A FARMER of the Augustan age Perused in Virgil
's golden page, The story of the secret won From Proteus by Cyrene's son How the dank sea-god sowed the swain Means to restore his hives again More briefly, how a slaughtered bull Breeds honey by the bellyful.
It was in translating part of Virgil
's Aeneid that Surrey used blank verse.
But remorse is not thus banished; like Virgil
's wounded hero, he carried the arrow in his wound, and, arrived at the salon, Villefort uttered a sigh that was almost a sob, and sank into a chair.
But, as they are merely school-boys now, their business is to construe Virgil
. Poor Virgil
Nay, number (itself) in armies importeth not much, where the people is of weak courage; for (as Virgil
saith) It never troubles a wolf, how many the sheep be.
, through the mouth of Dido, excuses the inhumanity of her reign owing to its being new, saying:
I remember vividly another evening, when something led us to talk of Dante's veneration for Virgil
. Cleric went through canto after canto of the `Commedia,' repeating the discourse between Dante and his `sweet teacher,' while his cigarette burned itself out unheeded between his long fingers.
When not engaged in reading Virgil
, Homer, or Mistral, in parks, restaurants, streets, and suchlike public places, he indited sonnets (in French) to the eyes, ears, chin, hair, and other visible perfections of a nymph called Therese, the daughter, honesty compels me to state, of a certain Madame Leonore who kept a small cafe for sailors in one of the narrowest streets of the old town.
He spends the whole day in settling whether Homer expressed himself correctly or not in such and such a line of the Iliad, whether Martial was indecent or not in such and such an epigram, whether such and such lines of Virgil
are to be understood in this way or in that; in short, all his talk is of the works of these poets, and those of Horace, Perseus, Juvenal, and Tibullus; for of the moderns in our own language he makes no great account; but with all his seeming indifference to Spanish poetry, just now his thoughts are absorbed in making a gloss on four lines that have been sent him from Salamanca, which I suspect are for some poetical tournament."
To me, away there in my bean-field at the other end of the town, the big guns sounded as if a puffball had burst; and when there was a military turnout of which I was ignorant, I have sometimes had a vague sense all the day of some sort of itching and disease in the horizon, as if some eruption would break out there soon, either scarlatina or canker-rash, until at length some more favorable puff of wind, making haste over the fields and up the Wayland road, brought me information of the "trainers." It seemed by the distant hum as if somebody's bees had swarmed, and that the neighbors, according to Virgil
's advice, by a faint tintinnabulum upon the most sonorous of their domestic utensils, were endeavoring to call them down into the hive again.
I could plainly discover whence one family derives a long chin; why a second has abounded with knaves for two generations, and fools for two more; why a third happened to be crack-brained, and a fourth to be sharpers; whence it came, what Polydore Virgil
says of a certain great house, NEC VIR FORTIS, NEC FOEMINA CASTA; how cruelty, falsehood, and cowardice, grew to be characteristics by which certain families are distinguished as much as by their coats of arms; who first brought the pox into a noble house, which has lineally descended scrofulous tumours to their posterity.
Among other volumes of verse on the top shelf of the bookcase, of which I used to look at the outside without penetrating deeply within, were Pope's translation of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and Dryden's Virgil
, pretty little tomes in tree-calf, published by James Crissy in Philadelphia, and illustrated with small copper-plates, which somehow seemed to put the matter hopelessly beyond me.