« PredošláPokračovať »
FROM THE BRITISH CRITICK.
Latin and Italian Poems of Milton, translated into English verse; and a Fragment of a Commentary on Paradise Lost. By the Late William Cowper, Esq. With a Preface by the Editor; and Notes of Various Authors. Quarto, 355 pp. 21. 2s. London. 1808.
WE have not often been more gra- ment to his friends; the tender gratitified by a publication than by this tude to a worthy preceptor; the truly present. The union of such poets as filial piety and attachment to Milton and Cowper, congenial souls, good father; and lastly, the high at least in genius and piety, * two of sentiments of honour, propriety, the highest claims to admiration, virtue, and religion, which every cannot fail to gratify those whom where pervade these very juvenile their separate works have often filled poems, give, altogether, so very with the warmest sensations of de- singular a picture of native excel. light. The Latin poems of Milton, lence, that, much as we differ from the first fruits of his genius, the ma- his biographerSymonds, in many nifest and very extraordinary promise points of speculation, we are led irreof his future eminence, have always sistibly to his opinion; that, in every drawn us to them by the strongest subsequent part of life, Milton's intenpower of attraction. The rich and tions, at least, were upright; though native abundance of poetical imagery circumstances led him into efforts every where adorning them, and which we disapprove, and situations poured forth in a language, which, in which we grieve to see him. That though generally classical, seems to the beautiful sentiments contained in flow from the writer with such ease, these poems should be conveyed to that the style is truly his own, and every English reader, in the graceful appears to be the best and readiest and appropriate language of Cowper, expression of his thoughts; all this, is fortunate for the extension of Milproceeding, in many instances, from ton's fame. The wonderful promise a youth not yet of age, must surely of his youth could never be adequate. demand the highest admiration. But, ly known by other means; and the when we add to the consideration, versions of Cowper have certainly, that, in these qualities, he neither had with great exactness, more grace
and a model in his own country, nor has originality of manner, than are usual yet had a rival; that in Italian also, to be found in any translations. He he was able to express himself with undertook the task with an enthuelegance and force ; and that, instead siasm which never seems to have of being drawn aside by these facili- abated in his progress through it. ties, the same man was afterwards Having thus expressed our geneenabled to exalt his native language ral sentiments upon the subject of in the highest summit of poetical dig- this publication, we proceed to the nity and expression, we cannot possi- pleasing task of selecting a few specibly moderate our wonder in contem- mens from it. We begin with the no plating such extraordinary powers. less elegant than affectionate epistle,
Yet, while we wonder at the talents written by Milton in his 18th year, of the poet, we are equally called up. to his beloved preceptor, Thomas ()"? to admire the qualities of the man. Young, who was then chaplain to the The generous and affectionate attach- English factory at Hamburgh. This
was in 1626. We shall begin our * We speak only of the warmth of reli- quotations from the Latin lines: gious feeling belonging to both, without “Ille quidem est animæ plus quam par adverting to any peculiar opinions in ei.
altera nostra, ther.
Dimidio vitæ vivere coger ego,” &c.
“My friend, and favourite inmate of my readers, the translator has dropped or
heart, That now is forced to want its better part! changed. Thus, in rendering What mountains now, and seas, alas ! how
“ Charior ille mihi quam tu, doctissime wide!
Graium, From me this other, dearer self divide,
Cliniadi, pronepos qui Telamonis erat," Dear, as the sage renowned for moral truth he omits the descent from Telamon; To the prime spirit of the Attick youth! and in the two next, instead of a mere Dear, as the Stagyrite to Ammon's son,
allusion to the mythological birth of His pupil, who disdained the world, he won!
