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letter writing. I shall send up some copy for Hamilton next week." Before the end of January he writes "All the copy of the translation is now forthcoming.
The celerity with which he executed this. task is more surprising as, for the reasons just mentioned, he was a translator rather from necessity than choice.
Of the difficulties attending this department of literature, he had a higher notion than is usually entertained.
"As to translations in general," he observes, "without fearing an imputation of selfishness for attempting to magnify our office, an assertion of Horace may be transferred, with entire confidence, and undisputed truth, to versions of authors in the dead languages from the reception of comic writers in ancient Rome.
Creditur, ex medio quia res arcessit, habere
Plus oneris, quanto veniæ minus."
Epist. ii. 1. 168.i
i" "Tis thought that Comedy least skill demands;
"Translation, because the materials are provided to our own hands, is thought an easy occupation; but the candour and indulgence of a reader bear no ratio to the difficulties of a labourer in this province; for, in fact, an unrestrained and idiomatical transfusion of a Greek or Latin author into a modern language, with fidelity to the sentiment, and unoffending facility of connected and free construction through successive paragraphs, constitutes an undertaking nice and arduous in the extreme, - so as to become, in some instances, an almost insuperable task.” *
This translation is accompanied with short notes, containing illustrations of various passages in ancient authors, both sacred and profane, more particularly the former.
"I have been solicitous," he adds, "even in the execution of a work like this, not to lose sight altogether of an object eminently grateful and interesting to my feelings; I mean a most earnest desire, from a deep and matured conviction of their essential connection with the permanent and substantial happiness of the human race, of recommending the Scriptures of Revelation, not merely as the grand repositories of invaluable truth, but as elegant stores
Manuscript preface originally intended for this work.
of philological amusement, replete with specimens of the noblest sentiment, and with every fascinating beauty of language and composition: specimens abundantly meriting the regard and admiration both of the linguist and the philosopher. Until the books of the Old and New Covenant shall be made by scholars the subjects of rational philology, and be read, studied, and criticised, like an ancient classic, we are highly unreasonable in expecting a removal of the veil from the hearts of unbelievers.'
At the close of the above observations, he alludes to his feelings and situation, in a passage which we prevailed upon him to suppress while he remained under the power of his enemies.
"I executed the task, imposed on myself, under a multiplicity of interruptions and disquietude; yet the reader, who forms a rational and equitable judgment of my feelings from an experimental acquaintance with my sentiments and conduct, will know himself authorised to consider me, not as acquiescing only, but as exulting, in my captivity, corroborated and consoled, as I am, by the incessant gratulations of an approving conscience,
and by the inexhaustible delights of solid literature; blessings, which cleave to their possessor under all the vicissitudes of time and place, and through all the revolutions of mortality-as glorying in my punishment, amidst the plaudits of friends and benefactors, some of the most virtuous, enlightened, and affectionate, of mankind! whose sweet infusion of benevolence and sympathy has tempered that cup of bitterness, which the malignity of my persecutors had mixed for me, into a potion of health and joy."
At the end of November in this year, Mr. Wakefield received the unexpected intelligence of the death of his much-esteemed friend, Michael Dodson, Esq. This gentleman (who was the nephew of that distinguished judge Sir Michael Foster) united considerable endowments of the understanding to the amiable and milder qualities of the heart. Educated to the profession of the law, his studies were by no means confined to that object. His intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures, and Biblical criticism in general, has long been acknowledged by eminent scholars.
Though Mr. Dodson's friendly, and indeed
affectionate, attachment had been shewn to Mr. Wakefield on various occasions, especially after he had incurred the severities of ministerial prosecution, our friend had not the least expectation of being noticed in the generous manner described in the course of the following letter:
MY DEAR SIR,
Dorchester Gaol, Nov. 30, 1799.
I HOPE you will be equal to the decyphering of this letter, for Chrysostom has so wearied my hand that I can scarcely write at all. I take an opportunity of enclosing some copy, though they have already got plenty; but I wish it out of my sight: and you will be kind enough to convey it to Hamilton at your leisure.
Dr. Pett told me of Mr. Dodson's death, and the day, or second day after, I saw it in the " Morning Chronicle." Mrs. Wakefield suggested the propriety of a letter to his widow, which I immediately acknowledged. I wrote accordingly in terms of condolence, and in terms ardently expressive of my great regard and high veneration of his talents and virtues; under which sentiments you remember me to have uniformly spoken of him.
Last Sunday (five days after my letter)