Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

French king saw them flee away, he said,1 Slay these rascals, for the; shall let and trouble us withont reason.' Then ye should have seen the men-at-arms dash in among them, and killed a great number of them, and ever still the Englishmen shot whereas they sa<v the thickest press ; the sharp arrows ran into the men-at arms and into their horses; anil many iVlt horse and men among the Genoese ; and when they were down, they could not relieve agaio, the press was so thick that one overthrew another. And also, among the Englishmen, there were certain rascals that went on foot with great knives, and they went in among the men-at-arms, and murdered many as they lay on the ground, both earls, barons, knights and squires, whereof the King of England was after displeased, for he had rather they had been taken prisoners."

This remarkable passage is thus rendered by Mr Johnes.

"Yon mnst know, that these kings, dukes, earls, barons and lords of France, did not advance in any regularorder, but one after the other, or any way most pleasing to themselves. Ah soon as the King of France came in sight of the English, his blood began to boil, and he cried out to his marshals,'Order the Genoese forward, and begin the battle in the name of God and St Denis'

"There were about fifteen thousand Genoese crossbowmen: bnt they were quite fatigued, having marched on foot that day six leagues, completely armed, and with their crossbows.

"They told the constable, they were not in a fit condition to do any great things that day in battle. The Earl of Alencon, hearing this, said, 'This is what one gets by employing such scoundrels, who fall off when there is any need of them.'

"During this time, a heavy rain fell, accompanied by thunder and a very terrible eclipse of the sun; and before this rain a great flight of crows hovered in the air over all those battalions, making a loud noise. Shortly afterwards it cleared up, and the sun shone very bright; but the Frenchmen had it in their faces, and the English in their backs

w When the Genoese were somewhat in order, and approached the English, they set up a loud shout, in order to frighten them; but they remained quite still, and did not seem to attend to it. They then set up a second shout, and advanced a little forward; but the English never moved. They hooted a third time, advancing with their crossbows presented, and began to shoot. The English archers then advanced one step forward, and shot their arrows with such force and quickness, that it seemed as if it snowed.

u When the Genoese felt these arrows, which pierced their arms, heads, and through their armour, some of them cut the strings of their crossbows, others flung them on the ground, and all turned about, and retreated, quite discomfited, 'the French had a large D: dy of men at-arms on horseback, richly dressed, to support the Genoese.

u The King of France, seeing them ihus fall back, cried out, ' Kill ine those scoundrels; for they stop np our road, without any reason.' You would then have seen the above-mentioned men-at arms lay about them, killing all they could of these runaways.

"The English contioued shooting as vigorously and quickly as before ; some of their arrows fell among the horsemen, who were sumptuously equipped, and. killing and wounding many, made them caper and fall among the Genoese so th»t they were in such confusion they could nsver rally again. In the English army there were some Cornish and Welshmen on foot, who had armed themselves with large knives; these, advancing through the ranks of the men-at-arms and archers, who made way for them, came upon the French when they were in this danger, and falling upon earls, barons, knights and squires, slew many, at which the King of England was afterwards much exasperated."—P. 324, 325.

Upon the mere point of style in this passage, we are of opinion that the ancient translator has considerably the advantage. In describing the shouts with which the Genoese endeavoured to sustain their own dubious courage, and appal their enemies, contrasted with the obstinate and ominous silence of the English, the words of Lord Berners are not only better chosen, but the sentences are better arranged, and convey a more lively picture to the eye. On the other hand, the modern translation is more accurate, mentioning the original purpose of the body of men-at-arms * by whom the Genoese were to have been supported, but who in the end trampled

* Denis Sanvage's edition bears that ibis body of cavalry was English ; but we presume Mr Johnes followed a better authority. The Black Prince's men-at arms were in the rear of the archers.

them down, and the country of the light infantry who were mingled among the English archers and cavalry. *

We give another example of the language of the two translations, in the celebrated answer of Edward.

"They with the prince sent a messnnger to the kin£, who was on a little windmill-hill; than the knight said to the king. 'Sir, the Earl of W arwick and the Earl of Camfort, Sir Reynold Cobham. and other such as be about the prince yonr son, are fiercely fought withal: wherefore they desire you that you and your battle will come and aid them ; for if the Frenchmen incrrase, aa they donbt they will, your son and they shall have much ado. Then the king said, * Is my son dead or hurt, or on the earth felled r—* No, sir.' quoth the knight,' but he is hardly matched; wherefore he hath need of your aid.'—' Well/ said the king, * return to him. and to those that sent you hither, and say lo them, that they send no more to me for any adventure that falleth so long aa my son is alive; and also say to them, that they suffer him this day to win his spurs; for if God be pleased, 1 will this journit be bis, and the honour thereof, and to them that be about him.' *

Mr Johnes's version runs thus—

"The first division, seing the danger they were in, sent a knight f in great haste to the King »f England, who was posted upon an eminence, near a windmill. On the knight's arrival, he said,' Sir, the Earl of Warwick, the Lord Stafford, the Lord Reginald Cobham, and the others who are about your son are vigorously attacked by the French; and they entreat that you would come to their assistance with your battalion, for, if their numbers should increase, tbey fear he will have too much to do.'

