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Most of the classic poets translated before the end of the sixteenth century.
Phaier's Eneid. Completed by Twyne. Their other works. Phaier's Ballad of Gad's-hill. Stanihurst's Eneid in English hexameters. His other works. Fleming's Virgil's Bucolics and Georgies. His other works. Webbe and Fraunce translate some of the Bucolics. Fraunce's other works. Spenser's Culex. The original not genuine. The Ceiris proved to be genuine. Nicholas Whyte's story of Jason, supposed to be a version of Valerius Flaccus. Golding's Ovid's Metamorphoses. His other works. Ascham's censure of rhyme. A translation of the Fasti revives and circulates the story of Lucrece. Euryalus and Lucretia. Detached fables of the Metamorphoses translated. Moralisations in fashion. Underdowne's Ovid's Ibis. Ovid's Elegies translated by Marlowe. Remedy of Love, by F.L. Epistles by Turberville. Lord Essex a translator of Ovid. His literary character. Churchyard's Ovid's Tristia. Other detached versions from Ovid.
Ancient meaning and use of the word Ballad. Drant's Horace. Incidental criticism on Tully's Oration pro
Archia. But, as scholars began to direct their attention to our vernacular poetry, many more of the ancient poets now appeared in English verse. Before the year 1600, Homer, Musaeus, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Martial, were translated. Indeed most of these versions were published before the year 1580. For the sake of presenting a connected display of these early translators, I am obliged to trespass, in a slight degree, on that chronological order which it has been my prescribed and constant method to observe. In the mean time we must remember, that their versions, while they contributed to familiarise the ideas of the ancient poets to English readers, improved our language and versification; and that in a general view, they ought to be considered as valuable and important accessions to the stock of our poetical literature. These were the classics of Shakspeare.
I shall begin with those that were translated first in the reign of Elizabeth. But I must premise, that this inquiry will necessarily draw with it many other notices much to our purpose, and which could not otherwise have been so conveniently disposed and displayed.
Thomas Phaier, already mentioned as the writer of the story of OWEN GLENDOUR in the MIRROUR FOR MAGISTRATES, a native of Pembrokeshire, educated at Oxford, a student of Lincoln's Inn, and an advocate to the council for the Marches of Wales, but afterwards doctorated in medicine at Oxford, translated the seven first books of the Eneid of Virgil *, on his retirement to his patrimonial seat in the forest of Kilgarran, in Pembrokeshire, in the years 1555, 1556, 1557. They were printed at London in 1558, by Ihon Kyngston, and dedicated to queen Mary. He afterwards finished the eighth book on the tenth of September, within forty days, in 1558. The ninth, in thirty days, in 1560. Dying at Kilgarran the same year, he lived only to begin the tenth. All that was thus done by Phaert, one William Wightman published in 1562, with a dedication to Sir Nicholas Bacon, “The nyne first books of the Eneidos of Virgil conuerted into English verse by Thomas Phaer doctour of physick," &c. The imperfect work was at length completed, with Maphaeus's supplemental or thirteenth book, in 1583, by Thomas Twyne 1, a native of Canterbury, a physician of Lewes in Sussex, educated in both universities, an admirer of the my
* [With this title: The seven first Mr. Fayre (Phaier].” Registr. Station. A. Bookes of the Eneidos of Virgill, con- fol. 154 a. verted in Englishe meter by Thos. Phaer, [In his version of the Æneid, Phaer esq. sollicitour to the king and quenes was thus complimented along with several majesties, attending their honorable coun- of his cotemporaries :saile in the marchies of Wales. Anno 1558.
