Sunday, June 17, 2012

Joseph Addison

English writer Joseph Addison died this day, June 17th, in 1719.  Addison is known for “The Spectator”, which he founded.   Another of Addison’s accomplishments was a translation of Virgil’s Georgics, which John Dryden, among others, admired.  The text following, with Dryden alluding to Addison’s translation, is found in “The Miscellaneous Works of Joseph Addison”:


This translation of Virgil is said by sir Walter Scott to have appeared in the third volume of Dryden's Miscellany, published in 1693. Addison was then in his twenty-second year. Dryden, in the postscript to his translation of Virgil, says: "Whoever has given the world the translation of part of the third Georgic, which he calls the Power of Love, has put me to sufficient pains to make my own not inferior to his; as my lord Roscommon's Silenus had formerly given me the same trouble. The most ingenious Mr. Addison of Oxford has also been as troublesome to me as the other two, and on the same account. After his Bees, my latter swarm is scarcely worth the hiving." Scott's Dryden, vol. i. 378. xv. 193. Bishop Hurd says of it, that " the version, though it be exact enough, for the most part, and not inelegant, gives us but a faint idea of the original. It has the grace but not the energy of Virgil's manner. The versification, except only the bad rhymes, may be excused; for the frequent triplets and alexandrines, which Dryden's laziness, by the favour of his exuberant genius, had introduced, were esteemed, when this translation was made, not blemishes, but beauties."…’

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