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Europe has adopted its own method of giving alphabetical or Romani signs of sound to the Chinese tongue. There is no general and fixed system of orthography among Europeans; every foreigti missionary as he arrived in China, in the course of centuries, on hearing certain sounds, having immediately written them down in letters, and giving naturally the same power to such Roman letters, while transcribing Chinese, that they had in his own native idiom, it is easy to conceive how dissimilar must be the results, even to the apparent creation of many different languages. In these circumstances what is to be done to overcome the confusion, and to meet the perplexity? According to Mr. Thom only two methods remain for adoption, which we shall let him explain :
“1st. That a System of spelling Chinese with Roman letters, (which shall be permanent and uniform) be established by a deputation of learned men, from all the different countries of Europe :-or
“ 2ndly. That the Chinese scholars of each particular country, continue to spell for the students of each particular country, according to the power given to the Roman letters (or as nearly as possible) in each particular country.
“We see numerous objections to the first plan. Had it been done (as we remarked above) about 300 years ago—there would have been no great difficulty about the matter ;-but now, which country is to lead the others in its train ? which countries shall be willing to give up their already received systems of orthography to adopt that of the favoured nation? or shall a system be established partaking of all, even at the risk of being intelligible to none? Viewing it in every way this plan appear to us to be surrounded with difficulties,
“ There only remains then the second mode, which is,—that every man give to the Chinese characters sounds represented by the Roman letters, as analogous as possible to the power that these have in his particular country. This is also quite reasonable ;-for, if a foreigner make use of an English book whereby to study Chinese, it is to be presumed that he already understands English ;- and understanding English, he must surely know the power that the English give to the Roman letters ? or, granting that he does not, the task would not be a difficult one,-a single lesson or two would make him quite au fait. In another point of view we cannot but come to a similar conclusion, -viz,-we.frankly confess, that in drawing up this or any other work,—while we hope that it's use may be as general as possible,-yet our primary object is to assist or instruct our own countrymen ;-and we humbly conceive, that if a foreigner can condescend to study by means of an English book,-he may also condescend to learn the power that the English give to the roman letters ? This subject however has been much more learnedly discussed by Dr. Morrison in his Preface to the Syllabic Dictionary than we can pretend to do,—and if the reader is still unsatisfied with the argument we have produced, we beg to refer him to the dicta of our great master.”
And now to conclude our notice of a work which we are inclined to believe is of such importance, and displays such merit as to warrant the expressions employed in the communication quoted at the beginning of our paper, we have to say that its plan is simple, and as far calculated to accomplish the purposes which Mr. Thom contemplates in his elementary works as possible. The Chinese characters, six being in each line, form a centre column. On the right are the Chinese sounds in roman characters, giving the Mandarin pronunciation of Nanking, as fixed by Dr. Morrison. Immediately below, corresponding to each line of Chinese characters, there is in italics the vulgar pronunciation of Canton. And on the left there is the English free translation in the roman character; and immediately below the literal and verbatim translation from the Chinese, in italics.
Assuredly a sloth has not conceived and achieved all this.
Art. XIV.-Ancient Spanish Ballads : Historical and Romantic. Trans
lated by J. G. Lockhart, Esq. A New Edition, revised. With nu
merous Illustrations. Murray. We have such a full remembrance of the reception which distinguished the first appearance of Mr. Lockhart's translations of Ancient Spanish Ballads, and the work has so long maintained the character which the literary world then awarded to it, that it were idle and impertinent now to venture upon a criticism that would essentially differ from that which has been established. Besides, to read these ballads in the present edition, with the view of strictly testing their merits, either as originals or in their translated form, is more than a person even of the soberest fancy can well do. Perhaps a critic of that order, and severe withal, would place this as the main question before him,--are the ballads and the illustrations in complete or satisfactory harmony?
Although it is but repeating sentiments with regard to the present selection of Spanish Ballads which have again and again been expressed, we may, without great intrusion, utter a few words for the sake of our younger readers. Well, then, these compositions are remarkable for the simple truthfulness, and direct manliness of their sentiments; thereby furnishing an animated picture,-embodying the life of a remote period, especially as it was exhibited and breathed in chivalrous Spain when the Moorish invaders strove with the ancient people. The manners and feelings of that period come out in these compositions with singular force.
There is a peculiarity in Spanish ballad poetry which distinguishes it from compositions of the same class in all other countries. It refuses everything like exaggeration and inflation. There is no striving even for brilliant imagery; nay, it is homely, the spirit being too earnest and honest to wander beyond the actual events of national history, to create such as never existed, or to attribute to them what was not in perfect keeping with their real wonders. But with all this truth and homebred feeling, which are indispensable to a high-souled patriotism, as was exemplified in Spain, there is a refinement, such as the gallant and polished Arabs brought with them, to soften the barbarism of an iron age.
