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places made examples to his rules. Yet, withal, I must acknowledge, that I have many times exceeded my commiffion: for I have both added and omitted, and even fometimes very boldly made fuch expofitions of my authors, as no Dutch commentator will forgive me. Perhaps, in fuch particular paffages, I have thought that I discovered fome beauty yet undiscovered by those pedants, which none but a Poet could have found. Where I have taken away fome of their expreffions, and cut them fhorter, it may poffibly be on this confideration, that what was beautiful in the Greek or Latin, would not appear fo fhining in the English. And where I have enlarged them, I defire the falfe critics would not always think, that thofe thoughts are wholly mine, but that either they are fecretly in the Poet, or may be fairly deduced from him; or at least, if both those confiderations fhould fail, that my own is of a piece with his, and that if he were living, and an Englishman, they are fuch as he would probably have written.
For, after all, a translator, is to make his author appear as charming as poffibly he can, provided he maintains his character, and makes him not unlike himself. Tranflation is a kind of drawing after the life; where every one will acknowledge there is a double fort of likeness, a good one and a bad. It is one thing to draw the out-lines true, the features like, the proportions exact, the colouring itfelf perhaps tolerable; and another thing to make all these graceful, by the posture, the shadowings, and chiefly by the fpirit which animates the whole. I cannot, without fome indignation, look on an ill copy of an excellent original. Much lefs can I behold with patience Virgil, Homer, and fome others, whofe beauties I have been endeavouring all my life to imitate, fo abused, as I may fay, to their faces, by
a botching interpreter. What English readers, unacquainted with Greek or Latin, will believe me, or any other man, when we commend thofe authors, and confefs we derive all that is pardonable in us from their fountains, if they take thofe to be the fame Poets, whom our Ogilbys have tranflated? But I dare affure them, that a good poet is no more like himself, in a dull translation, than his carcafe would be to his living body. There are many who underftand Greek and Latin, and yet are ignorant of their mother tongue. The proprieties and delicacies of the English are known to few: it is impoffible even for a good wit to understand and practise them, without the help of a liberal education, long reading, and digefting of thofe few good authors we have amongst us, the knowledge of men and manners, the freedom of habitudes and converfation with the best of company of both fexes; and, in fhort, without wearing off the ruft, which he contracted, while he was laying in a flock of learning. Thus difficult it is to understand the purity of English, and critically to difcern not only good writers from bad, and a proper ftyle from a corrupt, but also to distinguish that which is pure in a good author, from that which is vicious and corrupt in him. And for want of all thefe requifites, or the greatest part of them, moft of our ingenious young take men fome cried-up English Poet for their model, adore him, and imitate him, as they think, without knowing wherein he is defective, where he is boyish and trifling, wherein either his thoughts are improper to his subject, or his expreffions unworthy of his thoughts, or the turn of both is unharmonious. Thus it appears neceffary, that a man fhould be a nice critic in his mother. tongue, before he attempts to tranflate a foreign language. Neither is it fufficient, that he be able
to judge of words and ftyle; but he must be a mater of them too: He muft perfectly understand his author's tongue, and abfolutely command his own. So that, to be a thorough tranflator, he must be a thorough Poet. Neither is it enough to give his author's fenfe in good English, in poetical expreffions, and in mufical numbers: for, though all these are exceeding difficult to perform, there yet remains an harder task; and it is a fecret of which few tranflators have fufficiently thought. I have already hinted a word or two concerning it; that is, the maintaining the character of an author, which diftinguishes him from all others, and makes him appear that individual Poet whom you would interpret. For example, not only the thoughts, but the ftyle and verfification, of Virgil and Ovid are very different. Yet I fee, even in our beft Poets, who have tranflated fome parts of them, that they have confounded their feveral talents; and, by endeavouring only at the sweetness and harmony of numbers, have made them both fo much alike, that if I did not know the originals, I should never be able to judge by the copies, which was Virgil, and which was Ovid. It was objected against a late noble painter, (Sir P. Lely,) that he drew many graceful pictures, but few of them were like. And this happened to him, because he always ftudied himself more than thofe who fat to him. In fuch tranflators I can easily distinguish the hand which performed the work, but I cannot diftinguish their Poet from another. Suppose two authors are equally sweet, yet there is a great diftinction to be made in fweetnefs; as in that of fugar, and that of honey. I can make the difference more plain, by giving you (if it be worth knowing) my own method of proceeding, in my tranflations out of four feveral Poets; Virgil, Theo
critus, Lucretius, and Horace. In cach of these, before I undertook them, I confidered the genius and diftinguishing character of my author. I looked on Virgil as a fuccinct, grave, and majestic writer; one who weighed, not only every thought, but every word and fyllable: who was ftill aiming to crowd his fenfe into as narrow compafs as poffibly he could; for which reafon he is fo very figurative, that he requires (I may almost fay) a grammar apart to conftrue him. His verfe is every where founding the very thing in your ears whofe fenfe it bears: yet the numbers are perpetually varied, to increase the delight of the reader; so that the fame founds are never repeated twice together. On the contrary, Ovid and Claudian, though they write in ftyles differing from each other, yet have each of them but one fort of mufic in their verfes. All the verfification and little variety of Claudian is included within the compafs of four or five lines, and then he begins again in the fame tenour; perpetually clofing his fenfe at the end of a verfe, and that verfe commonly which they call golden, or two fubftantives and two adjectives, with a verb betwixt them to keep the peace. Ovid, with all his fweetnefs, has as little variety of numbers and found as he he is always as it were, upon the hand-gallop, and his verse runs upon carpet ground. He avoids, like the other, all Synalæpha's, or cutting off one vowel when it comes before another, in the following word. But to return to Virgil, though he is smooth where smoothness is required, yet he is fo far from affecting it, that he feems rather to difdain it; frequently makes ufe of Synalæpha's, and concludes his fenfe in the middle of his verfe. He is every where above conceits of epigrammatic wit, and grofs hyperboles: he maintains majefly in the midst of plainnefs; he fhines, but glares not;
and is ftately without ambition, which is the vice of Lucan. I drew my definition of poetical wit from my particular confideration of him: for: priety of thoughts and words are only to be found in him; and, where they are proper, they will be delightful. Pleasure follows of neceffity, as the effect does the cause; and therefore is not to be put into the definition. This exact propriety of Virgil I particularly regarded, as a great part of his character; but muft confefs, to my fhame, that I have not been able to tranflate any part of him fo well, as to make him appear wholly like himfelf. For where the original is clofe, no verfion can reach it in the fame compass. Hannibal Caro's, in the Italian, is the nearest, the moft poetical, and the most fonorous of any tranflation of the Eneid: yet, though he takes the advantage of blank verfe, he commonly allows two lines for one of Virgil, and does not always hit his fenfe. Taffo tells us, in his letters, that Sperone Speroni, à great Italian wit, who was his contemporary, observed of Virgil and Tully, that the Latin Orator endeavoured to imitate the copioufness of Homer, the Greek Poet; and that the Latin Poet made it his bufinefs to reach the concifenefs of Demofthenes, the Greek Orator. Virgil therefore, being fo very fparing of his words, and leaving fo much to be imagined by the reader, can never be tranflated as he ought, in any modern tongue. Το make him copious is to alter his character; and to tranflate him line for line is impoffible, because the Latin is naturally a more fuccinct language than either the Italian, Spanish, French, or even than the English, which, by reafon of its monofyllables, is far the most compendious of them. Virgil is much the clofeft of any Roman Poet, and the Latin hexameter has more feet than the English heroic.