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maternal duties upon domestic hirelings. Here, it seems the poor helpless infants are sent to be kept and suckled in crowds, in a decent kind of Foundling-hospitals. You may easily guess that I knew but one signification of the words nursing and nursery. Fortunately, I was not collecting materials for a book of travels during a summer excursion; otherwise I should now be enjoying all the honour of the originality of my remarks on the customs and manners of old England."*
In the new ' Dictionnaire de la Conversation et de la Lecture,' a work of great pretension,—wherein peers of France write, and every man signs his own name, and mostly at length, and which is now in course of publication in livraisons, or parts, at Paris,—we have just been shown the following very laughable mistranslation.
Monsieur H. Bouchitte', in writing the life of the German theosophist and mystic visionary, Jacob Boehm, gives a list of his numerous works, among which he sets down as one, ' Reflections on Isaiah's boots.' Now these said reflections were applied by Boehm to a theological and controversial treatise, written by a learned divine called Isaiah Stiefel; but Stiefel, as well as being a family name, is the German word for the English boot, French botte, and hence, with the help of a little blundering, came M. Bouchitte's " Reflexions sur les bottes d'Isaie."
The English translator of Beckman's ' History of Inventions,' calls Barnabb Visconti, one of the signors, or lords of Milan, the Viscount Bamabbo; but this is nothing compared with Hoole, the translator, or traitor f of Tasso and Ariosto, who renders, " / colubri Viscontei," or Viscontian snakes (meaning the arms, or crest of that family), by " the Calabrian Viscounts!"
The French tranlsator of one of Walter Scott's novels, knowing nothing of that familiar name for toasted-cheese, "a Welsh rabbit," rendered it literally by " un lupin du
* Letters from Spain, by Don Leucadio Doblado. + According to an Italian saying, / traduttori sono traditori, or, "Translators are traitors."
pays de Galles," or, a rabbit of Wales, and then told his readers in a note, that the lapins, or rabbits of Wales, have a very superior flavour, which makes them be in great request in England.
The writer of the Neapolitan government paper, 'II Giornale delle due Sicilie,' was more ingenuous. He was translating from some English newspaper the account of a man who had killed his wife by striking her with a poker, and at the end of his story the honest journalist, with a modesty unusual in his craft, said " Non sappiamo per certo se qvestopohero Inglese, sia vno strumento domestico o bensi chirurgico "—(We are not quite certain whether this English poker (pokero) be a domestic or surgical instrument).
During the last war, an English newspaper told its readers that the whole army of the Archduke Charles was "on horseback, upon the Danube." The reporter of this startling news had been translating from the Moniteur, and did not happen to know the value of a common French military idiom—etre a cheval, "to be on both sides of," and signifying, in this instance, that a part of the archduke's army was on the left, and part on the right bank of the Danube.
A writer in the Quarterly Review, in translating from an interesting Italian pamphlet, which gave an account of the sudden seizure by French gensdarmes of the person of Pius VII., makes the Pope say, " Here we are, and here we must remain ;" while the Italian idiomatic expression, " Ci siamo e bisogna starvi," meant " We are in trouble, and we must face it," or, more familiarly, "We are in for it, and must get out of it as well as we can." But the " bisogna starci," which may be rendered into French by 3 y jatitfaire face, meant anything rather than "here we must remain ; " which desponding expression spoiled the whole context, and gave a false notion of the old Pope's conduct, which was firm and spirited on that trying occasion.
In a surgical treatise on diseases of the bladder, the English author, in order to avoid a coarser expression, says, that in such a time after an operation which he recommends, the patient will be able " to turn to the wall." This, an ingenious surgeon in the south of Italy, who very laudably employed himself in translating and publishing English medical works, but who knew English only from the study of such books, rendered by " epoi, guarito del sue male il paziente avra la forza di rovesciare un muro," (" and then, cured of his disorder, the patient will have strength to knock down (or overturn) a wall"). Our surgeon stopped there; but had he been such a philosophic raisonneur as the Frenchman who explained Welsh rabbits, no doubt he would have gone on to say, that in England, where they are built of bricks, walls are much easier to knock down than in Italy, where they are built of stones. A bookseller of Naples announced, by means of a placard in large letters, stuck on the walls, that he had just published a discourse on St. Paul's Epistles—Discorso suite Pistole di San Paolo. "What an absurdity," cried an English tourist, "the
Cistolsof Saint Paul!" and he made "a prief in his noteook," which, for all that we know to the contrary, may have been published long ago, giving it as an instance of the sad ignorance prevalent at Naples, where people wrote books about pistols, in days when, as everybody knew, there was no gunpowder. It did not strike him that, though pistole means pistols, it also means epistles, and that the Italians may write with equal propriety, VEpistole, or le Pistole, the latter being the form more generally used. In spoken language there is a difference in the accentuation of the word; it is pistola with the accent on the penultimate syllable, when the fire-arm is meant; and pistola, when letter or epistle.
