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to the sublimity of our thoughts, or to the difficult variety of our designs. However it be, I dare establish it for a rule of practice on the stage, that we are bound to please those whom we pretend to entertain ; and that at any price, religion and good-manners only excepted; and I care not much, if I give this handle to our bad illiterate poetasters, for the defence of their Scriptions, as they call them. There is a sort of merit in delighting the spectators ; which is a name more proper for them, than that of auditors: or else Horace is in the wrong, when he commends Lucilius for it. But these common-places I mean to treat at greater leisure: in the me.n time, submitting that little I have said to your lordship's approbation, or your censure, and choosing rather to entertain you this way, as you are a judge of writing, than to oppress your modesty with other commendations; which, though they are your due, yet would not be equally received in this satirical and censorious age. That which cannot without injury be denied to you, is the easiness of your conversation, far from affectation or pride; not denying even to enemies their just praises. And this, if I would dwell on any theme of this nature, is no vulgar commendation to your lordship. Without flattery, my lord, you have it in your nature, to be a patron and encourager of good poets, but your fortune has not yet put into your hands the opportunity of expressing it. What you will be hereafter, may be more than guessed, by what you are at present. You maintain the character of a nobleman, without that haughtiness which generally attends too many of the nobility; and when you converse with gentlemen, you forget not that you have been of their order. You are married to the daughter of a king, who, amongst her other high perfections, has derived from him a charming behaviour, a winning goodness, and a majestic person. The Muses and the Graces are the ornaments of your family; while the Muse sings, the Grace accompanies her voice: even the servants of the Muses have sometimes had the happiness to hear her; and to receive their inspirations from her.
I will not give myself the liberty of going farther; for it is so sweet to wander in a pleasing way, that I should never arrive at my journey's end. To keep myself from being belated in my letter, and tiring your attention, I must return to the place where I was setting out. I humbly dedicate to your lordship, my own labours in this Miscellany: at the same time, not arrogating to myself the privilege of inscribing to you the works of others, who are joined with me in this undertaking, over which I can pretend no right. Your lady and you have done me the favour to hear me read my translations of Ovid ; and you both seemed not to be displeased with them. Whether it be the partiality of an old man to his youngest child, I know not: but they appear to me the best of all my endeavours in this kind. Perhaps this poet is more easy to be translated than some others, whom I have lately attempted : perhaps too, he was more according to my genius. He is certainly more pa
latable to the reader than any of the Roman wits; though some of them are more lofty, some more instructive, and others more correct. He had learning enough to make him equal to the best. But as his verse came easily, he wanted the toil of application to amend it. He is often luxuriant both in his fancy and expressions, and, as it has lately been observed, not always natural. If wit be pleasantry, he has it to excess; but if it be propriety, Lucretius, Horace, and, above all, Virgil, are his superiors. I have said so much of him already, in my preface to his Heroical Epistles, that there remains little to be added in this place: for my own part, I have endeavoured to copy bis character what I could in this translation, even perhaps farther than I should have done; to his very faults. Mr. Chapman, in his translation of Homer, professes to have done it somewhat paraphrastically, and that on set purpose; his opinion being, that a good poet is to be translated in that manner. I remember not the reason which he gives for it; but I suppose it is, for fear of omitting any of his excellencies : sure I am, that if it be a fault, it is much more pardonable than that of those, who run into the other extreme of a literal and close translation, where the poet is confined so straightly to his author's words, that he wants elbow-room to express his elegancies. He leaves him obscure; he leaves him prose, where he found him verse: and no better than thus has Ovid been served by the so much admired Sandys. This is at least the idea which I have remaining of his translation; for I never read him since I was a boy. They who take him upon content, from the praises which their fathers gave him, may inform their judgment by reading him again, and see (if they understand the original) what is become of Ovid's poetry in his version; whether it be not all, or the greatest part of it, evaporated. But this proceeded from the wrong judgment of the age in which he lived. . They neither knew good verse, nor loved it; they were scholars, it is true, but they were pedants. And for a just reward of their pedantic pains, all their translations want to be translated into English,
If I fatter not myself, or if my friends have not flattered me, I have given my author's sense, for the most part, truly : for to mistake sometimes, is incident to all men; and not to follow the Dutch commentators always, may be forgiven to a man who thinks them, in the general, heavy gross-witted fellows, fit only to gloss on their own dull poets. But I leave a farther satire on their wit, till I have a better opportunity to show how much I love and honour them. I have likewise attempted to restore Ovid to his native sweetness, easiness, and smoothness; and to give my poetry a kind of cadence, and, as we call it, a run of verse, as like the original, as the English can come up to the Latin. As he seldom uses any synalephas, so I have endeavoured to avoid them, as often as I could : I have likewise given him his own turns, both on the words and on the thought, which I cannot say are inimitable, because I have copied them; and so may others, if they use the same diligence: but cere tainly they are wonderfully graceful in this poet. Since I have named the
synalepha, which is cutting off one vowel immediately before another, I will give an example of it from Chapman's Homer, which lies before me; for the benefit of those who understand not the Latin prosodia. It is in the first line of the argument to the first Iliad.
Apollo's priest to th’ Argive fleet doth bring, &c.
