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endeavours to establish, that which we did not apprehend to be doubted, the utility of descending compared with ascending series.
The method of rectifying the hyperbola, says the author, is circuitrus : but, if science were moved by such machines as he employs, it would be retrograde. Mr. H. entirely misunderstands he principles on which its advancement depends.
On the operosion of any Functions of Multinomials. By Thomas Knight, Esq. - The object of this paper is the same as that which M. Arbogast proposed to himself in his Calcul des Dérivations, of which work we gave a full account in our xxxvith volume, N. S. p. 524, Appendix. Dr. Brinkley, also, had the same end in view, in his method of taking fluxions per saltum ; which he inserted in the Irish Transactions.-Although, however, the object be the same, the process of attaining it is different; and, moreover, Mr. Knight, by his method, is enabled, (according to his own statement) « to arrive at many new and remarkable theorems, both for direct and inverse derivation, which could not be very easily found by M. Arbogast's method.' A particular and critical examination of this paper would perhaps be contrary to the general tenor of our work, and would certainly far exceed the limits which we are, able to assign to it.
Part II. for the year 1811. is now before us.
Art. IV. Poems, original und translated; including Versions of
the Medea and Octavia of Seneca. By the Rev. Č. A. Wheel. wright, A. B. of Trinity College, Cambridge. Second Edition.
2 Vols. 12mo. 155. Boards. Longman and Co. 1811. THESE volumes are dedicated, in a complimentary strain of
gratitude, to the Bishop of Lincoln ; and they are introduced by a sensible and modest preface, in which, among other matters of information, the writer quotes the result of the critical opinions collected by Fabricius, respecting the authors of the plays edited under the name of Seneca. This result appears to be, according to Mr. W.'s citation, that the Hercules Furens, the Thyestes, and the @dipus, were written by M. Seneca, the father of the Philosopher, who is distinguished from his son by the title of Rhetorician; that the Medea, the Hippolitus, and the Troades, are the undoubted production of Seneca the philosopher; and that the Thebais' (rather the Phænissæ *) < the Agamemnon, the Hercules @tous, and the Octavia, are of uncertain origin. This last play, Mr. Wheelwright says, was selected for translation as a * See the edition Gronovii et Variorum.- Rev. S 3
companion to the Medea, because it is the only one of the Latin tragedies of which the story is contemporary with, and partly involves, that of its supposed author.' How Seneca (Seneca, we mean, xai išox nv, or even his father the Rhetorician) became the supposed author of the Octavia ; or how he can be called so by this translator, who in the same sentence declares the tragedy to be of uncertain origin; we are at a loss to conceive. Not that we deem this play much we ferior it, the generality of the very moderate performances as we * not hesitate to express ourselves) which form the collection intitled “ Senecæ Tragedie:” but, being in a large portion of it a mere versification of passages in the annals of Tacitus, and betraying also, as we fancy, sundry marks of the bald Latinity.of a later age, we are inclined to ascribe it to some subsequent dramatist; a professed imitator, perhaps, of the Senecas; certainly an inheritor of their defects.
Mr. Wheelwright proceeds to retail some information concerning the translators of these plays:
• The earliest complete version,' he states to be that by Ludovico Dolce, published at Venice, A. D. 1560; this is mentioned by Walker, in his Historical Memoir on Italian Tragedy, (page 91. note) but no character is there given of the work. Riccoboni also, in his Histoire du Théâtre Italien, (p.102.) notices some of the tragedies, which compose this version. The next that occurs, is mentioned in the prolegomena to Johnson and Steevens' edition of Shakspere, under the title of Seneca, his Tenne Tragedies, translated into English by different Translators, 4to. London, 1581. Fabricius also mentions a th d into Italian, Hyacinthi Nani Senensis.
• These are the only complete versions, which I have heard ever to have existed; nor has it been in my power to ascertain the merits of any one of them. Of single dramas, several translations have been made at different periods. Egerton, in his Theatrical Remembrancer, notices the following : Thyestes, Hercules Furens, Troas, by Jasper Heywood, 1561, 12mo. reprinted in the complete Translation of 1581. Agamemnon, Medea, Hercules Etæus, Hippolytus, by John Studley, 8vo. 1563, 4to. 1581. Hippolytus, by Edmund Prestwich, 12mo. 1561. Troades, by Samuel Pordage, 12mo. 1660. Thyestes, by John Crowne, acted at the Theatre Royal, 4to. 1681. Troas, by T. Talbot, 4to. 1686. Fabricius, ubi sup. mentions the Agamemnon into French, by Charles Toustain, Paris, 1566; the same into English, by Blackmore, published in the second part of his Miscellaneous Poems, Lond. 1718. The Troades into Spanish, by Joseph Antonio Gonsalez de Salas, 1633. The Medea into English, by Sir Edward Sherburne, 1648, republished in 1702, with additional versions of the Hippolitus and the Troades, which I suppose are meant by Fabricius, when he says vaguely “ atque inde quoque reliquas.” In this enumeration is omitted an English version of the Thyestes, by John Wright, London, 1674, which possesses considerable merit, but is not very worthily accompanied by the burles
entitled Mock-Thyestes, which is joined to it. The author, indeed, cannot be justly charged with having violated the precept of Horace, (A. P. 90, 91.)
