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Dean. The ancients seemed to think there was no joy without
The Spaniards say, now, “ What is not spent in wine, is spent in sorrow.”
Doctor. There is nothing we do not find in the ancients—there is our drawing round the fire with our bottle in Horace.
Professor. Where, Doctor most doctus–0, I remember !—their knees under the maple I suppose :
“ Dissolve frigus, ligno super foco
Large reponens,” &c.
Dear friend, and make a rousing fire.” Doctor. I marvel what wood they burned at the Sabine farm ; aloes, no doubt? The wine, I know, was brought in Saguntine pitchers.
Egrappé. How you know dat, Doctare? Horace had amphore what had no feet to stand upon.
Professor. Flasks, too, in the necks of which they poured oil; a mode of preserving wine sound which is fully equal to a cork.
Doctor. Juvenal would say to his boy, “Unoil that wine," just as we should say, “ Uncork that bottle;" how much smoother it sounds !
Professor. Smooth as good wine, which should be like velvet upon the tongue, or soft as eider down, and looking oily on the side of the glass, rich as Suckling's description of his mistress :
“ No grape that's ever pluck'd could be
Nor half as full of juice.” Dean. Decorum, Professor! You are wandering away from the tombs, from the solemn to
Professor. Not to the unworthy, Dean; “out of the frying pan into the fire,” that was all. This reminds me of the gin-drinking cook's Epitaph :
“ Here lies a poor cook whom hard drinking had killid,
Of his fate should you further enquire,
From the frying pan into the fire!”
Professor. Dulce domum !-home again, Doctor! next door to Horace.
Dean. Well, grace dwelt with the ancients—their very drunkards inebriate like gentlemen of taste. Their roses and garlands, their flowers on tombs, and myrtle and cypress leaves, are sweet images :
“ Here wine and oil and roses bring,
Too short-lived children of the spring !" says he of the Sabine farm :
“ With wreaths of roses crown'd,
Let laughter and the cup go round,” sings Anacreon.
Now we of the North, even in the maiden reign, could not produce verse on the subject much more elegant than in the quotations :
“ Leave your prittle prattle, let's have a pottle !" or, to be more epic, as we find in an old play :
“ O for a bowl of fat Canarie,
Rich Palermo, sparkling Sherry !" And Doctor Johnson, still later, wrote
"Come, my lads, and drink some beer.” Professor. That is going too far. Look at our translations of Anacreon, Dean.
Dean. I only speak of what is original; translations bear me out in my remark, and some of these are not up to the mark.
Professor. No translation can equal the original. Anacreon is very unequally rendered : take bis concise Ode XIX of the common edition, or XXI of the Vatican. Moore is not so happy in this Ode as in others, if his translation be not altogether a paraphrase. Without being paraphrastic, how was the translation to be made at all ? may be justly inquired. Cowley paraphrases and amplifies too, but his is the English for me : he toys freely with his author, he plays gracefully, and wantons elegantly with his verse, as Anacreon himself would have done in a like case. What language could reach the condensation and beauty of the Greek, just seven lines ?*
“ The thirsty earth drinks up the rain,
And drinks and gapes for drink again.
up the sea ; and when he's done
* Η γη μέλαινα πίνει,
Πίνει δε δένδρε' αυτήν.
Κ' αυτό θέλοντι πίνειν. The word avpas here has puzzled the commentators, who think it should be avavpous, and with some reason, as the
sea drinking up the air is not very intelligible. The sea drinking up the rivers is rational. Moore makes vapours of the Greek expression, but the vapours do not feed the deep, but ascend from it
. "Tis true they come back in rain; but that seems too roundabout a process for the great poet to intend.
Egrappé. A bumper to Monsieur Cowley!
Professor. Cowley was a poet translating a poet; now let us hear Fawkes. It seems very plain that he had Cowley before him while he was at work.
“ The thirsty earth drinks up the showers
Which from his urn Aquarius pours." This Aquarius is very poor!
“ The trees, which wave their boughs profuse, *
Imbibe the earth's prolific juice.” Not much better, Master Fawkes !
“ The sea, in his prodigious cup,t
Drinks all the rain and rivers up;
My friends, should all things drink but I !”
“ Observe when mother earth is dry
She drinks the droppings of the sky;
And pledge the universe in wine!” Now this, though far above Fawkes, is not equal to the translation by Moore of the other odes, some of which are so beautiful. Cowley carries the palm, and he makes a vast deal of the Greek, which is simply
“The black earth drinks, and the trees drink the earth ; the sea drinks the air, and the sun the sea, and the moon the sun. Why, then, argue with me, friends, and I equally willing to drink?"
Egrappé. One grand critic, M. Professor; one grand critique, indeed! De did make much of von littel ting.
Professor. Often the case with scholars, my friend; but then little things are often very beautiful. Burke thinks a great thing cannot be beautiful, or, at all events, cannot be pretty.
