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"No way is more difficult than the way to collect oneself out of dissipation." This dilemma probably arises, when, as on page 56,"one" is "crushed to pieces.' Page 47, "the hue of death overspread her face, which, with a dull cry of pain, sunk upon her breast." This seems to be carrying the metaphor of "a speaking face" to the verge of probability." Page 52, "That is an entirely mistaken, an entirely crazy turning of the question, an entirely insane direction. Does a young girl give herself away, or is she given away to a dolt, or a block of wood, or any other beast, then, indeed, she must drive upon a wooden road." We never heard before, that a "block of wood" was a species of animal. The sentence reminds us of a gentleman, who, having been seduced by a convenient rhyme into writing the following couplet,
"As I was passing by a pump,
added, in a modest note, that "jump here means horse, or any other beast of burden." Page 61, "Or was it the intention of Lennartson to hurl a lightning flash at St. Orme, or was it the bad conscience of the latter which made him struck."
Mrs. Howitt begins by charging quite serious omissions upon the English reprint of the American "Strife and Peace"; but she becomes
"small by degrees, and beautifully less,"
and descends at last to the leaving out of a single word. We have the English reprint now before us, and can hardly believe the evidence of our senses, when we find that by far the greater number, and the most important, of the passages which she positively asserts are omitted, are to be found at full length in the text We confess that we had before entertained some suspicions, that Mrs. Howitt was as faulty in her ideas of truth as of grammar. She evidently entertains some very original views upon this delicate subject. In the preface to "The Neighbours," she speaks of some other works of Miss Bremer, as "ready for publication," leading her readers to suppose, that she had already translated them; and, among them, she mentions "The House." When the translation of this book was published, it recovered its proper title, "The Home." Mrs. Howitt had trans
lated the name from the title-page of the German translation, where it was called “ Das Haus.” And this title-page must have been all that she had ever seen of a book, which, according to her account, she had already translated and made 66
ready for publication !” This is a grave charge, but it is easily susceptible of proof. In Swedish, the title is simply Hemmet, corresponding exactly to “ The Home” in English. But in German, there is no word of precisely the same signification, a fact stated by the German translator in a prefatory note, which Mrs. Howitt might have seen, if she had turned over the title-page. Perhaps, however, she had not seen even the German translation, and took the name from Brockhaus's advertising list. After going so far as this, in order to prevent competition, it is rather singular that Mrs. Howitt should talk of the mercenary motives of American translators.
Before we quit this very painful theme, it is proper to direct the reader's attention to a few more facts, which are necessary to show the true character of Mrs. Howitt's assertions. One of her most bitter remarks is directed against the American translator of “ Strife and Peace," for having omitted some of the mottos to the chapters, — especially, a single line from Tegnér. Is it possible, that Mrs. Howitt had forgotten, that, in her translation of the “ President's Daughters,” she had omitted six of the poetical quotations, and among them no less than eighteen lines from Tegnér ? She is certainly more zealous than circumspect in her charges of omission. She knew that she was speaking to an English audience, who would not feel interest enough in the matter to examine for themselves. A single instance, selected from three enumerated in one short sentence, all equally destitute of foundation in truth, must suffice. We have rarely seen so much untruth compressed into so convenient and portable a sorm. She says, “page 27 (occurs) another (omission) of no less than nine lines descriptive of the wild Halling dance.” On page 27 of Smith's reprint, (the edition referred to by Mrs. Howitt,) the Halling dance is described thus :
" It begins, creeping along the ground with short, sliding steps, and with motions of the legs and arms in which great strength is indolently displayed. There is something bearish, awkward, slothful, half-dreaming in its movements. But it awakes — it
becomes animated. Then the dancers stand erect and make displays of strength, in which power and agility seem to contend with indolence and awkwardness, and to conquer. He, who but now seemed bound to the earth, springs on high, and moves through the air as if on wings. Then, after many neckbreaking move. ments and evolutions, which make the head of the unaccustomed spectator swim, the dance retakes its former quiet, careless, heavy character, and the performers end, as they began, stooping listlessly toward the earth.” In her own version, it reads as follows :
“ It begins, as it were, upon the ground, amid jogging little hops, accompanied by movements of the arms in which, it were, a great strength plays negligently. It is somewhat bearlike, indolent, clumsy, half-dreaming. But it wakes, it becomes earnest. Then the dancers rise up and dance, and display themselves in expressions of power, in which strength and dexterity seem to divert themselves by playing with indolence and clumsiness, and to overcome them. The same person who just before seemed fettered to the earth, springs aloft and throws himself round in the air as though he had wings. Then, after many breakneck movements and evolutions, before which the unaccustomed spectator grows dizzy, the dance suddenly assumes again its first quiet, careless, somewhat heavy character, and closes, as it began, sunk upon the earth.” What peculiarity of vision Mrs. Howitt may be afflicted with, which prevents her from seeing this passage, we cannot tell. It may be, that she did not recognize it in the easy and more elegant dress in which the American translator had clothed it. Or it may be, and we fear this is more likely,
. that a keen selfishness is apt to produce the most helpless myopy in its unhappy votaries.
