Slike strani
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small]

4.29.33 F PLANTS.

INSIX BOOKS.

TO THE READER. Being

ing obliged, before we speak of this Translation, to give some prefatory account of the Original, it will be necessary to resume what has been delivered on that subject by the incomparable Dr. Sprat, the prefent Bishop of Rochester, in the account he has given us of the Life and Writings of M. Cowley. Concerning these Six Books of l’lanis, he has thus expressed his sentiments with that str ngth of judgment and freedom of ingenuity which u as requisite.

“ The occasion,” says l., " of his chuting the sub"ject of his Six Books of l'iants was this; When he returned into England, he was advised to diffemble “the main intention of his coming over, under the "disguise of applying lix felf to fine settled profesa "fion; and that of phyfick was thought most proper. “ To this purpose, after many anatomical dissections, "he proceeded to the confideration of simples; and, “having furnished himself with booksofthat nature, she retired into a fruitful part of Kent, where every “ field and wood might now him the real figures of " those Plants of which he had read. Thus he speedily 1 mastered that part of the art of medicine: but then, Polume III.

A

[ocr errors]

TO THE READER.

[ocr errors]

" as one of the Ancients did before him in the study
“ of the law, instead of enploying his skill for prac-
“ tice and profit, he presently digested it into that
. form which we behold.

“ The two first Books treat of Herbs, in a stylere-
“ sembling the Elegies of Ovid and Tibullus, in the
“ sweetness and freedom of the verse, but excelling
“them in the strength of the fancy, and vigour of
" the sense. The third and fourth discourse of Flowers
“in all the variety of Catullus and Horace's numbers,
s for the last of which authors he had a peculiar re-

verence, and imitated him not only in the stately
“ and numerous pace of his Odes and Epodes, but in
“the familiar easiness of his Epistles and Speeches.
“ The two last speak of Trees in the way of Virgil's

Georgicks: of these the sixth Book is wholly dedi-
“ cated to the honour of his country: for making the
“British Oak to preside in the Assembly of the Fores-
Trees, upon

that occasion he enlarges on the history “of the late rebellion, the King's affliction and re

and the beginning of the Dutch wars; and manages all in a flyle that (to say all in a word) is

equal to the valour and greatness of the English nastion."

This was as much as could be expected in a tranfient and general account, and what has left but little room for a more particular essay. As the nature of the subject has sometimes furnished our Author with

[ocr errors]

turn,

[ocr errors]

TOTAE READER.

it into the

Ancierts dij before him in the fie ?ead of employing his skill for papa , he prefently digested - behold.

Books treat of Herbs, in a file to Jegies of Ovid and Tibullus, in the reedom of the verse, but excelli rigth of the fancy, and vigour di irdand fourth discourse of Flowers of Catullus and Horace's numbers .ch authors he had a peculiar ses ated him not only in the fately e of his Odes and Epodes

, but in Efs of his Epistles and Speeches

. of Trees in the way of Virgil's e the fixth Book is wholly dedi

. of his country: for making the ein the Assembly of the ForellLa fion he enlarges on the history che King's affliction and re

and that (to say all in a word) is

great and beautiful occasions of wit and poetry, so it must be confessed that, in the main, he has but a bara ren province to cultivate, where the soil was to be enriched by the improvements of art and fancy. He must so frequently descend to such minute descriptions of Herbs and Flowers, which administer so feeble occasions for thought, and are so unfurnished of variety, that since the enumerations are no where tedious, but every thing made heautiful and entertaining, it must be wholly ascribed to the ability of the artist, with a materiem fuperavit opus.

This wonderful performance put me on a confideration by what artifices of ingenuity he could poflibly effect it: I was sensible that the smallest subjects were capable of some ornament in the hands of a good poet.

In tenui labor, at tenuis non gloria, fiquem

Numina læva finant auditque vocatus Apollo. This was designedly hinted by Virgil, when he came to his description of Bees, to raise the credit of his own performance; whereas those manners, politicks, and battles, with which he has adorned his poem, were for the most part crue in fact, and the rest lay obvious to invention; but our Author was obliged to animate his filent tribe of Plants, to inspire them with motion and discourse, in order to lighten his descriptions with Rory: but where he is confined to the descriptive parc itself, where he is to register them

Aij

ning of the Dutch wars;

[ocr errors]

greatness of the English na

[ocr errors]

ould be expected in a tran

and what has left but little Far essay. As the nature of Furnished our Author with

Bog

TO THERLADER.

Great allowance to

iv
standing mute in their beds, divested of that ima
nary life which might beautify the work, bic labor, 4
opus; it is there, it seems, worth our while to observ
the sagacious methods of his fancy, in finding topicks
for his wit, and instances of amiable variety. He had
the judgment to perceive, that where the subjects he
was to treat on in their own naked nature, and, fim-
ply considered, could afford but slender matter, yet
that many things were greater in their circumstances
than they are in themselves: accordingly he has most
nicely fastened upon each minute circumstance of the
places where his Plants and Herbs delight to spring;
the seasons of their flowering, seeding, and withering;
their long or short duration; their noxions or health-
ful qualities; their figures and colouring; all which he
has managed with such dexterity of fancy, and unex-
hausted conceit, that each individual (as he has dreff-
ed and set them out) appears with a different aspect
and peculiar beauty. The very agreeableness or dis-
agreeableness of their names to those dispositions
wherewith Nature has endued them, are frequently
the surprising and diverting occasion of his wit.

Yet in all this liberty you find him no where diverted from his point; judgment, that is to say, a just regard to his subject, every where conspicuous; gination and quickness of his apprehension. His in vention exerts its utmost faculties, but lo conltantly

e by the hearof hisima

being never carried too remote

« PrejšnjaNaprej »