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N° 229. THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22.
Spirat adhuc amor,
Hor. Od. ix. lib. 4. ver. 1®.
Preferves her soft desire,
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 Angelo declared he had learned his whole art from it. Indeed he studied it fo attentively, that he made most of his statues, and even his pictures in that Gusto, to make use of the Italian phrafe ; for which reafon his maimed statue is still called Micbael Angelo's school.
A fragment of Sappho, which I design for the fubject of this paper, is in as great reputation among the poets and criticks, as the mutilated figure abovementioned is among the statuaries and painters. Several of our countrymen, and Mr. Dryden in particular, feem very often to have copied after it in their dramatick writings, and in their poems upon Love.
Whatever might have been the occasion of this ode, the Englisb reader will enter into the beauties of it, if he supposes it to have been written in the person of a lover fitting by his mistress. I shall fet to view three different copies of this beautiful original : The first is a translation by Catullus, the fee cond by Monsieur Boileau, and the last by a gen
tleman whofe tranflation of the Hymn to Venus has been so deservedly admired,
Spectat, et audit
Quod loquar amens.
Lumina nole. My learned reader will know very well the reason why one of these verfes is printed in Roman letter ; and, if he compares this translation with the original, will find that the three first stanzas are rendered alınoft word for word, and not only with the fame elegance, but with the fame short turn of expression which is so remarkable in the Greek, and so peculiar to the Sapphick ode. I cannot imagine for what reason Madam Dacicr 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 transinitted to us.
The second translation of this fragment which I Thall here cite, is that of Monsieur Boileau.
Heureux! qui prés de toi, pour toi seule foúpire:
Je sens de veine èn veine une subtile flamme
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 Builcau has given us all the poetry, but not all the passion of this famous fragınent. I thall, in the last place, present my reader with the Englifo translation.
Instead of giving any character of this last translation, I shall defire 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 poilibly fuffer.
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 fuch as happen in the phrenzies of love.
I wonder that not one of the criticks 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 paflion) pretended to be confined to his bed by sickness, tells us, that Erafistratus, the physician, found out the nature of his distemper by those symptoms of Love which he had learnt from Sapi ho's writings. _Stratonice was in the room of the love-lick Prince, when thefe fymptoms discovered themselves to his phyfician; and it is probable that they were not very different from those which Sappho here defcribes in a lover fitting by his mistress. The story of Antiochus is so well known, that I need not add the fequel of it, which has no relation to my present subject.
NO 230. FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23.
Homines ad Deos nulla re propius accedunt, quam fa. lutem hominibus dando.
TULL. Men resemble the Gods in nothing so much as in
doing good to their fellow-creatures. HUMAN
nature appears a very deformed, or a
very beautiful object, according to the differcnt lights in which it is viewed. When we see men of inflamed passions, or of wicked designs, tearing one another to pieces by open violence, or under inining each other by secret treachery; when we obferve base and narrow.ends purfued by ignominious and dishonest means ; when we behold men mixed in society as if it were for the destruction of it; we are even ashamed of our species, and out of humour with our own being : But in another light, when we behold them mild, good, and benevolent, full of a generous regard for the publick prof. perity, compassionating each other's diftreffes, and relieving each other's wants, we can hardly believe they are creatures of the fame kind. In this view they appear gods to each other, in the exercise of the .noblest power, that of doing good ; and the greatest compliment we have ever been able to make to our own. Being, has been by calling this difpofition of mind Humanity. We cannot but observe a pleasure arising in our own breast upon the seeing or hearing of a generous action, even when we are · wholly disinterested in it. I cannot give a more proper instance of this, than by a letter from Pliny, in which he recommends a friend in the most handsome manner, and, methinks, it would be a great pleasure to know the fuccess of this epistle, though cach party concerned in it has been so many hundred years in his grave.