Who covets craggy rock to clime xxviij. Maij.—PARK.! [" To the ende," says Phaer, “that
Of high Parnassus hill, like as my diligence employed in your
Or of the happy Helicon
To drawe and drinke his fille ; service in the Marches, maie otherwise
Let him the worthy worke surview, appeare to your Grace by your hon'ble
Of Phare the famous wight, counsaile there ; so your Highness hereby may receiue the accompts of my pas
Or happy phrase of Heywood's verse,
Or Turberviles aright: tyme in all my vacations, since I have
Or Googe, or Golding Gascoine else, been prefered to your service by your right noble and faithful counsaillour William
Or Churchyard, Whetstone, Twyne,
Or twentie worthy writers moe, lord marquis of Winchester, my first bringer-up and patron.”- PARK.] In
That drawe by learned line,
Whose paineful pen hath wel procured quarto, bl. lett. At the end of the seventh book is this colophon, “Per Thomam
Ech one his proper phrase, &c. Phaer in foresta Kilgerran finitum iij De- Ded. to Fulwood's Enemie of Idlenesse, cembris. Anno 1557. Opus xij dierum." 1598. And Hall, in the dedication to his And at the end of every book is a similar translation of Homer, 1581, says, he was colophon, to the same purpose. The first abashed when he came to look upon book was finished in eleven days, in 1555. Phaer's Virgilian English in his heroical The second in twenty days, in the same Virgil, and his own poor endeavour to year. The third in twenty days, in the learn Homer to talk our mother-tongue. same year. The fourth in fifteen days, in -PARK.) 1556. The fifth in twenty-four days, on • Ex coloph. ut supr. May the third, in 1557, " post periculum + [In the poems of Barnabe Googe, eius Karmerdini," i. e. at Caermarthen. written before March 1563, there is an The sixth in twenty days, in 1557. epitaph on maister Thomas Phayre, which
Phaier has left many large works in his flatters him with having excelled the earl several professions of law and medicine. of Surrey, Grimaold, and Douglas (bishop He is pathetically lamented by sir Tho- of Dunkeld) in his style of translating Virmas Chaloner as a most skilful physician. gil, and expresses regret that his death, in Encom. p. 356. Lond. 1579. 4to. He has the midst of his toil, had left a work ima recommendatory English poem prefixed perfect which no other man could end.to Philip Betham's Military Precepts, trans- Park.] lated from the Latin of James earl of Pur- • In quarto. Bl. lett. For Rowland lilias, dedicated to lord Studley, Lond. Hall. 1544. 4to. For E. Whitchurch.
I [The joint translation of Virgil by There is an entry to Purfoot in 1566, Phaer and Twyne was first published in for printing “serten verses of Cupydo by 1573.—Ritson.]
sterious philosophy of John Dee, and patronised by lord Buckhurst the poet d. The ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth books were finished at London in 1573e. The whole was printed at London in 1584, with a dedication, dated that
year from Lewes, to Robert Sackvillef, the eldest son of lord Buckhurst, who lived in the dissolved monastery of the Cluniacs at Lewese. So well received was this work, that it was followed by three new editions in 15965, 1607, and 16201. Soon after the last-mentioned period, it became obsolete and was forgotten".
Phaier undertook this translation for the defence, to use his own phrase, of the English language, which had been by too many deemed incapable of elegance and propriety, and for the “honest recreation of you the nobilitie, gentlemen, and ladies, who studie in Latine." adds, “ By mee first this gate is set open. If now the young
writers will uouchsafe to enter, they may finde in this language both large and abvndant camps [fields] of uarietie, wherein they may gather innumerable sortes of most beavtifull flowers, figures, and phrases, not only to supply the imperfection of mee, but also to garnish all kinds of their owne verses with a more cleane and compendiovs order of meeter than heretofore hath beene accustomed?.' Phaier has omitted, misrepresented, and paraphrased many passages ; but his performance in every respect is evidently superior to Twyne's continuation. The measure is the fourteen-footed Alexandrine of Sternhold and Hopkins. I will give a short specimen from the siege of Troy, in the second book. Venus addresses her son Eneas :
& See supr. p. 240. His father was John Twyne of Bolington in Hampshire, an eminent antiquary, author of the Commentary De Rebus Albionicis, &c. Lond. 1590. It is addressed to, and published by, with an epistle, his said son Thomas. Laurence, a fellow of All Souls and a civilian, and John Twyne, both Thomas's brothers, have copies of verses prefixed to several cotemporary books, about the reign of queen Elizabeth. Thomas wrote and translated many tracts, which it would be superfluous and tedious to enumerate here. To his Breviarie of Britaine, a translation from the Latin of Humphrey Lhuyd, in 1573, are prefixed recommendatory verses, by Brown prebendary, and Grant the learned schoolmaster, of Westminster, Llodowyke Lloyd, a poet in the Paradise of Daintie Devises, and his two brothers, aforesaid, Laurence and John.
