An Affair of Cooperation

“Happily, only a small proportion of Horatian translators have had the hardihood to give their lucubrations to the press. The first to do this extremely hazardous thing was, it would seem, one Thomas Colwell, whose effusions were originally seen in print three hundred and fifteen years ago. What a number of followers that bold man has had! … And what a variety has been exhibited by these writers both in metre and in merit! To whom shall the palm be given among all the candidates — to Professor Conington, to the first Lord Lytton, or to Sir Theodore Martin? These take the lead, the rest being (in comparison) nowhere. Yet can any man lay his hand upon his heart, and say, honestly, that he is satisfied with any one of the three, learned and skilful and enthusiastic as they are? Is it, indeed, in the power of any one man — save he be another Horace, born in English guise, to supply us with ‘Englishings’, even of any one section of the Works, which should obtain the suffrages of all men? Rather is the successful translation of Horace an affair of co-operation among many — of a lucky hit here, of a happy thought there — of a gradual accumulation of worthy specimens produced by individual effort from time to time. A collection of such specimens has been made, and it is much better worth our notice than any wholesale rendering which anybody, greatly daring, has produced of his own mind and motion.” (William Davenport Adams, With Poet and Player, 1891)