Page images

Non Chaonis absuit arbos,

for the latter, it must be remembered, that those Non nemus Heliadum, non frondibus esculus

creatures were almost aluays esteemed by the altis :

ancients, as sacred 10 some deity. But Statius Non tiliæ molles, non fagus, & inouba laurus,

mentions this in particular. See the death of Et coryli fragiles, & fraxinus utilis hastis,

Archemorus, in the 5th Thebaid :
Fnodisque abies curvataque glandibus ilex,

-Xemoris sacer horror Achæi
Et platanus genialis, acerque coloribus impar, Erigitur Serpens.
Ampicolæque simul salices, & aquatica lotos.

And a little afterwards,
As also Claudian, in the Rape of Proserpina,

-Inachio sanctum dixere Tonanti Lib. the 2d. Chaucer seems to have a particu

Agriculælar eye to this passage throughout all his poems. See bis Knight's Tale, the Assembly of Fowls, and So Virgil, speaking of the two serpents that Complaint of the Black Knight. I am also much strangled Laocoon, Eneid the 2d : pleased to find this passage finely imitated by two Their task perform'd the serpeuts quit their other of our ancient English poets. I shall first

prey, cite Fairfax, who understood the harmony of And to the tow'r of Pallas make their way: numbers better than any person then living, ex- Couch'd at her feet they lie protected there cept Spenser. All the world knows his excellent

By her large buckler, and protended spear. version (or paraphrase rather) of Tasso's Gieru

Dryden. salem liberata. The other, whom I mean, is

12. M. Drayton, whose Fairytale is a master-piece in those grutesque writings :

-In mournful strains Down fall the sacred palms, and ashes wild

The music of the l'brygiau tife complains. V. The fun'ral cypress, holly ever green;

137. The weeping fir, thick beech, and sailing The Phrygian measure in music was made use pine ;

of, to call the spirits of the deceased from Hades. The married elm fell with his fruitful vine ; Pelops was the first person who invented, and set The shooter-yew, the broad-leav'd sycamore, it to the lyre, and from him it came to the GreThe barren platine, and the wallnut sound; cians. The myrrh that her foul sin doth still deplore;

Lactantius. The alder, owner of all watrish ground;

13. Sweet juniper, whose shadow hurteib sore; Proud cedar; oak, the king of forests crown'd. Behind Hypsypile's soft sorrows flow

Fairtax. Silent, and fast- v. 147. The tufted cedar, and the branching pine.... Nothing can be more finely imaged than this Under whose covert, (thus divinely made)

character of Hypsypile; it seems a perfect picPhæbus' green laurel Nourish'd in the shade: ture of beauty in distress. Her very silence is Fair Venus' myrtle, Mars his warlike fir, eloquent : she knows her innocence, but must Minerva's olive, and the weeping myrrh ; not speak one word to defend it. She mores The patient palm that strives in spite of hate, along by herself the very last of them all, while The poplar to Alcides consecrate, &c.

every eye seems to threaten and accuse hır. Drayton.

And even after all this, there is still a dejected I ask pardon for the tediousness of this note,

sweetness, a leudern ss, a confusion that cannot and the reader in justice ought to acknowledge reader any ways sensible of my own images,

be expressed. I know not how to make the writ it to gratify my pleasure, rather than iny

except I refer him to the character of Briseis in vanity; and surely no person who has the least taste can be displeased with so much variety. I

Homer's tirst Iliad, and the picture of Sisigambis

in Darius's tent. insist ouly to produce one description more out of Statius. The verses are extremely natural,

This puts me in mind of some fine strokes in and carry something with them as awful and Spenser, though upon a different occasion. What

I mean, is the silence and confusion of Britomart, venerable as the subject :

when the Red-cross knight discovers her to be a Sylva capax ævi, validáque incurva senectâ, lady, and inquires after her adventures : Aternum intonsæ frondis, stat pervia nullis

Thereat she sighing softly, had no pow'r
Subter opaca quies, vacuusque silentia servat

To speak awhile, ne ready answer make,
Horror, & exclusæ pallet mala lucis imago,

But with heart-thrilling throbs, and bitter

As if she had a fever-fit, did quake, (stow'r, Nec caret umbra Deo.

And ev'ry dainty limb with horror shake; Thebaid 4.

And ever and anon the rosie red 11.

Flash'd through her face, as it had been a flake Sacred to leav'n and Hell the mourners rear

Of lightning, through bright Heaven fulmined, Two massy altars-v. 131.

