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(9) One ten thousandth part of the words and the time
That you've wasted on praises instead of your rhyme,
There is something not inelegant or unfanciful in the conduct of Mr. Hayley's Triumphs of Temper, and the moral is of that useful and desirable description, which, from its domestic familiarity, is too apt to be overlooked, or to be thought incapable of embellishment: but in this as well as in all his other writings, there is so much talking by rote, so many gratuitous metaphors, so many epithets to fill up and rhymes to fit in, and such a mawkish languor of versification, with every now and then a ridiculous hurrying for a line or so, that nothing can be more palling or tiresome. The worst part of Mr. Hayley is that smoothtongued and overwrought complimentary style, in addressing and speaking of others, which, whether in conversation or writing, has always the ill fortune, to say the least of it, of being suspected as to sincerity. His best part, as has been justly observed, is his Annotation. The notes to his poems are amusing and full of a graceful scholarship; and two things must be remembered to his honour-first, that although he had not genius enough to revive the taste in his poetry, he has been the quickest of our late writers to point out the great superiority of the Italian school over the French ; and, second, that he has been among the first, and the most ardent of them all, in hailing the dawn of our native painting. Indeed, with the singular exception of Milton, who had visited Italy, and who was such a painter himself, it is to be remembered to the honour of all our poets, great and small, that they have shown a just anxiety for the appearance of the sister art,
And felt a brother's longing to embrace
At the least glimpse of her resplendent face. It would appear, from some specimens in his notes, that Mr. Hayley would have cut a more advantageous figure as a translator than as an original poet. I do not say he would have been equal to great works; for a translator, to keep any thing like a pace with his original, should have at least a portion of his original spirit ; but as Mr. Hayley is not destitute of the poet, the thoughts of another might have invigorated him; and he would at any rate have been superior to those mere rhymers-such men as Hoole, for instance-who, without the smallest pretensions to poetry in their own persons, think themselves qualified to translate epics. In the notes to his Essays on Epic Poetry, there is a pleasing analysis, with occasional versions of twenty or thirty lines, of the Araucana of Alonzo d'Ercilla, and in the same place is a translation of the three first Cantos of Dante, which, if far beneath the majestic simplicity of the original, is at least, for spirit
as well as closeness, much above the mouthing nonentities which have been palmed upon us of Jate years for that wonderful poet. But Dante, to say nothing of his demands upon a variety of powers, in consequence of those varieties of his own, in which after shaking us with his terrors, or shocking with his resentments and his diabolisms, he will enchant us with his grace, melt us with his tenderness, or refresh us with some exquisite picture of nature. is like all the other poets of the first class, scarcely translatable but by a kindred genius. The natural language they speak sets at naught the cant habit of books. You might as well endeavour, by the help of a fan, to gather round you the morning freshness of nature, as think of apprehending one of the great spirits of poetry, by means of these toyers in versification. Even the real poets among us have not done justice to those whom they translated, with the exception of some smaller pieces of lyric: Dryden wants the gracefulness and the selectness of Virgil, Chapman all the music of Homer, and Pope all the nature ;-what, then, are we to expect from such a writer as Francis, or from that prince of involuntary crambo, Hoole? No wonder that men of good sense and taste, who happen not to be scholars, have found Horace a dull fellow and Ariosto a dotard.
The best translation, upon the whole, that has been produced in our language, both for closeness
to the sense and sympathy with the spirit of its original, appears to me to be Fairfax's Tasso. I do not say that it is a perfect one, or that it is not sometimes straitened for want ofroom, and sometimes clouded with the obscurities of its age; but Fairfax seems to go along with his author, and to be more of a piece with him than any translator, perhaps, that has yet appeared. The versification is singularly free for its closeness, and has always been accounted one of the earliest harmonizers of our poetry. Dryden calls him on this account the father of Waller, who, indeed, was not slow to confess the relationship ; and Fairfax, in renewing his claims upon our attention, may boast that he has been praised by Collins, and imitated by Milton.
The flowing versification of Fairfax has even drawn some writers into a love of him, who in other respects were not very seducible by the higher species of poetry. Among these is Hume, who compared a thing called Wilkie's Epigoniad to Virgil, and who was much inclined, in compliment to the rest of his French taste in literature, to call Shakspeare a barbarian.* Hume, however, is wrong when he says that “ each line" in Tasso “ is faithfully rendered by a correspondent line in the translation.” The faithfulness, it is true, is for the most part as surprising as he represents
* See the Appendix to the reign of James the First.
it, and the number of lines is the same in both poems; but Fairfax has occasionally substituted a line of his own for the sense of the original, sometimes, as may be supposed, with no good to his author, yet sometimes even with improvement, and the line has always something poetical in it, though its taste may not be the true one. In the third book, for instance, stanza 21st, where Tancred unknowingly encounters Clorinda, and knocks off her helmet, Fairfax says
About her shoulders shone her golden locks,
Like sunny beams on alabaster rocks. This is a splendid image: but Tasso merely says, with a more natural and momentary touch, that her golden locks were shaken out in the wind, and a young female appeared before him :
E le chiome dorate al vento sparse,
The conclusion of the succeeding stanza has also a turn with it unlike the original, and not in so allowable a taste, though its faultiness is Italian. But in other instances Fairfax can contend with his author, even at his best ; as in that close of the 14th stanza, canto 1st, describing the descent of the angel Gabriel, who is represented by Tasso as first dropping his flight upon Lebanon, and