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Chapman, George, trans. (1559?–1634).  The Odysseys of Homer, vol. 1.  1857.


HE Editor of the present volumes has the great gratification of being the first to restore to light a noble work which has been lying dormant for nearly two centuries and a half. Chapman’s Odyssey, originally published in folio, 1614-16, either from the limited number of the impression, or the more than ordinary ravages of time, has become so rare as to be inaccessible to the general reader, and comparatively unknown to the more curious student of old English literature. Though issued in a separate form, it is now seldom found except in conjunction with the Iliad; and the price of the united volume, besides its scarcity, places it beyond the reach of all but a few whose libraries are stored with the more precious treasures of our language. Of the Iliad, portions and the whole, we have seen there were at least four impressions published during the author’s life-time, besides Dr. Cooke Taylor’s 2 vols. 8vo. 1843, and yet it is by no means a common book, and perfect and clean copies of Chapman’s own editions are desirable volumes. Of the Odyssey, however, the present is the only edition besides that superintended by the author himself. Great care has, therefore, been taken in rendering the text as accurate as possible, by reading it with the original Greek, amending the extremely faulty punctuation, judiciously, it is hoped, modernizing the orthography, and adding a few notes illustrative of Chapman’s language. The reader has, therefore, now an opportunity of examining for himself the value of this fine old book.

Coleridge, in his letter to Wordsworth (cited in our Preface to the Iliad), thought Chapman’s version of the Odyssey finer than his Iliad; but then it must be remembered he also generally preferred the Odyssey in the original. “He told us,” says Mr. Payne Collier, “that he liked the Odyssey, as a mere story, better than the Iliad; the Odyssey was the oldest and the finest romance that has ever been written.” The same authority informs us that he preferred the ordinary ten-syllable heroic measure to the longer fourteen-syllable line employed by Chapman in his translation of the Iliad, and wished that he had always used it, as “it would have been more readable, and might have saved us from Pope.” “Chapman had failed,” added Coleridge, “where he had not succeeded, by endeavouring to write English as Homer had written Greek; Chapman’s was Greekified English,–it did not want vigour or variety, but smoothness and facility. Detached passages could not be improved; they were Homer writing English.” Opinions, however, will differ as to Chapman’s metre in the Odyssey. The late Dr. Maginn, whose Homeric Ballads have caught the true spirit of the old bard, says: “I am sorry that Chapman, whose version must be considered the most Homeric ever attempted in our language, did not apply to the Odyssey the fourteen-syllable verse, which had succeeded so well in the Iliad. There appears to me greater opportunity for its flowing use in the more discursive poem; and Chapman had by no means the same command of the ten-syllable distich.” There is some truth in this; and perhaps many readers will share in Dr. Maginn’s disappointment. Chapman, however, probably yielded to the objections made against the length of his lines, to which he alludes in his Introductory Poem to the Iliad. But it is surely a mistake to say he had not command over the ordinary heroic couplet! He has certainly not the epigrammatic smoothness of Pope and his school, but his verse has great vigour and terseness. It should be borne in mind that his Odyssey is the first and only considerable specimen of a poem of this measure in the Elizabethan age, and as such claims our interest and attention.” It is like the heroic measure only in its rhyme and its number of syllables. In all other respects, in the hands of Chapman, it has the freedom of blank verse. And in reading it, as well as the Iliad, the reader must not depend for aid too much on the melody of the verse.” Again, let it be remembered that “Chapman did not perform his task, as Pope was in the habit of doing, by small portions at a time, which were, each in order, burnished up to the highest polish by unremitting care and labour; but, drinking in deep draughts of his author at a time, he became over-informed with his subject, and then breathed his spirit forth again with the enthusiasm of an original creator.” And if this be true of the liberties he takes with his original in expanding and contracting the text as suited his vein, it is not less true of his versification. He paid little regard to the polishing of his work; nay, perhaps, too little. He poured forth his sentiments, as the poetic phrensy seized him, and consequently, if we be disappointed at not finding the rich melody of a Dryden, we cannot but be struck with his unwonted freshness and freedom. When once the ear has become habituated to the rhythm, there is a dramatic power about Chapman’s Odyssey that has never been attained by any subsequent translator. It may be said, that this was not required in a simple ballad-poem like the Odyssey; but it is surely far preferable to the diluted weakness passing under Pope’s name, or Cowper’s abrupt lines. Gilbert Wakefield has said that the “bee of Twickenham” sipped the honey from the flowers of Chapman’s garden; but a close examination will show that this was merely another phrase for simple plagiarism. Pope was indebted to Chapman for more than he was willing to acknowledge. But enthusiastic as we may be in Chapman’s cause, it must not be disguised that in the present version he has too frequently wandered from his original, and not seldom curtailed passages. It was not, however, intended in the present editions to point out these passages, the object being merely to give the best possible text, and in such a form as to be accessible at a convenient price. The Editor still hopes that sufficient encouragement may be given, so that at some future period a more enlarged and splendid impression may be put forth. In the meanwhile the unlearned reader may rest assured that, besides the intrinsic beauty of the poems, he has far more of Homer in these noble versions than in any other translation extant. If the University of Oxford has wisely determined that greater attention should be paid by her sons to the study of Homer, for the many reasons so ably set forth by Mr. Gladstone, it is not, perhaps, too much to hope that a similiar influence may be exercised over the minds of the less-educated by the aid of the labours of good old GEORGE CHAPMAN. They will not only find Homer here, but they will read him in the language of the friend and contemporary of Shakespeare. They will read him as Shakespeare himself probably read him; and their minds will be carried back to that period of our literature which at once excites our admiration and astonishment, and when, they will not fail to remember, our present venerable and cherished translation of THE BIBLE was called into existence.

As it is possible that these volumes may fall into the hands of some who do not possess our edition of Chapman’s Iliad, it has been thought advisable to append a somewhat corrected life of the Author, as a few details have been discovered since the former publication.

