« السابقةمتابعة »
simple and unpretentious. I was also especially influenced by a desire to exhibit that oneness of evangelical faith, and that Christian union in the great characteristic and essential elements of our holy religion, which enables us to acknowledge our brotherhood with these simpleminded, cultivated, and sanctified men, who devoted their lives to religion as it was presented by the Saviour and his sacred family, and their early successors, appealing to the heart instead of to the senses, and manifesting itself in great but simple and intelligible truths, and not in forms and rites, and ceremonies and vestments. I make little account of the fact that they may have believed something which I cannot believe, and may have used a ritual and liturgy which I disapprove. I never stop to think that the authors of the “Imitation of Christ,” of the 'Holy Living and Dying,” of the “Pilgrim's Progress," held to points of faith, and used rites and modes of worship different from mine, any more than I do that the holy apostles themselves, who were with the Lord continually, and listened to those daily teachings which drew such crowds of hearers, and who saw all his miracles, were, even after the resurrection, still ignorant of the nature of his kingdom, of his sacrifice, and of his great salvation.
I make no apology for the simplicity and naturalness of these translations. It would have been less laborious
and difficult, to make translations which, to certain tastes, would have been more agreeable, and would have seemed more poetical—expanded paraphrases-English hymns founded upon the Latin ones, intensified by epithets and ornamented with imagery. My own taste, however, found a great charm in the great simplicity and brevity of the originals, and I preferred to translate those striking qualities. I have accordingly kept the English version within the length of the Latin original, and have endeavored to perform this task, certainly difficult, and sometimes said to be impossible, without sacrificing ease in versification, or the meaning and spirit of the original. How far I have succeeded must be left to the judgment of others.
In most cases also I have adopted the stanza and measure of the original, and the double rhymes and dactylic terminations so common with those Latin hymnolo gists. I do not share the opinion sometimes expressed, that in our language such rhymes are inconsistent with the dignity, gravity, and tenderness which may be ex. pressed by them in Latin, and without which sacred hymns would lose their character. To this opinion, perhaps, may be attributed the fact, that in the English version of the psalms by Dr. Watts, there are no double rhymes, except three couplets in his translation of the Fiftieth Psalm, and in the versions of Tate and Brady, and of Sternhold and Hopkins none, and that the earlier translations of the Dies Irve were made in single rhyme. Many of the more recent ones, however, are made with double rhyme, and I apprehend that the opinion is now general that the true spirit and solemnity of that great hymn are better exhibited in some of the double rhyme translations than they are in any others. When the line is trochaic, the trochaic ending preserves, instead of impairing, the tone and feeling of the lines—which may be expressive of any sentiment, however grave or tender, Many of the sweetest and most devotional hymns in our language, are in double rhyme, and I need refer only to. the grace and dignity, as well as tenderness and strength, with which Wesley and Heber and others, use the double rhyme, to show the truth of these remarks. indeed, by no means certain that the double rhyme may not in the end, prove to be the higher and better style of versification and rhythm. I incline to the belief that there is in it a more graceful cadence, a more flowing and easy transition, and a more unbroken harmony, than in the sometimes crisp and sharp ending of the single rhyme.
It is surprising that Milton, who used rhyme with admirable skill, should speak of it as the invention of a barbarous age, to set off wretched matter and lame metre. In the universality of rhyme, as in the further fact that it is peculiar neither to the rudeness of an early and bar.
barous age, nor to the over-refined ingenuity of a late and artificial one, but runs through whole literatures, we find its best defence, and the evidence that it lies deep in our human nature, since otherwise so many peoples would not have lighted upon it, or so inflexibly main. tained it; for no people has ever adopted an accentual rhythm without also adopting rhyme, which only in weak and indistinct beginnings makes its first appearance, and with advancing refinement, poetical cultivation, and perfection of language, rises to its highest excellence. It has been well said, that rhyme, well managed, is one of the most pleasing of all inventions for entertaining the mind-constantly raising expectation, and as often satisfying it. The ear anticipates the sound without knowing what the sound would express. This expectation and its gratification are a constant pleasure, different from that conveyed by the thought, but always playing about it, and in harmony with it—like music, adorning and intensifying it. It is hardly to be believed that the classical versification could be native or vernacular to any people, and it is not more easy to believe, that if it had been natural to the Romans, it would have so easily retired before that rhythmical versification which supplanted it. It is worthy of remark, in this connection, that all those peoples, which in our day are spoken of as the Latin race, to distinguish them from the Gothic and Sclavic races, have their poetical literature characterized by rhythmical and accentual versification and by rhyme, and that the metres of Virgil and Horace and Catullus have given place to rhyme and accent, even in the Italian peninsula.
Of some of these hymns (some, indeed, which have been better translated by others) I have made more than one translation. Without assigning any satisfactory reason why I should thus be willing to come into comparison with others of established reputation, I may say that the reason which would induce me to make one translation might well induce me to make several—different tastes being gratified by various forms of presenting the same thoughts. As to the translations of the Dies Ire, I will also say that the second in order was published many years ago, before the thought of using English double rhyme for so serious a purpose, had entered my mind. The third was afterwards written in double rhyme, and, finally, the other was the result of an attempt to use nothing but the Gothic-English language, discarding entirely the use of Latin derivatives. This one being more agreeable to my taste, I have given it the first place.
All these early Latin hymns were written before the invention of printing, and copies were often taken down from memory or learned from oral tradition, which, doubt. less, furnishes the reason why, sometimes, one or moro stanzas are omitted in some copies, and why the arrange