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the American translation of “ Strise and Peace,” which happened more immediately to interfere with her “speculation,” we shall dwell mostly upon that, in instituting a comparison between the American versions and her own. This is the fairer course, because “ Strife and Peace” is the last of her translations, and may, therefore, be supposed to have had the advantage of her increased experience and greater familiarity with the language of the original, and because we have her own authority for regarding it as “the most eloquent and beautiful of all Miss Bremer's writings.” More. over, though the three American translations bear the strongest internal evidence of being, as they were, the work of different hands, Mrs. Howitt has conveniently assumed, that they are the productions of the same person, in order, with the greater show of fairness, to lay at the door of one the carefully gleaned errors and imperfections of the whole series.
Mrs. Howitt's first charge is, that all the American translations are made from the German, and that “the blunders and misconceptions of the German translator, often very ludi. crous, are most regularly and carefully copied.' that she somewhat blunts the force of this accusation, as far as “ Strife and Peace" is concerned, by informing us, on the very
that the German translation of it “is perfect.' But such little eccentricities as these are common in her hysteric preface. We cheerfully grant her the distinction she seems to claim, and state here, once for all, that though she has sometimes copied the blunders of the German translator, yet she has oftener the merit of making entirely original, and far more startling, mistakes of her own.* Let us enter more into particulars.
It will not be difficult to prove, that Mrs. Howitt makes all her own translations chiefly from the German, and that, if she understands Swedish at all, her knowledge of it must be limited and superficial. We select some examples of wrong translation from the first few pages of her version of “Strife
It is true,
* It has been stated, on highly respectable authority, that the words, “ translated from the Swedish,” were inserted in the title-page of “ Strife and Peace,” by the publisher, without the knowledge, and against the ex. pressed wish, of the translator. This was done, probably, to indicate its origin, as the same words were put by the same publisher upon the title. page of his reprint of Mrs Howitt's translation of “ The Neighbours," which was evidently made from the German.
and Peace." In the very first page, (89, of Harpers' reprint), there are four blunders. Fjellstuga, (mountainhouse,) is translated "rock-house." Rykende, (reeking, smoking,) she has changed to "rushing. She has here been misled by the German translation, where it is rendered "rauchende," which she mistook, probably, for "rauschende." Her acquaintance with German is hardly superior to her knowledge of the Swedish, if we may judge by this specimen. The word fruktansvärdt, (fearful, fearworthy,) is metamorphosed into "fruitful." Mrs. Howitt falls into this error whenever she meets the word, and, in one instance (page 90), where it is applied to a thunderstorm, she adroitly extricates herself from a dilemma by substituting for the original substance the shadowy platitude of "the affluent pomp of the storm"! On the same page, (90, of Harpers' reprint), following a blunder in the German, she turns Budeja into a proper name; and, in the next line, depending on the same unsafe authority for the meaning of Fjösjente, she metamorphoses a hapless milkmaid into a "cowboy." On page 93, she makes Susanna "scold," although there is no such imputation on her character in the original. On page 95, she causes Harald, in criticising Susanna's beer, to pronounce upon the merits of an article before testing it. Miss Bremer had given no such privilege to her hero. On the next page (96), with equal cleverness, she transmutes a mountain path into a man, and speaks of Maristein (properly, Maristien,) and "his tales of joy and sorrow." the next page (97), we find " tell him how I love," instead of" tell him how I live." This comes with a bad grace from one who is very severe on the American translator for saying "teach me how to think," instead of "thank," an error `which did not jar with the context so much as her own. On the same page, she makes a Norwegian of the olden time exhibit å tenacity of life, which casts old Parr, old Jenkins, and the Countess of Desmond, quite into the shade, by surviving his own demise. Of this remarkable man, whose name was Halgrim, we are told, that he "alone, of all the people who had died there, remained alive." What renders this display of vivacity the more astounding is, that it took place during a pestilence. The Cid, we know, some centuries after his death, knocked down a Jew who attempted to pull his beard, making an extempore convert of him to Christianity; and
the peerless Roland assisted at his own funeral solemnities in Notre Dame. But both of these heroes must yield the palm to our Norwegian, who not only lived, but married, and became a respectable citizen and householder, after his decease. Miss Bremer simply says, that he alone survived " of all the people who had lived there,” and this quite prosaic statement is followed by the American translator. On page 98, we have “ golden forests,” for “golden har. On page 100,
100, “who, with his crown, had lost his balance,” for “ whose crown had lost its balance.” 101, “ To all those who love us,” for “ To all that is dear." Same page, “Yes, indeed! yes, indeed!” for what may be freely rendered, “ So much to do !” (travelt, oppressed with business.) Page 103, “woods,” for “clouds.