Fairy Queen, Lib. 3. Cant. 2. It may be asked why the Grecians raised two

See also the same canto, stanza the 15th. altars. Lactantius answers that one only was

14. for Archemorus, and the other for the serpent that killed bim.

Speech of Eurydice. v. 153. If the reader supposes this to be too mucli honour Statius bas equally shown his conduct in this speech of Eurydice. She is injured, and indeed deserves a liberty to resent it. She condoles,

18. she repents, she heightens her misfortunes, and If Jove's almighty wisdom can deceive, then seems to wonder why Providence should in- Curs’d is the man who fondly will believe ! Aict them. This she aggravates by considering

v. 221. the prosperity of her neighbours, which certainly gives the deepest remorse in all afflictions. This apostrophe contains a fine picture of huNothing can be finer than these two last particu- man nature in distress. Heaven itself cannot lars. They arise immediately from human nature, escape our censure: its unerring justice is called and give a lively picture of self-respect, and in into question, and we fancy more to be inflicted on dulgency to our own frailties. What follows is us, than we ought to suffer. more abrupt and violent; she draws the author Much of this kind is the speech of Asius in of her misery in the most disagreeable colours, Homer's 12th Iliad. Eustathius makes a very makes her treacherous, negligent, and even in- moral remark upon it, which I shall transcribe, sensible of gratitude or pity.

as I find it admirably translated to my bands. 15.

“The speech of Asius is very extravagant: he

exclaims against Jupiter for a breach of promise, Whose hands sustain'd thee, and whose music not because he had broken his word, but because charm'd,

he had not fulfilled his own vain imaginations. Whose eye o'ersay thee-v. 185.

This conduct, though very blamcable in Asius, I am far from being disgusted with these little is very natural to persons under disappointinents, particularities that attend the most serious and

who are ever ready to blame Heaven, and turn noble passions. Nothing has a better efiect in their misfortunes into a crime.” Thus far Eustapoetry, or painting. An incident may be small,

thius. and at the same time not trifling. This puts me

Æneas (whose chief character is piety) could in mind of an observation in Longinus: it is made

not help accusing men and gods when he lost upon Sappho's love-ode, translated afterwards by Creusa. Though in justice to Virgil it ought to Catullus. The poetess" (says he) “has assem

be observed, that he softens, or rather disapbled with admirable skill all the little accidents proves of the impiety at the same time; for so to that passion. Her heart beats fast, her tongue the word amens must be understood. trembles, her sight seems to swim, and her colour vanishes all in one moment."

Quem non incusavi, amens, hominumque deo. This confusion suits admirably well with the

rumque ? wandering irresolutions of the soul upon such As this note is capable of very serious reflecoccasions.

tions, it may not perhaps be amiss to look a Longinus, Chap. 8. little into the holy scriptures. The impatience 16.

of Job's wife, as also the diffidence and irresolu

tion of David in the 73d Psalin, are extraordiSo when the holy priest with curious eyes

nary instances of this sort. But Jeremiah car. Dooms some fair heifer. v. 209.

ries it yet farther: he proceeds to an expostuI must not forget that Statius has copied this lation with his Maker. “ Let me talk with thee, simile from Lucretius. 'Tis hard to say which O Lord, of thy judgments. . Thou hast planted is the more excellent. Lucretius his lines are (the wicked) yea, they have taken root : they these, after he has described the young heifer grow, yea, they bring forth fruit. But thou, () slain in sacrifice :,

Lord, knowest me, thou hast seen me, and tried At mater virideis saltus orbata peragrans,

my heart towards thee.

I bare forsaken my Omnia convisens oculis loca, si queat usquam

house, &c." Chap. 12. v. 1, 2, 3, & 8. Conspicere amissum fætum, completque que- speech of Lycurgus very oddiy, by a reflection

Lactantius solves the extravagance of this relis Frondiferum nemus adsistens, & crebra revisit

on his priesthood. His words are these, “priests Ad stabulum, desiderio perfixa juvenci,

may be as angry as they will," forso must he be unNon teneræ salices, atque herbæ rore vigentes

derstood according to the purport of the original. Fluminave ulla queunt summis labentia ripis

I much question whether his name-sake would Oblectare animum,subitamqueavertere curam:

have allowed this concession to the c'ergy: and Nec vitulorum aliæ species per pahula læta

if the translator may have leave to give his opiDerivare queunt aliò, curâve levare,

Lib. 2. nion, he thinks them to have less nced of it, than

any other part of the nation. 17.

19. The father now unbares his rev'rend head; His silver locks he scatters o'er the dead. v.

Nine times his course bright Lucifer had rollid 217.

