Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

a

meaning, and sometimes more than have the effect of vulgarisms upon that-absolutely new combinations southern ears: they are in general of thought and feeling, to which the simply uncouth or unintelligible ; acommon language offers no satisfac- mongst which latter class by the way tory equivalent. Indeed every lan we must ask the translator, in the guage has its peculiar combinations name of Hermes Trismegistus, to exof ideas to which every other lan- pound for us all the meaning of guage not only offers no equivalent,backing a letter :” to “ break

up but which it is a mistake to suppose letter,” we presume, is simply what that any other can ever reach for in England we call opening a letter or purposes of effect by any periphrasis. breaking the seal; but " backing a – But Scotticisms of this class are letter” has baffled the penetration of not to be confounded with the mere all expositors whom we have conScotch provincialisms, such as are sulted: some have supposed it, in banished from

good company in Scot- the plain English sense, to mean betland itself. These are entitled to no ting on the side of a letter. But this more indulgence than cockneyisms, or is impossible: two letters cannot be the provincialisms of Lincolnshire brought up “ to the scratch:” such and Somersetshire. For instance the a match was never heard of even in Scotticism of “ open upis perfect- Lombard-street, and not to be reconly insufferable. We have lived a ciled with the context. Is it possible little, for these last ten years, in that this mysterious expression is no the Scotch capital; and there at least more than a Scotch vulgarism for we never heard such an expression writing the address or direction on a in any well-bred society. Yet in the letter? From these however, which work before us hardly a page but is are but semi-vulgarisms to an Eninfested with this strange phrase, glish ear, because but doubtfully inwhich many a Scotch gentleman will telligible,—we pass to such as are stare at as much as the English * of downright, full, and absolute vulevery class. No man in these vo- garisms. At p. 233, vol. i. we find lumes opens a book; he opens it the word “ wage,” for “wages," "up:no man opens a door; he a vulgarism which is not used in opens it “ up :" no en opens a let- England even by respectable serter; he

opens it “ up.” The Scotti- vants, and by nó class above that cism of “ in place of” for “ instead of," rank: wage” is not an English -and the Scotticism of “ inquire at word:-at p. 143, vol. i. we find a man" instead of " inquire of him," “ licking his lips,” which is English, are of that class which we have some- but plebeian English from the sewers times heard from Scotch people and kennels: again “ discussing of education; the more's the pity: oysters” which is English of that for both disfigure good composition sort called slang; and neoteric slang and polished conversation more than besides ; not universal slang, not a Scotchman will believe; the latter classical :—this for dramatic purbeing generally unintelligible out of poses is sometimes serviceable ; but Scotland; and the former, which is ought surely not to be used by the intelligible enough, sounding to an author speaking gravely in his own English ear about upon a level in point person. Êlsewhere we find “doxies' of elegance with the English phrase for girls, which is not only a lowin course” for “ of course,” which comedy word, but far more degradis confined to the lowest order of cock- ing to the women so designated than neys.-However, Scotch provincial- Goethe could have designed. Of all isms, though grievous blots in regular plebeianisms however, which to this composition, are too little familiar to hour we ever met with in a book, the

* A few English writers, not exactly understanding the common-place employment of this phrase in Scotland, have adopted it under a mistaken notion that it was used for particular and expressive purposes ; and have regulated their own use of it accordingly. Thus Mr. Coleridge has sometimes talked of opening up prospects ; ” keeping his eye upon the optical effect where a vista is laid open at the extremity farthest from the eye, in which case by the general laws of perspective in proportion as it opens it seems to ascend. But no such nice regards are considered in the Scotch provincial use, as is sufficiently evident from the instance alleged above.

or

most shocking is the word thrash as with society. One winter's residence used in the followiug passage, vol. ii. in the metropolis either of England p. 111: “ His father was convinced, or Scotland,

