Слике страница
PDF
ePub

we bad not the honour of knowing Mr. Featherstonbaugh even by name, until we took up this little volume. Our expectations were, therefore, any thing but extravagant. We had not the most distant hope of seeing in it a version worthy of the original. We were even willing to forego a comparison which an author would seem fairly to provoke, by treading in the footsteps of Middleton and Melmoth. But we took it for granted that he had measured his own strength with some degree of caution, before he undertook his labours. We gave him credit for a docent share, as it is called-for some little tincture at leastof classical learning. We thought that at any rate, he could construe and parse a plain sentence, and that, if he were not very profoundly versed in Roman antiquities, he had been at the pains of acquiring for the nonce, such an acquaintance with them, as his subject made absolutely necessary, and as a boy in the fourth form would not be very vain of possessing. To translate any part of Cicero, indeed, in a style at all approaching to the excellence of the original, requires gifts such as it would be quite satirical to mention in connexion with Mr. Featherstonhaugh's name. But to interpret him faithfully-to do him into good, intelligible, appropriate English--is a task which a man might very well perform, albeit he were, as the slave in the play says, “ Davus and not Edipus.” We felt, therefore, every disposition to do justice to the merits, and make all reasonable allowance for the defects of the work. We sat down to our examination of it with a conscientious and solemn impartiality, which the event made absolutely ludicrous. We collated the translation with the original, sentence by sentence, for pages together, until we were entirely satisfied that any further prosecution of the disgustful labour was altogether supererogatory. Indeed, we might have augured as much from the Critical and Historical Introduction,” as the author facetiously calls the puerile and trivial common-place prefixed to his version. Although the great fault of this part of the work is its total want of all merit, yet we thought we saw in it some very decided, positive blemishes. We are told, for instance, that Clodius brought forward a law that “whoever had taken away the life of a Roman citizen uncondemned, should be interdicted bread and water.” We have heard of such a thing as a man's being interdicted “water and fire"--we know that Cicero speaks of himself as having incurred this interdict at the instance of Clodius--and that interdicere is used absolutely, for aqua et igni interdicere-but we had never heard of an interdiction of “bread and water," until we had the good fortune to read this "Critical and Historical Introduction." VOL. IV.NO. 7.

18

The body of the work, however, is worse than one would anticipate even from such omens. Our readers have a right to expect that we shall make out this charge. They will bear with us, therefore, for a few moments, while we execute this very unpleasant but necessary part of our office, and inflict a wellmerited chastisement upon a hardy and presumptuous offender. We verily believe, as we have said over and over again in the course of our labours, that we shall never do any thing as a literary people, worthy to be had in remembrance by posterity, until we shall have prepared the way by a course of classical education, very different from the wretched system under which the time of the child and the money of the parent have been hitherto, alike, so prodigally and so uselessly squandered. But zealous as we are in this great cause of learning, of truth and of excellence-deeply as we regret and deprecate the vain wisdom and false philosophy of those who have lent whatever of authority or influence their own studies have given them, to the disparagement and depression of this most vital branch of discipline-there is one thing which, if possible, we abominate still more. It is the enemy in our camp. It is the absurd pretensions of sciolists and smatterers, whose ignorance has made scholarship among us the by-word of vulgar scoffers. One such example of a practice, scandalously at variance with profession, does more harm in such a country as this, than the speculative opinions of a hundred men like Dr. Rush and his school-of considerable cleverness and information in other departments of knowledge, but more than suspected of speaking quite conjecturally, however dogmatically, upon this subject. Classical studies are good for nothing unless they be elaborate and critical. Better a thousand times that they were altogether exploded—that a boy should never so much as look into a Greek or Latin grammar-than waste upon the acquisition of such an imperfect knowledge of them, as for any practical purpose, just amounts to no knowledge at all, eight or ten of the most precious years of his life. What might be not acquire in the same period, if his attention were confined to his own language! How much more profitably would he be occupied in awakening his imagination and his sensibilities, in forming bis taste, and storing his memory with the beauties of Shakspeare, and Milton, and Spenser; of Barrow, Jeremy Taylor, Hume, Addison, Atterbury, than in learning to repeat by rote a few uncouth grainmar rules in a dead language, and making English nonsense of the matchless eloquence and poetry of antiquity! The system of education, we repeat it, which obtained universally in this country a few years ago, and is far from being entirely reformed

even now, was the most profligate and insane waste of time and money, that was ever tolerated by an intelligent people, and we regard him as the very worst enemy of classical studies who preaches a different doctrine, or does any thing that has a tendency still further to debase the standard of excellence where it is already so much lower than it ought to be. But to our task.

