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commit all the excesses, to which he is prompted by his natural inclinations, if he may do them with security while he is alive, and be incapable of punishment after he is dead? If he be cunning and secret enough to avoid the laws, and there is no band of morality to restrain him: for fame and reputation are weak ties; many men have not the least sense of them: powerful men are only awed by them, as they conduce to their interest, and that not always, when a passion is predominant: and no man will be contained within the bounds of duty, when he may safely transgress them. These are my thoughts abftractedly, and without entering into the notions of our Christian faith, which is the proper business of divines.
But there are other arguments in this poem (which I have turned into English) not belonging to the mortality of the soul, which are strong enough to a reasonable man, to make him less in love with life, and confequently in less apprehensions of death. Such as are the natural fatiety proceeding from a perpetuai enjoyment of the same things; the inconveniencies of old age, which make him incapable of corporeal pleafures; the decay of understanding and memory, which render him contemptible, and useless to others. These, and many other reasons, so pathetically urged, fo beautifully exprefled, so adorned with examples, and so admirably raised by the Prosopopeia of nature, who is brought in speaking to her children, with so much authority and vigour, deserve the pains I have taken with them, which I hope have not been unsuccessful, or unworthy of my author. At least I must take the liberty to own, that I was pleafed with my own endeavours, which but rarely happens to me; and that I am not dissatisfied upon the review of any thing I have done in this author.
It is true, there is something, and that of some moment, to be objected against my englishing the Nature of Love, from the fourth book of Lucretius: and I can less easily answer why I translated it, than why I thus translated it. The objection arises from the obscenity of the subject; which is aggravated by the too lively and alluring delicacy of the verses. In the first place, without the least formality of an excuse, I own it pleased me: and let my enemies make the worst they can of this confession; I am not yet fo fecure from that paflion, but thai I want my author's antidotes against it. He has given the truest and most philosophical account both of the disease and remedy, which I ever found in any author: for which realons I translated him. But it will be asked why I turned him into this luscious English? (for I will not give it a worse word.) Instead of an answer, I would ask again of my supercilious adversaries, whether I am not bound, when I translate an author, to do him all the right I can, and to translate him to the best advantage? If to mince his meaning, which I am satisfied was honest and instructive, I had either omitted some part of what he said, or taken from the ftrength of his expression, I certainly had wronged him; and that freeness of thought and words being thus cashiered in my hands, he had no longer been Lucretius. If nothing of this kind be to be read, physicians must not ftudy nature, anatomies must not be seen, and somewhat I could say of particular passages in books, which, to avoid prophaneness, I do not name. But the intention qualifies the act; and both mine and my author's were to instruct as well as please. It is most certain that bare-faced bawdery is the poorest pretence to wit imaginable. If I should say otherwise, I hould have two great authorities against me. The one is the Essay on
Poetry, which I publicly valued before I knew the author of it, and with the commendation of which my Lord Roscommon so happily begins his Essay on Translated Verse: the other is no less than our admired Cowley, who says the fame thing in other words: for in his Ode concerning Wit, he writes, thus of it:
Much less can that have any places
Here indeed Mr. Cowley goes farther than the Efsay; for he asserts plainly, that obscenity has no place in wit: the other only says, 'tis a poor pretence to it, or an ill sort of wit, which has nothing more to support it than bare-faced ribaldry; which is both unmannerly in itself, and fulsome to the reader. But neither of these will reach my case: for in the first place, I am only the translator, not the inventor; so that the heaviest part of the censure falls upon Lucretius, before it reaches me: in the next place, neither he nor I have used the groffest words, but the cleanest metaphors we could find, to palliate the broadness of the meaning; and, to conclude, have carried the poetical part no farther, than the philosophical exacted. This puts
me in mind of what I owe to the ingenious and learned translator of Lucretius. I have not here designed to rob him of any part of that commendation which he has so juftly acquired by the whole author, whose fragments only fall to my portion. What I have now performed is no more than I intended above twenty years ago. The ways of our translations are very different. He follows him VOL. II.
more closely than I have done, which became an itterpreter of the whole Poem: I take more liberty, because it beft fuited with my design, which was to make him as pleafing as I could. He had been too voluminous, had he used my method in so long a work; and I had certainly taken his, had I made it my business to tranflate the whole. The preference then is juftly his; and I join with Mr. Evelyn in the confeffion of it, with this additional advantage to him, that his reputation is already etablished in this Poet, mine is to make its fortune in the world. If I have been any where obfcure, in following our common author, or if Lucretius himself is to be condemned, I refer myself to his excellent annotations, which I have often read, and always with some new pisafure,
My preface begins already to swell upon me, and looks as if I were afraid of my reader, by fo tedious a bespeaking of him: and yet I have Horace and Theocritus upon my hands; but the Greek gentleman fhall quickly be dispatched, because I have more business with the Roman.
That which distinguishes Theocritus from all other Poets, both Greek and Latin, and which raises him even above Virgil in his Eclogues, is the inimitable tenderness of his passions, and the natural expresion of them in words so becoming of a paftoral. A fimplicity shines through all he writes. He fhews his art and learning by disguising both. His thepherds never rise above their country education in their complaints of love. There is the same diference betwixt him and Virgil, as there is between Tasso's Aminta and the Pastor Fido of Guarini. Virgil's fhepherds are too well read in the Philosophy of Epicurus and of Plato; and Guarini's seem to have been bred in courts. But Theocritus and Tasso have taken theirs, from cottages and plains. It was said of Taffo, in relation to his fimilitudes, that he never departed from the woods, that is, all his comparisons were taken from the country. The fame may be said of bur Theocritus. He is fofter than Ovid; he touches the passions more delicately, and performs all this out of his own fund, without diving into the arts and sciences for a supply. Even his Doric dialect has an incomparable sweetness in its clownishness, like a fair shepherdess in her country ruffet, talking in a Yorkshire tone. This was impossible for Virgil to imitate; because the severity of the Roman Language denied him that advantage. Spencer has endeavoured it in his Shepherd's Kalendar; but neither will it succeed in English; for which reason I have forbore to attempt it. For Theocritus writ to Sicilians, who spoke that dialect; and I direct this part
translations to our ladies, who neither understand, nor will take pleasure in such homely expreffions. I proceed to Horace.
Take him in parts, and he is chiefly to be considered in his three different talents, as he was a Critic, a Sacirist, and a Writer of Odes. His morals are uniform, and run through all of them; for let his Dutch commentators say what they will, his philosophy was Epicurean; and he made use of Gods and Providence only to serve a turn in Poetry. But since neither his Criticisms, which are the most inftruétive of any that are written in this art, nor his Satires, which are incomparably beyond Juvenal's, if to laugh and rally is to be preferred to railing and declaiming, are no part of my present undertaking, I confine myself wholly to his Odes. These are also of several sorts : fome of them are panegyrical, others moral, the rest jovial, or (if I may fo call them) Bacchanalian. As difficult as he makes it, and as indeed