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in her veil, follows the goddess in silence. The reader is left to feel the struggles of this woman's reason against her passion. Homer does not explain them. He contents himself with saying, at the beginning of the dialogue, that as soon as Helen heard of the danger of Paris, and was reminded of his beauty, hier heart was moved ; and that, when she discovered that it was Venus who spoke to her, she was seized with fright
• She spoke, and Helen's secret soul was moved ;
She scorn'd the champion, but the man she loved.' The first line of this couplet is in Homer, and only tells the fact. The second is added by Pope, to explain the intention of Helen and Homer. But the whole interest of the succeed ing dialogue vanishes with this explanation. The passion of Helen becomes that of a libertine ; and her remonstrances &yainst the counsels of Venus seem gross hypocrisy. But the true Helen of Homer, throughout the Iliad, is considered as a woman, who, by her beauty, approaches the divinity. The gods, in forming so beautiful a creature, ordain that she should be admired with a species of adoration. The war, and the evils of which she is the cause, are attributed to the will of Heaven. Homer puis these sentiments into the mouth of Priam, rendered the most unfortunate of men by the war, and no longer of an age to be moved by beauty. Not a murmur is mentioned of the Trojans or of the Greeks against the source of their woes. Her husband laments her fate ; and old Nestor, not moved by the same sentiments, speaks of her with The same pity. Paris declares that he had, like a pirate, carried her from Sparta. She never seems to open her mouth without a blush. It was a character very difficult to be painted. Homer has employed in the picture the utmost delicacy of pencil, and the deepest knowledge of human nature. When she bewails the death of Hector, she says, ' He never reproached me ;-he hindered others from reproaching me.' A sublime sentiment, which describes at once the noble character of Hector, and all the remorse of the soul of Helen. She lives with Paris, from a sort of union of fatality and despair. She loves him ; but she desires to escape from him. Her character in the Odyssey ayrees with this representation of her in the lliad. The Helen of Homer is always the same. The reasonings of the critics make her different from herself. The slightest change in delicate features destroys the physiognomy
She scorned the champion, but the man she loved.' This is the illicit love of a modern lady of fashion; but it is not that of the amorous queen whom Homer saw in his imagination, and perhaps partly also in the manners of his age.
Obcllo, justifying himself against the charge of having seduCid Descicuivaa, teils the Sensie,
She loved me for the dangers I had past,
And I loved her that she did pity them. He tells the fact, and adds the simple reflection which immediately flows from experience and feeling. In such passages, it is impossible to contemplate without astonishment the genius of Shakespeare, which veils the depth of his observntion by the simplicity of nature. The passage is thus translated by Delille
· Elle aimoit mes malheurs ; moi j'aimais ses larmes,
L'Amour et la Pitié confondoient ses charmes.' Shakespeare seems only to give to Othello the characteristic features of a savage hero, who reprys, with all his affection, those who love and admire him, and with all his vengeance those who betray or despise him. The Senate understood Othello. It may be doubled whether they would have understood, or at least felt the cold generalities which make the metaphysical commentary of Delille. Yet the readers of most of the capitals of Europe, at this day, would probably prefer the couplet of Delille.
Of all the translators of Dante with whom we are acquainted, Mr Cary is the most successful; and we cannot but consider his work as a great acquisition to the English reader. It is executed with a fidelity almost without example ; and, though the measure he has adopted, conveys no idea of the original stanza, it is perhaps the best for his purpose, and what Dante himself would have chosen, if he had written in English and in a later day. The reasons, which influenced the mind of cur own Mila ton would most probably have determined the author of the Inferno.
Some years ago, Mr Hayley published a translation of the three first Cantos of that Poem, in which he endeavoured to give an idea of Dante's peculiar manner, by introducing bis triple rhyme. It was written with a considerable degree of spi. rit and elegance; but we cannot much regret that he proceeded no further. The difficulties which he had to encounter were almost insurmountable ; at least he has led us to think so, by his many deviations from the text. Of these there is a remarkable instance in the third Canto. When the poet enters in at the gate, his ears are instantly assailed by a multitude of dismal sounds, among which he distinguishes • Voci alte e fioche, e suon di man con elle.'
