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There is yet another dissimilarity. The English language is as much more figu. rative than the French as is, perhaps, the Hebrew than the English.
These causes, combined, made it absolutely requisite the translation should often assume a majesty and a tone very distinct from the original ; which, else, would have been pitiably degraded. Translation, though a task most irksome, to a mind desirous of fame, should, when undertaken, be executed, though not with temerity, with a self-confiding fortitude.
In the third scene of the Widow of Sarepta, the Widow is brought to determine on giving her last morsel to Elijah, on which the existence of her son depends, by recollecting that she can go to the city, sell the thread she has spun, and buy more food. But this city has just before been described so destitute of food that the rich man and the poor alike are perishing. This was an overfight which I have corrected, by adverting to the scripture narrative. Other simi
TRANSLATOR's PRÉFACE. lar freedoms I have used, but with an abstemious and respectful hand ; and only when difference of manners, or difference in judgment, made them supposed indispensable.
Certain of having intended to do juftice to the author, and give satisfaction and pleasure to the public, I commit my part, in this work, to the world, without anxiety. Fame it cannot acquire me ; and my reputation I do not think it will injure.
The intrinsic merit of the pieces the reader will judge of: only suffer me to say, The Death of Adam, if my opinion be not erroneous, contains a sublimity, a pathos, and a terror, seldom equalled and seldom hoped.
London, March, 1786.