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OF THE SATIRES AND EPISTLES OF HORACE
IMITATED, OF THE SATIRES OF DONNE
VERSIFIED, AND OF THE EPILOGUE
TO THE SATIRES.
WHEN I had a fever one winter in town, (said Pope to Mr. SPENCE,) that confined me to my room for five or six days, Lord BOLINGBROKE came to see me, happened to take up a Horace that lay on the table, and, in turning it over, dipt on the first satire of the second book. He observed, how well that would suit my case, if I were to imitate it in English. After he was gone, I read it over, translated it in a morning or two, and sent it to press in a week or fortnight. after. And this was the occasion of my imitating some other of the Satires and Epistles.” “To how casual a beginning (adds Spence) are we obliged for the most delightful things in our language ! When I was saying to him, that he had already
imitated near a third part of Horace's Satires and Epistles, and how much it was to be wished that he would go on with them, he could not believe that he had gone near so far; but, upon computing it, it appeared to be above a third. He seemed on this not disinclined to carry it farther; but his last illness was then growing upon him, and robbed us of him, and of all hopes of that kind, in a few months."*
No parts of our author's works have been more admired than these imitations. The aptness of the allusions, and the happiness of many of the parallels, give a pleasure that is always no smah one to the mind of a reader, the pleasure of comparison. He that has the least acquaintance with these pieces of Horace, which resemble the Old Comedy, immediately perceives, indeed, that our author has assumed a higher tone, and frequently has desertedt the free, colloquial air, the
* Transcribed from Spence's Anecdotes, 1754.
+ After all that has been said of Horace, by so many critics, ancient and modern, perhaps no words can describe him so exactly and justly, as the following of Tully, spoken on ano
insinuating Socratic manner of his original; and that he clearly resembles in his style, as he did in his natural temper, the severe and serious Juvenal, more than the smiling and sportive Horace. Let us select some passages, in which he may be thought to have equalled, excelled, or fallen short of, the original; the latter of which cannot be deemed a disgrace to our poet, or to any other writer, if we consider the extreme difficulty of transfusing into another language, the subtle beauties of Horace's dignified familiarity, and the uncommon union of so much facility and force.
ther subject. Lib. i. de Oratore. Accedit lepos quidam, facetiaque, & eruditio libero digna, celeritasque & brevitas respondendi & lacessendi subtili venustate & urbanitate conjuncta.
* Sat. 1. lib. 1. v. 4,
Tim'rous by nature, of the rich in awe,
HORACE, with much seeming seriousness, applies for advice to the celebrated Roman lawyer, C. Trebatius Testa, an intimate friend of Julius Cæsar, and of Tully, as appears
as appears from many of his epistles to Atticus; the gravity and self-importance of whose character is admirably supported throughout this little drama. His answers are short, authoritative, and decisive. Quiescas. Aio. And, as he was known to be a great drinker and swimmer, his two absurd pieces of advice have infinite pleasantry. All these circumstances of humour are dropt in the copy.
The Lettuce and Cowslip-wine are insipid and unmeaning prescriptions, and have nothing to do with Mr. Fortescue's character. The third, fourth and ninth lines of this imitation are flat and languid. We must also observe, (from the old Commentator,*) that the verbs transnanto, and habento, are, in the very style of the Roman law, “ Vide ut directis jurisconsultorum verbis utitur ad Trebatium jurisconsultum.
2. Aut si tantus amor scribendi te rapit, aude
Cæsaris invicti res dicere, multa laborum
Or, if you needs must write, write Cæsar's praise ;
This is superior to the original, because præmia laturus is general and flat, in comparison of the particular rewards here specified.
* There are many excellent remarks in Acro and Porphyrio; from whom, as well as from Cruquius, Dacier has borrowed much, without owning it. Dacier's translation of Horace is not equal to his Aristotle's Poetics. In the former, he is perpetually striving to discover new meanings in his author, which Boileau called, The Revelations of Dacier.
+ Ver. 10.