1687 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joshua Sylvester

William Winstanley, Lives of the Most Famous English Poets (1687) 109.



Joshua Sylvester, a very eminent Translator of his time, especially of the Divine Du Bartus, whose six days work of Creation, gain'd him an immortal Fame, having had many great Admirers even to these days, being usher'd into the world by the chiefest Wits of that Age; amongst others, the most accomplisht Mr. Benjamin Johnson thus wrote of him.

If to admire, were to command my Praise
Might then both thee, thy work and merit raise;
But, as it is (the Child of Ignorance
And utter stranger to the Ayr of France)
How can I speak of thy great pains, but err;
Since they can only judge that can confer?
Behold! the reverend shade of Bartus stands
Before my thought, and (in thy right) commands
That to the world I publish, for him, this:
Bartus doth wish thy English now were his,
So well in that are his Inventions wrought,
As his will now be the Translation thought,
Thine the Original; and France shall boast
No more those Maiden-Glories she hath lost.

He also translated several other Works of Du Bartus; namely, Eden, the Deceipt, the Furies, the Handicrafts, the Ark, Babylon, the Colonies, the Columns, the Fathers, Jonas, Urania, Triumph of Faith, Miracle of Peace, the Vocation, the Fathers, the Daw, the Captains, the Trophies, the Magnificence, &c. Also a Paradox of Pibeac; all which Translations were generally well received: but for his own Works which were bound up with them, they received not so general an approbation; as you may perceived by these Verses;

We know thou dost well
As a Translator,
But where things require
A Genius and a Fire,
Not kindled before by others pains,
As often thou hast wanted Brains.