« PreviousContinue »
“.............. Sed non in Cæsare tantum
Lib. I, v. 143, &ed
“ Nor spar'd to stain the guilty sword with blood.” Rowe: In these examples there is a considerable expansion in rendering the original, which is very sententious and remarkable for brevity. But this is a liberty, which belongs to translators ; a liberty, which they always claim and exercise, and which is necessary to elegance and perspicuity.
In the character of Pompey, Rowe has somewhat enlarg, ed upon Lucan, and been minute, where the latter was general. We add likewise, that " disused to arms” conveys a wrong idea, and one, that is not in his author. Pompey had enjoyed only an interval of peace-; and this he was suddenly compelled to relinquish on account of the rivalship of Cæsar,
In the description of Cæsar Rowe has made the most of his author, and given a paraphrase of less than five lines in twelve. But he has succeeded so much to our satisfaction, that we are unwilling to use the language of complaint.
Cato often appears in Lucan, both in description of character, and what he is made to utter, like something more, than human. Rowe in this respect has seldom fallen below him, when exhibiting the severity of Cato's virtue and the disinterestedness of his patriotism. Justitiæ cultor, &c. Lib. II, v. 389.
“ From justice's righteous lore he never swerv'd,
$ On universal good his thoughts were. bent,
. Cato is always last in Cato's care. Rowe. In the translation of Pompey's dream, which commences the third book, and has its singular excellences, Rowe was peculiarly fortunate. The appearance of Julia, “ plena hor“ roris imago," and her terriffic description of the calamities attending the civil war, he has drawn to the life ; and has evinced that talent at tragic poetry, which he discovered in the Drama.
To the parting of Pompey and Cornelia, described at the end of the fifth book, Rowe has done ampie justice. Cornelia's resolutions of constancy, mixed with momentary selfdistruşt, he has preserved with great felicity. Her grief on the occasion and subsequent distress he has made to appear natural and moving.
The admirers of Lucan have celebrated the description of the battle of Pharsalia in the seventh book, as remarkably animated, and leading the reader almost to imagine himself a spectator of the scene. Rowe has not in this part been wanting in effort, nor in lively and glowing numbers, nor in warm and animated diction. The speeches of Pompey and Cæsar, the advancing of their forces, the actual engagement, and Pompey's flight furnish admirable examples of the fire of Lucan, rekindled in Rowe. If the translator has failed in this part of his work, it is in modernizing the conduct of the distinguished personages, in magnifying the military improvements of Rome, and in not preserving a just view of the characters and warlike arts of those times.
Lest we should fill too many of our pages with comments on the translations of an author, whose praise has not been general, and who has been celebrated chiefly for detached excellences, we forbear adding any farther critical remarks.
There is one fault in Rowe deserving our notice, which pervades his work; not a defect in translation, but a fault in the poetry. It is the use of triplets, which very frequently occur in his version. They vex every reader of taste, and
are no small interruption, where, from the nature of the composition, they are not to be expected. They destroy the uniformity of metrical composition in rhyme, and deduct greatly from the melody of its numbers.
Whatever be the merit of Lucan, few could have done him so great justice in translation, as Rowe. “His lan“guage is pure, and his versification both musical and adapt“ ed to the subject. The true meaning of the original is “ faithfully preserved throughout the work ; and the trans“ lation comes up to the spirit of the original, as far as the “ difference between the Roman and the English languages « will allow."*
* Wellwood. Preface to Rowe's translation of Lucan.
“ I know that May translated Lucan neat an age ago. But it must be u owned, that it is but a lame performance, and does not reach the spirit or sense « of Lucan. The language and versification are yet worse, and fall infinitely " short of the lofty numbers and propriety of expression, in which Mr. Rowe u excels. I know of no other translation of Lucan in any of the living lan“guages, in verse, except that of Brebeuf in French." lbid.
: There has been no English version of Lucan, since that of Rowe; and, from the character, which his translation sustains, it is not desirable, that any attempt should as yet be made to surpass him. Nor is it probable, that such an attempt will soon be hazarded. Taste in versification will probably change, perhaps improve. Should this happen, even the laurels of Rowe may wither.
« Ut silvæ foliis pronos mutantur in ahnos,
Prima cadunt ; ita verborum vetus interit atas."
* Quid verum atque decens curo et rogo.”
IRTUE and good manners are twin sisters, so familiar, that they mutually borrow and lend their charms ; $0 tenderly attached to each other, that they cannot endure separation. Yet such is the outrageous folly of mankind, that they frequently attempt to part what nature has joined. The villain is too often a courtier, and the upright man a clown. The former endeavors to please, while the latter seems anxious to disgust.
As truth is the foundation of virtue, so decency is the ground of good manners. Different situations in life may call into exercise different virtues. In all circumstances integrity is required. All are obliged to abstain from evil. În like manner, while peculiar modes and ceremonies are becoming in some ranks of society, certain general laws of decorum must be observed by all, who would not be classed among savages. Decency forbids a person in company to indulge himself in manners, that may give reasonable offence to any present.
Desire of influence is natural to the human breast. It is common to the good and the bad. The one desires it for his own sake, the other for the glory of God and the happiness of men.
Among the many properties and circumstances, that give weight and influence to character, are these ; birth, respectable connexions; wealth, public and private virtues, talents, education, profession, and pleasing manners. The last is by no means the least.
Easy and graceful behavior is hardly to be expected in the lower orders of society. Those, who subsist by continual and severe labor, have but little opportunity for polishing
Vol. II. No. I.
their manners. A winning address is above their ambition, if not beyond their reach. But in the higher class, which in this country consists of the affluent and the learned, we might hope for general refinement; we might hope, that those civilities, which flow from a just respect for one's companions, and which, though small in themselves, have a most happy effect on society, would be neglected by none. But negligence is almost characteristic of scholars, and negligence is the parent of ill manners. Hence we sometimes see actions in the parlor, that would disgrace the kitchen ; not mere defects in politeness, but in decency.
Nothing raises a character more suddenly, than a good education. Seven years, passed at the public schools, are seven steps of a ladder, by which a youth may pass from the lowest to the highest grade of society. We could not expect, that a person, thus elevated, would carry much refinement with him. But we might hope he would loose his roughness, and acquire a good degree of polish. It is astonishing, that for a long course of years he should continue unimproved under the highest social advantages. Yet, if we may believe our eyes, this is not a rare case. It is hard for the “ Ethiopian to change his skin," or the clown his slovenly habits. The man at fifty shows the education of the boy at ten.
These animadversions I would make with every possible exception, as to the objects of them. Many unite the gentleman with the scholar. These cultivate good manners without fear of losing the reputation of genius or learning. Some, whose early education has been very unfavorable, have, by careful observation and steady perseverance, risen to a high degree of refinement and politeness; and have rendered themselves objects not only of esteem, but of universal compiacency.
Virtue commendeth to God; good manners to men. Could we see the heart, externals would be little regarded. But now the serpent charms among roses. Politeness is the most powerful abettor of vice. Why may she not be still