,-or the revisal of a juthat the miuds of children could be dicious friend, would enable the kept awake and stedfast by no translator to weed his book of these other means than blows: hence, in deformities, which must be peculiarthe studying of any part, he used ly offensive in two quarters which to thrash him at stated periods.” naturally he must wish to conciliate ; In whatever way men will allow first to his readers, secondly to Mr. themselves to talk amongst men, and Goethe-who, besides that he is Mr. where intimate acquaintance relaxes Von Goethe and naturally therefore the restraints of decorum, every gen- anxious to appear before foreigners tleman abjures any coarse language in a dress suitable to his pretensions which he may have learned at school as a man of quality, happens to be or elsewhere under two circumstances unusually jealous on this point; and --in the presence of strangers--and in would be more shocked, than perhaps the presence of women; or whenever, a “philosopher” ought to be, if he in short, he is recalled to any scrupu were told that his Wilhelm Meister lous anxiety about his own honour spoke an English any ways underand reputation for gentlemanly feel- bred or below the tone of what is ing. Now an author, with some technically understood in England by special exceptions, is to be presumed the phrase “good company always in the presence of both; and company "comme il faut.-Thirdly, ought to allow himself no expressions under the head of barbarisms, we but such as he would judge consist- shall slightly notice such expressions ent with his own self-respect in a as disturb the harmony of the style miscellaneous company of good breed- whether exotic phrases, hostile to ing and of both sexes. This granted, pure English ; or mere lawless innowe put it to the translator's candour vations, which violate idiomatic En. --whether the word “thrash” (ex- glish; or archaisms, which violate cept in its literal and grave meaning) simple English. Of exotic phrases, be endurable in “ dress composi- the very opposite to that of provintion? For our own parts, we never cialisms, these are instances : “ Phiheard a gentleman of polished ha- lina-tripped signing down stairs : bits utter the word-except under “ signing" in English means “subthe circumstances pointed out above, scribing her name"—and was never where people allow themselves a sort used for “ beckoning” or “making of “ undress” manners. Besides, the signs,” which is what the translator word is not even used accurately: here means.

“ His excellence," “ to thrash” is never applied to the which is obstinately used for “his act of beating without provocation, Excellency," is a gallicism; and is but to a retaliatory beating : and alone a proof of insufficient intercourse the brutal father, who should adopt with the world; otherwise the transthe treatment of an unoffending child lator must have been aware that 110 which Goethe here describes, would such title

of address is or ever was in nat call a beating, inflicted under the use. “ The child laid the right hand devilish maxim supposed, “ a thrash on her breast, the left on her brow." ing." * These instances are sufficient This form of expression is most ofto illustrate the coarseness of diction fensively exotic: probably it was which disfigures the English trans- here adopted to evade the clash of lation, and which must have arisen the word her four times repeated : from want of sufficient intercourse but in this situation her' is not less

This indeed for another and deeper reason, than merely because the word “thrash” in its proper use always implies a contest and a retaliation,—viz. for a reason which latently and unconsciously governs the use and the growth of figurative language in more cases than this: and that is, that the parental relation is too grave and awful to admit of any action from the fancy. Law presents us with another case of the same sanctity, and the same consequent rejection of all fanciful or figurative language. What would be thought of a penal statute which should direct the magistrate 10 • bleed the prisoner's purse," or to “ dust his jacket,” or “curry his hide.” The solemnity of the relation under which a child stands to his parents, or a citizen to the state, quells all action of the fancy.

indispensable in English, than it is portioned (as the reader must aloffensive in most continental lan- ready be aware) not to our own sense guages.

rThe breast is inflamed to of the value of the original work, me' would be as shocking to an En- but to the pretensions made on its glish ear, as my breast" would be behalf by former critics, and more to some foreign ones. «• What fel- extravagantly than ever by the prelow is that in the corner?' said the sent translator. On two other conCount, looking at a subject who siderations we have also been more had not yet been presented to him :' diffuse than would otherwise have this use of the word subject is a gal- been reasonable : first, because a licism. As mere licentious coinages work like Wilhelm Meister, which is or violations of the English idiom totally without interest as a novel without reference to any foreign that is, in the construction of its idiom or (we presume) to any domes- plot, having, in fact, no plot at alltic provincialisms, we notice such is thrown more imperiously upon the expressions as “ youthhood" vol. i. necessity of relying, in part, upon p. 104, “ giving a man leave,” vol. i. the graces of its style: this, which in P: 160 (apparently for dismissing any case is a most weighty attrachim); &c. But here it is so difficult tion, is here (by the confession of the to distinguish the cases where the translator) almost the sole one to all * writer has, and has not any coun who may fail to discover what he tenance from provincial peculiarities, himself describes (Pref. xii.) as “its - that we shall pass on to complain more recondite and dubious qualities.” of his archaisms or revivals of obsolete This writer, who professes so much English phrases, which however may admiration of the work, is obliged to also be provincialisms; many old acknowledge (Pref. x.) that “ for the English expressions being still cur- friends of the sublime, for those who rent in the remote provinces, which cannot do without heroic sentiments, have long been dismissed from our li- there is nothing here that can be of terature. Be that as it may, these any service." True, there is not ; are the peculiarities which are least being confessedly then not designed licentious; for the phrases are in for the “ friends of the sublime,” themselves often beautiful. Yet