THAT GEORGE CHAPMAN was born at, or in the neighbourhood of, Hitchin in Hertfordshire, and that he there translated at least the earlier portions of his Homer, we have the evidence of his own writings. In a small poem entitled, “Euthymiæ Raptus, or the Teares of Peace,” 4to. 1609, he introduces himself in a reverie, when the Shade of Homer appears, and in reply to the Poet’s enquiry–

“What may I reckon thee, whose heavenly look Showes not, nor voice sounds, man?– ‘I am,’ sayd he, ‘that spirit Elysian That in thy native ayre, and on the Hill Next Hitchin’s left hand, did thy bosome fill With such a floode of soule that thou wert faine (With acclamations of her rapture then) To vent it to the echoes of the vale; When meditating of me, a sweet gale Brought me upon thee; and thou didst inherit My true sense (for the time then) in my spirit, And I invisible went prompting thee To those fayre greenes where thou didst English me.”

His contemporary William Browne, also, in his “Britannia’s Pastorals,” styles him

“The learned shepherd of fair Hitching Hill.”

The date of his birth we fix by inference in 1559, as round the portrait prefixed to his Iliad is the legend “Georgius Chapmanus Homeri Metaphrastes Æta. LVII.M.DC.XVI.” The Hitchin Registers only commence with the year 1562, so we are unable to arrive at any facts relative to his parentage. There are, however, several entries relating to the families of John and Thomas Chapman, who were possibly the poet’s brothers. In 1593, Aug. 5, was baptized George the son of John Chapman; and from Easter 1603 to Easter 1605 the same John Chapman was one of the churchwardens, and has signed the Parish Registers in a bold and scholarly hand. Amongst the additional MSS. in the British Museum (No. 16,273) is a “Survey of the King’s timber and woods in Hertfordshire and Essex in 1608,” and under the “Maner de Hutchin” (Hitchin) is “Upon the Copyhold of Thomas Chapman, in Longe Close 27 Saplings L4. In Beerton closes 260 Elmes L18, Five wood L35.” This Thomas Chapman was probably a man of respectability and substance, for in Harleian MSS. No. 781, p. 28, is a petition to Prince Charles from Thomas Chapman, in 1619, for the bailiwick of Hitchin, which he formerly held under the Exchequer Seal, but of which the Earl of Salisbury had deprived him. On November 30 of the same year the claim was referred to the Commissioners of the Revenue of the Prince of Wales. The relationship, however, to the poet is mere conjecture, as we have no positive proof of any facts connected with his family. We have carefully examined the various Heraldic visitations of Hertfordshire, and Chauncy’s history of that county, but have been unable to discover any traces of him. Nothing is known of the place of his education. In 1574, “or thereabouts” (according to Antony Wood), he was sent to Oxford; and from Warton we learn “that he passed two years at Trinity College, with a contempt of philosophy, but in a close attention to the Greek and Roman classics.” Upon quitting Oxford without a degree, about 1576, he probably repaired to London, though some have supposed, without more evidence than a not infrequent custom of the day, that he completed his studies at Cambridge. Upon settling in the metropolis he associated, says Wood, with Shakespeare, Spenser, Marlowe, Daniel, and Drayton, and other celebrated persons of the day. Though he undoubtedly knew Marlowe, it is not very probable, as Mr. Dyce well observes, that they were very intimate, as their dispositions and characters were very dissimiliar. He early acquired the patronage and friendship of Sir Thomas Walsingham and his son. The date of Chapman’s first acknowledged publication, in 1594, is such a long interval from the time of his quitting Oxford, in 1576, that Mr. Singer has conjectured that he had probably appeared as a writer anonymously, although we have no clue to his earlier performances. But though, upon the authority of Wood, we have said he settled immediately in London, his time seems to have been occasionally spent at Hitchin, from his informing us that he there translated Homer. We are ignorant of his occupations during these many years. Mr. Singer’s conjecture, however, is strengthened by the fact that in 1596 was published “A relation of the Second Voyage to Guiana, perfourmed and written in the yeare 1596. By Lawrence Keymis, Gent.” A small 4to. tract of 32 leaves; republished in the third and last volume of Hakluyt’s Collection of Voyages, fol. 1600, p. 668. In this is an English poem in blank verse, “De Guianâ Carmen Epicum, by G. C.” George Steevens, in writing to Bishop Percy (Nichols’s “Literary Illustration,” vol. VII. p. 21), assigned this to Chapman, and it bears evidence of his style. It is curious and interesting, as being one of the earliest specimens of blank verse in the language. In the same volume (viz. of Keymis) is a short Latin poem, “Ad Thomam Hariotum Matheseos et universae philosophiæ peritissimum, by L. K.” This was, doubtless, the M. Harriots to whom Chapman addressed a poem at the end of his translation of the “Shield of Achilles,” and who is mentioned in the Preface to the Iliad. In 1594, Chapman published two fine poems, “The Shadow of Night: containing two poetical hymnes, devised by G. C. Gent,” and dedicated to his “deare and most worthy friend Master Mathew Roydon.” They have been reprinted by Mr. Singer in his edition of “Chapman’s Hymns of Homer.” (Chiswick, 1818.) In the following year (1595) appeared “Ovid’s Banquet of Sence, a Coronet for his Mistresse Philosophie, and his amorous Zodiacke: with a translation of a Latine Copie (sc. of verses) written by a fryer, Anno Dom. 1400,” 4to. This was also dedicated to Mathew Roydon, with commendatory verses, &c. It was reprinted in 1639, 12mo. without the dedication and verses. John Davis of Hereford has an epigram “To the right-well-deserving Mr. Mathew Roydon.” Chapman was now in London, and employed in writing for the stage. From an entry in “Henslowe’s Diary,” p. 64, we learn that his comedy of the “Blind Beggar of Alexandria” was first brought out and acted by the Lord Admiral’s (the Earl of Nottingham’s) servants on the 12th of February, 1595. It seems to have been very successful, and to have attracted large houses, from the receipts being always considerable. It continued to be acted till April, 1597, when it was withdrawn, and published in the following year (1598). It was revived in 1601. “There is a coincidence,” says Mr. Payne Collier, “between a line in it and Marlowe’s Paraphrase of Hero and Leander. Marlowe’s line is correctly cited, with acknowledgment to the ‘dead Shepherd,’ by Shakespeare in ‘As you like it,’ Act III. sc. 5.

