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LITERARY WEEKLY INTELLIGENCER,
Additional remarks on the Poet of Buchanan.
WEDNESDAY, January 18. 1792.
(Continued from p. 56. vol. vi. and concluded.)
These remarks have been thus long deferred owing to the author's being indisposed. Such readers as have not seen the preceding volumes, in which was the introductory part, are informed, that the four for mer divisions of Buchanan's poetical works have been briefly characterised. The author proceeds to the fifth entitled
5. Hendecasyllabom Liber.
THE love verses in this section have all the tenderness, elegance, and vivacity of Catullus. Some English imitators of Spenser and Milton, have copied nothing but their faults. On the contrary, Buchanan improves upon his master. We are no where disgusted by the licentious vulgarity of the Roman poet. The following elegant addrefs may serve as a speci men of his style.
Quantum delicias tuas amabam,
Odi deterius duplo, ampliufque
Tuam nequitiam et procacitatem,
"As much as I loved thy charms, twice as much "more have I hated thy pride and wantonness, after O "Neæra! I knew thee better.-But if thou canst wish "me utterly undone, if thou desirest that I fhould "love to distraction, that madness fhould more and "more burn in every vein, be still more haughty, and "ftill more wanton. For the more haughty and the "more wanton thou art, by so much more deeply am "I inflamed with restlefs hatred fanning the torch of « love, and again kindling its decaying flames. Wert "thou more modest, and more worthy, I fhould hate "thee lefs, but I fhould love thee lefs."
We have also some fhort and beautiful addrefses to Theodore Beza, and other men of letters, which must have been infinitely pleasing and flattering to the author's literary associates. We cannot wonder that wit, and learning, and valour, and beauty, whatever is amiable, or venerable in human nature, crouded into the correspondence of a poet, prodigal of immortality. The last article in this fection proves that Buchanan pofsefsed the art of raising, into importance, a subject
in itself trifling. I speak of verses on a diamond cut into the fhape of a heart, and set in a ring, which Queen Mary, in 1564, sent as a present to Elizabeth. To forbear their insertion, is an injury to the author.
6. This section consists, like the last, of eleven articles. The first is inscribed to Walter Haddon. The remainder consist of four satires addrefsed to Leonora, a Portuguese bawd; four pieces of the same nature, inscribed to a professor in Coimbra; and two translations from the Greek, one of which is the satire of Simonides upon women. This poem, the Spectator has pretended to translate entire, but has omitted the last twenty-five lines, which, as the poet's parting blow, contain a furious invective against the whole sex. After this honest piece of management the Spectator praises the Greek poet for his delicacy in forbearing to cast out any general reflections against women. I return to Buchanan. His first addrefs to Leonora begins thus:
Matre impudica filia impudicior,
Et lena mater filiæ,
Vos me putastis efse ludumque et jocum,
O Scorta triobolaria,
Sacrificulorum pauperum fastidia
Vos ne videret gurgites, ne pafceret
Nec belluofi rapida sævities freti
Quam perpeti non maluit,
Quam vos videre duplices voragines
Famæ reique prodigas.
Externa potius arma, quam domesticam
"O daughter more impudent than thy impudent "mother, and thou bawd to thy daughter, ye have thought me to be a jest and a sport, ye threepenny "strumpets, ye detested leavings of the beggarly attend"ants of starving priests.
"Lest he fhould see, or support such whirlpools, "the daughter's husband fled to the remotest Indies. "Neither the length of passage nor the well known
ferocity of the natives could fright him from his 86 purpose. There was no danger, there was no sa"vage monster whom he was not willing rather to en"counter, than to behold you, two riotous spendthrifts, "equally prodigal of cafh and character. He chuses " rather to bear foreign arms than domestic infamy."
The rest of the poem, of which the above is about a fourth part, is suitable to such a beginning. The professor is, if pofsible, treated with still lefs ceremony.
"He knows," says Buchanan, "every science ex"cept those which he pretends to teach; he is an ex"cellent cook, weaver, huckster, jockey, and usurNo butcher in the public market ever excel"led him at cheating with false weights."
I have already far exceeded the limits intended for this essay, and fhall conclude by a few general remarks on our author's stile.
No poet ever required lefs aid from critical illustration. In Buchanan we very seldom meet with those sudden transitions from one topic to another, fo fre
quent in Horace and Juvenal; so distrefsing often to the learner, though sometimes so pleasing to the mature scholar. Whatever be his object, it is ever kept in view. From the FRANSISCANUS for example, two lines cannot be abstracted without evident mutilation. Perhaps his experience, as a teacher, may partly have instructed him to sympathize with the difficulties of a beginner. No Roman author, now extant, exhibits such a variety of style. There is not perhaps one classical word in the Latin language which may not be somewhere found in his writings. Yet there are very few difficult pafsages in Buchanan. As his subject requires it, he is alternately copious without prolixity, and concise without abruptness.
The remaining poems of this author consist, f, Of three books of epigrams, containing about an hundred and eighty-six articles. 2d, His miscellanies. This section which contains thirty-eight pieces, supplies us with some of his principal efforts in Lyric poetry. 3d, His De Sphæra, in five books, perhaps the noblest › didactic poem in the world, and unquestionably the most sublime monument of the genius of Buchanan. 4th, His four tragedies. 5th, His satire on the cardinal of Lorraine, and some other pieces not usu ly arranged under any of the former sections. Among these are his celebrated dedication of the Psalms to queen Mary, and a copy of verses inscribed to John third of Portugal, which alone, had he composed nothing else, would have entitled him to the character of a great poet. It is astonishing to consider what splendor of sentiment, and luxuriance of imagery are comprised within twenty-two lines.