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Egypt, the Parthenon at Athens, or any other of the great architectural wonders of the ancients, so no translation can do justice to the poetry of Homer, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Virgil, or Lucretius. But a sufficiently near approach may be made to the spirit of each, to satisfy the majority, even of scholars. At all events, a good translation is to the Iliad or Æneid, in the original, what a good description, aided by the pencil of the artist, is to a sight of the Pyramids. But comparatively few can visit the latter, whereas all intelligent persons may read descriptions of them, and do so with pleasure. There is, however, this difference: a good translation affords pleasure by itself-that is, it is agreeable, without any reference to the original. In other words, if we did not know it to be a translation at all, we should admire its beauties, whereas a description gives us pleasure, or interests us, only in proportion as we have faith in its truthfulness, or regard the thing described as interesting in itself.
We have extracts in the Classical “Compendium” from no fewer than eighty authors, in poetry and prose-indeed, from all those of Greece and Rome whose works have survived the ravages of time. Taking a hurried glance at the passages extracted, we find such as the following: from Humer, Minerva arming herself for Battle, Helen's Lamentation over Hector's Body, Parting of Hector and Andromache, Ulysses discovering himself to his Father, the Introduction of Penelope ; from Hesoid, the Battle of the Giants, Pandora's Box; from Æschylus, the Sacrifice of Iphigenia, Lament for the loss of Helen, Orestes about to murder his Mother; from Sophocles, Creon-Antigone-Chorus, Creon-Edipus; from Euripides, a scene from Alcestis, Opening of the Media; from Pindar, the Sailing of the Argo, the Power of Music; from Aristophanes, scenes from “The Clouds" and from "The Birds;" from Plato, the Perfect Beauty; from Virgil, the fourth Eclogue (Pollio), Æneas at the Court of Dido, Dido's Passion for Æneas; from Horace, Odes to Macænas, Pyrrha, Lydia, Phyllis, Virgil; from Martial, the Value of Literary Fame, the False and the True, Mourner, &c., &c. In most cases, several other extracts are given from each author besides those mentioned.
The compiler would have greatly enhanced the value of his labors, had he given a small portion of the original from each of the principal gems, in the form of a note at the bottom of the page. What would render this most important to the classical student is the superior excellence of the translations. This is particularly true of the extracts from Euripides, Aristophanes, and Æschylus, and of Virgil's Pollio. True, the original would be of no use to the mere English reader; and it is for him the work is mainly, if not exclusively, intended. It is not fair, then, to find any fault on this ground; but we may be permitted to hope that the compiler will give us a similar “Compendium,” to be composed of the original of all the extracts of which translations are given in the work
We are much mistaken if such would not be well received. The biographical sketches of the various authors, with brief critical remarks on their principal works, both in foot-notes and in the text, form a valuable and interesting feature in the present volume.
A Hand-Book of Classical Geography, Chronology, Mythology, and Anti
quities. Prepared for the use of Schools, by T. P. ALLEN and W. T. ALLEN. 12mo, pp. 123. Boston: Swan, Brewer & Tileston. 1861.
The classical student will be enabled to spare much time and labor, by this slender volume; for, small as it is, it contains the essence of many large works, which are accessible only to a few. Any intelligent person, having the “Hand Book" and Long's Atlas, to which it is adapted, can easily become acquainted with all that is worth knowing in ancient geography. Chronology, mythology, and antiquities are necessarily treated with brevity in so tiny a work; but if there is any truth in the adage, “A word for the wise is sufficient,” it will, however, be admitted that nothing important has been omitted. A valuable feature to the student of languages is, that the ancient names, not only of persons and places, but also of laws, implements of husbandry, articles of dress, coins, measures, &c., &c., are given in the original-in Greek or Latin, as the case may be-with the modern English names beside them. The tables of Greek and Roman genealogies, at the end, will be very acceptable to the student of history who has not a larger work within his reach, or, if otherwise, has not time to examine it. In short, the great advantage of the “Hand Book” is, that it enables one to find, at a glance, what, without its aid, would cost him hours of laborious research. The work is got up in superior style, Unlike most books in which there are many Greek and Latin words, it is printed with remarkable accuracy.
