Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

in his air, habit, and manner, 'tis a disguise, and not translation. But as to the Psalm, I think David is much more beholden to the translator than Ovid; and as he treated the Roman like a Jew, so he has made the Jew speak like a Roman.

Your, etc.

LETTER XXV.

FROM MR. CROMWELL.

Dec. 5, 1710. The same judgment we made on Rowe's ixth of Lucan will serve for his part of the vith, where I find this memorable line,

[ocr errors]

Parque novum Fortuna videt concurrere, bellum
Atque virum.

For this he employs six verses, among which is this,

As if on Knightly terms in lists they ran. Pray can you trace chivalry? up higher than Pharamond? will you allow it an anachronism ?-Tickle in his version of the Phænix from Claudian,

When nature ceases, thou shalt still remain,
Nor second Chaos bound thy endless train.

? Nothing surely can be so totally abhorrent from all the ideas of antiquity as chivalry, the rise and genius of which are no where so amply and accurately investigated as by that curious antiquary M. De la Curne de Sainte-Palaye, in a Memoir first published in the 20th volume of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres, and afterward enlarged and published in two volumes at Paris, 1759.

Claudian thus,

Et clades te nulla rapit, solusque superstes,

Edomita tellure, manes. which plainly refers to the deluge of Deucalion, and the conflagration of Phaeton ; not to the final dissolution. Your thought of the priests lottery is very fine : you play the wit, and not the critic, upon the errors of your brother.

Your observations are all very just: Virgil is eminent for adjusting his diction to his sentiments; and among the moderns, I find you practise the Prosodia of your rules. Your poem shews you to be, what you say of Voiturewith books well bred: the state of the fair, though satirical, is touched with that delicacy and gallantry, that not the court of Augustus, not-But hold, I shall lose what I lately recovered, your opinion of my sincerity: yet I must say, 'tis as faultless as the fair to whom it is addressed, be she never so perfect. The M.G. (who, it seems, had no right notion of you, as you of him) transcribed it by lucubration : From some discourse of yours, he thought your inclination led you to (what the men of fashion call learning) pedantry; but now, he says, he has no less, I assure you, than a veneration for

Your, etc.

[ocr errors]

LSSure

a ven

To a Lady, with the Works of Voiture. P.

VOL. VII.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

се

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"LETTER XXVI.

December 17, 1710. It seems that my late mention of Crashaw, and my quotation from him, has moved your curiosity. I therefore send you the whole Author, who has held a place among my other books of this nature for some years; in which time having read him twice or thrice, I find him one of those whose works may just deserve reading. I take this poet to have writ like a gentleman, that is, at leisure hours, and more to keep out of idleness, than to establish a reputation; so that nothing regular or just can be expected from him. All that regards design, form, fable, (which is the soul of poetry,) all that concerns exactness, or consent of parts, (which is the body,) will probably be wanting;, only pretty conceptions, fine metaphors, glittering expressions, and something of a neat cast of verse, (which are properly the dress, gems, or loose ornaments of poetry,) may be found in these verses. This is indeed the case of most other poetical writers of miscellanies ; nor can it well be otherwise, since no man can be a true poet, who writes for diversion only. These authors should be considered as versifiers, and witty men, rather than as poets; and under this head will only fall the thoughts, the expression, and the numbers. These are only the pleasing part of poetry, which may be judged of at a view, and comprehend all at once. And (to express myself like a painter) their colouring enter

tains the sight, but the lines and life of the picture are not to be inspected too narrowly.

This Author formed himself upon Petrarch, or rather upon Marino'. His thoughts, one may observe, in the main, are pretty ; but oftentimes far fetched, and too often strained and stiffened to make them appear the greater. For men are never so apt to think a thing great, as when it is odd or wonderful; and inconsiderate authors would rather be admired than understood. This ambition of surprizing a reader, is the true natural cause of all fustian, or bombast in poetry. To confirm what I have said, you need but look into his first poem of the Weeper where the 2d, 4th, 6th, 14th, 21st stanzas are as sublimely dull, as the 7th, 8th, 9th, 16th, 17th, 20th, and 23d stanzas of the same copy, are soft and pleasing: and if these last want any thing, it is an easier and more unaffected expression. The remaining thoughts in that poem might have been spared, being either but repetitions, or very trivial and mean. And by this example in the first one may guess at all the rest; to be like this, a mixture of tender gentle

Crashaw was so fond of Marino, a writer of fine imagination but little judgment, as to translate the whole first book of his Strage de gli Innocenti (published 1633), which Marino himself preferred to his Il Adone, and to which Milton was indebted for many hints, which, however, he greatly improved. See particu. larly Stanza 7, and several succeeding Stanzas in Crashaw, p. 35, for a description of Satan. Milton, in his Mansus, celebrates the Adonis : the Strage was not then published. It was first printed in France, and Chapelain prefixed a learned preface to it. There was a translation of all the four books of the Slaughter of the Innocents, published 1675, by T, R. and dedicated to the Dutchess of York.

thoughts and suitable expressions, of forced and inextricable conceits, and of needless fillers-up to the rest. From all which it is plain, this author writ fast, and set down what came uppermost. A reader may skim off the froth, and use the clear underneath ; but if he goes too deep, will meet with a mouthful of dregs ; either the top or bottom of him are good for little, but what he did in his own, natural, middleway, is best.

To speak of his numbers, is a little difficult, they are so various and irregular, and mostly Pindaric; ’tis evident his heroic verse (the best example of which is his Music's duel) is carelessly made up; but one may imagine from what it now is, that had he taken more care, it had been musical and pleasing enough, not extremely majestic, but sweet; and the time considered of his writing, he was (even as uncorrect as he is) none of the worst versificators.

I will just observe, that the best pieces? of this

[ocr errors]

"To these might be added some other pieces of Crashaw that deserved his praise; particularly a translation from Moschus, and another from Catullus. His 23d Psalm is not equal to that of Sandys', whose Psalms deserve much more attention than they meet with. Roscommon has borrowed many lines from the Dies Iræ of Crashaw, particularly Stanza 17,

“ My God, my Father, and my Friend,

Do not forsake me in my end !"
Crashaw gives it thus, page 194 of his Poems, 1670,

“ My Hope, my Fear, my Judge, my Friend,

Take charge of me and of my end !" Pope has taken many expressions and lines from this author, who having been a convert to popery, we may imagine was recommended to our author in his younger years. It is in his

« EdellinenJatka »