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synalepha, which is cutting off one vowel immediately before another, I will give an example of it from Chapman's Homer, which lies before me; for the benefit of those who understand not the Latin prosodia. It is in the first line of the argument to the first Iliad.
Apollo's priest to th’ Argive fleet doth bring, &c.
There we see he makes it not the Argive, but th’Argive, to shun the shock of the two vowels, immediately following each other; but, in his second arguinent, in the same page, he gives a bad example of the quite contrary kind:
Alpha the prayer of Chryses sings;
In these words the army's, the ending with a vowel, and army's beginning with another vowel, without cutting off the first, which by it had been th' army's, there remains a most horrible ill-sounding gap betwixt those words. I cannot say that I have every way observed the rule of the synalepha in my translation ; but wheresoever I have not, it is a fault in the sound: the French and the Italians have made it an inviolable precept in their versification; therein following the severe example of the Latin poet. Our countrymen have not yet reformed their poetry so far, but content themselves with following the licentious practice of the Greeks; who, though they sometimes use synalephas, yet make no difficulty, very often, to sound one vowel upon another; as Honer does, in the very first line of Alpha. Myvi delde ed IInayacédew 'Axaña. It is true, indeed, that in the second line, in these words μυρί 'Αχαιούς, and αλγε εθηκεν. the synalepha in revenge is twice observed. But it becomes us, for the sake of euphony, rather Musas colere severiores, with the Romans, than to give into the looseness of the Grecians.
I have tired myself, and have been summoned by the press to send away this Dedication, otherwise I had exposed some other faults, which are daily committed by our English poets; which, with care and observation, might be amended. For, after all, our language is both copious, significant, and majestical, and might be reduced into a more harmonious sound. But, for want of public encouragement, in this iron age, we are so far from making any progress in the improvement of our tongue, that in few years we shall speak and write as barbarously as our neighbours.
Notwithstanding my haste, I cannot forbear to tell your lordship, that there are two fragments of Homer translated in this Miscellany; one by Mr. Congreve (whom I cannot mention without the honour which is due to his excellent parts, and that entire affection which I bear him) and the other by myself. Both the subjects are pathetical, and I am sure my friend has added to the tenderness which he found in the original, and, without flattery, surpassed his author. Yet I must needs say this in reference to Homer, that he is much more capable of exciting the manly passions than those of grief and pity. To cause admiration, is indeed the proper and adequate design of an epic poem: and in that he has excelled even Virgil; yet, without presuming to arraign our master, I may venture to affirm, that he is somewhat too talkative, and more than somewhat too. digressive. This is so manifest, that it cannot be denied in that little parcel which I have translated, perhaps too literally: there Andromache, in the midst of her concernment, and fright for Hector, runs off her biass, to tell him a story of her pedigree, and of the lamentable death of her father, her mother, and her seven brothers. The devil was in Hector if he knew not all this matter, as well as she who told it him; for she had been his bedfellow for many years together : and if he knew it, then it must be confessed, that Homer, in this long digression, has rather given her his own character, than that of the fair lady whom he paints. His dear friends, the commentators, who never fail him at a pinch, will needs excuse him, by making the present sorrow of Andromache to occasion the remembrance of all the past: but others think, that she had enough to do with that grief which now oppressed her, without running for assistance to her family. Virgil, I am confident, would have omitted such a work of supererogation. But Virgil had the gift of expressing much in little, and sometimes in silence; for though he yielded much to Homer in invention, he more excelled him in his admirable judgment. He drew the passion of Dido for Æneas, in the most lively and most natural colours imaginable: Homer was ambitious enough of moving pity; for he has attempted twice on the same subject of Hector's death: first, when Priam and Hecuba beheld his corpse, which was dragged after the chariot of Achilles; and then in the lamentation which was made over him, when his body was redeemed by Priam ; and the same persons again bewailed bis death, with a chorus of others to help the cry. But if this last excite