Page images

in the theme he has written upon is not very obvious; his poem may rather be said to vindicate fashion than to combat it, as the Principles of Gardening which it inculcates are the same that have prevailed for some years: it cannot, however, be denied that the manner in which he has unfolded and explained those principles may be the means of making them better and more generally understood. His other proposition, that all tafte mult be destroyed when blank verse ceases to be falnionable, ftands upon no better grounds than the former. If Mr. Mason means to infinuate that the writer of rhyme is to expect nothing further than the reputation of the day, what is to become of Dryden, Pope, or his immortal friend, Gray? and we might add, of many others among the living? whose names we forbear to mention, as a selection among fuch numbers as are intitled to notice, might appear to be invidious.

After all that can be said on this subject, verse being nothing more than the cloathing of poetry, it is the poet's privilege to choose what dress his muse shall appear in ; in which, indeed, grace and convenience ought equally to be consulted. And though the falhion of the times might, possibly, give an improper bias to his choice, we must not therefore conclude that all taste is completely destroyed. Such a conclusion would be almost as precipitate as his, who taking offence at the want of that elegant fimplicity in the dress of a modern fine lady which characterizes the drapery of a Grecian Venus, should decisively pronounce that female beauty was no longer attractive.


ART. III. Homer's Hymn to Ceres. Translated into English Verse;

with Notes, critical and illustrative. To which is prefixed, a Translation of the Preface of the Editor, David Ruhnkenius. By the Rev. Robert Lucas, of Trinity College, Cambridge. 4to. 35. fewed. Robson. 1781. F the original Hymn (which, whether it be really the

production of Homer, or of any other early writer of antiquity feems not yet to be determined) a very ample account was given in the Appendix to the 63d volume of our Review. It was natural to suppose that the attention not only of the antiquary and the scholar, but of the man of taste and ingenuity would be attracted by a literary curiosity of fo fingular a kind. As a proof of this we need only to adduce the elegant translation by Mr. Hole (fee M. R. for August 1781) and this of Ms. Lucas, which is before us.

In the examination of rival performances, there is one rule that oughe rarely, if ever, to be deviated from, which is, to Jet each performance speak, as much as posible, for itself. In original productions great latitude is left to the candour and dilo 2


cretion of the Critic in selecting fueh passages as may appear to be fimilar. But in translations it is otherwise: he has no longer a discretionary power, as the corresponding paffages point out themselves; all he has, therefore, to do is to bring each passage impartially before the tribunal of the Public. In conformity with this equitable rule we shall lay before our Readers that part of Mr. Lucas's Translation which corresponds with our first quotation from Mr. Hole's :

To graceful CERES, now, who widely wields
Her golden sceptre o'er the fruitful fields,
I raise the song; which PROSERPine Mall Mare,
Her violated daughter, swift and fair ;
Whom while the watchful thunderer betrayed,
Rapacious Pluto snatched the trembling maid.

• The fair, from Ceres guardian eye escaped,
To Nysa's fragrant plain her course the shaped ;
And there in sport with Ocean's daughters Atrove,
Whose fwelling bosoms tempt the look of love.
Here, each inviting flower that round her grows
She plucks; the hyacinth and fragrant rose;
The purple violet now invites her eye,
The crocus and the soft anemony:
Above the reft a sweet NARCISSUS grew,
In splendid beauty, on her raptured view:
Earth and confederate Jove put forth the snare,
To tempt, for Pluto's sake, th' unconscious fair :
The gods themselves the product might admire!
From one broad root an bundred heads aspire !
All nature soon the spreading fragrance found,
And heaven, and earth, and ocean smile around!

