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guage, and its derivation from the Eolian Greek, is a severe, if not the severest calamity ever sustained by philological learning.
Having been desirous of giving our readers some specimens of the critical powers of these two eminent correspondents, we have thought fit to confine ourselves to that object in the first instance, that we might not have afterwards to draw on an exhausted patience for attention to such dry discussions. But we find in this little volume, which we cannot but recominend as an interesting work to the classical scholar, the exercise of considerable literary taste, as well as of critical acumen.
It will have been seen already from Mr. Wakefield's summary sentence on “the miserable ditty on Ate" in Homer, in which Mr. Fox “perfectly agrees," that their opinions on the merit of classic authors have been pretty freely expressed: in this instance we are also inclined to add, unjustly: for the ditty on Até, so far from making out satisfactorily to our conviction the spuriousness of that part of the Iliad which contains it, carries to our minds a very sufficient internal evidence of its belonging to the identical old minstrel, whose very existence Mr. Wakefield attempts to disprove. Our critics seem entirely to have overlooked its singular agreement with another passage (Il. 1. 500.) where the very same personage is introduced under a similar imagery, and in an address curiously enough made to the saine Achilles for the self-same purpose of bespeaking his favour. Neither can we see any thing in the use of such an apologue in either place at all abhorrent, either from the practice of Homer himself,* or from the custom of antiquity in general, which notoriously dealt in that artificial and circuitous mode of addressing the understanding. And we see much art in the adoption of this " miserable ditty" on the part of Agamemnon on this particular occasion, as being calculated to relieve him from one of the most difficult of all tasks, an apologetical address from a king to an offended subject; and as being likely to raise, instead of diminishing, his consequence among his people, by showing him to have been a sufferer from the influence of the injurious goddess only in conmon with Jupiter himself, and, in fact, to have owed his passion not to his temper, but to his stars. See lines 86, 87, 38.
We must also venture to express our disagreement with Mr. Wakefield in his sentence on a poet of modern date, whose name, however, we are taught in no dishonourable way to associate with that of Horner, viz. the “ pleasing, melancholy” Cowper. We had heard that Mr. Fox's good taste led him to a great admiration of that poet; and in letter 26. we find the following testimony
• “Homer, who has constructed the noblest poem that was ever framed from the strangest materials, abounds with allegory and mysterious description. He often in troduees ideal personages,” &c. Bryant's Ancient Mythology, vol. 1..
to the fact from his own pen:
you, who are such a hater of war, ever read the lines at the beginning of Cowper's Task? There are few things in our language superior to them, in my judginent. He is a fine poet; and has, in a great degree, conquered my prejudices to blank verse.” The chilling answer of Mr. Wakefield, in letter 27. is as follows: “I have, occasionally, looked into Cowper, though I possess him not. He appeared to me too frequently on the verge of the ludicrous and burlesque ; but he deserves, I dare say, the character which you give him: —but surely Milton might have reconciled you to blank verse without the aid of Cowper.” To this Mr. Fox replies by some insinuations against Milton, as exhibiting "a want of flow of ease, of what the painters call a free pencil." And Mr. Wakefield retorts upon Cowper, p. 122. "that of all the miserable versification in blank verse Cowper's translation of Homer is the most miserable he had yet seen:” referring to the beginning of Odyssey X. as a proof of his position. Now we will venture to affirm, in direct opposition to the Warrington schoolmaster, that one of the points in which Cowper has signalized himself is that of a correct, and, in the present age, most meritorious as well as masterly judg. ment in English versification. Without troubling ourselves at this moment to turn to the passage in question, we have no hesitation in ranking it, if as bad as it is represented, amongst the e.cceptions, perhaps the many exceptions, which in so long a work as an entire translation of the Iliad and Odyssey may reasonably be expected.* But we have some reason to question altogether the rhythmical ear of a man who can see no difference between the accent on the first syllable of virum in arma virumque cano, and the actual rest on the corresponding long syllable in vires. (Vide p. 6.) With regard to Cowper's Translation of Homer in general, it seems to us to be a work much underrated by modern self-erected judges of poetry.
