Sivut kuvina
PDF

THE WORKS

OF

TIBULLUS

TRANSLATED FROM THE LATIN,

JAMES GRAINGER, M. D.

[ocr errors]

GRAINGER'S TIBULLUS.

TO JOHN BOURRYAU, Es^

When I first thought of prefixing your name to this translate n of ribullua, I found myself considerably embarrassed; an I would choose to avoid the strain of adulation, so common in addresses of thia kind, on the one hand, without ftrpprrffing the just fense I have of your rising merit, on the other. I shall not, however, I flatter mylelf, incur the imputation of the first, by declaring, even in this public manner, my satisfaction at the progress you have made in every branch of useful and polite literature . and thi« too, at a time of life,, when young men of fashion are generally engrossed by the idle amusemi nts of an age abounding in all the means <f dissipation.

Is yonr maturer years answer, as I am convinced they will, so favourable a dawn, I need not a moment to hesitate, to foretel the happiness of your friends, in an agreeable companion, and polite scholar . and of your country, in a principled and urfhak.cn patriot

It is with particular pleasure, Sir, that I dwell, though but in idea, on this part of your future character. The time is not far off, when you will have finished the plan of your education, by a survey of foreign countries: and as it will then, of course, be expected from one of your opulent and independent fortune, you will, I hope, devote the fruits of your industry to the service of the public:

Hunc precor, hunc utinam nobis Aurora nitentem

JLucilerum rofeis Candida portet cquis.

Tibull.

When yon become a member of the most august assembly of the nation, every wcllwifher to the community will exult to fee you unawed by

power, undazzled by richet, and unbiassed by faction : an impartial assertor of the just prerogatives of the crown, and the liberties of the people: equally a foe to corruption, and a friend to virtue.

Such, Sir, are the hopes which all your friends at present conceive of you! and as your talents, both natural and acquired, seem str nely to confirm these hopes, the more inexcusable you will prove, should they be hereafter disappointed.

In regard to the trai station, with which I here take the liberty to present you; I will not pretend to say, I set no value upon it. My offering it to you isa proof of the contrary,—Indeed, the chief merit it has with me, is, that it formerly pleased you. It served also, to make many of my hours pass agreeably, which otherwise would have been extremely irksome, amid the din of arms, and hurry of a camp life.

But while you peruse sibullus as a p et, let not his integrity, as a member of the commonwealth, be forgotten. In this light he merits your highest; regard i for though he justly obtained a distinguished rank among the great writer- of the Augustan age; yet ought it more especially to be remembered to his honour, that neither the frowm of a court, nor the distresses of fortune, could ever induce him to praise those powerful but wicked men, who had subverted the liberties of his country: and thi-, at a time, when the practice of the poets his cotemporarie- might have countenanced in him the most extravagant adulation. I am. Sir,

Your most obedient
humble set vant,

James Gsaihgek, tranquil scenes of the country: besides these, every motive conspiring to make him regard the fair sex as the chief ornaments of society, was it surprising that Tibullus, who abounds in sentiments of this kind, should soon become a favourite; and that what delighted him, he should at last be tempted to translate?

ADVERTISEMENT.

Thi following version ofTihullus was begun and ) Time and place influence us more in our opjcompleted several year- ago, when the author was | nions of, and relish for. particular writer!, than i« in the army. A militaiy man, even in the most ae- commonly imagined. Amid the horrors of war, tive campaign, has n-any houis of leisure . and as the translator could most readily sympathise with, these cannut be (pent more rationally than in some and best account sot, his. poet's aversion to a mililiterary pursuit, he employed that part of his tary life: ami while txpuied to all the hurry and time, which w as not devotsd to his ptotcffii/n, in > tumult of a camp, c. uld' not but talte with a pecup.ruling the classics, ] liar rcUsli all descriptions of the unruffled and

A pleasing employment is seldom neglected.— Those elegies which particularly touched him, were first rendered into Edglish; and as these make the greater part of Tibullus's poems, he was contented afterwards to complete the work, by finishing as a talk, what he begun as an amuse, meat.

