Page images

his mercy and goodness, to raise up a new state from their ruins, and form a people who might serve him better; that, in Brutus, his providence had a fit instrument for such a gracious design.

This prostrate Angel is raised by the Almighty, and permitted to attend upon Brutus in his voyage to Britain, in order to assist him in the reduction of that island.

The Guardian Angel, in pursuance of this commission, flies from Heaven to the high mountain of Calpe; and from thence causes an east wind to blow, which carries the fleet out of the Straits westward to the Canary islands, where he lands.

[ocr errors]

Here was to have been a description of Teneriff, and of the volcanos, as likewise of a most delicious island, which is described to be without inhabitants. A great part of his followers are disposed to settle here. What more, say they, can we wish for ourselves, than such a pleasing end of all our labours? In an inhabited country we must, perhaps, be forced to fight and destroy the natives; here, without encroaching upon others, without the guilt of a conquest, we may have a land that will supply us with all the necessaries of life. Why then should we go farther? Let us thank the

This affords room

Gods, and rest here in peace. for a beautiful description of the land of Laziness.

Brutus, however, rejects the narrow and selfish proposition, as incompatible with his generous plan of extending benevolence, by instructing and polishing uncultivated minds. He despises the

mean thought of providing for the happiness of themselves alone, and sets the great prospect of Heaven before them.

His persuasions, being seconded by good omens, prevail: nevertheless, they leave behind them the old man and the woman, together with such as are timid and unfit for service, to enjoy their ease there, and to erect a city. Over this colony, consisting however of about three thousand persons, he proposes to make Pisander king, under such limitations as appear to him wisest and best.

To this proposal they all assent with great satisfaction; only Pisander.absolutely refuses to be king, and begs, notwithstanding his age, that he may attend Brutus in his enterprize. He urges that his experience and counsels may be of use, though his strength is gone; and that he shall die unhappy, if he does not die in the arms of his friend.

Brutus accepts his company, with great expressions of gratitude; and having left his colony a form of pure worship, and a short and simple body of laws, orders them to choose a government for themselves, and then sets sail with none but resolute and noble associates.

Here the Poet, by way of episode, meant to have introduced the passion of some friend, or the fondness of some female, who refused to stay behind, and determined to brave all hardships and perils, rather than quit the object of their affections.

Providence is now supposed to send his spirit

to raise the wind, and direct it to the northward. The vessel at length touched at Lisbon or Ulyssipont, where he meets with the son of a Trojan, captive of Ulysses. This gives occasion for an episode; and, among other things, furnishes an account of Ulysses settling there, and building of Lisbon; with a detail of the wicked principles of policy and superstition he had established, and of his being at length driven away by the discontented people he had enslaved.

Brutus is afterwards driven by a storm, raised by an evil spirit, as far as Norway. He prays to the Supreme God. His Guardian Angel calms the seas, and conducts the fleet safe into port; but the evil spirit excites the barbarian people to attack them at their landing.

Brutus, however, repulses them, lands, and encamps on the sea-shore. In the night an aurora borealis astonishes his men, such a phenomenon having never been seen by them before.

He endeavours to keep up their spirits, by telling them that what they look upon as a prodigy, may be a phenomenon of nature usual in those countries, though unknown to them and him; but that if it be any thing supernatural, they ought to to interpret it in their own favour, because heaven never works miracles but for the good.

About midnight they are attacked again by the barbarians, and the light of the aurora is of great use to them for their defence.

Brutus kills their chief leader, and Orontes the

three next in command. This discourages them, and they fly up into the country. He makes prisoners of some of the natives, who had been used to those seas, and inquires of them concerning a great island to the south-west of their country; they tell him they had been in such an island upon piratical voyages, and had carried some of the natives into captivity. He obtains some of those captives, whom he finds to be Britons; they describe their country to him, and undertake to pilot him.

In the next book, Brutus touches at the Orcades, and a picture is given of the manners of the savages. The North Britons he brought with him from Norway relate strange stories concerning one of the greatest of their islands, supposed to be inhabited by dæmons, who forbid all access to it, by thunders, earthquakes, &c. Eudemon relates a tradition in Greece, that in one of the Northern islands of the Ocean, some of the Titans were confined after their overthrow by Jupiter. Brutus, to confound their superstition, resolves to land in that island.

Brutus sails thither in a small vessel of six oars, attended only by Orontes, who insists on sharing with him in this adventure. When the boat approaches the shore, a violent hurricane rises, which dashes it against the rocks, and beats it to pieces. All the men are drowned but Brutus and Orontes, who swim to land. They find a thick forest, dark and impenetrable, out of which proceeds a dreadful noise.


[blocks in formation]

All at once the sun was darkened; a thick night comes over them; thundering noises and bellowings are heard in the air, and under ground. A terrible eruption of fire breaks out from the top of a mountain, the earth shakes beneath their feet. Orontes flies back into the wood, but Brutus remains undaunted, though in great danger of being swallowed up, or burnt by the fire. In this extremity he calls upon God; the eruption ceases, and his Guardian Angel appears to Brutus, telling him. God had permitted the evil spirit to work seeming miracles by natural means, in order to try his virtue, and to humble the pride of Orontes, who was too confident in his courage, and too little regardful of Providence. That the hill before them was a volcano; that the effects of it, dreadful, though natural, had made the ignorant savages believe the island to be an habitation of fiends. That the hurricane, which had wrecked his boat, was a usual symptom, preceding an eruption. That he might have perished in the eruption, if God had not sent him his good angel to be his preserver.

He then directs him to seek the south-west part of Great Britain, because the northern parts were infested by men not yet disposed to receive religion, arts, and good government, the subduing and civilizing of whom was reserved by Providence for a son, that should be born of him after his conquest of England.

Brutus promises to obey; the angel vanishes. Brutus finds Orontes in a cave of the wood; he is

« PreviousContinue »