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XXXIII. HATS OFF!
OR REVERENCE TO ROYAL STATUES.
The Lord Viscount Wimbledon to the Mayor of Portsmouth, &c. "Mr. Mayor, and the rest of your Brethren,
"Whereas at my last being at Portsmouth I did recommend the beautifying of your streets by setting in the signs of your inns to the houses, as they are in all civil towns, so now I must recommend it to you most earnestly in regard of his Majesty's figure or statue, that it hath pleased his Majesty to honour your town with more than any other: so that these signs of your inns do not only obscure his Majesty's figure, but outface it, as you yourselves may well perceive. Therefore I desire you all, that you will see that such an inconveniency be not suffered; but that you will cause, against the next spring, that it be redressed, for that any disgrace offered his Majesty's figure is as much as to himself. To which end, I will and command all the officers and soldiers not to pass by it without putting off their hats. I hope I shall need to use no other authority to make you do it; for that it concerneth your obedience to have it done, especially now you are told of it by myself. Therefore I will say no more, but wish health to you all, and so rest, Your assured loving friend,
Oct. 22, 1635. Wimbledon."*
This Lord Viscount Wimbledon was a general in Charles's army, and a very bad one. He would have made a better master of the ceremonies. In what capacity he sent the above rating to the Worshipful the Mayor and the Aldermen of Portsmouth we are not aware; but he probably had the military command of that town. The officers and courtiers of Charles the First were not very nice in keeping within the jurisdiction of their offices.
* Strafford's Letters and Despatches, vol. i. p. 491.
The old signs, swinging on enormous posts, stuck out in the middle of the streets, as they once were all over England, were decided nuisances very proper to be removed; but the notion of making the disregard of the King's statue almost equivalent to treason, seems very preposterous. Such notions, however, still obtain in certain countries. In 1821, old King Ferdinand, of Naples, stuck up a colossal statue of himself on the grand staircase of the National Museum. It was a work of Canova's, but the genius of that great artist had failed before such a subject; and though poor Ferdinand was costumed all' antica, with the Roman toga round his body, and the Roman helmet on his head, he only looked like an overgrown lazzarone masquerading on a day of Carnival. Orders, however, were given that every person passing this big stone man should take off his hat, and a sentinel was placed hard by, to see these duties performed. This regulation led to some ludicrous scenes. One day some poor students, just arrived from the wilds of Calabria, were challenged because they had not doffed their beavers. "Ma, infine," said they in excuse, "il Re non e il santissimo, ne neppure santo, e non ci tocca di cavar il capello."* "Ma in somma," replied the sentry, " il He e Re, e lastatua suaestatua sua .'" And then he knocked off their hats with the butt-end of his musket. After a very short time, these orders, which originated, we believe, in the Prince of Canosa, a fanatic royalist and a madman, were dropped altogether. They would not go down even at Naples; and it was quite certain the old King, who had rather a lively sense of the ridiculous, had never prescribed them. Bating a trifling damage to hats, this business ended in fun; but the case was very different with the statue of Ferdinand's father, Charles III. of Naples and of Spain. This latter figure stood in the
* "But, after all, the King is not the Host, nor is he eves a saint; and we are not bound to take off our hats to his image." The soldier's words are, " Bnt, in short, the King is King, and his statue is his statue." The poor maccaronieater^s ratiocination was really worthy of my Lord \V imbledon.
Largo, or square del Mercatello, at Naples. As a work of art it was contemptible enough; but it represented a King who certainly deserved more respect from the Neapolitans. However, when the French armies marched in 1798, and made Naples a republic, in the fashionable hatred of all kings the statue was overthrown and broken to pieces. When the Republic, in its turn, was upset, in 1799, a frightful vengeance was taken for this act of disrespect. The noble youths Serra, Riario, and Genzano, were found guilty of high treason, and lost their heads on the scaffold, for having taken part in, or been present at, the demolition of the stone King. They belonged to three of the highest families in the kingdom. Serra and Riario were under twenty years of age; Genzano, a beautiful boy, was not quite sixteen! Other Neapolitans, of obscurer names, fell victims to their iconoclastic zeal in the same manner. The statues of kings were indeed something at Naples in the year 1799!
