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A N D
VIRGIL's and MILTON'S
ARTS of VERSE, &C.
Printed for J. ROBERTS, near the Oxford-Arms
in Warwick-Lane, MDCC XXXIX,
AM now going to obey your Commands ; but you must let me do it in my own way, that is, write as much, or as little at a time as I may have an Inclination to, and just as things offer themselves. Af
ter this manner you may receive in a few Letters, all that I have said to you about poetical Translations, and the resemblance there is between Virgil's and Milton's Versification, and some other Matters of the same nature.
To begin with the Business of Translation.
Whoever fits down to translate a Poet, ought in the first place to consider his Author's peculiar Stile ; for without this, tho' the Translation may be very good in all other respects, it will hardly deserve the Name of a Translation.
The two great Men amongst the Antients differ from each other as much in this particular as in the Subjects they treat of. The Stile of Homer, who B
sings the Anger or Rage of Achilles, is rapid. The Stile of Virgil
, who celebrates the Piety of Æ. neas, is majestick. But it may be proper to explain in what this Difference consists.
The Stile is rapid, when several Relatives, each at the head of a separate Sentence, are governed by one Antecedent, or several Verbs by one Nominative Case, to the close of the Period.
Thus in Homer:
“ Goddess, sing the pernicious Anger of Achil“ les, which brought infinite Woes to the Grecians, “ and fent many valiant Souls of Heroes to Hell, « and gave their Bodies to the Dogs, and to the “ Fowls of the Air."
Here you see it is the Anger of Achilles, that does all that is mentioned in three or four Lines. Now if the Translator does not nicely observe Homer's Stile in this Paffage, all the Fire of Homer will be loft. For example: “O Heavenly God. “ dess, sing the Wrath of the Son of Peleus, the 66 fatal Source of all the Woes of the Grecians, “ that Wrath which fent the Souls of many Heroes
to Pluto's gloomy Empire, while their Bodies lay
upon the Shore, and were torn by devouring “ Dogs, and hungry Vultures.”
Here you see the Spirit of Homer evaporates ; and in what immediately follows, if the Stile of Homer is not nicely attended to, if any great matter is added or left out, Homer will be fought for in vain in the Translation. He always hurries on as fast as possible, as Horace justly observes, semper ad eventum festinat ; and that is the reason why he introduces his first Speech without any Connection, by a sudden Transition ; and why he so often brings in his cor de naumlósef @ : He has not patience to stay to work his Speeches artfully into the Subject.