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PLAN OF AN EPIC POEM.
As Æneas was famed for his piety, so his grandson's characteristic was benevolence; this first predominant principle of his character, prompted his endeavours to redeem the remains of his countrymen, the descendants from Troy, then captives in Greece, and to establish their freedom and felicity in a just form of government.
He goes to Epirus; from thence he travels all over Greece; collects all the scattered Trojans; and redeems them with the treasures he brought from Italy.
Having collected his scattered countrymen, he consults the oracle of Dodona, and is promised a settlement in an Island, which, from the description, appears to have been Britain. He then puts to sea, and enters the Atlantic Ocean.
The first book was intended to open with the appearance of Brutus at the Straits of Calpe, in sight of the Pillars of Hercules (the ne plus ultra). He was to have been introduced debating in council with his captains, whether it was advisable 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 rich 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 Straits, 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 dastards, 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, for the love they bear to
Brutus, determine to be the companions of his enterprize; and it is resolved to set sail 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 Supreme God in all his majesty, sitting on his throne in the highest Heaven. The superintending Angel of the Trojan's empire (the Regnum Priami vetus) falls down before the throne, and confesses his justice in having overturned that kingdom, for the sins of the princes, and of the people themselves. But adds, that after having chastised and humbled them, it would now be agreeable to 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.
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