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in a whole sentence, 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 descriptions of pictures, images, dreams, apparitions, metamorphoses, and the like; where they bring together two such thwarting ideas, by making one part of their descriptions relate to the representation, and the other to the thing that is represented. Of this nature is that verse, which, perhaps, is the wittiest in Virgil; “ Attollens humeris “ famamque et fata nepotum,” Æn. viii, where he describes Æneas carrying on his shoulders the reputation and fortunes of his posterity; which, though very odd and surprizing, is plainly made out, when we consider how these disagreeing ideas are reconciled, and his posterity's fame and fate made portable by being engraven on the shield. 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 says" Rupit cælestia crimina.” I shall conclude this tedious reflexion with an excellent stroke 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 subjects, if he had ever gained such 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 story, we may findthe genius of each Poet discovering itself in the lan-> guage of the nurse : Virgil's Iris could not have spoken more majestically in her own thape; but Juno is so much altered from herself in Oyid, that the goddess is quite lost in the old woman.
P. 160. 1. 9. She can't begin, &c.] If playing on words be excusable in any Poem, it is in this, where Echo is a speaker ; but it is so mean a kind of wit, that, if it deserves excuse, it can claim no more.
Mr. Locke, in his Efläy of Human Understanding, has given us the best account of wit in short that can any where be met with. “ Wit, says he, lies, in “ the affemblage of ideas, and putting those together “ with quickness and variety, wherein can be found
any resemblance or congruity, thereby to make up “ pleasant pictures and agreeable visions in the fancy," Thus does true wit, as this incomparable author observes, generally consist in the likeness of ideas, and is more or less wit, as this likeness in ideas is more surprizing and unexpected. But as true wit is nothing else but a similitude in ideas, so is false wit the fimilitude in words, whether it lies in the likeness of letters only, as in Anagram and Acrostic; or of Syllables, as in doggrel rhymes; or whole words, as Puns, Echoes, and the like. Beside these two kinds of false and true wit, there is another of a middle nature, that has something of both in it-when in
two ideas that have some resemblance with each other, and are both expressed by the same word, we make use of the ambiguity of the word to speak that of one idea included under it, which is proper to the other. Thus, for example, most languages have hit on the word, which properly signifies fire, to express love by (and therefore we may be sure 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, consider it no longer as the passion, but speak of it under the notion of a real fire; and, as the turn of wit requires, make the same word in the same sentence stand 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 passion, they kindle in the water; the Greek Epigrammatist fell in love with one that Aung a snow-ball at him, and therefore takes occafion to admire how fire could be thus concealed in (now. In short, whenever the Poet feels anything in this love that resembles something in fire, he carries on this agreement into a kind of allegory; but if, as in the preceding instances, 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 seeming contradiction. I Thould not have dwelt so long on this instance, had it not been so 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.
P. 150. 1. 3. Here Cadmus reign’d.] This is a pretty folemn transition to the story of Aðtæon, which is all naturally told. The goddess and her maids undressing her, are described with diverting circumstances. Actæon's flight, confusion, and griefs, are paffionately represented; but it is pity the whole narration should be fo carelelly clofed up.
16 Ut abeffe queruntur,
P. 153. 1. 10. A generous pack, &c ] I have not here troubled myself to call over Actæon's pack of dogs in rhyme : Spot and Whitefoot make but a mean figure in heroic verle; and the Greek names Ovid uses would found a great deal worse. He closes up his own catalogue with a kind of a jest on it:
Quofque referre mora eft"-which, by the way, is too light and full of humour for the other ferious parts of this story This
way of inserting catalogues of proper names fin their Poems, the Latins took from the Greeks; but have made them more pleasing than those they imitate, by adapting so many delightful characters to their persons names; in which part Ovid's copiousness of invention, and great insight into nature, has given him the precedence to all the Poets that ever came before or after him. The smoothness of our English
verse is too much lost by the repetition of proper names, which is otherwise very natural, and absolutely necessary in some cases; as before a battle to raise in our minds an answerable expectation of the events, and a lively idea of the numbers that are engaged. For, had Homer or Virgil only told us in two or three lines before their fights, that there were forty thousand of each side, our imagination could not possibly have been so affected, as when we see every leader singled out, and every regiment in a manner drawn up before our eyes.
P. 154. 1. 26. How Semele, &c.] This is one of Ovid's finished stories. The transition to it is proper and unforced : Juno, in her two speeches, acts incomparably well the parts of a resenting goddess and a tattling nurse: Jupiter makes a very majestic figure with his thunder and lightning, but it is still such a
as shews who drew it; for who does not plainly discover Ovid's hand in the " Quà tamen usque poteft, vires fibi demere tentat. “ Nec, quo centimanum dejiceret igne Typhea, “ Nunc armatur eo: nimium feritatis in illo. “ Eft aliud levius fulmen, cui dextra Cyclopum, “ Sævitiæ flammæque minus, minus addidit ire; 66 Tela fecunda vocant superi.”
P. 155. 1. 26. 'Tis well, says the, &c.] Virgil has made a Beroë of one of his goddesses in the Fifth Æneid; but if we compare the speech the there makes