Sayfadaki görseller
PDF
ePub

down without any Plan, and heaps up splendid Images without any Selection; where the Reader grows dizzy with Praise and Admiration, and yet foon grows weary, he can scarce tell why. Our Poet, on the contrary, gives out his Beauties with a more sparing Hand; he is fill carrying his Reader forward, and just gives him Refreshment fufficient to support him to his Journey's End. At the End of his Courfe the Reader regrets that his Way has been fo short, he wonders that it gave him lo little Trouble, and so resolves to go the Journey over again.

His poetical Language is not less correct than his Subjects are pleasing, He found it at that Period, in which it was brought to its highest Pitch of Refinement; and ever since his Time it has been gradually debasing. It is indeed amazing, after what has been done by Dryden, Addison, and Pope, to improve and harmonize our native Tongue, that their Successors thould have taken so much' Pains to involve it in pristine Barbarity. These misguided Innovators have not been content with restoring antiquated Words and Phrases, but have indulged themselves in the most licentious Transpofitions, and the harshest Constructions, vainly imagining, that the more their Writings are unlike Profe, the more they resemble Poetry. They have adopted a Language of their own, and call upon Mankind for Admiration. All those who do not understand them are silent, and those who make out their Meaning, aře willing to praise, to thew they underftand. From thefe Follies and Affectations, the Poems of Parnell are entirely free ; he has-considered the Language of Poetry as the Language of Life, and conveys the wasinet Thoughts in the fimplest Expreffion.

Parnell has written several Poems befides these published by Pope, td some of them have been

made

[ocr errors]

made public with very little Credit to his Reputation. There are still many more that have not yet feen the Light, in the Poffeffion of Sir John Parnell his Nephew, who from that laudable Zeal which he has for his Uncle's Reputation, will probably be flow in publishing what he may even suspect will do it Injury. Of those in the following Collection, fome are indifferent, and some moderately good, but the greater Part are excellent. A slight Stricture on the most striking, shall conclude this Account, which I have already drawn out to a disproportioned Length

Hesiod, or the Rise of Woman, is a very fine Illustration of an Hint from Hefiod. It was one of his earliest Productions, and first appeared in a Miscellany, published by Tonfon.

Of the three Songs that follow, two of them were written upon the Lady he afterwards married they were the genuine Dictates of his Passion, but are not excellent in their Kind.

The Anacreontic, beginning with, When Spring came on with fresh Delight, is taken from a French Poet whose Name I forget, and as far as I am able to judge of the French Language, is better than the Original. The Anacreontic that follows, Gay Bacchus, &c. is also a Translation of a Latin Poem, by Aurelius Augurellus, an Italian Poet, beginning with,

Invitat olim Bacchus ad cænam fuos

Comum, Jocum, Cupidinem. Parnell, when he translated it, applied the Cha. racters to some of his Friends, and as it was written for their Entertainment, it probably gave them more Pleasure than it has given the Public in the Perusal. It seems to have more Spirit than the Original ; but it is extraordinary that it was published as an Original and not as a Translation. Pope should have acknowleged it, as he knew.

The

The Fairy Tale is incontestably one of the finest Pieces in any Language. The old Dialect is not perfectly well preserved, but that is a very night Defect where all the rest is so excellent.

The Pervigelium Veneris, (which, by the bye, does not belong to Catullus) is very well versified, and in general all Parnell's Translations are excellent. The Battle of the Frogs and Mice, which follows, is done as well as the Subject would admit; but there is a Defect in the Translation, which finks it below the Original, and which it was impossible to remedy. I mean the Names of the Combatants, which in the Greek bear a ridiculous Allusion to their Natures, have no Force to the English Reader. A Bacon Eater was a good Name for a Mouse, and Pternotračtas in Greek, was a very good founding Word, that conveyed that Meaning. Puff-cheek would found odiously as a Name for a Frog, and yet Physignathos does admirably well in the Original.

The letter to Mr. Pope is one of the fineft Compliments that ever was paid to any Poet; the Description of his Situation at the End of it is very fine, but far from being true. That Part of it where he deplores his being far from Wit and Learning, as being far from Pope, gave particular Offence to his Friends at Home. Mr. Coote, a Gentleman in his Neighbourhood, who thought that he himself had Wit, was very much displeased with Parnell for casting his Eyes so far off for a learned Friend, when he could so conveniently be supplied at Home.

The Translation of a part of the Rape of the Lock into monkish Verse, serves to shew what a Master Parnell was of the Latin; a Copy of Verses made in this Manner, is one of the most difficult Trifles that can possibly be imágined. I am afsured that it was written upon the following Occa- .

sion,

It was

fion. Before the Rape of the Lock was yet completed, Pope was reading it to his Friend Swift, who sat very attentively, while Parnell, who happened to be in the Houfe, went in and out without seeming to take any Notice. However he was very diligently employed in listening, and was able, from the Strength of his Memory to bring away the whole Description of the Toilet pretty exactly. This he versified in the Manner now published in his Works, and the next Day when Pope was reading his Poem to fome Friends, Parnell insisted that he had stolen that part of the Description from an old monkish Manuscript. An old Paper with the Latin Verses was foon brought forth, and it was not till after some Time that Pope was delivered from the Confusion which it at first produced.

The Book-Worm is another unacknowledged Translation from a Latin Poem by Beza. the Fashion with the Wits of the last Age, to conceal the Places from whence they took their Hints or their. Subjects. A trifling Acknowledgement would have made that lawful Prize, which may now be considered as Plunder.

The Night Piece on Death, deferve every Praise, and I should fuppofe, with very little Amendment, might be made to surpass all those Night Pieces and Church-yard Scenes that have since appeared. But the Poem of Parnell's best known, and on which his best Reputation is grounded, is the Hermit. Pope, speaking of this, in those manufcript Anecdotes already quoted, says, That the Poem is very good. The Story, continues he, was written originally in Spanish, whence probably Howel had translated it into Profe, and inserted it in one of his Letters. Addison liked the Scheme, and was not disinclined to come into it.

However this may be, Dr. Henry More, in his Dialogues, has the very fame Story;

and

and I have been informed by some, that it is origi-
nally of Arabian Invention.

With respect to the Prose Works of Parnell, I
have mentioned them already; his Fame is too well
grounded for any Defects in them to shake it. P
will only add, that the Life of Zoilus, was written at
the Request of his Friends, and designed as a Satire
upon Dennis and Theobald, with whom his Club had
long been at variance. I shall end this Account with
a Letter to him from Pope and Gay, in which they
endeavour to haften him to finish that Production.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

I

Must own I have long owed you a Letter, but

you must own, you have owed me one a good ? deal longer. “Befides, I have but two People in

in the whole Kingdom of Ireland to take care of;
& the Dean and you : but you have several who coin-
• plain of your Neglect in England. Mr. Gay

complains, Mr. Harcourt complains, Mr. Jarvis
complains, Dr. Arbuthnot complains, my Lord
complains; I complain. (Take notice of this

Figure of Iteration, when you make your next
“ Sermon).

Some say, you are in deep Difcontent ar
• the new Turn of Affairs; others, that you are fo

much in the Archbishop's good Graces, that you
I will not correspond with any that have seen the last
• Ministry. Some affirm, you have quarrelled with
Pope (whose Friends they observe daily fall from
( him on account of his fatirical and comical Dispo-
'fition) ; others, that you are insinuating yourself
' into the Opinion of the ingenious Mr. What-do-

ye-call-bim. Some think you are preparing your
Sermons for the Press, and others that you will

ansform them into Eflays and moral Discourses.
Vol. III.

But

« ÖncekiDevam »