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the behaviour of the Tyrians at the fight of the ferpent: "Tegimen direpta leoni
"Pellis erat; telum fplendenti lancea ferro,
"Et jaculum; teloque animus præftantior omni." and in a few lines after lets drop the majefty of his verfe, for the fake of one of his little turns. How does he languish in that which feems a laboured line! "Triftia fanguineâ lambentem vulnera linguâ." And what pains does he take to exprefs the ferpent's breaking the force of the stroke, by shrinking back from it! "Sed leve vulnus erat, quia fe retrahebat ab ictu, “Læsaque colla dabat retrò, plagamque federe "Credendo fecit, nec longiùs ire finebat."
P. 149. 1. 4. And flings the future, &c.] The defcription of the men rising out of the ground is as beautiful a paffage as any in Ovid. It strikes the imagination very strongly; we fee their motion in the first part of it, and their multitude in the "Meffis "virorum" at last.
Ibid. 1. 9. The breathing harveft, &c.] "Meffis "clypeata virorum." The beauty in thefe words would have been greater, had only "Meffis virorum” been expreffed without "clypeata;" for the reader's mind would have been delighted with two fuch different ideas compounded together, but can scarce attend to fuch a complete image as is made out of all three.
This way of mixing two different ideas together in one image, as it is a great furprize to the reader, is a great beauty in poetry, if there be fufficient ground for it in the nature of the thing that is defcribed. The
Latin Poets are very full of it, especially the worst of them; for the more correct use it but sparingly, as indeed the nature of things will feldom afford a juft occafion for it. When any thing we defcribe has accidentally in it fome quality that seems repugnant to its nature, or is very extraordinary and uncommon in things of that fpecies, fuch a compounded image as we are now speaking of is made, by turning this qua lity into an epithet of what we defcribe. Thus Claudian, having got a hollow ball of crystal with water in the midst of it for his fubject, takes the advantage of confidering the crystal as hard, ftony, precious water, and the water as foft, fluid, imperfect crystal; and thus sports off above a dozen Epigrams, in fetting his words and ideas at variance among one another. He has a great many beauties of this nature in him; but he gives himself up fo much to this way of writing, that a man may easily know where to meet with them when he fees his fubject, and often strains fo hard for them that he many times makes his defcriptions bombastic and unnatural. What work would he have made with Virgil's Golden Bough, had he been to describe it? We should certainly have seen the yellow bark, golden fprouts, radiant leaves, bloom_ ing metal, branching gold, and all the quarrels that could have been raised between words of fuch different natures: when we fee Virgil contented with his "Auri frondentis ;" and what is the fame, though much finer expreffed," Frondefcit virga metallo." This compofition of different ideas is often met with
in a whole fentence, where circumstances are happily reconciled that seem wholly foreign to each other; and is often found among the Latin Poets (for the Greeks wanted art for it), in their defcriptions of pictures, images, dreams, apparitions, metamorphofes, and the like; where they bring together two fuch thwarting ideas, by making one part of their descriptions relate to the representation, and the other to the thing that is reprefented. Of this nature is that verfe, which, perhaps, is the wittiest in Virgil; "Attollens humeris "famamque et fata nepotum," Æn. viii, where he defcribes Æneas carrying on his fhoulders the reputation and fortunes of his pofterity; which, though very odd and furprizing, is plainly made out, when we confider how these disagreeing ideas are reconciled, and his pofterity's fame and fate made portable by being engraven on the fhield. Thus, when Ovid tells us that Pallas tore in pieces Arachne's work, where she had embroidered all the rapes that the gods had committed, he fays" Rupit cœleftia crimina." I fhall conclude this tedious reflexion with an excellent ftroke of this nature out of Mr. Montague's Poem to the King; where he tells us, how the King of France would have been celebrated by his fubjects, if he had ever gained fuch an honourable wound as King William's at the fight of the Boyne.
"His bleeding arm had furnish'd all their rooms, "And run for ever purple in the looms.”
*Afterwards Earl of Halifax.
with that of her name-fake in this ftory, we may find the genius of each Poet discovering itfelf in the language of the nurfe: Virgil's Iris could not have spoken more majestically in her own thape; but Juno is fo much altered from herself in Ovid, that the goddess is quite loft in the old woman.
FA B. V.
P. 160. 1. 9. She can't begin, &c.] If playing on words be excufable in any Poem, it is in this, where Echo is a speaker; but it is fo mean a kind of wit, that, if it deferves excufe, it can claim no more.
Mr. Locke, in his Effäy of Human Understanding, has given us the best account of wit in short that can any where be met with. "Wit, fays he, lies in "the affemblage of ideas, and putting those together "with quickness and variety, wherein can be found 66 any refemblance or congruity, thereby to make up "pleasant pictures and agreeable vifions in the fancy," Thus does true wit, as this incomparable author obferves, generally confift in the likeness of ideas, and is more or lefs wit, as this likeness in ideas is more furprizing and unexpected. But as true wit is nothing elfe but a fimilitude in ideas, fo is falfe wit the fimilitude in words, whether it lies in the likeness of letters only, as in Anagram and Acroftic; or of Syllables, as in doggrel rhymes; or whole words, as Puns, Echoes, and the like. Befide these two kinds of falfe and true wit, there is another of a middle nature, that has fomething of both in it-when in
two ideas that have some resemblance with each other, and are both expreffed by the fame word, we make use of the ambiguity of the word to fpeak that of one idea included under it, which is proper to the other. Thus, for example, moft languages have hit on the word, which properly fignifies fire, to exprefs love by (and therefore we may be fure there is some resemblance in the ideas mankind have of them); from hence the witty Poets of all languages, when they once have called Love a fire, confider it no longer as the paffion, but fpeak of it under the notion of a real fire; and, as the turn of wit requires, make the fame word in the fame sentence ftand for either of the ideas that is annexed to it. When Ovid's Apollo falls in love, he burns with a new flame; when the SeaNymphs languish with this paffion, they kindle in the water; the Greek Epigrammatift fell in love with one that flung a fnow-ball at him, and therefore takes occafion to admire how fire could be thus concealed in fnow. In fhort, whenever the Poet feels any thing in this love that resembles fomething in fire, he carries on this agreement into a kind of allegory; but if, as in the preceding inftances, he finds any circumstance in his love contrary to the nature of fire, he calls his love a fire, and by joining this circumstance to it furprizes his reader with a feeming contradiction. I should not have dwelt fo long on this inftance, had it not been fo frequent in Ovid, who is the greatest admirer of this mixt wit of all the ancients, as our Cowley is among the moderns. Homer, Virgil, Ho