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whether from the general inferiority of translations to their originals, or from a mistaken notion, that a translator cannot be a good poet, (I mean here to speak only of poetry) it is a prejudice that has done much harm to literature, by preventing and discouraging those who are best able to turn their studies that way. How commonly does the world exclaim, when any translation is made by one who has had invention enough to compose an original piece, what pity it is that such a genius should submit to the drudgery of translation; forgetting that the genius of Pope thought it no submission to translate Homer, nor the much greater genius of Dryden to translate Virgil.

It has been said of translators, and it is, I think, pretty nearly the truth, that they should be able to do something like what they translate, i. e. should be almost as good original authors as those they translate; and if we duly consider their necessary qualifications, a nice judgment to distinguish and preserve

all the beauties of their original; a capacity of giving to the manners their strong and lively marks; to the speeches their true character and spirit; to the sentiments, their full force and sublimity; to the descriptions, their natural and animated colours; besides the diction and harmony of verse, which are entirely their own; we shall perceive, that the great distance between the translator and the original will vanish, and be ready to own that translation is not the business of those who can only set a verse upon its feet, and tag together half a dozen couplets.

It is worthy of the attention of a translator to make his poem read like an original. Now this can never be attained by a literal translation; but the question is, what latitude shall be allowed to him? This, I think, depends upon the character of his author. In translating authors of so much judgment as Homer and Virgil, he cannot follow them too closely, if he preserves their fire and spirit

. Their example will best teach him when to be plain, and when figurative and poetical; when to rise into the bold and sublime; when to be humble and unadorned, and when to pay a particular regard to that imitative harmony, in which they themselves so much excel. Yet even here, he must often correct the idioms which are become obsolete and uncouth; he must soften the speeches and the manners, which to this polite age would appear rude and coarse; and in this he can be guided only by his own judgment. But in poets of less eminence he may use greater liberties. He must exercise his taste to discover their defects, and his art to conceal

them. He must lend them spirit where they are dull, and correct that which is too ardent. He must labour to heighten their beauties, and, where they are wanting, he may venture to supply them. In short, I apprehend that translation will bid fairest for success, which has most intrinsic merit, and which reads most like an original.

I have been induced to make these remarks by the pe rusal of a translation lately published at Oxford by Mr. Mickle; who has already favoured the public with two or three original pieces. The translation I mean, is the first book of the Lušiad, a Portuguese Epic Poem in ten books, written by Camoens. Its subject is the famous and useful discovery of the East-Indies, by the way of the Cape of Good Hope, under the conduct of Vasco de Gama. The adventures of this voyage furnished the poet with real incidents, more beautiful and natural than fancy could have framed: and for his machinery he had recourse to the Pagan system.

This celebrated poem, though not equal to the first-rate Epics of Homer, Virgil, and Milton, may well hold a distinguished rank among the second'; and it is with great pleasure that I behold a resolution taken of rendering it into English, by so able a writer as the author of the Concubine,

The first knowledge I had of this translation, was from an extract in your last Magazine, compared with the old translation of Fanshawe: the latter is indeed true to the sense of Camgens; but no more to be compared to Mr. Mickle's, than a prose translation of the Æneid to Dryden's. If you will permit me to give an opinion, Mr. Mickle's translation promises well to stand in competition with any made in the English language. His characters are well preserved and strongly inarked; his speeches have great force and spirit, his descriptions are masterly and sublime; his verse is written in a nervous and lofty diction, and in a fine harmony of numbers, I shall beg leave to praduce a few instances as proofs of these observations.

The character of Mars is finely drawn ; and as great and sublime as any description given of him in the first classics. It is introduced with the following noble simile,

Thus when the storm with sudden gust invades
The ancient forest's deep and lofty shades,
The bursting whirlwinds tear their rapid course;
The shatter'd oaks crash, and with echoes hoarse
The mountains groan, while whirling on the blast
The thick’ning leaves a gloomy darkness cast;

Such was the tumult of the blest abodes,
When Mars, high-towering o'er the rival gods
Stept forth : stern sparkles from his eye-balls glanc'd;
And now, before the throne of Jove advanc'd,
O'er his left shoulder his broad shield he throws,
And lifts his helm above his dreadful brows:
Bold and enrag'd he stands, and frowning round

Strikes with his spearstaff on the sounding ground. The effect of this action is exceedingly noble; the last circumstance particularly is finely imagined;

Heav'n trembled, and the light turn d pale The allusion to the fable of Phaeton, is highly poetical, and ends sublimely,

The bending rowers on their features bore,
The swarthy marks of Phaeton's fall of yore;
When faming lightnings scorch'd the banks of Po,
And nations blacken'd in the dread o'erthrow.

