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in every collection, it was worth Mr. Wright's while to undertake a new version of Dante? There are many poems of great merit, ancient and modern, which have never been interpreted to the mere English reader at all; many more of which the only existing versions are miserably deficient in every respect. Under such circumstances, surely Dante could not be a judicious choice, unless the new translator felt himself qualified to surpass, to some very considerable extent, the effect of his predecessor's performance to convey at once a more exact impression of his author's meaning, and a livelier one of his manner. If Mr. Wright has succeeded in rendering Dante more accurately than Mr. Cary had done here and there, only by availing himself of certain recent commentaries on the original, of which Mr. Cary might have been expecteď to make use in preparing a new edition of his work; if, with the exception of these detached passages, the later version is not a more faithful one-and if it does not, as a whole, wear an air more Dantesque without being less English, than the former-we shall be compelled, not to treat disrespectfully a well-meant and industrious effort, but to express our regret that the time and talents devoted to it had not found some unpreoccupied field — and to urge the propriety of suspending a labour which, if completed, could at best conduct to a secondary place.

We are bound to observe in limine that the version of Cary has been of intinite use to his successor; Mr. Wright has taken from him not a few lines, and in innumerable instances he has obviously and incontestably drawn his words, not directly from the Italian fountainhead, but from the previous English (and manly English that is) of his predecessor. Cary has been in the main the Dante of Mr. Wright; and he has departed from him no. where, as far as we have been able to trace, to any good effect, unless when guided by Ugo Foscolo, or by Rossetti—of whose Commentary, indeed, he not seldom inlays fragments into his text; a liberty which had better been omitted.

No doubt, then, it is on his nearer approach to the air and manner of the Italian master, that the new interpreter rests his claim to supplant Cary; and when we opened his book, we certainly did not doubt that the gigantic task of rendering Dante in the terza rima had now at all events been accomplished. But a very brief examination dismissed this dream. " Mr. Wright's measure is the Dantesque one to the eye, but not to the ear. It is printed exactly like the Italian verse—but the writer has not grappled with the difficulties, and he has missed the chief grace, of the terza rima :-he has few triple rhymes at all-and none in the right places ; and the subtle link by which Dante binds every section of his measure into the succeeding one is thus wholly lost.



The result, then, is not an English Inferno in the measure of Dante, instead of the measure of Milton; but only the sense of Cary twisted out of blank verse into a new and anomalous variety of English rhynie--whether a harmonious or a graceful one, or at all likely to take root among us, we shall enable the reader to judge.

We select, by way of specimen, a few of those passages which are most familiar to every one; but which are so, simply because no reader thinks he can have them too often before him; and tirst the opening of

Per me si va nella città dolente :
Per me si va nell' eterno dolore :
Per me si va tra la perduta gente.

Giustizia mosse 'l mio älto Fattore :
Fécemi la divina Potestate,
La somma Sapienza, e 'l primo Amore.

Dinanzi a me non fur' cose creäte
Se non eterne, ed io ēterno duro:
Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch' entrate.

Through me you pass into the city of woe: Through me ye enter the abode of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain : Through me to endless sorrow are con-
Through me among the people lost for aye.

vey'd : Justice the founder of my fabric mov'd : Through me amidst the souls accurst ye To rear me was the task of power divine,

go. Supremest wisdom, and primeval love. Justice did first my lofty Maker move: Before me things create were nune, save By Power Almighty was my fabric made, things

By highest wisdom, and by primal love. Eternal, and eternal I endure.

Ere I was form’d, no things created were, All hope abandon-ye who enter here.

Save those eternal—I eternal last:

All hope abandon-ye who enter here. In neither of these versions is the greatest beauty, save one, of this passage entirely preserved; the triple repetition of the

per me si va. This might have been attempted; the effect of the transition from the solemn absolute si va, to the terrible Lasciate voi of the ninth line, a magnificent feature, was perhaps unattainable. Cary's first line is more literal than Wright's—and we like its sound better. His third line too is the happier; Mr. Wright's variations of ye enter-ye are conveyed-ye go, are

very bad.

