« ForrigeFortsæt »
Tun' mare transilias? tibi torta cannabe fulto,
• What are you seeking, madman? do you know?
And all for what? why truly not content
THE PRESENT TRANSLATOR.
• What means the madman? whither would he go?
In noticing Mr. Howes's specimen of his promised translation of Persius, we expressed our wish to see his plan completed; and that wish is but little abated by the appearance of
this publication. We would not prematurely give an absolute decision from a single page or two, chosen as to the subject, and no doubt polished at leisure with the utmost assiduity; yet, si sic omnia, we should boldly pronounce Mr. H.'s translation of Persius, the best that has appeared in the English language. Almost every line in the above specimens, we think, will justify this preference.
The present translation, nevertheless, has considerable merit; it would indeed have deserved great commendation, if the numerous faulty passages had been improved with sufficient care, and the whole rendered similar to the most free and spirited parts that are occasionally interspersed. We are surprized that the admirable line which follows our extract, and which our readers ought to associate with every object and occurrence of life, should be so diffusely, yet so imperfectly translated.
Vive memor leti! fugit hora; hoc, quod loquor, inde est.'
Sat. V. 153.
The more important hemistich is wholly omitted, in the following feeble amplification.
Our time hastes onward, nor can endless last;
Another, among many inadvertencies, is the 147th line of the sixth satire, which has only eight syllables.-The rhymes are not generally so incorrect, as might have been expected from the occurrence of such as Greek and treat, big and rib.
The translator, however, has evidently studied and understood his original; and his version, for the most part, expresses it intelligibly. He has judiciouly marked out the interlocutors in the abrupt and confused dialogue of Persius, by paragraph marks in the original, and by inserting the names of the Dramatis persone in his trasnlation. This is an essential aid toward understanding one of the most difficult of Latin poets.
Art. X. A Treatise on Forming, Improving, and Managing Country Residences; on the choice of situations appropriate to every class of purchasers, &c. with an Appendix, containing an Enquiry into the Utility and merits of Mr. Repton's mode of shewing Effects by Slides; and Strictures on his Opinions, &c. By John Loudon, Esq. F.L.S. 2 vols. 4to. pp. 750. Price 31. 3s. Longman and Co. London. 1806. HE ideas of taste and fashion have often been confounded, although they are essentially distinct: the one is founded on nature; the other on caprice. The principles of taste are permanent; fashion is too fleeting to think of principles. The
proper office of taste is the advantageous decoration of nature; but, the whimsies of fashion too often set nature at defiance, and delight in combinations, to which however the eye may be reconciled by custom, the judgement can never be persuaded to consent. Fashion delights in expense, adds decoration to decoration without reserve, and often without meaning: substi tutes riches for beauty, misapplies vast powers, and after immense toil, changes the whole of her operations for something that is new, more expensive, and totally contrary in design, disposition, and effect.
The simplex munditiis of Horace is a phrase difficult to translate, and the principle which it recommends is still more difficult to exemplify; but it is of supreme importance in the decoration of nature. When art proposes her plans of improvement and ornament, the difficulty is to restrain her interference within proper limits. Elated with her own creative powers, she too often employs them incautiously; and the danger of injury from excess is far greater than that from deficiency. That elegant and chaste simplicity to which all competent judges pay willing homage, like the magic termination of the rainbow, eludes our grasp; it is at once real, yet illusory; all feel its influence, but none can describe or explain it.
But in this pursuit, as in all others, it is important to generalize; we should investigate the principles on which we have been pleased with certain objects, that we may produce in other cases, the same capacity of pleasing, without a servile imitation of the same objects. Instead of stealing the coin, we should dig for the ore.
The necessity of skill and science in the laudable attempt to embellish the appearance of nature, must be obvious; without it, much will be done, that will need to be undone, and great disappointment, expense, and disgrace must be the issue. Opinions, however, entirely different, and even contradictory, have been held among us, as to the most effectual means of embellishing the landscape of our country. Stiff formal lines, and artificial figures, were formerly the height of the fashion; but these, having no originals in nature, were at length expelled, for more congenial beauties. The accidental advantages of the ground were sought and improved, and a scenery arose worthy of the Nymphs and Dryads of ancient fable. Further refinement insists, that this also was imperfect; and we are now directed to dismiss the belts, the clumps, the dotted trees, and the feeble rivulet of former artists, and to adopt groups, woods, and open grounds. Each style has its excellences; the error consists in forcing nature, and the excellence consists, in adapting the exertions of art, so coin
cidentally with the natural character of a place, that the result of all the parts shall be elegant, harmonious, yet diversified beauty. This is the endeavour of taste, whatever may be the dictate of fashion.
