Abbildungen der Seite

grammatical nature, a certain interesting resemblance to the s antique cast of the other. It is as if, in visiting the apart-3 ments, and exploring the obscure recesses of some' ancient half ruined edifice, we were conducted by an exceedingly old. man, in the costume of the age in which it was built, and carrying along a dark passage the identical candlestick which :* had been used there centuries before.

But there can be nothing of this representatire quality, in the antique diction of a translation of a work written in one of what we call the dead languages; except perhaps in the case of that work being in the barbarous Latin dialect of the monks of the middle ages. Sir T. More, by, adopting the classical Latin as the vehicle of his fiction and speculations, decided, that his book should belong, in point of language, to no particular age; and should bear no relation to any stage in the progress of any modern language. The distinctions of more ancient, or more modern, could obviously have nothing to do with a work in a language, which had been in an invariable state during the whole Christian era, and was certain to con. 's tinue in the same state to the end of time. The antiquatedeast, therefore, of such a translation as the present, benrs no relation whatever to any thing in the original. The only, thing, then, in which a translation can represent this original is, to express its sense in the most accurate and gant man. per; and since it is presumed that this can best be done in the present phraseology of our language, (else why do we account the language to be improved in having been brought to its present state by the labours of such a train of able writers) it follows that an old translation cannot be worth republishing. It follows, too, that we cannot weil comprehend Mr. Dibdin's meaning, when, after noticing the extreme scarcity of this performance of Raphe Robinson, he says; “ Its intrinsic value has appeared to me to be equal to its rarity.' It cannot now have any value on the mere ground of Englishing the Utopia, be. : cause that has been better done since, and is besides a very easy task: there is no value in the information, that there existed in the year 1551 a person of the name of Raphe Robinson who was able to accomplish such a work; the only : imaginable value of the book, therefore, consists in its being a specimen of the structure of the English language as written at that period ; but in this view it is totally needless, siuce: there remain so many works of that age, by authors, original authors, who have incomparably stronger claims to be stadied than this translator. There are, for instance, English warks of

Sir T. More himself, some pieces judiciously extracted froin which might please, both as examples of the old Englišh dialect, and as possessing “intrinsic value.'

A a 2

But it is not to be concluded that, because such an old version was not worth reprinting, the work before us has rendered no service to literature; for the version forms probably less than half the contents. Mr. D. has given a very long introduction, and has followed the notes, scattered plentifully under Robinson's text, with more than fifty pages of ' supplemental notes' at the end of the work. Putting all this together into one extremely miscellaneous mass, we think they afford a measure of information and amusement for which no lover of the curiosities of English literature ought to be ungrateful; and which will and must gratify all whose attention has been especially excited by the character or works of Sir T. More. Under a high moral and religious estimate of the value and best use of time, we might hesitate to applaud the application of so large a portion of it in the manner in which this work proves it to have been applied by Mr. Dibdin; but since he has so applied it, we should be sorry the admirers of More should not have the benefit.

The first part of the introduction relates to the family of More, his parents, wives, and children. Due attention is paid especially to the vixen, his second wife, and to his most ad mirable daughter Margaret, whom her father delighted to acknowledge as almost the rival of his own accomplishments, and her husband as the companion and even leader of his studies. Some passages are given of her father's affecting core respondence and conversations a little before his death. The next section is an account of the lives that have been published of Sir T. More, specifying their titles and dates, and brief. ly, and, in some instances, we think, mueh too flatteringly, estimating their merits. These lives are no less than eleven, exclusively of those which are to be found in so many biogra. phical dictionaries and encyclopædias. More's English works, printed in one volume of 1458 double-columned and closely printed black-letter pages,' in 1557, are enumerated, slightly criticized, and in some degree subjected to the reader's judgement by means of short extracts, in the third section.

The part of his works first noticed is the poetry, which Mr. Dibdin acknowledges would have formed but a slender foundation for his fame. One of the earliest and most ingenious of his productions is inserted, after the following introductory sentence.

« « MAYSTER THOMAS MORE, in his youth devysed in hys fathers house in London, a goodly hanging of fyne paynted clothe, with nine pageauntes, and verses over every of those pageauntes ; which verses ex. pressed and declared what the Images in those pageauntes represented :. and also in those pageauates were pagated the shynges that the verset over them dyd (ia extecte) declare,

The supposed first effusion of More's youthful 'muse,' shewing how a Sergeant would learn to play the Frere,' is inserted in the history of the English language,' prefixed to Johnson's Dictionary. From another set of verses, the twelve properties and conditions of a lover,' Mr. D. has quoted several stanzas, besides the following.

• Here shoulde the love of God ensaumple take,
To have him continually in remembraụnce;
With him in prayer and medication wake,
Whyle other playe, revil, sing, and daunce.
None earthly joge, disporte, or vayne pleasaunce,
Should hini delite, or any thing remove

His ardent mind from God his heavenly love." In his extracts from the prose works, Mr. Dibdin has introduced the modern orthography, for reasons which we cannot profess to account sufficient. If old compositions are reprinted merely for the sake of so much dry instruction as they are thought capable of affording, let the old spelling be dismissed by all means; but if they are cited partly as matters of curiosity, and if it is desired that the thoughts should come accompanied by all their associations with times long past, we think the divesting them of any circumstance of their antique array, which can be retained without a real inconvenience to the reader,* diminishes in a certain degree their power to make the appropriate impression.

The first in the list of prose works is the life, and the trans lation of some of the writings, of Picus of Mirandula, conjectured to have been composed before More had attained his twentieth year. From this performance Mr. D. makes an ex. tract, exemplifying the credulity which in some points reduced men of the clearest understandings to the condition of children, in that age of fantastic philosophy and popish faith.

