« AnteriorContinuar »
tor" himself-an LL.D., and therefore, perhaps, he could hardly have been expected to enter completely, or at least con amore, into the spirit of Faust's cruel sarcasm. But the following, we can assure him, is what Faust intends to express-" Here am I," says he," classed with 'masters,' and such scum," (heisse doctor gar,) "and yea with 'doctors' by my soul!" —as if human degradation could not possibly sink lower. To "lead" a person's creed, is hardly an allowable expression the right word is "to shape." Besides, if used at all, the expression should have been
have led." Then in the translation a little further down, where Faust says, "I have been more acute than all these triflers," &c., the spirit of the original entirely evaporates. As in the preceding lines we found him ironically classing himself with the doctors of the schools, so here he ought to have been exhibited to us seriously and vehemently asserting his real superiority, and bursting high above them in the native and indignant energy of his soul. "Could dog (were I a dog) so live?" We ask, would any man, even in his most doggish mood, when speaking to himself, have naturally interpolated such a parenthesis as that? Would he not simply have said, as the original says, "not even a dog would endure. the life that I am leading?" But we shall make no more remarks upon these lines, as we intend, by and by, to endeavour to illustrate our notion of their spirit by trying our own hand upon the passage, and shall thus give Dr Anster and others an opportunity of retaliating, which we fear they will be at no loss to do, if they choose to take the trouble, as we all know that practice is very different from theory, and that to preach is one thing, and to perform another. In the mean time we continue the passage, quoting from Mr Birch :
Oh! that I might but calmly tread
We need not waste our own time or the reader's, by pausing to criticise such stuff as this. Let us take a peep into some of the other translations. We carry on Faust's soliloquy from the Hon. Mr Talbot's* version:
"Oh! am I to this dungeon still confined,
This cursed dismal hole, alas, Where cheerful daylight scarce can find
A passage through the painted glass! Hemm'd in by books on every side, Which dust begrimes, and worms devour, Which, wrapp'd in smoke-stained paper, tower,
Up to the roof in dingy pride! These tools-these phials-boxes without number
Thi heir-loom trash, and other useless lumber,
In careless heaps together hurl'd This is thy world-oh, to call this a world!"
There is no fair rhyme in the iteration "confined and "find". "worms devour" is a thousand degrees too strong, and does not express the way in which these reptiles per petrate their depredations upon libraries. We think we see them crunching the boards, bolting the bindings, and growling over their prey. "Which, wrapped in smoke-stained paper, tower up to the roof in dingy pride.' books were not wrapped in smokestained paper; the paper was simply that with which the walls of his den were papered. The word "tower" appears to us to be an overcharged expression here, Faust feeling nothing but the crampness of his situation; but a still stronger illustration of vi cious poetic diction is presented to our notice in the word " pride." This, if ever there was one, is an instance of language wrested from its proper use; a word denoting a passion of the soul employed to characterise a set of book-shelves! Conceive how the expression would look in German, (in dunkelm Stolze,) or in any other language. "Hurl'd" is generally an unhappy word in poetry, and seldom
* We, of course, give Mr Talbot the benefit of his latest emendations by quoting from the second edition of his work.
answers any good purpose, as far as
"And ask I still why thrills my heart
We beg to assure our Southron readers, that, whatever may be the custom in some parts of Scotland, the practice of pronouncing "nature" in such a way as to make it chime symphoneously with "creator," is by no means universal in that country. Carrying on the same passage, let us give Dr Anster another trial.
"Away, away, and far away!
This book, where secret spells are scann'd,
Of thy own being; light, and power,
"Where secret spells are scann'd." This is an interpolation of the translator, and we think a very unnecessary one. It was quite enough to mention that the book was by Nostradamus-upon that every one must have known that it contained magic "secret spells," and all that sort of thing. It is out of keeping with the character of Faust to make him more minute than this. Besides, the word "scann'd" is another of those that we never yet found answering any good purpose in poetry, and simply because no man ever seriously made use of it in actual life. "To ponder here, &c., were time and labour lost." Here the translator should have stopped, and not added, " in vain." Labour lost is labour lost; but "labour lost in vain," must be labour which the workman has been unsuc
cessful in losing, and must therefore be labour not lost, or, in other words, must be labour gained, and therefore the translator here says exactly the reverse of what he intends to say.
