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most ambitious, and shall presently insert yours have done in one instance, even a little against the
bias of my own opinion. I know not why we should quarrel with com
εγω δε κεν αυτος ελομαι pound epithets; it is certain at least they are as
Ελθων συν πλεονεσσι. agreeable to the genius of our language as to that of the Greek, which is sufficiently proved by their The sense I had given of these words is the sense being admitted into our common and colloquial in which an old scholiast has understood them, as dialect. Black-eyed, nut-brown, crook-shanked, appears in Clarke's note in loco. Clarke indeed hump-backed, are all compound epithets, and, to prefers the other, but it does not appear plain to gether with a thousand other such, are used con- me that he does it with good reason against the tinually, even by those who profess a dislike to judgment of a very ancient commentator, and a such combinations in poetry. Why then do they Grecian. And I am the rather inclined to this treat with so much familiarity, a thing that they persuasion, because Achilles himself seems to have say disgusts them? I doubt if they could give this apprehended that Agamemnon would not content question a reasonable answer; unless they should himself with Briseis only, when he says, answer it by confessing themselves unreasonable. I have made a considerable progress in the trans
But I have other precious things on board,
Of these take none away without my leave, &c. lation of Milton's Latin poems. I give them, as opportunity offers, all the variety of measure that It is certain that the words are ambiguous, and I can. Some I render in heroic rhyme, some in that the sense of them depends altogether on the stanzas, some in seven, and some in eight syllable punctuation. But I am always under the correcmeasure, and some in blank verse. They will, tion of so able a critic as your neighbour, and altogether, I hope, make an agreeable miscellany have altered, as I say, my version accordingly. for the English reader. They are certainly good As to Milton, the die is cast. I am engaged, in themselves, and can not fail to please, but by have bargained with Johnson, and can not recede. the fault of their translator.
W.C. I should otherwise have been glad to do as you
advise, to make the translation of his Latin and
Italian, part of another volume; for, with such an TO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT.
addition, I have nearly as much verse in my
budget as would be required for the purpose. This Weston-Underwood, Dec. 5, 1791. squabble, in the mean time, between Fuseli and MY DEAR FRIEND,
Boydell, does not interest me at all; let it terYour last brought me two cordials; for what minate as it may, I have only to perform my job, can better deserve that name than the cordial ap- and leave the event to be decided by the combaprobation of two such readers as your brother, the tants. bishop, and your good friend and neighbour, the
Suave mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis clergyman? The former I have ever esteemed
E terra ingentem alterius speciare laborem. .. and honoured with the justest cause, and am as ready to honour and esteem the latter as you can Adieu, my dear friend, I am most sincerely wish me to be, and as his virtues and talents de- yours,
W.C. serve. Do I hate a parson? Heaven forbid! I love you all when you are good for any thing; and
Why should you suppose that I did not admire as to the rest, I would mend them if I could, the poem you showed me? I did admire it, and and that is the worst of my intentions towards told you so, but you carried it off in your pocket, them.
and so doing, left me to forget it, and without the I heard above a month since, that this first edi- means of inquiry. tion of my work was at that time nearly sold. It I am thus nimble in answering, merely with a will not therefore, I presume, be long before I must view to ensure myself the receipt of other rego to press again. · This I mention merely from an marks in time for a new impression. earnest desire to avail myself of all other strictures, that either your good neighbour, Lord Bagot, the bishop, or yourself,
TO THE REV. MR. HURDIS. παντων εκπαγλοτατ' ανδρων,
Weston, Dec. 10, 1791. may happen to have made, and will be so good as I am much obliged to you for wishing that I to favour me with. Those of the good Evander were employed in some original work rather than contained in your last have served me well, and I in translation. To tell you the truth, I am of have already, in the three different places referred your mind; and unless I could find another Hoto, accommodated the text to them. And this I'mer, I shall promise (I believe) and vow, when I
It gives me,
have done with Milton, never to translate again. that the news of such ills as may happen to either But my veneration for our great countryman is seldom reaches the other, till the cause of comequal to what I feel for the Grecian; and conse- plaint is over. Had I been next neighbour I quently I am happy, and feel myself honourably should have suffered with you during the whole employed whatever I do for Milton. I am now indisposition of your two children and your own. translating his Epitaphium Damonis, a pastoral As it is, I have nothing to do but to rejoice in in my judgment equal to any of Virgil's Bucolics, your own recovery and theirs, which I do sincerebut of which Dr. Johnson (so it pleased him) ly, and wish only to learn from yourself that it is speaks, as I remember, contemptuously. But he complete. who never saw any beauty in a rural scene was I thank you for suggesting the omission of the not likely to have much taste for a pastoral. In line due to the helmet of Achilles. How the omispace quiescat !