She faw-and, at the fight, with joy entranced,
On, to the beauteous bair, in haste advanced ;
But when t'obtain the charming prize she tried,
The treacherous earth bencach her opened wide ;
And from the yawning charm-'tis Atrange to tell !
Forth issued the grim majesty of hell!
His eager arms th'affrighted maid embraced,
And in his golden chariot inftant placed ;
Swift from the plain bis Ateeds im morial press,
Regardless of her cries and deep distress.
And now her utmost voice is raised in vain,
Her father Jove, supreme and just, to gain :
Alas! nor god, nor man, would hear her cry,
(Whiift e'en the grove itself denies reply)

Save Perfes' youthful daughter, &c. Mr. Hole, concurring with Ruhnkenius, that the expression aya coxaparOb thatoco is corrupted and unintelligible, proposes, with a happiness of conjecture that does great credit to his sagacity, to read ayaqoxapta stoupas, juftifying his interpretation of


ay accox sprou by the authority of Pindar. Mr. Lucas, however, adheres to the first reading, which he explains very ingeniously. • The original of this passage runs thus:

Ουδέ τις αθανάτων, έδε θνητων ανθρώπων

"Ηκκσιν φωνής, ευ αγλαόκαρποι έλαιαι. On the lat part is" aynasxasztot 82.0ici, the editor says in a note, “ hæc non capio: videant acutiores." After such a declaration, I could not hope to discover the meaning of these words, if it depended on a learned penetration : but, as the sense of them seems to me to lie on the surface (the reason probably why the editor has overlooked it) I may venture my idea of it. Nothing is more common with poets than to feign an attention in mountains, woods, rivers, to persons finging or bewailing; which no doubt took its rise from the echoes which usually proceed from those places.

Virgil, Ecl. x. 8.

Non canimus furdis, respondent omnia silve.
Æn. xii. 928.

Confurgunt gemitu Rutuli, 10:ufque remugit

Mons circum, et vocem latè nemora alta remittunt. I take, therefore, yd dryddeux captior é cria! 10 mean fimply this; that the fruitful olive groves, which were near, beard pot, or were in attentive to, the cries of Proserpine; and gave no answer to them with their accustomed echoes.'

Art. IV. Propertii Monobiblos: Or, That Book of the Elegies of

Propertius, entitled Cynthia; translated into English Verse: With Claflical Notes. 8vo. 25. 6d. sewed. Nichols. 1782.

, and in perhaps, it is to be feared, not unjustly, for deviating from that unbending line which strict impartiality points out to them. It may, however, very truly be said, that were every thing, by which their judgments may be imposed upon, taken into full consideration, greatly would it abate the severity of their condemnation. No one, who had not been in a similar situation, can be aware of the variety of artifices that are daily put in practice to avert their censure or to secure their approbation. We have sometimes thought of making A Collection of Letters deprecatory and complimental to the Monthly Reviewers. But letting aside the violence such a publication might do to our modesty, there are other motives which restrain us from it: The arts of literary adulation, which, indeed, are but too well understood already, would be laid open to every one; and we might also be suspected of wanting to take an unchristian-like revenge of many a good gentleman, who in public affets to treat our decisions with infinite contempt, and yet in his private correspondence condescends to solicit our applause by every method which the meannefs of Aattery or supplication can suggest to him ; nay even to treat us with a respect little less profound than could have been paid to Apollo himself, presiding at his own Court of Criticism on Parnaffus. But besides these modes of attack, there are others more oblique, which, as they are less apt to be suspected, it requires greater circumspection to guard against. But, perhaps, the greatest trial of our critical integrity is, when the fincerity of the compliment, by which our vanity may be gratified, admits not of suspicion.

We were led into this train of reflexions by an involuntary wish to Mew every reasonable indulgence to the performance before us, arising in our minds from discovering, from the preface, that it had been undertaken in consequence of a hint formerly dropped in our Review, that such a work would be acceptable. Sorry, however, are we to add, that this Translation by no means corresponds with the idea we had formed of such a work. Though its fidelity and closeness evince the learning and industry of the Translator, the elegance of the original too frequently evaporates in the translation. The versification is commonly harih, and the rhymes are dissonant. This censure, however, does not extend to each individual Elegy ; for instance, the following,-in which, if proper allowance be made for the difficulcy of translating so closely as that each line in the translation shall have its correspondent one in the original, will be thought not deftitute of merit:

