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required the extreme of his invective. These two, with a few smaller poems, complete the plan of the present work.
The peculiar beauties of Claudian consist in a certain delicacy and tenderness of thought, united to bold and luxuriant description: but in no one of his productions are these qualities so decided, and so unadulterate, as in the Rape of Proserpine, wherein alone we perceive the true vigour of the poet, unrestrained by the degrading necessity of administering to the vanity of contemporary greatness, and exerted upon a theme in itself rich and inspiring. If indeed we compare this poem with the other pieces produced by the same author, we shall find it entirely free from those defects which have hitherto cast a veil of reproach over his fame, that strain of adulation and extravagant metaphor, from which the more moderate reader of the present day turns with apathy or disgust. Even in our own times, among the works of our native poets, how
short-lived is the breath of mere panegyric! The odes and songs of Waller are yet listened to with delight, but the language of the same writer is forgotten when he celebrates Charles, or records the fame of Cromwell; and yet, to English ears, these are more memorable personages than Honorius and Arcadius, or Stilicho, to whom Claudian has devoted so large a portion of poetry and praise.
In the Rape of Proserpine the author seems to have enlarged with considerable variation, upon the fable sketched out by Ovid in his Metamorphoses; the construction is not purely epic; the most important incidents are too much hurried in the opening of the piece, and other deviations from strict rule may be found; yet such is the splendor and majesty of this beautiful production, and so just and natural its pathos, that it has excited in an eminent degree the attention and praise of a numerous and learned class of readers, and has undergone a variety of translations into the Italian and French langua
ges, while the remaining works of the poet have been, by no means, so generally esteemed. This partiality is very justly due to a poem, which the author himself preferred beyond any other of the fruits of his invention or study, and upon which he appears to have intended to build his fame. The story of Proserpine is frequently alluded to by our most eminent writers; Shakespeare, in " the Winter's tale," makes Perdita regret the inclemency of the season, that afforded her so few flowers to adorn her feast, exclaiming
For the flowers now, that, frighted, thou lett'st fall
From Dis's waggon! daffodils,
That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty; violets, dim,
But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes,
Or Cytherea's breath; pale primroses,
Milton, likewise, in dwelling upon the beauties of Eden, seems to carry in his mind, throughout the whole of his description, a mute comparison of that delicious garden, to the no less enchanting plains of Enna;
-Not that fair field
Of Enna, where Proserpin gathering flowers,
Of Eden strive.
-might with this paradise
Paradise Lost, IV. 268.
The poem of Rufinus, although less calculated to please than the Rape of Proserpine, possesses many passages of singular beauty, as well descriptive, as of moral dignity; it would be perhaps difficult to discover, even in the ad
mired pages of Horace or Virgil, more elegant strains, or more pleasing philosophy, than the calm reflections of the
poet, upon a view of the comparison of courtly grandeur, with the charms of rural ease and retirement.* Our great poet Milton appears, at a very early age, to have studied this poem, and to have partly employed it as a model for his first attempt towards framing a production in the style of Epic dignity, in his Latin work, " De Quinto Novembris," in which the dawnings of that brilliant genius may be 'discovered, which afterwards so conspicuously shone forth in the unrivalled composition of Paradise lost. This similarity is extremely obvious upon comparing the first book of Rufinus with the latin poem of Milton, and it is confirmed upon a closer inspection of particular passages: the following extracts will perhaps be sufficient to awaken the attention of the curious reader to a further consideration of the subject.
Alecto late, with envy and dismay,
* See Rufinus, I. 111.