Abbildungen der Seite

Rose from the hills, all fresh arose, and to the camp re

tired, While Phoebus with a fore-right wind their swelling bark

inspired. And here are a few more verses steeped in the same liquid beauty, from the Catalogue of the Ships, in the Second Book :

Who dwell in Pylos' sandy soil and Arene * the fair.
In Thryon near Alpheus' flood, and Aepy full of air,
In Cyparysseus, Amphygen, and little Pteleon,
The town where all the Eleots dwell, and famous Doreon;
Where all the Muses, opposite, in strife of poesy,
To ancient Thamyris of Thrace, did use hím cruelly :
He coming from Eurytus’t court, the wise Oeschalian king,
Because he proudly durst affirm he could more sweetly


* This name is incorrectly accented, but Pope has copied the error. Warton had a copy of Chapman's translation, which had belonged to Pope, and in which the latter had noted many

of the interpolations of his predecessor, of whom, indeed, as Warton remarks, a diligent observer will easily discern that he was no careless reader.—Hist. Eng. Poet. iv. 272. In the preface to his own Iliad Pope has allowed to Chapman “a daring fiery spirit that animates his translation, which is something like what one might imagine Homer himself might have writ before he arrived to years of discretion.” Dryden has told us also that Waller used to say he never could read it without incredible transport. In a note upon Warton by the late Mr. Park it is stated that " Chapman's own copy of his translation of Homer, corrected by him throughout for a future edition, was purchased for five shillings from the shop of Edwards by Mr. Steevens, and, at the sale of his books in 1800, was transferred to the invaluable library of Mr. Heber." Chapman's Iliad in a complete form was first printed without date, but certainly after the accession of James I., to whose son, Prince Henry, it is dedicated. The Odyssey, which is in the common heroic verse of ten syllables, was published in 1614.

† This name is also misaccented.

Than that Pierian race of Jove, they, angry with his vaunt, Bereft his eyesight and his song, that did the ear enchant, And of his skill to touch his harp disfurnished his hand : All these, in ninety hollow keels, grave Nestor did com


Almost the whole of this Second Book, indeed, is admirably translated : in the harangues, particularly, of Agamemnon and the other generals, in the earlier part of it, all the fire of Homer burns and blazes in English verse. *


Of the translators of foreign poetry which belong to this period three are very eminent. Sir John Harington's translation of the Orlando Furioso first appeared in 1591, when the author was in his thirtieth year. It does not convey all the glow and poetry of Ariosto; but it is, nevertheless, a performance of great ingenuity and talent. The translation of Tasso's great epic by Edward Fairfax was first published, under the title of

Godfrey of Bulloigne, or the Recoverie of Jerusalem,' in 1600. This is a work of true genius, full of passages of great beauty ; and, although by no means a perfectly exact or servile version of the Italian original, is throughout executed with as much care as taste and spirit. $ Sir Richard Fanshawe is the author of versions of Camoens's Lusiad, of Guarini's Pastor Fido, of the Fourth Book of the Æneid, of the Odes of Horace, and of the 'Querer

* Chapman's Translation of the Iliad, formerly a searce book, has now been rendered generally accessible by the late beautiful reprint of it edited by Dr. W. Cooke Taylor, 2 vols. 8vo. 1843.

* Reprinted in the Tenth and Fourteenth Volumes of KNIGHT'S WEEKLY VOLUME.


