Imagini ale paginilor

he has rational grounds for forming a judgment, what he judges to be the sense he ought to express with clearness.

28. I have oftener than once had occasion to observe, that wherever propriety, perspicuity, and the idiom of the tongue employed, permit an interpreter to be close, the more he is so the better. But what it is to be literal, I have never yet seen defined by any critic or grammarian, or even by any advocate for the literal manner of translating. A resemblance in sound, by the frequent use of derivatives from the words of the original, cannot, where there is no coincidence in the sense, confer on a translator even the slight phrase of being literal. Who would honour with this denomination one who, in translating Scripture, should render συμφωνια, symphony, ὑπερβολη, hyperbole, παροξυσμος, paroxysm, papμaкela, pharmacy, ovкоpavτuv, to play the sycophant, Tapadoča, paradoxes, idiwrns, idiot? But some of the consecrated words have no better title to this distinction.

I once met with a criticism, I do not remember where, on a passage in the Epistle of James, (chap. i. 17,) in which God is called the “ Father of lights,” παρ ̓ ᾧ ουκ ενι παραλλαγη, η τροπης аTоσкιασμа. The critic profoundly supposes, that the sacred penman, though writing to the Christian converts of the dispersed Jews, amongst whom there certainly were not many noble, or rich, or learned, addressed them in the language of astronomy; and therefore renders Tapaλλayn, parallax, and roon, tropic. If this be to translate very literally, it is also to translate very absurdly. And surely the plea is not stronger than is urged in favour of those interpreters, who, without regard to usage in their own language, scrupulously exhibit in their versions the etymologies of their author's words, especially compound words. Such, if they would prefer consistency, ought to translate unIns, well-bred, ῥᾳδιουργια, easy work, σπερμολογος, seed-gatherer, πανουργος, all-working, ywooоkopov, tongue case, and Tauroλvç, all-many. The similar attempts of some at analyzing phrases or idiomatical expressions in their versions, which are but a loser sort of composition, fall under the same denomination. Both the above methods, though differing greatly from each other, are occasionally patronized as literal by the same persons. There is a third particular, which is considered as perhaps more essential to this mode of interpreting than either of the former, and which consists in tracing as nearly as possible in the version, the construction and arrangement of the original. This, if not carried to excess, is less exceptionable than either of the former.

29. But it deserves our notice, that translators attempting in this way to keep closely to the letter, have sometimes failed through their attending more to words and particles, considered separately, than to the combination and construction of the whole sentence. Thus the words of our Lord,* Ilaç yao ó alтwv λaußavel,

* Matt. vii. 8. See the Note on that verse.

Kaι & LηTWY EVρioket, as rendered in the common translation, "for every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth," err in this very way. O nrwv EvpiσKEL, taken by itself as a separate sentence, cannot be better rendered than "he that seeketh findeth." But in this passage it is only a clause of a sentence. The words maç yap, wherewith the sentence begins, relate equally to both clauses. The version here given, "For whosoever asketh, obtaineth; whosoever seeketh, findeth," is in fact, therefore, more close to the letter as well as the sense; for, by the syntactic order, the second clause evidently is πας ὁ ζητων εὑρισκει. The Vulgate is both literal and just, "Omnis enim qui petit, accipit; et qui quærit, invenit." Here omnis, like raç, belongs to both members. Had our translators, in the same manner said, Every one that asketh, receiveth; and that seeketh, findeth; leaving out the pronoun he, they would have done justice both to the form and to the sense, But they have chosen rather to follow Beza, who says, "Quisquis enim petit, accipit; et qui quærit, invenit; where, though the second member is the same as in the Vulgate, the expression in the Gospel is in effect differently translated, as quisquis cannot, like omnis, be supplied before qui. I acknowledge that there is not a material difference in meaning. Only the second clause in Beza is expressed more weakly, and appears not to affirm so universally, as the first clause. The clause, as expressed in Greek, has no such appearance.


