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The favourable reception which this edition of one of the most popular poems in the English language has obtained, and the numerous translations which exist bearing ample testimony to its harmonious composition, has led to preparing this polyglott edition.
Perhaps few of the admirers of this elegant poem in its native tongue are aware of the homage paid to its eminent merits, by the attempts to render its beauties accessible to foreign readers: a list of these would occupy a considerable space, but those who are desirous of becoming acquainted with them, will find a very copious collection in the magnificent library of George III. in the British Museum; it is, however, by no means complete.
Translations into Greek and Latin are the most numerous, principally by Etonians, with whom Gray stands so deservedly high. The difficulty in selecting the version in the former language has happily been removed, the refined taste of the author of "The Pur
suits of Literature" having stamped the seal of his critical authority on that adopted.
"Gray glanced from high, and owned his rival Cooke.”"*
The Latin version is from the pen of the Rev. William Hildyard, who has most kindly permitted the editor to make use of it for this edition.
The German translation is printed from a collection of poetry in that language, entitled "Deutsches Lesebuch," Bremen, 1837, 8vo. the author of which subscribes himself Gotten.
The Italian version is by Guiseppe Torelli, and has been selected from several at the recommendation of a distinguished native of that country, deservedly considered the highest authority in Italian literature of the present day.
* This version is printed at the end of an edition of Aristotle on Poetry, edited by W. Cooke. 8vo. Cantab. 1785. The author alluded to states that, in many passages, "Nature, Gray, and Cooke, do seem to contend for the mastery, but, above all, in the famous stanza,
'The boast of heraldry,' &c.
Bion, or Moschus, never exceeded these lines: I think they never equalled them."
The French translation is by Le Tourneur, author also of a similar attempt with "Young's Night Thoughts" and "Hervey's Meditations;" a language, it would appear, the least capable of any other of communicating a faithful idea of the original.
It had been wished to have added versions in the Spanish and Portuguese languages, which are said to exist; but although diligent search has been made, it was without success.
It is impossible to conclude this slight notice of this poem without a feeling of exultation at the tribute paid by foreigners to the transcendant merits of a composition, which the highest critical authority in our own country has declared it would be idle to praise.
Woburn Abbey, 25 March, 1839.