not happen to be serious or deep-seated | ing-room at the end of the suite; and when, just then, he agreed. The arrangement within a quarter of an hour, Mr. Gaynor' was easily made, and Julia went to the door to see them start. She leaned her forehead on her hand as she stood looking at her husband, and he said pettishly:

You had better go and lie down; we sha'n't be away long; and if Gaynor comes, he can amuse himself by himself.'

Julia nodded, and they drove off. But it appeared that the nod did not mean acquiescence, for she went to the small draw

was announced, the servant found his mistress arranging some flower-pots on a stand in the conservatory. The visitor was distinctly announced, and entered the room with rather an eager step; but Julia's face was turned from the door, and she did not move until the servant went away; then she turned suddenly, and confronted her visitor with a warning finger on her lip.

From Fraser's Magazine.




How beautiful art thou!

Through the ferny greenwood dells,
When the oaks were golden,
Hyacinths rang their bonny bells,
A tune of music olden;
Sorrow and care had swept away,
That melody so light and gay:
Why did it wake once more that day?
I do not know. But once again,

Thoughts long dead and buried,
Shook their wings, a sunny train,
And o'er my spirit wearied
Poured a fresh and childish song,
One I had forgotten long,
Nay, not one, a flock, a throng.


Everlasting Now,

How wonderful art thou!
In a dingy, noisy street,

A pure, white lilac growing,
Showered down odours to my feet,
And mingled with their flowing,
Sounds and sights of long ago,
Roses which have ceased to blow,
Winters of forgotten snow.
Stranger faces passing by,
Saw I then no longer,
Visions of the inner eye

Ever are the stronger :
Came a face quite close to me,
One I here no longer see,
Smiled, and vanished suddenly.


Everlasting Now,

How terrible art thou!
Wandering by the river's side,
When the sun was setting,
Whispers came from far and wide,
There is no forgetting,
Past is present, Now is vast,
What is future will be past,
All will be but Now at last.'
Then there shot a keen regret,

For a harsh word spoken,
Glistening still with tear-drops wet,
Love's fair floweret broken,
Years long past had seen that wrong,
But of bitter thoughts a throng
Sprang to life all fresh and strong.

[blocks in formation]

From The Spectator.



with their almost boundless calibre, their terrible projectiles, their marvellous precision, and their three-mile range, with the round shot or shell fired from the field pieces which battered Badajoz and St. Sebastian. It is probable that within fifty years from the first application of gunpowder to war, the destructive power of the fire-arms then invented was nearly as great as that of those used in the reign of Napoleon. It is probable that we are now within far less than fifty years of the furthest point to which the conditions of matter will permit that destructive power to be carried.

little except readiness to the matchlocks and the cannon with which the Barons of the Middle Ages fought out their contests, as soon as they had discarded the bows and FEW phenomena are more remarkable, arrows which had sufficed for mankind from yet few have been less remarked, than the the days of Thermopyla, and earlier, to the degree in which material civilization, the days of Agincourt, and later. But now progress of mankind in all those contriv- contrast the progress since 1840 with the ances which oil the wheels and promote the progress of the previous five hundred years. comfort of daily life, has been concen- Compare the needle gun of Sadowa, or the trated into the last half-century. It is not Chassepot rifle of Mentana, or the Enfield much to say that in these respects more has of our own troops, or even the Minié of Inkbeen done, richer and more prolific discov-erman, with the common musket which the eries have been made, grander achievements veteran pedants of the Duke of Wellington's have been realized, in the course of the Army could scarcely be persuaded to disfifty years of our own life-time than in all card. Compare the Armstrong, the Blakesthe previous life-time of the race, since ley, or the Whitworth ordnance of to-day, states, nations, and politics, such as history makes us acquainted with, have had their being. In some points, no doubt, the opposite of this is true. In speculative philosophy, in poetry, in the arts of sculpture and painting, in the perfection and niceties of language, we can scarcely be said to have made any advance for upwards of two thousand years. Probably no instrument of thought and expression has been or ever will be more perfect than Greek or Sanscrit; no poet will surpass Homer or Sophocles; no thinker dive deeper than Plato or Pythagoras; no sculptor produce more glorious marble conceptions than Phidias or Praxit- Then as to printing. The books printed eles. It may well be that David, and Con- within five-and-twenty years after the first fucius, and Pericles were clothed as richly use of movable types were as clear, as perand comfortably as George III. or Louis fect, as beautiful specimens of typography XVIII., and far more becomingly. There as any that were produced five-and-twenty is every reason to believe that the dwellings years ago. A little more rapidity and a of the rich and great among the Romans, Greeks, and Babylonians were as luxurious and well appointed as our own, as well as incomparably more gorgeous and enduring. It is certain that the palaces belonging to the nobles and monarchs of the Middle Ages, to say nothing of abbeys, minsters, and temples, were in nearly all respects equal to those erected in the present day, and in some important points far superior. But in how many other equally significant and valuable particulars has the progress of the world been not only concentrated into these latter days, but singularly spasmodic in its previous march!

