« EelmineJätka »
"The following Latin poems are, in their kind, excellent. They are the better worth reading, as they show with what care our young author had studied the prince of the Latin poets; and from what source he afterwards derived, what a certain writer calls, a little whimsically indeed, but, I think, not unhapily, his sweet Virgilian prose. This Virgilianism, if I may 80 speak, consists in opening a subject by degrees; in presenting it, first, in a few and simple terms, and then enlarging and brightening it by a more distinct and exquisite expression, till the description becomes, as it were, full-blown, and is set before us in all its grace and beauty. With this gradual extension of a sentiment, or image, is joined an improvement in the rhythm. The ear is consulted, as well as the imagination; and the harmony of numbers keeps pace with the energy of expression. It is remarkable that Mr. Addison's studious imagination of Virgil's manner, hurt his English poetry sometimes, though it always improved his English prose. The reason was, he had no facility in rhyming; and so was obliged many times to take up with a weaker word or phrase, than its place in his verse required. Hence, the frequent redundancies in his rhymed poetry, which were intended by him, as amplifications. In his prose, he was under no such restraint; and his exact taste always led him to perfection. That this observation is just, we may see from his Cato, where the freedom of blank verse, as it is called, secured him from this mischance; and from these Latin poems, in which Virgilian gradation is every where observed, and nicely imitated.”-Hurd.
“Here (Oxford) he continued to cultivate poetry and criticism, and grew first eminent by his Latin compositions, which are indeed entitled to particular praise. He has not confined himself to the imitation of any ancient author, but has formed his style from the general language, such as a diligent perusal of the productions of different ages happened to supply.
“His Latin compositions seem to have had much of his fondness, for he collected a second volume of the 'Musce Anglicance, perhaps for a convenient receptacle in which all his Latin pieces are inserted, and where his poem on the Peace has the first place. Three of his Latin poems are upon subjects on which, perhaps, he would not have ventured to have written in his own language : The Battle of the Pigmies and Cranes ; The Barometer ; and a Bowling Green. When the matter is low or scanty, a dead language, in which nothing is mean because nothing is familiar, affords great conveniences; and by the sonorous magnificence of Roman syllables, the writer conceals penury of thought and want of novelty often from the reader and often from himself. In 1697 appeared his Latin verses on the Peace of Ryswick, which he dedicated to Montague, and which was afterwards called by Smith “the best Latin poem since the Æneid.' Praise must not be too rigorously examined; but the performance cannot be denied to be vigorous and elegant.”—JOHNSON-Life of Addison.
Ogle's opinion is less favorable~"He collected a second volume of the • Musæ Anglicanæ,' and inserted in it most of his Latin compositions. Though they will always be valued by the scholar, and considered as productions of promise, they cannot compete with the poems of Buchanan, or of Vincent Brown; and in correctness must yield not only to Johnson, but now to many whose classical precision has been derived from the labors of the philologists of the greater portion of a century.”—OGLE-Life of Addison, pp. XV., xvi.
Miss Aikin is not, perhaps, the best authority upon this subject-but her remarks deserve insertion:
“In furtherance of this design, he now printed at the Sheldon press a second volume of the Musæ Anglicanæ, in which his own poems occupy a conspicuous place ;-celebrated productions of which some account must here be given.
The composition of Latin verse, even when not a commanded exercise of the schools, seems an effort of imitation so natural and obvious to the academic, with a memory stored from the treasury of the ancient classics, and a taste formed almost exclusively on their models, that it cannot be regarded as a serious derogation from the credit of early English scholarship, to have produced so little of this kind of fruit. Dr. Johnson has remarked, that before the appearance of the works of Milton and Cowley, and of May’s Continuation of Lucan's Pharsalia, the 'English' appeared unable to contest the palm of Latin poetry with any other of the learned nations. These writers had found no successors of equal merit when Addison, whether moved by the example of two poets, both of them early objects of his fervent admiration, or solely by the promptings of his own elegant and highly classical spirit, first determined to build up a literary reputation on the foundation of Roman song. Some pieces of merit had however been produced, which, mingled with others of inferior quality, had issued from the Oxford press, but with a London editor, in 1691 in a single volume entitled Musæ Anglicanæ.
" A sequel to this work, also from the Sheldon press, appeared in 1699,
in which all the Latin pieces of Addison, eight in number, were contained ; his poem on the Peace leading the way. No name of editor is given, but there is no doubt that the selection was made by Addison himself, nor of course that the elegant Latin preface which reappeared with some improvements in the enlarged and corrected edition of 1714, was from his pen. In this address to the public it is emphatically stated that no piece has been inserted in this collection but with the consent of its author; and a severe censure is passed upon the editor of the former volume, who, in publishing without authority several imperfect and juvenile attempts, is said to have consulted his own profit more than the reputation of the writers. The absence of any contributions from Cambridge scholars, is adverted to in terms of great politeness, which yet suggest the suspicion that they had been withheld from a spirit of petty jealousy towards the rival university.
“Great and general was the applause given by contemporary scholars to the first fruits of the learned muse of Addison; nor has their fame proved fugitive. The correctness and classical purity of these graceful productions have received no attaint; and although, as Dr. Johnson observes, that praise must not be too nicely weighed which assigned to his poem on the Peace the character of 'the best Latin poem since Virgil,' judges of the present day, both competent and impartial, have held that in the flow and cadence of his verse, at least, Addison has more nearly attained the sweetness and majesty of Virgil than any other modern.
“ It appears that Addison, on setting out for his travels, carried with him the new volume of Musæ Anglicanæ, and occasionally availed himself of it as a kind of credential, letter in his visits to the scholars of the continent.”-AIKIN—Life of Addison, pp. 48, 51.
ARMIGERO, SCACCHARII CANCELLARIO, ÆRARII PRÆFECTO, REGI A
SECRETIORIBUS CONSILIIS, &o.
Cum tanta auribus tuis obstrepat vatum nequissimorum turba, nihil est cur queraris aliquid inusitatum tibi contigisse, ubi præclarum hoc argumentum meis etiam numeris violatum conspexeris. Quantum virtute bellica præstent Britanni, recens ex rebus gestis testatur gloria ; quam vero in humanioribus pacis studiis non emineamus, indicio sunt quos nuper in lucem emisimus versiculi. Quod si CONGREVIUS ille tuus divino, quo solet, furore correptus materiam hanc non exornasset, vix tanti esset ipsa pax, ut illa lætaremur tot perditissimis poetis tam misere decantata. At, dum alios insector, mei ipsius oblitus fuisse videor, qui haud minores forsan ex Latinis tibi molestias allaturus sum, quam quas illi ex vernaculis suis carminibus attulerunt; nisi quod inter ipsos cruciatus lenimentum aliquod dolori tribuat tormenti varietas. Nec quidem un