« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
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.
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 a 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 learned 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. The story of Antiochus is so well known, that I need not add the sequel of it, which has no relation to my present subject. ADDISON.
No. 230. FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23.
Homines ad deos nullâ re proprius accedunt, quâm salutem
hominibus dando. Men resemble the gods in nothing so much as in doing good
to their fellow-creatures.
HUMAN nature appears a very deformed or a very beautiful object, according to the different lights in which it is viewed. When we see men of inflamed passions, or of wicked designs, tearing one another to pieces by open violence, or undermining each other by secret treachery, when we observe base and narrow ends pursued by ignominious and dishonest means; when we behold men mixed in society as if it were for the destruction of it we are even ashamed of our species, and out of humour with our own being. But in another light, when we behold them mild, good and benevolent, full of a generous regard for the public prosperity, compassionating each other'sdistresses, and relieving each other's wants, —we can hardly believe they are creatures of the same kind. In this view, they appear gods to each other, in the exercise of the noblest power, that of doing good, and the greatest compliment we have ever been able to make to our own being, has been, by calling this disposition of mind, humanity. We can not but observe a pleasure arising in our own breast upon the seeing or hearing of a generous action, even when we are whollydisinterested in it. I can not give a more proper instance of this, than by a letter from Pliny, in which he recommends a friend in the
most handsome manner; and methinks, it would be great pleasure to know the success of this epistle, thougḥ each party concerned in it nas
been so many
in his grave.
What I should gladly do for any friend of yours, I think I may now with confidence request for a friend of mine. Arrianus Maturius is the most considerable man of his country; when I call him so, I do not speak with relation to his fortune, though that is very plentiful: but to his integrity, justice, gravity, and prudence; his advice is useful to me in business, and his judgment in matters of learning: his fidelity, truth and good understanding are very great: besides this, he loves me as you do, than which I can not say any thing that signifies a warmer affection. He has nothing that is aspiring: and though he might rise to the highest order of nobility, he keeps himself in an inferior rank: yet I think myself bound to use my endeavours to serve and promote him: and would therefore find the means of adding something to his honours while he neither expects nor knows it; nay, though he should refuse it. Something, in short, I would have for him that may be honourable, but not troublesome: and I entreat that you will procure him the first thing of this kind that offers, by which you will not only oblige me, but him also; for though he does not covet it, I know he will be as grateful in acknowledging your favour as if he had asked it.'*
* So far was written by Hughes.
• The reflections in some of your papers on the servile manner of education now in use, have given birth to an ambition which, unless you discounten ce it, will, I doubt, engage me in a very difficult, though not ungrateful adventure. about to undertake, for the sake of the British youth, to instruct them in such a manner, that the most dangerous page in Virgil or Homer may be read by them with much pleasure, and with perfect safety to their persons.
Could I prevail so far as to be honoured with the protection of some few of them (for I am not hero enough to rescue many), my design is to retire with them to an agreeable solitude; though within the neighbourhood of a city, for the convenience of their being instructed in music, dancing, drawing, designing, or any other such accomplishments, which it is conceived may make as proper diversions for them, and almost as pleasant, as the little sordid games which dirty schoolboys are so much delighted with. It may easily be imagined, how such a pretty society, conversing with none beneath themselves, and sometimes admitted, as perhaps not unentertaining parties, amongst better company, commended and caressed for their little performances, and turned by such conversations to a certain gallantry of soul, might be brought early acquainted with some of the most polite English writers. Thus having given them some tolerable taste of books, they would make themselves masters of the Latin tongue by methods far easier than those in Lilly,