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sant,” to render the poet's fine description of Astarte's crescent horns. If our own language sunk before Milton, we cannot have room for wonder that the French, an unpoetic dialect, should do so too. M. de Chateaubriand is not unfrequently careless in omitting certain monosyllables, all of which have wonderful force in our poet, as in
“Both her first-born, and all her bleating Gods ;" for M. de Chateaubriand's translation of which, we do not hesitate to prefer " et ses premiers-nés, et tous ses dieux belans.”
“ All these and more came flocking; but with looks
Downcast, and dainp”-“ Tous ces dieux et beaucoup d'autres vinrent en troupe, mais avec des regards baissés et humides.” Damp cannot be rendered by humide; abattus is the right word. He fails also in his description of the light reflected on the face of Satan"
wbich on his countenance cast Like doubtful hue.” “Ceci refléta sur le visage de Satan comme une couleur douteuse." We ask, to what does ceci refer? evidently to the word lueur. Here, then, is false grammar. We have no fear of hazarding, in the room of this, “ cette lueur jetta sur le visage de Satan une semblable couleur douteuse."
In the second book, the word couler bas is given for sunk, in Moloch's speech. We allow it to be the literal translation ; but surely the French tongue could furnish a nobler. In Belial's speech, we have “ grim fires," rendered “ pâles feux.” We should prefer grimés, a word he elsewhere uses, or even réchignés, as being nearer the true meaning. The last, we are persuaded, might stand; for the conceptions of our poet were so vivid that he here quasi personifies Fires. The word spite, in p. 106, is ill rendered by Médain. Rancune, haine, or even ressentiment, would have been better.
We have often had occasion to remark the translation of the preterite tense of the poet into the French present. We do not mean always to object to it; though, generally speaking, it must surely be allowed more advisable to adhere strictly to the text. In p. 126, we find “ épiceries” for “ spicy drugs.” A higher cast of diction than this from Rheims, would be « leurs drogues aromatiques.”.
Subsequently, in the speech of Sin, we are of opinion that M. de Chauteaubriand, seeing the difficulties occasioned by Death being feminine in French, offers great violence to the words of Sin, calling Death her Son; and that he had better retained the word Funtôme, spectre effrayant, or the like. Supposing M. de Chauteaubriand had forged a sort of Gallo-greco word, for instance, Thanate, he might thus have settled all incongruities. Sin also is, most untowardly for Milton, masculine in French. The Greek word Atè might have been adopted to preserve concord in the allegories and genders. Milton, in applying the epithet sable-vested to Night, could never have meant to picture her in a robe of Zibeline-skins. Yet such is our Translator's interpretation of sable-vested, which means nothing more or less than that the Queen of Darkness was attired in robes of a dark colour. M. de Chateaubriand confounded the substantive with the adjective, which are synonymous. We suggest, in place of his translation, “ Auprès de lui (Chaos) siège sur le même trône la Nuit, vêtue d'une robe du noir le plus foncé.” At the end of the second book, we have the preterite se hâta, for the present he hies ; where the present tense has a most remarkable force. In the splendid invocation opening the third book, he translates “ ethereal stream" “ ruisseau du pur éther;" “ emanation" would be far preferable to ruisseau, which has but a scanty signification. “ May I express thee unblamed ?" is rendered, “ ne puis-je pas te nommer ainsi, sans être blamé ?" This, we think, hardly conveys the meaning. “ Oserai-je te nommer sans être blamé,” will appear, we imagine, more plausible. In p. 208,
“ Satan . . . .
Of all this world at once." Our Translator renders world by univers ; in which he is wrong; for the poet says especially, this world. We are the more surprised at the mistake, for there is a fine à-plomb expression in the word monde, rivalling the original. Had Milton meant by the word world, the universe, he would have made Satan look around, and not down. We next have spires and pinnacles translated into pyramides et tours. We suspect that flèches et créneaux convey the directer meaning. We observe that he often uses for the title Satan, the word l'Enneni. We hazard nothing for or against this; except that it had better been relieved oftener by the words, « le Démon.” A carelessness with regard to the articles and pronouns is often observable ; as in this line
"The rest in circuit walls this universe"translated l'univers, instead of cet univers. "Il ne s'arréta qu'au moment où sur le sommet du Niphates il s'abattit." Here
are two unfortunate preterites, which mar wofully the effect of the fine close of the third book. Surely we should read, « Il ne s'arrête qu'au moment, où sur le sommet du Niphates il se pose." " Wheel,” in the preceding verse, cannot be translated by “ roue”_" en decrivant plusieurs cercles” would be better, though by no means satisfactory—"en se pirouettant circulairement?” we add with a note of interrogation ; for we are aware of the great difficulty of rendering “ many an aëry wheel.”
We will not enter at present into a criticism on the rendered soliloquy of Satan, in the fourth book; but we cannot resist from wishing that the last sentence had been moulded into a more sonorous inversion. The “ en peu de temps” is too light and familiar for its terrific sublimity. We should prefer “ ainsi que l'homme et ce monde nouveau bientôt l'apprendront." In perusing this book, we have been osten struck with the insufficiency of the French language to express the essence of our poetic diction. Thus the words " éclipsaient la lune," render but feebly the “ dazzling the moon” of the poet. We have also here, as before, had occasion to notice but too frequently the substitution of tenses differing from the original; if the translator gains once or twice, five times, at least, does he lose the true expression and emphasis, by so doing.
