« PreviousContinue »
THE MONTHLY ANTHOLOGY.
REMARKS ON ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THE ROMAN
Tityrus, et segetes, Aeneïaque arma legentur,
OVID. AMOR. THESE essays would be enlarged much beyond the length which is intended, were I to attempt analysis of the several original authors that fall under consideration ; an estimate of the comparative excellence of the different works of the same writer; an examination of his claims to the praise of invention, or an exposure of his imitations; and a parallel between authors whose productions are similar in kind. Any thing of this nature, therefore, when offered, must be considered as offered gratuitously, and be received for what it is worth ; and, as it will certainly be superficial, it must be remembered, that it was not intended to be profound.
No ancient classick has, probably, been so much read as Virgil ; and Ovid might have extended his prediction in my motto to the duration of the world, with more propriety than merely to that of Roman grandeur. Virgil wrote at a period, when the language in which his works are composed was in its highest state of purity and refinement.' He was stimulated by the most influential of all excitements, the praise of the great and powerful ; not excepting his sovereign, whose commendation he repaid by incorporating his character with that of the hero of his principal poem. Under imperial patronage, and removed far above the cravings of poverty, he rose from pastoral to georgick, from georgick to epick verse ; and Jeft nothing imperfect which he lived long enough to finish.
For an account of the works ascribed to Virgil, the genuineness of which is in dispute, his editors, Burman and Heyné, may be consulted ; where the most important authorities are cited. English translations have been made chiefly from the Bucolicks, the Georgicks, and the Eneid; which are the only poems of Virgil printed in the Delphin and other editions intended for common use.
The occasion of the first Eclogue, I shall relate in the words of Dryden : “When Augustus had settled himself in the Roman