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But then the sufferings of Ulysses, which are a considerable part of that sentence, are omitted :
[ “ος μάλα πολλα πλαίχθη :] The consideration of these difficulties, in a servile, literal, translation, not long since made two of our famous wits, Sir John Denham, and Mr. Cowley, to contrive another way of turning authors into our tongue, called, by the latter of them, Imitation. As they were friends, I suppose they communicated their thoughts on this subject to each other; and, therefore, their reasons for it are little different. Though the practice of one is much more moderate. I take imitation of an author, in their sense, to be an endeavour of a later Poet to write like one, who has written before him, on the same subject : that is, not to translate his words, or to be confined to his fenfe, but only to fet him as a pattern, and to write, as he supposes that author would have done, had he lived in our age, and in our country. Yet I dare not say that either of them have carried this libertine way of rendering authors (as Mr. Cowley calls it) so far as my definition reaches. For in the Pindaric Odes, the customs and ceremonies of ancient Greece are still preserved. But I know not what mischief may arise hereafter from the example of such an innovation, when writers of unequal parts to him Thall imitate so bold an undertaking. To add and to diminish what we please, which is the way avowed by him, ought only to be granted to Mr. Cowley, and that too only in his translation of Pindar; because he alone was able to make him amends, by giving him better of his own, whenever he refused his author's thoughts. Pindar is generally known to be a dark writer, to want connexion, (I mean as to our understanding) to foar out of fight, and Icave his reader at a gaze. So wild and ungovernable a Poet cannot be translated literally; his genius is too strong to bear a chain, and Samson-like he shakes it off. A genius lo elevated and unconfined as Mr. Cowley's was but necessary to make Pindar speak English, and that was to be performed by no other way than imitation. But if Virgil, or Ovid, or any regular intelligible authors, be thus used, it is no longer to be called their work, when neither the thoughts nor words are drawn from the original : but instead of them there is something new produced, which is almost the creation of another hand. By this way, it is true, somewhat that is excellent may be invented, perhaps more excellent than the first design ; though Virgil must be fill excepted, when that perhaps takes place. Yet he who is inquili
tive to know an author's thoughts, will be dispappointed in his expectation. And it is not always that a man will be contented to have a present made him, when he expects the payment of a debt. To state it fairly : imitation of an author is the most advantageous way for a translator to thew himself, but the greateft wrong which can be done to the memory and reputation of the dead. Sir John Denham (who advised more liberty than he took himself) gives his reason for his innovation, in his admirable preface before the trnslation of the second Æneid. “ Poetry is of fo fubtle a spirit, that, in pouring out of one language into another, it will all evaporate ; and, if a new spirit be not added in the transfusion, there will remain nothing but a Caput Mortuum." I confess this argument holds good against a literal translation; but who defends it? Imitation and verbal version are in my opinion the two extremes, which ought to be avoided: and therefore, when I have proposed the mean betwixt them, it will be seen how far his argument will reach.
No man is capable of translating Poetry, who, besides a genius to that art, is not a master both of his author's language, and of his own : nor must we understand the language only of the Poet, but his particular turn of thoughts and expression, which are the characters that distinguish, and as it were individuate him from all other writers. When we are come thus far, it is time to look into ourselves, to conform our genius to his, to give his thought either the same turn, if our tongue will bear it , or, if not, to vary but the dress, not to alter or destroy the substance. The like care must be taken of the more outward ornaments, the words. When they appear (which is but seldom) literally graceful, it were an injury to the author that they hould be changed: but fince every language is so full of its own proprieties, that what is beautiful in one, is often barbarous, nay sometimes nonsense in another, it would be unreasonable to limit a translator to the narrow compass of his author's words. It is enough if he choose out some expression which does not vitiate the sense. I suppose he may ftretch his chain to such a latitude ; but, by innovation of thoughts, methinks, he breaks it. By this means the spirit of an author may be transfused, and yet not loft: and thus it is plain, that the reason alledged by Sir John Denham has no farther force than to exprellion : for thought, if it be translated truly, cannot be loft in another language; but the words that convey it to our apprehenfion (which are the image and ornament of that thought) may be fo ill chosen, as to make it appear in an unhandsome dreis, and robit of its native lustre. There is, therefore, a liberty to be allowed for the expression ; neither is it necessary that words and lines should be confined to the measure of their original. The sense of an author, generally speaking, is to be sacred and inviolable. If the fancy of Ovid be luxuriant, it is his character to be so; and if I retrench it, he is no longer Ovid. It will be replied, that he receives advantage by this lopping of his superfluous branches ; but I rejoin, that a translator has no fuch right. When a painter copies from the life, I suppose he has no privilege to alter features, and lineaments, under pretence that his picture will look better : perhaps the face, which he has drawn, would be more exact, if the eyes or nose were altered ; but it is his business to make it resemble the original. In two cases only there may a seeming difficulty arise ; that is, if the thought be notoriously trivial, or dishonest : but the same answer will serve for both, that then they ought not to be translated :
Desperes tractata nitofcere pollen relinquas. Thus I have ventured to give my opinion on this subject 2gainst the authority of two great men, but I hope without offence to either of their memories; for I both loved them living, and reverence them now they are dead. But, if, after what I have urged, it be thought by better judges, that the praise of a translation consists in adding new beauties to the piece, thereby to recompense the loss which it fuftains by change of language, I shall be willing to be taught better, and to recant. In the mean time, it seems to me, that the true reason, why we have so few versions which are tolerable, is not from the too close pursuing of the author's sense, but because there are so few, who have all the talents, which are requisite for translation, and that there is so little praise, and so small encouragement, for so considerable a part of learning.
CANACE TO MACA REUS.
EPIS T. XI.
Macareus and Canace, son and daughter to Æolus,
God of the Winds, loved each other incestuously : Canace was delivered of a son, and committed him to ber nurse, to be secretly conveyed away. The infant crying out, by that means was discovered to Æolus, who, inraged at the wickedness of bis children, commanded the babe to be exposed to wild beasts on the mountains : and withal, sent a sword to Canace, with this message, That ber crimes would instruct ber how to use it. With this sword she few berself : but before she died, the writ the following letter to ber brother Macareus, who had taken fanctuary in the temple of Apollo.
F streaming blood
fatal letter stain,
One hand the sword, and one the pen employs,
0! were he present, that his
and hands! Might see, and urge, the death which he com
mands: Than all the raging winds more dreadful, he, Unmov'd, without a tear, my wounds would see. Jove justly plac'd him on a stormy throne, His people's temper is so like his own. The North and South, and each contending blast, Are underneath his wide dominion cast: Those he can rule; but his tempestuous mind Is, like his airy kingdom, unconfin'd. Ah! what avail
kindred Gods above, That in their number I can reckon Jove! What help will all my heav'nly friends afford, When to my breast I lift the pointed sword? That hour, which join'd us, came before its time: In death we had been one without a crime. Why did thy flames beyond a brother's move? Why lov'd I thee with more than lister's love? For I lov'd too; and knowing not my wound, A secret pleasure in thy kisses found: My cheeks no longer did their color boast, My food grew loathsome, and my stsength I lost: Still ere I spoke, a sigh would stop my tongue; Short were my flumbers, and my nights were