Our translator, Thomas Twyne, died in 1613, aged 70, and was buried in the chancel of saint Anne's church at Lewes, where his epitaph of fourteen verses still, I believe, remains on a brass plate affixed to the eastern wall.
Large antiquarian and historical manuscript collections, by the father John Twyne, are now in Corpus Christi library
at Oxford. In his Collectanea Varia (ibid. vol. iii. fol. 2.) he says he had written the lives of T. Robethon, T. Lupset, Rad. Barnes, T. Eliot, R. Sampson, T. Wriothesle, Gul. Paget, G. Day, Joh. Christopherson, N. Wooton. He is in Leland's Encomia, p. 83.
Coloph. ut supr. f In quarto, bl. lett. For Abraham Veale.
& Now ruined. But to this day called Lord's Place.
h For Thomas Creed.
i All in quarto, bl. lett. In the edition of 1607, printed at London by Thomas Creede, it is said to “be newly set forth for the delight of such as are studious in poetrie.”
* In 1562, are entered with Nicholas England “the fyrste and ix parte of Virgill.” Registr. Station. A. fol. 85 a. I suppose Phaier's first nine books of the Eneid. And, in 1561-2, with W. Copland, the “ booke of Virgill in 4to.” Ibid. fol. 73 b. See Registr. C. fol. 8 a. sub ann. 1595.
See “ Maister Phaer's Conclusion to his interpretation of the Aeneidos of Virgil, by him conuerted into English
Thou to thy parents hest take heede, dreade not, my minde obey :
The popular ear, from its familiarity, was tuned to this measure. It was now used in most works of length and gravity, but seems to have been consecrated to translation. Whatever absolute and original dignity it may boast, at present it is almost ridiculous, from an unavoidable association of ideas, and because it necessarily recalls the tone of the versification of the puritans. I suspect it might have acquired a degree of importance and reverence, from the imaginary merit of its being the established poetic vehicle of scripture, and its adoption into the celebration of divine service.
I take this opportunity of observing, that I have seen an old ballad called GADS-HILL by Faire, that is probably our translator Phaier. In the Registers of the Stationers, among seven Ballettes licensed to William Bedell and Richard Lante, one is entitled “The Robery at Gads hill,” under the year 1558". I know not how far it might contribute to illustrate Shakspeare's HENRY THE FOURTH. The title is promising.
After the associated labours of Phaier and Twyne, it is hard to say what could induce* Richard Stanyhurst, a native of Dublin, to translate the first four books of Virgil's Eneid into English hexameters, which he printed at London in 1583, and dedicated to his brother Peter Plunket*, the lorde baron of Dunsanay in Irelando. Stanyhurst at this time was living at Leyden, having left England for some time on account of the change of religion. In the choice of his measure, he is more unfortunate than his predecessors, and in other respects succeeded
* Registr. A. fol. 32 b. See Clavell's Recantation, a poem in quarto, Lond. 1634. Clavell was a robber, and here recites his own adventures on the highway. His first depredations are on Gad's-hill. See fol. 1.
* [His apparent inducement was to try his strength against Phaer; at whose trans. lation though he frequently carps, yet he gives him credit for having effected his task “with surpassing excellence.” Ded. to the Lord Baron of Dunsanye. Nash
alludes to this when he writes: “But fortune respecting Master Stanihursts praise, would that Phaer shoulde fall that hee might rise, whose heroicall poetry infired, I should say inspired, with an hexameter furie recalled to life whatever hissed barbarisme hath bin buried this hundred yeare, and revived by his ragged quill such carterlie varietie as no hedge plowman in a countrie but would have held as the extremitie of clownerie," &c. Epist. before Greene's Menaphon. 1589.–Park.]