Merely adding, that the greater number of the omissions charged upon the American translation are quite as singular as this, we leave the matter to the decision of our readers. Even had these charges been true, they would have been scarcely less dishonest, considered as coming from Mrs. Howitt, who had left out three pages at once in “ Nina,” and had changed the plot of " The Home,” in order to conceal a similar omission in her translation of that tale.
As Mrs. Howitt is particularly plaintive in regard to the poetical translations, we will give an example or two of the comparative excellence of the American versions and her
It is proper to state, generally, that the ruggedness of her translations must not be ascribed to their literal character, for they are usually not more faithful to the original than their American rivals. The motto to the first chapter of “ Strife and Peace,” in Mrs. Howitt's version, stands thus :
“Still the old tempests rage around the mountains,
And ocean's billows, as of old, appear :
For Nature is the same as ever.
For untold ages in this ancient land ;
Majestic as when fresh from Nature's hand.
The raging cataracts their waters urge,
The gray cliffs offer battle to the surge." The motto to Mrs. Howitt's second chapter is as follows : “ Knowest thou the deep, cool vale
Where church-like stillness doth prevail ;
Which hath no name, nor track of feet?”
" Knowest thou the hidden vale,
The restless foot of man has worn no path? Mrs. Howitt has shown a great liking for cattle. She has conveyed (“ the wise it call") these herds out of the American version. The original says nothing of them. A literal translation would be, -- " Knowest thou the cool, deep, church-still vale, without hearths (Arner), without path and name ?”. Possibly, she took it from the German, mistaking Heerde for Heerd. But we are warranted in tracing it to the American version from the fact that, in another place, where Miss Bremer has quoted Job, Mrs. Howitt has followed the American translator, and given a different text from that in the Swedish. VOL. LVIII. —NO. 123.
Mrs. Howitt gives the following translation of some lines by Rein on the death of Gustavus Adolphus.
" At once is dimmed thy glory's ray ;
Thy flowery garland fades away,
Who mother of Gustavus wast!”
The warrior king, Gustavus, Sweden's son!” We now take our leave of a subject upon which, we can truly say, we had a great reluctance to enter. We have made but a very limited exposure of Mrs. Howitt's groundless claims to a monopoly of Miss Bremer, * and her unwomanly attacks upon her American rivals; and we were only induced to undertake the task by a sense of justice. Mrs. Howitt (we can no longer bring ourselves to call her by the gentle name of Mary) had been dear to so many in this country, that her ungracious preface caused sorrow in many hearts. We cannot but hope, that she did not write it herself, though her assuming it, by the addition of her name, is hardly less painful to think of. We should have the same feeling in regard to any woman ; but it becomes deeper and sadder when we receive so rude a shock from one we have loved as a type of feminine gentleness and delicate sympathy with beautiful things. If any thing passes that sorrow which the great Tuscan deemed the heaviest, is to be obliged to think with aversion of one who has once been dear and welcome to our hearts.
* As to her claim as a discoverer, it is only ridiculous. Miss Bremer's works had gone through several editions in German, and had been praised in the German reviews, long before Mrs. Howitt undertook her“ specula. tion.” The Swedish edition of a part of them had been in the Harvard Colege Library five years when Mrs. Howitt's first translation appeared.