Page images
PDF
EPUB

have inferred that the son, who was made the object of so flattering a distinction by a father, in competent indeed, but by no means in affluent circumstances, could not have been a common child.

Pater me puerulum humaniorum literarum studiis destinavit; quas ita avidè arripui, ut ab anno ætatis duodecimo vix unquam ante mediam noctem à lucubrationibus cubitum discederem; quæ prima oculorum pernicies fuit: quorum ad naturalem debilitatem accesserant et crebri capitis dolores; quæ omnia cum discendi impetum non retardarent, et in ludo literario, et sub aliis domi magistris erudiendum quotidie curavit.

My father destined me” (our author says) when I was yet a child to the study of elegant literature, and so eagerly did I seize on it that, from

my

twelfth year, I seldom quitted my studies for my bed till the middle of the night. This proved the first cause of the ruin of my eyes; in addition to the natural weakness of which organs, I was afflicted with frequent pains in my head. When these maladies could not restrain my rage for learning, my father provided that I should be daily instructed in some school abroad, or by domestic tutors at home.” How great are

[ocr errors]

66

h Defen. Secun. P. W. vol. v. p. 230.

the obligations of Britain and of the world to such a father, engaged in the assiduous and well-directed cultivation of the mind of such

a son!

poem, which

But the reward of the father was ample; and no one, but a parent of taste and sensibility, under circumstances of some resemblance, can form any estimate of the gratification, which he must have felt from his child's increasing progress, and from the prospects which this gradually opened. How exquisite must have been his sensations on receiving, in that admirable latin is addressed to him, the fullest evidence of the learning, genius, taste, piety, and gratitude, which had unfolded under his eye! How pleased must he have been to accept immortality from the hand, which he had himself fostered to be assured of visiting posterity as the benefactor of his illustrious offspring, and of being associated, as it were, with him, in the procession and expanding pomp of his triumph! We may imagine with what pleasure a father would read the following elegant compliment to his own peculiar talent, from the pen of his accomplished and poetic son. Nec tú

pergė, precor, sacras conteninere Musas, Nec vanas inopesque puta, quarum ipse peritus

Munere, mille sonos numeros componis ad aptos,
Millibys et vocem modulis variare canoram
Doctus, Arionii merito sis nominis hæres.
Nunc tibi quid mirum si me genuisse poetam
Contigerit, charo si tam prope sanguine juncti
Cognatas artes, studiumque affine sequamur?
Ipse volens Phæbus se dispertire duobus,
Altera dona mihi, dedit altera dona parenti ;
Dividuumque Deum genitorque puerque tenemus.

Nori
you

affect to scorn the Aonian quire,
Blessid.by their smiles and glowing with their fire
You! who by them inspired, with art profound
Can wield the magic of proportion'd sound :
Through thousand tones can teach the voice to stray,
And wind to harınony its mazy way,
Arion's tuneful heir!--then wonder not
A poet-child should be by you begot:
My kindred blood is warm with kindred flame;
And the son treads his father's track to fame.
Phæbus controlls us with a common sway;
To you commends his lyre,--to me his lay;

i If I have refused to avail myself of Mr. Cowper's transla-tions, which are given to us by Mr. Hayley, I will hope that my conduct may not be attributed to affectation, or to the childish wish of entering the lists, for so trivial a prize, with that justly admired poét, and most excellent man, the author of "the

Task.". My translations, as I am conscious, stand in need of apology: they reflect indeed the thought of the original, but they reflect it.sometimes in a peculiar mode, and with images of their own. When I refuse, therefore, to accept the more accurate transcript of another pen, I am induced solely by the persuasion that my reader will have cause to be out of humour with me, if I offer to him only what he bas seen and purchased before. My own verses are new; and novelty will generally be acceptable, even when the wares, which are stamped with it, happen to be of inferior value.

Whole in each bosom makes his just abode,
And child and father own the one though varied God.--

This must have been most acceptable; and yet, perhaps, more gratifying to the heart of a parent would be that effusion of filial affection, with which the poem concludes.

At tibi, chare pater, postquam non æqua merenti
Posse referre datur, nec dona rependere fictis,
Sit memorasse satis, repetitaque munera grato
Percensere animo, fidæque reponere menti.
Et vos, O nostri, juvenilia 'carmina, lusus,
Si modo perpetuos sperare audebitis annos,
Et domini superesse rogo, lucemque tueri,
Nec spisso rapient oblivia nigra sub orco;
Forsitan has laudes, decantatumquc parentis
Nomen, ad exemplum, sero servabitis ævo.

But since; dear sire, my gratitude can find
For all your gifts no gifts of equal kind:
Since
my large

heart
my

bounded fortunes wrong. -
Accept, for all, the record of my song:
O take the love, that strives to be express'd!
O take the thanks, that live within my breast!
And you sweet triflings of my youthful state,
If strains, like you, can hope a lasting date;
Unconscious of your mortal master's doom,
If ye maintain the day, nor know the tomb,
From dark forgetfulness, as time rolls on,
Your power shall snatch the parent and the son:
And bid them live, to teach succeeding days,
How one could merit, and how one could praise! *
Some part of our author's early educa-

The reader will find an entire translation of this poem at the end of the volume.

tion was committed to the care of Mr. Thomas Young, a puritan minister, and a native, as Aubrey affirms, of Essex; but at what precise period this connexion began or ended is not now to be ascertained. It has been deemed probable, that Young continued in his office till the time when, in consequence of his religious opinions, he was compelled to retire to the continent, where he obtained the appointment of minister to the British merchants at Hamburgh. Young's departure from England is stated to have taken place in 1623, when his pupil is supposed to have been placed, in his fifteenth year, at St. Paul's school. But this statement seems to be inaccurate, as his pupil, in a letter dated from Cambridge in 1628, promises him a visit at his country house in Suffolk, and compliments him on the independency of mind, with which he maintained himself, like a Grecian sage, or an old Roman consul, on the profits of a small farm.

“Rus tuum accersitus, simul ac ver adoleverit, libenter adveniam ad capessendas anni tuique non minus colloquii delicias: et ab urbano strepitu subducam me paulisper ad Stoam tuam Icenorum, tanquam ad

Mr. Warton imagines that Young returned in or before this year (1628): but Laud's persecution of the puritans was now at

« PreviousContinue »