Monday, August 20, 2007

Thomas Tickell's Translation

[Edward Young to Thomas Tickell]
June 28, 1715.

Dear Tickell,

Be assured I want no new inducement to behave myself like your friend. To be very plain, the University almost in general gives the preference to Pope's translation ; they say his is written with more spirit, ornament and freedom, and has more the air of an original. I inclined some, Hanton, etc., to compare the translation with the original ; which was done, and it made some small alterations in their opinions, but still Pope was their man. The bottom of the case is this, they were strongly prepossessed in Pope's favour, from a wrong notion of your design before the poem came down ; and the sight of yours has not force enough upon them to make them willing to contradict themselves, and own they were in the wrong ; but they go far for prejudiced persons, and own yours is an excellent translation, nor do I hear any violently affirm it to be worse than Pope's, but those who look on Pope as a miracle, and among those to your comfort Evans is the first, and even these zealots allow that you have outdone Pope in some particulars. Upon the whole I affirm the performance has gained you much reputation, and when they compare you with what they should compare you, with Homer only, you are much admired. It has given I know many of the best judges a desire to see the Odyssey by the same hand, which they talk of with pleasure, and I seriously believe your first piece of that will quite break their partiality for Pope, which your Iliad has weakened, and secure your success. Nor think my opinion groundlessly swayed by my wishes, for I observe, as prejudice cools, you grow in favour, and you are a better poet now than when your Homer first came down. I am persuaded fully that your design cannot but succeed here, and it shall be my hearty desire and endeavour that it may.

Dear Tickell, yours most affectionately,

My humble service to Mr. Addison and Sir Rich Steele.

-from Life and Letters of Edward Young by Henry C. Shelley (London: Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1914)

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