Abbildungen der Seite

haunt us here with their promptings of good and evil, wanting. There are choruses of spirits of light and darkness, whose voices are heard now and then through the course of the story, to remind us of the wondrous spirit-land on whose borders we stand, and the skirts only of whose brightness we are allowed to behold.

Willingly would we make many extracts from this beautiful volume; but so many passages are favorites with us, that it is hard to choose. We can find room for only one of the last scenes.

"Frid rests, half reclining, upon a magnificent couch. Kumba stands at her feet and observes her. The sun is going down.

"FRID. Soon, soon will all be past. Soon will the light of a new world surround me. For the last time I bow my head before thee, thou glorious earthly sun! Thanks that thy rays yet once would warm my bosom! thanks for thy last caress! My life's sun too goes down; but the sweet calm of evening fills my heart; I feel that it is beautiful to die.

"Ah, even in death my dim eye seeks the sea, and watches for his sail, and calls him home. But he shall come and find his bride no more. - She has gone forth, but only, oh beloved! that she may follow thee, may serve thee better. "KUMBA. (aside.) The pangs that rend me pass the pangs of death.

"FRID. My soul is reconciled to death. Past is all murmur, all complaint. Mine eye is dim, but all is bright within me. Death cannot part the loving. - Love is deathless. See! The bright arches of the heavenly bridge! The waves of the celestial waters play about it. Welcome, thou radiant vision! Thou pointest out the path that I shall tread. Soon shall I come! AllFather! I am ready. I am at peace with heaven, at peace with earth.

"KUMBA, (aside.) How her light shines forth! How my night deepens! I no longer hate her. My hatred aims its shaft at my own breast.

"FRID. Kumba, my faithful Kumba! Thanks for the love that thou hast ever borne me! Wear thou this gem in memory of me. Be thou free, Kumba, be thou rich and happy. "KUMBA. Princess, but one thing do I ask of thee. "FRID. And what?

[ocr errors]

"KUMBA. Thy hate! Thou diest by my hand; by poison that thy slave prepared for thee. Know that she hated thee; that like a snake she stung thee to the heart, and from thy pains drew pleasure.

"FRID. All-righteous gods! hate me! Wherefore?

- Thou, Kumba! Thou didst

"KUMBA. For thy good fortune; for thy beauty's sake; because of thy betrothal with King Dag, whom I too dared to love! - because the gods' injustice gave thee all, and gave me nothing; because of the soul-sickness that envy and despair had wrought in me. For these I hated thee! hated, and am avenged.

"FRID. Oh, Kumba,, thou couldst feel thus to me, when I so loved thee and so trusted thee!

"KUMBA. I have betrayed thee. I have murdered thee. Hate me, then, loathe me !

"FRID. Thy hand has given me death. A higher hand has granted deathless life. For my own fate I grieve not! but for thee, unhappy one! my soul is sorrowful. Ere I go hence, take my forgiveness, Kumba!

"KUMBA. Canst thou forgive me?

[ocr errors]

"FRID. Oh, Kumba, hate no more, so shall thy soul have Thou hast not wrought me so much evil, Kumba. peace. Thy soul was sick. I understand it now. Forgive me that I was so happy near thee, and did not mark thy suffering! Look not so wildly on me. Give me thy hand. Thou wast unhappy, Kumba; this was thy crime..

"KUMBA (aside). Can such goodness be? such boundless love? My heart will break!


"FRID. Thy lips move strangely, but I hear no sound. thou remember when thou camest to me, a suffering, ill-used child? These hands did heal thy wounds, these eyes wept over thee. I loved thee from that hour. And now my soul cannot go hence in peace, if thou do hate me. Some evil spell has bound thy heart, my child! thou couldst not thus have hardened it against me. Come nearer, Kumba, yet once would I weep over thee!

"KUMBA. Thou hast prevailed!— Behold me at thy feet! Hear my last prayer!

"FRID. My Kumba, speak!

[ocr errors]

"KUMBA. Let thy slave die with thee! Let the same fire from which thy soul shall rise, release my guilty spirit. I would yet serve thee in the land of shades. "FRID. Follow me then in death. The God of gods will then appoint thy lot. It may be, in the after-life, princess and slave join thy soul with mine. Together will we die;

shall be but empty names. Come, Never hast thou been nearer to me.

both shall watch over him whom both have loved.

VOL. LVIII. - No. 123.


"KUMBA. These tears! Oh rapture! Let me bathe thy hand with them.

"FRID. Yes, bathe my hand with them! They warm my heart. The sea! the sea! Look to the sea!

"KUMBA. Oh gods! he comes!

"FRID. He comes! I thought it was the gleam of his white banner; - but my sight fails. He comes!

"KUMBA. Thou wilt not see him. Thou diest. Oh thou must hate me!

"FRID. No, I pardon thee. Do thou forgive thyself! "KUMBA. Never! thou diest!

"FRID (her arms outstretched towards the sea). I go, I go, but to a brighter world; there, oh my Dag! to meet thee once again!

