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tone Blame the false, and value still the true,
It has been observed, that Sylvester frequently terminates the Days and distributions into Parts of Du Bartas's Work, with additional couplets of his own production ; he has also often taken the liberty of inserting, in various places throughout the poem, whereever an opportunity was, with propriety, afforded him by the French original, strictures and observations on the manners, customs, politics, and religion of his countrymen. Many of these are extremely severe, and afford striking proof of the satyrical powers of their author.
For a specimen of these, and to place in a due light the varied abilities of Sylvester, I shall quote a passage from the concluding part of the sections called “ The Decay,” in which our Translator has happily brought in some fine original lines on Sycophants and Time-servers. These are harmonized in his best manner, and will, probably, remind the reader, of the style and versification of our lamented Cowper.* The last quotation, indeed, of the preceding Essay, particularly the paragraph “? O wanton England,” bears a strong resemblance to this poet; the same impressive and forcible diction, and a similar construction of inetre are discoverable in both writers.
Such are the occasional strength, energy, and harmony, of certain portions of this old version, that it is probable had Sylvester been more fortunate in the choice of his original, he had, in a great measure, been exempt from the numerous faults, which now disgrace his composition. The mean, the tumid and extravagant, the ludicrous and disgusting, characterise the style of Du Bartas, and the English bard has but too faith
• j allude to the rhime productions of this great poet, * Table Talk,"- “Progress of Error," &c. &c.
fully trodden in his footsteps. These fetters are, however, sometimes entirely shaken off, and the native powers of Sylvester become apparent.
To the collection, therefore, of whatever morsels may have been written, translated, or original, under the influence of this laudable exertion, the following severe but nervous lines must be added.
“ Yea,” such are those, whose wily, waxen mind
W. 2. D. 4. P. 4.
From the province of satire, at all times a rugged and ungracious soil, let us now pass into a more cheerful and diversified scene.
The Adjuration of the Gabaonites, when
they endeavoured to make a league with Israel, is thus given by Sylvester, in language at once beautiful and impressive.
We adjure you therefore in the sacred name
W.2. D. 3. P. 4.
Nor is the following apostrophe to the Bride of Solomon, less entitled to the praise of pleasing melody and appropriate diction.
But (), fair Fairy! who art thou, whose eyes
W. 2. D. 4. P. 2
* The spouse-belt.
The description of comets and meteors, and of the superstitions associated by the vulgar with their appearance, has been a favourite subject of poetry. Thomson, to whom the theme was congenial, has painted these phenomena with much effect.
A blaze of meteors shoots From look to look, contagious thro' the crowd, The panic runs, and into wond'rous shapes Th' appearance throws: Armies in meet array, Throng'd with aerial spears, and steeds of fire; Till the long lines of full extended war In bleeding fight commixt, the sanguine flood Rolls a broad slaughter o'er the plains of heaven. As thus they scan the visionary scene, On all sides swells the superstitious ding Incontinent; and busy frenzy talks Of blood and battle; cities overturn'd; And late at night in swallowing earthquake sunk, Or hideous wrapt in fierce ascending flame; Or sallow famine, inundation, storm; Of pestilence, and every great distress; Empires subversid
Autumn, L. 1107.
Sylvester has, however, anticipated him in nearly every part of the picture; the an