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Ꮲ Ꭱ E F A C Ꭼ
TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.
The only translation through which of the author was found to be in many the celebrated chef-d'ouvre of Madame de instances lamentably misconceived. In Staël has been hitherto known to the others such a latitude was taken with the English reader, was of so inferior a char- original as seemed to betray a doubtful acter, that a great proportion of the perception of its meaning; and often the thoughts of the author were wholly lost, most beautiful trains of thought were left or so obscured and distorted as to be lit-half developed. These defects it has been tle better than lost. A new translation our object to repair. was in progress here when that which is The poetical contributions of L. E. L. now presented to the reader in a revised add much to the value of this edition. shape was received from England. It They are worthy of her reputation. We was prepared for the London Library of have thought it requisite to discard a poStandard Novels. Its style was found etical translation, by another hand, of characterized by a degree of ease and the chapter entitled, “ Fragments of the grace rarely met with in a translation. thoughts of Corinne,” and have substituted The idiom of a foreign tongue has seldom a strictly literal prose translation. The been more completely thrown off. But incongruity of a poetical garb with the such a peculiar merit was perhaps hardly reflections and feelings expressed in that consistent with the most thorough and chapter will be obvious to every reader. practical familiarity with the language of It does not come within the design of the original. A short examination detect- this notice to present an analysis of this ed numerous errors, and it was found ne- celebrated work. We cannot, however, cessary to subject the whole book to a forbear transcribing from the recently pubminute and rigid revision. The sense lished memoirs of one of the most disIt may be thought proper to give an exam
tinguished critics of this or any other age, ple of some of the mistakes which we found it Sir James Mackintosh, a few sentiments necessary to correct. One, of quite an amusing to show the estimation in which“Corinne" character, may be taken from the very first book. was held by him. At the fire in Ancona, Oswald is represented as The extracts which follow are from Sir bringing on shore the ship's pump, to aid in extinguishing the conflagration! This ludicrous James' diary. error arose from the use in the French of the 2 Corinne,' first volume. I have not word pompe instead of pompe à feu-fire-engine, received the original, and I can no longer as in English we use the word "engine" instead refrain from a translation. of " fire-engine,” when the connection is such as to supersede the use of the compound word.
“It is, as has been said, a tour in Italy, The engines belonging to the ship were of course mixed with a novel. The tour is full of iutended.
picture and feeling, and of observations on
national character, so refined that scarcely materials out of which she has formed any one else could have made them. * Corinne.
“She paints Ancona and above all Rome “ 13th. Second and third volumes of in the liveliest colors. She alone seems •Corinne.' I swallow Corinne slowly, to have inhabited the Eternal City. that I may taste every drop. I prolong
“ In the character of Corinne, Madame my enjoyment and really dread its termide Staël draws an imaginary self—what nation. she is, what she had the power of being, “ How she ennobles the most common and what she might easily imagine that scenes !-a sermon from the quarter deck she might have become. Purity, which of a ship of war! her sentiments and principles teach her to “ 15th. Fourth and fifth volumes of love, talents and accomplishments, which · Corinne.' Farewell Corinne ! Powerher energetic genius might easily have ful and extraordinary book ; full of faults acquired ; uncommon scenes fitted for her so obvious, as not to be worth enumeratextraordinary mind; and even beauty ing, but of which a single sentence has which her fancy contemplates so con- excited more feeling, and exercised more stantly and which in the enthusiasm of reason than the most faultless models of invention she bestows on this adorned as elegance.” well as improved self.—These are the
C 0 Ꭱ I N N E ;
they almost repined at receiving felicity from
one on whom they could never bestow it. In the year 1794, Oswald, Lord Nelvil, a Yet his natural disposition was versatile, Scotch nobleman, left Edinburgh to pass the sensitive and impassioned ; uniting all the winter in Italy. He possessed a noble and qualities which could excite himself or others; handsome person, a fine mind, a great name, but misfortune and repentance had rendered an independent fortune ; but his health was him timid, and he thought to disarm, by eximpaired; and the physicians, fearing that his acting nothing from, fate. He trusted to find, lungs were affected, prescribed the air of the in a firm adherence to his duties, and a resouth. He followed their advice though with nouncement of all enjoyments, a security little interest in his own recovery, hoping, at against the sorrows which had distracted him. least, to find some amusement in the varied No pleasures of the world seemed to him objects he was about to behold. That heavi- worth the risk of its pains; but when we are est of all afflictions, the loss of a father, was capable of feeling thein, by what mode of life the cause of his malady. The remorse inspir- can we hope to escape them? ed by scrupulous delicacy still more embitter- Lord Nelvil flattered himself that he should ed his regret and haunted his imagination. quit Scotland without regret, as he had reWhen we suffer we readily convince ourselves mained there without pleasure ; but it is not that we are guilty, and violent griefs bring thus with sensitive imaginations; he not pangs even to the conscience itself.
suspect the strength of the ties which bound At five-and-twenty he was already tired of him to the very scene of his miseries, the life; he judged the future by the past, and his home of his father. There were apartments wounded sensibility was no longer alive to which he could not approach without a shudthe illusions of the heart. No one could be der, and yet, when he had resolved to quit more kind and devoted to his friends ; yet them, he felt more lonely than ever.