(Dies.) "KUMBA. Dead? Yes, all is past. Now will I also die! Avenging deities, I wait my doom! She has forgiven, but can ye forgive? To you I render up my guilty spirit: Oh mighty Thor, accept the sacrifice! Though thy wild winds shall urge my tortured spirit, unresting round the confines of the earth, in silence shall it bear; the doom is just. But, god of storms! thine empire hath an end. The day will come, when to a mightier King thou shalt resign thy power. Will He have pity? Shall not the humble, the repentant soul, at length find rest upon some quiet shore? (Sinks at the feet of Frid.)" pp. 99-104.


It remains only to speak of the translation. It is, we think, excellent. The language is chaste, flowing, and melodious, and, in the higher passages, we observe that it rises into blank verse, though printed as prose. It has the great merit of appearing like an original work, while, at the same time, it is faithful to the original. In the lyrical passages, the translator has taken some liberties, but not without reason. In the original, the metre is of a crabbed kind, utterly incapable of being reproduced in English; or, if not incapable of reproduction, it would appear only as a curiosity in our language. As these passages now stand, they are beautiful poems, perhaps due rather more to the translator than to Miss Bremer, yet retaining all the spirit and meaning of the verses on which they are founded.

We come now to the other works of Miss Bremer, the names of which we have put at the head of this article. It is not necessary to enter into a critical examination of them at this time. What we have already said of Miss Bremer*

* N. A. Review, LVI. p. 497, and LVII. p. 128.

will apply equally to all her tales. These have the same characteristic excellences and the same defects. Our chief concern is with a remarkable manifesto, which Mrs. Howitt has seen fit to prefix to her translation of the "Diary" and "Strife and Peace," and which seems rather sharply to challenge a strict criticism of her general abilities and qualifications as a translator. Though we had always thought, that Miss Bremer had hardly been put in a just light before her English readers, yet, regarding Mrs. Howitt's translations only as modest and well-meaning endeavours, we could not find it in our hearts to subject them to so thorough an analysis as they deserved. We were grateful to her, and were, perhaps, too careful not to incur the proverbial reproach of looking the gift-horse narrowly in the mouth. But now, we seem only to comply with her own wishes, in applying proper tests to ascertain how much she has debased the pure metal of Miss Bremer, in the process of recoining it for English circulation.

Some American translations of Miss Bremer's works having been reprinted in London, Mrs. Howitt saw fit to publish a statement of her claims and grievances, which, we must say, is the most coarse, ill-natured, unjust, and unwomanly production that we have ever read. Such a document, emanating from a female member of the Society of Friends, is certainly a literary curiosity. With the English publisher, Mr. William Smith, who, to borrow Mrs. Howitt's choice phraseology, "pokes himself in just before her on the literary causeway," and who has discovered a simple method of "extracting public good" by the hitherto untried expedient of "treading on her toes," we have nothing to do. Our own duty is to expose the true character of Mrs. Howitt's allegations against the American translators, and her own unfitness for the task which she claims to monopolize. To find fault with us, first for our unhappy national peculiarity of appropriating and reprinting the labors of our English brethren, and then for endeavouring to avoid that error by supplying our home market with home productions, seems to be, as Mrs. Howitt elegantly remarks, "coming it too strong Yet this is the erratic line of argument that she She denies the right of Americans to meddle

over us.

[ocr errors]

has pursued.

[ocr errors][merged small]

with Miss Bremer at all. We shall not plead the Declaration of Independence in bar to this allegation, but shall content ourselves with the more satisfactory process of showing, that the American versions are better than her own. Meantime, we would suggest, with all due deference, that if we are debarred from any use of the original Swedish, some of our fellow-citizens might be usefully employed in translating some parts of Mrs. Howitt's translations, and reducing them to that provincial form of English which is understood on this side of the Atlantic. At present, through the dim medium of Mrs. Howitt, Miss Bremer seems to be in the predicament of the unhappy but unconscious Bottom, when his transformation made him a terror to his friends, and the horror-stricken Quince exclaimed, "Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee! thou art translated!"

The English publisher of the American versions has taken a part of the preface to the "President's Daughters," and prefixed it as an advertisement to his whole series, beginning with Strife and Peace" ; and on this fact Mrs. Howitt has founded an ingenious superstructure of argument and abuse. Had she seized upon this circumstance merely as a weapon in her attack upon her English rival, it would have been fair enough; but before using it as an argument to support an accusation of wilful falsehood against the American translator, she should have made herself perfectly assured of its truth.* Her charges against the American translations may be briefly summed up as follows: That they are translated from the German; that they are very inaccurate; and that they abound in omissions and "Yankee slang.' The President's Daughters," the only one of the American versions which claims to be corrected by the Swedish, was so corrected, and had the benefit of a revision, we are informed, by a distinguished scholar in this neighbourhood, who has had some opportunities of studying the English language under most favorable circumstances in its native country, - opportunities which Mrs. Howitt, if she ever enjoyed them, has most lamentably neglected to profit by.

As Mrs. Howitt's indignation is chiefly directed against

* Her neglect has the appearance of being a wilful oversight, as we happen to know, that the Boston publisher had taken pains to forward all the American translations to Mrs. Howitt, some time before they were republished in London.

« ZurückWeiter »