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AULUS PERSIUS FLACCUS,
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH VERSE.
WILLIAM GIFFORD, ESQ.
NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS,
THE LATIN TEXT.
PRINTED BY W. BULMER AND W. NICOL,
Ill health having driven me for two or three successive seasons to the Isle of Wight, I amused myself, in that sequestered spot, with a pocket Persius ; and, when the
progress of recovery
ad. mitted of severer application, with turning favourite passages of him, into English verse. In this, I had no farther end than beguiling the sense of pain, and wearing away a few hours innocently and happily. By degrees the work grew on my hands and I had nearly gone through the whole, before I was conscious to myself of the bulk of my
labours. At that time I entertained no thoughts of printing what was thus produced ; although the republication of Juvenal presented an opportunity of subjoining it to that work: I continued however to fill up and correct the translation, at leisure ; and now, when a third edition of Juvenal is about to appear, I have determined (with the approbation of my friends) to submit it to the publick.
It cannot, I think, be affirmed, that a new translation of Persius is much wanted : we are already possessed of several ; of various degrees of merit, indeed, but all exhibiting strong claims on the publick favour. Brewster is familiar to every scholar. I had not looked into him since I left Exeter College ; but the impression he then made on my mind was very powerful, and certainly of the most pleasing kind. I thought him, indeed, paraphrastick, unnecessarily minute in many unimportant passages, somewhat too familiar for his author, and occasionally ungraceful in his repetition of trivial words and phrases ; but the general spirit, accuracy, and freedom of his version commanded my highest admiration, -which a recent perusal has not contributed, in any perceptible degree, to diminish. Dryden, of whom I should have spoken first, is beyond my praise. The majestical flow of his verse, the energy and beauty of particular pas. sages, and the admirable purity and simplicity which pervade much of his language, place him above the hope of rivalry, and are better calculated to generate despair than to excite emulation.
But Dryden is sometimes negligent and sometimes unfaithful: he wanders with licentious foot, careless alike of his author, and his reader; and seems to make a wanton sacrifice of his own learning. It is impossible to read a page of his translation, without perceiving that he was intimately acquainted with the original; and yet every page betrays a disregard of its sense. By nature Dryden was eminently gifted for a translator of Persius ; he had much of his austerity of manner, and his closeness of reasoning -yet, by some unaccountable obliquity, he has missed those characteristick qualities so habitual to