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and fome misunderstood. Let us however confefs, that the verfification is truly wonderful, confidering the age of the author. It would be endless to point out more particularly occafional er rors and inaccuracies, in a compofition which can be confidered no otherwife than as an extraordinary fpecimen of verfification, before the writer's judgment and taste were matured.
ABOUT this time it became fashionable the wits at
Button's, "the mob of gentlemen that wrote with eafe," to tranflate Ovid. Their united performances were published in form by Garth, with a Preface written in a flowing and lively ftyle, but full of ftrange 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 fublime than the "juffit et extendi campos" of the Latin Poet; that he excels in the propriety of his fimiles and epithets, the peripicuity 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 præftigiæ plausum petat." Garth was a most amiable and benevolent man : It was faid of him," that no phyfician knew his art more, nor his trade lefs." Pope told Mr. Richardfon, 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 converfation, the elegance of his manners, and the fweetHefs 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 inftruction. Great is the change in paffing from Statius to Ovid; from force to facility of ftyle, from thoughts and images too much studied and unnatural, to fuch as are obvious, careless, and familiar.
Voltaire has treated Auguftus with pointed, but juft feverity, for banishing Ovid to Pontus, and affigning for a reafon his having written The Art of Love; a work even of decency compared with feveral parts of Horace, whom Auguftus fo much praised and patronized; and which contained not a line at all comparable to fome of the grofs obfcenities of Auguftus's own verfes. Laying many circumftances together, he thinks the real caufe 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 almoft equal reproaches for having fo lavishly and naufeously flattered both that emperor and his fucceffor Tiberius."
Vol. v. p. 297.