Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

original text 'word for word,' and though I am far from imagining that I have always succeeded, I do not much hesitate to ask the reader to judge for himself—as with both Latin and English side by side before him he readily may —whether I have not succeeded pretty nearly as often as I have failed, and whether any of my failures are altogether decisive. In two cases,

—those of Odes 22 of Book I and 27 of Book III—where peculiarly intractable measures have been adopted, I have, I fear, somewhat palpably interpolated; but in general, irrespectively of course of expletives and auxiliaries, almost every Latin word will, I think, be found to have its English, and almost every English word its Latin equivalent on the opposite page.

But in order to be completely satisfactory, a translation of Horace should reproduce Horace's metres as well as his language, and this is a point to which I did not at first sufficiently advert. Moreover, when I did attend to it, I found myself confronted by difficulties for the most part absolutely insuperable. The metres oftenest employed by Horace are the Alcaic and the Sapphic, but although, as Mr. Tennyson has proved by experiment, pure and melodious Alcaics may be constructed with English materials, yet even the genius of a Tennyson might have been at fault if, instead of being unfettered in his choice of subject, and instead of having the whole vocabulary of our language at his disposal, he had been rigorously restricted to the English synonymes of the few words actually employed by Horace, and required therewith to express Horace's meaning in Alcaic verse. At any rate, in my own single experiment of the kind, I could not satisfy myself with more than the first quatrain, and gave up the thing in despair in the middle of the second. Sapphics are a good deal more manageable, and in several cases I have rendered those of Horace into verses of a structure not, I think, differing more from his than his do from those of his own Greek models, nor ever, I hope, ceasing to be strictly rhythmical even when least conforming to ancient orthodox rhythm. But of the remaining Horatian metres, seventeen in number, I question whether there is one reproducible in English without a fatal sacrifice of music, and the most that I have attempted in regard either to these or to the Alcaics is to use lines of the same or nearly the same length as those of which they are composed. In some cases I have allowed myself still more license, though I have always, I hope, been sufficiently heedful that the form of verse adopted should accord with the spirit of the original. In two instances, those of Odes 4 and 14 of

. the fourth Book, I have tried the terza rima of the Italian poets.

When in doubt as to either the right reading or the right interpretation, I have generally been guided by Mr. Macleane, to whose truly admirable edition of Horace I cannot too gratefully acknowledge my obligations, and whom I must also beg to pardon the freedom with which I have pillaged his materials when compiling my own brief explanatory notes.

[ocr errors]

There is another robbery which I should like, but shall not venture, to commit. It is usual for translators of Horace to commence with a dissertation more or less elaborate on the character of their author and of his works, but I am too conscious of being in literary matters nothing if not uncritical to think of following their example by inserting here any lucubrations of my own. I certainly should have liked, however, if such a liberty were warrantable, to transcribe the greater part of two papers on Horace's “Two Philosophies’and Horace's 'Art of Conduct,' by an anonymous contributor to the Cornhill Magazine for July 1875, and July 1876. I have nowhere else met with anything on the same subject which is to my mind so acute, so original, or so just; and if any one should by this brief reference to those brilliant essays be induced either to read them for the first time, or having already read them, to read them again, the pleasure which he will derive from the perusal may help to put him in a good humour with me for recommending them, and so incline him to proceed without preconceived disfavour to the remaining fare set before him.

7 CADOGAN PLACE,

Dec. 1877.

[blocks in formation]
« PredošláPokračovať »