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Or when, alas! shall more auspicious gales
On the whole, the epistle before us is translated by Pope with faithfulness and with elegance, and much excels any Dryden translated in the volume he published; several of which were done by some " of the mob of gentlemen wrote with ease;" that is, Sir C. Scroop, Caryl, Pooly, Wright, Tate, Buckingham, Cooper, and other careless rhymers. Lord Somers translated Dido to Æneas, and Ariadne to Theseus. A good translation of these epistles is as much wanted as one of Juvenal; for out of sixteen satires of that poet, Dryden himself translated but six. We can now boast of happy translations in verse of almost all the great poets of antiquity, whilst the French have been poorly contented with only prose translations of Homer and Horace; which, says Cervantes, can no more resemble the original than the wrong side of tapestry can represent the right. The inability of the French tongue to express many Greek or Roman ideas with facility and grace is here visible; but the Italians have Horace translated by Pallavacini, Theocritus by Ricolotti and Salvini, Ovid by Anguillara, the Eneid, admirably well, in blank verse, by Annibal Caro, and the Georgics, in blank verse also, by Daniello, and Lucretius by Marchetti.
One of the most learned commentaries on any classic is that of Mezeriac on the epistles of Ovid. It seems strange he should have employed so much labour on such a writer. The very best life of Æsop is also by Mezeriac; a book so scarce, that neither Bentley nor Bayle had seen it when they first wrote on Æsop. It was reprinted in the Memoires de Literature of M. De Sattengre 1717, t. i. p. 87. This is the author whom Malherbe, with his usual bluntness, asked, when he published his edition of Diophantus, "If it would lessen the price of bread ?"
There was a very early translation of the epistles of Ovid ascribed to Shakspeare, which error, like many others, has been rectified by that able and accurate inquirer, Dr. Farmer, who has shewn that they were translated by Thomas Heywood, and inserted in his Britaine's Troy, 1602.
One of the best imitations of Ovid is a Latin epistle of the Count Balthasar Castiglione, author of the celebrated Courtier, addressed to his absent wife.
ABELARD and Eloisa flourished in the twelfth century; they were two of the most distinguished persons of their age in learning and beauty, but for nothing more famous than for their unfortunate passion. After a long course of calamities, they retired each to a several Convent, and consecrated the remainder of their days to religion. It was many years after this separation, that a letter of Abelard's to a Friend, which contained the history of his misfortune, fell into the hands of Eloisa. This awakening all her tenderness, occasioned those celebrated letters (out of which the following is partly extracted) which gave so lively a picture of the struggles of grace and nature, virtue and passion. P.
A Traveller who visited the Convent about the year 1768 (see Annual Register) says, that its situation and prospects by no means resemble Pope's beautiful and romantic description of it. Father St. Romain, the officiating Priest, walked with him round the whole demesne. The Abbess, who was in her eighty-second year, desired to see our Traveller, for she said she was his countrywoman, and allied to the extinct families of Lifford and Stafford. She was aunt to the then Duke de Rochfaulcault; and being fifth in succession, as Abbess of that Convent, hoped it would become a kind of patrimony. We know, alas! what has since happened both to her Family and her Convent! The community seemed to know but little of the afflicting story of their Founder. Little remains of the original building but a few pointed arches. In examining the tombs of these unfortunate lovers, he observed that Eloisa appeared much taller than Abelard.
ELOISA TO ABELARD*.
In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Dear fatal name! rest ever unreveal'd,
* However happy and judicious the subject of this epistle may be thought to be, as displaying the various conflicts and tumults between duty and pleasure, between penitence and passion, that agitated the mind of Eloisa; yet, we must candidly own, that the principal circumstance of distress is of so indelicate a nature, that it is with difficulty disguised by the exquisite art and address of the poet. The capital and unrivalled beauties of the poem arise from the striking images and descriptions of the Convent, and from the sentiments drawn from the mystical books of devotion, particularly Madame Guion and the Archbishop of Cambray.
Ver. 1. In these deep solitudes] These very beautiful lines appear truly to Lord Kaimes to be faulty and exceptionable, on account of the pause that intervenes between the verb and the consequent substantive.