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own; but also I could not remedy it. Without troubling others, I meditated on the matter; and the consequence was, that I at last determined to allow myself the liberty of varying my lines from eight to ten syllables, instead of giving them all the fine heroic complement; as well as of using double rhymes at pleasure. Even his Lordship uses these. Dryden introduces a somewhat similar variety into his heroics by the free use of triplets and Alexandrines; which give a rich variety to his versification , that, at least to my ear , is more grateful than the regularity of Mr. Pope's couplets. With me, a full heroic line answers to the Alexandrine — this being a length which I never permit myself. Nor do I think the liberty I have thus assumed is equal to that which the Italian furnished to Dante — so superior is it to English in copiousness of rhyme and phrase and freedom of syntax. Yet were it otherwise, neither my Author's, nor his Lordship's genius is a rule for others. They might have been able to modulate a continuous English terza rima of ten syllables with all the varieties of the Divine Comedy. I certainly could not: and the same reasons which made me leave off attempting it before I saw the Prophecy Of Dante , still subsist in full vigour.
Had no extracts from my version been inserted into my printed comments, I should not here have said any thing about it. But that was already irremediable —when I took the resolution to suppress my translation at least
the only remedy would have been the burning of two hundred pages of this edition of the Comment, which, I confess, I had no inclination to do. Those extracts however occur to small amount, save in the comments on the two first Cantos. As for the letters at the beginning of the Articles, they are at worst only a superfluity: should any one else ever translate the Divine Comedy, they may be a convenient reference; should my own translation one day see the light, a necessary one. Ere I had taken the resolution of suppressing it, my intention was to confine my critical observations in my comment to the French specimens of M. Ginguene, and the original Italian; deeming that English readers, having my translation in their hands, would follow what I consider the true interpretation. But now that it is determined otherwise, I must refer more particularly to the version which my readers, who are not sufficiently masters of Italian, will probably employ—that of Mr. Cary. He is, I believe, a fair antagonist; and I will meet him fairly. After protesting (as I hereby most solemnly do) against his metre, its want of harmony, his paraphrases, and, in fine, all that appertains to style, as totally inadequate to convey the remotest resemblance to the poetry of his
original after doing this justice to my author
once for all, I circumscribe my future observations on Mr. Cary to his literal pretensions; and here, it must be allowed, he is entitled to much encomium. Not that he always is so: or that there is a Canto in which there are not some inaccuracies. From the third Canto onward, these shall be noticed in my comments: but for the reason above alledged, they are not in the two first; so, to remedy such deficiency , let them be recapitulated here. In the first: I cannot but object to the very title, Vision, instead of that chosen by the author; and , the more so, because Italians enumerate among the many reasons which induced him to call his book Comedy, the desire to avoid precisely such 'low common-place, as Journey,
Vision, or the like' non volendo chiamare
la sua opera Cammino, o Visione, o con altro simile nome basso ( Gelli, sopra lo Inferno di Dante, vol. i. p. 5o.). In Mr. Cary's translation of verse xx of the original, he gives "recesses" instead of' lake of the heart;' and thus not only impairs the imagery of the passage, but removes what was intended to be a scientific position. Yet even the lines quoted from Redi might have emboldened one to be more literal. v. xxx, Mr. Cary falls into the usual
error of explaining it by, "in ascending the weight of the body rests on the hinder foot."v. Xliii, he makes a difficulty where there is really none. He in part remedies this bv translating right; but his note (notwithstanding his encomiast) taxes his original with an obscurity , which it does not merit. v. Xlv, he
falls into the common abuse of being strained, if not quite unintelligible, by interpreting the three beasts, Ambition, Luxury, Avarice. This, to be sure, is rather to be attributed to the commentators than to him; as his not giving any explanation of the allegorical forest, the sun-clad mountain, the pass 'that never left any one alive, ' is rather a deficiency than defect: and if he gave no notes at all, such a deficiency would not deserve animadversion; and one might suppose that he fully comprehended the whole, though it was not in his plan to explain it to his readers. But as it is, I cannot conceive how he could clearly understand his original; and who without clearly understanding can translate clearly? The citation he gives from Jeremiah might have made him approach nearer the truth. —v. Lxx, instead of either translating literally ' though late! 'or, at least, paraphrasing it rightly, he makes a paraphrase which is in all probability a false one. v. ci, he interprets the greyhound, Can of Verona, like the commentators, in which he and they may be correct; but the note which he adds is undoubtedly a mere error. When Dante wrote Can was a child, not a " liberal Patron,." The prophecy was made after the event. So, Mr. Cary should have had too much veneration for the poet he selected to translate, not to pause before adopting an opinion injurious to his memory, that of representing him as the flatterer of a man who was feeding and insulting him. v. cix, his mis-construction of the entire allegory leads him into the common difficulty of making Can chase avarice " through every town;" which, who can
comprehend? v. cxvn, by citing from Rev.
Ix. 6. he leads the reader into the mistake of ascribing to second death a signification which it does not, cannot bear, the Biblical one. —, v. cxxxiv, he mis-interprets S. Peter's gate the gate of Purgatory, instead of Paradise. In the second Canto: v. ix, he is a little inaccurate in translating nobilitate " eminent endowments."