XXXIV. MISTAKES OF TRANSLATORS.
Is a paper on "Literary Blunders," in the second volume of his "Curiosities of Literature," Mr. D'Israeli gives us a few amusing specimens of the innumerable mistakes which have been committed by translators in all languages. It is our intention to add a few more to the list, and, out of respect to the man, we will begin with Mr. D'Israeli himself. In his third volume, he translates the word custode, which means a keeper, by "a large cap."
In describing the death of Charles IX. of France, whose last hours were embittered by the recollection of the part he had taken in the massacre of Saint Bartholomew, Mr. D'Israeli says that the King, after some talk with Mazzille (Mazzillo), his principal physician, begged him to withdraw his custode, that he might try to rest. The King, as the son of an Italian mother (Catherine of Medici), who had filled the French court with her countrymen, of course spoke Italian; and, be it remarked, he was then speaking to an Italian physician, with whom he would naturally employ his own language. In Italian, the word custode means a guard or keeper, or one who takes care of another; and the term is especially applied to a man having charge of an insane person, in which condition Charles, on account of his remorse, was considered to be by his mother, who had the most urgent motives for preventing him from holding any private intercourse with the then protestant King of Navarre, afterwards Henry IV. of France. In French, there is no such word as custode. Mr. D'Israeli translates it into English by "a large cap." Instead of having their night-caps taken off, people generally have them
?ut on when they wish to go to sleep. But how did the talian physician withdraw this "custode or large cap?" Why, in thecontext, in Mr. D'Israeli's own words, which immediately follow the King's request, it is said that "Mazzillo withdrew, and left orders that all should leave the King except three viz. La Tour, St. Pris, and his nurse, whom his Majesty greatly loved although she was a Huguenot." If the worthy translator had reflected, this ought to have let him into the meaning of the word, and of the wish of the King, which was, that he should be relieved of the presence of his keeper or keepers, (for the term used was probably custodi, the Italian plural,) that he might be quiet. But Mr. D'Israeli cannot get the "large cap" out of his head; and his next words are, "As she (the nurse) had just seated herself on a coffer, and began to doze, she heard the King groan bitterly, weeping and sighing; she then approached the bed softly, and drawing away his custode, (which the translator thinks was the large cap that the doctor had been told to withdraw before,) the King said to her, (being open, and confidential, we suppose, when the night-cap was off!) giving vent to a heavy sigh, and shedding tears plentifully, insomuch that they interrupted his discourse, "Ah! my dear nurse, my beloved woman, what blood! what murders! Ah! I have followed wicked advice!" (meaning the advice of his mother, and the bigoted catholic faction). This makes the matter still more clear. The protestant nurse withdrew the catholic custode, i. e. guard or keeper, placed there by Catherine of Medici, in order that he might not hear what the wretched King said.
We have entered into these explanations to make the mistranslation more amusing; but the mistake itsell is tangible. In French, as we have said, there is no such word; and, in Italian, custode means what we have said, and nothing else. There is also the verb custodire, to guard, watch, keep, take care of, &c.; the noun custodia, in Lat. cura or custodia, and so on. In Italy, the keepers of private madhouses are always called custudi; which term is also applied to men having charge of any person who, from imbecility, or physical weakness, or sickness, is unable to take care of himself.
We have one affecting instance of the use of this word by an English nobleman; a very accomplished Italian scholar, and (until his fine intellect was deranged by a deplorable malady) a man of exquisite taste, wit, and humour; we mean the late Lord O— and W—. Even after the time it was deemed necessary to put his person under restraint, his lordship had frequently lucid intervals, during which he received the visits of a few chosen
friends. On one occasion, the excellent Mr. H , the
historian, found him alone with a gentlemanly-looking person dressed in black, whom he took for a physician or
a visiter. As Mr. H was hesitating about taking a
chair until this person was seated, his lordship said "E solamente il custode" (it is only the keeper).
Mr. dTsraeli, however, has given various proofs of his small knowledge of the Italian language; and as he almost invariably culled his exotic curiosities from French writers alone, he is sometimes misled in his nomenclature, and commits mistakes when those writers treat of matters that are not national or French. Thus he calls the Italian King, Manfredi (so well known to English readers as Manfred), by the French-translated name of Mainfroid, which would be unintelligible to many. This is almost as bad as an ignorant book-maker, who, trans