Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS.

FROM THE SAME.

THE subject of the Lutrin is a dispute between the Chanter and Treasurer (or Dean) of a Cathedral Chapel in Paris, respecting the right of having a reading desk in the Choir, and of giving the benediction. If the Chanter can succeed in publicly giving the benediction to the Dean himself, he thinks he shall establish that privilege without further trouble: on the other hand, if the Dean can get the start of him, and bless the Chanter, his predominance is secured for ever.

Luckily for the Dean, whenever he and the Chanter are together, and a multitude assembled, he enjoys, from prescription, the greater influence; and how he gains his end accordingly, is set forth in the ensuing Battle of the Books, which is the original of Swift's prose satire. Boileau is quite at home in it. It gives him an opportunity, as Warton observes, of indulging in his favourite pastime of ridiculing bad authors. This perhaps is the liveliest and most inventive passage in all the Lutrin; and it may be fairly pitted against the Battle of the Beaux and Ladies in the Rape of the Lock, being at once more satirical, probable, and full of life. If Pope's mock-heroic excels in delicacy and fancy (which we cannot but think it does, out and out,) Boileau's may lay claim to a jollier and robuster spirit of ridicule, and to a greater portion of what the French call movement.

MEANWHILE the canons, far from all this noise,
With rapid mouthfuls urge the hungry joys:

LOIN du bruit cependant les chanoines à table
Immolent trente mets à leur faim indomtable:

With flowing cups and irritating salt,
Their thirst by turns they lay and they exalt.
Fervent they feed, with palate and with eye;
Through all its caverns gapes a monstrous ven'son pie.
To these Fame comes, and hastens to relate

The law consulted and the threaten'd fate:

Up starts the chief, and cries " Consult we too!"

With bile and claret strove his sudden hue.

Groans Everard from the board untimely torn,
But far away among the rest is borne.

Leur appétit fougueux, par l'objet excité,
Parcourt tous les recoins d'un monstrueux pâté;
Par le sel irritant la soif est allumée:

Lorsque d'un pié léger la prompte Renommée,

Semant par-tout l'effroi, vient au chantre éperdu
Conter l'affreux détail de l'oracle rendu.

Il se leve, enflammé de muscat et de bile,

Et prétend à son tour consulter la Sibylle.

Evrard a beau gémir du repas déserté,

Lui-même est au barreau par le nombre emporté.

A short and secret passage knew the band;

Through this they ruffle, and soon reach the stand,
Where Barbin, bookseller of equal eye,

Sells good and bad to all who choose to buy.
Proud up the platform mount the valiant train
Making loud way, when lo! so fates ordain,
As proud and loud, and close at hand are seen,
The fervid squadron, headed by the Dean.

The chiefs approaching, shew a turbid grace ;
They measure with their eyes, they fume, they face;
And had they hoofs, had paw'd upon the place.

Par les détours étroits d'une barriere oblique, Ils gagnent les degrés, et le perron antique Où sans cesse, étalant bons et méchants écrits, Barbin vend aux passants des auteurs à tout prix. Là le Chantre à grand bruit arrive et se fait place, Dans le fatal instant que, d'une égale audace, Le Prélat et sa troupe, à pas tumultueux, Descendoient du Palais l'escalier tortueux. L'un et l'autre rival, s'arrêtant au passage, Se mesure des yeux, s'observe, s'envisage;

Thus two proud bulls, whom equal flames surprise

For some fair heifer with her Juno's eyes,

Forget their pasture, meet with horrid bows,

And stooping, threaten with their stormy brows.

But the sad Everard, elbow'd as he pass'd,
No longer could endure his demi-fast.
Plung'd in the shop, he seizes on a book,
A "Cyrus" (lucky in the first he took,)

Une égale fureur anime leurs esprits :

Tels deux fougueux taureaux, de jalousie épris,
Auprès d'une génisse au front large et superbe
Oubliant tous les jours le pâturage et l'herbe,
A l'aspect l'un de l'autre embrasés, furieux,
Déja, le front baissé, se menacent des yeux.
Mais Evrard, en passant coudoyé par Boirude,
Ne sait point contenir son aigre inquiétude :

* "Artamenes, or the Grand Cyrus," written by Mademoiselle Scuderi. The books mentioned in this battle are either obsolete French romances, or sorry productions of the author's contemporaries.

And aiming at the man (Boirude was he)
Launch'd at his head the chaste enormity.
Boirude evaded, graz'd in cheek alone,
But Sidrac's stomach felt it with a groan.
Punch'd by the dire "Artamenes," he fell
At the Dean's feet, and lay incapable.
His troop believe him dead, and with a start
Feel their own stomachs for the wounded part.

Il entre chez Barbin, et, d'un pas irrité,
Saisissant du Cyrus un volume écarté,
Il lance au sacristain le tome épouvantable.
Boirude fuit le coup: le volume effroyable
Lui rase le visage, et, droit dans l'estomac,
Va frapper en sifflant l'infortuné Sidrac.

Le vieillard, accablé de l'horrible Artamene,
Tombe aux pieds du Prélat, sans pouls et sans haleine.

Sa troupe le croit morte, et chacun empressé

Se croit frappé du coup, dont il le voit blessé.

« AnteriorContinua »