Who ever lov’d that lov’d not at first sight?’

Which Chapman, near the close of his ‘Blind Beggar of Alexandria,’ gives thus:

‘None ever lov’d but at first sight they lov’d.’

The circumstance might have been passed over without notice, if Chapman’s play and Marlowe’s poem had not been printed in the same year, and if Chapman, at a subsequent date, had not finished the poem which Marlowe left incomplete. Marlowe’s portion having been published in 1598, Chapman immediately continued the subject, and the six sestiads appeared together in 1600.” The coincidence of the date of the publications is all that is remarkable. Marlowe’s poem, though only printed in 1598, was entered in the Stationers’ Registers as early as September 28, 1593, and again in 1597. It had probably been handed about in MS., as was not infrequently the case. Chapman, probably, had seen the line, and adopted the idea. It is equally possible that Marlowe might have been present at the representation of Chapman’s play, and transferred the sentiment to his own poem, though the evidence of priority would seem to be in his favour. An allusion in Chapman’s subsequent portion of the poem has led to the inference that Marlowe had at some time or other expressed a wish that he should conclude it. The reader will find an able criticism on Chapman’s plays in the fourth and fifth vols. of the “Retrospective Review.” The rapidity with which Chapman now issued his publications is astonishing. In this same year (1598) appeared his translation of the “Shield of Achilles” from Homer, and also his “Seaven Bookes of the Iliades of Homere, Prince of Poets, &c.” both small 4tos. “printed by John Windet, and are to be sold at the signe of the Crosse-keyes neare Paules Wharffe.” The “Shield” is in the ordinary ten-syllable heroic measure, and is dedicated to “the most honored Earle Marshall” (Lord Essex). The “Seaven Bookes” are likewise dedicated to Lord Essex, “the most honored now living instance of the Achilleian virtues.” These books, which are not the first seven continuously, but the first and second, and then the seventh to the eleventh inclusive, are in the long fourteen-syllable verse. Chapman explained the reason for translating the books in this order, and promised to resume the old order in his next edition, which should be of twelve books. The publication of his Homer gained him great reputation. Meres, in his “Wit’s Treasury,” p. 156 (edit. Haslewood–Meres’s first edit. was in 1598), speaks of Chapman’s “inchoate Homer,” for which he ranks him amongst the learned translators. As a proof that he was now in high fame, the same writer says: “As the Greeke tongue is made famous and eloquent by Homer, Hesiod, Euripides, Æschylus, Sophocles, Pindarus, Phocylides, and Aristophanes; and the Latine tongue by Virgill, Ouid, Horace, Silius Italicus, Lucanus, Lucretius, Ausonius, and Claudianus; so the English tongue is mightilie enriched, and gorgeouslie inuested in rare ornaments and resplendent abiliments by Sir Philip Sidney, Spenser, Daniel, Drayton, Warner, Shakespeare, Marlow, and Chapman.” (p. 150.) In the next page he mentions Chapman as one of the best of our Tragedians, and, in the following, as a Comedian. This latter assertion is remarkable, as at this period Chapman had published but one drama. He had probably, therefore, written others which had been acted, though never published, and the authorship of which cannot now be determined. At this period are frequent entries in Henslowe’s Diary relating to advances of money made to him. In p. 123 we have, “Lent unto Mr Chapmane, the 16 of Maye 1598, in earneste of a boocke for the companye xxxxs Wittnes, Wm BIRDE.” Again, “Lent unto Wm Birde, the 23 of Maye 1598, which he lent unto Mr Chappmann, upon his boocke, which he promised us: xxs.” “Lent unto the companey, the 10 of June 1598, to lend unto Mr Chapman xs.” And again, “Lent unto Robart Shawe and Edward Jube, the 15 of June 1598, to geve Mr Chapman, in earneste of his boocke called the Wylle of a Woman..xxs.” It would seem, then, that this is the name of the “boocke” for the Company so often alluded to. Mr. Payne Collier, in a note on this passage, thinks that it was only the same play mentioned by Henslowe, in pp. 119-122, as “A Woman will have her Wille,” and which is there given to Harton (William Haughton), and that Chapman may have added to it, or assisted him in it, as it would seem unlikely that two plays, so resembling in title, would have been produced at the same time. This may be true; but it is equally improbable that Chapman should have received such considerable and frequent sums for merely assisting in writing a play, which is, moreover, constantly styled his book. An entry is made on the 31st of September, 1598, of L3 to buy a “Boocke” of Mr. Chapman entitled “The Fountain of New Fashions;” and on the 12th of October he received xxs. in full payment for the same play. On the 23rd of the same month is an advance of L3 to Mr. Chapman on “his playe boocke and ij ectes of a tragedie of bengemen’s plotte.” We have no farther information respecting this “tragedy of Benjamin’s Plot.” In November, 1598, Henslowe records the expenses incurred for the production of “The Fountain of New Fashions,” and in December an advance of xs. to Chapman. On the 4th and 8th of January 1598/9, Chapman received the respective sums of L3 for a tragedy, the name of which is not given. But though these plays were not printed, in 1599 was published “An Humorous Day’s Mirth,” a comedy, which had been frequently acted by the Lord Admiral’s company. We are inclined to think that this is the play referred to by Henslowe under the entry of May 11. 