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General remarks on Antient and Oriental Profe Fable.-Modern Profe Fable, divided into, I. The HISTORICAL ALLEGORY. Argenis. John Bull. II. The RELIGIOUS AND MORAL ALLEGORY.

Pilgrim's Progrefs. Gulliver's Travels. Tale of a Tub. III. The POETICAL PROSE FABLE, or ROMANCE.-Character of the nations, who introduced the Feudal Government and Manners.Crufades.-Chivalry-Alterations in the Feudal Syftem.-Rife of Modern Literature.-KnightErrantry profcribed by law; and finally extirpated by the publication of Don Quixote.-Importance of that work.-Death and character of the OLD ROMANCE.-The NEW ROMANCE.-I. Serious, and Hiftorically arranged. Robinson Crufoe. 2. Serious, and Poetically arranged. Sir Charles Grandifon. Clariffa. 3. Comick, and Hiftorically arranged. Gil Blas. Roderick Random, &c. 4. Comick, and Poetically ar ranged. Jofeph Andrews. Tom Jones. Amelia.-Conclufion.







HE love of Truth is natural to man; and adherence to it, his indifpenfable duty. But to frame a fabulous narrative, for the purpofe of inftruction or of harmless amufement, is no breach of veracity, unless one were to obtrude it on the world for truth. The fabulift and the novel-writer deceive nobody; because, though they study to make their inventions probable, they do not even pretend that they are true: at leaft, what they may pretend in this way is confi


dered only as words of courfe, to which nobody pays any regard. Fabulous narrative has accordingly been common in all ages of the world, and practifed by teachers of the most refpectable character.

It is owing, no doubt, to the weakness of human nature, that fable fhould ever have been found a neceffary, or a convenient, vehicle for truth. But we must take human nature as it is: and, if a rude multitude cannot readily comprehend a moral or political doctrine, which they need to be inftructed in, it may be as allowable, to illustrate that doctrine by a fable, in order to make them attend, and understand it, as it is for a phyfician to ftrengthen a weak ftomach with cordials, in order to prepare it for the business of digeftion. Such was the defign of Jotham's parable of the trees choofing a king, in the ninth chapter of the book of Judges and fuch that famous apologue, of a contention between the parts of the human body, by which Menenius Agrippa fatisfied the people of Rome, that the welfare of the ftate depended on the union and good agreement of the feveral members of it. In fact, the common people are not well qualified for argument. A fhort and pithy proverb, which is easily remembered; or little tales, that appeal as it were to their fenfes, weigh more with them than de. monftration.

We need not wonder, then, to find, that, in antient times, moral precepts were often delivered in the way of proverb or aphorifm, and enforced and exemplified by fictitious narrative. Of those fables that are afcribed to Efop, fome


are no doubt modern, but others bear the stamp of antiquity. And nothing can be better contrived, than many of them are, for the purpose of impreffing moral truth upon the memory, as well as the understanding. The difappointment, that frequently attends an exceffive defire of accumulation, is finely exemplified in the fable of the dog and his fhadow; and the ruinous and ridiculous nature of ambition is with equal energy illuftrated in that of the frog and the ox. Thefe little allegories we are apt to undervalue, because we learned them at fchool; but they are not for that reason the less valuable. We ought to prize them as monuments of antient wisdom, which have long contributed to the amusement and inftruction of mankind, and are entitled to applaufe, on account of the propriety of the invention.

The Greek apologues afcribed to Efop, and the Latin ones of Phedrus, are masterpieces in this way of writing; and have hardly been equalled by the best of our modern fabulifts. They are (at least many of them are, for fome are trifling) remarkable for the fimplicity of the ftyle; and for the attention, which their authors have generally given, to the nature of the animals, and other things that are introduced as agents and speakers. For in most of the modern fables, invented by Gay, La Fontaine, L'Eftrange, Poggio, and others, the contrivance is lefs natural; and the language, though fimple, is quaint, and full of witticifm. That a dog fhould fnap at the fhadow of a dog, and by fo doing lofe the piece of flesh that was in his own mouth, is fuitable to the character of the animal, and is indeed a very probable ftory:


but that an elephant fhould converfe with a bookfeller about Greek authors, or a hare intreat a calf to carry her off on his back, and fave her from the hounds, is a fiction wherein no regard is had to the nature of things. In this, as in the higher forts of fable, it is right to adhere, as much as may be, to probability. Brute animals, and vegetables too, may be allowed to speak and think: this indulgence is granted, from the neceflity of the cafe; for, without it, their adventures could neither improve nor entertain us: but, with this exception, nature fhould not be violated; nor the properties of one animal or vegetable afcribed to a different one. Frogs have been feen inflated with air, at least, if not with pride; dogs may fwim rivers; a man might take a frozen viper into his bofom, and be bit to death for his imprudence; a fox might play with a tragedian's headpiece; a lamb and a wolf might drink of the fame brook, and the former lofe his life on the occafion but who ever heard of an elephant reading Greek, or a hare riding on the back of a calf?

The wisdom of antiquity was not satisfied with conveying fhort leffons of morality in these apologues, or littles tales. The poets entered upon a more extenfive field of fable; in order to convey a more refined fpecies of inftruction, and to please by a more exquifite invention, and a higher probability. But I confine myself at prefent to profe fable.

One of the first specimens of Fabulous History, that appeared in these western parts of the world, is the Cyropedia of Xenophon. This work,


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