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the second and fourth. Again, Milton, in the heading prefixed to all the nine, claims the merit of having translated directly from the original Hebrew and of having kept close to that original. As these were points of consequence, he takes even the extreme precaution of printing in Italic letters whatever words or phrases had no counterpart in the original, but were required by the exigencies of the English verse or rhyme; and he puts occasionally in the margin the original Hebrew word, spelt in English letters, or some indication in English of the peculiar significance of some Hebrew word. With all Milton's pains, I must give it as my opinion that his Version of these Nine Psalms, as a whole, is much inferior to what we should have expected from him. It perhaps hardly comes up to Rous's, and it is decidedly inferior to the Scottish authorized Version founded on Rous's. Take the opening of Psalm LXXX.:
Thou Shepherd that dost Israel keep,
Who leadest like a flock of sheep
Thy loved Joseph's seed,
That sitt'st between the cherubs bright,
Shine forth, and from thy cloud give light,
In Ephraim's view and Benjamin's,
Awake thy strength, come, and be seen
Turn us again; thy grace divine
ROUS'S VERSION: ED. 1646.
In Ephraim's and Benjamin's
Lord, turn us; cause thy face to shine,
SCOTTISH AUTHORIZED VERSION.
Hear, Israel's Shepherd! like a flock
Shine forth, O thou that dost between
In Ephraim's and Benjamin's,
O come for our salvation;
stir up thy strength and might.
Turn us again, O Lord our God,
To make thy countenance to shine,
Or take the beginning of Psalm LXXXIV.:—
How lovely are thy dwellings fair,
Where thou dost dwell so near!
There even the sparrow, freed from wrong,
Even by thy altars, Lord of Hosts,
And hence they fly from round the coasts
ROUS'S VERSION: ED. 1646.
How dear thy tents are, Lord of Hosts!
For God's courts; for the living God
my heart and flesh do cry. Sparrows an house, swallows a nest,
found where they forth might bring Their young; thine altars, Lord of Hosts, O thou, my God, my King.
SCOTTISH AUTHORIZED VERSION.
How lovely is thy dwelling-place,
O Lord of Hosts, to me!
how pleasant, Lord, they be!
Behold, the sparrow findeth out
an house wherein to rest; The swallow also for herself
hath purchased a nest;
Even thine own altars, where she safe
PSALMS I.-VIII.: DONE INTO VERSE.
(Edition of 1673.)
The former experiment of a close translation of Nine of the Psalms into ordinary Service metre had been made by Milton in April 1648, when he was living in High Holborn, not yet blind, and (Charles I. being still alive) not yet Latin Secretary to the
1 For an interesting account of competing English Versions of the Psalms in the middle of the seventeenth century see Mr. David Laing's "Notices regarding the Metrical Versions of the Psalms received by the Church of Scotland," printed in the Appendix to his edition of Baillie's Letters and Journals (1842).
Commonwealth, nor with any prospect of being such. More than five years had elapsed since then, and Milton was living in Petty France, quite blind, and occupied with the duties of his Secretaryship, when something led him to recur to Psalm-translation. On a few successive days of August 1653 he dictated metrical versions of the first Eight of the Psalms. These versions, however, were done on a new principle. They did not profess to be close to the original, nor were they in the ordinary Service metre. On the contrary, very various metres were employed, some of them quite uncommon; and no two of the Eight Psalms were rendered in the same metre. Perhaps the main intention was to try the effect of such a freedom of metre. Little else, at all events, needs to be pointed out in connexion with this small exercise of Milton's. In his edition of 1673 he places it before his Versions of Psalms LXXX.-LXXXVIII.; but the chronological order of the Translations ought to be observed now, rather than the numerical order of the Psalms translated.
SCRAPS OF TRANSLATED VERSE FROM THE PROSE WRITINGS.
It was Milton's laudable habit, and one rather unusual in his day, not to trouble the readers of his English pamphlets and other writings with quotations in Latin and Greek, but, where he did have occasion to quote a Latin or Greek author, either to give the English sense of the passage, or to annex the English sense to the quoted bit of Latin or Greek. So with Italian. Hence, when he wanted to quote a line or two from a Latin, Greek, or Italian poet, or a passage of Latin verse occurring in a prose author, he generally took the trouble to translate it offhand himself at the moment. In such cases blank verse came easiest, and all the scraps of the kind in his prose writings are in blank verse. He did not think it worth while to collect these for either the first or the second edition of his Poems; but they have very properly been sought out and placed in later editions. In Pickering's Edition of Milton's whole Works in 1851, indeed, there was a blunder by excess in this direction. In that edition, besides the original Latin of Milton's Defensio pro Populo Anglicano contra Salmasium, there was published an English version of the
same, done by a Mr. Washington of the Temple, and published in 1692. In this English version some scraps of Latin and Greek verse, occurring in the original, and among them a Latin Epigram on Salmasius by Milton himself, are translated into English rhymes. So far good; it was very proper for Mr. Washington to translate the scraps. But unfortunately these very scraps of English rhyme, done by Mr. Washington eighteen years after Milton was dead, are given as Milton's own, among his English Poems in another volume of the same edition. The blunder must have arisen from the fact that the English version of the Defensic was given with no indication of its authorship, so that the compiler of the edition, going over Milton's English writings for his translated scraps of verse, included the translation of the Defensio among those writings. In the present edition only the scraps that came from Milton's own pen are retained. It will be sufficient introduction to each individually to put over it a reference to the place of the original passage and the title of the pamphlet or other writing of Milton where the translation occurs.