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While there have been studies of Dryden's indebtedness to his predecessors in his translation of Virgil's Georgics and Aeneid,[1] no one has undertaken to analyze the extent and kind of his borrowings in his other translations. Mrs. Hooker concludes that "out of the 3,149 lines in Dryden's Georgics, the poet took over 20 per cent of the rhyme words directly from his predecessors [and thus does not count those instances in which Dryden employed a rhyme word obviously suggested by a borrowed rhyme]. It appears that his imagination was stimulated by rhyme. Having fixed upon the end word he built easily and gracefully upon it, rendering the sense in the eloquent harmony that is characteristic of his own genius" (pp. 309-310). Leslie Proudfoot concludes from his study of the translations of the fourth Aeneid that Dryden borrowed between 275 and 300 rhyme-words and a total of forty lines verbatim or nearly so from eight English predecessors (pp. 265, 266). He, unlike Mrs. Hooker, is more sparing of his praises of Dryden as translator of Virgil, finding faults in a number of aspects of his version of the Aeneid. But he, like Mrs. Hooker, neglects the matter of Dryden's debts to various predecessors for a telling word or phrase that will often give the line or passage in which it appears its distinctive tone. Neither, I believe, has correctly analyzed the extent to which Dryden is indebted to his predecessors in the matter of rhyme-words.[2] I am confident that my conclusions will be at variance with those of the editors of the California Dryden when they publish the Virgil, since I have studied the notes to Dryden's translations of Ovid, Theocritus, and Lucretius in vols. I-III of that edition.

Dryden's predecessors in the translation of Virgil's Eclogues were W. L. [William Lisle], Virgil's Eclogues Translated into English, 1628; John Biddle, Virgil's Bucolicks Englished, 1632; Sir John Beaumont, a version of the fourth Eclogue in his Bosworth Field, 1629; John Ogilby, the works of Virgil, 1649 (I use the 1654 edition); various of his friends and acquaintances who joined with him in a translation of the Eclogues in the Miscellany Poems of 1684, edited by him; and the manuscript version of Richard Maitland, fourth Earl of Lauderdale, published after Dryden's and the Earl's deaths.[3] Dryden translated


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the fourth and ninth Eclogues for the 1684 Miscellany Poems. John Caryll translated the first; Nahum Tate and Thomas Creech contributed versions of the second, while the latter also translated the third. The fifth, sixth, and seventh were, respectively, by Richard Duke, the Earl of Roscommon, and Thomas Adams. John Stafford was responsible for the eight and tenth, while Knightly Chetwood also translated the eighth. Sir William Temple's imitation of the tenth was reprinted in the collection. Just as it has been demonstrated that Dryden availed himself of the translations of the Georgics and the Aeneid of virtually every one of his English predecessors, so too can it be shown that he impressed all of the above versions of the Eclogues into service.

Initially, it must be understood that I consider half-rhymes, that is, one identical or nearly identical rhyme word in a couplet or triplet, evidence of influence, although there must be supporting evidence before any influence or borrowing can be claimed. Thus, if Dryden, or anybody else for that matter, can be shown to have borrowed rhyme words, as well as individual words and phrases, from one of his predecessors, and they coincide, in the space of a short poem, in half-rhymes or identically sounding rhymes, the presumption is that influence is present. If one poet depends on a second poet for a number of his rhyme words in a context in which there are a number of identical half-rhymes or individual words, the fact of the original dependence makes it almost mandatory to suspect further dependence. Subsequent illustration will put this bare statement in better perspective.

Perhaps it will be best to start, not with the earliest translations of the Eclogues but with Sir John Beaumont's version of the famous fourth, the so-called Pollio, which appeared in his Bosworth Field (1629). Dryden's lines, "A golden Progeny from Heav'n descends;/O chast Lucina speed the Mothers pains" (10-11) derive from Beaumont's "Now progenies from lofty Heav'n descend,/Thou chast Lucina, be this Infants friend" (p. 32). Beaumont's rhyme-words, deface/place, adorne/corne, remaine/constraine, and fed/bed are paralleled, in the same passages, by Dryden's Face/grace/Race (13-15), adorn/Thorn (33-4), remain/gain (37-8, and read/Bed (76-7). Now John Biddle, in Virgil's Bucolicks English'd (1634) has the corn/Thorn and drain/remain rhyme-words (B2r) and the first line of his version reads "Sicilian Muses Now some Loftier strain." Dryden's version begins, "Sicilian Muse begin a loftier strain," and the two versions, in addition to the rhyme-words for three couplets, also coincide in Biddle's Raigne/strain, where/appear, beare/teare and Dryden's pains/reigns (11-12), bear/wear (29-30), and Ware/bear (47-8). But W.L.'s version of the fourth Eclogue has the remaine//plaine and ware//are rhymes also, as well as providing Dryden with time//prime and begun//run for his Rhymes/times/begun/run (5-8).[4] John Ogilby first translated the Eclogues for his version of Virgil's works in 1649 and revised his translation for the 1654 edition. Dryden used both editions, but took nothing from the 1649 translation for his version of the fourth Eclogue, although,


