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barians for poetical beauties, but sought for every thing in Homer, where, indeed, there is but little which they might not find.
The Italians have been very diligent translators; but I can 346 hear of no version, unless perhaps Anguillara's Ovid' may be excepted, which is read with eagerness. The Iliad of Salvini ? every reader may discover to be punctiliously exact; but it seems to be the work of a linguist skilfully pedantick, and his countrymen, the proper judges of its power to please, reject it with disgust.
Their predecessors the Romans have left some specimens of 347 translation behind them, and that employment must have had some credit in which Tully and Germanicus engaged ?; but unless we suppose, what is perhaps true, that the plays of Terence were versions of Menander, nothing translated seems ever to have risen to high reputation. The French, in the meridian hour of their learning, were very laudably industrious to enrich their own language with the wisdom of the ancients; but found themselves reduced, by whatever necessity, to turn the Greek and Roman poetry into prose*. Whoever could read an author could translate him. From such rivals little can be feared.
The chief help of Pope in this arduous undertaking was drawn 348 from the versions of Dryden. Virgil had borrowed much of his imagery from Homer, and part of the debt was now paid by critic who mentions Virgil or Horace. 3 Only fragments are extant of They seem ignorant that the Romans Cicero's translations. “We possess had any good writers.' GIBBON, the remains of Germanicus's translaDecline, &c., i. 38 n.
tion of the Phaenomena of Aratus.' 'Le Metamorfosi d'Ovidio, tra- Smith's Dict. of Greek and Rom. Biog. dotte in ottava rima, 1584. 'I prefer * See ante, DRYDEN, 223, where it to all the translations I ever read.' Johnson speaks of 'poetical translaBARETTI, The Italian Library, 1757, tions' as 'a work which the French p. 135.
seem to relinquish in despair.' . These translations (Salvini's Olivet records Boileau as saying Iliad and Odyssey into blank verse, to him :-'Savez-vous pourquoi les 1523] are reckoned literal, but I could anciens ont si peu d'admirateurs ? never find them delightful to read.' C'est parce que les trois quarts, tout Ib. p. 126.
au moins, de ceux qui les ont traduits, Berkeley wrote to Pope from Naples étaient des ignorans ou des sots. in 1717 :- A friend of mine told me Boileau wished the Academy to rethat he found Salvini reading your form translations. Euvres de Boi· Homer; he liked the notes extremely, leau, v. 118. and could find no other fault with the Grimm wrote in Aug. 1768:- La version but that he thought it ap- langue française est de toutes les proached too near a paraphrase.' langues modernes la moins propre Pope's Works (Elwinand Courthope), aux traductions.' Mémoires,&c., 1814, ix. 5. Salvini translated some of iii. 266. Pope's works. Ib. iv. 47.
his translator. Pope searched the pages of Dryden for happy combinations of heroick diction', but it will not be denied that he added much to what he found. He cultivated our language with so much diligence and art that he has left in his Homer a treasure of poetical elegances to posterity. His version may be said to have tuned the English tongue, for since its appearance no writer, however deficient in other powers, has wanted melody. Such a series of lines so elaborately corrected and so sweetly modulated took possession of the publick ear; the vulgar was enamoured of the poem, and the learned wondered at the
translation 3. 349
But in the most general applause discordant voices will always be heard. It has been objected by some, who wish to be numbered among the sons of learning, that Pope's version of Homer is not Homerical *; that it exhibits no resemblance of the original and characteristick manner of the Father of Poetry, as it wants his awful simplicity, his artless grandeur, his unaffected majesty. This cannot be totally denied, but it must be remembered that ‘necessitas quod cogit defendit, that may be lawfully done which cannot be forborne. Time and place will always enforce regard. In estimating this translation consideration must be had of the nature of our language, the form of our metre, and, above all, of the change which two thousand years have made in the modes of life and the habits of thought. Virgil wrote in
:'Before the time of Dryden,' municated this anecdote to Dr. Johnwrites Johnson, 'those happy combi- son, his remark was :-“Sir, when nations of words which distinguish Pope said that, he knew that he lied.”' poetry from prose had been rarely John. Misc. ii. 332. Lyttelton was attempted.' Ante, DRYDEN, 221. but eleven years old when the last See also ante, POPE, 13 ; post, 374.
