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everywhere above the conceits of epigrammatic wit and gross hyperboles; he maintains majesty in the midst of plainness; he shines, but glares not; and is stately without ambition, which is the vice of Lucan. I drew my definition of poetical wit from my particular consideration of him; for propriety of thoughts and words are only to be found in him; and, where they are proper, they will be delightful. Pleasure follows of necessity, as the effect does the cause, and therefore is not to be put into the definition. This exact propriety of Virgil I particularly regarded as a great part of his character; but must confess, to my shame, that I have not been able to translate any part of him so well, as to make him appear wholly like himself; for, where the original is close, no version can reach it in the same compass. Hannibal Caro's, in the Italian, is the nearest, the most poetical, and the most sonorous, of any translation of the Æneids; yet, though he takes advantage of blank verse, he commonly allows two lines for one of Virgil, and does not always hit his sense. Tasso tells us in his letters that Sperone Speroni, a great Italian wit, who was his contemporary, observed of Virgil and Tully, that the Latin orator endeavoured to imitate the copiousness of Homer, the Greek poet; and that the Latin poet made it his business to reach the conciseness of Demos

equally sweet; yet there is as great distinction to be made in sweetness, as in that of sugar and that of honey. I can make the difference more plain, by giving you (if it be worth knowing) my own method of proceeding, in my translations out of four several poets in this volume Virgil, Theocritus, Lucretius, and Horace. In each of these, before I undertook them, I considered the genius and distinguishing character of my author. I looked on Virgil as a succinct and grave majestic writer; one who weighed not only every thought, but every word and syllable; who was still aiming to crowd his sense into as narrow a compass as possibly he could; for which reason he is so very figurative, that he requires (I may almost say) a grammar apart to construe him. His verse is everywhere sounding the very thing in your ears, whose sense it bears; yet the numbers are perpetually varied, to increase the delight of the reader, so that the same sounds are never repeated twice together. On the contrary, Ovid and Claudian, though they write in styles differing from each other, yet have each of them but one sort of music in their verses. All the versification and little variety of Claudian is included within the compass of four or five lines, and then he begins again in the same tenor, perpetually closing his sense at the end of a verse, and that verse which they com-thenes, the Greek orator. Virgil, theremonly call golden, or two substantives and two adjectives, with a verb betwixt them to keep the peace. Ovid, with all his sweetness, has as little variety of numbers and sound as he; he is always, as it were, upon the hand-gallop, and his verse runs upon carpet-ground. He avoids, like the other, all synalæphas, or cutting off one vowel when it comes before another in the following word; | so that, minding only smoothness, he wants both variety and majesty. But to return to Virgil; though he is smooth where smoothness is required, yet he is so far from affecting it, that he seems rather to disdain it; frequently makes use of synalæphas, and concludes his sense in the middle of his verse. He is

fore, being so very sparing of his words, and leaving so much to be imagined by the reader, can never be translated as he ought in any modern tongue. To make him copious is to alter his character, and to translate him line for line is impossible; because the Latin is naturally a more succinct language than either the Italian, Spanish, French, or even than the English, which, by reason of its monosyllables, is far the most compendious of them. Virgil is much the closest of any Roman poet, and the Latin hexameter has more feet than the English heroic.

Besides all this, an author has the choice of his own thoughts and words, which a translator has not; he is confined by the sense of the inventor to

those expressions which are the nearest to it; so that Virgil, studying brevity, and having the command of his own language, could bring those words into a narrow compass, which a translator cannot render without circumlocutions. In short, they who have called him the torture of the grammarians, might also have called him the plague of translators; for he seems to have studied not to be translated. I own that, endeavouring to turn his "Nisus and Euryalus" as close as I was able, I have performed that episode too literally; that giving more scope to "Mezentius and Lausus," that version, which has more of the majesty of Virgil, has less of his conciseness; and all that I can promise for myself, is only that I have done both better than Ogleby, and perhaps as well as Caro; so that, methinks, I come like a malefactor, to make a speech upon the gallows, and to warn all other poets, by my sad example, from the sacrilege of translating Virgil. Yet, by considering him so carefully as I did before my attempt, I have made some faint resemblance of him; and, had I taken more time, might possibly have succeeded better, but never so well as to have satisfied myself.

