Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

وو

mous plagiary, than which, in his opinion as an author, nothing worse could 'attach itself to the character of a literary man.

• The subject being revived by the parson, he was desired as usual to give an instance of an absurdity or impropriety to be met with in Virgil. Nothing could have pleased the parson more than this request-It was indeed precisely the object he wished to encounter, and for which he had come ready armed into the field.

« In the sixth Æneid,” said he, “ you may perhaps recollect this passage :

Unde superne Plurimus Eridani per sylvam volvitur amnis.' " Recollect it?” cried the doctor :

Hic nianus, ob patriam pug and would have gone on most likely to the end of the book, (for he had been famous, when at Winchester, for learning half a dozen books either of Virgil or Homer by heart, ) had not the parson stop, ped him, and begged he would fix his attention only to the verse he had quoted.

“_Your favourite Virgil," continued he, “ is here describing the Elysian fields, and I think it sufficiently absurd that he should there introduce a river which laved the fields of Mantua. For Eridanus, sir, is simply the river Po."

« Consider, Mr. Burley," said the other, « consider, Mantua was his native land. Take in the amor patriæ, and it will appear very fair, and indeed rather a beauty than a blemish."

« Nothing can palliate it,” replied the parson ; " though I will allow that his description at this distance of time loses very little of its effect with most of us, from this circumstance; but let me ask how it would seem, were I in describing Elysium to introduce the New River, because I, the poet, happened to live at Islington? Sir, (he could never bear to call him doctor) I say it is a very inproper liberty; and this is the least of a thousand he has taken, which would be too troublesome to repeat.”

The doctor, who seldom dwelt long on one subject, and particularly when he perceived that he had no more to say on it, immea diately began to attack Homer in revenge.

“ Well, Mr. Burley,” said he, “ I think that a very tenial fault, it

you are pleased to call it any, when compared with an oversight which your Oceanus Sapientiæ has been guilty of. To assert one thing in one place, and contradict it in another, is unpardonable.”

“ Sir,” interrupted the parson hastily, “ you're wrong, you're wrong, sir. Homer never did such a thing. Prove it, sir ; prore it.”

“ Be patient,” said the doctor, “ and I will. To say nothing of hís inability to expound the fisherman's riddle; (which is affirmed to have produced his death, and which looks something like dulness,) you will find that he, the Vinosus or boozer, as Horace calls him, contradicts in the Odyssey what he had formerly asserted in the Iliad -But he had probably taken a little too much at a time.”

“ No jesting, sir," said Mr. Burley peevishly, “ but go on.”.

[ocr errors]

* Be calm, and you shall hear. In the first book of the Iliad, Thetis says to her son,

Ειμαυτη προς Ολυμπον ΑΓΑΝΝΙΦΟΝand in the sixth book of the Odyssey, describing Olympus, which you must aeknowledge to be a most tepid and imperfect description, Homer, the best of painters, distinguishes it thus :

ετε XΙΩΝ επιπιλναται. I do not imagine it necessary to translate either of these passages, as I see my father and the lieutenant are asleep, and I suppose you easily mark the contradiction."

• Such was the conversation, though not always such the temperate manner in which it was supported, that existed between Mr. Burley and the doctor, whenever they met, and which I as a faithful biographer, even though I lose the favour of the reader, am obliged to relate. He will not, however, find ine so minute as either a Piozzi or a Bozzy.'

The ingenious author concludes his work with a justification of its tendency, with respect to the interests of morality, justly maintaining that it is the first and foremost duty of every writer to sow the seeds of virtue, whose germ is peace, and whose harvest is happiness,"

R.Wood....e.

ART. III. The Wreath ; composed of Selections from Sappho,

Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus. Accompanied by a Prose
Translation, with Notes. To which are added Remarks on
Shakespere, &c. and a Comparison between Horace and Lucian.
By Edward Du Bois. 1.2 mo. Pp. 112. ' 6s. Boards. White,

&c. 1799.

