« PreviousContinue »
Cull'd to bloom upon the breast,
. Just like Love.
And when rude hands the twin buds sever,
Just like love. p. 47.
With life's unnumber'd woes;
Press'd by a thousand foes.
I saw the passions' pliant slave
In gallant trim, and gay;
His life, a summer's day.
And I was caught in Folly's snare,
And join'd her giddy train—
And Punishment, and Pain.
There surely is some guiding pow'r
Which rightly suffers wrong—
But Virtue late and long! p. 49.
Why our poet entitles his pieces madrigals, and no where instructs the English reader in the nature of the mote, glossa, and volta, as these compositions are generally denominated by the Portuguese writer, we are at a loss to determine. Such little jeux d'esprit are understood to be the extemporaneous effusions of what would be called in Italy improvisatori. They are produced in this manner. The mote is something said by one in company, on which another makes a glossa, or explication in verse at any length, commonly preserving the mote in the conclusion; as in that Spanish one, Vos teneis mi coracon. Vol. 4. p. 298, the glossa of which, however, his lordship (p. 40) thinks fit to term a madrigal, and is pleased to neglect every form and character belonging to the primitive design. The version is otherwise distinguished by delicacy and taste, qualities which are missing indeed in no part of this ingenious work.
The sonnets are more closely turned. Still we may observe that sonnet 4, which is sonnet 100 in the original, has been taken some
liberty with; but, in one instance, not without judgment. However, we deem it going injudiciously wide to translate
TuS longe da riitosa Patria minlta— Far from green Portugal's parental shore; p. 84. because Camoens has before used the expression verde, speaking of Alemquer, which, though descriptive of that spot, is very little characteristic of the shores or general appearance of Portugal.
Some notes (the paucity of which is our greatest regret) accompany and illustrate these translations. On the lines in the first sonnet:
Oh, Lady! since I've worn thy gentle chain,
"Faria says," according to Lord S. " that Camoens was indebted for this idea to Silvestre, a Spanish poet:"
So delightful my prison had grown,
So charming the fetters I bore,
But it is not improbable that Camoens, whose mind, from his studies at Coimbra, was thoroughly imbued with classic lore, had the Greek poet in his thoughts, who has thus pleasingly expressed the happiness enjoyed in being a slave to those we love:
JZyio Off xvjv otyn fxit
Anac. Ode ix.*
Sonnet 5. (24 orig.) "The Horatian precept nec verbum verbo, has," says our poet (pref. p. 31) "been the bane of many. It has proved to the world of translation, what the phrase * liberality of sentiment' has been to that of morals—the worst of errors have originated from both." His lordship might, in this sonnet, as well as in some other places, be brought forward very tolerably to exemplify this position. The simple opening of Camoens, A quella triste e le'da madrugada,
Ckea ioda de Magoa, e depiedade,
Quero que seja sempre celebrada. v. 3. p. 37.
• So, "Thy locks of gold," in Canzon, p. 64, should, in preference to Bcmbo/ have been referred to Petrarch, Sonnet xi.
is thus translated (for so we are led to suspect from the circum-
Nor sundered hearts by strong despair be torn;
Lord S. is sometimes, perhaps, excusable in such an essay as this, for the paraphrases and embellishments in which he indulges, but we do not think him always fortunate, since we are ever loath to sacrifice the unadorned, but expressive language of nature, to the artful and figurative style of laborious composition. The termination of son. 7 (25 orig.) may serve to elucidate our remark:
Fell star of fate! thou never canst employ
A torment teeming with severer smart . Than that which memory pours upon the heart,
While clinging round t/te sepulchre of ioy!
The words of the original in English are these: What evil can be greater than in my misery, to possess the memory of good, that is already passed?
Some objections of a different description might be advanced, but we gladly abandon them for the more agreeable task of confessing that, upon the whole, the execution of these pieces is a very favourable specimen of his lordship's powers of versification, and knowledge of the Portugueze and Spanish languages; and we may also observe that the selection is highly creditable to his taste and judgment. There is, however, ample room (but twenty sonnets being turned out of three hundred and one, with an abundance of neglected cancoes, odes, sextinas, elegias, and estancias) for several more such publications as the present; and if his lordship, by what he has done, would signify (as we hope) that he is a zealous candidate to be continued in the same'grateful office, we are most prompt to acknowledge that he has merited our vote, and we give it with every sincere wish for that future success, which must be relied on, and cannot be doubted, whilst he enrols amongst his co? adjutors the names of a Percy and a Havley.* An Examination of the Strictures of' the Critical Reviewers, on the
Translation of Juvenal, by W. Gifford, Esq. As. pp. 74. ito. , Hatchard. 1808.
