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THER HERE is not," fays Dr. Warburton, (Divine Lega. 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 clafs 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 fhocked at the grotefque 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 fhall find to be the cafe; though it must be owned, the common opinion feems to be fupported by Quintilian, the moft judicious critic of antiquity, who speaks of our author and his work in these 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 moft 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."
Thefe obfervations of Warburton are perhaps fanciful, but they by no means deferve the contempt with which Dr. Warton treats them. See Note to the preceding Poem.
VERTUMNUS ET POMONA.
REGE fub hoc Pomona fuit : qua nulla Latinas
Inter Hamadryadas coluit folertius hortos,
VERTUMNUS AND POMONA.
THE HE fair Pomona flourish'd in his reign; Of all the Virgins of the sylvan train, None taught the trees a nobler race to bear, Or more improv'd the vegetable care. To her the fhady grove, the flow'ry field, The streams and fountains no delights could yield; 'Twas all her joy the rip'ning fruits to tend, And fee the boughs with happy burthens bend. The hook fhe bore instead of Cynthia's fpear, To lop the growth of the luxuriant year. To decent form the lawless shoots to bring, And teach th' obedient branches where to spring. Now the cleft rind inferted graffs receives, And yields an offspring more than nature gives; Now fliding streams the thirsty plants renew, And feed their fibres with reviving dew.
VER. 15. Now fliding fireams] "Sliding" is a very happy expreffion. Let me obferve in this place, that the watering mea. dows, which is confidered as fo great an improvement in modern agriculture, was practifed by the ancients, as appears evidently from the line,
"Claudite jam rivos, Pueri, fat prata biberunt." Virg. Geor. The turning water into orchards, to nourish the roots of the trees, is pointed out by Horace :
"Tiburni lucus, et uda Mobilibus pomaria rivis."