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master of all styles, and every different way of writing. Ovid, indeed, shows himself most 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. 130. 1. 14. Spire above spire, etc. Ovid, to make his serpent 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 raised up but half his body, he overlooked a tall forest of oaks, and that his whole body was as large as that of the serpent in the skies. None but a madman would have attacked such 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 sight 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 had been thrown on Sicily, it is probable he would not have spared one of the whole brotherhood.

-Phænicas, sive illi tela parabant,

Sive fugam, sive ipse timor prohibebat utrumque,

P. 130. 1. 21. In vain the Tyrians, etc. The poet could not keep up his narration all along in the grandeur and magnificence of an heroic style: he has here sunk into the flatness of

prose, where he tells us the behaviour of the Tyrians at the sight of the serpent:

-Tegimen direpta leoni

Pellis erat; telum splendenti lancea ferro,

Et jaculum; teloque animus præstantior omni.

And in a few lines after lets 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 sanguinea lambentem vulnera lingua. And what pains does he take to express the serpent's breaking the force of the stroke, by shrinking back

from it!

Sed leve vulnus erat, quia se retrahebat ab ictu,
Læsaque colla dabat retro, plagamque sedere

Cedendo fecit, nec longiùs ire sinebat.

P. 133. 1. 6. And flings the future, etc. 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 messis virorum at last.

Ibid. 1. 11. The breathing harvest, etc. Messis clypeata virorum. The beauty of these words would have been greater, had only messis 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 surprise to the reader, is a great beauty in poetry, if there be sufficient ground for it in the nature of the thing that is described. 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 seldom afford a just occasion for it. When anything we describe has accidentally in it some

quality that seems repugnant to its nature, or is very extraordinary and uncommon in things of that species, such a compounded image as we are now speaking of is made, by turning this quality 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, stony, 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, blooming 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 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, En. 8. where he describes Æneas carrying on his shoulders the reputation and fortunes of his posterity; which, though very odd and surprising, 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 cœlestia crimina. I shall conclude this tedious reflection with an excellent stroke of this nature, out of Mr. Montagu'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.

P. 134. 1. 3. Here Cadmus reign'd. This is a pretty solemn transition to the story of Acteon, which is all naturally told. The goddess and her maids undressing her are described with diverting circumstances. Acteon's flight, confusion, and griefs are passionately represented; but it is pity the whole narration should be so carelessly closed up.


-Ut abesse queruntur,

capere oblatæ segnem spectacula prædæ. Vellet abesse quidem, sed adest, velletque videre, Non etiam sentire, canum fera facta suorum.


P. 137. 1. 7. A generous pack, etc. 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 verse, and the Greek names Ovid uses would sound a great deal worse. He closes up his own catalogue with a kind of jest on it, quosque referre mora est—which, by the way, is too light and full of humour for the other serious parts of this story.

This way of inserting catalogues of proper names in 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 event, 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. 138. 1. 21. How Semele, etc. 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 one as shows who drew it; for who does not plainly discover Ovid's hand in the

Quà tamen usque potest, vires sibi demere tentat.
Nec, quo centimanum dejecerat igne Typhœa,
Nunc armatur eo: nimium feritatis in illo.
Est aliud levius fulmen, cui dextra Cyclopum
Sævitia flammaque minus, minus addidit Iræ,
Tela secunda vocant superi.-

P. 139. 1. 22. "'Tis well," says she, etc. Virgil has made a Beroë of one of his goddesses in the fifth Æneid; but if we

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