John Ogilby (1600-1676) was a native of Edinburgh, and came of a good family, which had been so reduced that young Ogilby had to release his father from a debtors' prison, and afterwards bind himself apprentice to a dancing-master in London. Picking up scholarship as best he could, he was employed by Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, and accompanied that nobleman to Ireland. There he translated some of 'Aesop's Fables' into English verse, and soon after started a theatre in Dublin. The breaking out of the rebellion in Ireland ruined him, and he arrived in London quite destitute, after having been shipwrecked on his voyage home. But he made his way on foot to Cambridge, where he was encouraged, and there translated the 'Works of Virgil.' He learnt Greek about 1654, and proceeded to translate Homer, the work alluded to in the text. He also published an edition of the English Bible, more elaborate than any of its predecessors. In 1666 his house and property in London were destroyed by the great fire, but his energy was equal to the task of again recovering his fortunes.
We may discover some lingering sympathy with him in Johnson's words 'Ogilby's assistance,' etc. It is well, therefore, to note how his life was one continued struggle against ever-recurring difficulties, as this would explain, by a natural bond of sympathy, the trace of kindliness with which Johnson seems to regard one of the worst of poets.
« LAST» Note «NEXT»