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that he preserved or published the juvenile performance.
Not long afterwards he undertook perhaps the most arduous work of its kind, a translation of Virgil, for which he had shewn how well he was qualified by his version of the Pollio, and two episodes, one of Nisus and Euryalus, the other of Mezentius and Lausus.
In the comparison of Homer and Virgil, the discriminative excellence of Homer is elevation and comprehension of thought, and that of Virgil is grace and splendor of diction. The beauties of Homer are therefore difficult to be lost, and those of Virgil difficult to be retained. The massy trunk of sentiment is safe by its solidity, but the blossoms of elocution easily drop away. The author, having the choice of his own images, selects those which he can best adorn; the translator muft, at all hazards, follow his original, and express thoughts which perhaps he would not have chosen. When to this primary difficulty is added the inconvenience of a language fo much inferior in har
mony to the Latin, it cannot be expected that they who read the Georgicks and the Eneid should be much delighted with any version.
All these obstacles Dryden saw, and all these he determined to encounter. The expectation of his work was undoubtedly great ; the nation considered its honour as interested in the event. One gave him the different editions of his author, another helped him in the subordinate parts. The arguments of the several books were given him by Addison.
The hopes of the publick were not disappointed. He produced, says Pope, “the most “ noble and spirited translation that I know “ in any language.” It certainly excelled whatever had appeared in English, and appears to have satisfied his friends, and, for the most part, to have silenced his enemies. Milbourne, indeed, a clergyman, attacked it; but his outrages seem to be the ebullitions of a mind agitated by stronger resentment than bad poetry can excite, and previously resolved not to be pleased.
His criticism extends only to the Preface, Pastorals, and Georgicks; and, as he professes to give his antagonist an opportunity of reprisal, he has added his own version of the first and fourth Pastorals, and the first Georgick. The world has forgotten his book ; but since his attempt has given him a place in literary history, I will preserve a specimen of his criticisi, by inserting his remarks on the invocation before the first Georgick, and of his poetry, by annexing his own version.
" What makes a plenteous harvest, when to
“ The fruitful soil, and when to low the corn.
“ It's unlucky, they say, to stumble at the thref“ bold, but what has a plenteous harvest to do “ here? Virgil would not pretend to pre“ fcribe rules for that which depends on the
husbandman's care, but the disposition of “ Heaven altogether. Indeed, the plenteous
crop depends somewhat on the good method
of tillage, and where the land's ill manur’d, " the corn, without a miracle, can be but
e indifferent ; but the harves may be good, 66 which is its propereji epithet, tho' the
husbandman's skill were never so indifferent. “ The next sintence is too literal, and when “ to plough had been Virgil's meaning, and
intelligible to every body; and when to fow the corn, is a needless addition,”
“ The care of sheep, of oxen, and of kine, " And when to geld the lambs, and sheer the
66 Would as well have fallen under the cura “ boum, qui cultus habendo fit pecori, as Mr. " D's dedution of particulars."
«« The birth and genius of the frugal bee
“ 1 sing, Miæcenas, and I sing to thee. “ But where did experientia ever signify birth “ and genius ? or what ground was there for “ such a figure in this place? How much 66 more manly is Mr. Ogylby's version!"
" What makes rich grounds, in what celestial
“ 'Tis good to plough, and marry elms with
66 What best fits cattle, what with sheep agrees, " And several arts improving frugal bees; “I sing, Mæcenas.
" Which four lines, tho' faulty enough, « are yet much more to the purpose than - Mr. D's fix.”
Ver. 22. “ From fields and mountains to my song repair.
“ For patrium linquens nemus, faltufque Ly56 cæi - Very well explained !"
Ver. 23, 24•
“ Inventor Pallas, of the fattening oil, “ Thou founder of the plough, and ploughs
man's toil !
- Written as if these had been Pallas's inven86 tion.” “ The ploughman's toil's imperti66 nent."
6 The shroud-like cypress " Why shroud-like? Is a cypress pulled up by “ the roots, which the sculpture in the last “ Eclogue fills Silvanus's hand with, so very