Page images
PDF
EPUB

Charles avait fait face à la haute cour de justice avec ce tranquille courage qui a racheté à demi sa réputation. Ni la pompe militaire, ni la pompe civile ne manquaient à ce spectacle. Les avenues étaient bordées d'une ligne de grenadiers ; des postes de cavalerie maintenaient les rues libres. Les pairs, en robe d'or et d'hermine, étaient conduits à leurs places par des hérauts sous l'ordre de Jarretière, le roi d'armes.”

§ 13. We cannot in all cases preserve the English construction, and give one word as an equivalent for another. Often we have to replace an adjective by a noun, or a noun by an adjective, or even change a present participle into a noun. Let us give an example of this: Walking is good for the health, said the young prince, conspicuous by his fine person and noble bearing, and whom we found at last under the shady trees. It would be totally wrong to follow here the order of the words of the original, and to translate literally PROMENANT est bon pour la santé, or to say remarquable par sa BELLE personne, or to speak of les OMBREUX arbres, though ombreux is sometimes used in poetry (see § 14, M. Taine's translation of the “ Lotus Eaters ”). But we can very well use for “walking ” LA PROMENADE, for “his fine person ” LA BEAUTÉ DE SA PERSONNE, and for “ shady trees " L'OMBRE DES ARBRES, and the whole sentence will then read as follows: La promenade est bonne pour la santé, dit le jeune prince, remarquable par la beauté de sa personne et par sa noble attitude et que nous avons trouvé à la fin sous l'ombre des arbres.

§ 14. One of the best translators from English into French is Mons. H. A. Taine, who has made for himself a name in England by his “ Histoire de la Littérature anglaise.” We take from this history part of Tennyson's “Lotus Eaters” in French prose, in order to show the

student what a good translation ought to be. It is o by carefully comparing it with the original that delicacy and accurate rendering will be perceptible.

“A land of streams! some, like a downward smoke,
Slow-dropping veils of thinnest lawn, did go;
And some thro' wavering lights and shadows broke,
Rolling a slumbrous sheet of foam below.
They saw the gleaming river seaward flow
From the inner land : far off, three mountain-tops,
Three silent pinnacles of aged snow,
Stood sun-set flush'd : and, dew'd with showery drops,
Up clomb the shadowy pine above the woven copse. ...

[ocr errors]

“There is sweet music here that softer falls

Than petal from blown roses on the grass,
Or night-dews on still waters between walls
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass;
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,
Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes ;
Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies.
Here are cool mosses deep,
And thro' the moss the ivies creep,
And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep,

And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep. ... “Lo! in the middle of the wood

The folded leaf is woo'd from out the bud
With winds upon the branch, and there
Grows green and broad, and takes no care,
Sun-steep'd at noon, and in the moon
Nightly dew-fed; and turning yellow
Falls, and floats adown the air.
Lo! sweeten'd with the summer light,
The full-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow,
Drops in a silent autumn night.
All its allotted length of days,
The flower ripens in its place,
Ripens and fades, and falls, and hath no toil,
Fast-rooted in the fruitful soil. ...

com a

“ But, propt on beds of amaranth and moly,

How sweet (while warm airs lull us, blowing lowly),
With half-dropt eyelids still,
Beneath a heaven dark and holy,
To watch the long bright river drawing slowly
His waters from the purple hill-
To hear the dewy echoes calling
From cave to cave thro' the thick-twined vine-
To watch the emerald-colour'd water falling
Thro' many a woven acanthus-wreath divine !
Only to hear and see the far-off sparkling brine,
Only to hear were sweet, stretch'd out beneath the pine."

Une terre d'eaux courantes : quelques-unes, comme une fumée qui descend, — laissent tomber lentement leur voile de fine gaze; d'autres, lancées à travers des ombres et des clartés vacillantes, roulaient avec un bruit assoupissant leur nappe d'écume. — Ils voyaient la rivière luisante rouler vers l'Océan, — sortie du milieu des terres ; bien loin, trois cimes de montagnes, – trois tours silencieuses de neige antique — se dressaient rougies par le soleil couchant, et lo pin ombreux, — humecté de rosée, montait audessus des taillis entrelacés.

