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2. The Adventures of a Young Rifleman in the French
and English Armies during the War in Spain and Por-
tugal, from 1806 to 1816. Written by himself.
3. Adventures of a French Serjeant, during his Cam-
paigns in Italy, Spain, Germany, Russia, &c. from
1805 to 1823. Written by himself.
VI.-Mémoires de Madame la Comtesse de Genlis.
Art. 1.-Jerusalem Delivered ; an Epic -Poem, in Twenty
Cantos; translated into English Spenserian Verse from the Italian of Tasso, &c. &c. By J. H. Wiffen. 8vo. London
and Edinburgh. MUCH didactic prose and poetry has been written upon the
subject of translation: the substance of which may be comprised in an exhortation to translate rather by equivalents than by a literal version of the author's words. If we try the merit of this precept, however, by its fruits, we shall find that, though its adoption may have produced good poetry, it has not often produced the thing required. With the exception of
• Mittitur in disco mihi piscis ab archiepisco
-Po non ponatur quia potus non mibi datur.'
-Hop is not here for he gave me no beer' we do not know of above one good translation executed upon this system in more than a century from the time in which it was most popular. On the other hand, we have many, among the
in the language, and not despicable even as poetry, for which we are indebted to that severe style of version, which was in fashion before the doctrine of equivalents was broached. Among these, many of Ben Jonson's essays rank foremost, and Sandys' Translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses may be deemed a happy specimen of the school.
Yet it must be allowed, that the free is the noble style of translation; that the only versions in our language, which rank as poems, are boldly executed; and that even the closest copyist must at times resort to equivalents, if he would give the real meaning of his original. This, however, is a daring and hazardous course; full of shoals so irregularly scattered, and often seen in such false lights, that there are few who have a sufficient perception of their dangers, or dexterity to avoid them. The most obvious of these dangers are modern and vulgar associations; of which we have spoken at large in a former Number: but there is another, which we do not remember to have seen laid down in any chart of criticism: this is, the resorting to some equivalent, which appears to convey the exact sense of the author, without observing the effect of that equivalent upon other parts of the text, under translation; a risk almost as perilous in its ultimate, though not
VOL. XXXIV. NO. LXVII.
in its immediate, consequences, as the other, to which we have alluded.
Dryden may be considered as the first popular attempter in English of the system of free translation, as it is supposed to be recommended by Horace; we say supposed to be, because we do not think that his words admit the wide inferences which have been drawn from them; and (what is much more important) Ben Jonson, the translator of his Art of Poetry, did not; and well justified in his own practice his different opinion of Horace's meaning. Even Dryden, however, had as strict theoretical notions of the duties of a translator as he could entertain who would follow his author
Non ita certandi cupidus quam propter amorem.' • A translator (says he) is to be like his author: it is not his business to excel him.' This was his theory; but though he may occasionally catch the graces of his author, (besides exhibiting many rare qualities of his own,) can he be said to resemble the poet whom he translates, when he renders Horace's
si celeres quatit
But if she dances in the wind
I puff the prostitute away,' recollecting always, that Horace is speaking of a recognized and severe deity? or, when designating the priests of Cybele as clumsy clergymen, does he convey to us Juvenal's picture of those painted, mitred, and effeminate fanatics? Does he not rather conjure up a vision of portly gentlemen in black worsted stockings, thick shoes, and shovel bats? And yet how full is every translation by him, even his noble Æneid, of faults such as these, produced partly by the ambition of excelling his original, and partly by his indulging in the vicious use of equivalents!
We have already recorded our opinion of Pope's Iliad; but even he has been seduced into violations of the sense of his author by the same cause, by Dryden's example, and by the artificial tone of an age that would have delighted to call the House of Commons the Senate House. He was also, like Dryden, hurried away, and into some wider deviations, by a genius too original and imaginative to suffer him to become a copyist. He seems to have meditated his work in the spirit in which a painter meditates a picture, anxious rather to improve, than exactly to imitate, nature;-whereas, according to our ideas, and according to those professed by Dryden, he should have commenced his task with the feelings of one who is to copy and not to compose: