« PoprzedniaDalej »
· Let us not, however, omit in this catalogue of causes, that which is the most honourable, a want of a purer church, felt with a deep sense of piety by the middling classes of society. For we must not imagine that political agitators only and dissenters are inimical to the establishment: there is a large and respectable party within the church, and deeply attached to the doctrines of the church, which, nevertheless, is earnestly bent on a thorough and radical reformation of the establishment. Every notion of reform is, however, steadily and haughtily opposed by the bishops, who, in the uniform policy of their worldly system, choose to consider the property and secular power of the clergy, as an essential part of that religion of which they are ministers. The many plans of amelioration suggested to the ecclesiastical rulers, are scornfully rejected ; the slightest hint at amendment is scouted as the suggestion of fanaticism or sedition ; and nothing is supposed possible, in the way of improvement, to a system which merely consists in collecting money and reading printed prayers. Our modern priests, truly, exhibit a profound ignorance of the operations of the human mind; they are as careless and inattentive to the signs of the times, as if the opinions of society in England were no less stable and immoveable than the opinions of the priest-ridden populace of Thibet. They view themselves, and their establishment, with boundless complacency; their own snug palaces and parsonages are, in their eyes, part of a system which, if universally extended, would produce universal bappiness; and all that is wanting to introduce millenium, is a payment of tithe over all the habitable globe, to the protestant partridge-shooting hierarchy of the thirty-nine articles. Hence the sweet encomiums that they pronounce upon themselves and their system, in their sermons, charges, and speeches. Hence the strong indifference with which they listen to plans of reform and suggestions of improvement.
Within the last twenty years the emperor of China published an edict pro..
state of perfection which it would be impious to endeavour to improve.
severally at the card-table, watering-place, or cock-pit,--they will be leaping double ditches, imprisoning poachers, taking tithe in kind, dancing the gallopade, or firing off their artillery at grand battus, when the deluge of reform will come upon them in a moment, and overwhelm them in a wave of “ apostolical” poverty and “primitive” economy.'-pp. 32-34. .
Upon the subject of the disposal of the property now in the possession of the church, Mr. Beverley offers the following suggestions.
* If a question be raised as to the political management of church-property, it seerns that great benefit might accrue to the state if a sale of it were to take place, according to some fair and equitable arrangement. Suppose, for instance, that all who now pay tithes to spiritual persons for spiritual purposes, should be compelled to purchase a perpetual release, by paying a ten years' income of the tithe to government. Thus, if a person paid £100 per annum in tithe, he would have to pay £1,000 to government, and be released for ever from any future payment. Surely the tithe-payers would not much complain of such an arrangement; but if the clergy should complain, I answer, that all present incumbents should be allowed to retain their benefices for life, by which means no person in possession would be at all injured ; and as for those future parsons who are not yet in being, it cannot be said that they who do not exist would be injured by such an arrangement: for no one hereafter would take holy orders who did not know what he had to expect. If, however, some should persist in thinking that we hereby injure some embryo parsons, as well might it be said that we are cruel to a crocodile when we break a crocodile's egg. The cruelty is in imagination, and not in reality ; for the crocodile is not yet in being.
* If the church-property be taken at five millions per annum, though some rate it much higher, there would by this scheme be paid fifty millions sterling to government, deducting a certain sum for purchasing an ample landed estate for the perpetual repair and ornament of the cathedrals. On this subject considerable liberality might be allowed; I would grant an ample revenue for the purpose, more ample than any
possesses at present; but the rents of the estates, and the disbursements of the rents, should be in the hands of commissioners, two-thirds of whom should be laymen, nominated by government.
Let not your Grace mistake my meaning; I do not propose to keep the cathedrals in repair, from an attachment to them as temples, but as splendid edifices, exhibiting all the possible beauties and grandeur of the gothic architecture: and, though I know that they were built by the priests of an abolished religion, yet their present possession might be conceded to the Protestant clergy, who represent the creed of the majority, and who have been the possessors for a time sufficient to give a title by law. If, however, at some future period, the decided majority of the inhabitants of a country should become Roman Catholic, then it would be but just that the priests of the religion of that majority should again take possession of the cathedral, which was originally built, founded, and endowed by Roman Catholics. pp. 37,
38. Upon the maintenance of the cathedrals, or their ultimate destination, we shall say nothing. But if any such fund as that which Mr. Beverley has alluded to were created, we confess that we should
like to see it applied for ever to the relief of the poor in the three kingdoms. The people would thus be relieved from two most burthensome charges, which to millions are productive of extreme hardship. We know of no injustice much more objectionable than that, which compels a dissenter to pay for a church which he does not frequent, in addition to his own which he in every way prefers. This principle of our law must at all events be done away with. It will not stand the test of fair discussion for a moment in a reformed parliament. Let every man give tithes, or whatever other remuneration may be deemed most convenient, to the pastor whose spiritual services he requires. This would be the proper and equitable rule; the present system is nothing short of an outrage upon the rights of property. The French system, of the state paying salaries to the clergy of every denomination, is equally objectionable.