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HAVING with much ado got clear of Virgil, I have, in the next place, to consider the genius of Lucretius, whom I have translated more happily in those parts of him which I undertook. If he was not of the best age of Roman poetry, he was at least of that which preceded it; and he himself refined it to that degree of perfection, both in the language and the thoughts, that he has left an easy task to Virgil, who, as he succeeded him in time, so he copied his excellences; for the method of the Georgics is plainly derived from him. Lucretius had chosen a subject naturally crabbed; he therefore adorned it with poetical descriptions, and precepts of morality, in the beginning and ending

of his books, which you see Virgil has imitated with great success in those four books, which, in my opinion, are more perfect in their kind than even his divine Æneids. The turn of his verses he has likewise followed in those places which Lucretius has most laboured, and some of his very lines he has transplanted into his own works, without much variation. If I am not mistaken, the distinguishing character of Lucretius (I mean of his soul and genius) is a certain kind of noble pride, and positive assertion of his opinions. He is everywhere confident of his own reason, and assuming an absolute command, not only over his vulgar reader, but even his patron Memmius; for he is always bidding him attend, as if he had the rod over him, and using a magisterial authority while he instructs him. From his time to ours, I know none so like him as our poet and philosopher of Malmesbury.* This is that perpetual dictatorship which is exercised by Lucretius, who, though often in the wrong, seems to deal bona fide with his reader, and tells him nothing but what he thinks; in which plain sincerity, I believe, he differs from our Hobbes, who could not but be convinced, or at least doubt, of some eternal truths which he has opposed. But for Lucretius, he seems to disdain all manner of replies, and is so confident of his cause, that he is beforehand with his antagonists; urging for them whatever he imagined they could say, and leaving them, as he supposes, without an objection for the future; all this, too, with so much scorn and indignation, as if he were assured of the triumph before he entered into the lists. From this sublime and daring genius of his, it must of necessity come to pass that his thoughts must be masculine, full of argumentation, and that sufficiently warm. From the same fiery temper proceeds the loftiness of his expressions and the perpetual torrent of his verse, where the barrenness of his subject does not too much constrain the quickness of his fancy. For there is no doubt to be made, but that he could have been everywhere as Hobbes, who died in 1679.


But there are other arguments in this poem (which I have turned into English) not belonging to the mortality of the soul, which are strong enough to a reasonable man, to make him less in love with life, and consequently in less apprehensions of death. Such as are the natural satiety proceeding from a perpetual enjoyment of the same things; the inconveniences of old age, which make him incapable of corporeal pleasures; the decay of understanding and memory, which render him contemptible and useless to others. These, and many other reasons, so pathetically urged, so beautifully expressed, so adorned with examples, and so admirably raised by the prosopopeia of nature, who is brought in speaking to her children with so much authority and vigour, deserve the pains I have taken with them, which I hope have not been unsuccessful, or unworthy of my author: at least I must take the liberty to own that I was pleased with my own endeavours, which but rarely happens to me; and that I am not dissatisfied upon the review of anything that I have done in this author.

