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company it with undue musical elevation, which makes a grave metre tripping and frivolous, especially if they add a third common fault, that of hurrying the unaccented syllables, many of which are long in our language.” All which is very true; and these, along with other considerations, lead the present writer to think that a better measure for the tragic dimeter in all respects, would be the octo-syllabic trochaic verse, varied occasionally with hepta-syllabic and penta-syllabic lines, to express the Greek paremiac verse, and the occasional monometer, as also for the sake of a pause. There is a strength, a decision, and a certainty, as also a fine billowy roll, about this measure when well managed, of which we think the English anapæst is scarcely susceptible. We are inclined to think also, that it may be made more easily—if this should be thought desirable—to dispense with the appendage of rhyme.
3. The choral chaunts must, when well managed, call an infinite variety of English rhythmical faculty into play ; otherwise there is no just representation of the varied luxuriance of the Greek; but to lay down special rules here is very difficult. In the first place, of course, monotony, and a repetition of the same, and those often very common-place, English measures, is to be avoided. In the next place, a due regard must always be had to the emotional character and tone of the particular passage ; a matter belonging to the most delicate poetical appreciation, but still subject to some obvious rules ; as, for instance, this, that in all sober and weighty passages, the iambic measures, or the trochaic, in various combinations, are the most safe for the translator to deal with, while a well-handled anapæst will often materially assist the expression of a flow of emotion, where joy and delight are the prevailing feelings. If it be asked further, whether when the Greek choral chaunt presents—which it certainly does not always-a measure clearly defined and appreciable to the English ear, and conformable also to the structure of the English language, it is not the duty of the English rhythmical translator to make an exact transcript of the original stanza, after the fashion of the Germans:reply, that there can be no objection to this, provided it be not over-curiously done, (for then the natural freedom of rhythmical movement is apt to be impeded,) and provided also the translator do not cheat himself and his readers into the belief, that he is giving an æsthetical equivalent, where the state of our know
ledge of Greek metres and music only enables us to give a mechanical resemblance. For the fact is, that however we may count syllables, and combine or dislocate lines, we really do not know what was the true rhythmical character of most of the choral metres as appreciated by the Greek ear; nor can we state any reason for the peculiarities which continually strike us in the structure of their verse. Nothing is more common in Æschylus, for instance, (see Agam. chorus I. strophe A., and Eumen. Stasimon. II. v. 468–535,) than to mingle up a heptasyllabic trochaic verse, otherwise quite analogous to the corresponding English metre, with cretics, and then to dash off into a line of dactyles, in a manner which the English not only not ill tolerates, but positively disowns. These peculiarities must either be imitated servilely, and then we fall into the pedantry of the Germans; or, if they are slurred over, we only give a part of our prototype, and for any thing that we gain, might as easily have let the imitation alone from the beginning. Let us see how Mr. Conington has managed this :
Ζεύς όστις ποτ' έστιν, ει τόδ' αυ-
Xρή βαλείν έτη τύμως.
Suits his royal pleasure well,
Else in sooth I cannot tell
Weighing every power I know-
From my breast this causeless woe." Now what I mean to say here is, that our knowledge of the reasons (musical in all likelihood rather than poetical) which induced Æschylus to preface this trochaic series with a supernumerary spondaic base (Zeus 60-), and to interrupt it in that
10 By the way, this "royal pleasure" is a little too colloquial and modern for an old Greek chorus; and in some other places, Mr. Conington offends in
the same way, as where he speaks of
sorrows more infinitely keen," (v. 415,) which is not merely colloquial but vulgar.
ticular passage (schvv Alòs, &c.), by a verse of five Dactyles is so utterly nothing, that a rhythmical artist can have no intelligible ground on which to proceed in endeavouring to construct an equivalent; and therefore it is wiser not to attempt any thing of the kind. And in general, the exact scholar, when judging the work of a rhythmical translator, ought to bear in mind, that better verses are likely to be produced by the occasional indulgence of the natural pleasure, or even whim of the ear, than by the continued straining to imitate an ambiguous and half-understood model. In the lyric chaunts, therefore, we should be inclined to grant a large liberty; and the more so, that we must insist on the conscientious observance of the strophic and anti-strophic system, in itself a considerable restriction, and sufficient to keep the luxuriant translator within the bounds of a salutary constraint. So characteristic a feature of the Greek drama, the principles of a just ästhetical science, cannot allow us to give up; though in this, as in other rhythmical matters, the English translators are apt to be
particularly licentious. Symmons, a Greek for taste, and Sewell, a German for fidelity, are equally at fault here.
