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- 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 “ Existunt montes, et sparsas Cycladas augent.” but to tell us that the swans grew warm in Cäyster,
" -Medio volucres caluere Cäystro,” and that the Dolphins durft not leap,
“ Ne fe fuper æquora curvi
5. Tollere confuetas audent Delphines in auras," is intolerably trivial on so great a subject as the burning of the world.
P. 116. l. 19. The earth at length, &c.] We have here a speech of the Earth, which will doubtless seem very unnatural to an English reader. It is I believe the boldest Profopopoeia of any in the old Poets; or, if it were never so natural, I cannot but think she speaks too much in any reason for one in her condition.
ON EUROPA'S RAPE.
P. 141. 1. 17. The dignity of empire, &c.] This story is prettily told, and very well brought in by those two serious lines, “ Non bene conveniunt, nec in unâ fede morantur,
Majestas et Amor. Sceptri gravitate reli&tâ, &c.'' without which the whole fable would have appeared very prophane.
P. 142. 1. 27. The frighted nymph looks, &c.] This consternation and behaviour of Europa,
" -Elufam defignat imagine tauri
“ Europen : verum taurum, freta vera putaras.
“ Affilientis aquæ, timidasque reducere plantas," is better described 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 describe 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 describe the picture itself, or what is represented in it.
ON THE STORIES IN THE THIRD BOOK.
THERE is so great a variety in the arguments of the Metamorphoses, that he who would treat of them rightly, ought to be a master of all stiles, and every different
way of writing. Ovid indeed shows himself molt in a familiar story, where the chief grace is to be easy and natural ; but wants neither strength of thought nor expression, when he endeavours after it, in the more sublime and manly subjects of his poem. In the present fable, the serpent is terribly described, and his behaviour very well imagined; the actions of both parties in the encounter are natural, and the
language that represents them more strong and masculine than what we usually 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 loofe 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 forest of oaks, and that his whole body was as large as that of the serpent in the kkies. None but a madman would have attacked fuch a monster as this is described to be ; nor can we have any notion of a mortal's standing 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 monster was not a proper enemy for his hero to encounter : but we should certainly have seen Cadmus hewing down the Cyclops, had he fallen in Ovid's way: or if Statius's little Tydeus bad been thrown on Sicily, it is probable he would not have spared one of the whole brotherhood.
" --Phænicas, sive 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 stile: he has here sunk into the fatness of prose, where he tells us
the behaviour of the Tyrians at the sight of the serpent :
“ –Tegimen direpta leoni
“ Et jaculum ; teloque animus præftantior omni.” and in a few lines after Jets drop the majesty of his verse, for the sake of one of his little turns. How does he languish in that which seems a laboured line ! “ Tristia fanguineâ lambentem vulnera lingua.” And what pains does he take to express the serpent's breaking the force of the stroke, by Mrinking back from it!
“ Sed leve vulnus erat, quia se retrahebat ab i&tu,
1. 4. And flings the future, &c.] The description of the men rising out of the ground is as beautiful a passage as any in Ovid. It strikes the imagination very strongly; we see their motion in the first part of it, and their multitude in the “ Meffis 06 virorum" at last.
Ibid. I. 9. The breathing harveft, &c.] " Messis s clypeata virorum.” . The beauty in these words would have been greater, had only.“ Meslis virorum" been expressed without “ clypeata ;" for the reader's mind would have been delighted with two such different ideas compounded together, but can scarce attend to such 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 surprize to the reader, is a great beauty in poetry, if there be fufficient ground for it in the nature of the thing that is described. The 4
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 seldom afford a juft occasion for it. When any thing we describe has accidentally in it some quality that seems repugnant to its nature, or is very extraordinary and uncommon in things of that fpecies, such a compounded image as we are now speaking of is made, by turning this quai lity into an epithet of what we describe. Thus Claudian, having got a hollow ball of crystal with water in the midst of it for his subject, takes the advantage of considering the crystal as hard, ftony, precious water, and the water as soft, fluid, imperfect crystal, and thus sports off above a dozen Epigrams, in setting 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 so much to this way of writing, that a man may easily know where to meet with them when he sees his subject, and often strains so hard for them that he many times makes his descriptions 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 sprouts, radiant leaves, bloom ing metal, branching gold, and all the quarrels that could have been raised between words of such different natures : when we see Virgil contented with his “ Auri frondentis ;” and what is the same, though much finer expressed,—" Frondescit virga metallo." This composition of different ideas is often met with