Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

now before us was only published six years before the first edition of Fairefax's translation, and it will therefore very naturally draw upon itself a comparison with that celebrated work; and if on such examination it should escape with tolerable credit, it will not have much to fear from its modern rivals. The Jerusalem Delivered of Fairefax is indeed a noble monument of the genius of its author, and its merits have of late years been duly appreciated; twenty-four years after the publication of the first edition, a second appeared at the special command of James I., who in this instance at least justifies D'Israeli's defence of his character from the imputation of being a mere pedant. Since that period several editions have appeared, to which a new one has lately been added, which has issued from the press under the editorial care of Mr. Singer. One great excellence in this translation, is undoubtedly the noble freedom and grace of the versification, which Waller is said to have studied with great improvement.

66

Of Carew, who is supposed to be the author of the translation before us, but little is recorded. He is known as the author of a Survey of Cornwall. The volume before us was printed for Christopher Hunt of Exceter;" and it appears from his preface, that it was intended to publish the remaining books afterwards, from which probably a rumour of Fairefax's translation may have deterred him. Like the Gierusalemme itself, the volume before us appears to have been published without the knowledge of the author, and it may consequently be presumed to want many of its last corrections. With this fact we are made acquainted in the publisher's address to the reader. “It was my good hap of late to get into my hands, an English translated copie of Sieg. Tasso's Hierusalem, done (as I was informed) by a gentleman of good sort and qualitie, and many waies commended vnto me for a worke of singular worth and excellence: whereupon by the advice, or rather at the instance of some of my best friends, I determined to send it to the presse: wherein if my forwardnes haue fore-ranne the gentleman's good liking, yet let mee winne you to make me happie with the sweete possession of your fauours, for whose sakes I haue done whatsoeuer herein is done." This little volume may be reckoned amongst those to which Bibliomaniacs affix the alluring letters R. R. R., and which, if its excellence were doubted, might still rely for a purchaser on its rarity.

As the translations of Carew and Fairefax appeared so nearly at the same period, and as the latter has attained an acknowledged place in public estimation, it will be both the easiest and most correct mode of giving an idea of Carew's merit, to compare him occasionally with his more celebrated cotemporary, though in doing this we deprive him of a vantage-ground which

he might otherwise possess. It must, however, be remembered, that when we institute a comparison like this, there are many allowances to be made, and that the general effect of a version depends very much on the licence to which the translator considers himself entitled. The object at which a translator aims is clear enough to give the spirit of his author in words adapted as nearly as possible to the genius of the language in which he writes, being careful at the same time neither to add to, nor to take away from his original; for in the one case he is sure he is violating the author's meaning, and in the other he cannot know that his own additions would have been consonant to the author's judgment. How seldom, however, is it that we meet with a translation which can boast at the same time both of fidelity and beauty. There must in general be a sacrifice of one of these qualities: thus, in Fairefax's translation, though, when compared with more modern attempts, it is abundantly faithful, we frequently find him varying from the strict sense of the original, while at the same time we feel loth to blame him for wandering, when his aberrations lead us along such beautiful ways. Carew seems to have had more strict and confined notions of the boundaries, beyond which it does not become a translator to show himself; he follows his prototype step by step, carefully placing his foot in the very print of Tasso's, which necessarily gives him an appearance of constraint and difficulty. He adheres as much too religiously to his great original, as Pope and the translators of his school have been too free.

We are rather inclined to suspect that the publication before us must have been written some, though it could not have been many years anterior to the publication of it. The style savours considerably more of antiquity than Fairefax's, of which we shall now enable our readers to judge: we give the fine opening apostrophe in the first book.

Carew.

O Muse! thou that thy head not compassest

With fading bayes which Helicon doth beare;
But bove in skyes, amids the Quyers blest,

Dost golden crowne of starres immortal weare,
Celestiall flames breath thou into my brest,

Enlighten thou my song; and pardon where
I fainings weave with truth, and verse with art
Of pleasings deckt, wherein thou hast no part.

Thou know'st where luring Parnasse most poures out
His sweetnesse all the world doth after runne,
And that truth season'd with smoth verse, from doubt
The waywardst (flocking) to believe hath wonne,

So cup, his brimmes earst liquorisht about
With sweete, we give to our diseased sonne;
Beguilde he drinkes some better juyce the while,
And doth his life receive from such a guile."

If our judgment be correct, these two stanzas, though most literally translated, will not be thought much inferior to Fairefax-in some respects, they are, perhaps, superior.

