صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

would not be thought unreasonable in our demands. We do not want Mr M. to rival the inimitably compressive powers of the Greek tongue. It would be as bad as the attempt of Barten Holiday, in his version of Juvenal, to make every line of his comprehend the sense of one of the original,- forgetting that he wrote under the disadvantage of four syllables less in each verse. But we need not have such a word, for instance, as foepeleoxocroyogyague (lin. 3.) spun out into whole battalions, In numbers numberless, like Ocean's waves; '-nor such a phrase as wdowntno sguyodimor (lin. 9.) rendered by 't'other trouble, À trou• ble that might give the tragic Muse Fit theme and matter,'which, by the by, is by much the least comie meaning that the words can be in any way made to bear. Neither can we see why Mr Mitchell should not have imitated better the colloquial ease, half-coarse, half-dégayé, that runs through the lambics of Aristophanes. Why should a homely phrase like iz otov 'yo Puttopeko (lin. 14.), become in his dainty transformation - Since first I took to living cleanly, And making my ablutions,' when the Poet meant it for nothing more than a rude expression for the infancy of life? We believe it is Fielding that recommends a play or two of Johnson's, (who was a diligent student though no imitator of Aristophanes), to be taken as a kind of preparative before one commences the perusal of this Author, lest, as he figuratively says, the simplicity of his style, for want of being sweetened with modern guaintness, may, like old wine after sugar-plums, appear insipid, and without any flavour, to palates that have been vitiated with the common theatrical diet. • Read not to believe and take for granted,' is one advice of Lord Bacon's. * We fear that Mr Mitchell has given more authority over himself than it deserved to this recommendation of a writer who failed in his own attempted version of a Greek comedy. For perusal he has understood translation, and has devoted too much time to working in the mines of our early dramatists, instead of undergoing the greater trouble it would have cost him to form a style of his own more suited to the exigency. Johnson, and Beaumont and Fletcher, with all their high and undisputed merit in their own line, are the worst possible models for a translation of Aristophanes. Fielding probably meant to do nothing more than round a period; but he has done considerable mischief to Mr M.'s translations of dia

* Dubitare in singulis non est inutile,' says Thomas Langschneiderius to the most scientific Ortuinus Gratius. Epist. Obscurorum Virorum, p. 1. ed. Franc.

logue. His chorusses are good, almost without exception; for in them he is treading a path of his own, without any blundering finger-posts to mislead him.

At line 79 (of the original) we think Brunck, and Mr M. after him, have fallen into a mistake: οι βαρβαροι γαρ άνδρας ηγενται plovous, TOUS Theirta duroplevows Qayev TE 66 WIELY•

- For these barbarians, The rogues ! allow no manhood but to those Who show a vigour at their meals, and drink

A hogshead at a draught'says the ambassador. Then follows the remark of Dicæopolis, spesis de, loirasus te xa XATATUYOVs which Mr M. according to Brunck's Latin, and in his own amplifying manner, renders

- Say you ? we hold Thoughts quite diverse, and think such fellows are

The stuff that pimps and profligates are made of.' Dicæopolis means to be much more sarcastic." The barbari• ans think those alone worth naming Men, that can gorge and • swill the mightiest quantities,' says the envoy,—. And we• your debauchees and profligates, '--observes the citizen: that is surely, those are the persons we think Men, a stroke of satire quite Aristophanic. At line 140 we have another error. ©$oguos úgorileto is translated “our frosty bard, Theognis, Was writing for the prize.' The meaning is, ' one of his plays was being acted.' At line 174 PUTTWTOV had better have been rendered salmagundy than sallad. It was a dish precisely answering to Morgan's preparation in the cock-pit. * At line 279, ασπις εν τω φεψαλα κρεμησεται is rendered • What serve shields unless for fuel ? '--Dicæopolis only intends to signify among the blessings of peace, that the shield may be now hung up to get smoked in the chimney. But we are tired, as our readers must be, of this minuteness of remark. All we want is to impress upon Mr M. that he had better take more pains, especially with the dialogue. He seems to have imagined that the features of his original could be best copied in a hurry. (Preface, p. i.) But he should recollect, that a light hand is not necessarily a careless one. It is to the patient touches of unwearied art' that we owe the truest copies of nature. Simplicity of style is always the result of labour; and simplicity should never be forgotten in a translation of Aristophanes.

We are glad to get Mr M. to a chorus. He has imitated with great success both the trochaic and anapæstic measures of

[ocr errors]

* Roderick Random.

the Greek. The first appearance of the Chorus in this play is very spirited. Scene VII. Full Chorus in pursuit of Dicæopolis, address

each other. Double, double toil and trouble, quicken step and change your plan, Inquisition or petition must arrest the shameless man ;It concerns her pride and honour that our town his motions know; Who has back'd him, or has track'd him, forward let him come and

show.
Semi-Chorus. Toil and search are in vain,

He is gone,-fled amain.
Now shame to my age,
And to life's parting stage.
Other tale it had been,
When my years were yet green,
And my youth in her pride
Follow'd fast at the side
Of Phayllus the racer !
A fleet-going pacer,
Though coals a full sack
Press'd hard at my back.
Then had not this maker
Of peace, and a breaker
With his best friends, I weens
Long space put between
His country's undoer
And me his pursuer,
Nor should we thus part

For a leap and a start.
But now my leg with age is heavy, and in vengeance for my sins,
* Lacratides and all his frost sure winter in these stiffen'd shins.
So the rogue both scapes and flouts me—
Semi-Chorus.

