« PreviousContinue »
THE following Satire was first published in 1733, in folio, under the title of Dialogue between Alexander Pope of Twickenham, in Com. Midd. on the one part, and the learned counsel on the other. The learned counsel was Mr. Fortescue, successively a Baron of the Exchequer, and Master of the Rolls, with whom the poet lived on terms of the most friendly intimacy.
'SUNT quibus in Satirâ videar nimis acer, et ultra Legem tendere opus. Sine nervis altera, quidquid
Composui, pars esse putat; similesque meorum
Ver. 1. There are,] "When I had a fever one winter in town," said Pope to Mr. Spence, "that confined me to my room for five or six days, Lord Bolingbroke came to see me, happened to take up a Horace that lay on the table, and in turning it over, dipped on the first satire of the second book. He observed how well that would suit my case, if I were to imitate it in English. After he was gone, I read it over, translated it in a morning or two, and sent it to press in a week or a fortnight after. And this was the occasion of my imitating some other of the Satires and Epistles." "To how casual a beginning," adds Spence, "we are obliged for the most delightful things in our language! When I was saying to him that he had already imitated near a third part of Horace's satires and epistles, and how much it was to be wished that he would go on with them, he could not believe that he had gone so far; but, upon computing it, it appeared to be above a third. He seemed on this not disinclined to carry it farther; but his last illness was then growing upon him, and robbed us of him, and of all hopes of that kind, in a few months."
Transcribed from Spence's Anecdotes, 1754.
No parts of our author's works have been more admired than those Imitations. The aptness of the allusions, and the happiness of many of the parallels, give a pleasure that is always no
TO MR. FORTESCUE.
P.THERE are, (I scarce can think it, but am told),
You'll give me, like a friend both sage and free,
small one to the mind of a reader-the pleasure of comparison. He that has the least acquaintance with these pieces of Horace, which resemble the Old Comedy, immediately perceives, indeed, that our author has assumed a higher tone, and frequently has deserted the free colloquial air, the insinuating Socratic manner of his original and that he clearly resembles in his style, as he did in his natural temper, the severe and serious Juvenal, more than the smiling and sportive Horace. Let us select some passages in which he may be thought to have equalled, excelled, or fallen short of the original; the latter of which cannot be deemed a disgrace to our poet, or to any other writer, if we consider the extreme difficulty of transfusing into another language the subtle beauties of Horace's dignified familiarity, and the uncommon union of so much facility and force. Warton.
Ver. 10. Advice; and (as you use)] Horace, with much seeming seriousness, applies for advice to the celebrated Roman lawyer, C. Trebatius Testa, an intimate friend of Julius Cæsar and of
H. Peream malè, si non
Optimum erat: verùm nequeo dormire.
Transnanto Tiberim, somno quibus est opus alto;
Tully, as appears from many of his epistles to Atticus; the gravity and self-importance of whose character is admirably supported throughout this little drama. His answers are short, authoritative, and decisive. "Quiescas; aio." And, as he was known to be a great drinker and swimmer, his two absurd pieces of advice have infinite pleasantry. All these circumstances of humour are dropped in the copy. The lettuce and cowslip-wine are insipid and unmeaning prescriptions, and have nothing to do with Mr. Fortescue's character. The third, fourth, and ninth lines of this Imitation are flat and languid. We must also observe, from the old commentators, that the verbs transnanto and habento are in the very style of the Roman law: "Vide ut directis jurisconsultorum verbis utitur ad Trebatium jurisconsultum."
There are many excellent remarks in Acro and Porphyrio: from whom, as well as from Cruquius, Dacier has borrowed much, without owning it. Dacier's translation of Horace is not equal to his Aristotle's Poetics. In the former he is perpetually striving to discover new meanings in his author, which Boileau called, the Revelations of Dacier.
Cicero, as appears from many of his letters, had a great regard for this Trebatius, to whom he says, speaking of his accompanying Cæsar in his expedition to Britain, "I hear there is neither silver nor gold in that island." On which Middleton finely observes, From their railleries of this kind, on the barbarity and misery of our island, one cannot help reflecting on the surprizing fate and revolutions of kingdoms: how Rome, once the mistress
F. I'd write no more.
P. Not write? but then I think,
And for my soul I cannot sleep a wink. I nod in company, I wake at night, Fools rush into my head, and so I write.
F. You could not do a worse thing for your life. Why, if the nights seem tedious-take a wife: 'Or rather truly, if your point be rest, Lettuce and cowslip wine; Probatum est. But talk with Celsus; Celsus will advise Hartshorn, or something that shall close your eyes.
of the world, the seat of arts, empire, and glory, now lies sunk in sloth, ignorance, and poverty; enslaved to the most cruel, as well as to the most contemptible of tyrants, superstition and religious imposture while this remote country, anciently the jest and contempt of the polite Romans, is become the happy seat of liberty, plenty, and letters; flourishing in all the arts and refinements of civil life; yet running, perhaps, the same course which Rome itself had run before it; from virtuous industry to wealth; from wealth to luxury; from luxury to an impatience of discipline and corruption of morals; till, by a total degeneracy and loss of virtue, being grown ripe for destruction, it falls a prey at last to some hardy oppressor, and with the loss of liberty losing every thing else that is valuable, sinks gradually again into its original barbarism." Warton.
Ver. 11. Not write? &c.] He has omitted the most humorous part of the answer :
Peream malè, si non
and has lost the grace, by not imitating the conciseness, of
verum nequeo dormire.
For conciseness, when it is clear, (as in this place,) gives the highest grace to elegance of expression. But what follows is as much above the original, as this falls short of it. Warburton.