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Homer should not be. Because it will be written in no language under Heaven. It will be English, and it will be Greek, and therefore it will be neither. He is the man, whoever he be (I do not pretend to be that man myself) he is the man best qualified as a translator of Homer, who has drenched, and steeped, and soaked himself in the effusions of his genius, till he has imbibed their colour to the bone, and who when he is thus dyed through and through, distinguishing between what is essentially Greek, and what may be habited in English, rejects the former, and is faithful to the latter, as far as the purposes of fine poetry will permit, and no farther: this, I think, may be easily prored. Homer is every where remarkable either for ease, dignity, or energy of expression ; for grandeur of conception, and a majestic flow of numbers. If we copy him so closely as to make every one of these excellent properties of his absolutely unattainable, which will certainly be the effect of too close a copy, instead of translating, we murder him. Therefore, after all his Lordship has said, I still hold hold freedom to be an indispensible. Freedom, I mean, with respect to the expression; freedom so limited, as never to leave behind the matter; but at the same time indulged with a sufficient scope to secure the spirit, and as much as possible of the manner. I say as much as possible, because an English manner must differ from a Greek one, in order to be grace. ful, and for this there is no remedy. Can an ungraceful, awkward, translation of Homer be a good one? No: but a graceful, easy, natural, faithful version of him, will not that be a good one? Yes : Allow me but this, and I insist upon it, that such a one may be produced on my principles, and can be produced on no other.
I have not had time to criticize his Lordship’s other version. You know how little time I have for any thing, and can tell him so.
Adieu ! my dear Brother. I have now tired both you and myself; and with the love of the whole trio, remain
Reading his Lordship’s sentiments over again, I am inclined to think, that in all I have said, I have only given him back the same in other terms. He disallows both the absolute free, and the absolute close—so do I, and, if I understand myself, have said so in my Preface. He wishes to recommennd a medium, though he will not call it so, so do I; only we express it differently. What is it then that we dispute about? My head is not good enough to day to discover.
These Letters were followed by such a silence on the part of my invaluable correspondent, as filled me with the severest apprehensions; because I well knew, that while he retained any glimmerings of mental health, his affectionate spirit was eager to unburthen itself to a friend of whose sympathy, in all his sufferings, he was perfectly assured. The accounts of him, with which I was favoured by his amiable relation (who shocked as she was by the helpless state and deplorable infirmities of Mrs. Unwin, now resided with these piteous invalides) encreased my anxiety for my dejected and silent friend.
Little as the probability appeared that my presence could render him any essential service, I was induced to visit Weston once more, by the following friendly exhortation in a Letter from Cowper's Vol. 4.
compassionate neighbour, Mr. Greatheed. The cler gyman whom Cowper himself had taught me to esteem on our first acquaintance.
The Reverend Mr. GREATHEED,
To WILLIAM HAYLEY, Esqr.
Newport-Pagnel, April 8, 1794. DEAR SIR,
Lady Hesketh's correspondence acquainted you with the melancholy relapse of our dear friend at Weston; but I am uncertain whether you know, that in the last fortnight, he has refused food of every kind, except now and then a very small piece of toasted bread, dipped generally in water, sometimes mixed with a little wine. This, he: Ladyship informs me, was the case till last Saturday, since when he has eat a little at each family meal. He persists in refusing such medicines as are indispensable to his state of body, In such circumstances,
his long continuance in life cannot be expected. How devoutly to be wished is the alleviation of his danger and distress! You, dear Sir, who know so well the worth of our beloved and admired friend, sympathize with his affliction, and deprecate his loss doubtless in no ordinary degree; you have already most effectually expressed and proved the warmth of your friendship. I cannot think that any thing but your society would have been sufficient, during the infirmity under which his mind has long been oppressed, to have supported him against the shock of Mrs. Unwin's paralytic attack. I am certain that nothing else could have prevailed upon him to undertake the journey to Eartham. You have succeeded where his other friends knew they could not, and where they apprehended no one could. How natural therefore, nay how reasonable, is it for them to look to you, as most likely to be instrumental, under the blessing of God, for relief in the present distressing and alarming crisis. It is indeed scarcely attemptable to ask any person to take such a journey, and involve himself in so melancholy a scene, with an uncertainty of the desired success: increased as the apparent difficulty is by dear Mr. Cowper's aversion to all