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tot bella per orbem :
I SHALL only stop a moment to obseryo with what propriety Virgil, when he was writing on husbandry, complains of the plough not receiving due honour, the fields lying waste, their owners forced to bear arms, and the crooked scythes being forged into cruel swords. But surely, if the people have no real interest in the quarrels of their princes, as it is certain they very seldom have, it would be highly reasonable that the princes only should fight. Would it not have been infinitely more just, that Alexander and Darius, Cæfar and Pompey, and many more such destroying heroes who might be mentioned, should have decided their disputes by single combat, than that so many thousands should have been facrificed to their ambition? It was certainly a noble action, and worthy of great commendation, in our king Henry the fifth, that soon after he arrived in France to affert and obtain his right to the crown of that kingdom,
he sent a letter to the Dauphin, in which he challenged him to a single combat, is that fo,” as he expressed it, “ the lives "of many men might be spared, and the
quarrel between them two be honourably fought and decided by themselves.” An immense treasure, and the lives of perhaps a million of people, might have been saved, if Lewis the fourteenth of France, when he was young, and first began to disturb Europe, had been thus engaged to fight fingly. Our William the third, if he had come a little sooner into the world, would not, I believe, have refused the combat : tho I could rather have wished, that circumstances had concurred to have matched Lewis with Charles the twelfth of Sweden, and have brought them together upon the stage. The subjects of such a pair of royal gladiators would certainly have had reason to wish they might both have fallen in the difpute. But the worst is, that tho' these
pernicious princes, or some of them, might have been by this means destroyed, yet bad kings are like the heads of the Hydra: if one is cut off, another immediately sprouts up.
I was about to have proceeded in my fpeculations, and have inquired what may be the reason, that although wars are many
times unjust, and always a terrible calamity, yet not only the bulk of mankind, but
you, and I, and many more peaceable persons, are nevertheless delighted with the accounts and descriptions which history and poetry give of wars and battles; and to have made some further observations on war and cruelty ; but for fear I should, by the length of this letter, rather tire than divert you, F Thall only add, that
I am, &ca
and observations mentioned in my
former letter, and tell me it would be a pleasure to you to see them, I comply with chearfulness: for I cannot gratify myself more highly than in giving pleasure to one I so much efteem.
That the greatest poets, who are certainly some of the most curious observers and best judges of human nature, and particularly
the epic poets, have been sensible of the uni. versal taste of mankind for descriptions of wars and battles, agreeably to what is mentioned in my last, is evident; for these are the principal subjects of the Iliad and Æneid: and, in Paradise Lost, the author has given us a battle of angels, which by great numbers of his readers, is not, I believe, the least admired part of that divine performance. Give me leave to mention a fourth poem of the same kind, which has done honour to this age
and nation, and will, I doubt not, be applauded by future generations, even as long as the English language is understood, (which, 'perhaps, may be for ever:) great part of this poem is also on the same fubjects, and the battles between Leonidas-and the Persians, --some of the bravest and moft glorious on the side of the former, because in defence of liberty and his country, that ever were fought, -have, I believe, been universally admired.
Several of our best tragic poets have also not only described battles, but even introduced them on the stage. How preposterous foever this lastmentioned practice may be, (and preposterous indeed I think it,), nevertheless it ferves to thew how pleasing thefe poets have thought such representations are to the people.