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Italy. In many questions which concern our history and institutions, the latter will help us much, where the former is necessarily silent. Larger acquaintance with Italian topography will clear up doubtful points of Roman military history; the examination of old sites and monuments will set many antiquarian questions at rest; and happily there are learned Germans and Danes ready for the work. But there are few Englishmen who will not say with Mr. T. A. Trollope: “ To me the traces and memorials of the times when that civilisation of which our own is the immediate successor and heir grew up and flourished and died, are even more interesting than the remains of a social system immeasurably more distant than our own. And I turned from the anxious speculations of the gentlemen who are hoping to discover enough of the foundations of the Eugubian Roman theatre to enable them to prove that it was exactly like all the other Roman theatres in its arrangements, to look with much livelier interest on a work executed by the free medieval burghers of Gubbio, for the more effectual prosecution of the various industries, especially that of cloth-weaving and dyeing, which produced the 'money power' that so much astonished the monk of a subsequent age" (p. 91).
Mr. Trollope visited the cities of Città di Castello, Gubbio, Assisi, Camerino, Macerata, Fermo, Loreto, Recanati, and Ancona. There is a more or less striking likeness in the fortunes of most of these cities. Once “ free” self-governed communities, they sank gradually under a tyranny, “il governo di un solo.” The citizens, harassed by civil feuds, preferred that one man should have the rule over them rather than endure the oppressions of the few. And when this tyranny became intolerable by reason of its licentiousness and cruelty, they asked for the protection and government of Rome. The result is instructive. The turbulence of a tyranny was less hurtful to prosperity than priestly rule. The sources of life were checked by the one, they were poisoned under the other. The splendid palaces, the stability and taste of private dwellings, all the signs of a widely-spread prosperity belong, not to the last 300 years of papal government, but to previous times. The blood runs cold on reading the well-authenticated details of judicial murder committed by the ecclesiastical authorities at Fermo in 1854. If such cases were common, and all testimony agrees that they were, Mr. Trollope may well say that the rule of an Oliveretto were preferable. We wish Mr. Trollope had stated more fully the working of those changes which have followed the incorporation of Umbria into the Italian kingdom, We learn that the expulsion of the monks under the Provisional Governor Pepoli has caused some discontent, but not the discontent which reactionists affirm and desire. People complain that the monks who gave away doles to the poor at the convent gates have been ejected because of their large possessions, while the mendicant friars who live on the scanty means of the rural population are suffered to remain, because they have no possessions to lose. The feeling is, that the one should have been done and not the other left undone.
Mr. Trollope surveys at some length Assisi and Loreto. He does
not care to describe that memorable church, long the wonder of Christendom, built to the memory of St. Francis and adorned by Cimabue, Giunto, and Giotto. And his minute account of Loreto will not stand comparison with the eloquent narrative of the author of Sinai and Palestine. Some omissions have surprised us. There is no notice of the celebrated Tabulæ Eugubine which were found not far from Gubbio, and we believe are still to be seen there; no mention of Recanati as the birthplace of Leopardi; no reference to the siege of Ancona in the twelfth century by the forces of Frederick Barbarossa, and its heroic defence. Mr. Trollope intends his book to be of permanent use. If he had given us a clear history of one of these ancient cities, as told by the chroniclers and local historians (whom it is his great merit to appreciate), and if he had omitted some of the lesser incidents of his journey, which, however noteworthy to himself, are somewhat tedious to the reader, his book would have been quite as entertaining and much more instructive.
