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By ROBT. WALPOLE, Esq., B. A.,
Κυλίω καγω τον πιθoν, ως μη μόνος αργέιν
Lucian. Ed. Hem, II.5.
In the investigation of the history of the literature of a country, it is highly interesting to trace and observe the
progress of poetical translation. In works of this nature, “ the English writers of the sixteenth and the greatest part of the seventeenth century seem to have had no other care than, in Denham's phrase, to translate language into language, and to have placed their whole merit in presenting a literal and servile transcript of their original.” The observations on this subject of the writer from whom the above extract is taken, demand great attention, from the sound judgment and correct taste which he has displayed throughout his work *. There were however even in that age,
* See An Essay on the Principles of Translation.
he remarks afterwards, some writers who manifested a better taste in poetical translation ; and to exemplify this, passages are cited with due praise from the version of Lucan's Pharsalia by May, and of the Metamorphoses of Ovid by Sandys. The following specimens, which are translations from some of the Latin poets, and which were written during the seventeenth century will present a very favourable idea of the abilities of other writers in this species of composition ; with whose productions the general mass of readers is but little acquainted from the rarity of the books in which they are contained. That the oblivion which has overtaken many of the works of these authors is altogether undeserved, I shall not assert; but in translation, it will be confest that they are worthy of more praise and notice than they have hitherto obtained. Fidelity has been scarcely ever sacrificed to paraphrase ; and in many passages peculiar felicity has been displayed by them. A negligence of, and inattention to the accuracy of rime is a fault of which they are, doubtless, often guilty.—The reader will also find interspersed some translations in French written during