Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

of language and the necessary use of the article and auxiliary verbs, which offer so great an impediment to the Translator in modern tongues. It is difficult to dance in fetters, and when the limbs are too closely cramped the fetters must be in some degree relaxed.

Something, however, may be done when clothing Horace in an English garb, and something I hope to have accomplished. True poetry may be transfused from one language into another; the correct meaning may be re-embodied; the moral colouring may be transferred; the sly joke may be relished in English as well as in Latin ; the wine-cup may again flow in Claret if not in Falernian ; and the heart again grow warm with the accents of friendship or of love. Some of our greatest poets have not disdained this task of translation ; and if Dryden has succeeded in his magnificent paraphrase of the “ Tyrrhena regum progenies,” Milton, the greatest of modern poets (with all respect be it spoken), has failed in his “ Ode to Pyrrha.” The version is indeed executed with remarkable fidelity, but an English lyrical composition without the graces of rhyme, has little to recommend it; and he who could make use of such a phrase as the following -

“Who now enjoys thee, credulous, all gold,

seems to have been so absorbed in his Latin

as to have forgotten at the moment his English.

This failure by the greatest master of the English language may serve as a warning to those who imagine it possible to translate literally that same “felicity of words” already alluded to; while the success of Dryden's paraphrase, in some of its most striking passages, affords a better model for imitation.

This justly celebrated effort of translation will be found in its proper place, since I could neither hope to rival it by any performance of my own, nor could I content myself, on the other hand, with producing an inferior version ; and yet even this effort is by no means perfect as a translation. The fault of too redundant paraphrase may fairly be imputed to it; and numerous passages might be cited, redolent indeed of Dryden, but overpowering the simplicity of Horace. Also when he writes :

“ Thou, what befits the new Lord Mayor,

And what the City factions dare,
And what the Gallic arms will do,
And what the quiver-bearing foe,-
Art anxiously inquisitive to know;"

he seems for the moment to forget Mæcenas,

“ Descended of an ancient line

That long the Tuscan sceptre swayed,”

and to remember only Lawrence, earl of Rochester, to whom his translation is inscribed. Upon no other hypothesis can we reconcile the strange anachronisms in these lines.

It remains for me to notice the work of the Rev. Mr. Francis,' which, having long been the only complete translation of our poet, has almost acquired the dignity of an English Classic. To Francis must undoubt

с

edly be given the praise of having faithfully rendered the meaning of his author ; but he seems to me very deficient in the poetical temperament requisite to produce a translation that can be read with pleasure. Here and there some good lines may be found, but generally his versification is so rugged, and his expressions often so unrefined, as, to present in these respects a most unhappy contrast to his polished original :

“ Non satis est pulchra esse poemata, dulcia sunto,

Et quocunque volent animum auditoris agunto."

Whether, indeed, I may have succeeded better than my predecessor, the judgment of a discerning public will decide. I have at least not hastily or carelessly obtruded these versions on its notice, nor neglected the precept of

my

author in his “ Art of Poetry,” having laid them by for many a long year before venturing into print:

“Si quid tamen olim Scripseris, in Metii descendat judicis aures Et patris, et nostras, nonumque prematur in annum.” In conclusion, I desire to express my thanks to those friends in particular from whose critical acumen I hope to have derived some advantage, as I have certainly received much encouragement. First to my accomplished relative, the Dean of Christchurch, than whom few men will be found more competent to pronounce a verdict upon any classical composition; secondly, to my old and excellent friend, the Rev. W. N. Darnell, Rector of Stanhope; and thirdly, to the Ven. R. C. Coxe, Archdeacon of Lindisfarne.

To the criticisms of these most competent scholars I have generally deferred, since by such deference I testify the greater appreciation of their favourable opinions.

Finally, when I mention that in this work will be found spirited and accurate versions of two Odes from a much abler pen than mine, I feel how much the value of my

book will be enhanced in public estimation by these examples of the poetical talent of that noble and accomplished Earl, whose eloquent voice is so often heard with admiration within

« PredošláPokračovať »