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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, translating an elementary work on history for the edification of English youths, retained all the vile travestimentos of classical names, calling, after his French original, Herodotus, Herodote; Pythagoras, Pythagore ;• Livy, TiteLive; Julius Caesar, Jules-Cesar; Suetonius, Suetone; &c.
Nor is the author of the 'Curiosities of Literature' always correct, even in translating things which are wholly French. There is a singular instance of this in his article on the burlesque poet Scarron, in his third volume, where he spoils the best line of that poet's rhymed petition to the Queen of France, which said line, moreover, is a popular ami most common French proverb.
After explaining to her Majesty all his wants and sufferings, Scarron ends by saying that, in spite of all his bad luck, he keeps up his spirits:—
"Et pourtant faisant par courage
Mr. d'Israeli changes the preposition a (at or to,) into the conjunction et (and), and tianslates the two verses most lamely thus :—
"And yet, in spite of all, very courageously showing a hearty countenance, though indeed he plays a losing game." This is neither one thing nor the other. It would be better, "And yet, by his courage keeping a cheerful countenance at a very losing game." The French proverb, which is much older than the time of Scarron, is,—
"Ilfautfaire bonne mine a mauvais jeu;"
the point of which is wholly lost by the author of the 'Curiosities of Literature,' though, indeed, like most proverbs, it can be properly rendered only by some equivalent saw in English.
* Pythagore is pronounced in French almost as if it were written Peter Gore, which made our friend Leigh Hunt say humorously, "they might as well call him Peter Jenkins." See Introduction to the "Feast of the Poets."
The French as a nation have been rather distinguished by their neglect and contempt of all languages save their own; and among those who have mistranslated foreign idioms and mis-spelt foreign words, their travellers deserve a pre-eminent post. One Monsieur Grosley, who wrote about the beginning of the reign of George the Third, committed a most amusing variety of mistakes of both these kinds. He told the good people of Paris, on the authority of M. Condamine, a valuable correspondent, that the boys in London would sometimes call a Frenchman son babitch (we will not correct the orthography) ; that the orator of the House of Commons was called Le Spilt (Speaker) ; and that when members would claim attention to what was said in debate, they shouted ya ! ya I
As this Sieur Grosley was so well qualified for it, he went occasionally into disquisitions on the orthography and orthoepy of English words; and he made the notable discovery that the English people pronounced the name of Cromwell as though it were spelt Caramuel. He was only a very short time in England, where some wicked wags must have amused themselves with his ignorance of the language, and have imposed on his credulity by mistranslating words of very different meaning or orthography, but which have the same, or nearly the same, sound when hastily pronounced. To obtain the character of an attentive observer, the ingenious Frenchman sometimes said that he himself had seen the marvellous things he described. Thus, in speaking of the melancholy character of the English people and their predilection for suicide, he said that high balustrades were placed upon all the bridges of London, to prevent them from drowning themselves; and that the banks of the Thames were, as far as possible, carefully blocked up—and that yet, in spite of all these cares, he himself saw eight-and-twenty skulls taken up from that part of the river where a new bridge (Blackfriars) was building. Here had evidently been some wag's double-entendre, and play upon the words —skull, the bone which incases and defends the human brain, and scull, a sort of boat-oar. But on the subject of oars, poor Grosley was destined to be very unfortunate, and to make a mistake that seriously committed the moral reputation of our London watermen from Wapping old stairs to Vauxhall ferry; for he told the good people of' France, who. no doubt, religiously believed the assertion, that he never approached the water-side, but those shameless men came running after him from the public-houses crying out "Des putaines, des putaines, voulez-vous des putaines f"
Our traveller described the fashionable amusement of le boulingrin (the bowling-green) ; and was very eloquent on the subject of our church-windows, employing another little bit of English on the occasion. The light admitted by those large windows,he tells us,is "necessairesatis doute sous mi del communement embrume, mats eblouissant dans les Glorious Dai."
It should appear that up to that time the French nation had remained ignorant of the nature of an English convivial toast. M. Grosley enlightened them on this head, telling them that " le Tost " is that portion of the day in England in which, when the cloth is removed after dinner, when the ladies have retired and the dining-room has been suffisamment garnie de pots-de-chambre, chacun, les coudes sur la table, se faisant passei' de fun a [autre, les bouteilles, boit et arrange Tetat.
Another French tourist, who published his observations on England shortly after the peace of 1815, gave some additional information regarding fe lost, which will be new to some of our readers.
"In the Bacchanalian exercise of the tost, the lover gives his mistress, the merchant his correspondent, the clergyman his bishop, the bishop his primate, and the primate the Protestant cause; and thus they all get drunk in the politest manner in the world."
The same ingenious writer called our pugilistic combats " Le Boxk." Everybody, he says, knows the passion of all classes and conditions of the English for the Boxk; and he adds, "The Boxk is an indispensable part of a gentleman's education,—fathers and mothers make their children fight in their presence; the professors do the same in all schools and colleges, and the Boxkeurs begin by butting with their heads like rams." (Shades of Cribb, Gulley, Belcher, and Dutch Sam, how your noble science of defence has been traduced by the ignorance of a Frenchman !) The extravagant amateurs (les amateurs outres) of horse-racing, we are informed, are called "Black-legs," from the colour of their boots, which they never take off. (Query, did Monsieur wear white, boots ?) The "Bond-street loungers" are said to derive the name from a light repast in the middle of the day, which they take in the eating-houses, and which is called a lounge((\y. lunch ?). The patriots of England, according to another accomplished French tourist, are called Wigghes, from the Isle of Wiggh, where all runaway matches are made. But this is less amusing than the felicitous accuracy of a Parisian journalist, who translates the title of our newspaper, " The Independent Whig," by " La Perruque Inde'pendante."
The intelligent Spaniard, the Rev. Blanco White, who from his long residence among us, and his devotion to our literature, has attained to write English with classical purity, relates two very amusing errors he fell into when he first visited our capital. "I still recollect," he says, " the unlucky hit I made on my arrival in London, when, anxious beyond measure to catch every idiomatic expression, and reading the huge inscription of the Cannon Brewery at Knightsbridge, as the building had some resemblance to the great cannon foundry in this town (Seville), I settled it in my mind that the genuine English idiom for what I now should call casting, was no other than brewing cannon. This, however, was a mere verbal mistake. Not so that which I made when the word ' Nursery' stared me in the face every five minutes, as in a fine afternoon I approached your great metropolis, on the western road. Luxury and wealth, said I to myself, in a tone approaching to philosophic indignation, have at last blunted the best feelings of nature among the English! Surely, if 1 am to judge from this endless string of nurseries, the English ladies have gone a step beyond the unnatural practice of devolving their first