« AnteriorContinuar »
Ad lunam auditur noctua mosta queri; Secretis si quis propiùs penetralibus errans Rumpat inaccessæ jura vetusta domûs. Audin'! ut insanos animi cessare tumultus Quæ spirat late pax veneranda jubet; Eque solo tenui gratissima voce susurrat, Crede, manet fessos non violanda quies."
The classical reader will not accuse us of indiscriminate panegyric, if we decline to find any fault in these lines. It is true, indeed, that the opening stanzas of the poem are by far the easiest to invest with a classical garb : they are almost entirely descriptive, and the images presented fall with more or less facility into any language: it is the subsequent train of sentiment and reflection, awoke by those images, which it is so difficult, if not impracticable, to embody in a Latin version. But this in no degree detracts from the honour due to the Oxford translator: he has shown that he knows his own strength, and the capacities of the language; and he has triumphed where others and those scholars of no ordinary pretensions-have conspicuously failed.
The following lines of Coleridge, translated into asclepiads by Mr Smith, show that his powers of versification are not confined to elegiacs:"As late each flower that sweetest blows I plucked, the garden's pride, Within the petals of a rose
A sleeping Love I spied:
All purple glowed his cheek beneath,
I softly seized the unguarded Power,
"Dum, quæcunque viget copia narium, Horti delicias persequor, in rosæ Nuper flore jacentem
Vidi fortè cupidinem ;
But we cannot speak in eulogistic terms of some other contributors to the Anthology. The following specition is, in our opinion, below mediomen of Mr George Butler's composicrity. It is designed for a version of Wordsworth's "Lucy," which is composed of three stanzas, characterised by peculiar simplicity-a trait which would have secured it a better fate at the hands of another translator. The first of these stanzas is thus massacred by Mr Butler
"She dwelt among the untrodden ways, Beside the springs of Dove;
A maid whom there were none to praise, And very few to love."
"Avia quà tacito perrepit flumine Dova,
Exiguam tenuit nostra puella domum: Rarus eam, semper rarus laudator adibat : Vix quoque, qui colerent, unus et alter
It is fortunate that the reputation of the Oxford Anthology does not We never saw a version disfigured by repose upon Mr Butler's shoulders. the English is painfully diluted: and so many faults. In the first place, for this there is no excuse; for full expression has been given to the original in the subjoined elegiac couplet, by Mr De Teissiez of Corpus Christi College :
"Avia tesqua fovens, curvæ propè flumina Devæ,
Parca procis Virgo, nescia laudis, erat."
The effect of semper rarus is extremely awkward; it is evidently not intended for an oxymoron: if it had been so designed, it would have been a very tasteless employment of that figure. As it stands, it presents the most grotesque, self-neutralising aspect imaginable. And we cannot, for the life of us, discern any distinction between laudator and colerent. Colo is not the classical expression for love; it usually signifies the homage paid by a dependant to his patronthe deference shown by man to man, not the devotion of a lover: instead of being distinguished from laudator,
it exactly corresponds to it. In the succeeding lines the translator is not a whit happier :
"A violet by a mossy stone,
"Scilicet occulta violæ crescebat ad instar, Quæ lapidis musco semioperta latet; Tam pulchra, ætherio quam quæ nitet unica
Stella, tenebroso clarior orta polo."
Adinstar is declared by the highest authority (see Andrew's Latin Dictionary) to be a post-classical usage. Lapidis musco is of very doubtful propriety as a classical construction. Etherio cælo is a terribly hackneyed phrase, appropriated by every tiro from the "Gradus ad Parnassum: " and-worse than all-the word calo is in the very next line repeated in the equivalent polo. To say nothing of the alliteration-torturing to every classical ear-it is rather superfluous to have two skies in the same couplet, especially when in the original English, as well as in the constitution of the universe, only one exists. Tenebroso is not only a gratuitous intrusion, like polo, but it is a false epithet. We, at any rate, have never seen stars shining in a dark night; but-no question-Mr George Butler* knows better how these things are arranged.
It would be injustice both to the Anthology and to our readers to omit the following exquisite gem, Mr Roundell Palmer's version of Wordsworth's Laurel:
""Tis sung in ancient minstrelsy
That Phoebus wont to wear
The leaves of any pleasant tree
A laurel in the grove.