Alexander, he has ventured to introNor so did Chiron, or so Phenix shine
duce the characteristick circumstance In young Achilles' eyes, as he in mine. First led by him through sweet Aonian of his “ disdaining the world he won," shade,
which is not in the original. This is Each sacred haunt of Pindus I surveyed,
a liberty which should be sparingly And favoured by the muse, wbom l'im
taken, and Cowper has not often atplored, Thrice on my lip the hallowed stream I
tempted it; but here we are not inpoured.
clined to object to it. As we shall But thrice the sun's resplendent chariot have occasion to notice some of Milrolled
ton's love verses, we will quote also, To Aries, has new tinged his fleece with
the opening of his seventh elegy, gold, And Chloris twice has dressed the mea.
written at the age of 19, in which he
records the first triumph of the tenAnd twice has summer parched their der passion over his heart. It is at bloom away,
once characteristick of the unwillingSince last delighted on his looks I hung, ness with which his mind yielded to Or my ear drank the musick of his tongue:
any dominion, and we believe the Fly therefore,* and surpass the tempest's
most perfect imitation of the best speed, Aware thyself that there is urgent need!
classical model that now exists. It Him, entering, thou shalt haply seated see begins: Beside his spouse, his infants on his knee; “Nondum blanda tuas leges, Amathusia, Or turning, page by page, with studious nôram, look,
Et Paphio vacuum pectus ab igne fuit, Some bulky father, or God's holy book;
&c. Or ministring (which is his weightiest
It may be objected, indeed, that care)
it is built too entirely upon the heaTo Christ's assembled flock, their heavenly fare.
then ideas of Venus and Cupid, but Give him, whatever his employment be, what could a classical lover of nineSuch gratulation, as he claims from me." teen do without them? Cowper has
thus given it. The affectionate style of this ad
“ As yet a stranger to the gentle fires dress is highly pleasing, and credita. That Amathusia's smiling queen inspires, ble to the feelings of the young poet,
Not seldom I derided Cupid's darts, whose reference to his poetical stu
And scorned his claim to rule all human
hearts: dies is natural, and is made the more
Go, child, I said, transfix the timorous interesting by our knowledge of
dove! his subsequent eminence. In transla
An easy conquest suits an infant love; ting these lines, Cowper has taken
Enslave the sparrow, for such prize shall be one or two liberties, creditable, we Sufficient triumph to a chief like thee! think, to his judgment. Milton's La. Why aim thy idle arms at human kind? tin lines, in the full spirit of classical Thy shafts prevail not ’gainst the noble
mind. style, abound with historical and my
The Cyprian heard, and kindling into ire, thological allusions. Some of these, (None kindles sooner) burned with double as not equally grateful to English fire.
It was the spring, and newly risen day * Addressed to the letter itself, as com. Peeped o’er the hamlets, on the first of mon with classical writers.
My eyes too tender for the blaze of light, Nought, save the riches that from airy
I have, by golden Clio's gift, acquired.” Th’ insidious god his rattling darts be
p. 59. trayed;
The youth that feels towards a faNor less his infant features, and the sly,
ther, what Milton expresses here, Sweet intimations of his threatening eye. and throughout this pleasing poem,
ought to be acquitted of all harsh Here the two poets again seem to suspicions against his disposition. On contend for mastery, and it is difficult the poem to Manso, and the beautiful to say which obtains it. The two last Epitaphium Damonis, could lines are beautiful in Cowper, and dwell with renewed delight; but we though not quite literal, are sufficient. hasten to other objects. ly warranted by the original; yet
The Italian poems of Milton have Milton's lines have still beauties of been hitherto less known than all the their own:
rest, partly from the imperfect hold Prodidit et facies, et dulce minantis which that elegant language has geocelli,
nerally had upon the English taste: Et quicquid puero dignum et Amore fuit.” but they are full of beauties, and of
Perhaps the use of dulce is not 'beauties worthy of Milton. They also quite warranted here. It is generally exhibit Milton in love, but always adverbial; but it might easily be al- like himself, dignified, moral, and tered. The verses against the suppo- pious; and rather surprised to find sed decay of nature are magnificently himself so caught. fine, and well rendered by the trans- “Charles, and I say it wondering, thou lator. But we hasten to our last spe. must know, cimen from the Latin poems, which
That I, who once assumed a scornful
air, must be taken from the affectionate
And scoffed at love, am fallen his lines addressed to the author's father,
snare, as peculiarly honourable to his feel
Full many an upright man has fallen ings. They are thus rendered in blank
The truth is, that like all men of “Oh that Pieria's spring would thro' my inclined to all the virtuous effects of
active imagination, Milton was much heart Pour its inspiring influence, and rush the tender passion; though his geneNo rill, but rather an o’erflowing flood ! ral loftiness of mind prevented him That, for my venerable father's sake,
from owning the fact to himself His All meaner themes renounced, my muse,
excuse for writing in Italian on this on wings
occasion, is beautifully given in this Of duty born, might reach a loftier strain.