Is it to be indured that a man, such a man as Mr. Gifford, who has meritoriously devoted a large portion of his existence to the performance of a labour of so much importance, so fraught with
i See Preface, p. ii2.
difficulty, so pregnant with every necessity of profound research, and withal so felicitous in its execution, as the late translation of Juvenal, which we were irresistibly called upon, at an early period of the present year, to mention in terms so honourable and well-deserved; is it, we repeat with a warmth that we are unable to suppress, is it to be endured, that the long and active toil, the penetrating genius, the deep learning, and the unwearied industry of such a master, should be arraigned by Envy and Malignity, and all his great endeavours, his anxious perseverance, in one short moment, condemned, reviled, and set at nought? Shall it be said that
The Falcon tow* ring in his pride of place, Was by a Mousing Owl hawRd at, and kilPd? Let us hope that more justice, as well as a far more suitable reward, awaits his literary deserts; deserts so highly distinguished, and so basely calumniated.
Although we generally, upon these occasions, could wish the . author, whose genius and celebrity are become so illustrious as to excite the vain carping and petty insults of private enmity, or party malice, to pass them by with silent indifference, and contemptuous neglect, yet are we aware of the feelings of human nature, and know that the most noble and capacious minds are not always able to rise superior to these low attacks, but, too sensible to their touch, are often, as it were, compelled to vent their indignation; so do we sometimes see the generous steed, by a filthy, dirt-engendered fly, teazed and vexed almost into madness!
Mr. Gifford's well-founded complaint against "The Critical Reveiwers," is, it would appear, no novelty. Churchill long since had cause to say, what Mr. G. might have observed on the publication of his version of Juvenal: now
"Fool beckons fool, and dunce awakens dunce.
To Hamilton's the ready lies repair;—
Ne'er was lie made which was not welcome there—
Thence, on maturer judgment's anvil wrought,
The polish' d felshood's into public brought.
Quick-circulating slanders mirth afford,.
And reputation bleeds in ev'ry word."
The Apology, addressed in 1761 to the Critical Reviewers.
After brushing off the dirt that has been spattered upon liim, but which will "leave no stain behind," and with great ease exculpating himself in various instances from the criticism (if criticism it can be called, which criticism is none) of his too-evidently
splenetic, hostile, and malevolent Reviewers, Mr. G. proceeds thus good humouredly to compare their succession, according to his experience, to that of a posse of pitiful mayors in a certain town in Cornwall.
"In my younger days I got by heart a stanza made on a wretched succession of mayors in some Cornish town, and I am glad I yet remember it. * Let us cast away nothing/ says Pandaxus, • for we know not what use we may have for It'
If thus we go on,
And from bad to wor.e run,
Who shall be elected next year?
The devil himself must be mayor!
It would be tedious, and utterly devoid of entertainment, to quote from Mr. G.'s refutation of the numerous charges brought by the Critical Review, against his mode of turning several passages in Juvenal, therefore we shall prefer some more general remarks, which occur in the "Exammation," at p. 36, 37, and relate to the imputation of "Vulgarity/' in Mr. G.'s style of composition. He professes to have been principally conversant with the works of the best age of English literature, and this he holds to be from the last years of Elizabeth, to the death of James.
"These," says he, " I have studied: if without profit, it is not for want of industry, but of ability; and I never could perceive, either that they shunned the use of familiar phrases, and such as were employed in ordinary conversation; or, that if they did, their language was much improved by it."
"This had not escaped the observation of Dryden. Every reader—I speak from my own feelings; but I presume that every reader of his prose works has experienced a sweetness that hung upon his mind; a nameless something that operated as a spell, and seduced him onward. The principal agent in this powerful necromancy, is the frequent and judicious interspersion of words and phrases in common use. In extent and variety of learning, Dryden is surpassed by many; in consistency and truth, by more. Less is to be gleaned from his criticisms, than a careless reader would imagine, yet what reader of taste ever laid him down without regret? If this be true of his prose, it is no less so of his verse: Truth, as Shakspeare says, is truth to the end of the reckoning. It cannot therefore be more true; but certainly the poetry of Dryden has a greater portion of colloquial language diffused through it, than his prose. How much of the irresistible sweetness of his fables arises from this cause! The mind is insensibly led on : it is soothed, it is lulled into a delicious languor, by terms t—VOL. XVI.