We are led then to consider order, appropriation, and association, as indispensable principles in the art of decoration; and works, like that before us, which profess to explain these principles, and to direct their application, are intitled to our favour, by their very nature and intention.
Mr. Loudon is well known as a scientific man, who has had great practice in laying out grounds, and improving the ornamental appearance of estates, in different parts of the island. Accustomed, from bis infancy, to the extensive and majestic mountain views of Scotland, to the foaming cascade, and to the frowning precipice, he regards the milder features of southern landscape as tame, and unimpressive; and boldly denies the claim of those artists, who have principally or solely studied the richer scenes, to the superior honours of their profession.
We could wish indeed, that he had less indulged himself in acrimonious censure, especially of Mr. Repton's valuable treatise; as the only one published on the Science of Landscape Gardening, it certainly should have met with more candid treatment from a brother artist. That gentleman has too much good sense to assert that his book is perfect; but it would have been much handsomer in Mr. L. to praise its commendable qualities, than to cavil at some parts, whose merit is dubious, and to derive a gratification from stigmatizing others as absurd. It is seldom that the principles of art are perfected at once; the practice of art never is: slow in its progress it improves by degrees, and cannot reach any permanent honour, but at the expense of many trials and various errors. As we are influenced by this consideration, we shall not deny that Mr. L has promoted the advancement of the art by illustrating some of its principles; nevertheless, we frankly acknowledge, that the merit of his book, is not, in our opinion, equal to the rank which it holds in the Author's estimation; and that, while many of his maxims and observations deserve commendation, there are some which partake more of vanity than of wisdom.
We commend the extensive view which Mr. L. has taken of his subject. His introduction states the pleasures, and the advantages of a country residence, comprising also a slight history, mingled with some ill-nature, of the art of laying out grounds, as lately practised among us. He bestows a whole book on taste, some parts of which had better have been omitted; but he discovers a laudable anxiety that the principles of land cape painting should be vested with due autho
rity, when the improvement of grounds is under consideration. He also offers his sentiments on architecture, and its different styles, Gothic and Grecian. He discusses public and private buildings, cottages, houses, palaces, and their construction. He next adverts to agriculture, to horticulture, to the cultivation of exotics, and to the requisite buildings for that purpose. He enlarges on picturesque improvement of estates, considers ground, rocks, stones, wood, plants, water, buildings in short, all the ingredients of landscape scenery, not forgetting animals wild and taime. This occupies his second volume, which affords many good remarks, on ornament, utility, profit, the kinds of trees, and timber, their arrangement, management, &c. &c. The different styles of country. residences, their situations, and accommodations, have occupied much of Mr. L.'s attention. He concludes his work with an Appendix, which is a direct attack on Mr. Repton. Our readers will perceive that the contents of these volumes are extremely multifarious; and that to analyse them attentively, would be unreasonably tedious.
We have read with attention the principles of taste proposed by Mr. L.; but cannot boast of perfectly understanding them. We conjecture, that this is partly occasioned by his using terms in a mode of application, which is not customary, at least on this side of the Tweed. A few instances may at once explain, and justify our remark.
We have never before heard of “moral evil” connected with forms and other, qualities of surface, such as, "gentle undulations, and insensible transitions:" p. 38. and our author must excuse us, if we deny, that "picturesque beauty is characterized by roughness, abruptness, and irregularity." p. 40.
We deny too that "elegance changes its meaning with the fashions," p. 42. and we think that what the author intends, is very ill expressed, when he "notices the formation of the sense of taste, by the union of the five elementary senses." p. 44.
We readily admit, that "the limited sphere of life of some individuals,' may not have permitte them to acquire a knowledge of objects of taste ;" but, how this should "vitiate their natural faculties," we cannot discover. p. 48. We have always supposed that " aërial perspective," was of great use in "keeping" but, by what means "keeping produces aërial perspective," exceeds our comprehension.
p.. In p. 646. Mr. L. speaks of preserving a space along the margin and rivulet as pleasure ground, in which exotic shrubs and flowers are to be distributed in natural like groups and thickets. All the rest of the grounds are fed with deer, horses, cattle, sheep, &c."