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FROM THE NINTH BOOK OF
« Illa vero
About this time it became fashionable among the wits at Button's, “ the mob of gentlemen that wrote with ease,” to translate Ovid. Their united performances were published in form by Garth, with a Preface written in a flowing and lively style, but full of strange opinions. He declares that none of the classic poets had the talent of expressing himself with more force and perspicuity than Ovid ; that the Fiat of the Hebrew Lawgiver is not more sublime than the “jussit et extendi campos” of the Latin Poet; that he excels in the propriety of his similes and epithets, the perspicuity of his allegories, and the instructive excellence of his morals. Above all, he commends him for his unforced transitions, and for the ease with which he slides into some new circumstances, without any violation of the unity of the story ; the texture, says he, is so artful, that it may
be compared to the work of his own Arachne, where the shade dies so gradually, and the light revives so imperceptibly, that it is hard to tell where the one ceases and the other begins. But it is remarkable that Quintilian thought very differently on this subject of the transitions ; and the admirers of Ovid would do well to consider his opinion : frigida et puerilis est in scholis affectatio, et hujus velut præstigiæ plausum petat.” Garth was a most amiable and benevolent man : it was said of him “that no physician knew his art more, nor his trade less.” Pope told Mr. Richardson, that there was hardly an alteration, of the innumerable corrections that were made throughout every edition of the Dispensary, that was not for the better. The vivacity of his conversation, the elegance of his manners, and the sweetness of his temper, made Garth an universal favourite, both with Whigs and Tories, when party-rage ran high.
The notes which Addison wrote on those parts of Ovid which he translated are full of good sense, candour, and instruction. Great is the change in passing from Statius to Ovid; from force to facility of style, from thoughts and images too much studied and unnatural, to such as are obvious, careless, and familiar.
Voltaire bas treated Augustus with pointed, but just severity, for banishing Ovid to Pontus, and assigning for a reason his having written The Art of Love; a work even of decency, compared with several parts of Horace, whom Augustus so much praised and patronized ; and which contained not a line at all comparable to some of the gross obscenities of Augustus's own verses. Laying many circumstances together, he thinks the real cause of this banishment was, that Ovid had seen and detected Augustus in some very criminal amour, and, in short, been witness to an act of incest. Ovid himself says,
“Cur aliquid vidi ?” And Minutianus Apuleius says, “ Pulsum quoque in exitium quod Augusti incestum vidisset.” Voltaire adds, “ That Ovid himself deserves almost equal reproaches for having so lavishly and nauseously Aattered both that emperor and his successor Tiberius.” Vol. v. p. 297.—Warton.
DRYOPE IN ARBOREM.
Dixit: et, admonitu veteris commota ministræ,
15 Littoris efficiens; summum myrteta coronant. Venerat huc Dryope fatorum nescia; quoque Indignere magis, Nymphis latura coronas. Inque sinu puerum, qui nondum impleverat annum, Dulce ferebat onus; tepidique ope lactis alebat. 20 Haud procul a stagno, Tyrios imitata colores, In spem baccarum florebat aquatica lotos.
24 THE FABLE OF DRYOPE.
She said, and for her lost Galanthis sighs,
A lake there was, with shelving banks around,
DRYOPE.] Upon occasion of the death of Hercules, his mother Alcmena recounts her misfortunes to Iole, who answers with a relation of those of her own family, in particular the transformation of her sister Dryope, which is the subject of the ensuing fable.—Pope.
Ver. 13.) This flowing couplet he has transferred into more places than one of his version of Homer. Many parts of this fable are indeed executed in his happiest manner, and would not have misbecome his powers in their maturity. An uncommon vein of tenderness and simplicity runs thro’a series of sweet and unaffected versification.—Wakefield.
Carpserat hinc Dryope, quo oblectamina nato
Nescierat soror hoc; quæ cum perterrita retro 35
Of these she cropp'd to please her infant son, 25
This change unknown, astonish'd at the sight, 35
50 And found the springs, that ne'er till then deny'd Their milky moisture, on a sudden dry'd. I saw, unhappy! what I now relate, And stood the helpless witness of thy fate. Embrac'd thy boughs, thy rising bark delay'd, 55 There wish'd to grow, and mingle shade with shade.
Behold Andræmon and th' unhappy sire Appear, and for their Dryope inquire : A springing tree for Dryope they find, And print warm kisses on the panting rind; 60