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His general character of the other sorts of beasts that never go to church, though sprightly and keen, has, however, not much of heroick poesy :
These are the chief; to number o'er the rest,
One more instance, and that taken from the narrative part, where style was more in his choice, will shew how steadily he kept his resolution of heroick dignity.
For when the herd, suffic'd, did late repair
Nor had the grateful Hind so soon forgot
The second and third parts he professes to have reduced to diction more familiar and more suitable to dispute and conversation ; the difference is not, however, very easily perceived; the first has familiar, and the two others have sonorous, lines. The original incongruity runs through the whole ; the king is now Cæfar, and now the Lyon; and the name Pan is given to the Supreme Being.
But when this conftitutional absurdity is forgiven, the poem must be confessed to be written with great smoothness of metre, a wide extent of knowledge, and an abundant multiplicity of images; the controversy is embellished with pointed sentences, diversified by illustrations, and enlivened by fallies of invective. Some of the facts to which allusions are made are now become obscure, and perhaps there may be many satirical paffages little understood.
As it was by its nature a work of defiance, a composition which would naturally be examined with the utmost acrimony of criticism, it was probably laboured with uncommon attention, and there are, inEę 4
deed, deed, few negligences in the subordinate parts. The original impropriety, and the subsequent unpopu. larity of the subject, added to the ridiculousness of its first elements, has sunk it into neglect; but it inay be usefully studied, as an example of poetical ratiocination, in which the argument suffers little from the metre. · In the poem on the Birth of the Prince of Wales, nothing is very remarkable but the exorbitant adulation, and that insensibility of the precipice on which the king was then standing, which the laureat apparently shared with the rest of the courtiers. A few months cured him of controversy, dismissed him from court, and made him again a play-wright and transator.
Of Juvenal there had been a translation by Sta. pylton, and another by Holiday; neither of them is very poetical. Stapyíton is more smooth; and Holiday's is more esteemed for the learning of his notes. A new version was proposed to the poets of that time, and undertaken by them in conjunction. The main design was conducted by Dryden, whose reputation was such that no man was unwilling to serve the Muses under him.
The general character of this translation will be given, when it is said to preserve the wit, but to want the dignity, of the original. The peculiarity of Juvenal is a mixture of gaiety and stateliness, of pointed sentences, and declamatory grandeur. His points have not been neglected; but his grandeur none of the band seemed to consider as necessary to be imitated, except Creech, who undertook the thirteenth satire. It is therefore perhaps possible to give
a better representation of that great satirist, even in those parts which Dryden himself has translated, fome paffages excepted, which will never be excelled.
With Juvenal was published Persius, translated wholly by Dryden. This work, though like all other productions of Dryden it may have shining parts, seems to have been written merely for wages, in an uniform mediocrity, without any eager endeavour after excellence, or laborious effort of the mind.. . :
There wanders an opinion among the readers of poetry, that one of these fatires is an exercise of the school. Dryden fays, that he once translated it at school; but not 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 difcriminative excellence of Horner 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 maffy 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 must, at all hazards, follow his original, and express thoughts which per
haps haps he would not have chosen. When to this primary difficulty is added the inconvenience of a language so much inferior in harmony to the Latin, it cannot be expected that they who read the Geor. gicks and the Æneid should be much delighted with any version.
All these obstacles Dryden faw, 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 filenced his enemies. Milbourne, indeed, a clergyman, attacked it; but his outrages seem to be 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 an. tagonist 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, fince his attempt has given hin a place in literary history, I will preserve a specimen of his criti, cism, by inserting his remarks on the invocation