« 上一頁繼續 »
deny that there is an infinitely larger quantity of noble materials for the food of the mind in the language of England. But they imagine that they can transfer with ease and rapidity the best portion of this intellectual wealth into the vernacular, through the medium of translation. There cannot be a more deplorable mistake. A glance at our English translations of the works of the ancients would suffice to convince any reasonable man of the excessive difficulty of transferring the literature of one language into that of another, even where there is some congeniality between the languages of the original and the translation. Good English scholars, acquainted with the ancients only through English versions, are at a loss how to recognize the justice of those fervid praises that have been lavished through so many ages and in so many different lands upon the authors of Greece and Rome. But the learned have no difficulty in furnishing a solution of the mystery. They tell us that the spirit of the great authors, who have become immortal heirs of fame, has evaporated entirely in the process of translation.
One of the Orientalists observes, that Pope's translation of Homer is a master-piece, and must rank among English Epics next to Paradise Lost. If Pope had written nothing besides this translation or rather paraphrase of Homer, his rank as a genuine poet would have been far lower than it now is. The truth is, that all English critics at present concur in condemning it. The simple and sublime old bard is dressed like a modern coxcomb. “ It is a pretty poem,” said Bentley to Pope, who had urgently pressed for his opinion of his translation, “ but you must not call it Homer.” If the entire spirit and character of ancient authors is so changed by translators of skill and genius, who have a copious and flexible language at their command, we must expect a still greater loss of original spirit in the transfusion of ideas from English into Bengali The late Dr. Tytler used to say that nothing could be more con
temptible than the attempts hitherto made to transfer our literature into the vernacular, and though he himself was a man of very great ability and learning, we may fairly express a doubt whether his own Arabic translations were not better adapted to furnish food for mirth to those acquainted with the original language, than the means of instruction to the majority of native students.
Our opponents acknowledge, that if the vernacular dialects be the exclusive means of cultivation, then English poetry, from the dif. ficulty of translation, must be given up altogether. And yet our poetry is by no means an insignificant or useless portion of English Literature. When we speak of British genius, amongst the very first names that start up in our memory and demand our gratitude and admiration, are those of Shakespeare and Milton! The influence of the writings of such men upon the intellectual character of a nation, is as vast as it is undefinable. Shakespeare's magical creations have become fixtures in the minds of his countrymen, and his finer thoughts and axioms are as familiar in our mouths as household words. The editor of a native paper lays the flattering unction to his soul that his countrymen are richer in poetical genius than the English, in spite of our Chaucer and Spencer and Shakespeare and Milton ! Every body knows," says he, “ that we, the inhabitants of this sunny clime, have poetry in greater abundance than the inhabitants of the bleak regions of England, and other polar countries." We confess that we are amongst the no bodies, if every body is of this opinion. If we could be convinced that there was so much glorious poetry in the vernacular, and that the natives could do so well without ours, we should be less disposed to advocate the English ; for there is no doubt that mere science could be transferred into any language with more ease and success than poetry*. We have always had a notion, however,
* Let us communicate as much of our scientific knowledge as we can; but at the same time we should always remember that science alone ought not to
that the all-sidedness of mind, and the profound and philosophical knowledge of the human heart displayed by Shakespeare, and the sublime morality and lofty imagination of Milton, were innmeasurably beyond the reach of Indian poets, who were little better, in our estimation, than dealers in miscellaneous stores of tears and smiles, clouds and sunbeams, and gems and flowers. The general impression of all other nations regarding the poetry of the East, is extremely unfavorable. The poetry of Indian Bards is looked upon as a glittering gewgaw. It is bespangled like a coronation robe. There can be no great poetry where there is no simplicity of taste or purity of feeling. The greatest poet that the world ever knew was remarkable for the naked grandeur of his style, and Milton, who does not stand much below him was also distinguished for a chaste sublimity. His poetry is often sculptural and colourless. But, perhaps, our opponents do not mean to institute a comparison between the poetry of India and that of England in reference to quality, so much as in point of quantity. If this be their intention, we have no wish to disturb their complacency.
With respect even to prose literature, there is scarcely a book that we can mention, that would not greatly suffer by a translation into Bengali. Style is as much a part of an author as the mortal frame is a part of our strangely compounded being. Even the Orientalists will acknowledge that the glorious thoughts of Milton, expressed with such extraordinary force, would lose more than half their effect in any other diction. We are of opinion that it would be the same with the prose writings of our moralists. There is an insinuating grace in the manner of Addison and Goldsmith, that could only be imitated to perfection by kindred genius and in the same language. But in such a language as the Bengali,
be our sole or even chief object in the education of the natives. It is of para. mount; importance that we should raise the moral tone of their minds; a desire for the acquisition of science and general knowledge must necessarily follow.
the charm could never be preserved by even greater skill and ingenuity than are displayed in the original. Such writers make morality enchanting.
“ Truth from their lips prevails with double sway.” It is astonishing how little novelty of thought is to be found in any age or country in the writings of the most eminent moral. ists and philosophers. New truths are rare, and the human heart remains unchanged. It is the wondrous felicity with which great writers place old truths in a new light, and the grace, clearness or force of their style, that raises our admiration and renders them so useful to mankind. We are told of the difficulty of procuring schoolmasters; but this difficulty is trifling, indeed, when compared with that of procuring competent translators*.
When we take all these considerations into a fair account, it is not difficult to come to a conclusion upon the main subject of the present article. We are thoroughly convinced, that by instructing native children in the English language (which in the dawn of their intellects is an easy attainment), we put into their hands the golden key of a vast treasury of precious knowledge that they would never gain access to by any other means. For their present feeble and defective language (which still, however, they are not obliged wholly to neglect) we give them an instrument for the use of their minds that is in a state of comparative perfection ; and we expedite their passage in the road to knowledge, at a rate that will cause the rising generation to make greater progress in twenty years, than could be effected through the medium of the vernacular languages in a century.
Perhaps the most convincing argument in favor of native education through the medium of the English tongue, is a reference to the character and accomplishments of some of those young men who have passed through the Hindu College. Their minds are infinitely more elevated and more robust than those of their countrymen in general, and they talk and think and act like well educated Europeans; they read Bacon and Shakespeare and Johnson and Addison with delight, and have a sense of the true the beautiful, wh could never be acquired from oriental literature alone, of which the general character is confessedly feeble and impure.
THEY CALL ME COLD AND PROUD.
They call me cold and proud,
Because my lip and brow
No kindred mirth avow;
I seek affection's smile,
But vainly gaze around,
In fairest forms are found ;-
The peopled earth appears
As drear as deserts wide,
The stern and gay deride ;-