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to metre and prosody; not to mention the evident corruption of the sense in some passages.
Your translation of the Epigram on the Kiss of Agatho, is very elegant, and the idea in it resembles that of Hafez in the following lines:
Anxious thy blooming charms to see,
Quick to my lips my soul ascends; w.
Must it expire or live f—decree ;—
I send you, as I promised, a prose translation of the Persian Ode, together with an attempt at a poetical version of it, which I will hereafter improve. Pray inform me, whether there is any translation of Hafez, printed or manuscript, in Latin, or any other European language; for I know of no other attempt at a translation of this poet, than that of the first ode, lately. published in the Analecta of Professor Hyde.
I request likewise to be informed, where I am likely to find the first book of the Iliad of Homer, with an analysis and notes, for the use of scholars, printed in England, which a friend of mine wishes to procure for his son.
The ode, of which you praise the concluding verse, is elegant; I remember only the first couplet.—
Bring wine, and scatter flow'rs around,
Although I have begun the preparations for my departure, and have packed up my books, if you wish to have a translation of this
ode, ode, or if it will be of any use to you, I will undertake it before I go. I wait your commands. Farewel.
* C. REVICZKI to Mr. JONES.
London, MarchQQth, 1768.
That I have deferred longer than usually my reply to your obliging letter, you must impute to the novel, and strange appearance of things here. You will not, I trust, be disposed to blame a delay, occasioned by the attention of a foreigner to customs which are peculiar to your country, and which I never observed in any other; for I confess to you that I never saw any thing similar to the mode here pursued of electing members of parliament. The novelty of it at first amused me, but the increasing tumult sickened and disgusted me, and, by compelling me to remain at home, afforded me an opportunity of writing to you. I rejoice that my version of the Persian ode pleases you, and that it has induced you to think me equal to the translation of the whole collection. But highly as I am honoured by your opinion, I cannot but think your advice somewhat unmerciful, for what mortal, unless
Or oak, or brass, with triple fold;
Around his daring bosom roll'd, 1
would undertake a translation in prose and verse of six hundred odes? The attempt would not only require many years, but an entire exemption from all other occupations; which is not my case; I can only make these studies my occasional amusement. I mean, however, some time or other, to publish as much as I can.
The person who applied to me for the first book of the Iliad, with a verbal analysis, already possesses the key to Homer; but he
* Appendix, No. 6.
thinks thinks the other work better adapted to the use of boys, because the notes in it are subjoined to the text, which is not the plan of the Clavis. If you have one at hand, oblige me by just looking into it; for, if my memory does not fail me, there is a catalogue prefixed, mentioning the work which I want, and the name of the printer.
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Although your politeness has excused any further efforts, I nevertheless send the ode which you requested in your last letter but one, as I think it will please you. It is by no means one of the easiest, either to understand, or translate; and indeed, the force of the peculiar idioms of a foreign language cannot be well conveyed by any circumlocution. .
You ask my opinion of the affinity between the Hebrew and Arabic, and of an idiom common to both, of using the future for the past. Though I seldom read Hebrew, or, to say the truth, though I consider this sacred language rather as an object of veneration than of delight, (for, excepting the Old Testament itself, and some rabbinical dreams about it, there is nothing in it worth perusal,) I well remember, from the little of it which I have read, having remarked a close connection between the grammar of the Hebrew and Arabic, the moods and tenses in both are so few, as to require the frequent substitution of one for another; the Greek, however, which' is so redundant in moods and tenses, sometimes does the same; for instance, when it uses the infinitive for the imperative. With respect to the measures used in the two languages, I am of a different opinion, for I consider the metrical art of the Arabs of much later invention, and to have assumed its present form only a short time before Mohammed, there being no trace whatever among them of a. mpre ancient poetry. If the Hebrew poetry had a similar construction, which may indeed be suspected
from from a similar use of the vowels, we might by this time have traced, without difficulty, the laws of Hebrew metre by the rules of analogy*.
If the text of the ode, which you mention to have read in the miscellaneous works of some anonymous author, had been correct, you would not have wanted my humble assistance: but it is so full of errors, that I must be an GEdipus to interpret it. Every one knows, that the mere irregularity of the diacritical points occasions infinite difficulty in the Oriental languages} but this is doubly increased by the casual omission or alteration of the letters themselves. It is therefore absolutely necessary in my opinion, as it is impossible to find manuscripts without errors, to possess two copies of every one which you read, that the faults of the one may be
corrected by the other; and this is my method. -j
• * * * •
I have only to conclude by thanking you for your Italian sonnet, and expressing the commendation to which it is entitled.—Farewel.
t Mr. JONES to C. REVICZKI.
f April 1768.
Nothing can afford a stronger proof of your polite attention to me, than your last very friendly letter, which you
* The probability that the metrical compositions of the Hebrews and Arabs were founded on the same rules of prosody, is intimated by Sir W. Jones, in his Commentaries on Asiatic poetry, and proposed to the investigation of the learned. This opinion is suggested, by the close affinity of the languages of those ancient people, whence he argues to a presumption that their poets used the same numbers, feet, and measures, in their compositions.
f Appendix, No. 7.
contrived to write in the midst of city bustle, during the noise of riotous mobs, and the tumult of a parliamentary election, and to accompany it with a most beautiful Persian Ode, and a Latin translation. Our favourite Hafez deserves indeed to be fed with ambrosia, and I daily discover, with increasing delight, new beauties and elegances in him. The principal difficulty attending the translation and publication of his poems as you have begun, consists in' giving them a poetical dress; but this will prove easier than you imagine; for there are many of his odes, which I conclude you will not attempt to Ttranslate, as containing expressions wholly foreign to our manners, lofty and daring figures, or abrupt unconnected1 lines; and this-will in some measure alleviate the Herculean labour of the task.
* * * * *
. If I were not a sincere lover of
truth, and averse from all dissimulation, I should lament that our capital has fallen under your inspection in these times of turbulence and distraction* when the liberty of my country, so universally celebrated, has degenerated into unbridled licentiousness, not to say outrage. The original form of our constitution is almost divine; —to such a degree, that no state of Rome or Greece could ever boast one superior to it; nor could Plato, Aristotle, nor any legislator, even) conceive a more perfect model of a state. The three parts which compose it are so harmoniously blended and incorporated, that neither the flute of Aristoxenus, nor the lyre of Timotheus, ever produced more perfect concord. What can be more difficult than to devise a constitution, which, while it guards the dignity of the sovereign andi liberty of the people, from any encroachment by the influence and1 power of the nobility, preserves the force and majesty of the laws from violation, by the popular liberty ? This was the case formerly in our island, and would be so still, if the folly of