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The attention of English readers has we are reading,—yet they who love been, within the last year or two, re- the original most, are the same who called to the subject of continental are most likely to receive pleasure literature; and as the sources of highest froin such translators and imitators as literary enjoyment are, after all, derived we have described. So far is verbal to every one of us from our own lan- accuracy from satisfying the kind of guage, we are dependent on translators taste to which we allude, that we think and compilers from foreign works to a there can be no doubt whatever of its greater extent than would at first ap- altogether defeating its purpose ; and pear. Admitting fully the inadequacy so opposed may be the genius of the of translation ever to produce the same language, from which we translate, to effect by precisely the same means as that which supplies the new moulds the original writer makes use of,—and into which the thought must be made therefore being prepared to allow that, to flow, that we do not know any even in the most accurate translation, where two volumes which produce an there must be something of what has, effect so wholly dissimilar as Beckford's happily enough, been called compensa- English translation of his own French tion,-admitting that in the moderniza- Vathek and the volume from which he tions of Chaucer, by Dryden, by translates. Every characteristic feature Wordsworth, and by the author of the of the original is lost; and the English story of Rimini, a writer whose felicity book, far from representing any thing of language is often such as to produce of the liveliness, of the archness, of the effects in translation which we scarcely orientalism, put forth with mock seriousthink have been equalled by any other ness and satiric gravity, gives us someman of our days who has ventured in thing scarcely differing in kind or dethis perilous walk of literature," there gree from Dr. Hawkesworth's bloated is always something lost of the capri- extravaganzas of Almoran and Hamet, cious quaintresses and of the costume, and the rest of our western orientalwhile the modern artist is not so wholly ists. “ The Paradise of the Senses” is hidden by his mask as to prevent us described with as much solemnity as if from seeing the eyes smiling with it was the Hall of Eblis. The desosomething of a boy's exultation at the late and heartless mirth—“there is a kind of fantastic illusion which he laughing devil in the sneer"—is wholly creates ; while, in short, we know that absent from the English book. In the it is not Chaucer or Boccacio whom sort of dependence in which we are
* See in particular the translations from the Italian poets in the Indicator.
placed upon translators, we are disinclin- feeling than by any appeal that can be ed to any criticism on trifling faults of made to any recognised principles of detail ; and we indeed now and then taste. We ourselves feel that Goethe are forced, against our will, into the gives to every object which he deconviction that a writer whose general scribes its own peculiar life, its own competence we admit, may be right, nature, its own thoughts. In Goethe, even though such fact prove that we, whether he describes human life, or his critics, are wrong in the very details scenery, or, as in the unique poem of which he is, after all, more likely than “ Reinard the Fox," the satiric clatter we are to have fully considered. If of birds and beasts, we have every the feeling and spirit are preserved, we where what we may call the commoncare little for the arrangement of place of nature, shewn through an unphrases, or the collocation of commas. exaggerating and undistorting medium; When we are told that a translator has no where is the common-place of poetry, succeeded in accurately exhibiting to either of its sentiments or its decoraan English reader the same number of tions, to be found in his works. Birds and lines as the author from whom he trans- flowers are animated, not as by our Englates, we are, like Dryden, too polite to lish poets, with a sentimental and poetic count after him, but before we join in life, but with a bird-like vivacity, and a applauding this curious felicity, we flower-like spirit ; every image has a sometimes feel the misyiving fear that statuesque and peculiar beauty, but such praise may possibly arise from a none of them seem "made out of the total misconception of the power of one carver's brain"*—all seems as if, though or other of the languages to be com Goethe had never lived, they must pared. The translator of Hudibras have yet been discovered, not created, may feel it necessary, now and then, by some future observer. His art seems to express an idiom which the English that of observing all-of representing all reader at once understands, by some that he observes, and we feel as if we circuitous phrase or other, where, if he had no moral right to complain of such had translated literally, he would have a writer not representing, for the purtranslated not feebly,—which may be pose of his art, life better or worse, or the fault of paraphrase,—but falsely, other than it is. In Schiller's works, suggesting no one thought which it was on the contrary, every where is his own his author's purpose to communicate spirit exhibited. Schiller it is the high obscuring, by the preservation of some and holy Schiller-that breathes himself conventional form of language, the into every one of the characters which he communication, which the very form represents. The humblest of his balwas chosen, because it was supposed well lads, instinct as they are with life, are adapted to convey with freedom and all animated with his life, with his feelforce. We say all this, because we believe ings. The fantastic, capricious, and the difficulties of translation, especially wilful life of their own which Goethe poetical translation, are but little es- gives his Mignons and his Ariels—for he timated.
