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LrkE some wanton filly sporting,
HERE sleeps Anacreon, in this ivied shade;
OH stranger 1 if Anacreon’s shell
Arlength thy golden hours have wing'd their flight, And drowsy death that eyelid steepeth;
Thy harp, that whisper'd through each lingering night, Now mutely in oblivion sleepeth !
She too, for whom that harp profusely shed
She, the young spring of thy desires, hath fled,
Farewell! thou had'st a pulse for every dart
And each new beauty found in thee a heart, -
Thrrr is but little known with certainty of the life of Anacreon. Chamaeleor. Heracleotes, who wrote upon the subject, has been lost in the general wreck of ancient literature. The editors of the poet have vollect id the few trifling anecdotes which are scattered through the extant authors of antiquity, and, supplying the deficiency of materials py fictions of their own imagination, have arranged, what they call, a life of Anacreon. These specious fabrications are intended to indulge that interest which we naturally feel in the biography of illustrious men ; but it is rather a dangerous kind of illusion, as it confounds the imits of history and romance, and is too often supported by unfaithful titation. Our poet was born in the city of Téos, in the delicious region of Ionia, and the time of his birth appears to have been in the sixth ceno before Christ. He flourished at that remarkable period, when, under the polished tyrants Hipparchus and Polycrates, Athens and Samos were become the rival asylums of genius. There is nothing certain known about his family, and those who pretend to discover in Plato that he was a descendant of the monarch Codrus, show much more of zeal than of either accuracy or judgment. The disposition and talents of Anacreon recommended him to the monarch of Samos, and he was formed to be the friend of such a prince as Polycrates. Susceptible only to the pleasures, he felt not the corruptions of the court; and, while Pythagoras fled from the tyrant, Anacreon was celebrating his praises on i. lyre. We are told too by Maximus Tyrius, that, by the influence of his amatory songs, he łoń. ened the mind of Polycrates into a spirit of benevolence towards his subjects. The amours of the poet, and the rivalship of the tyrant, I shall pass over in silence; and there are are few, I presume, who will regret the omission of most of those anecdotes, which the industry of some editors has not only promulged, but discussel. Whatever is repugnant to modesty and virtue is considered in ethical science, by a supposition very favourable to humanity, as impossible; and this amiable persuasion should be much more strongly entertained, where the transgression wars with nature as well as virtue. But why are we not allowed to indulge in the presumption ? Why are we officiously reminded that there have been really such instances of depravity Hipparchus, who now maintained at Athens the power which his father Pisistratus had usurped, was one of those princes who may be said to have polished the fetters of their subjects. He was the first, according to Plato, who edite the poems of Homer, and commanded them to be sung by the rhapsodists at the celebration of the Panathe. naea. From his court, which was a sort of galaxy of genius, Anacreon could not long be absent. Hipparchus sent a barge for him ; the
poet readily embraced the invitation, and the Muses and the Loves .:
were wasted with him to Athens.
But far be thou, oh! far, unholy vine,
it has been supposed by some writers that Anacreon and Sappho were contemporaries; and the very thought of an intercourse between persons so congenial, both in warmth .#. and delicacy of ge. nius, gives such play to the imagination, that the mind loves ois. in it. But the vision dissolves before historical truth ; and Chamoleon and Hermesianax, who are the source of the supposition, are considered as having merely indulged in a poetical anachronism. To infer the moral dispositions of a poet from the tone of sentiment which pervades his works, is sometimes a very fallacious analogy; but the soul of Anacreon speaks so unequivocally through his odes. that we may safely consult them as the faithful mirrors of his heart. We find him there the elegant voluptuary, diffusing the seductive charm of sentiment over passions and propensities at which rigid mo. rality must frown. His heart, devoted to indolence, seems to have thought that there was wealth enough in happiness, but seldom hap. iness in me, e, wealth. The cheerfulness, indeed, with which he rightens his old age is interesting and endearing: like his own rose, he is fragrant even in decay. But the most peculiar feature of his mind is that love of simplicity, which he attributes to himself so feel. ingly, and which brothes characteristically throughout all that he has sung. In truth, if we omit those few vices in our estimate which religion, at that time, not only commived at, but consecrated, we shall be inclined to sav that the disposition of our poet was amiable; that his morality was relaxed, but not abandoned; and that virtue with her Lone loosened, may be an apt emblem of the character of Anacreon. Of his person and physiognomy time has preserved such uncertain memorials, that it were better, perhaps, to leave the pencil to fancy; and few can read the Odes of Anacreon without imagining to them. solves the form of the animated old bard, crowned with roses, and singing cheerfully to his lyre. After the very enthusiastic eulogiums bestowed both by ancients and moderns upon the poems of Anacreon, we need not be diffident in **pressing our raptures at their beauty, nor hesitate to pronounce Jhem the most polished remains of antiquitv. They are, indeed, all *auty, all encheatment. He steals us so insensibly along with him.
