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WORKS OF VIRGIL.
TRANSLATED BY DRYDEN.
I HAVE found it not more difficult to translate Virgil, than to find such patrons as I desire for my translation. For though England is not wanting in a learned nobility, yet such are my unhappy circumstances, that they have confined me to a narrow choice. To the greater part, I have not the honour to be known; and to some of them I cannot show at present, by any public act, that grateful respect which I shall ever bear them in my heart. Yet I have no reason to complain of fortune, since, in the midst of that abundance I could not possibly have chosen better, than the worthy son of so illustrious a father. He was the patron of my manhood, when I flourished in the opinion of the world; though with small advantage to my fortune, till he awakened the remembrance of my royal master. He was that Pollio, or that Varus, who introduced me to Augustus: and though he soon dismissed himself from state-affairs yet in the short time of his administration he shone so powerfully upon me, that, like the heat of a Russian summer, he ripened the fruits of poetry in a cold climate; and gave me wherewithal to subsist at least, in the long winter which succeeded. What I now offer to your lordship is the wretched remainder of a sickly age, worn out with study, and oppressed by fortune: without other support than the constancy and patience of a Christian, You, my lord, are yet in the flower of your youth, and may live to enjoy the benefits of the peace which is promised Europe. I can only hear of that blessing: for years, and, alove all things,
want of health, have shut me out from sharing in the happiness. The poets, who condemn their Tantalus to Hell, had added to his torments, if they had placed him in Elysium, which is the proper emblem of my condition. The fruit and the water may reach my lips, but cannot enter; and if they could, yet I want a palate as well as a digestion. But it is some kind of pleasure to me, to please those whom I respect. And I am not altogether out of hope, that these Pastorals of Virgil may give your lordship some delight, though made English by one, who scarce remem. bers that passion which inspired my author when he wrote them. These were his first essay in poetry, (if the Ceiras was not his :) and it was more excuseable in him to describe love when he was young, than for me to translate him when I am old. He died at the age of fifty-two, and I begin this work in my great climacteric. But having perhaps a better constitution than my author, I have wronged him less, considering my circumstances, than those who have attempted him before, either in our own, or any modern lan guage. And though this version is not void of errours, yet it comforts me that the faults of others are not worth finding. Mine are neither gros nor frequent, in those Eclogues, wherein my, mster has raised himself above, that humble style in which pastoral delights, and which I must confess is proper to the education and converse of shepherds: for he found the strength of his genius betimes, and was even in his youth preluding to his Georgics, and his Æneis. He could not forbear to try his wings, though his pinions were not hardened to maintain a long laborious flight. Yet sometimes they bore him to a pitch as lofty, as ever he was able to reach afterwards. . But when he was admonished by bis subject to descend, he came down gently circling in the air, and singing
In medio duo signa: Conon, et quis fuit alter Descripsit radio totum qui gentibus orbem. He remembers only the name of Conon, and forgets the other on set purpose (whether he means Anaximander or Eudoxus I dispute not); but he was certainly forgotten, to show his country swain was no great scholar.
After all, I must confess that the boorish dialect of Theocritus has a secret charm in it, which the Roman language cannot imitate, though Virgil has drawn it down as low as possibly he could: as in the Cujum Pecus, and some other words, for which he was so unjustly blamed by the bad critics of his age, who could not see the beauties of that Merum Rus, which the poet described in those expressions. But Theocritus may justly be preferred as the original, without injury to Virgil who modestly contents himself with the second place, and glories only in being the first who transplanted pastoral into his own country; and brought it there to bear as happily as the cherry-trees which Lucullus brought from Pontus.