Take two of the most remarkable inventions of all time, both of comparatively modern date, - gunpowder and printing. One is four, the other five, centuries old. How infinitesimal the difference between the firearms of the year 1400 and the year 1800! The "Brown Bess," the field guns, and the carronades with which Nelson and Wellington and Napoleon won their victories when we were young, were superior in

[blocks in formation]

great deal more cheapness make up, perhaps, the sum-total of the improvements in the typographic art between the time_of Caxton and the time of Spottiswoode. But within the memory of those still young the wonderful art of rapid stereotyping has been introduced; and to this alone it is owing that newspapers are able to supply the demands of their hundred thousand readers. It would be of course impossible to compose more than one set of types within the very few hours allowed for the supply of each day's demand. It would be equally impossible to print off from that one set more than an eighth or a tenth part of the number of copies which the leading papers are required to furnish within three or four hours. But by casting from the first composed types as soon as completed, any number of fac-simile blocks can be produced, and from these, by the help of circular machines, an indefinite number of impressions can be struck off in an almost incredibly short space of time. Twelve thousand copies an hour, and even more, can, we be

lieve, be easily produced by each machine. | young, if we wished to travel from London The multiplication thus rendered feasible is practically almost unlimited.

But it is in the three momentous matters of light, locomotion, and communication that the progress effected in this generation contrasts most surprisingly with the aggregate of the progress effected in all previous generations put together since the earliest dawn of authentic history. The lamps and torches which illuminated Belshazzar's feast were probably just as brilliant, and framed out of nearly the same materials, as those which shone upon the splendid fêtes of Versailles when Marie Antoinette presided over them, or those of the Tuileries during the Imperial magnificence of the First Napoleon. Pine wood, oil, and perhaps wax, lighted the banquet halls of the wealthiest nobles alike in the eighteenth century before Christ and in the eighteenth century after Christ. There was little difference, except in finish of workmanship and elegance of design-little, if any, advance, we mean, in the illuminating power, or in the source whence that power was drawn-between the lamps used in the days of the Pyramids, the days of the Coliseum, and the days of Kensington Palace. Fifty years ago, that is, we burnt the same articles, and got about the same amount of light from them, as we did five thousand years ago. Now, we use gas of which each burner is equal to fifteen or twenty candles; and when we wish for more can have recourse to the electric light or analogous inventions, which are fifty-fold more brilliant and far-reaching than even the best gas. The streets of cities, which from the days of Pharaoh to those of Voltaire were dim and gloomy, even where not wholly unlighted, now blaze everywhere (except in London) with something of the brilliancy of moonlight. In a word, all the advance that has been made in these respects has been made since many of us were children. We remember light as it was in the days of Solomon, we see it as Drummond and Faraday have made it.

The same thing may be said of locomotion. Nimrod and Noah travelled just in the same way, and just at the same rate, as Thomas Assheton Smith and Mr. Coke of Norfolk. The chariots of the Olympic Games went just as fast as the chariots that conveyed our nobles to the Derby, "in our hot youth, when George the Third was King." When Abraham wanted to send a message to Lot he despatched a man on horseback, who galloped twelve miles an hour. When our fathers wanted to send a message to their nephews, they could do no better, and go no quicker. When we were

to Edinburgh, we thought ourselves lucky if we could average eight miles an hour, just as Robert Bruce might have done. Now, in our old age, we feel ourselves aggrieved if we do not average forty miles. Everything that has been done in this line since the world began, everything, perhaps, that the capacities of matter and the conditions of the human frame will ever allow to be done, has been done since we were boys. The same at sea. Probably, when the wind was favourable, Ulysses, who was. a bold and skilful navigator, sailed as fast as a Dutch merchantman of the year 1800, nearly as fast at times as an American yacht or clipper of our fathers' day. Now, we steam twelve and fifteen miles an hour with wonderful regularity, whether wind and tide be favourable or not; -nor is it likely that we shall ever be able to go much faster. But the progress in the means of communication is the most remarkable of all. In this respect Mr. Pitt was no better off than Pericles or Agamemnon. If Ruth had wished to write to Naomi, or David to send a word of love to Jonathan when he was a hundred miles away, they could not possibly have done it under twelve hours. Nor could we to our own friends thirty years ago. In 1867 the humblest citizen of Great Britain can send such a message, not a hundred miles, but a thousand, in twelve minutes.

