صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

to use a grammatical term, by apposition to some word preceding; or coming in as an adjunct, or circumstance depending on the former part, and completing the sentence. This gives a certain air to these verses, which may be esteemed in some sort as characteristic of the kind.

The first four Lamentations are four distinct poems, consisting uniformly and entirely of * the long verse, which may therefore be properly called the elegiac verse—from those elegies which give the plainest and the most undoubted examples of it.

There may perhaps be found many other very probable exam-
ples in the same kind; but this is what I cannot pretend to de-
termine with any certainty. Such, I think, are the 42d and
43d Psalms; which I imagine make one entire poem,f and
ought not to have been divided into two Psalms: the lines are
all of the longer kind, except the third line of the intercalary
stanza three times inserted; which third line, like that at the
close of an example given above from the 144th Psalm, is of
the shorter kind of verse, somewhat like the Parcemiac verse of
the Greeks, which commonly makes the close of a set of Ana-
pæstic verses. Such likewise may perhaps be the 101st Psalm,
which seems to consist of fourteen long verses, or seven distichs,
thus divided :-
“Mercy and judgment will I celebrate; to thee, O Jehovah, will I sing.

I will act circumspectly in the perfect way; when wilt thou come unto me?
I will walk with a perfect heart, in the midst of my house;
I will not set before mine eyes, a wicked thing:
Him that dealeth unfaithfully, I hate; he shall not cleave unto me:
A perverse heart shall remove from me; the wicked I will not know.
Whoso slandereth in secret his friend, him will I destroy.
The lofty of eyes, and the proud of heart, him I will not endure.
Mine eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me:
Whoso walketh in the perfect way, he shall minister unto me.
He shall not dwell within my house, who practiseth deceit.
He that speaketh falsehood, shall not be established in my sight.

* In the second Lamentation, the second line of the fourth period is deficient in length; and so likewise is the 31st verse of the third Lamentation. In the former, two words are lost out of the text; in the latter, one. This will plainly appear by supplying those words from the Chaldee paraphrase, which has happily preserved them. They prove their own genuineness by making the lines of a just length, and by completely restoring the sense; which in the former is otherwise not unexceptionable, in the latter manifestly imperfect. I will add the lines, with the words supplied included in crotchets.

ויהרג [כל נער] כל מחמדי־עין

“ And he slew (every youth], all that were desirable to the eye.”

כי לא יזנח לעולם [עבדיו] אדני

“For the Lord will not cast off' [his servants] for ever.” + This conjecture, offered some years ago, has since been confirmed by twentytwo MSS, which join them together.

Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land;

To cut off, from the city of Jehovah, all the workers of iniquity.”

The sublime ode of Isaiah in the 14th chapter is all of this kind of verse, except, perhaps, a verse or two towards the end ; and the prophecy against Senacherib in the 37th chapter, as far as it is addressed to Senacherib himself.

I venture to submit to the judgment of the candid reader, the preceding observations upon a subject, which hardly admits of proof and certainty; which is rather a matter of opinion and of taste, than of science ; especially in the latter part, which endeavours to establish, and to point out, the difference of two sorts of verse, the longer and the shorter. For though the third Lamentation of Jeremiah gives a clear and indubitable examp e of the elegiac or long verse, and the two Psalms perfectly alphabetical of the shorter; yet the whole art of Hebrew versification, except only what appears in the construction of the sentences, being totally lost, it is not easy to try by them other passages of verse, so as to draw any certain conclusion in all cases, whether they are of the same kind or not: And that, for this among other reasons; because what I call the half-pause, which I think prevails for the most part in the longer verses, is sometimes so strong and so full in the middle of the line, that it seems naturally to resolve it into a distich of two short verses. I readily therefore acknowledge, that in settling the distribution of the lines or verses, in the following Translation, I have had frequent doubts, and particularly in determining the long and short verses. I am still uncertain in regard to many places, whether two lines ought not to be joined to make one, or one line divided into two. But whatever doubts may remain concerning particulars, yet upon the whole I should hope, that the method of distribution here proposed, of sentences into stanzas and verses in the poetical books of Scripture, will appear to have some foundation, and even to carry with it a considerable degree of probability. Though no complete system of rules concerning this matter can perhaps be formed, which will hold good in every particular; yet this way of considering the subject may have its use, in furnishing a principle of interpretation of some consequence, in giving a general idea of the style and character of the Hebrew poetry, and in showing the close conformity of style and character between great part of the prophetical writings, and the other books of the Old Testament universally acknowledged to be poetical.

· And that the reader may not think his pains wholly lost, in labouring through this long disquisition concerning sentences and members of sentences, in weighing words and balancing periods, I shall endeavour to show him something of the use and application of the preceding observations; and to convince him, that this branch of criticism, minute as it may appear, yet merits the attention of the translator and of the interpreter of the Holy Scriptures—so large a part of which is entirely poetical, and where occasional pieces of poetry are interspersed through the whole.

