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of his letters to Lady Hesketh, March 22, 1790, “could I but find it, in which Homer ought to be rendered, and which alone would suit him. Long time I blundered about it, ere I could attain to any decided judgment on the matter; at first, I was betrayed by a desire of accommodating my language to the siinplicity of his into much of the quaintness that belonged to our writers of the fifteenth century. In the course of many revisals I have delivered myself from this evil, I believe, entirely; but I bave done it slowly, as a inan separates himself from his inistress when he is going to marry. I had so strong a predilection in favor of this style at first, that I was crazed to find that others were not as much enamoured with it as myself. At every passage of that sort which I obliterated, I groaned bitterly, and said to myself, I am spoiling my work to please those who have no taste for the simple graces of antiquity. But in measure as I adopted a more modern phraseology, I became a convert to their opinion, and in the last revisal, which I am now making, am not sensible of having spared a single expression of the obsolete kind. I see my work so much improved by the alteration, that I am filled with wonder al my own backwardness to assent to the necessity of it, and the more when I consider that Milton, with whose manner I account myself intimately acquainted, is never quaint, never twangs through the nose, but is every where grand and elegant, without resorting to musly antiquity for his beauties. On the contrary, he took a long stride forward, left the language of his own day far behind bim, and anticipated the expressions of a century yet to come.”

Dear, sensitive, tasiesul Cowper ! Apart, in a great measure, from thy cotemporaries, and obeying merely the dictates of thine own better judgment, a long stride forward thou didst thyself make in the paths of literature. Not having the fear of Dr. Johnson before hine eyes, thou didst dare to revive blank verse, and to treat of religious subjects in thy poems. With the ornale siyle of many of the writers of ihy day, as it seemed to mysrify their thoughts, thou wast not well pleased. To set forih, therefore, in fairer light, thine own imaginings, thou didst seek after a plainer and simpler style, regarding perspicuity of greater worth than even smoothness or polish. Still, by the prevailing vitiated taste around thee, as we see above, thy better judgment was sometimes partly over-ruled. To accommodate thy language to the simplicity of Homer, it was not required of thee, sweet bard, that thou should'st have revived again the “ aureate terms,” the redundant ornaments and anglicized Latin words too inuch employed, we confess, even by the writers of the fifteenth

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century: but couldst not thou have culled out a little more of their Saxon? Couldst not thou, at any rate, coming down to later times, have drawn forth more plentifully than thou hast done from the strong Old English, so much in vogue during the age of Elisabeth ? More modern bards, taking from thee iheir cue, have proceeded further in this matter. Catching inspiration from the study of the old English authors, they have been borne not backwards but forward. They have been led in this way to use, even more than thou, a simpler style of writing ; to employ less transposition in their sentences ; !0 set forih their meaning rather through words of Saxon origin, or the oldest and simplest of the French, than through those of later introduction; whereby their poetry hath certainly been very much heightened and improved.

Though several translations of Homer, I believe, have been made in the present century, I have not yet hod the privilege of reading any one of these in full; but, on account of the improved state of our poetic language, I cannot help thinking that, faithful and simple as the version of Cowper is, yet a poet, even of inferior abilities, might now be able to give us a better. By imitating the simpler and more Saxon blank verse of Wordsworth, Southey or Tennyson, he would bring over more fully the true spirit of the original. Some specimens I have seen of a travslation of the Iliad by Southeby, which were fully as simple and literal, I think, as Cowper's, and certainly more smooth and harmonious. Saxon words, it is often supposed, being mostly one-syllabled, are not the best suited for rendering into Eng. lish the long compounded epithets in which Homer abounds; but any one, on consulting Tennyson, or any of our best latest poets, will discover this to be a mistake. He will find, from the many specimens that will there meet him on every page, not only that the Saxon is capable of being formed into long and suitable compounds, but that these are, generally speaking, the most striking and picturesque in our language. By the general reader their etymologies are more easily understood, and being mostly concrete and not abstract in their meanings, they make on the senses more vivid impressions. Of this even Chapman was fully aware in his day; and the beautiful formations of this sort which he has introduced into his Homer are ornaments not only to his translation but to the English language itself.

I confess that I have a small liking for English hexameter, notwithstanding its decided anti-Saxon spirit and strong Romanizing tendency. On its first introduction into our language, at the close of the sixteenth century, it was, we know, by the best writers of the day, indignantly denounced and ridiculed; while, at the same time, by its friends and admirers, it was just as warmly praised and stoully upheld. “If I never deserve any better remembraunce,"exclaimesh Gabriel Harvey, the friend of Spencer, in one of his Foure Letters, “ let me be epitaphed the In

« ventour of the English Hexameter! whome learned Mr. Stanihurst initated in his Virgill, and excellent Sir P. Sidney disdained not to follow in his Arcadia and elsewhere.” Thomas Nashe, on the other hand, in his Apology of Pierce Pennilesse, observes that "Stanihurst, the otherwise learned, trod a foul, lumbring, boisterous, wallowing measure, in his translation of Virgil. He had never been praised by Gabriel Harvey for his labor, if therein he had not been so famously absurd." As a specimen of this translation let us hear the first four lines of the second book of the Æneid :

" With tentive listning each wight was setled in harkning;
Then father Æneas chronicled from loftie bed hautie:
You bid me, O princesse, to scarifie a festerd old sore,

