Page images
PDF
EPUB

At London, printed for Nathaniel Butter. Folio, n.d. [1616.] pp. 764.

In noticing some of the poetical works of Chapman, it would be unpardonable if we were to omit all mention of his magnum opus, which formed such an important feature and labour of his life, his celebrated translation of the works of Homer. While Pope in a later day, when engaged in a similar pursuit, betook himself to the shady retirement of Stanton Harcourt, near to the classic groves of Oxford, and Cowper devoted himself to a kindred task in his quiet abode at Olney, Chapman forsook the noise and bustle of the metropolis, and retired to his native home and favourite retreat at Hitchin Hill, and there with hard study and labour, and in humble faith and pious prayer to God, he completed his great undertaking, which will endure as long as time shall last, to his immortal fame.

The title, which with three other plates, are all engraved by William Hole, has on either side a full-length figure of Achilles and Hector, each holding a spear, and at the top a head of Homer, supported by Vulcan and Apollo, with the motto: "Mulciber in Trojam, pro Troia stabat Apollo." At the bottom, below the title, is another motto: "Qui nil molitur inepte." On the reverse, in an oval, is a fine portrait of Chapman, encircled in clouds, with piercing eyes and well-trimmed beard, surrounded with the inscription: "Georgius Chapmanus Homeri Metaphrastes, Eta: LVII. M.DC.XVI." Over this is "Hæc est Laurigeri facies divina Georgi; Hic Phœbi Decus est; Phœbinumque Deus," and on the clouds, "Conscium evasi diem," and some Latin quotations at the bottom of the page. On the following leaf is an engraving the full size of the page, containing two pillars, inscribed "Iliad" and "Odyssæa," united by a bar, inscribed "Musar: Hercul: Colum:" Over this are the prince's plume of feathers, and below, the motto: "Ne Vsque." Underneath is a sonnet, "To the Immortall Memorie of the Incomparable Heroe, Henry Prince of Wales."

The translation is preceded by a dedicatory address to Prince Henry, an anagram of his name in a Sonnet, another to Queen Anne, wife of James I., a poetical address "To the Reader," a prose address or preface to the same, and a list of "Faults escaped."

In his poetical address to the reader, Chapman remarks with some justice, on the capabilities of the English language for the purposes of "Rhithmicall Poesie:"

And, for our tongue, that still is so empayr'd
By trauailing linguists, I can proue it cleare
That no tongue hath the Muses vtterance heyr'd
For verse, and that sweet Musique to the eare
Strooke out of rime, so naturally as this:

Our Monosyllables so kindly fall

And meete, opposde in rime, as they did kisse.

At the close of the Iliad are sixteen sonnets addressed to the principal nobility of his day; a custom which was frequently adopted by the poets and writers of that time, to attract their attention and secure their favour and patronage. They are not worth quoting.

[ocr errors]

The title to the Odyssey, engraved by Hole, contains a figure of Homer in the centre, with the motto: "Solus sapit hic homo." At the bottom are Pallas and Ulysses, with the mottoes: "Reliqui vero”. "Umbræ moventur," and at the top are two cupids with flowers and fruit. It is dedicated to Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset, Lord Chamberlain, partly in verse and partly in prose, at the end of which is a page containing "Certaine ancient Greeke Epigrammes translated." The volume closes with the author's address of acknowledgment and thanksgiving to the Deity on the completion of his labours.

Chapman's work is deservedly held in respect, and though perhaps not much read at the present day, still it holds up its head in a comparison with other translations. And while the versions of Pope and Cowper, or those of more modern date by Lord Derby and Mr. Wortley are more popular and readable, we shall always look back with gratitude and esteem on the labours of the "venerable Chapman."

His version is written in a long measure of fourteen syllables, and is generally considered as paraphrastic, but is not without a certain degree of occasional force and spirit, and his compound epithets have been much admired by Warton and others.

Some clever articles appeared in Blackwood's Magazine for 1831 and 1832, in which comparisons were instituted between Chapman's version and those of Pope, Cowper and Sotheby, which may be read with advantage by the admirers of Chapman, and those of our readers who are not already acquainted with the excellent version of the first book of the Iliad, in the same metre as Chapman's, and in the same number of lines as the original, by the able printer to the Chetham Society, Mr. Charles Simms, will, we are sure, be obliged to us for bringing it under their notice. It appeared in 1866, in small 4to.

- Chapman's translation of the Iliad was reprinted and edited by Dr. Cooke Taylor, in two volumes, 8vo, in 1843, and his translations of the Iliad, Odyssey and Batrachomyomachia were republished in 1857 and 1858 by Mr. Russell Smith, under the editorial care of Mr. Hooper, with a reduced fac-simile of the engraved title and portrait of Chapman, and a copious introduction, and the reader may consult further Warton's Hist. Eng. Poet., vol. iv. p. 269; Wood's Ath. Oxon., vol. ii. p. 578; Collier's Bibliogr. Cat., vol. i. p. 122; and Chalmers's Engl. Poets.

Mr. Heber's copy (wanting the title to the Odyssey), pt. iv. No. 1443, sold for 47. 198.; Jolley's ditto, pt. ii. No. 655*, 21. 58.; Sir Mark M. Sykes's ditto, pt. i. No. 528, 4l. 138.; Perry's ditto, pt. i. No. 2388, 5l. 58. Chapman's own copy of his translation, corrected for a future edition, which formerly belonged to Steevens, was in Mr. Heber's collection, pt. iv. No. 1445.

