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To pass Ismenus' wave, before the sacrifice
Auspicious smiles. But he, for battle burning,
Fumes like a fretful snake in the sultry noon;
Lashing with gibes the wise Oiclidan seer,
Whose prudence he interprets dastardy,
Cajoling death away. Thus fierce he raves,
And shakes the overshadowing crest sublime,
His helmet's triple mane, while 'neath his shield
The brazen bells ring fear. On his shield's face
A sign he bears as haughty as himself,
The welkin flaming with a thousand lights :
And in its centre the full moon shines forth,
Eye of the night and regent of the stars.
So speaks his vaunting shield. On the stream's bank
He stands loud roaring, eager for the fight,
As some fierce steed that frets against the bit,
And waits with ruffling neck and ears erect,

To catch the trumpet's blare.'
Eteocles replies:

• No blows I fear from the trim dress of war,
No wounds from blazoned terrors. Triple crests
And ringing bells bite not without the spear.
And for this braggart shield, with starry night
Studded, too soon for the fool's wit that owns it
The scutcheon may prove seer. When death's dark night
Shall settle on his eyes, and the blithe day
Beams joy on him no more, hath not the shield
Spoken significant, and pictured borne
A boast against its bearer? I, to match
This Tydeus, will set forth the son of Astacus,
A noble youth not rich in boasts, who bows
Before the sacred throne of Modesty;

In base things cowardly, in high virtue bold.' The messenger afterwards describes Polynices, which occasions the following burst from his brother :

O god-detested, god-bemadded race !
Woe-worthy sons of woe-worn Edipus !
Your father's curse is ripe: but tears are vain,
And weeping might but mother worser woe.
O Polynices! thy prophetic name
Speaks more than all the emblems of thy shield.
Soon shall we see if gold-bossed words can save thee,
Babbling vain madness in a proud device.
If Jove-born Justice, maid divine, might be
Of thoughts and deeds like thine participant,
Thou mightst have hope: but Polynices, never,
Or when

the darkness of thy mother's womb
Thou first didst leave, or in thy nursling prime,


Or in thy bloom of youth, or in the gathering
Of beard on manhood's chin, hath Justice owned thee,
Or known thy name: and shall she know thee, now
Thou leadst a stranger host against thy country?
Her nature were a mockery of her name,
If she could fight for knaves, and still be Justice.
In this faith strong, this traitor I will meet
Myself: the cause is mine, and I will fight it.
For equal prince to prince, to brother brother,
Fell foe to foe, suits well. And now to arms!

Bring me my spear and shield, hauberk and greaves.'
Let us next take a passage of totally different spirit, from the
Persians.' The speaker is Atossa, mother of Xerxes, and
daughter of Cyrus the Great.

•Good friends, whoso hath knowledge of mishap,
Knows this, that men, when swelling ills surge o'er them,
Brood o'er the harm, till all things catch the hue
Of apprehension : but when Fortune's stream
Runs smooth, the same with confidence elate
Hope the boon god will blow fair breezes ever.
Thus to my soul all things are full of fear;
The adverse gods from all sides strike my eye,
And in my ear, with ominous-ringing peal,
Fate prophesies. Such terror scares my wits.
No royal car to-day, no queenly pomp
Is mine : the broidered state would ill become
My present mission, bringing, as thou seest,
These simple offerings to appease the Shades :-
From the chaste cow, this white and healthful milk;
This clearest juice, by the flower-working bee
Distilled ; this pure wave from the virgin spring;
This draught of joyaunce from the unmingled grape,
Of a wild mother born; this fragrant fruit
Of the pale-green olive, ever leafy fair,
And those wreathed flow’rs, of all-producing Earth

Fair children.' We selected these passages, only because we knew them to be noble and beautiful in the original; and we think they will suffice to exhibit the raciness, richness, and Shaksperian vigour of Mr. Blackie's common dialect.

are tempted to adduce (again at random) a fine passage from the Agamemnon, where Clytæmnestra hypocritically welcomes her husband home, and in over-wrought language publicly tells her fondness for him.

• Men, citizens, ye reverend Argive senators,
No shame feel I, ev'n in your face, to tell
My husband-loving ways. Long converse lends
Boldness to bashfulness. No foreign griefs,

But we


Mine own self-suffered woes I tell. While he
Was camping far at Ilium, I at home
Sat all forlorn, uncherish'd by the mate
Whom I had chosen.

Myself the while
So woeworn lived, the fountains of my grief
To their last drop were with much weeping drained :
And far into the night my watch I've kept
With weary eyes, while in my lonely room
The night-torch faintly glimmered. In my dream
The buzzing gnat, with its light brushing wing,
Startled the fretful sleeper. Thou hast been
In waking hours, as in sleep's fitful turns,
My only thought. But having bravely borne
This weight of woe, now with blithe heart I greet
Thee, my heart's lord, the watchdog of the fold,
The ship’s sure mainstay, pillar'd shaft whereon
Rests the high roof, fond parent's only child,
Land seen by sailors past all hope, a day
Lovely to look on when the storm hath broken,
And to the thirsty wayfarer the flow
Of gushing rill. O sweet it is, how sweet
To see an end of the harsh yoke that galled us.
These greetings to my lord!