With regard to the fidelity of Mr. Lockhart's translations we have no right to speak as with a proper knowledge. It is only in a translation that we can read the Spanish ballads. But this much we may say, that there is a genial flavour in these translations that is unmistakable, and which comes up to, or rather completes, our ideas both of the people and age which the ballads depict, and of Spanish ballad poetry itself. The fresh and untinselled spirit is kept up with admirable taste.
The present edition gives us a considerable quantity of very acceptable and illustrative prose. The Introduction travels over the ballad history of Spain, and enters into the character of the poetry; and there are prefixed notes, which enable the reader to understand the subject of each ballad, and thereby to comprehend a good deal of the character of the ancient history of Spain.
We quote two specimens of the translations which are very generally selected as such. The first is a ballad, the subject of which is that of a Count marrying a beautiful girl of inferior rank, by whom he has three
children, after his troth had been given to the daughter of a king. The royal dame being disconsolate, and unable to live without the Count, is constrained to inform her father of her desperate condition; and he, being a "good king," and a loving parent, sends for the Count, and tells him he will not refuse him for a sonin-law, if he will murder the Countess. We quote the portion of the ballad which follows this tempting offer : “In sorrow he departed, dejectedly he rode
The weary journey from that place unto his own abode ;
Sore grieved he for that lady, and for his children three. “ The one was yet an infant upon its mother's breast,
For though it had three nurses, it liked her milk the best ;
Hanging about their mother's knee while nursing she did sit. " • Alas!' he said, when he had come within a little space
• How shall I brook the cheerful look of my kind lady's face?
“ Just then he saw her at the door, with all her babes appear (The little page had run before to tell his lord was near): Now welcome home, my lord, my life!-Alas! you droop your head :
Tell, Count Alarcos, tell your wife, what makes your eyes so red ?' “ I'll tell you all—I'll tell you all : it is not yet the hour;
We'll sup together in the hall, -I'll tell you in your bower.”
He sate beside her pale and sad, but neither drank nor ate.
Then on the board he laid his head, and out his tears did flow : • I fain would sleep-I fain would sleep,' the Count Alarcos said :
Alas ! be sure, that sleep was none that night within their bed. “ They came together to the bower where they were used to rest,
None with them but the little babe that was upon the breast : The count had barred the chamber doors-they ne'er were barred
till then ;
Unhappy never can she be that is Alcaros' wife.'-
Long since I loved a lady—long since I oaths did plight,
And now, that I the news should bring ! she claims me for her own. “ Alas!
my love !--alas ! my life !—the right is on their side ; Ere I had seen your face, sweet wife, she was betrothed my bride ; But, oh! that I should speak the word—since in her place you lie,
It is the bidding of our Lord that you this night must die.'". Are these the wages of my love, so lowly and so leal ?
Oh, kill me not, thou noble count, when at thy foot I kneel !
There will I live a lone chaste life, and rear my children three.' “It may not be,-mine oath is strong, -ere dawn of day you die!' "Oh! well 'tis seen how all alone upon the earth am I;
My father is an old frail man,--my mother's in her grave,-And dead is stout Don Garci—alas ! my brother brave ! so'Twas at this coward king's command they slew my brother dear, And now I'm helpless in the land :-it is not death I fear, But loth, loth am I to depart, and leave my children so,
Now let me lay them to my heart, and kiss them ere I go.' "• Kiss him that lies upon thy breast-the rest thou may'st not see.'
'I fain would say an Avé.' — Then say it speedily.' She knelt her down upon her knee: 'Oh, Lord ! behold my case; Judge not my deeds, but look on me in pity and great grace.'
“ When she had made her orison, up from her knees she rose, –
• Be kind, Alarcos, to our babes, and pray for my repose;
That he may drink one farewell drink, before my breast be cold.' “Why would you waken the poor child ? you see he is asleep;
Prepare, dear wife, there is no time, the dawn begins to peep.'
I pardon thee for the love's sake wherewith I've loved thee;
The curse of God be on them, for this unchristian slaughter !
To meet me in the realm of death, and at God's awful throne !' “He drew a kerchief round her neck, he drew it tight and strong,
Until she lay quite stiff and cold her chamber floor along;
To God and Mary Mother in misery he cried.
When they into the chamber came, and saw her how she lay :
But God took heed of their offence, his vengeance stayed not long. “Within twelve days, in pain and dole, the infanta passed away,
The cruel king gave up his soul upon the twentieth day;
Three guilty spirits stood right soon before God's judgment-seat." It is needless to point out the exquisite beauties of these verses. Who, for example, can miss perceiving how the deepest horrors are rendered almost winning? Our next sample is, The Wedding of the Cid:“ Within his hall of Burgos the King prepares the feast ;
He makes his preparation for many a noble guest.
'Tis the Campeader's wedding, and who will bide away?
Behind him comes Ruy Diaz, in all his bridal state;
For the multitude of people their steps must needs be slow. “ The King had taken order that they should rear an arch,
From house to house all over, in the way that they must march ;