volume of the Iliad was published. Pope, writing of Dryden's version Pope's answer very likely was given, of the Episode of Hector and Andro- though not to a child. mache,' says :-'I am unwilling to Cowper, in the Preface to his remark upon an author to whom every Homer, maintains that it costs more English poet owes so much. Iliad, trouble to write in blank verse than vi. 462 n.
in rhyme on account of the variety in ‘Dryden tuned the numbers of the pauses. Southey's Cowper, xi. English poetry. Ante, DRYDEN, Preface, p. 14. See also ib, vii. 75. 216, 311.
In a criticism on Pope's Homer in 3 Lyttelton, according to Stockdale, Gent. Mag. 1785,p.610(see Southey's had said to Pope, while still at work Cowper, v. 167, xv. 182), he says that on translating the Iliad, that he was Pope, 'who managed the bells of surprised at his not using blank verse. rhyme with more dexterity than any The poet answered that he could man, tied them about Homer's neck.' translate it more easily into rhyme. See also post, Pitt, 10. When,' continues Stockdale, 'I com- See Appendix N.
a language of the same general fabrick with that of Homer, in verses of the same measure, and in an age nearer to Homer's time by eighteen hundred years; yet he found even then the state of the world so much altered, and the demand for elegance so much increased, that mere nature would be endured no longer ; and perhaps, in the multitude of borrowed passages, very few can be shewn which he has not embellished.
There is a time when nations emerging from barbarity, and 350 falling into regular subordination, gain leisure to grow wise, and feel the shame of ignorance and the craving pain of unsatisfied curiosity. To this hunger of the mind plain sense is grateful; that which fills the void removes uneasiness, and to be free from pain for a while is pleasure ; but repletion generates fastidiousness, a saturated intellect soon becomes luxurious, and knowledge finds no willing reception till it is recommended by artificial diction. Thus it will be found in the progress of learning that in all nations the first writers are simple, and that every age improves in elegance. One refinement always makes way for another, and what was expedient to Virgil was necessary to Pope!
I suppose many readers of the English Iliad, when they have 351 been touched with some unexpected beauty of the lighter kind, have tried to enjoy it in the original, where, alas ! it was not to be found. Homer doubtless owes to his translator many Ovidian graces not exactly suitable to his character ; but to have added can be no great crime if nothing be taken away. Elegance ? is surely to be desired if it be not gained at the expence of dignity3. A hero would wish to be loved as well as to be reverenced.
Pope in his Iliad, xi. 668 n., See also his Postscript to the Odyssey, says:— A translator owes so much ed. 1760, v. 267; and ante, DRYDEN, to the taste of the age in which he lives as not to make too great a com- 'It is when Pope comes to level pliment to the former; and this in- passages, passages of narrative or duced me to omit the mention of the description, that he and his style are word Ass in the translation.'
sorely tried and prove themselves On the lines (ib. xvii. 642-5) —
weak.' MATTHEW ARNOLD, On 'So burns the vengeful hornet (soul Translating Homer, 1896, p. 20. all o'er),' &c.
