« PreviousContinue »
on receiving the praises of a man, in whom alone the talents and the virtues of the ancient Athenians seem to recover their freshness and their strength, after so long an interval of corruption and decay. To the writings of those illustrious men which your city has produced, in the perusal of which I have been occupied from my youth, it is with pleasure I confess, that I am indebted for all my proficiency in literature. Did I possess their command of language and their force of persuasion, I should feel the highest satisfaction in employing them to excite our armies and our fleets to deliver Greece, the parent of eloquence, from the despotism of the Ottomans. Such is the enterprize in which you seem to wish to implore my aid. And what did formerly men of the greatest courage and eloquence deem more noble or more glorious, than by their orations, or their valour, to assert the liberty and independence of the Greeks? But we ought, besides, to attempt, what is, I think, of the greatest moment, to inflame the present Greeks with an ardent desire to emulate the virtue, the industry, the patience of their ancient progenitors; and this we cannot hope to see effected by any one but yourself, and for which you seem adapted by the splendour of your patriotism, combined with so much discretion, so much skill in war, and such an unquenchable thirst for the recovery of your ancient liberty. Nor do I think that the Greeks would be wanting to themselves, nor that any other people would be wanting to the Greeks. Adieu."
It would be useless to multiply extracts to convince our readers, that Mr. Hall was totally uninspired with the spirit of Milton. We shall now proceed to show, that he was equally unprepared to translate any book from the Latin, as he displays, every where, the grossest ignorance of the commonest constructions of the language.
In the first epistle, he destroys entirely the force of the expression by translating "exinanio" by the English word "appropriate," as "etiamsi omnes quoscunque Aristoteles, quoscunque Parisiensis ille dialecticus congessit argumentorum Tous exinanirem," even were I to appropriate all the topics that Aristotle, &c. In the same epistle, "diverticula" is translated "distractions," whereas it has no such meaning, either primitive or derivative-it is, Anglice, a turning, a side way, a shift, a digression, a lodging, which last is its true meaning in this place; "urbana diverticula," "city lodgings;" Milton was complaining of the want of his books, as he was then in the city and not in the dwelling of the muses. In the second epistle, he translates "quod Tmolo Lydii montis Deo populari olim contigisse fabulantur," "which, as the Lydians pretend, happened to Tmolus the favourite mountain God," making "Lydii" the nominative to "fabulantur" instead of the genitive singular, agreeing with "montis" and giving quite an incorrect meaning to
populari" which we think in this place equivalent to " peculiari," "proprio" "solenni toti populo:" Facciolati: as in Seneca: Edip. 402. "Populare Bacchi laudibus carmen sonet." Mr. Hall commences the third epistle with a most inexcusable blunder. Milton in writing to Alexander Gill, says "Priori illa epistola mea nom tam rescripsi tibi, quam rescribendi vices deprecatus sum,” which Mr. Hall translates-"I wrote you my last, not so much with the design of answering you, as of obtaining a letter in return;" Milton meant to say, "that he did not so much in his former letter answer Mr. Gill's, as deprecate the obligation of then answering it;" "vices," in this passage, means duty, Mr. Hall evidently understood it to mean turn, and of course as Milton had just written to Alexander Gill, Alexander Gill ought to write back to Milton. In the same epistle he renders "puerilitati," "inexperience," whereas it means, in this place, exactly the reverse. One of the fellows of Milton's College, who was to be the respondent in a philosophical disputation for his degree, engaged him to furnish him with some verses, which are annually required on this occasion, since he himself had long neglected such frivolous pursuits, and was then intent upon more serious studies;" the Latin expression is, "meæ puerilitati commisit," he entrusted it to my boyishness;" the fellow had passed on to more serious occupations, but Milton was just at that period of his life when he was supposed to be best prepared for such a performance, so that really his "puerilitati," constituted his experience. In the course of this letter, Milton writes, "Equidem quoties recolo apud me tua mecum assidua pene colloquia [quæ vel ipsis Athenis, ipsa in Academia, quæro, desideroque," &c. which Mr. Hall translates, "Whenever I recall our almost perpetual conversations [which whether at Athens or the Academy, I desire and seek,"] and then appends the following note, a fair specimen of his notes critical: "I suppose London and the University are figured," not perceiving, that "ipsa in academia" is but an elegant enforcement of the expression "ipsis Athenis." Mr. Hall was here misled by the word "vel," which he takes to mean "whether," whereas it means "even." "Quod cum jam tu indies facias, nefas esse propemodum existimo diutius in præsentia tibi interstrepere," is rendered, "which being your daily life, it would be criminal for me any longer to prattle in your presence!" In the sixth letter, "Quod utinam nobis non aliter esses vicinus, rusticanus atque es urbicus," is made to mean "for I would not care that we should be neighbours on any other condition; I a rustic and you a cit❞—whereas the proper transtion is "for I hope that you would not be a different neighbour
to us in the country than you are in town." We are getting weary of these details, but cannot refrain from noticing one flagrant error, which occurs in the tenth letter of this collection, directed "Carolo Dato." Speaking of his attachment to Florence, Milton appeals with true feeling and eloquence to the tomb of his lamented friend Diodati, "Testor illum mihi semper sacrum ac solenne futurum Damonis tumulum." Mr. Hall, not perceiving the force of this beautiful appeal, translates it, "I declare that the grave of Damon will be always sacredly regarded by me."
We might thus go on to the end of the book, if we did not think that we had proved our position, and sufficiently tried the nerves of scholars.