we presume that it is chiefly calcuthey break the simplicity of a prose lated for the use of those who pastyle. Thus for example the word tronize “ the profound,” as Martinus “ unrest" is a beautiful and a Shaks- Scriblerus happily denominates the perian word; and is very advantage- Bathos, or Anti-sublime. Now all ously restored to the language of we « friends of the sublime” are poetry: but in prose it has the air clearly left without any thing for our of affectation, He wanted to be gratification, unless we have some at one with me,” vol. ii. p. 279,-was elegance of diction. The other never common, and is now quite ob- party have their “profound” in great solete, and mysterious to most peo- abundance: but we poor souls, that ple. Again, the word want used in “cannot do" upon that diet, have the antique sense exposes the writer nothing. Seriously, however, this to be thoroughly misunderstood. “I translator and others offer Wilhelm cannot want them,” said Charles I, Meister as a great philosophic rospeaking of some alleged prerogatives mance, and Goethe as a great classic of his crown; and his meaning was -nay as a transcendant classic, who that he could not do without them, is to put out the lights of all others, that they were indispensable to him. but two. Agreeably, therefore, to But in modern English he, who says these representations which promise so I cannot want them,” gives his much, we have a right to demand hearer to understand that no possible the most exquisite burnish of style, occasion can arise to make them of that all things may be in harmony, any use to him. This archaic use of and the casket suited to the jewels. the word “ want” survives however, Agreeably to our representations on we believe, as the current use in some the other hand, which promise so parts of Scotland. But enough of little, we are still better entitled to the defects of the English Wilhelm this gratification : since, if we do not Meister, which we have noticed get that, we are well assured that we upon a scale of minuteness pro- shall get nothing at all. This is one

consideration upon which we have which can embarrass the rawest nobeen so diffuse on the quality of the vice, gross mistranslation is not much style : the other is this-we foresee to be apprehended. Some errors or that, before Goethe is finally dis- oversights however we have observed missed to that oblivion which in- which have surprised us: such for evitably awaits all fantastic fopperies instance as a passage in which some that have no foundation in nature woman upon some occasion or other and good sense, a considerable quan- is said to have “ hopped” into the tity of discussion must be gone garden. The German word is prothrough. The startling audacity of bably hüpfte, which is not hopped. his admirers which has gone on from Bounded would better express the extravagance to extravagance, can sense: the word hüpfen is often apnot but have produced some little plied to the fawn-like motions of a impression, and may possibly, for a graceful child, whereas, the English short time, sustain that impression : "hop' always expresses a most unand the way in which this will na- dignified motion. At p. 154, vol. i. turally be dissipated, we suppose occurs the following passage: I will be chiefly by successive trans- have laughed a quarter of an hour lations of his works, and by a course for my own hand: I will laugh for of critical wrangling, in which, as ever when I think of the looks they in other cases, good sense will finally had.” Now, as the expression " for prevail. Meantime, before that result my own handhas in this situation is achieved, and in proportion as it no meaning at all (no other person is likely to be achieved, the fury of but the speaker having witnessed the his admirers will grow keener and object of her laughter), we feel some keener: and amongst others we may curiosity to know what is the excome in for our share of the Seven pression in the original. Is it posVials, (query Phials ?) of wrath, sible that it can be vor der handan which they will empty upon us poor idiomatic expression for at present, Anti-Goths. And amongst other off-hand, &c. ? --The most remarkkind things which they will say of able mistranslation however is one us, this will be one, or would have which occurs in “ The Confessions of been one however but for what has a Fair Saint.” Braut is here pernow passed-viz. that we had pre- severingly translated Bride. Now sumed to judge of Goethe's own the German Braut differs in a most Wilhelm Meister by the English memorable point from the English translation. We have thought it bride. For in England a woman right, therefore, to show that we does not become a bride till the were aware of the defects of that precise moment when in Germany translation, and we presume that the she ceases to be one. A young wotranslator will himself be of opinion man in Germany passes through a that he is in some degree indebted to triple metamorphosis: first she is us, as we have not passed his work wooed, and rules her lover as elseunder any vague and general review, where with maiden sovereignty: next, but have distinctly pointed out the she is betrothed to him ; that is, she faults we complain of; and these solemnly agrees to be his wife, with are all of a nature to be removed. the knowledge and participation in

