Marmion has been read by multitudes who would find the perusal of the Paradise Lost too severe an undertaking: and there can be little doubt that Scott would have done unwisely had he tired to produce a Miltonic poem. It is true of course that if Homer’s heroes are, as my friend Mr. Arnold so strongly contends, not mosstroopers, Virgil’s have still less of the Border character; but it is better to run the risk of importing a few unseasonable associations, than to sacrifice the living character of the narrative by making it stiff and cumbrous. Apart from associations I believe that the metre of Marmion and the Lord of the Isles is one that possesses high capabilities, even for a translation of Virgil. It is not without dignity; it has lyrical tones which lend themselves well to occasions of pathos. Its variety enables it, by a change of measure, to mark those transitions of feeling which no poet exhibits more frequently than the author of the Æneid. No doubt it is the part of a great artist to do as Virgil has done, and draw out all varieties of expression from one and the same instrument: but to most of those who engage in the work of translation it cannot but be an advantage to employ a measure which is really several measures in one. I will only venture to say that in more than one passage, where I have myself been habitually most affected by the cadence of the Latin, I have seemed to myself, rightly or wrongly, to have been able to produce something of a corresponding effect by in one way or another varying the measure. While wishing under all the circumstances to guard carefully against anything like a servile imitation of Scott, I have yet regarded him as my master rather than Byron. Unlike as the spirit of Border warfare may be to the spirit of the Æneid, the spirit of Oriental passion is still more unlike. Even the ballad-like peculiarities of Scott have some similarity to the epic commonplace which Virgil felt himself obliged by the laws of his work to borrow from Homer. It must be remembered too that Scott’s poems, in respect of style, differ not a little from each other. The style of the Lay is comparatively rude and unpolished: the style of the Lord of the Isles is comparatively cultivated and elaborate. I need not say that it is the latter type that I have made my model rather than the former. I have sedulously eschewed what Mr. Arnold calls the ballad slang, even where it offered itself without the seeking: such expressions as ‘out and spoke,’ ‘well I wot,’ ‘all on Parnassus’ slope,’ I have left where I found them. I have not indeed denied myself an occasional archaism, any more than Virgil himself has done, as I cannot see that ‘mote’ for ‘might’ and ‘eyne’ for ‘eyes’ are more objectionable than ‘faxo’ for ‘fecero’ and ‘aulai’ for ‘aulæ.’ But I have excluded all such primitive peculiarities as seemed inconsistent with high finish, expletives like ‘did say’ and ‘did sue,’ and inversions like ‘soon as the wildered child saw he.’ In the versification I have avoided, with scarce a single exception, that tripping anapæstic movement which deprives the Lay of dignity, and makes Harold the Dauntless read like a burlesque: where I have introduced a redundant syllable into a line, it has generally been in the case of polysyllables, by the use of which I hoped to give the line of eight syllables something of the stateliness of the heroic. Once and once only have I ventured on a double rhyme. These details are sufficiently trifling; and I mention them merely to show that in appropriating a measure of considerable laxity to a heroic subject, I have been more anxious to curtail than to extend the freedom I have gained.

It would be vain to deny that during the progress of the translation I have often been made sensible of the profound difference between poetry like Scott’s, which, with all its antiquarianism, is still modern, and poetry like Virgil’s, which, with all its modern affinities, is still ancient. An ancient narrative is minute where a modern one is brief: it is brief where a modern one is diffuse. Virgil is full of details, but always rapid: the reader is carried past a number of objects in succession, without being allowed, except on very rare occasions, to pause at any. Scott too is rapid after his fashion; but it is the rapidity of one who loves motion for its own sake, and to whom time is of no particular value: after a gallop of a few miles he is glad to pull up and descant on anything that he may be passing on the roadside. Even the constant occurrence of ‘sic ait,’ ‘talia voce refert,’ and the like, after every speech in the Æneid, which of course it would be unjustifiable not to represent in a translation, is enough to remind the translator that the taste of the readers for whom Virgil wrote is different from the taste of those whom he must himself endeavour to please. No doubt this disparity between the ancient and the modern manner would have made itself felt had I chosen a metre less connected by association with the present century. Even Dryden, though his manner is far less distinctively modern than that of Scott, surprises us from time to time with something which we feel he would not have said had he not been translating: even Pope, though he has taken almost unlimited licence to omit or recast anything which did not suit his notions of good taste in narrative, makes us occasionally sensible that the story he is telling is not his own. But I have sometimes thought that

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