It is incumbent on every translator to study the manner of his author; to mark the peculiarities of his style, to imitate his features, his air, his gesture, and, as far as the difference of language will permit, even his voice; in a word, to give a just and expressive resemblance of the original. If he does not carefully attend to this, he will sometimes fail of entering into his meaning; he will always exhibit him unlike himself—in a dress that will appear strange and unbecoming to all that are in any degree acquainted with him. Sebastian Castellio stands in the first rank for critical abilities and theological learning among the modern translators of Scripture; but by endeavouring to give the whole composition of his translation a new cast, to throw it out of the Hebrew idiom, and to make it adopt the Latin phrase and structure in its stead, he has given us something that is neither Hebrew nor Latin: the Hebrew manner is destroyed, and the Latin manner is not perfectly acquired; we regret the loss of the Hebrew simplicity, and we are disgusted with the perpetual affectation of Latin elegance. This is in general the case, but chiefly in the poetical parts. Take the following for a specimen. “Quum Israelitæ ex Ægypto, quum Jacobæa domus emigraret ex populo

barbaro, Judæi Israelitæ Deo fuere sanctitati atque potestati. Quo viso, mare fugit, et Jordanis retrocessit. Montes arietum, colles ove natorum ritu exiliverunt," Surely to this even the barbarism of the Vulgate is preferable; for though it has no elegance of its own, yet it still retains the form, and gives us some idea of the force and spirit of the Hebrew. I will subjoin it here, for it needs not fear the comparison. “In exitu Israel de Ægypto, domûs Jacob de populo barbaro,

Facta est Judæa sanctificatio ejus, Israel potestas ejus.
Mare vidit, et fugit: Jordanis conversus est retrorsum.
Montes exultaverunt ut arietes: et colles sicut agni ovium."

Flatness and insipidity will generally be the consequence of a deviation from the native manner of an original which has a real merit and a peculiar force of its own; for it will be very difficult to compensate the loss of this by any adventitious orna

. ments. To express fully and exactly the sense of the author is indeed the principal, but not the whole duty of the translator. In a work of elegance and genius, he is not only to inform, he must endeavour to please ; and to please by the same means, if possible, by which his author pleases. If this pleasure arises in a great measure from the shape of the composition and the form of the construction, as it does in the Hebrew poetry perhaps beyond any other example whatsoever, the translator's eye ought to be always intent upon this: to neglect this, is to give up all chance of success, and all pretension to it. The importance of the subject, and the consequent necessity of keeping closely to the letter of the original, has confined the translators of Scripture within such narrow limits, that they have been forced, whether they designed it or not, and even sometimes contrary to their design, as in the case of Castellio, to retain much of the Hebrew manner. This is remarkably the case in our vulgar translation, the constant use of which has rendered this manner familiar and agreeable to us. We have adopted the Hebrew taste; and what is with judgment, and upon proper occasion, well expressed in that taste, hardly ever fails to suggest the ideas of beauty, solemnity, and elevation. To show the difference in this respect, I shall here give an example or two of a free and loose translation, yet sufficiently well expressing the sense, contrasted with another translation of the same, as strictly literal as possible.

1. “The merciful and gracious Lord hath so done his marvellous works, that they ought to be had in remembrance.”

Psal. cxi. 4. Old Version. 2. “ Lo! children and the fruit of the womb are an heritage and gift, that cometh from the Lord.”

Psal. cxxvii. 4. 0. V. 3. “O put not your trust in princes, nor in any child of man; for there is no help in them.

* For when the breath of man goeth forth, he shall turn again to his earth; and then all his thoughts perish.

4. “ The Lord thy God, O Sion, shall be king for evermore, and throughout all generations."

Psal. cxlvi. 2, 3. 10. O. V.

1. “ He hath made a memorial of his wonders: gracious and of tender mercy is Jehovah.

2. “Behold, an heritage from Jehovah are children; a reward, the fruit of the womb."

3. “Trust ye not in princes; in the son of man, in whom is no salvation.

“ His breath goeth forth; he returneth to his earth; in that day his thoughts 4. “ Jehovah shall reign for ever; thy God, O Sion, from age to age.”

perish.

The former examples are mere prose; the latter retain the outlines and the features of the original Hebrew, and from that cause alone are still poetry.

But this strict attention to the form and fashion of the composition of the sacred writings of the Old Testament is not only useful, and even necessary, in the translator who is ambitious of preserving in his copy the force, and spirit, and elegance of the original; it will be of great use to him likewise 'merely as an interpreter, and will often lead him into the meaning of obscure words and phrases : sometimes it will suggest the true reading, where the text in our present copies is faulty; and will verify and confirm a correction offered on the authority of MSS, or of the ancient versions. I shall add a few examples, as evidences of what is here advanced. One short passage of Isaiah will furnish a number sufficient for our purpose ; and the observant reader will find several more in the version and notes subjoined. " Wherefore hear ye the word of Jehovah, ye scoffers;

Ye who to this people in Jerusalem utter sententious speeches:
Who say, We have entered into a covenant with death;
And with the grave we have made a treaty.
But your covenant with death shall be broken;
And your treaty with the grave shall not stand.”

Isa. xxviii. 14, 15, 18. Swa, ye that rule this people, says our version; and so the generality of interpreters ancient and modern. But this prophecy is not addressed to the rulers of the people, nor is it at all concerned with them in particular: but is directed to the Ephraimites in general; and this part to the scoffers among them, who ridiculed the denunciations of the prophets, by giving out parabolical sentences, and solemn speeches, somewhat in the prophetic style, in opposition to their prophecies; of which speeches he gives specimens in the next verse, as he had done before in the 9th and 10th verses. wo therefore is parallel and synonymous to 7735 , scoffers; and is not to be translated rulers, but to be taken in the other sense of the word, and rendered, “those that speak parables." And Iarchi in this place very properly explains it, “ qui dicunt verba irrisionis parabolicè.”

The next verse gives us an instance still more remarkable of the influence which the parallelism has in determining the sense of words;

“We have entered into a covenant with death;

And with the grave we have made " what ? Every one must answer immediately, an agreement, a bargain, a treaty, or something to the same sense; and so in effect say all the versions, ancient and modern. But the word Tin means no such thing in any part of the Bible; (except in the 18th verse of this chapter, here quoted, where it is repeated in the same sense, and nearly in the same form); nor can the

« السابقةمتابعة »