Imatges de pÓgina
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haviour, which is intended to create an apprehenfion in the fpectator of his difpofition to tyrannize over his fellow-citizens. In this haughty style he answers the petitions of Metellus Cimber, and the other confpirators, for the repeal of Publius Cimber's banishment; the speech fuits the purpose of the Poet, but is very blamable if compared with the hiftorical character of the speaker, which ought certainly to have been more attended to. It will divert the English reader to fee what Mr. Voltaire affures us to be a faithful translation of this speech; and I will therefore give the original and translation. When Metellus is going to fall at Cæfar's feet, he fays to him,

CÆSAR.

I must prevent thee, Cimber.
These crouchings and thefe lowly curtefies
Might fire the blood of ordinary men,
And turn pre-ordinance and firft decree
Into the law of children. Be not fond,
To think that Cæfar bears fuch rebel blood,

That will be thaw'd from the true quality
With that which melteth fools; I mean, fweet words,

Low

Low-crooked curt'fies, and base spaniel-fawning.
Thy brother by decree is banished;

If thou doft bend, and pray, and fawn for him,
I fpurn thee like a cur out of my way.

Know, Cæfar doth not wrong; nor without cause

Will he be fatisfied.

CESAR.

Cimber, je t'avertis que ces profternemens,
Çes génuflexions, ces baffes flateries,

Peuvent fur un cœur faible avoir quelque pouvoir,
Et changer quelquefois l'ordre éternel des chofes
Dans l'efprit des enfans; ne t'imagine pas
Que le fang de Céfar puiffe fe fondre ainfi.

Les priéres, les cris, les vaines fimagrées,
Les airs d'un chien couchant peuvent toucher un fot;
Mais le cœur de Céfar réfifte à ces baffeffes.

Par un jufte décret ton frére est exilé.

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Flate, prie à genoux, & léche moi les pieds ;
Va, je te rofferai comme un chien; loin d'ici.
Lorfque Céfar fait tort, il a toujours raison.

Ben Johnson, by a faulty tranfcript of this speech, or the blunder of a player, had been led into the mistake of charging Shakefpear with the abfurdity of making Cæfar

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fay,

fay, he never did wrong without just cause: and Mr. Voltaire has feized on this falle accufation. It is perfectly apparent to any person who understands English, that Cæfar by preordinance and first decree means that ordinance and first decree which he had before past for Cimber's banishment. And he says, I will not be prevailed upon, by these proftrations and prayers of yours, to turn my decrees into fuch momentary laws, as children make. If there had been any doubt of his meaning, the latter part would have cleared it.

CÆSAR.

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I was conftant, Cimber should be banish'd;
And conftant do remain to keep him fo.

It is surprizing, that some friend did not prevent the critic from falling into so strange a blunder, about changing the eternal order in the minds of children. Many of his countrymen understand our language very well, and could easily have explained to him the fignification of the prepofition into, and that to change into always fignifies to con

vert

vert from one thing to another. Sweet. words, crooked curtfies, and base fawnings, he translates, the airs of a fetting dog. Lecher les pieds is not a proper translation of to fawn. Fawning courtiers would be strangely rendered by feet-licking courtiers: a fawning ftile, a fawning addrefs, are com-: mon expreffions; but did any one ever think of a feet-licking ftyle? a feet-licking ad-: drefs? Nor is Je te rofferai a jufter tranfla-: tion of I will spurn thee: the first being a very low phrase; and to fpurn is in our language a very noble one, and not unfit for. the highest poetry or eloquence; indeed is oftener fo used than in ordinary discourse.

Mr. Row in the Fair Penitent makes Horatio fay to Lothario,

I hold thee bafe enough

To break through law, and spurn at facred order. If Mr. Voltaire should tranflate these words, he would triumph much that one of our most elegant Poets talked of drubbing facred order. The Tranflator feems not even to know

know the English profodia; for in translating Porcia's words,

PORCIA.

If it be no more,

Porcia is Brutus' harlot, not his wife.

he

puts in a note upon Harlot, to affure us that the word in the original is W. which, if he understood our blank verse, he would know could not make up the

metre.

Mr. Voltaire formerly understood the English language tolerably well. His tranflation of part of Antony's fpeech to the people, in his own play of the death of Julius Cæfar, though far inferior to the original, is pretty good; and in his tragedy of Junius Brutus he has improved upon the Brutus of our old Poet Lee: he has followed the English Poet in making the daughter of Tarquin feduce the fon of Junius Brutus into a scheme for the restoration of her father; but with great judgment has imitated only what was worthy of imitation; and by

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