The following is the first paragraph of this translation :

“For without the strong feeling of patriotism, neither had G. Duelius, Aulus Atilius or L. Metellus freed us from the terror of Carthage ; or the two Scipios extinguished with their blood the rising flame of the second Punic war. Quintus Maximus would not have weakened, nor M. Marcellus have crushed the one which was springing up with still greater strength : or P. Africanus turning it from the gates of this city, have borne it amid the walls of our enemies. Yet it was not thought unbecoming in M. Cato, an unknown and a new man, by whom all of us who emulate his course are led as a bright example of industry and virtue, to enjoy the repose of Tusculum, that healthy and convenient situation. That insane man, however, as some have considered him, preferred when urged by no necessity, to contend amid those waves and tempests to extreme old age; rather than pass his days in the most agreeable manner, amid so much ease and tranquillity. Men without number I omit, each of whom were benefactors to the State, and who are not far removed from the remembrance of this generation. I forbear to commemorate them, lest any one should reproach me with neglecting to speak of himself or his immediate friends. This one truth I would mark, that nature has so strongly implanted in man the necessity of virtue, and so powerful an inclination to defend the common welfare, that this principle overcomes all the blandishments of voluptuousness and ease.”

Now, to say nothing of the poverty and inelegance of the style-an objection which it is a sheer waste of words to make here—the ignorance of all sorts discovered in these few lines is really lamentable. Fabius Maximus and Marcellus are represented as crushing a war “which was springing upafter that in which Cnæus and Publius Scipio had perished. If Mr. Featherstonhaugh had ever looked into Livy he would have known that the Scipios were cut off in Spain in the course of the very same year that Marcellus took Syracuse-namely, the sixth or seventh of the second Punic war. However, it might be exacting too much of such a writer to require him to think of any thing dehors the record, as lawyers express it, and we are willing to excuse any deficiency of this kind, provided always that he comprehend the text of his author. But unhappily he was, in this instance, misled by that very text, in which the word excitatus happens to be used in rather an uncommon sense. The

words of Cicero are—"Non duo Scipiones oriens incendium belli Punici secundi, sanguine suo restinxissent nec id (i. e. idem) excitatum majoribus copiis aut Q. Maximus enervavisset aut M. Marcellus contudisset, &c.* This "Fellow of the Geological Society of London,” does not know that excitatus sometimes means “increased,” “ aggravated,” “inflamed,” “ raised to a higher pitch or degree," &c. So he takes the meaning of the word which seems to approach nearest to the vernacular and translates it “ springing up” in utter contempt of historical truth, and the obvious exigency of the context. So the other line printed in italics is a gross contre-sens. The author, speaking of the influence of that virtue which prompts to heroic achievement and self-sacrifice, exemplifies it in the conduct of the elder Cato, who might, had he been so disposed, have remained at Tusculum, (his birth-place) taking his pleasure in ease and quiet, but who chose rather to be tossed about in the storms of political life, even to an extreme old age, than to enjoy that blissful but inglorious repose.

M. Catoni &c. certè licuit Tusculi se in otio delectare, &c. But it will make our remarks more intelligible to print a page or two of the translation, with the original en regard, beginning at the second chapter.

“ Nec uero habere uirtutem satis est, " Yet to possess virtue, like some art, quasi artem aliquam, nisi utare.

