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agree better with Livia, who had the fame of chaftity, than with either of the Julia's, who were both noted of incontinency. The first verses, which were made by him in his youth, and re- · cited publicly, according to the cuftom, were, as he himself affures us, to Corinna: his banishment happened not till the age of fifty: from which it may be deduced, with probability enough, that the love of Corinna did not occafion it: nay, he tells us plainly, that his offence was that of error only, not of wickednefs; and in the fame paper of verfes alfo, that the cause was notoriously known at Rome, though it be left fo obfcure to afterages.
But to leave conjectures on a fubject so uncertain, and to write fomewhat more authentic of this Poet: that he frequented the court of Auguftus, and was well received in it, is moft undoubted: all his Poems bear the character of a court, and appear to be witten, as the French call it, Cavalierement: add to this, that the titles of many of his Elegies, and more of his letters in his banishment, are addreffed to perfons well known to us, even at this distance, to have been confiderable in that court.
Nor was his acquaintance lefs with the famous Poets of his age, than with the noble men and ladies. He tells you himself, in a particular account of his own life, that Macer, Horace, Tibullus, Propertius, and many others of them, were his familiar friends, and that fome of them communicated their writings to him; but that he had only feen Virgil.
If the imitation of nature be the business of a Poet, I know no author, who can juftly be compared with ours, especially in the description of the paffions. And, to prove this, Ifhall need no other judges than the generality of his readers: for all paffions being inborn with us, we are almoft equally judges, when we are concerned in the reprefentation of them. Now I will appeal to any man, who has read this Poet, whether he finds not the natural emotion of the fame paffion in himself, which the Poet defcribes in his feigned perfons? His thoughts, which are the pictures and refults of thofe paffions, are generally fuch as naturally arise from thofe diforderly motions of our fpirits. Yet, not to fpeak too partially in his behalf, I will confefs, that the copiousness of his wit was fuch, that he often writ too pointedly for his fubject, and made his perfons fpeak more eloquently than the violence of their paffion would admit: fo that he is frequently witty out of feason; leaving the imitation of nature, and the cooler dictates of his judgment, for the falfe applaufe of
fancy. Yet he feems to have found out this imperfection in his riper age for why elfe fhould he complain, that his' Metamorphofes was left unfinished? Nothing fure can be added to the wit of that Poem, or of the reft: but many things ought to have been retrenched; which, I fuppofe would have been the bufinefs of his age, if his misfortunes had not come too fast upon him. But take him uncorrected, as he is tranfmitted to us, and it must be acknowledged, in fpite of his Dutch friends, the commentators, even of Julius Scaliger himself, that Seneca's cenfure will stand good against him;
Nefcivit quod bene ceffit relinquere ;
he never knew how to give over, when he had done well, but continually varying the fame fenfe an hundred ways, and taking up in another place, what he had more than enough inculcated before, he fometimes cloys his readers inftead of fatisfying them; and gives occafion to his tranflators, who dare not cover him, to blush at the nakedness of their father. This then is the allay of Ovid's writings, which is fufficiently recompenfed by his other excellencies: nay, this very fault is not without its beauties; for the most severe cenfor cannot but be pleased with the prodigality of his wit, though at the fame time he could have wished that the mafter of it had been a better manager. Every thing, which he does, becomes him; and, if fometimes he appears too gay, yet there is a fecret gracefulness of youth, which accompanies his writings, though the ftaidness and sobriety of age be wanting. In the moft material part, which is the conduct, it is certain that he feldom has tnifcarried: for if his Elegies be compared with thofe of Tibullus and Propertius, his cotemporaries, it will be found, that thofe poets feldom defigned before they writ and though the language of Tibullus be more polifhed, and the learning of Propertius, especially in his fourth book, more fet out to oftentation; yet their common practice was to look no further before them than the next line; whence it will inevitably follow, that they can drive to no certain point, but ramble from one fubject to another, and conclude with fomewhat, which is not of a piece with their beginning:
Pupureus latè qui fplendeat unus & alter
as Horace fays: though the verfes are golden, they are but patched into the garment. But our Poet has always the goal in
his eye, which directs him in his race; fome beautiful design, which he first establishes, and then contrives the means, which will naturally conduct him to his end. This will be evident to judicious readers in his Epiftles, of which fomewhat, at leaft in general, will be expected.
The title of them in our late editions is Epiftolæ Heroidum, The letters of the Heriones. But Heinfius has judged more truly, that the infcription of our author was barely, Epiftles; which he concludes from his cited verses, where Ovid aflerts this work as his own invention, and not borrowed from the Greeks, whom (as the mafters of their learning) the Romans ufually did imitate. But it appears not from their writings, that any of the Grecians ever touched upon this way, which our Poet therefore justly has vindicated to himself. I quarrel not at the word Heroidum, because it is used by Ovid in his Art of Love:
Jupiter ad veteres fupplex Heroidas ibat.
