Page images

some of the best in the translation; and yet, on comparing them with Francis, we think them inferior to that writer:

Yet this same folly (call it if you will,
A lesser madness) has some merit still.
The Bard is seldom as a Miser known:
He loves, enjoys and studies verse alone :
All common losses (as the flight of slaves,
Destructive fires) he ridicules and braves,
No ward, no partner, his contrivance cheats:

Plain herbs and coarsest bread alone he eats.
Though weak in war, he's useful to the state,
If small concerns can e'er assist the great.
The Bard can best the lisping infant teach
To form his accents, modulate his speech,
From vile obscenity divert his ears,
Instil kind precepts as he grows in years;
Which smooth all roughness, every heat assuage,
Can banish envy, and can soften


He points th' example of each glorious deed,
Sooths us in sickness, solaces in need.
Whence could our youths and virgins learn to pray,
Did not the Muse inspire her poct's lay?
The sacred Chorus feels the heavenly powers
Kind to it's prayers, invokes celestial showers,
Instructed how it best may sooth and please,
Dispels dread danger and averts disease,
Obtains glad peace, and bids rich plenty flow.
Verse sooths the Gods above and ghosts below.'

[ocr errors]

In the introducion to the Epistle to the Pisos, Mr. Boscawen objects to the systems of Hurd and Wieland, respecting the object and design of that beautiful poem, and then delivers his own opinion in the following terms:

Having expressed such sentiments on every system devised by others, it can hardly be expected I should produce any new discovery. Those sentiments, in effect, preclude so presumptuous and vain an attempt. The notion I have long entertained respecting this Epistle, is almost a counterpart of the opinion of many of the elder commentators. We have not any sufficient evidence (external or internal) of the circumstances that gave rise to it: but the probability, I conceive, is, that it arose from conversations which our Poet frequently had with the Pisos on the subject of poetry. In such conversations, we may suppose, many of the rules and opinions contained in this Epistle had been thrown out by Horace, and his noble friends (amused with the subject) had desired to have in writing the sentiments of so great a Master on this their favourite art. These he was surely at liberty to write, without professing to give an elaborate treatise, or binding himself to a formal arrangement. He writes, as he had probably spoken, just as his thoughts arose, adverting most to that part of the subject which appeared most to interest his friends, or which fashion had rendered the prevailing topick in literary conversations. He has


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

probably in view, not only to instruct the Sons of Piso in the leading rules of Epick and dramatick poetry, but (as a secondary motive) to inspire the elder youth with a just diffidence in his own abilities, and to repress his immoderate ardour for publication.

Circumstances like these may surely palliate the want of method in this Epistle; a defect which it has in common with many of our Poet's works; a defect which is more than balanced by the finished elegance which this Poem may boast, and the accurate judgment it displays, by the happy variety of its allusions, and the refined poig nancy of it's satire."

It is but justice to say that, in this introduction, the author displays considerable learning, and expresses himself with good sense and modesty. Unluckily, however, in his transJation of this epistle, he resumes his favourite octo-syllabic metre; with a want of success of which, we think, the reader will be convinced by the version of the following admired passage:

"Aut famam sequere, aut sibi convenientia finge,
Scriptor. Honoratum si fortè reponis Achillem;
Impiger, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer,
Jura neget sibi nata, nihil non arroget armis.
Sit Medea ferox, invictaque; flebilis Ino,
Perfidus Ixion, Io vaga, tristis Orestes."
• Or follow known report; or feign
What may it's proper part sustain.
Thus, if perchance you give to fame
Achilles, ever-honoured name,
Let him with passion wildly rave,
Inexorable, fiercely brave,
The curb of human laws disown,
And give all sway to arms alone.
Her fierceness let Medea keep
Undaunted, mournful Ino weep,
Ixion be a treacherous knave,
Poor Io stray, Orestes rave.'

We must desist from farther quotations: but it remains to observe that the notes are in general learned, ample, and judicious. We regret, indeed, that we cannot speak more favourably of the translation: but it may be some consolation to Mr. Boscawen to be told that he has only failed (if our judgment that he has failed be right) in attempting that which, in the opinion of many scholars, is beyond the powers of the English language to effect. That we have no good translation of Horace is certain: yet, after having read that of the 3d Ode, 4th book, by Atterbury; 4th Ode, 4th book, by Lord Lyttelton; and 2d Ode, 4th book, by Gilbert West; we cannot doubt that there is a possibility of giving an English reader


some conception of the beauties of Horace; though it may be questioned whether there be any one man in England equal to the task; and yet more, whether, if that man could be found, he would meet with such a reward as would be requisite to stimulate his exertions for the undertaking, to excite his fastidious industry in the prosecution of it, and to crown his labours when concluded.

ART. V. Roman Conversations; or a short Description of the Antiquities of Rome: interspersed with Characters of eminent Romans; and Reflections, Religious and Moral, on Roman History, By the late Joseph Wilcocks, F.S.A. Second Edition. 8vo. 2 Vols. pp. about 700 each. 16s. Boards. Bickerstaff, Strand. 1797.