- - -----that we sympathise even in his excesses. In his anatory odes there a a delicacy of compliment not to be sonnd in any other ancient poet Love at that period was rather an unrefined emotion: and the inter course of the sexes was animated more by passion than by sentinent. They knew not those little tendernesses which torm the spiritual port of affection; their expression of feeling was therefore rude and unyaried, and the poetry of love deprived it of its most captivating graces. Anacreou, however, attained some ideas of this purer gallantry: ano the same delicacy of mini which led him to this refinement, prevented him also from yielding to the freedom of language, which has sullied the pages of all the other poets. His descriptions are warm ; but the warmth is in the ideas, not the words He is sportive without being wanton, and ardent without being licentious. His poetic invention is always most brilliantly displayed in those allegorical fictions which so many have endeavoured to imitate, though all have consessed them to be inimitable. Simplicity is the distinguishing feature of these odes, and they interest by their innocence, as much as they fascinate by their beauty. They may be said, indeed, to be the very infants of the Muses, and to lisp in numbers.
I shall not be accused of enthusiastic partiality by those who have read and felt the original; but to others, I am conscious, this should not be the language of a translator, whose faint reflection of such beauties can but ill justify his admiration of them.
In the age .#Anacreon music and poetry were inseparable. These kindred talents were for a long time associated, and the poet always sung his own compositions to the lyre. It is probable that they were not set to any regular air, but rather a kind of musical recitation, which was varied according to the fancy and feelings of the moment The poems of Anacreon were sung at banquets as late as the time of Aulus Gellius, who tells us that he heard one of the odes performed at a birth-day entertainment.
The singular beauty of our poet's style, and the apparent facility perhaps, of his metre have attracted, as I have already remarked, r crowd of imitators. Some of these have succeeded with wonderfulse licity, as may be discerned in the few odes which are attributed to writers of a later period. But none of his imitators have been half so dangerous to his fame as those Greek ecclesiastics of the early ages, who, being conscious of their own inseriority to their great prototypes, determined on removing all possibility of comparison, and, under • semblance of moral zeal, deprived the world of some of the most es. quisite treasures of ancient times. The works of Sappho and Alraus were among those flowers of Grecian literature which thus fell be neath the rude hand of ecclesiastical presumption. It is true they pre tended that this sacrifice of genius was hallowed by the interests of religion; but I have already assigned the most probable motive: and if Gregorius Nazianzenus had not written Anacreontics, we might now perhaps have the works of the Teian unmutilated, and be empowered to say exultingly with Horace,
Nec si quid olir ord Axx:son
The zeal by which these bishops professed to be actuated, gave birth more innocently indeed, to an absurd species of parody, as repugnoli to piety as it is to taste, where the poet of voluptuousness was made a preacher of the gospel, and his muse, like the Venns in armour at Lo cedaemon, was arrayed in all the severities of priestly instruction. Such was the “Anacreon Recantatns,” by Carolus de Aquino, a Je suit, published 1701, which consisted of a series of palinodes to th: several songs of our poet. Such, too, was the Christian Anacreon of Patriganus, another Jesuit, who preposterously transferred to a most sacred subject all that the Grecian poet had dedicated to festivity and love. His metre has frequently been adopted by the modern Latin poets, and Scaliger, Taubman, Barthius, and others, have shown that it is by no means uncongenial with that language. The Anacreontics of Scoliger, however, scarcely deserve the name; as they glitter all over with conceits, and though often elegant, are always laboured. The beautiful fi :tions of Angerianus preserve more happily than any others the delicate turn of those allegorical fables, which, passing so frequently through the mediums of version and imitation, have generally lost their finest rays in the transmission. Many of the Italian poets have indulged their fancies upon the subjects, and in the manner of Anacreon. Bernardo Tasso first introduced the metre, which was afterwards polished and enriched by Chabriera and others.
