Imágenes de páginas

“figure in this place How much more manly is “Mr. Ogylby's version?”

“What makes rich grounds, in what celestial signs
“”Tis good to plough, and marry elms with vines:
“What best fits cattle, what with sheep agrees,
“And several arts improving frugal bees;
“I sing, Maecenas.

“which four lines, tho' faulty enough, are yet much “more to the purpose than Mr. D's six."

Ver. 22.
“From fields and mountains to my song repair.

“For patrium linquens nemus, saltusque Lycaei— “Very well explained."

Ver. 23, 24. “Inventor Pallas, of the fattening oil, “Thou founder of the plough, and ploughman's toil “Written as if these had been Pallas's invention.” “The ploughman's toil's impertinent. - Ver. 25. “ The shroud-like cypress ~

“Why shroud-like 2 Is a cypress, pulled up by the “roots, which the sculpture in the last Eclogue fills “Silvanus's hand with, so very like a shroud? Or “ did not Mr. D. think of that kind of cypress us'd “ often for scarves and hatbands at funerals for“merly, or for widows' vails, &c.? if so, 'twas a “deep, good thought.” "

Ver. 26. “ That wear : “The royal honours, and increase the year.

[ocr errors]

“What'smeant by increasing the year? Did thegods “ or goddesses add more months, or days, or hours, “to it? Or how can arva tueri signify to wear rural honours ? Is this to translate, or abuse an author?

“The next couplet is borrowed from Ogylby, I sup“pose, because less to the purpose than ordinary.”

Ver. 33.

“ The patron of the world, and Rome's peculiar


“Idle, and none of Virgil's, no more than the sense “of the precedent couplet; so again, he interpolates “Pirgil with that and the round circle of the year to guide powerful of blessings, which thou strew'st around; a ridiculous Latinism, and an imperti“ment addition; indeed the whole period is but one “ piece of absurdity and nonsense, as those who lay “it with the original must find.”

Ver. 42, 43.

** And Neptune shall resign the fasces of the sea. * Was he consul or dictator there:

“And watry virgins for thy bed shall strive. “Both absurd interpolations.”

Ver. 47, 48.

“Where in the void of Heaven a place is free. .
“Ah happy D——n, were that place for thee!

“But where is that void? Or, what does our trans“lator mean by it? He knows what Ovid says God “ did


“ did to prevent such a void in Heaven; perhaps “ this was then forgotten: but Virgil talks more “ sensibly.”

Ver. 49.

- - - - > “The scorpion ready to receive thy laws.

“No, he would not then have gotten out of his way “so fast.”

Ver, 56. “Though Proserpine affects her silent seat. s p

“What made her then so angry with Ascalaphus, “for preventing her return? She was now mus’d to “Patience under the determinations of Fate, ra“ ther than fond of her residence.” -*

Ver. 61, 62, 63. - “Pity the poet's and the ploughman's cares, . “Interest thy greatness in our mean affairs, } “And use thyself betimes to hear our prayers.

“Which is such a wretched perversion of Virgil's “noble thought as Vicars would have blushed at; “but Mr. Ogylby makes us some amends, by his * better lines:

“O wheresoe'er thou art, from thence incline,
- - - - !
“And grant assistance to my bold design'
“Pity, with me, poor husbandmen's affairs,
“And now, as if translated, hear our prayers,

“This is sense, and to the purpose: the other, poor “mistaken stuff.”

| Such were the strictures of Milbourne, who found few abettors, and of whom it may be reasonably - imagined, imagined, that many who favoured his design were ashamed of his insolence. When admiration had subsided, the translation was more coolly examined, and found, like all others, to be sometimes erroneous, and sometimes licentious. Those who could find faults, thought they could avoid them; and Dr. Brady attempted in blank verse a translation of the AEneid, which, when dragged into the world, did not live long enough to cry. I have never seen it; but that such a version ...there is, or has been, perhaps some old catalogue informed me. With not much better success, Trapp, when his Tragedy and his Prelections had given him reputation, attempted another blank version of the AEneid; to which, notwithstanding the slight regard with which it was treated, he had afterwards perseverance enough to add the Eclogues and Georgicks. His book may continue in existence as long as it is the clandestine refuge of school-boys. Since the English ear has been accustomed to the mellifluence of Pope's numbers, and the diction of poetry has become more splendid, new attempts have been made to translate Virgil; and all his works have been attempted by men better qualified to contend with Dryden. I will not engage myself in an invidious comparison, by opposing one passage to another; a work of which there would be no end, and which might be often offensive without uSe. It is not by comparing line with line that the merit of great works is to be estimated, but by their general effects and ultimate result. It is easy to note a weak - line, line, and write one more vigorous in its place; to find a happiness of expression in the original, and transplant it by force into the version: but what is given to the parts may be subducted from the whole, and the reader may be weary, though the critick may commend. Works of imagination excel by their allurement and delight; by their power of attracting and detaining the attention. That book is good in vain, which the reader throws away. He only is the master, who keeps the mind in pleasing captivity; whose pages are perused with eagerness, and in hope. of new pleasure are perused again; and whose conclusion is perceived with an eye of sorrow, such as the traveller casts upon departing day. By his proportion of this predomination I will consent that Dryden should be tried; of this, which, in opposition to reason, makes Ariosto the darling and the pride of Italy; of this, which, in defiance of. criticism, continues Shakspeare the sovereign of the drama. His last work was his Fables, in which he gave us the first example of a mode of writing which the Italians call refaceintento, a renovation of antient writers, by modernizing their language. Thus the old poem of Boiardo has been newly-dressed by Domenichi and Berni. The works of Chaucer, upon which this kind of rejuvenescence has been bestowed by Dryden, require little criticism. The tale of the Cock seems hardly worth revival; and the story of Palamon and Arcite, containing an action unsuitable to the times in which it is plated, can hardly be suffered to pass without censure of the hyperbolical commendation which Dryden has given it in the general

« AnteriorContinuar »