VII. Mr. Worsley's Translation of the Odyssey of Homer. Books
This is the second and last instalment of Mr. Worsley's beautiful poem. Beautiful in many parts it is—and his poem we may call it; for it is certainly not Homer. Judging by the paroxysm of the translation fever which has of very late years set in, we may fairly augur that we have not seen the last of the attempts which will, very usefully perhaps, yet be made to present Homer to a classical public in every variety of attire. The learned and intricate sublimity of Milton; the shrewd, sweet, limping gossip of Chaucer; the wreathed, romantic fancies of Spenser,--all in turn find their eager advocates as the proper English dress in which to introduce the actual old bard to those who have heard so much about bim. In every garb but his own, however, —even Mr. Worsley's,—he looks “translated” indeed. It may be said that the metre of any English poet is something quite independent of his language and imagery. We cannot think so. It appears to us, on mature reflection, that given any language and a certain metre, the use of that metre will exercise a sort of magnetic attraction over that portion of the language, and those combinations of it, with which the metre has most affinity. The poet may fancy he controls the metre ; but the metre controls him. A metre is an instrument, in the use of which the poet or translator can use his free will only up to a certain point. The water he draws from the Castalian spring will irresistibly, for the time, take the form of the pitcher he employs. When the English language is poured into the hexametral mould, there is a certain general moral and intellectual form, which it is already predetermined to take, wholly independent of the efforts of the writer at any given points of his composition. If he press it here, it will bulge out there ; and so on.
This being the case, that prevailing moral and intellectual colour and form which the English language takes in the hexameter, may be, and generally will be, something wholly and generically differ
ent from the necessary colour and form of another language in the same metre. As a matter of fact, the old Greek hexameter and the English hexameter differ fundamentally in their whole spirit and effect. It is impossible, we think, for any person not the translator to look at the practical effect of the English hexameter in any given number of lines, together or singly, purporting to translate Homer, and not to feel that the total result, independently of scholarship, is not in the least Homeric, but something essentially alien to it-something less homely, less simple, less gleaming, sunny, and distinct, but more prismatic, and inevitably charged with a pseudo-romantic effect which is most of all un-Homeric. It is not that the ideas of Homer may not be partially at least reproduced. It is, that the combination of English words in that metre gives rise at every step to a sidelong moral colour and association, compounded of the sense and the music, which is essentially English, and different from the peculiar collateral associations awakened by the same ideas in the same metre in Greek. And what is true of the hexameter is true of every other metre in different degrees. Each conjures up a moral mirage of its own. Thus, generally, we may say that each particular metre, viewed as a medium of translation, is accompanied by a certain prismatic colouring inseparable from that metre, but different from the prismatic colouring which also would necessarily accompany the use of any other. Mr. Worsley quotes,
very best and Homeric hexameters that he has yet seen, two of Mr. Arnold's lines :
“But let me lie dead, with the dark earth mounded above me,
Ere I hear thy cries, and thy captivity told of!" Very possibly they may be the best. But they are not Homer. Nor is Dr. Hawtrey's beautiful line,
“ Clearly the rest I behold of the dark-eyed sons of Achaia ;" nor this of Mr. Kingsley,–
"As when an osprey aloft, dark-eyebrowed, royally crested.” though all are unquestionably beautiful in their way.
In truth, not only has the English hexameter “a plunging and floundering" effect, which, contrary to Mr. Worsley, we hold to be inseparable from it-not merely accidental—but the very genius of the English language, when forced into hexameter, seems to involve a certain mouthing tenderness, a fluffy, particoloured sentimentality, which is wholly foreign to Homer.
Another objection to the English hexameter-a very formidable one, we think-lies in the fact, that hardly any rhythm could be chosen which necessitates turns more remote from the natural idiomatic cadence of English as it is spoken. But if we compare Homer with Herodotus and Hesiod, it is impossible, we think, not to feel that the great bulk, if not absolutely all, of the Homeric idioms formed at one time part of the natural spoken language of the Greeks. Not that the Greeks spoke in hexameters. But we may more than conjecture that the bulk of the Homeric idioms—such as, taking three out of a
thousand, ως φάτο, ές μέσσον δ' άναγον, βάν δ' ίμεναι διά δώμα (the last of which suggests our vulgarism, “they went for to go," rather than any more high-sounding words)—were at some time the common popular idioms in the common popular cadence. If so, it is easy to see how the rhapsodists unconsciously fell into the hexameter, because it was, in fact, that rhythm which lay closest to all the possible combinations of the common popular language. In English, the same rhythm is precisely that which of all rhythms lies furthest from the spoken language. Hence the uniform simplicity in the mere tone and gait of Homer's verse. Hence, too, the constant strain," the plunging and floundering," in the English hexameter.
