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they have given any man a letter of credit to their grocer, upon so little inquiry into his character ?
The Tusculan Questions of Marcus Tullius Cicero. In
“OPINIONUM enim commenta delet Dies, naturæ judicia confirmat." These words of Cicero the translator of the Tusculan Questions has very properly adopted as a part of the motto to his volume; as the inroads which time has made on some points of speculative philosophy, and the confirmation it has afforded to others, are nowhere more strikingly visible, than in this work. The great Roman orator, philosopher, and moralist, as is well known, was deeply versed in the writings of the Greeks ; but he brought to the investigation of truth a mind, in a good degree independent of authority; nor was he afraid to declare openly his own opinions. Moral qualities the most attractive and impressive are exhibited in his philosophical writings; and his sentiments are clothed in a style so polished and ornamented, and yet so precise and well adapted to the subject in discussion, that a charm is diffused over the whole, which takes an irresistible hold on the reader. To the full understanding, however, of a work so ancient, something more is now wanting than the bare text. This translation, therefore, we think, should have been accompanied with a clear statement of the object of each of the dialogues, and of the nature of the argument. Something likewise is needed, if all the interest is to be given to the work of which it is susceptible, to apprize the reader of what later investigations have shown to be erroneous, or have confirmed, in the reasonings of Cicero. Illustrations of this kind need not have occupied much space, and would have made this translation far more intelligible and attractive ; and the entire want of them is the first objection we have to this performance.
Another objection is, that this translation, considered as an exhibition of the thoughts of Cicero, is not unfrequently erroneous, often obscure, where there is no direct violation of the author's meaning, and sometimes so harshly and even awkwardly expressed, as to form a most striking contrast to the easy, graceful, and harmonious flow of the original. To show very obvious and undeniable mistakes in expressing in English Cicero's meaning, we might turn to almost any page of the volume. The first sentence of the first book shall furnish an example. Here the words “remissa temporibus ” are translated“ dropped at times.” The only question, which can arise about the meaning of these words, is, whether “temporibus” is in the dative case, or in the ablative, signifying the cause. According to the former construction, Cicero must be understood to say, that his philosophical studies had been “ yielded,” or “ given up to untoward events”; and, according to the latter, that this relaxation had occurred “by," or “in consequence of” such events, where the difference is in the expression, and not in the general idea. That “temporibus” is an ablative of time in the grammatical sense, is what no commentator on this work ever thought of, and is a translation wholly inadmissible. Cicero does not affirm, that his speculations in philosophy had been “ dropped at times,” but that they had received a check in the disastrous period immediately preceding, though kept constantly in view, and that now, after a long interval, they were resumed.
We will now pass to the second section of the same book in the original, where we find this sentence; “Objecit (Cato) ut probrum M. Nobiliori, quod is in provinciam poëtas duxisset ; duxerat autem consul ille in Ætoliam, ut scimus, Ennium;" which Mr. Otis has thus done into English. “He (Cato) objects it as a reproach to Marcus Nobilior, that he permitted poets to attend him into his province. That consul took with him, however, into Ætolia, as we know, Ennius.” Not to dwell upon other points of this translation, the sense of "autem,” in the latter clause, is wholly mistaken. Where some new fact is introduced, and a slight opposition, perhaps, is implied, the conjunction “autem” has nearly the force of * enim "; as dé in the Greek, in similar circumstances, corresponds to yoo. The tense of " duxerat " is varied in the translation to the entire derangement of the meaning of the author. The following would better express the meaning of the original. “For that consul, as we know, had taken Ennius with him into Ætolia.” The most obvious import of the translation of Mr. Otis is, that the consul, M. Nobilior, took Ennius with him, notwithstanding the reproaches of Cato ; but this is not what Cicero says.
On the next page of the translation, we find this passage. “Geometry was held by them (the Greeks) in the highest honor; and, therefore, nothing more illustrious, than their mathematicians. But we have advanced the limits of this art no further than its uses in surveying and reasoning.” Cicero here plainly implies, that the Romans made a less extensive application of geometry, than the Greeks ; and yet, if the former made one of the limits of this science, its use in “ reasoning,” its boundaries were not very contracted. Besides, as “reasoning" is used in this place in its more general sense, what is to prevent the mere English reader from understanding “surveying " in a sense equally unlimited ? And if the Romans employed geometry in a manner coëxtensive with “ surveying and reasoning," taken in their abstract acceptation, the question arises, What more enlarged use was made of this science by the Greeks ? But the words " metiendi rationandique,” ought to have been rendered “measuring land and casting accounts”; which would have precluded all difficulty. This passage is quoted by Latin lexicographers as proof, that the verb “ ratiocinor” sometimes means “to compute." We might proceed in this way through the five dialogues.
As an example of imperfect rendering and oddly constructed English, we quote the following; “How can he want anything, who himself is not ? for the very name of wanting is sad, because it has this import: he had, he has not ; he desires, he requires, he needs. These, I think, are the discomforts of the wanter. He wants eyes. Blindness is odious : children, bereavement.” Whoever wishes to understand this, should turn to the thirty-sixth section of the first book of the original, where the meaning is plain.
There are two classes of readers, forming together a comprehensive body, who cannot fail to be dissatisfied with this translation of the Tusculan Questions ; those who are familiar with the Latin original, and those who are not. The former will soon lay down a book, in which they find a favorite work so greatly misrepresented; and the latter will hardly take it up a second time, when most of the volume, in language so indistinct, and the whole entirely destitute of the necessary illustrations, must appear to them obscure and pointless.