In the second tiercet Wright has transposed, and not mended, Cary;

his third line is worse than the corresponding one ; he omits judiciously, however, Cary's interpolation of task: a task implies a master.

In the third tiercet the advantage is on all points with Cary; Wright's those eternal is not inseriptional, and he loses a link in




onitting ed io,' &c. not to be replaced by the weak modern invention of a hyphen (---); even commas and semicolons are out of place on marble. Cary's endure is better than his last. The closing line is not Mr. Wright's.

Quivi sospiri, pianti, ed alti guai
Risonávan per l' áere senza stelle,
Perch'io al cominciar ne lagrimái.

Diverse lingue, orribili favelle,
Parole di dolore, accenti d'ira,
Voci alte e fioche, e suon di man con elle

Facevan un tumulto il qual s' aggira
Sempre in quell' aria senza tempo tinta,
Come la rena quando 'l turbo spira.

Ed io ch' avea d'error la testa cinta,
Dissi : Maëstro, chë è quel ch'i' ödo?

E che gent'è che par nel duol sì vinta ?
Here sighs, with lamentations and loud There sighs and sorrows, and heart-rending

cries Resounded through the air, pierced by no Resounded through the starless atmos. star,


[eyes. That e’en I wept at entering.

Various Whence tears began to gather in mine tongues,

Harsh tongues discordant,- horrible disHorrible languages, outcries of woe,

[despite,Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse, Words of despair,-fierce accents of With hands together smote that swell’d

Striking of hands, --with curses deep the sounds,

and hoarse, Made up a tumult that for ever whirls

Raised a loud tumult, that unceasing whirl'd Round through that air with solid darkness

Throughout that gloom of everlasting stain's, Like to the sand that in the whirlwind flies.


Like to the sand by circling eddies hurl'd. I then, with error yet encompass’d, cried, O master! what is this I hear? what race

Then (horror compassing my head around) Are these, who seem so overcome with

I cried, “O master, what is this I hear?
And who are these so plunged in grief

profound ? In Wright's first line sorrows is no translation of pianti ; in his second, heart-rending is not alti, nor does cries render guai. Cary is better ; but we suspect Dante's ascent is from sighs to moans, and from thence to wailings. Both miss the sense of the third line; Dante weeps-tears only gather in Wright's eyes; and al cominciar does not mean at entering, as Cary supposes, but at the firsti. e. before the poet understands exactly that the sounds he hears are those of merited suffering. He was still in the error (which Wright blunders into horror) of the tenth line.

The second tiercet is not well done by either; Wright's harsh tongues discordant does not express diverse lingue—the tongues of different nations; his horrible discourse is not quite so wide of the original as Cary's horrible languages—(Dante would hardly have used favelle in exactly the same sense as he had just done lingue); but it is vulgar-and it is not a complete translation.


woe ?

The poet's meaning is the various utterances of anguish, which he proceeds to enumerate. Parole di dolore are not outcries, but, words of woe; and despair does not yet speak,--that is reserved for the close: the description again goes crescendo—there are words of grief, then accents of rage, then high and hoarse voices, and

hands together smote, in unison with them—this is the despair. Nothing can be worse than Wright's arrangement: despair-then despite (what bathos :)—then the striking of hands removed from its place after all the favelle, and thrust in between the despite and the curses, neither of which are Dante's. Cary's eighth line,

• Round through that air with solid darkness stain’d, is a fine one; the solid, though hardly senza tempo, is worth an infidelity: the corresponding line in Wright is commonplace.

The heart-rending story of Count Ugolino in Canto XXXIII., the subject of by far the first historical picture of the English school, has of course been executed by both these translators with the utmost care and reflection :

Quand' io fui desto innanzi la dimane,
Piánger sentí' fra 'l sonno i miei figliuoli
Ch' eran con meco, e dimandár del pane.