1597, and elsewhere, where he says “Rd at the Comodey of Umers.” Malone was of opinion that this piece was Ben Jonson’s “Every man in his Humour;” but this is absurd, as Ben Jonson himself tells us (folio edit. 1616) that his comedy was first acted by the Lord Chamberlain’s servants in 1598. See Collier’s Life of Shakespeare, p. CLXV. Notwithstanding his labours for the stage, Chapman found time to continue and publish, in 1600, “Marlowe’s Hero and Leander,” a poem of great beauty. We have seen that it is supposed Marlowe had at some time or other expressed a wish that Chapman should continue this work. From this fact is alleged the intimacy between Chapman and Marlowe; yet it proves nothing, whereas the extreme dissimilarity of their lives would tend to negative the supposition. Warton and others are in error in supposing it to be a translation from the Greek. It is a story founded on Musæus. Chapman subsequently translated Musæus, as we shall see. Chapman divided the work into its present form of Sestyads, and published it in 1600 (4to.) without his name, which was first attached to the edition of 1606. The year 1605 was marked by the publication of “Eastward Hoe,” which Chapman had written conjointly with Ben Jonson and Marston. The circumstances connected with this play are too familiar to need detail. Chapman and his companions were committed to prison, though they do not seem to have been detained long. Jonson disclaimed to Drummond having anything to do with the offensive passage, and pretended that he voluntarily accompanied his friends to prison. The play was well received, and Mr. Gifford says, “Indeed it deserved to be, for it is exceedingly pleasant.” “Eastward Hoe” suggested to Hogarth the plan of his set of prints of the “Idle and Industrious Apprentices.” It was revived at Drury Lane in 1751. This alteration was published 12mo. n. d., with the additional title of “The Prentices,” but it did not succeed. Mrs. Charlotte Lennox altered it; and it was once more revived at Drury Lane in 1775, with the title of “Old City Manners,” when it met with a more favourable reception. It will be found in Dodsley’s Old Plays. It appears that Chapman underwent a second imprisonment with Jonson, shortly after their release, in consequence of supposed reflections upon some individual in a play of their joint composition. A letter from Jonson to the Earl of Salisbury was found amongst the Hatfield State Papers by Dr. Birch. It is dated 1605, and complains of being committed “unexamined and unheard to a vile prison,” and with him “a learned gentleman (whose name may, perhaps, have come to your lordship), one Mr. George Chapman, a learned and honest man.” It is gratifying to know that it met with instant success. In this year (1605) also was published “All Fools,” a comedy, the plot of which is taken from Terence’s “Heautontimorumenos.” It does not appear when this play was acted, but there are several curious entries in Henslowe’s Diary, which all seem to refer to it. “Lent unto Thomas Downton, the 22 of Janewary 1598, to lend unto Mr Chapman, in earneste of a boocke called the world rones a whelles, the some of iijli.” “Lent unto Mr. Chapman, the 13 of febreary 1508, in pt of payment of his boocke called the world ronnes on whelles, xxs.” Similiar advances of xxs and xxxxs are made on the 2nd and 21st of June 1599; and on the second of July, 1599, is “Lent unto Thomas Downton to paye Mr Chapman in full paymente for his boocke called the world rones on whelles, and now all foolles, but the foolle, some of xxxs.” Mr. Payne Collier, in a note on this passage, thinks we have a notice of three separate works by Chapman, “The World runs on Wheels,” “All Fools,” and “The Fool;” yet he doubts “whether Henslowe does not mean that the title of “All Fools” was substituted for the “World runs on Wheels.” There seems little doubt on the subject, and all three names meant the same play. We may observe that in the same page Henslowe enters, “Lent unto Thomas Downton the 17th of Julye 1599 to lend unto Mr Chapman in earneste of a pastrall tragedie, the some of xxxxs.” What this “Pastoral Tragedy” was it is impossible to say, as we have no further notice of it. “All Fools,” though not published till 1605 had evidently been completed, and probably acted in 1599. It is an excellent play; and a writer in the Edinburgh Review (April, 1841, vol. 73. p. 226) considers it Chapman’s best–“a piece in which the situations are devised with an infinity of comic and histrionic effect.” The Retrospective Review says: “The characters in general are well sustained; the dialogue is spirited; and the incidents interesting and agreeable; added to which the versification is rich and musical, and many passages of considerable merit are scattered over it. The talents of Chapman nowhere appear to so great advantage.” To a very few copies a Sonnet to Sir Thomas Walsingham is prefixed, in which Chapman says that “he was marked by age for aims of greater weight.” Mr. Payne Collier has shown that a very beautiful passage is taken from an Italian Madrigal by Andrea Navagero inserted in Domenichi’s Rime Diverse, Venice, 1546. “All Fools” was reprinted in Dodsley’s Collection, and in the “Ancient British Drama,” vol. II. 1810. In the following year (1606), Chapman published two comedies, “Monsieur D’Olive,” and “The Gentleman Usher;” the former of which had been frequently acted with great success at the Blackfriars. In 1607 appeared the first tragedy of “Bussy D’Ambois.” It had been frequently represented “at Paules.” Dryden’s contempt for this tragedy, which had pleased him at the representation, is well known from his Dedication to his “Spanish Fryer.” “Bussy d’Ambois” was reprinted in 4to. 1608, 1616, 1641, 1657, and was the most popular of Chapman’s tragedies. It was altered and