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Remove your hands, the bark fhall foon fuffice
She ceas'd at once to speak, and ceas'd to be; 100 And all the nymph was loft within the tree; Yet latent life through her new branches reign'd, And long the plant a human heat retain’d.
THOUGH we must regret the hours our Poet spent in translating Statius and Ovid; yet it has given us an opportunity of admiring his good fenfe and judgment, in not fuffering his taste and ftyle, in his fucceeding works, to be infected with the faults of thefe two writers. WARTON.
There is a moft fingular and ingenious work, just given to the public, called "Celtic Refearches," in which the author deduces the druidical worship from the age of the Patriarchs. There is one chapter fo ftriking, relating to the "fymbolical reading of trees," that I cannot avoid pointing it out. The following lines, tranflated literally from the Welsh of Tallieffen, will illuf. trate my meaning:
Or the points of the counterfeited trees,
What is it they whisper so forcibly?
Or what various breathings
Are in their trunks?
These are READ by the Sages.
Compare Warburton's obfervations prefixed to the next Poem, and confider whether there might not be fome affinity between Ovid's transformation of human beings into living trees, and these Symbols of the Druids. The "counterfeited trees," is an expreffion that seems to me evidently to allude to fome transformation ; that is, that the trees are not fuch in reality, but endued with perception and life; they are therefore called "counterfeited."
tion, b. iii. p. 337.) "a more extraordinary book than the Metamorphofes of Ovid, whether we regard the matter or the form. The tales appear monftroufly extravagant, and the compofition irregular and wild. Had it been the product of a dark age and a barbarous writer, we fhould have been content to have ranked it in the class of our modern Oriental fables, as a matter of no confequence: but when we confider it was wrote when Rome was in its meridian of politenefs and knowledge, and by an author who, as appears from his acquaintance with the Greek tragic writers, knew well what belonged to a work or compofition, we cannot but be shocked at the grotesque affemblage of its parts. One would rather diftruft one's judgment, and conclude the deformity to be only in appearance, which perhaps, on examination, we shall find to be the cafe; though it must be owned, the common opinion feems to be fupported by Quintilian, the most judicious critic of antiquity, who speaks of our author and his work in thefe words: "Ut Ovidius lafcivire in Metamorphofi folet, quem tamen excufare neceffitas poteft, res diverfiffimas in fpeciem unius corporis colligentem." And again, p. 343.: "Ovid gathered his mate. rials from the mythological writers, and formed them into a poem on the most grand and regular plan, a popular history of Providence, carried down from the creation to his own times, through the Egyptian, Phoenician, Greek, and Roman hiftories; and this in as methodical a manner as the graces of poetry would allow.” WARTON.
Thefe obfervations of Warburton are perhaps fanciful, but they by no means deserve the contempt with which Dr. Warton treats them. See Note to the preceding Poem.