• A marvellous sight was seen before his birth (that of Picus] : there appeared a fiery garland standing over the chamber of his mother while she travailed, and suddenly vanished away: which appearance was, perad. venture, a token that he which should that hour in the company of mortal men be born, in the perfection of understanding should be like the perfect figure of that round circle or garland; and that his excellent name should round about the circle of this whole world be magnified: whose mind should always, as the fire, aspire upwards to heavenly things: and whose fiery eloquence should always, with an ardent heart, in time to come worship and praise Almighty God with all his strength. And as that dame suddenly vanished, so should this fire soon from the eyes of mortal people be hid. We have oftentimes read, that such unknowo and strange tokens hath gone before, or followeth the nativity of excellent, wise, and virtuous men, departing, as it were, and (by God's commandment) sever.

To most readers the black letter would be a serious inconvenience

ing the cradles of such special children from the company of other of the common sort: and shewing that they be born to the achieving of some great thing,

• But to pass over other : the great St. Ambrose, a swarm of bees flew about his mouth in his, cradle ; and some entered into his mouth, and after that, issuing out again, and flying up on high, hiding themselves among the clouds, escaped both the sight of his father and of all them that were

present. Which prognostication, one Paulinus making much of, expounded it to signify to us the sweet honey-combs of his pleasant writing, which should shew out the celestial gifts of God, and should lift up the mind of men from earth into heaven. Vol. I. p lxxvii.

Such of our readers as the pleasure in the detection of ingenious and amusing sophistry, will be gratified to exercise themselves on an extract from a piece intitled, a dialogue of Syr Thomas More, Knighte; one of the counsaill of our soverayne lord the kinge, and chancellour of his duchy of Lancaster. Wherein be treatyd divers maters, as of the veneracion and worship of ymages and relyques, praying to saintes, and goying on pilgrimage. With many other thinges touchyng the pestilent secte of Luther and Tyndale, by the tone bygone

in Saxony, and by the tother laboured to be brought into England. Made in the yere of our Lord 1528.?

Why Hereticks speak against Images.' * But now, as I began to say, since all names spoken or written be but images if you.set nought by the name of Jesus spoken or written, why should you set nought by his image, painted or engraven, that representech his holy person to your remembrance, as much and more too as doth his name written? Nor these two words, Christus Crucificus, do not so lively represent us the remembrance of his bitter passion, as doth a blessed image of the crucifis; neither to a layman, nor unto a learned. And this perceive these heretics themselves well enough; nor they speak not against images any furtherance of devotion, but plainly for a malicious mind, to quench men's devotions ;" for they see well enough that there is no man

but if he loveth anether, he delighteth in his image or any thing of his. And these heretics that be so sore against the images of God, and his

holy saints, would be yet right angry with him that would dishonestly handle an image made in remembrance of one of themselves ; where the wretches forbear not: villainously to handle and cast dirt in dispute upon the holy crucifix, an image made in remembrance of our Saviour himself, and not only of his most blessed person, but also of his most bitter pas. sion.' Vol. 1. p. xcii.

It is unnecessary to specify all the titles, to the number of -fourteen or hfteen, of 'the pieces,composing the ponderous

and extremely scarce volume which forins the monument of Sir Thomas as a polemic; we should rather say his grave, for the greater part of these works, written against the pratestants, may probably never be read by ten persons from this sime forthWe-guess, though somewhat diffidently, that


this is an achievement to which Mr. D. has found himself not altogether unequal, as he briefly delivers an opinion on many of the pieces. Notwithstanding every partiality in favour of More, he does honestly give, on the whole, such a judgement on a great proportion of the mass, as to diminish the envy excited in us on first reading the information, given pretty evidently in the spirit of a boast, that he is the possessor of a fine copy of the rare book, and the prerent any regret we might have been tempted to entertain, that the book must now always be the same as if non-existent to all but an exceedingly diminutive portion of the reading, and even the literary part of the nation. At the same time, it is plainly impossible there should not be a great number of beautiful passages in such a quantity of composition of such an author, whatever were the subjects, and in whatever spirit he wrote. And, as some of these beautiful passages must be generalities of thought, and as many others of them of a more specific nature may relate to topics not totally superannuated, if any man of taste now alive has read the huge volume, noting its beauties as he proceeded, or shall hereafter read and thus note it, he would certainly gratify many other men of taste very much by printing a small volume of the choicest Moriana. Mr. D. says that More's “ Apology” is written, occasionally, in a manly and energetic, as well as in a pious and moving strain. Indeed, energetic we may be very

certain, it must be, as any man's vindication of his own conduct would be who had the ability and conscious integrity of Sir T. More. Now as this apology necessarily refers often to points of some importance in the history of those times, it would seem not unreasonable to suppose that in the present ransack and reprinting of old histories and memoirs, a literal reprint of this performance, or at least of some parts of it, would not be altogether uninteresting as a piece or history, while combining with whatever value it could possess in this view, the stronger attraction of a delineation of More's character drawn by himself. We hope Mr. D. will deem this suggestion worth his consideration. But if any such thing were thought feasible, we must be obstinately of opinion that a true taste in the literary antique will dictate a most careful adherence to the original orthography.

ATT protestant admirers of this accomplished man will concur with Mr. D. in regretting, that, if he was to be a papist, he had not, like some other men of fine genius who were slaves to the same faith, chiefly employed his studious labours on the belles lettres, instead of devoting many years of the most intense exertion to the support of an execrable superstition, and the annoyance of the only persons on earth

« ZurückWeiter »