revived by T. D’Urfey in 1691. The following year (1608) produced “The Conspiracie and Tragedie of Charles Duke of Byron, Marshall of France,” acted in two plays, and dedicated to Sir Thomas Walsingham. These two plays, we are told, have not come down to us as they were originally written, in consequence of the remonstrance of the French Ambassador. (Collier’s Shakespeare, vol. I. p. 218.) They are fine, and are styled by Mr. Collier “noble poems, full of fine thoughts, and rich in diversity and strength of expression.” The Edinburgh Reviewer (ut suprà) calls the latter play “the finest tragic composition Chapman has left.” “Euthymiæ Raptus, or the Teares of Peace, with interlocutions,” a small poem, dedicated to Prince Henry, appeared in 4to. 1609. The work is chiefly interesting from the allusion to Chapman’s birth-place, as quoted in the beginning of this article. In 1611 we have “May Day,” a comedy, reprinted in “Old English Plays,” vol. IV. 8vo. 1814; and the “Widow’s Tears,” another comedy, in 1612. This last play is very fine in parts; but the plot, which is taken from the story of the Ephesian Matron in Petronius, is exceptionable. But, while enumerating Chapman’s dramatic efforts, we have omitted to mention that in 1609 appeared the long-promised Twelve Books of the Iliad. Warton is in error in saying that Fifteen Books were printed in 1600 in a thin folio. Chapman had mentioned, in his Preface to the Seven Books, of 1598, that his next issue should be of Twelve Books; and consequently appeared in this year (1609) a small thin folio, the title of which is, “Homer, Prince of Poets, translated according to the Greeke in Twelve Books of his Iliads, by George Chapman. At London, printed for Samuel Matcham.” This work is printed in Italic type, and has (in a smaller size) the engraved title by William Hole, which was used in an enlarged form for the subsequent editions of the Iliad and the Whole Works, and a facsimile of which accompanies our own edition of the Iliad. It contains the Epistle Dedicatory to Prince Henry, the Poem to the Reader, and the Sonnet to Queen Anne. The version is the same as that of the edition of 1598, with the addition of the IIIrd, IVth, Vth, VIth, and XIIth Books. The volume is closed with fourteen Sonnets; and has been sufficiently described in our Introduction to the Iliad. It is wished, however, to correct an error as to its ‘exact’ date. In the Stationers’ Registers is the entry of the “Seven Bookes of Homer’s Iliades, translated into English by George Chapman, to Samuel Matcham by assignment from Mr. Windet, November, 14. 1608.” Now one of the Sonnets is addressed to the Earl of Salisbury, who is styled Lord Treasurer, which office was conferred on him on May 4, 1609. The volume, therefore, was published, probably, a little later in that year. Mr. Payne Collier possesses an interesting copy of this small folio with Chapman’s autograph, “For Love to the true Love of Virtue in ye worthye Knighte, and his constant friende Sr Henrye Crofts: Geo. Chapman gives this as testimonie of his true inclination, wth this most affectionate inscription.” It is not intended to repeat here the observations in our Introduction to the Iliad, but it may be noted that the first edition of the complete version of the Iliad appeared about 1611, “printed” (without date) for Nathaniell Butter.” In 1612, Chapman published “Petrarch’s Seven Penitentiall Psalms, paraphrastically translated: with other philosophical poems, and a Hymne to Christ upon the Crosse,” a small 8vo. dedicated to Sir Thomas Philips, Master of the Rolls. This is a very rare volume, which we have not yet seen; but we are told Chapman speaks in it of his yet unfinished translation of Homer, which, he adds, the Prince of Wales had commanded him to conclude. It is not improbable, then, that the real date of the printing of the Complete Iliad should be the early part of 1612, though the entry in the Stationers’ Books is for the preceding year. A copy of Chapman’s Petrarch is in the Bodleian. Upon the death of his best patron, Prince Henry, in November 1612, Chapman expressed his lamentation in a beautiful “Epicede, or Funerall Song.” This has been reprinted at the Lee Priory Press, 4to. 1818. In the early part of 1613 he wrote the poetry for the Masque performed at Whitehall by the Societies of Lincoln’s Inn and the Middle Temple, in honour of the nuptials of the Princess Elizabeth and the Palsgrave. Ben Jonson told Drummond that “next himself (i. e. Jonson) only Fletcher and Chapman could make a mask.” A copy of this masque, corrected by Chapman in his own hand, is in Mr. Payne Collier’s possession. In 1614 appeared “Andromeda Liberata, or the Nuptials of Perseus and Andromeda,” a poem, with a long dedicatory Epistle to Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset, and Frances his countess. This work is curious solely from the fact that Carr seems to have been from this time a great patron of Chapman. It would be interesting to discover how they became connected. Wood tells us that this poem “being not rightly understood, and carped at by many, came out soon after a pamphlet written in prose and poetry, entitled ‘A free and offenceless justification of a late published and most maliciously misinterpreted Poem, &c. London, 1614,’ 4to. in two sheets, pen’d, I presume, by Chapman.” According to Mr. Payne Collier, Somerset himself had conceived that “Andromeda Liberata” was a covert attack upon him; and from this notion Chapman was anxious to relieve himself. In the early part of this year, however, appeared the first Twelve Books of the Odyssey, also dedicated to Carr. From the Dedication it would seem Chapman was suffering under the pressure of poverty, as we find him saying,–