Canzone. For thee, my father, howsoe'er it please, She frames this slender work, nor know I “ They mock my toil—the nymphs and ought
amorous swains, That may thy gifts more suitably requite ; “And whence this fond attempt to write,' 'Though to requite them suitably would
they cry, ask
'Love songs in language that thou Returns much nobler, and surpassing far
little knowest? The meagre stores of verbal gratitude: How darest thou risk to sing those foreign But, such as I possess, I send thee all.
strains ? This gage presents thee, in their full
Say truly. Findest not oft thy purpose amount,
crossed, With thy son's treasures, and the sum is And that thy fairest flowers, here fade nought;
Then, with pretence of admiration high * So early did the poet's eyes give 'Thee other shores expect, and other symptoms of the calamity which after
tides, wards befel him. Rer.
Rivers on whose grassy sides
lights !! »
Her deathless laurel leaf, with which to materials of such value, we can only bind,
select a specimen, we cannot, perhaps, Thy flowing locks, already Fame pro- give one more striking than the fol
vides; Why then this burden, better fur declined? lowing admirable note on Book i. l.
26. Speak, muse! for me. The fair one said, who guides
“ And justify the ways of God to man. My willing heart, and all my fancy's flights, Justify them by evincing, that when This is the language in which Love de- man, by transgression, incurred the for
feiture of his blessings, and the displea.' But the following sonnel, which is
sure of God, himself only was to blame.
God created him for happiness, made him surely one of the finest compositions completely happy, furnished him with of its kind, and is rendered by Cow- sufficient means of security, and gave him per, in a manner truly worthy of explicit notice of his danger. What could Milton, and capable of delighting the be more, unless he had compelled his
obedience? which would have been at once great poet himself, cannot be omitted. The original begins“Giovane piano."
to reduce him from the glorious condition
of a free agent to that of an animal. The translation is this, and, perhaps, “ There is a solemnity of sentiment, as a more excellent translation was never well as majesty of numbers, in the exormade.
dium of this noble poem, which, in the SONNET.
works of the ancients, has no example. “Enamoured, artless, young, on foreign
“ The sublimest of all subjects was reground,
served for Milton, and bringing to the Uncertain whither from myself to fly,
contemplation of that subject, not only : To thee, dear lady, with a humble genius equal to the best of theirs, but it sigh,
lieart also, deeply impregnated with the Let me devote my heart; which I have
divine truths which lay before him, it is found,
no wonder that he has produced a compoBy certain proofs not few, intrepid, sound, sition, on the whole, superiour to any that Good, and addicted to conceptions high.
we have received from former ages. But When tempests shake the world, and
he who addresses himself to the perusal fire the sky,
of this work, with a mind entirely unacIt rests in adamant self-wrapt around;
customed to serious and spiritual contemAs safe from envy, and from outrage rude, plation, unacquainted with the word of From hopes and fears, that yulyar minds
God, or prejudiced against it, is ill qualiabuse,
fied to appreciate the value of a poem As fond of genius, and fixed fortitude,
built upon it, or to taste its beauties.Of the resounding lyre, and every muse.