sion happened I know not, whether by my fault I was charmed with your friendly offer to be or the printer's; it is certain however that I had my advocate with the public; should I want one, translated it, and I have now given it its proper I know not where I could find a better. The replace. viewer in the Gentleman's Magazine grows more I purpose to keep back a second edition, till I and more civil. Should he continue to sweeten at have had an opportunity to avail myself of the rethis rate, as he proceeds, I know not what will be marks both of friends and strangers. The ordeal come of all the little modesty I have left. I have of criticism still awaits me in the reviews, and availed myself of some of his strictures, for I wish probably they will all in their turn mark many to learn from every body.
W. C. things that may be mended. By the Gentleman's
Magazine I have already profited in several in
stances. My reviewer there, though favourable TO SAMUEL ROSE, ESQ.
in the main, is a pretty close observer, and though
not always right, is often so. MY DEAR FRIEND,
The Lodge, Dec. 21, 1791. In the affair of Milton I will have no horrida
after having indulged a little hope bella, if I can help it. It is at least my present that I might see you in the holidays, to be obliged purpose to avoid them if possible. For which to disappoint myself. The occasion too, is such as reason, unless I should soon see occasion to alter will ensure me your sympathy.
my plan, I shall confine myself merely to the busiOn Saturday last, while I was at my desk near ness of an annotator, which is my proper province, the window, and Mrs. Unwin at the fire-side op- and shall sist out of Warton's notes every tittle posite to it, I heard her suddenly exclaim, “Oh! that relates to the private character, political or Mr. Cowper, don't let me fall!" I turned and saw religious principles of my author. These are proher actually falling together with her chair, and perly subjects for a biographer's handling, but by started to her side just in time to prevent her. She no means, as it seems to me, for a commentawas seized with a violent giddiness, which lasted, tor's. though with some abatement, the whole day, and In answer to your question if I have had a corwas attended too with some other very, very alarm- respondence with the Chancellor—I reply-yes. ing symptoms. At present however she is relieved We exchanged three or four letters on the subject from the vertigo, and seems in all respects better. of Homer, or rather on the subject of my Preface.
She has been my faithful and affectionate nurse He was doubtful whether or not my preference for many years, and consequently has a claim on of blank yerse, as affording opportu for a closer all my attentions. She has them, and will have version, was well founded. On this subject he them as long as she wants them; which will pro- wished to be convinced; defended rhyme with bably be, at the best a considerable time to come. I much learning, and much shrewd reasoning, but feel the shock, as you may suppose, in every nerve. at last allowed me the honour of the victory, exGod grant that there may be no repetition of it. pressing himself in these words:--I am clearly Another such a stroke upon her would, I think, Sconvinced that Homer may be best rendered in overset me completely; but at present I hold up Wank verse, and you hare succeeded in the passabravely.
W.C. ges that I have looked into.
Thus it is when a wise man differs in opinion.
Such a man will be candid; and conviction, not TO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT.
triumph, will be his object. Weston-Underwood, Feb. 14, 1792. Allieu !— The hard name I gave you I take to MY DEAR FRIEND,
myself, and am your It is the only advantage I believe that they who
έκταγλότατος, , love each other derive from living at a distance,
TO THE LORD THURLOW.
TO THE LORD THURLOW.