Pope's copy of Chapman's version was afterwards in the hands of Warton. Collation: Sig. *, seven leaves, with title; Sig. A to Z, in sixes; A a to Gg, in sixes; then A to Z again, in sixes, except R, which has eight leaves; A a to Ii, in sixes, except the last, which has seven leaves. The leaf at the end of the twelfth book (called by Chapman Opus novem dierum) which is blank, is necessary to complete the signatures, but not the paging. 382 leaves, 764 pages.

Fine large copy. Bound by Lewis. In Calf, gilt leaves.

CHAPMAN (GEORGE.) - The Crowne of all Homers Workes, Batrachomyomachia, or the Battaile of Frogs and Mise. His Hymnes and Epigrams. Translated according to the originall by George Chapman.

London, Printed by Iohn Bill, his Maiesties Printer. Lond. n. d. [1624]. Folio, pp. 202.

The above is on a fine engraved frontispiece by W. Pass, containing in the centre of the lower part a portrait of Chapman, with a full beard, and above, a figure of Homer crowned by Apollo and Minerva, with Mercury standing between them, at the back of the chair in which Homer is placed. The volume is dedicated to the same unworthy patron as the last-Robert Carr, earl of Somerset; after which there occurs in prose, "The occasion

VOL. II. PART II.

SS

of this Impos'd Crowne." Then follows the translation of "Batrachomyo-
machia," extending to nine leaves, succeeded by various Hymns addressed
to Apollo, Hermes, Venus, Bacchus, Mars, &c., occupying seventy
To these are added, "Certaine Epigrams and other Poems of Homer;"
"To Cuma;" "On his return to Cuma;" upon "The Sepulchre of Exidus
cut in Brasse in the figure of a Virgin," &c., occupying thirteen leaves, and
closed by the inscription, "The end of all the endlesse works of Homer."
Chapman has then added a kind of Poetical Epilogue, without any super-
scription, but written in rhyming couplets. The commencement is:

The Work that I was borne to doe, is done.
Glory to Him, that the Conclusion

Makes the beginning of my Life: - & neuer
Let me be said to Liue, till I liue euer.

This fills up two leaves, and concludes the volume.

With this volume was closed the grand Homeric labours of Chapman, which occupied so large a portion of his literary life. It is evident that he was buoyed up in his great undertaking, not only by a strong faith in the support of the Deity, but by a conscious feeling that his labours would be appreciated by posterity. And with these thoughts and hopes he continued to work on untired and undeterred to the end. He was now verging on towards the allotted period of man's life, if this work was published, as it is supposed, in 1624,* but he continued to survive for ten years longer, not dying till 1634.

In closing this account of some of the principal writings of Chapman, we may add that he was buried at St. Giles's-in-the-Fields, and that he is invariably spoken of by all his contemporaries in terms of respect and honour for his virtues and his talents. And, judging from his writings, and from other sources, we are fully impressed with a sense of the strong religious feeling which pervaded his life and every action, the great reverence and love he entertained for the art which engrossed his whole life, and, in an age not distinguished for morality, he stands out remarkable for the worth and respectability of his character.

*Mr. Hazlitt and others think this date too late, and that it was published not later than 1614. It is certainly remarkable that Chapman inscribed in his own hand a copy of the work to Lord William Russell, upon whose death, in 1614, he wrote his (now very rare) Elegiac Poem, entitled Eugenie, 1614, 4to.

Chapman has verses printed in Nenna's Nennio, 1595; in Keymis's (Lawr.) Second Voyage to Guiana, 1596, 4to; in Field's (N.) A Woman is a Weathercock, 1612; beneath the portrait of Prince Henry in Holland's Hierologia, 1620, folio; and in Christopher Brooke's extremely rare poem of The Ghost of Richard the Third, 1614, 4to, of which only two copies are known.

In MS. Ashmole, 38, are four poems by George Chapman, viz.: 1, "The Bodie of his mistress described sitting and readye to be drawne ;" 2, “A Description of the Minde;" 3, "Epicures frugallitie;" 4, "An Invective wrighten by Mr. George Chapman against Mr. Ben Jonson," imperfect.

There are lines addressed to him in Freeman's Epigrams, 1614, 4to, and in many other similar collections. For notices of Chapman or his works, see Anton's Philosophers Satyres, 1616, 4to; Wither's Abuses, &c., 1613; and Browne's Pastorals, 1614, folio. Consult also Warton's Hist. Eng. Poet., vol. iv. p. 269; Colliers's Bibliog. Cat., vol. i. p. 126; Wood's Ath. Oxon., vol. ii. p. 575; and Restituta, vol. ii.

Bibl. Heber., pt. iv. No. 1451, 37. 38.; another copy, wanting the title, but with a MS. dedication in Chapman's own hand to Lord Russell, No. 1450, 67. 88. 6d.; Sir Mark M. Sykes's ditto, No. 1529, 107.; Crawford, No. 1654, 47. 18s.; Bindley's ditto, 87.

Collation Title, 1 leaf; Dedication, 3 leaves; "The occasion of this Impos'd Crowne," 1 leaf; "Batrachomyomachia," "Hymnes, Epigrams, &c.," Sig. A to Z 4, in fours; the "Epilogue," 2 leaves; A a 1 and A a 2. Bound by C. Smith. In Green Morocco, gilt leaves.

CHARLES I.-Monumentum Regale or a Tombe, erected for that incomparable and Glorious Monarch, Charles the First, King of Great Britane, France, and Ireland, &c.

[A crown, with the initials C. R., and a scull underneath.]

In select Elegies, Epitaphs, and Poems.
Printed in the Yeare 1649. 8vo, pp. 48.

It is difficult, and in many cases impossible, to trace out the authorship of the numerous, fugitive, and anonymous tributes of affection, which were poured forth in such abundance on the death of the royal Martyr, as he was usually termed. The present small volume is without any marks

« PreviousContinue »