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deposition taken in perpetuam, to convict the deponent of perjury, when it had become, by act of law, an absolute nullity for every civil purpose for which it was taken. I freely admit, that the writer was perfectly at liberty to indulge in learned criticism on the merit of the decision. If it was erroneous, no one will say, that it was oppressive; for it was in favor of the defendant. If it was hasty, as the writer intimates, it arose from the necessity of ruling a point of evidence, while the parties and their counsel were waiting to proceed.
The young writer indulges in a strain of common-place reproach and puerile levity of insinuation, on the manner in which the criminal justice is administered, both here and in England, and the neglect of lawyers to that branch of professional duty. Now, it cannot be just to impute to the criminal courts the neglect of the legal profession to attend their sittings. If they find it more congenial to their feelings, or more profitable, to devote their learning and services to the civil tribunals, however it may be lamented, it ought not to be imputed as a reproach to the courts. But we were not aware that the municipal court was peculiarly liable to this accusation. We have often seen our most eminent lawyers, as they were in this case, engaged in this court, exerting their splendid talents in the defence of the unfortunate — not always with success, but always with honor to themselves, and to the credit of the public justice. Perhaps this court, and its acts, are as well known to the citizens of Massachusetts, as any other of its domestic tribunals. Certainly, no pains have been taken to conceal them from the public. It may suffer occasionally from ignorance and misrepresentation; but it has found ample support in a learned and candid profession, and in the not unfrequent expression of public opinion in its favor.
My object is not to discourage “G. B.” from further learned commentaries on this or on any other professional subject; but to ask of you, Mr. Editor, to insert the report of the case from the Law Reporter for July last, that your readers may see both sides of the question.
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A writer in the last October number of the Edinburgh Review thus concludes his notice of Ranke's History of the Popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries :
“Our readers will have great reason to feel obliged to us, if we have interested them sufficiently to induce them to peruse professor Ranke's book. We will only caution them against the French translation, — a performance, which, in our opinion, is just as discreditable to the moral character of the person from whom it proceeds, as a false affidavit or a forged bill of exchange would have been ; and advise them to study either the original, or the English version, in which the sense and spirit of the original are admirably preserved.”
WOL, XXV.-NO, L. 17
What the particular faults were, which the reviewer considers so discreditable to the moral character of the translator, we are not positively told ; but we are left to infer, negatively, and we have a right to infer, that they were of such a nature as to prevent the sense and spirit of the original from being exhibited through the translation. In the English version, which is expressly contrasted with the French, the reviewer says, that “the sense and spirit of the original are admirably preserved;” which is of course equivalent to saying, that the French translation is faulty in both these respects. The reviewer is undoubtedly correct in considering it the duty of a translator to preserve in his work the sense and spirit of his author; but, if he means to be understood to say, that a neglect of this duty is in all cases as discreditable to the moral character as perjury, or forgery, we must take the liberty to differ from him entirely. The moral guilt of mistranslation must depend partly upon the intention of the translator, and partly upon the object which he thereby proposes to effect, or, in other words, upon the nature and amount of the injury, of which the mistranslation is the instrument; and it is easy, therefore, to conceive of many cases of mistranslation, in which, if there be any thing worthy the name of guilt, it is a guilt far less in degree than that of perjury or forgery. Still, there is no denying, that a defective translation is a sort of crimen falsi, which, without reference to its object, is in itself morally wrong. He, who undertakes a translation, as a job of work, for a bookseller, spondet peritiam artis, like any other artificer, and is legally responsible in the same manner; but one, who undertakes a translation as a literary work, not only takes upon himself the responsibilities of an original author to the public, but also charges himself with other duties to the author of the book which he translates. So far as the public, for which a work is translated, is concerned, the translator is in some sort the