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[OF Addison's translations Johnson says:-"His translations, so far as I have compared them, want the exactness of a scholar. That he understood his authors cannot be doubted: but his verses will not teach others to understand theň, being too licentiously paraphrastical. They are, however, for the most part, smooth and easy; and what is the first excellence of a translator, such as may be read with pleasure by those who do not know the original.” The same critic also remarks:-“In his Georgick he admits broken lines.” Dryden's compliment has been accused of insincerity. After speaking of two poets who had put him to great labor by their superior merit:-"The most ingenious Mr. Addison, of Oxford, has also been as troublesome to me as the other two, and on the same account. After his bees my latter swarm is hardly worth the hiving."
These translations were made at Oxford, and published in Tonson's Miscellanies. A letter of Addison to Tonson without the date of the year, gives us the origin of the translations from Ovid. “Your discussion with me about translating Ovid, made such an impression on me at my first coming down from London, that I ventured on the second book, which I turned at my leisure hours, and will give you a sight of it if you will give yourself the trouble of reading it.”—G.]
VIRGIL'S FOURTH GEORGICK,
EXCEPT THE STORY OF ARISTÆUS.
ETHERIAL Sweets shall next my muse engage, a
And this, Mæcenas, claims your patronage.
Of little creatures wondrous acts I treat,
The ranks and mighty leaders of their state,
Their laws, employments, and their wars relate.
A trifling theme, provokes my humble lays.
Trifling the theme, not so the poet's praise,
If great Apollo and the tuneful Nine
Join in the piece, to make the work divine.
First, for your bees a proper station find,
That's fenc'd about, and shelter'd from the wind;
For winds divert them in their flight, and drive
Thé swarms, when loaden homeward, from their hive.
Nor sheep, nor goats, must pasture near their stores,
To trample under foot the springing flowers;
Nor frisking heifers bound about the place,
To:spurn the dew-drops off, and bruise the rising grass :
Etherial sweets. The following version, though it be exact enough, for the most part, and not inelegant, gives us but a faint idea of the original. It has the grace, but not the energy, of Virgil's manner. late Translator of the Georgics* has succeeded much better. The versification (except only the bad rhymes) may be excused; for the frequent triplets and alexandrines (which Dryden's laziness, by the favour of his exuberant genius, had introduced) were esteemed, when this translation was made, not blemishes, but beauties.
Nor must the lizard's painted brood appear,
Nor wood-pecks, nor the swallow harbour near.
They waste the swarms, and as they fly along
Convey the tender morsels to their young.
Let purling streams, and fountains edg’d with moss,
And shallow rills run trickling through the grass ;
Let branching olives o'er the fountain grow,
Or palms shoot up, and shade the streams below;
That when the youth, led by their princes, shun
The crowded hive, and sport it in the sun,
Refreshing springs may tempt 'em from the heat,
And shady coverts yield a cool retreat.
Whether the neighbouring water stands or runs,
Lay twigs across, and bridge it o'er with stones;
That if rough storms, or sudden blasts of wind
Should dip, or scatter those that lag behind,
TIere they may settle on the friendly stone,
And dry their reeking pinions at the sun.
Plant all the flowery banks with lavender,
With store of sav'ry scent the fragrant air,
Let running betony the field o’erspread,
And fountains soak the violet's dewy bed.
Tho' barks or plaited willows make your hive,
A narrow inlet to their cells contrive;
For colds congele and freeze the liquors up,
And, melted down with heat, the waxen buildings drop.
The bees, of both extremes alike afraid,
Their wax around the whistling crannies spread,
And suck out clammy dews from herbs and flow’rs,
To smear the chinks, and plaister up the pores;
For this they hoard up glue, whose clinging drops,
Like pitch, or bird-lime, hang in stringy ropes.
They oft, 'tis said, in dark retirements dwell,
And work in subterraneous caves their cell;
At other times th' industrious insects live
In hollow rocks, or make a tree their hive.
Point all their chinky lodgings round with mud,
And leaves most thinly on your work be strow'd;
But let no baleful eugh-tree flourish near,
Nor rotten marshes send out streams of mire;
Nor burning crabs grow red, and crackle in the fire.
Nor neighb’ring caves return the dying sound,
Nor echoing rocks the doubled-voice rebound.
Things thus prepar'd
When th' under-world is seiz'd with cold and night,
And summer here descends in streams of light,
The bees thro' woods and forests take their flight.
They rifle ev'ry flow'r and lightly skim
The chrystal brook, and sip the running stream;
And thus they feed their young with strange delight,
And knead the yielding wax, and work the slimy sweet.
But when on high you see the bees repair,
Born on the winds thro’ distant tracts of air,
And view the winged cloud all blackning from afar;
While shady coverts, and fresh streams they chuse,
Milfoil and common honey-suckles bruise,
And sprinkle on their hives the fragrant juice.
On brazen vessels beat a tinkling sound,
And shake the cymbals of the goddess round;
Then all will hastily retreat, and fill
The warm resounding hollow of their cell.
If once two rival kings their right debate, And factions and cabals embroil the state,