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six syllables to represent the shorter, we see that the metre of Horace's Scriberis Vario' finds its representative in the metre of Mr. Tennyson's Dream of Fair Women.'” We shall quote
‘ a few stanzas of this ode to enable our readers to judge more conveniently :
“ Dream of Fair Women.
That man, of all the men I ever knew,
Most touch'd my fancy. 0, what days and nights
Harvest of ripe delights,
What wit! what words! what sweet words, only made
To be so richly stay'd!
My Hercules, my gallant Antony,
Contented there to die!
Sigh'd forth with life : then I shook off all fear,
Miles te duce gesserit.
Nec salvam Pelopis domum,
Culpa deterere ingenî.
Tydiden Superis parem ?
Non præter solitum leves."
A tuneful swan, shall bear you on his wing,
Mighty alike to sing.
Not mine such themes, Agrippa ; no, nor mine
To chant the wrath that fillid Pelides' breast,
Nor Pelops' house unblest.
And she, who makes the peaceful lyre submit,
And yours by my weak wit.
In adamant mail, or Merion black with dust
Strong against gods to thrust?
Who, with pared nails, encounter youths in fight;
Her temper still is light.”
Mr. Martin's Translation.
In strains Mæonic chanted,
Have won with swords undaunted.
My lyre essay'd, nor bold
O'er oceans manifold ;
Such flights too soaring are !
With its thin notes to mar.
Mars' adamantine mail,
Made even immortals quail ?
In careless mirthfulness
When lovers hotly press.” We have made these quotations at length, because the comparison of the two translations with Horace and with Tennyson is full of interest the closer we look into them. It cannot fail, we think, to strike any scholar on the most cursory glance how much nearer the tone of Mr. Conington's rhythm lies to the Latin than Mr. Martin's. Nor does it seem any exaggeration to say, that when we compare with
“Scriberis Vario fortis, et hostium
Victor, Mæonii carminis aliti,” the lines
By Varius shall thy prowess be
In strains Mæonic chanted," we are again instantly reminded of the dandling motion of a person chanting to an infant. The effect is necessarily at the opposite pole of the grave courtesy and studied simplicity of Horace, a courtesy always heightened by the ineffable varnish of bonhomie, nowhere more conspicuous than in Horace, and the invariable accompaniment of the highest breeding. It is a curious thing, too, to observe how perpetually the plunge of the rhythm betrays the translator into exaggeration in translation. Perhaps the temper of mind which led to one naturally resulted in the other. Be this as it may, to take an example out of five thousand,
pulvere Troico Nigrum; a beautiful and powerful application of the simple word "black,” Mr. Martin distorts into “grimed,” which, besides a tinge of vulgarity, misses the true grace and vehemence of the original. Mr. Conington said well,
black with dust Of Troy We look in vain in the translation of Mr. Martin for the true poetic touches of the ode. “Carminis aliti,” “gravem
, Pelidæ stomachum cedere nescii," “sævam Pelopis domum,” “imbellis lyræ Musa potens," “ laudes culpá deterere ingeni," are all smothered in cominonplace: “ strains Mæonic,” “swords undaunted,” “ gallant troops,'
my lyre essay'd," “woes of Pelops' futed line," " soaring flights," “bashful Muse,” “ careless mirthfulness,”—all which are certainly not English poetry, and equally not Horace, than whom no poet, perhaps, departing so little from the analogies of spoken language, ever illustrated more abundantly and with a more inconceivable wealth his own precept:
“Dixeris egregie, notum si callida verbum
Reddiderit junctura novum. It would be a very interesting inquiry to ascertain, by a comparison with other Latin authors, whether there is a single line of Horace which does not contain one or more of these “callidæ juncture,” entirely his own.
