« ElőzőTovább »
ject to alteration than that of our speech : and this I think Tacitus meant by that which he calls sermonem temporis istius auribus accommodatum ; the delight of change being as due to the curiosity of the ear as of the eye; and therefore if Virgil must needs speak English, it were fit he should speak not only as a man of this nation, but as a man of this age; and if this disguise I have put upon him (I wish I could give it a better name) sit not naturally and easily on so grave a person, yet it may become him better than that fool's coat wherein the French and Italians have of late represented him; at least, I hope it will not make him appear deformed, by making any part enormously bigger or less than the life; (I having made it my principal care to follow him, as he made it his to follow nature, in all his proportions) neither have I any where offered such violence to his sense as to make it seem mine and not his. Where my expressions are not so full as his, either our language or my art was defective; (but I rather suspect myself) but where mine are fuller than his, they are but the impressions which the often reading of him hath left upon my thoughts ; so that if they are not his own conceptions, they are at least the results of them; and if (being conscious of making him speak worse than he did almost in
every line) I err in endeavouring sometimes to make him speak better, I hope it will be judged an error on the right hand, and such an one as may deserve pardon, if not imitation.
THE DESTRUCTION OF TROY.
AN ESSAY ON THE
SECOND BOOK OF VIRGIL's ÆNEIS.
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1636.
The argument. THE first book speaks of Aeneas' voyage by sea, and how, being cast by
tempest upon the coast of Carthage, he was received by Queen Dido, who, after the feast, desires him to snake the relation of the destruction of Troy; which is the Argument of this book.
While all with silence and attention wait,
By Fate repell’d, and with repulses tir'd,
15 The Greeks, so many lives and years expir’d, A fabric like a moving mountain frame, Pretending vows for their return : this Fame Divulges : then within the beast's vast womb The choice and flower of all their troops entomb. 20 In view the isle of Tenedos, once high In fame and wealth, while Troy remain d, doth lie; (Now but an unsecure and open bay) Thither, by stealth, the Greeks their fleet convey. gave them
gone, and to Mycenæ saild, 25 And Troy reviv’d, her mourning face unvail'd ; All thro' th’unguarded gates with joy resort To see the slighted camp, the vacant port. Here lay Ulysses, there Achilles ; here The battles join'd; the Grecian fleet rode there; 30 But the vast pile th’amazed vulgar views, Till they their reason in their wonder lose. And first Thymætes moves (urg'd by the power Of fate or fraud) to place it in the tower ; But Capys and the graver sort thought fit The Greeks' suspected present to commit To seas or flames, at least to search and bore The sides, and what that space contains t'explore. The uncertain multitude with both engag'd, Divided stands, till from the tower', enrag'd 40 Laocoon ran, whom all the crowd attends, Crying, What desp'rate frenzy's this, (oh, friends!)
To think them gone ? Judge rather their retreat
65 On all the troops that guarded him, he cries, “What land, what sea, for me what fate attends ? Caught by my foes, condemned by my friends, Incensed Troy a wretched captive seeks To sacrifice ; a fugitive the Greeks."