It may be remarked, that Meres, in his Wit's TREASURIE, printed in 1598, among the learned translators, mentions only “ Phaier, for Virgil's Aeneadsp.” And William Webbe, in his DISCOURSE OF English Poets printed in 15869, entirely omits our author, and places Phaier at the head of all the English translators". Thomas Nashe, in
* [Quere whether this was not his p Fol. 289. p. 2. brother-in-law; since he and the dedica- For John Charlewood. But there is tor appear to have married two sisters. a former edition for Walley 1585, 4to. I The father of Stanyhurst was recorder of know not to which translation of Virgil, Dublin, and himself was educated under Puttenham in the Arte of English Poesie Peter Whyte, some time dean of Water- refers, where he says, “And as one who ford. He married Janetta the daughter translating certaine bookes of Virgil's of Sir Charles Barnwell, knt. who died in Æneidos into English meetre, said that childbirth at Knightsbridge near Lon- Æneas was fayne to trudge out of Troy, don 1579. His poetical conceits convey which terme became better to be spoken this information, and contain a description of a beggar, or of a rogue or a lackey,” of his mistress at the Hague 1582, and he &c. Lib. iii. ch. xxiii. p. 229. writes himself “Sacellanus serenissimo- [Puttenham evidently refers to the verrum principum,” which we may interpret sion of Stanyhurst, which (as Mr. Southey chaplain to the Archduke of Austria. Vid. has observed before his poetic Specimens) Cens. Liter. iv. 364.Park.]
“could excite nothing but wonder, ridi• In octavo. Licensed to Binneman, cule, and disgust." Nashe has aptly chaJan. 24. 1582. “By a copie printed at racterized the tenor of this translation by Leiden." Registr. Station. B. fol. 192 b. the term “ Thrasonical huffe-snuffe,' At the end of the Virgil are the four first term indeed derived from the translator of David's psalms Englished in Latin himself. “ So terrible," he adds, “was measures, p. 82. Then follow “Certayne his stile to all milde eares, as would have Poetical Conceits (in Latyn and English) affrighted our able poets from intermedLond. 1583." Afterwards are printed dling hereafter with that quarreling kinde Epitaphs written by our author, both in of verse, had not sweete Master Fraunce, Latin and English. The first, in Latin, by his excellent translation of Master is on James earl of Ormond, who died at Thomas Watsons sugred Amyntas aniEly-house, Octob, 18, 1546. There is mated their dulled spirits to such highanother on his father, James Stanyhurst, witted endevors”. Epist. ubi supra. BiRecorder of Dublin, who died, aged 51, shop Hall had also slurred these uncouth Dec. 27, 1573. With translations from fooleries in his Satires, and exclaimed: More's Epigrams. Stanyhurst has a copy
Fie on the forged mint that did create of recommendatory verses prefixed to Ver
New coin of words, never articulate. stegan's Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, Antwerp, 1605, 4to.
One of our modern poets has supplied the [Two other epitaphs by Stanihurst are following remarks: “ As Chaucer has been in English: one upon the Baron of Louth, called the well of English undefiled, so whe was traitorously murdered about might Stanihurst be denominated the 1577; another upon the death of Gerald common sewer of the language. It seems Fitzgerald Baron of Offalye, who died impossible that a man could have written June 30, 1580, with verses by the latter in such a style without intending to burentitled “A penitent sonnet," which con- lesque what he was about, and yet it is stitutes him a noble author. Ritson seems certain that Stanihurst intended to write to think, from an entry in the Stationers' heroic poetry. His version is exceedingly books, that the volume was first printed at rare, and deserves to be reprinted for its Leyden; yet such an edition was unknown incomparable oddity.” Southey's Omnito Ames or Herbert,(Bibl. Poetica, p. 351.) ana, i. 193.--Park.] -Park.]
I Fol. 9.