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With no continued voice, but, pausing still,
Twinkes out her scatter'd voice in accents shrill;
S o sharp the string sung when he gave it touch,
Once having bent and drawn it. Which so much
Amaz'd the wooers, that their colours went
And came most grievously." Chapman,
"Then, as some heavenly minstrel, taught to sing
High notes responsive to the trembling string,
To some new strain when he adapts the lyre,
Or the dumb lute refits with vocal wire,
Relaxes, strains, and draws them to and fro;
So the great master drew the mighty bow:
And drew with ease. One hand aloft display'd
The bending horns, and one the string essay'd.
From his essaying hand the string let fly
Twang'd short and sharp, like the shrill swallow's cry.
A general horror ran through all the race,
Sunk was each heart, and pale was every face." Pope.
The agreeable task of selection and comparison has betrayed us into so great a length, that we have no space left for a farther discussion of the various merits of Chapman, or the other translators of the Iliad and Odyssey. So much room has been taken up by extracts from Pope and Cowper, that we feel we have not done justice to Chapman, and may possibly recur again to his translations, in order to enter into a fuller and more detailed criticism upon his peculiar merits. We have made no quotations from the original Greek, because we write to the English reader, and not to the scholar, to whom, if he is inclined to consult it, a Homer is instantly accessible.
Vol. III. Part II.
Art. I.—Bibliotheca Hispana Fetus, site Hispani Scriptores qui ab Octaviani Augusti Mvo ad Annum Christi, M.D.Jioruerunt. Auctore, D. Nicolao Antonio, &c. Matriti, 1788.
Biblioteca Espanola de D. Joseph Rodriguez de Castro. Madrid, 1786, tomo 1°
Mic. Casiri. Bibliotheca Arabico-Hispana Escurialensis. Matriti, 1760-70, 2 torn. Fo.
L. J. Velasquez. Origenes de la Pvesia Castellana. Malaga, 1754.
Of all the countries in Europe, Spain is, most decidedly, that whose literary history offers the greatest variety of interesting objects, and possesses, from the period at least of the decline of the Roman power, the richest materials to reward the inquiries of the antiquary, to keep alive the enthusiasm of the poet, and to give energy to the details of the chronicler. It is mainly in connexion with the Poetry of Spain, though without intending to confine ourselves wholly to that subject, that we propose to throw a hasty glance over those remote periods, where mists and darkness cover the history of our forefathers. In Spain, the spirit of song has been sufficient to its own immortality; and while the compositions of our bards are lost in the oblivion of long-since departed days, we may there trace the ever flowing stream of poetry through the vicissitudes of many ages. The
VOL. HI. PART II. p
mountains and the valleys which heard the voice of the Roman cithara, which resounded with the music of the Moorish atabal, and listened to the soft lyre of the amorous trobador, still echo with the simple and harmonious strains of the pipe and tabor, gathering the villages around their festive lay. The different epochs of poetry have all left some fragments behind them,— enough to enable us to determine their general character, and to trace, though sometimes doubtfully, the striking revolutions through which they have come down to us. These are, indeed, beautiful records of departed time,—records, which perhaps derive some additional charms from the impressive reflection, that many and many a generation have passed by since those who sung and those who listened have been mingled with the clods of the valley.
There are no fragments existing of Spanish poetry, of a date beyond the Christian era, and none in any of the vernacular dialects of the peninsula, older than eight or nine centuries. Siliusltalicus speaks of the verses sung by theGallicians in their native language; "barbaranuncpatriis ululantemcarminaUnguis and Strabo, with an exaggeration but too common where the high claims of tradition are uncontrolled by the stern and sober authority of history, informs us that there were verses sung among the inhabitants of Betica, more than sixty centuries old. But far from possessing any specimens brought down to us from ages so remote, the very language in which they were written is unknown; for Astalroa and Larramendi, the unwearied and busy advocates of the antiquity and universality of the Cantabrian or Euscarian tongue, have certainly failed to convince the majority of their countrymen that the Biscayan provinces have preserved the speech of their forefathers in an uncorrupted state, from the tower of Babel, at all events, and probably from a period much more remote. If, however, the Latin poets of Cordoba, of whom Cicero speaks so contemptuously, formed their style on the national model, and may be considered as fair specimens of the Spanish versifiers, we shall be easily reconciled to the loss of their compositions. Many natives of Spain, notwithstanding, forming their taste by the great classical authorities whose language they spoke, and to the literature of whose country they perhaps more properly belong, occupy high places in the temple of poetic fame. The two Senecas and Lucan distinguished the first century;
Duosque Senecas, unicumque Lucanum
* Martial, Ep. lxii. lib. i; and Statius thus records the fame of Betica:
the latter of whom gives a representation of the subjects, which no doubt principally engaged the songs of his contemporary bards:
Vos quoque qui fortes animos belloque peremtos
And such, indeed, are usually the themes which occupy the lyres of a warlike and half-barbarous age.* In the second century we find Martial, who frequently refers to other Spanish poets of his time. Lucius Annseus Floras was the relation (probably the fellow countryman) of the Senecas. With the exception of Zurita, all the Spanish biographers affirm that Silius Italicus was a native of Italica, though the contrary opinion of Vossius seems to rest on better ground. In the following centuries, we meet with Aurelius Prudentius and Juvenius Presbiteros, who translated the New Testament and the book of Genesis into Latin hexameters: the latter is probably the first of Christian writers, who has any claim to the title of a poet. There is something extremely affecting in the verses of Prudentius, when he reviews a long, weary, and almost profitless life; borne down by the re
Lucanuni potes imputare terris
Hoc plus quam Senecam dedisse mundo,
Aut dulcem generasse Gallionem
Ut tollat refluos in astra fontes
Grajo nobilior Melete Boetis. . Genethliacon
Lucan's monumental inscription is thus preserved by Gruter.
M. Annseo Lucano
* Caius Julius Hyginus, the Grammarian, has been claimed by Vives, as a Spaniard; and the majority of his biographers have been satisfied with the proofs. Portius Ladro, whom M. Seneca calls the most serious, the most affable, and the most eloquent man of his time, was also a native of Spain. Marcus Annseus Novatus was of Cordoba; and L. J. Moderatus Columela, of Cadiz. Of the work of the latter, de Re Rustica, Barthius, L. Nunez, and Cassiodorus, speak in terms of great admiration. Quintillian, (if the testimony of the chronicles of Eusebius is worth any thing,) " Quintilianus ex Hispania Calagurritanus," was born at Calahorra. Notwithstanding the prevalence of the contrary opinion, that he was a native of Rome, the title of Spaniard is asserted for him, with considerable force of evidence, by Nicolas Antonio.