Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

subjoined to the text in the same page, and are therefore more easily consulted. Of this edition two thousand five hundred were first printed, and five thousand a few weeks afterwards'; but indeed great numbers were necessary to produce considerable profit.

80 Pope, having now emitted his proposals, and engaged not only his own reputation, but in some degree that of his friends who patronised his subscription, began to be frighted at his own undertaking; and finding himself at first embarrassed with difficulties, which retarded and oppressed him, he was for a time timorous and uneasy; had his nights disturbed by dreams of long journeys through unknown ways, and wished, as he said, 'that somebody would hang him".'

81

This misery, however, was not of long continuance; he grew by degrees more acquainted with Homer's images and expressions, and practice increased his facility of versification. In a short time he represents himself as despatching regularly fifty verses a day3, which would shew him by an easy computation the termination of his labour.

In the first edition :-'Of this edition the sale was doubtless very

82 His own diffidence was not his only vexation. He that asks a subscription soon finds that he has enemies. All who do not I am inclined to think he would not have been my predecessor in these labours.' Southey's Cowper, vi. 76. Cowper was overwhelmed by his engagement to edit Milton. İb. vii. 163.

numerous.'

Spence's Anec. pp. 218, 283. 'Did I not see thee when thou first

sett'st sail

To seek adventures fair in
Homer's land?

Did I not see thy sinking spirits
fail,

And wish thy bark had never left
the strand?

Ev'n in mid ocean often didst thou
quail,

And oft lift up thy holy eye and
hand,

Praying the Virgin dear, and saintly
choir,

Back to the port to bring thy bark
entire.'

GAY, Mr. Pope's Welcome, Pope's
Works (Elwin and Courthope), v.
170.

Cowper wrote of translating Homer: -'Had Pope been subject to the same alarming speculations, had he waking and sleeping dreams as I do,

Post, POPE, 89, 300. 'I wrote most of the Iliad fast; a great deal of it on journeys, from the little pocket Homer on that shelf there; and often forty or fifty verses in a morning in bed.' Spence's Anec. p. 142. See also ib. p. 218, where he says:-'I translated thirty or forty verses before I got up, and piddled with it the rest of the morning.'

''Some persons,... to prevent the expense of subscribing to so many authors, invented a method to excuse themselves from all subscriptions whatever; and this was to receive a small sum of money in consideration of giving a large one if ever they subscribed..., and this is what they call being tied up from subscribing.' Joseph Andrews, Bk. iii. ch. 3.

encourage him defame him. He that wants money will rather be thought angry than poor, and he that wishes to save his money conceals his avarice by his malice. Addison had hinted his suspicion that Pope was too much a Tory; and some of the Tories suspected his principles because he had contributed to The Guardian, which was carried on by Steele.

To those who censured his politicks were added enemies yet 83 more dangerous, who called in question his knowledge of Greek, and his qualifications for a translator of Homer2. To these he made no publick opposition, but in one of his letters escapes from them as well as he can 3. At an age like his, for he was not more than twenty-five, with an irregular education, and a course of life of which much seems to have passed in conversation, it is not very likely that he overflowed with Greek".

'Johnson refers, I think, to the letter published as Addison's by Pope, dated Nov. 2, 1713, quoted ante, POPE, 75, and to Pope's fabricated answer, Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), vi. 401-3. Pope wrote to Caryll on May 1, 1714:'Others have styled me a Whig, because I have been honoured with Mr. Addison's good words, and Mr. Jervas's good deeds, and of late with my Lord Halifax's patronage.' Ib. p. 208.

When he published this letter as if written to Addison he substituted :-'some calling me a Whig, because I have been favoured with yours, Mr. Congreve's, and Mr. Craggs's friendship, and of late,' &c. lb. p. 407.

Dennis wrote of him :-'The little gentleman, with a most unparalleled assurance, has undertaken to translate Homer from Greek, of which he does not know one word, into English, which he understands almost as little.' Remarks on Pope's Homer, p. 12. Quoted by Pope (with variations) in The Dunciad, Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), iv. 241.

