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*C. Reviczki to Mr. Jones.

London, March 7, 1763. I am at a loss to determine whether your lctter has afforded me most pleasure or instruction; it is indeed so admirable, that I must point out the only fault which I find in it, that of brevity, although you scem apprehensive of being thought tedious. I suspect that I am indebted to your partiality and politeness only, for the excessive encomiums which you have bestowed upon my translation of the two Odes which I sent to you, as well as for the favourable opinion which you entertain of my trifles. I am, however, seriously obliged to you for your

animadversions upon my inaccuracies, though, when I consider their number, I must impute it to your indulgence that you have been so sparing in your corrections. Without wishing to lessen my obligations to your kindness, I cannot avoid mentioning, by way of apology, that it is only three months since I resumed the task of writing verses, which I renounced when I left school; and not from any motive of vanity, or desire of reputation, but merely as an amusement of my leisure hours. My relapse has produced the translation of about fifty odes of our learned Hafez,

For whom, each hour a growing fondness bringset
As by degrees the vernal alder springs.

But obserting, in the progress of the work, the immense inferiority of my version to the original, I began to be disgusted with it.

I recollect to have read somewhere, with great pleasure, the Prelections of the bishop of Oxford, of which

* Appendix, No. 4.

+ These lines are taken from a juvenile translation of Sir William Jones

you speak so highly, and which you propose to imitate; but I remember nothing more of this work than that I thought both the style and arrangement of it equally admirable. The Grecian and Oriental fowers, scattered throughout your letter, delighted me exceedingly; and your selection of them shews your judgment. I also approve your idea of visiting the East; but, previously to your undertaking it, I would recommend to you, to make yourself master of the common language of the Turks, or of the vulgar Arabic, not only as indispensably necessary to your communications with the Mahommedans, but as a mean of deriving pleasure and profit from the journey.

I do not mean to apply my censures on the servile imitations of Turkish authors to every species of imitation; for, in some instances, the imitation, as in the case of Virgil, with respect to Hesiod, has surpassed the original. Nor can Hafez himself deny the imputation of plagiarism; having actually transcribed whole lines from other poets. His collection of poems begins with an instance of this kind; for the very first hemistich is transcribed from one of Yezid, * the son of Mowavea, with an alteration only in the collocation of the words, not to mention nearly a complete ode in another place; but I am disgusted with the flat and perpetual imitation of the many Turkish poets, to whom we may aptly apply the words of Horace:

Oh, servile herd of imitators!....

* Yezid was the son of Mowavea, the first caliph of the race of Ommiah, and being reproached by his father for excessive drinking, replied as follows:

Does this thy wrath inspire, because I quaft
The grape's rich juice?....then doubly sweet the draught.
Rage !....I will drink unmov'd; for to my soul
Swect is thy wrath, and sweet the flowing bowl.

Do you wish to know my opinion respecting the other Persian poets, and whether I think Hafez alone elegant? Far from it; for who can read without extacy the first page of Sadi. Indeed, my passion for Oriental literature was first excited by hearing the following lines of Sadi, accidentally repeated by my teacher at Constantinople, who explained them to me:

All bounteous Lord! whose providential care
E'en on thy proud rebellious sons descends;
How canst thou bid thy votaries despair,
Whose boundless mercy to thy foes extends?

But who can suppress his indignation, when he reads the wretched translation of this elegant writer by Gentius? I acknowledge, however, that I am more delighted with Hafez, who unites fine morality with cheerfulness. With respect to Jami, whose works I do not at present possess, I remember enough of what I read at Constantinople to venture to assert, that he is the most successful of the Persian poets. In the judgment of Sadi, Hafez is unequal; some of his odes are excellent, others very inferior, and some very tame, whilst Jami preserves an equality throughout. I have not translated the ode of Hafez, “ If that fair maid, &c."* into Latin verse, as the sense is so unconnected; but a prose translation of it, with notes, if you wish to have it, is at your service. In the mean time, I send you my latest production, not complete indeed, but a mere embrio. Farewel.

P. S. It is little to say, I approve your Arabic verses; I really admire them; but dare not, in this instance, attempt to imitate you.


See poetical translation of this ode, Sir William Jones's Works, vol. ii. page-244.

* Reviczki to Mr. Jones.

London, March 17, 1768. I was highly delighted with your letter, particularly with your

various translations, imitations, and compositions; they not only prove you


Made the Greek authors your supreme delight,
Read them by day, and studied them by night; †

but that you have attained all the peculiar elevation, as well as elegance, of that language. Your Ode to Venus is as beautiful as Venus herself; and you have imitated with wonderful success so divine an original.

Is it not melancholy to reflect that not only so much of the compositions of this elegant writer should be lost, but that the little which remains is so mutilated and corrupted?

That the text of the ode selected by you, and even that preserved by Dionysius, and published by Upton, is preferable to that of Stephens, or, whoever made the emendations (such as they are), I freely admit; for the rules of dialect are not only better observed, but it contains stronger marks of being genuine; yet, after all, it is impossible to deny that there are many chasms in it, as well as errors, which cannot be satisfactorily amended by any explanation or twisting of the sense.

That Sappho wrote in the dialect of her own country, which cangot at this time be perfectly understood, is sufficiently probable; but it would be absurd to suppose the folic dialect irreconcileable to metre and prosudy; not to mention the evident corruption of the sense in some passages.

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Your translation of the Epigram on the Kiss of Agatho, is very elegant, and the idea in it resembles that of Hafez, in the following lines: 1

Anxious thy blooming charms to see,
Quick to my lips my soul ascends ;
Must it expire or live?....decree....
For on thy voice my fate depends.

I send you, as I promised, a prose translation of the Persian ode, together with an attempt at a poetical version of it, which I will hereafter improve. Pray inform me whether there is any translation of Hafez, printed or manuscript, in Latin, or any other European language; for I know of no other attempt at a translation of this poet, than that of the first ode, lately published in the Analecta of professor Hyde.

I request, likewise, to be informed, where I am likely to find the first book of the Iliad of Homer, with an analysis and notes, for the use of scholars, printed in England, which a friend of mine wishes to procure for

his son.

The ode, of which you praise the concluding verse, is elegant; I remember only the first couplet:

Bring wine, and scatter flow'rs around,
Nor seck the depths of fate to sound....
Such was the morning-rose's tale....
What say'st thou, warbler of the vale ?

Although I have begun the preparations for my departure, and have packed up my books, if you wish to have a translation of this ode, or if it will be of any use to you, I will undertake it before I go. I wait your commands. Farewel.

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