Art. VII.-The Iliad of Homer, Translated, by William Sotheby. In
2 vols. 8vo. London: Murray. 1831. We cannot possibly arrive at any just or correct judgment of such a work as that now before us, unless, in the first place, we are able to appreciate the peculiar duties that belong to a poetical translator in our language, and unless, in the next place, we keep the recollection of those duties constantly before us. True, we have a poet of tried skill to execute the given task: but then we should remembei hat it is a poet stripped, for a time, by reason of his office, of most of his ancient and sacred rights and privileges-that the whole dominion of imagination is alienated from him for a season, that the staple sources of his current supplies are cut off--that he but bears a barren sceptre in his hand-that not an impulse of feeling and scarcely a thought is at his disposal, and that even his very words are numbered. If we forget but for a moment such disabilities and restrictions as these, it will be in vain that we strive in our observations to do justice to the translator, or be useful to the public at large. And the obligation on the critic to consider these peculiar circumstances is particularly forcible in the present instance, since Mr. Sotheby's renunciation of every assistance that is foreign to the original, is realized by him in the most satisfactory
It behoves every reader, then, to bear in mind, what it is that Mr. Sotheby professes to accomplish. He does not pretend to give us as good a poem as he could fabricate of the Tale of Troy: he does not offer to re-write the story of the Iliad, as was said of old Chapman: his contract is of a different description, for it obliges Mr. Sotheby to place his unlearned English reader-(we repeat our own language on a former occasion) as nearly as he possibly can, in the same condition as if he were perfectly familiar with the language of Homer. Furnished with this explanation, we have at once a key to
the present version of the Iliad. We can now readily understand the consistency of the translator, in adhering to the language that expresses the meaning of his original, in preference to any substitutes which he could employ, however they might add to the beauty or force of his numbers. No-he neither adds to nor subtracts from his text-he resists all allurements—he is overpowered by no temptations—he will not trespass beyond the limits of his bond. Let us say that this is not a practice from which a real poet can be supposed to extract a great deal of enjoyment. Strong is the love of offspring: powerful the instinct of paternity. To strangle a newborn idea, which, by its loveliness, has just fascinated us to the very soul to hurry out of existence some darling thought--some cherub of the fancy, the beautiful emanation of the happiest moment of mental excitement,-heroic indeed must be the bard who can contemplate without emotion the commission of infanticides like these.
Considering that the present version of the Iliad is characterised by a studied fidelity to the original in all respects, we scarcely think, that a comparison between it and the translation of Pope can be fairly instituted. Pope's ambition seems to have been to construct a perfect poem, without reference to the defects or peculiarities of the original: Sotheby aims at giving us a faithful model of Homer. Pope is therefore without scruples, we might say without conscience. He augments, he curtails, he expands, or contracts; he alters his materials as his taste or sense of expediency prompts him; his verse indeed is a Procustean bed, to which the text of the Meonian bard is adjusted, upon a principle of the most unmerciful indifference. Sometimes the meaning of the original is misapprehended by him, or at least it is misrepresented; we may say that there is scarcely a page of this celebrated version, that can be allowed to contain a faithful interpretation, in all its requisites, of the corresponding passage of the Greek. As an English
poem, the Iliad of Pope is unrivalled: but its merits, as such, are totally distinct from those of a legitimate translation. We can admit then that Mr. Sotheby has failed to give us the sustained spirit, the untired harmony, the unceasing splendour of Pope; we can allow that his verses want the force and the polish, the copiousness and the ease, and the general felicity, which distinguish the numbers of the bard of Twickenham. But such perfections are inconsistent with the fidelity of the interpreter. The translator should be but a passive agent of communication. He should reflect the impressions of another, and not give his own-when once he violates the reserve of his neutral character, he only imitates the treachery of the confidant who turns principal to the detriment of the person whom he professed to serve. Mr. Sotheby takes a more exact estimate of the duties of his voluntary commission: he appears to us to have proposed to himself a task, which, before this day, we should have pronounced to be one of immeasurable labour, and of scarcely superable difficulty; he has endeavoured to amalgamate the literal phrase, the direct import rather of Homer's lan
guage, with the conventional peculiarities of English verse. The degree of success to which he has attained in this great enterprize, has not a little astonished us, for it implies the endurance of a course of minute and protracted labour, of which enthusiastic minds are not always disposed to be patient. It supposes, too, the careful superintendence of a guiding instinct, a power of selection, and adjustment, to the right exercise of which a thousand rare qualifications are essential. Not merely the language-but the style and manner of the immortal poet, are sought to be embodied in this version of the Iliad ; rising with its occasional sublimity, the
; English verse now and then emulates the majestic flow of the Homeric measures, and again subsides with its alternate falls. The epithets, too, to which so large a share of the poet's meaning is given, are fully developed in most instances by the translator, whose contrivances for this purpose are often most ingenious and admirable. It is only in a translation, such as Mr. Sotheby has planned, that we can recognize any trace of those various poetical artifices, which the great master of poetry has so profusely employed for the purpose of maintaining or increasing the interest of his scenes. Sometimes a well chosen epithet will effect his object; sometimes he hides it in a parenthesis: on all occasions, however, we are struck with the delicacy of his art, and the graceful triumph in which it is sure to end. Neither Pope, nor the author of any other version of Homer with which we are acquainted, has given attention to this peculiar feature in the character of the Grecian poet; and, consequently, so far a great cause of the delight we feel in perusing the original, is withheld from the mere English reader. This complaint, however, does not include Mr. Sotheby, who has, with great ingenuity, preserved the force and point of many of those beautiful artifices. If, for preserving the characteristic attributes of Homer's poetry, as far as the nature of our language enables him to do
So, Mr. Sotheby deserve the applause of his country; he merits not less approbation, for the uniform solicitude which he has shewn, in keeping the narrative free from all adulteration or profane admixture of any kind. From the sacred office of guardian of the Homeric story, he seems scarcely ever to have been induced to deviate. Hence every page of the new version is redolent of the venerable bard, whose rude strength and undisciplined boldness are not unfrequently represented in these pages to the very life.
We could justify our praises by endless quotations from Mr. Sotheby's work; but a few will be sufficient, since it is not our purpose to enter into an elaborate investigation of all the merits of this great performance, but merely to point out those peculiar excellences of the new translation which, as compared with all others of the same original, recommend it as an object worthy of national attention. The
parting scene between Hector and Andromache, in the sixth book, is so universally known, that we have no hesitation in selecting it as a test, by which the success of different translators