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CRITICISM

ON

MASSEY'S TRANSLATION

OF THE

FASTI OF OVID.

PUBLISHED IN THE YEAR MDCCLVII.

CRITICISM

ON

MASSEY'S TRANSLATION

OF THE

FASTI OF OVID.

It was no bad remark of a celebrated French lady,' that a bad translator was like an ignorant footman, whose blundering messages disgraced his master by the awkwardness of the delivery, and frequently turned compliment into abuse, and politeness into rusticity. We cannot indeed see an ancient elegant writer mangled and misrepresented by the doers into English, without some degree of indignation; and are heartily sorry that our poor friend Ovid should send his sacred kalendar to us by the hands of Mr William Massey, who, like the valet, seems to have entirely forgot his master's message, and substituted another in its room very unlike it. Mr Massey observes in his preface, with great truth, that it is strange that this most elaborate and learned of all Ovid's works should be so much neglected by our English translators; and that it should be so little read or regarded, whilst his Tristia,

Madame La Fayette.

Epistles, and Metamorphoses, are in almost every schoolboy's hands. << All the critics, in general,» says he, « speak of this part of Ovid's writings with a particular applause; yet I know not by what unhappy fate there has not been that use made thereof, which would be more beneficial, in many respects, to young students of the Latin tongue, than any other of this poet's works. For though Pantheons, and other books that treat of the Roman mythology, may be usefully put into the hands of young proficients in the Latin tongue, yet the richest fund of that sort of learning is here to be found in the Fasti, I am not without hopes, therefore, that by thus making this book more familiar and easy, in this dress, to English readers, it will the more readily gain admittance into our public schools; and that those who become better acquainted therewith, will find it an agreeable and instructive companion, well stored with recondite learning. I persuade myself also, that the notes which I have added to my version will be or advantage, not only to the mere English reader, but likewise to such as endeavour to improve themselves in the knowledge of the Roman language.

« As the Latin proverb says, Jacta est alea; and my performance must take its chance, as those of other poétic adventurers have done before me. I am very sensible, that I have fallen in many places far below my original; and no wonder, as I had to copy after so fertile and polite a genius as Ovid's; who, as my Lord Orrery, somewhere in Dean Swift's Life, humorously observes, could make an instructive song out of an old almanack.

« That my translation is more diffuse, and not brought within the same number of verses contained in my original, is owing to two reasons; firstly, because of the concise and expressive nature of the Latin tongue, which it is very

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