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WHETHER the fruitful Nile, or Tyrian shore,
The seeds of arts and infant science bore,
'Tis sure the noble plant, translated first,
Advanced its head in Grecian gardens nurst.
The Grecians added verse; their tuneful tongue
Made nature first, and nature's God their song.
Nor stopt translation here ; for conquering Rome,
With Grecian spoils, brought Grecian numbers
Enrich'd by those Athenian muses more,
Than all the vanquish'd world could yield before.
Till barbarous nations, and more barbarous times,
Debased the majesty of verse to rhymes ;
Those rude at first; a kind of hobbling prose,
That limp'd along, and tinkled in the close.
But Italy, reviving from the trance
Of Vandal, Goth, and Monkish ignorance,
With pauses, cadence, and well-voweld words,
And all the graces a good ear affords,
Made rhyme an art, and Dante's polish'd page
Restored a silver, not a golden age.
Then Petrarch follow'd, and in him we see,
What rhyme improved in all its height can be
At best a pleasing sound, and fair barbarity.
The French pursued their steps; and Britain, last,
In manly sweetness all the rest surpass'd.
The wit of Greece, the gravity of Rome,
Appear exalted in the British loom :
The Muse's empire is restored again,
In Charles his reign, and by Roscommon's pen.
Yet modestly he does his work survey,
And calls a finish'd poem an essay ;
For all the needful rules are scatter'd here;
Truth smoothly told, and pleasantly severe;
So well is art disguised, for nature to appear.
Nor need those rules to give translation light;
His own example is a flame so bright,
That he, who but arrives to copy well,
Unguided will advance, unknowing will excel.
Scarce his own Horace could such rules ordain,
Or his own Virgil sing a nobler strain.
How much in him may rising Ireland boast,
How much in gaining him has Britain lost!
Their island in revenge has ours reclaim’d;
Themoreinstructed we, the more we still are shamed.
'Tis well for us his generous blood did flow,
Derived from British channels long ago, *
That here his conquering ancestors were nurst,
And Ireland but translated England first :
By this reprisal we regain our right,
Else must the two contending nations fight;
A nobler quarrel for his native earth,
Than what divided Greece for Homer's birth.
To what perfection will our tongue arrive,
How will invention and translation thrive,
When authors nobly born will bear their part,
And not disdain the inglorious praise of art !
Great generals thus, descending from command,
With their own toil provoke the soldier's hand.
# Roscommon, it must be remembered, was born in Ireland, where his property also was situated. But the Dillons were of English extraction.
How will sweet Ovid's ghost be pleased to hear
His fame augmented by an English peer ;*
How he embellishes his Helen's loves,
Outdoes his softness, and his sense improves ?
When these translate, and teach translators too,
Nor firstling kid, nor any vulgar vow,
Should at Apollo's grateful altar stand:
Roscommon writes; to that auspicious hand,
Muse, feed the bull that spurns the yellow sand.
Roscommon, whom both court and camps commend,
True to his prince, and faithful to his friend;
Roscommon, first in fields of honour known,
First in the peaceful triumphs of the gown;
Who both Minervas justly makes his own.
Now let the few beloved by Jove, and they
Whom infused Titan form'd of better clay,
On equal terms with ancient wit engage,
Nor mighty Homer fear, nor sacred Virgil's page:
Our English palace opens wide in state,
And without stooping they may pass the gate. .
RETURN FROM SCOTLAND, IN THE YEAR 1682.
These smooth and elegant lines are addressed to Mary of Este, second wife of James Duke of York, and afterwards his queen. She was at this time in all the splendour of beauty ; tall, and admirably formed in her person ; dignified and graceful in her deportment, her complexion very fair, and her hair and eye. brows of the purest black. Her personal charms fully merited the encomiastic strains of the following epistle.
The duchess accompanied her husband to Scotland, where he was sent into a kind of honorary banishment, during the dependence of the Bill of Exclusion. Upon the dissolution of the Oxford Parliament, the duke visited the court in triumph; and after two months stay, returned to Scotland, and in his voyage suffered the misfortune of shipwreck, elsewhere mentioned particularly.* Having settled the affairs of Scotland, he returned with his family to England; whence he had been virtually banished for three
years. His return was hailed by the poets of the royal party with unbounded congratulation. It is celebrated by Tate, in the Second Part of " Absalom and Achitophel ;" * and by our author, in a prologue spoken before the duke and duchess.t But, not contented with that expression of zeal, Dryden paid the following additional tribute
the same occasion.
• Vol. IX. p. 344.
+ Vol. X. p. 366. Otway furnished an epilogue on the same night.