to the ground. Like a lark, melodious in her his shepherds describes a bowl, or mazer, curiously mounting, and continuing her song till she alights: still preparing for a higher flight at her next sally, and tuning her voice to better music. The fourth, the sixth, and the eighth Pastorals, are clear evidences of this truth. In the three first he contains himself within his bounds; but addressing to Pollio, his great patron, and himself no vulgar poet, he no longer could restrain the freedom of his spirit, but began to assert his native character, which is sublimity. Putting himself under the conduct of the same Cumaan Sibyl, whom afterwards he gave for a guide to his Æneas. It is true he was sensible of his own boldness; and we know it by the Paulo Majora, which begins his fourth Eclogue. He remembered, like young Manlius, that he was forbidden to engage; but what avails an express command to a youthful courage which presages victory in the attempt? Encouraged with success, he proceeds farther in the sixth, and invades the province of philosophy. And notwithstanding that Phœbus had forewarned him of sing ing of wars, as he there confesses, yet he presumed that the search of nature was as free to him as to Lucretius, who at his age explained it aċcording to the principles of Epicurus. In his eighth Eclogue, he has innovated nothing; the former part of it being the complaint and despair of a' forsaken lover: the latter a charm of an enchantress, to renew a lost affection. But the complaint perhaps contains some topics which are above the condition of his person's; and our author seems to have made his ́ herdsmen somewhat too learned for their profession: the charms are also of the same nature; but both were copied from Theocritus, and had received the applause of former ages in their original. There is a kind of rusticity in all those pompous verses; somewhat of a holiday shepherd strutting in his country buskins. The like may be observed, both in the Pollio, and the Silenus; where the similitudes are drawn from the woods and meadows. They seem to me to represent our poet betwixt a farmer and a courtier, when he left Mantua for Rome, and dressed himself in his best habit to appear before his patron: somewhat too fine for the place from whence he came, and yet retaining part of its simplicity. In the ninth Pastoral he collects some beautiful passages, which were scattered in Theocritus, which he could not insert into any of his former Eclogues, and yet was unwilling they should be lost. In all the rest he is equal to his Sicilian master, and observes like him a just decorum, both of the subject and the persons. As particularly in the third Pastoral, where one of
Our own nation has produced a third poet in this kind, not inferior to the two former. For the Shepherd's Calendar of Spenser is not to be matched in any modern language. by Tasso's Amyntas, which infinitely transcends Guarini's Pastor Fido, as having more of nature in it, and being almost wholly clear from the wretched affectation of learning. I will say nothing of the Piscatory Eclogues, because no modern Latin can bear criticism. It is no wonder that rolling down through so many barbarous ages, from the spring of Virgil, it bears along with it the filth and ordure of the Goths and Vandals. Neither will I mention Monsieur Fontenelle, the living glory of the French. It is enough for him to have excelled his master Lucian, without attempting to compare our miserable age with that of Virgil or Theocritus. Let me only add, for his reputation,
-Si Pergama dextrâ
Defendi possent, etiam hâc defensa fuissent. But Spenser being master of our northern dialect, and skilled in Chaucer's English, bas so exactly imitated the Doric of Theocritus, that his love is a perfect image of that passion which God infused into both sexes, before it was corrupted with the knowledge of arts, and the ceremonies of what we call good manners.
My lord, I know to whom I dedicate; and could not have been induced by any motive to put this part of Virgil, or any other into unlearned bands.
You have read him with pleasure, and I dare say, with admiration, in the Latin, of which you are a master. You have added to your natural endowments, which, without flattery, are eminent, the superstructures of study, and the knowledge of good authors. Courage, probity, and humanity are inherent in you. 'These virtues have ever
=been habitual to the ancient house of Cumberland, from whence you are descended, and of which our chronicles make so honourable mention in the long wars betwixt the rival families of York and Lancaster. Your forefathers have asserted the party which they chose till death, and died for its defence in the fields of battle. You have besides the fresh remembrance of your noble father; from whom you never can degenerate.
-Nec imbellem feroces
It being almost morally impossible for you to be other than you are by kind; I need neither praise nor incite your virtue. You are acquainted with the Roman history, and know without my information that patronage and clientship always descended from the fathers to the sons, and that the same plebeian houses had recourse to the same patrician line, which had formerly protected them; and followed their principles and fortunes to the last. So that I am your lordship's by descent, and part of your inheritance. And the natural ¡nclination which I have to serve you, adds to your paternal right, for I was wholly yours from the first moment when I had the happiness and honour of being known to you. Be pleased therefore to accept the rudiments of Virgil's poetry: coarsely translated, I confess, but which yet retains some beauties of the author, which neither the barbarity of our language, nor my unskilfulness, could so much sully, but that they sometimes appear in the dim mirror which I hold before you. The subject is not unsuitable to your youth, which allows you yet to love, and is proper to your present scene of life. Rural recreations abroad, and books at home, are the innocent pleasures of a man who is early wise; and gives fortune no more hold of him, than of necessity he must. It is good, on some occasions, to think beforehand as little as we can; to enjoy as much of the present as will not endanger our futurity, and to provide ourselves with the virtuoso's saddle which will be sure to amble, when the world is upon the hardest trot. What I humbly offer to your lordship is of this nature. I wish it pleasant,
and am sure it is innocent. May you ever con
tinue your esteem for Virgil; and not lessen it, VOL XIX
for the faults of his translator; who is, with all manner of respect and sense of gratitude, my lord,
most humble and
most obedient servant, JOHN DRYDEN.
THE FIRST PASTORAL;
TITYRUS AND MELIBOEUS.
THE occasion of the first pastoral was this. When Augustus had settled himself in the Roman empire, that he might reward his veteran troops for their past service, he distributed among them all the lands that lay about Cremona and Mantua: turning out the right owners for having sided with his enemies. Virgil was a sufferer among the rest; who afterwards recovered his estate by Mæcenas's intercession, and as an instance of his gratitude composed the following pastoral; where he sets out his own good fortune in the person of Tityrus, and the calamities of his Mantuan neighbours in the character of Melibus.
