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To those readers of the Histoire Litte>aire d'ltalie who have also perused the late Parisian edition of the Divine Comedy, it will not be necessary to justify a variation from the French version, since a far better authority than mine has already assured them, that it is impossible for words to express the vast portion 'of elegance andsuavity'of which M. Ginguene has stripped his original (0: but by such of the above readers as do not possess a thorough knowledge of Dante in his native tongue, I may be accused of great inaccuracy, unless I make it appear that the Critic has been guilty of various mis-interpretations; in noticing which lam guided not certainly by a desire to blame him, but to vindicate myself. In the present passage he tEanslates per quell'amor ch'ei mena, au norn de cet amour qui les conduit; as if mena was here simply synonimous with conduce, which it is not. The verb menare is given in the Vocabulary nearly 4o significations, many of which convey sense of infliction; it often meanspercuotere, for which several authorities are cited, as ' they struck each other with such fury that they both died'. The context (but parti
because neither of them seem to hare known much about either Francesca, or ' Paul the beautifulSo, in this instance, their comments are meagre and most unsatisfactory .
(i) II Sig. Ginguene ha tradotto questo luogo per intero; ma di quanta grazia e soavita l'abbia scemato non li pu6 dire. Biagioli. Comento, Vol. i. p. i08.
culary what follows) proves sufficiently, that it is in this latter sense that mena is here employed; and its union with the word amor, and the manner of its introduction produce a very complex imagery, which no two or three words in either English or French can render(0. It is indeed the beginning. of an exquisite counterpoise of pain and pleasure, which confers the chief charm on the whole of this episode; and makes the agony of severe sufferings, with the despairing reflection that they were produced by one beloved, and that they shall never end, be in continual contest with the consolatory circumstance of suffering in company with that beloved one, of finding him a faithful companion even in such extreme of misery, and the certainty that he will continue to remain so throughout all eternity. If this complexity of feelings (which is beyond doubt implied by the text, amor ch' ei mena, and nowise retained by amour qui les conduit) be tolerably well suggested by my 'undying fondness which drew them to their ruin and of which they shall never be rid,'I believe small apology is requisite for the slight paraphrase. It is the authors thought that is the first object; hence it may sometimes occur, that a translator's mere verbal exactitude is of little moment, since the implied meaning may evaporate in spite of rigo
(i) SI iniinichivolmente si menarono che amcndue rimasero moi ti. Vocabolario, §. II. Mr. dry's " lore which carries them along " is at deficient as the French version .
rons, literal fidelity. Desio, v. Lxxxm. means the desire of parent-doves to return to their young, not sexual desire; which last were at least an ill- ✓ assorted idea on this occasion, and one very little in the spirit of Dante . For the pair of doves are to be supposed flying together, as Paul and Francesca are; and there therefore can be no reason why they should burn with desire to return to their nest, if it was only to coo and bill, an indulgence that might be gratified any where. I have thought it necessary in my translation to mark this peculiarsignification ; fearing that if I had construed desio quite literally desire, my readers might be led into error, since desire in English frequently awakens a less pure notion than desio in Italian: and I was the more engaged to make this remark, by M. Ginguene^s French, which (at least in my apprehension) incurs something of the mistake adverted to,
by rendering desio, desir, telle que deux colom
bes excitees par le d^sir (0. L'affettnoso grido. in verse Lxxxvii, (' my dear behest') alludes toamof ch'ei mena (their mutual love, by which they had been conjured); for Dante following Virgil's direction is to be understood as having repeated those words of conjuration, although the repetition is not made verbally in the text; and it is only after having repeated them that he adds, O anime affanate! (' lea! victims! ') It is not then
(i) Mr. Cary's " by fond desire invited " it less exceptionable1; yet, in as much as it may be referred to sexual desire, it is wrong.
any thing in the sound of his voice (le son de ma voix) that attracts the couple; but the spell of love by which they are sued: so, it appears that this is a fresh instance of Mr. Ginguene's inaccuracy.
The Po, which falls into the Adriatic not far from Ravenna, is fed with above twenty streams between Turin and Ponte-di-lago-scuro. There is in the text a trait which I endeavour to retain by the word beset (0; and which is not at all to be discovered in Ginguene's version, oil le Po descend pour s'y reposer avec Ies fleuves qui le suivent; nor indeed in Mr. Cary's "To rest in Ocean with his sequent streams: " for per aver pace coi seguaci suoi does not mean to repose with his pursuers, but to be at peace with them; or, as a late comment well interprets it, 'to be no longer disquieted by the minor rivers which pursue him, chase him, and drive him along (v. The verse xcvi
While hushed, as now, lies every wind
is from Virgil
(Aspice) ventosi ceciderunt murmuris aurae (*).
(i) The placid main, which sheltereth Po When by his rapid rills beset.
(a) Cioe scarica in mare le sue acque, per non essere pin inquietato dai minori fiumi suoi, che seguendolo lo incalzano e lo sospingono. Poggiali. Ed. Livorno, i807. Vol. I. p. 7i.
(3) Ecloga ix. r- 57.
I strive to be very literal in my translation; and since one of the chief characteristics of my Author is concision, I refrain from adding a single syllable except in a few instances where, without doing so, I should have been unable to convey his full meaning. The tiercet beginning at verse c. is rendered almost word for word; and if the translation be obscure, it is not more so than the original. Francesca says, that love, which kindles (0 quickly in gentle hearts, made Paul enamoured of the beautiful form which had been reft from her in a manner on which she cannot even yet think without pain, viz. on the ba rba rous ca tastrophe al ready recounted p. 3i4. Love that exempts no beloved one from loving (" we love him because he first loved us" says the Gospel (a) ) so strongly enamoured me with his rapture, that behold I am not yet abandoned by him, or it. It say him or it, because it may be disputed which is the nominative case to abbandona, whether piacer, or costui, (that is Paul) or amor. The meaning however is nearly the same: I have attempted to preserve the meaning and likewise something of that slight want of precision; for my ' How faithful' may be referred either to love or to him. But to enter into the beauties of
(i) S' apprende means precisely kindle (see Vocabolario , §. iv.) so that Mr. Cary's " love that in gentle hearts is quickly learnt" conveys nothing of the metaphor. Yet s'apprendere in the sense of catching fire is common in Italian; as, un fuoco s'apprese in casa . * Love kindling quick where gentle hearts are met.
(a) I. Iohn. C. IT. v. i9.