compassion in you, as I doubt not but it will, you are more obliged to the translator than the poet: for Homer, as I observed before, can move rage better than he can pity: he stirs up the irascible appetite, as our philosophers call it; he provokes to murder, and the destruction of God's images; he forms and equips those ungodly man-killers, whom we poets, when we flatter them, call heroes; a race of men, who can never enjoy quiet in themselves, till they have taken it from all the world. This is Homer's commendation; and such as it is, the lovers of peace, or at least of more moderate heroism, will never envy him. But let Homer and Virgil contend for the prize of honour betwixt themselves; I am satisfied they will never have a third concurrent. I wish Mr. Congreve had the leisure to translate him, and the world the good-nature and justice to encourage him in that noble design, of which he is more capable than any man I know. The earl of Mulgrave
and Mr. Waller, two of the best judges of our age, have assured me, that they could never read over the translation of Chapman, without incredible pleasure and extreme transport. This admiration of theirs must needs proceed from the author himself : for the translator has thrown him down as low, as harsh numbers, improper English, and a monstrous length of verse could carry him. What then would he appear in the harmonious version of one of the best writers, living in a much better age than was the last? I mean for versification, and the art of numbers : for in the drama we have not arrived to the pitch of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. But here, my lord, I am forced to break off abruptly, without endeavouring at a compliment in the close. This Miscellany is, without dispute, one of the best of the kind, which has hitherto been extant in our tongue.
At least, as sir Samuel Tuke has said before me, a modest man may praise what is not his own. My fellows have no need of any protection : but I humbly recommend my part of it, as much as it deserves, to your patronage and acceptance, and all the rest to your forgiveness.
I am, my lord,
THE FIRST BOOK
Earth sinks beneath, and draws a numerous throng
Of ponderous, thick, unwieldy seeds along. OVID'S METAMORPHOSES.
About her coasts unruly waters roar,
And, rising on a ridge, insult the shore, OP bodies chane’d to various forms I sing:
Thus when the God, whatever God was he, Ye gods, from whence these miracles did Had form'd the whole, and made the parts agree, Inspire my numbers with celestial heat, (spring, That no unequal portions might be found, Till I my long laborious work complete;
He moulded earth into a spacious round : And add perpetual tenour to my rhymes,
Then, with a breath, he gave the winds to blow; Deduc'd from Nature's birth, to Cæsar's times. And bade the congregated waters flow.
Before the seas, and this terrestrial ball, He adds the running springs, and standing lakes, And Heaven's high canopy, that covers all, And bounding banks for winding rivers makes. One was the face of nature, if a face;
Some part in earth are swallow'd up, the most Rather a rude and indigested mass :
In ample oceans, disembogued, are lost.
With rocky mountains, and extends the plains, No Sun was lighted up the world to view;
And as five zones th' etherial regions bind, No Moon did yet her blunted horns renew : Five, correspondent, are to earth assign'd: Nor yet was Earth suspended in the sky;
The Sun with rays, directly darting down, Nor, pois'd, did on her own foundations lie: Fires all beneath, and fries the middle zone Nor seas about the shores their arms had thrown; The two beneath the distant poles complain Bat earth, and air, and water, were in one. Of endless winter, and perpetual rain. Thus air was void of light, and earth unstable, Betwixt th' extremes, two happier climates hold And water's dark abyss unnavigable.
The temper that partakes of hot and cold.
The fields of liquid air, enclosing all,
The lighter parts lie next the fires above;
Bat God, or Nature, while they thus contend, Thick clouds are spread, and storms engender To these intestine discords put an end. [driven, there, Then earth from air, and seas from earth were And thunder's voice, which wretched mortals And grosser air sunk from etherial Heaven.
fear, Thas disenbroil'd, they take their proper place; And winds that on their wings cold winter bear. The next of kin contiguously embrace;
Nor were those blustering brethren left at large, And foes are sunder'd by a larger space.
On seas and shores their fury to discharge: The force of fire ascended first on high,
Bound as they are, and circumscrib'd in place And touk its dwelling in the vaulted sky.
They rend the world, resistless, where they pass ; Then air succeeds, in lightness next to fire; And mighty marks of mischief leave behind; Whose atoms from unactive earth retire.
