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Such is the outline of the present work. A consideration, which disposed the author, to employ himself in the present translation, may also induce some readers, to bestow a little time, on the perusal. This undertaking was commenced, in a season of gloom and turbulence, amidst a variety of alarming phantasms, and fearful apprehensions. The dismal prospect, has in some measure cleared up; yet still the horizon of social sympathy is contracting itself; and blackening into clouds, and heavy darkness. Happy is he, who can find. within his closet a temporary retreat, from the tumult, and the sorrows of the busy crowd; and lose himself in literary amusements, and unambitious cares. This is an innocent and moral resource, which does not banish feeling, or unfit the mind for exertion; it is a resource, which is not a satire, on the individual, who adopts it; or an insult, on the sufferings, and the apprehensions, of the many who suffer around him. The Muses come, like divine comforters, to the restless couch of pain, privation, and despondency.-Not with the obtrusive declamation of a vain philosophy; not, with the stale professions of consolation, which ever fail of their end; but with soothing variations from painful and immediate cares, with welcome abstractions from importunate and besieging thoughts, with innocent resources, and alleviating arts, that insensibly steal us from ourselves. Hard indeed it is, to obtain that respite. The unpleasing sense of what we are, and what we may be, will still recur. The patriotic feelings, that remind us we have a country, become sources of fear. All the dear surrounding pledges, which to the moral man, in times of perfect serenity, are sources of the most pure and virtuous delight, in times of doubt and dismay, are armed with ponyards, to stab the feeling heart. But I know, that I shall too frequently have occasion to request the indulgence of my reader.-Let me not trespass on his patience, unnecessarily, and at the very threshold, by a querulous display of the feelings and forebodings of an individual. Many cannot understand me, and those who can, feel too much already.' Vol. i. P. xxxiii.
Mr. Preston admits that he has been in some degree paraphrastic and redundant in his version; and our readers will give him credit for the assertion, when they are told, that, while the original poem consists of less than six thousand lines, he has swelled out his own translation to nearly nine thousand, although the English Iambic verse, when dextrously managed, will contain very nearly as many ideas as the Greek hexameter; and, in a variety of exercises which we have seen written to ascertain the fact, has been made to run line for line, through several pages, without the omission of a single epithet, or turn of expression. Upon the exact length of the translated poem, however, we cannot be quite certain, without the trouble of reckoning the individual lines for ourselves-a trouble which we are by no means disposed to take; for never surely has there been a work published since the invention of printing so replete with numerical blunders. In book i, at the distance of ten lines alone from that marked 750, we are carried to 830; and
this error in calculation is suffered to continue to the end of the book, without correction. In the advance of the work, we have observed many misprints of a similar kind, of which some are rectified, and some are not, in the succeeding numerals.
The version, however, being avowedly paraphrastic, it is im possible to institute any thing like a verbal comparison between it and the original: the translator's object is to follow his prototype in spirit, rather than in words; and it is in general only by reading passage with passage, and page with page, that we can calculate the merit of which he is possessed. The following description of two of the companions of Jason is equally elegant and animated.
Calais and Zetes, the wing'd brothers came,
Vol. i. p. 13.
The verb beheld, in the fifth line of this extract, requires an object after it, of which it is strangely curtailed. The supply might be given, by rendering the third line thus:
'Her 'mid her equals, as the beauteous maid,' &c.
The last six lines, however, are truly excellent; and, notwithstanding the highly elaborate and very harmonious fluency of the original, need not shrink from a comparison.
Τω μὲν ETT' ακροτατοισι ποδων ἑκάτερθεν ερεμνάς
The sailing of the Argo (the first vessel, according to tradition, that ever dared the dangers of the sea), from the shores
of Iolcus-the gods looking down from heaven, with astonishment, upon the glorious spectacle-the thronging of the maids of Iolcus upon mount Pelion, to take a final farewell of the undaunted adventurers-and the distant presentation of the young Achilles to his father Peleus, who was one of the Argonauts, by the centaur Chiron and his wife, to whose care the infant was entrusted-are thus finely conceived, and ably translated. We have never heard till now, however, of manning oars, as in line six of the extract, although we have often been told of manning a ship, its decks, and its sails.
With radiant eyes the glorious dawn advanc'd,
He swell'd the breeze with sighs, with tears he swell'd the
The nervous rowers, like some youthful choir,
Their polish'd arms repel the dazzling beam,
'On Pelion's heights, and ev'ry summit stood
Mov'd o'er the deep, by that heroic band.
The young Achilles in her arms she bears.
With one last look to glad a father's eyes.' Vol. i. r. 25.
We have said, that, when love and beauty become the theme of the poet's song, he appears to peculiar advantage, and his numbers flow with an almost unrivaled sweetness of melody, as well as luxuriance of imagination. The following is the introduction of his hero to Hypsipyle, the young and captivating queen of Lemnos, termed, by the translator, the royal maid, notwithstanding her prior marriage.
Now, Jason seeks the city, beaming bright,
The gates with skill the builder had dispos'd;
This passage is happily translated throughout: but there is a beauty of versification in the opening of the original, which is perhaps not possible to be transfused.
Βή δ' ίμεναι προτι αστυ, φαεινῳ αστερι ισος,
The exquisite and well-known picture of night, in book iii,
743, of the original, is thus rendered by Mr. Preston.
Now, Night o'er earth her ample veil display'd;
Vol. i. r. 149.
As a specimen of the powers of the Grecian bard in the sublime and terrible, we select the following description of the apparition of Hecate. In the original, it commences at book iii,
'As o'er the flames the mix'd libation falls,