[blocks in formation]

their absurdities; some the momentous vicis- it was totally unknown to the inhabitants situdes of life, and some the lighter (ccur- of Greece. They had no resource to the barrences; some the terrors of distress, and some barians for poetical beauties, but sought for the gaieties of prosperity. Thus rose the everything in Homer, where, indeed, there two modes of imitation, known by the names is but little which they might not find. The of tragedy and comedy, compositions intended Italians have been very diligent translators; to promote different ends by contrary means, but I can hear of no version, unless perhaps and considered as so little allied, that I do Anguillara's Ovid may be excepted, which not recollect among the Greeks or Romans a is read with eagerness. The Iliad of Salsingle writer who attempted both.

vini every reader may discover to be puncShakespeare has united the powers of ex- / tiliously exact; but it seems to be the work citing laughter and sorrow, not only in one of a linguist skilfully pedantic; and his mind, but in one composition. Almost all countrymen, the proper judges of its power his plays are divided between serious and to please, reject it with disgust. Their preludicrous characters; and in the successive decessors, the Romans, have left some specierolutions of the design, sometimes produce mens of translation behind them, and that seriousness and sorrow, and sometimes levity employment inust have had some credit in and laughter.

which Tully and Germanicus engaged; but That this is a practice contrary to the unless we suppose, what is perhaps true, that rules of criticism will be readily allowed ; the plays of Terence were versions of Mebut there is always an appeal open from nander, nothing translated seems ever to criticism to nature. The end of writing is have risen to high reputation. The French, to instruct; the end of poetry is to instruct in the meridian hour of their learning, were by pleasing. That the mingled drama may very laudably industrious to enrich their own convey all the instruction of tragedy or language with the wisdom of the ancients ; comedy cannot be denied, because it in but found themselves reduced, by whatever cludes both in its alternations of exhibi. necessity, to turn the Greek and Roman tion, and approaches nearer than either to poetry into prose. Whoever could read an the appearance of life, by showing how great author could translate him. From such machinations and slender designs may pro- rivals little can be feared. mote or obviate one another, and the high The chief help of Pope in this audacious and low co-operate in the general system by undertaking was drawn from the versions of unavoidable concatenation. It is objected, Dryden. Virgil bad borrowed much of his that by this change of scenes the passions imagery from Homer; and part of the debt are interrupted in their progression, and was now paid back by the translator. Pope that the principal event, being not advanced searched the pages of Dryden for happy by a due graduation of preparatory incidents, I coinbinations of heroic diction ; but it will wants at least the power to move, which con- not be denied that he added much to what stitutes the perfection of dramatic poetry. he found. He cultivated our language with This reasoning is so specious that it is re 80 much diligence and art that he has left ceived as true even by those who in daily in his “Ilomer" a treasure of poetical eleexperience feel it to be false. The inter gancies to posterity. Ilis version may be changes of mingled scenes seldom fail to said to have tuned the English tongue; for produce the intended vicissitudes of passion. since its appearance no writer, however deFiction cannot move so much but that the ficient in other powers, has wanted melody. attention may be easily transferred; and Such a series of lines, so elaborately cor-though it must be allowed that pleasing | rected, and so sweetly modulated, took posmelancholy be sometimes interrupted by un session of the public ear; the vulgar was welcome levity, yet let it be considered that enamoured of the poem, and the learned melancholy is often not pleasing, and that wondered at the translation. But in the the disturbance of one man may be the re- most general applause discordant voices will lief of another; that different auditors have | always be heard. It has been objected by different habitudes; and that upon the whole, some, who wish to be numbered among the all pleasure consists in variety.

sons of learning, that Pope's version of Preface to Johnson's edition of Shake Homer is not Ilomerical; that it exhibits speare, 1765.

no resemblance of the original and char

acteristic manner of the Father of Poetry, Pope's TranslaTION OF HOMER.

as it wants his artless grandeur, his unafThe train of my disquisition has now con- fected majesty. dneted me to that poetical wonder, the trans- [Bentley was one of these. He and Pope lation of the “Miad"; a performance which soon after the publication of Homer, met at no age nor nation can pretend to equal. To | Dr. Mead's at dinner; when Pope, desirous the Greeks translation was almost unknown ; l of his opinion of the translation, addressed

