-Spirat adhuc amor

Vivuntque commissi calores

Eoliæ fidibus puellæ.

HOR. 4 Od. ix. 10.

Sappho's charming lyre

Preserves her soft desire,

And tunes our ravish'd souls to love.


AMONG the many famous pieces of antiquity which are still to be seen at Rome, there is the trunk of a statue which has lost the arms, legs, and head; but discovers such an exquisite workmanship in what remains of it, that Michael Angelo declared he had learned his whole art from it. Indeed he studied it so attentively, that he made most of his statues, and even his pictures in that Gusto, to make use of the Italian phrase; for which reason this maimed statue is still called Michael Angelo's school.'

A fragment of Sappho, which I design for the subject of this paper, is in as great reputation among the poets and critics, as the mutilated figure above-mentioned is among the statuaries and painters. Several of our countrymen, and Mr. Dryden in particular, seem very often to have copied after it in their dramatic writings, and in their poems upon love.

Whatever might have been the occasion of this ode, the English reader will enter into the beauties of it, if he supposes it to have been written in the person of a lover sitting by his mistress. I shall set to view three different copies of this beautiful original; the first is a translation by Catullus, the second by Monsieur

1 The Torso di Belvidere, in the square vestibule of the Vatican (Musec Clementino). It belonged to a statue of Hercules, by Apollonius, son of Nestor the Athenian, and was found in the baths of Caracalla.-G.

Boileau, and the last by a gentleman whose translation of the Hymn to Venus has been so deservedly admired.1


Пlle mî par esse deo videtur,
Ille si fas est, superare divos,
Qui sedens adversus identidem te,
Spectat, et audit.

Dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis
Eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te
Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi
Quod loquar amens."

Lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus
Flamma dimanat, sonitu suopte

Tinniunt aures, gemina teguntur
Lumina nocte.

My learned reader will know very well the reason why one of these verses is printed in italic letter; and if he compares this translation with the original, will find that the three first stanzas are rendered almost word for word, and not only with the same elegance, but with the same short turn of expression which is so remarkable in the Greek, and so peculiar to the Sapphic Ode. I cannot imagine for what reason Madam Dacier has told us, that this Ode of Sappho is preserved entire in Longinus, since it is manifest to any one who looks into that author's quotation of it, that there must at least have been another stanza, which is not transmitted to us.

1 Ambrose Philips. V. No. 223.-G.

It is wanting in the old copies, and has been supplied by conjecture as above. But in a curious edition of Catullus, published at Venice in 1738, said to be printed from an ancient manuscript newly discovered, this line is given thus-Voce loquendum !-C.

The editor of this 'curious' edition was Corradini de Allio, who though a learned man, stooped to play the impostor by palming off his own conjectures for the readings of a precious Roman manuscript.-G.

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The second translation of this fragment, which I shall here eite, is that of Monsieur Boileau.

Heureux! qui près de toi, pour toi seule soupire:
Qui jouit du plaisir de t'entendre parler:
Qui te voit quelquefois doucement lui sourire.
Les Dieux, dans son bonheur, peuvent-ils l'égaler?

Je sens de veine en veine une subtile flamme
Courir par tout mon corps, si-tôt que je te vois :
Et dans les doux transports, où s'égare mon âme,
Je ne saurais trouver de langue, ni de voix.

Un nuage confus se répand sur ma vue,

Je n'entends plus; je tombe en de douces langueurs ;

Et pâle, sans haleine, interdite, éperdue,

Un frisson me saisit, je tremble, je me meurs.

The reader will see that this is rather an imitation than a translation. The circumstances do not lie so thick together, and follow one another with that vehemence and emotion as in the original. In short, Monsieur Boileau has given us all the poetry, but not all the passion of this famous fragment. I shall in the last place present my reader with the English tran lation.


Blest as th' immortal Gods is he,

The youth who fondly sits by thee,
And hears and sees thee all the while

Softly speak and sweetly smile.


'Twas this depriv'd my soul of rest,
And rais'd such tumults in my breast;

For while I gaz'd, in transport tost,
My breath was gone, my voice was lost:


My bosom glow'd; the subtle flame
Ran quick through all my vital frame
O'er my dim eyes a darkness hung;
My ears with hollow murmurs rung.



In dewy damps my limbs were chill'd;
My blood with gentle horrors thrill'a;
My feeble pulse forgot to play;

I fainted, sunk, and died away.

Instead of giving any character of this last translation, I shall desire my learned reader to look into the criticisms which Lon ginus has made upon the original.' By that means he will know to which of the translations he ought to give the preference. I shall only add, that this translation is written in the very spirit of Sappho, and as near the Greek as the genius of our language will possibly suffer."

Longinus has observed, that this description of love in Sap pho is an exact copy of nature, and that all the circumstances, which follow one another in such an hurry of sentiments, notwith standing they appear repugnant to each other, are really such as happen in the frenzies of love.

I wonder that not one of the critics or editors, through whose hands this ode has passed, has taken occasion from it to mention a circumstance related by Plutarch. That author, in the famous story of Antiochus, who fell in love with Stratonice, his motherin-law, and (not daring to discover his passion) pretended to be confined to his bed by his sickness, tells us, that Erasistratus, the physician, found out the nature of his distemper by those symptoms of love which he had learnt from Sappho's writings. Stratonice was in the room of the love-sick prince, when these symp toms discovered themselves to his physician; and it is probable that they were not very different from those which Sappho here


'V. Longinus, ch. viii.-G.

2 As the Italian scholar may wish to compare Fosco'o's translation of this fragment, I have given it, together with the tex in the Appendix.

V. p.


describes in a lover sitting by his mistress. This story of Antiochus is so well known, that I need not add the sequel of it, which has no relation to my present subject.


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LOOKING Over the letters which I have lately received from my correspondents, I met with the following one, which is written with such a spirit of politeness, that I could not but be very much pleased with it myself, and question not but it will be as acceptable to the reader.


"You, who are no stranger to public assemblies, cannot but have observed the awe they often strike on such as are obliged to exert any talent before them. This is a sort of elegant distress, to which ingenuous minds are the most liable, and may therefore deserve some remarks in your paper. Many a brave fellow, who put his enemy to flight in the field, has been in the utmost dis order upon making a speech before a body of his friends at home : one would think there was some kind of fascination in the eyes of a large circle of people, when darting all together upon one person. I have seen a new actor in a tragedy so bound up by it, as to be scarce able to speak or move, and have expected he would have died above three acts before the dagger or cup of poison were brought in. It would not be amiss, if such an one

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