ments whatever, an acknowledgment at all adequate to their importance, their number, and their extent.

However small may be the portion of vanity that may flatter the feelings of an individual, who, in the character of an author, aspires to the notice of the public, he cannot so entirely divest himself of its influence as not to indulge a wish, that the result of his literary labors may not be consigned to oblivion. But I have a powerful, additional motive for entertaining a hope that this unpretending performance, notwithstanding its many imperfections, may be rescued from a mere ephemeral existence :-an anxious desire that it may be a lasting record, both of my gratitude to your Lordship, and of those sentiments of pure, sincere, and unalterable attachment and high esteem, with which I have the honor to subscribe myself,

My Lord,
Your Lordship's

Most devoted

and most faithful Servant,



I ORIGINALLY intended to prefix to this Translation of the Lusiad a Biographical Sketch of the Poet, and a Dissertation on the Poem. Various considerations, however, have induced me to leave this design unexecuted. Its fulfilment, indeed, was by no means imposed on me as a necessary task, in order to supply any existing deficiency. No facts have recently come to light which shed a new interest on the life of Camoens, and it would be difficult to impart much of novelty to a critical analysis of the imperishable monument which he has raised to the glory of his native land.

What is now omitted by myself, has been amply supplied by others. Prefixed to Mickle's highly poetical but paraphrastic Translation is a Life of this eminently gifted poet, and also a Dissertation on the Lusiad. He has, perhaps, been more liberal in praise, than just in discrimination : but it is difficult for a congenial poet, in performing the office of Translator, to avoid identifying himself with his author; and his feel. ings of admiration will scarcely permit him to detect and condemn what to others may appear to be, and may really constitute, material defects.

Lord Strangford's prefatory introduction to his version of some of the minor poems of Camoens contains some interesting remarks on his life and writings. But the Memoirs, published by Mr. Adamson, present the fullest, the most satisfactory and most valuable information, that has hitherto been industriously collected, and judiciously arranged, to illustrate both the affecting incidents in the poet's chequered career, and the splendid and various productions of his Muse.

In his own country, the life of Camoens has been written by many authors of celebrity, and numerous dissertations have been published on the Lusiad and his other poems.

But as the Portugueze language has here been comparatively but little cultivated for literary purposes, it is the less necessary to allude to them. It may, however, be proper to mention, that Mr. Adamson has translated the most recent Essay on the Lusiad, by the late Don Jozé Maria de Sousa. It will be found in the excellent Memoirs to which I have alluded; and though allowance must be made for a predilection which has naturally biassed the judgment of the critic in favor of a native poet, yet it presents a pleasing and enlightened analysis, which may be perused with much interest.

German and French literature are pursued with such ardor, that the very valuable works of Bouterwek and Sismondi can scarcely fail to be generally known, and no one can have read, without great satisfaction, their masterly criticisms on the Lusiad, and the very inte

resting notices they contain relative to Camoens. These enlightened authors have ably and impartially conducted their critical analysis ; but the comments of Duperon de Castera and La Harpe are far less judicious. The former is lavish in the distribution of indiscriminate praise, and the judgment of the latter is more censorious than just.

What I have stated will sufficiently show, that the omission of a life of the poet and an essay on the poem is of little importance, since both have been very adequately supplied by others more competent than myself to do ample justice to these subjects. In the Notes, however, many remarks are interspersed, which are not limited to a mere explanation of the passages to which they refer. Opinions are occasionally hazarded on various parts of the Lusiad, which appeared to invite a due portion of applause, or to demand a just measure of only qualified approbation.

Without presuming to place myself on the tribunal of critical justice, I may, perhaps, after having, as it were, accompanied Vasco da Gama to India, participated in all his dangers, triumphed in his success, and sympathized with those feelings of honorable exultation which his great discoveries could not fail to inspire, be allowed to make a very few general observations on the claims of the Lusiad to the admiration which it has received, and which, in my estimation, it will continue to receive, contemporaneously with the existence of the language in which it is composed.

It must, however, be, in the first place, admitted, that there are

two striking defects in this poem-the machinery of an incongruous mythology-and its allegorical mismanagement.

All that has been urged by the ingenuity of Mickle, and all the arguments advanced in its defence by Don Jozé Maria de Sousa, must still fail in the justification of this agency. If Pagan mythology had been introduced, for the mere purpose of occasional illustration, and with Milton's skill in its employment, many objections to its use might, perhaps, be reasonably withdrawn. But, in Camoens, these mythological agents are in full personal activity, and seem to be so blended with the other characters in the epic action, that a correction of the incongruity appears to have forced itself upon the poet himself, compelling him to declare what, without the declaration, he might suspect was not sufficiently palpable—that these Pagan deities are only allegorical beings! At the close of their agency, such a discovery would have been less misplaced; but, after the removal of the veil, the same figurative personages reappear in conducting and terminating the action of the poem. To defend this defect is more than I should venture to attempt; but I cannot refrain from making a few remarks on the circumstances which might have led the poet to adopt a machinery, that may be deemed unsuited to all but the more ancient inspirations of the Muse.

At the time when the Lusiad was composed, there

« 前へ次へ »