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fufpended his powers of application for feveral months, he published his complete verfion in two quarto volumes, on the first of July, 1791; having infcribed the Iliad to his young noble kinfman, Earl Cowper; and the Odyffey to the Dowager Countess Spencer; a lady, for whose virtues he had long entertained a moft cordial and affectionate veneration.
The accomplished tranflator had exerted no common powers of genius and of induftry to fatisfy both himself and the world; yet, in his first edition of this long-laboured work, he afforded complete fatisfaction to neither, and I believe for this reafon-Homer is fo exquifitely beautiful in his own language, and he has been fo long an idol in every literary mind, that any copy of him, which the best of modern Poets can execute, must probably resemble in its effect the portrait of a graceful woman, painted by an excellent artist for her lover :-The lover, indeed, will acknowledge great merit in the work, and think himself much indebted to the skill of fuch an artift, but he will' never acknowledge, as in truth he never can feel, that the best of refemblances exhibits all the grace that he difcerns in the beloved original.
So fares it with the admirers of Homer; his very tranflators themfelves feel fo perfectly the power of this predominant affection, that they gradually grow difcontented with their own labour, however approved in the moment of its fuppofed completion. This was fo remarkably the cafe with Cowper, that in procefs of time we fhall fee him employed upon what may almost be called his fecond Translation; fo great were the alterations he made in a deliberate revifal of his work for a fecond edition. And in the Preface which he prepared for that edition, he has spoken of his own labour with the most frank and ingenuous veracity. Yet of the first edition it may, I think, be fairly faid, that it accomplished more than any of his poetical predeceffors had achiev
ed before him. It made the nearest approach to that fweet majestic fimplicity which forms one of the most attractive features in the great prince and father of Poets.
Cowper, in reading Pope's Homer to Lady Auften and Mrs. Unwin, had frequently expreffed a wish, and an expectation of seeing the fimplicity of the ancient Bard more faithfully preferved in a new English version. Lady Auften, with a kind severity, reproved him for expecting from others what he, of all men living, was best qualified to accomplish himself; and her folicitations on the fubject excited him to the arduous undertaking; though it seems not to have been actually begun till after her departure from Olney.
If he was not at first completely fuccessful in this long and mighty work, the continual and voluntary ap plication with which he pursued it, was to himself a bleffing of the utmost importance.
In thofe admirable admonitions to men of a poetical temperament, with which Dr. Currie has closed his inftructive and pleafing "Life of Burns," that accomplished Physician has juftly pointed to a regular and constant Occupation, as the true remedy for an inordinate fenfibility, which may prove fo perilous an enemy to the peace and happiness of a Poet. His remark appears to be particularly verified in the striking, and I may say, medicinal influence which a daily attachment of his thoughts to Homer produced, for a long time, on the tender fpirits of my friend; an influence fufficiently proved by his frequent declarations, that he should be forry to find himself at the end of his labour.-The work was certainly beneficial to his health; it contribut ed a little to his fortune; and ultimately, I am perfuaded, it will redound to his fame in a much higher degree than it has hitherto done. Time will probably prove, that if it is not a perfect reprefentation of Homer, it is at least such a copy of the matchlefs original, as no
modern writer can furpass in the two effential articles of fidelity and freedom.
I must not omit to obferve one more advantage which Cowper derived from this extenfive labour, for it is an advantage which reflects great honour on his fenfibility as a man. I mean a constant flow of affectionate pleafure, that he felt in the many kind offices which he received from feveral friends in the courfe of this laborious occupation.
I cannot more clearly illuftrate his feelings on this fubject, than by introducing a paffage from one of his letters to his moft affiduous and affectionate amanuenfis, his young kinfman of Norfolk !-It breathes all the tender moral spirit of Cowper, and fhall, therefore, close the fecond divifion of my work.
WESTON, June 1, 1791.
MY DEAREST JOHNNY,
NOW you may reft-Now I can give you joy of the period, of which I gave you hope in my last ; the period of all your labours in my fervice.-But this I can foretel you also, that if you persevere in serving your friends at this rate, your life is likely to be a life of labour-Yet perfevere! your reft will be the sweeter hereafter. In the mean time I with you, if at any time you should find occafion for him, just such a friend as you have proved to me. W. C.