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them, which are generally the heaviest pieces of a poet, diftinguished from the reft by Italian characters. The best of Ovid's expositors is he that wrote for the Dauphin's use, who has very well fhewn the meaning of the author, but feldom reflects on his beauties or imperfections; for in moft places he rather acts the geographer than the critic, and, instead of pointing out the fineness of a defcription, only tells you in what part of the world the place is fituated. I fhall therefore only confider Ovid under the character of a poet, and endeavour to fhew him impartially, without the ufual prejudice of a translator: which I am the more willing to do, because I believe fuch a comment would give the reader a truer, tafte of poetry than a comment on any other poet would do; for, in reflecting on the ancient poets, men think they may venture to praise all they meet with in some, and scarce any thing in others; but Ovid is confeft to have a mixture of both kinds, to have fomething of the beft and worst poets, and by confequence to be the faireft fubject for criticifm.
P. 108. 1. 8. My son, says he, &c.] Phoebus's fpeech is very nobly usher'd in, with the "Terque quaterque "concutiens illuftre caput"-and well represents the danger and difficulty of the undertaking; but that which is its peculiar beauty, and makes it truly Ovid's, is the representing thein juft as a father would to his young fon;
"Per tamen adverfi gradieris cornua tauri,
Hæmoniofque arcus, violentique ora leonis, "Sævaque circuitu curvantem brachia longo
"Scorpion, atque aliter curvantem brachia cancrum."
for one while he scares him with bugbears in the way,. -Vasti quoque rector Olympi,
Qui fera terribili jaculetur fulmina dextrâ,
"Non agat hos currus; et quid Jove majus habetur?” "Deprecor hoc unum quod vero nomine pœna,
"Non honor eft. Poenam, Phaeton, pro munere pofcis." And in other places perfectly tattles like a father, which by the way makes the length of the speech very natural, and concludes with all the fondness and concern of a tender parent.
"Patrio pater effe metu probor; afpice vultus
P. 110. l. 13. A golden axle, &c.] Ovid has more turns and repetitions in his words than any of the Latin poets, which are always wonderfully easy and natural in him. The repetition of Aureus, and the tranfition to Argenteus, in the defcription of the chariot, give thefe verfes a great fweetness and majesty ;
"Aureus axis erat, temo aureus, aurea fummæ “Curvatura rotæ; radiorum argenteus ordo."
P. 111. 1. 7. Drive them not on directly, &c.] Several have endeavoured to vindicate Ovid against the old objection, that he miftakes the annual for the diurnal motion of the fun. The Dauphin's notes toll us that Ovid knew very well the fun did not pass through all the figns he names in one day, but that he makes Phoebus mention them only to frighten Phaeton from the undertaking. But though this may anfwer for what Phoebus fays in his firft fpeech, it can
"Mare contrahitur, ficcæque eft campus arenæ," because the thought is too near the other. The image of the Cyclades is a very pretty one;
-Quos altum texerat æquor
"Exiftunt montes, et fparfas Cycladas augent." but to tell us that the fwans grew warm in Cäyfter, "-Medio volucres caluere Cäystro,"
and that the Dolphins durft not leap,
"Ne fe fuper æquora curvi
"Tollere confuetas audent Delphines in auras," is intolerably trivial on fo great a subject as the burning of the world.
P. 116. 1. 19. The earth at length, &c.] We have here a speech of the Earth, which will doubtlefs seem very unnatural to an English reader. It is I believe the boldest Profopopoeia of any in the old Foets; or, if it were never so natural, I cannot but think she speaks too much in any reafon for one in her condition.
ON EUROPA'S RAPE.
P. 141. l. 17. The dignity of empire, &c.] This ftory is prettily told, and very well brought in by thofe two ferious lines,
"Non bene conveniunt, nec in unâ fede morantur, "Majeftas et Amor. Sceptri gravitate reli&tâ, &c." without which the whole fable would have appeared very prophane.
P. 142. l. 27. The frighted nymph looks, &c ] This confternation and behaviour of Europa,
"Elufam defignat imagine tauri
"Europen: verum taurum, freta vera putaras. "Ipfa videbatur terras fpectare relictas,
"Et comites clamare fuos, tactumque vereri "Affilientis aquæ, timidafque reducere plantas," is better defcribed in Arachne's picture in the Sixth Book, than it is here; and in the beginning of Tatius's Clitophon and Leucippe, than in either place. It is indeed usual among the Latin Poets (who had more art and reflexion than the Grecian) to take hold of all opportunities to defcribe the picture of any place or action, which they generally do better than they could the place or action itself; because in the description of a picture you have a double subject before you, either to defcribe the picture itself, or what is reprefented in it.
ON THE STORIES IN THE THIRD BOOK.
FA B. I.
THERE is fo great a variety in the arguments of the Metamorphofes, that he who would treat of them rightly, ought to be a master of all ftiles, and every different way of writing. Ovid indeed fhows himself moft in a familiar ftory, where the chief grace is to be eafy and natural; but wants neither ftrength of thought nor expreffion, when he endeavours after it, in the more fublime and manly fubjects of his poem. In the prefent fable, the ferpent is terribly described, and his behaviour very well imagined; the actions of both parties in the encounter are natural, and the
language that reprefents them more ftrong and mafculine than what we ufually meet with in this Poet: if there be any faults in the narration, they are these, perhaps, which follow:
P. 146. 1. 8. Spire above Spire, &c.] Ovid, to make his ferpent more terrible, and to raise the character of his champion, has given too great a loose to his imagination, and exceeded all the bounds of probability. He tells us, that when he raifed up but half his body, he over-looked a tall foreft of oaks, and that his whole body was as large as that of the ferpent in the fkies. None but a madman would have attacked fuch a monster as this is defcribed to be; nor can we have any notion of a mortal's ftanding against him. Virgil is not ashamed of making Æneas fly and tremble at the fight of a far less formidable foe, where he gives us the description of Polyphemus, in the Third Book; he knew very well that a monfter was not a proper enemy for his hero to encounter: but we should certainly have feen Cadmus hewing down the Cyclops, had he fallen in Ovid's way: or if Statius's little Tydeus had been thrown on Sicily, it is probable he would not have spared one of the whole brotherhood. "Phonicas, five illi tela parabant,
"Sive fugam, five ipfe timor prohibebat utrumque, "Occupat :
Ibid. 1. 15. In vain the Tyrians, &c.] The Poet could not keep up his narration all along, in the grandeur and magnificence of an heroic ftile: he has here funk into the flatnefs of profe, where he tells us