine miracles of Moses laid their mountebank quackeries in the dirt. Like true courtiers, they left their deluded king to scratch his head without assistance, in the disstreses which they had advised him to bring upon himself; and, when the vermi plague arrived, were obliged to confess, that they had neither witchcraft nor hocus-pocus to disenchant his enemies. Observe, however, how one of those detected rogues addresses the monarch in the usual style of court adulation.

• Mightiett of monarchs, the defire and dread

Of nations !-on the well-appointed fate
That girds thy throne magnificent, we gaze,
Till gazing grows to labour ; yet our fight
Finds no fatiety, while ruled in peace
By thine experienced sceptre. We admire
Thine equity and sage paternal care ;
'To thee, as present godhead, we devote
Our art and service; to thy bidding task
Our utmost faculties, of no mean power
By proof evinced. Wher Aaron turned to blood
Egyptian Areams, the obsequious element
We (mote, and colourless pellucid changed
To fanguine and opaque ; and when he

called
Embodied reptile hosts o'er house and field,

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We too with facil imitation raised
Th'amphibious croaking race : but when he brought
O'er man and beat the vermin plague, luspense
Our' mystery failed; for to tranfmute the dust
Of Egypt, and with swarms of insects loathed,
Priests, altars, temples, palaces defile,
Iris forbade, and, blafting our attempt,
Her dreadful frown assuined, and name of wrath,
Tithrambo : her dishonour'd priests she mouins,
And rites polluted, (hence her aid withdrawn):
Or Typhon's baleful influence triumphs now
Predominant in air ; or Israel's God,
In higher spheres presiding, ibwarts our charms.

Book I. I. 104. In the next plague our author makes a still more alarming deviation from his text. Instead of the simple plague of flies, he gives us, in a most heterodox manner, a plague of all animals whatsoever, and tells us that this is the true meaning of the passage in scripture, without adducing a tittle of evidence for the assertion. Now, we strongly suspect, that instead of pitying the Egyptians for such a plague, our true English sportsmen, many of whom belong to his own mother church, and will naturally look into a brother clergyman's performance, will rather envy the Egyptians such a visitation of elephants and bisons, wild boars, flamingoes, falcons, &c.; and, in spite of the snakes and amphisbænas, wish in their hearts for a few shots at such excellent game, so infinitely preferable to fly.catching. What would a Daniel or a Thornton say, to have the whole treasures of savage nature laid open to their field sports ? The passage we allude to is quite a natural history poetized,

• Foremoft in whirls the infect millions came.' These are not so pleasant, to be sure; but let us come to the wildfowl

• Of longitude immense, and depth profound,

Next with annoyance dire the feather'd tribe
Darken'd the fun; flamingoes, falcons, herns,
The greedy cormorant, the sharp.ey'd kite,
The doleful bittern, and the sea-mew gauit,
Red ibis, and the hawk of leadielt wing,
Fit symbol of the winds, and sacred held
Throughout the land of Nile ; the clam'rous crane,
The broad-beak'd pelican ; the ostrich tall;
The offifrage and osprey, and the clang
Of eagles fierce, as when afar they ken
Havoc and battle ; when their headlong rage
With speed of lightning hurries to the plain.
Nor such alone as whom Norwegia breeds,

Or

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Or Thule, where, from beetling precipice,
Suspense, the peasant plies his dreadful trade,
Plundering their eyries ; but of mighty bone,
And pennons, rival to the condor's plume,
Who in the ftony girdle pleas'd resides,
Where winter shivers near the tropic fun
On Cotopafi, and the lonely snows
Of Chimboraco ; there the monarch wings
The depth of upper air. With eyes on fire
Darted the vulture : next the bird that tends
His aged fire (and thence by Egypt's soos
Rovered) and on the royal sceptre graven
Outstretch'd his length of neck ; nor laggd behind
The raven, nor the dismal owl, whose cries
Infest the night; nor he of doubtful form,
Th' unhallow'd bird of darkness, though to beafts
Fitlier perhaps afcribed, and by his fide
The vampyre, kindred plague, that sucks the veins,

And changes seep to death. We have then a procession of snakes with long names ; and afterwards this fine menagerie of quadrupeds.

Now far and wide
The dusty plain resounds with trampling speed
Of bestial feçt ; now leaps, now proudly talks
The panther, conscious of his painted vet,
And youthful strength redundant ; now remote,
And now at hand, the lion's hollow roar
Appals the bold; flow from the labouring wave
Behemoth snorting rose, portentous shape,
His loins and ribs like solid plates of brass,
His tail like cedar waving, and his bones
As iron bars; the horned rhinoceros,
The boar and spotted ounce ; the bearded pard,
The fierce-ey'a bison, furious buffalo,
The sharp quilld porcupine, and tiger fell,
Promiscuous roam'd ; the wild als did not love
That time his desart haunts and mountains drear,
But swept the plain with favage scorn, deriding
Affrighted man; unwieldy in his might
Huge strode the lordly elephant, and seem'a
A moving tower, o'er all the countless throng
Preeminent, as o'er the tallest bark
Some icy mount in Hyperborean seas
Loose drifting from the pole, beneath whose lee
Navies might moor~so vast the giant length,

The base to deep, the nodding creft so high.'-Book I. 1. 303. An epic poem, we are told by the critic, is to be considered

under

under three heads,the subject, the characters, and the narration of the poet.

The subject ought to have unity, greatness and interest ;-in two of these respects, Mr Hoyle is remarkably classical. As the hero of epic song is in the hands of the poet not a drudge of all work, who is to shift from one unconnected adventure to another, but an articled apprentice, who is to be kept strictly to one business, with the exception of a few episodes intervening like holidays ; so the hero of the Exodiade attends, during ten thousand lines, very soberly to the main chance. Delays are indeed interposed, such as the marriage of Moses, the parliamentary intrigues of the devils, the country dances of the witches and clergy of Egypt, and the provoking obstinacy of Pharaoh ; but our unpleasant suspense is relieved by the certainty of what is ultimately to be done with Pharaoh, and the consciousness how well he deserves it. Indeed, the moral of our poet's work seems only an echo of the concluding stanza of another heroic poem on the same subject, by an author of no small celebrity in his day• Now, was not Pharaoh a very great rascal, Not to let the children of Israel, with their wives and their fons and

daughters, go out into the widerness to eat ! he Lord's pascal ?' Nor is the gentle relief of the episode wanting to this work; at least, we apprehend the interview of Moses with her serene highness the Egyptian princess-dowager Thermutis (in the sixth book), having little or nothing to do with the main subject, to be an episodical flourish. The evening party of those illustrious personages reminds us strongly of that of Dído and Æneas, as far as story-telling goes :—but here the similarity stops; for the moral tendency of the two passages is as different as that of the Shorter Catechism and the Nouvelle Eloise. Instead of a lovesick queen, we have an aged and devout gentlewoman considerably turned of ninety. None of the madness, suicide, or romance of Dido, which so much endanger the morality of youth in perusing the Roman poet, are to be found in this holy episode. -Thermutis is, indeed, the adopted mother of Moses; but if she were not, the greatest praise would still be due to our poet, for painting them in such grave and reflective attitudes, that the loosest imagination could conceive no more danger to their mutual virtue from the tête-à-tête, than from the meeting of two Egyptian mummies. Under the head of characters, much has been said by critia A a 4

cal

This admirable distich is extracted from a metrical version of a confiderable part of the Holy Scriptures by Zachary Boyd-a copy of whics is prefev.d in the library of the univerlity of Glasgow.

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