Hearne recorded on July 18, 1729: This Alexander Pope, though he be an English poet, yet he is but an indifferent scholar, mean at Latin and can hardly read Greek.' Hearne's Remains, iii. 23. Pope had attacked him in The Dunciad, iii. 185.

[blocks in formation]

3 In his forged letter to Addison of Jan. 30, 1713-14. Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), vi. 407. See also ib. p. 207, and post, POPE, 383. 'Bred up at home, full early I begun

To read in Greek the wrath of
Peleus' son.'

Imit. Hor., Epis. ii. 2. 52.

Dr. Blair wrote to Boswell:'Lord Bathurst said to me that part of the Iliad was translated by Mr. Pope in his house in the country; and that when they assembled at breakfast, Mr. Pope used frequently to repeat, with great rapture, the Greek lines which he had been translating, and then to give them his version of them, and to compare them together.' Boswell's Johnson, iii. 403.

[ocr errors]

[For Wakefield's contempt of these sonorous spoutings,' see his General Observations prefacing the first volume of his edition of Pope's Iliad (ed. 1806), p. cclviii.]

'Dr. Clarke, whose critical exactness is well known, has not been able to point out above three or four mistakes in the sense through the whole Iliad.' WARTON, Essay on Pope, ii. 297.

Wakefield has cited numerous passages in which errors occur.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), v. 166, viii. 150.

Mr. Pope, without perceiving it,

84

85

But when he felt himself deficient he sought assistance; and what man of learning would refuse to help him? Minute enquiries into the force of words are less necessary in translating Homer than other poets, because his positions are general, and his representations natural, with very little dependence on local or temporary customs, on those changeable scenes of artificial life, which, by mingling original with accidental notions, and crowding the mind with images which time effaces, produce ambiguity in diction, and obscurity in books. To this open display of unadulterated nature it must be ascribed, that Homer has fewer passages of doubtful meaning than any other poet either in the learned or in modern languages. I have read of a man, who being, by his ignorance of Greek, compelled to gratify his curiosity with the Latin printed on the opposite page, declared that from the rude simplicity of the lines literally rendered, he formed nobler ideas of the Homerick majesty than from the laboured elegance of polished versions 2.

Those literal translations were always at hand, and from them he could easily obtain his author's sense with sufficient certainty; and among the readers of Homer the number is very small of those who find much in the Greek more than in the Latin, except the musick of the numbers.

If more help was wanting, he had the poetical translation of Eobanus Hessus3, an unwearied writer of Latin verses; he had the French Homers of La Valterie and Dacier 5, and the English

[blocks in formation]

Cowper wrote, when translating the Iliad:-'Pope had many aids, and he who follows Pope ought not to walk alone.' Southey's Cowper, v. 344.

RAMSAY. I should like to see a translation of it in poetical prose like the book of Ruth or Job. ROBERTSON. Would you, Dr. Johnson, who are master of the English language, but try your hand

[blocks in formation]

Bezae, Poemata, 1569, p. 84. 4 Pope described De La Valterie's translation as 'so elegant that the style of it was evidently the original and model of the famous Télémaque.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courtx. 146.

upon a part of it. JOHNSON. Sir, hope); 146 fought under Madame

you could not read it without the pleasure of verse.' Boswell's Johnson, iii. 333.

3 Eobanus Hessus published in 1540 Homeri Ilias Latino Carmine reddita. Nouv. Biog. Gén. xvi. 97.

Dacier's banner, and have waged war against all the heretics of the age. And yet it is Madame Dacier who accuses me, and who accuses me of nothing less than betraying

of Chapman, Hobbes, and Ogylby'. With Chapman, whose work, though now totally neglected 2, seems to have been popular almost to the end of the last century, he had very frequent consultations, and perhaps never translated any passage till he had read his version, which indeed he has been sometimes suspected of using instead of the original3.

