« PreviousContinue »
Most of the classic poets translated before the end of the sixteenth century. Phaier's Eneid. Completed by Twyne. Their other works. Phaier's Ballad of Gad's-hill. Stanihurst's Eneid in English hexameters. His other works. Fleming's Virgil's Bucolics and Georgics. His other works. Webbe and Fraunce translate some of the Bucolics. Fraunce's other works. Spenser's Culex. The original not genuine. The Ceiris proved to be genuine. Nicholas Whyte's story of Jason, supposed to be a version of Valerius Flaccus. Golding's Ovid's Metamorphoses. His other works. Ascham's censure of rhyme. A translation of the Fasti revives and circulates the story of Lucrece. Euryalus and Lucretia. Detached fables of the Metamorphoses translated. Moralisations in fashion. Underdowne's Ovid's Ibis. Ovid's Elegies translated by Marlowe. Remedy of Love, by F. L. Epistles by Turberville. Lord Essex a translator of Ovid. His literary character. Churchyard's Ovid's Tristia. Other detached versions from Ovid. Ancient meaning and use of the word Ballad. Drant's Horace. Incidental criticism on Tully's Oration pro Archia.
BUT, as scholars began to direct their attention to our vernacular poetry, many more of the ancient poets now appeared in English verse. Before the year 1600, Homer, Musaeus, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Martial, were translated. Indeed most of these versions were published before the year 1580. For the sake of presenting a connected display of these early translators, I am obliged to trespass, in a slight degree, on that chronological order which it has been my prescribed and constant method to observe. In the mean time we must remember, that their versions, while they contributed to familiarise the ideas of the ancient poets to English readers, improved our language and versification; and that in a general view, they ought to be considered as valuable and important accessions to the stock of our poetical literature. These were the classics of Shakspeare.
I shall begin with those that were translated first in the reign of Elizabeth. But I must premise, that this inquiry will necessarily draw with it many other notices much to our purpose, and which could not otherwise have been so conveniently disposed and displayed.
Thomas Phaier, already mentioned as the writer of the story of OWEN GLENDOUR in the MIRROUR FOR MAGISTRATES, a native of Pembrokeshire, educated at Oxford, a student of Lincoln's Inn, and an advocate to the council for the Marches of Wales, but afterwards doctorated in medicine at Oxford, translated the seven first books of the Eneid of
Virgil*, on his retirement to his patrimonial seat in the forest of Kilgarran, in Pembrokeshire, in the years 1555, 1556, 1557. They were printed at London in 1558, by Ihon Kyngston, and dedicated to queen Mary". He afterwards finished the eighth book on the tenth of September, within forty days, in 1558. The ninth, in thirty days, in 1560. Dying at Kilgarran the same year, he lived only to begin the tenth. All that was thus done by Phaert, one William Wightman published in 1562, with a dedication to Sir Nicholas Bacon, "The nyne first books of the Eneidos of Virgil conuerted into English verse by Thomas Phaer doctour of physick," &c. The imperfect work was at length completed, with Maphaeus's supplemental or thirteenth book, in 1583, by Thomas Twyne‡, a native of Canterbury, a physician of Lewes in Sussex, educated in both universities, an admirer of the my
[With this title: The seven first Bookes of the Eneidos of Virgill, converted in Englishe meter by Thos. Phaer, esq. sollicitour to the king and quenes majesties, attending their honorable counsaile in the marchies of Wales. Anno 1558. xxviij. Maij.-PARK.]
"["To the ende," says Phaer, "that like as my diligence employed in your service in the Marches, maie otherwise appeare to your Grace by your hon'ble counsaile there; so your Highness hereby may receiue the accompts of my pastyme in all my vacations, since I haue been prefered to your service by your right noble and faithful counsaillour William lord marquis of Winchester, my first bringer-up and patron."-PARK.] quarto, bl. lett. At the end of the seventh book is this colophon, "Per Thomam Plaer in foresta Kilgerran finitum iij Decembris. Anno 1557. Opus xij dierum.' And at the end of every book is a similar colophon, to the same purpose. The first book was finished in eleven days, in 1555. The second in twenty days, in the same year. The third in twenty days, in the same year. The fourth in fifteen days, in 1556. The fifth in twenty-iour days, on May the third, in 1557, "post periculum eius Karmerdini," i. e. at Caermarthen. The sixth in twenty days, in 1557.
Phaier has left many large works in his several professions of law and medicine. He is pathetically lamented by sir Thomas Chaloner as a most skilful physician. Encom. p. 356. Lond. 1579. 4to. He has a recommendatory English poem prefixed to Philip Betham's Military Precepts, translated from the Latin of James earl of Purlilias, dedicated to lord Studley, Lond. 1544. 4to. For E. Whitchurch.
There is an entry to Purfoot in 1566, for printing "serten verses of Cupydo by
Mr. Fayre [Phaier]." Registr. Station. A. fol. 154 a.
