1702
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Horace. Book 2. Ode xvi. imitated in Paraphrase.

Poems on Several Occasions. With some select Essays in Prose. In Two Volumes. By John Hughes Esq; adorn'd with Sculptures.

John Hughes


Five Pindaric stanzas, with an introduction in the manner of Milton. The poem was posthumously published in 1735.

In a long letter to his friend Samuel Say, 26 December 1702, John Hughes describes his aims and methods in imitating Horace: "I have taken a liberty in the paraphrase; the first stanza is added, and a simile or two; but nothing more than what is agreeable to his sense, and what I thought would make him appear to the best advantage. Such as it is, Sir, I submit it entirely to your judgment, since it was first attempted for your pleasure. 'Tis upon an agreeable subject, tranquility; and if it fails giving you any entertainment, I will readily acknowledge it to be my own fault; for I know you to be master of so much sense, so good a taste, and such just notions of human life, that, I am sure, Horace must please you, if he be not murdered in an ill translation" in Duncombe, ed. Letters of Several Eminent Persons (1772; 1773) 1:32.

George Saintsbury: "John Hughes seems to have been a man of parts, learning, and amiability; and he has the credit of going outside stock subjects for that of his rather popular tragedy, The Siege of Damascus, which takes one of the most romantic episodes of the early Caliphate. But I cannot say, as 'L. Duncombe e Coll. Mert.,' a youthful poet who died in his teens said, of Hughes — 'Aonidum decus ille dolorque sororum,' as far as English lyric was concerned, though he seems to have been very prone to the composition of it. He wrote Odes on the House of Nassau, in the half-regularised Pindaric; others with less ponderous credentials; lesser songs in common measure, long measure, heroic quatrains, a good many of them in various forms for music. He even had the modest assurance to rearrange Dryden's 'Cecilia Major,' and the more lawful ambition of writing masques. Yet in all this variation of measure one hardly meets one thing thoroughly 'hit off' in rhythm and cadence; though they are all decently 'measured' off" History of English Prosody (1906-10) 2:503-04.

Harko G. De Maar: "John Hughes, Spenser's editor, was educated in a dissenting academy, where he was 'a fellow-student with Dr. Isaac Watts, Mr. Samuel Say, and other persons of eminence.' We have seen how, early in the century, there was a sort of Milton cult at this academy. Hughes was an apt pupil. He translated two of Horace's Odes (1697) and prefixed to each a stanza in imitation of Milton's octosyllabics" History of Modern English Romanticism (1924) 180.



Indulgent Quiet! Pow'r Serene,
Mother of Peace, and Joy, and Love!
O say, thou calm propitious Queen,
Say, in what solitary Grove,
Within what hollow Rock, or winding Cell,
By human Eyes unseen,
Like some retreated Druid dost thou dwell?
And why, illusive Goddess! why,
When we thy Mansion would surround,
Why dost thou lead us thro' inchanted Ground,
To mock our vain Research, and from our Wishes fly?

The wand'ring Sailors, pale with Fear,
For Thee the Gods implore,
When the tempestuous Sea runs high,
And when, thro' all the dark benighted Sky,
No friendly Moon or Stars appear
To guide their Steerage to the Shore:
For Thee the weary Soldier prays;
Furious in Fight the Sons of Thrace,
And Medes, that wear majestick by their Side
A full-charg'd Quiver's decent Pride,
Gladly with Thee would pass inglorious Days,
Renounce the Warrior's tempting Praise,
And buy thee, if thou might'st be sold,
With Gems, and Purple Vests, and Stores of plunder'd Gold.

But neither boundless Wealth, nor Guards that wait
Around the Consul's honour'd Gate,
Nor Anti-chambers with Attendants fill'd,
The Mind's unhappy Tumults can abate,
Or banish sullen Cares, that fly
Across the gilded Rooms of State,
And their foul Nests, like Swallows, build
Close to the Palace-Roofs, and Tow'rs that pierce the Sky.
Much less will Nature's modest Wants supply;
And happier lives the homely Swain,
Who, in some Cottage, far from Noise
His few Paternal Goods enjoys,
Nor knows the sordid Lust of Gain,
Nor with Fear's tormenting Pain
His hovering Sleeps destroys.

Vain Man! that in a narrow Space
At endless Game projects the daring Spear!
For short is Life's uncertain Race;
Then why, capricious Mortal! why
Dost thou for Happiness repair
To distant Climates, and a foreign Air?
Fool! from thyself thou canst not fly,
Thyself, the Source of all thy Care.
So flies the wounded Stag, provok'd with Pain,
Bounds o'er the spacious Downs in vain;
The feather'd Torment sticks within his Side,
And from the smarting Wound a Purple Tide
Marks all his Way with Blood, and dyes the grassy Plain.

But swifter far is execrable Care
Than Stags, or Winds that thro' the Skies
Thick-driving Snows and gather'd Tempests bear;
Pursuing Care the sailing Ship out-flies,
Climbs the tall Vessel's painted Sides;
Nor leaves arm'd Squadrons in the Field,
But with the marching Horsemen rides,
And dwells alike in Courts and Camps, and makes all Places yield.

Then, since no State's compleatly blest,
Let's learn the Bitter to allay
With gentle Mirth, and wisely gay
Enjoy at least the present Day,
And leave to Fate the rest.
Nor with vain Fear of Ills to come
Anticipate th' appointed Doom.
Soon did Achilles quit the Stage,
The Heroe fell by sudden Death;
While Tithon to a tedious wasting Age
Drew his protracted Breath.
And thus old partial Time, my Friend,
Perhaps unask'd to worthless Me
Those Hours of lengthen'd Life may lend,
Which he'll refuse to Thee.

Thee shining Wealth and plenteous Joys surround,
And, all thy fruitful Fields around,
Unnumber'd Herds of Cattle stray.
Thy harness'd Steeds with sprightly Voice
Make neighb'ring Vales and Hills rejoice,
While smoothly thy gay Chariot flies o'er the swift measur'd Way.
To Me the Stars, with less Profusion kind,
An humble Fortune have assign'd,
And no untuneful Lyrick Vein,
But a sincere contented Mind,
That can the vile malignant Crowd disdain.

[pp. 116-20]