BENEATH the shade which beechen boughs diffuse, You, Tityrus, entertain your sylvan Muse: Round the wide world in banishment we roam, Fore'd from our pleasing fields and native home: While stretch'd at ease you sing your happy loves; And Amaryllis fills the shady groves.
TIT. These blessings, friend, a deity bestow'd : For never can I deem him less than God.
The tender firstlings of my woolly breed
MEL. I envy not your fortune, but admire,
But tell me, Tityrus, what heavenly power
TIT. Fool that I was, I thought im perial Roitie Like Mantua, where on market-days we come, And thither drive our tender lambs from home.
So kids and whelps their sires and dams express:
Till then a helpless, hopeless, homely swain,
TIT. What should I do? while here I was enNo glimpse of godlike liberty remain'd; [chain'd, Nor could I hope in any place but there, To find a god so present to my prayer. There first the youth of heav'nly birth I view'd, For whom our monthly victims are renew'd. He heard my vows, and graciously decreed My grounds to be restor❜d, my former flocks to feed. MEL. O fortunate old man! whose farm remains For you sufficient, and requites your pains. Though rushes overspread the neighbouring plains, Though here the marshy grounds approach your And there the soil a stony harvest yields, [fields, Your teaming ewes shall no strange meadows try, Nor fear a rot from tainted company. Behold yon bordering fence of sallow trees [bees: Is fraught with flowers, the flowers are fraught with The busy bees with a soft murmuring strain Invite to gentle sleep the labouring swain. While from the neighbouring rock, with rural songs The pruner's voice the pleasing dream prolongs; Stockdoves and turtles tell their amorous pain, And, from the lofty elms, of love complain.
TIT. Th' inhabitants of seas and skies shall
And fish on shore, and stags in air shall range,
MEL. But we must beg our bread in climes unBeneath the scorching or the freezing zone. And some to far Oaxis shall be sold; Or try the Libyan heat, or Scythian cold. The rest among the Britons be confin'd; A race of men from all the world disjoin'd. O must the wretched exiles ever mourn, Nor after length of rolling years return? Are we condemn'd by fate's unjust decree, No more our houses and our homes to see? Or shall we mount again the rural throne, And rule the country kingdoms, once our own! Did we for these barbarians plant and sow,
On these, on these, our happy fields bestow? [flow! Good Heaven, what dire effects from civil discord
Now let me graft my pears, and prune the vine;
TIT. This night, at least, with me forget your care;
THE SECOND PASTORAL;
THE Commentators can by no means agree on the person of Alexis, but are all of opinion that some beautiful youth is meant by him, to whom Virgil here makes love in Corydon's language and simplicity. His way of courtship is wholly pastoral: he complains of the boy's coyness; recommends himself for his beauty and skill in piping; invites the youth into the country, where he promises him the diversions of the place, with a suitable present of nuts and ap ples but when he finds nothing will prevail, he resolves to quit his troublesome armour, and betake himself again to his former business.
YOUNG Corydon, th' unhappy shepherd swain,
My passion is thy scorn: nor wilt thou know
What stores my dairies and my folds contain; A thousand lambs that wander on the plain: New milk that all the winter never fails,
And all the summer overflows the pails: Amphion sung not sweeter to his herd,
See from afar the fields no longer smoke,
The sweating steers, unharness'd from the yoke,
When summon'd stones the Theban turrets rear'd. Ah, cruel Heaven! that made no cure for love!
Nor am I so deform'd; for late I stood
Upon the margin of the briny flood:
The winds were still, and if the glass be true,
Pan taught to join, with wax, unequal reeds,
His eyes Amyntas durst not upward lift,
The laurel and the myrtle sweets agree;
What have I done to name that wealthy swain,
The wolf the kid, the wanton kid the browse:
I wish for balmy sleep, but wish in vain:
THE THIRD PASTORAL;
DAMÆTAS and Menalcas, after some smart strokes of country raillery, resolve to try who has the most skill at a song, and accordingly make their neighbour Palæmon judge of their performances: who, after a full hearing of both parties, declares himself unfit for the decision of so weighty a controversy, and leaves the victory undetermined.
MENALCAS, DAMÆTAS, PALÆMON.
Ho, swain, what shepherd owns those ragged sheep?
Thou, varlet, dost thy master's gains devour:
We know who did your business, how, and when. And in what chapel too you play'd your prize; And what the goats observ'd with leering eyes: The nymphs were kind, and laugh'd, and there your safety lies.
MEN. Yes, when cropt the hedges of the leys; Cut Micon's tender vines, and stole the stays.
DAM. Or rather, when beneath yon ancient oak, The bow of Daphnis, and the shafts you broke: When the fair boy receiv'd the gift of right; And, but for mischief, you had dy'd for spite.
MEN. What nonsense would the fool, thy master,
When thou, his kuave, canst talk at such a rate!
When you lay snug to snap young Damon's goat?
DAM. An honest man may freely take his own; The goat was mine, by singing fairly won.