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Grub Street Journal: Sunday, October 22, 1730 - Page 1

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   Grub-Street Journal (Newspaper) - October 22, 1730, London, Middlesex                                CPrSSap, OCTOBER 22, 1730. tfbe choiceft Books, that Rome, or Greece have known, Her excellent TranJIators made her own. But now, weJhew the World a nobler way; jfnd in tranjlated verfe do more than they. E. of Kofcommon's Ef, on tranfl. verfb. According to our Declaration in our $%tb Journal, concerning our impartiality, we here publijb two Letters, in anfwer to two publijhed lately by us, one in our 37 th, and the other in our 39th. T$Mr. Bavius, Secretary of the Grtibean Society. From the North, Sept. 23, 1730. tPON reading your Journal of the 17th inft; Numb. 37, I cou'd not excufe my-felf from fitting down, to write the following Animadverfions upon your learned Correfpondent's Letter concerning tranflating the Greek, and Latin Poets into Englifh Profe. I mult own, that in a language capable of doing juftice to our Mailers the Ancients, as the Englifli mud be allowed to be, if any modern language whatever; when we can bring them abroad on their Pegafus with honour, to difirfount fuch gallant Gentlemen, and fct them on foot, in fuch a vile paltry garb as our Profe-tranflators do, is offering them the greateft violence imaginable. 'Tis robbing them of all their riches and ornaments, and only not murthering them quite : and which is the worft, all this is pretended to be done out of kindnefs to them. And yet I don't know, whether They have not equippM them frill worfe, if poffible, who, inftead of Pegafus, have mounted them upon "an ambling Afs, as many of our modern Verfifiers have done. It were very much to ,be wHhed, thaf all *he cfcciceft Sovrcm of the Ancients- were tranfplaritei into our Englifh foil, under the management of skilful Undertakers; fince fo many of them have already been naturalized with very great fuccefs. This is the beft'way of enriching a language, and in which the French have gone before us with very great applaufe, in the Profe-Authors especially; and have Very fuccefsfully laboured in the refinement of their language above all their neighbours. There is no queftion but the Englifh Tongue will bear the file: becaufe it has more folid and improveable fubftance- to Work upon,, than the flippant Dialect of the French, had we but equal encouragement for fo ufeful a work, and a Society for the advancement of the Belles Lettres; which, I queftion not, would do as much honour to our Nation, as all the labours of the Philofbphical Fraternity. If the Poetical Generation, inftead of ranging themfelves into Parties* and tearing one another's little Name hi. pieces, would dofe amicably in * defign of fo much tifefulriefs, and conftitute a Society for the propagation cf the ancient Poetical Spirit amongft us, it would tend inuch more to the railing their own Character, as well to the Glory of the Nation. For they can't but know, that the great Genius's of former ages were ever, either intimate Friends, or fpoke very candidly of each other : and to that very friendfhip and communication of ftudies perhaps, is to be attributed their excelling fo much the reft of Mankind. Whilft our Wits take the quite contrary courfe, and think they can't eftablifh themfelves without pulling down their Rivals; whereas the only way to enfure their own fame, is to be tender of that of their Equals* and mutually to give and take applaufe where 'tis juft. If our Beaux Efprits would engage in fo honourable an undertaking as this, and make Poetry truly beae&chlj inftead of being, prejudicial to Mankind, we TOght then find a proper employment for thefe Profe Gentlemen; who without a call have put forth their unhallowed hands to the Ark of Poetry, and have fhaken it worfe than all the {hocks. of a. long conveyance through the moft barbarous hands. Whilft they have made themfelves rather Foot-men than Knights Companions to the facred and moft noble Order of Poets.t We might then juftly fend thofe Gentlemen to their proper Province; the tranflation of Profe Writers. And. indeed there, is .work enough for them among the Bsknjjjfflftoiiansi whoa I can't bat lancm that, we have not endeavoured, as well as the French, to make our owni It gives a grace and value to a language, to have all the Ancients, that are truly eftimable, free of it; and