1691 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Richard Fanshawe

Gerard Langbaine, in Account of the English Dramatick Poets (1691) 190-97.



This Excellent Man was Brother to the Right Honourable Thomas Lord Fanshaw, of Ware-Park in Hertfordshire. He had his Breeding in his younger Years in Cambridge: and was so good a Proficient in Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portugese; that he understood them as well as his Mother-tongue. He removed from Cambridge to Court, where he serv'd his Majesty with all imaginable Fidelity, and Dutiful Affection. He was his Secretary in Holland, France, and Scotland; and at Worcester Fight was wounded, and taken prisoner in Defence of the Royal Cause. His Loyalty and Abilities, were so conspicuous to His Majesty King Charles the II. that at His happy Restauration, He preferr'd him to be one of the Masters of the Requests; and afterwards sent him into Portugal, with the worthy Title of Lord Embassador of Honour, to court the present Queen Dowager, for this Master; where he remain'd three Years, and discharg'd his Employment with Honour. In the Year 1644. he was sent Embassador into Spain, to compleat a Treaty of Commerce, and to strengthen the League between the two Crowns: which Affair he managed with great Prudence, and Integrity. He died at Madrid in July 1666. leaving behind him the Character of an able Statesman; a great Scholar; and a sincere, sweet natur'd, and pious Gentleman. At present we are only to consider his Scholarship, which will sufficiently appear by the several Translations which he has publisht, particularly those which are Dramatick: the first of which in Order, and the most Eminent, is stil'd

Il Pastor Fido, The Faithful Shepherd, a Pastoral, printed 4to. Lond. 1646. and dedicated to the Hope and Lustre of three Kingdoms, Charles Prince of Wales. This Piece is translated from the Italian of the Famous Guarini; of whose Life, by way of Digression, give me leave to speak succinctly. He was a Native of Ferrara, and Secretary to Alphonsus the II. Duke of that Principality; who sent him into Germany, Poland and Rome, in the time of Pope Gregory the XIII. After the death of Alphonsus, he was Secretary to Vincent de Gonzaga Duke of Mantua, to Ferdinand de Medicis Great Duke of Tuscany, who created him Knight of the Order of Saint Stephen, and to Francis Maria de la Rovera Duke of Urbin: in all these Stations, he was as much admir'd for his Politicks, as Poetry. How much he was esteem'd for this last, the several Academies of Italy are a sufficient proof; most of which elected him a Member into their several Societies; as Gli Humoristi of Rome, De la Crusca of Florence, Gli Olympici of Vicenza, and Gli Innominati of Parma, and Gli Elevati of Ferrara. He withdrew from publick Affairs towards the latter end of his Life, and dwelt privately at Padua, afterwards at Venice, where being about seventy five Years of Age, he died in the Year 1613.

Having given you this Abridgment of Guarini's Life, I shall return to our English Author's Translation. Tho' in his Epistle to the Prince, "He speaks modestly of his Performance, as if this Dramatick Poem had lost much of the Life and Quickness, by being poured out of one Vessel, (that is one Language) into another; besides the unsteadiness of the Hand that pours it; and that a Translation at the best, is but a Mock-Rainbow in the Clouds, faintly imitating the true one; into which Apollo himself had a full and immediate Influence:" I say, notwithstanding this modest Apology; yet Sir John Denham in his Verses on this Translation, infinitely commends it: and tho' he seems to assent to our Author's Notions, touching Translations in general: yet he shews that Sir Richard has admirably succeeded in this particular Attempt; as the Reader may see by the following Lines; where after having blam'd servile Translators, he goes on thus;

A new and nobler Way thou dost pursue
To make Translations, and Translators too.
They but preserve the Ashes, thou the Flame,
True to his Sense, but truer to his Fame.
Foording his Current, where thou find'st it low,
Let'st in thine own, to make it rise and flow.
Wisely restoring whatsoever grace
Is lost by change of Times, or Tongues, or Place,
Nor fetter'd to his Numbers, and his Times,
Betray'st his Musick to unhappy Rimes;
Nor are the Nerves of his compacted strength
Stretch'd and dissolv'd into unsinew'd length:
Yet after all (lest we should think it thine,)
Thy Spirit to his Circle dost confine.

I have already said, that Guarini imitated Tasso's Aminta, in this Pastoral; and I may add, that by the unquestionable Verdict of all Italy, he outstript him: which rais'd Tasso's Anger so high, that he cry'd out in a great Passion, "Se non havuto visto il mio Aminta," &c. If he had not seen my Aminta, he had not excell'd it. Give me leave to enlarge further, that this Pastoral was writ on the occasion of Charles Emmanuel, the Young Duke of Savoy's Marriage with the Infanta of Spain. The Author's Design is Allegorical and Instructive, under the Name of Carino, he personates himself, and his chief End was to instill into his Princely Pupil, under the disguise of a Dramatick Diversion, the Principles of Divine, Moral, and Political Virtues.

