페이지 이미지

The hounds ran swiftly through the woods

The nimble deer to take,
And with their cries the hills and dales

An echo shrill did make.

Vocat ingenti clamore Cithæron
Taygetique canes, domitrixque Epidaurus equorum:
Et vox assensu nemorum ingeminatu remugit.

GEORG. ii. 43.
Cithæron loudly calls me to my way;
Thy hounds, Taygetas, open and pursue the prey:
High Epidaurus urges on my speed,
Fam'd for his hills, and for his horses breed:
From hills and dales the cheerful cries rebound;
For Echo hunts along, and propagates the sound,


Lo, yonder doth Earl Douglas come,

His men in armour bright;
Full twenty hundred Scottish spears,

All marching in our sight.
All men of pleasant Tividale,

Fast by the river Tweed, &c. The country of the Scotch warriors, described in these two last verses, has a fine romantic situation, and affords a couple of smooth words for verse. If the reader compares the foregoing six lines of the song with the following Latin verses, he will see how much they are written in the spirit of Virgil: .

Adversi campo apparent, hastasque reductis
Protendunt longe dextris ; et spicula vibrant:
Quique altum Præneste viri, quique arva Gabine
Junonis, gelidumque Anienem, et roscida rivis
Hernica saxa colunt :- -qui rosea rura Velini,
Qui Tetrica horrentes rupes, montemque Severum,
Casperiamque colunt, Forulosque et flumen Himellæ :
Qui Tiberim Fabarimque bibunt.

ÆN. xi. 605. vii. 682, 712.
Advancing in a line, they couch their spears

- Præneste sends a chosen band,
With those who plow Saturnia's Gabine land:
Besides the succours which cold Anien yields;

The rocks of Hernicus besides a band,
That followed from Velinum's dewy land-
And mountaineers that from Severus came :
And from the craggy cliffs of Tetrica;
And those where yellow Tiber takes his way,
And where Himella's wanton waters play:
Casperia sends her arms, with those that lie
By Fabaris, and fruitful Foruli.

But to proceed :

Earl Douglas on a milk-white steed,

Most like a baron bold,
Rode foremost of the company,

Whose armour shone like gold.
Turnus ut antevolans tardum præcesserat agmen, &c.
Vidisti, quo Turnus equo, quibus ibat in armis

Our English archers bent their bows,

Their hearts were good and true ;
At the first flight of arrows sent,

Full threescore Scots they slew.
They clos'd full fast on ev'ry side,

No slackness there was found;
And many a gallant gentleman

Lay gasping on the ground.
With that there came an arrow keen

Out of an English bow,
Which struck Earl Donglas to the heart,

A deep and deadly blow. Æneas was wounded after the same manner by an unknown hand in the midst of a parley.

Has inter voces, media inter talia verba,
Ecce viro stridens alis allapsa sagitta est,
Incertum qua pulsa manu.

ÆN, xii. 318.
Thus, while he spake, unmindful of defence,
A winged arrow struck the pious prince;
But whether from an human hand it came,
Or hostile god, is left unknown by fame.


But of all the descriptive parts of this song, there are none more beautiful than the four following stanzas, which have a great force and spirit in them, and are filled with very natural circumstances. The thought in the third stanza was never touched by any other poet, and is such an one as would have shined in Homer or in Virgil :

So thus did both these nobles die,

Whose courage none could stain;
An English archer then perceiv'd

The noble Earl was slain.
He had a bow bent in his hand,

Made of a trusty tree,
An arrow of a cloth-yard long

Unto the head drew he.
Against Sir Hugh Montgomery

So right his shaft he set,
The grey-goose wing that was thereon

In his heart-blood was wet,
This fight did last from break of day

Till setting of the sup;
For when they rang the ev'ning bell

The battle scarce was done.

One may observe, likewise, that in the catalogue of the slain, the author has followed the example of the great ancient poets, not only in giving a long list of the dead, but by diversifying it with little characters of particular persons.

And with Earl Douglas there was slain

Sir Hugh Montgomery,
Sir Charles Carrel, that from the field

One foot would never fly:
Sir Charles Murrel of Ratcliff too,

His sister's son was he;
Sir David Lamb so well esteem'd,

Yet saved could not be.

The familiar sound in these names destroys the majesty of the description; for this reason I do not mention this part of the poem but to shew the natųral cast of thought which appears in it, as the two last verses look almost like a translation of Virgil.

Cadit et Ripheus justissimus unus
Qui fuit in Teucris et servantissimus æqui.
Diis aliter visum

ÆN. ii. 426.

Then Ripleus fell in the unequal fight,
Just of his word, observant of the right:
Heav'n thought not so.


In the catalogue of the English who fell, Witherington's behaviour is in the same manner particularized very artfully, as the reader is prepared for it by that account which is given of him in the beginning of the battle; though I am satisfied your little buffoon readers (who have seen that passage ridiculed in Hudibras) will not be able to take the beauty of it: for which reason I dare not so much as quote it.

Then stept a gallant 'squire forth,

Witherington was his name,
Who said, I would not have it told

To Henry our king for shame,
That e'er my captain fought on foot,

Aud I stood looking on.

We meet with the same heroic sentiment in Virgil.

Non pudet, O Rutuli, cunctis pro talibus unam
Objectare animam? numerone an viribus æqui
Non sumus


ÆN. xii. 229.
For shame, Rutilians, can you bear the sight
Of one expos’d for all, in single fight?
Can we before the face of heav'n confess
Our courage colder, or our numbers less?


What can be more natural, or more moving, than the circumstances in which he describes the behaviour of those women who had lost their husbands on this fatal day?

Next day did many widows come

Their husbands to bewail;
They wash'd their wounds in brinish tears,

But all would not prevail.
Their bodies bath'd in purple blood,

They bore with them away;
They kiss'd them dead a thousand times,

When they were clad in clay.

Thus we see how the thoughts of this poem, which naturally arise from the subject, are always simple, and sometimes exquisitely noble; that the language is often very sounding, and that the whole is written with a true poetical spirit. If this song

had been written in the Gothic manner, which is the delight of all our little wits, whether writers or readers, it would not have hit the taste of so many ages, and have pleased the readers of all ranks and conditions. I shall only beg pardon for such a profusion of Latin quotations; which I should not have made use of, but that I feared my own judgment would have looked too singular on such a subject, had not I supported it by the practice and authority of Virgil.


« 이전계속 »