A favourite author, on whom some labour has been employed, is not easily forgotten; the version, therefore, was retouched as often as opportunity served. All this while, indeed, the translator had no intention to make the public acquainted with his poetical amusements: he knew his poet too well, and admired him too much, to think he hid done him justice :—yet when Mr. Dart's translation of Tibullus was sent him, he was resolved to publish his own; that those who did not understand the original, might not form an idea of the most exact, elegant and harmonious of the Roman elegiac poets from the most inaccurate, harsh, and inelegant verses of the present century.

The translator hopes he will be acquitted of vanity, in presering his own performance to Mr. Dart's: indeed that gentlemen often misled the meaning of his author, while his poetry always escaped him. Neither does he appear to have been a competent judge of his own language : and from the little tenderness transfused into his verses, it may be concluded, that he was an utter stranger to that passion, which gave rile to most of the elegies of Tibullus.

What advantage the present translator may have over his predecessor in these respects, does not become him to determine: yet he is well apprised, that no translator, however qualified, can give Tibullus the genuine air of an Englishman.

It is true, that amorous elegy is less local than many other of the minor kinds of poetry, the passion of love operating pretty nearly the same upon the human mind in all ages. Yet as the modes of expressing that paslion differ much in different countries, so these modes must not be confounded: a Grecian ought to make love like a Grecian, and a Roman like a Roman.

Besides this, Tibullus abounds in images of rural theology.—He has even preserved some superstitious usages, which are to be met with in no other poet: but as these are also characteristical, and must be preserved in the version, who can hope to give a translation of Tibullus the easy air of a modern original I

Verbal translations are always inelegant, because always destitute of beauty of idiom and language; for by their fidelity to an author's words, they become treacherous to his reputation : on the other hand, a too wanton departure from the latter, often varies the sense, aud always alters the manner.

The translator chose the middle way, and meant neither to tread on the heels os Tibullus, nor yet to lose sight of him. He had not the sanity to think, he could improve on his pott: and though he has sometimes endeavoured to gift > more modern polish to his sentiments, he hai fe|. dom attempted to change them. To preserve the sense of his original was his first care; hii r.tr was, to clothe it in as elegant and becoming i dress as possible. Yet he must confess that he hii now and then taken the liberty to transpose, ard sometimes paraphrastically to enlarge the thot,ghi>. Where a sentiment was too much contracted by the closeness of the Latin idiom, to he unfolded in a correspondent expression in English ; cr from its peculiarity, might, in a modern language, fern fiat, he has endeavoured to inspirit it by collateral thoughts from other poets; and where its colour* were languid, to heighten them—with what success, the reader must determine.

The Hexameter and Pentameter is said to be peculiarly suited to plaintive subjects. The Er.;lifh have no stanza correspondent to that, but the alternate, which is supposed to possess a solemnity and kind of melancholy slow in numbers. This Mr. Hammond chose for his imitation of Tibullus; and it must be confessed, that he has happily succeeded. Vet, as in this stanza, the sense naturally ends at the fourth line, the translator thought he could not in general have adopted it, without violence to the original: he therefore preferred the heroic measure, which is not tetter suited to the lofty sound of the epic muse, than to the complaining tone of elegy. The reader, however, will find one or two elegies rendered is the alternace stanza, which is by no means lo difficult as the heroic.

As Tibullus wrote love poems like a R,— any translation of them without notes, would kw been extremely obscure to an English read;: most of his commentators are mere philologtis,': at best they have only displayed their eruption the history of a heathen god, or the topograpf! os a river. From this censure, however, Broekhusius, his Dutch editor, and Vulpiu?, his Itaiaa commentator, may in part be exempted; tkt; have indeed sometimes entered into the proprirtr of our poet's thoughts. Yet tven their chief acellcnce consists in arranging the text; in selecting the most approved readings; and in givief those passages, which they suppose sibullus either borrowed from his predecessors, or the modern* copied from him. The design of the translator u very different; he has commented on his author as a Roman poet, and as a Roman lover: and although he owns himself enamoured of his beauties, (as who can draw a pleasing resemblance of a face which disgusts him ?) he hopes he has not been blind to his imperfections. These, indeed, he ha touched upon with the tenderness of a friend, Mt the acrimony of a critic.

Yet as most of the commentators were consulted, the translator has taken from each of them, such notes, as he imagined would be most serviceable to an English reader, always ascribing then however to the author who furnished them. Thus, beside BroelthuCus and Vulpius, the name of Mr. Dart will sometimes be found at the bottom of an •bservation. Nor must'it be forgotten; that the translator has been obliged to that gentleman for tea or twelve lines in his version.