There we see he makes it not the Argive, but th’ Argive, to shup the shock of the two vowels, immediately following each other; but, in his second argument, in the same page, he gives a bad example of the quite contrary kind:
Alpha the prayer of Chryses sings;
In these words the army's, the ending with a vowel, and army's beginning with another vowel, without cutting off the first, which by it had been th' army's, there remains a most horrible ill-sounding gap betwixt those words. I cannot say that I have every way observed the rule of the synalepha in my translation ; but wheresoever I have not, it is a fault in the sound: the French and the Italians have made it an inviolable precept in their versification; therein following the severe example of the Latin poet. Our countrymen have not yet reformed their poetry so far, but content themselves with following the licentious practice of the Greeks ; who, though they sometimes use synalephas, yet make no difficulty, very often, to sound one vowel upon another; as Hoiner does, in the very first line of Alpha. Myvi deide De IIraniadew 'Awang. It is true, indeed, that in the second line, in these words μυρί 'Αχαιοίς, and αλγε εθηκεν. the synalepha in revenge is twice observed. But it becomes us, for the sake of euphony, rather Musas colere severiores, with the Romans, than to give into the looseness of the Grecians.
· I have tired myself, and have been summoned by the press to send away this Dedication, otherwise I had exposed some other faults, which are daily committed by our English poets; which, with care and observation, might be amended. For, after all, our language is both copious, significant, and majestical, and might be reduced into a more harmonious sound. But, for want of public encouragement, in this iron age, we are so far from making any progress in the improvement of our tongue, that in few years we shall speak and write as barbarously as our neighbours.
Notwithstanding my haste, I cannot forbear to tell your lordship, that there are two fragments of Homer translated in this Miscellany; one by Mr. Congreve (whom I cannot mention without the honour which is due to his excellent
parts, and that entire affection which I bear him) and the other by myself. Both the subjects are pathetical, and I am sure my friend has added to the tenderness which he found in the original, and, without flattery, surpassed his author. Yet I must needs say this in reference to Homer, that he is much more capable of exciting the manly passions than those of grief and pity. To cause admiration, is indeed the proper and adequate design of an epic poem: and in that he has excelled even Virgil; yet, without presuming to arraign our master, I may venture to affirm, that he is somewhat too talkative, and more than somewhat too digressive. This is so manifest, that it cannot be denied in that little parcel which I have translated, perhaps too literally: there Andromache, in the midst of her concernment, and fright for Hector, runs off her biass, to tell him a story of her pedigree, and of the lamentable death of her father, her mother, and her seven brothers. The devil was in Hector if he knew not all this matter, as well as she who told it him; for she had been his bedfellow for many years together : and if he knew it, then it must be confessed, that Homer, in this long digression, has rather given her his own character, than that of the fair lady whom he paints. His dear friends, the commentators, who never fail him at a pinch, will needs' excuse him, by making the present sorrow of Andromache to occasion the remembrance of all the past: but others thirk, that she had enough to do with that grief which now oppressed her, without running for assistance to her family. Virgil, I am confident, would have omitted such a work of supererogation. But Virgil had the gift of expressing much in little, and sometimes in silence; for though he yielded much to Homer in invention, he more excelled him in his admirable judgment. He drew the passion of Dido for Æneas, in the most lively and most natural colours imaginable: Homer was ambitious enough of moving pity; for he has attempted twice on the same subject of Hector's death : first, when Priam and Hecuba beheld his corpse, which was dragged after the chariot of Achilles; and then in the lamentation which was made over him, when his body was redeemed by Priam ; and the same persons again bewailed his death, with a chorus of others to help the cry. But if this last excite compassion in you, as I doubt not but it will, you are more obliged to the translator than the poet: for Homer, as I observed before, can move rage better than he can pity: he stirs up the irascible appetite, as our philosophers call it; he provokes to murder, and the destruction of God's images ; he forms and equips those ungodly man-killers, whom we poets, when we flatter them, call heroes; a race of men, who can never enjoy quiet in themselves, till they have taken it from all the world. This is Homer's commendation; and such as it is, the lovers of peace, or at least of more moderate heroism, will never envy him. But let Homer and Virgil contend for the prize of honour betwixt themselves; I am satisfied they will never have a third concurrent. I wish Mr. Congreve had the leisure to translate him, and the world the good-nature and justice to encourage him in that noble design, of which he is more capable than any man I know. The earl of Mulgrave
and Mr. Waller, two of the best judges of our age, have assured me, that they could never read over the translation of Chapman, without incredible pleasure and extreme transport. This admiration of theirs must needs proceed from the author himself : for the translator has thrown him down as low, as harsh numbers, improper English, and a monstrous length of verse could carry him. What then would he appear in the harmonious version of one of the best writers, living in a much better age than was the last? I mean for versification, and the art of numbers : for in the drama we have not arrived to the pitch of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. But here, my lord, I am forced to break off abruptly, without endeavouring at a compliment in the close. This Miscellany is, without dispute, one of the best of the kind, which has hitherto been extant in our tongue.
At least, as sir Samuel Tuke has said before me, a modest man may praise what is not his own. My fellows have no need of any protection: but I humbly recommend my part of it, as much as it deserves, to your patronage and acceptance, and all the rest to your forgiveness.
I am, my lord,