These passages, we trust, will excite a desire to make fuller acquaintance with Mr. Blackie's volumes; but we must proceed to speak on a characteristic feature in them. That Mr. Blackie is a deep scholar, in the Porsonian sense of the word, we certainly will not undertake to assert; indeed we suspect he a little underrates the importance of a good text; his tendency is to seize the general thought of a sentence, and care too little for details. But if there be any deficiency on this head, it is more than atoned for by the great zeal and learning with which he has mastered, or at least striven after, a higher sort of criticism ; which aims, on the one hand, to reproduce to the imagination the whole feeling which animated intelligent Greek auditors and spectators; on the other, to set forth the conception which filled and guided the author's mind in writing. Besides a Preface of some interest to all scholars, his first volume has a preliminary essay on the genius and character of the Greek tragedy, in which we admire the freshness of feeling with which he handles a hackneyed subject. This is followed by a life of Æschylus. But, besides, each play has its own Introduction, generally rather elaborate, but what is far better, always bearing the stamp of an original and thoughtful mind. Nor has Mr. Blackie, with all his admiration for Æschylus, any of that fanaticism which refuses to acknowledge his faults.* So healthy a love of truth seems to pervade his pages, as to give double weight to his eulogies ; indeed, the reader is impressed all through with the sense that the translator never tires of his author. The same sprightliness pervades every page of the book; the same unabated effort to penetrate to his author's heart is seen in the most corrupt and puzzling, as in the clearest passages. In some sense, indeed, Mr. Blackie may seem to revel in the corrupt choruses, because they allow most freedom to his own original writing; and this, we imagine, is his weak point as a translator. It is dangerous for such a one to have much power of invention; for it needs a proportionably higher control over the propensity to enlarge and invent. But we must proceed to speak more in detail concerning the choruses, not only because they are so large a part of the dramas, but because hitherto the attempts at translating them have been on the whole undoubtedly failures, and also because Mr. Blackie has exerted himself so peculiarly and often so successfully upon them.

Some notice is first demanded by the anapæstic systems. These Mr. Blackie has expressed by a trochaic metre, with an occasional rhyme. We confess that to us occasional rhymes are vexatious, by exciting expectation which is perpetually disappointed; and we prefer no rhymes to very rare and uncertain ones. As a favourable specimen we exhibit the following from the Furies':

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• Deftly, deftly weave the dance !
Sisters, lift the dismal strain !
Sing the Furies, justly dealing
Dooms deserved to guilty mortals :
Deftly, deftly lift the strain.
• Whoso lifted hands untainted,
Him no Furies' wrath shall follow;
He shall live unharmed by me.
But who sinned, as this offender,
Hiding foul ensanguined hands,
We with him are present, bearing
Unhired witness for the dead.
We will tread his heels, exacting
Blood for blood, ev'n to the end.'


* We do not acquiesce in his censure of the undecided behaviour of the Chorus in the Agamemnon. The poet seems to us to have represented them as divinely paralyzed, as indeed all hearers of Cassandra were. Hence they are more and more gloomy in their songs, in spite of the happy exterior of events. The gloom increases and becomes more perplexing, until the murder is complete. (Since writing thus, we find Potter to say much the same.]


The first five lines deviate too far from the form of the original to please us; we cannot see what is gained by it; but we at present confine our remark to the metre. Mr. Blackie informs us (and we are persuaded by him), that the anapæsts of the tragedians were in march-time, and therefore ought not to be translated by English anapæsts, which are triple time. But we think this is equally an objection to the English trochees, which are too tripping a metre,-a dance, rather than a march. It is remarkable that Aristotle says this very thing of the Greek trochee (“it is kopoakıcórepov '), but as this is only an analogy, we appeal to Milton, who in writing,

Come, and trip it as you go,

On the light fantastic toe,' certainly thought he was using a tripping metre. To us it appears that the English anapæsts may be a minuet, but the trochees are liable to be a jig. Surely the inference to be drawn from our author's doctrine is, that the four foot iambic is our proper representative of the Greek anapæstic. Lastly, Mr. Blackie appears to us most undesirably to reverse the endings in the common anapæsts, and in their closing line. In Greek, Latin, or English, the ending is generally characteristic of a metre; and we would carefully retain the position of the closing accent or ictus. For instance, in the Agamemnon, we would translate in the opening anapæsts, thus :

• And when the foliage now is seár,
Spent Age on three feet wends his way;
For war no mightier than a child,

And as a daydream doating.'
We have a most distinct realization that this corresponds to the
Greek rhythm ; but this is no matter for proof.

Mr. Blackie sometimes rhymes, even in the systems which represent anapæsts, as we have said. In the opening of the Persians,' he surprises us by having not only rhyme, but an English anapæstic measure! What is more, it is very effective and spirited; we wish we had space to quote much :

• We are the Persian watchmen old,
The guardians true of the palace of gold,
Left to defend the Asian land,
When the army marched to Hellas' strand.
Elders chosen by Xerxes the king,
The son of Darius, to hold the reins,
Till he the conquering host shall bring
Back to Susa's sunny plains.
But the spirit within me is troubled and tossed,
When I think of the king and the Persian host,' &c.


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