"The king replied. ' Is my son dead, unhorsed, or so badly wounded, that he cannot support himself?'—'Nothing of the sort, thank God.' rejoined the knight; ' but he is in so hot an engagement, that he has great need of yonr help' The king answered,' Now, Sir Thomas. return back to those that sent you, and tell them from me, not to send again for me this day, or expect that I shall come, let what will happen, as long aa my son baa life; and say that I command them to let the boy wiu his spurs; for I am determined, if it please God, that all the glory and honour of this day shall be given to him, and to those into whose care I have intrusted him.'"—P. 3:27.

In this passage also, we may remark a sort of flatness in the modern version. For example, " so hot an engagement" does not convey quite the idea of " so hardly matched," nor does it well express "il est en dur parti d'armes," which implies personal conflict as well as presence in a battle. Upon the whole, there is a sort of amplification, perhaps unavoidable in modern language, which sounds tamer and less like the tone of chivalry than that employed by Lord Rerners. In short, the Chronicle is as it were neatly bound in calf extra; nay the leaves, back and edges are gilt; but it wants the massy garniture of antique clasps, gilt knosps, and silver roses, which add to the dignity of Lord Berner's version.

Although the style of Mr Johnes is unquestionably inferior to Lord Berners, and although it is occasionally degraded by such quaint expressions as " sheering off, making off, showing their heels," and the like, we cannot but bestow high commendation on the fidelity and attention with which the task of translation has beea executed. In a historical point of view, there can be no comparison betwixt the usefulness of Mr Johnes's version and Lord Berners's, a9 the latter has not only failed to correct the errors of Froissart as to proper

* Berners calls them "rascals." Mr Johnes " Cornish and Welchmen." Froissart seems to give them both characters, "pillars et bidaux Gallois el Comuaillois" The slaughter must have been greatly increased by these irregular troops; for the dismounted knights were usually unable to rise, from the weight of their armour.

t Sir Thomas Norwich.—MSS.

names of persons and places, but has deplorably aggravated them. The Earl of Stamford, to recur to the passage last quoted, is inFroissart called le Compte D'Estanfort, and in Berners's hands he becomes Camfort. Mr Johnes, on the contrary, though his notes are not numerous, has bestowed laud.'.ole diligence in correcting the text of his author; has left few blunders, and we trust has made none. The opportunity of comparing so many various manuscripts has doubtless tended much to reform the text, and we do not venture to offer criticism where we have not an opportunity of seeing the original authorities. It might be worth Mr Johnes's while to consult the splendid manuscript of Froissart, formerly belonging to the Conventual Library of Newbattle, and now to the Earl of Ancram.

Engravings from many rare and curious illuminations are given in this volume. They present to us the dresses, costume, and manners of Froissart's heroes, and add greatly to the interest of the publication.

After all, it may occur to our readers, that an edition of Lord Berners's translation, reduced to a systematic orthography, and corrected and enlarged where correction and enlargement was necessary, might have superseded the labours of Mr Johnes, and, at the same time, have preserved an ancient English classic. But we are more disposed to be grateful for what may be considered as a free gift made to the public, than strictly to examine how far it might have been made more acceptable. If the Hafod press performs what is incumbent on that of Clarendon, the founder is surely entitled to choose betwixt the character of a translator and editor; and while, as a private individual, he discharges at his own expense a public duty, we willingly say, God speed his labours.

ARTICLE IV.
ON "the Miseries Of Hi Man Life."

[ Thi« piper appeared in the Edinburgh Review, October, 1806. u The Miseries ofHuman Life; or, the Groans of Timothy Testy, and Samuel Sensitive; with a feto Supplementary Sighs from Mrs Testy. In Twelve Dialogues."Had extraordinary success—passing through nine editions within a year. This admirable jeu oVesprit waa written by a respectable clergyman, the Rev. James Bbbespord, K. M. of Merton College, Oxford, and its success, as is usual in such cases, called forth abundance of imitations.]

