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epic poet of modern times. In point of priority, at least Ariosto and Tasso, as well as Milton and Voltaire, must yield the palm to the author of the Lusiad. And although Camoens is little read in the English language, not one of the other great poets mentioned has been more translated. There are five Latin translations of the Lusiad, six Italian, cight German, nine Spanish, three modern Greek, but only two English—as many as there are in the Russian ; and Mr. Adamson tells us, in his biography of the poet, that there is at least one Hebrew translation of it and two Persian. But ours contains not only the fewest of all modern languages,
but also the worst. And here we have the secret of the neglect with which Camoens has hitherto been treated in England and America. He has been traduced, not translated. No other poet, ancient or modern, has fared worse in English hands. It is not, indeed, the true Iliad we have in Pope's translation, which is little better than a paraphrase ; but it is enriched with the most beau. tiful idioms of all the languages of Europe, and its versification is elegant and harmonious, approaching, in these respects, the wonderful original itself. Pope makes amends, in this way, for his want of fidelity ; but neither Fanshaw nor Mickle had the genius to do so in the case of the Lusiad. Both failed, because they were incompetent. Camoens appears to as little advantage in their versions, as would the Appolo Belvedere broken in pieces, and then patched together by unskilful hands. The public have no taste for works of this kind ; they will not buy them, but rather come to the conclusion that the original is not what it is represented to be. Many great authors have fallen into disrepute in this
way ; and those competent to translate them correctly are apt to shrink from the task when they see what prejudices they have to contend against, and bear in mind the failure of those who had already made the attempt.
The first English translation of the Lusiad is that of Sir Richard Fanshaw, written during the usurpation of Cromwell. We have abundant evidence that Fanshaw was an accomplished scholar, and a skilful diplomatist. Probably none of his cotemporaries had a more familiar acquaintance with the Portuguese, "the eldest daughter of the Latin.” But more than this was necessary. No one can translate a great poem who is not a poet himself. Fanshaw was, indeed, capable of writing agreeable verses ; but the poetic spirit he did not possess. Add to this the fact, that
as his biographer tells us, the Lusiad "fell with other of his manuscripts, during the unsettled times of our anarchy, into unskilful hands, and was printed and published without his consent or knowledge, and before he could give it his last finishing stroke," and it will not seem strange that it has many imperfections. Yet, it is better upon the whole, than the more recent translation of Mickle—it contains fewer interpolations, alterations and omissions. This, however, is not high praise, since no translator has ever taken more liberties with his author than Mickle. On visiting Lisbon, soon after his version was published, he received every mark of consideration from the citizens ; but he
; had scarcely left, after a brief visit, when he was indignantly denounced as a mutilator of the national epic, and as the enemy, rather than the friend, of their beloved Camoens, of whom they are proud to say:
Vertere fas; aequare nefas, aequabilis uni
Nor was he altogether guiltless of the charges thus preferred ; although no translator has praised his author more highly, or taken more pains to explain away all adverse criticism. But it was not for the admiration either of Camoens or the Lusiad he undertook the task from first. Of this we have sufficient evidence in his own language. He gives us to understand, plainly enough, that he regarded the whole affair in a utilitarian, or business point of view. The East India Company had begun to flourish ; it had already an immense dominion. The Lusiad being
l the epic poem of commerce, and having reference to the same Eastern empire, it was very properly deemed a suitable offering to that powerful oligarchy. Accordingly it was recommended by the translator ; and, not content with this, he wrote an elaborate defence of a chartered company possessing exclusive rights, accompanying it with a brief, but rather depreciating history of the Portuguese dominion in Asia. What he thought did not suit English ideas, was omitted in the poem, and its place was filled with what was likely to please the East India Company. To guard, as best he could, against the consequences of liberties so glaring, not to say discreditable, he says, among other similar things in his Dissertation, “Nor let the critic, if he finds the meaning of Camoens in some instances altered, imagine that he has found a blunder. It
VOL. II.-NO. III.
was not to gratify the dull few, whose greatest pleasure in read. ing a translation is to see what the author exactly says ; it was to give a poem that might live, in the English language, which was the ambition of the translator.” As well might a fourth-rate sculptor have attempted to make an English lion of the Jupiter of Phideas. But there were not many in England at the time, even among the critics, who had any knowledge of Portuguese. Upon the other hand, all had heard of the Lusiad as a great poem ; 80 that the grossest errors in the translation were likely to be passed over; nay, praised, on the supposition that they were peculiari
author, which, for aught they knew, were regarded by those who understood the language, as positive beauties. At any rate, Mr. Mickle made no scruple to render the Lusiad, not anything like what it was in the original, but what it ought to have been, according to his own notions.