ΤΗΣ
"He pieces selected by the Editor of this elegant little vo-

lume, from the enchanting remains of the Greek minor poets, are Bion's Epitaph on Adonis ; Theocritus on the Dead Adonis ; The Thief, and the Herdsman, by the same; Sappho's Ole to Venus; Moschus's Cupid a fugitive ; Bion's Third Idyl, and Moschus's Epitaph on Bion. The classical reader will at once appreciate the value of the entertainment provided for him, from this enumeration. Mr. Du Bois has translated the poems almost literally, for which we certainly do not mean to condemn him: but we must object to the principle on which he has proceeded. He takes it for granted, on the , assertion of Mr. Cowper, that “ a just translation of any ancient poet, in rhyme, is impossible;" and hence he infers that a prose-translation gives the most adequate representation of the original. This is surely not an accurate deduction, even if the premises were established ; and we conceive that Mr. Cow. per never intended that his opinion should be thus understood.

If

and many

If Mr. Du Bois meant to deny that English blank verse is poetry, he ought to have spoken more explicitly : Mr. Cowper evidently designed only to shew his preference of this measure to the restraints of rhyme. The original assertion is far from unquestionable. To speakof poems similar to those before us; Cowley's Translations of Anacreon ; his Acme and Septimius from Catullus ; Hammond's Translations of Tibullus, in his LoveElegies, for they ought not to be classed as original poems ;

other small pieces of our own writers ; appear to us to convey a very complete idea of the antient poet from whom they are taken.

A prose-translation of these charming productions is worse than a separation of the limbs of the poet : it reminds us rather of the orew Aubertwn. When we review our old favourites, the objects of our first poetical admiration, under such forms, we feel like Menippus in Lucian, who expresses his astonishment on seeing Helen and Nireus equally devoid of grace and beauty, in the infernal regions.

The impracticability of translating well in thyme has been - maintained by the French critics; and it may be true with regard to their language, to a certain extent. Yet, in the lighter kinds of poetry, even the French writers have produced happy versions of the antients. Their Epigrams are not inferior to any thing in the Anthology; and their translations of Martial are sometimes more exquisite than the original. Ouf language does not appear, in the works of our great poets, to be deficient in any power of expression ; and if Milton had translated the Iliad, which he is said to have once designed, Homer would have been completely our own. The imperfections of the two fine translations of the Iliad and Odyssey, which we now possess, might be easily traced to the different genius of the translators ; neither of whom was fully qualified to write epic poetry: but this research would lead us too far from our subject.

Mr. Du Bois appears to be well acquainted with the Greek language; and he has in general succeeded in rendering his au. thors correctly into fluent English :-but we must own that, in our opinion, no very adequate feeling of the original pieces can be excited by his translations. We shall give, as a specimen, his version of Sappho's Ode to Venus.

O IMMORTAL Venus, possessing various thrones, artful daughter of Jove, afflict not my soul, I beseech thee, O goddess, with wrongs, nor with anguish.

• But hither come, if ever thou didst listen kindly to my strains, which oft thou hast well beard, and come, leaving thy father's goldea dome.

• Having

1

Having yoked them to the car, thy swift spárrows drew thee all beautiful from hcaven, oft wheeling round on their black wings through the midst of ether.

• Instantly they came away. But thou, O blessed, smiling with à divine countenance, didst enquire what was my suffering, and wherefore I summoned thee here.

And what in my raving mind I most desired ; whom again I would conquer ? and whose loves ensnare? Who wrongs thee, Sappho ?

. For if he flies, soon he shall pursue ; though he does not take thy gifts, yet shall he give; if he loves not, soon he shall love, and do whatever thou art willing.

• Now, O come to me, and free me from vexatious cares. Order it so, that whatever my soul desires may be fulfilled to me, and be thou thyself my ally in the wars of love.

