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LES ODES d’ANACREON & de SAP
PHO en Vers François par le Poëte sans fard. A Rotterdam, chez Fritsch & Bohm, MDCC XII.
THE ODES of ANACREON and
SAPPHO translated into French Verse. xi Rotterdam 1712. in 12mo. Pagg. 211.
HIS Work consists of two Parts. The First
is a long Preface containing 211 Pages; and the Second is entiruled, The History of the Life and odos of Anacreon, during his Stay at the Court of Polycrates. The Preface runs upon three different Subjects.
1. The Author makes an Apology for the Poers and Poetry
2. He thews thar the Ancients are above the Moderns.
3. He undertakes to prove that the Works of the Ancient Poets may be better translated into Verfe than into Profe.
I. 1. The
1. 1. The Author having defined Poetry, an Art of expressing ones Thoughts in the most perfe&t Mano ner, and of pleasing and persuading with the Beauty of Images, and the Harmony of Words, does not fcruple to affirm that of all Men a Poer Reafones with the greatest Solidity. It is objected by a Mo. dern Writer, (says the Author,) That Poetry is contrary to Morals, and that Poets are ignorant, athea iftical, impious, and wicked Men. If such an Ar gument can be admitted, (lays our Author,) it will be no difficult thing to prove that Profe is worfe still than Poetry; for there are more wicked Men among the Writers in Prose than among Poets. Some look upon a Poer as a mere Liar, who takes upon himself to fill the Reader's Mind with chimerical Notions, or at least with Truths [o strangely dif guised, that 'tis a hard matter to distinguish what is true from what is false. His Expressions ('fay they ) are generally designed to impose upon our Realon, and the Cadence and Harmony of his Expreffions, to flatter our Ears,' and raise insíus à great Admiration of his Performance. In answer to this Objection, we are told that if such an Argument be good, it may be alledged with greater Force against our common Theology.b The Parallel being somewhat odious, I shall not dwell upon it.3641
19 st a Qur Author, in order to set off the Excellency of Poetry, observes that the Holy Scripture repre. sents to us the Attributes of God with Images that are wholly Poerical, and that the Psalms are full of suchi Ideas. In the next Place, He mentions the Sublimi. ty of several Christian Poets; and looks upon the Heathen Roets, as so many perfect : Theologers in thar Respect. Their Jupiter, says he, thakes the whole Universe with a Nod, destroys the Giants with his Thunderbolt, and is described as the Su. preme Master of all the Kings of the Earth. If it bę objected that the Poetical Images of the Heathen
Poers have occafioned Idolatry; the Author answers, That one may make an ill Use of the best Things, and that several Christians have entertained the most extravagant Notions, by putting a wrong Sense upor the sacred Writings, as the Anthropomorphites and Qrhers. I
- St. Paul, continues our Author, does frequently exclaim against the Errors and Impoftures of the Philosophers, but it appears from some Passages of the Ancient Poets quoted by that Holy Apostle, that he had an Esteem for them. Grotius writ his Treatise concerning the Truth of the Christian Religion in Dutch Verse, and alledges a vast Number of Poets 10 prove the Existence of God, and his Providence, and that he bestows Rewards and Punishments after this Life.
" From all these ConGderations (Says the Author) " I infer that the Theology of Poets is more agreeable sy to the Scripture than that of Systematick Divines,
commonly called School-Divinity. Nay, 1.dare af 44 firm that for the same Reason one Plalm of David,
the never fo Poerical, ought to be more esteemed, as than all the large Volumes of the most subtil and “ profound Theologers. What Benefit has the World
reaped from those Voluminous Tracts de Attributis; “ de Existentia; de Prædeterminatione ; Of the Distinctia “ on of Persons; Of efficacious or sufficient Grace, &c?
