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and a relish of the marvellous, to be wholly in fentiments. Poffibly I may your so happy as to attain both in good time: I fancy at least there is a clofe connection between them, and I fhall not despair of obtaining the one, if I can by any means arrive at the other. But which muft I endeavor at firft? Shall I prepare for the for the myftic by commencing with the romance, or would you advise me to begin with Malbranch before I undertake Clelia ? Suffer me, however, ere I enter the regions of fiction, to bear teftimony to one conftant truth, by affuring you that I am, &c.
October 10, 1742.
HAVE often mentioned to you the plea
fure I received from Mr. Pope's tranflation of the Iliad: but my admiration of that inimitable performance has increased upon me, fince you tempted me to compare the copy with the original. To fay of this noble work, that it is the beft which
ever appeared of the kind, would be speaking in much lower terms than it deferves; the world perhaps scarce ever before saw a truly poetical tranflation: for, as Denham obferves,
Such is our pride, our folly, or our fate,
Mr. Pope feems, in most places, to have been inspired with the fame fublime fpirit that animates his original; as he often takes fire from a fingle hint in his author, and blazes out even with a stronger and brighter flame of poetry. Thus the character of Therfites, as it ftands in the English Iliad, is heightened, I think, with more masterly ftrokes of fatire than appear in the Greek; as many of those fimilies in Homer, which would appear, perhaps, to a modern eye too naked and unornamented, are painted by Pope in all the beautiful drapery of the most graceful metaphor. With what propriety of figure, for inftance, has he raifed the following comparison :
EUT' ορεος κορυφήσι Νότος κατεχονεν ομιχλην, Ποιμεσεν ετι φιλώ, κλεπίῃ δε τε νύκτος αμείνω, Τοόσον τις τ' επιλεύσει, οσον τ' επι λάαν ιησιν. G 2
Ως αρά των υπο ποοσι κονίσαλος ωρνυτ' αελλής
Thus from his flaggy wings when Eurus fheds
While fcarce the fwains their feeding flocks
Loft and confus'd amidst the thicken'd day : So wrapt in gath'ring duft the Grecian train, A moving cloud, fwept on and hid the plain.
WHEN Mars, being wounded by Diomed, flies back to heaven, Homer compares him in his passage to a dark cloud raised by fummer heats; and driven by the wind.
Οιη δ' εκ νεφέων ερεβεννε φαινεται αηρ,
The inimitable tranflator improves this image, by throwing in fome circumstances, which, tho not in the original, are exactly in the fpirit of Homer:
As vapors, blown by Aufter's fultry breath, Pregnant with plagues, and shedding feeds of death,
Beneath the rage of burning Sirius rife, Choak the parch'd earth, and blacken all the Skies;
In fuch a cloud the god, from combat driv'n, High o'er the dufty whirlwind fcales the heav'n.
THERE is a defcription in the eighth book, which Euftathius, it seems, esteemed the most beautiful night-piece that could be found in poetry. If I am not greatly mistaken, however, I can produce a finer: and I am perfuaded even the warmest admirer of Homer will allow, the following lines are inferior to the correfponding ones in the tranflation;
Ως δ' ότ' εν ερανῳ αέρα φαεινώ, αμφι σεληνων Φαινετ' αριπρεπέα, οτε τ' επλετο νηνεμος αιθής, Εκ τ' έφανον πασαι σκοπια και πρωινές ακροι, Και ναπαι ερανόθεν δ' αρ' υπερραγή απελθ αιθήρ,.
Πανία δε τ' είδεται αέρα, γεγηθε δε τε φρένα Il. viii. 551.
As when the moon, refulgent lamp of night, O'er heav'n's clear azure spreads her facred light;
When not a breath disturbs the deep ferene,
Around her throne the vivid planets roll,
I FEAR the enthufiaftic admirers of Ho mer would look upon me with much indignation, were they to hear me fpeak of any thing in modern language as equal to the strength and majefty of that great father of poetry. But the following paffage having been quoted by a celebrated author of antiquity, as an inftance of the true Sublime, I will leave it to you to determine whether the tranflation has not at leaft as just a claim to that character as the original,
Ως δ' ότε χειμαρροι πολαμοι κατ' όρεσφι ρεόντες Ες λισγαίκειαν συμβαλλετον οβριμον ύδωρ, Κρενων εκ μεγάλων, καιλης εντοθε καραδρής, Των δε τε τηλεσε δαπον εν δρεσιν έκλυε ποιμένων, Ως των μισγομένων γενεται ιαχή τε φόβος τε
As torrents roll, increas'd by num'rous rills, With rage impetuous down their echoing hills, Ruf