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it may be said in anticipation of later analysis, he took the rhyme-words for some twenty couplets from Ogilby's translation of the other nine Eclogues. Ogilby, in the 1654 edition, also has the Corn/thorn and ware/every where rhymes of his predecessors as well as giving Dryden are/declare, free/see, found/surround, Jove/improve, and raise/Baies for his prepare/care (3-4), be/see (18-19), round/ground (39-40), move/Jove (58-9), and Layes/Bayes (66-7). All of the above results in the conclusion that Dryden had precedents for thirty-nine of his rhyme-words and that he derived two lines from his predecessors. While this may seem fairly inconsequential, analysis of similar indebtedness in the other nine Eclogues will serve to give a much completer picture of how much Dryden owed to his English predecessors. An important by-product will be corroboratory evidence of a tradition in the translation of certain parts of Virgil's poetry, translator after translator availing himself of a number of inherited words and phrases to use at certain junctures, thus allowing him to concentrate on those words, passages, and rhyme-words unsupported by the tradition.

Eclogue I[5]

Dryden   Predecessors  
1-2  diffuse,/You Tity'rus entertain your Silvan Muse  diffuse,/You (Tityrus) enjoy your rural Muse 1684 
7-8  bestow'd/God  so/bestow 1684 
9-10  breed/bleed  feed/bleed 1684 
19-20  along/Young  along/among B 
20  Yeaning  Yean'd 02 
23-24  seen/Green  been/foreseen 01 
25-26  Bough/Blow  Crow/know 01 
29-31  Rome/come/home  Rome/home W.L. 
32-33  So Kids and Whelps their Syres and Dams express:/And so the Great I measur'd by the Less  So Whelps (I Knew) so Kids, their Dams express/And so the great I measur'd by the less 1684 
35  lofty Cypresses  lofty Cypress 02 
36-37  What great Occasion call'd you hence to Rome? Freedom, which came at length, tho' slow to come  [1684 verbatim, but with "at last" for "at length"] followed by 
38-41  begin/chin/look/broke  begin/chin/forsook/look] 1684 
41-42  Swain/Gain  remain/maintain 1684 
44-45  bought/brought  brought/fraught 01 
46-47  spent/went  went/sent B,02 
48-49  mourn/return  returne/mourne B 
50-51  long/hung  1684 
56  What shou'd I do!  02, 1684 
62-63  decreed/feed  did/feed B feed/breed 1684 


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The famous fortunatus senex passage follows, and Dryden forgets all his other predecessors in favor of 1684 up to his ll. 71-72.

64-66  remains/pains/Plains  remains/pains/Drains 
69-70  Your teeming Ewes shall no strange Meadows try,/Nor fear a Rott from tainted Company  They teeming Ewes will no strange Pastures try,/Nor Murrain fear from tainted Company 
71-72  bord'ring Fence . . . Trees Is fraught with Flow'rs, the Flow'rs are fraught with Bees  bordering Fence . . . Trees Are fraught with Flowers, whose Flowers are fraught with Bees[6]  
79-80  change/range  1684 
81-82  brink/drink  shrink/drink 02 
85-86  unknown/Zone  unknown/Zone 1684 
89-90  confind'd/dis-join'd  B, 1684 find/disjoyn'd 02 
93-94  Decree/see  me/see 02 see/be/decreed 1684 
95  Did we for these Barbarians plant and sow  Did I for these Barbarians Plow and Sow 1684 
97  Good Heav'n, what dire Effects from Civil Discord Flows  What dire effects from civil Discord flow 1684 
100-101  Vine/mine  Vine/thine/mine 1684 
102-103  Stock/Flock  stock/rock 01 flock/rock 02 
104  No more, my Goats, shall I behold you climb  No more shall I . . ./. . ./Behold your climbing 1684 
105  crop the flow'ry Thyme  The flowry Thyme . . . to crop 1684 
110-112  Dew/Cruel/adieu  you/chew W.L. you/adieu 1684 
113-114  This Night, at least, with me forget your Care/Chesnuts and Curds and Cream shall be your fare  At least this Night with me forget your Care;/Chesnuts and well-prest Cheese shall be your Fare 1684 
117-118  For see your sunny Hill the Shade extends;/And curling Smoke from Cottages ascends  For now the Mountain a long Shade extends,/And curling Smoak from Village tops ascends 1684[7]  