. Are those Men the best Christians, who read such " Books Have not those frivolous Disputes occa
fioned the spreading of Atheism by Vaninus, Pom1 ponatius, and Spinoza? -smildud 94: cits od in the next Place, our Author undertakes to juftify an Hymn of Horace, and to answer Mr. Le Chere's Retiexions upon it in his Parrhasiana. He obferves that aluprofing Horacer
. was an Epicurean, it can be no Objection against his Poetry. Tho!
Maroti was a Libertin, (fays he), is Mr. Le Clerc f1a displeatou thao his Yerles should be sung in the 909
« Protestant Churches ? Tho' Mr. De Santeuil was "' not fo holy a Man as Father Gourdan, one of his
Brethren, will any Body say that his Hymns are “ not Sublime ?. Tho' Mr. Rcalls the Bible a 4 Romance,
is the Translation of some Pfalms, “ made by that Author, less Poetical and Mo“
The Readers will find here a Prayer of Horace. The Author maintains that there is nothing in it but what perfectly agrees with the Holy Scripture; and then breaks out into these Words.
« Dites nous, Minitres & Chreriens Reformez, firne pa“ reille priere est un tissu de fadaises & d'ablur
ditez Croiez-vous que vos Auditeurs vous trai.
teroient d'impies ou d' extravagans,' si vous la “ prononciez dans les Chaires de vos Temples ? El. “ le est pourtant toute entiere d'Horace, & relle
que le Pere Tarteron la traduire. l' en fais juges tous vos habiles predicateurs, dont l'éloquence Chretienne n'est point differente de celle notre Poëte
c. That is,
“ Ministers " and Reformed Christians, tell me whether such “ a Prayer is only made up of Fooleries and Ab“ furdities? Do you believe that your Congregari.
ons would call you impious and extravagant Men, * if you should pronounce it in your Churches - And yet it is entirely a Prayer * of Horace, such sto as it has been translated by Father Tarteron. I
appeal to your eminent Preachers, whole Christian 6. Eloquence does not differ from that of our Poer". &c.
Our Author having endeavoured to thew the Ex. cellency of Poetry with respect to Religion, proceeds to Philosophy, and undertakes to vindicare the Poers upon this Second Head. - There are plays he)
** to b two
i sto ja
* The Names of the falle Deities have been left out. .
two Sorts of Philosophy. The one is fublime and abstruse, and properly cultivated by those that are called Phi:osophers: The other is sensible and natural; it is the Philosophy of ingenious Men of ali Conditions. The Poets apply themselves to this Second Sort of Philosophy, as Leing the most u'eful. The Plurality of the Worlds, written by Mr. De Fintenelle, which is a Poetical Work, is more glorious to that Author, than the most fólid Pieces relating to Philosophy, that have been published by him. Our Author adds, That one might compare the Philosophy of the Philosophers to a regular, but grave and auftere Beauty, and that of the Poets to a Beauty not so perfect, but pleasant and smiling. He tells us, That he might easily name a great many Philosophers cf this Second Sort; but he refers the curious Reader to the Books of Aldro
Aldrovandus, that. Great Naturalist, who confirms what he says upongall sorts of Animals by a Thousand Pallages in the Poets. The Author mentions line of thoie Passages ;t and then observes that Ciceio, Seneca, Plutarchovia
and other Philofophical Writers have quoted many Verses. He makes leveral other Observations in Favour of Poetry, on which I cannet enlarge. The Benefit arising from Ccmedies appears to him very confiderable: He is persuaded," That the
French Plays called l'Avare, le Grondeur, le Foueur, le Misanthrope, le Tartufe, and other Pieces of that Nature, are not only very proper to make
a Man wise and virtuous, but also to qualify “ him for a Chriftian”.
Our Author observes that the Design of the Poets is to destroy Vice. When they perceived that Tra: gedies and Comedies required too much Labour, and » were not sufficient to put a Stop to the growing Evil, they had recourse to Satyr. That Poem is a Kind of a Remedy always ready at Hand to prevent the Progress of Vice, The Satyrs of Lucilius, Horace, Persius, and Juvenal flew how great is the Zeal of the Paets for the Reformation of Manners.