1837 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Chapman

Henry Hallam, in Introduction to the Literature of Europe of the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries (1837-39; 1882) 3:226-27.



Pope, after censuring the haste, negligence, and fustian language of Chapman, observes, "that which is to be allowed him, and which very much contributed to cover his defects, is a free, daring spirit that animates his translation, which is something like what one might imagine Homer himself would have written before he arrived at years of discretion." He might have added, that Chapman's translation, with all its defects, is often exceedingly Homeric; a praise which Pope himself seldom attained. Chapman deals abundantly in compound epithets, some of which have retained their place: his verse is rhymed, of fourteen syllables, which corresponds to the hexameter better than the decasyllabic couplet: he is often uncouth, often unmusical, and often low; but the spirited and rapid flow of his metre makes him respectable to lovers of poetry. Waller, it is said, could not read him without transport. It must be added, that he is an unfaithful translator, and interpolated much, besides the general redundancy of his style.