Nevertheless these are not Mr. Worsley's grounds for trying the Spenserian metre. He admits that the hexameter defended by Mr. Arnold is “the abstract best." But he contends that the abstract best is not necessarily the “practical best” for translation. And his defence of one metre against another is thus founded on strictly personal grounds. Granted,” he says, “ that the Spenserian stanza is not the best possible form of English verse for the purpose to which I have applied it, but I feel it to be the best for me. There is some reason in this. Nevertheless we think that Mr. Worsley throws the scientific side of the question too much into the shade. To take a mathematical illustration, translation may be compared to the change of coördinates for a given curve. And looking upon English as one set of coördinates, there must be, we fancy, some expression which is the nearest approach to an undistorted view of Homer possible in our language, and only one; and the discovery of it is a matter of poetical science, not of personal feeling.
But we pass to the actual translation before us; and the first thing we observe is the courtly, romantic style of Mr. Worsley's language, in sharp opposition to the cold, clear, sibilant, and guttural—the popular idiom of Homer. The very opening line of the 13th book,
"Ως έφαθ'· οι δ' άρα πάντες ακήν εγένοντο σιωπή places the bard before us rapidly gossiping his endless rhythmical stories to idle but hungry ears. Compare it with the smooth, polished, rather languid, and courtier-like utterance : “He ceasing” (you can see the flourish of the poet's white hand, and a cambric pocket-handkerchief),
"all sat charmed in the great halls,
Mute, till the lord Alcinous answer gave. The “ lord Alcinous” indeed! Here we are at once in full romance. Then again, “answer gave” is an artificial and therefore weak inversion, alien to our common usage and the common spirit of English talk. The Greek,
τον δ' αύτε 'Αλκίνοος άπαμείβετο, is a plain straightforward idiom, in natural sequence. Homer wanted to say that Alcinous answered the man who spoke last, and he said it totus in ipso, uncumbered by care of beautiful speech.
Can any thing be conceived more elegantly alien to the homely headlong earnestness of Homer than the following :
“Therefore this charge I give you, chieftains brave,
Who here still quaff the senatorial wine,
And in my fair halls list the minstrel's voice divine." These are the mincing, affected words of a man “who sets himself to be himself admired," not of the honest, barbaric, yet garrulous chieftain (garrulous, that is, with the poet's garrulity), who says:
υμέων δ' ανδρί εκάστω εφιέμενος τάδε είρω,
αιεί πίνετ' εμοίσιν, άκουάζεσθε δ' αοιδού. The burly good-natured emphasis of ákováceo àoidoũ sounds irresistibly comical when rendered by “list the minstrel's voice divine.” Nor is there a single stanza throughout the translation against which similar objections could not be urged, and, we think, with perfect justice and fairness.
We trust Mr. Worsley will not mistake our remarks, as in any way implying hostility to his laudable undertaking, nor any insensibility to the beauty of many parts of his work. We can only repeat our conviction, that if any one reading Mr. Worsley thinks he is reading Homer, he will be much mistaken ; but if he dismisses Homer from his mind, and thinks only of Mr. Worsley, he may find much to interest and to gratify him.
VIII. The Home and Foreign Review. Nos. I. and II. London: Wil
liams and Norgate.
In departing from the usual reserve which restrains us from noticing our rivals in periodical literature, we must plead as our first justification, that we have nothing to say of the Home and Foreign Quarterly that is not to its praise. It is evidently conducted and written with singular ability; and some of its articles, such as one on the “Secret History of Charles II.,” in the first Number, and those on " General Average” and on “Manuscripts at Cambridge,” in the second, display an unusual combination of rare knowledge and clear thought. Nevertheless these qualities are, after all
, of secondary importance. Mere intellect and knowledge are becoming every day more and more marketable articles, to be obtained in any degree and quantity at their appropriate price. The great merit of the Home and Foreign Quarterly is, that being a Catholic organ, even Ultramontane in principle, it represents a living idea, which, if the prelates of its own church do not suppress it, after the fashion of superiors, may go as far to make Catholicism tenable by thinking men in the nineteenth century as the conditions of the case allow. In an answer to Cardinal Wiseman, who has an unfortunate notoriety in his own communion for distrusting and opposing every movement which he does not himself initiate or control, the leaders of this new party explain their philosophical