David Nichol Smith and Edward L. McAdam (eds), The Poems of Samuel Johnson (Second Edition)

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REVISION OF GEOFFREY WALMESLEY'S LATIN TRANSLATION OF JOHN BYROM'S 'COLIN AND PHEBE'

The Gentleman's Magazine, February 1745, p. 102.

Attributed to Johnson by Dr. J. M. Osborn in The Times Literary Supplement, 9 October 1953, p. 652, on the evidence of a notebook belonging to pg 429Stephen Barrett who collaborated with Johnson in improving Geoffrey Walmesley's Latin translation of John Byrom's poem. The distichs for which each was responsible are here marked as 'J' and 'B'.

Barrett's notebook reports that this poem was translated into Latin one day in February 1745:

'After ye Cloth was remov'd, & we had drank a Glass or two of Wine; Cave opened his budget, "Here it is, Gentlemen, a very indifferent performance, but it is just of an exact length for my purpose; and yet if ye will not brush it up for me, it can not appear." "Give it to Mr Barrett (says Johnson) he'll correct it for you in a minute." "Why no (say I) that I shall not undertake alone, but if Mr Johnson will take distic for distic with me (as I have half an hour to stay before I set out for home …) we will endeavr to make it just passable." This was in return for ye Main-oeuvre of throwing it all on me; & as writing Latin verse was my forte, I thought I had thereby got my Master upon ye hip. But how was I mistaken wn … I found yt he was as expeditious at it, as myself! "Very well!—then (says he) do you begin." "By no means! (added I) seniores priores" and threw him ye paper cross ye Table. He return'd it, in a moment; and so it passed from ye one to ye other, like a shuttlecock; Cave chuckling all ye while to see it pass & repass, so rapidly.'

1

J: Traduxi, Aonides! placidas quam leniter horas,

2Dum mihi Phœbe aderat, blandula, grata comes.

3

B: Pectore (vix dicam) quot, quantaque gaudia sensi!

4Quis mage quam Corydon sorte beatus erat?

5

J: Eheu! hinc abiit numquam reditura puella,

6Atratis facies jam nova rebus adest.

7

B: Cur veris perit omnis honos? Cur gloria ruris?

8En! teneo! —Has veneres, hoc decus illa dedit.

9

J: Pascere oves, lusuque simul cum virgine tempus

10Fallere, vel somnos cespite inire leves,

11

B: Quam mihi jucundum! præsens dum nympha juvabat,

12Lætitia insanus quo rapiebar amans!

13

J: Nunc tamen, infelix! —quantum, heu! mutatus ab illo!

14Fervida quam tacita viscera bile tument!

15

B: Nympha abiit, fugitque simul mea sola voluptas;

16Cor! grave cor! luctus pondera ferre nequit.

17

J: Qui liquido lapsu tremulus fluitare solebat

18Rivulus, et placidis saxa lavare sonis,

19

B: Scis puer Idalie! arrisit modo nympha, placebat

20Curriculo hisce oculis, auribus hisce sono.

21

J: Hoc absente tamen, ripæ dum margine oberro,

22Increpo sic surdis jam truculentus aquis;

23pg 430

B: 'Quid salis unda jocosa? quid hæc mihi murmura volvis!

24Desine; neu lacrymis obstrepe, lympha, meis!'

25

J: Dum teneræ circum saltarent matribus agnæ,

26Dum mecum indoctos risit & illa choros,

27

B: 'Ludite vos, alacres!—Saturnia tempora!' dixi;

28Alma viget veris jam Cytherea comes.

29

J: Nunc dum prætereunt—'fugite hinc! pecus ite molestum!

30'Ite'—& gramineo vellera fasce peto.

31

B: Sistite! lascivæ, facit hæc lascivia tristem;

32Cura haud tristitiæ vos tenet ulla meæ.

33

J: Quam mihi fidus Hylax placuit, dum sæpe moveret

34Caudam, & blandiloquis solveret ora sonis!

35

B: Huc ades, O chare, inquit, amicule, læta, manuque

36Permulsit nivea, molliter, illa caput.

37

J: Nunc, dum blanditur, petulantia verba rependo,

38Et properat duri verbera ferre pedi.

39

B: Verbera plura manent,—nec Hylax, absente puella,

40Gaudeat, at mecum triste gemente, gemat.

41

J: Qualia, Dii! vidi, dum me mea nympha secuta est!

42Floribus et campis gratia quanta fuit!

43

B: Hinc virgulta juvant, et opacæ frondibus umbræ;

44Hinc rident segetes—et nemus inde viret.

45

J: Jam formosa abiit, jamque haec decus omne reliquit,

46Nec mihi jam, quondam quæ nituere, nitent.

47

B: Fallax nympha diu magicis me lusit ocellis:

48Vana mihi mentem cepit imago diu.

49

J: Indocili nobis resonabant carmine sylvæ,

50Dat philomela, simul turdus, alauda, modos.

51

B: Aura susurrabat zephyri, balantibus agnis,

52Dum strepit ad nostras læta cicada pedes.

53

J: Abscessit—volucrum, mira dulcedine, sensus,

54Quæ tetigere prius carmina, mœsta gravant.

55

B: Vox erat (experto jam credite) mellea nymphæ,

56Quæ liquidum, ante alias, carmen ad astra tulit.

57pg 431

J: Quid, rosa, mutatis soliis nunc arida palles;

58Purpureum violæ quid posuere decus?

59

B: Quid nec habent solitos languentia germina odores?

60Nee pratis idem est, qui fuit ante, color?

61

J: Æmula! fulsistis varios induta nitores,

62Pulchrum ut ferret onus pulchrior illa, sinu?

63

B: Dulce fuit vobis nostræ placuisse puellæ,

64Nee non marmoreo pectore dulce mori.

65

J: Quam lente incedit tempus! jam nympha redito;

66Uror qua Zephyri frigora blanda meant.

67

B: Quo quæram, ut gravidis liquefiam pondera pennis,

68Ignibus emissis, quos mihi nutrit amor?

69

J: Ducite, Dii! Phœben, rapidis volet ocius alis

70Tempus, &, adducta, segnius ire licet.

71

B: Horas, ah Corydon! nunquam prece flectis inani,

72Æquali semper labitur hora gradu.

73

J: O superi, superi, moveat si nostra querela,

74Dicite, quid misero nunc medicamen erit?

75

B: Excute, sanus eris, Corydon, fera vincula amoris.

76Exulet at talis pectore nympha meo?

77

J: Haud ita; Dii! charam (semel hoc rogo) ducite Phœben,

78Spes prope cum vita destituere meæ.

79

B: Quid faciam? aut miserere, mori aut me denique coges.

80Pulchra, mei memores, ora cavete, viri!

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