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VERTUMNUS AND POMONA.
FROM THE FOURTEENTH BOOK OF
Of all the paradoxes which the restless vigour of his mind stimulated Warburton to maintain, the following is one of the most striking and unaccountable. “There is not,” he says, (Divine Legation, b. iii. p. 337.)
a more extraordinary book than the Metamorphoses of Ovid, whether we regard the matter or the form. The tales appear monstrously extravagant, and the composition irregular and wild. Had it been the product of a dark age and a barbarous writer, we should have been content to have ranked it in the class of our modern Oriental fables, as a matter of no consequence : but when we consider it was wrote when Rome was in its meridian of politeness 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 composition, we cannot but be shocked at the grotesque assemblage of its parts. One would rather distrust one's judgment, and conclude the deformity to be only in appearance, which perhaps, on examination, we shall find to be the case ; though it must be owned, the common opinion seems to be supported by Quintilian, the most judicious critic of antiquity, who speaks of our author and his work in these words : • Ut Ovidius lascivire in Metamorphosi solet, quem tamen excusare necessitas potest, res diversissimas in speciem unius corporis colligentem.”” And again, p. 343. : “ Ovid gathered his materials 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, Phænician, Greek, and Roman histories ; and this in as methodical a manner as the graces of poetry would allow."
It was reserved, therefore, for Dr. Warburton to discover what none of the ancients, not even the penetrating and judicious Quintilian, who lived so much nearer the time of the author, could possibly perceive, the deep meaning and the accurate method of the Metamorphoses of Ovid. As Boileau said of some of the forced interpretations of Dacier in his Horace, that they were the revelations of Dacier, it will not be uncandid or unjust to say that this remark on Ovid is one of Warburton's revelations.-Warton.
VERTUMNUS ET POMONA.
REGE sub hoc Pomona fuit : qua nulla Latinas
VERTUMNUS AND POMONA.
The fair Pomona flourish'd in his reign;
These cares alone her virgin breast employ,
Ver. 15. Now sliding streams] Sliding” is a very happy expression. Let me observe in this place, that the watering meadows, which is considered as so great an improvement in modern agriculture, was practised by the ancients, as appears evidently from the line, “ Claudite jam rivos, Pueri, sat 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.”—Bowles.
Ut poterentur ea ? sed enim superabat amando
Employ'd their wiles, and unavailing care,
A female form at last Vertumnus wears,
1 The gardens enter'd, and the fruit survey'd ; And “Happy you! (he thus address’d the maid) “Whose charms as far all other nymphs outshine, • As other gardens are excell’d by thine!” Then kiss'd the fair; (his kisses warmer grow Than such as women on their sex bestow) Then plac'd beside her on the flow’ry ground, Beheld the trees with autumn's bounty crown'd. An Elm was near, to whose embraces led, The curling Vine her swelling clusters spread :