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The difficulty you complain of here results from the omission of “we keep company," or some such words, before “in the church.” In proverbial modes of expression like this, such ellipses are very frequent.
Seventh instance. Canto xxiv., last line but one, Bianco, the first two syllables are melted into one in the Italian pronunciation, and always constitute a single foot, just as the last two in Etruria and many other similar words. Had I made three syllables of it I should have displayed a woful ignorance of my author, or neglect. :
Eighth instance. A man levelling his hands at God; Johnson's Dictionary will explain to you that to level sometimes means to point. The concomitant action of the spirits explains his meaning to be a profane defiance of the Almighty. The serpents became Dante's friends by stopping the mouth of a sinner, who was about to utter horrid blasphemies.
Ninth instance. The word liker appeared to me to be more poetical here than the alteration you suggest (which, indeed, being a very obvious one, suggested itself to me exactly in the same form at the time of writing the passage) and for that reason I retained it.
Tenth instance. Page 283, “ tell on't.” This abbreviation or corruption, if you please, of on't for of it, is so very, very common in Shakspeare (who surely does deserve to be called a good poet, though often an incorrect one) that I can scarcely believe my eyes
when you say that "you surely never saw it in our good poets." Take the following examples :
“The Moor himself 's at sea, And is in full commission here for Cyprus. Mon. I am glad on't; 'tis a worthy governor."
Othello, act ii. sc. 1. “ Be not you known on't ; I have use for it."
Act iii. sc. 2. “By my soul, I'm glad on't.”—Act iv. sc. 1. “ You taught me language ; and my profit on't
Is, I know how to curse.”—Tempest, act i. sc. 2. “ And yet he would be king on't.”—Act ii. sc. 1.
“This tempest, Dashing the garment of this peace, aboded
The sudden breach on't.”—Henry VIII., act. i. sc. 1. “ I'll go and tell the duke on't.”
Beaumont and Fletcher; The Loyal Subject, act i. sc. 3. Yet after all this I would not use it in a modern poem ; but, in the translation of a poet, whose manner as well as matter I wish to represent, and whose manner is antique, it seems to me in its place. “ 'Ere I describe it,” is to my ear of so base and scrannel a sound, that no temptation could have induced me to adopt such an amendment.
Eleventh instance; same page. “ The traitor whom I gnaw at;" I did not make the pause where you propose, because it seemed to me too like concluding the sentence, while the speaker was carried on by a violent passion to the end of it. I did not indeed think the passage (a passage of such unmixed horror) one in which elegance of phrase was much to be studied.
Twelfth instance. Uncapable instead of incapable,
on the same account, probably, that Milton wrote unsufferable for insufferable in the passage quoted above, Shakspeare uneffectual for ineffectual, and un capable for incapable, because I thought it of better sound, and that it was not at all the worse for no being the word of common chit-chat.
Last instance : “date more luscious for my fig. On consulting my old woman here (perhaps more quick of apprehension than Molière's), she found the only difficulty was to know what it could be you did not understand. Yet I plead guilty of having exceeded my original, by the insertion of more lus cious, which I conceived (vainly it seems,) would add force to the sentiment (he suffered more than he inflicted), and found besides very convenient for filling up the verse. And for this offence let the Muse inflict what punishment shall seem good unto her, only I humbly pray it may not be to answer as many more objections.
When you made the comparison between the Gothic building and the modern one, I wonder it did not lead you to a different conclusion, and show you that as Dante's edifice is Gothic, an attempt to modernise it would be to do what the architect has done within these few years to your own cathedral
, that is, in your opinion and mine, what he could do to spoil it; nay, more, would be like fitting up that venerable pile with sash windows, Venetian blinds, crimson curtains, and Turkish sofas.
Yours, &c. H. F. CARY.
Mr. Cary had resumed his journal early in this year.
LITERARY JOURNAL, 1806.
February. Read the Zodiacus Vitæ of Marcellus Palingenius Stellatus. This poem is dividedinto twelve books, called from the twelve signs of the Zodiac, as the books of Herodotus are named from the nine Muses. It is moral and metaphysical, without plan. The Christian religion is only twice or thrice incidentally mentioned as a moral rule. There is great facility in the versification, which indeed has often the wordy fluency of the improvisatore style; and is accordingly seldom or never highly wrought. I have traced Pope in several passages; and I suspect that a careful comparison of his Essay on Man with this poem would discover more imitations. Shakspeare (see Common-Place Book) has imitated one passage. He had probably read the translation of Googe. The edition which I have read is printed, Londini, apud Robertum Dexter, 1599.
From this poem I have been led to the Latin poetry of Joannes Jovianus Pontanus, which in respect of versification is of a higher cast. The Urania, an astrological poem, showing the influence of the heavenly luminaries on human life, has no longer much interest now that the system on which it was built is entirely gone by. The Meteororum Liber treats of the causes of many natural appearances. The De Hortis Hesperidum, on the
Culture of Oranges and Lemons, is perhaps more pleasing than the others. I have looked into some of the other poems. In the Amorum Liber i., the hendecasyllables have the indecency of Catullus without the graces of his style. Flaminius has imitated the better part of that writer.
May. Finished the eight books of Origen against Celsus.
June. Read the Supplices of Æschylus in the edition of Schutz. I now wonder at my own observation * respecting the conclusion of this tragedy. It is far less striking than the Eumenides, which I have read (as well as the Choephoræ) in this edition. In many places the text is extremely corrupt. To Æschylus may be applied his own words respecting the will of Jove :
ουκ ευθήρατος ετύχθη
June and July. Read cursorily Origen de Principiis. Of his four books de Principiis only a part of the third and fourth remains in the original Greek. The rest is preserved in an unfaithful Latin version, by Rufinus, made A.D. 398. Origen in this work
* Ante, p. 105 (Feb. 4, 1797).
Jove's firm decree, tho' wrapt in night,