to find them fpeaking it with their native ele- fance. This does as much honour to a Nation, as the ower of the chief Nobility does to a Prince's Court. But a Work of fo much judgment, diligence; arid capacity ought not to be the tafk of any but fuch as can go immediately to the Originals themfelves, without taking up by the way with a French Tranflation; which, I'm inclin'd to think, is the ufual cuftpm. And. yet every dull Pedant; who is mailer of the learned languages, is not equal to fuch a work as this neither. A temperament of Poetical Spirit will be found very reqUifite in lhe tfatis-fufiag- of ancient Authors, or their fenfe will become very languid and flat ; and the flavour and race of the Original will be apt to evaporate. There are peculiar elegances in every language, and every polite Author hashis Manner, which will demand a Tranflator of equal delicacy to hit ripori it. ************* *. -*-�tl�^       r But to confider a. little what your learned Friend fays, concerning the tranflating of Poets into Profe. Would any Man that wilhes well to polite Learning have rather had Homer, Sophocj�s, Anacreon, Horace, &c. to have continued lock'oup in a learned language, not to be come at hgjipJery Reader without abundance of difficulties, thaffto find accefs to them in French Profe, with as much dignity as that would admit of, by the two Daciers, and their fenfe- render'd familiar and eafy by their incomparable illuftrations ? Or will this Gentleman fay the learned French Lady's Profe Tranflation of Homer is not a noble performa, and has done ftrift juftice to her Author? And what is moft confidrablre, the French" Language was of itfelf far from being fit for fuch an Undertaking without a veryy mafterly hand; which is the greater honour to Madam Dacier, for attempting it with fo great fuccefs. In a Word, I think the French may very well be allowed to tranllate the antient Poets into Profe, becaufe their Language will not fuffer it to be done to any advantage in Verfe ; and fince the inftance before us fhews, that Homer is ftill an heroic Poet in French Profe, let them enjoy their Privilege. Befides, the beft Critics affure us an Heroic Poem may be written in Profe as well as Verfe, as Telemacbus for example: and therefore this Gentleman's Criticifm happens to be but a cavil. It muft be owned there are peculiar happinefTes and elegancies of expreflion in Poetry, which cannot be attained in Profe : but thefe are not the chief excellencies of Poetry, as this new Critic miftakes himfelf; and making thefe allowances, the Poet's Spirit^ and elevation of thought, and all his other beauties and perfections, bating a little of the diction, may be preferved in Profe by a Tranflator of Genius. And therefore there may- K very poetical pieces written without Verfe: for, excepting the verfification, and a little faarter turn. of expreTion, thefe gain notliing by being only put into metre; yet there is no abfurdity at all in giving fuch Compositions as thefe, the more mufical and agreeable run of Numbers, which has been often done to advantage by skilful hands. But to. return to 'ourfelves. 1 We who have both Numbers and Poets, capable of teaching the Greek and Latin Mufes to fpeak our- language with not much inferior elegance to their own, to fuffer them to be debafed to Englifh Profe, in us is unpardonable, and can't be too much expofed. If you think the Tranflation, I herewith fend you, may be a means of inciting other young Gentlemen, of- a Poetical Turn, to refcue fome others of the moft delicate Pieces of Antiquity out of the bafe hands of thofe Sons of Profe ; to give it a place in your Journal will oblige one of your conftant Readers. It has been already attempted by feveral eminent hands in Latin, and once in Englifh j and will be ever looked upon as one of the moft tender and elegant Pieces the Ancients have obliged us with. The Author of this Tranflation intends to offer to the Public in a little time a Specimen of a Work of another nature, viz. reconciling the Hebrew Text and Sept. Verfiori, and fixing the true Text of both by a collation of all the Oriental Verfi-ons, &c. I am, Sir, yours, J. M. The Refle&ions in this Letter upon the Tranflator of Ho-mbr ww�QBMted, in deference, to pur- w-erthyPRssiBSNT, who intends to publifh a Criticifm upon both the Iliad and the Odljfey, as foon as the difficulties, which have hitherto hindered the execution of fo great' a defign, fhall be