poetical as he is in his descriptions, and in the moral part of his philosophy, if he had not aimed more to instruct, in his system of nature, than to delight. But he was bent upon making Memmius a materialist, and teaching him to defy an invisible power: in short, he was so much an atheist, that he forgot sometimes to be a poet. These are the considerations which I had of that author, before I attempted to translate some parts of him. And accordingly I laid by my natural diffidence and scepticism for a while, to take up that dogmatical way of his which, as I said, is so much his character, as to make him that individual poet. As for his opinions concerning the mortality of the soul, they are so absurd, that I cannot, if I would, believe them. I think a future state demonstrable even by natural arguments; at least, to take away rewards and punishments is only a pleasing prospect to a man who resolves beforehand not to live morally. But, on the other side, the thought of being nothing after death is a burden insupportable to a virtuous man, even though a heathen. We naturally aim at happiness, and cannot bear to have it confined to the shortness of our present being; especially when we consider that virtue is generally unhappy in this world, and vice fortunate: so that it is hope of futurity alone that [IN epic poetry] the English have only makes this life tolerable, in expectation to boast of Spenser and Milton, who of a better. Who would not commit all neither of them wanted either genius or the excesses to which he is prompted by learning to have been perfect poets, and his natural inclinations, if he may do yet both of them are liable to many centhem with security while he is alive, and sures. For there is no uniformity in the be incapable of punishment after he is design of Spenser; he aims at the accomdead? If he be cunning and secret plishment of no one action, he raises up enough to avoid the laws, there is no a hero for every one of his adventures, band of mortality to restrain him; for and endows each of them with some parfame and reputation are weak ties: many ticular moral virtue, which renders them men have not the least sense of them. all equal, without subordination or prePowerful men are only awed by them as ference. Every one is most valiant in his they conduce to their interest, and that own legend; only, we must do him that not always when a passion is predomi-justice to observe, that magnanimity, nant; and no man will be contained within the bounds of duty, when he may safely transgress them. These are my thoughts abstractedly, and without entering into the notions of our Christian faith, which is the proper business of divines.


which is the character of Prince Arthur, shines throughout the whole poem, and succours the rest when they are in distress. The original of every knight was then living in the court of Queen Elizabeth; and he attributed to each of them

that virtue which he thought was most ing or more significant than those in conspicuous in them—an ingenious piece practice; and when their obscurity is of flattery, though it turned not much to taken away, by joining other words to his account. Had he lived to finish his them which clear the sense, according to poem, in the six remaining legends, it the rule of Horace, for the admission of had certainly been more of a piece, but new words. But in both cases a modecould not have been perfect, because the ration is to be observed in the use of model was not true. But Prince Arthur, them; for unnecessary coinage, as well or his chief patron Sir Philip Sidney, as unnecessary revival, runs into affectawhom he intended to make happy by the tion; a fault to be avoided on either marriage of his Gloriana, dying before hand. Neither will I justify Milton for him, deprived the poet both of means his blank verse, though I may excuse and spirit to accomplish his design. For him, by the example of Hannibal Caro, the rest, his obsolete language, and the and other Italians, who have used it; for ill choice of his stanza, are faults but of whatever causes he alleges for the abolishthe second magnitude; for, notwithstanding of rhyme (which I have not now the ing the first, he is still intelligible, at least after a little practice; and for the last, he is the more to be admired, that, labouring under such a difficulty, his verses are so numerous, so various, and so harmonious, that only Virgil, whom he professedly imitated, has surpassed him among the Romans, and only Mr. Waller among the English.

leisure to examine), his own particular reason is plainly this, that rhyme was not his talent; he had neither the ease of doing it, nor the graces of it, which is manifest in his "Juvenilia," or verses written in his youth, where his rhyme is always constrained and forced, and comes hardly from him, at an age when the soul is most pliant, and the passion of love makes almost every man a rhymer, though not a poet.