His brow with laurel green;
Into the mists of fabling time
And to the tomb for rescue flies,
"Phœbus, ut prisci memorant poetæ,
Donec audacem fugiens amorem
Inde per cunctos pia turba vatum
Sic ab arcanis veterum tenebris
Quæ, nisi juncti coeant amores,
With one exception-the grammatical oversight in provocans morti, the construction undoubtedly requiring ad mortem-we are only at a loss what most. to admire in this translation: the harmonious modulation of the rhythm, the ease and facility of the construction, the close fidelity to the original, combined with an exquisitely classical tone, which gives it all the air of a native effusion. May the example of its gifted and eminent author inspire the juvenile votaries of the classical Muse on the banks of the Isis! His name will, at any rate, never cease to remind them that there is not quite the antipathy between elegant scholarship and forensic or parliamentary fame which certain Liberals would have them believe. Space, unhappily, forbids the citation of his brother, Mr Edwin Palmer's, translation of Spencer's Daphne into Latin
And poets sage, in every age,
About their temples wound
The bay; and conquerors thanked the gods elegiacs. They will be found at p. With laurel chaplets crowned. 111, and are written in a style which
*It is only fair to say, that at page 83 of the Anthology a set of Greek hers meters will be found, executed in a style very creditable to this gentleman's Greek scholarship.
shows that the classical vein is rich in his family.
We hardly think Mr Linwood has consulted well for the classical fame of Lord Grenville, by inserting so large a proportion of that nobleman's translations. We say translations, for the original effusions in the latter section of the volume fully sustain that reputation for taste and elegance which we always associate with the name of Grenville. The latter speak for themselves; but it concerns us to establish solid grounds for the opinion we have expressed of Lord Grenville's Versions from Modern Poetry. We will accordingly present to the reader a few specimens of these compositions, vouching that they shall be fair samples of their average quality. At page 21 we find the 137th Psalm rendered into Latin elegiacs. The first verse
"By the rivers of Babylon we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Sion," is represented by four Latin lines"Euphratis ripe acclines, ubi limite longo Porrecta, Assyriæ tristia culta patent, Amissam memores patriam, sanctumque Siona
Flevimus, et summi diruta templa Dei." Will any one contend that the exquisite pathos and melancholy tenderness of the original are not utterly lost and frittered away? In the first two lines, Lord Grenville has violated the axiom, that deep emotion, whether expressed in profound melancholy, or angry invective, or passionate sorrow, never indulges itself, finds no relief, in prolix local description. One touch of the Poet's pen, "by the rivers of Babylon," designates the scene, which itself is all-important, once for all; but in the noble translator's feeble expansion the idea evaporates, the energy and the pathos of simplicity are lost. It reminds us exactly of a schoolboy's expedient, anxious only to fill up the line, no matter at what sacrifice of relevancy, taste, or harmony. The same fatal languor of expression haunts the following distich: its redundancy and repetition are totally incompatible with strong feeling. In justice to Lord Grenville, we can only suggest that what the editor has published as his choicest effusions, were in reality mere school
boy exercises, religiously embalmed and preserved by the affection of friends or relatives, and afterwards injudiciously published without any distinction of date, which would have enabled the critic to contrast the crude performances of the boy with the severe taste of the ripe and gifted scholar. The succeeding couplet is, however, a far more adequate version of the following line: "We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof:"—
"At quà moesta salix invisam offuderat umbram,
Pendebant tacitæ, pristina cura, lyræ." The epithet "tacitæ," and the apposition" pristina cura," are far from censurable additions; they develop, instead of weakening, the sentiment. A few lines below, we find a very suspicious quantity in ergone. Such licenses were, however, common in the less fastidious days of Lord Grenville.
We will give the following version of Thomson's "Redbreast" at length, as it consists of a few lines only:— "The redbreast, sacred to the household gods,
Wisely regardful of the embroiling sky,
His annual visit. Half-afraid, he first Against the window beats; then, brisk, alights
On the warm hearth; then, hopping o'er the floor,
Eyes all the smiling family askance ; And pecks, and starts, and wonders where he is ;
Till, more familiar grown, the table-crumbs Attract his slender feet."