Page 104, new kinds of grass, for
Page 104, we have “ agreeably to a clever hen-instinct," for “ agreeably to a noble instinct of the cock," namely, that of saving for Dame Partlett any titbits he may discover. Chaucer might have set Mrs. Howitt right, Londoner though
In his “ Nonnes Preestes Tale," he tells us how Sir Chanticleer
" flew down fro the beme, For it was day, and eke his hennes alle ; And with a chuk he gan hem for to calle,
For he had found a corn." Page 106, “ forborne to shed many,” for “caused so few to be shed.” On the 10th page, she goes to the expense of an original note, in order to treat her readers to a blunder. She tells us, that Bjärne, sailing westward from Newfoundland,* arrived in Upper Canada ! This being an English colony, she should have known better. Had it been in the United States, the mistake would have been more excusable, for the English geographers are so “highly illinformed ” in regard to them, that an Edinburgh Geographical Encyclopædia, of high authority, gravely informed the British public, a few years ago, that “ Boston was the capital of the State of New England, and, till lately, of the whole United States." And this Encyclopædia was edited by Hugh Murray, F. R. S., a gentleman who probably
* Bjärne, it is supposed, landed somewhere in Massachusetts. Vide the Antiquitates Americanæ of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries; also, their report for the last year.
knows familiarly the names, situations, and political relations of all the mud villages in the interior of Africa ! * To return to Mrs. Howitt ; on page 112, we have “ fully,” translated "smilingly.” On page 119, again, she gives us " and even for avoiding intercourse with the world,” instead of " and also for avoiding conversation with Harald.” But we cannot waste any more time in tracing Mrs. Howitt through all the doublings of her erratic translation. We have only selected the most glaring mistakes out of the abundance with which her first few pages supplied us.
We will now give a few instances of Mrs. Howitt's ungrateful and unfilial treatment of her own mother-tongue. Above the petty artifices of grammar her independent nature soars superior. She seems to be of honest Jack Cade's mind, who attributed it to the Lord Say, as a chief crime, that he had “most traitorously corrupted the youth of the realm in erecting a grammar school.” On page 95, we have “ higher than me !” So, in “Home," page 55, “When
! Eva, dear, is as old as me.” Page 117 of " Strife and Peace," "Harald, whom I thought wished me well.” Page 118, “the boy for whom thou hast loved and deplored, &c. “ Had shook,” “had woke,” 6 different to,” “in comparison of which,” passim. How it may be in England, we do not take upon ourselves to say ; but in America, we think, to quote Mrs. Howitt's preface again, that “all well-educated persons will be careful not to introduce into their families " such singular forms of expression as these.
Of inelegant construction, the following specimens must suffice. Page 90, “On a cool September evening, strangers arrived at the Grange, which had now been long uninhabited. It was an elderly lady, of noble, but gloomy exterior, in deep mourning.” A ship, we know, is generally spoken of as “she” ; but in the whole circle of our reading, we never knew a house to be called an elderly lady. On page 91, Harald “expresses himself in the following
"I cannot properly describe to you, Alette, the impression
* We learn from the same grave authority, that the Erie Canal was constructed to unite the waters of the Hudson with those of the Moharok!"
which she made upon me. I might describe to you her tall growth, her noble bearing, her countenance, where, spite of many wrinkles, and a pale-yellow complexion, traces of great beauty are incontrovertible; the lofty forehead, around which black locks sprinkled with gray, press forth from beneath her simple cap. I might tell of her deep, serious eyes, of her low and yet solemn voice; and yet thou couldst form to thyself no representation of that which makes her so uncommon."
We think Harald showed only a due appreciation of himself by telling Alette in advance, that he could not properly describe" Mrs. Astrid. Page 95, "that is coming it strong over us.” Alette, who is described as graceful and elegant, and with fascinating powers of conversation, commends her brother in this wise (page 108); "Yes, one may probably three times a day get angry with him, before we can rightly get to know him; but this is certain, that if he wishes it, you cannot get clear of him without loving him." Mrs. Howitt is very fond of the verb "to seem"; it is clear, that she considers nothing as really happening or being done, but only as seeming to act or to take place. Instances of this kind, where music seems to begin, mountains seem to "uplift themselves," and the like, are so common that we need give no particular references.
From the Diary," we glean the following examples. Page 23,"Without faults Lennartson is not, just as little as any other mortal.” Page 27, "now I had exactly today read in my newspaper." Page 32, "neither were we either invited out." On the same page, Miss Bremer, quite against her will, is made to enforce the very strange ethical doctrine, that, under certain circumstances, it is our duty to become insane. "And one should be compelled to see these from noonday till midnight; from noonday till midnight one must be polite to them; and from noonday till midnight one must amuse them. Ah! one should go distracted!" Well may a note of exclamation "erect itself," as Mrs. Howett would say, at the conclusion of a sentence expressing such an original doctrine. On the same page, we find, "my stepmother sate upon the sofa, and swallowed her under the most polite gestures." Page 34, "But if it happen that one becomes shook up, or animated, then one can see that it is not quite so over. Page 39, "I have heard that which is bad spoken of St. Orme's affairs." Page 46,