As for Mr. Milton, whom we all admire with so much justice, his subject is not that of a heroic poem, properly so called. His design is the losing of our happiness; his event is not prosperous, like that of all other epic works; his heavenly machines are many, and his human persons THAT form of satire, which is known are but two. But I will not take Mr. in England by the name of lampoon, is a Rymer's work out of his hands: he has dangerous sort of weapon, and for the promised the world a critique on that most part unlawful. We have no moral author, wherein, though he will not allow right on the reputation of other men. his poem for heroic, I hope he will grant is taking from them what we cannot reus that his thoughts are elevated, his store to them. There are only two reasons words sounding, and that no man has so for which we may be permitted to write happily copied the manner of Homer, or lampoons; and I will not promise that so copiously translated his Grecisms, and they can always justify us. The first is the Latin elegancies of Virgil. It is true revenge, when we have been affronted in he runs into a flat of thought sometimes the same nature, or have been anyways for a hundred lines together, but it is notoriously abused, and can make ourwhen he has got into a track of Scripture. selves no other reparation. And, yet His antiquated words were his choice, we know, that, in Christian charity, all not his necessity; for therein he imitated offences are to be forgiven, as we expect Spenser, as Spenser did Chaucer. And the like pardon for those which we daily though, perhaps, the love of their masters commit against Almighty God. And may have transported both too far, in the this consideration has often made me frequent use of them, yet, in my opinion, tremble when I was saying our Saviour's obsolete words may then be laudably prayer; for the plain condition of the revived, when either they are more sound-forgiveness.which we beg, is the pardoning

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of others the offences which they have done to us; for which reason I have many times avoided the commission of that fault, even when I have been notoriously provoked. Let not this, my lord, pass for vanity in me, for it is truth. More libels have been written against me than almost any man now living; and I had reason on my side to have defended my own innocence. I speak not of my poetry, which I have wholly given up to the critics: let them use it as they please: posterity, perhaps, may be more favourable to me; for interest and passion will lie buried in another age, and partiality and prejudice be forgotten. I speak of my morals, which have been sufficiently aspersed: that only sort of reputation ought to be dear to every honest man, and is to me. But let the world witness for me, that I have been often wanting to myself in that particular: I have seldom answered any scurrilous lampoon, when it was in my power to have exposed my enemies and, being naturally vindictive, have suffered in silence, and possessed my soul in quiet.

Anything, though never so little, which a man speaks of himself, in my opinion, is still too much; and therefore I will waive this subject, and proceed to give the second reason which may justify a poet when he writes against a particular person; and that is, when he is become a public nuisance. All those, whom Horace in his Satires, and Persius and Juvenal have mentioned in theirs, with a brand of infamy, are wholly such. It is an action of virtue to make examples of vicious men. They may and ought to be upbraided with their crimes and follies; both for their amendment, if they are not yet incorrigible, and for the terror of others, to hinder them from falling into those enormities, which they see are so severely punished in the persons of others. The first reason was only an excuse for revenge; but this second is absolutely of a poet's office to perform: but how few lampooners are now living who are capable of this duty! When they come in my way, it is impossible sometimes to avoid reading them. But, good God!

how remote they are, in common justice, from the choice of such persons as are the proper subject of satire! And how little wit they bring for the support of their injustice! The weaker sex is their most ordinary theme; and the best and fairest are sure to be the most severely handled. Amongst men, those who are prosperously unjust are entitled to panegyric; but afflicted virtue is insolently stabbed with all manner of reproaches; no decency is considered, no fulsomeness omitted; no venom is wanting, as far as dulness can supply it; for there is a perpetual dearth of wit; a barrenness of good sense and entertainment. The neglect of the readers will soon put an end to this sort of scribbling. There can be no pleasantry were there is no wit; no impression can be made where there is no truth for the foundation. To conclude: they are like the fruits of the earth in this unnatural season; the corn which held up its head is spoiled with rankness; but the greater part of the harvest is laid along, and little of good income and wholesome nourishment is received into the barns. This is almost a digression, I confess; but a just indignation forced it from me.


WHAT Virgil wrote in the vigour of his age, in plenty and at ease, I have undertaken to translate in my declining years; struggling with wants, oppressed with sickness, curbed in my genius, liable to be misconstrued in all I write; and my judges, if they are not very equitable, already prejudiced against me, by the lying character which has been given them of my morals. Yet, steady to my principles, and not dispirited with my afflictions, have, by the blessing of God on my endeavours, overcome all difficulties, and in some measure acquitted myself of the debt which I owed the public when I undertook this work. In the first place, therefore, I thankfully acknowledge to the Almighty Power the

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