Complete Spanish Course, in accordance with the Robertsonian System of
Teaching Modern Languages. By Louis ERNST. 12mo, pp. 418.
“Methods” for learning languages have multiplied to such an extent in recent years—each recommended by its author and publisher as casting all others into the shade-that we confess we took up the volume now before us with no more serious intention than to see how much more it promises than it is calculated to perform. But we did not glance over many of its pages, wlien it reminded us of Æsop, the fabulist, of whom it is said, that, having been exhibited for sale, with a variety of other slaves, he was asked what he could do. His reply was, “Nothing. These others tell you they can do everything ; then, nothing will remain for me." That the same anecdote is related of others does not weaken the force of the moral, as applied to the present work, the compiler of which promises little, but performs a good deal.
We know, from experience, how irksome and discouraging it is to attempt the stndy of a foreign language with a bad text book. Thousands have given up the task in despair, for no other reason. It is too often forgotten, that learning alone is not sufficient to produce a suitable text book. The compiler may be perfectly familiar, both with the language sought to be taught and with that of the pupils for whose benefit it is intended, and yet be utterly incompetent to communicate his knowledge to others. But, in too many cases, those who undertake the task are as destitute of learning as they are of every other necessary qualification. Hence it is, that we find one Method” which has, indeed, a great many rules, and no lack of examples; but they are so jumbled together, that they might almost as well have been omitted. Another attempts to be systematic, and sometimes succeeds in that respect, but either the language to be taught, or that through the medium of which it is to be learned, is presented in forms that are full of errors.
For example, a Frenchman may exhibit as good specimens of his own language as the whole range of French literature admits; but, if he does not also understand the lapguage of his pupils, the work is defective in proportion as he lacks such knowledge. In other words, a Frenchman, who is not an English scholar, is incompetent to compile a “French Method” for the use of English pupils; and an Englishman, or American, is equally incompetent for the same task, if he merely understands a smattering of French. In short, the compiler, in order to be qualified, must, in the first place, not only have a perfect knowledge of the idioms of both languages, but he must be able to illustrate the differences between those idioms with suitable examples—the whole to be done without any apparent effort—nay, in a manner, as it were, to entice the learner along, from one lesson to another, taxing his memory as little as possible.
Now, this is what we find accomplished in the volume before us. We see evidence, at every page, that the compiler understands the practice as well as the theory of teaching. He has marked the points in which his predecessors have failed, shedding a flood of light on what they had left in obscurity. We will here briefly indicate the manner in which this is done, premising that, with regard to the text, the author says that, instead of being an uninterrupted story, “it is made up of a series of short pieces, presenting, in turn, all the words likely to occur in ordinary conversation, followed by a selection from the best Spanish authors, and ending with a complete course of business letters and book-keeping; but the latter, having been added more especially for the use of those who study the language for commercial purposes, may be readiiy omitted, as all the grammatical rules and observations have been engrafted upon the earlier familiar lessons."
The first lesson begins with an interlinear translation, literally rendered. The same passage is then presented in Spanish and good English, in adjoining columns. This is followed by questions and answers for conversation in Spanish ; and then come sentences for oral translation-the Spanish in one column, and the English in another, as in the Ollendorff System. In all this, we have but the practical part of the lesson ; then follows the theoretical part, in which the simpler principles of Spanish Grammar, as developed in the passage, are fully explained without technicalities, and illustrated by examples. The lesson closes with exercises, consisting of a variety of English phrases to be translated into Spanish, each phrase being followed by a figure, which refers to the rule in the & theoretical part.” These lessons become more and more elaborate and varied, according as the pupil inakes progress, until he reaches the commercial part alluded to above. The conjugations and declensions are introduced gradually, according as required. Not the least useful or interesting part of the work is that which embraces the business letters in Spanish, translated into English. But the best feature in the whole book is the “General Index and Alphabetical Grammar,” which may be regarded as an analytical review of the entire “Course," referring not only to all the rules of grammar, but also to such idiomatic forms of expression as are likely to present any difficulty to the student. It is rather a pleasure than an irksome task to examine a text book like this; and we have had to condemn so many, as blind leaders of the blind, that we are glad to be able to recommend this “Complete Spanish Course” as fully justifying its title. Prof. Ernst is the editor of all the Robertsonian text books published in this country, including an excellent “French Course," and we learn that he is now engaged on another French work, which will soon appear.