fur-mounted. The Tranflation of Bion, which came.incio-fed in the Letter, is under the confideration of the Society ; who return the Gentleman who fentk,-^heir hearty thanks, and fhall be glad of the favour of a further cor-refpondencei Mr. Bavius, OB. 19, 173O. ''T'tS a very eafy matter for a man to fay a fentence is ( good and true Latin, becaufe at the fame time, -he may have an eye to a fimilar one in a ClafEc Writer : but it is not fo eafy to pronounce the contrary ; becaufe this fuppofes a moft exadT: knowledge of the Genius of a tongue long fince dead, and an intimate acquaintance with all the Writers in it. But this notwithftanding, in your 39th Journal, Caledonius has ventur'd to charge Mr.Taylor with falfe Latin, in almojl every page of his admirable Oration: and, to fupport his charge, he cites the very firft fentence, Fix arbitrabar fore, Academici, eum, qui ex hoc dicendi loco hodierno die verba fit faBurus, quid-qudm proferre oportere, quod &c Now I us'd to be taught at School, that an Infinitive might at pleafuie be refolved into a fubjunclive with quod or ut, and vice versa : fo that, for my part, I make no manner of fcruple of admitting Mr. T-'s text,  any more than of Cale- donius's comment. But fire is an exception to this rule, and allows of no Infinitive; fo fays Caledonius indeed; but yet fore here is no more than accidere, which word I do affirm to be us'd by Cicero with an Infinitive after it. But as to Jore itfelf; what think you of this, Air. Bavius, in the fame Cicero, Quafi dk'inarem tali in^ojficio fore, mihi aliquando expetendum Jludium tuum ? and of this in Sallust, Tamen in rem fore credens univerfos appel* lare, & cohortari, in abditam partem adium fecejjit. And now, Mr. Bavius, I appeal to you. Here's a general outcry of falje Latin almojl in every page of Lhe Oration; and one iingle, and that, as it appears, an ill-grounded inftance, is produced. If the Critic has re.illy, as he would infinuate, other proofs in ftore, he-had done well to have pitch'd upon one. mere flagrant and uncon-tefled: but if one may judge of the reft by this, Mr. T needs not fear a very dangerous,, howfoever warm, adverfary in Caledonius. But here follows a charge, which, I dare fay, Mr. T- is much more concern'd at, than any tiling of falfe Lati-nity: his candor, his impartiality, his veracity is call'd in queftion.   For Caledonius fa}s, that 'tis contrary to Hijlory, and matter of fact, that the King was fold by the Scots.   Now this is more than any confiderate pcr-fon has ever yet faid : for befides, that it was a thing fo_ currently believed in the times that immediately fucceeded the tranfaflion, as to go into a proverb, cotemporary and very able Hifton.m- freak of it without relerve, and . a late very judicious Fu: k: .. leaves it in fufpence . Again Caledonius mifreprefent5 rA> Author, he fays Mr. T.- taxes the whole Nation: iyheic.is, in truth, he fays no fuch thing ; but moft undoubtedly ;nullbe underftood, as fpeaking only of that part of the lotion, whom he fuppofes concerned in the affair.   That the whole is often put for a part, is what every Rhetorician teaches 5 and it is moft evidently fo here, unlefs you can fnppofe Mr. T     � . abfurd enough to think, that the-whole Nation, man, woman and child, were tranfplanted into the Scottilh army, to be made parties in the bargain.   So, as often as Foreigners have occafion to fpeak of the 30th of Jan. they freely fay, I don't doubt, in their feveral languages, that-the Englijh, or' Englijh Nation took off the head of their King : and fhould any Englishman be prefent at the ufing of fuch an expreflion, tho' his Anceitors had been the moft loyal of Loyalifts, yet, unlefs he was himfelf as hot as Caledonius, he would be far from rcfenting, or even mifunderftanding it. But to return to the matter of faft ; Mr. T.--fays it, and Caledonius denies it. Whom are we to believe ? Mr. T-r, to be fure, as foon as one we don't know whom.-The former was not at enmity with the Scots Nation, had no fpite or known prejudice againft it; fo that nothing could induce him at this time of day, to fay an harfh thing, but the downright love of truth: whereas the latter wears his badge openly, and declares himfelf to be. a party concerned, a Scotsman, and therefore highly offended. But be the matter of fa�l never fo falfe, if Mr. T--fpokc his thoughts about it, as there is no rnaanot   

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