From The Spectator.


TWENTY-FIVE years ago Mr. Parsons published a translation of the first ten cantos of Dante's Inferno. That work lies before us now, together with this complete version of the "first canticle of the Divine Comedy." Comparing the two books, we do not find a very great difference between them. The plan with which Mr. Parsons started as a translator has been adhered to through the course of a quarter of a century. There has been a growth during this time, and assiduous study has elicited new meanings, while labour has given a new polish to many lines. But in celebrating his silver wedding with the Divine Comedy Mr. Parsons can boast that he has been always faithful to his first love. His freedom in departing from the actual words and actual phrases of the original will, no doubt, shock Mr. Longfellow. It was said in the notes

The First Canticle, Inferno, of the Divine Com edy of Dante Alighieri. Translated by Thomas William Parsons. Boston: De Vries, Ibarra, and Co.

to the former work that "it is questionable how far this mole-counting is required of an artist. Perhaps the strict adherence to the triple jingle is about as important to the truth of the likeness as the petty care taken by many translators to tie themselves to the precise number of lines found in the original, and to show by marginal figures that they are mathematically faithful." When this was written Mr. Parsons could not guess that in the interval between the appearance of his two translations, the chief poet of his country would fall into the very error which he had avoided and exposed. We cannot but think that Mr. Parsons has done more than any other translator to make his countrymen acquainted with Dante. Other versions may reproduce the exact lines and the exact words, and may succeed better in catching the rugged archaic effect of the ancient poem. But Mr. Parsons' translation is made to be read. It is almost impossible to appreciate Dante until one has such a familiarity with his language as to read it fluently. One cannot spell out one's admiration, or let it dawn upon one gradually with the help of grammar and dictionary. Yet most translations seem to be made for the purpose of recalling our first difficulties. We do not say that fidelity is a fault, or that Pope's Homer is the truest model. We admit, too, that Mr. Parsons has occasionally softened down a phrase of rough grandeur, and filed away the knotted surface of the rock in search of inappropriate smoothness. But, taking his work for all in all, we consider it most successful. We have read it through with a pleasure which we seldom expect to feel in the case of a translation. There are passages in it that disappoint us, and lines that are faulty either in turn or in meaning. But some of the descriptions are brought out as vividly as if Dante himself had superintended the translation, and in these cases the slight departure from the original words makes us see more clearly the original picture.

vourable instances of Mr. Parsons' manner, and we hope to find room for some of them. Yet even these are not free from the faults to which we have alluded. At the end of the story of Francesca, Mr. Parsons condenses the four simple and infinitely touching lines of the original into two which are comparatively nerveless and conventional. Dante has it :—

"Mentre che l'uno spirto questo disse
L'altro piangeva si che di pietade
Io venni meno come s'io morisse,
E caddi, come corpo morto cade."
Parsons merely says:

"She stopped;
Meanwhile he moaned so that compassion took
My sense away, and like a corse I dropped.”
There is nothing here of the piteous wailing
which seems to run through the whole nar-
rative, and which at last has such an effect
on the poet that we feel him faint away, and
hear him drop like a dead body. Other
places where Mr. Parsons has weakened the
original occur in the rendering of the in-
scription over the gate of Hell, in the judg-
ment passed by Virgil on those who were
hateful alike to God and his enemies, in the
meeting with the three beasts in the wood,
and in Chiron's remark upon the living

"Power, Love, and Wisdom-heavenly, first, most high, Created me,"

[blocks in formation]

"The world their hateful memory doth contemn; Mercy herself would scorn for them to plead;

Justice disdains them - we'll not speak of


Give them a glance, one only, and proceed."

Non ragionar di lor, ma guarda, e passa.

