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James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Dante. (search)
tation of the opening verses of the third canto of the Inferno (Assembly of Foules). In 1417 Giovanni da Serravalle, bishop of Fermo, completed a Latin prose translation of the Commedia, a copy of which, as he made it at the request of two English bishops whom he met at the council of Constance, was doubtless sent to England. Later we find Dante now and then mentioned, but evidently from hearsay only, It is possible that Sackville may have read the Inferno, and it is certain that Sir John Harrington had. See the preface to his translation of the Orlando Furioso. till the time of Spenser, who, like Milton fifty years later, shows that he had read his works closely. Thenceforward for more than a century Dante became a mere name, used without meaning by literary sciolists. Lord Chesterfield echoes Voltaire, and Dr. Drake in his Literary Hours Second edition, 1800. could speak of Darwin's Botanic Garden as showing the wild and terrible sublimity of Dante The first complete Engli
James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Wordsworth. (search)
ase. One cannot help thinking that his training in these niceties was begun by Coleridge. He did not grow as those poets do in whom the artistic sense is predominant. One of the most delightful fancies of the Genevese humorist, Toepffer. is the poet Albert, who, having had his portrait drawn by a highly idealizing hand, does his best afterwards to look like it. Many of Wordsworth's later poems seem like rather unsuccessful efforts to resemble his former self. They would never, as Sir John Harrington says of poetry, keep a child from play and an old man from the chimney-corner. In the Preface to his translation of the Orlando Furioso. Chief Justice Marshall once blandly interrupted a junior counsel who was arguing certain obvious points of law at needless length, by saying, Brother Jones, there are some things which a Supreme Court of the United States sitting in equity may be presumed to know. Wordsworth has this fault of enforcing and restating obvious points till the re