To judge by the references of Degen, the German language abour.” in Anacreontic imitations; and Hagedorn is one among many who have assumed him as a model. La Farre, Chaulieu, and the other light poets of France, have also professed to cultivate the muse of Téos; but they have attained all her negligence with little of the sm. ple grace that cmbellishes it. In the delicate bard of Schiras we find the kindred spirit of Anacreon: some of his gazelles or songs possess all the character of onr poet.
We come now to a retrospect of the editions of Anacreon. To Henry ..". we are indebted for having first recovered his remains from the obscurity in which, so singularly, they had for many ages reposed. He found the seventh ode, as we are told, on the cover of an old book, and communicated it to Victorius, who mentions the circumstance in his “Various Readings.” Stephen was then very young; and this discovery was considered by some critics of that day as a lio rary imposition. In 1554, however, he gave Anacreon to the world, accompanied with annotations and a Latin version of the greater part of the odes. The learned still hesitated to receive them as the relics of the Teian bard, and suspected them to be the fabrication of some monks of the sixteenth centurv. This was an idea from which the classic muse recoiled; and the Vatican manuscript, tonsulted by Sco liger and Salmasius, confirmed the antiquity of the poems. A very inaccurate copy of this M.S. was taken by Isaac Vossins, and this is th: authority which Barnes has forlowed in his collation. Accordit o: he misrepresents almost as often as he quotes; and the subsequent d tors, relying upon his authority, have spoken of the mannsorpt won not less confidence than ignorance. The literary world, however, has at length been gratified with this curions memorial of the poet, by the industry of the Abbo spaletti, who published at Rome, in 17s), a fac simile of those pages of the Vatican manuscript whi-h contained to odes of Anacreon.
The greater part of the following Rhymes were written or composed in an old caleche, for the
purpose of beguiling the ennui of solitary travelling;
g; and as verses, made by a gentleman in his
sleep, have been lately called “a psychological curiosity,” it is to be hoped that verses, composed by a gentleman to keep himself awake, may be honoured with some appellation equally Greek.
P. ...Attitudes in which .Authors compose.—Bayes, Henry Stephens,
If thus I've felt, how must they feet,
But this reminds me I digress;–
And (if the wits don't do him wrong) *Twixt death" and epics pass'd his time,
Scribbling and killing all day long— Like Phoebus in his car, at ease,
Now warbling forth a lofty song, Now murd'ring the young Niobes.
There was a hero 'mong the Danes,
Some bards there are who cannot scribble Without a glove, to tear or nibble; Or a small twig to whisk about— As if the hidden founts of Fancy, Like wells of old, were thus found out By mystic tricks of rhabdomancy. Such was the little feathery wand,t That, held for ever in the hand Of her, who won and wore the crown Of female genius in this age, Seem'd the conductor, that drew down Those words of lightning to her page. As for myself—to come, at last, To the odd way in which I write— Having employ'd these few months past Chiefly in travelling, day and night, I’ve got into the easy mode, Of rhyming thus along the road— Making a way-bill of my pages, Counting my stanzas by my stages— ' 'Twixt lays and re-lays no time lost— In short, in two words, writing post.
'Twas distant yet, and, as Iran,
'Twas at this instant—while there glow'd
Suddenly, through the opening road,
That floo valley, with its Lake,
Miño, and pure, and fit to make
he rammarts of a Godhead's dwelling.
I stood entranc'd—as Rabbins say
Will stand, upon that awful day,
Among the opening clouds shall shine,
Mighty Mont BLANc, thou wert to me,
'Twas all that conscionsness of pow'r
* In the year 1782, when the forces of Berne, Sardinia, and France laid siege to Geneva, and when, after a demonstration of heroism and self-devotion, which promised to rival the feats of their ancestors in 1602 against Savoy, the Genevans, either panic struck or tetrayed, to
YEs—if there yet live nome of hose,