[In his version of the Æneid, Phaer was thus complimented along with several of his cotemporaries:
Who covets craggy rock to clime
Or of the happy Helicon
To drawe and drinke his fille ;
Or Googe, or Golding Gascoine else,
Or Churchyard, Whetstone, Twyne,
That drawe by learned line,
Ded. to Fulwood's Enemie of Idlenesse, 1598. And Hall, in the dedication to his translation of Homer, 1581, says, he was abashed when he came to look upon Phaer's Virgilian English in his heroical Virgil, and his own poor endeavour to learn Homer to talk our mother-tongue. -PARK.]
bEx coloph. ut supr.
[In the poems of Barnabe Googe, written before March 1563, there is an epitaph on maister Thomas Phayre, which flatters him with having excelled the earl of Surrey, Grimaold, and Douglas (bishop of Dunkeld) in his style of translating Virgil, and expresses regret that his death, in the midst of his toil, had left a work imperfect which no other man could end.— PARK.]
In quarto. Bl. lett. For Rowland Hall.
[The joint translation of Virgil by Phaer and Twyne was first published in 1573.-RITSON.]
sterious philosophy of John Dee, and patronised by lord Buckhurst the poet d The ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth books were finished at London in 1573e. The whole was printed at London in 1584, with a dedication, dated that year from Lewes, to Robert Sackville, the eldest son of lord Buckhurst, who lived in the dissolved monastery of the Cluniacs at Lewes. So well received was this work, that it was followed by three new editions in 1596, 1607, and 16201. Soon after the last-mentioned period, it became obsolete and was forgotten".
Phaier undertook this translation for the defence, to use his own phrase, of the English language, which had been by too many deemed incapable of elegance and propriety, and for the "honest recreation of you the nobilitie, gentlemen, and ladies, who studie in Latine." He adds, "By mee first this gate is set open. If now the young writers will uouchsafe to enter, they may finde in this language both large and abvndant camps [fields] of uarietie, wherein they may gather innumerable sortes of most beavtifull flowers, figures, and phrases, not only to supply the imperfection of mee, but also to garnish all kinds of their owne verses with a more cleane and compendiovs order of meeter than heretofore hath beene accustomed!." Phaier has omitted, misrepresented, and paraphrased many passages; but his performance in every respect is evidently superior to Twyne's continuation. The measure is the fourteen-footed Alexandrine of Sternhold and Hopkins. I will give a short specimen from the siege of Troy, in the second book. Venus addresses her son Eneas:
See supr. p. 240. His father was John Twyne of Bolington in Hampshire, an eminent antiquary, author of the Commentary De Rebus Albionicis, &c. Lond. 1590. It is addressed to, and published by, with an epistle, his said son Thomas. Laurence, a fellow of All Souls and a civilian, and John Twyne, both Thomas's brothers, have copies of verses prefixed to several cotemporary books, about the reign of queen Elizabeth. Thomas wrote and translated many tracts, which it would be superfluous and tedious to enumerate here. To his Breviarie of Britaine, a translation from the Latin of Humphrey Lhuyd, in 1573, are prefixed recommendatory verses, by Brown prebendary, and Grant the learned schoolmaster, of Westminster, Llodowyke Lloyd, a poet in the Paradise of Daintie Devises, and his two brothers, aforesaid, Laurence and John.
All in quarto, bl. lett. In the edition of 1607, printed at London by Thomas Creede, it is said to "be newly set forth for the delight of such as are studious in poetrie."
k In 1562, are entered with Nicholas England "the fyrste and ix parte of Virgill." Registr. Station. A. fol. 85 a. I suppose Phaier's first nine books of the Eneid. And, in 1561-2, with W. Copland, the "booke of Virgill in 4to." Ibid. fol. 73 b. See Registr. C. fol. 8 a. sub ann. 1595.
'See "Maister Phaer's Conclusion to his interpretation of the Aeneidos of Virgil, by him conuerted into English verse."
Thou to thy parents hest take heede, dreade not, my minde obey:
The gates she keeps, and from the ships the Greeks, her friendly bands,
Lo! there againe where Pallas sits, on fortes and castle-towres,
She said, and through the darke night-shade herselfe she drew from
Appeare the grisly faces then, Troyes en'mies vgly dight.
The popular ear, from its familiarity, was tuned to this measure. It was now used in most works of length and gravity, but seems to have been consecrated to translation. Whatever absolute and original dignity it may boast, at present it is almost ridiculous, from an unavoidable association of ideas, and because it necessarily recalls the tone of the versification of the puritans. I suspect it might have acquired a degree of importance and reverence, from the imaginary merit of its being the established poetic vehicle of scripture, and its adoption into the celebration of divine service.