"Ingenuæ mentis, pulchræque rubecula for
Conviva, et nostris hospes amica focis, Quæ patrios olim campos saltusque relinquis,
Frigus ubi et brumæ sævior hora venit; Et rostro primum pulsans alâque fenestram Perlustras dubio lumine cauta domumFrustula tum raptim excipiens furtiva recedis,
Mox repetis tenuem non satiata cibum ; Hospitium donec certosque experta Penates,
Lascivis vostros fortior ante pedes." It is impossible to deny the elegance and spirit of these verses, and equally impossible to deny that Lord Grenville has paraphrased where he ought to have translated, and has chosen elegiacs where he ought to
have chosen hexameters. cond error clearly was the parent of the first metrical exigencies inserted the first line, which, though confessedly a pretty, is quite a gratuitous piece of additional colouring. In the third the epithets, which Thomson never destined for expletives, are summarily cancelled, and that without any plea of metrical necessity: the remaining lines are elegant, but needlessly periphrastic. We are astonished that the structure of the English original, the cadences, breaks and pauses, did not naturally suggest the Virgilian bexameter as the fittest vehicle for a Latin version: a passage less congenial to elegiacs could scarcely have been found.
We turn from Lord Grenville to another patrician contributor, the Marquess of Wellesley, eminently successful, in our opinion, in both paths of composition. At the ninety-sixth page of the Anthology will be found a translation of Milton's "Speech of the Genius of the Wood" into Virgilian hexameters, at once classical and faithful. It is too long to quote here; but we cannot resist the temptation of presenting to the reader the following beautiful lines in honour of Eton, as full of piety as they are of eloquence :
Mr W. B. Jones, Fellow of University College, is a very frequent contributor to this collection. Shrewsbury prepossessions on the part of the editor may in some degree account for this; for Mr Jones, though many of his pieces are not devoid of elegance and taste, is by no means the Coryphæus of the Anthology. Shortly after the appearance of the volume, a contemporary * of considerable and sertion that the translation of Shakedeserved reputation ventured the asspeare, at p. 52, "might appear as a recovered fragment of Terence, without the most acute scholar being able ternal evidence aloue." It is difficult to impeach its genuineness from into say whether extravagant eulogy renders its author or its victim most ridiculous. The challenge thus rashly given was not long unanswered. The Classical Museum took up the gauntlet, and exposed four blunders within nine verses-blunders whose flagrancy must, we fear, exclude this modern
* The Christian Remembrancer, No. lvii., art. "Anthologia Oxoniensis."
VOL. LXXVI.-NO. CCCCLXIX.
Nec desiderii disperiere notæ.
Obruet antiqui fœderis indicium." No foreign version can adequately express the deep melancholy pathos of this passage. We doubt, however, whether it would have fared much better in other hands.
We turn with pleasure to the contributions of Mr John Conington, the recently appointed Professor of Latin in the University of Oxford, an election of great promise to the cause of classical scholarship. Space will not allow of our doing full justice to his compositions: the following, however, may be quoted as a fair specimen :"By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed, By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed; By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned, By strangers honoured, and by strangers
What though no friends n sable weeds
Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a
The emphasis of the four first lines is here admirably preserved. We cannot help thinking, however, that, in the fourth line, auxit is an awkward expression in connection with cultum busto. It is unfortunate, too, that luctus is repeated in the seventh verse, after its occurrence in the fourth; then fallax is by no means an equivalent for polished; it substitutes a totally different idea: capiat murmura is surely a very bald prosaic phrase; and multo flore is not rising flowers.
contributor to the Anthology can disIn Greek composition scarcely any pute the palm with Mr Riddell. At page 60 there is a version of some noble lines of Byron into Homeric hexameters an exquisite gem and there are several of his translations from Shakespeare into Greek iambics Greek tragedians with fidelity to the which embody the pure idiom of the English, and without the slightest We much pedantry or affectation. regret that this collection presents but one specimen of Mr Osborne Gordon's well-known taste and scholarship: it consists of a few lines on Sir F. Chantrey's "Monument to Two Children," in Lichfield Cathedral, which represent to admiration the icy coldness and the antithetical conceit for which Greek epitaphs are proverbial.