« PreviousContinue »
TRANSLATED FROM THE LATIN,
By ROBERT FELLOWES, A.M. Oxon.
To his Tutor THOMAS JURE.
HOUGH I had determined, my excellent tutor, to write you an epiftle in verse, yet I could not fatisfy myfelf without fending alfo another in profe. For the emotions of my gratitude, which your fervices fo juftly inspire, are too expanfive and too warm to be expreffed in the confined limits of poetical metre; they demand the unconstrained freedom of profe, or rather the exuberant richness of Afiatic phrafeology. Though it would far exceed my power accurately to defcribe how much I am obliged to you, even if I could drain dry all the fources of eloquence, or exhauft all the topics of difcourse which Ariftotle or the famed Parifian Logician has collected. You complain with truth, that my letters have been very few and very fhort; but I do not grieve at the omiffion of fo pleasurable a duty, fo much as I rejoice at having fuch a place in your regard as makes you anxious often to hear from me. I befeech you not to take it amiss, that I have not now written to you for more than three years; but with your usual benignity and candour to impute it rather to circumftances than to inclination. For, heaven knows, that I regard you as a parent, that I have always treated you with the utmost refpect, and that I was unwilling to teaze you with my compofitions. And I was anxious that if my letters had nothing else to recommend them, b
they might be recommended by their rarity. And lastly, fince the ardour of my regard makes me imagine that you are always prefent, that I hear your voice and contemplate your looks; and as thus (which is ufually the cafe with lovers) I charm away my grief by the illufion of your prefence, I was afraid when I wrote to you the idea of your diftant feparation fhould forcibly rufh upon my mind; and that the pain of your abfence which was almoft foothed into quiefcence should revive and disperfe the pleasurable dream. I long fince received your defirable prefent of the Hebrew Bible. I wrote this at my lodgings in the city, not as usual, furrounded by my books. If therefore there be any thing in this letter which either fails to give pleasure, or which frustrates expectation, it shall be compensated by a more elaborate compofition as foon as I return to the dwelling of the Mufes.
London, March 26, 1625.
To ALEXANDER GILL.
I RECEIVED your letters and your poem, with which I was highly delighted, and in which I discover the majefty of a poet, and the ftyle of Virgil. I knew how impoffible it would be for a perfon of your genius entirely to divert his mind from the culture of the Muses, and to extinguish those heavenly emotions, and that facred and ethereal fire which is kindled in your heart. For what Claudian faid of himself may be faid of you, your" whole foul is inftinct with the fire of Apollo." If therefore, on this occafion, you have broken your own promises, I here commend the want of conftancy which you mention; I commend the want of virtue, if any want of virtue there be. But, in referring the merits of your poem to my judgment, you confer on me as great an honour as the Gods would if the contending mufical immortals had called me in to adjudge the palm of vic
tory; as poets babble that it formerly fell to the lot of Imolus the guardian of the Lydian mount. I know not whether I ought to congratulate Henry Naffau more on the capture of the city or the compofition of your poems. For I think that this victory produced nothing more entitled to diftinction and to fame than your poem. But fince you celebrate the fucceffes of our allies in lays fo harmonious and energetic, what may we not expect when our own fucceffes call for the congratulations of your mufe? Adieu, learned fir, and believe me greatly obliged by the favour of your verses. London, May 20, 1628.
To the fame.
IN my former letter I did not fo much anfwer yours as deprecate the obligation of then answering it; and therefore at the time I tacitly promised that you fhould foon receive another, in which I would reply at length to your friendly challenge. But, though I had not promised this, it would most justly be your due, fince one of your letters is full worth two of mine, or rather, on an accurate computation, worth a hundred. When your letter arrived I was ftrenuously engaged in that work concerning which I had given you fome obfcure hints, and the execution of which could not be delayed. One of the fellows of our college, who was to be the respondent in a philofophical difputation for his degree, engaged me to furnish him with fome verses, which are annually required on this occafion; fince he himself had long neglected such frivolous pursuits, and was then intent on more serious ftudies. Of thefe verfes I fent you a printed copy, fince I knew both your difcriminating tafte in poetry, and your candid allowances for poetry like mine. If you will in your turn deign to communicate to me any of your productions, you will,
I can affure you, find no one to whom they will give more delight, or who will more impartially endeavour to eftimate their worth. For as often as I recollect the topics of your converfation (the lofs of which I regret even in this feminary of erudition), I cannot help painfully reflecting on what advantages I am deprived by your abfence, fince I never left your company without an increase of knowledge, and always had recourfe to your mind as to an emporium of literature. Among us, as far as I know, there are only two or three, who, without any acquaintance with criticism or philofophy, do not inftantly engage with raw and untutored judgments in the ftudy of theology; and of this they acquire only a flender fmattering, not more than fufficient to enable them to patch together a fermon with fcraps pilfered, with little dif crimination, from this author and from that. Hence I fear, left our clergy fhould relapfe into the facerdotal ignorance of a former age. Since I find fo few affociates in ftudy here, I should inftantly direct my steps to London, if I had not determind to spend the fummer vacation in the depths of literary folitude, and, as it were, hide myself in the chamber of the mufes. As you do this every day, it would be injuftice in me any longer to divert your attention or engrofs your time. Adieu. Cambridge, July 2, 1628.
To THOMAS JURE.
ON reading your letter, my excellent tutor, I find only one fuperfluous paffage, an apology for not writing to me fooner; for though nothing gives me more pleasure than to hear from you, how can I or ought I to expect that you should always have leisure enough from more ferious and more facred engagements to write to me; particularly when it is kindnefs, and not duty, which prompts you to write? Your many recent fer