Our admiration of the poetry of Pope will yield to that of no one who is disposed to view it with the candour of critical discri mination. We are not inclined to call that laboured excellence of thought condensed in his pithy lines by the name of conceit, nor to proclaim him in his mellifluous flow of classical language as under any counter-compact against simplicity, like Shadwell. But as a model of poetry, Pope, we venture to say, is dangerous: as a standard of taste, defective. We are, doubtless, apt to be misled, not to say bewitched, by the even, but monotonous har mony of the bard of Twickenham, and dazzled by the close array
* On referring, after writing this, to the passage in question, we are astonished, perhaps not astonished, to find it as correct, harmonious, and clegant a specimen of Cowper's style as we could wish to produce,
Vol. IV. Nen Series. 13
of his pointed antitheses and shining sentiments. On subjects requiring energetic brevity, or majestic strength, bis style is admirable; and there is doubtless a vigour, richness, harmony, and pomp, in detached passages of his translation of Homer, which the corresponding passages of Cowper do not scem to reach, or even to approach. And this is more particularly true of some of the fiercer descriptions of battles, or the more affecting scenes of living nature. But as a whole, to be accompanied throughout, to give a fair idea of the great poet, (a just one who can give ?) to interest the finer feelings of the heart, to sustain that interest, to please with all possible variety of correct cadence and nicelybalanced periods, we have an opinion, it may be a peculiar one, in favour of Cowper’s blank verse translation, even beyond that which we entertain of its rhyming and splendid rival, considered merely as a representative of Homer. We could much wish for soine fair opportunity of vindicating more fully this opinion; at present we must satisfy ourselves with generally expressing our surprise, that such a man as Wakefield should speak as he does respecting such a man as Cowper. His charge of a perpetual propensity to the ludicrous and burlesque in the Task seems to us à most unwarrantable misrepresentation of that most elegant satire, embellished as it is by the most touching sentiments, moral and religious. And we must look somewhat deeper than poetic taste, in a mind so liberal, so imbued with sensibility as that of Mr. Wakefield is by his admirers stated to have been, for this marked indifference to a writer almost excessive in his attachment to liberty, and for pure and exquisite sentiment unrivalled in English literature.
In letters 25, 26, 27. we find a high commendation of the poetry of Ovid, whom Mr. Wakefield does not hesitate to call « the first poet of all antiquity,” p. 83. a remark to which Mr. Fox replies, by professing himself a great admirer of that poet," to the great scandal of all who pique themselves upon purity of taste :” but he still ventures to prefer “the grand and spirited style of the Niad; the true nature and simplicity of the Odyssey ; the poetical language (far exceeding that of all other poets in the world) of the Georgics; and the pathetic strokes in the Æneid.” To which he subjoins, with commendation, a reference to a similarity pointed out by Wakefield between Ovid and Euripides. Mr. Fox's high opinion of Ovid has an air of less intrepidity, when it is recollected that he was backed by the authority of Milton, whose favourite authors were Ovid and Euripides; the Metamorphoses of the former he is said to have had nearly by heart. A good comparison is instituted between Ovid and Virgil by Wakefield in p. 96, 97. in which, however, he leaves somewhat coldly the single superiority of magnificent language to Virgil.
From letter 29. we should willingly, if we had time, produce to our readers the critical remarks of Mr. Wakefield's on the minor Greek poets; but must content ourselves with generally referring the curious on these interesting topics to very sensible and discriminating observations on the works of Apollonius Rhodius, Aratus, Nicander, Dionysius, Periegetes, Oppian, Nonnus, and the obscure but classic and highly finished Lycophron, dispersed over Mr. Wakefield's share in this correspondence. We could with pleasure also give some of Mr. Fox's just and scholar-like observations scattered up and down these letters, particularly those in letter 53. upon the pathetic in the Æneid. But it may be a matter of mere curiosity to our readers to see one or two quotations from Mr. Fox of a more general nature, by which they may be able to fix the standard of his scholarship from his own mouth,
“I am at present,” says he in letter 7. “ rather engaged in reading Greek; as it is my wish to recover at least, if not to improve, my former acquaintance (which was but slight) with that language. Of old editions and MSS. he professes bimself “uncommonly ignorant, never having read Homer in any other editions than the Glasgow and Clarke's." And in letter 28. we find the following confession, which we freely confess we equally admire for its frankness and good sense.