“Twelve labours of your Thespian Hercules I now present your Lordship; do but please To lend life means, till th’ other twelve receive Equal achievement.”

Somerset’s patronage of Chapman, whatever it may have been, met with no unworthy return; for the distressed poet of 1614, when the royal favourite was still basking in the declining sunshine of his career, did not forget him when that sun had set. On November 2, 1614, is an entry in the Stationers’ Register to Nathaniell Butter of “Twenty-four Bookes of Homer’s Odisses by George Chapman,” and the complete translation appeared with the old dedication. Besides which, some years after, when the Earl was living in obscurity, the Hymns and Batrachomyomachia are inscribed to him in a noble strain, which reflects great credit on Chapman’s goodness of heart, however we may lament the unworthiness of the subject of his panegyric. In this same year (1614) also appeared “Eugenia; or, True Nobilitie’s Trance for the memorable death of the thrice noble and religious William Lord Russel, &c. Divided into foure vigils of the nighte.” 4to. pp. 44 not numbered. (See Brydges’ Restituta, vol. II. p. 57.) In 1616 he published the Iliad and Odyssey collected into one volume. He had finished the last twelve books of the Odyssey by the end of the year 1614; and when they were printed they were united with the previous impression of the first twelve, a blank page being inserted between them, and the pagination was continued, to give the volume the appearance of being printed at one and the same time. There is an observable difference, however, which we have preserved in this edition: the conclusions of the first twelve books are in Latin, while those of the later part of the volume are in English. In the Douce Collection at Oxford is a copy of the volume of 1614 (the first twelve books) with Chapman’s autograph: “For my righte worthie Knighte, my exceeding noble friende, Sir Henry Fanshawe. A pore Homericall new yeare’s gifte.” The expression at the end of the twelfth book, “Opus novem dierum, …,” is remarkable; but probably Chapman meant that that book had been completed in nine days, as that the whole twelve were finished in that time would be incredible. The engraved title to the Odyssey (which accompanies these volumes) is very rare. To some copies a printed title is given. Though the Odyssey had undoubtedly appeared in a separate form, yet, as we have before observed, it is now seldom found but in copies of the united volume of 1616. We affix this date, as it is upon the portrait of Chapman appearing on the reverse of the title. The engraved title by William Hole, which had before served for the editions of the Iliad, was now altered to the “Whole Works of Homer, &c.” as accompanies our edition; and here again is a peculiarity to be noted: some of the titles have not the portrait behind them, which leads us to remark (as is well known to those conversant with early printing) that the copies of Chapman’s Homer were corrected as the press was kept standing; and thus, though there exists but one edition of this date, there are several minute differences as the copies were worked off. The portrait, then, most probably, was not finished when the earlier impressions were struck off, and it was affixed at a later period. The titles without the portrait are far rarer than those with it. It will not be necessary to repeat what has been said in our Introduction to the Iliad as to the various editions of that version, farther than, from accurate investigation, it would seem that there are but two impressions of the complete Iliad (our first and second folios) and one of the Odyssey. Prince Henry having died in 1612, an engraved plate “To the immortall memorie of Henrye Prince of Wales, &c.” was added to the united volume of the “Whole Works.” The copy of the Iliad mentioned in our former Introduction as having belonged to George Steevens, from whose library it passed into the Heber Collection, is now in the magnificent library of Robert Holford, Esq. M. P. of Dorchester House. Park, in a note to Warton’s History, said it was Chapman’s own copy prepared for a future edition. This is a great error. It is a fine volume of the Iliad of 1611, in red morocco of the period. At the back of the title is in Chapman’s autograph, “In witness of his best love so borne to his best deserving friende Mr. Henrye Jones: George Chapman gives him theise fruites of his best labors, and desires love betwixt us as long lived as Homer.” The corrections are merely three or four in the Preface; which may be here specified. In p. lxiv of our Edition, lines 6, 7, the words “how could they differ far from, and be combined with eternity,” are pasted over, and “how could they defie fire, iron, and, &c.” substituted in a printed slip. In p. lxviii, line 12, “to cast any rubs or plasters,” Chapman has run his pen through this word, and substituted “plashes.” In the same page, line 3 from the bottom, “and therefore may my poor self put up with motion;” is corrected to “without motion.” In Book VIII. 497–

“And all did wilfully expect the silver-throned morn.”

George Steevens remarks that the 4to. of 1598 reads “wishfully,” a variation which should be noted, and perhaps adopted, but, printing from the folio, we retained “wilfully.” Thus we see upon what slight evidence Mr. Park’s assertion was made! The Holford copy, however, has an inserted leaf amongst the Sonnets with one addressed to Sir Edward Philips, Master of the Rolls. This confirms our conjecture in the Preface to the Sonnets (vol. II. p. 279).

In 1616, Chapman published his “Translation of Musæus.” He informs us in his Preface that it is a different work to the continuation of Marlowe’s poem. This extremely rare volume, not two inches long, and scarcely one broad, is fully described by Dr. Bliss in vol. II. col. 9. of his admirable edition of Wood’s “Athenæ Oxonienses.” The only known copy is in the Bodleian. It is dedicated to his “auncient poore friende” Inigo Jones. In 1618 appeared “The Georgics of Hesiod, translated elaborately out of the Greek;” a thin 4to. volume, also now very rare. Elton, who, from his own noble version of Hesiod, was a competent judge, pronounces it “close, vigorous, and elegant.” (Habington’s Castara, p. 155, ed. Elton, Bristol.) It has commendatory verses by Ben Jonson and Drayton, and is dedicated to Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor, who had been a student of Gray’s Inn. Chapman puns on the lines–


“Why may not this Romane elogie of the Grecians extend in praisefull intention (by waye of prophetick poesie) to Graies-Inne wits and orators?” In 1619 was printed “Two wise Men, and all the rest Fooles,” a comedy, or, as the title styles it, A Comical Moral, censuring the Follies of this Age.” There is a peculiarity about this play, if it may be so called, which is remarkable. It is extended to seven acts, instead of five. “It is, however, on tradition only that this piece is ranked among Chapman’s writing; it being published without any author’s name, or even so much as a mention of the place where it was printed.” (Biograph. Dramat.) In 1622 we have a small poem, “Pro Vere Autumni Lachrymæ,” to the memory of Sir Horatio Vere. In 1629 appeared “A justification of a strange action of Nero in burying with a solemne Funerall one of the cast hayres of his Mistress Poppæa; Also a just reproofe of a Romane Smellfeast, being the fifth Satyre of Juvenall.” The version of Juvenal is spirited and good. At what time he published “The Crowne of all Homer’s Workes, Batrachomyomachia; or the Battaile of Frogs and Mise. Translated according to the originall, by George Chapman. London. Printed by John Bill, his Maiesties Printer,” cannot now be precisely determined. Mr. Singer (who printed an elegant edition of it in 1818, Chiswick) says it would seem to have been after 1624, by comparing it with other books by the same printer. The volume, a thin folio, very rare, contains the Hymns of Homer. The engraved title by William Pass, containing a portrait of Chapman at an advanced age, is most spirited, and called forth Coleridge’s admiration. As we shall print this work in a fifth volume of Chapman’s Translations, it is needless to dwell upon it now. Messrs. Boone, the eminent booksellers of Bond Street, possess a very fine copy with some presentation verses in Chapman’s autograph, and an alteration or two in the engraving made with his pen. In the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth is a LARGE PAPER copy! A magnificent volume, and probably unique. In 1631, Chapman printed “Cæsar ard Pompey, a Roman Tragedy, concerning their Warres. Out of whose events is evicted this Proposition: Only a just Man is a free Man.” This play is dedicated to the Earl of Middlesex, and does not seem to have been intended for the stage. This was the last of Chapman’s work that appeared in his lifetime. “At length,” says old Antony Wood, “this most eminent and reverend poet, having lived 77 years in this vain and transitory world, made his last exit in the Parish of St. Giles in the Fields, near London, on the twelfth day of May, in sixteen hundred and thirty-four, and was buried in the yard on the south side of the church of St. Giles. Soon after was a monument erected over his grave, built after the way of the old Romans, by the care and charge of his most beloved friend Inigo Jones; whereon is this engraven, ‘Georgius Chapmanus, poeta Homericus, Philosophus verus, (etsi Christianus poeta) plusquam celebris, &c.'” Misled by a letter from “Myrtilla Glovestring” to Sylvanus Urban in 1737 (Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. VII.), and by the assertion of Sir Egerton Brydges, in our former Introduction we stated that this monument was destroyed with the old church. It is, however, still standing, and the inscription, which had been effaced by time, was recut under the direction of the Rector (the Rev. J. Endell Tyler, …) and Churchwardens some years since. The present inscription, which does not tally with Wood’s account, contains a strange anachronism:–