Such is the rage of their tempestuous kind.
First Eurus to the rising morn is sent,
The flowers unsown in fields and meadows (The regions of the balmy continent)
reign'd; And eastern realms, where early Persians run, And western winds immortal Spring maintain'd. To greet the blest appearance of the Sun.
In following years the bearded corn ensu'd Westward the wanton Zephyr wings bis flight, From earth unask'd, nor was that earth renewid. Pleas'd with the remnants of departing light : From veins of vallies milk and nectar broke; Fierce Boreas with his offspring issues forth, And honey, sweating through the pores of oak. T'invade the frozen waggon of the North. While frowning Auster seeks the southern sphere,
THE SILVER AGE. And rots, with endless rain, th’unwholesome year.
High o'er the clouds, and empty realms of wind, But when good Saturn, banish'd from above, The God a clearer space for Heaven design'd; Was driven to Hell, the world was under Jove. Where fields of light and liquid ether flow,
Succeeding times a silver age behold, Purg'd from the ponderous dregs of earth below, Excelling brass, but more excell'd by gold. Scarce had the power distinguish'd these, when Then Summer, Autumn, Winter, did appear; straight
And Spring was but a season of the year. The stars, no longer overlaid with weight, The Sun his annual course obliquely made, Exert their heads from underneath the mass, Good days contracted, and enlarg'd the bad. And upward shoot, and kindle as they pass, Then air with sultry heats began to glow, And with diffusive light adorn the heavenly place. The wings of winds were clogg'dwith ice and snow; Then, every void of nature to supply,
And shivering mortals, into houses driven, With forms of gods he tills the vacant sky: Sought shelter from th' inclemency of Heaven. New herds of beasts he sends, the plains to share; Those houses, then, were caves, or homely sheds, New colonies of birds, to people air;
With twining oziers fenc'd, and moss their beds. And to their oozy beds the finny fish repair. Then ploughs, for seed, the fruitful furrows broke, A creature of a more exalted kind
And oxen labour'd first beneath the yoke.
THE BRAZEN AGE,
To this next came in course the brazen age, The God of nature did his soul inspire;
A warlike ofispring, prompt to bloody rage,
Not impious yet
THE IRON AGE.
-Hard steel succeeded then; Thus, while the mute creation downward bend And stubborn as the metal were the men. Their sight, and to their earthly mother tend, Truth, Modesty, and Shame, the world forsook: Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes
Fraul, Avarice, and Force, their places took. Beholds his own hereditary skies.
Then sails were spread to every wind that bles; From such rude principles our form began,
Raw were the sailors, and the depths were new : And earth was metamorphos'd into man.
Trees rudely hollow'd, did the waves sustain,
Ere ships in triumph plough'd the watery plain. THE GOLDEN AGE.
Then land-marks limited to each his right :
For all before was cominon as the light. The golden age was first; when man, yet new, Nor was the ground alone requird to bear No rule but uncorrupted reasou knew;
Her annual income to the crooked share; And, with a native bent, did good pursue.
But greedy mortals, rummaging her store, Unforc'd by punishment, unaw'd by fear,
Digg'd from her entrails first the precious ore, His words were simple, and his soul sincere: Which next to Hell the prudent God had laid, Needless was written-law, where none opprest;
And that alluring ill to sight display'd: The law of man was written in his breast : Thus cursed steel, and more accursed gold, No suppliant crowds before the judge appear'd; Gave Mischief birth, and made that mischief bold: No court erected yet, nor cause was heard; And double death did wretched man invade, But all was safe, for conscience was their guard. By steel assaulted, and by gold betray'd. The mountain-trees in distant prospect please, Now (brandish'd weapons glittering in their hands) Ere yet the pine descended to the seas;
Mankind is broken loose from moral bands;
The son-in-law pursues the father's life:
Faith flies, and Piety in exile mourns;
THE GIANTS WAR.
Nor were the gods themselves more sase above; And falling acorns furnish'd out a fcast.
Against beleagurd Heaven the giants more.