Eclogue II

1-2  Young Corydon . . . Swain/. . . rain  Young Corydon . . . Swain/Plain 1684a[8]  
3-4  alone/moan  alone/moan 01, 02, 1684 
9-10  beats/Heats  W.L. heats/beats 02 
15-16  sustain/Reign  1684a 
17-18  care,/Tho' he was black, and thou art Heav'nly fair  despair/Though he was black, and thou art lovely fair 1684b 
19-20  Face/pass  grace/Face 1684b 
23-24  know/bestow  know//snow W.L. 
31-32  Nor am I so deform'd for late I stood/Flood  Nor am I so deform'd . . . I stood/Flood W.L. late I stood/Flood 1684b Nor am I so deform'd 1684a[9]  


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33-34  . . . if the Glass be true,/With Daphnis may I vie,[10] tho' judg'd by you  . . . judg'd by you,/As fair as Daphnis, if that Glass be true 1684b 
37-38  Cotes/Goats  Goates//cotes W.L. Goats/notes 01 
45-46  have/gave  B, 02, 1684a 
53-54  They drein two bagging Udders every day;/. . . Play  Who drein the bagging Udders twice a day/. . . stay 1684a day/away B 
55-56  Strain/vain  rain/disdain 1684b 
61-62  bring/Spring  02 
65-66  Daffodil/smell  Dill/smell B 
72  glossie Plum  glossie Plumbs 1684b 
72  downy Peaches[11]   02, 1684a 
73-74  Grove/love  approv'd/lov'd 02 
75-76  Myrtle sweets agree/thee  Myrtle Tree/sweets agree 1684a Myrtle Tree/agree/thee 1684b 
77-78  Swain/Gifts disdain  swain//gaine W.L. Swain/Gifts disdain 1684b 
79-80  Store/more  poor/more 02 
83-84  bring/Spring  Wings/Springs B brings/Springs 1684b 
91-92  pursues/Browze  pursues//chuse W.L. use/pursues B pursues/do's 1684b 
93-94  Corydon/own  Coridon/upon B alone/own 1684b 
97-98  Plough/Low  Plough/now 1684b 
99-100  remove/Love  love/move 01 remove/Love 1684b 
107-108  care/fair  prepare/care 1684b 
103-104  possess'd,/Thy Vinyard lies half prun'd, and half undress'd  Breast?/Thy Vineyard lies half prun'd and half undrest 1684a [W.L. had kest//unblest//possest.] 
107-108  care/fair  prepare/care 1684b/ 

Of the 118 lines in Dryden's translation of the first Eclogue 68 were very probably influenced by the versions of his predecessors, mostly in the matter of rhyme-words, less frequently in terms of phrases, and a few times in terms of single words. His greatest debt, it is obvious, is to the translation by John Caryll, that which appeared in Miscellany Poems, 1684, a collection edited by Dryden. In the second Eclogue Dryden owes something to his predecessors in 53 of his 108 lines. Again the greatest debt is to the 1684 translators, mostly to Creech and only occasionally to Tate. As will be seen in what follows, Dryden availed himself of the 1684 translations of the Eclogues to an extent that would be unthinkable today. Since it would be wearisome to tabulate Dryden's borrowings for the remaining eight Eclogues in the same fashion used above for the first two, I shall break down the borrowings from each of the predecessors numerically, including, for the sake of completeness, the borrowings for the first two Eclogues. It should be borne in mind, in the following table, that "Lines" means the number of lines which Dryden took verbatim or with very little changes (see Dryden's first Eclogue, 36-37, quoted above, and the 1684 version, for an example) and that "Words" means the


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same word, although not necessarily the same part of speech or tense of a verb, i.e., "yeaning" in Dryden's first Eclogue 20 and O1's "yean'd." "Triplets" includes two rhyme-words in a predecessor which Dryden expands into a triplet, i.e. W. L.'s Rome//home is expanded to Rome/come/home in Dryden's first Eclogue, 29-31. There is no duplication in what follows, that is, of the rhyme-words found in W. L. which appear in 38 of Dryden's couplets, none is duplicated in the 42 in Biddle used by Dryden. Nor is there duplication in the two Ogilby versions, or those of 1684. Since Dryden translated the fourth and ninth Eclogues for the 1684 Miscellany Poems, there are naturally no entries for 1684 listed under those two Eclogues.