After describing the first engagement with the Indians, the poet goes on thus :

Unnumber'd sea-fowl rising from the shore,
Beat round in whirls at every cannon's roar;
Where o'er the smoke the masts tall heads appear,
Hovering they scream, then dart with sudden fear;
On trembling wings far round and round they fly,
And fill with dismal clang their native sky.
Thus fled in rout confus'd the treacherous Moors,

The turning of one part of the description into a simile and illustration of the other, shews great address, and is a beauty of a new and singular kind, which till now had never a place in any poem.

I might quote many other beautiful passages in this translations particularly the fine description of the Night, and that charming simile of the Pilgrim; but I omit them, that I may have room to say a few words of that part of versification, which is usually called sentimental harmony.

By sentimental harmony, I mean not only the sound of words, considered as rough, smooth, broad, soft, &c. but also the length and cadence of phrase, adapted to any sentia ment. This I conceive to be as capable of being reduced to certain rules, as the science of music is; for sound is equally the object of both. The cadence I consider as equivalent, both to the time, and to the rise and fall of the notes; and the rough, broad, soft sound of words, as expressive of the forte or piano of music. It is much to be desired, that a good treatise were composed on this subject, which would be a standard rule, not only for composition, but pronunciation. If the narrow limits of the voice in speech be mentioned as an objection, let it be remembered, that music does not enjoy a great variety of expression; and that the passions (of grief or joy, for example) are rather to be expressed by the movement, than by the rising or sinking of the notes. But the variety of sound in speech, is not less than of notes in music. Dionysius of Halicarnassus in his treatise De Compositione Verborum, says the voice in speaking may rise or sink two notes and a half from its pitch; each of which is capable of a division, even to the eighth part of a note, as may be demonstrated by algebra; which gives no less than forty different sounds. A difference of time too is constituted, both by the long and short vowels, and by every consonant that enters into a syllable, as the above-mentioned author has clearly proved; so that speech, both for sound and time, is equal in variety, though not in compass, to the notes of music.

Success in this sentimental harmony constitutes one great difference between a pleasing and a disagreeable writer. An harmonious composition disguises a multitude of faults. A nice ear then is as necessary to a fine writer, as to a good musician: it is the only rule whereby he can judge of the length, the cadence, and the sound of phrase, that is best adapted to express particular sentiments; and though it be not always required to make the sound imitate the sentiment, yet a writer without an ear will be continually in danger of making the sound counteract it, which is always to be avoided,

This imitation of the sentiment by the phrase, belongs to prose writers in common with poets; which is evident from hence, that poets in attempting it sometimes fall into prose, a licence not to be allowed, except in the drama. In the above-mentioned translation of the Lusiad, this kind of imi. tative harmony is often happily attained, as may be seen in the following instances.

The bursting whirlwinds tear their rapid course,
The shatter'd oaks crash; and with echoes hoarse,
The mountains groan-P. 36.
The prows, their speed stopt, o'er the surges nod-P. 41.
The watchman's carol echoed from the prows,
Alone, at times, awakes the still repose-P. 44.
There wait; and sudden on the heedless foe
Rush, and destroy them ere they dread the blow.-P. 51.
A sudden storm she rais’d, loud howl'd the blast,
The yard arms rattled, and each groaning mast
Bended beneath the weight.-P. 60.

I shall close my remarks upon this excellent translation, with a fine example of the other kind of imitative harmony, which is produced by a proper choice of words expressive of the subject by their sound. Arms and armour are more fully represented to the imagination by terms of a bold and sonorous tone: accordingly the poet in the following description has selected such words as are composed of open and broad vowels, joined with the roughest consonants. The description in itself is picturesque and masterly.

Strait as he spoke, the magazines displayed
Their glorious shew, where, tire on tire inlaid,
Appear'd of glittering steel the carabines,
There the plum'd helms, and pond'rous brigandines;
O'er the broad buckler's sculptur'd orbs emboss'd,
The crooked faulchions, dreadful blades, were crost;
Here clasping greaves and plaited mailquilts strong,
The long bows here, and rattling quivers hung,
And like a grove the burnish'd spears were seen,
With darts, and halberts double edg'd, between;
Here dread grenadoes and tremendous bombs,
With deaths ten thousand lurking in their wombs;
And far around of brown and dusky red,
The pointed piles of iron balls were spread.
1771, Aug.

D. Z.

XLVI. On the Mistakes of eminent Authors.

MR. URBAN I HAVE often thought, that if a collection were made of the Mistakes. of eminent Authors, proceeding merely from forgetfulness or inattention, it would fill a volume much larger than that of Sir Thomas Brown upon Vulgar Errors. A. Gellius has, in his agreeable manner, given us several oversights of this kind, from Varro, Cicero, Cornelius Nepos, Virgil, and others: to which may be added, a similar one of Plautus in Epidico, A. 1. $. 1.

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