A sennot even the good he effected gave him one sation of desolateness stole over his heart; sensation of pleasure. He constantly sacri- he could no longer weep; he could no more ficed his tastes to those of others; but this recall those little local associations which so total forgetfulness of self could not be explain- deeply touched him; his recollections had less ed by generosity alone; it was often to be of life; they belonged not to the objects that attributed to a degree of melancholy, which surrounded him. He did not think the less of rendered him careless of his own doom. The him whom he mourned, but he found it more indifferent considered this mood extremely difficult to recall his presence. graceful; but those who loved him felt that Sometimes, too, he reproached himself for he gave himself to the happiness of others, abandoning the place where his father had like a man who hoped for none himself; and ( dwelt. “Who knows,” would he sigh, “it the shades of the dead can follow the objects and harmonious; nay, his grief, far from inof their affection? They may not be permit- juring his temper, taught him a still greater ted to wander beyond the spots where their degree of consideration and kindness for ashes repose ! Perhaps, at this moment, my others. father deplores mine absence, powerless to Twice or thrice in the voyage from Har. recall me.
Alas! may not a host of wild wich to Emden the sea threatened a storm. events have persuaded him that I have be- Nelvil directed the sailors, cheered the passentrayed his tenderness, turned rebel to my gers; and when toiling at the ropes himself, country, to his will, and all that is sacred on or taking for a while the helmsman's place, earth?" These remembrances occasioned there was a vigor and address in what he did, him such insupportable despair, that, far from which could not be regarded as the simple daring to confide them in any one, he dreaded effect of personal strength and activity, for even to sound their depths himself; so easy mind pervaded it all. is it, out of our own reflections, to create ir- When they were about to part, all on board reparable evils !
crowded round him to take leave, thanking It is a greater trial to leave one's country, him for a thousand good offices, which he had when one must cross the sea. There is such forgotten : sometimes it was a child that he solemnity in a pilgrimage, the first steps of had caressed and amused; more frequently, which are on the ocean. It seems as if a gulf some old man whose steps he had supported were opening behind you, and your return be- while the wind rocked the vessel. A greater coming impossible; besides, the sight of the absence of personal feeling was scarce ever main always profoundly impresses us, as the known. His voyage had passed without his image of that infinitude which perpetually at- having devoted a moment to himself; he gave tracts the soul, in which thought ever feels up his time to others, with a melancholy beherself lost. Oswald, leaning near the helm, nevolence. As he quitted the vessel the his eyes fixed on the waves, appeared perfect- whole crew cried, almost with one voice, ly calm. Pride and diffidence generally pre- “God bless you, my Lord! we wish you betvented his betraying his emotions even before ter!" Yet Oswald' had not once complained his friends ; ; but sad feelings struggled within. of his sufferings ; and the persons of a highHe thought on the time when that spectacle er class, who crossed with him, had said not animated his youth with a desire to cleave the a word on this subject; but the common peobillows and measure his strength with theirs. ple, in whom their superiors so rarely confide,
“Why," he bitterly mused," why thus con- are wont to detect the truth without the aid of stantly yield to meditation? How much plea- words: they pity you when you suffer, though sure is there in active life, in those violent ignorant of the cause; and their spontaneous exertions that make us feel the energy of ex- sympathy is unmixed either with censure or istence! death itself, then, is looked on as but advice. an event, perhaps glorious; at least sudden, and not preceded by decay; but that death which finds us without being bravely sought,that gloomy death which steals from you, in a night, all you held dear, which mocks your regrets, repulses your supplications, and pitilessly opposes to your desire the eternal laws of time and nature,-that death inspires a
CHAPTER 11. kind of contempt for human destiny, for the impotence of grief, and all the vain efforts TRAVELLING, say what we will, is one of that wreck themselves against necessity.” the saddest pleasures in life. If you ever feel
Such were the thoughts by which Oswald at ease in a strange place, it is because you was haunted. The vivacity of youth was have begun to make it your home; but to traunited with the reflection of age. He gave verse unknown lands, to hear a language himself up to feelings which might have oc- which you hardly comprehend, to look on cupied the mind of his father in his last hours, faces unconnected with either your past or and infused the ardor of five-and-twenty into future, this is solitude without repose or digthe melancholy contemplations of declining nity; for the hurry to arrive where no one years. He was weary of everything; yet, awaits you, that agitation whose sole cause is nevertheless, lamented the loss of happiness curiosity, lessens you in your own esteem, as if he was still alive to its illusions.
until new objects can become bonnd to you This inconsistency, entirely at variance by some sweet links of sentiment and habit. with the will of nature, disordered the depths Oswald felt his despondency redoubled in of his soul; but his manners were ever gentle I crossing Germany to reach Italy, obliged by