« 上一頁繼續 »
• late long vacation to the good of my country; and • I have at length, by the assistance of an ingenious • artist, (who works to the Royal Society) almost
completed my design, and shall be ready in a short s time to furnish the public with what number of " these instruments they please, either to lodge at ' coffee-houses, or carry for their own private use. • In the mean time, I shall pay that respect to seve(ral gentlemen, whom I know will be in danger of • offending against this instrument, to give them no( tice of it by private letters, in which I shall only ( write, “ Get a Licinius."
" I should now trouble you no longer, but that I ( must not conclude without desiring you to accept
one of these pipes which shall be left for you with ' Buckley ; and which I hope will be serviceable to
you, since as you are silent yourself, you are most open to the insults of the noisy.
I am, Sir, &c.
" I had almost forgot to inform you, that as an improvement in this instrument, there will be a par(ticular note, which I call a hush-note ; and this is i to be made use of against a long story, swearing, ( obsceneness, and the like.'
No. CCXXIX. THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22.
Spirat adhuc amor,
Æcliæ fidibus puellæ.
Sappho's charming lyre
Preserves her soft desire,
AMONG the many famous pieces of antiquity which are still to be seen at Rome, there is the trunk of a statue which has lost the arms, legs, and head ; but discovers such an exquisite workmanship in what remains of it, that Michael Angelo declared he had learned his whole art from it. Indeed he studied it so attentively, that he made most of his statues, and even his pictures in that gusto, to make use of the Italian phrase ; for which reason this maimed statue is still called Michael Angelo's school.
A fragment of Sappho, which I design for the subject of this paper, is in as great reputation among the poets and critics, as the mutilated figure above' mentioned is among the statuaries and painters. Several of our countrymen, and Mr. Dryden in particular, seem very often to have copied after it in their dramatic writings, and in their poems upon love.
Whatever might have been the occasion of this ode, the English reader will enter into the beauties of it, if he supposes it to have been written in the person of a lover sitting by his mistress. I shall set to view three different copies of this beautiful origipal: the first is a translation by Catullus, the second by Monsieur Boileau, and the last by a gentleman whose translation of the “ Hymn to Venus,“ has been so deservedly admired. .
en Ille mi par esse Deo videtur,
Spectat, et audit.
“ Dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis
Eripit sensus mili; nam simul te,
Quod loquar amens.
Lingua sed torpet: tenuis sub artus
" Lunina noc:e."
My learned reader will know very well the reason wliy one of these verses is printed in Italic letter; and if he compares this translation with the original, wil find that the three first stanzas are rendered alır:ost word for word, and not only with the same elegance, but with the same sho:t turn of expression which is so remarkable in the Greek, and so peculiar to the Sapphic ode. I canrot imagine for what reason Mádain Dacier has told us, that this ode of Sappho is preserred entire in Longinus, since itis manifest to anyone who looks into that author's quotation of it, that there must at least have been another stanza, which is not transmitted to us.
The second translation of this fragment which I shall here cite, is that of Monsieur Boileau.
“ Heureux! qui prés de toi, pour toi seule si ûpire :
Qui jcuît du plaisir de t'entendre parler :
Qui te voit quelquefois doucement lui sıûrire. “ Les Dieux, dans son bonheur, peuvent-ils l'égaler ?
" Je sens de veine en veine une subtile flamme
Je ne sçaurois trcuver de langue, ni de voix.
“ Un nuage confus se rè sand sur ma vuë,
The reader will see that this is rather an imitation than a translation. The circumstances do not lie so thick together, and follow one another with that vehemence and emotion as in the original. In short, Monsieur Boileau has given us all the poetry, but not all the passion of this famous fragment. I shall, in the last place, present my reader with the English translation.
Softly speak and sweetly smile.
And rais'd such tumuits in my breast;
My breath was gone, my voice was lost :
O'er my dim eyes a darkness hung;
Instead of giving any characterof this last translation, I shall desire iny learned friend to lock into the criticisms which Longinus has made upon the original. By that means he will know to which of the translations he ought to give the preference. I shall only add, that this translation is written in the very spirit of Sappho, and as near the Greek as the genius of our language will possibly suffer.
Longinus has observed, that this description of love in Sappho is an exact copy of nature, and that all the circumstances which follow one another in such an hurry of sentiments, notwithstanding they appear repugnant to each other, are really such as happen in the phrenzies of love.
I wonder that not one of the critics or editors, through whose hands this ode has passed, has taken occasion from it to mention a circumstance related by Plutarch. That author in the famous story of Artiochus, who fell in love with Stratonice, his motherin-law, and, not daring to discover his passion, pretended to be confined to his bed by sickness, tells us, that Erasistratus, the physician, found out the nature of his distemper, by those symptoms of love which he had learned from Sappho's writings. Stratonice was in the room of the love-sick prince, when these symptoms discovered themselves to his physician ; and it is probable, that they were not very different from those which Sappho here describes in a lover sitting by his mistress. This story of Antiochus is so well known, that I need not add the sequel o it, which has no relation to my present subject.