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down by Clement Marot. If you will say, that the song of the soldiers might be only the rude beginning of this kind of poem, and so consequently imperfect, neither Heinsius nor I can be of that opinion; and so I conclude, that we know nothing of the matter.
But, Sir, I ask your pardon for all this buffoonery, which I could not address to any one so well as to you, since I have found by experience, you most easily forgive my impertinencies. 'Tis only to show you that I am mindful of you at all times, that I write at all times; and as nothing I can say can be worth your reading, so I may as well throw out what comes uppermost, as study to be dull. I am, etc.
FROM MR. CROMWELL.
. : July 15, 1710. At last I have prevailed over a lazy humour to transcribe this elegy: I have changed the situation of some of the Latin verses, and made some interpolations, but I hope they are not absurd, and foreign to my author's sense and manner : but they are referred to your censure, as a debt: whom I esteem no less a critic than a poet : I expect to be treated with the same rigour as I have practised to Mr. Dryden and you.
Hanc veniam petimusque damusque vicissim.
I desire the favour of your opinion why Priam, in his speech to Pyrrhus in the second Æneid, says this to him,
At non ille, satum quo te mentiris, Achilles. He would intimate (I fancy by Pyrrhus's answer) only his degeneracy: but then these following lines of the version (I suppose from Homer's history) seem absurd in the mouth of Priam, viz.
He cheer'd my sorrows, and for sums of gold
July 20, 1710. I give you thanks for the version you sent me of Ovid's elegy. It is very much an image of that author's writing, who has an agreeableness that charms us without correctness, like a mistress, whose faults we see, but love her with them all. You have very judiciously altered his method in some places, and I can find nothing which I dare insist upon as an error: what I have written in the margins being merely guesses at a little improvement, rather than criticisms. I assure you I do not expect you should subscribe to my private notions, but when you shall judge them agreeable to reason and good sense. What I have done is not as a critic, but as a friend ; I know too well how many qualities are requisite to
make the one, and that I want almost all I can reckon up; but I am sure I do not want inclination, nor, I hope, capacity, to be the other. Nor shall I take it at all amiss, that another dissents from my opinion : 'tis no more than I have often done from my own; and indeed, the more a man advances in understanding, he becomes the more every day a critic upon himself, and finds something or other still to blame in his former notions and opinions. I could be glad to know if you have translated the 11th elegy of lib. ii. Ad amicam navigantem. The 8th of book iii. or the 11th of book iii. which are above all others my particular favourites, especially the last of these.
As to the passage of which you ask my opinion in the second Æneid, it is either so plain as to require no solution; or else (which is very probable) you see farther into it than I can. Priam would say, that “Achilles (whom surely you only feign to be your father, since your actions are so different from his) did not use me thus inhumanly. He blushed at his murder of Hector, when he saw my sorrows for him ; and restored his dead body to me to be buried.” To this the answer of Pyrrhus seems to be agreeable enough. “Go then to the shades, and tell Achilles how I degenerate from him :" granting the truth of what Priam had said of the difference between them. Indeed Mr. Dryden's mentioning here what Virgil more judiciously passes in silence, the circumstance of Achilles's selling for money the body of Hector, seems not so proper; it in some measure lessening the character of Achilles's generosity and piety, which is the very point of which Priam endeavours in this place to convince his son, and to reproach him with the want of. But the truth of this circumstance is no way to be questioned, being expressly taken from Homer, who represents Achilles weeping for Priam, yet receiving the gold, Iliad xxiv. For when he gives the body, he uses these words : “O my friend Patroclus ! forgive me that I quit the corpse of him who killed thee; I have great gifts in ransom for it, which I will bestow upon thy funeral.”
* This behaviour of Achilles could not escape an acute critic, but one too fond of carping at the ancients. “ Forgive me (says Achilles), my dear Patroclus, for restoring the body of Hector to
I am, etc.
FROM MR. CROMWELL
Aug. 5, 1710. Looking among some French rhymes, I was agreeably surprised to find in the Rondeau of Pour le moins*—your Apoticaire and Lavement, which I took for your own; so much is your Muse of intelligence with the wits of all languages. You have re
his father; car (on s'attend qu'il va dire) je n'ai på resister aux larmes de ce pere infortuné; mais non: for he has brought me a great ransom. Such passages prove that true heroism was never so little known, as in the times called heroic." Marmontel. Poetique, t. ii. p. 197.
The plain answer is, that Achilles speaks and behaves suitably to the manners, ideas, and sentiments of his age.
• In Voiture's Poems. P.
fined upon Voiture®, whose Où vous savez is much inferior to your You know where—You do not only pay your club with your author (as our friend says) but the whole reckoning ; who can form such pretty lines from so trivial a hint.
For my Elegy®; it is confessed, that the topography of Sulmo in the Latin makes but an awkward figure in the version. Your couplet of the dog-star is very fine, but may be too sublime in this place. I laughed heartily at your note upon paradise; for to make Ovid talk of the garden of Eden, is certainly most absurd ; but Xenophon in his Economics, speaking of a garden finely planted and watered (as is here described) calls it Paradisos : 'tis an interpolation indeed, and serves for a gradation to the celestial orb; which expresses in some sort the Sidus Castoris in parte cæli—How trees can enjoy, let the naturalist determine ; but the poets make them sensitive”, lovers, batchelors, and married. Virgil in his Georgics, lib. ii. Horace Ode xv. lib. ii. Platanus cælebs evincet ulmos. Epod. ii. Ergo aut adulta vitium propagine Altas maritat populos. Your critique is a very Dolcepiccante ; for after the many faults you justly find, you smooth your rigour : but an obliging thing is owing (you think) to one who so much esteems and admires you, and who shall ever be
In which passage there is as little decency as gallantry. • Ovid's Amorum, 1. ii. el. xvi. Pars me Sulmo, etc. P...
· As Dr. Darwin has so successfully done in a poem that abounds in beautiful descriptions, and interesting digressions and allusions to ancient mythology.