6. – The Token and Allantic Souvenir; a Christmas and Nero
Year's Present. Edited by S. G. GOODRICH. Boston:
The Token comes out this year in handsomer style than usual. The engravings are generally excellent, the paper is clear and strong ; and the literary merits of the book are greater than those of some of its predecessors. Among the prose sketches, is a very interesting piece, called “ Ancient Reminiscences,” by the Author of the “ Three Experiments.” It is a brief biography of Francis Shirley Bollen, granddaughter of Governor Shirley, who passed the early part of her life in Cambridge, in the family of Judge Trowbridge. The subsequent years of this young lady's life were spent in England, and were marked by romantic and melancholy incidents, enough to form the substance of a very respectable novel. The piece concludes with a very lively and well-written letter, dated 1762, which we would have quoted but for the cause which so often embarrasses us at this stage of a Number.
Most of the poetry in the volume is not remarkably good. The “Sibyl,” by Miss Browne, is one of the best pieces ; those by Mr. Mellen, with the exception of two or three brilliant thoughts, disguised under the most affected pbraseology, are the worst. Miss Gould and the Author of "Miriam " appear with their accustomed excellence.
7. — Beauties of Everett. Boston: James Burns. 16mo. pp. 180.
This little volume is very well as far as it goes, but a much better edition of the Beauties of Everett was published some years ago, by the American Stationers' Company, in octavo, What we mean is, that beauty is such a pervading element in the works of Edward Everett, that it is impossible to make a selection. The moment we open a volume of his, - no matter where, we seem to breathe an atmosphere of beauty; the beauty of profound thought, expressed in the purest and sweetest eloquence of the English language; illustrated by graceful and poetical imagery, drawn from a wide range of knowledge;
- that calm and finished beauty, which would have enchanted the most refined assembly of Athens. We do not believe the Orations of Mr. Everett can be matched from the whole literature of modern times, in this respect ; and therefore, we say, that no selection can be made. Still, the extracts which the editor of this little volume has given us, will, perhaps, be read by many who have never seen the collected writings, or heard the spoken eloquence, of Mr. Everett. The short biography of the distinguished author cannot fail of being read with lively interest. While we are upon the Beauties of Everett, we venture to add another gem to the string of brilliants. It is from his admirable speech at the late Second Centennial Celebration at Barnstable.
“ Do you think, Sir, as we repose beneath this splendid pavilion, adorned by the hand of taste, blooming with festive garlands, wreathed with the stars and stripes of this great republic, resounding with strains of heart-stirring music, that, merely because it stands upon the soil of Barustable, we form any idea of the spot as it appeared to Captain Miles Standish and his companions, on the 15th or 16th of November, 1620? Oh, no, Sir. Let us go up for a moment, in imagination, to yonder hill, which overlooks the village and the bay, and suppose ourselves standing there on some bleak, ungenial morning, in the middle of November of that year. The coast is fringed with ice. Dreary forests, interspersed with sandy tracts, fill the back ground. Nothing of humanity quickens on the spot, save a few roaming savages, who, ill-provided with what even they deem the necessaries of life, are digging with their fingers a scanty repast out of the frozen sands. No friendly lighthouses had as yet hung up their cressets upon your headlands; no brave pilot-boat was hovering like a sea-bird on the tops of the waves, beyond the Cape, to guide the shattered bark to its barbour; no charts and soundings made the secret pathways of the deep as plain as a gravelled road through a lawn; no comfortable dwellings along the line of the shore, and where are now your well-inhabited streets, spoke a welcome to the Pilgriin; no steeple poured the music of Sabbath morn into the ear of the fugitive for conscience' sake. Primeval wildness and native desolation brood over sea and land; and from the 9th of November, when, after a most calamitous voyage, the May-flower first came to anchor in Provincetown barbour, to the end of December, the entire male portion of the company was occupied, for the greater part of every day, and often by night as well as by day, in exploring the coast and seeking a place of rest, amidst perils from the savages, from the unknown shore, and the elements, which it makes one's heart bleed to think upon.
“But this dreary waste, which we thus contemplate in imagination, and which they traversed in sad reality, is a chosen land. It is a theatre upon which an all-glorious drama is to be enacted. On this frozen soil, — driven from the ivy-clad churches of their mother land, - escaped, at last, from loathsome prisons, - the meek fathers of a pure church will lay the spiritual basement of their temple. Here, on the everlasting rock of liberty, they will establish the foundation of a free State. Beneath this ungenial wintry sky, principles of social right, institutions of civil government, shall germinate, in which, what seemed the Utopian dreams of visionary sages, are to be more than realized.
“But let us contemplate, for a moment, the instruments selected by Providence, for this political and moral creation. However unpromising the field of action, the agents must correspond with the excellence of the work. The time is truly auspicious. England is well supplied with all the materials of a generous enterprise. She is in the full affluence of her wealth of intellect and character. The age of Elizabeth has passed, and has garnered up its treasures. The age of the Commonwealth, silent and unsuspected, is ripening towards its harvest of great men. The Burleighs and Cecils bave sounded the depths of statesmanship; the Drakes and Raleighs have run the whole round of chivalry and adventure; the Cokes and Bacons are spreading the light of their master-minds through the entire universe of philosophy and law. Out of a generation of which men like these are the guides and lights, it cannot be difficult to select the