It is in this that the science of Mr. Conington, and his discipline, his fine perception and his reverence for his author stand him in such good stead. There is, indeed, a little too much of
the stately academic courtesy in such renderings as “Not I, but Varius,” which is as much a distortion of “ Scriberis Vario," as “grimed” is of " nigrum.” “ Not mine—no, nor mine,” reads affectedly, and has a faint tinge of clap-trap. “ Dark Ulysses” gives a Christian view of Ulysses alien from that of the ancients. They rather liked and admired Ulysses. He was a sort of legendary spoilt child and enfant terrible among heroes; a quaint cross between a Homeric Columbus and a Homeric Munchausen. They never mention him without a grin of satisfaction, not at all rendered in “dark Ulysses.” “Pelops' house unblesť" is feeble for “sæva Pelopis domus,” and again introduces a Christian element, in which the, here, truly “ dark” and bloody savagery implied in sæva is drowned in attar of roses or holy water. There is something really very simple, unaffected, yet fine, in the "tenues grandia," for which my weak wit” is
" conceited and falsely modest. “Tenues” refers less to Horace himself, or his wit, than to the character of his subjects. If there is the faintest sidelong glance at himself, it is magnified a thousand times in “my weak wit.”
Professor Conington may fairly say that it is a choice of difficulties; and so it no doubt is. We congratulate him heartily upon having overcome so many. It is no small achievement to have given a translation of Horace which Latin scholars can read with attention and with genuine pleasure; and the careful comparison of which at every step, while it cannot fail to increase their insight into the poet's meaning, must impress them not only with the impossibility of the task, but the wonderful science and maturity with which Professor Conington has dared to cope with it.
ART. III.—WITS OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. Euvres de Chamfort, précédées d'une étude sur sa vie et son esprit.
Par Arsène Houssaye. Galerie du XVIII Siècle. Par Arsène Houssaye. Histoire de la Presse en France. Par Eugène Hatin. Vol. VII. Esprit de Rivarol. Paris, 1808. Causeries du Lundi. Par M. C. A. Sainte-Beuve. Vols. III., IV. The reader, whose historical zeal carries him to the earlier numbers of the Moniteur Universel, as they appeared during the weeks of the Terror, finds himself confronted by one of those half-comical, half-revolting contrasts, for which human
nature and especially French human nature—shows from time to time so strange a capacity. In one column he will peruse the long morning list of victims of the Conciergerie,-old men and maidens, rich and poor, strong and weak, alike swept promiscuously away under the ruthless ban of hostility to the commonweal, and, ere their doom printed, already on the road to death. In the other, as he turns shuddering away, he will be detained by an almost equally long list of “to-night's entertainments," —grand scenic tableaux, emblematic ballets, hippodromes à la Grecque, masked balls, the comic opera, the suc
, cessful vaudeville, all proceeding with complete regularity, and all apparently in the greatest possible request. What, he will exclaim, must be the innate frivolity, the cruel indifference, the latent barbarism of a race which saw nothing strange in such an appalling mixture of tragedy and farce! Were they men or fiends who could be thus easily amused, while death hung over each, and the pavement outside streamed with kindred blood ? Whó but the traditional “ tigre-singe” could skip away, yet bloody-handed from civil slaughter, to applaud the nimble feet of some venal Terpsichore, or the quips and cranks of some fashionable buffoon?
We shall run the suspicion, we fear, of the same sort of inhuman versatility if we invite our readers to a less grave, but scarcely less characteristic, aspect of the French Revolution than that with which history has rendered them the most familiar. Friends and foes for the most part, though differing wide as heaven and earth in all beside, have depicted it in the light of the sublimest of human tragedies. Whatever else a sympathising or a hostile critic judged it, both regarded it as colossal ; and colossal in a sense that forbade, as if half profane, the notice of those collateral topics which, in meaner matters, might appropriately claim attention. The scale of action was heroic, the performers demi-gods or demi-fiends, and praise and censure alike assumed a tone of fitting gravity and respect. The halffrantic vehemence of Burke, the curses of an army of Tory denunciators, the shrieks of political or religious cowardice, the vindictive Conservatism-which in our own days has dwindled down to the Cassandra-like maledictions of a single maudlin peer-for a long while accustomed Englishmen to regard that strange series of events as a catastrophe whose Titanic proportions overwhelmed the sense,-an outrage at which heaven and earth might stand aghast, and which struck mankind with awful silence,-a conflagration, lit with no earthly flame, blazing at our very doors, and too full of grand results, one way or the other, to our species, for any language but the impassioned cry of hope, the solemn denunciation, the groan of horror and despair. At length the flames died down, the smoke cleared