It were easy to give instances of alterations, additions and omissions in proof of this ; for they are to be met with, to a greater or less extent, in every canto throughout the work. But we must confine ourselves to one or two ;
and those which first met our view, occur in the eighth and ninth cantos. In the original Gama, the Achilles of the Lusiad is made to seize on Hindoo merchants, as hostages, on the coast of Malabar, in order that the Portuguese, detained on the shores, might be released. The wives and children of the former entreat the native authorities to give the strangers their liberty; and their petitions are heard by the Zamorim. But with the view of obviating similar detentions or arrests, on the part of the natives, Gama, in sailing from Calicut, retains some of the hostages, setting the rest at liberty. All this forms a highly interesting episode in the poem. It affords the author an opportunity of drawing a vivid and powerful sketch of the domestic affections. The anguish of the wives and children on the shore, at the prospect of seeing their husbands and fathers carried off, as they thought, into captivity, and the silent, manly grief of the latter, are portrayed with a masterly hand; and although the whole picture is perfectly original, it reminds one of Homer more than any other passage to be found in a modern poet ; except what has been partly, if not wholly, borrowed. The Hindoos, pacing up and down the deck, without uttering a word, show that they do not feel the less for having swarthy faces, and the
eloquence imparted by the poet to this silence, is scarcely surpassed by that of Chryses in the first book of the Iliad, when, on failing to procure the release of his daughter from Agamemnon, he walks pensively along the shore.* Nor is this the only simi larity between the two passages; for Camoens, as well as Homer, makes his verse flow mournfully, so that it may correspond with the grief of the captives. But, almost incredible though it may appear, not a line of this appears in Mr. Mickle's translation. He deliberately suppresses the whole scene, and entirely alters the conclusion of the canto. Nor is he satisfied with this. The first seventeen stanzas of the succeeding poem are set aside in a similar manner, and in their stead we have nearly three hundred lines of Mickle's own, in which he gets up a battle between the natives and the Portuguese, causing the latter to destroy a large flotilla belonging to the former, and finally to bombard the city, about a century before gunpowder had ever been used in the art of war !
In other places he entirely alters the management of the poem There is scarcely a finer episode in Homer or Virgil than the tale of Adamaston, the terrible spectre of the Cape, of which we shall presently speak more particularly. In the original, the frightful apparition is made to tell his own story; but this did not please Mr. Mickle, who makes the King of Melinda tell it for him, as if some French translator of Shakespeare had put the words of the ghost in Hamlet into the mouth of Polonius !
The faults of Fanshaw are of a different character. He does not possess so much poetical ability as Mickle; or rather he does not so well understand the knack of rhyme. Fanshaw was much better acquainted with the literature of Italy than with that of Portugal; and he confounded the idioms of the former with those of the latter. The effect of this is often ludicrous ; for when Camoens is most serious and profound, the translator is apt to introduce a metaphor or comparison which is much more suitable for a farce than an epic. An instance or two, which are as many as we can give, will illustrate our meaning. Thus, Camoens says in sweetest numbers, and in tones of becoming gravity :
E o Sol ardente,
Co’o temor grande em peixes converteo."
which is turned almost into burlesque, as follows:
“ 'Twas in that month when Sol the fishes fryes,
To which fear'a Brontes turn'd two deities."
There are few finer passages in the Lusiad than that in which Gama is made to describe a battle he has had with the Caffres. In the original, the description is lively and cheerful, but dignified; but in the translation it degenerates into vulgarity. We transcribe a few lines, giving the original at the bottom of the page, so that those who understand Portuguese may be able to judge for themselves.*
“A cloud of arrows and sharp stones they rain,
We made their heads as crimson as their caps.” It is to Fanshaw the English reader must turn, however, for the best idea his language affords of the plan and character of the Lusiad. If he fails to reproduce the beauties of the original, it is not to gratify any oligarchy. He honestly does his best to do justice to his author, although he partly admits himself, in his dedication of the first edition to the Earl of Stafford, that his work is more English than Portuguese. He offers it to his lordship as & "treasure-trove which," he says, "as to the second life, or rather being, it hath from me in the English tongue, is so truly a native of Yorkshire and holding of your lordship, that from the hour I began it to the end thereof, I slept not once out of these walls." Certainly it was being rather than life he imparted to his version; but, at the same time, it was sufficient to create such admiration for the Lusiad in the great and critical mind of Dr. Johnson, as to