Having however confined our cri- this contract of her legal guardians ; tique to its merits in point of ele- and now it is that she is called his gance, without any consideration of bride ; with which name, the conits relation to the original,—a ques- nexion assumes a greater solemnity tion will naturally be put to us on its and tenderness—and invests the lover pretensions to fidelity as a transla- with something like fraternal rights. tion. We shall acknowledge there- Finally, the marriage is solemnized: fore that writing at this moment in a after which she ceases to be his bride, situation where we could not easily and is called his wife. In one cirborrow a German Wilhelm Meister, cumstance the English and the Gerwe have not thought it worth while man bride agree, viz. that each (to to pause for the purpose of any mi- express it in a coarse way) is taken nute comparison : especially as in an out of the market, the pretensions of author such as Goethe, with so little all other suitors being excluded whilst of colloquial. idiom or of anything the connexion lasts; with this im

portant difference however, that in shall conclude our notice of the Enge England the connexion is indissolu- lish Wilhelm Meister with two reble, in Germany not so. A sentence marks apparently inconsistent but yet in a German tale, now lying on our in fact both true : first, that the transtable, illustrates this :-“ Miss lation too generally, by the awkward had tried the pleasant state of bride and German air of its style, reminds three times at the least; but unfor us painfully that it is a translation; tunately had never proceeded to gra- and, in respect to fidelity therefore, duate as wife, having in some unac will probably on close comparison apcountable way always relapsed into pear to have aimed at too servile a a mere expectant spinster.” (Lustige fidelity. Secondly that, strange as it Erzählungen, von F. Laun, Berlin, may appear, the verses which are 1803.) When nothing then is indi- scattered through the volumes-and cated' by the word braut but the ex which should naturally be the most clusion of other suitors, it would be difficult part of the task-have all the pedantic to refuse translating it bride: ease of original compositions; and in the present case however, this er appear to us executed with very ror must be peculiarly puzzling to considerable delicacy and elegance. English readers, because they soon Of a writer, who has shown his power find that the lady never does complete to do well when it was so difficult to do her engagements, but remains un well, we have the more right to commarried, and therefore cannot in any plain that he has not done well in a English sense be intelligibly styled a case where it was comparatively easy. bride.- Not to insist however invidi But now for Goethe. ously on errors of this nature, we (To be concluded in our next Number.)

THE DRAMA.
THE HAYMARKET THEATRE. particular shape will fit this perform-
Married and Single.

er, it requires a nice caution so to A new small comedy made for vary the fringes and decorations, as summer use by Mr. Poole, one of the to give the dress the appearance of cleverest and luckiest of our comic novelty. Mr. Farren's peculiar forte dramatists, has been produced with is the Old Beau,—the Gallant Sadgreat success at this warm little boy,--the Lord Ogleby, not boiled theatre :--and if good acting, and quite so hard !-Brummell in Love! light easy writing can have any in -a mixture of Tom Shuffleton and fluence on the playgoers of this me- Lord Chesterfield. One of the newstropolis- the benches will not be un- papers has told a little anecdote tenanted when Mr. Poole's petite about a Red Lion, with reference to comedy is performed. It is not quite Mr. Farren, which is not inapplicaso pleasant to see a play acted at the ble. Mr. Farren, let him play what New Haymarket, as it was at the old he will, must introduce the character plain panneled house: you are not to Lord Ogleby. The wisest thing, so mixed up with the actors. In the therefore that an author can do is to present building the boxes are float with the tide of the actor's tasmall and upright as the car of a lent, — and this in the present inballoon ; and the audience appears stance Mr. Poole has done with a to be constantly preparing for an as great deal of ability. Beau Shatcent. If Married and Single had terley is an old man, who, like Lanbeen played at the Old Haymarket, gan, will not confess himself beaten, it would doubtless have been as well though his own constitution and all followed, and as much talked of, as his friends tell him that he is. He Tenzing Made Easy, in which poor fights up against old age with all his Tokeley split the sides of the town; might, encountering it with dress, but jokes and merry characters be- wine, and gallantry, as fiercely as come dulled and deadened by being though he were a lad from Eton, exercised on a formal stage.

with enough of loose money to buy It is pretty clear that Mr. Poole him a loose life. He wears jockey has been requested to take measure boots - a knowing hat -- a docked of Mr. Farren ; and as it is also coat-a stable-yard waistcoat. He pretty clear that a suit of only one keeps late hours for the head-acheAug, 1824.

0

as

« AnteriorContinuar »