Essays (Cowley)/A Few Notes

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508536Essays — A Few NotesHenry Morley (1822-1894)


Page 15.Fertur equis, &c. From the close of Virgil's first Georgic: said of horses in a chariot race,

Nor reins, nor curbs, nor threatening cries they fear,
But force along the trembling charioteer.
Dryden's translation.

,,16.En Romanos, &c. Virgil, AEneid I., when Jove says,

The people Romans call, the city Rome,
To them no bounds of empire I assign,
Nor term of years to their immortal line.
Dryden's Virgil.

,,18."Laveer with every wind." Laveer is an old sea term for working the ship against the wind. Lord Clarendon used its noun, "the schoolmen are the best laveerers in the world, and would have taught a ship to catch the wind that it should have gained half and half, though it had been contrary."

,,24.Amatorem trecentæ Pirithoum cohibent catenæ. Horace's Ode, Bk. IV., end of ode 4. Three hundred chains bind the lover, Pirithous:

Wrath waits on sin, three hundred chains
Pirithous bind in endless pains.Creech's Translation.

,,25.Aliena negotia, &c. From Horace's Satires, sixth of Book II.

,,25.Dors, cockchafers.

,,26.Pan huper sebastos. Lord over All.

,,27.Perditur hæc inter misero Lux. Horace, Satires, II., 6. This whole Satire is in harmony with the spirit of Cowley's Essays.

,,29.A slave in Saturnalibus. In the Saturnalia, when Roman slaves had licence to disport themselves.

,,29.Unciatim, &c. Terence's Phormio, Act I., scene 1, in the opening: "All that this poor fellow has, by starving himself, bit by bit, with much ado, scraped together out of his pitiful allowance—(must go at one swoop, people never considering the price it cost him the getting)." Eachard's Terence.

Page 30.Κακά θηρία, &c. Paul to Titus, "The Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies."

,, 31.Quisnam igitur, &c. Horace's Satires, II., 7. "Who then is free? The wise man, who has absolute rule over himself."

,, 31.Oenomaus, father of Hippodameia, would give her only to the suitor who could overcome him in a chariot race. Suitors whom he could overtake he killed. He killed himself when outstripped by Pelops, whom a god assisted, or, according to one version, a man who took the nails out of Oenomaus' chariot wheels, and brought him down with a crash.

,, 45.Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus. Never less alone than when alone.

,, 47.Sic ego, &c. From Tibullus, IV., 13.

,, 51.O quis me gelidis, &c. From the Second Book of Virgil's Georgics, in a passage expressing the poet's wish:

Ye sacred Muses, with whose beauty fired,
My soul is ravished and my brain inspired;
Whose priest I am, whose holy fillets wear,
Would you your poet's first petition hear:
Give me the ways of wandering stars to know;
The depths of Heaven above, and Earth below;
Teach me, &c. . . .
.....But if my heavy blood restrain the flight
Of my free soul aspiring to the height
Of Nature, and unclouded fields of light:
My next desire is, void of care and strife,
To lead a soft, secure, inglorious life.
A country cottage near a crystal flood,
A winding valley and a lofty wood;
Some god conduct me to the sacred shades
Where bacchanals are sung by Spartan maids,
Or lift me high to Haemus hilly crown,
Or in the vales of Tempe lay me down,
Or lead me to some solitary place,
And cover my retreat from human race.
Dryden's translation.

,, 56.Nam neque divitibus. Horace's Epistles, I., 18.

Page 58.Tankerwoman, "water-bearer, one who carried water from the conduits."

,, 60.Bucephalus, the horse of Alexander. Domitian is said to have given a consulship to his horse Incitatus.

,, 60.The glory of Cato and Aristides. See the parallel lives in Plutarch.

,, 64.O fortunatos nimium, &c. Men all too happy, and they knew their good.

,, 70.Hinc atque hinc. From Virgil's AEneid, Book I.

Page 75.Mr. Hartlib. . . . if the gentlemen be yet alive. Samuel Hartlib, a public-spirited man of a rich Polish family, came to England in 1640. He interested himself in education and other subjects, as well as agriculture. In 1645 he edited a treatise of Flemish Agriculture that added greatly to the knowledge of English farmers, and thereby to the wealth of England. He spent a large fortune among us for the public good. Cromwell recognised his services by a pension of £300 a year, which ceased at the Restoration, and Hartlib then fell into such obscurity that Cowley could not say whether he were alive or no.

,, 75.Nescio qua, &c. Ovid. Epistles from Pontus.

,, 76.Pariter, &c. Ovid's Fasti, Book I. Referring to the happy souls who first looked up to the stars, Ovid suggests that in like manner they must have lifted their heads above the vices and the jests of man. Cowley has here turned "locis" into "jocis."

,, 80.Ut nos in Epistolis scribendis adjuvet. That he might help us in writing letters.

,, 81.Qui quid sit pulchrum, &c. Who tells more fully than Chrysippus or Crantor what is fair what is foul, what useful and what not.

,, 92.Swerd of bacon, skin of bacon. First English sweard. So green sward is green surface covering.

,, 100.The Country Life is a translation from Cowley's own Latin Poem on Plants.

,, 105.Evelyn had dedicated to Cowley his Kalendarium Hortense.

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