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the compressibility of the Greek language quite as much as the most pregnant expressions of Attic thought and feeling can task one who has to find English equivalents

. Apparent conciseness can never be adequately represented by apparent redundancy: and something, at any rate, is due to the eye, which is peculiarly satisfied by the appearance of an interpaged transsation, as in German books, running line for line with the original, like Wright's Dante and its corresponding stanza as compared with Cary's. In the dialogue, at least, it seems as if this might be managed; especially as one characteristic feature of a Greek play is the orixouvdía, the conversation carried on in single lines, which must lose most of their effect in English if not exhibited in a similar form. Shakspeare himself has occasional orixouvolat; and the mind which desires to receive the impression of terseness, will be content with nothing less, even though it were possible, without obvious and transparent prolixity, to make each Greek line into an English couplet. In spite of the unfortunate disparity between the Greek iambic trimeter and the English heroic, - which have nothing in common to the ear, – it is found that many passages will at once run off into English of the same compass; and as the object is so clearly desirable, little scruple is felt in extending the experiment to all, and forcing the more obstinate exceptions into conformity. We will suppose that a translator of Æschylus contrives to do this, as our own experience leads us to believe he may, without any great poetical detriment to the individual exceptions so controlled. His work is done, and he places it side by side with the original, expecting to be gratified by seeing partial if not entire success. Suddenly it strikes him that this very process has been the means of introducing a new and fatal difference between the copy and the original. In order to bring his thoughts within the range of ten syllables, he has used monosyllables to the utmost. He may not be liable to Pope's charge of making ‘ten low words oft creep in one dull line.' On the contrary, his verses will probably be more than respectable in point of vigour and nerve. But he will see at once that they are totally unlike Æschylus. How can a passage be called Æschylean, however true it may be both to the sense and to the poetry of the Greek, which, so far from being heavy-laden with pñuata in Toßápova, has not even a fair allowance of dissyllables? The translator is driven to curse the monosyllabic tendencies of an uninflected language, and to despair of ever effecting a reconciliation between Greek and English, so long as the latter, which, not being dead, must be the one to give way, goes on marking cases by prepositions, and moods and tenses by parts of the verb substantive.

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1850.

Characteristics of Æschylus.

179

In the absence of the great regenerator who here, as in all other departments, is to come forward one day and realise incompatibilities, it would seem to be a translator's duty to do justice to those points within his reach which may appear to him the most important. Professor Blackie has plainly gone to work with this before his eyes. He has seen that one or two of the recent translations of the more celebrated plays, while adhering closely to the sense, and, in some degree, to the form of the original, may yet be fairly accused of watering down Æschylus, passing over his prominent characteristics, and enveloping the whole in a veil of modern poetical diction, such as would be more appropriately worn by an Anglicised Euripides. Accordingly he appears to have made it his main object to give something of an Æschylean colour to his style and phraseology, challenging and fixing every significant word and expression, without considering how far he may thus be led from his author's footprints, in which he does not care to walk with a weaker tread. There is much to commend in such a resolution, whatever may be the value of the advantages sacrificed in carrying it out. We cannot afford to let a translator take us through those chambers of antique imagery, as though it were an Exhibition of Art in the year 1850, with nothing peculiar or characteristic about it. In point of execution, too, Mr. Blackie is greatly in advance of that one of his predecessors who has paid most attention to the preservation of this special feature. Mr. Sewell, in a translation of the Agamemnon, published a few years ago, laboured especially to bring out all the forcible expressions of the original with corresponding force; but, besides that his scholarship was not equal to the effort, his independent spirit, so curiously in keeping with his ecclesiastical notions, led him to commit blunders which a merely modest ignorance would have avoided. Unhappily, too, he displayed throughout a want of taste in the choice of his poetical vocabulary, utterly unaccountable to those who, having had reason to admire the liveliness and grace of his prose, even when made the vehicle of the most extravagant and irrational opinions, were prepared to extract genuine pleasure from a work, where the thoughts were to be the thoughts of others, and only the language his own. It is an unfortunate thing when one who has undertaken to render into English a writer like Æschylus, contrives not only to produce, as Burke said, the nodosi

ties of the oak without its strength, the contortions of the • Sibyl without her inspirations, but to accumulate fresh peculiarities gratuitously,-mistaking smooth places for nodosities, and untroubled looks for contortions. Yet this is precisely the error into which a man not sufficiently habituated to the usus loquendi of the classical authors is likely to fall: he sees that Æschylus is frequently rugged and uncouth; and so as soon as he finds a word which appears to him at all out of the way he marks it as characteristic, and takes care that the English public shall have the full benefit of it. An instance occurs at the very opening of the play, in the second line ;- Æschylus had spoken (or, rather, had been made to speak, for the word after all is only an unnecessary correction) of the cessation of a watchman's labour coming in as a cure for a year's watching--a very

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ordinary expression, easily paralleled, not only in Greek poetry, but in the poetry of any modern language ; Mr. Sewell, confident that the word is, or ought to be, a strong and strange one, gives it extra strength and strangeness by calling it a salve, without the slightest warrant from the Greek for indulging in these details of the medicine-chest. Meantime, Mr. Blackie's scholarship is remarkably good; the introduction and notes which accompany his translation are a real acquisition to our means of studying the Greek Drama; while his taste has proved sufficient not only to keep him in general from any gratuitous uncouthness, but in various instances to entitle him to something more than mere negative praise. Thus in the play above referred to he has, we think, been happy in preserving the force of dpórol Leóvtwy, the young, literally the dew-drops, of lions, by calling them fresh-dropt younglings, and, again, in showing by a Shaksperian touch, kin but not kind,' the double sense in which Helen is said to be kndos op óvojov, a marriage-connexion and a care. But it is time to quote longer specimens. This is the way in which he renders the opening of one of the choral odes in the Agamemnon:

Who gave her a name

So true to her fame?
Does a Providence rule in the fate of a word ?
Sways there in heaven a viewless power
O'er the chance of the tongue in the naming hour?