Go then, on Tiber's velvet banks recline;
And in Mentorean cups quaff Lesbian wine :
Go view thy rapid wherries cleave the ride,
Or drawn by cords thy barges Nowly glide;
View thy tall trees their cultur'd ranges fpread,
Like woods that burden'd Caucasus o'er hade :
Yet what are these compar'd with my fond joys ?
Love will not yield to all that wealth supplies !
Methinks if e'er with me lhe spends the night,
Or kindly waftes the day in dear delight;
Beneath my roof Pactolus rolls its stores,
And gems 1 cull on Erythræan shores :

[ocr errors]

• To licèt abjectus Tiberinâ mollitur undâ

Lesbia Menoreo vina bibas opere:
Ec modò tam celeres mireris currere lintres,

Ec modò cam tardas funibus ire rates :
Et nemus omne saras intendar verrice filvas,

Urgetur quantis Caucafus arboribus :
Non tamen ilta meo valeant contendere amori.

Nescit Amor magnis cedere divitis.
Nam live opratam mecum erabit ille quietem,

Seu facili totum ducit amore diem :
Tum mihi Paftoli veniunt sub tecla liquores,

Et legitur rubris gemma sub æquoribus.
Rev. June, 1782.




Then beyond kings my joys proclaim me blest ;
May these remain, while life shall warm this breaft!
If cross'd in passion, who will riches beed ?
When Venus (miles not, then we're poor indeed!
She lays the hero's boasted vigour low,
'Tis Venus melts the hardelt heart to woe;
She on Arabian thresholds dares to tread,
Th’empurpled couch, O Tullus ! dares invade ;
She on his bed can stretch the fighing swain,
Then o'er it spreads the pictur'd filk in vain.-

Propitious prove, thou charmer of the kies!
And thrones I'll scorn, Alcinous' wealth despise!'

[ocr errors]

Tum mihi ceffuros fpondent mea gaudia reges :

Quæ maneant, dum me fata perire volent.
Nam quis divitiis adverso gaudet amore?

Nulla mihi tristi præmia fint Venere.
Illa potest magnas heroum infringere vires :

Illa etiam duris mentibus esse dolor.
Illa neque Arabium meruit transcendere limen,
Nec iimet ostrino, Tulle, subire toro:

20 Et miserum toto juvenem versare cubili.

Quid relevant variis ferica textilibus?
Quæ mihi dum placata aderit, non ulla verebos
Regna, nec Alcinoi munera despicere.'

No't es, by the Translator. He addresses his friend Tullus; with whose riches he fets in competition the pleasure resulting from his love. This elegy, says Valpius, is most sweet, florid, sprightly, and polished ; it breathes the utmol freedom, and its numbers are limple, soft, round, well turned; in a word they are Propertian; and we may say of our bard, what Cowley said of Anacreon, in the character of Love :

All thy verse is softer far,
Than the downy feathers are
Of my wings, or of my arrows,
of my mother's doves, or sparrows;
Graceful, cleanly, smooth, and round;

All with Venus' girdle bound. Broukhusius informs us, that Joannes Secundus has beautifully imitated this elegy, together with Eleg. 3. Lib. 3. of Tibullus, in the second elegy of his first book.

1. Tiberina und..] From this passage, as well as from many others, it appears, that Tullus was r.o mean personage; fince, like other Romans of condition, he had his villa on the banks of the Tiber.

2. Mentoreo opere :) So high.wrought drinking cups are called, by way of excellence. Mentor was a famous sculptor or embofler ; of whose workmanship Pliny informs us, Lib. 33. Cap. 11. that the orator Lucius Craffus bought two goblets, at an hundred HSS. Mar. tial frequently Ipeaks of Mentorean cups; and Cicero, as well as many others, mention them. We may here remark, that the antienis made their more coitly drinking cups of gold, gems, and a compoftion called murrha, about which antiquaries are so much divided; some

« PreviousContinue »