Ben se' crudél, se tu già non ti duoli
Pensando ciò ch' al mio cuor s'annunziava:
E se non piangi, di che piánger suoli?

Già éran desti, e l' ora s' appressava
Che 'l cibo ne soleva éssere addotto,
E per suo sogno ciascún dubitava.

Ed io sentí' chiavár l'uscio di sotto
All' orribile torre, ond' io guardái
Nel viso a' mie' figliuoi senza far motto:

Io non piangeva, sì dentro impietrái:
Piangevan elli; ed Anselmuccio mio
Disse: Tu guardi sì, padre: che hai ?

Però non lagrimái, nè rispos' io

Tutto quel giorno nè la notte appresso,
Infin che l'altro Sol nel mondo uscio.

When I awoke,
Before the dawn, amid their sleep I heard
My sons (for they were with me) weep

and ask For bread. Right cruel art thou, if no pang Thou feel at thinking what my heart fore

told ; And if not now, why use thy tears to flow ? Now had they waken'd; and the hour

drew near When they were wont to bring us food;

the mind of each misgave him through his dream,

When I awoke, ere morn its rays had shed, I heard my sons, who with me were confined,

[bread. Sob in their slumbers, and cry out for Full cruel art thou, if thou canst conceive, Without a tear, what then came o'er my mind!

[thee grieve? And if thou grieve not, what can make They were awake; and now the hour drew near,

[scant repast, Which had been wont to bring their And each was pondering o'er his

dream of fear,


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Heard, at its outlet underneath lock'd up When from within the dreadful tower I The horrible tower: whence, utt'ring not heard

[made fast :a word,

The entrance underneath with nails I look'd upon the visage of my sons.

I gazed upon my boys-norspake a word. I wept not : so all stone I felt within.

I wept not, for my heart was turn'd 10 They wept: and one, my little Anselm,


(cried, cried,

My children wept ;-and little Anselm "Thou lookest so ! Father, what ails

What ails thee, Father?—strange thy thee?' Yet

looks are grown. I shed no téar, nor answer'd all that day

Yet still I wept not-still made no reply Nor the next night, until another sun

Throughout that day, and all the night Oame out upon the world.

beside ;

Until another sun lit up the sky. The parenthesis in Cary's third line is bad ; the most important feature in the father's misery is here, and he says my sons who were with me-not for they were with me;' Wright's sob for pianger is injudicious; the boys might utter in their sleep some sound of distress, but hardly a sob. His 'scant repast (from Rossetti) is also bad ; this is not the epithet of one who had seen his children die of starvation ; Cary's the mind of each misgave him,' not the other's pondering, is the true translation of Dante's dubitava. We think there can be no doubt that Wright (i.e. Rossetti) properly renders chiavar · nailed' not ·locked. Cary confounds chiavo (clavus) with chiave (clavis); there could be nothing new in the sound of locking the prison gates, certainly nothing so decisively portentous as to make Ugolino turn all to stone within. It is a pity to drop the mio Anselmuccio; but one, my little Anselm,' is poor and prosaic. The tu guardi si, padre: che hai? is far better in Cary than in Wright.

Come un poco di raggio si fu messo
Nel doloroso cárcere, ed io scorsi
Per quattro visi il mio aspetto stesso,

Ambo le mani per dolór mi morsi:
E quei pensando ch' io 'l fessi per voglia
Di manicar, di súbito levorsi,

E disser: Padre, assái ci fia men doglia
Se tu mangi di noi : tu ne vestisti
Queste mísere carni, e tu le spoglia.

Quetámi allér per non farli più tristi :
Quel di ë l' altro stemmo tutti muti:
Ahi dura terra, perchè non t'apristi ?

Poscia che fummo al quarto di venuti,
Gaddo mi si gittò disteso a' piedi,
Dicendo: Padre mio, che non m' ajuti ?


When a faint beam But, when a faint and broken ray was Had to our doleful prison made its way,

thrown And in four countenances I descried

Within that dismal dungeou, and I view'd The image of my own, on either hand

In their four looks the image of my own


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