We will conclude our selections for the present by extracting a few more lines from Mr Birch's translation, it being the latest that has come to hand. After giving vent to what has just been uttered by Dr Anster, Faust throws open the book, and contemplates the sign of the Macrocosm: he proceeds :
"What rapture flows at this first glance, Through all my senses-all my reins ! I feel youth's hallow'd high-day trance Re-glow throughout my nerves and veins, &c.
I comprehend at length the saying of the
The world of spirits is not lock'd, Thy mind is shut, thy heart is dead. Up, scholar, up! and bathe unshock'd Thy earthly bosom in the morning's red.""
"And bathe unshock'd." We confess we have met with nothing in all these translations which has shocked us more than this rhyme. We were hardly prepared for it, even by Mr Talbot's version of the same passage, although we own he had done much to caseharden us. Let us remark in passing that we hardly think it would be safe for any reader to begin the study of these translations, suddenly, with Mr Birch. It would be too much for his nerves, just as it would be too severe upon him to subject him to a showerbath of cold spring water on this, the 14th day of January, unless he were accustomed to it. But let him gradually inure himself, and fortify his habit by commencing with Lord Gower or Dr Anster, and proceeding on through the others; and there is no saying but what he may bring himself in time to stand even Job Crithannah. Here, for example, in the present instance, Mr Talbot is good enough to come forward and give us the thing comparatively tepid :
"The realm of spirits is never barr'd, 'Tis thy soul that is fetter'd-thy heart that is dead!
Then up, my disciple, and bathe, unscared,
Thy earthly breast in the morning's red!"
What does the reader imagine the original word means, which one of these translators interprets into "unshocked," and the other into "un
scared?" It simply means "indefatigably" or "assiduously;" but neither of these words could be made to rhyme to "locked" or to "barred." Similar monstrosities are to be met with in almost every page of most of these translations. Here is one. Faust gazing upon certain visions, is made to exclaim
I'm class'd with 'masters' and such scum,
And up and down through mazes vile,
Oh, what a sight! yet 'tis but the eyeball's May strive, but as for knowing aught, lure,
Where shall I clutch thee-illimitable Nature?
Birch, p. 28.
Here is a still better one. When Wagner knocks at the door, Faust exclaims
Alas! that the fulness of the flame-clad vision,
Should thwarted be by the sapless sneaker's intercision.
Birch, p. 31.
If Paul Pry, instead of saying, "I hope I don't intrude," had come for ward, saying, "I hope I don't intercide, we wonder what his success would have been before a London audience. What could have tempted Mr Blackie on one occasion to put these words into Faust's mouth addressing Mephistopheles—
There is the window-'twere no mighty matter,
For one like you adown the wall to clatter.
But there would be no end to it if we were to go on extracting (tender dentist) such carious specimens as these. Verily, much requires to be done before the English public can know any thing at all about the veritable Faust. We do not pretend to be able to "imitate Goethe closely ;" but, in our humble opinion, the following version of the opening soliloquy is more like the original than some of the samples we have given. FAUST.
All that philosophy can teach,
A fool whose life has flow'd amiss;
That he neither does nor can.
'Tis true I'm of another stamp
Than those who make the schools their
Doubts and scruples never cramp
My soul that soars from weakness free,
Beyond my understanding's reach;
By any lesson I can teach.
My being in despairing hours,
From the lips of spirit-powers,
With bitter sweat,
Whose grasp the universe engirds,
* "Expect her rising (the moon's) as you will, the suddenness always adds a slight surprise to your delight,”—Blackwood's Magazine, xxxi, 880.
But does my serious heart confess
The sense that something is amiss,
The weight of an obscure distress
That checks her health :-my answer's this,
That man by God is ever told
To lead the life that nature owns; But here art thou 'mid smoke and mould, Beasts' skeletons, and dead men's bones. Up, into wider spheres, my soul,
And cast these dismal wrecks aside, And there unrol this mystic scroll
Of Nostradamus for a guide : It shall spread out thine eyes afar Through all the boundlessness of space And make thee see how star on star
In millions weave their order'd race. And when thou once hast got the sign
Which only nature's lips can teach, Which barren sense in vain would reach, The spirit-power shall then be thine,
And thine shall be the spirit-speech. Ye guardians of the mystic token, Make answer when the spell is spoke
[He throws the book open, and gazes on the sign of the Macrocosm.