And ev'ning Vesper deck'd his rays with gold.

v. 271. The practice of cutting off the hair, and strewing it over the deceased, was so common with the This particularity is so far from being ornaancients, that all testimonies are needless. It mental, that it preserves a valuable piece of anprevails among the Sclavonians to this day, who, tiquity; namely the closing of the funeral games (as lord Busbeque observes in bis Epistles) neque after nine days end: which ceremony the old inodo capillos, sed etiam supercilia sibi (in luctu) Romans called Novemdialia. demunt,


20. High o'er the people wrought with lively grace, Swift few the rapid car, and left behind Shine the fair glories of their ancient race. The noise of tempests, and the wings of wind. v. 297.

v. 349. I don't remember any thing more noble, or These verses are somewhat too bold in the judicious than this historical picture. The des original : cription of a shield was already worn out: 'twas in possible to add any thing of moment after Ho

stupuêre relicta mer and Virgil. Nor is it introduced merely for

Nubila, certantes Eurique Notique sequuntur. ornament; it contains, no less than the story of Whoever translates Statius must have liberty their ancestors, magnanimûm series antiqua pa- to soften sodie of these byperboles. Yet Lacrentum. Its effects are visible: to inspire them tantius was of another opinion, who admires with courage in the funeral games. Besides, it this place in the true spirit of criticisın. Divine happily avoids most of the objections that have dictum ! dedit illis victoriæ votum, sed ademit been made against the shields of Achilles and effectum. His remark is not worth translating. Æneas. Its size answers all inultiplicity of figures; and even every figure bears a plain re

24. ference to the subject of action. The rules of So sad Apollo with a boding sigh painting are exactly preserved : we have not only Told his fond child v. 363. a contrast of passions in different persons, but variety of place in each distinct compartiment. in this simile, not without a tine commiseration

We may perceive something very remarkable 'Tis reasonable to think our author designed for unhappy Polynices. Instead of accusing the this as a compliment to a common ceremony then among the Romans : who used at all solemn rashness, or folly of Phaeton, all is attributed to funerals to carry before the corps of the deceased fatal destiny. As much as to say, Polynices lost the pictures of their ancestors. Thus Horace, by the interposition of a deity.

not the race through his own imprudence, but Epode the 8th; Funus atque imagines

25. Ducunt triumphales tuum.

Admetus' life, &c. v. 431, See also Cicero's oration for Milo, and the This alludes chiefly to the story of Alceste, 35th book of Pliny. Perhaps Statius owed the Admetus his wife, who was so honourable (it seems) first bint of his historical picture to the custom as to lay down her life to atone for her husband's. we now mention.

Juvenal makes an agreeable use of this female

-Brave Choræbus lifts bis bleeding hands-

--spectant subeuutem fata mariti

Alcesten. v. 324.

Lactantius. Lactantius gives two meanings to this bemy. stic; the venerable or undaunted figure of Cho

Euripides has written a tragedy upon this ocrabus. I have chosen the latter, because it casion. I am afraid few modern ladies would agrees best with his character in the first The give such an example, but indeed husbands are baid. The story is too long to be transcribed.

much alter'd since the days of Admetus. I may

add, that Statjus takes notice of the death of 22.

Alceste in his Sylva, entituled the Tears of EtrusHere Belus' sons at Hymen's altars stand,

I the rather cite this poem because And join with hearts averse the friendly hand.

it contains some fine strokes of humanity, and

filial affection. Of the same nature is his Epiv. 351.

cedion in Patrem. I wonder that these two adThe contract of Danaus and Egyptus is too mirable copies have never yet beeen translated. well known to be repeated. However for the

26. sake of the curious I shall not pass by the epistle of Hypermnestra to Linus, and some re

“ Th’impatient coursers pant in ev'ry rein, markable passages in Pindar's ninth Pythian And pawing seem to beat the distant plain. Ode. Statius seems pleased with this story, and

The vales, the floods appear already crost, has chosen it in another place to ornament the

And e'er they start, a thousand steps are lost." shjeld of Hippomedon. There is something very

V. 454. masterly in the expression, and the tout-ensem- The Latin of these verses is wonderfully fine, ble makes a fine piece of night-painting: as Mr. Dryden acknowledges in his preface to -humeros, & pectora latè

Du Fresnoy. He cites them as a true image of Flammeus orbis habet -vjvit in auro our author : Nox Danai, sontes furiarum lampade nigrâ Quinquaginta ardent thalami, pater ipse cru

Stare adeò míserum est, pereunt vestigia mille

Ante fugam, absentemque ferit gravis ungula entis In foribus, laudatque nefas, atque inspicit

campum. enses.

