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Angeline est dans l'ivresse
"We insert the whole of the pretended original," say the Monthly Reviewers," as we conceive that it will give great pleasure to our readers: but, in transcribing the poem, which is said to be taken from an old and scarce French novel, the title of which is Les Deux Habitants de Lozanne, we feel some apprehension of mistakes, from the general inaccuracy which we have observed to prevail in the printing of the volume before us, as the orthography is in an uncommon degree perverted.
"We have endeavoured to correct many of the errors of the printed copy, and to give the reader this charming and simple ballad as correctly as the various faults to which we have alluded would permit us, by inserting some conjectural emendations.
"After all, it is possible (we mean barely possible) that Goldsmith was innocent of the theft with which he is here charged. We recollect a report, at the time when the Vicar of Wakefield was first published, that the favourite ballad in question was not the composition of Goldsmith; and that it was given to him by an ingenious friend, whose name was then freely mentioned, but which we now spare to repeat, from respect to a character which is deservedly held in high estimation in the republic of letters.
"With respect to the French composition, some have even questioned its originality; alleging, that it is not the French of the age in which it is said to have been written; but we have not leisure to undertake, on this occasion, the office of detection."
The following letter appeared in the Review for November of the same year: —
"TO THE AUTHORS OF THE MONTHLY REVIEW.
"You owe the trouble of a letter from an unknown correspondent to a motive which you have too much candour not to approve. The subject requires no farther introduction, and will speak for itself.
In your account of the Quiz, (Review for September, Article 66,) you insert a French poem, given by the authors as the original of Goldsmith's Edwin and Angelina, and which seems to be considered by you as such. As the English poet, unfortunately for the world and himself, cannot assert his claim to his own work, it is a necessary duty of an old acquaintance and friend of his to do it for him.
"To judge only from internal evidence, there is no need of very profound judgment to discover at once that the French is a translation from the English; and as it is possible that the translator is living,
and may read this, he would do better to acknowledge his imitation, than take to himself the silent enjoyment of an honour not his due --perhaps an honour unsought and unapproved.
As I would wish this point should be determined upon principles of taste and judgment, (for the assertion of an anonymous correspondent, that other proof could be obtained, cannot be supposed to have much weight,) it may be observed, that the title of Raymond and Angelina' does as well for an English as a French poem; but as Edwin and Angelina' would not be so well in French, the translator rejected the original title and adopted another. Let it also be remembered that the French were once in the habit of making popular English poems of this kind their own. Old Robin Grey was translated by Florian; to whom, from mere circumstances, I should attribute the poem in question but I may be mistaken, and, as is above mentioned, the author may be living to own his agreeable imitation, which I should be glad to see without the faults that at present disguise it. *
"My zeal for the honour of an original English poet has occasioned the above remarks, which I have purposely contracted, out of a proper regard to your limits for insertion."
To this letter the Reviewers append the following note:
"Begging our correspondent's pardon, we did not consider the French poem as really the original of Goldsmith's Edwin and Angelina. The parenthesis, (" barely possible,") in our observation, pointed obliquely another way; and perhaps our delicacy has occasioned our being misunderstood: but we did apprehend that we had sufficiently manifested our scepticism, without presuming to decide on a point which required more examination than we had leisure to afford to the subject. On the whole, our ideas and those of our correspondent seem to be nearly the same. We shall be happy to hear again from him, on any future occasion."
With this the controversy seems to have rested for some time, till it was revived in the European Magazine for April, 1812, in the following letter, the writer of which bad probably never seen the papers in the Monthly Review, as he quotes the French ballad, without any reference to the Quiz, the Review, or the work of M. Leonard, from a volume called Tales of Other Realms. Besides, his edition slightly differs from that given in the Review.
66 TO THE EDITOR OF THE EUROPEAN MAGAZINE.
"SIR,-Much has been said lately on the claim of Dr Goldsmith and of Dr Percy to the original merit of their respective poems, the Hermit and the Friar of Orders Grey.
The writer probably alludes to the numerous blunders in spelling which the Reviewers omitted to correct when they reprinted the poem. - B.
"When Dr Goldsmith was collecting materials for his Traveller, he, most probably, met with the ballad that gave birth to his Hermit, - Raimond et Angeline, of which it is a fine translation, and not an original poem, nor an imitation of Mr Percy's Friar of Orders Grey.
