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ECQUID, ut infpecta est studiofæ littera dextræ,
Protinus eft oculis cognita noftra tuis?
*Ovid feems to have had the merit of inventing this beau tiful fpecies of writing epiftles under feigned names. Though indeed Propertius has one compofition of this fort, an Epistle of Arethufa to Lycortas, B. iv. Eleg. 3. It is a high improvement on the Greek Elegy, to which its dramatic form renders it much fuperior. The judgment of the writer must chiefly appear, by opening the complaint of the perfon introduced, just at fuch a period of time, as will give occafion for the most tender sentiments, and the most fudden and violent turns of paffion to be displayed. Ovid may perhaps be blamed for a famenefs of fubjects in thefe epiftles of his heroines; and his epifiles are likewife too long; which circumftance has forced him into a repetition and languor in the fentiments. It would be a pleafing tafk, and conduce to the formation of a good tafte, to fhew how differently Ovid and the Greek Tragedians have made Medea, Phædra, and Deinaira, speak on the very fame occafions. Such a comparison would abundantly manifeft the fancy and wit of Ovid, and the judgment and
VER. 2. The force of Protinus is loft in the translation.
SAPPHO TO PHAON.
nature of Euripides and Sophocles. If the character of Medea was not better supported in the Tragedy which Ovid is faid to have produced, and of which Quintilian speaks fo highly, than it is in her epiftle to Jason, one may venture to declare, that the Romans would not yet have been vindicated from their inferiority to the Greeks in tragic Poefy.-It may be added, that fome of Drayton's Heroical Epiftles deferve praise, particularly that of Lord Surrey to Geraldine, Lady Jane Grey to Lord Guilford Dudley, Jane Shore to Edward the Fourth. Lord Hervey took the fubject of Roxana to Ufbeck from the incomparable Perfian Letters of the Prefident Montefquieu; the beauty of which writer is his expreffive brevity; which Lord Hervey has lengthened to an unnatural degree, efpecially as Roxana is fuppofed to write juft after she has swallowed a deadly poison, and during its violent operations.
The Italians have a writer of Heroical Epiftles, Antonio Bruni; fome of his fubjects are, The Hebrew Mother to Titus Vefpafian, Erminia to Tancred, Radamiftus to Zenobia, Semiramis to Ninus, Catharine to Henry the Eighth. They were printed at Venice 1636, with prints from defigns of Guido and Dominichino.
Flendus amor meus eft: elegeïa flebile carmen;
Non facit ad lacrymas barbitos ulla meas.
Non oculis grata eft Atthis, ut ante, meis; Atque aliae centum, quas non fine crimine amavi : Improbe, multarum quod fuit, unus habes.
Eft in te facies, funt apti lufibus anni.
O facies oculis infidiofa meis!
Sume fidem et pharetram; fies manifeftus Apollo: Accedant capiti cornua; Bacchus eris.
Love taught my tears in fadder notes to flow,
I burn, I burn, as when through ripen'd corn
While I confume with more than Aetna's fires!
Blande puer, lumen quod habes, concede forori
VER. 12. A childish falfe thought!
VER. 17. No more] This allufion to her infamous paffion is very indelicate indeed!
VER. 26. Not Bacchus felf] Thefe lines were evidently copied in the famous epigram of Lumine Acon dextro, &c. made on Louis de Maguiron, the favourite of Henry the Third of France, and the beautiful Princefs of Eboli, who was deprived of the fight of one her eyes: