« PreviousContinue »
Art. IX. Philotoxi Ardenæ ; The Woodmen of Arden; a Latin
Poem : by John Morfice, Esq. Barrister at Law. With a Translation in Blank Verse, another in Rhyme ; attempted in the Manner of Dryden, and dedicated (by Permiflion) to the Right Hon. the Counters of Aylesford ; and an Efray on the Superiority of Dryden's Versification over that of Pope and of the Moderns. By Joseph Weston. 4to. 52 Pages. 25. 6d. Printed at Birming- , ham, and sold in London by Robinsons. 1789. HIS poem is introduced to the reader by the following
prefatory advertisement : . The following lines were written merely for the amusement of a private circle ; but, an ingenious friend having honoured them with a double version, I hereby submit them to the eye of the public, in hopes that any languor in the original will be atoned for by the fpirit of the translations, and the judicious criticism contained in the manly effay that accompanies them.
• Should they tend, in the least degree, to promote the truly British exercise of ARCHERY, the author's most fanguine expectations will be answered. The landscape described in the opening Thews that they were written in a summer month, and the scene is laid in the Forest of Arden, near PACKINGTON Hall, the seat of the Right Hon the Earl of Aylesford.
J. Morfitt. Birmingham, Dec. 15, 1788.' This Latin poem celebrates the Warwickshire heroes and heroines of the bow and arrow. It contains about fourscore verses in long and short metre, not inelegantly written; but, as the author acknowledges, more adapted to the amusement of a private circle, than calculated for general publication. The translator however, with double diligence, has swelled them into an half-crown pamphlet by two different versions ; the last accompanied with an eslay in praise and vindication of Dryden.
These translations have each their merit and defects. There are some stiffnesses in the blank verse, and no very happy imitation of the manner of Dryden in the rhyme, though otherwise not void of spirit.
• Ulmea fiat feries,' is rendered
« There stands an elmy row,' meaning a row of elms ; but we do not believe that there is such a word as elmy in the English language; yet if the next line had not added
· Which may prote& me by abundant shade,' we should have supposed
Quæ magna PROTEGAT umbra,' to be an error of the press ; and we still think the verse would have been more neat and elegant with protegit in the indicative; and certainly more agreeable to the cicada CREPAT,' in the pentameter following. This Latin diftich takes up four lines
of rhyme ; and we cannot hold the two last as very like Dryden, or very close to the line of the original.
• Languida dum nimio sole cicada crepat.'
• Diftending, chirps his plaint with feeble note.' In page 6 of the rhyme are two lines, equally inferior in spirit and expression to the original Latin (p. 8.)
• Fallor? an auriculis modò ftridet arundo volucris ?
• The flying arrow whizzing in my ear?' We do not admire Mr. Weston's modern dalhes either in verse or prose, nor the multitude of italics. Hear and ear are scarcely legitimate rhymes. They are, we may say, the same word; nullum fimile eft idem.
In this essay, which appears to be a needless vindication of Dryden, and as groundless an attack on Pope and Johnson, who have both warmly acknowledged the poet's transcendent merit, he considers Pope and his imitators as enemies to the use of Alexandrines. But the fact is otherwise, Pope only censures the mechanical use of them :
“ A NEEDLESS Alexandrine ends the fong.” Mr. Weston, intending, as we suppose, to imitate Dryden, closes almost every section (if we may so call it, speaking of a poem) with an Alexandrine, many of which are needless, and
“ Like a wounded snake, drag their sow length along?" Exempli gratiâ :
And books, which Attic honey plenteously distil:' or what is better,
• With dignity enjoy'd, while copying from his King!" and then a roaring couplet,
· Tame-who, of triple augmentation proud,
• Rolls his united streams, and roars bis joy aloud! And then,
• Exulting York, distinguish'd from the rest,
• Displays the corneous glory on his verdant veft.' The corneous glory, unintelligible in English, fignifies a horn Spoon, assigned to the shooter of the arrow within the target, but fartheft from the center. In Latin it is not ill expressed,
• Cornea dum viridi gloria vefte nitet.' But Dryden would not so have translated it into English; and, what is whimsical, the present poet in bis Miltonics, familiarly writes, and nearer his original,
• Firm is the footstep of exulting York,
• Cornea dum viridi gloria veste nitet.' Not to fatigue the reader with more of these needless Alexandrines, we shall only cite one other passage from the poem and the tranflations,
The victor archer is thus elegantly described in the Latin poem :
• Mulia laude fedens vietor dat jura, bibendi
• And who rejects the sparkling beverage-flies.' We do not much admire the sparkling beverage, nor perfe&tly recollect the Grecian friciness; and looking back to our days of conviviality, cannot recognise the expression of flies, applied by any toast master, whom Mr. Morfitt properly styles bibendi arbiter. Where is Mr. Weston lord of the feast, and used to issue his commands in such terms?
We shall now take leave of all this Latin and English, this private and public poem, by allowing considerable merit to the original and to the translations; and hoping our readers will not say that the Latin and English are both Greek to them. Colon. Art. X. Sonnets and Miscellaneous Poems. By the late Thomas
Ruffel, Fellow of New College, Oxford. 4to. 62 pages. 38.
language which breaks forth in most of them, proves that the author (as hath been too often the case with other poets) was
“ A man of many forrows." In this collection, are several translations from the Greek, Italian, and Portuguese : indeed the original pieces are strongly tindtured with the poetry of the Italian school.
We expected to have seen some verses in this collection, be. ginning to a friend fo fincere, a companion fo gay,
• Who brought cares on himself, to drive our's away :' of which Mr. Russel was said to have been the author.
After perusing these poems, we venture to pronounce, that, with a few exceptions, they possess the elegiac softness, and harmonious periods of Gray, without his tendency to obscurity and fustian. As a specimen, we will select the tenth sonnet:
• Could then the babes from yon un shelter'd cot
A hope perhaps more heavenly bright than thine,
Shall gild their passage to eternal rest.'
· Was the son of an eminent attorney at Bridport * in Dorsetshire. After spending some years at a grammar-school in that county, he was removed to Winchester, and in 1780 elected fellow of New College, Oxford. In this situation he was eminently distinguished by his classical knowledge, and an extensive acquaintance with the belt authors in the French, Italian, Spanith, Portuguese, and German languages. · But his progress in literature was checked by a lingering illness, which terminated in a consumption of the langs.'
He died at Bristol, July 31, 1788, in the 26th year of his age.
Art. XI. Arundel. By the Author of the Observer. 12mo. 2 Vols.
55. fewed. Dilly. 1789.
Iberland, who has given several dramatic and other performances to the world; and to whom, although be has not always succeeded in his endeavours to please, we must on the whole acknowlege ourselves indebted for no inconfiderable portion of entertainment. Arundel, if we mist, ke not, is his coup d'essai as a novelist. We cannot compliment him on its positive excellence ; but if we compare it with the equivocals which have lately, and in such prodigious numbers, started into exiftence- an insect kind of existence occafioned by the beams emitted from the eye
of beauty, and which, when that eye hath withdrawn its influence, presently return to their original nothingness,-in such a comparison, we say, the writer of the present work will appear to considerable advantage. But ftul the production before us posfefes not the requisites of a legitimate novel. The characters (with the exception of Arundel) are only faint and imperfect Sketches, and such as we have long been accustomed to see. The sentiments which are put into the mouths of the principal personages, it must be owned, are often manly and spirited, tender and pathetic; they manifest a confiderable knowlege of the human heart, yet what we have to complain of is, that these pertonages are not sufficiently drawn out or called into action. They talk about vircue and vice, and they describe the effects of the paflions sometimes with confiderable energy: but in performances in this line of writing, which confiderably partakes of the narure of the drama, we expect to see the characters
* We are informed that Beamister, in that county, was the place of his birth.
brought forward in a bold and spirited manner: we expect to see them virtuous or wicked, as different circumstances may operate on their different inclinations and tempers; and we likewise expect to be left, for the most part, to our own reflec. tions on the matter. This is what we are desirous of seeing; and if this be neglected, the novel loses its diftinguithing feature, and becomes didactic.-l instructs by precept instead of example.
Of Arundel, the gentle yet magnanimous Arundel, we must say a word or two. He is represented as a man of genius, poor, and consequently in some fort dependant, yet possessing ac the same time that nice sense of honour, that just and laudable pride, which spurns at the least indignity that is offered to him Son account of his situation in life : for it is an undoubted truth, that indignity ever is, we had almost said that it ever mu? be, offered to the unfortunate -Man of virtue! enquire not why this should necessarily be ; the problem is not to be resolved here.
Now such being the character of Mr. Cumberland's hero, we find him continually involved in difficulties which the more prudent and the more complaisant among mankind will certainly avoid. Placed by his father, wbo is of a mean and groveling spirit, as private secretary to a man in power, he receives, on quitting the paternal roof, the following truly humiliating charge :
• Be always ready at the call, nay at the very nod of your principal. Study his looks so as to anticipate, if possible, his wishes, before he can give them utterance. Make friends with all that are of his family or connections: none are to be neglected by you, not even his domestics, for they have much to say, and many opportunities to say it in. His lordfhip, you well know, is of a lofty nature, high in blood, rich in honours, and replete with power, authority and wealth. His humour therefore must be your law, and in all things you must accord to it: if you thwart it, you are undone: if you foothe it, your fortune is made.' To this he answers, in the language of a Christian,
The lessons of humility which you are pleased to bestow upon me, I shall ftrive to profit by.' At the same time adding, ' But I Thall hope to find Lord G. 100 noble to demand those abject alliduities which would degrade my character, and reflect no honour upon his.' An admirable observation; and originating in fo refined and generous a principle, that we hope it may operate, in some degree, on the monied upstarts of the day; so that by awakening a sense of noblene/s in their bosoms, or, failing in that, a sense of foame, ihey may be deterred from insulting, in any gross degree, the man of calents who may be in want; and who, being lo, is necessarily deserted by the wo:ld: we say in any grofs degree, for when we reflect on the general depravity among man