It has been judged necessary to print the Latin text along with the version: this the translator would willingly have declined, as his work can hope to find favour with those only, who understand not the original. Yet, when he considered, that the English press had afforded no one accurate edition of Tibullus: and that even the best of those printed abroad were not exempted from material errors; he surmounted his scruples, and has endeavoured to give a less exceptionable text of his poet, than any hitherto published *.

Before he concludes, the translator mud return his sincere thanks to a worthy friend, for his ele

gant version of the first elegy, and of Ovid's poem on the death of Tibullus. By what accident his own translation of the first elegy was lost, is of no consequence; especially too, as the reader, from a perusal of Mr. P'*"a specimen, will probably be induced to wish, that more of those now published, had undergone a like fate, provided the same gentleman had likewise translated them.

Nor is that the only good office which challenges his gratitude: the translator is particularly obliged to his friend, for having procured him the valuable acquaintance of another learned gentleman; who not only took the trouble to compare his version of the three last books with the original; but who also favoured him with some notes, which constitute the chief ornament of the second volume f. Thus, like the Britains of old, the translator has called in auxiliaries to conquer him.

Tie insertion of tie Latin ttxt, ii tlit edition, bat lien deemed unnecessary, "f Tlit translation was Jirji pullifl d in 2 volt. llmo.

THE LIFE OF TIBULLUS.

^Vx are not only unacquainted with the prsenomen of Tibullus, but with the year of his birth. The biographers, from a line * in the fifth elegy of bis third book, indeed informs us, that Ovid and he were born the day that Hirtius and Panfa were killed, viz. on the tenth of the calends of April, A. U. C. 710. This was the opinion of the learned for many centuries; nor was it controverted, till Joseph Scaliger first entertained some doubts of it; and Janus Dousa the younger, about a hundred and seventy years ago, was induced, by comparing what our poet had said of himself, with what Ovid and Horace have wrote concerning him, to reject that line at spurious, and to aÆert that Tibullus must have been born almost twenty years sooner. Although we think some considerable objections may be raised against Donza's opinion -f-, yet as the old account is liable to still greater, we shall venture with that critic, to inform the reader, that Albius Tibullus, the prince of elegiac poets, was born at Rome, A. U. C. 590, six years after the birth of Virgil, and one after that of Horace,

Tibullus might fay with his great admirer, Ovid,

. usque a proavis vetus ordinit hzres,

l»on modo militiz turbine factus eques}. being descended from an equestrian branch of the Albian family: and though some of the old biographers § assert, that his ancestors made a figure

* Nataleit noflri primum via'ere patentee i^jtum eta Jit fata cenful uteroue part.

■f Set tie argument! tn botb JtJei of tie quesAen in tie notei to tie fftl elegy of tie third Int.

1 Amor. lil. iii. el. 14,

} Crimtm, We,

in the forum and in the field, yet as history makes no mention of them, posterity would have been unacquainted with this branch of that illustrious house, had it not been for our poet.

As the ancient writers of Tibullus's life have favoured us with no particulars of his infancy, it it is probable it was distinguished by nothing remarkable. The human mind does not always blossom at the same period; and it by no means follows that his childhood must have flourished, whose maturer age has produced fair fruits of science. Perhaps too, details of early excellence are less useful than is commonly imagined, as they often dispirit those who would otherwise in due time have expanded into an extensive reputation.

But if such accounts arc less useful, it would have been no unprofitable gratification of curiosity to have known by what plan his studies were conducted, and who were his preceptors. Antiquity, however, having left us in the dark with regard to these matters, we can only suppose that a* his father's condition was considerable, so nothing was omitted to render our poet an useful and elegant member of society.

The Romans possessed a real advantage over the moderns in point of education; for as the fame citizen might plead causes, command armies, and arrive at the first dignities of the priesthood; so their literary institutions were made to comprehend these several objects. It is easy to see of what vast utility so general a plan must have been to a state; and perhaps it is not paying letters too high a compliment, tu fay, that the successes of the Romans were in a great measure owing to this advantage.

In the year of Rome 705, the civil wax broke

« EdellinenJatka »