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EPISTLE THE FIFTH.
THE blast of common censure could I fear,
the bribe I first received from you;
* Our author alludes to the copy of verses addressed to him by Lee, on his drama, called the “State of Innocence," and which the reader will find in Vol. V. p. 103. Dryden expresses some apprehension, lest his friend and he should be considered as vouching for each other's genius, in the same manner that Bessus and the two Swordsmen, in “ King and no King,” grant certificates of each other's courage, after having been all soundly beaten and kicked by Bacurius.
“ 2 Swordsman. Captain, we must request your hand now to our honours.
Bessus. Yes, marry shall ye ; and then let all the world come, we are valiant to ourselves, and there's an end." Act V.
So many candidates there stand for wit,
* The person thus distinguished seems to be the gallant Sir Edward Spragge, noted for his gallantry in the two Dutch wars, and finally killed in the great battle of 11th August, 1672. In -1671, he was sent to the Mediterranean with a squadron, to chas tise the Algerines. He found seven vessels belonging to these pirates, lying in the bay of Bugia, covered by the fire of a castle and forts, and defended by a boom, drawn across the entrance of the bay, made of yards, top-masts, and cables, buoyed up by casks. Nevertheless, Sir Edward bore into the bay, silenced the forts, and, having broken the boom with his pinnaces, sent in a fire-ship, which effectually destroyed the Algerine squadron; a blow which was long remembered by these piratical states.
Prizes would be for lags of slowest pace,
EPISTLE THE SIXTH.
EARL OF ROSCOMMON,
ON HIS EXCELLENT
ESSAY ON TRANSLATED VERSE.
THE Earl of Roscommon's " Essay on Translated Verse,” a work which abounds with much excellent criticism, expressed in correct, succinct, and manly language, was first published in 4to, in 1680; a second edition, corrected and enlarged, appeared in 1684. To both editions is prefixed the following copy of verses by our author ; and to the second there is also one in Latin by his son Charles Dryden, afterwards translated by Mr Needler.
The high applause which our author has here and elsewhere * bestowed on the “Essay on Translated Verse,” is censured by Dr Johnson, as unmerited and exaggerated. But while something is allowed for the partiality of a friend, and the zeal of a panegyrist, it must also be remembered, that the rules of criticism, now so well known as to be even trite and hackneyed, were then almost new to the literary world, and that translation was but then beginning to be emancipated from the fetters of verbal and literal
* See Vol. XII. p. 264.
versions. But Johnson elsewhere does Roscommon more justice, where he acknowledges, that “he improved taste, if he did not enlarge knowledge, and may be numbered among the benefactors of English literature."
Dryden has testified, in several places of his works, that he loved and honoured Roscommon; particularly by inscribing and applying to him his version of the Third Ode of the First Book of Horace. * Roscommon repaid these favours by a copy of verses addressed to Dryden on the “ Religio Laici.”ť
• Vol. XII. p. 341.
+ Vol. X.