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6. Short Remarks and Suggestions upon the Improve-
Art. 1.–Jerusalem Delivered ; an Epic Poem, in Twenty
Cantos ; translated into English Spenserian Verse from the Italian of Tasso, &c. &c. By J. H. Wiffen. 8vo. London and Edinburgh. MUCH didactic prose and poetry has been written upon the subject of translation: the substance of which may
be comp ised in an exhortation to translate rather by equivalents than by
literal version of the author's words. If we try the merit of this precept, however, by its fruits, we shall find that, though its adoption may have produced good poetry, it has not often produced the thing required. With the exception of
• Mittitur in disco mihi piscis ab archiepisco
-Po non ponatur quia potus non mihi datur.' « I had sent me
fish in a great dish by the archbish-Hop is not here for he gave me no beer' we do not know of above one good translation executed upon this system in more than a century from the time in which it was most popular. On the other hand, we have many, among the best in the language, and not despicable even as poetry, for which we are indebted to that severe style of version, which was in fashion before the doctrine of equivalents was broached. Among these, many of Ben Jonson's essays rank foremost, and Sandys Translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses may be deemed a happy specimen of the school.
Yet it must be allowed, that the free. is the noble style of translation; that the only versions in our language, which rank as poems, are boldly executed; and that even the closest copyist must at times resort to equivalents, if he would give the real meaning of his original. This, however, is a daring and hazardous course; full of shoals so irregularly scattered, and often seen in such false lights, that there are few who have a sufficient perception of their dangers, or dexterity to avoid them. The most obvious of these dangers are modern and vulgar associations; of which we have spoken at large in a foriner Number: but there is another, which we do not remember to have seen laid down in any chart of criticism: this is, the resorting to some equivalent, which ap: pears to convey the exact sense of the author, without observing the effect of that equivalent upon other parts of the text, under translation; a risk almost as perilous in its ultimate, though not VOL. XXXIV. NO. LXVII.