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do him more justice, in his firy way of writing; which, as it is liable to more faults, so it is capable of more beauties than the exactnes and sobriety of Virgil."

It appears from Milbourne's Notes," published in 1698, that this work was then generally ex

9 The full title of Milbourne's work is Notes on Dryden's Virgil, in a Letter to a Friend; with an Essay on the same poet, 8vo. 1698. The Essay is, a translation of the first and fourth Pastoral, and the first Georgick, by the Annotator; for subjoining which, he is styled by Pope "the fairest of all criticks."

In p. 27, after quoting from the Dedicatory Preface of the Æneid the following sentence-" He who can write well in rhyme, may write better in blank verse," he adds"We shall know that, when we see how much better Dryden's HOMER will be than his Virgil.”

Milbourne's enmity to our author perhaps originally arose from Dryden's having taken his work out of his hands; for it appears from the following account given by one who calls him his "honoured friend," that he once projected a translation of Virgil, and published a version of the first Æneid:

That best of poets (says Motteux) having so long continued a stranger to tolerable English, Mr. Milbourne pitied his hard fate; and seeing that several great men had undertaken some episodes of his Æneis, without any design of Englishing the whole, he gave us the first book of it some years ago, with a design to go through the poem. It was the misfortune of that first attempt to appear just about the time of the late Revolution, when few had leisure to mind such books; yet, though by reason of his absence it was printed with a world of faults, those that are suf

pected; and it was supposed that the version of Homer would be in blank verse. What ground

ficient judges have done it the justice to esteem it a very successful attempt, and cannot but wish that he would. compleat the entire translation." GENT. JOURN. for August, 1692.

That his impotent endeavour to depreciate Dryden's translation arose from some personal pique or interested motive, may be inferred from the following letter, found among Mr. Tonson's papers; in which he expresses very different, and probably his real, sentiments, concerning the great poet, whom, in his animadversions,, he presumed to treat with outrageous insolence and contempt:


Yarmouth, Novemb. 24.—90.

"You'l wonder perhaps at this from a stranger; but y reason of it may perhaps abate somewhat of yo miracle, and it's this. On Thursday the twentyth instant, I receiv'd Mr. Drydens AMPHITRYO: I leave out the Greeke termination, as not so proper in my opinion, in English. But to passe that; I liked the play, and read it over with as much of criticisme and ill nature as y time (being about one in y morning, and in bed,) would permit. Going to sleep very well pleasd, I could not leave my bed in y morning without this sacrifice to the authours genius: it was too sudden to be correct, but it was very honestly meant, and is submitted to yours and Mr. D'. disposall.

Hail, Prince of Witts! thy fumbling Age is past,
Thy youth and witt and art's renew'd at last.
So on some rock the Joviall bird assays

Her ore-grown beake, that marke of age, to rayse;
That done, through yield'ing air she cutts her way,
And strongly stoops againe, and breaks the trembling


there was for such an opinion, I have not been able to discover. Certainly, however, when he did sit down to translate the first book of the

What though prodigious thunder stripp'd thy brows Of envy'd bays, and the dull world allows

Shadwell should wear them, -wee'll applaud the change;

Where nations feel it, who can thinke it strange!
So have I seen the long-ear'd brute aspire
To drest commode with every smallest wire;
With nightrail hung on shoulders, gravely stalke,
Like bawd attendant on Aurelias walke.

Hang't give the fop ingratefull world its will;
He wears the laurell,-thou deservs't it still,
Still smooth, as when, adorn'd with youthful pride,
For thy dear sake the blushing virgins dyed;
When the kind gods of witt and love combined,
And with large gifts thy yielding soul refined.
Not Phoebus could with gentler words pursue
His flying Daphne, not the morning dew
Falls softer then the words of amorous Jove,
When melting, dying, for Alcmene's love.

Yet briske and airy too, thou fill'st the stage,
Unbroke by fortune, undecayed by age.
French wordy witt by thine was long surpast;
Now Rome's thy captive, and by thee wee taste
Of their rich dayntyes; but so finely drest,
Theirs was a country meal, thine a triumphant feast,
If this to thy necessityes wee ow,

O, may they greater still and greater grow!

Nor blame the wish; Plautus could write in chaines, Wee'll blesse thy wants, while wee enjoy thy pains, Wealth makes the poet lazy, nor can fame,

That gay attendant of a spritely flame,

Iliad, as Dr. Johnson has observed, he the gave preference to rhyme: a circumstance, which considerably shakes whatever credit may belong to a story told by Richardson, that Dryden, while he

A Dorset or a Wycherly invite,

Because they feel no pinching wants, to write.

Go on! endenizon the Romane slave;

Let an eternal spring adorne his grave;
His ghost would gladly all his fame submitt
To thy strong judgment and thy piercing witt.
Purged by thy hand, he speaks immortall sense,
And pleases all with modish excellence.
Nor would we have thee live on empty praise
The while, for, though we cann't restore the bays,
While thou writ'st thus,-to pay thy merites due,
Wee'll give the claret and the pension too.

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By this you may guesse I'm none of the author's enemyes; and, to prove that the better, I desire you'ld supply me with his Essay on Dramatick Poetry, Wild Gallant, Rival Lady, Sir Martin Marall, Evening Love, Conquest of Granada, both parts, Amboyna, Annus Mirabilis, Poeme on the returne of Charles the 2d, On his Coronation, To Ld. Ch. Hide, On the death of Charles the 2d. The rest I have allready. You may send them by Yarmouth coach or Norwich waggon; both go from the Green Dragon in Bishopsgate-street (I thinke on Thursday morning,) and by either of 'um, if directed to me near the church in Great Yarmouth, Norfolke, they'l come safe to my hand; and what they come to shall be return'd with thanks, the first opportunity, by

"Your humble servant,


Dryden, in his Preface to the FABLES, hints, that Milbourne was turned out of his benefice (probably in Nor

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was translating Virgil, said to a northern Baronet, (perhaps Sir Wilfrid Lawson, of Isell, in Cumberland,) that if he were to begin that work again, he should do it in blank verse."

That in the middle of the year 1698, he began to modernize Chaucer, may be collected from a letter to Mr. Pepys,' written at a subsequent period; from which we learn, that "the Character of a Good Parson" was introduced into this work on his suggestion. In the review of the old English poets, which, in conformity to the advice of Sir George Mackenzie, he had made soon after he obtained the laurel, I doubt whether he went so high as Chaucer; but however that may have been, it is certain that he had at no period very deeply studied our ancient language; and that when he resolved to give rejuvenescence to the venerable father of English poetry, he brought to his task only such a knowledge of his author, as would enable him to clothe Chaucer's meaning with the rich trappings of his own mellifluous verse. In this neglect of archaiologick lore he was by no means singular; for to the great mass of English readers at that time there is good reason for believing that this ancient bard was nearly as difficult to be understood, as if his works had been written in a foreign

folk) for writing libels on his parishioners. Beside the pieces already mentioned, he published a metrical translation of the Psalms, and thirty-one single sermons. died in 1720.

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