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Translation

THE following observations on Translation are offered to our modern doers into English. To whom I am indebted for this article has escaped my recollection.

To render a Translation perfect, it is necessary to attend to these rules.—The translator must possess a thorough knowledge of the two languages. He must be exact, not only in giving the thoughts of his author, but even his own words, when they become essential and necessary. He must preserve the spirit and peculiar genius of his author. He must distinguish every character by its manners and its nature, by unfolding the sense and the words with suitable phrases and parallel expressions. He must yield beauties by other beauties, and figures by other figures, whenever the idiom of language does not admit of a close version. He must not employ long sentences, unless they serve to render the sense more intelligible, and the diction more elegant. He must attempt a neatness in his manner; and, to effect this, he must know skilfully to contract or enlarge his periods. He must unite the too concise sentences of his author, if his style, like that of Tacitus, be close and abrupt. He must not only sedulously attempt precision and purity of diction, but he must strive also to embellish his version with those graces and images which frequently lie so closely hidden, that nothing but the being familiarly conversant with his author can discover them. And, lastly, he must present us with the sentiments of his author, without a servile attachment to his words or phrases, but rather, according to his spirit and his genius.

A translator is a painter who labours after an original. He must carefully reveal the traits of his model. He copies, he does not compose. Whenever he trespasses on his limits, he ceases to be a translator, and becomes an author.