4. Great attention should be paid to those parts of the choral chaunts (as in the opening chorus of the Seven against Thebes, and that which holds the same places in the Eumenides) where the dochmiac verse prevails; and which, in their series of hurried and fitful exclamations, form a complete rhythmical contrast to the stable and compact mass of the common choric chaunts. Here every variety of hurried, precipitous, and broken measure will be allowable; but the contrast between such dochmiac passages and the regular choric chaunts must be marked.
5. As for those parts of the tragic dialogue, not unfrequent in Æschylus, which are written in trochaic tetrameters, as this is a familiar English measure, we see no reason why they should not be so rendered in our own tongue. This, Captain Medwyn, in his vigorous and spirited version of the Agamemnon, 11 has not thought it necessary to do; but both he and his fellowoffender, Mr. Symmons, have failed to shew any reason why they should not follow the agreeable elasticity of the original Greek measure in the concluding lines of the great master's greatest work. Surely, neither he nor Mr. Symmons will say
11 London. Pickering ; 1832.
that these lines of Mr. Conington, in the measure of the original, form a weak and inappropriate close, • Never waste attention longer on these curs' insensate yell;
Thou and I will rule the palace, and establish all things well."
There is one important point of rhythmical doctrine, on which an opinion has not been indicated, and that to the general reading public by no means the least important one, viz. rhyme. On this a single sentence will suffice. If rhyme be a general adjunct of lyric verse, according to the use and wont of the English language, so much so, that the want of it is sensibly felt by a well-educated English ear, then, according to the principles that have guided us in the above remarks, it cannot be wise in an English translator of lyric poetry, in the general case, to attempt to do without it. We say in the general case, because even the English language presents a few very successful specimens of the highest lyrical poetry without rhymes, in which kind Collins' Ode to Evening has been often and deservedly. pointed out as a master-piece,) and because also it depends somewhat on the general style and contents of the poetry, whether an English reader will imperatively desiderate rhyme or not. In solemn lyrics, full of hard and massy thought, a strong artist, like Milton, may attempt much without rhyme; but wherever the graceful, the elegant, or the playful are aimed at, the English translator makes, in our opinion, a capital blunder, who flings away the pretty bells which the English ear has so long delighted to associate with the trip of the modern muse. There is indeed no occasion why an English translator, studious of fidelity, should, on any occasion, do himself the needless damage of dancing, without this customary music, when we consider with how small a display of rhyme the English ear will be satisfied. Strictly speaking, we call for rhyme only in the close or fall of the stanza; and this can easily be managed, without any serious trespass on verbal accuracy, by a workman of common dexterity. But as minute verbal accuracy are the proper objects of a prose, not of a poetical transaction, there can be no reason why a rhythmical translator, (provided always he keeps
close eye on what is characteristic in his original,) should not disport himself occasionally in all that luxuriant richness of alternating single and double rhyme, which is at once the peculiar rhythmical grace of our English lyric measures, and our
true æsthetical equivalent to the magnificent variety of the Greek tragic ode 21
Let us now look more particularly into the character and pretensions of those two recent rhythmical translations of the Agamemnon, which were the immediate occasion of these general remarks. As the productions of Oxford scholars of well-known talent, they would have been deserving of notice under any circumstances : but, at the present moment, when a change is visibly sweeping over so many departments of our literature, they are particularly notable. Of such a change also, they both bear manifest marks upon their foreheads : Mr. Sewell setting forth in his preface, and on his title-page, an altogether new theory of translation, and following it out in his practice with a fearless consistency; while Mr. Conington finds it necessary to make a sort of apology for his impersonation of two characters hitherto, in English literature, usually kept distinct, that of a poetical translator and that of a philological commentator. It is remarkable, likewise, that both these translators, though differing, and indeed contrasted in many respects, unite in the one quality of comparative faithfulness and literalness, which marks them out as approximations, on English ground, to the principles of the German school of translation. Their appearance, therefore, not merely excuses, but imperatively provokes such a review of the general principles of rhythmical translation as we have been attempting; and in further illustration of which, it is fitting now that we should permit the parties under review to state their own sentiments in their own language. Mr. Sewell, as might have been expected from him, mingling up philosophy with philology, says:
“In giving change for his Greek words, the translator must take care not to give an idea less, or an idea more, than he receives. He is, therefore, acting perpetually under the sense of a strict external law; there is an outward standard to which he must rigidly conform, a model which he must exactly copy in all its lineaments and colours. The very sense of this, still more the habit of acting on it, is one of