author's twenty plays, are to follow; and it is intended to complete the whole with all poffible expedition, if the design should happen to meet with the approbation of the public.

As for the notes, they would perhaps have been fuller, with respect to the conduct of our author as a dramatic writer, if I had not intended a particular differtation on that point, but which cannot with propriety appear, till the whole of the tranflation is completed. I fhall then examine into the respective merits of our author and TERENCE, between whom there is not perhaps fo much difference, but that we may apply to them the words of TERENCE, in his prologue to the Andrian,

Qui utramvis rectè nôrit ambas noverit :
Non ita diffimili funt argumento, fed tamen
Diffimili oratione funt factæ ac ftilo.
Know one, and you know both; in argument

Lefs different than in sentiment and ftile.


I have thought it neceffary, for the fatisfaction of the lefs learned reader, to add fome notes, which those who are converfant in the ancient writings might deem fuperfluous; and though I do not mean directly to write for


schools, I have had them in my view, where I have quoted fome peculiar or remarkable expreffion or paffage of my original; and fometimes I have done it in order to justify me to the learned reader in the use of some common expreffion or phrase in our own tongue.

I have followed no particular edition of our author; but where there have been various readings, I have always prefer'd that which seemed to me the most simple and least forced. It is true, indeed, there are some paffages, the fense of which it is hardly poffible to deterinine, and of which we may almost say with our author in his Panulus, ar Carthaginian,

Ifti quidem herclè orationi Oedipo

Opus conjetore eft, Sphyngi qui interpres fuit : If in these I should happen to be mistaken, I can only plead in excufe, that I find the commentators as much puzzled as myself; and I cannot help frequently crying out, after having confulted them,

Incertior fum multò quàm dudum. TER. PHORM. I'm more uncertain

Now than I was before.


I flatter myself, that a translation of PLAUTUS may be acceptable at least to the English


reader, as he has never appeared entire in our tongue. Echard, indeed, has given us a tranflation of the three plays, which had been selected by Madam Dacier. † Cooke published propofals for a complete tranflation of our author, and has printed one play, the Amphitryon, in Latin and English. There is likewise an old translation of the Menæchmi of our author, by W. W. printed in 1595, in the collection of Mr. Garrick, of which I fhall take further notice, when I come to that play. These are in prose; and how little foever I may appear to go beyond them in other points, I have at least one confiderable advantage over them, from the new and elegant mode of translation in familiar blank verse, which Mr, Colman fo happily hit upon in his TERENCE; the propriety and use of which he has fo fully set forth in his preface to that work, as makes it needless for me to say any thing here concerning it;

As I profefs to give nothing more than a translation of my author, it is neceffary to men

Echard has palpably translated from the French more than from his original author. His ftile befides is course and inde licate, and while he aims at being familiar, he is commonly low and vulgar.

+ Cooke feems to have intended his edition merely for the ufe of learners.

tion fome peculiarities in his manner, which may appear strange to the English reader. Thofe who can read and relish him in the original, will be fenfible how much thefe peculiarities are against the tranflator, who, while he is obliged to be faithful to his author, is obliged likewife to take upon himself in fome measuré his author's faults. But that I may not be thought to palliate or exaggerate these his seeming defects, I shall extract part of what is faid on this point by M. Gaeudeville, in his preface to a translation of our author's plays.

"Plautus (fays he) like all great men, is not without his exceptions. He has an unbounded inclination to moralizing on every thing in his way. An affectation perhaps of knowing every thing, and of making a parade of that knowledge, often leads him into fuch perplexity and obfcurity in his reflections, as have baffled the pains and endeavours of his commentators to make them intelligible.

* A remarkable inftance of this may be feen in the Treasure, where Stafimus, a fervant, who declares himself in great haste, ftands ftill to moralize, while Charmides, an old gentleman juft returned from abroad, instead of going home directly, waits patiently to overhear him. It may be observed, however, that if Plautus fometimes indulges in an affectation of moralizing,


« ElőzőTovább »