The ninth book of the Paradise Lost, which contains the grand dénouement, will naturally be looked upon as the true touchstone of the talent of every handler of Milton. We agree with M. de Chateaubriand, that Milton intended to convey a slight irony in the words, “ chief mastery," applied in the following passage, to the usual topics of epic poems :
6 Wars, bitherto the only argument
Heroic deem'd; chief mastery to dissect
In battles feign'd." Thus rendered :" La nature ne m'a point rendu diligent à raconter les combats, regardés jusqu'ici comme le seul sujet héroique. Quel chef d'oeuvre !
The last words are too slashing an interpretation of " chief mastery." We should prefer, “ dont le but vanté est de dissequer," "&c.
- The skill of artifice or office mean,
Not that which justly gives heroic name
To person or to poem." “ L'habileté dans un art, ou dans un travail chétif, n'est pas ce qui donne justement un nom héroique à l'auteur, ou au poèmę."
We quote the translation of the above sentence, not to disprove it, for it conveys the sense ; but to show that, in the original, there is nerve and pith ; in the translation, little better than a prosy common-place remark, He translates
« higher argument Remains, sufficient of itself to raise
That name" “ Un sujet plus haut me reste, suffisant de lui-même pour immortaliser mon nom.” Rehausser is the word, not immortaliser; for John Milton did not think immortality so easily seizable as an inhabitant of the Chaussée d'Antin. We will note en passant what we think an error, perhaps, in the original of the poet, p. 260
“So spake the patriarch of mankind; but Eve
Persisted; yet submiss, though last, replied.” For though, we feel inclined to substitute and.
By altering the text as above, and the punctuation, as well as that of the Translator, we shall have, “ Eve persista, quoique soumise ; et répliqua pour la dernière fois ;" which renders the sentence clear and intelligible. We think the words of Eve relative to the reasoning and speaking attributes of the brute creation somewhat obscure, in the original of the poet:
“What may this mean? language of man pronounc'd
By tongue of brute, and human sense express'd ?
Much reason, and in their actions, oft appears." The word latter apparently refers to human sense. Now, we see no reason why Eve should question the existence of the latter, if in their looks and actions, much reason oft appears. The conclusion she makes, ought rather to fortify than weaken her belief. It is, nevertheless, probable, that Eve demurred the denial of human sense to brutes. But whichever way it be taken, the structure of the lines is rather amphibological in the original, if not in the translation. In the fine passage descriptive of the effect of the plucking of the fatal fruit by our general mother, we should prefer, “ La nature, de son siége,” to the “ La nature, sur ses fondemens," of M. de Chateaubriand. In a subsequent page, we read
“Quels mots sévères sont échappés de tes lèvres, Adam?" Severe is applied to Adam in the original, and not to words.
We should prefer, “ Apre Adam! quelles paroles sont échappées de tes lèvres !" In the tenth book, the Deity, addressing Eve, says :
“ Say, woman, what is this which thou hast done?" The translator mars the noble simplicity of this question, by rendering it:
“ Dis, femme, pourquoi as tu fait cela ?" There seems to us only one way of translating this impressive line, “ Dis, femme, qu'est ce que c'est que tu as fait ?" In p. 252, we readin
- Thou art accursed Above all cattle, each beast of the field." In the version:
“Tu es maudit entre tous les animaux." Perhaps better, “ plus que tous les animaux.” Worse is the translation of
“Her seed shall bruise thy bead, thou bruise his heel.” "Elle te brisera la tête, et tu tâcheras de la mordre par le talon." We prefer, “Sa race te brisera la tête, et toi, tu briseras son talon.”
We think that he might sometimes round his periods more in unison with the grandeur of the original, by frequenter inflexions. For “ Tu es poudre, et tu retourneras en poudre ;" we are tempted to suggest, “ Tu es poussière et en poussière tu retourneras." He has carelessly dune the passage descriptive of Satan's re-appearance in Pandæmonium :
“ His shape star-bright appear’d, or brighter; clad
With what permissive glory," &c. “Sa forme d'étoile étincelante apparut, ou plus brillant encore ; il était revêtu d'une gloire de permission, ou de fausse splendeur," &c. We presume to suggest : “ Sa forme apparut brillante comme une étoile, et encore davantage ; il était revêtu d'autant de gloire, ou de fausse splendeur, qui lui uvait été permise, ou laissée depuis sa chûte." "The wide-encroaching Eve,” is rendered, “ dans les temps éloignés,” conveying scarcely a shadow of the meaning. We suggest : “ cette Eve peut-être, qui is’empiétait sur de vastes régions."
But we have done with the most disagreeable part of our task ; not but that we could extend our disproving criticisms to at least double what we have above hazarded. Let us turn to the merits of the work before us; and these, we apprehend, will be found to counterbalance the defects. M. de Chateaubriand, evidently a considerable master of his own language, has often rounded his periods not only with striking inflexions, but also with harmo