“ Indignatur item privatis ac prope socco · Dignis carminibus narrari cæna Thyesta,” for the strains in which this travestie is sung are such as Melpomene and Thalia would have alike disdained to dictate.
It is probable that the version of 1581, introduced Seneca to the notice of the learned at that period, as we find a line and a half from the Hippelitus quoted in that “knavish piece of work” Titus An. dronicus *, (Act. 4. sc. 1.) which it would be more than injustice to attribute to Shakspere, although it was in all probability the work of a contemporary author, as Malone, in his Attempt to Ascertain, &c. refers it to the year 1587; and it is upon record that its scenes of dis: gusting and complicated horrors were tolerated in the reign of Charles II. and even applauded in that of Elizabeth.
• In order to obviate the charge of presumption, which might perhaps be preferred against me for having attempted that which Sir Edward Sherburne had already executed, I will give an extract from his version of the Medea, which may be considered a fair specimen of the whole : vv. 320 et. seq. he thus translates :
“ Now 'fore a quartering gale
His course to run with all his saile ;
Trembles with the convulsive blast.” • This passage is sufficiently technical, but I think that no one will assert that it is poetical. Sir Edward is justly characterized by Johnson (Life of Dryden) as “ a man, whose learning was greater than his powers of poetry; and who, being better qualified to give the meaning than the spirit of Seneca, has introduced his version of these tragedies by a defence of close translation.”
• Of the version now offered to the public, and which is presented merely as a specimen, it is more difficult for me to speak. Setting aside that perplexing definition of translation, which declares it to be more close than paraphrase, and more loose than metaphrase, I have
. • * For the acumulated murders with which this piece abourds, the author appears anxious to furnish himself with an apology, by conjecturing that .
as the gods delight in tragedies."- Act 4. sc. I. · Every writer for the stage must be sensible how important it is to secure to himself the applauding thunders of those august hypercritics.'
endeavoured, in compliance with the rules established in the admirable Essay on the principles of Translation, to unite the freedom of ori. ginal composition with a faithful transcript of the ideas and senti. ments of my author, and an invitation of his characteristic style and manner.'
How far the translator has succeeded in the execution of this design, we shall now enable our readers to form their own judgment, by some extracts from his version of the Medea. — By what means the story of this viņdictive, sanguinary, and monster-breeding witch of antiquity became a favourite with any modern dramatist, we cannot imagine ; and although Mr. Wheelwright labours, in his notes, to vindicate the fame of Seneca from the aspersions cast on it by Brumoy and others, relative to his supposed faults in the conduct of this tragedy, we conceive that (excepting in one instance, which we shall specify,) the defence is aukwardly and inartificially managed throughout: --but the greatest fault of all, the choice of such a story, must in course be forgiven to a Latin author,-the natural and necessary slave of imitation from the Greek : so true, in all its parts and bearings is the assertion of Horace *. Corneille cannot plead even this servile excuse. Medea on a modern stage is monstrous indeed ; a subject fit only for the accompaniment of the harpsichord in the orchestra of a summer-theatre, to be dramatized in rhyme, and chaunted by Mr. Elliston in female attire, as the mighty magician of the Circus.
· The first selection, which we shall make as a specimen of Mr. W.'s powers of translation, is that celebrated passage at the conclusion of the second açt of the Medea, in which is exhibited something very much resembling a prophecy of the discovery of America. We transcribe the original first :
« Venient annis sæcula seris, .
Quibus Oceanus vincula rerum
Chorus Medeæ, act. secund.
• E'en thus, as distant ages roll,
Shall nature change her wonted face ;
The wishes of a future race.
Advent'rous from the sea-girt shore, *“ Gracia capta ferum victorem cepit,” &c. &c. The excuse in. cludes Ovid as well as Seneca, if the former wanted it.
Shall spring the billow-cleaving oar,
Another bark to'guide ;
And lash the angry tide.
What triumphs swell the voice of fame!
And hymn the fearless pilot's name !
To search the earth anew :
Unfold their worlds to view. We leave this version without comment. The eye, or an inchrule, would be the best means of appreciating its merit :--but, in truth, we are sorry to be compelled to give pain to a very respectable scholar, by assuring him that such diluted amplification is the worst mode of translating a classical author. The antients condensed their thoughts (yes, even the comparatively redundant Seneca) in a manner evidently unknown to the bulk of modern writers. We must add to this consideration their beautiful languages ; in which the variety of termination alone (we were about to say) almost answered the variety of thought. Impossible as we are well aware it is to render a Grecian - and still less a Roman — author, line for line, yet it should be a translator's first object, after he has imbibed the spirit of his original, to confine his attempt to transfuse the soul of the antient into a modern body, within some “ reasonable compass.” Indeed, dilation being “ the sin which most easily besets” the doer into English, he should consequently guard against it more than any other offence. What but this luxuriant profusion of verse, in rendering a poet already too profuse, has made Rowe's Lucan be ranked in the second instead of the very first class of translations ?-for it is not often that Rowe deserves the censure too justly bestowed on his version of the scene in the oth book at the temple of Jupiter Am-. mon:- where, indeed, as Phileleutherus Lipsiensis *, with his wonted sagacity and severity, has observed, scarcely a line gives the meaning of the original. We are very glad to have a different sentence to pronounce on the present translator. He is usually faithful enough to give all the meaning of his author : but unfortunately he always chuses to give much more than
* See Bentley against Collins, sub fine.