Forward, forward, friend, 'twere shame, Should we, tho’ slow, the search forego, and the varlet vict'ry claim.'

The scene between Dicæopolis and the Chorus is still better : we wish it had been given entire.

Dic. " Explanation--supplication-
Chor.

Both are preaching to the wind.
Dic. Warm petition and submission-
Chor.

Seas are deaf and rocks are blind. Dic. Bended knees and hands uplifted Chor.

We have eyes and cannot see.

* Lacratides was a former archon of Athens, during whose man gistracy there happened a prodigious fall of snow.

Dic. Falling tear and prayer submissive-
Chor.

We have ears, but not for thee.
Dic. Hear, O hear me!
Chor. I'll not hear thee-death must guerdon deeds so bold.
Dic. (enraged.) Blow for blow then let us bandy, damn'd be he

that first cries hold. On a wight your vengeance falls not-unprovided_unprepared With the nearest and the dearest of your friends must it be shared. Chor. (to his companions.) Sons and wardsmen of Acharnæ, whence

this threat of retribution ? Speak, -explain,-my wildered brain seeks in vain for a solution, Hath he bairn of any present, hath he prisoner hous'd within ? Whence hath he such boldness gather'd ? Dic. (exhibiting something in his hand.) Now let Fate her work begin: We have here that in the drama shall enact a foremost partSurest test to prove who best loves his craft and trade at heart." Chor. All is over-darkness cover me and mine within the grave! (To Dic.) O let prayer and humble tear this my toy, my darling

save! Explanation_supplicationDic.

Both are preaching to the wind. Chor. Warm petition and submission

Seas are deaf and rocks are blind.' We have no room for further extracts from this play. We would only allude to the famous defence of Dicæopolis, beginning in the original at line 497, (which Mr M. has translated with considerable spirit), in order to notice a singular mistake of a most ingenious and lamented author, the late Member for Banbury.-Mr Douglas refers the animated picture of bustling preparation so well described in the concluding lines of the speech to the fitting-out of the Sicilian expedition. I As the Acharnians was written in the sixth year of the Peloponnesian war, and the armament against Syracuse was not sent out till the seventeenth, it is needless to point out that this is an erroneous notion. Our Edinburgh readers will perhaps forgive us too for hinting at an Athenian custom expressed in line 617, which will be very intelligible to those who remember how rife the cry of Gardez l'eau, ll once was in the streets of our beautiful metropolis, and what it portended. Edinburgh has been called the modern Athens :--but we trust that no one will sup. pose this to be the strongest point of similitude. .

Dic.

[ocr errors]

It must be evident by this time to our readers, that the Ancient Comedy rested none of its claims to admiration upon variety of incident, or intricacy of plot. The plays of Aristophanes, with the highest finish of execution, display the utmost baldness of design. We cannot indeed agree with Lord Shaftesbury--(who seems to follow Aristotle in assigning a great preeminence to the Grecian Tragedy)-in thinking that the truth of characters, the beauty of order, and the imitation of nature, were wholly unknown to the comedians; to whom he yet assigns a perfection in style and language, and an amazing fertility in all the turns and diversities of humour. * We think, on the contrary, the imitation of nature exact; the truth of character uniformly preserved; and the beauty of order maintained, -as far as order can be beautiful that is entirely simple, that never diverges from straight lines, nor deviates into

the winding lineaments of grace.' The character of Pernus in the very play we are now going to examine, which, as professing to exhibit an exact portrait of a whole people with all their peculiarities, required great powers for accurate observation and faithful copying, is, says Mr Mitchell, an immortal

proof of rich invention, discrimination, and acuteness.' Even

as a drama,' he elsewhere observes, the Knights has always « held a very high rank, and not undeservedly.' But the Grecian Comedies, though true in the delineation of character, and of consequence in those delineations strict in their fidelity to nature, disdained the additional embellishment of interesting action. They have abundance of jokes fug'itovoicv, pleasantries by surprise, but few incidents of the same description. Any simple fiction served as a vehicle for Satire, Politics, Criticism, and Poetry, the prime ingredients in the intellectual repast offered by the comic poet to his audience; and a little

* Characteristicks, p. 245. We do not precisely see how a writer can be perfect in style and language, which are to be put in the mouths of different characters, without keeping to the truth of chal'acter: or fertile in all the turns and varieties of humour, without imitating nature. -Some critics will have it that the characters of Aristophanes are all generic, that is, that each is the embodied likeness of a tribe or genus, the personification of an abstract idea, not of a real individual.-In this way, every comic or tragic character may be called the representative of a genus, at least as long as there shall be points of resemblance among mankind, - as long as each individual does not stand per se, distinct, isolated, without model and without copy. Is not Socrates an individual portrait ? are not Cleon, Euripides (in the Frogs) strong individual portraits ?

« السابقةمتابعة »