Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

the Duke d’Enghien, his son. But the king knew better ; and being thus disappointed in the hope of securing an inheritance of military fame in his family, he considered his wars as ended, and left the field for ever.

He submitted more patiently than might have been expected, after so long and fierce excitement, to the quiet of private life. He had cultivated pinks in his prison at Vincennes ; and now he employed himself in landscape gardening, for which he had a taste. He ornamented the chateau at Chantilly with statues, groves, and fountains, and spent immense sums on such improvements and decorations, most of which the great deluge of the Revolution afterwards swept away. His chief employment was forming the mind and character of his grandson, the Duke de Bourbon, who was diminutive and unpromising in appearance, but not deficient in ability. He took a lively interest in his nephews and nieces, showing a solicitude for their welfare strangely in contrast with his heartless neglect and persecution of his wife. Though he had through his former life been very ready to treat sacred things with contempt, he began to think that a form of godliness would not be unbecoming at the age of sixty-four ; and therefore conversed much with such men as Bossuet and Bourdalouë, under whose spiritual guidance he was converted, not precisely to the Christian religion as men now understand it, but to a very edifying sense of the propriety of being religious, and of making some preparation to die. Voltaire was very much displeased with him for this concession ; he says that the prince's mind had grown

last two years. But he need not have been so much concerned about the prince's Christianity ; there was not enough of it to give reason for alarm; it appeared to be more like an outfit for a voyage, of such articles as he was told would be of use to him, than any real elevation of the thoughts and desires, or any substantial change of feeling. Change of principle there was none, though, as his eloquent eulogist declared, he had the Psalms always on his lips, and faith always in his heart. The only sign of true repentance was, that he left a legacy in his will to those places where he had done most injury in the civil wars.

His constitution had been impaired by the hardships of his military service. He was much afflicted with the gout,

but not in consequence of excess; for, during the last twenty years of his life, he exerted great self-denial where his appetite was concerned. In 1686, the year following his conversion, hearing that his granddaughter, the Duchess of Bourbon, was dangerously ill with the small-pox, he left Chantilly, to visit her at Fontainebleau, where she lay. But his anxiety, the effort of going every day to see her, and the unhealthy atmosphere acting on his exhausted frame, overcame what little strength remained ; and he went to his chamber, which he never left again. Finding that the physicians gave him no hopes, he received the sacrament, but seemed to be much more concerned about his earthly sovereign than the King of kings. After taking leave of his family with perfect composure, he died, having preserved his senses to the last.

It appears, that, with all his sacred professions, he had written a letter some years before, to be given to the king after his death, in which, after recommending his friends and family to the royal favor, he entreated his Majesty never to suffer the Princess of Condé to leave her prison. Mademoiselle says, “I could have wished that he had not begged the king always to detain his wife at Châteauroux ; I regretted it extremely" ; - rather a gentle condemnation of such a truly infernal spirit of hatred and revenge. Little is known of her later history, except that she lived eight years after him ; it was doubtless one long night of loneliness and sorrow, without a gleam of day, till she went to the presence of a merciful Sovereign and to the rest of a better world. His great-grandson records, that, in visiting the place where his family were buried, he saw their hearts preserved in silver-gilt cases, and observed that the great Condé's was larger than the rest. This establishes the fact that he had one, at least the material substance so called ; that a fair proportion of affections were ever in it he might not find it so easy to prove.

On the whole, what we see of heroes does not exalt our impressions of this class of the human race. It is true of them, as Porson said of the introduction of moral evil into the world, that we could have got along as well without them. We see in the case of such men as Condé and Turenne, that they were, most of the time, employing their great powers in the service of faction, often against all the interests of their country; and when they command

ed the armies of Louis the Fourteenth, they were fighting battles for vanity and ambition, without the least pretence of duty, right, or patriotism on their side. They were far from being the worst of their class ; compared with some, they were pure and exalted ; and yet, much as we are disposed to admire them, we apprehend that it would be no easy matter to show what good to others their talents and exploits have done.

There is a real benefit in such narratives as this. The name of the great Condé is surrounded in many minds with

though the sound of his battles rang like a trumpet in the memory and imaginations of men. But when they are brought out to the daylight, we see that the results of his activity and power were perfectly disastrous to his country, and there was no imaginable good to balance the sad record of lands that he desolated, homes that he filled with mourning, and tears which he caused to flow. The greatest value of this work, however, is found in the reverse of that picture which is here set before us. We see a tender and delicate woman, wholly unused to action or to the public eye, setting aside her natural reserve, and stepping forth with great energy, when her husband is imprisoned and oppressed ; and doing all this, not in requital of affection, but in utter forgetfulness of the cold neglect with which he had treated her, and the insults and injuries which he had cast on her long-suffering head. Such a beautiful example turns the moral feeling of readers in the right direction ; they see that the term heroism bas been wretchedly misapplied ; it inclines them to withdraw such titles and expressions of applause from the undeserving, and to give them to those, found oftenest among the meek and lowly, who are great by reason of their energy in doing good.

