Page images
PDF
EPUB

Nor does the mighty Trojan less appear
Than Mars himself, amidst the storms of war.
Now his fierce eyes with double fury glow,
And a new dread attends the impending blow:
The Daunian chiefs their eager rage abate,
And, though unwounded, seem to feel their fate.

Long the rude fury of an ignorant age,
With barbarous spite, profaned bis sacred page.
The heavy Dutchmen, with laborious toil,
Wrested his sense, and cramped his vigorous style.
No time, no pains, the drudging pedants spare,
But still his shoulders must the burden bear;
While, through the mazes of their comments led,
We learn, not what he writes, but what they read,
Yet, through these shades of undistinguished night,
Appeared some glimmering intervals of light;
Till mangled by a vile translating sect,
Like babes by witches in efígie rackt:
Till Ogleby, mature in dulness, rose,
And Holbourn dogorel, and low chinuing prose,
His strength and beauty did at once depose.
But now the magic spell is at an end,
Since even the dead, in you, have found a friend.
You free the bard from rude oppressors' power,
And grace his verse with charms unknown before.
He, doubly thus obliged, must doubting stand,
Which chiefly should bis gratitude command-
Whether should claim the tribute of his heart,
The patron's bounty, or the poet's art.

Alike with wonder and delight we viewed
The Roman genius in thy verse reriewed :
We saw thee raise soft Ovid's amorous fire,
And fit the tuneful Horace to thy lyre :
We saw new gall embitter Juvenal's

pen,
And crabbed Persius made politely plain.
Virgil alone was thought too great a task-
What you could scarce perform, or we durst ask;
A task, which Waller's Muse could ne'er engage;
A task, too hard for Denham's stronger rage.
Sure of success, they some slight sallies tried ;
But the fenced coast their bold attempts defied :
With fear, their o'ermatched forces back they drew,
Quitting the province late reserved for you.
In vain thus Philip did the Persians storm;
A work his son was destined to perform.

O! had Roscommon * lived to hail the day, And sing loud Pæans through the crowded way,

* Essay of Translated Verse, p. 26.

7

When you in Roman majesty appear,
Which none know better, and none come so near;
The happy author would with wonder see,
His rules were only prophecies of thee:
And, were he now to give translators light,
Ile'd bid them only read thy work, and write.

For this great task, our loud applause is due;
We own old favours, but must press for new :
Th’expecting world demands one labour more ;
And thy loved Homer does thy aid implore,
To right his injured works, and set them free
From the lewd rhymes of grovelling Ogleby.
Then shall his verse in graceful pomp appear,
Nor will his birth renew the ancient jar:
On those Greek cities we shall look with scorn,
And in our Britain think the poet born.

TO

MR DRYDEN,

ON HIS

TRANSLATION OF VIRGIL.

I.
We read, how dreams and visions heretofore
* The prophet and the poet could inspire,
And make them in unusual rapture soar,
With rage divine, and with poetic fire.

II.
O could I find it now!-Would Virgil's shade

But for a while vouchsafe to bear the light,
To grace my numbers, and that Muse to aid,
Who sings the poet that has done him right.

III.
It long has been this sacred author's fate,

To lie at every dull translator's will:
Long, long his Muse has groaned beneath the weight

Of mangling Ogleby's presumptuous quill,

IV.
Dryden, at last, in his defence arose :

The father now is righted by the son; And, while his Muse endeavours to disclose

That poet's beauties, she declares her own.

V.

In your smooth pompous numbers drest, each line,

Each thought, betrays such a majestic touch,
He could not, had he finished his design,
Have wished it better, or have done so much.

VI.
You, like his hero, though yourself were free,

And disentangled from the war of wit-
You, who secure might others' danger see,
And safe from all malicious censure sit-

VII.
Yet, because sacred Virgil's noble Muse,

O'erlaid by fools, was ready to expire,
To risk your fame again, you boldly chuse,
Or to redeem, or perish with your sire.

VIII.
Even first and last, we owe him half to you :

For, that his Æneids missed their threatened fate,
Was—that his friends by some prediction knew,
Hereafter, who, correcting, should translate.

IX.
But hold, my Muse! thy needless flight restrain,

Unless, like him, thou could'st a verse indite :
To think his fancy to describe, is vain,
Since nothing can discover light, but light.

X.
'Tis want of genius that does more deny;

'Tis fear my praise should make your glory less; And, therefore, like the modest painter, I Must draw the veil, where I cannot express.

HENRY GRAHME,

TO

MR DRYDEN.

No undisputed monarch governed yet,
With universal sway, the realms of wit:
Nature could never such expence afford;
Each several province owned a several lord.
A poet then had his poetic wife,
One Muse embraced, and married for his life.
By the stale thing his appetite was cloyed,
His fancy lessened, and his fire destroyed.
But Nature, grown extravagantly kind,
With all her treasures did adorn your mind ;
The different powers were then united found,
And you wit's universal monarch crowned.
Your mighty sway your great desert secures;
And every Muse and every Grace is yours.
To none confined, by turns you all enjoy:
Sated with this, you to another fly,
So, sultan-like, in your seraglio stand,
While wishing Muses wait for your command;
Thus no decay, no want of vigour, find :
Sublime your fancy, boundless is your mind.
Not all the blasts of Time can do you wrong-
Young, spite of age—in spite of weakness, strong.
Time, like Alcides, strikes you to the ground;
You, like Antæus, from each fall rebound.

[ocr errors]

TO

MR DRYDEN,

ON

HIS VIRGIL.

"Tts said, that Phidias gave such living grace
To the carved image of a beauteous face,
That the cold marble might even seem to be
The life and the true life, the imagery.

You

pass that artist, Sir, and all his powers,
Making the best of Roman poets ours,
With such effect, we know not which to call
The imitation, which the original.
What Virgil lent, you pay in equal weight;

The charming beauty of the coin no less;

And such the majesty of your impress,
You seem the very author you translate.
'Tis certain, were he now alive with us,

And did revolving destiny constrain
To dress his thoughts in English o'er again,
Himself could write no otherwise than thus.

His old encomium never did appear

So true as now: “ Romans and Greeks, submit ! Something of late is in our language writ, More nobly great than the famed Iliads were."

JA, WRIGBT.

« PreviousContinue »