30. For a similar reason, the words óπоν ó σкwλNĘ Autwv OV TEλευτᾷ, και το πυρ ου σβεννυται, Mark ix. 44, 46, 48, are in my opinion more strictly rendered, where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched, than as in the common version "the fire is not quenched." The manner in which the clauses are here connected, rendered the repetition of the pronoun in the second clause unnecessary, because in Greek it is in such cases understood as repeated; whereas in English, when the fire is said, the pronoun cannot be understood. It is excluded by the article, which is never by us joined with the possessive pronoun. Could we, with propriety, imitate the Greek manner entirely, making the personal pronoun supply the possessive, and saying, where the worm of them dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, the pronoun might be understood in English as well as in Greek. But such an idiom with us would be harsh and unnatural. It gives an additional probability to this explanation, that, in the passage in the Old Testament referred to, (Isa. lxvi. 24,) it is expressly their fire, as well as their worm. In Hebrew the affixes are never left to be supplied. This remark regards only the exhibition of the construction, for the sense is not affected by the difference.

31. The words of John, (1 Ep. iii. 7,) 'O Towv tηy dikaιoovvnv δικαιος εστι, καθως εκείνος δικαίος εστι, are in my judgment more literally rendered, He that doth righteousness is righteous, even as God is righteous, than as it stands in the English translation,

"even as he is righteous." The English pronoun he does not correspond to the Greek Eкevoç so situated. In English, the sentence appears to most readers a mere identical proposition: in Greek it has no such appearance, ɛɛvoç plainly referring us to a remote antecedent. As no pronoun in our language will here answer the purpose, the only proper recourse is to the noun whose place it occupies; Luke ix. 34. The intention of the three examples just now given is to show, that, when the construction of the sentence is taken into the account, that is often found a more literal (if by this be meant closer) translation, which, to a superficial view, appears less so.

32. I shall here take notice of another case in which we may translate literally, nay, justly and perspicuously, and yet fail greatly in respect of energy. This arises from not attending to the minute, but often important differences in structure, between the language of the original and that of the version. Of many such differences between Greek and English I shall mention at present only one. We find it necessary to introduce some of the personal pronouns almost as often as we introduce a verb. Not only does our idiom require this, but our want of inflections constrains us to take this method for conveying the meaning. In the ancient languages this is quite unnecessary, as the inflection of the verb, in almost every case, virtually expresses the pronoun. There are certain cases, nevertheless, wherein the pronoun is also employed in those languages. But in those cases it has, for the most part an emphasis which the corresponding pronoun with us, because equally necessary in every case, is not fitted for expressing. Thus our Lord says to his disciples, John xv. 16, Ουχ ύμεις με εξελεξασθε, αλλ' εγω εξελεξαμην ὑμας, which is rendered in the common version, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." This version is at once literal, just, and perspicuous; yet it has not the energy of the original. The stress laid on vuis and yw, which are here contrasted with manifest intention, because the words are otherwise superfluous, is but feebly, if at all, represented by the pronouns ye and I, which are in English necessary attendants on the verbs. Our translators could not have rendered differently, had the words been Ου με εξελέξασθε, αλλ’ εξελεξαμην ύμας. Yet every reader of taste will perceive that this expression is not nearly so emphatical. I might add, that such a reader will be sensible, that even so light a circumstance as beginning the sentence with the negative particle adds to the emphasis, and that vues ou would not have been so expressive as oux vuaç. To do justice, therefore, to the energy, as well as to the sense of the original, it is necessary, in modern languages, to give the sentence a different turn. The Port Royal, and after them Simon, and other French translators, have done this successfully by rendering it, "Ce n'est pas vous qui m'avez choisi, mais c'est moi qui vous ai choisi." The like turn has been given by some

[ocr errors]

very properly to the words in English, It was not you who chose me, but it was I who chose you.