Dean. The ancients always mingled" love, friendship, poesy, or
• Bad enough!
† The sea drinks the ocean in a cup !-out of a cup. Here the cup and sea both seem to drink,
something agreeable in conversation, with their wine. They did not seem to take it wholly for its own sake.
Professor. That is true. They thought to take wine alone for its own sake was in very bad taste ; they had no notion of swallowing “ wine as a sow does whey”—“ Beber vino como puerca suero.” Besides, wine kindled the fire of verse in old time, when a Greek author wrote
“ Wine is the poet's generous horse ;
But water drinkers' works, of course,
Are languid, cold, and void of force." We will touch upon this matter at another symposium. Come, a full glass, Monsieur Egrappé : let us kiss the crimson lips that peer over the edge. Dean. Good.
oscula quæ Venus
In her celestial dew." Egrappé. Ver good, M. Dean ; you are destined to restore de fading glory of de church-you know what be de good tings. So in mine pays did de good faders of de Hermitage at Tain, where they first grew their nice vine. Ve owe all de good vine to de church-to de monastery.
Professor. The church bad always an instinct in discriminating good things; but it must be recollected that all the knowledge of the time was concentrated in the monasteries, and they enjoyed what their knowledge taught them to create. In the corners of their cells they relished the genial juice, and mortified the flesh only in public. The " Author of Vathek” admirably describes one of the fraternity of Alcobaça, or Batalha, I forget which, who taking too much was borne from the table in tears, having been overtaken with a fit of pathetic inebriety-how caustic! He“ drained a huge silver goblet to the Jast drop, and falling back in his chair, was carried out, chair and all, weeping, puling, and worse than drivelling, with such maudlin tenderness, that he actually marked his path with his liquid sorrows." Admirably sketched are the monastic scenes in that work. Mr. Beckford is the Hogarth of the pen. But the bottle is out, let us order Hermitage, for the sake of the fathers of Tain, and the arrowy blue Rhone."
Let us drink the memory of the sense-mortifying hermit, who first planted the Condrieu vine for its production.
Egrappé. Ah ! de glorious sun did ripen it dare, dat noblest motive for wine coolers.
Professor. The captain still sleeps-hollo! Seymour, here is a new wine-rouse ! you make us think indeed that melancholy was not made for animals.
Seymour (yawning). I have the blue devils-wine makes them
Egrappé. Sare, sare, you do ravish all de commandiments,-jure de vino.
Seymour. Leave me alone, Jean Crappo! I am savage !-(Sleeps again.)
Professor. “ Leave me, leave me to repose !” Let him sleep, Monsieur, he is defunct; you will not get him into sailing trim, but by leaving his bark to right itself; you may as well hunt for truffles in the sea—“ Pedir cotufas en el golfo.”
Egrappé. But he lose all our joke. - Professor. Let him starve—the loss is his, and no great one either; you will not live in a Torre della fama of that sort, I will answer for it, Egrappé.
Egrappé. I do love for causer, dat is true.
Professor. Therefore you love the cause pour causer, Monsieur, ergo, pass the bottle. Doctor. This is “ wine of one ear,” very fair indeed.
Professor. “Vino de una oreja,” Doctor, to which we only give one shake of the head, a mere nod. With bad wine it is “ vino de dos orejos,” wine of two ears, because people shake both at it. Egrappé (humming a tune).
“ à l'amour des belles
J'ai mêlé le gout du vin.”
Professor. I like his invincible spirit, his unconquerable humour too. He is often inexcusably indecent, and, what is much worse, apt to be too familiar with sacred things, not in the view of priests alone, but of good men, priests or laymen. His writings, however, are, a goodly proportion of them, free from this imputation-some pathetic, some bewitchingly homely and snug, some wittily numerous, others caustic in political allusions. I know no one in England as a song writer, who ever resembled Beranger, or approached near him in the points where he excels. Again, the wit too fine, like that in the “ School for Scandal,” would not be relished here. He is not buffoon enough for Joannes Taurus. His elastic spirit has taken up subjects of the most trivial character, and imbued them at times with deep interest. From "joy to grief,” is no effort with him. Pathetic, humorous, moral, immoral, lofty at times, familiar, humble, I will not say vulgar, philosophic, full of humanity, he touches every natural string, and the notes are always in accordance with nature. He is said to compose with Jabour, yet nothing can be more easy than his verse. His satire cuts deep, and is only well understood by his countrymen and a few foreigners who study the French feeling and politics. His pen has always vanquislied the sword of power. From Louis le "Cochon to Cárle the monk he had a moral triumph.
He did not ask the censor; for when he knew he dared not publish a song openly, it was in MS. circulated, and, to the honour of the French character, brought its reward. In prison he was merry at the expense of the Crown lawyers, and the French paid his fines in one day's collection. So much for a people who feel what literature is, and will stand by the advocates of freedom. There is “ The Comet of 1832," neither political nor amatory, but charming.
Dean. Give it to us.