"O heav'nly Muse, that not with fading baies

Deckest thy brow by th' Heliconian spring;
But sittest crown'd with starres' immortall raies
In heaven, where legions of bright angels sing,
Inspire life in my wit, my thoughts upraise,

My voice ennoble, and forgive the thing,
If fiction's light I mix with truth divine,
And fill these lines with other praise than thine.
Thither thou know'st the world is best inclinde

Where luring Parnasse most his sweet imparts,
And truth convay'd in verse of gentle kinde

To reade, perhaps, will move the dullest hearts;
So we, if children young diseas'd we finde,

Annoint with sweets the vessels' foremost parts,
To make them taste the potion sharpe we give,
They drinke deceiv'd, and so deceiv'd they live."

We cannot forbear giving the first of these stanzas in the original, and the reader will immediately perceive how exact, and yet how happy, Carew has been in his translation.

"O Musa, tu, che di caduchi allori
Non circondi la fronte in Helicona ;
Ma su nel cielo infra i beati chori
Hai di stelle immortali aurea corona;
Tu spira al petto mio celesti ardori,
Tu rischiara il mio canto; e tu perdona,
S'intesso fregi al ver, s'adorno in parte
D'altri diletti, che de' tuoi, le carte."

But if our translator, in these passages, may be said to equal his successor, others may be adduced, in which we think he is decidedly superior to him, though we do not introduce these isolated comparisons as perfect criteria of the relative excellence of the translations.

The commencement of the address of Peter the Hermit, is thus given by Carew.

1

"He spake, his speech a mutt'ring short befell,
Next after solitary Peter rose,

Though private 'mongst the princes at counsell
As he from whom that voyage chiefly grows,
What Godfrey doth exhort I say as well,

No doubt here fals.—

The olde man silenst here. What thoughts, what breasts,
Are shut from thee, breath sacred! heat divine!
Thou in the hermite dost enspire these heasts,

And in the knights' harts thou the same dost shrine ;
Th' ingraft, th' inborne affections thou outwrests,
Of rule, of libertie, of honours' signe.

So as both Gwelfe and Gwilliam chiefe in place
Did Godfrey first with name of chieftaine grace."

Now let us see Fairefax's.

"This said, the Hermite Peter rose and spake,
(Who sate in counsell these great lords among)
At my request this war was undertake

In private cell who earst liv'd closed long,
What Godfrey wills of that no question make,

There cast no doubts where truth is plaine and strong.

And therewith staid his speech. O gratious Muse!
What kindling motions in their brests doe frie?
What grace divine the hermit's talk infuse,

That in their harts his words may fructify;
By this a virtuous concord they did chuse,

And all contentions then began to die;
The princes with the multitude agree,
That Godfrey ruler of those wars should be."

How very much superior are the first lines of this last stanza in Carew's translation, and how finely they breathe the spirit of their great original, which is absolutely lost in Fairefax's tame imitation.

Carew.

"Quì tacque il veglio. Hor quai pensier, quai petti,
Son chiusi a te, sant 'aura, e divo ardore?"

"The olde man silenst here. What thoughts, what breasts, Are shut from thee, breath sacred! heat divine!”

Fairefax. And therewith staid his speech. O gratious muse!
What kindling motions in their brests doe frie?"

The first of these stanzas too is very incorrectly translated by Fairefax. We completely lose the fine idea in the first line of the original,

"Disse: e ai detti segui breve bisbiglio,"

and the characteristic epithet, il solitario Piero, is weakened and extended through a whole line,

"In private cell who earst liv'd closed long."

while Peter is made to declare himself the cause of the war,words which, both in Tasso and Carew, are not put in the mouth of the Hermit, but form part of the narrative.

There is one verse in the Episode of Sofronia and Olindo, of which we give both the versions, and which may serve as a proof that we cannot always trust Fairefax in point of accuracy, though, at the same time, we must observe that his deviation, in this instance, has been productive of additional beauty.

It is Sofronia about to depart on her magnanimous purpose:

Fairefax. "And forth she went, a shop for merchandize
Full of rich stuff, but none for sale expos'd;
A vail obscur'd the sunshine of her eyes,

The rose within herself her sweetnes clos'd.
Each ornament about her seemley lies,

By curious chance, or carelesse art, compos'd;
For what the most neglects, most curious prove,
So beautie's helpt by nature, heav'n, and love.

Carew.

This maide alone through preace of vulgar went,
Beauty she covers not, nor sets to sight;
Shadow'd her eyes, in vaile her body pent,

With manner coy, yet coy in noble plight,
I note where car'de, or carelesse ornament,

Where chance or art her fairest count'nance dight.
Friended by heav'n, by nature, and by love,
Her mere neglects most artificial prove."

Now Tasso has nothing like the simile which Fairefax has introduced at the commencement of this stanza, and which certainly is not the most poetical one which was ever inventedthen, the sense of the second line, which is most literally translated by Carew,

"Non coprì sue bellezze, e non l'espose;"

« ZurückWeiter »