“ I wish to read some more, if not all, of the Greek poets, before I begin with those Latio ones that you recommend; especially as I take it for granted that Valerius Flaccus (one of them) is in some degree an imitator of Apollonius Rhodius. Of him, or Silius Itali. cus, I never read any; and of Statius but little. Indeed, as, during the far greater part of my life, the reading of the classics has been only an amusement, and not a study, I know but little of them beyond the works of those who are generally placed in the first rank; to which I have always more or less attended, and with which I have always been as well acquainted as most idle men, if not better. My practice has generally been 'multum potius quàm multos legere. Of late years, it is true, that I have read with more critical attention, and made it more of a study; but my attention has been chiefly directed to the Greek language, and its writers; so that in the Latin I have a great deal still to read: and I find that it is a pleasore which grows upon me every day.” Page 110, 111.
If these concessions forbid us to place Mr. Fox among the first scholars of the kingdom, which we understand some of his friends have injudiciously done, they still, in conjunction with the many sound and sensible observations, critical as well as sen.
timental, which accompany them, prove him to have had a high relish, and even we would say with his panegyrist Parr, "an ex. quisite taste, for the most celebrated authors in Greek and Latin:" they show him to have been possessed of a tenacious memory, and the power of readily applying his acquired knowledge ; together with much philological precision, when disposed to put forth (which he appears often to have been) the vigour of his strong, native sense in considering “the structure of sentences, the etymology of words, the import of particles, and the quan. tity of syllables." In short, he had a mind to relish and improve a literary retirement: his disappointments in public life did not leave him, as they have left many a statesman, without resource; and in the alternate and gratifying exercise of a vigorous judg. ment and vivid imagination, he could forget the feelings which first banished him to St. Anne's Hill; and could indulge the playful recreations of poetry and criticisin as a happy exchange for the turbid and precarious visions of a rash, political ambition.
On subjects of a still higher and more interesting nature these letters afford us few or no specimens of Mr. Fox's views; ex. cepting a faint prayer of humanity on the turn affairs had taken in Italy-God send it may lead to a peace:” (p. 162.) and a lamentation over the time lost in benefiting the world by an historical undertaking of which we know the result.--"I shall grudge very much the time it takes away from my attention to poetry and ancient literature, which are studies far more suitable to my taste.” (P. 169.) We have scarcely a hint of Mr. Fox's proficiency in those feelings and those arts which, above all others, tend to improve, exalt, and bless the hunan race. Unfortunately, too much is to be gathered froin this portentous silence-Dum tacet, clamat. It calls us to the contemplation of “that something still” defective in the utmost plenitude of Mr. Fox's mind; a void, a dreary waste, pervading all its moral part; a pining want proper
culture; a pernicious crop of sickly fruits, seeming, as it were, to echo cheerless to the wind. C'est un bel edifice, mais il y manque la chapelle, said a lady to Mr. Gibbon, when boasting of his history. . Can any other sentiment arise in the mind of him who contemplates with the eye of truth the hollow fabric raised by fare and Dr. Parr to Mr. Fox's memory? The stately form, the rich materials, and spacious groundwork of this fabric lead us, indeed, to feelings of no common regret for the defie ciency within : and deeply must we reprobate that system of education which in his early youth marked out no line, laid no foundation stone, for supplying the important part. Perhaps in a mind less original and commanding than Mr. Fox's, we readily accept education, if studied to mislead, deprave, intoxicate the boy, as some excuse, or at least palliation, for the failures of the man. If