too has an Ariel—as if the beings which We have in a former number said he had created existed with a will indethat Schiller was fortunate above all pendent of his, and moved in a sphere other writers in bis translators ; and of their own, with thoughts which were yet, we do not think him popular, or not always wholly revealed to him whose likely ever to be very popular, in Eng- creation they were—have no existence land. We enter not into the contro- in the works of Schiller. The life which versy which Memzel has recommenced he himself lived, or would have lived, in Germany, alter it had pretty well was that which Schiller gave his heroes : subsided, as to the respective merits of his very ballads are every one of them Goethe and Schiller ; on such a sub- dramatic. The Message to the Iron ject the opinion of any one not a Ger. Foundry, and the Song of the Bell, are man, but of little value, and among all of them a succession of scenes of as Germans the matter is one of the things perfect stage effect as his most elaborate to be determined rather by individual drama, and they are free from the one
fault of his dramas, which is, that the existence till it had been translated into succession of scenes in the latter, outward form, and yet contemning the while each is skilfully executed, seem idolatries of those to whom form was to have little or no bearing on the all in all, and who did not see mani. common purpose which all should have. fested by the outward world an invi.
In “ Alfieri” the close of his story sible and harmonious spirit that was is before his own mind in every the life of all, and the separation step of his progress, in every line of any individual member from given to any one of his charac- which was alienation, and a forfeiture ters--and this it is which gives of its proper being-Goethe, who in to all his creations the severe and politics sought to preserve all and to thoughtful beauty, which more than improve all that he found established, rivals the most perfect art of the ancient even because it was established, and dramatists. If all be the poet's crea- because the violence of change was in tion and grouping, yet nothing seems no case to be contemplated, and chiefly the indulgence of his caprice-all is as because thus alone did he see any could not but be—nothing is accidental chance for leisure to the elect of manor arbitrary, and the Italian language, kind to pursue ennobling studiesin which his sculpture is executed, is counselling mankind to risque nothing not, if we may use a phrase of Bacon's of present happiness for theoretic on a different subject, “ immersed in dreams of good, yet never at any matter," as the German is. The style one moment using his great genius and of the German poets is in nothing evi- his powerful influence otherwise than denced more than in their triumph over in the effort to increase for all and for some great disadvantages of their each the fullest opportunities for the language, which is so far from being in development of their peculiar talentsany thing of a forward state, that their improving all by educating all ; such prose writers are absolutely unreadable. was Goethe. But this is not the place We must not, however, allow ourselves to insist on his individual character and to be betrayed into discussion, that excellencies. Schiller, from a boy, would lead us wide from our present seeking to learn from the external purpose, which is, in a paper or two, to world the spirit of the world within the direct our readers' attention to some of mind, reading history in a superstitious the English translations from Schiller, spirit, but determined, at any sacrifice and to glean for them some of the to himself or others, to seek for man in smaller pieces which are scattered over new forms of society the realization of our literature. In some cases we shall, the good which he believed to be posperhaps, present our readers with more sible. That society might be in all than one translation of the same poem, things better ordered, and that most of and while we can imagine no reason its institutions are unfavourable to hapwhich should prevent our stating in piness and virtue, was his belief, and such instances to which we giv the this belief was one that he fancied preference, our readers must feel that himself to have derived by a fair inducwe are writing in a spirit which renders tion from a sufficiently extensive obit unlikely that we should regard any- servation of facts. thing of rivalry as existing between the The contrast between man's unlimitrespective translations which we may ed capacity for happiness and good, and quote, or indeed that we should our. the interruptions which seem to impede selves feel always able or disposed to the growth of the human mind in every determine which is best. Should such form of society in which man has yet cases arise in the course of our article, existed, does not, as Schiller thought, let it at once be understood that the point so much to the probability of very act of our quoting from more than earth's becoming a paradise againone translation of any piece, is evidence thongh such hope should not be shut that each has given us pleasure as a out from our view—as to the fact, poem, and that on this account alone without reference to which the riddle do we seek to preserve it.