[blocks in formation]

him thus: “ Dr. Bentley, I ordered my book-able; since we ought rather to look for the com. seller to send you your books: I hope you pletion of his labours from the hands of his folreceived them." Bentley, who had purposely

lowers, than demand from himself at once the avoided saying anything about Homer, pre

foundation and the superstructure." _ MORELL:

Hist, of Mod. Philos. 2d edit.. Lond.. 1847. i. 281tended not to understand bim, and asked, 295. See also 65, 128-132; ii. 3-5, 50, 69. 6. Books! books! what books ?” “My ! " Thomas Reid, a sincere inquirer after truth, Ilomer," replied Pope," which you did me who maintained the existence of certain principles the honour to subscribe for.” “Oh," said of knowledge, independent of experience, and Bentley, “ay, now I recollect-your trans treated moral philosophy as the science of the lation : It is a pretty poem, Mr. Pope; but

human mind, allowing it, however, DO other

foundation than that of Common Sense, or a you inust not call it Homer.'']

species of Intellectual Instinct."- TENNEXANX: This cannot be totally denied: but it must Manual of The Hist. of Philos., trans. by Jobnson. be remembered that necessitas quod cogit de Oxf., 1832, 382.

fendit: that may be lawfully done which cannot be forborne. Time and place will | KNOWLEDGE OF THE MIND AND ITS Facalways enforce regard. In estimating this

ULTIES. translation consideration must be had of the nature of our language, the form of our Since we ought to pay no regard to metre, and, above all, of the change which hypothesis, and to be very suspicious of two thousand years have made in the modes analogical reasoning, it may be asked, from of life and the habits of thought. Virgil what source must the knowledge of the wrote in a language of the same general mind and its faculties be drawn? fabric with that of Ilomer, in verses of the I answer, the chief and proper source of same measure, and in age nearer to Homer's this branch of knowledge is accurate reflec time by eighteen hundred years; yet he tion upon the operations of our own minds. found, even then, the state of the world so of this source we shall speak more fully much altered, and the demand for elegance after making some remarks upon two others so much increased, that mere nature would that may be subservient to it. The first of be endured no longer; and perhaps, in the them is attention to the structure of lanmultitude of borrowed passages, very few guage. The language of mankind is er can be shown which he has not embellished. pressive of their thoughts, and of the various Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets : operations of their minds. The various Pope.

operations of the understanding, will, and passions, which are common to mankind,

have various forms of speech corresponding THOMAS REID, D.D.,

to them in all languages, which are the signs born 1710, was presented to the living of of them, and by which they are expressed: New Machar, Aberdeenshire, 1737, was Pro- and a due attention to the signs inay, in fessor of Moral Philosophy in King's Col-many cases, give considerable light to the lege, Aberdeen, 1752 to 1781, and died 1796. things signified by them. His best known works are Essays on the In- There are in all languages modes of speech tellectual Powers of Man, Edin., 1785,4to, and by which men signify their judgment, or Essays on the Active Powers of Man, Edin., 1 give their testimony; by which they accept 1788, 4to; both, Dubl., 1790, 3 vols. Svo, and or refuse ; by which they ask information or other editions, Sir William Ilamilton pub | advice; by which they command, or threaten, lished a portion of Reid's Writings, Lond. or supplicate; by which they plight their and Edin., 1846, 8vo, pr. 914, 5th edit., 1858, fnith in promises or contracts. If such 8vo, not completed in that shape, but super operations were not common to mankind, seded by The Works of Thomas Reid, D.D.,

| we should not find in all languages forms now fully collected, etc., 6th edit., Edin., 1863, of speech by which they are expressed. 2 vols. 8vo, pp. xxiii. 1034, 30s. ; Supplement All languages, indeed, have their imper ary Part, to complete former Editions, 1863, fections,-they can never be adequate to all 8ro, 5s.

the varieties of human thought ; and there

fore things may be really distinct in their “The great aim of Reid's philosophy, then, was to investigate the true theory of perception ; to

nature, and capable of being distinguished controvert the representationalist hypothesis, as by the human mind, which are not distinheld in one sense or another by almost all pre- guished in common language. We can only ccding philosophers; and to stay the progress expect in the structure of languages those which scepticism, aided by this hypothesis, was so distinctions which all mankind in the com. rapidly making. ... That Reid has done much

mon business of life have occasion to make. for the advancement of mental science is almost universally admitted : to complain that he did not

There may be peculiarities in a particular accomplish more, or follow out the track which he language of the causes of which we are opened to its furthest results, is perbaps unreason ignorant, and from which, therefore, we can