Who gave her a name,
This daughter of strife, this daughter of shame,

The spear-wooed maid of Greece ?
Helen the taker! 'tis plain to see,
A taker of ships, a taker of men,

A taker of cities is she.
From the soft-curtained chamber of Hymen she fled,

By the breath of giant Zephyr sped,
And shield-bearing throngs in marshalled array
Hounded her flight o'er the printless way,

Where the swift-plashing oar

The fair booty bore
To swirling Simois' leafy shore,

And stirred the crimson fray.'

1850.

Ode from the Choephoræ.

181

This is good and spirited writing, though not as close to the Greek throughout as German exactness would desire, and, perhaps, not sufficiently polished for an English ode. Want of elaboration and delicate finish is, indeed, one of the principal faults with which we have to charge Mr. Blackie. He seems to think that a translator will be forgiven for carelessnesses which would not be tolerated in an original author; whereas the contrary is nearer the truth, as a translator ought rather to be doubly jealous, having the credit of two persons to keep up. A regular and careful attention to the claims of rhyme is, we venture to assert, indispensable to one who wishes to produce a pleasing impression as a lyrical writer, unless he have previously determined to dispense with rhyme altogether, and try his success in dithyrambic blank verse. In Milton's choruses to Samson Agonistes the rhyme is rather the exception than the rule, coming in with hardly more frequency than the occasional rhymed couplets in Shakspeare's dialogue. Mr. Blackie, unwisely as we think, sometimes wholly discards rhyme; in the strictly lyrical passages, however, he evidently means it to be his main feature. The passage just quoted has one or two of these blemishes, lines without any corresponding rhyme; but there are many instances in which the fault is much more observable. Immediately following it comes an antistrophe, which, by all rules of composition, ought to correspond to the strophe; here, however, though a general material resemblance is preserved, the arrangement of rhymes is not really the same, and the number of rhymeless lines is decidedly increased. And so going through the rest of the play we find, that where the measure is at all complicated, no pains have been taken to make the strophe and antistrophe exactly correspond. The task is indeed a hard one, but it is one which, in our judgment, a translator of a Greek play- a work of high poetical art - ought not to decline. We proceed to another of Mr. Blackie's more successful passages. This time we will give the whole ode; it seems to us well and boldly rendered; and the merit is greater as the original is almost unreadable as it stands, being the most corrupt part of the Choephore. O thou, o'er all Olympian gods that be'

STROPHE 1.
Supremely swaying,
With words of wisdom, when I pray to thee,

Inspire my praying.
We can but pray: to do, o Jove, is thine,

Thou great director;
Of him within, who works thy will divine,

Be thou protector!

Him raise, the orphan'd son, whom thou dost see

In sheer prostration;
Twofold and threefold he shall find from thee

Just compensation.
But hard the toil. Yoked to the car of Fate ANTISTROPHE 1.

When harshly driven,
O raise him thou ! his goaded speed abate

Wisely from Heaven !
Jove tempers all, steadies all things that reel ;

When wildly swerveth
From the safe line Life's burning chariot-wheel,

His hand preserveth.
Ye Gods, that guard these gold-stored halls, this day

Receive the claimant,
Who comes, that old Wrong to young Right may pay

A purple payment.
BLOOD BEGETS BLOOD; but, when this blow shall fall, STROPHE 2.

O thou, whose dwelling
Is Delphi's fuming throat, may this be all !

Of red blood, welling
From guilty veins, enough. Henceforth may joy
Look from the eyes of the Atridan boy,

Discerning clearly
From his ancestral halls the clouds unrolled,

That hung so drearly.
And thou, O Maia's son, fair breezes blow, ANTISTROPHE 2.

The full sail swelling !
Cunning art thou through murky ways to go,

To death's dim dwelling;
Dark are the doings of the gods; and we,
When they are clearest shown, but dimly see;

Yet Faith will follow
Where Hermes leads, the leader of the dead,

And thou, Apollo.
Crown ye the deed; then will I freely pour

EPODE.
The blithe libation,
And with pure offerings cleanse the Atridan floor

From desecration!
Then with my prosperous hymn the lyre shall blend

Its kindly chorus,
And Argos shall be glad, and every friend

Rejoice before us!
Gird thee with manhood, boy; though hard to do,
It is thy father's work: to him be true.
And when she cries, Son, wilt thou kill thy MOTHER?
Cry FATHER, FATHER! and with that name smother
The rising oath. As Perseus, when he slew
The stony Driad, was stony-hearted, do

Thy mission stoutly;
For him below, and her above, pursue

This work devoutly.

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