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and fome misunderstood. Let us however confefs, that the verfi fication is truly wonderful, confidering the age of the author. It would be endless to point out more particularly occafional errors and inaccuracies, in a compofition which can be confidered no otherwise than as an extraordinary specimen of verfification, before the writer's judgment and taste were matured.
ABOUT this time it became fashionable among the wits at
Button's, "the mob of gentlemen that wrote with cafe," to tranflate 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 claffic poets had the talent of expreffing himself with more force and perfpicuity than Ovid; that the Fiat of the Hebrew Lawgiver is not more sublime than the "juffit et extendi campos" of the Latin Poet; that he excels in the propriety of his fimiles and epithets, the perfpicuity of his allegories, and the inftructive excellence of his morals. Above all, he commends him for his unforced tranfitions, and for the eafe with which he flides into fome new circumstances, without any violation of the unity of the ftory; the texture, fays he, is fo artful, that it may be compared to the work of his own Arachne, where the fhade dies fo gradually, and the light revives fo 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 fubject of the tranfitions; and the admirers of Ovid would do well to confider his opinion: "Illa vero frigida et pucrilis eft in fcholis affectatio, et hujus velut præstigiæ plaufum petat." Garth was a most amiable and benevolent man : It was faid of him, "that no physician knew his art more, nor his trade lefs." 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 sweetnefs of his temper, made Garth an univerfal favourite, both with Whigs and Tories when party-rage ran high.
The notes which Addison wrote on those parts of Ovid which he tranflated are full of good fenfe, candour, and instruction. Great is the change in paffing from Statius to Ovid; from force to facility of style, from thoughts and images too much ftudied and unnatural, to fuch as are obvious, carelefs, and familiar.
Voltaire has treated Auguftus with pointed, but just severity, for banishing Ovid to Pontus, and affigning for a reason his having written The Art of Love; a work even of decency compared with feveral parts of Horace, whom Augustus so much praised and patronized; and which contained not a line at all comparable to some of the grofs obfcenities of Auguftus's own verfes. Laying many circumftances together, he thinks the real cause of this banishment was, that Ovid had seen and detected Auguftus in fome very criminal amour, and, in fhort, been witness to an act of inceft. Ovid himself fays,
"Cur aliquid vidi ?”
And Minutianus Apuleius fays, "Pulfum quoque in exitium quod Augufti inceftum vidiffet." Voltaire adds, "That Ovid himself deferves almost equal reproaches for having fo lavishly and nauseously flattered both that emperor and his fucceffor Tiberius."
Vol. v. p. 297.