[blocks in formation]

draw no conclusion. But whatever we find 1785, 8vo); some poems, and Letters [74] common to all languages must have a com-on Several Subjects, by Sir Thomas Fitzmon cause; must be owing to some common osborne (William Melmoth), 1740, 8vo, 14th notion or sentiment of the human mind. We edit., 1814, 8vo; Boston, Mass., 1805, 8vo. gave some examples of this before, and shall | See Memoirs of a late Eminent Advocate here add another. All languages have a [Wm. Melmoth, K.C.] and Bencher, etc., plural number in many of their nouns; from Lond., 1796, 8vo, pp. 72. which we may infer that all men have no-1 “His Translations of Cicero and Pliny will speak tions, not of individual things only, but of for him while Roman and English eloquence can attributes, or things which are common to be united.”-MATHIAS: Pursuits of Lit., 1797, edit. many individuals; for no individual can 1812, roy. 4to, 300, n. have a plural number.

“ A translation [of Pliny) supposed to equal the Another source of information in this sub- original both in beauty and tone."--Dr. ADAM

CLARKE ject, is a due attention to the course of

"One of the few translations that are better human actions and conduct. The actions

than the original."- Dr. WARTON, in a note on of men are effects; their sentiments, their Pope's works. passions, and their affections are the causes of those effects; and we may, in inany cases, form a judginent of the cause from the effect.

REFLECTIONS UPON STYLE. The behaviour of parents towards their chil The beauties of style seem to be generally dren gives sufficient evidence even to those considered as below the attention both of an who never had children, that the parental author and a reader. I know not, therefore, affection is common to mankind. It is easy whether I may venture to acknowledge, that to see from the general conduct of men what among the numberless graces of your late are the natural objects of their esteem, their performance, I particularly admired that admiration, their love, their approbation,

strength and elegance with which you have their resentment, and of all their other

en forced and adorned the noblest sentioriginal dispositions. It is obvious, from ments. the conduct of all men in all ages, that man There was a time, however (and it was a is by his nature a social animal ; that he period of the truest refinements), when an delights to associate with his species; to excellence of this kind was esteemed in the converse, and to exchange good offices with number of the politest accomplishments ; as them.

it was the ambition of some of the greatest Not only the actions but even the opin names of antiquity to distinguish themselves ions of men may sometimes give light into in the improvement of their native tongue. the frame of the human mind. The opin- / Julius Caesar, who was not only the greate ions of men may be considered as the effects hero, but the finest gentleman, that ever perof their intellectual powers, as their actions haps appeared in the world, was desirous of are the effects of their active principles. adding this talent to his other most shining Even the prejudices and errors of mankind, endowments: and we are told he studied the when they are general, must have some language of his country with much applicacause no less general; the discovery of tion: as we are sure he possessed it in its which will throw some light upon the frame highest elegance. What a loss, Euphronius, of the human understanding.

is it to the literary world that the treatise Essays on the Intellectual and Active Powers which he wrote upon this subject is perished, of Man, Essay I. Ch. v.

with many other valuable works of that age ! But though we are deprived of the benefit

of his observations, we are happily not withWILLIAM MELMOTH,

out an instance of their effects; and his own

memoirs will ever remain as the best and born 1710, a Commissioner of Bankruptcy, brightest examplar, not only of true gen1756, died 1790, published a Translation of eralship, but of fine writing. He published the Letters of Pliny the Consul, with Occa them, indeed, only as materials for the use sional Remarks, Lond., 1746, 2 vols. 8vo; re of those who should be disposed to enlarge printed in 2 vols. 8vo in 1747, '48, '57, '70, upon that remarkable period of the Roman 86, '96, 1807 ; Translations of the Letters of story; yet the purity and gracefulness of his Cicero to several of his Friends, with Re-style were such that no judicious writer parks, 1753, 3 vols. 8vo; reprinted in 3 vols. durst attempt to touch the subject after 3yo. 1778 and '79, and in 2 vols. 8vo, 1814; him. Translation of Cato; or, An Essay upon Old Having produced so illustrious an inAge, and Lælius, or An Essay on Friend-stance in favour of an art for which I have hin, with Remarks, 1773–77, 2 vols. 8vo (the ventured to admire you, it would be imperLato was reprinted 1777, '85, 8vo, the Lælius, tinent to add a second, were I to cite a less




authority than that of the immortal Tully. trary, mistake pomp for dignity; and, in This noble author, in his dialogue concern- order to raise their expressions abore vuling the celebrated Roman orators, frequently gar language, lift them up beyond common mentions it as a very high encomium, that apprehensions, esteeming it (one should they possessed the elegance of their native imagine) a mark of their genius that it relanguage; and introduces Brutus as declar-quires some ingenuity to penetrate their ing that he should prefer the honour of meaning. being esteemed the great master and im- But how few writers, like Euphronius, prover of Roman eloquence, even to the know how to hit that true medium which glory of many triumphs.

