1793 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Chapman

William Cowper to Thomas Park, 15 July 1793; in Southey, Life and Works of Cowper (1835-37) 7:332.



Within these few days I have received, by favour of Miss Knapps, your acceptable present of Chapman's translation of the Iliad. I know not whether the book be a rarity, but a curiosity it certainly is. I have as yet seen but little of it, enough however to make me wonder that any man, with so little taste for Homer, or apprehension of his manner, should think it worth while to undertake the laborious task of translating him; the hope of pecuniary advantage may perhaps account for it. His information, I fear, was not much better than his verse, for I have consulted him in one passage of some difficulty, and find him giving a sense of his own, not at all warranted by the words of Homer. Pope sometimes does this, and sometimes omits the difficult part entirely. I can boast of having done neither, though it has cost me infinite pains to exempt myself from the necessity.