* For elegance see ante, POPE, 99, he says in a note :-'It is literally in 349, 350. the Greek, “she inspired the hero Cowper (Works, vii. 7), writing with the boldness of a fly."... I have of a French and an English print on done my best in the translation to Iliad subjects,' says:- In the former keep up the dignity of my author.' Agamemnon addresses Achilles
352 To a thousand cavils one answer is sufficient; the purpose of
a writer is to be read, and the criticism which would destroy the power of pleasing must be blown aside. Pope wrote for his own age and his own nation : he knew that it was necessary to colour the images and point the sentiments of his author ; he therefore
made him graceful, but lost him some of his sublimity'. 353
The copious notes with which the version is accompanied and by which it is recommended to many readers, though they were undoubtedly written to swell the volumes, ought not to pass without praise : commentaries which attract the reader by the pleasure of perusal have not often appeared; the notes of others
are read to clear difficulties, those of Pope to vary entertainment. 354 It has, however, been objected with sufficient reason that
there is in the commentary too much of unseasonable levity and affected gaiety; that too many appeals are made to the ladies, and the ease which is so carefully preserved is sometimes the ease of a trifler. Every art has its terms and every kind of instruction its proper style; the gravity of common criticks may be tedious, but is less despicable than childish merriment ?.
exactly in the attitude of a danc-
? Ante, COWLEY, 115. Johnson is
Matthew Arnold, quoting Pope's translation of the Iliad, xii. 322, Sarpedon's speech to Glaucus(Pope's lliad, xii. 387), says :- It is one of those passages in which he is at his best, a passage of strong emotion and oratorical movement; not of simple narrative or description. Nothing could better exhibit his prodigious talent, and nothing could be better in its own way. ... Even here he does not render Homer; but he and his style are in themselves strong.' On Translating Homer, p. 19.
· Ante, POPE, 86.
3 The following note on the Iliad, xiv. 191, is an instance of Pope's flippancy :—This passage may be of consideration to the Ladies, and, for their sakes, I take a little pains to observe upon it. Homer tells us that the very Goddesses, who are all over charms, never dress in sight of any one: the Queen of Heaven adorns herself in private, and the doors lock after her. In Homer there are no Dieux des ruelles, no Gods are admitted to the toilet.'
Of the Odyssey nothing remains to be observed; the same 335 general praise may be given to both translations, and a particular examination of either would require a large volume. The notes were written by Broome, who endeavoured not unsuccessfully to imitate his master'.
Of The Dunciad? the hint is confessedly taken from Dryden's 356 Mac Flecknoe ?, but the plan is so enlarged and diversified as justly to claim the praise of an original, and affords perhaps the best specimen that has yet appeared of personal satire ludicrously pompous.
That the design was moral, whatever the author might tell 357 either his readers or himself, I am not convinced. The first motive was the desire of revenging the contempt with which Theobald had treated his Shakespeares, and regaining the honour which he had lost, by crushing his opponent. Theobald was not of bulk enough to fill a poem, and therefore it was necessary to find other enemies with other names, at whose expence he might divert the publick.
In this design there was petulance and malignity enough ; 358 but I cannot think it very criminal 6. An author places himself uncalled before the tribunal of criticism, and solicits fame at the hazard of disgrace. Dulness or deformity are not culpable in themselves, but may be very justly reproached when they pretend to the honour of wit or the influence of beauty. If bad writers were to pass without reprehension what should restrain them ? 'impune diem consumpserit ingens Telephus ?'; and upon bad writers only will censure have much effect. The
Ante, POPE, 133.
“The mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.”
[The Universal Prayer, l. 39.] Ante, POPE, 148. 'JOHNSON. Alas! "for Pope, if the mercy he He wrote his Dunciad for fame. showed to others was the measure of That was his primary motive. Had the mercy he received. He was the it not been for that, the Dunces might less pardonable too, because experihave railed against him till they were enced in all the difficulties of composiweary, without his troubling himself tion.' COWPER, Works, vi. 254. about them. He delighted to vex
? JUVENAL, Sat. i. 4. them, no doubt; but he had more 'Shall this man's elegies and t'other's delight in seeing how well he could play vex them.' Boswell's Johnson, ii. Unpunished murder a long summer's 334.
day? Ante, POPE, 126, 145.
Huge Telephus, a formidable page, 6 'I have often wondered that the Cries vengeance.' same poet who wrote The Dunciad
DRYDEN, Works, xiii. 125. should have written these lines :
LIVES OF POETS. 111