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When I offered the translations of some of Milton's Latin and Italian poetry to the public, I introduced them with a note of civility to Mr. Cowper: and to Mr. Hayley, who has enriched himself by converting the ashes of his friend into gold, I have shewn myself disposed, in more than one instance, to be too liberal rather than too economical of praise. Not regarding the translator's palm as an object worthy of contest, I translated merely for the entertainment of my readers : but I translated also, as I will ingenuously confess, or I would not have translated at all, without a consciousness of inferiority to the writer who had preceded me on the ground. Having published, however, in the course of the last year, the whole of his departed friend's translations from my author, Mr. Hayley has favoured me with notices which are not of a nature to exact my thanks, or to impress me with any strong idea of a just and honourable mind. Of one of my translations alone has he condescended to speak; and of this he has judged
it right to speak in such a manner as strongly to imply that it is the single instance of poetic translation to be discovered in my volume. That this was the persuasion which he intended to communicate to his readers, is manifested by his subsequent conduct: for on occasions which he has improved to display his candour and his taste, by lavishing extravagant commendations on some very subordinate versions of the 6 Mansus " and the “ Damon,” he has carefully buried mine in the profundity of silence. In a few passages, indeed, he has been pleased to couple my name, as a writer, with some civil epithets : but at the same time he has prudently guarded against any possible excitement of my vanity, by throwing me into company, not of a class to corrupt me with improper sensations of my own importance. As Mr. Cowper's translations may now be confronted with mine, I have only to declare that, if the relative merit of the latter should be determined by the general suffrage to be inconsiderable, I shall be happy, whenever another edition of
my work may indulge me with the opportunity, to remove them from the eyes of a judicious public, of which, under this decision, I must pronounce them to be wholly unworthy.
By one of the public critics o I have been referred to a translation of the “ Damon" by the pen
of the late unfortunate Dermody, with a suggestion that it is superior to that which I have submitted to my readers. Having not, however, been able to find this translation in the place where I was directed to look for it, I am still unacquainted with it otherwise than by this critic's report; and I can therefore only profess with truth, that if it really deserve the preference which he assigns to it, (and I am very well disposed to believe that it may), I shall be honestly gratified by the fact: for desirous as I may be of erecting myself to the stature of higher men, I am far from wishing to depress them to the mediocrity of mine. So that I were permitted to
e See the article in the Cabinet, to which I have before referred.
retain my own positive rank, intellectual and moral, it would please me to see my whole species on an elevation above me: since, actuated by an ambition the very reverse of Cæsar's, I would rather be the last of an angelic community than the first of a human.
With respect to Mr. Hayley, I may perhaps be arraigned of ingratitude or deficient taste, when I express a wish that he had obliged me by a total forgetfulness of my very name; and had reserved the whole impression of his praise, in its unbroken integrity, for Messrs. Cowper, Langhorne, Stockdale, Sterling, and Todd. With no peculiar abstinence to boast in my appetite for praise, I am contented with that portion of it which has been adjudged to me: and I may candidly confess that, while it has satisfied my desire, it has very far exceeded
desert. To adduce all the eminent names of those, who have indulged me with their applause, would
expose me to the suspicion of a vanity, of which I am unconscious: but I must say that, if I have not been so fortunate as to obtain the
favour of Mr. Hayley, I have experienced some degree of consolation under the humiliating circumstance, from the very partial regard with which this Life of Milton has been honoured by a WILLIAM GIFFORD, a SAMUEL PARR, and a Charles Fox. To the last my voice cannot now reach; and to the first I have already imperfectly expressed my sense of obligation : but Doctor Parr must forgive me if I here state that the benefit, which this edition of my work has derived from the assistance of his judgment, has been so considerable as to give him a just claim to the thanks of my readers and myself. In a correspondence, which has passed between us, his deep and accurate erudition has supplied me 'with so many curious observations on the subject of Milton's Latin poetry that, if I could consent to arrogate the possessions of a friend for my own and to shine with the wealth of another, I could now make a splendid figure, and appear to be great beyond the design of my nature or the indulgence of my