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Cacha Bacchus enfant et la chèvre Amalthée,
N'avoient rien de fi beau dans leur ile enchantée." po 29.
All justice : nor delay'd the winged saint
S'incline avec respect, et déployant fes ailes
A la porte du ciel.' p. 98. However little we had expected Mr De Lille to emulate the sublimer parts of Milton, we had flattered ourselves that he would at least have been successful in his descriptions of the Garden of Eden, and of the manners and characters of our first parents
before their fall. Our disappointment, therefore, was proportionate to our regret, at discovering that even here he had failed as completely as in any other part of the poem.
The chaste correctness of Milton's taste led him to characterize Adam and Eve by every gesture and every idea that might be conceived suitable to a state of perfect innocence. Even in his de scription of Eve's beauty and accomplishments, he has never for an instant allowed us to forget who she was, and where she was placed. If he has to attribute to her the fervour or the profession of love, he does it without artifice or extravagance: if he is to pourtray her personal charms, he does not suffer his imagination to be led astray by the romantic ideas that prevail among the writers of the age of chivalry, or by the more voluptuous descriptions that are to be met with in the great poets of the ancient world. He 'never for an instant forgets that his heroine was the heroine of Paradise.
But under the metamorphosing wand of Mr De Lille every thing is changed. The discourses of Adam and Eve are embellished by all the frippery of French gallantry; and they hand one another up and down the Garden of Eden after the fashion of two sprightly lovers promenading in the Champs Elysées. Whatever they do, it is en se donnant la main.' Their speeches are frequently followed by 'amorous pauses. We have more than once, A ce discours succède un amoureux filence.;
We read of ' des folátres propos--les doux embrassements-prix. des caresses perdues-leçons doucement suspendues.
-s sur sa bouche aimable Cueillir un miel plus doux que celui des discours,' And who would recognize the virgin majesty of Eve' in such expressions as ses regards chastes et voluptueux son aimable fierté ;' or in the following lines ?
• La volupté, l'amour, l'effaim rianț des grâces,
Composent fon cortége et volent sur ses traces. At every line, too, we find Adam making use of such endearing terms, as Un autre moi-même, '
-Ma brillante conquête,' Ma plus chère moitié, 'Doux repos de mon coeur, ! Charme de mon caur, &c. Even the devil himself, when he is enumerating the enjoyments of Adam, is made to exclaim, like an amorous Marquis of the old French comedy, ' Et sa femme est ravissante !' The only reason we can devise for the embellishment of the original, by the introduction of these and other similar expressions, is that which Mr de Lille himself has given us in another place, as an excuse for having interpolated so much into the description of the repast set before the archangel Raphael by Adam and Eve; upon which occasion he informs us he thought it necessary to interpose, in order d'en enrichir les détails, et d'en fortifser les couleurs.
We think our readers will have some difficulty in discovering from what part of the original the following lines are translated.
Au milieu du travail il (Dieu) permet quelquefois
Qu'on s'adresse un regard, qu'on s'envoie un soupir. Our translator, in his criticisms on the ninth book, has thought proper to enter into a long defence of Ariosto against Milton, who, he
says, in the commencement of this book, : Oublie le ton d'Epopée pour celui de satyre.' We apprehend that no attack against Ariosto was intended. We cannot but think that Milton, who, on all occasions, delights in making an ostentatious display of his learning, merely intended here to shew his intimate acquaintance with all the pomp and circumstance of chivalry, and to display it in a manner that might demonstrate, that had he written on that theme, he could entirely have entered into the spirit of it. For the same reason, Horace, when he professes himself incapable of writing an epic poem, rises above his ordinary style and language, and breaks out into these verses, which shew him to have been at least equal to more exalted flights.
Neque enim quivis horrentia pilis
Aut labentis equo describat vulnera Parthi.' Milton had not only drunk deep of the pure streams of Italy, but he owed much to the writings of chivalry. Surely, Mr de Lille must be aware that he hesitated long whether he should choose the death of Arthur, or the fall of man, for the subject of his poem. This we may collect as well from several passages in his prose works, as from his epistle to the celebrated Marquis of Villa.
• Si quando indigenas revocabo in prælia reges,
Arturumque etiam sub terris bella moventem.' And again, in the Epithalamium Damonis ;
• Ipfe ego Dardanias Rutupina per æquora puppes
Dicam, et Pandrafidos regnum vetus Inogeniæ,
Tum gravidam Arturo fatali fraude Iogernen,' &c. And even when his choice was made-inspired as his genius was with the sublimity of the prophetic writings, impregnated (if we may be allowed the expression) as it was with the greatest store of classical learning ever possessed by man--still he loses no opportunity of recurring to his favourite themes; and it is always with delight and pleasure that he alludes to stories
- of Uther's son Begirt with British and Armoric knights.'-If the limits of our work would admit of such a digression, it would be matter of curious speculation to point out many of the expressions, and much of the imagery, that Milton has borrowed from books of romance and chivalry. All traces of these, how, ever, are completely lost in the French translation ; much more so indeed than those allusions which he adopted from the great Italian poets who more immediately preceded him, as well as from those ancient writers whose compositions have been the delight and admiration of all ages. These allusions (for we meet with them in every page, and so closely interwoven are they with Milton's own thoughts and expressions, that it is frequently difficult to discriminate between them) have necessarily made their way into Mr De Lille's translation, but under so languid and enfeebled a form, that a French reader will hardly recognize any vestige of their pristine strength and vigour. Thus, for instance, in the First Book, when he makes mention of Typhon,
6 whom the den By ancient Tarsus held,' it is obvious that he has in view the following passage in Pindar.
Κιλικιον θρέψεν πολυω-
- Ces vastes Typhons,
χειλισιν εδη μειωπον επ' οφρυσιν ευρυν Ιανθη, , probably furnished the idea for
Vaunting aloud, but rackt with deep despair.' What trace of this in
• La terreur dans le sein, l'orgueil dans sa bouche ?''
Of thundering Etna.'
Furon veduti fiammeggiar insieme.
i Out few
Far round illumin'd hell.
Les glaives flamboyans font jaillir mils éclairs." We will not trouble our readers, by enumerating the several passages in the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Æneid, which Milton probably had in view when he composed the following lines; they are so obvious, that they must present themselves immediately to every
Soft she withdrew, and like a wood-nymph light,
Yet yirgin of Proferpina from Jove.' Book IX. 1.385.
Sa main qu'il tient encor doucement se dégage ;
Ou quelque ange des cieux les apporta peut-être.' p.33-4. If further specimen of Mr De Lille's success in this translation were wanting, we might refer to the sequel of this beautiful passage as it stands in the original and in the present version; or, indeed, we might refer so generally to the whole of the work, that we should
have some difficulty in selecting many passages as exceptions to the general censure we have been compelled to pass upon it. Perhaps the following extract is one of the parts which have been the best executed. Beautiful as it is in the original, it differs, in some respects, from Milton's general style of composition; and perhaps, for this very reason, Mr De Lille has been more successful in his translation of it, though many of the faults we have noticed are very perceptible even here. The original is in the Fourth Book
• With thee converhing I forget all time, ' &c. down to
• Or glittering far-ligbt, without thee is sweet."