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Alternat mira arte fides: dum torquet acutas,
Explorat numeros, chordaque laborat in omni.
Mox silet. Ilia modis totidem respondet, et artetn
This poem was many years since imitated by Crashaw, out of whose verses the following are very remarkable:
From this to that, from that to this he flies,
I have (as I think I formerly told you) a very good opinion5 of Mr. Rowe's ixth book of Lucan: indeed he amplifies too much, as well as Breboeuf, the famous French imitator. If I remember right, he sometimes takes the whole comment into the text of the version, as particularly in line 808. Utque solet pariter totis se effundere signis Corycii pressura croci. —And in the place you quote, he makes of those two lines in the Latin,
4 Neither of these words is used by Horace or Virgil: reciprocat is to be found in Lucretius, Book iii. 1101, but in another sense.
'Rowe's translation of Lucan has certainly never met with the popularity and applause it deserved. It is one of the few translations that is better than its original. I venture to say the same of three more translations; namely, of Hampton's Polybius; of Pitt's Vida; and of Melmoth's Pliny. Brebceuf, says Vigneul. Marville, was Lucano Lucanior. Horace was the favourite of Brebreuf in his youth, as was Lucan of his friend M. Gautier. They disputed so frequently and so warmly on the preference due to each of their favourites, that they agreed to give these authors a very attentive reading. The consequence was, they became mutual converts; Breboauf became intoxicated with the love of Lucan, and Gautier of Horace. Melanges, v. i. p. 25.
These Melanges are, I perceive, become of late a popular book. Dr. Campbell, above fifty years ago, was the person who I remember first recommended them to me, and occasioned me to give several quotations from them. They have more learning than the Menagiana, or indeed than any of the numerous Ana, so much at present in vogue. Bayle was fond of them, frequently quotes them in his Dictionary, and in his Letters, 1699; where he was the first who informs us of the real name of the author, Dom. Bonaventure d' Argonne, Prior of the Carthusians of Gaillon.
Vidit quanta sub nocte jaceret
no less than eight in English.
What you observe, sure, cannot be an Error-Sphsericus strictly speaking, either according to the Ptolemaic, or our Copernican system; Tycho Brahe himself will be on the translator's side. For Mr. Rowe here says no more, than that he looked down on the rays of the sun, which Pompey might do, even though the body of the sun were above him.
You can't but have remarked what a journey Lucan here makes Cato take for the sake of his fine descriptions. From Gyrene he travels by land, for no better reason than this;
Heec eadem suadebat hiems, quse clauserat aequor.
The winter's effects on the sea, it seems, were more to be dreaded than all the serpents, whirlwinds, sands, etc. by land, which immediately after he paints out in his speech to the soldiers: then he fetches a compass a vast way round about, to the Nasamones and Jupiter Ammon's temple, purely to ridicule the oracles: and Labienus must pardon me, if I do not believe him when he says—sors obtulit, etfortuna vice—either Labienus, or the map, is very much mistaken here. Thence he returns back to the Syrtes (which he might have taken first in his way to Utica), and so to Leptis Minor, where our author leaves him; who seems to have made Cato speak his own mind, when he tells his army—Ire sat est— no matter whither. I am
FROM MR. CROMWELL.
Nov. 20, 1710.
The system of Tycho Brahe (were it true, as it is novel) could have no room here: Lucan, with the rest of the Latin poets, seems to follow Plato; whose order of the spheres is clear in Cicero, De natura Deorum, De somnio Scipionis, and in Macrobius. The seat of the Semidei manes is Platonic too, for Apuleius De deo Socratis assigns the same to the Genii, viz. the region of the Air for their intercourse with Gods and men; so that, I fancy, Rowe mistook the situation, and I can't be reconciled to Look down on the sun's rays. I am glad you agree with me about the latitude he takes; and wish you had told me if the sortilegi, and fatidici, could license his invective against priests; but, I suppose, you think them (with Helena) undeserving of your protection. I agree with you in Lucan's errors, and the cause of them, his poetic descriptions; for the Romans then knew the coast of Africa from Gyrene (to the southeast of which lies Ammon toward Egypt) to Leptis and Utica: but, pray, remember how your Homer nodded, while Ulysses slept, and waking knew not where he was, in the short passage from Corcyra to Ithaca. I like Trapp's versions6 for their justness; his Psalm is excellent, the prodigies in the first Georgic judicious (whence I conclude that 'tis easier to turn Virgil justly in blank verse, than rhyme). The eclogue of Gallus, and fable of Phaeton, pretty well; but he is very faulty in his numbers; the fate of Phaeton might run thus,
The blasted Phaeton with blazing hair,
I am Your, etc.
Nov. 24, 1710.
To make use of that freedom and familiarity of style, which we have taken up in our correspondence,
• Of all the parts of Trapp's translation of Virgil, that of his Georgics is most blamable and prosaic. The Author of the Prelections lost himself much in this translation of Virgil; yet many of his notes shew that he understood and felt his author: and his Prelections may be read with advantage by young scholars. His Latin translation of Milton was a woful performance.
and which is more properly talking upon paper, than writing; I will tell you without any preface, that I never took Tycho Brahe for one of the ancients, or in the least an acquaintance of Lucan's; nay, 'tis a mercy on this occasion that I do not give you an account of his life and conversation; as how he lived some years like an inchanted knight in a certain island, with a tale of a King of Denmark's mistress that shall be nameless—But I have compassion on you, and would not for the world you should stay any longer among the Genii and Semidei Manes, you know where; for if once you get so near the moon, Sappho will want your presence in the clouds and inferior regions; not to mention the great loss
Drury-lane will sustain, when Mr. C is in the
milky-way. These celestial thoughts put me in mind of the priests you mention, who are a sort of sortilegi in one sense, because in their lottery there are more blanks than prizes: the adventurers being at first in an uncertainty, whereas the setters-up are sure of something. Priests indeed in their character, as they represent God, are sacred: and so are constables, as they represent the King; but you will own a great many of them are very odd fellows, and the devil of any likeness in them. Yet I can assure you, I honour the good as much as I detest the bad, and I think, that in condemning these, we praise those. The translations from Ovid I have not so good an opinion of as you; because I think they have little of the main characteristic of this author, a graceful easiness. For let the sense be ever so exactly rendered, unless an author looks like himself,