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Page 269


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Analysis of the debt to each of Dryden's predecessors, grouping the various translators of the 1684 volume under one heading, results in the following:

Rhyme-words for couplets   Rhyme-words for triplets   Lines   Phrases   Words  
W.L.  78  15  11 
84  12  13 
01  28 
02  86 
1684  142  27  69  17 
One must also add seven rhyme-words from Sir John Beaumont's version of the fourth Eclogue and four from Knightly Chetwood's translation of the eighth.

Dryden almost surely derived virtually forty percent of his rhyme-words from his predecessors, 486 out of a total of 1212 lines for the ten Eclogues. Put baldly thus, one's reaction might be to shrug one's shoulders and say that something like this could have been predicted from Mrs. Hooker's study of the English translators of the Georgics and Mr. Proudfoot's of the fourth Book of the Aeneid. However, to begin with matters of lesser import, Mrs. Hooker sees Dryden deriving about twenty precent of his rhyme-words, and Proudfoot's 275 to 300 rhyme-words in a total of just a little over a thousand lines results in a thirty percent, while Dryden's borrowings in the Eclogues amount to forty percent. Admittedly, I am including, as I was careful to state at the outset, half-rhymes and rhymes that are the same in sound alone, i.e. where Dryden has round/ground and one of his predecessors has found/surround at the same juncture I count this as two derivative rhyme-words. Actually, Dryden almost invariably borrows at least one identical rhyme-word from the couplet or, rarely, triplet of one of his predecessors. Probably of somewhat more interest is the frequency with which Dryden depends upon his predecessors' versions to get him started, for he borrows his rhyme-words (and more, as will be seen) for the first couplet in four of the Eclogues (I, II, III, VI), for the second couplet in four (IV, V, VIII, X—a triplet in this last) and for lines 4-5 in Eclogue IX. Only in the seventh does he wait until he is well into the translation (ll. 15-16) before he becomes derivative. Somewhat similar, but not so pronounced, is Dryden's reliance on his predecessors to help him finish his translations, for he is derivative in his rhyme-words (and more) for the closing couplets for I, II, IV, and VII and for the penultimate couplets for III, V, VIII, and X (this last actually ends with a triplet). While it is overwhelmingly clear that Dryden seemed to have looked upon the translations of the Eclogues in the 1684 Miscellany Poems, edited by him, as a kind of private preserve—something which will soon become even more apparent—it is of additional interest to note that at a few places he will have another version also in view. This would seem to be true of the 1654 Ogilby translation, especially in VI. His total reliance on O2 is corroborated by the statistics given immediately above.


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What no number of tables or statistics can show is to what extent the kind of tone that Dryden is often praised for in the Virgil, and I include the Georgics and the Aeneid, is also derivative. Take, as one example, certain words in Dryden's third Eclogue, the "Mungril" of l. 25, the "sculk'd" of l. 28, particularly the "cursed" "Stepdame" of l. 48, and the "Wildings" of l. 107—all come from W. L.'s version (he has "curst Stepmother"). The Loeb translation, incidentally, demonstrates something of the longevity of the tradition and the influence of Dryden's version in its repetition of "mongrel" and "skulking," but it then descends to the colorless "harsh stepmother" and "apples." Biddle inherited "mongrel" and "skulking" and a "Step-dame curst" (note that Dryden is even closer to Biddle here) and he was followed in the second by Ogilby and Creech, the latter of whom also has "my Stepdam curst." Here, then, is a bit of traditional language for which Dryden is to be given no other credit than his ability to spot a good thing and use it. Since Dryden's total debt to Creech's version of the third Eclogue is, or may be, so great—a possible 42 rhyme-words and 12 lines, if one disregards coincidences between Creech and the versions earlier than his—it is quite probable that he took most of his diction, including "skulk" and "Stepdam curst" from him. But there still remains the "mongrel" and the "wilding" from W. L.