How that the Troians were prest by the Grecian armie.” We own that had this invention come into general use at that time, to the exclusion of all rhyme, as its patrons most ardently desired, no longer pure English would the language of poetry have remained, bui into dog-latin or, to use one of their own classical phrases, “ Thrasonical huffe-snuffe,” it would have degenerated. Notwithstanding all this, however, after having slept for full two centuries, by some of our best poets it has, of lare, been revived, and it seems to me with better success. In the course of years our language having become more pliable and smooth, if not more vigorous, it can now be woven into compositions of finer texture, and accommodated better to foreign rhythms. A translator, who retains the measure of his auThor, will be able, of course, to make his version more literal, and, especially if possessed of proper sympathies and talent, to bear with it also more of the freshness and spirit of the original. Still, the hexameter being measured pri periy not by accept but by quantity, it inust be admitteil, is wholly unenglish in iis constitution. Our poetry can never be made to walk in it, as naturally and with the same stately steppings, as doth the Latin or Greek. Pursuing this rhythm the English bard, instead of arriving at the true sublimity of his author, is more likely, in his fury, to be driven aside into the mock-heroic or bombast. To the height of the “ bird of the Maconian song," at any rate, in VOL III.-10. I.

this style, his pegasus, however skillfully urged, can never attain. At the announcement then, which has been lately made, that an edition of the Iliad, rendered into free and flowing English hexameters, is likely soon to be added to our Homeric library, I must confess that I am not filled with the brightest anticipations. If employed at all, we think this measure best adapted to receive into English only some of the shorter pieces of the old Greek or Latin poets that aspire to no great loftiness of sentiment. Here, with the rhythm should the mock heroic or the ludicrous occasionally creep in, it is uot always entirely out of place. For a specimen let us try our hand on the twentieth Idyl of Theocri

tus:

Euneica at me laughed when I wished with a kiss to salute her, Andme tauntingly thus she addressed: Get away with a plague t'ye! Being a herdsman you think me to kiss, you wretch! I have not

learned Rustic-like to salute ; the lips that I press must be town-bred. Never may you my beautiful mouth kiss—not in your dreams, sir ! How you stare! what a language you speak! how rudely you trifle!Oh, to be sure, you're a fine spoken man; you can use the genteel

phrase ; What most exquisite down on your chin ! How lovely your hair is! Bah! keep aloof; your lips are diseased; your hands are the darkest, And how badly you smell ! Get away from me! Do not pollute me. Thus while she spoke, three times, to preserve her, she spat in

her bosom ; And me down from the head to the feet she continued surveying. Pouching her lips, she disdainfully snuffed, and she looked at me

sideways. Still, woman-like, her charms she set off with her airs ; half her

teeth shown, Proudly she laughed me to scorn ; whereupon for me did the blood

boil; And from pain my cheeks grew red, like a rose with the dew wet. Off she departed, me leaving: chagrin I still in my heart bear, That me, the graceful, this naughty coquette with her speech did

malign thus. Shepherds, tell me the truth as it is; whether beautiful am I? Hath any god me suddenly formed into some other mortal? Certainly me hitherto did grace some freshness of beauty, As doth the ivy its tree, and it covered in clusters my dark chin. Ringlets were mine, my temples around, like parsley, adorning; And my forehead above shone fair, set off by my black brows. Eyes too I had more piercingly grey than the glaucous Athena's. My mouth sweeter than cream-cheese was; and forth from my ripe

lips,

a

Flowed for me a voice more sweet than the drippings of honey.
Rich is for me the melody too when my Pan's-pipe I play on,
Or when with clarionet I discourse, or with reed, or with cross-flute.
And all the fair me beautiful name in the shades of the mountain ;
And all the fair me love; yet this city-maiden did not love.
But because I'm a herdsman she fled me. Never she hath heard,
How Dionysos, the beautiful, drove his calves through the vallies;
Never hath known how Cypris herself was betrothed to a herdsman;
Flocks on the hills did her Phrygian tend; her Adonis himself too
In the deep forests she loved and in the deep forests lamented.
Endymion, who was he? Not a herdsman ? whom surely Selena,
Tending his herds did love; and down from Olympus descending,
Into the Latmian vale she came, and reposed by her choice one.
Thou too, Rhea, dost weep for thy swain; and didst not thou also,
O Saturn's son, in quest of thy boy, cattle-feeding, a bird roam ?

But Euneica alone, forsooth, her herdsman did not love!
Better than Cybela she, and than Cypris, and she than Selena!
No more thus thou, Cypris, thy darling no more in the city
Nor in the mountain shouldst love, but alone through the night thou

shouldst slumber. What a pity it is that into the Scottish dialect the Idyls of Theocritus may not properly be translated, since it is so well suited for pastoral poetry and so capable of expressing the broad simplicity of the Doric. Unfortunately, however, it is altogether local in its use. Translated into ihis idiom the scenes of Theocritus would no longer be laid in Sicily but in Scotland. Polyphemus would appear entirely out of place amid the cleughs and scaurs of Pentland or of the Grampian hills, and the Grecian nymplis would lose their native charms by being transferred to the banks of the Ayr or Yarrow. Allan Ramsay, to be sure, in his own dialect, has given us some translations of the Odes of Horace, but in these the Roman features of the Venusian bard have been almost wholly obliterated, and no longer are we confronted with Horace in Rome, but with Horace in Edinburg, or rather with the pleasant, “ blackavized, snob, dapper fellow," Allan Ramsay hinself. So hard it is to keep out our own phy. siognomies in our translations. While aiming at approximation by assuming a dialect which we fancy is best adapted to express the native and peculiar graces of our author, instead of bringing him over thereby more fully into our language with all his true simplicity and worth about him, hy that very means, it often happens, we disfigure him the more, depriving him not only of his personal but even of his national characteristics. Mercersburg, Pa.

W. M. N.

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