To our ears, this species of prose conveys the idea of one of King David's psalms, rather than of the strains of the volup. tuous Lesbian. There is an unfortunate construction in the second stanza, and come, leaving thy father's golden dome; the poetess, and we suppose Mr. Du Bois also, meant to say that Venus had formerly come to Sappho : but, as the version now runs, it might be mistaken for a present invocation. It may be said that we are severe on the translator, in selecting his version of a composition which is itself acknowleged to approach perfection. We shall therefore add a part of another, from Moschus :

· CUPID, A FUGITIVE. · Venus called her son, Cupid, with a loud voice, saying, If any one sees Love wandering in the public ways, he is my fugitive: the discoverer shall have a gift. Thy reward shall be a kiss from Venus : but if thou bring'st him, not a mere kiss, but thou, O friend, shalt have something more.

* Remarkable is the boy; amongst full twenty thou may'st know him. His body, indeed, is not white, but like fire : his eyes are somewhat fierce and flaming. The disposition of his nature is evil, sweet his talk ; for what he says he does not think. His voice is as

y; but when he is angry, his mind is savage, deceitful, saying nothing truly : treacherous boy, cruelly he sports. His head is beautifully covered with hair, but his face is saucy and froward,' &c. &c.

The remarks on Shakspeare consist of coincidences and imitations, which Mr. Du Bois thinks he has discovered, between our poet and some of the Greek writers. Some of them appear to be only those general resemblances, which must take place among writers who describe human nature. Dr. Farmer, we remember, has shewn how far this may be carried, by indicating a passage in one of the Greek philosophers, exactly corresponding with one in Dodsley's Farce of the Toy.shop. - The Essay on the Learning of Shakspeare, particularly in the remarks on the use which the poet made of North's translation of

Dd

Plutarch,

Rev. Dec. 1799.

Plutarch, renders any farther observations on that subject unnecessary.

Mr. Du Bois is of opinion that Lucian has taken many passages from Horace; and he prodnces several parallel thoughts froin the Essay on Writing History, and the Art of Poetry: but to us they do not appear convincing. The resemblance is too general, and consists in things of which two men of abilities cannot speak differently. Lucian must have been acquainted with the writings of Horace, though he has never quoted nor even referred to him : but he probably knew from what sources the Roman lyrist drew many passages, which to us seem ori. ginal. It does not appear, from any part of Lucian's writings, that Roman literature engaged much of his attention.

In perusing this volume, we have been sometimes struck with expressions which are scarcely English: for example, (p. 99,)' we shall confer a few passages,' instead of compare. In a work of taste, such language should have been avoided ; as should also those typographical inaccuracies which here compose a short table of Corrigenda.

The'volume is elegantly printed, is decorated with a handsome frontispiece, and altogether reflects credit on the writer's talents.

Fer...

Art. IV. Sermons preached before the University of Oxford, in the

Year 1798, at the I.ecture founded by the Rev. John Bampton,
M. A. By the Rev. Charles Henry Hall, B. D. 8vo.' pp.

277. 58. Boards. Rivingtons. 1799.
DROVIDENCE and Revelation proceeding from the same eternal

source, and having the same object in view, viz. the happiness of God's rational offspring, their history ought certainly to be contemplated in connection ; not, as is often done, as detached measures of Divine wisdom and mercy. In the publica. tion of the will of God to man, there can be nothing fortui. tous; and in the dispensation of the Gospel, the purpose of which was in the highest degree magnificent and glorious, it may very reasonably be presumed that he who knoweth the times and the seasons, and who ruleth among the kingdoms of the earth, would so arrange the ways of bis providence, as to give the greatest efficacy to this spiritual blessing, and to intro, duce it to the knowlege and acceptance of mankind at the properest period. Such is the fact; and it is curious and satisfactory to trace and compare with each other the history of revealed religion, and the history of God's providence in the government of the world. Scripture invites us to do this; and by so doing many learned Christians have elucidated and established their faith.

« ForrigeFortsæt »