lies between those distant extremes! How But to add reason to precedent, and to seldom do we meet with an author whose esview this art in its use as well as its dig-pressions, like those of my friend, are glow. nity: will it not be allowed of some impor- ing but not glaring, whose metaphors are tance, when it is considered that eloquence is natural but not common, whose periods are one of the most considerable auxiliaries of harmonious but not poetical: in a word, truth? Nothing, indeed, contributes more whose sentiments are well set, and shown to subdue the mind to the force of reason to the understanding in their truest and than her being supported by the powerful | most advantageous lustre. assistance of masculine and vigorous ora Fitzosborne's Letters. tory. As, on the contrary, the most legitimate arguments may be disappointed of

On The Love of FAME. that science they deserve by being attended with a spiritless and enfeebled expression. I can by no means agree with you in think. Accordingly, that most elegant of writers, ing that the love of fame is a passion which the inimitable Mr. Addison, observes, in either reason or religion condemns. I couone of his essays, that “ There is as much fess, indeed, there are some who hare repredifference between comprehending a thought sented it as inconsistent with both; and I clothed in Cicero's language and that of an remember, in particular, the excellent author ordinary writer, as between seeing an ob of The Religion of Nature Delineated bas ject by the light of a taper and the light of treated it as highly irrational and absurd. the sun."

As the passage falls in so thoroughly with It is surely then a very strange conceit of your own turn of thought, you will hare Do the celebrated Malebranche, who seems to objection, I imagine, to my quoting it at think the pleasure which arises from perus- large, and I give it you, at the same time, ing a well-written piece is of the criminal as a very great authority on your side. “In kind, and has its source in the weakness reality,' says that writer, " the man is not and effeminacy of the human heart. A man known ever the more to posterity because must have a very uncommon severity of his name is transmitted to them: he doth temper indeed who can find anything to not live because his name does. When it is condemn in adding charms to truth, and said Julius Cæsar subdued Gaul, conquered gaining the heart by captivating the ear ; Pompey, &c., it is the same thing as to sas, in uniting roses with the thorns of science, The conqueror of Pompey was Julius Cæsar, and joining pleasure with instruction. i.e., Cæsar and the conqueror of Pompey is

The truth is, the mind is delighted with a the same thing; Cæsar is as much known fine style upon the same principle that it by one designation as by the other. The prefers regularity to confusion, and beauty amount then is only this: that the conqueror to deformity. A taste of this sort is indeed of Pompey conquered Pompey; or, rather. so far from being a mark of any depravity since Pompey is as little known nor as of our nature, that I should rather consider Cæsar, somebody conquered somebody. Such it as evidence, in some degree, of the moral a poor business is this boasted immortality! rectitude of its constitution, as it is a proof and such is the thing called glory among us! of its retaining some relish at least of har- To discerning men this fame is mere air: mony and order.

and what they despise, if not shun." One might be apt indeed to suspect that! But surely "'Twere to consider too con certain writers amongst us had considered ously,” as Ioratio says to Hamlet, " to con all beauties of this sort in the same gloomy sider thus." For though fame with posterist view with Malebranche: or, at least, that should be, in the strict analysis of it, no other they avoided every refinement in style as than that what is here described, a mere unworthy a lover of truth and philosophy. | interesting proposition amounting to nothing Their sentiments are sunk by the lowest more than that somebody acted meritori expressions, and seem condemned to the ously, yet it would not necessarily follow first curse of creeping upon the ground all that true philosophy would banish the de the days of their life. Others, on the con- sire of it from the human breast. For this

