Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

scribes, and makes him partake of their agitation. An antiquarian picturesque is frequently introduced, which, particularly to those who are skilled in antiquarian lore, has an indescribable charm ; but his ease is not always laboured, and the attention which it is necessary to exert for understanding the story, and following the clue of the narrative, renders the reader less sensible of the charms of the poetry. One may apply, both to him and Lord Byron, what Cardinal de Retz says of the grand Condé,“ that he did not do justice to the greatness of bis own merits.” We hope, and we believe, that neither has yet produced his greatest work.

Crabbe,-sometimes the Teniers,—sometimes the Salvator Rosa of modern poetry, will accompany those who have been mentioned to posterity. When a person has succeeded so well in one line, it may be imprudent to wish he had engaged in another ; yet it is impossible not to lament that his muse has not oftener frequented the abodes of virtue, of innocence, of comfort and joy.

To return to Mr. Pope,-the merit of his translation of Homer is admitted by every person of learning, taste, and candour. It is true that he often generalizes while Homer dwells in particulars; that he too often expresses the whole, while Homer expresses a part only of what he wishes his readers to understand ; and that by describing common things, or occurrences with too much pomp, he sometimes borders on the burlesque. This may be thought to justify Gibbon's expression, that “ Pope's translation has every merit except that of likeness to its original.”

Melmoth, in bis “Letters of Sir Thomas Fitzosborne," produces several instances in which the translation is, in his opinion, superior to the original. He cites, among them, the celebrated Night Piece in the eighth book of the Iliad. Here we think the admirers of Homer would quarrel with the critic. Melmoth proceeds to contrast different parts of the versions of Pope and Dryden, and gives a decided preference to the former. One passage cited by him is that which describes Andromaché returning after the interview at the Scaean gate to her maidens in the palace. Dryden thus translates the original :

“At this,—for new replies he* did not stay,
But laced his crested helm and strode away; ..
His lovely consort to her honse returned,
And, looking often back, in silence mourned.
Home when she came her secret woe she vents,
And tills the palace with her loud laments.
These loud laments her echoing maids restore,

And Hector, yet alive, as dead deplore.”
It is thus rendered by Pope,

“ 'Thus having said, -the glorious chief resumes
His towry helmet, black with shading plumes.t
His princess parts with a prophetic sigh;
Unwilling parts, and oft reverts her eye,
That streamed at every look,—then, moving slow,
Songht her own palace, and indulged her woe.
There, while lier tears deplored the godlike man;
Through all the train the soft infection ran,

Hector. + Does this convey the meaning of the original ?

# There is no sigh in the original, and Homer certainly would not bave called it “ prophetic.”

Nothing can be less Homeric than this expression.

The pious maids their mingled sorrow sbed,

And mourn the living Hector as the dead." . May not the justice of the preference given by Melmoth to Pope's version of this passage be questioned ? Is not the simplicity of Dryden, homely, perhaps, as it may be, thought greatly preferable to the Ovidian graces of Pope ?

An excuse for the ornaments, with which Pope has studiously attempted to set off his translation, is furnished by the remark of Dr. Johnson, that “ though Virgil wrote in language of the same general fabrick with that of Homer, in verses of the same measure, and in an age nearer to Homer's time by 1800 years, yet he found even then the state of the world so much altered, and the demand for elegancet so much increased, that mere nature would be endured no longer; and that, perhaps, in the multitude of borrowed passages, very few can be shown which he has not embellished.” It is impossible to deny the general justness of this remark; but may not the Reminiscent be allowed to hint, that no embellishment should have been admitted that was contrary to the genius of the original; and to ask whether many embellishments of this kind have not found their way into the translation?

With the translation of Pope that of Cowper will sustain no comparison. It is literal, and may be thought to bear, on that account, a nearer resemblance to the original. It is true, that if it be examined word for word, this will appear to be the case ; but if the

• Where did Pope find the piety of the maids?
+ Would not “ refinement" have been a more proper word ?

general effect of any one speech, or any one narrative, be considered, the result will be very different. Let their translations of that part of the first book of the Hiad, which describes the walk of the priest on the loud-resounding shore, and his address to the chiefs be compared :-which will be found to give the best notions of the exquisite charm of the original ? Even the most orthodoz Grecian must give the palm to Pope. Dr. Johnson pronounces his translation to be a poetical wonder,-a production which no age or nation can pretend to equal.” Is this exaggerated praise? Dryden's translation of the Æneid stands nearest to it; a poet by profession, in search of poetical imagery, poetical combinations, and poetical diction, will perhaps find more of these in Dryden ; but general readers will unquestionably give a decided preference to Pope.

Reminiscences of Charles Butler, Esq.

< THE ROCKY LABYRINTH OF ABERSBACH,

IN BOHEMIA.

.. The village of Abersbach, in Bohemia, situated in a valley at the foot of the Giant Mountains, at the extreme confines of Silesia, is celebrated for the extraordinary groups of rock which rise in its environs, and extend, though with frequent interruptions, as far as Heuscheuer. The village borders on a inost beautiful mead, watered by a small rivulet, which has its source in the midst of this rocky labyrinth. It is bounded on the south by large masses of rock which stand upright, contiguous to each other, and separated only by crevices of different widths. The greater number of them are one hundred feet high or upwards, and present forms which are singularly diversified. Some of them resemble works of art, as columns, walls, towers ; some are bounded at the top by irregular curve lines, though their sides are as perpendicular as if they had been cut by a level. Others are bent in all directions, and their craggy summits, which hang in the air, threaten to descend every moment from their perilous abode. Some of them stand upon an immense base, and diminish as they rise, while others retain the same uniform dimensions from their base to their summits. The bases of many of them are rounded by the action of the waters. The most remarkable of these rocks is that commonly called the inverted sugar loaf, an appellation which sufficiently designates its singular form; and many isolated pillars which, though only a few feet in diameter at the base, elevate themselves amid their compeers like a range of chimneys.

The moment we enter the labyrinth, we perceive on all sides groups of rock, which surprise us the more, because we are not in a situation to examine their height and extent. They encircle a beautiful mead, which may be considered the vestibule of the labyrinth.

An old honest forester generally serves as guide to those whose curiosity leads them to explore this ro

« AnteriorContinuar »