But, fure, he could not be guilty of fuch an overfight, to call his work by the name of Heroines, when there are divers men, or heroes, as, namely, Paris, Leander, and Acontius, joined in it. Except Sabinus, who writ fome answers to Ovid's Letters.
(Quam celer è toto rediit meus orbe Sabinus.)
I remember not any of the Romans, who have treated on this fubject, fave only Propertius, and that but once, in his Epiftle of Arethufa to Lycotas, which is written fo near the style of Ovid, that it seems to be but an imitation; and therefore ought not to defraud our Poet of the glory of his invention.
Concerning the Epiftles, I fhall content myfelf to obferve these few particulars: first, that they are generally granted to be the moft perfect pieces of Ovid, and that the ftyle of them is tenderly paffionate and courtly; two properties well agreeing with the perfons, which were heroines, and lovers. Yet, where the characters were lower, as in Eenone and Hero, he has kept close to nature, in drawing his images after a country life, tho, perhaps, he has romanized his Grecian dames too much, and made them fpeak, fometimes, as if they had been born in the city of Rome, and under the empire of Auguftus. There seems to be no great variety in the particular fubjects which he has chofen; molt of the Epiftles being written from ladies, who were
forfaken by their lovers: which is the reason that many of the fame thoughts come back upon us in divers letters: but of the general character of women, which is modefty, he has taken a moft becoming care; for his amorous expreffions go no further than virtue may allow, and therefore may be read, as he intended them, by matrons without a blush.
Thus much concerning the Poet: it remains that I should fay fomewhat of poetical tranflations in general, and give my opinion (with fubmiffion to better judgments) which way of verfion feems to be the moft proper.
All translation, I fuppofe, may be reduced to these three heads.
First, that of Metaphrafe, or turning an author word by word, and line by line, from one language into another. Thus, or near this manner, was Horace his Art of Poetry tranflated by Ben Johnson. The fecond way is that of Paraphrase, or tranflation with latitude, where the author is kept in view by the tranflator, so as never to be loft, but his words are not so strictly followed as his fenfe; and that too is admitted to be amplified, but not altered. Such is Mr. Waller's tranflation of Virgil's Fourth Æneid. The third way is that of imitation, where the tranflator (if now he has not lost that name) affumes the liberty, not only to vary from the words and fenfe, but to forfake them both as he fees occafion; and taking only fome general hints from the original, to run divifion on the groundwork, as he pleases. Such is Mr. Cowley's practice in turning two Odes of Pindar, and one of Horace, into English.
Concerning the first of these methods, our mafter Horace has given us this caution:
Nec verbum verbo curabis reddere fidus
Nor word for word too faithfully translate,
as the Earl of Rofcommon has excellently rendered it. Too faithfully is, indeed, pedantically: it is a faith like that, which proceeds from fuperftition, blind and zealous. Take it in the expreffion of Sir John Denham to Sir Richard Fanfhaw, on his verfion of the Paftor Fido.
That fervile path thou nobly doft decline,
A new and nobler way thou doft purfue,
It is almost impoffible to tranflate verbally, and well, at the fame time for the Latin (a most severe and compendious language) often expreffes that in one word, which either the barbarity, or the narrowness, of modern tongues cannot fupply in more. It is frequent also that the conceit is couched in fome expression, which will be loft in English.
Atque idem venti vela fidemque ferent.
What Poet of our nation is fo happy as to express this thought literally in English, and to ftrike wit, or almost fenfe, out of it?
In short, the verbal copier is incumbered with fo many difficulties at once, that he can never difintangle himself from all. He is to confider, at the fame time, the thought of his author, and his words, and to find out the counterpart to each in another language: and, befides this, he is to confine himself to the compafs of numbers, and the flavery of rhyme. It is much like dancing on ropes with fettered legs: a man can fhun a fall by using caution; but the gracefulness of motion is not to be expected: and when we have faid the best of it, it is but a foolish task; for no fober man would put himself into a danger for the applause of escaping without breaking his neck. We see Ben Johnson could not avoid obfcurity in his literal translation of Horace, attempted in the fame compafs of lines: nay Horace himfelf could scarce have done it to a Greek Poet:
Brevis effe laboro, obfcurus fio:
either perfpicuity or gracefulness will frequently be wanting. Horace has indeed, avoided both these rocks in his translation of the three first lines of Homer's Odyffey, which he has contracted into two.
Dic mihi, mufa, virum, capta poft tempora Troja,
Muse, speak the man, who, fince the fiege of Troy,