MY LORD, A letter reached me yesterday from Henry We are of one mind as to the agreeable effect Cowper, enclosing another from your Lordship to of rhyme or euphony in the lighter kinds of poetry. himself, of which a passage in my work formed the subject. It gave me the greatest pleasure; your stric-of an octave. But surely that word is only figuratures are perfectly just, and here follows the speech tively applied to modern poetry: euphony seems of Achilles accommodated to them *
* to be the highest term it will bear. I have fancied I did not expect to find your Lordship on the also, that euphony is an impression derived a good side of rhyme, remembering well with how much deal from habit
, rather than suggested by nature:
therefore in some degree accidental, and conseenergy and interest I have heard you repeat pas- quently conventional. Else why can't we bear a sages from the Paradise Lost, which you could drama with rhyme; or the French one without not have recited as you did, unless you had been it? Suppose the Rape of the Lock, Windsor perfectly sensible of their music. It comforts me Forest, L'Allegro, 11 Penseroso, and many other therefore to know that if you have an ear for which might easily be done, would they please as
which please, stripped of the rhyme, rhyme you have an ear for blank verse also.
well? it would be unfair to treat rondeaus, ballads, It seems to me that I may justly complain of and odes in the same manner, because rhyme rhyme as an inconvenience in translation, even makes in some sort a part of the conceit. It was though I assert in the sequel that to me it has this way of thinking, which made me suppose, been easier to rhyme than to write without, be that habitual prejudice would miss the rhyme
and that neither Dryden nor Pope would have cause I always suppose a rhyming translator to dared to give their great authors in blank verse. ramble, and always obliged to do so. Yet I allow I wondered to hear you say you thought rhyme your Lordship's version of this speech of Achilles easier in original compositions; but you explained to be very close, and closer much than mine. But it, that you could go further a-field, if you were I believe that should either your Lordship or 1 pushed for want of a rhyme. An expression pre
ferred for the sake of the rhyme looks as if it were give them burnish or elevation, your lines would worth more than you allow. But to be sure in transbe found, in measure as they acquired stateliness, lation the necessity of rhyme imposes very heavy to have lost the merit of fidelity. In which case fetters upon those who mean translation, not paranothing more would be done than Pope has done phrase. Our common heroic metre is enough; already.
the pure iambic, bearing only a sparing introduce
tion of spondees, trochees, &c. to vary the meaI can not ask your Lordship to proceed in your strictures, though I should be happy to receive Mere translation I take to be impossible, if no more of them. Perhaps it is possible that when metre were required. But the difference of iambic you retire into the coụntry, you may now and then and heroic measure destroys that at once. It is amuse yourself with my Translation. Should your dead language, and an ancient author, which
also impossible to obtain the same sense from a remarks reach me, I promise faithfully that they those of his own time and country conceived; shall be all most welcome, not only as yours, but words and phrases contract, from time and use, because I am sure my work will be the better for such strong shades of difference from their original them.
import. In a living language, with the familiariWith sincere and fervent wishes for your Lord-ty of a whole life, it is not easy to conceive truly ship’s health and happiness,
the actual sense of current expressions; much less
of older authors. No two languages furnish equiI remain, my Lord, &c. W. C.*,
pollent words; their phrases differ, their syntax
and their idioms still more widely. But a trans* TO WILLIAM COWPER, ESQ.
lation strictly so called requires an exact conformi
ty in all those particulars, and also in numbers: From Lord Thurlow.
therefore it is impossible. I really think at present,
notwithstanding the opinion expressed in your DEAR COWPER,
Preface, that a translator asks himself a good quesOn coming to town this morning, I was sur- tion. How would my author have expressed the prised, particularly at receiving from you an an- sentence, I am turning, in English? for every idea swer to a scrawl I sent Harry, which I have forgot conveyed in the original should be expressed in too much to resume now. But I think I could English, as literally, and fully, as the genius, and not mean to patronise rhyme. I have fancied, use, and character of the language will admit of. that it was introduced to mark the measure in In the passage before us aTTd was the fondling modern languages, because they are less numer- expression of childhood to its parent; and to those ous and metrical than the ancient; and the name who first translated the lines conveyed feelingly seems to import as much. Perhaps there was that amiable sentiment. Tegase expressed the remelody in ancient song, without straining it to verence which naturally accrues to age. musical notes; as the common Grock pronuncia- Alotpions implies an history. Hospitality was tion is said to have had the compass of five parts an article of religion, strangers were supposed to
The pieces which your lordship mentions would would have been to expose myself to the same certainly be spoiled by the loss of it, and so would miscarriage, at the same time that I had not his all such. The Alma would lose all its neatness talents to atone for it. and smartness, and Hudibras all its humour. But I agree with your Lordship that a translation in grave poems of extreme length I apprehend that perfectly close is impossible, because time has sunk the case is different. Long before I thought of the original strict import of a thousand phrases, commencing poet myself, I have complained and and we have no means of recovering it. But if we heard others complain of the wearisomeness of such can not be unimpeachably faithful, that is no reapoems. Not that I suppose that tædium the ef- son why we should not be as faithful as we can; fect of rhyme itself, but rather of the perpetual re- and if blank verse affords the fairest chance, then currence of the same pause and cadence, unavoida- it claims the preference, ble in the English couplet.
