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The first book was intended to open with the appearance of Brutus at the straits of Calpe, in fight of the Pillars of Hercules, (the ne plus ultra.) He was to have been introduced debating in council with his captains, whether it was adviseable to launch into the great ocean, on an enterprise bold and hazardous as that of the great Columbus.
One reason, among others, assigned by Brutus, for attempting the great ocean in search of a new country, was, that he entertained no prospect of introducing pure manners in any part of the then known world ; but that he might do it among a people uncorrupt in their manners, worthy to be made happy; and wanting only arts and laws to that purpose.
A debate ensues. Pisander, an old Trojan, is rather for settling in Betica, a rich country, near the straits, within the Mediterranean, of whose wealth they had heard great fame at Carthage. Brutus apprehends that the softness of the climate, and the gold found there, would corrupt their manners; besides, that the Tyrians, who had established great commerce there, had introduced their superstitions among the natives, and made them unapt to receive the instructions he was desirous to give.
Cloanthes, one of his captains, out of avarice and effeminacy, nevertheless desires to settle in a sich and fertile country, rather than to tempt the dangers of the ocean, out of a romantic notion of heroism,
This has such an effect, that the whole council being dismayed, are unwilling to pass the ftraits, and venture into the great ocean; pleading the example of Hercules for not advancing, farther, and urging the presumption of going beyond a god. To which Brutus, rising with emotion, answers, that Hercules was but a mortal like them; and that if their virtue was superior to his, they would have the same claim to divinity: for that the path of virtue, was the only way which lay open to heaven.
At length he resolves to go in a single ship, and to reject all such daftards, as dared not accompany him,
Upon this, Orontes takes fire, declares he will attend him through any dangers; that he wants no oracle, but his own courage, and the love of glory. That it was for merchants like the Tyrians, not for heroes like them, to make trading settlements in a country, for the sake of its wealth.
All the younger part of the council agree to the sentiments of Orontes; and, from the love they bear to Brutus, determine to be the companions of his enterprize, and it is resolved to set fail the next day. That night Hercules appears to him in a vision, applauding and confirming the sentiments he had that day delivered in council, and encouraging him to persevere in the pursuit of the intended enterprize.
The second book opens with a picture of the fupreme God in all his majesty, fitting on his throne in the highest heaven. The superintending angel of the Trojans empire (the Regnum Preami vétus ) falls down before the throne, and confesses his justice in having overturned that kingdom, for the fins of the princes, and of the people themselves. But adds, that after having chastised and humbled them, it would now be agrecable to his mercy and goodness, to raise up a new state from their ruins, and form a people who might ferve him better. That, in Brutus, his Providence had a fit instrument for such a gracious de
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 ifland.
• The guardian angel, in pursuance of this commiffion, flies from heaven to the high mountain of Calpe; and from thence causes an east wind to blow, which carries the feet out of the Itreights westward to the Canary islands, where he lands.
Here was to have been a description of Teneriff, and of the volcanoes, 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 de
stroy 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 gods, and rest here in peace. This affords room for a beautiful defcription of the land of laziness.
Brutus, however, rejects this 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 promises of heaven before them.
His persuasions, being feconded by good omens, prevail; nevertheless they leave behind them the old men and the women, together with such as are timid and unfit for service, to enjoy their ease there, and 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 wifest and best.
To this proposal they all affent with great satisfaction ; only Pifander absolutely refuses to be King, and begs, notwithstanding his age, that he may attend Brutus in his enterprise. He urges that his experience and councils 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 chuse a government for themselves, and then sets fail 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 fend his spirit to raise the wind, and direct it to the northward. The vessel at length touches at Lisbon, or Ulyffipont, where he meets with the fon 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 a port; but the evil spirit excites the barbarian people, to attack them at their landing.