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Another, on the fame
NOTES and OBSERVATIONS by GILBERT WAKEFIELD, B. A.
On Eloifa to Abelard
OVID feems to have had the merit," Dr. Warton obferves, "of inventing this beautiful fpecies of writing Epiftles under feigned names, although Propertius has one compofition of the fame fort, an Epiftle of Arethufa to Lycotas." In fact, Ovid's Heroic Epistles were prior to that of Propertius, as it evidently appears from the notes in the quarto edition of Propertius ; where it is said exprefsly—Epiftola, &c. scripta ad imitationem Heroidum Ovidianarum, ut recte obfervavit Nic. Heinfius, neque enim dubitari poteft quin incidat in idem tempus, quo Nase artes fuas elucubrabat, tefte hoc loco, Ex. L. 1.
Ecce parat Cæfar domito quod deficit orbi,
Addere, nunc oriens ultime nofter eris.
Tunc vero jam evulgatæ erant et libri Amorum, et Heroidum Epiftolæ, fic enim ipfe, lib. 3. art. Aman.
Deve tribus libris titulus quos fignat amorum,
Vel tibi compofitâ cantetur epiftola voce,
The merit of the invention, therefore, of this fpecies of writing, appears folely to belong to Ovid-it is, as Warton obferves, a high improvement on the Greek Elegy, on account of its dramatic form. He adds, "The judgment of the writer must appear, by opening the complaint of the perfon introduced, juft at such a period of time as will give occafion for the moft tender fentiments, and the most violent and fudden turns of paffion to be dif played." How beautifully is this displayed in Pope's Epiftle to Abelard! a poem that has another moft interefting circumstance, which Ovid appears, as well as our Drayton, to have neglected; I mean the introduction of appropriate and defcriptive imagery, which relieves and recreates the fancy by the pictures and by the landfcapes which accompany the characters. Ovid, in this Epiftle feems not infenfible to the effect of the introduction of fuch scenes
and "the Leucadian Rock," the "Antra, nemufque," "the aquatic Lotus," the "facred pellucid Fountain," and parti
cularly the Genius of the Place, "the Naiad," addreffing the defpairing Sappho, (which circumftance Pope has beautifully imitated and improved in Eloife,) are in the genuine fpirit of poetical tafte. Drayton, though praised by Warton, has hardly ever attended to this fpecies of beauty-and his Epiftles are in general vapid and tame. There are, however, here and there interspersed, fome traits of poetic feeling; and I infert as a specimen, a defcription which has great merit both in painting and verfification : As in September, when our year refigns The glorious Sun to the cold watery figns,
(Which thro' the clouds, looks on the Earth in fcorn)
The little Bird, yet to falute the Morn,
Or fad for Winter, too faft coming on.
Lord Hervey's Epiftles are scarcely worth mentioning. The Italians have a Writer of Heroical Epiftles, according to Warton, Antonio Bruni. I have not feen them-they were printed at Venice 1636, with prints from defigns of Guido and Domi