Your lordship, I will venture to say, can comI hope I may say truly, it was not in a spirit mand me nothing in which I will not obey with of presumption that I undertook to do what, in the greatest alacrity. your Lordship's opinion, neither Dryden nor Pope
Ει δυναμαι τελισαι γι και ει τιτίλισμενον εστι. would have dared to do. On the contrary, I see not how I could have escaped that imputation, But when, having made as close a translation as had I followed Pope in his own way. A closer even you can invent, you enjoin me to make it still translation was called for. I verily believe that closer, and in rhyme too, I can only reply as Horrhyme had betrayed Pope into his deviations. For ace to Augustus, me therefore to have used his mode of versifying
-cupidum, pater optime, vires
Deficiunt be sent by God, and honoured accordingly. Jove's I have not treacherously departed from my pataltar was placed in gevodczascv. Phænix had been tern that I might seem to give sonde proof of the describing that as his situation in the court of Peleus: and his slotetpes refers to it. But you must justness of my own opinion, but have fairly and not translate that literally
honestly adhered as closely to it as I could. Yet “Old daddy Phænix, a God-send for us to maintain."
your lordship will not have to compliment me on Precimus limbs was at first an expression of my success, either in respect of the poetical merit great feeling; till vagabonds, draymen, &c. brought of my lines, or of their fidelity. They have just upon it the character of coarseness and ridicule. enough of each to mako them deficient in the
It would run to great length, if I were to go other. through this one speech thus--this is enough for
Oh Phonix, father, friend, guest sent from Jove! an example of my idea, and to prove the necessity
Me no such honours as they yield can move, of further deviation; which still is departing from
For I expect my honours from above.. " the author, and justifiable only by strong necessity,
Here Jove has fix'd me; and while breath and sense such as should not be admitted, till the sense of the
Have place within me, I will never hence. original had been laboured to the utinost, and been
Hear ton, and mark we well- Haunt not mine eare found irreducible.
With sighs, nor #ck to melt me with thy tears I will end this by giving you the strictest trans
For yonder chief, lest urging such a plea lation I can invent, leaving you the double task
Through love of him, thou hateful prove to me. of bringing it closer, and of polishing it into the
Thy friendship for thy friend shall brighter shine style of poetry.
Wounding his spirit who has wounded mine.
Divide with me the honours of my throne
These shall return, and make their tidings known;
But go not tou--thy couch shall here be dress'd
With solltest fleeces for thy easy rest,
e And with the carliest blush of op'ning day
We will consult to seek our home, or stay.
Since I wrote these I have looked at Pope's. I
he, but further I say not.-I shall wait with imTo gall his spirit, who has galled mine.
patience for your lordship's conclusions from these With me reign equal, half my honours share. These will report; stay you here, and repose
premises, and remain in the mean time with great On a soft bel; and with the beaming morn
My Lord, &c. W. C. Consult we, whether to go home, or stay. I have thought, that hero has contracted a different sense than it had in Ilomer's time, and is better rendered great man: but I am aware that
TO THE LORD THURLOW. the encliticks and other little words, falsely called expletives, are not introduced even so much as the MY LORD, genius of our language would admit. The euphony I HAUNT you with letters, but will trouble you I leave entirely to you. Adieu !
