« ПредишнаНапред »
me, that if I had the good happiness to have my dwelling (which is placed by my creat-cranfather upon the pottom of an hill) no farther distance but twenty mile from the Lofer's Leap, I could indeed indeafour to preak my neck upon it on purpose. Now, good Mister SPICTATUR of Crete Prittain, you must know it, there iss in Caernarvanshire a fery pig mountain, the clory of all Wales, which is named Penmainmaure, and you must also know it iss no great journey on foot from me; but the road is stony and bad for shooes. Now there is upon the forehead of this mountain a very high rock (like a parish steeple) that cometh a huge deal over the sea; so when I am in my melancholies, and I do throw myself from it, I do desire my fery good friend to tell me in his Spictatur, if I shall be cure of my griefous lofes; for there is the sea clear as the class, and ass creen as the leek: then likewise, if I be drown, and preak my neck, if Mrs. Gwinifrid will not lofe me afterwards. Pray be speedy in your answers, for I am in crete haste, and it is my tesires to do my pusiness without loss of time. I remain with cordial affections, your ever lofing friend,
"DAVYTH AP SHENKYN."
"P. S. My law-suits have brought me to London, but I have lost my causes; and so have made my resolutions to go down and leap before the frosts begin; for I am apt to take colds."
Ridicule, perhaps, is a better expedient against love than sober advice, and I am of opinion that Hudibras and Don Quixote may be as effectual to cure the extravagances of this passion, as any of the old philosophers. I shall therefore publish, very speedily, the translation of a little Greek manuscript, which is sent me by a learned friend. It appears to have been a piece of those records which were kept in the little temple of Apollo, that stood upon the promontory of Leucate. The reader will find it to be the summary account of several persons who tried the lover's leap, and of the success they found in it. As there seem to be in it some anachronisms and deviations from the ancient orthography, I am not wholly satisfied myself that it is authentic, and not rather the production of one of those Grecian sophisters, who have imposed upon the world several spurious works of this nature. I speak this by way of precaution, because I know there are several writers, of uncommon erudition,
who would not fail to expose my ignorance if they caught me tripping in a matter of so great moment.
No. 229. THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22.
-Spirat adhuc amor
Vivuntque commissi calores
Eoliæ fidibus puellæ.
AMONG the many famous pieces of antiquity which are still to be seen at Rome, there is the trunk of a statue which has lost the arms, legs, and head; but discovers such an exquisite workmanship in what remains of it, that Michael Ângelo declared he had learned his whole art from it. deed he studied it so attentively, that he made most of his statues, and even his pictures, in that Gusto, to make use of the Italian phrase; for which reason this maimed statue is still called Michael Angelo's school.
A fragment of Sappho, which I design for the subject of this paper, is in as great reputation among the poets and critics, as the mutilated figure above-mentioned is among the statuaries and painters. Several of our countrymen, and Mr. Dryden in particular, seem very often to have copied after it in their dramatic writings and in their poems upon love.
Whatever might have been the occasion of this Ode, the English reader will enter into the beauties of it, if he supposes it to have been written in the person of a lover sitting by his mistress. I shall set to view three different copies of this beautiful original; the first is a translation by Catullus, the second by Monsieur Boileau, and the last by a gentleman whose translation of the Hymn to Venus has been so deservedly admired.
Ille mî par esse deo videtur,
Dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis
Lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus
My learned reader will know very well the reason why one of these verses is printed in Italic letter; and if he compares this translation with the original, will find that the three first stanzas are rendered almost word for word, and not only with the same elegance, but with the same short turn of expression which is so remarkable in the Greek, and so peculiar to the Sapphic Ode. I cannot imagine for what reason Madame Dacier has told us, that this Ode of Sappho is preserved entire in Longinus, since it is manifest to any one who looks into that author's quotation of it, that there must at least have been another stanza, which is not transmitted to us.
The second translation of this fragment, which I shall here cite, is that of Monsieur Boileau.
Heureux! qui près de toi, pour toi seule soûpire:
Je sens de veine en veine une subtile flamme
Un nuage confus se répand sur ma vuë,
Je n'entens plus, je tombe en de douces langueurs ;
Un frisson me saisit, je tremble, je me meurs.
The reader will see that this is rather an imitation than a translation. The circumstances do not lie so thick together, and follow one another with that vehemence and emotion, as in the original. In short, Monsieur Boileau has given us all the poetry, but not all the passion of this famous fragment. I shall in the last place present my reader with the English translation.
Blest as th' immortal gods is he,
'Twas this deprived my soul of rest,
My bosom glowed; the subtle flame
In dewy damps my limbs were chilled;
I fainted, sunk, and died away.
Instead of giving any character of this last translation, I shall desire my learned reader to look into the criticisms which Longinus has made upon the original. By that means he will know to which of the translations he ought to give the preference. I shall only add, that this translation is written in the very spirit of Sappho, and as near the Greek as the genius of our language will possibly suffer.
Longinus has observed, that this description of love in Sappho is an exact copy of nature, and that all the circumstances, which follow one another in such an hurry of sentiments, notwithstanding they appear repugnant to each other, are really such as happen in the frenzies of love.
I wonder that not one of the critics or editors, through whose hands this Ode has passed, has taken occasion from it to mention a circumstance related by Plutarch. That author, in the famous story of Antiochus, who fell in love with Stratonice, his mother-in-law, and (not daring to discover his passion) pretended to be confined to his bed by his sickness, tells us, that Erasistratus, the physician, found out the nature of his distemper by those symptoms of love which he had learnt from Sappho's writings. Stratonice was in the room of the love-sick prince, when these symptoms discovered themselves to his physician; and it is probable that they were not very different from those which Sappho here describes in a lover sitting by his mistress. This story of Antiochus is so well known, that I need not add the sequel of it, which has no relation to my present subject.
No. 231. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 24.
O Pudor! O Pietas!
LOOKING Over the letters which I have lately received from my correspondents, I met with the following one, which is written with such a spirit of politeness, that I could not but be very much pleased with it myself, and question not but it will be as acceptable to the reader.
You, who are no stranger to public assemblies, cannot but have observed the awe they often strike on such as are obliged to exert any talent before them. This is a sort of elegant distress, to which ingenuous minds are the most liable, and may therefore deserve some remarks in your paper. Many a brave fellow, who has put his enemy to flight in the field, has been in the utmost disorder upon making a speech before a body of his friends at home: one would think there was some kind of fascination in the eyes of a large circle of people, when darting all together upon one person. I have seen a new actor in a tragedy so bound up by it, as to be scarce able to speak or move, and have expected he would have died above three acts before the dagger or cup of poison were brought in. It would not be amiss, if such an one were at first introduced as a ghost, or a statue, till he recovered his spirits, and grew fit for some living part.
"As this sudden desertion of one's self shows a diffidence, which is not displeasing, it implies at the same time the greatest respect to an audience that can be. It is a sort of mute eloquence, which pleads for their favour much better than words could do; and we find their generosity naturally moved to support those who are in so much perplexity to entertain them. I was greatly pleased with a late instance of this kind at the opera of Almahide, in the encouragement given to a young singer, whose more than ordinary concern on her first appearance recommended her no less than her agreeable voice, and just performance. Mere bashfulness without merit is awkward; and merit without modesty, insolent. But modest merit has a double claim to acceptance, and generally meets with as many patrons as beholders.
"I am," &c.