"This original, of higher antiquity by a century than its translation, may be seen at length in a volume of travels, denominated by its author Tales of other Realms, and which, by accident, fell into my hands this morning: the prototype was manifest to me on the first reading; although the author of the book which contains it, did not seem aware, when he gave it to the public, that it should have any other claim to notice than its intrinsic beauty.
"It were desirable that you would give it a place in your pages, together with a free translation, stanza by stanza, that the public might be enabled to judge of its being the true parent of the Hermit. And I am, sir, your obedient servant, AN IDLER." "BATH, March 3, 1812."
This letter was answered rather angrily, by another Idler, in the number for May of the same Magazine, who reprinted a former note by him, which appeared in the Monthly Review for 1798. With this letter, which appears to be sufficiently conclusive on the subject, we close this curious controversy.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE EUROPEAN MAGAZINE.
"SIR,I must confess I was not a little offended at the letter signed 'An Idler,' inserted in your last Magazine. The writer has, indeed, written a letter in character, for it is a very idle one. I regret my language is not more urbane; but when you come to the close of this letter, I flatter myself you will perceive it is not improper. If the productions of deceased authors are to be liable to be accused of plagiarism, on weak surmises and false statements, it would be difficult to mark where this evil is to end.
"The Idler' sets off by informing us, that Dr Goldsmith's popular ballad of Edwin and Angelina is not an original poem, but à fine imitation; that the original is of higher antiquity by a century than its translation; and that this original may be seen at length in a volume of travels, denominated by its author, Tales of other Realms,' which The Idler' has transcribed for you. With these travels I am unacquainted; I imagine this book to be some modern publication — however, with the writer of those travels I have no quarrel; for, though he gives the poem in question, we are told he raises no accusation against Goldsmith.
"In the year 1798, I had to perform the duty I am now doing to the manes of Goldsmith. A certain publication, entitled The Quiz, by a Society of Gentlemen, Vol. I.' for the world was fortunately deprived of a second, presented us with the same poem, but in a manner which evidently betrayed a purposed design to deceive the world, and to injure our favourite poet; for the Quiz told us, that it was taken from an old and scarce French novel, entitled Les deux Habitans de
Lausanne.' On this subject I addressed a note to the Monthly Review, which may be found in the Review for July, 1798, and which I will now transcribe, as The Idler' may be answered as the Quiz has been, and retreat from the field in silence.
"In the Review for September 1797, p. 113, in the critique on a publication entitled the Quiz, is given a French poem, which the writers have ventured to tell the public is taken from an old and scarce French novel,' and which, they have the effrontery to add, is the original of Goldsmith's charming ballad. The title which they give to the work is, Les deux Habitans de Lausanne.
"For the honour of Goldsmith, and the love of truth, I beg leave to inform you, that the poem, literally as those writers have given it, is to be found in so modern a book as Lettres de deux Amans, Habitans de Lyon, by M. Leonard, 1792. Their accusation of Goldsmith being, probably, the only part of this work which has been deemed worth notice, and much inquiry having been ineffectually made for a book under the title which they have given to it, this notice may not be unnecessary.
"M. Leonard is the author of some pastorals, and a young writer; and, probably, had he seen our English journals, would have corrected the ignorance or malignity of these anonymous writers.
"What particularly angered me at the time, was the deception practised on the reader: the writers of the Quiz were transcribing a French translation of Goldsmith's poem, published only four or five years from the time they were writing, and had the audacity to call it an old and scarce French novel;' and now our Idler' calls this poem of Raimond et Angeline, this original, of higher antiquity by a century than its translation,' - meaning, by the translation, Goldsmith's Edwin and Angelina. Where did the Idler' derive his authority? No one who has the slightest knowledge of the French language, could ever suppose that a single verse of M. Leonard's poem was ancient: it is the most modern French. A few years ago, it was a fashionable employment among the young French poets, to imitate or translate our little ballad poems, to which they gave the title of 'Romances.' Old Robin Grey was translated by Florian. could adduce more instances, but you can fill your pages with more entertaining matter. — And I, too, am AN IDLER." "May 2, 1812."
EPITAPH ON EDWARD PURDON. (See vol. i. p. 138.)
THE thought of this epitaph is borrowed from the following one by Swift:
Well then, poor G.
"Tis ten to one he 'll ne'er come back.