1818 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Hoole

Tasso, "Mr. Hoole, Translator of Tasso" Gentleman's Magazine 88 (January 1818) 12.



Jan. 3.

MR. URBAN.

We allow an Editor to be partial to his Author. The liking leads to the act, and the act increases the liking: and if the beauty of the new edition may the more inflame the passion of the Editor, no one can be more excusable than Mr. Singer, who has produced so beautiful and elegantly decorated a reprint of Fairfax's Tasso. But all this will not excuse injustice; and, in my opinion, he has been very unjust to Mr. Hoole. — The man I well knew, and a more artless, modest, unpresuming Author I never met. Of his own poetical talents he had no exaggerated idea: and they who thought his modesty becoming, esteemed him also for his worth as a man.

Mr. H. is therefore treated unfairly, when he is suspected of affecting to be ignorant of Fairfax, in his first edition, and of calumniating him in the second. Whether he judged well or ill is another question; but I will venture to say that he wrote his genuine opinion, and never affected to despise what he felt to be of superior merit. Neither would he have affected ignorance for any sinister motive. Hoole was an honest and a diligent man, whose ideas of versification were entirely formed on modern models. He had not learned to see the beauty of an antiquated style, in the midst of its defects. His censurer, on the contrary, seems, by habit, to have become too indulgent to it; otherwise he would not surely have so harshly condemned the passage he has cited from Mr. Doyne's version, compared with that of Fairfax. Mr. Doyne seems literally to have done little more than to remove the blemishes of the old version, and to make it run harmoniously in blank verse. The passage is, in fact, harmonious and beautiful, as he has given it; and though we can well pardon Fairfax, in consideration of the time when he wrote, and even admire him in that view, we cannot certainly wish to recall such lines as

Thus her faire skin the Dame would cloath and hide,

And that which bid it no lesse faire was bold.

Nor this,

Her blush, her smiling; smiles her blushing graced.

So much improved in,

And her soft smile more lovely made her blush,
Her blush more sweet her smile.

Whether Mr. Doyne's version is all executed in this spirit or not, I cannot tell, not having seen it; but if it is, I should not hesitate to pronounce it a valuable Work. The specimen, at least, is extremely favourable. But now a new translation is announced. What will that be?

TASSO.