« AnteriorContinuar »
6 LADY RANDOLPH.*
The youthful warrior is a clod of clay.”
It may not be improper to observe, before we take our leave of this performance, that it was first acted with great applause in Edinburgh it but made its appearance in England under a peculiar disadvantage; the commendation a man of taste had bestowed on it, previous to its representation here, perhaps raised too much expectation in some, and excited a spirit of envy and critical prejudice in others. Possibly, indeed, that gentleman, in
[“When this tragedy was originally produced at Edinburgh, the title of the heroine was Lady Barnard: the alteration to Lady Randolph was made on its being transplanted to London.”—Jackson's Hist. of the Scottish Stage.] † “I have a perfect recollection," says Mr. Mackenzie,
of the strong sensation that Douglas produced in Edinburgh. I was present at the first representation ; the applause was enthusiastic ; but a better criterion of its merits was the tears of the audience, which the tender parts of the drama drew forth unsparingly. The town was in an uproar of exultation, that a
some degree, sacrificed his taste to his friendship. However, if this was the
he will sustain no great loss with regard to his reputation, since he may gain as much on the one hand, as he can lose on the other; the worst that can be said amounting only to this, that the benevolence of his disposition prevailed over the rectitude of his judgment.*
Scotsman should write a tragedy of the first rate, and that its merits were first submitted to them." The appearance, however, of a tragedy written by a clergyman, gave such offence to the Presbytery of Edinburgh, that the author, to escape degradation, abdicated his pulpit.)
[“ As we sat over our tea, at Inverary, Mr. Home's tragedy of Douglas was mentioned. I put Dr. Johnson in mind, that once, in a coffee-house at Oxford, he called to old Mr. Sheridan, · How came you, Sir, to give Home a gold medal for writing that foolish play ? and defied Mr. Sheridan to show ten good lines in it. He did not insist that they should be put together; but that there were not ten good lines in the whole play. He now persisted in this. I endeavored to defend that pathetic and beautiful tragedy, and repeated the following passage :
To take dissimulation's winding way.' JOHNSON.—That will not do, Sir, nothing is good but what is consistent with probability, which this is not. Juvenal, indeed, gives us a noble picture of inflexible virtue:
Esto bonus miles, tutor bonus, arbiter idem,
Et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas.'1 “He repeated the lines with great force and dignity; then added, “And after this comes Johnny Home, with his earth-gaping, and his destructioncrying,'-pooh!”-Boswell, vol. v. p. 106, edit. 1835.]
1 ["Be brave, be just; and, when your country's laws
Call you to witness in a dubious cause,
VI.-CARDINAL DE POLIGNAC'S “ANTI-LUCRETIUS.”
[From the Monthly Review, 1757. "Anti-Lucretius, of God
and Nature; a Poem. Written in Latin by the Cardinal De Polignac. Rendered into English by the Translator of Paradise Lost."* 4to.]
It is a doubt whether the Cardinal de Polignac be better known to the statesmen of Europe as a politician, or to the learned as a poet: it is certain, his talent of persuasion in both capacities was extraordinary; and it is somewhat surprising, that amidst such a multiplicity of state negotiations, as might seem sufficient to engross all his attention, he found leisure for the intricate disquisitions of philosophy. As neither his editor nor our translator have mentioned what first gave rise to this poem, it may not be improper to mention it here: “A seeming chance," as we are told, “first put Polignac upon this undertaking. The author, in his return from Poland, made some stay in Holland,
* (John Dobson, of New College, Oxford. For translating Paradise Lost into Latin verse, Mr. Auditor Benson, who erected a monument to Milton in Westminster Abbey, gave him one thousand pounds. “ Dobson had acquired great reputation by his translation of Prior's Solomon, the first book of which he finished when he was a scholar at Winchester College. He had not, at that time, as he told me (for I knew him well), read Lucretius, which would have given a richness and force to his verses. Mr. Pope wished him to translate the Essay on Man ; which he began to do, but relinquished on account of the impossibility of imitating its brevity in another language.
Though he had so much facility in translating, his original poems, of which I have seen many, were very feeble and flat, and contained no mark of genius.”—DR. JOSEPH WARTON.
“ There is one translation which I greatly admire. I mean Dobson's • Paradisus Amissus; my son studied, and, I believe, read every line of it. It is more true to the original, both in sense and spirit, than any other poetical version of length that I have seen. The author must have had an amazing command of Latin phraseology, and a very nice ear in harmony. All that I could ever hear of Dobson's private life was, that in his old age he was given to drinking.”—DR. BEATTIE.]
where, becoming acquainted with M. Bayle, he asked him, which of the sects in vogue he professed ? Bayle eluded the question, by repeating some lines out of Lucretius; and being closer pressed, he made no other answer than that he was a true Protestant. The Abbé still urging him, he answered with some emotion, 'Yes, Sir, I am a true Protestant, and to the utmost extent of the word, for I protest against all that is said or done;' which was followed by another more energetic repetition from Lucretius. The Abbé finding that learned person far gone in the system of Epicurism, or at least of Skepticism, and that these notions were seducingly advanced in his celebrated Dictionary, immediately conceived a design of refuting those errors, and his two relegations (to the States) proved fortunate for the accomplishment."
Certainly nothing can be a more proper antidote than the “ Anti-Lucretius" against the mischievous doctrines of the charming poet, but indifferent philosopher, here controverted by our author. It must be confessed Lucretius has more poetic enthusiasm, and more frequently amuses his reader with the glowing descriptions of a fine imagination. Our author, with greater severity, seems always in quest of truth, and never loses the philosopher in the poet. Lucretius strikes his reader with the brilliancy of his arguments; the demonstrations of Polignac operate more slowly, but then they are sure to carry conviction. The one aims at instruction merely to please; the other pleases merely to instruct. In short, the fictions of the disciple of Epicurus seem to acquire additional graces from poetry, while poetry receives new graces from his antagonist, by being employed in the service of truth.
Lucretius has long ago been translated into our language. This, in some measure, implied a necessity for translating his opponent also; and the first book of the Anti-Lucretius in Eng.
lish verse, is here submitted, by the ingenious Mr. Dobson, as a specimen of his abilities for the whole. He certainly seems every way equal to the laborious undertaking, if we may be allowed to judge from this part of his performance now before us. preserves the sense, and very seldom loses the spirit of his original. Sometimes, however, he seems inferior to him in strength; thus, line 32, in the original :
“ Incute vim dictis, propriamque ulciscere causam,” he translates less energetically thus:
inspire My song, and vindicate thy sovereign cause." Where the poet rapturously cries out,
“O utinam, dum te regionibus infero sacris"
the translator coolly says,
“ Were mine the gift, as o'er the sacred clime—"
But that the reader may not rest solely upon our judgment, it may be proper to select a specimen or two of the original, to which subjoining the translation, we shall leave him to determine for himself. The author thus addresses the atheist :
“ Si virtutis eras avidus, rectique bonique