« ZurückWeiter »
Deep woods, that shelter from his sight the polluted haunts of men! And songs of 'birds, whose tender notes distinctly thrilling the quiet atmosphere, make him forget the hum and clamours of distracted cities! Would he forsake the exquisite enjoyments, which you afford him, for a little addition of stupid flattery?
If there should be any one so mistaken as to fix on the pursuit of literature for any other purposes than the intrinsic pleasure which it affords, and the honourable fame, which may be the remote reward of the instruction or the amusement it will confer; bitter disappointment will be the almost necessary consequence of his error. It is not an occupation fitted for the ends of the worldling. The castles which it builds in the clouds give no satisfaction to him; and the “ideal nothing," in which its riches consist, in his opinion only deserves the pity, which is excited by the strawcrowns of the maniac.
But we cannot suppose that this intense desire of Fame, as well future as distant, is implanted in us for nothing: we cannot suppose it would be most violent in those endowed with the highest qualities both of head and heart, unless for some wise and important purposes.
Nor does it seem to me consistent with the benevolence and justice of the Creator to animate us with the wish for delusive rewards as the result of virtuous exertions. I can never therefore bring my mind to believe that that fame which is sought and won by the pure efforts of intellectual labour, is when obtained hollow and valueless.
Let us instance in Milton. Giving all the credit, which has ever been demanded, to his genius; yet
before he could raise his talents to that admirable command of fancy and language, which the progressive productions of his Muse exhibit, can we doubt that it cost him continued toils, repeated self-denials, years of ordinary pleasures foregone, and a thousand sensual wishes conquered? When we compare the time of his life thus spent with the mode in which the generality consume it, what a very exalted station must he hold in our opinions? Was not the hope of that station the solace of many weary and ill-paid fatigues, many “outwatchings of the Bear?" Perhaps it
may be observed, that if these exertions were virtuous, he will enjoy in common with others the rewards of virtue. But if these rewards were sufficient to excite him to exertions of a kind so extraordinary, why should he be led on by the auxiliary motive of a false hope?
The future is unknown to us; the world of spirits, with their occupations and enjoyments, is hid from our narrow sight. Perhaps, since the grave has closed over the body of this illustrious Bard, it has been one of the exquisite enjoyments of his angelic soul to listen to the increasing praises, which have continued to swell, in louder and louder tones, over every enlightened pation of the earth!
A new Translation of Martial's Epigram on the chief
ingredients of human happiness; with remarks on the capabilities of the Sonner.
I am indebted to Mr. LOPFT for the excellent accompanying translation of the following beautiful Epigram of Martial. I need scarcely apprise my readers that the original has been introduced before in this work, Vol. IV. p. 195.
L. X. 47
Ultimo versu auctum.
* Vitam quæ
“ These blessings, without more, most pleasant friend,
The real happiness of life compose :
Ingenuous Strength; Health which contentment know's ;
Prudent Simplicity; Friendship which glows
Nights from intensperance free alike and cares;
A bed which constant chaste affection shares;
Be what thou art; and wish not more to be;
Troston, 11 Jan. 1809.
“ The exquisite Epigram," continues Mr. LOFFT, " which I have transcribed on the other side, has tempted me to venture on a translation. You are aware that every thing with me converts itself into a SONNET: not unnaturally, I think; since the resemblance of many of the best Sonnets to the best Epigrams, (those on the Greek mode!) is very obvious. And in this class the Epigram of Martial stands very high indeed. By attempting to translate I am become more sensible of its completeness, and of its exquisite and perfect beauty, in diction, numbers, and sentịment. The translation of so sweet a writer, (where he writes in his own unaffected manner, and not in the vicious taste of bis times) as Cowley is, perhaps is liable to little objection but its diffusiveness; except
83 the “if not all,' * which supposes a defectiveness by no means I think imputable to this pure and delightful summary of genuine felicity in this life. To look beyond with assured hope could hardly be the lot of the best philosophers and men, before Christianity;' and we know that it was not. This idea I have ventured to supply by a closing line, which at the same time brings the whole into the form of a Quatuorzain.
6. That the SONNET is favourable to condensation of thought is clear from theory and experience; when the subject is well chosen and suitably treated. And condensed as the original is, I think I have expressed its ideas without omission in an equal number of lines. I fatter myself I shall prove that no subject worthy of poetry is so great and comprehensive, as not to have been with becoming dignity expressed in this form. And indeed I hardly know, or can imagine any subject which is worthy of the Muse, which has not been thus included. And it is the glory of the Sonnet to add that it has most rarely been disgraced by any unworthy subject." +
* The first line of Cowley's translation is,
“ These are the chief ingredients, if not all." + I cannot refrain from adding the following passages of Mr. Lorri's letter, (which seem more properly placed in a note) though I have to apologize for the unmerited expressions of kindness regarding myself which occur in them. The benevolent writer refers to some peevish expressions regarding the bar, which I had presumed to use in No. IV. of the Ruminator.
"I have treated," continues he, " tbe forensic gown, with tenderness; indeed with affection : for although in more than thirty years my gown has brought me but little profit, and perhaps not much of fame, it would be disingenuous not to own, that both it and the profession, have been, and I trust always will remain exceeding dear to me. And I cannot do otherwise than acknowledge, that I wish the ingenuous delicacy of your mindwould have