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on the most striking shall conclude this account, which I have already drawn out to a disproportionate length.
Hesiod, or the Rise of Woman, is a very fine illustration of a hint from Hesiod. It was one of his earliest productions, and first appeared in a miscellany published by Tonson. · 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,» etc., is also a translation of a Latin poem, by Aurelius Augurellus, an Italian poet, beginning with,
Invitat olim Bacchus ad coenam suos
Parnell, when he translated it, applied the characters 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 acknowledged it, as he knew. · The Fairy Tale is incontestably one of the finest pieces in any language. The old dialect is not perfectly well preserved, but this is a very slight defect, where all the rest is so excellent.. · The Pervigilium Veneris (which, by the by, 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 sinks 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 Pternotractas in Greek was a very good sounding word, that conveyed that meaning. Puffcheek would sound 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 finest 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 show 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 imagined. I am assured that it was written upon the following occasion. 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 house, 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 some 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 soon 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. It was the fashion with the wits of the last age to conceal the places whence they took their hints or their subjects. A trifling acknowledgment would have made that lawful prize, which may now be considered as plunder.
The Night Piece on Death deserves every praise, and I should suppose, 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 manuscript 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 prose, 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 Moore, in his Dialogues, has the very same story; and I have been informed by some, that it is originally 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. I 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
. his fame
I will only
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 hasten him to finish that production.
« London, March 18. « DEAR SIR, «I must own I have long owed you a letter, but you must own, you have owed me one a good deal longer, Besides, I have but two people in the whole kingdom of Ireland to take care of; the Dean and you : but you have several who complain of your neglect in England. Mr Gay complains, Mr Harcourt complains, Mr Jervas 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 discontent at the new turn of affairs; others, that you are so much in the archbishop's good graces, that you 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 satirical and comical disposition); others, that you are insinuating yourself into the opinion of the ingenious Mr What-do-yecall-him. Some think you are preparing your sermons for the press; and others, that you will transform them into essays and moral discourses. But the only excuse that I will allow, is your attention to the Life of Zoilus. The frogs already seem to croak for their transportation to England, and are sensible how much that Doctor is cursed and hated, who introduced their species into your nation ; therefore, as you dread the wrath of St Patrick, send them hither, and rid the kingdom of those pernicious and loquacious animals.' : « I have at length received your poem out of Mr Addison's hands, which shall be sent as soon as you order it, and in what manner you shall appoint. I shall in the mean time give Mr Tooke a packet for you, consisting of divers merry pieces. Mr Gay’s new farce, Mr Burnet's letter to Mr Pope, Mr Pope's Temple of Fame, Mr Thomas Burnet's Grumbler on Mr Gay, and the Bishop of Ailsbury's Elegy, written either by Mr Cary or some other hand.
« Mr Pope is reading a letter; and in the mean time, I make use of the pen to testify my uneasiness in not hearing from you. I find success, even in the most trivial things, raises the indignation of Scribblers: for I, for my Whatd'ye-call-it, could neither escape the fury of Mr Burnet, or the German Doctor ; then where will rage end, when Homer is to be translated ? Let Zoilus hasten to your friend's assistance, and envious criticism shall be no more. I am in hopes that we may order our affairs so as to meet this summer at the Bath; for Mr Pope and myself have thoughts of taking a trip thither. You shall preach, and we will write lampoons; for it is esteemed as fgreat an honour to leave the Bath for fear of a broken head, as for a Terræ Filius of Oxford to be expelled. I have no place at court; therefore, that I may not entirely be without one every where, show that I have a place in your remembrance.
« Your most affectionate,
« A. Pope and J. GAY.» « Homer will be published in three weeks.»
I cannot finish this trifle without returning my sincerest acknowledgments to Sir John Parnell, for the generous assistance he was pleased to give me, in furnishing me with