The monument, “built after the way of the old Romans,” has very much the appearance of a Roman milestone. Habington, who published his “Castara” in the year of Chapman’s death, has the following lines (“Castara,” p. 155. ed. Elton)–

“‘Tis true, that Chapman’s reverend ashes must Lye rudely mingled with the vulgar dust, ‘Cause carefull heyers the wealthy onely have, To build a glorious trouble o’re the grave. Yet doe I not despaire some one may be So seriously devout to poesie, As to translate his reliques, and find roome In the warme church to build him up a tombe, Since Spenser hath a stone, &c.”

Habington’s pious wish, we are sure, will find an echo in many a breast. The great Translator of Homer deserves a record in the aisles of Westminster, as his respectable character forms a happy contrast to many less deserving recipients of that honour.

After Chapman’s death appeared, in 1639, “The Tragedy of Chabot, Admiral of France,” written in conjunction with Shirley. The reviewer of Mr. Dyce’s edition of Shirley’s works (Quarterly Rev. vol. xlix. p. 29) says: “In the fine and eloquent tragedy of Chabot, the obscurity of Chapman’s manner, the hardness of which his contemporaries call his ‘full and heightened style,’ is greatly increased by the incorrectness of the press. This play, as bearing the name of Shirley in its title-page conjoined with that of Chapman, ought not to have been omitted; yet it is very difficult to assign any part of it to Shirley; even the comic scenes are more in Chapman’s close and pregnant manner, than in the light and airy style of Shirley.” In the same year (1639) was published “The Ball,” a comedy, by Chapman and Shirley. “Revenge for Honour,” a tragedy, by Chapman alone, was published in 1654, 1659, 4to. Dr. Bliss mentions five plays in MS. which were in the library of the late Richard Heber, Esq., “The Fountain of New Fashions,” 1598; “The Will of a Woman,” 1598; “The Fatal Love,” a tragedy; “Tragedy of a Yorkshire Gentleman;” and “The Second Maiden’s Tragedy.” This last was published as No. I. of “The Old English Drama,” London, 1825. From the same authority (and from Sir Egerton Brydges’ “Restituta”) we are informed that there are poems by Chapman in “Poetical Essays on the Turtle and Phoenix,” published, with others on the same subject, by Shakespeare, Jonson, and Marston, at the end of “Love’s Martyr, or Rosalind’s Complaint,” 4to. 1601; a volume of exquisite rarity.

Though we are unable to ascertain any of the details of Chapman’s life (and what do we know of any of his great contemporaries?) his many works are before us, from which we may occasionally glean an allusion or two. As a dramatic writer, he has been frequently criticized, and cannot be placed in the foremost rank. But we should not forget he was one of the earliest purveyors for the public taste. His style, in his original works, is intensely crabbed and confused, yet, “as a poetical imaginer and thinker, far too little attention has been paid to him.” (Edinb. Rev. vol. lxxiii. p. 226.) Even as a writer for the stage, he attained great popularity in his day. The writing of his contemporaries are full of allusions to him. He is much quoted in “England’s Parnassus,” by R. Allott, 12mo. 1600. In Thomas Freeman’s Epigrams (4to. 1614, Pt. 2nd, Epig. 87) is the following:–

“TO GEORGE CHAPMAN. George, it is thy genius innated, Thou pick’st not flowers from another’s field, Stol’n similes, or sentences translated, Nor seekest but what thine owne soile doth yield: Let barren wits go borrow what to write, ‘Tis bred and born with thee what thou inditest, And our Comedians thou outstrippest quite, And all the hearers more than all delightest, With unaffected style and sweetest strain. Thy inambitious pen keeps on her pace, And cometh near’st the ancient comic vein. Thou hast beguiled us all of that sweet grace; And were Thalia to be sold and bought, No ‘Chapman’ but thyself were to be sought.”

It is to his Homer, however, we must look for his greatest reputation. We have elsewhere shown that he had been anticipated by Arthur Hall in the translation of the first ten books from the French; but he claims the honour of being the first original translator of the great bard. Immediately on the publication of his “Seven Books” were his praises resounded. In Fitz-Geffrey’s “Affaniæ,” Oxon, 1601, p. 88, are two Epigrams, “Ad Homerum e Græciâ in Britanniam a Georgio Chapmanno traductum;” and in “The Passionate Poet; with a description of the Thracian Ismarus. By T. P.” (Thomas Powell) we read:–

“Out on thee, foole! blind of thy impotence, Thou dost admire but in a popular sense, Esteeming more a Pasquil’s harsher lines Than Iliad’s worth, which Chapman’s hand refines.”

