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nor displacency, have place; where can scope be found, in such a system, for the exercise of piety towards God, of submission to his authority, resignation to his will, or a regard to his favour and protection ? Interpreted correctly, therefore, this is a cold and comfortless theory, equally robbing God of his richest attributes, and man of his most delectable privileges. It takes away all intercourse, all communion, between mankind and the Great Supreme: God cannot “dwell with man upon earth,” man cannot dwell with God in heaven; and Deity becomes a mere speculation; at the utmost an object of veneration, but never the object of love.
If virtue spring from such a source, (and it is right to admit that Epicurus was, in many respects, a virtuous man, gentle, kind, temperate, continent,) the scheme of morality must be wrong at its very foundation. The virtue which it prescribes is resolved into a man's private convenience and advantage, independently of reference to any Divine law, (for Divine law, in truth, there could not be on such a system :) if Epicurus declaim against vice, it is because it would expose the culprit to the penalties of human laws; but he declaims much more earnestly against the fear of the gods, and the fear of death; the former because the gods regard not us, the latter because “ whilst we live, death is not; and when death is, we are not." Against injustice, ambition, envy, revenge, he levels several excellent observations; and many of them are wrought out, with much beauty, by Lucretius; yet, as a system for the regulation of human conduct, and the real augmentation of human happiness, experience, wherever it was tried, evinced its total ineflicacy.
The same, however, may be affirmed of every human system, ancient or modern. And it is solely to put the young and ardent admirer of classical literature upon his guard, that he may be watchful as to the defects of every system but one, and set his eyes fully upon the glories of that one, the system revealed to us by God himself, that I have thought it right to present these remarks. Had a new edition been called for during the lifetime of my deceased friend, he would, I am persuaded, most scrupulously have precluded the possibility of mistake on this important subject.
But it is time we should proceed to the work itself; on corresponding and opposite pages of which Dr. Good has placed the original, (closely, but not slavishly, following Mr. Wakefield's edition,) and his own translation. In adopting blank verse as his vehicle, he seems to have set at defiance the frequently quoted aphorism of Johnson ;* but the truth is, that in thus deciding he was much more likely to succeed in the happy transfusion of the sentiments of Lucretius, than if he had “condescended to rhyme.” Freed from the restraints of similar termination, the translator of a didactic and philosophic poem has a far better chance of rendering his author faithfully, without waste of words, than those who confine themselves to the rhyming couplet. Thus, in the translations of Creech, of Dryden, and of Dr. Busby, we meet with frequent and sometimes ridiculous redundancies; and those who have compared the translations of the Iliad by Pope and Cowper, will have noticed the advantage, in point of terseness and general accuracy, possessed by the latter translator.
* «He that thinks himself capable of astonishing may write blank verse; but those that hope only to please, must condescend to rhyme.”
Blank verse, in the hands of one who has a tolerable command of diction, admits of a dignity and variety in translation, which is seldom attained by him who rhymes. The adoption of blank verse, therefore, in the translation of Lucretius has, I believe been generally approved. The characteristic of Dr. Good's poetry is elegant variety. His versification is easy, his style flowing, and usually harmonious; and, in the philosophical portions especially, the copious diction of modern science has often been felicitously introduced. In the pathetic and the awful, he has, I think, sometimes failed; but in these departments of his art, the Roman poet exhibits a simple majesty, which, I am aware, it is far more easy to admire than to imitate.
The reader, however, will form a more correct estimate from a few specimens, than from any criticisms which I can offer.
Let me first, then, present Dr. Good's version of the far-famed exordium of the second book:
Suave, mari magno turbantibus æquora ventis,
E terrâ magnum alterius spectare laborem : &c. in which the beauty and elegance of the language and imagery have excited universal admiration, and produced a host of imitators.
How sweet to stand, when tempests tear the main,
To watch the giddy crowd that, deep below,
O wretched mortals! race perverse and blind!
And little claims the body to be sound :
Since, then, nor wealth, nor splendour, nor the boast Of birth illustrious, nor e'en regal state Avails the body, so the free-born mind Their aid as little asks. Unless, perchance, The warlike host, thou deem, for thee array'd In martial pomp, and o'er the fiery field Panting for glory; and the gorgeous fleet,
For thee unmoor’d, and ardent,-can dispel
For as the boy, when midnight veils the skies,
The beautiful passage in the fifth book, in which the poet manifests his superiority to some of the vulgar superstitions, beginning with
Nec pietas ulla est velatum sæpe videri
Vortier ad lapidem, atque omneis adcedere ad aras; has received this spirited, though rather free, rendering
No--it can ne'er be piety to turn