« PreviousContinue »
SIR THOMAS HAWKINS.
BORN ABOUT 1590.-DIED 1640.
Romanas tenuit Romanus Horatius aures,
Nunc Anglas Anglus non tenet ille minus.
Whilst to thy tune the Lyric poet sings,
“Sir Thomas Hawkins, knight,” says the Oxford historian, was an ingenious man; as excellent in the faculty of music* as in poetry.” For an account of the ancient and respectable family of which he was a distinguished ornament, and their pleasantly situated mansion
* Of his skill in music, some notice is taken in the apnexed motto, from a copy of verses prefixed to his Horace. In another friendly specimen of the same kind, signed Hugh Holland, his musical talents are also noticed :
I knew before thy dainty touch
Upon the lordly viol :
Before this bappy trial?
of Nash Court, near the village of Boughton, we must refer to the historian of Kent. Of Sir Thomas's personal history, we regret to say we know nothing, but believe we are correct in giving him the merit of being the first who made known to the mere English reader, the prince of lyric poets.
The copy of his translation, now lying before the writer, is a small pocket volume with the following title :"Odes of Horace, the best of Lyric Poets. Containing much morality and sweetness. The third edition. Selected, translated, reviewed, and enlarged with many more, by Sir T. H. London : Printed by John Haviland, for William Lee, and are to be sold at his shop, at the sign of the Turk's Head in Fleet Street. 1635,"
Of his work the translator himself affords us the fol. lowing neat, correct, and modest account.
" To the Reader.
“Friendly and generous reader, I present not Horace to thee in his native lustre nor language. Take these rather, if so thou please, for a reflection from that brighter body of his living odes. Behold in them morality touched and virtue heightened, with clearness of spirit and accurateness of judgment. These have ! selected amongst many; not with desire to prescribe the same choice to others, as a rule; nor yet with any diffidence in mine own election. Abundat quisque suo SENSU. When in a garden we gather a coronet of flowers, we intend not the total beauty of that fair piece of prospective, but particular ornament, and
intermingled delight. These supply both. But many no doubt will say, Horace is by me forsaken, his lyric softness and emphatic muse maimed: that in all there is a general defection from his genuine harmony. Those I must tell, I have in this translation, rather sought his spirit, than numbers; yet the music of verse not neg. lected neither, since the English ear better heareth the distich, and findeth that sweetness, which the Latin affected, and questionless attained, in Saphic or Iambic
Some will urge again, why were not these wreaths of moral and serious odes, for more variety and general entertainment of most, mixed with his wanton and looser strains of poesy? These I answer, and with it conclude. The translator of these had rather shew virtue to the modest, than discover vice to the dissolute. The streams of Helicon are clear and chrystaline. Drink thou goodness from these purer fountains, whilst such take unhappy draughts, from the troubled and muddy waters of sensuality."
To the veracity of this statement we entirely subscribe. Sir Thomas Hawkins displayed the correctness of his taste in the odes he selected for translation, and of his ear in the kind of verse he adopted. Of bis poetry it is sufficient to say that it will bear a comparison with any of that age, produced under similar circum. stances. The extreme difficulty of rendering such a poet as Horace into a modern language, has been allowed at all times; to preserve the spirit of the original, together with the literal meaning, constitutes a task which has never been satisfactorily accomplished in English literature, though it has been frequently
attempted, and by several of our most eminent and accomplished writers. A conviction of this difficulty has given rise to the numerous attempts at paraphrase and imitation, which have at different times appeared as substitutes, and perhaps it may be added with better success than close rendering. That the version of our Kentish Knight is occasionally laboured and prosaic and deficient in spirit and vivacity, must be allowed, and may be accounted for partly by the rule he had imposed upon himself of giving a genuine transcript of the poet's meaning, and partly by the odes he selected, which are those only of a moral and serious kind. One merit we may boldly claim for Sir Thomas Hawkins; he has uniformly given with fidelity the literal meaning of the original, and has with much care avoided the too common practice of subsequent translators of adopting superfluous embellishments and epithets not warranted by the text, for the purpose of ornament, and to exhibit not the author, but themselves to advantage. Impressed with the truth of this assertion, we have annexed to the specimens selected for the present compilation the original latin, in order that our readers may judge of their correctness.
Liber I.-Carmen XXXI.-Ad Apollinem.
Quid dedicatum poscit Apollinem
Sardinie segetes feraces ;
Mordet aqua taciturnus amnis.
Vina Syra reparata merce,
Me cichorea, levesque malve.
Degere, nec cithar a carentem.