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We now have playde, Auguftus, wantonly, Tuning our song unto a tender Muse,
Ver. 1. We now have playde, &c.] Spenser should not have undertaken to translate the Culex. His version is in many places wrong, and in some senseless; nor is it any wonder; for the original is so corrupted, that no sense can be made of many lines in it, without having recourse to conjeure ; and, where it is not corrupted, it is often very intricate and obfcure. Scaliger has done much, in bis excellent notes, towards settling and illustrating it: but, after all, the commentary is better than the text; and we may say of Scaliger's Culex, what Scaliger said of Casaubon's Perhus : “ La fauce vaut mieux que le poisson." I know not how to believe that Virgil is the author of that poem, though Scaliger is fully persuaded of it.
JORTIN. Spenser's Culex is a vague and arbitrary paraphrase of a poem not properly belonging to Virgil. From the testimony of many early Latin writers it may be justly concluded, that Virgil wrote an elegant poem with this title. Nor is it improbable tbat, in the Culer at present attributed to Virgil, some very few of the original phrases, and even verses, may remain, under the accumulated incrustation of criticks, imita. tors, interpolators, and paraphrasts; which corrupts what it conceals. But the texture, the character, and substance, of the genuine poem is alınost entirely loft. T. WARTON.
Professor Heyne, in his edition of Virgil, has very ingeniously endeavoured to restore the violated beauty of this little poem; and has accordingly subjoined, to the Culer usually attributed to the bard of Mantua, “ Culex probabiliter restitutus, cum notatione interpolationum.” In the proemium to this poem, the learned critick makes this remark on Spenser's translation of it. “ Patrio sermone, octonis versibus in strophas coëuntibus, redditum est hoc carmen a Spensero, poëta nobili Britanno, in ejus Opp. Nec fine voluptate illud facile perlegas. Adeo niihi vel hoc exemplo patuit, quanto expeditius effet poëtam carmine vernaculo reddere, quam verba
And, like a cobweb weaving slenderly,
cuse This Gnats small Poëme, that th' whole hif
torie Isbut a iest, though envie it abufe: But who such sports and sweet delights doth
Shall lighter seeme then this Gnats idle name.
Hereafter, when as season more secure
subtiliter interpretari. Nihil enim vetabat fententias integras summatim efferre ejusve partes in quemcunque placeret fenfum deflectere, aut verba corrupta aptis et idoneis permutare." The Culer, I may add, is neatly translated, or rather copied, in “ Poems on several Occasions by a Young Gentleman, Lond. 1724.” 8vo. This Gentleman notices the translation of Spenser; but says that he can call his own poem neither paraphrase nor translation, having to the author's images now and then added fome of his own, &c. TODD.
Ver. 14. And ornament of great loves progenie,] What is that ? the most illustrious of all love's childreu ? That is the best sense that can be put upon it; but it is somewhat wide of the text:
“ Latonæ, magnique decus Jovis, aurea proles,
Phæbus, shall be the author of my song,
He shall inspire my verse with gentle mood
ye Sisters, which the glorie bee
green leaves dight.
Professing thee I lifted am aloft
strong.] That is, frung, having silver strings. Topp. Ver. 18.
woon] Dwell. See F. Q. i. vi. 39, ii. i. 51, &c. TODD. Ver. 23. And the sweete waves &c.] Perhaps, wave :
“ Castaliæque fonans liquido pede labitur unda :" But“ WAVES doth Nide,” is in Spenser's manner, JORTIN.
And thou, most dread Octavius, which oft
thou sacred childe, come sliding soft, And favour my beginnings graciously: For not these leaves do fing that dreadfull
stound, When Giants bloud did staine Phlegræan
Nor how th' halfe horsy people, Centaures
hight, Fought with the bloudie Lapithaes at bord; Nor how the East with tyranous defpight Burnt th’ Attick towres, and people flew with
sword ; Nor how mount Athos through exceeding
Nor Hellespont trampled with horfès feete, When flocking Persians did the Greeks affray: But my soft Muse, as for her power more
Ver. 46. Was digged downe,] Not digged down, but digged through. “ Nou perfofus Athos." JORTIN. Ibid.
abord] Across, from shore to shore, Fr, bord. TODD.