ORE than five years have elapsed since the first volume of this work made its appearance, and was in a short time followed by a second. Each of them we perused with much pleasure, and allotted to them a well-merited tribute of approbation*. If the work had a good title to our regard from its own intrinsic worth, it has a still farther claim from the excellent spirit and character of its author, who is now without scruple revealed to the public. He was the son of Dr. Wilcocks, formerly Bishop of Gloucester, and thence translated, in 1731, to the see of Rochester: he died in 1736, and was succeeded by Dr. Zachary Pearce. Joseph Wilcocks, son of the Bishop, was born in the beginning of the year 1723, and died in the latter end of 1791. His estate was considerable, but his character [remarks the editor] derived a far brighter lustre from the native and exemplary goodness of his heart.'

From the memoirs now prefixed to this work, we are led to form a very high and amiable idea of Mr. Wilcocks; who appears to have been the friend of piety, virtue, liberty, truth, and indeed of all that is valuable and useful to mankind :-but he seems to have thought that

"The post of honour is a private station."

His life, like that of many other literary men, though to the highest degree exemplary in every particular, is not one of those which furnish to vulgar minds a series of brilliant or striking events, It was constantly his wish and pursuit

"Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
To keep the noiseless tenor of his way."

But it was equally his aim to make his calm existence resemble the unassuming page of peaceful history, which, if not so highly coloured with atchievement as the more boisterous details of combats

* See M. Rev. N. S. vol. ix. p. 71. and vol. xv. p. 419.


and campaigns, is generally found the most productive of social comfort and happiness.'


It is very far from being wonderful to us that a man who so firm in the cause of liberty, whose philanthropy was so extensive, whose love of rectitude was so warm, and whose every principle and action were founded on the basis of rational and Christian piety, should have declined an appearance in those public characters to which numbers with eagerness aspire. Qualified not merely for the common office of a magistrate, (which is often so ignorantly or arrogantly exercised,) but for that of a senator and a statesman, it is with. no surprise that we find him make choice of the sequestered vale. The views and principles, ascribed in these conversations to the third of the young gentlemen, were, we apprehend, those by which our author was himself actuated : :- when young, (we are told,) he had undertaken the duty of a magistrate in the country, but soon forbore to execute it, as if fearful of incapacity, or of error, in a sphere so truly important.'

Part of an account given of him in the unadorned language of an old servant is as follows: One of his amiable very lities was to consider himself as a citizen of the world, and quamankind in general as his brethren and friends: consequently, he endeavoured to do them all the good in his power. I think

I may also safely say, the great rule of his life and conduct was, to be a true disciple and follower of all the beneficent actions of OUR SAVIOUR, and to interweave HIS example into his daily exercise and practice.' Two other old servants, also, were requested to present their contributions towards the biography of this excellent man; one of them says,- Wherever he was, or whatever he was doing, his mind and actions seemed always fixed to this great point: (of being ufeful:) and the more good he did, the more he was still desirous of doing: all ages, all conditions, all countries, friends and enemies *___ no difference to him: if they wanted or desired his assistance, all partook of his universal love and charity. It would be impossible to give the particulars of his good actions, they being continued through his whole life to the last. His common observation to me was, "Let me do all the good I can:" I think his meaning was, Do not hinder any object from coming to me:' and indeed if they did not come to him, he would be sure to seek after such; as his relations and friends can testify, no less than his tenants and cottagers, his servants and all who had any connection with him. The retirement of his life did not confine his good actions to one spot; as he visited, at

* Strange, if such a man had enemies!

times, most parts of his own country, and took that opportu nity to do good, wherever he was.'

Charity, according to that extensive meaning in which it is inculcated by Christianity, appears to have taken possession of his heart: for he was gentle, forbearing, forgiving, liberal, and munificent, to all persons, and on all occasions. We are credibly assured, (says the publisher,) that the annual revenue of his Hurley estate was disposed of, by him, as it arose, in works of compassionate liberality. To which purpose also our good Samaritan devoted a full third, at least, if not one-half, of all his other landed and funded property, to the yearly amount of two thousand pounds and upwards.' He visited many prisons,' particularly that of Newgate; where the late Mr. Akerman was a frequent and almost continual witness to his benevolence. From prisons, his kindness naturally carried him to hospitals; and although his donations and subscriptions while living were very constant and considerable, he could not with life give up his beneficence, but at his death made handsome bequests to several.-He moreover provided comfortably for all his old and faithful domestics, and excepting a few specific legacies, he left the residue of an ample fortune to his executors and their families, who were his nearest relatives.'

Besides the assistance which he so freely afforded in many different ways for the relief of distress, he was also disposed to the encouragement of the arts and sciences, or any scheme that might contribute to the melioration and improvement of mankind. Among other instances of this nature, we find that Dr. Kennicott's collations of the Bible partook of his bounty. Some reader, perhaps, may think that his compassion was not sufficiently guarded when it extended to objects the most unworthy a friend who was present when a person of this stamp presented himself to partake of a distribution, could not avoid the exclamation, Sir, that man is one of the greatest rascals we have in the parish! Mr. Wilcocks said nothing for the moment: but, after some time, he sent again for the man, and was heard to say to him; I find you have behaved so ill as not to have a friend in the world: there is half a guinea for you to keep you from immediate want; and now endeavour to behave better.'


To the above anecdotes concerning this modest, unknown, yet eminent man, we cannot refrain from adding the following letter to the editor, dated Finedon, 17th Dec. 95. It is as follows:

"Sir, It occurs to me that you might wish to know, if you do not already, that our late valued friend Mr. Wilcocks, when at Rome, under the pontificate of Clement XIII. (Rezzonico) was styled by


« EelmineJätka »