now with a short line only to tell your lordship how happy I am that any part of my work has detain me long. I shall then proceed immediately pleased you.—1 have a comfortable consciousness to deliberate upon, and to settle the plan of my that the whole has been executed with cqual in commentary, which I have hitherto had but little dustry and attention; and am, my Lord, with time to consider. I look forward to it, for this many thanks to you for snatching such a hasty reason, with some anxiety. I trust at least that moment to write to me, *
this anxiety will cease when I have once satisfied Your Lordship's obliged and affectionate myself about the best manner of conducting it. humble servant,
But after all I seem to fear more the labour to WM. COWPER. which it calls me, than any great difficulty with
which it is likely to be attended. To the labours
of versifying I have no objection, but to the labours TO THE REV. MR. HURDIS,
of criticism I am new, and apprehend that I shall
find them wearisome. Should that be the case, I MY DEAR SIR,
Weston, Fco. 21, 1792. shall be dull, and must be contented to share the My obligations to you on the score of your kind censure of being so, with almost all the commenand friendly remarks demanded from me a much tators that have ever existed. more expeditious acknowledgınent of the numerous I have expected, but not wondered that I have pacquets that contained them; but I have been not received Sir Thomas More and the other MSS. hindered by many causes, each of which you you promised me, because my silence has been would admit as a sufficient apology, but none of such, considering how loudly I was called upon to which I will mention, lest I should give too much write, that you must have concluded me either of my paper to the subject. My acknowledgments dead or dying, and did not choose perhaps to trust are likewise due to your fair sister, who has tran- them to executors.
W.C. scribed so many strects in sợ neat a hand, and with so much accuracy." At present I have no leisure for Homer, but
TO THE REV. MR. HURDIS. shall certainly find leisure to examine him with a reference to your strictures, before I send him a My dear Sir, Weston, March 2, 1792. second time to the printer. This I am at present I HAVE this moment finished a comparison of unwilling to do, choosing rather to wait, if that your remarks with my text, and feel so sensibly may be, till I shall have undergone the discipline my obligations to your great accuracy and kindof all the reviewers; none of whom yet have taken ness, that I can not deny myself the pleasure of me in hand, the Gentleman's Magazine excepted. expressing them immediately. I only wish that By several of his remarks I have benefited, and instead of revising the two first books of the Iliad, shall no doubt be benetited by the remarks of all. you could have found leisure to revise the whole
Milton at present engrosses me altogether. His two poems, sensible how much my work would Latin pieces I have translated, and have begum have benefited. with the Italian. These are few, and will not I have not always adopted your lines, though
often perhaps at least as good as my own; because * TO WILLIAM COWPER, ESQ. there will and must be dissimilarity of manner beFrom Lord Thurlow.
tween two so accustomed to the pen as we are. DEAR COWPER,
But I have let few passages go unamended, which I have received your letter on my journey you seemed to think exceptionable; and this not through London, and as the chaise waits I shall at all from complaisance; for in such a cause I be short. I did not mean it as a sign of any presumption
would not sacrifice an iota on that principle, but that you have attempted what neither Dryden nor
on clear conviction. Pope would have dared; but merely as a proof of
I have as yet heard nothing from Johnson about their addiction to rhyme; for I am clearly con- the two MSS. you announce, but feel ashamed vinced that Homer may be better translated than that I should want your letter to remind me of your into rhyme, and that you have succeeded in the obliging offer to inscribe Sir Thomas More to me, places I have looked into. But I have fancied that it might have been still more literal, preserving should you resolve to publish him Of my consent the ease of genuine English and melody, and some to such a measure you need not doubt. "I am codegree of that elevation which Homer derives from vetous of respect and honour from all such as you. simplicity. But I could not do it, or even near Tame hare, at present, I have none. But to enough to form a judgment, or more than a fancy make amends, I have a beautiful little spaniel, about it. Nor do`1 fancy it could be done " stans called Beau, to whom I will give the kiss your pede in uno." But when the mind has been fully impregnated with the original passage, often re-sister Sally intended for the former. Unless she volving it and waiting for a happy moment may should command me to bestow it elsewhere; it still be necessary to the best trained mind. Adieu. 'shall attend on her directions.