Page images

a little while, which hindered me. Its length, (besides the pleasure naturally accompanying a long letter from you) affords Die a new one, when 1 think it is a symptom of the recovery of your health, and flatter myself that your bodily strength returns in proportion. Pray do not forget to mention the progress you make continually. As to Agrippina, I begin to beof your opinion; and' find myself (as women are of their children) less enamoured 6f my productions the older they grow. She is laid up to sleep till next summer; so bid her good night. I think you have translated Tacitus very justly, that is, freely; and accommodated his thoughts to the turn and genius of our language; which, though I commend your judgment, is no commendation of the English tongue, which is too diffuse, and daily grows more and more enervate. One shall never be more sensible of this, than in turning an author like Tacitus. I have been trying it in some parts of Thucydides, (who has a little resemblance of him in his conciseness) and endeavoured to do it closely, but found it produced mere nonsense. If you have any inclination to see what figure Tacitus makes in Italian, I have a Tuscan translation of Davanzati, much esteemed in

Italy; and will send you the same speech you sent me; that is, if you care for it. In the mean time accept of Propertius.* * * *



Popes, WfJ 5, 1742.

Without any preface 1 come to your verses, which 1 read over and over with excessive pleasure, and which are at least as good as Propertius. I am only swiy you follow the blunders of Broukhusius,. all whose insertions are nonsense. I have some objections to your antiquated words, and am also an enemy to Alexandrines; at least I do not like them in elejry. But, after all, I admire your translation so extremely, that I cannot help repeating I long to show you some little errors you are fallen into by following Broukhusius. ******** Were 1 with you now, and Propertius with your verses lay upon the table between us, I could discuss this point in a moment; but there is nothing so tiresome as spmning out a criti/

* A translation of tfcr first elegy of the second book in English rhyme ; omitted for the reason given in the last note.

cism in a letter; doubts arise, and explanations follow, till there swells out at least a volume of undigested observations: and all because you are" not with him whom you want to convince. Read only the letters between Pope and Cromwell in proof of this; they dispute without end. Are you aware now that 1 have an interest all this while in banishing criticism from our correspondence? Indeed I have; for I am going to write down a little ode (if it deserves the name) for your perusal, which I am afraid will hardly stand that test. Nevertheless I leave you at your fall liberty; so here it follows.


Dear Gray, that always in my heart
Possesses far the better part,
What mean these sudden blasts that rise
And drive the zephyrs from the skics?
O join with mine thy tuneful lay,
And invocate the tardy May.

Come, fairest nymph, resume thy reign!
Bring all the Graces in thy train i
With halmy breath, and flowery tread,
Rist from thy soft ambrosial bed;
Where, in Elysian slumber hound.
Embowering myrtles reil thee round.
VOL. IV. 1 1

Awake, in all thy glorics dress'd;
Recall the zephyrs from the west:
Restore the sun, revive the skics:
At mine and Nature's call, arise!
Great Nature's self upbraids thy stay,
And misses her accustom'd May.

See ! all her works demand thy aid;
The labours of Pomona fade:
A plaint is beard from every tree;
Each budding floweret calls for thee;
The birds forget to love and sing;
With storms alone the forests ring.

Come then, with Pleasure at thy side*
Diffuse thy vernal spirit wide;
Create, where'er thou turn'st thy eye,
Peace, Plenty, Love^ and Harmony;
Till every being share its part,
And heaven and earth be glad at heart.



London, May 3, 1742.

I Rejoice to see you putting up your prayers to the May: she cannot choose but come at such, a call. It is as light and genteel as herself. You bid me find fault; I am afraid I cannot; however, I will try. The first stanza (if what you say to me in it did not make me think it the best) I should call the worst of the five (except the fourth line.) The two next are very picturesque, Miltonic, and musical; her bed is so soft and so snu«that 1 long to lie with her. But those two lines, "Great Nature," are my favourites. The exclamation of the flowers is a little step too far. The last stanza is full as good as the secondand third; the last line bold, but 1 think not too bold. Now, as to myself and my translation, pray do not call names. 1 never saw Broukhusius in my life. It is Scaliger who attempted to range Propertius in order; who was, and still is, in sad condition ********.» You see, by what I sent you, that 1 converse as usual with none but the dead: they are my old friends, and almost make me long to be with them. You will not wonder therefore, that I, who live only in times past, am able to tell you no news of the present. I have finished the Peloponnesian war much to my honour, and a'tight conflict it was, I promise you, I have drank and sung with Anacreon for the last fortnight, and am now feeding sheep with Theocritus. Besides, to quit my figure (because it is foolish) I have run over Pliny's Epistles and Martial w snegcgywj not to mention Petrarch, who, by the way, is some

« PreviousContinue »