Milton is the poet of Christians. An infided Weak will find it in one only part,
may have an ear for the harmony of his you Now pierced by love's immedicable dart.” numbers; may be aware of the dignity of
his expressions; and in some degree of the When we come to the notes writ
sublimity of his conceptions; but the uni
affected and masculine piety, which was ten by Cowper, upon the three first
his true inspirer, and is the very soul of books of Paradise Lost, we deeply his poem, he will either not perceive, or regret that he was prevented, by sor- it will offend him. row or malady, from pursuing a task “ We cannot read this exordium withfor which he was so eminently fitted.
out perceiving that the author possesses His remarks on the language and
more fire than he shows. There is a sup. versification of his author, are of high flis judgment controls his genius, and
pressed force in it, the effect of judgment. value; but his sentiments on the in- his genius reminds us (to use his own ventions, the contrivance, and, above beautiful similitude) of all, the religious feelings of Milton,
A proud steed reined are inestimable. Cowper justifies, lle addresses himself to the performance
Champing his iron curb. most solidly, the fiction of Pandemo.
of great things, but he makes no great nium, and the very unjustly censured exertion in doing it; a sure symptom of allegory of Sin and Death; with the uncommon vigour.” p. 189. fine apostrophes where the poet Thus it is that one poet comments speaks in his own person. As among upon another; and we will not scru
ple to say, that there is more of valu- advantage will be derived from it. able observation in the few notes, The outline sketches by Flaxman, which Cowper produced on the be- though elegant, are hardly sufficient ginning of this poem, than in ten to raise the book to the price fixed times the mass of ordinary annota- upon it; but this must be excused, in ions.
consideration of the application of the As to the part of Mr. Hayley in profits. The typography is handsome, this work, it is modest and proper. but very far from correct. Whether Some good notes he has written, and the fault is to be imputed to the Chiothers collected, upon the poems chester printer, or to some little faihere translated; and we suspect, lure of sight in the editor, we know though we do not perceive it to be too well how difficult it is to avoid said, that the translation of the com- press errours, to speak very harshly plimentary poems, addressed to Mil- of them. Altogether, the work is such ton, was his work. The volume is 'as to give abundant gratification to printed for the benefit of a godchild the admirers of Milton, Cowper, and of Cowper, as before announced, and poetry, whether Latin, English, or
cannot doubt that considerable Italian.
FROM THE MONTHLY REVIEW.
A Cursory View of Prussia, from the Death of Frederick II. to the Peace of Tilsit.
Containing an authentick account of the Battles of Jena, Auerstadt, Eylau, and Friedland; as also, other important Events during that interesting Period. In a Series of Letters, from a Gentleman in Berlin to his Friend in London. 8vo.
176. 58. sewed. 1809.
THE history of Prussia, compared welfare of his subjects. One delusion with that of the other states of Eu-' led the way to another; and his unrope, bears some resemblance to the derstanding being affected by the history of Thebes, when considered consequences of excess, as well as of in relation to the other states of remorse, he was so far forsaken by Greece. Each may be said to have his reason as to become a believer in risen and fallen with one man. The- the absurd doctrine of apparitions, bes with Epaminondas, and Prussia and to delegate unlimited authority with Frederick II. Neither country to a hypocrite of the sect of Illumi. occupied a conspicuous rank in the nati. The ministers of Frederick II. political commonwealth before the consequently declined to occupy a age of its respective hero; and neither cabinet which they could not direct, continued long to maintain its eleva- and retired in 1792, six years after tion when its hero was no more. The the death of their patron. letters before us commenced in 1786, It was on this change that Austria when the death of Frederick II. took prevailed on Prussia to enter into the place, and his nephew, Frederick ireaty of Pilvitz, the object of which William II. ascended the throne; was to attack France, and to complete having at his command a well disci. the clismemberment of Poland. The plined army of two hundred thousand latter of these points was men, and a treasury of forty millions plished in 1793; and the Polish noof delars. He proved himself, how- bility were brought reluctantly to ever, altogether unworthy of such a Posen, to swear allegiance to their Succession ; since, though not des- conquerors. Nothing could be more titute of capacity, he permitted the impolitick, or less adapted to conlove of sensual pleasures to engross ciliate, than the subsequent conduct those hour's which he owed to the of the Prussian government towards