of life is inexplicable, that there is a The total dissimilarity of the genius world in which the growth, which is of Goethe and Schiller-Goethe at all here interrupted, will be perfected and times distrusting sentiment of all kinds, matured. Of revolutions, which the feeling as if no idea had any secure wiser mind of Goethe regarded with
fear and distrust, Schiller thought with ful in the place which he had assigned to hope--and each had before he had yet him, and the stamp of his approbation met the other, in writing and in con seemed to be a sort of consecration for life. versation expressed, strongly express
« No one who has not seen and heard ed his respective opinions. When with what pious fidelity the veterans of they first met it was with what were
that time of Goethe's and Schiller's cheeralmost feelings of dislike. They met, ful, spirited cooperation, treasured every however ; and those who now speak recollection of these, their heroes ; with of them, as if to admire one was to
what transport they dwelt on every detail deny the claims of the other to admi- of their proceedings ; and how the mere ration, would serve the cause of truth mention of their names called forth the better if, instead of insolent and calum- flash of youthful pleasure from their eyes ; nious attacks upon Goethe and his ad
can have an idea of the affectionate attach
ment and enthusiastic veneration which mirers, they had honesty enough to state how these great men admired and
those great men inspired. loved each other—" How deeply and life departed with Schiller, he sought and
“ When the fairest charm of Goethe's intensely," (we use the words of Von Müller,) "every triumph of the one was
found in the study of natural science the enjoyed by the other." But we cannot gained his fortitude and composure only
only consolation worthy of him; and redo better than quote from Mrs. Austin's by redoubled exertions to elucidate the characteristics of Goethe a sentence or
darkest problems of nature."- Mrs. Aus-' two on this subject
tin's Characteristics of Goethe, Vol. 2, “ Goethe's fairest recompense for the pages 272-274. sacrifice for all the time and trouble he for years devoted to the theatre at Weimar,
Goethe's own language is yet more was Schiller's sympathy and lively appro
strongbation. Schiller, earnest and profound,
“ In the midst of all this debate and turned with cheerfulness to the stage, and controversy, my suddenly developed confrom this picture of life acquired new re
nection with Schiller exceeded all my lish for life itself. He perceived with wishes and hopes. From our first intimacy astonishment, that the actors whom Goethe it was one uninterrupted progress in philohad trained gave him back his own drama- sophical instruction and æsthetical activity. tic creations in a purer form. Urged and What I, in my retirement, worked out, allured to even higher excellence, poet began, set a going, tried to ascertain, to and actor rivalled each other in the noblest revive, and to turn to account, was very endeavours,—the former, to invent and to useful for his Hören; for me it was a new combine the grand and the original ; the spring, in which every thing gladsome latter, to conceive it clearly and to repre- broke forth into bud and blossom from the sent it worthily.
hitherto shut up seeds and branches. Of “ No kind of personal sacrifice and de- this our correspondence gave the most imvotion was spared; readings and rehearsals mediate, pure, and perfect witness." --- Tagwere heard and repeated with unwearied und-Jahres Hefte, 1794. patience; every character thoroughly de “ Schiller's sympathy I mention last ; it fined, developed, livingly depicted ; the was the deepest and the highest. As his harmony of the whole acutely conceived, letters are still in existence I need say no carefully worked out and completed. more, but that the publication of them
“ No where did Goethe more freely would be one of the fairest gists that could exercise the spell of his imposing person be offered to an instructed public."— Tagand air than among his dramatic disciples; und-Juhres Hefte, 1795. rigorous and earnest in his demands, un. “ Meanwhile the personal intercourse alterable in his determinations, prompt between Schiller and myself was interand delighted to acknowledge every suc- rupted; we exchanged hasty letters. Some cessful attempt, attentive to the smallest as of his, written in the months of February to the greatest, and calling forth in every and March, still bear witness to his sufferone his most hidden powers,—in a narrow ings, his activity, his devotedness, and his circle, and often with slender means, he ever declining hope. In the beginning of accomplished what appeared incredible ; May I ventured out ;* I found him intendhis encouraging glance was a rich reward; ing to go to the theatre, from which I his kind word an invaluable gift. Every would not try to deter him. Indisposition one felt himself greater and more power- hindered me from accompanying him; and
* Goethe had been dangerously ill.- Transl.