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WIFE OF AUCHTERMUCHTY.
AN ANCIENT SCOTISH POEM.
A TRANSLATION INTO LATIN RHYME.
Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
About six months ago, a small publication appeared at Edinburgh, entitled, Carminum Rariorum Macaronicorum Delectus, in Usum Ludorum Apollinarium. Fasciculus secundus. That celebrated, though now very scarce Poem, the Wife of Auchtermuchty, was one of the articles which this fasciculus contained. The Editor, in a note at the beginning of it, made the following observation.
" It is much to be feared that the beauties of this excellent poem will be lost to modern readers, as the ancient Scotish dialect in which it is written is now not without difficulty understood even by the antiquarian. By an elegant translation into the Latin language, the beauties of this poem would be preserved to latest posterity. It is therefore much to be wished, that some classical scholar would do the same honour to this as has lately been done to some other Scotish poems."
A few weeks after this notice appeared, the Latin translation, now presented to the public, was sent to the Scriba Prætorius for the celebration of the Ludi Apollinares, inclosed in the following Latin letter.
PERLEGI, vir erudite, summâ cum voluptate, Fasciculos duos quos edidisti Carminum Rariorum Macaronicorum. Nil, me judice, in rebus humanis, solitove vitæ consortio jucundius, ne dicam utilius, quàm studia graviora, et ea munera in quibus ritè fungendis hominis probi constat officium, jocis interdum lenire, et horas paucas subsecivas, aut hilari et festivo consortio, aut genii ludicri modicâ indulgentiâ demulcere. Quàm sint utilia, immo necessaria hujusmodi oblectamenta, ipsemet sum expertus, qui nec paucis nec levibus implicitus negotiis, ni pauxillum temporis surripere licuisset ad vires animi reficiendas, prorsus succumberem. Quamobrem nec me poenitet omnino, nec pudet, animi causâ, nec non ut voto tuo, vir erudite, obsequerer, cantilenam hancce antiquam *, opusculum suo genere planè egregium, versu Latino, ut cupiisti, et metrico rythmo vestiisse. Si tibi, tuique similibus, viris cordatis, placuerint hi versus, quid de hisce nugis censeat morosum et vapidum genus hominum, qui nil sapiunt facetiarum, non multùm morabor. Vale et THE Scriba Prætorius is directed by the Gymnasiarchus Magnificus, Pontifex Maximus, Archi-Laureatus, Prætor Honoratus, and other officers of the Gymnastic Club, to request that the anonymous Author who has thus, with so much credit to himself, fulfilled their wish, would take any method he may think most advisable of informing them to whom they are indebted for a translation which, in their opinion, from its justness, its elegance, and its spirit, would do no discredit to any Latin scholar even of the highest reputation.
* The Wife of Auchtermuchty.
† An attentive perusal of this elegant letter is earnestly recommended to those medical practitioners who are anxious to preserve the health, and promote the happiness of themselves and others.
This Poem would have made the first part of a Third Fasciculus of Macaronics, which the Scriba Prætorius is now preparing for the press : But, from different considerations, he has determined that this Third Fasciculus shall not be published for some years to come, and he was unwilling to withhold from readers possessing elegant classical taste, till a period which is yet, perhaps, distant, that gratification which they cannot fail to derive from a careful perusal of the following translation,
Edinburgh, April 8, 1803.
In consequence of this notice, the Author of the preceding letter not only communicated his name to the Scriba Prætorius, but even gave reason to hope, that he might contribute to future Fasciculi. Of this assistance, however, they are probably for ever deprived, by his sincerely lamented death.
January 14, 1813.