[blocks in formation]

passion may be (as most certainly it is right conduct, or to raise any suspicion conwisely implanted in our species, notwith cerning their solidity. The temper and dispostanding the corresponding object should in sitions of mankind are so extreinely different reality be very different from what it appears that it seems necessary they should be called in imagination. Do not many of our most into action by a variety of incitements. refined and even contemplative pleasures Thus, while some are willing to wed virtue owe their existence to our mistakes? It is for her personal charms, others are engaged but extending (I will not say improving) to take her for the sake of her expected some of our senses to a higher degree of dowry, and since her followers and admirers acuteness than we now possess them, to have so little hopes from her in present, it make the fairest views of nature, or the | were pity, methinks, to reason them out of noblest productions of art, appear horrid any imagined advantage in reversion, and deformed. To see things as they truly Fitzosborne's Letters. and in themselves are, would not always, perhaps, be of advantage to us in the intellectual world, any inore than in the natural. But, after all, who shall certainly assure us

DAVID HUME, that the pleasure of virtuous fame dies with

born in Edinburgh, 1711, after unsatisfacits possessor, and reaches not to a farther

tory experiences of the study of law and scene of existence? There is nothing, it

commerce, came to London in 1737, and should seem, either absurd or unphilosophi

published his Treatise of Human Nature, cal in supposing it possible, at least, that Lond., 1739, 3 vols. 8vo; Essays, Moral and the praises of the good and the judicious, Political, and Dialogues concerning Natural that sweetest music to an honest ear in this

Religion, 1741-42-51-52-57, 5 vols. 12mo; world, may be echoed back to the mansions

Essays and Treatises, 3d edit., 1756, 4 vols. of the next: that the poet's description of

| 12mo; other Essays (see his Philosophical fame may be literally true, and though she

Works, now first collected, Edin., 1826, 4 walks upon earth, she may yet lift her head vols. 8vo. with Additions, Boston, Mass., into heaven.

1854, 4 vols. 8vo); and his History of EngBut can it be reasonable to extinguish a land, Lond., 1754-62, 6 vols. 4to; many edipassion which nature has universally lighted

tions. See his Life and Writings by T. E.

ti up in the human breast, and which we con

Ritchie, Lond., 1807, 8vo; Life and Correstantly find to burn with most strength and

spondence, edited by J. H. Burton, Edin., brightness in the noblest and best formed | 1847, 2 vols. 8vo : Letters of Eminent Perbosoms? Accordingly, revelation is so far

sons to David Hume, Edin., 1849, 8vo. from endeavouring (as you suppose) to eradicate the seed which nature has thus deeply

“It was in his twenty-seventh year that Mr. planted, that she rather seems, on the con

Hume published at London the Treatise of Human

Nature, the first systematic attack on all the printrary, to cherish and forward its growth.

ciples of knowledge and belief, and the most forTo be exalted with honour, and to be had in midable, if universal scepticism could ever be everlasting remembrance, are in the number more than a mere exercise of ingenuity. ... The of those encouragements which the Jewish great speculator did not in this work amuse himdispensation offered to the virtuous; as the

self, like Bayle, with dialectical exercises, which person from whom the sacred author of the

only inspire a disposition towards doubt, by show

ing in detail the uncertainty of most opinions. Ho Christian system received his birth, is her

aimed at proving. not that nothing was known, self represented as rejoicing that all genera- but that nothing could be known,-from the structions should call her blessed.

ture of the understanding to deinonstrate that we To be convinced of the great advantage are doomed forever to dwell in absolute and uniof cherishing this high regard to posterity, versal ignorance.”—SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH : Disthis noble desire of an after-life in the breath

sert. on the Progress of Ethical Philos., prefixed of others, one need only look back upon the

to Encyc. Brit., also in his Miscell. Works.

“Hume's) Essays on Commerce, Interest, Bal. history of the ancient Greeks and Romans.

ance of Trade, Money, Jealousy of Trade, and What other principle was it which produced

Public Credit, display the same felicity of style and that exalted strain of virtue in those days, illustration that distinguish the other, works of that may well serve as a model to these; their celebrated anthor."-J. R. McCulloch: Lit. Was it not the consentiens laus bonorum, the of Polit. Econ., Lond., 1845, 8vo. incorrupta vox bene judicantum (as Tully. As an historian IIume's carelessness and calls it), the concurrent approbation of the inaccuracy are notorious: good, the uncorrupted applause of the wise, that animated their most generous pursuits ?

“Hume was not, indeed, learned and well.

grounded enough for those writers and investigaTo confess the truth, I have been ever in

tors of history who judged his works from the clined to think it a very dangerous attempt to usual point of view, because he was not only negendeavour to attempt to lessen the motives of ligent in the use of the sources of history, but also

« ForrigeFortsett »