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farther distance but twenty mile from the Lofer's Leap, I would indeafour to preak my neck upon it on purpose. Now, good Mistur SPICTATUR of Crete Pritain, you must know it, there is in Caernarvanshire a fery pig mountain, the clory of all Wales, which is named Penmainmaure, and you must also know it is no great journey on foot from me; but the road is stony and bad for shooes. Now, there is upon the forehead of this mountain a very high rock, (like a parish steeple,) that cometh a huge deal over the sea; so when I am in my melancholies, and I do throw myself from it, I do desire my fery good friend to tell me in his Spictatur, if I shall be cure of my griefous lofes; for there is the sea clear as class, and as creen as the leek: then likewise if I be drown, and preak my neck, if Mrs. Gwinifrid will not lofe me afterwards. Pray be specdy in your answers, for I am in crete haste, and it is my tesires to do my pusiness without loss of time. I remain with cordial affections, your ever lofing friend,
"DAVYTH AP SHENKYN."
"P. S. My law-suits have brought me to London, but I have lost my causes; and so have made my resolutions to go down, and leap before the frosts begin; for I am apt to take colds."
Ridicule, perhaps, is a better expedient against love than sober advice; and I am of opinion that Hudibras and Don Quixote may be as effectual to cure the extravagancies of this passion, as any of the old philosophers. I shall therefore publish, very speedily, the translation of a little Greek manuscript, which is sent me by a learned friend. It appears to have been a piece of those records which were kept in the little temple of Apollo, that stood upon the promontory of Leucate. The reader
will find it to be a summary account of several persons who tried the lover's leap, and of the success they found in it. As there seems to be in it some anachronisms and deviations from the ancient orthography, I am not wholly satisfied myself that it is authentic, and not rather the production of one of those Grecian sophisters, who have imposed upon the world several spurious works of this nature. I speak this by way of precaution, because I know there are several writers, of uncommon erudition, who would not fail to expose my ignorance, if they caught me tripping in a matter of so great moment.
No. 229. THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22.
-Spirat adhuc amor
AMONG the many famous pieces of antiquity which are still to be seen at Rome, there is the trunk of a statue which has lost the arms, legs, and head; but discovers such an exquisite workmanship in what remains of it, that Michael Angelo declared he had learned his whole art from it. Indeed he studied it so attentively, that he made most of his statues, and even his pictures in that gusto, to make use of the Italian phrase; for which reason this maimed statue is still called Michael Angelo's school.
A fragment of Sappho, which I design for the subject of this paper, is in as great reputation among the poets and critics, as the mutilated figure above-mentioned is among the statuaries and painters. Several of our countrymen, and Mr. Dryden in particular, seem very often to have copied after
it in their dramatic writings, and in their poems upon love.
Whatever might have been the occasion of this ode, the English reader will enter into the beauties of it, if he supposes it to have been written in the person of a lover sitting by his mistress. I shall set to view three different copies of this beautiful original: the first is a translation by Catullus, the second by Monsieur Boileau, and the last by a gentleman whose translation of the Hymn to Venus has been so deservedly admired.
My learned reader will know very well the reason why one of these verses is printed in Roman letter; and if he compares this translation with the original, will find that the three first stanzas are rendered almost word for word, and not only with the same elegance, but with the same short turn of expression, which is so remarkable in the Greek, and so peculiar to the Sapphic Ode. I cannot imagine for what reason Madam Dacier has told us, that this Ode of Sappho is preserved intire in Longinus, since it is manifest to any one who looks into the author's quotation of it, that there must at least have been another stanza, which is not transmitted to us.
The second translation of this fragment, which I shall here cite, is that of Monsieur Boileau.
Heureur ! qui prés de toi, pour toi seule soûpirè :
Je sens de reine en veine une subtile flamme
Un nuage confùs se répand sur ma duë,
Je n'entens plus, je tombe en de douces langueurs ;
Un frisson me saisit, je tremble, je me meurs.
The reader will see that this is rather an imitation than a translation. The circumstances do not lie so thick together, and follow one another with that vehemence and emotion as in the original. In short, Monsieur Boileau has given us all the poetry, but not all the passion, of this famous fragment. I shall in the last place present my reader with the English translation.
Blest as th' immortal Gods is he,
'Twas this depriv'd my soul of rest,
My bosom glow'd; the subtle flame
In dewy damps my limbs were chill'd;
Instead of giving any character of this last translation, I shall desire my learned reader to look into the criticisms which Longinus has made upon the original. By that means he will know to which of the translations he ought to give the preference. I shall only add, that this translation is written in the very spirit of Sappho, and as near the Greek as the genius of our language will possibly suffer.
Longinus has observed, that this description of love in Sappho is an exact copy of nature, and that all the circumstances, which follow one another in such an hurry of sentiments, notwithstanding they appear repugnant to each other, are really such as happen in the frenzies of love.
I wonder that not one of the critics or editors, through whose hands this ode has passed, has taken occasion from it to mention a circumstance related by Plutarch. That author, in the famous story of Antiochus, who fell in love with Stratonice, his mother-in-law, and (not daring to discover his passion) pretended to be confined to his bed by sickness, tells us, that Erasistratus, the physician, found out the nature of his distemper by those symptoms of love which he had learnt from Sappho's writings. Stratonice was in the room of the love-sick prince when these symptoms discovered themselves to his physician; and it is probable that they were not very different from those which Sappho here describes in a lover sitting by his mistress. This story of Antiochus is so well known, that I need not add the sequel of it, which has no relation to my present subject.