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them on many accounts, for well lie the pancettat, and have an old liking for his friend :=we like the taste they express in friendship and in beauty; and we like to faney that our goodt: humoured ancestors in Barbadoes enjoyed the governor'a society, and relished their wine with these identical triplets,
TO MY FRIEND THE AUTHOR, DESIRING MY OPINION OF HIS
Jealousies were much the same in the es as the present, but we hear a great
an the rese: because genius survives ot.
at philosophers had a
by inscribing treatises tho
re thing in Xenophon atioi
e greater part of the the
or we should doubt
irse of their authors. ily,
d Moschus, are very S
oets, scarcely survive H
id Ovid ; all of whom
were fɔnd of paying their tributes of admiration. Dante does the same to his contemporaries and predecessors. Petrarch and Boccaccio publicly honoured, as they privately loved, each other. Tasso, the greatest poet of his time, was also the greatest panegyrist; and so, as might be expected, was Ariosto. He has introduced a host of his friends by name, male and female, at the end of his great work, coming down to the shores of poetry to welcome him home after his voyage. There is a pleasant imitation of it by Gay, applied to Pope's conclusion of Homer. Montaigne, who had the most exalted notions of friendship, which he thought should have everything in common, took as much zeal in the literary reputation of his friends as in everything else that concerned them. The wits of the time of Henry IV., of Louis XIV., and of Louis XV.Malherbe, Racan, Corneille, Molière, Racine, Chaulieu, La Fare, D'Alembert, Voltaire, &c., not excepting Boileau, where he knew a writer-all do honour in this respect to the sociality of their nation. It is the same, we believe, with the German writers; and if the Spanish winced a little under the domination of Lope de Vega, they were chivalrous in giving him perhaps more than his due. Camoëns had the admiration of literary friends as poor as himself, if he had nothing else: but this was something [NOTE.—The initials near the commencement of this paper are certainly those of
“ K." was doubtless Keats. “M.” have been Thomas Moore. “ R.” was perhaps Henry Robertson, a familiar friend of Leigh Hunt's. “C." I judge to be Mr Charles Cowden Clarke (a triple C.), who, it is pleasant to think, is still vigorously working for the instruction of the present generation. “H." must have been Hazlitt, and “N.,” I suppose, Novello. “ B.” was possibly Barnes, editor of the Times; and “S.” and “L." were unquestionably Shelley and Lamb. - ED.)
HOOLE'S AND FAIRFAX'S TASSO,
Y far the best-known translation of the “Jerusalem De
livered” of Tasso, is Mr Hoole's. It has appeared, and
still appears, in editions of all sizes; and is gathered as a matter of course into collections of the British Poets. The sole reason of this is, not that Mr Hoole translated the work, but that his original was Tasso. It is the name of Tasso, solely, that has carried him on from generation to generation, like a corpse attached to the immortal spirit of the Italian, and making it dull with the burden.
The republication, in various quarters, of the finer translation by Fairfax, will doubtless help to detach one idea from the other; but as Mr Hoole's version has also been often reprinted of late, and as Fairfax himself presents some difficulties in the way of popularity, a few observations on the two works may not be useless in furthering the public interests of poetry.
Hoole is a singular example of the popularity which a man may obtain by taking up a great author to translate with whom he has nothing in common, and merely subserving to the worst taste of the times. Some readers put faith in the imposture from the mere name of the original, some from a deference to the translator's knowledge of Italian, some from the recommendation of any living author who has talent in anything, some from a real wish to be acquainted with a great poet, some from national self-love, some from indolence of various kinds,
many from the habit of acquiescing in anything after their own fashion, and many more because the rest have done so before them. Yet many of these, with whatever sincerity they have praised the original author, would have thought no higher of him than of some middle writers of their own country, as indeed has frequently been the case ; and others, who have undertaken to agree with the lovers of his native language in their enthusiasm about his pathos and dignity, or his vivacity, naiveto, &c., would have owned, if they had the courage, what a dull fellow they could not help thinking him. The rest, who really loved and understood poctry, Italian or English, could only sit still and wonder at all this, preferring, at the risk of being thought foolish or pedantic, the old obsolete translators of Shakspeare's time, when “our language," saith Mr IIoole, in its rudiments." It was lucky, however, for this gentleman, that he had the period he wrote in almost all to himself. There was not a single real poet surviving, except Cowper. Gray, Armstrong, Akenside, Collins, Churchill.--everybody was gone who was likely to detect him publicly; and the age, in every respect, was then in the fulness of its poctical emptiness. The French school was in its last weedy exuberance. The apprentices and their mistresses, in their pretty transparent acrostic masks, walked forth by hundreds to meet each other in Poet's Corner in the magazines ; and as nobody knew anything about poetry, except that it had to repeat "ingenious" commonplaces, to rhyme upon heart, impart, love, prove, &c., and to pause, as Pope did, upon the fourth and listh syllables, everybody could write poetry, and admit it in others : Pope, whose real merits they did not understand after all, was the greatest poet that ever lived ; next to him were Goldsmith, and Collins, and Gray, the two latter, however, very little understood ; then), or perhaps before them, was Dr Johnson, whom our master at school give us as a poetical model : then came, in their respective circles, though at due distance, Mr Jenkins, Mr Tomkins, or Mr Hipkins, who wrote lines on the beautiful Miss 1. of Bristol, or the charming Miss Z. of Fish Street Hill; and nothing was wanting to make such a person as Mr Hoole a great and popular writer with these gentlemen and ladies, but that he should write a great quantity of verses; which he accordingly did.
That Dr Johnson should speak a good word for Mr Hoole, much less write a dedication for him, is not surprising ; though what a poet must he be who goes to another to write a dedication for him! Johnson was in the habit of writing dedications for those who were conscious of not being good turners of a prose paragraph, and who wished to approach the great with a proper one; and Mr Hoole, it seems, was among these modest persons, though he did not scruple to approach Tasso and Ariosto with his poetry. The dedication, which is to the late Queen,* and which expresses a wish that Tasso had lived in a happier time, and experienced from the descendants of the House of Este “a more liberal and potent patronage,” is elegant and to the purpose. The good word is a mere word, and very equivocal besides. Johnson, who is now pretty generally understood not to have been so good a critic in poetry as he was strong in general understanding, and justly eminent in some respects, might have been very capable of applauding a translation upon Mr Hoole's principles ; but it is more than to be suspected that he would have desired a higher order of workmanship out of the manufactory. Hoole was a pitch too low for his admiration, though it appeared he had private qualities sufficient to secure his good wishes ; and even those, there is good reason to conclude, could not have prevented a feeling of contempt for a translator of great poets who could come to him for a dedication. When Boswell, in one of his maudlin fits of adulation, affected to consider something with Goldsmith's name to it as supplied by the Doctor, the latter could not restrain his scorn; and said, that Gold
* Queen Charlotte,' wife of George III. She died in 1818.-En.