Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

man's work : and your lordship is too well acquainted withi my manner to doubt that any part of it is another's.

That your lordship may see I was in earnest when I pro, mised to hasten to an end, I will not give the reasons why I writ not always in the proper terms of navigation, land-service, or in the cant of any profession. I will only say, that Virgil has avoided those proprieties, because he writ not to mariners, soldiers, astronomers, gardeners, peasants, &c.; but to all in general, and in particular to men and ladies of the first quality, who have been better bred than to be too nicely knowing in the terms. In such cases, it is enough for a poet to write so plainly that he may be understood by his readers; to avoid impropriety, and not affect to be thought learned in all things.

I have omitted the four preliminary lines of the first book of the Æneid, because I think them inferior to any four others in the whole poem, and consequently believe they are not Virgil's. There is too great a gap betwixt the adjective 'vicina' in the second line, and the substantive arva' in the latter end of the third, which keeps his meaning in obscurity too long, and is contrary to the clearness of his style.

Ut quamvis avido is too ambitious an ornament to be his; and

Gratum opus agricolis are all words unnecessary, and independent of what he said before.

-Horrentia Martis

Arma-, is worse than any of the rest. 'Horrentia' is such a flat epi. thet, as Tully would have given us in his verses. It is a mere filler, to stop a vacancy in the hexameter, and connect the preface to the work of Virgil. Our author seems to sound a charge, and begins like the clangor of a trumpet

Arma, virumque cano, Trojæ qui primus ab oris scarce a word without an R, and the vowels for the greater part sonorous. The prefacer began with ‘Ille ego,' which he was constrained to patch up in the fourth line with 'at nunc,' !

to make the sense cohere. And, if both those words are not notorious botches, I am much deceived, though the French translator thinks otherwise. For my own part, I am rather of the opinion that they were added by Tucca and Varius, than retrenched.

I know it may be answered, by such as think Virgil the author of the four lines, that he asserts his title to the Æneid in the beginning of this work, as he did to the two former in the last lines of the fourth Georgic. I will not reply other. wise to this, than by desiring them to compare these four lines with the four others which we know are his, because no poet but he alone could write them. If they cannot distinguish creeping from flying, let them lay down Virgil, and take up Ovid, “de Ponto,' in his stead. My master needed not the assistance of that preliminary poet to prove his claim. His own majestic mien discovers him to be the king amidst a thousand courtiers. It was a superfluous office ; and therefore I would not set those verses in the front of Virgil, but have rejected them to my own preface.

I, who before, with shepherds in the groves,
Sung, to my oaten pipe, their rural loves,
And, issuing thence, compellid the neighb'ring field
A plenteous crop of rising corn to yield,
Manured the glebe, and stock'd the fruitful plain,

(A poem grateful to the greedy swain), &c.
If there be not a tolerable line in all these six, the prefacer
gave me no occasion to write better. This is a just apology
in this place. But I have done great wrong to Virgil in the
whole translation : want of time, the inferiority of our lan-
guage, the inconvenience of rhyme, and all the other excuses
I have made, may alleviate my fault, but cannot justify
the boldness of my undertaking. What avails it me to ac-
knowlege freely that I have not been able to do him right in
any line ? for even my own confession makes against me;
and it will always be returned on me, 'Why then did you
attempt it?' To which no other answer can be made than
that I have done him less injury than any of his former li-
bellers.

What they called his picture, had been drawn at length, 80 many times, by the daubers of almost all nations, and still

so unlike him, that I snatched up the pencil with disdain ; being satisfied beforehand that I could make some small re: semblance of him, though I must be content with a worse likeness. A sixth pastoral, a Pharmaceutria, a single Orpheus, and some other features, have been exactly taken: but those holiday authors writ for pleasure ; and only showed us what they could have done, if they would have taken pains to perform the whole.

Be pleased, my lord, to accept, with your wonted goodness, this unworthy present, which I make you. I have taken off one trouble from you, of defending it, by acknowleging its imperfections : and, though some part of them are covered in the verse (as Erichthonius rode always in a chariot to hide his lameness), such of them as cannot be concealed you will please to connive at, though, in the strictness of your judgment, you cannot pardon. If Homer was allowed to nod sometimes in so long a work, it will be no wonder if I often fall asleep. You took my 'Aureng-zeb' into your protection, with all his faults : and I hope here cannot be so many, because I translate an author who gives me such examples of correctness. What my jury may be, I know not; but it is good for a criminal to plead before a favorable judge - if I had said partial, would your lordship have forgiven me? or will you give me leave to acquaint the world that I have many times been obliged to your bounty since the Revolution? Though I never was reduced to beg a charity, nor ever had the impudence to ask one, either of your lordship, or your noble kinsman the Earl of Dorset, much less of any other; yet when I least expected it, you have both remembered me; so inherent it is in your family not to forget an old servant. It looks rather like ingratitude on my part, that, where I have been so often obliged, I have appeared so seldom to return my thanks, and where I was also so sure of being well received. Somewhat of laziness was in the case, and somewhat too of modesty, but nothing of disrespect or unthankfulness. I will not say that your lordship has encouraged me to this presumption, lest, if my labors meet with no success in public, I may expose your judgment to be censured. As for my own enemies, I shall never think them worth an answer; and, if your lordship has any, they will not dare to arraign you for want of knowlege in this art, till 238

DEDICATION OF THE Æneid.

they can produce somewhat better of their own than your * Essay on Poetry.' It was on this consideration that I have drawn out my preface to so great a length. Had I not addressed to a poet and a critic of the first magnitude, I had myself been taxed for want of judgment, and shamed my patron for want of understanding. But neither will you, my lord, so soon be tired as any other, because the discourse is on your art ; neither will the learned reader think it tedious, because it is 'ad Clerum.' At least, when he begins to be weary, the church-doors are open. That I may pursue the allegory with a short prayer after a long sermon

May you live happily and long, for the service of your country, the encouragement of good letters, and the ornament of poetry; which cannot be wished more earnestly by any man, than by

your Lordship’s most humble,

most obliged,

and most obedient servant,

JOHN DRYDEN.

Ε Ν Ε Ι D.

E I

BOOK I.

ARGUMENT.

The Trojans, after a seven years' voyage, set sail for Italy,

but are overtaken by a dreadful storm, which Æolus raises at Juno's request—The tempest sinks one, and scatters the rest-Neptune drives off the winds, and calms the seaÆneas, with his own ship and six more, arrives safe at an African port-Venus complains to Jupiter of her son's misfortunes-Jupiter comforts her, and sends Mercury to procure him a kind reception among the Carthaginians Æneas, going out to discover the country, meets his mother in the shape of a huntress, who conveys him in a cloud to Carthage, where he sees his friends whom he thought lost, and receives a kind entertainment from the queenDido, by a device of Venus, begins to have a passion for him, and, after some discourse with him, desires the history of his adventures since the siege of Troy, which is the subject of the two following books.

ARMs and the man I sing, who, forced by Fate,
And haughty Juno's unrelenting hate,
Expell’d and exiled, left the Trojan shore.
Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore,
And in the doubtful war, before he won
The Latian realm, and built the destined town;
His banish'd gods restored to rites divine,
And settled sure succession in his line,

5

« PredošláPokračovať »