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Lastly—let the reader take the following as a specimen of something rather more fanciful than the poems we have hitherto transcribed.
Let me once know.
And ask'd, if Peace were there.
Go, seek elsewhere.'
I did—and going did a rainbow note :
“Surely,' thought I,
I will search out the matter;'
Did break and scatter.
A gallant flow'r,
• Peace at the root must dwell.'
What show'd so well.
At length I met a rev’rend, good old man :
Whom, when for Peace
“There was a prince of old,
Of flock and fold.
"He sweetly liv'd : yet sweetness did not save
His life from foes.
There sprang twelve stalks of wheat:
To plant and set.
It prosper'd strangely, and did soon disperse
Through all the earth.
That virtue lies therein ;
By flight from sin.
* Take of this grain, which in my garden grows,
And grows for you,
And peace, which every where
Is only there.'”
To speak of the faults of these poems, faults which abound in a far greater degree in the pieces which remain, than in those we have selected, would be useless to the purposes of our Review. It is our aim to pick out a few flowers which, in this case as in some others, are almost lost amid weeds—yet let it not be inferred that we have done this so completely in the present case, as that nothing but rubbish remains. On the contrary, we think that those who have a real relish for devotional poetry will find passages in Herbert that may refresh and delight them: at the same time, no reader of taste, and rational views of religion, but must lament and wonder at the strange and almost incomprehensible turn of some of the poems. What are we to make of the following ?
No point of honour or gay suit;
Nor a good sword, nor yet a lute.
It never was in France or Spain,
With my great stable or domain.
Nor the exchange, or busy hall-
I am with thee, and most take all."
The quaintness and oddity of the following are, however, compensated for by some excellent lines.
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
Contract into a span.'
So strength first made away;
Then beauty flow'd; then wisdom, honour, pleasure :
Rest in the bottom lay.
* Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
So both should losers be.
But keep them, with repining restlessness-
May toss him to my breast.”'
Art. III. The instructive and entertaining Fables of Pilpay, an
Ancient Indian Philosopher. The fifth edition. London, 1775.
The Fables of Pilpay have been long since translated into most of the European languages; but, after enjoying a temporary popularity, which is attested by the number of editions that have been published in different countries, they have sunk into unmerited neglect. The cause of this may be easily traced. The great success of the Arabian Nights Entertainments, that mine of oriental imagery and invention, produced a series of imitations, which, under the titles of Chinese, Persian, Turkish, and other Tales, must have sickened the appetites which they were intended to delight; and as Pilpay shared with them the applause of the reading public of that day, he was, also, doomed to partake in the indifference which succeeded the interest they at first excited. Literature has as many changes of fashion as are found in the minor departments of taste; and this alone might explain sufficiently why any book should, after a certain period, cease to entertain; but in the present case we may discover a more obvious reason for the obscurity into which our Indian philosopher has fallen, in the inelegant version of the French translation which was made for the use of English readers. Under this disadvantage, it could hardly be expected that Pilpay should maintain his ground against the hosts of writers who have, in turn, been the admiration of this novel-reading age and country. Even his claim
as the hereditary representative of the oldest fabulist of India would not, when the fate of fashion had otherwise determined, have preserved him from neglect, had the pedigree on which that claim is founded been as deducible as subsequent discoveries have made it, and as from different sources we are about to exhibit it to our readers. The high antiquity of this collection of Fables, and its curious progress from one language to another, together with its various changes of form and matter and even of title, are the most remarkable circumstances in its history; yet as a work of invention it has great merit, and as it would be too much to believe, with one of its eulogists, that it has been held in more universal estimation than any book except the Bible, so its great reputation in the East is assuredly to be attributed to excellence of a very high order.
Fables have been employed as the vehicles of instruction from the earliest ages. It is not easy to trace from what peculiarity of the human mind the love of allegory proceeds, but it is certain that the earliest dawning of intellect in every nation of the earth has been and is shewn by the use of this embellishment of language; and here, without doubt, is to be found the source of moral fable. For we may judge, from modern experience, that the first advisers of any race of mankind would find that all the admonition liberally bestowed in their honest zeal for the improvement of the species, would be but ill received, unless mixed with something that should render it more palatable. The personification of the passions of man appears to have been introduced long after the members of the irrational or inanimate creation had assumed their parts in these little dramas; or, if the deities of ancient mythology were originally the representatives of their respective attributes, the minds of the vulgar were unprepared to understand the more refined applications of allegorical writing, and mistook the metaphorical gods for real divinities. The most popular and the most ancient specimens of this kind of composition have usually animals, sometimes plants, as the actors of the piece; and of this species there are two schools, which may be respectively named after Æsop and Pilpay. Æsop's fables are short tales, in each of which, from the conversation or adventures of the actors, a single moral is readily extracted; Pilpay's are a series of fables, each incumbered with a string of morals, woven one within another, and all connected together by a leading story which is only introduced for the purpose of this connexion. The apparent aim of Æsop is to instruct without fatiguing the reader; the intention of Pilpay is to allure his attention by adopting an arrangement from which the mind may be induced, without a pause in the narrative, to master his whole system of ethics. There is great uncertainty in the history of the Phrygian's
works. It is generally believed that they were not committed
The Hawk and the Nightingale.
Cooke's Hesiod—Works and Days; I. 270.*
* Epy. xaà 'Hu. 186.
Ωδ' ερηξ προσεειπεν αηδονα ποικιλογηρυν,