Etsi without esercising it, is insuficient. Art ars quidem, cum ea non utare, scientia indeed, when not effective, is still comtamen ipsa teneri potest; uirtus in usu prehended in science. The efficacy of sui tota posita est ; usus a tem eius est all virtue consists in its use. Its greatest maximus ciuitatis gubernatio, et earum end is the government of states, and the ipsarum rerum, quas isti in angulis per- perfection not in words but in deeds, of sonant, reapse, non oratione, perfectio. those very things which are taught in Nihil enim dicitur a philosophis, quod the halls. For nothing is propounded quidem recte honesteque dicatur, quod by philosophers, concerning what is es. non ab his partum confirmatumque sit, a teemed to be just and proper, that is not quibus ciuitatibus iura descripta sunt. confirmed and assured by those who Unde enim pietas ? aut a quibus religio? have legislated for States. For from unde ius aut gentium, aut hoc ipsum whence springs piety, or from whom reciuile quod dicitur? unde iustitia, fides, ligion?. Whence the law, either of na. aequitas ? unde pudor, continentia, fuga tions, or that which is called civil ?turpitudinis, adpetentia laudis et honesta Whence justice, faith, equity? Whence tis i unde in laboribus et periculis forti- modesty, continence, the dread of turtudo? nempe ab his, qui haec discipli- pitude, the love of praise and esteem? nís informata, alia moribus confirmarunt, Whence fortitude in trouble and dansanxerunt autem alia legibus. Quin gers ? From those who having laid a etiam Xenocraten ferunt, nobilem in foundation for these things in early eduprimis philosophum, cum quaereretur cation, have strengthened some of them ex eo quid adsequerentur eius discipuli, by the influence of manners, and sancrespondisse, ut id sua sponte facerent tioned others by the influence of laws.

*It must be owned that Cicero himself seems to have confounded the dates of these events; but he does not say what bis translator puts into his mouth.

quod cogerentur facere legibus. Ergo Of Xenocrates, one of the noblest of ille ciuis qui id cogit omnes imperio le philosophers, it is said, that when he gumque poena, quod uix paucis persua was asked what his disciples learnt of dere oratione pbilosophi possunt, etiam him, he replied to do that of their own his, qui illa disputant, ipsis est praeferen- choice, which the laws enjoined them dus doctoribus. Quae etenim istorum to do.'therefore the citizen who obliges oratio tam exquisita, quae sit antepo every one by the authority and fear of nenda bene constitutae ciuitati, publico the law to do that, which philosophers iuri, et moribus ? Equidem quemad- by reasoning, with difficulty persuade a modum urbes magnas atque inperiosas. few to do, is to be preferred to those ut appellat Ennius, uiculis et castellis learned men who only dispute about praeferendas puto, sic eos qui his urbi. these things. For which of their orabus consilio atque auctoritate praesunt, tions, however exquisite, can be comhis qui omnis negotii publici experles' pared in value to a well constituted sint, longe duco sapientia ipsa esse ante-. State, to public right and to morals. ponendos. Et quoniam maxime rapi- Truly as great and powerful cities, as mur ad opes augendas generis humani, Ennius says, are as I think, to be prestudemusque nostris consiliis et labori ferred to villages and castles : so those bus tutiorem et opulentiorem uitam ho who stand pre-eminent in those cities, minum reddere, et ad hanc uoluptatem in authority and counsel, are to be esipsius naturae stimulis incitamur; tenea. teemed far before those in wisdom, who mus eum cursum, qui semper fuit optimi are altogether ignorant of the conduct of cuiusque; neque ea signa audiamus, public affairs. And since we are chiefly quae receptui cadunt, ut eos etiam reuo urged by a desire to increase the possescent, qui iam processerint.”'

sions of the human race, and seek by our counsels and labours, to surround the life of man, with gratification and security, and are incited by the instincts of nature to these enjoyments; let us hold the course which was always that of the best men: nor attend to those signals which speculative philosophers make from their retirement, to allure back those who are already far advanced.”

pp. 34, 35.

It is scarcely necessary to remark that the passages printed in Italics are palpable blunders. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine any thing worse in the way of translation. What is the meaning of—"the greatest end of virtue is the government of States, and the perfection not in words but in deeds, of those very things which are taught in the halls.” The sense of the original is extremely clear. Cicero affirms that virtue does not consist in contemplation--that it is not a mere speculative accomplishment or art, which may very well exist in the mindin theory, though it never be called forth into practice—that its being is inseparable from its use, and the most exalted use of it is the administration or government of a State, and the practical application of those very things about which philosophers are wont to prattle so much, and to so little purpose in their closets. He then goes on to maintain, not as the translator makes him say, “that nothing is propounded by philosophers concerning what is esteemed to be just and proper," but that “nothing is advanced by philosophers, at least nothing is rightly and properly advanced by them “or” nothing that can be considered as just and

« ПретходнаНастави »