Notes were likewise to be provided; for the six volumes would 86 have been very little more than six pamphlets without them. What the mere perusal of the text could suggest, Pope wanted no assistance to collect or methodize; but more was necessary; many pages were to be filled, and learning must supply materials to wit and judgement. Something might be gathered from Dacier; but no man loves to be indebted to his contemporaries, and Dacier was accessible to common readers. Eustathius was therefore necessarily consulted. To read Eustathius, of whose work there was then no Latin version, I suspect Pope, if he had been willing, not to have been able 5; some other was therefore to

our common cause.' POPE, Postscript to the Odyssey, Warton, iv. 429. See also Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), x. 145.

'Hobbes's poetry,' wrote Pope, 'as well as Ogilby's, is too mean for criticism.' Warton, iv. 403. In accounting for 'deviations from the Greek' Pope said :-'I was led into the greater part by Chapman and Hobbes.' Post, POPE, 383. See also Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), vi. 12. For Ogilby see ante, POPE, 6.

2 Ante, DRYDEN, 207, 344; post, POPE, 857.3. 'Chapman's expression is involved in fustian. ... His translation is something like what one might imagine Homer himself would have writ before he arrived at years of discretion.' POPE, Warton, iv. 402.

Matthew Arnold says of the latter part of this criticism:-'The remark is excellent: Homer expresses himself like a man of adult reason, Chapman like a man whose reason has not yet cleared itself.' Translating Homer, 1896, p. 26.

On

About thirty-five years after the publication of The Lives of the Poets Keats wrote his fine sonnet On First Looking into Chapman's Homer.

[blocks in formation]

'C'est de Grea, la bonne cham-
brière.'
Warton, iv. 402.

''I happened to say that a pamphlet meant a prose piece. JOHNSON. No, Sir, a few sheets of poetry unbound are a pamphlet as much as a few sheets of prose.' Boswell's Johnson, iii. 319. Dr. Franklin (Memoirs, 1818, iii. 178) mentions 'the artifices made use of to puff up a paper of verses into a pamphlet.' See post, POPE, 353.

5 Broome wrote to Fenton in 1728: -All the crime that I have committed is saying he is no master of Greek; and I am so confident of this, that if he can translate ten lines of Eustathius I will own myself unjust.'

87

88

be found, who had leisure as well as abilities, and he was doubtless most readily employed who would do much work for little money.

[ocr errors]

The history of the notes has never been traced. Broome, in his preface to his poems, declares himself the commentator 'in part upon the Iliad'; and it appears from Fenton's letter, preserved in the Museum, that Broome was at first engaged in consulting Eustathius 3; but that after a time, whatever was the reason, he desisted: another man of Cambridge was then employed, who soon grew weary of the work; and a third, that was recommended by Thirlby, is now discovered to have been Jortin, a man since well known to the learned world, who complained that Pope, having accepted and approved his performance, never testified any curiosity to see him 5, and who professed to have forgotten the terms on which he worked. The terms which Fenton uses are very mercantile: 'I think at first sight that his performance is very commendable, and have sent word for him to finish the 17th book, and to send it with his demands for his trouble. I have here enclosed the specimen; if the rest come before the return, I will keep them till I receive your orders.'

Broome then offered his service a second time', which was probably accepted, as they had afterwards a closer correspondence. Parnell contributed the Life of Homer, which Pope

[blocks in formation]

take the task. Jefferies applied to Dr. Thirlby, who was my tutor, and who pitched upon me.... I cannot recollect what Mr. Pope allowed for each book of Homer; I have a notion that it was three or four guineas.... I was in some hopes in those days (for I was young) that he would make inquiry about his coadjutor, and take some civil notice of him. But he did not.' Jortin's Tracts, 1790, ii. 519.

'Jortin died with the words, "I have had enough of everything." T. Moore's Memoirs, &c., 1854, vi. 207.

[ocr errors]

In the first edition the sentence ended here.

In the original, 'commendable enough.'

Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), viii. 40.

« AnteriorContinuar »