ART. V. - Homer's Iliad ; translated by William Mun

FORD. Boston: Little & Brown. 1846. 2 vols.
Svo.

The appearance of these volumes is an interesting literary event. A translation of the Iliad coming from Virginia does more honor to that ancient commonwealth than her political dissertations, endless as they are, or even, if it be not too heretical to say so, than the Democratic creed embraced in the Resolutions of 1798. We have so long been accustomed to political talk from old Virginia, that a purely literary work, having no possible connection with “ the party,” strikes us as something unexpected, strange, and surprising. A translation of the Iliad coming out from Richmond, in the same year that Mr. Pleasants was barbarously murdered there on the “ field of honor,” suggests incongruous and contrasted ideas. But so it is. *

It is a coincidence, not without interest in literary history, that a translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses was made in Virginia about two centuries before Mr. Munford's Iliad was completed, by George Sandys, the treasurer of the colony. We give, in a note below, the facts connected with this passage in the literary annals of the Ancient Dominion, as they probably are not generally known.f Before proceeding

• What Mr. Munford thought of duelling may be seen in the following characteristic note on the sharp censure which Sarpedon gives to Hector, in the fifth book.

- Sarpedon's character is conspicuous for magnanimity and independence. Great as Hector was, he rebukes him without fear or ceremony, and with extraordinary energy. Hector, tno, though stung at heart, takes the reproof with exemplary patience, nobly resolving, as Diomed did on a similar occasion, to let his actions answer for him According to the modern code of false honor, Diomed ought to have challenged Agamemnon, and Hector, Sarpedon, to give satisfaction' by a duel in a gentlemanly manner! But in those times of true heroism, such absurdities were un. known." – Vol. 1., p. 181.

George Sandys, the celebrated traveller and poet, was born in 1577, and died in 1643. The entry in the parish register styles him “ Poetarum Anglorum sui sæculi facile Princeps." His travels commenced in 1610, the year in which Henry the Fourth of France was assassinated; and the account of them which he published passed through many editions. In 1621, he was appointed treasurer of the company in Virginia; a fact mentioned neither by Cibber, Chalmers, nor Ellis, nor in the Biographie Universelle, and only alluded to by Whalley in a note to Wood's Athena Oxonienses. He occupied the leisure he could command from official labors and the dis. turbances of Indian warfare with the translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses,

to notice Mr. Munford's version, we will lay before our readers a brief sketch of his life.

William Munford was born in the county of Mecklenburg, Virginia, on the 15th of August, 1775. His ancestors were

which was published in 1632, under the title of “ Ovid's Metamorphoses Englished, mythologized, and represented in Figures,” Oxford, folio. A copy of this version, with the title-page and introduction torn out, is in the Boston Athenæum. Langbaine remarks, _“He will be allowed an excellent artist in it by learned judges ; and he has followed Horace's advice of avoiding a servile translation, - Nec verbum verbo curabis reddere, fidus interpres,' – so he comes so near the sense of his author that nothing is lost; no spirits evaporate, in the decanting of it into English; and if there be any sediment, it is left behind."

Fuller (Worthies of England) says, – “He most elegantly translated Ovid's Metamorphoses into English verse; so that, as the soul of Aristotle was said to have transmigrated into Thomas Aquinas (because rendering his sense so naturally), Ovid's genius may seem to have passed into Master Sandys. He was a servant but no slave to his subject; well knowing that a translator is a person in free custody; custody, being bound to give the true sense of the author he translated; free, left at liberty to clothe it in his own expression."

Warton (Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope) says, that, when Sandys's Ovid fell into the hands of Pope, in his eighth or ninth year, “ The raptures which these translations gave him were so strong, that he spoke of them with pleasure to the period of his life." Sandys enjoyed the intimate friendship of Lord Falkland, who addressed several poems to him. Old Michael Drayton, the author of the Polyolbion, in an Elegy “ To George Sandys, Treasurer of the English Colony in Virginia,” says:

" And, worthy George, by industry and use

Let's see what lines Virginia can produce;
Go on with Ovid as you have begun
With the first five books; let your numbers run
Glib as the former; so shall it live long,
And do much honor to the English tongue;
Entice the Muses thither to repair,

Entreat them gently, train them to that air."
Stith (History of Virginia, p. 303) says :-

" But in the midst of these tumults and alarms, the Muses were not silent. For at this time, Mr. George Sandys, the Company's Treasurer of Virginia, made his translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses, a very laudable performance for the times. In his dedication of that piece to King Charles the First, he tells him that it was limned by that imperfect light which was snatched from the hours of night and repose. For the day was not his own, but dedicated to the service of his father and himself; and had that service proved as fortunate as it was faithful in him, as well as others more worthy, they had hoped, before the revolution of many years, to have presented his Majesty with a rich and well peopled kingdom. But as things had turned, he had only been able to bring from thence himself and that composition, wbich needed more than a single denization. For it was doubly a stranger, being sprung from an ancient Roman stock, and bred up in the new world, of the rudeness whereof it could not but participate ; especially as it was produced among wars and tumults, instead of under the kindly and peaceful influences of the Muses."

« ZurückWeiter »