Die Harfe Von Erin. Märchen und Dichtung in Ireland. Von Julius
Rodenberg. Leipzig: 1861. We have here a new translation, into German, of Moore's Melodies, under the title of “The Harp of Erin." This, we believe, is the sixth German version; and it is not too much to say that it is better than all. The translator visited Ireland for the express purpose of qualifying himself for the task, and he remained sufficiently long in the country, making the best use of his time, to be able to explain the inost interesting allusions in the Melodies. Before he attempted the translation of the whole, he wrote a book of Sketches, entitled “The Isle of Saints,” which has been noticed in a previous number of this journal, and which has been so well received in Germany that it has passed through five editions in two years. In this he gave versions of several of the Melodies, as an experiment. In the volume before us he has added beautiful fairy legends, some of which he
obtained in person, during his wanderings among the peasantry, selecting the rest from the Tales and Stories of Carleton, Banim, Lover, and Mrs. Hall.
Nothing pleased Moore himself more than to see the greatest minds of Continental Europe undertake versions of his poems. It is now more than forty years since Lalla Rookh was performed as a Divertisement at the Château Royale of Berlin, during a visit of the Grand Duke Nicholas, the late Czar, to that capital. But it was rendered, for the purpose, not into German, but into French, the language which all understood. All the principal characters were personated by imperial and royal princes and princesses, the stories being represented in tableaux vivans and songs. M. de la Motte Fouqué, who subsequently translated the poem into German verse, describes the performance as follows:
“La décoration representoit les portes brillantes du Paradis, entourées de nuages. Dans le premier tableau on voyoit la Péri, triste et desolée, couchée sur le seuil des portes fermées, et l'Ange de lumière qui lui addresse des consolations et des conseils. Le second représente le moment, où la Péri, dans l'espoir que ce don lui ouvrira l'entrée du Paradis recucille la dernière goutte de sang que vient de verser le jeune guerrier Indien.
“La Péri et l'Ange de lumière répondoient pleinement à la image et à l'idée qu'on est tenté de se faire de ces deux individus, et l'impression qu'a faite generalement la suite des tableaux dn cet épisode délicat et intéressant est loin de s'effacer de notre souvenir."
But the present translation of the Melodies would have pleased the author still better, if possible, although one of his chief weaknesses was his love for the admiration of the great as such. To those who understand the poet best, and admire him most, and are also sufficiently acquainted with the German, the wonder will be that the rendering both of ideas and words is so perfect. We have no such versions of the lyrics of Heine or Uhland in English ; not that English translators have not evinced quite as much of the poetic spirit as Herr Rodenberg, but that our language is decidedly inferior in this respect to the German. The same fact is illustrated in the principal German versions of Shakespeare, any of which is superior to the best English version of Goetle or Schiller. Students of the German language would find this a most instructive and delightful text book,
Poems. By John G. SAXE. Complete in one volume. Boston: Ticknor &
Fields. 1861. We like the Poems of Mr. Saxe, although we are not yet prepared to say that the author is a true poet. This, however, we will assert; that there are many pieces in this volume which deserve the name of poetry better than three fourths of the productions of both English and American authors, who are generally recognized as poets. But it is not the longer poems, by any means, that please us best. “Progress: A Satire” and “The Money King” are each very sprightly and interesting. Neither is deficient in wit; not unfrequently we meet with a passage in the one that