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it to be cited as a witness. But on the other hand Farnaby's evidence is direct and strong. He speaks as if there were no doubt about the fact; nor has there ever, I believe, been a rival claim put in for any body else. So that unless the supposition involves some improbability (and I do not myself see any), the natural conclusion is that the lines were really written by Bacon. And when I compare them with his translations of the 90th and 137th psalms, the metre of which, though not the same, has a kind of resemblance which makes the comparison more easy,- especially in the rhymed couplet which closes each stanza, — I should myself say that the internal evidence is in favour of their being by the same hand.
The original (the text of which I take from Wellesley's Anthologia Polyglotta) runs thus:
ΠΟΣΕΙΔΙΠΠΟΥ, οἱ δὲ ΠΛΑΤΩΝΟΣ ΚΩΜΙΚΟΥ.
Ποίην τις βιότοιο τάμοι τρίβον ; εἶν ἀγορῇ μὲν
The English lines which follow (described as "Lord Verulam's elegant apudia") are not meant for a translation, and can hardly be called a paraphrase. They are rather another poem on the same subject and with the same sentiment; and though the topics are mostly the same, the treatment of them is very different. The
merit of the original consists almost entirely in its compactness; there being no special felicity in the expression, or music in the metre.1 In the English, compactness is not aimed at, and a tone of plaintive melody is imparted, which is due chiefly to the metrical arrangement, and has something very pathetic in it to my ear.
The world's a bubble, and the life of man
In his conception wretched, from the womb
Curst from the cradle, and brought up to years
Who then to frail mortality shall trust,
Yet since with sorrow here we live opprest,
what life is best?
Courts are but only superficial schools
to dandle fools.
The rural parts are turned into a den
of savage men.
And where's the city from all vice so free,
But may be term'd the worst of all the three?
1 So little does the effect depend upon the metre, that a fair enough idea may be conveyed of it in English blank verse, which can follow the words more closely than rhyme.
What life shall a man choose? In court and mart
Labours by land; terrors at sea; abroad,
Either the fear of losing what thou hast,
Or worse, nought left to lose; if wedded, much
Discomfort; comfortless unwed; a life
With children troubled, incomplete without:
Youth foolish, age outworn. Of these two choose then ;
118 PREFACE TO TRANSLATION OF CERTAIN PSALMS.
Domestic cares afflict the husband's bed,
or pains his head.
Those that live single take it for a curse,
or do things worse.
Some would have children; those that have them moan, or wish them gone.
What is it then to have or have no wife,
Our own affections still at home to please is a disease:
To cross the seas to any foreign soil
perils and toil.
Wars with their noise affright us: when they cease,
What then remains, but that we still should cry
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
FRANCIS LO. VERULAM, VISCOUNT ST. ALBAN.
Printed for Hanna Barret, and Richard Whittaker; and are to be sold at the signe of the King's Head in Paul's Church Yard.