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fancy, a poet of the greatest fire would be imitated better in the freedom of blank verse, and the description of war sounds more pompous out of rhyme. But, will the translation, said he, be thus removed enough from prose, without greater inconveniences? What transpositions is Milton forced to, as an equivalent for want of rhyme, in the poetry of a language which depends upon a natural order of words? And even this would not have done his business, had he not given the fullest scope to his genius, by choosing a subject upon which there could be no hyperboles. We see (however he be deservedly successful) that the ridicule of his manner succeeds better than the imitation of it; because transpositions, which are unnatural to a language, are to be fairly derided, if they ruin it by being frequently introduced; and because hyperboles, which outrage every lesser subject where they are seriously used, are often beautiful in ridicule. Let the French, whose language is not copious, translate in prose; but ours, which exceeds it in copiousness of words, may have a more frequent likeness of sounds, to make the unison or rhyme easier; a grace of music, that atones for the harshness our consonants and monosyllables occasion.

After this, I demanded what air he would appear with? whether antiquated, like Chapman's version, or modern, like La Motte's contraction. To which he answered, by desiring me to observe what a painter does who would always have his

pieces in fashion. He neither chooses to draw a beauty in a ruff, or a French head; but with its neck uncovered, and in its natural ornament of hair curled up, or spread becomingly so may a writer choose a natural manner of expressing himself, which will always be in fashion, without affecting to borrow an odd solemnity and unintelligible pomp from the past times, or humouring the present by falling into its affectations, and those phrases which are born to die with it.


I asked him, lastly, whether he would be strictly literal, or expatiate with further licenses? would not be literal, replies he, or tied up to line for line in such a manner wherein it is impossible to express in one language what has been delivered in another. Neither would I so expatiate, as to alter my author's sentiments, or add others of my own. These errors are to be avoided on either hand, by adhering not only to the word, but the spirit and genius of an author; by considering what he means, with what beautiful manner he has expressed his meaning in his own tongue, and how he would have expressed himself, had it been in ours. Thus we ought to seek for Homer in a version of Homer. Other attempts are but transsuch as Ovid tells us, where the name is retained, and the thing altered. This will be really what you mentioned in the compliment you began with, a transmigration of the poet from one country to another.

formations of him;

Here ended the serious part of our conference.

All I remember further was, that having asked him, what he designed with all those editions and comments I observed in his room? he made answer, that if any one, who had a mind to find fault with his performance, would but stay until it was entirely finished, he should have a very cheap bargain of them.

Since this discourse, I have often resolved to try what it was to translate in the spirit of a writer, and at last chose the Battle of the Frogs and Mice, which is ascribed to Homer; and bears a nearer resemblance to his Iliad, than the Culex does to the Eneid of Virgil. Statius and others think it a work of youth, written as a prelude to his greater poems. Chapman thinks it the work of his age, after he found men ungrateful; to show he could give strength, lineage, and fame, as he pleased, and praise a mouse as well as a man. Thus, says he, the poet professedly flung up the world, and applied himself at last to hymns. Now, though this reason of his may be nothing more than a scheme formed out of the order in which Homer's works are printed, yet does the conjecture, that this poem was written after the Iliad, appear probable, because of its frequent allusions to that poem; and particularly that there is not a frog or a mouse killed, which has not its parallel instance there, in the death of some warrior or other.

The poem itself is of the epic kind; the time of its action the duration of two days; the subject

(however in its nature frivolous, or ridiculous) raised, by having the most shining words and deeds of gods and heroes accommodated to it: and while other poems often compare the illustrious exploits of great men to those of brutes, this always heightens the subject by comparisons drawn from things above it. We have a great character given it with respect to the fable in Gaddius de Script. non Eccles. It appears, says he, nearer perfection than the Iliad, or Odysses, and excels both in judgment, wit, and exquisite texture, since it is a poem perfect in its own kind. Nor does Crusius speak less to its honour, with respect to the moral, when he cries out in an apostrophe to the reader; "Whoever you are, mind not the names of these little animals, but look into the things they mean; call them men, call them kings, or counsellors, or human polity itself, you have here doctrines of every sort." And indeed, when I hear the frog talk concerning the mouse's family, I learn, equality should be observed in making friendships; when I hear the mouse answer the frog, I remember, that a similitude of manners should be regarded in them; when I see their councils assembling, I think of the bustles of human prudence; and when I see the battle grow warm and glorious, our struggles for honour and empire appear before me. This piece had many imitations of it in antiquity, as the fight of the cats, the cranes, starlings, the spiders, &c. That of the cats is in the Bodleian Library, but I was not so lucky as to


find it. I have taken the liberty to divide my translation into books (though it be otherwise in the original) according as the fable allowed proper resting places, by varying its scene, or nature of action this I did, after the example of Aristarchus and Zenodotus in the Iliad. I then thought of carrying the grammarians' example further, and placing arguments at the head of each, which I framed as follows, in imitation of the short ancient Greek inscriptions to the Iliad.


In Alpha, the ground
Of the quarrel is found.


In Beta, we

The council see.


Dire Gamma relates

The work of the fates.

But as I am averse from all information which lessens our surprise, I only mention these for a handle to quarrel with the custom of long arguments before a poem. It may be necessary in books of controversy or abstruse learning, to write an epitome before each part; but it is not kind to forestall us in the work of fancy, and make our

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