John Hughes's five irregular stanzas, written in 1697 were published posthumously in 1735, just as Milton's minor verse was beginning to attract the attention of poets and critics. They mark the beginning of a sequence of hundreds eighteenth-century imitations of Milton's companion poems: "Hence slavish Fear! thy Stygian Wings display! | Thou ugly Fiend of Hell, away!"
Hughes wrote to Samuel Say: "Such as it is, the ode is yours, for I translated it purposely for your sake, and I have had such a respect to your judgment, that I have omitted no care to make it as perfect as I am able ... it is the first time I have attempted the Pindarical way" 6 November 1697; in John Duncombe, ed. Letters of Several Eminent Persons (1772; 1773) 1:20-21.
William Duncombe: "The Translation of the Third Ode of the Third Book of Horace, and the Paraphrase of the Twenty-second Ode of the First Book, were both writ, when he was very young; and the latter of 'em was his first Poetical Essay, that appear'd in Print" Poetical Works (1735) 1:ix.
Biographia Britannica: "The first strokes of genius, like the first blossoms of a tree, instruct us what kind of fruit we are to expect. It is true, that subsequent culture, may alter both; but it is also true, of some genii, as of some trees, that from a natural excellence, they produce a very high flavoured fruit at first, very little inferior, to what all the art and care possible, can afterwards bring them to yield. The following translation is proof of this. In it our young writer proposes not barely to render, but to expand and amplify the thoughts of his author, without extenuating, or varying his sense. It is a singular method of putting an ancient poet into English, and together with the version of his language, comprehends a commentary upon his sentiments; at least, such are our notions. The reader, upon a perusal, will decide how far we have done Horace, or Mr. Hughes justice" (1757) 4:2697n.
John Duncombe: Hughes "was educated at London, and received the rudiments of learning in private schools.... At the age of nineteen he imitated in paraphrase one of the most difficult odes of Horace" in Letters of Several Eminent Persons (1772, 1773) 1:v.
W. Davenport Adams: "John Hughes, poet and essayist (b. 1677, d. 1720), published The Peace of Ryswick (1697), The Court of Neptune (1699), and other poems, original and translated. He was also the author of a drama called The Siege of Damascus (1720). He contributed some papers to The Tatler, The Guardian, and The Spectator. His Poems are included in Anderson's collection" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 295.
Raymond Dexter Havens: "Hughes seem[s] like one of the Gray-Collins-Warton group born out of due time" The Influence of Milton (1922) 443.
Hence slavish Fear! thy Stygian Wings display!
Thou ugly Fiend of Hell, away!
Wrapp'd in thick Clouds, and Shades of Night,
To conscious Souls direct thy Flight!
There brood on Guilt, fix there a loath'd Embrace,
And propagate vain Terrors, Frights,
Dreams, Goblins, and imagin'd Sprights,
Thy visionary Tribe, thy black and monstrous Race.
Go, haunt the Slave that stains his Hands in Gore!
Possess the perjur'd Mind, and rack the Usurer more,
Than his Oppression did the Poor before.
Vainly, you feeble Wretches, you prepare
The glitt'ring Forgery of War;
The poison'd Shaft, the Parthian Bow, and Spear
Like that the warlike Moor is wont to wield,
Which pois'd and guided from his Ear
He hurls impetuous thro' the Field:
In vain you lace the Helm, and heave in vain the Shield;
He's only safe, whose Armour of Defence
Is Adamantine Innocence.
If o'er the Steepy Alps he go,
Vast Mountains of eternal Snow,
Or where fam'd Ganges and Hydaspes flow;
If o'er parch'd Libya's desart Land,
Where, threatning from afar,
Th' affrighted Traveller
Encounters moving Hills of Sand;
No Sense of Danger can disturb his Rest;
He fears no human Force, nor savage Beast;
Impenetrable Courage steels his manly Breast.
Thus, late within the Sabine Grove,
While free from Care, and full of Love,
I raise my tuneful Voice, and stray
Regardless of myself and Way,
A grizly Wolf, with glaring Eye,
View'd me unarm'd, yet pass'd unhurtful by.
A fiercer Monster ne'er, in Quest of Food,
Apulian Forests did molest;
Numidia never saw a more prodigious Beast;
Numidia, Mother of the yellow Brood,
Where the stern Lion shakes his knotted Mane,
And roars aloud for Prey, and scours the spacious Plain.
Place me where no soft Breeze of Summer Wind
Did e'er the stiffen'd Soil unbind,
Where no refreshing Warmth e'er durst invade,
But Winter holds his unmolested Seat,
In all his hoary Robes array'd,
And rattling Storms of Hail, and noisy Tempests beat.
Place me beneath the scorching Blaze
Of the fierce Sun's immediate Rays,
Where House or Cottage ne'er were seen,
Nor rooted Plant or Tree, nor springing Green;
Yet, lovely LALAGE, my generous Flame
Shall ne'er expire; I'll boldly sing of Thee,
Charm'd with the Musick of thy Name,
And guarded by the Gods of Love and Poetry.