Слике страница
PDF
ePub

verfion of Lucan's poem, which he did not then know to have been tranflated by Rowe.

This is an instance of early diligence which well deferves to be recorded. The fuppreffion of fuch a work, recommended by fuch uncommon circumftances, is to be regretted. It is indeed culpable, to load libraries with fuperfluous books; but incitements to early excellence are never fuperfluous, and from this example the danger is not great of many imitations.

When he had refided at his College three years, he wrs prefented to the rectory of Pimpern in Dorfetfhire (1722), by his relation, Mr. Pitt of Stratfeildfea in Hampshire; and, refigning his fellowship, continued at Oxford two years longer, till he became Mafter of Arts (1724).

He probably about this time tranflated Vida's Art of Poetry, which Tristram's fplendid edition had then made popular. In this tranflation he diftinguished himself, both by its general elegance, and by the fkilful adaptation of his numbers, to the images expressed ;

a

a beauty which Vida has with great ardour enforced and exemplified.

He then retired to his living, a place very pleafing by its fituation, and therefore likely to excite the imagination of a poet; where he paffed the rest of his life, reverenced for his virtue, and beloved for the foftnefs of his temper and the easiness of his manners. Before strangers he had fomething of the scholar's timidity or diftruft; but when he became familiar he was in a very high degree chearful and entertaining. His general benevolence procured general respect; and he paffed a life placid and honourable, neither too great for the kindness of the low, nor too low for the notice of the great.

VOL. IV.

R

At

At what time he compofed his miscellany, published in 1727, it is not easy nor neceffary to know those which have dates appear to have been very early productions, and I have not observed that any rise above mediocrity.

The fuccefs of his Vida animated him to a higher undertaking; and in his thirtieth year he publifhed a verfion of the first book of the Eneid. This being, I fuppofe, commended by his friends, he fome time afterwards added three or four more; more; with an advertisement, in which he represents himself as tranflating with great indifference, and with a progrefs of which himself was hardly conscious. This can hardly be true, and, if true, is nothing to the reader.

At last, without any further contention with his modefty, or any awe of the name of Dryden, he gave us a complete English Eneid, which I am forry not to fee joined in the late publication with his other poems. It would have been pleafing to have an oppor

4

tunity

tunity of comparing the two beft translations that perhaps were ever produced by one nation of the fame author.

Pitt engaging as a rival with Dryden, naturally obferved his failures, and avoided them; and, as he wrote after Pope's Iliad, he had an example of an exact, equable, and fplendid verfification. With these advantages, feconded by great diligence, he might fuccessfully labour particular paffages, and escape many errors. If the two verfions are compared, perhaps the refult would be, that Dryden leads the reader forward by his general vigour and sprightliness, and Pitt often ftops him to contemplate the excellence of a Angle couplet; that Dryden's faults are forgotten in the hurry of delight, and that Pitt's beauties are neglected in the languor of a cold and listless perufal; that Pitt pleases the criticks, and Dryden the people; that Pitt is quoted, and Dryden read.

He did not long enjoy the reputation which great work deservedly conferred; for he

this

R 2

left

left the world in 1748, and lies buried under a ftone at Blandford, on which is this infcription

[blocks in formation]
« ПретходнаНастави »