“Which would cost me" (says he) “ an hour Theb. 4. to translate, there is so much beauty in the ori


cus, Lib. 3.

Since that,Mr. Pope has imitated these verses al- In deference to the above-mentioned criticism, most verbatim in his Windsor Forest: and I | I thought fit to leave out, vestigia cunctis indethought fit to transfer them hither, rather than prensa procis; for there lies all the confusion, expose my own weakness. I never was heartily

30. mortified before; I just know how to admire him and to despise myself! the reader may be as

Foot-race. v. 766. sured, I durst not presume to do this without

I must own, I think this foot-race an inimi. that gentleman's consent; who not only gave me leave to use his translation, but also to alter any ly as just; the circumstances perhaps are more

table piece of poetry. The design itself is equalcircumstances that might not correspond with beautiful than those upon the same subject the original. I remember a paper in the Guar- in the Greek or Roman poet. Had Statius given dian that consists chiefly of parallel descriptions the prize to Idas, (than which nothing was more upon this occasion; and thither I refer the cu.

easy) I cannot but think the moral would have rious.

been highly defective. Yeť Euryalus in Virgil Balde the Jesuit has some bold strokes in an ode whose title I forgot, though 'tis writteu partly descriptive parts our author borrows nothing

wins the race by downright fraudulence. In the in imitation of the war-borse in Job. I mention considerable from either of the above cited this, purely to do justice to that poet's memory, poets. I wish he had taken one circumstance who (notwithstanding some extravagances) came from Homer, which pleases me much. It is the nearer to the spirit and abruptness of Pindar,

passage where Ulysses follows Ajax : than any of his cotemporaries. 27.

-αυλας οπιαθεν

"Ιχνια τύπ7ε πόδεοσι σάρος κόνιν αμφιχυθήναι. Earth opening seem'd to groan (a fatal sigo !)

v. 600.

His fue he plies, Because Amphiaraus was afterwards to be and treads each footstep, e'er the dust can rise, swallowed under ground. See the latter end of

31. the seventh Thebaid :

Thus in some storm the broken billows rise Illum ingens haurit specus, & transire parantes Round the vast rock- v. 909. Merget equos : non arma manu, non fræna remisit

'Tis with great judgment the poet introduces Sicut erat, rectos defert in Tartara currus:

this simile, which admirably paints the size and

unmoveableness of Capaneus. I have endeaRespexitque cadens cælum, campumque coire Ingemuit

voured to give it this turn, adding the epithet

vast, to strengthen the idea. A translator can I take this to be one of the most noble des

seldom do his author this justice, and I see no criptions I ever met with in any language. reasons against it, if the deviation exceeds not 28.

one word. However, it is manifest the original

alludes only to the noise, and sudden overflow. Loud shouts each chief that from high Elis

ing of the waters. 'Tis impossible to give a more leads

lively image of Alcidamas. Statius has comHis native train, &c. v. 639.

prized himself also into a shorter pass than usual, I have open'd this passage a little, but with that the mind might not be too much suspended due respect to geography. See the fourth Theb. in the midst of so important an action. Besides, Resupina Elis, demissa Pisa.

there is a particular beauty in the versification : 29.

it seems to run by starts, short and violent: Lires there a warrior in the world of fame,

Assilit, ut præceps cumulo salir unda, minaces Who never heard of Atalanta's name ? v. 649. In scopulos, & fracta redit

The commentators are all mighty merry upon these verses. It seems Statius has confounded the history of Atalanta (there being two of that The fight of the cæstus. v. 966. name) and takes the wife of Hippomenes for that of Pelops ; the famous racer in days of yore.

I have taken notice in the foot-race, that

Statius has varied from Virgil, with admirable This (say they) is a remarkable oversight, and very few of them can beartily forgive it. The judgment. The same may be advanced here in matter is hardly worth debate : poets were never

respect to Homer, who in his fight of the cæs. thought infallible. Whoever reads the critical tus, rewards insolence and pride, instead of discourse upon the Iliad, will find many errours

punishing them. There is an exact parity of

character between Capaneus and Epëus: but even in Homer; though not so many as La

not the same success. The boaster in this place Motte fancied. Aristotle, Cicero, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus were seldom right in their meets with the most manifest disadvantage: a

great improvement of the moral. quotations. Macrobius tells us, that Virgil ran

Upon the whole : it may be required I should into many palpable mistakes, purely to disengage himself from too much exactness, and to imitate attempt something like a comparison between Homer. Mons. la Mothe le Vayer has written the descriptions of this game in Homer, Virgil, an entire treatise upon this subject : and I think and Statius. To speak my own sentiments, i it worth reading, merely as a mortification for cannot bui prefer the latter, not only for its human vanity,