I take this opportunity of observing, that I have seen an old ballad called GADS-HILL by Faire, that is probably our translator Phaier. In the Registers of the Stationers, among seven Ballettes licensed to William Bedell and Richard Lante, one is entitled "The Robery at Gads hill," under the year 1558". I know not how far it might contribute to illustrate Shakspeare's HENRY THE FOURTH. The title is promising.
After the associated labours of Phaier and Twyne, it is hard to say what could induce* Richard Stanyhurst, a native of Dublin, to trans
Registr. A. fol. 32 b. See Clavell's Recantation, a poem in quarto, Lond. 1634. Clavell was a robber, and here recites his own adventures on the highway. His first depredations are on Gad's-hill. See fol. 1.
* [His apparent inducement was to try his strength against Phaer; at whose translation though he frequently carps, yet he gives him credit for having effected his task "with surpassing excellence." Ded. to the Lord Baron of Dunsanye. Nash
alludes to this when he writes: "But for-
late the first four books of Virgil's Eneid into English hexameters, which he printed at London in 1583, and dedicated to his brother Peter Plunket*, the lorde baron of Dunsanay in Ireland. Stanyhurst at this time was living at Leyden, having left England for some time on account of the change of religion. In the choice of his measure, he is more unfortunate than his predecessors, and in other respects succeeded worse. It may be remarked, that Meres, in his WIT'S TREASURIE, printed in 1598, among the learned translators, mentions only "Phaier, for Virgil's Aeneads"." And William Webbe, in his DISCOURSE OF ENGLISH POETS printed in 15869, entirely omits our author, and places Phaier at the head of all the English translators'. Thomas Nashe, in
[Quere whether this was not his brother-in-law; since he and the dedicator appear to have married two sisters. The father of Stanyhurst was recorder of Dublin, and himself was educated under Peter Whyte, some time dean of Waterford. He married Janetta the daughter of Sir Charles Barnwell, knt. who died in childbirth at Knightsbridge near London 1579. His poetical conceits convey this information, and contain a description of his mistress at the Hague 1582, and he writes himself "Sacellanus serenissimorum principum," which we may interpret chaplain to the Archduke of Austria. Vid. Cens. Liter. iv. 364.-PARK.]
In octavo. Licensed to Binneman, Jan. 24. 1582. "By a copie printed at Leiden." Registr. Station. B. fol. 192 b. At the end of the Virgil are the four first of David's psalms Englished in Latin measures, p. 82. Then follow "Certayne Poetical Conceits (in Latyn and English) Lond. 1583." Afterwards are printed Epitaphs written by our author, both in Latin and English. The first, in Latin, is on James earl of Ormond, who died at Ely-house, Octob. 18, 1546. There is another on his father, James Stanyhurst, Recorder of Dublin, who died, aged 51, Dec. 27, 1573. With translations from More's Epigrams. Stanyhurst has a copy of recommendatory verses prefixed to Verstegan's Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, Antwerp, 1605, 4to.
[Two other epitaphs by Stanihurst are in English: one upon the Baron of Louth, who was traitorously murdered about 1577; another upon the death of Gerald Fitzgerald Baron of Offalye, who died June 30, 1580, with verses by the latter entitled "A penitent sonnet," which constitutes him a noble author. Ritson seems to think, from an entry in the Stationers' books, that the volume was first printed at Leyden; yet such an edition was unknown to Ames or Herbert, (Bibl. Poetica, p. 351.) -PARK.]
P Fol. 289. p. 2.
For John Charlewood. But there is a former edition for Walley 1585, 4to. I know not to which translation of Virgil, Puttenham in the Arte of English Poesie refers, where he says, "And as one who translating certaine bookes of Virgil's ENEIDOS into English meetre, said that Eneas was fayne to trudge out of Troy, which terme became better to be spoken of a beggar, or of a rogue or a lackey," &c. Lib. iii. ch. xxiii. p. 229.
[Puttenham evidently refers to the version of Stanyhurst, which (as Mr. Southey has observed before his poetic Specimens) "could excite nothing but wonder, ridicule, and disgust." Nashe has aptly characterized the tenor of this translation by the term "Thrasonical huffe-snuffe," a term indeed derived from the translator himself. "So terrible," he adds, "was his stile to all milde eares, as would have affrighted our able poets from intermeddling hereafter with that quarreling kinde of verse, had not sweete Master Fraunce, by his excellent translation of Master Thomas Watsons sugred Amyntas animated their dulled spirits to such highwitted endevors". Epist. ubi supra. Bishop Hall had also slurred these uncouth fooleries in his Satires, and exclaimed:
Fie on the forged mint that did create
One of our modern poets has supplied the following remarks: "As Chaucer has been called the well of English undefiled, so might Stanihurst be denominated the common sewer of the language. It seems impossible that a man could have written in such a style without intending to burlesque what he was about, and yet it is certain that Stanihurst intended to write heroic poetry. His version is exceedingly rare, and deserves to be reprinted for its incomparable oddity." Southey's Omniana, i. 193.—PARK.]