Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

the Thought. It makes a Poet giddy with turning in a Space too narrow for his Imagination; he loses many Beauties, without gaining one Advantage. For a Burlesque Rhyme, I have already concluded to be none; or if it were, 'tis more easily purchas'd in Ten Syllables than in Eight: In both occafious 'tis as in a Tennis-Court, when the Stroaks of greater force are given, when we strike out and play at length. Talone and Boilean have left us the best Examples of this way, in the Secchia Rapita, and the Lutrin. And next them Merlin Coccajus in his Baldus. I will speak only of the two former, because the last is written in Latin Verse. The Secchia Rapita is an Italian Poem, a Satyr of the Varronian kind. 'Tis written in the Stanza of Eight, which is their Measure for Heroique Verse. The Words are stately, the Numbers smooth, The Turn both of Thoughts and Words is happy. The first fix Lines of the Stanza seem Majestical and Severe; but the two last turn them all into a pleasant Ridicule. Boileau, if I am not much deceiv'd, has model'd from hence his famous Lutrin. He had read the Burlesque Poetry of Scarron, with some kind of Indignation, as witty as it was, and found nothing in France that was worthy of his Imitation. But he copy'd the Italian so well, that his own may pass for an Original. He writes it in the French Heroique Verse, and calls it an Heroique Poem: His Subject is Trivial, but his Verse is Noble. I doubt not but he had Virgil in his Eye, for we find many admirable Imitations of him, and some Parodies; as particularly this Pal sage in the Fourth of the Æneids.

Nec tibi DivaParens; generis nec Dardanus Auctor, Perfide ; fed duris genuit te cantibus horrens

Caucasus; Hyrcanæque admôrunt ubera Tigres. Which he thus Translates keeping to the Words, but altering the Sense:

Non, ton Pere a Paris, ne fut point Boulanger': Et tu n'es point du sang de Gervais Horloger : Ta Mere ne fut point la Maitreffe d'un Cocbe; Caucafe dans ses flancs, te forma d'une Roché: Une Tigrelle affreuse, en quelque Antre écarté

Te fit, avec fon laitt, fuccer Cruauté. And, as Dirgil in his Fourth Georgique of the Bees, perpetually raises the Lowness of his Subje&t, by the Loftiness of his Words; and ennobles it by Comparisons drawn from Empires, and from Monarchs.

Admiranda tibi levium spectacula rerum,
Magnanimosque Duces, totiusque ordine gentis
Mores & ftudia, & populos, & prælia dicam.

And again:

Sit Genus immortale manet; multosque per annos

Stat fortuna domus, & avi numerantur avorum. We fee Boileau pursuing him in the faine flights; and scarcely yielding to his Mafter.' This, I think, my Lord, to be the most Beautiful, and most No. ble kind of Satyr. Here is the Majesty of the Heroique, finely mix'd with the Venom of the other; and raising the Delight which otherwise wou'd be flat and vulgar, by the Sublimity of the Expression.

I cou'd say somewhat more of the Delicacy of this and some other of his Satyrs; but it might turn to his Prejudice, if 'twere carry'd back to France.

I have given your Lordship but this bare hint, in what manner this sort of Satyr inay best be manag’d. Had I time, I cou'd enlarge on the beautiful Turns of Words' and Thoughts; which are as requisite in this, as in Heroique Poetry it self; of which the Satyr is undoubtedly a Species. With these Beautiful Turns I confess my self to have been unacquainted, till about twenty Years ago, in a Conversation which I had with that Noble Wit, of Scotland, Sir George Mackenzy: He ask'd me why I did not imitate in my Verses the Turns of Mr. W'aller and Sir John Denham; of which, he repeated many to me: I had often read with pleasure, and with some profit, those two Fathers of our Englija Poetry; but had not seriously enough confider'd those Beauties which give the last Perfe&ion to their Works. . Some sprinklings of this kind I had also formerly in my Plays; but they were casual, and not design'd. But this hint, thus seasonably given me, firlt made me sensible of my own Wants, and brought me afterwards to seek for the supply of them in other English Authors. I look'd over the Darling of my Youth, the famous Cowley; there I found, instead of them, the Points of Wit, and Quirks of Epigram, even in the Davideis, a Heroick Poem, which is of an opposite nature to those Puerilities; but no elegant Turns, either on the Word or on the Thought. Then I consulted a greater Genius (without offence to the Manes of that Noble Author) I mean Milton; but as he endeavours every where to express Homer, whose Age had not arriv'd to that fineness, I found in him a true Sublimity, lofty Thoughts, which were

clothed

clothed with admirable Grecisms, and ancient Words, which he had been digging from the Mines of Chaucer and Spencer, and which, with all their Rusticity, had somewhat of Venerable in them. But I found not there neither that for which I look’d. At last I had recouse to his Master, Spencer, the Author of that immortal Poem call'd the FairyQueen; and there I met with that which I had been looking for so long in vain. Spencer had study'd Virgil to as much advantage as Milton had done Homer; and amongst the rest of his Excellencies had Copy'd that. Looking farther into the Italian, I found Talo had done the same, nay more, that all the Sonnets in that Language, are on the turn of the first thought; which Mr. Walsh, in his late ingenious Preface to his Poems, has observ'd. In short, Virgil and Ovid are the two Principal Fountains of them in Latin Poem. And the French at this day are fo fond of them, that they judge them to be the first Beauties. Delicate & bien tourné, are the highest Commendations, which they bestow, on somewhat which they think a Mafter-Piece.

An Example of the Turn on Words, amongst a thousaud others, is that in the last Book of Ovid's Metamorphoses :

Heu quantum scelus eft, in viscera, viscera condi! Congestoque avidum pinguescere corpore corpus; Alteriusque Animantem, Arimantis vivere leto.

An Example on the Turn both of Thoughts and Words, is to be found in Catullus; in the Complaint of Ariadne, when she was left by Theseus :

Tum

Tam jam nulla viro juranti fæmina credat ;
Nulla viri fperet Sermones elle fideles:
Qui dum aliquid cupiens animus prægeffit apisis,
Nil metuunt jurare; nihil promittere parcunt,
Sed fimul ac cupide mentis Satiata libido eft,
Dišta nibil metuere; nibil perjuria curant.

An extraordinary Turn upon the Words, is that in Ovid's Epistole Heroidum, of Sappho to Phaon:

Sinisi quæ formå poterit te digna videri,
Nulla futura tua eft, nulla

futura tua eft.

. Lastly, a Turn which I cannot say is absolutely on Words, for the Thought turns with them, is in the Fourth Georgique of Virgil; where Orpheus is to receive his Wife from Hell, on express Condition not to look on her, till she was come on Earth :

Cùm fubita incautum dementia cepit Amantem; Ignofcenda quidem, scirent fi ignofcere Manes.

I will not burthen your Lordship with more of them; for I write to a Master, who understands them better than my self. But I may safely conclude them to be great Beauties; I might defcend also to the Mechanick Beauties of Heroick Verse; but we have yet no English Profodia, not so inuch as a tolerable Diationary, or a Grammar; so that our Language is in a manner Barbarous; and what Government will encourage any one, or more, who are capable of refining it, I know not: But nothing under a Publick Expence can go through with it. And I rather fear a declination of the

Lan

« FöregåendeFortsätt »