Ha! how my bosom drinks the flood Of rapture circling there,
My blood grows calm as infant's blood,
I feel such promises as bud
Was it a god who framed the spell
That bids my troubles cease, And turns my heart into a well
Of happiness and peace?
The necromancer's words of might :"A spirit-world encircles thee,
The Genii have not fled,
Thine is the eye that will not see,
And thine the heart that's dead. Would'st thou be taught to disabuse
The heart that's dead, the eye that's dim,
Then rise when first the sun renews
His course above the ocean's brim, And bathe thy breast in ruddy dews That drip from off his mighty rim." [He continues gazing intently on the sign.
In continuation of Faust's soliloquy, we here draw upon Dr Anster for a passage, which, we rejoice to say, commands our most unqualified praise and admiration. O, si sic omnia! We candidly confess it is far beyond any thing to which our powers are competent in dealing with the same passage. Faust resumes:
Oh! how the spell before my sight
With this harmonious close we stop for the present, without going into any further details respecting either the original "Faust,' or these translations. But it is possible that we may return ere long to the subject, for we know that there are other versions in the wind, and "where the bungler is, there will the critics be gathered together;" so let future translators look to their tackle.
THE AFFGHANISTAN EXPEDITION.
"IN the light of precaution," says Gibbon," all conquest must be ineffectual unless it could be universal; for, if successful, it only involves the belligerent power in additional difficulties and a wider sphere of hostility." All ages have demonstrated the truth of this profound observation. The Romans conquered the neighbouring states of Italy and Gaul, only to be brought into collision with the fiercer and more formidable nations of Germany and Parthia. Alexander overran Media and Persia, only to see his armies rolled back before the arms of the Scythians, or the innumerable legions of India; and the empire of Napoleon, victorious over the states of Germany and Italy, recoiled at length before the aroused indignation of the Northern powers. The British empire in India, the most extraordinary work of conquest which modern times have exhibited, forms no exception to the truth of this general principle. The storming of Seringapatam, and the overthrow of the House of Tippoo, only exposed us to the incursions of the Mahratta horse. The subjugation of the Mahrattas involved us in a desperate and doubtful conflict with the power of Holkar. His subjugation brought us in contact with the independent and brave mountaineers of Nepaul; and even their conquest, and the establishment of the British frontier on the summit of the Himalayan snows, has not given that security to our Eastern possessions for which its rulers have so long and strenuously contended; and beyond the stream of the Indus, beyond the mountains of Cashmere, it has been deemed necessary to establish the terror of the British arms, and the influence of the British name.
That such an incursion into Central Asia has vastly extended the sphere both of our diplomatic and hostile relations; that it has brought us in contact with the fierce and barbarous northern tribes, and erected our outposts almost within sight of the Russian videttes, is no impeachment whatever of the wisdom and expediency of the measure, if it has been conducted with due regard to prudence and the
NO. CCXCII. VOL. XLVII.
rules of art in its execution. It is the destiny of all conquering powers to be exposed to this necessity of advancing in their course. Napoleon constantly said, and he said with justice, that he was not to blame for the conquests he undertook; that he was forced on by invincible necessity; that he was the head merely of a military republic, to whom exertion was existence; and that the first pause in his advance was the commencement of his fall. No one can have studied the eventful history of his times, without being satisfied of the justice of these observations. The British empire in the East is not, indeed, like his in Europe, one based on injustice and supported by pillage. Protection and improvement, not spoliation and misery, have followed in the rear of the English flag; and the sable multitudes of Hindostan now permanently enjoy that protection and security which heretofore they had only tasted under the transient reigns of Baber and Aurungzebe. But still, notwithstanding all its experienced benefits, the British sway in Hindostan is essentially that of opinion; it is the working and middle classes who are benefited by their sway. The interest and passions of too many of the rajahs and inferior nobility are injured by its continuance, to render it a matter of doubt that a large and formidable body of malecontents are to be found within the bosom of their territories, who would take advantage of the first external disaster to raise again the long-forgotten standard of independence; and that, equally with the empire of Napoleon in Europe, our first movement of serious retreat would be the commencement of our fall. Nor would soldiers be wanting to aid the dispossessed nobles in the recovery of their pernicious authority. Whoever raises the standard of even probable warfare, is sure of followers in India; the war castes throughout Hindostan, the Rajpoots of the northern provinces, are panting for the signal of hostilities, and the moment the standard of native independence is raised, hundreds of thousands of the Mahratta horse would cluster around it, ardent to carry the spear and the