1821 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Carew

Anonymous, in Retrospective Review 3 (1821) 36.



The object at which a translator aims is clear enough — to give the spirit of his author in words adapted as nearly as possible to the genius of the language in which he writes, being careful at the same time neither to add to, nor to take away from his original; for in the one case he is sure he is violating the author's meaning, and in the other he cannot know that his own additions would have been consonant to the author's judgment. How seldom, however, is it that we meet with a translation which can boast at the same time both of fidelity and beauty. There must in general be a sacrifice of one of these qualities: thus, in Fairefax's translation [of Godfrey of Bulloigne], though when compared with more modern attempts, it is abundantly faithful, we frequently find him varying from the strict sense of the original, while at the same time we feel loth to blame him for wandering, when his aberrations lead us along such beautiful ways. Carew seems to have had more strict and confined notions of the boundaries, beyond which it does not become a translator to show himself; he follows his prototype step by step, carefully placing his foot in the very print of Tasso's, which necessarily give him an appearance of constraint and difficulty. He adheres as much too religiously to his great original, as Pope and the translators of his school have been too free.