(See Brydges’ “Restituta,” vol. iii. p. 169). Bolton, in his “Hypercritica” (p. 246, ed. Haslewood), mentions Chapman’s “first seaven bookes of Iliades” amongst good writers of English style; and again (p. 250) he says, “brave language are Chapman’s Iliads, those I mean which are translated into tessara-decasyllabons, or lines of fourteen syllables.” Ben Jonson, Drayton, William Browne, and others, contributed their testimonies; and Samuel Sheppard, in his “Six Bookes of Epigrams,” London, 1651, 12mo., has one which we will transcribe:–

“ON MR. CHAPMAN’S INCOMPARABLE TRANSLATION OF HOMER’S WORKES. What none before durst ever venture on Unto our wonder is by Chapman done, Who by his skill hath made Great Homer’s song To vaile its bonnet to our English tongue, So that the learned well may question it Whether in Greek or English Homer writ? O happy Homer, such an able pen To have for thy translator, happier then Ovid or Virgil, who beyond their strength Are stretched, each sentence neare a mile in length. But our renowned Chapman, worthy praise, And meriting the never-blasted bayes, Hath rendered Homer in a genuine sence, Yea, and hath added to his eloquence: And in his comments his true sence doth show, Telling Spondanus what he ought to know. Eustathius, and all that on them take Great Homer’s misticke meaning plain to make, Yeeld him more dark with farr-fetcht allegories, Sometimes mistaking clean his learned stories: As ’bout the flie Menelaus did inspire, Juno’s retreate, Achilles’ strange desire; But he to his own sence doth him restore, And comments on him better than before Any could do, for which (with Homer) wee Will yeeld all honour to his memory.”

Chapman’s personal character stood very high. Atony Wood tells us he was “a person of most reverend aspect, religious and temperate, qualities rarely meeting in a poet.” Oldys, in his MS. notes on Langbaine’s Dramatic Poets (British Museum), says, “Indeed his head was a poetical Treasury, Magazine, or Chronicle, of whatsoever was memorable amongst the Poets of his time, which made him latterly much resorted to by the young gentlemen of good parts and education. But he was choice of his company, shy of loose, shallow, and sordid associates, and preserved in his own conduct the true dignity of Poetry, which he compared to the Flower of the Sun, that disdains to open its leaves to the eye of a smoking taper.” Wood thinks he held some small appointment in the household of King James, or his consort Queen Anne; but researches in the State Paper Office have failed to throw any light on this point. We have, in our former Introduction, alluded to his quarrel with Ben Jonson; and also to his poverty. It is to be feared that his latter days were clouded, but too much credence must not be given to his extreme poverty, as a similar story is told of almost all his great contemporaries.

In parting with good old George we feel regret. His Iliads and Odysseys have been our companions for many months; and we only hope the reader will derive from their perusal but a tenth part of the pleasure we have received in editing them. A fifth and concluding volume is in preparation, which, it is hoped, will contain the Hymns and Batrachomyomachia (with the beautiful engraved title); the unique “Musæus” of 1616; the “Georgics of Hesiod,” 1618; and the “Fifth Satire of Juvenal,” 1629; thus completing all Chapman’s Classical Translations, and giving a volume, the united content of which could not be purchased for fifty pounds.

THE following corrections to the “Introduction” to the Iliad may be useful.

P. x. Fuller, in his “Worthies,” styles Philemon Holland “the Translator Generall of his age, so that those books alone of his turning into English will make a country gentleman a competent library for Historians, insomuch that one saith,

Holland with translations doth so fill us He will not let Suetonius be Tranquillus.”

Poor Philemon seems also to have been in much distress in his old age. (See a very interesting extract from various MSS. in Sir E. Brydges’ “Restituta,” vol. iii. p. 41.) The dates of his Translations are as follows: “Pliny,” fol. 1601, fol. 1634; Plutarch’s Morals, fol. 1603, fol. 1657; Livy, fol. 1600, fol. 1659, fol. 1686; Suetonius, fol. 1606; Ammianus Marcellinus, fol. 1609; Xenophon’s Cyropædia, fol. 1632; Camden’s Britannia, fol. 1610, fol. 1637. Sir John Harington’s Ariosto was published fol. 1591; fol. 1607; fol. 1634. Paynter’s Palace of Pleasure was reprinted by Haslewood, 3 vols. 4to. 1813. Fenton’s Guicciardin was published fol. 1579, fol. 1599, and fol. 1618. The two first editions, I think, are identical, the title being merely altered. The editions of Fairfax’s Tasso I have met with are fol. 1600; fol. 1624; 8vo. 1687; 2 vols. 8vo. Dublin, 1726; 8vo. London, 1749; 8vo. 1817, 2 vols. by Knight; and also a most beautiful edition in the original orthography by Mr. Singer, 2 vols. small 8vo. 1817.

I was misled in the date of Golding’s complete Ovid by Warton (when shall we have a ‘correct’ edition of the “History of English Poetry?”); it was first published complete in 1567. The copy I read had lost half the title.

White Waltham,

July, 1857.

IN printing a work of such great length, it must be obvious that, with all possible care, some faults will escape the eye. The reader is requested, therefore, to correct with the pen the following


Book I. 290, read Rhethrus. II. 344, r. so set. III. 10, r. locks; 437, r. for many. IV. 588, r. sea-calves’. V. 120, r. rites; 204, r. cave; 257, r. trac’d; 261, r. use; 325, r. look, though the folio has took; 419, r. prest. VII. 340, r. Laertiades. VIII. 500, r. chords. X. 122, in whole receit, thus the folio, but r. in whose; 367, destroy comma after me; 556, put the inverted comma after indiscretion, and destroy it at line 563; 652, put CHAPMAN to the note. XI. 135, r. Sun; 144, r. inflictions; 258, put inverted comma after own. XIII. 306, r. distresses’; 320, r. stol’n. XVII. 134, r. had; 446, r. light. XVIII. 473, destroy comma after thing. XIX. 741, r. Gods’. XX. 373, r. eyes’. XXI. 11, r. heapt. XXIV. 26, r. Maia’s; 300, r. proining; 488, r. The Ithacensians; 570, r. Elians.

It may be useful to remind the reader that Chapman frequently alters the quantity of proper names.

The Editor has had some scruples in printing “Odysseys.” Chapman has “Odysses;” but as he prints “Iliads,” it has been thought “Odysseys” would be more consistent.