Tins terrific title, with the subjoined catalogue of pitiable exclamations, would lead a native of any country but England to expect a

heart-rending tale of accumulated wo. A Frenchman would prepare to shake his head, and shrug up his shoulders at the unobserved calamities of some love-sick heroine; a German would instantly feel his heart expand with all the sensitiveness of philanthrophy, and the tear would stand ready to start from his eye, at the thought of beholding all the hopeless errors and unalloyed misery of man, feelingly depicted by the nervous hand of sentimental philosophy. But to a thorough indigenous independent Briton, the word " misery" does by no means convey an idea of such extreme discomfort. He feels the satisfaction of grumbling over his misfortunes, to be, on many occasions, so much greater than the pain of enduring them, that he will beg, borrow, steal, or even manufacture calamities, sooner than suffer under any unusual scarcity of discontent. He knows, indeed, that miseries are indeed necessary to his happiness, and though perhaps not quite so pleasant at the moment as his other indispensable enjoyments, roast beef and beer, would, if taken away, leave just as great a craving in his appetites as would be occasioned by the privation of these national dainties.

The Englishman alone, we think, occupies himself seriously in this manufacture of unhappiness; and seems to possess, almost as exclusively, the power of afterwards laughing at his own misfortunes; which, however, during their immediate existence, gave him as much torment as ever the crushing an earwig, or beating a jackass, inflicted on the sensibility of a lachrymose German. It is the English only who submit to the same tyranny, from all the incidental annoyances and petty vexations of the day, as from the serious calamities of life. In Ben Jonson's time, it was an unmeaning humour "to be gentleman-like and melancholy." We believe it is since those days that a cause for that melancholy has been invented. It is only by the present race that the drawing on tight boots, or the extinguishing a candle under your nose, has been found entirely to embitter life. These trilling uneasinesses, are now dwelt and commented upon, in conversation, as of the highest importance; are considered an excuse for spleen or ill nature, and, sometimes, almost a reason for doubting the beneficence of Nature altogether. These restless concomitants of life are only valued and cultivated in our gloomy atmosphere. The lively Frenchman either passes them unnoticed, or, if he does perceive them, only moulds them into a pleasantry to amuse his next companion. The haughty Spaniard will not suffer his gravity and grandeur to be broken in upon by such paltry considerations. The quiet Scotchman patiently endures them without knowing them to be evils; or if he by chance receives annoyance, hereafter goes round about to avoid them. The violent Irishman either passionately throws them off in an instant, or persuades himself it is comfort and amusement to him to let them continue. The phlegmatic Dutchman hides them from his view by the smoke of his pipe; while the philosophizing German, who only feels for all mankind, thinks every thing a trifle that affects himself. The sombre Englishman alone contents himself with grumbling at the evils, which he takes no steps to avoid; and perhaps the proneness, to suicide, that is objected to John Bull by foreigners, might more reasonably be attributed to this indulgence in unhappiness, and domestication of misery, than to the influence of fogs, or the physical effects of sea-coal fires.

These are the miseries of which the author before us treats; and it is a subject which, in some point or other, must come home to every Englishman. He enters upon this rich field, in an address, inviting the miserable (but, we must remark, inviting nobody else), the "children of misfortune, wherever found, and whatever enduring,—ye who, arrogating to yourselves a kind of sovereignty in suffering, maintain, that all the throbs of torture, all the pungency of sorrow, all the bitterness of desperation, are your own. Take courage to behold a pageant of calamities, which calls you to renounce your sad monopoly!" We are then presented with Samuel Sensitive and Timothy Testy. Any formality of introduction is dispensed with; for the author knew that he could meet with no reader, who was not before a cquainted with one or other of these gentlemen. For though Mr Sensitive be of a family comparatively modern (not being naturalized in this country, apparently in the days of the Duchess of Bedford, who declared that "she was born before nerves were invented"), yet there can be nobody, of any age, who has not often met with a branch of the stock of Testy; which we believe, indeed, flourished in this island even before the Conqueror. Indeed, the gentleman himself is so often to be met with, equally in the worst as in the best company, that it is no wonder the author, in his subsequent delineation of the character of Mr Sensitive, should forget "all those finer disquietudes, those quivering susceptibilities, that feverish fastidiousness, and those qualmish recoiling disgusts which constitute at once the pride and the plague of his gossamer frame." We are not surprised that Testy's gross form and active dislikes were continually present to the author, and entirely obliterated the meek agitations of Sensitive. For this has certainly been the case; and, however strongly the distinction may strike us at setting out, in a little time we perceive Sensitive to be a complete fac-simile of Testy, and can sometimes hardly persuade ourselves that they are not both one and the same man. We entirely lose the distinction between the mentally miserable man, whose whole frame is jarred and thrown into a state of tremulous incapability by the falling of a dish; and him who, gross and violent under calamity, instantly knocks down the servant who dropped it.

« AnteriorContinuar »