I recollect one instance in the Old Testament, wherein our translators have taken this method. Joseph, after he had discovered himself to his brethren, observing that the remembrance of their guilt overwhelmed them with terror and confusion; in order to compose their spirits, says to them, "It was not you that sent me hither, but God," Gen. xlv. 8. The expression in the Greek translation is perfectly similar to that above quoted from the Gospel. Ουχ ύμεις με απεταλκατε ὧδε, αλλ' η ὁ Θεος. In the

לא אתם שלחתם אתי הנה כי : 50 original Hebrew it is not less

. I do not say, however, that the pronoun when mentioned is in every case emphatical, or that in every case it would be proper to deviate from the more simple manner of translating.

33. Thus much shall suffice for what regards those leading rules in translating, which may be judged necessary for securing propriety, perspicuity, and energy; and, as far as possible, in a consistency with these, for doing justice to the particular manner of the author translated; and for bestowing on the whole, that simple kind of decoration which is suited to its character. This finishes the first part of this Dissertation, relating to the matter or principal qualities to be attended to in translating.



I SHALL now subjoin a few remarks on the readings, where there is in the original a diversity of reading which are here preferred.

Were it in our power to recur to the autographies of the sacred penmen, that is, to the manuscripts written by themselves, or by those whom they employed, to whom they dictated, and whose work they supervised, there could be no question that we ought to recur to them as the only infallible standards of divine truth. But those identical writings, it is acknowledged on all hands, are nowhere now to be found. What we have in their stead, are the copies of copies (through how many successions it is impossible to say) which were originally taken from those autographies. Now, though Christians are generally agreed in ascribing infallibility to the sacred penmen, no Christian society or individual, that I know, has ever yet ascribed infallibility to the copiers of the New Testament. Indeed, some Christians appear absurd enough to admit thus much in favour of those who have transcribed the Old Testament; about which they seem to imagine, that Providence has been more solicitous than about the New. For, in regard to the New Testament, nothing of

this kind has ever been advanced. Now, what has been said of the transcribers of the New Testament, may with equal certainty be affirmed of the editors and printers. It is nevertheless true, that, since the invention of printing, we have greater security than formerly against that incorrectness which multiplies the diversities of reading; inasmuch as now, a whole printed edition, consisting of many thousand copies, is not exposed to so many errors as a single written copy was before. But this invention is comparatively modern. Besides, the effect it had in point of correctness, was only to check the progress, or more properly to prevent the increase of the evil, by giving little scope for new variations; but it could have no retrospective effect in rectifying those already produced.

2. It behoved the first editors of the New Testament in print, to employ the manuscripts of which they were possessed with all their imperfections. And who will pretend that Cardinal Ximenes, Erasmus, Robert Stephens, and the other early publishers of the New Testament, to whom the republic of letters is indeed much indebted, were under an infallible direction in the choice of manuscripts, or in the choice of readings in those passages wherein their copies differed from one another? That they were not all under infallible guidance, we have ocular demonstration, as, by comparing them, we see that in many instances they differ among themselves. And if only one was infallibly directed, which of them shall we say was favoured with this honourable distinction? But in fact, though there are many well meaning persons, who appear dissatisfied with the bare mention of various readings of the sacred text, and much more with the adoption of any reading to which they have not been accustomed, there is none who has yet ventured to ascribe infallibility, or inspiration, to any succession of copyists, editors, or printers. Yet without this, to what purpose complain? Is it possible to dissemble a circumstance clear as day, that different copies read some things differently-a circumstance of which every person, who, with but a moderate share of knowledge, will take the trouble to reflect, must be convinced that it was inevitable? Or, if it were possible to dissemble it, ought this truth to be dissembled? If, in any instance wherein the copies differ, there appear, upon inquiry, sufficient reason to believe that the reading of one copy, or number of copies, is the dictate of inspiration, and that the reading of the rest, though the same with that of the printed edition most in use, is not; will the cause of truth be better served by dissimulation, in adhering to a maxim of policy merely human, or by conveying in simplicity, to the best of our power, the genuine sense of the Spirit? The former method savours too much of those pious frauds, which, though excellent props to superstition in ignorant and barbarous ages, ought never to be employed in the service of true religion. Their assistance she never needs,

« ÎnapoiContinuați »