It is difficult, if not impossible, from our position in time to judge the literary morality or immorality of Dryden's wholesale borrowings from his predecessors, especially from those friends and acquaintances who joined him in translating the Eclogues for the 1684 Miscellany Poems. His complete translation of Virgil appeared in 1697, only thirteen years after Miscellany Poems, and most of those associated with him in the early translation of the Eclogues were still alive. No one seems to have remarked upon or objected to Dryden's version of the Eclogues on the grounds of plagiarism. Nor does Dryden himself make reference anywhere in the Virgil, either in the preliminary matter or in the notes, to any help he got from the 1684 volume. He does, however, praise the Earl of Roscommon's version of the sixth Eclogue and John Stafford's versions of the eighth and tenth. Perhaps it would be well to cite the example of William Benson's translation of Virgil's first Georgic, a translation that makes up part of Benson's Virgil's Husbandry, published in 1725, Benson having translated the second Georgic in 1724. The burden of Benson's Preface is that Dryden's version of the Georgics is a bad one on several counts; in his notes he points out Dryden's indebtedness to Thomas May's earlier translation of the Georgics. He writes that "Mr. Dryden had [May] always before his Eyes, and, through Haste, I suppose, very frequently took two, or three Lines, even sometimes, five, or six, almost together, out of this obscure Author. There are in this Georgic, I believe, almost a hundred of Mr. May's Lines, very little altered, and in all the four Georgics, I believe there may be found more than as many hundred, if any Body has Leisure enough to make such a Search" (H1v-H2r), a charge and an invitation he repeats within the space of one signature. What is interesting is that Benson, in his version of the first Georgic up to Dryden's couplet at lines 100-01, has


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thirty-one rhyme-words (eleven couplets and three triplets) either identical (five couplets) or similar to Dryden's, roughly one-third of the 101 lines. He has Dryden's "And chiefly Thou" (l. 30 in Dryden), "To thee alone the Mariner shall pray" for Dryden's "Then Mariners on Storms to thee shall pray" (l. 40) "groan benath his Toil" for Dryden's "groans beneath his Toil" (l. 70). All of which would suggest that for Dryden and his contemporaries, and Benson wrote a quarter of a century after Dryden's death, rhyme-words were thought common property. But the purpose of this analysis of Dryden's translation of the Eclogues is to assess the amount of Dryden's indebtedness to his predecessors, so as to demonstrate that some part of his excellence, especially in a telling word or phrase, is derivative. It may appear anticlimactic to suggest that the rapidity with which Dryden turned out his translation of Virgil, as well as all of his earlier translations, owes much to his judicious use of his predecessors. I suggest that Dryden had a kind of pattern in front of him, some opening lines or phrases, a string of end-rhymes, some closing lines or phrases (including end-rhymes), and here and there a striking word or phrase, all derived from one or more predecessors, which he then proceeded to fill in and occasionally to alter. It may also be worth noting for the pattern of one poem that he took part of his refrain line, "Begin with me, my Flute, the sweet Maenalian Strain," for the eighth Eclogue from Biddle's "Begin with me, my Pipe, Maenalian Layes." Chetwood, incidentally, has "To Maenalus my Pipes and Muse tune all your Harmony," evidence of Dryden's judgement in proferring Biddle and of the vast number of choices open to translators.

I reprint below Dryden's version of the seventh Eclogue, the shortest of the ten, if one discounts the fourth and ninth, both translated by Dryden in the 1684 volume and hence not influenced by the translations in that volume as were his other translations for the 1697 version of the Eclogues. The italicized words are those Dryden could have derived from his predecessors. It must be understood that Dryden could have conflated previous translations, so that his line, "And Jove descends in Show'rs of kindly Rain" (83) probably, almost surely, is taken from Ogilby, "And Jove descends in joyfull show'rs of rain," and Adams (1684), "And bounteous Jove descends in kindly Rain." The order of words is not always the same, a simple example of which is Dryden's "crown" in the rhyme position in line 35; it is not in that position in W. L's line. Objection will arise to the inclusion of single, relatively unimportant words, but sometimes they dictate the form a line will take and, in any event, the entire analysis is meant to be suggestive rather than definitive. A word like "abject" (l. 58) is another matter, however; I am convinced, such is the distance between it and other versions of the line, that Dryden owes it to Biddle. It is also worth noting that Dryden's eye-rhymes at lines 30-1, high/Mortality, come at that juncture where W. L. has versifie/bee.