greater varieiy of incidents, but for the cha


racter of arrogance, which is wrought up to

35. much more perfection : it was this they all la

Nor breath'd its spirit to congenial skies. boured at. Capaneus is so far blinded with his

v. 1029. own admiration, that be still fancies himself the conqueror : though the odds appeared visibly Or to congenial stars more literally, accordagainst him: so apt is pride to magnify. This ing to the philosophy of Pythagoras. The wickis superadded to the characters in Homer and ed, says Lactantius, were punished by their Virgil: and I think it a most natural improve- stars (ab ipsis astris, stellisque are his words) ; ment.

the goo enjoyed their light for ever.

For a 33.

farther explication of this ancient doctrine, I

refer the reader to Servius and Ruæus's notes The mountain-cypress thus, that firmly stood upon the 227th line of Virgil's 4th Georgie, SyFromage to age

v. 994.

deris in numerum, &c. See also Plato in Originally;

Timxo. Ille autem Alpini veluti regioa cupressus

36. Verticis

So Hercules, who long had toil'd in vain, I have read in one of our modern critics, or in

Heav'd huge Anthë us. v. 1040. some book of travels, that no cypresses grow I cannot but admire this noble simile; besides upon the Alps. The author upon this takes oc

the parity of circumstances, the savage characcasion to fall font upon an eminent Roman poet,

ter of Anthëus suits admirably well with the and wonders at his ignorance. It is no matter brutal fury of Agylleus : nor is it a small comwhere I met with this remark, it not being of pliment to little Tydeus, to compare him with much consequence: yet I thought fit to leave Hercules for strength. I fancy Spenser drew out Alpinus ; and added a more indefinite the story of Maleger at large from this picture. epithet.

I am the more inclined to think so, because in Since my writing this note, I chanc'd to read the combat of prince Arthur, and Pyrrhocles, Bernartius's comment npon Statius. He is

he translates almost literally from Statins those much chagrined at this oversight. As a spe

verses that describe Agylleus after his fall : cimen of his humanity and taste for criticism, though it must be owned, he has interwoven a I shall transcribe his own words at length: “At- simile that much improves them : tigit ut videtur Papinius hic guttam è flumine Lethes. Nam in Alpibus nusquam cupressi :

Nought booted it the Paynim then to strive, nisi forte speciem pro genere posuit, quod non

But as a bittour in an eagle's claw, inepte affirmare possumus.

That may not hope by Bight to 'scape alive,

Still hopes for death, with dread and trembling 34.

So he now subject to the victor's law, [awe : Not half so bloody: or with half such rage

Did not once move, nor upwards cast his eyes Two mighty monarchs of the herd engage.

37. v. 1006.

Here end the funeral games, which are put Statius seems to bave copied this simile from off (as in Virgil) by a prodigy, foreboding that the combat of Hercules and Achelous in the none of the seven captains should return, except ninth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses. I shall Adrastus: as that in Virgil foretold the burnpleasure the reader with them both. And first ing of the ships by the Trojan matrons. Ovid;

To conclude, whosoever will read the original

impartially, will find Statius to be a much better Non aliter vidi fortes concurrere tauros,

poet than the world imagines. What the transCum pretium pugnæ, toto nitidissima saltu

lation is, I know not: nor can the notes be exExpetitur conjux: spectant armenta, paven que traordinary, when no body has written any Nescia quem tanti maneat victoria regni.

thing tolerable before me. The reader may beNon sic ductores gemini gregis, horrida tauri lieve, or disbelieve them as he pleases; I deliver Bella movent: medio conjux stat candida prato conjectures, not doctrines. If my present verVictorem expectans; rumpunt obnixa surentes sion has the fortune to please, I may perhaps Pectora

proceed farther: if not, I cannot but think my

self happy in reviving at least so fine a piece of The latter in my opinion is far more natural poetry. I have but just given the sketch of a than the former. There is a beautiful contrast, pictnre, it remains for others to deepen the or variation of numbers, very tender and flowing, strokes, and finish the whole. Whoever can in

take such pains, will oblige me, as much as the medio coujux- -&c.

world, Which is somewhat faintly preserved in the

DIVINE POEMS. translation.

Spenser has a simile something of this nature in the combat between the Red-cross knight and Sapsfoy, Lib. I. Canto 2.

To the reverend Mr. Hildrop, master of
Marleborough-School, (under wliom I had tbe

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