The following tirade, though not exactly a mistranslation, must have the effect of one on many persons who may happen to look into the already mentioned 'Dictionnaire de la Conversation et de la Lecture' for the meaning of the word "Bishop ;" and the whole passage is so curious, that it deserves being preserved in our Book of Table-Talk.
"Bishop," says Monsieur le Docteur Charbonnier, the author of the article, "is a vinous punch, so called in Holland, and some other northern countries, where they make use of it at the theatres, balls, and other assemblies where pleasure is the aim. This word 'Bishop'" (but here we must give the French)—" Ce mot Bishop signifie eveque en Anglais, and it probably designates a drink fit for a bishop (eveque), or a luxurious drink. It is prepared with as much promptitude as facility, by pouring into good red wine, warmed and sugared, a quantity of the following tincture, the proper proportion of which is ascertained by tasting the mixture: take of orange-peelings two ounces, of cloves one ounce, of nutmeg, one ditto: steep these (he does not tell us in what liquid,—an inexcusable omission) during a month in a vessel carefully closed." After this direction, which puts us in mind of the glee,—
"Nutmeg and ginger, cinnamon and cloves,
the learned doctor moralizes on the subject. "People," he says, "may reproach a humble priest of the temple of Hygeia, like myself, for propagating the knowledge of a liquor that does not conform with the sober precepts of that goddess. I feel the justice of the reproach; and these lines would have been condemned to oblivion by a scruple of conscience, but for the reflection that Bishop is a less intoxicating drink than Punch made with rum, or rack, or brandy; and that it is useful to substitute for dangerous agents, other agents that are less dangerous. It has also been conceived, that there would be an advantage in showing people how to vary their liquors, which are not without their use in cold climates, and during the nights we consecrate to pleasures, which, also, Hygeia does not exactly approve of; pleasures, however, which her priests (the doctors) regard with an indulgent eve, for fear of passing for over-severe censors, who are always unwelcome, and, above all, to the eyes of the more beautiful half of our species."
Sound moralist—gallant priest of the Goddess of health —most excellent physician! May you long live to drink mulled wine, to write in the Cyclopaedia, or Dictionary of Conversation, and swell that 'Repertory of Usual Knowledge ' * with matters that are equally useful and entertaining. We like the preparation ourselves, having often drunk Bishop at Geneva and Lausanne, where the wintry winds from the Alps and the Lake make much colder weather than Horace ever felt in Italy, where, " Ligna super foco large reponens," he set in for the night, to make himselt comfortable over a jar of red Falernian. Ce punch vineux, as M. Charbonnier calls it, seemed to be in pretty general use among the Genevese, but they called it by a German and not an English name,—Bischo/, and not Bishop. Thus, we believe, our own bench of prelates had nothing to do with the invention of it.
XXXV. A CHAPTER ON HANGING
The leading and main incident in Mr. Theodore Hook's strange novel called "Maxwell," is the resuscitation of a man who had suffered the last penalties of the law; and a great deal of pathos and tragical interest is worked out from this event, without much attention to legal points, which novel-readers do not care for, and which the author probably did not understand.
During the frenzy of the French revolution, when the people of Paris carried to the lamp-posts, and ropes across the street that supported the lanterns which illuminated the city by night, all such gentlemen as were suspected of royalist principles, there were several instances of men who were only half-hanged coming to life again. But then executions were always performed in a hurry, and by unprofessional hands. The humorous Abbe
de was saved by a witty speech: as the mob were
seizing him, and crying out d la lanterne,he turned round,
* "Connoissances usuelles." Usuelles here means things usually or commonly useful.