• Voices deep and hoarse, With hands together smote.' The last circumstance, the most striking of them all, is entirely passed over by Mr Hayley. Mr Pope himself indeed, could furnish many a parallel from his far-famed translations ;
and one of his most flagrant transgressions has never, to our knowledge, been pointed out. Penelope; in the Odyssey, (XIX, 597. and XXIII. 19.), twice mentions Troy, the source of all her misfortunes, in a manner the most natural and affecting, giving to that city the epithet of bad, and describing it as a place not to be named, though, in the hurry of ber grief, she herself has just named it. A circumstance so beautiful and characteristic could not well be overlooked; but no notice is laken of it by the translator.
Cowper asserts it as his opinion, that 'a just translation of any ancient poet in rhyme is impossible;' and we must confess that we have never seen one. A translator has no occasion to forge fetters for himself. He has enough to wear already; and, do what he will, they will for ever weigh him down. Mr Pope attempted to cover his with flowers; but he could not conceal them. Sometimes, indeed, be throws them off altogether ; but then he ceases to be a translator of Homer. No adventitious ornament-no invention can supply the place of truth and exactness to him who wants to know how men ihought and felt in past ages. Who would consent to exchange the story of Joseph and his Brethren, as it is told in our Bibles, for the most elegant version of i: by Mr Pope ?
Of such offences we cannot accuse Mr Cary. Throughout he discovers the will and the power to do justice to his author. He has omitted nothing, he has added nothing; and though here and there his inversions are ungraceful, and his phrases 2 little obsolete, he walks not unfrequently by the side of his master, and sometimes perhaps goes beyond him. We may say in the language of that venerable Father of Italian Poetry,
Hor ti riman, lector, sopral tuo banco :
So shall delight make thee not feel the toil.' Perhaps there is no descriptior. so sublime in the Purgatory, as that of the discovery and expulsion of the Serpent in the Eighth Canto. How delightfully it opens with that passage from which Gray lias borrowed the first line of his Elegy! • Now was the hour that wakens fond desire
In men at sea, and melts their thoughtful hearts,
In the Ninth Canto, the Angel of God unlocks the gate ; and the verses, that follow, are not unworthy of Milton. • As in the hinges of that sacred ward
The swivels moved,
Attentively I turned,
Come swelling, now float indistinct away. In no writer, not even in Homer, have the similes more life and variety than in Dante; and they are for the most part given with the truest touches in the translation. We shall select two 'or three that may convey perhaps a less gloomy idea of him than generally prevails among us. • As from a troop of well-ranked chivalry
One knight, more enterprising than the rest,
• As on their road
He, who hath lost, remains in sadness fixed,
And promising, I 'scaped from it with pains.' Ibid. 6.
Their vizors off, look other than before,
parts of it.
Dante must have loved hawking. He paints his bird always to the life.
« On his feet
Purgatory, 19. And again,
Like to a falcon issuing from the hood,
His beauty and his eagerness bewraying.' Paradise, 19. Mr Cary reminds us sometimes of Shakespeare,—oftener of Milton ; but, in his anxiety to imitate them, he becomes more antiquated than either; and we liope, that, when he republishes his translation, which we trust, he soon will, in a larger and more legible character, he will think proper to modernize the language a little, and give more simplicity and sweetness to many
In that beautiful simile, * Then seemed they like to ladies, from the dance
Not ceasing, but suspense, in silent pause,
Listening till they have caught the strain anew.' Paradise, X. --surely the word suspense is obscure and unpleasing. Milion uses it indeed in like manner; but why not avoid, when we can, the perplexity that must always arise from using the same word as an adjective and a substantive? We do not disapprove of the judicious use of old words. Far from it. They are, in their place, most becoming; and, in the present instance, throw a sober colouring over the whole, which we should be sorry to lose. If Dante himself were to appear among us, should we not expect to find his beard and his tunic after an ancient fashion, and much as they are represented in that old painting in the Duomo at Florence ?
But, when Dante is the subject, our readers may require something of a darker complexion than what we have given them; and we shall cinclude with two extracts from the Inferno. The pathetic story of Francesca, before mentioned, is known to all; and all can, in some degree, form a judgment of the translation. • When I had heard my sage instructor name
Those dames and knights of antique days, o'erpowered