Querer por solo querer, To love only for Love's sake; a Dramatick Romance represented at Aranjuez before the King and Queen of Spain, to celebrate the Birth-day of that King, [Phil. IV.] by the Meninas; which are a Set of Ladies, in the Nature of Ladies of Honour in that Court, Children in Years, but Higher in Degree (being Daughters and Heirs to Grandees in Spain) than the Ladies of Honour, Attending likewise that Queen. This Play was written in Spanish, by Don Antonio de Mendoza 1623. and dedicated to the Queen of Spain: [which was Elizabeth Daughter to Henry the Great of France.] It was paraphras'd by our Author in English in 1654. during his Confinement to Tankersly Park in Yorkshire, by Oliver, after the Battle of Worcester; in which (as I have already observ'd) he was taken prisoner, serving his Majesty King Charles the Second, as Secretary of State. At that time he writ on this Dramatick Romance 3 Stanzas, both in Latin and English, which may give the Reader a Taste of his Vein in both these Languages; and therefore may not be improper for me to transcribe, or unpleasant to the Reader to peruse. I shall give the preference to the Latin Verses, Learning and Learned Men being to be preferr'd before Vulgar Readers.

Ille ego, qui (dubiis quondam jactatus in Undis,
Qui, dum nunc Aulae, nunc mibi Castra Strepunt)
Leni importunas mulceban Carmine Curas,
In quo PASTORIS Flamma FIDELIS erat.

At nunc & Castris, Aulisque ejectus & Undis,
(Nam mihi Naufragium Portus, & Ira Quies);
Altius insurgens, Regum haud intactus Amores,
Et Reginarum fervidus Arma Cano:

Quae (vinclis Hymenaee tuis, spretisque Coronis)
Nec juga ferre virûm, nec dare Jura velint.
Dulce prosellosos audire ex Litore fluctus!
Eque truci Terram dulce videre Mari.

In English thus.

Time was when I, a Pilgrim of the Seas,
When I midst noise of Camps, and Courts disease;
Purloin'd some Hours, to charm rude Cares with Verse,
Which Flame of FAITHFUL SHEPHERD did rehearse:

But now restrain'd from Sea, from Camp, from Court,
And by a Tempest blown into a Port;
I raise my Thoughts to muse on higher things,
And Eccho Arms and Loves of Queens and Kings:

Which Queens (despising Crowns and Hymen's Band)
Would neither Men Obey, nor Men Command.
Great Pleasure, from rough Seas, to see the Shore!
Or from firm Land to hear the Billows rore.

Tho' this Play was during the Author's Imprisonment translated, 'twas not printed till long after his Death, viz. 4to. Lond. 1671. to which is added, Fiestas de Aranjuez, Festivals represented at Aranjuez, written by the same Author, and on the same Occasion; and translated by the same Hand. The Play it self consists but of three Acts (which the Spaniards call Jornadas) according to the Spanish Custom: their Poets seldom or never exceeding that number.

As to his other Works, he writ several Poems in Latin, as a Copy on the Escurial; another on the Royal Sovereign; and a third on Mr. May's Translation of, and Supplement to Lucan. He translated other Pieces into that Learned Tongue, as two Poems written by Mr. Thomas Carew: Several Pieces he translated out of Latin into English, as the fourth Book of Virgil's Aeneids, an Epigram out of Martial Lib. 10. Epig. 47. Two Odes out of Horace, relating to the Civil Wars of Rome, (the First, Carm. Lib. 3. Ode 24. The Second, Epod. 16.) with some Sonnets translated from the Spanish, and other Poems writ in his Native Language, with several Pieces, which you will find bound up with Pastor Fido, printed 8vo. Lond. 1671.

Nor was it out of these Languages only that he translated what pleas'd him; but even so uncourted a Language as he terms that of Portugal, employ'd his Pen during his Confinement; For he translated Luis de Camoens (whom the Portugals call their Virgil) his Lusiad, or Portugal's Historical Poem. This Poem was printed fol. Lond. 1665. and dedicated to the Right Honourable William Earl of Strafford, Son and Heir to that Glorious Protomartyr of Monarchy, the Noble Thomas Earl of Strafford, Lord Deputy of Ireland; on whose Tryal our Author writ a Copy of Verses, printed amongst his Poems, p. 302.

Besides these Pieces, Mr. Philips and Mr. Winstanley attribute to him the Latin Version of Mr. Edmund Spencer's Shepherds Calendar, which I take to be a mistake of Mr. Philips' whose Errors Mr. Winstanley generally copies; not having heard of any other Translation than that done by Mr. Theodore Bathurst, sometime Fellow of Pembroke-Hall in Cambridge, and printed at the end of Mr. Spencer's Works in fol. Lond. 1679.