“Il y a ici une musique suave, qui tombe plus doucement — que les pétales des roses épanouies sur le gazon, — que les rosées de la nuit sur les eaux calmes — entre des parois de granit sombre dans un creux qui luit; — une musique qui se pose plus mollement sur l'âme — que des paupières lassées sur des yeux lassés ; - une musique qui amène un doux sommeil du haut des cieux bienheureux. — Il y a ici de fraîches mousses profondes, — et à travers les mousses rampent les lierres, — et dans le courant pleurent les fleurs aux longues feuilles, — et des corniches rocheuses le pavot pend endormi.

“Regardez; au milieu du bois, sur la branche, – la feuille pliée sort du bouton, -- sollicitée par la brise caressante; – elle devient verte et large et ne prend point de souci, — toute baignée de soleil à midi, et, sous la lune, — nourrie de rosée nocturne; puis elle jaunit, — tombe et descend en flottant à travers l'air. — Regardez;

1 The name of a fabulous herb, given, according to Homer, by Mercury to Ulysses, as a counter-charm against the spells of Circe.

adoucie par la lumière d'été, – la pomme juteuse devenue trop mûre — se détache par une nuit silencieuse d'automne. — Selon la longueur des jours qui lui sont accordés, – la fleur s'épanouit à sa place, - s'épanouit et se flétrit et tombe, et n'a point de travail, solidement enracinée dans le sol fertile.

“Qu'il est doux, pendant que la brise tiède en chuchotant nous caresse de son souffle, – appuyés sur des couches d'amarante et de moly, — nos calmes paupières à demi baissées, — sous les voûtes sacrées du ciel sombre, — de suivre la longue rivière brillante qui traîne lentement — ses eaux en quittant la colline empourprée ; – d'entendre les échos humides qui s'appellent — de caverne en caverne à travers les épaisses vignes entrelacées; - d'entendre les eaux qui tombent avec des teintes d'émeraude, - à travers les guirlandes tressées de l'acanthe divine; – entendre et voir seulement dans le lointain la vague étincelante; rien que l'entendre serait doux; – rien que l'entendre et sommeiller sous les pins.”

IV.-OF GRAMMATICAL CORRECTNESS.

§ 15. Every language has its own peculiarities and idioms, and no translator should ever forget them. Grammatical correctness is also often entirely neglected, for the student imagines that the forms of syntax are the same in all languages, and without taking time to compare, he not rarely writes down what comes uppermost in his mind. This of course leads to many errors, and it is impossible in the mere compass of a short grammatical introduction to give a complete résumé of all the rules of French grammar. It is presupposed that those who use this book will at least have a preliminary knowledge of the Accidence and Syntax. We shall therefore only give a few rules which will enable them to avoid at least gross blunders. We must of course in writing French always pay attention to the Gender of Nouns, the place of Adjectives, Adverbs, and Pronouns, the peculiar way in which Negative and Interrogative forms are made, the Irregular Verbs, the difference between the use of the Imperfect and Preterite tenses, and the rules on the Subjunctive and Present and Past participles. We strongly recommend students to study these difficulties in a good grammar, but there are other idiomatic peculiarities which often happen in translation, and which we shall endeavour to facilitate to the enquirer. We shall arrange these difficulties according to the various parts of speech under which they present themselves.

PRONOUNS.

§ 16. Elliptical sentences are more frequent in English than in French, and in the latter language the ellipsis of an adjective, a verb, or a sentence, is not allowed. We cannot, therefore, translate they are richer than we are, by ils sont plus riches que nous ne sommes. Instead of using the adjective we employ the invariable pronoun le, which here means so, and therefore must translate ils sont ptus riches que nous ne le sommes. The sentence, we must work as much as we can, we have to translate by il faut travailler autant qu'on le peut, and not leave le out, because it stands here for “work.” So we must render the phrase, We were told that war is declared, but we do not believe it, by on nous a dit que la guerre est déclarée, mais nous ne le croyons pas, because le stands here for “ that war is declared ” (see THIRD FRENCH Book, $ 136).

1 We recommend the FIRST, SECOND, and ThiRD FRENCH Books, published by Messrs. Daldy, Isbister, and Co., London, and in which the student will find all the grammatical differences explained which exist between French and English.

« PreviousContinue »