Solo Querer' (To love for love's sake), of the Spanish dramatist Mendoza. Some passages from the last-mentioned work, which was published in 1649, may be found in Lamb's Specimens,* the ease and flowing gaiety of which never have been excelled even in original writing. The Pastor Fido is also rendered with much spirit and elegance. Fanshawe is, besides, the author of a Latin translation of Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess, and of some original poetry. His genius, however, was sprighily and elegant rather than lofty, and perhaps he does not succeed so well in translating poetry of a more serious style: at least Mickle, the modern translator of Camoens, in the discourse prefixed to his own version, speaks with great contempt of that of his predecessor; affirming not only that it is exceedingly unfaithful, but that Fanshawe had not " the least idea of the dignity of the epic style, or of the true spirit of poetical translation.” He seems also to sneer at Fanshawe's Lusiad because it was published during the usurpation of Cromwell,”—as if even the poets and translators of that time must have been a sort of illegitimates and usurpers in their way. But Fanshawe was all his life a steady royalist, and served both Charles I. and his son in a succession of high employments. Mickle, in truth, was not the man to appreciate either Fanshawe or Cromwell.


One of the most graceful poetical writers of the reign of James I. is William Drummond, of Hawthornden, near Edinburgh; and he is further deserving of notice as the first of his countrymen, at least of any eminence, who

* Vol. ii. pp. 242—253.

aspired to write in English. He has left us a quantity of prose as well as verse; the former very much resembling the style of Sir Philip Sidney in his Arcadia,—the latter, in manner and spirit, formed more upon the model of Surrey, or rather upon that of Petrarch and the other Italian poets whom Surrey and many of his English successors imitated. No early English imitator of the Italian poetry, however, has excelled Drummond, either in the sustained melody of his verse, or its rich vein of thoughtful tenderness. We will transcribe one of his sonnets as a specimen of the fine moral painting, tinged with the colouring of scholarly recollections, in which he delights to indulge :

Trust not, sweet soul, those curled waves of gold

With gentle tides that on your temples flow,

Nor temples spread with flakes of virgin snow,
Nor snow of cheeks with Tyrian grain enrolled.
Trust not those shining lights which wrought my woe

When first I did their azure rays behold,
Nor voice whose sounds more strange effects do show

Than of the Thracian harper have been told;
Look to this dying lily, fading rose,

Dark hyacinth, of late whose blushing beams
Made all the neighbouring herbs and grass rejoice,

And think how little is 'twixt life's extremes :
The cruel tyrant that did kill those flowers
Shall once, ay me, not spare that spring of yours.


A remarkable poem of this age, first published in 1599, is the “Nosce Teipsum'* of Sir John Davies, who was successively solicitor and attorney general in the reign of James, and had been appointed to the place of Chief Jus

* The full title is "Nosce Teipsum. This oracle expounded in two elegies :--1. Of human knowledge.--2. Of the soul of man and the immortality thereof."

tice of the King's Bench, when he died, before he could enter upon its duties, in 1626. Davies is also the author of a poem on dancing entitled 'Orchestra,' and of some minor pieces, all distinguished by vivacity as well as precision of style; but he is only now remembered for his philosophical poem, the earliest of the kind in the language. It is written in rhyme, in the common heroic ten-syllable verse, but disposed in quatrains, like the early play of Misogonus already mentioned, and other poetry of the same era, or like Sir Thomas Overbury's poem of The Wife, the Gondibert of Sir William Davenant, and the Annus Mirabilis of Dryden, at a later period. No one of these writers has managed this difficult stanza so successfully as Davies : it has the disadvantage of requiring the sense to be in general closed at certain regularly and quickly recurring turns, which yet are very ill adapted for an effective pause; and even all the skill of Dryden has been unable to free it from a certain air of monotony and languor,-a circumstance of which that poet may be supposed to have been himself sensible, since he wholly abandoned it after one or two early attempts. Davies, however, has conquered its difficulties; and, as has been observed, “

perhaps no language can produce a poem, extending to so great a length, of more condensation of thought, or in which fewer languid verses will be found."* In fact, it is by this condensation and sententious brevity, so carefully filed and elaborated, however, as to involve no sacrifice of perspicuity or fulness of expression, that he has attained his end. Every quatrain is a pointed expression of a separate thought, like one of Rochefoucault's Maxims; each thought being, by great skill and

* Hallam, Lit. of Europe, ii. 314

« ZurückWeiter »