The metre chosen by Mr. Parsons is the rhymed quatrain, "the stanza of Gray and Dryden," of the Elegy and the Annus Mirabilis. In his hands this metre moves with a supple ease that sometimes rises into a cu-"Fama di lor il mondo esser non lassa: rious felicity. We do not care to give our Misericordia, e Giustizia gli sdegna, readers specimens of good single lines, though we might pick out many. The translations of the story of Francesca da Rimini, of the story of Ugolino, of the arrival of the angel at the gate of the city of Dis, of the comparison of the pool of Malebolge to pitch boiling in the arsenal of Venice, of the flight of Geryon with Dante and Virgil on his back, are among the most fa

Again, the lion, in Mr. Parsons' version, seems to shake the air, a phrase which has been used so often as to be worse than hackneyed, and which, moreover, does not reproduce the sort of shrinking dread in the air itself that Dante must have had in view when he wrote "si che parea che l'aer ne

temesse." This too metaphorical shaking is | rendered, "Here Satan, Alpha! Prince and repeated more appropriately when Mr. Par- Pontiff, here!" It now wears the more sons makes Chiron say "the one behind in doubtful look of, "Ho, Satan! Popes-more walking shakes the road." In the original, Popes head Satan! here!" We do not Chiron's wonder is more naïve and much pretend to suggest a true meaning for the more forcible. He remarks that the living phrase, which baffles all the commentators, man moves whatever he touches. nor do we take the phrase heard by Benvenuto Cellini in the French Courts as settling the dispute. But the demand for more Popes coming from Plutus does not seem happy. There were enough already under his special protection. One more complaint and we have done. Why has not Mr. Parsons reprinted the noble lines on a bust of Dante that formed a prelude to the earlier translation? We shall not be so chary of our space, and we will set him a better example:

Mr. Parsons must not think that we are hypercritical in dwelling on these small defects. We wish to give him all the praise he deserves, and to encourage him to persevere in his translation of the Divine Comedy. Our readers will best judge of his success by comparing these few extracts with the original, or with any other translation. First, let us take the passage of the angel over the Stygian pool in the ninth canto;

"As frogs before their enemy, the snake,
Quick scattering through the pool in timid" See,from this counterfeit of him


On the dank ooze a huddling cluster make, Flying from one who passed the Stygian bog, With feet unmoistened by the sludgy wave; Oft from his face his left hand brushed the fog Whose weight alone, it seemed, annoyance


At once the messenger of Heaven I kenned,

And toward my master turned, who made a sign

That hushed I should remain and lowly bend. Ah me, how full he looked of scorn divine!"

As a companion picture to this we select the descent of Geryon in the seventeenth


"Like a small vessel from its moorage went
That monster, backing, backing, from the

And when he found that he could freely wheel,
He turned about his outstretched tail to where
His breast had been, moving it like an eel,
And with his great paws gathered in the air."

If there are not other passages which bear quotation as well as these, it is rather because Mr. Parsons maintains an easy regular level, than on account of imperfections in his style. We should scarcely do him justice if we were to pick out more fragments from a translation which ought to be judged as a whole. It is true that we have not taken exception to all his faults. We might fairly have observed that fidelity has sometimes been sacrificed to a rhyme, and that disputed meanings have been treated with an utter disregard of all interpreters. In one place at least the old version has been altered without being bettered. "L'aer perso" is more aptly translated "lurid" than "crimson air." In the old version the curious line at the beginning of canto seven, "Pape Satan, pape Satan, aleppe!" was

Whom Arno shall remember long,
How stern of lineament, how grim
The father was of Tuscan song.
There but the burning sense of wrong,
Perpetual care and scorn abide;
Small friendship for the lordly throng;
Distrust of all the world beside.

Faithful if this wan image be,
No dream his life was - but a fight;
Could any Beatrice see

A lover in that anchorite?
To that cold Ghibeline's gloomy sight
Who could have guessed the visions came
Of Beauty, veiled with heav'nly light,
In circles of eternal flame?

The lips, as Cumae's cavern close,
The cheeks, with fast and sorrow thin,
The rigid front almost morose,
But for the patient hope within,
Declare a life whose course hath been
Unsullied still, though still severe,
Which, through the wavering days of sin,
Kept itself icy-chaste and clear.

Not wholly such his haggard look
When wandering once, forlorn, he strayed,
With no companion save his book,
To Corvo's hushed monastic shade;
Where as the Benedictine laid
His palm upon the pilgrim guest,
The single boon for which he prayed
The convent's charity was rest.

O time! whose verdicts mock our own,
The only righteous judge art thou;
That poor, old exile, sad and lone,
Is Latium's other Virgil now;
Before his name the nations bow:
His words are parcel of mankind,
Deep in whose hearts, as on his brow,
The marks have sunk of Dante's mind."

« VorigeDoorgaan »