Not satisfied, however, with the mistakes into which his imperfect knowledge of the Latin language has caused him to fall, Mr. Hall must needs embellish his labours with notes, critical and historical, as if to force his incompetency upon his readers, even if they did not choose to go in search of it. We will select one of his confessions, conspicuous for its naiveté and childlike simplicity. The eighth letter in this collection is to Benedetto Buonmattei. Prefixed to Mr. Hall's translation is this notice
"To Benedict Bonmatthei.
["In 1638, Milton travelled through France and Italy. At Florence, he became acquainted with Bounmattei, who was preparing an Italian Grammar. Whether his correspondent availed himself of the hints of the following letter on the subject, I have no means of ascertaining, not having found any information respecting either the grammar or its author, besides what the letter itself furnishes."]-Hall's Fam. Let. of Milton, p. 35.
Is it to be believed, that any one would undertake the illustration of Milton's letters, who was so little versed in Italian literature as not even to seem aware of the self-exposure which must result from the confession, that he knew nothing of Buonmattei, the celebrated Florentine priest, to whom is due the glory of having reduced the Tuscan tongue to order and regularity, the scholar who gave a name and a character to the sweetest language that ever flowed from the lips of man? We would enlighten Mr. Hall by referring him to Tiraboschi, but we are aware that it is a violation of all the rules of illustration, to elucidate "ignota per ignotiora."
We cannot conclude this article without giving a slight specimen of French criticism, and of the fair prospect we have of being properly appreciated in Europe. It seems, that the conductors of the Revue Encyclopedique have enstrusted the depart
ment of American literature to the tender care of Mademoiselle Louise Sw-Belloc, who after a most rapturous and sentimental preamble about Milton, thus notices this publication—
"Toute trace d'un pareil homme, toute manifestation de sa pensée, est importante à recueillir et à populariser.-C'est le que M. Hall a fait; et il ne s'est pas bornè a une simple traduction du latin, il a joint aux lettres, des notes, qui prouvent une connaisance approfondie de l'histoire du poète, et du tems où il a vécu."-Kev. Encyc. Sept. 1829, p. 657. -Louise Sw-Belloc.
ART. VIII.-1. Two Letters addressed to Joseph C. Cabell, Esq. on the Constitutionality of the power in Congress to impose a Tariff for the encouragement of Manufactures. By JAMES MADISON, late President of the United States. Washington. 1829.
2. Protest of the Legislature of South-Carolina against the system of protecting duties, &c. adopted on the last day of the session, 1828, and transmitted to the Senate of the United States, to be entered on its Journals. February, 1830.
THE deep and increasing excitement which pervades all parts of this State in relation to the tariff, makes it our imperious duty once more to call the attention of our readers to that subject. If the signs of the times are not less to be relied on than they ever were in any political conjuncture, an issue is likely to be made up in the councils of South-Carolina, which no man-who has either the head or the heart of a man-can contemplate without anxiety and alarm. We shall take it for granted, in what we have to say upon this subject, that our readers feel as we do, in relation to the unspeakably important interests involved in this discussion. We shall give them credit for a full share of that generous sympathy, of those comprehensive and ennobling national feelings, which grew out of, if they did not produce, the War of the Revolution. We shall suppose that the blood of brothers, poured out so freely in defence of each other's hearths and homes-and no where more freely than in SouthCarolina-does not cry to us in vain from the ground which it has consecrated forever. We shall take it for granted, that if the Federal Government may not still be pronounced, as we
were all once taught to consider it, a perfect model of political wisdom, the glory of our own land, the consoling hope and example of all other lands, it is, at least, better than any substitute for it, as yet thought of by the few, the very few persons amongst us who have avowed themselves its enemies in all events. We shall assume, that our readers concur with us in the opinion we have more than once expressed, that the rarest thing in the history of man, and the hardest thing in nature to preserve, is a popular government worth living under-that of all revolutions, the issues are wrapt up in darkness and full of peril, because it is not in human wisdom to direct, or in human strength to control their course-and that to justify us in subjecting the dearest hopes of millions already born, and hundreds of millions yet to be born, to the tremendous hazard of a convulsion, in which those who only thought to "sow the wind" may chance "to reap the whirlwind," as wise men, as virtuous and conscientious-not to speak of Christianmen, we should require an extreme, and, otherwise, hopeless case of wrong and suffering to be made out; and should be ready, on the other hand, to sacrifice as a peace-offering almost any merely pecuniary interest-much more an imaginary, or at least disputed interest, in a theoretical, experimental policy. In short, we shall address ourselves to those, and to those only, who know and feel the value of popular government and of that liberty-that only liberty worth the name-which the most sublime of its apostles and confessors has characterized as "rational liberty" "that always with right reason dwells, and from her hath no dividual being."
Let it not be inferred from our indulging in this strain, that we have changed any of our opinions or bated one jot or tittle of our zeal to bring back the government of the United States to what we conscientiously believe to be its true principles. Rather let the very reverse be inferred. The dangers with which the present crisis seems to be pregnant, undoubtedly had their origin in a violation of those principles. We shall endeavour to shew this more clearly hereafter; but in the mean time, without going into details, we appeal to all thinking men, whether there has not been, for the last fifteen years, too much legislation at Washington. We do not speak as party men, for we know that this censure lights upon the heads of some of our best friends-that it, in a manner, lights upon our own heads, as well as upon other people's. But this makes no difference in the conclusion to which all considerate minds are coming, from a comprehensive and deliberate survey, in the clear light of experience, of the general state of our government and country.