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Another, on the fame.
OVID feems to have had the merit," Dr. Warton obferves, "of inventing this beautiful species of writing Epiftles under feigned names, although Propertius has one compofition of the fame fort, an Epistle 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 faid exprefsly-Epiítola, &c. fcripta ad imitationem Heroidum Ovidianarum, ut recte obfervavit Nic. Heinfius, neque enim dubitari poteft quin incidat in idem tempus, quo Nafo 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,
Elige, quod docili molliter ore legas,
Ignotum hoc alias ille novavit opus !
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, just at such a period of time as will give occafion for the most tender fentiments, and the most violent and fudden turns of paffion to be difplayed." How beautifully is this difplayed in Pope's Epistle to Abelard! a poem that has another moft interefting circumftance, which Ovid appears, as well as our Drayton, to have neglected; I mean the introduction of appropriate and descriptive imagery, which relieves and recreates the fancy by the pictures and by the land. fcapes which accompany the characters. Ovid, in this Epifle, feems not infenfible to the effect of the introduction of such 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 Eloise,) are in the genuine spirit 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 fpecimen, a defcription which has great merit both in painting and versification : As in September, when our year refigns
The glorious Sun to the cold watery signs,
(Which thro' the clouds, looks on the Earth in fcorn)
As tho' fhe fain would fing, yet fain would weep,
Or fad for Winter, too faft coming on.
Lord Hervey's Epiftles are fcarcely 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 Dominichino.