10 s. xii. JULY 24, 1909.] NOTES AND QUERIES.
ROBINSON CRUSOE'S LITERARY DESCEND- ANTS (10 S. xii. 7). Our old friend " Philip Quarll " was one of R. C.'s earliest children, born in 1727, or perhaps a year or two before. See, e.g., 4 S. xii. 193. W. C. B.
NOTES ON BOOKS, &o.
The Annals of Tacitus, Books XI. -XVI. An
English Translation, with Introduction, Notes,
and Maps, by George Gilbert Ramsay, Litt.D.
THE late Professor of Humanity at Glasgow has given us in this well-printed volume an introduction of seventy pages, which deals in the most able and interesting way with the difficulties of translation in general, and of a rendering of Tacitus in par- ticular. He explains with the insight born of long scholarship those features of Tacitean style which make a translator despair, and wonder if even the contemporary Roman grasped readily all the mean- ing intended. We think he must have sometimes muttered to himself : " Brevis esse laboro obscurus fio."
The times and crimes of Nero afford a great chance for incisive writing, and in the books before us Tacitus rises to the highest point in his extant writings, making by his biting brevity incessant demands which our own tongue can hardly satisfy. It seems to us that French by its superior neatness and brevity is nearer to the master's Latin, and many of 'his epigrams have passed into that language.
A rendering in English which would satisfy -at once the scholar and the stylist we believe, in spite of all that is said, to be past hope. But Dr. Ramsay niaintams a high level of language throughout, and is not devoid of vigour. At the same time we wish that he had used a little more freedom in re-form- ing, and sometimes separating, sentences which are connected in the Latin. Here and there we detect a touch of formal English which seems un- called for, but the dignity of the historian isalwavs admirably given, and Dr. Ramsay is particularly successful in rendering passages of oratio obliqua: In some cases the emphasis of the Latin seems to have been reduced for no particular reason. Thus after the death of Britannicus (Book xiii. 16), the whole circumstances of which are well given by the translator, Tacitus adds :
" At Agrippinae is pavor, ea consternatio mentis, quamvis vultu premeretur, emicuit ut perinde ignaram fuisse atque Octaviam sororem Britannici constiterit."
This is rendered :
" Agrippina's consternation, in spite of her com- mand of countenance, showed plainly that she knew no more than the lad's own sister Octavia.
Her consternation is much more emphatic than this in the Latin text. The striking "emicuit" is watered down to a colourless word.
On the whole, we are well satisfied with the results of a task the difficulties of which we know from attempts of our own. The translation has the advantage of notes at the bottom of the liatre. which are always informing, and generally judicious in disputed matters.
The First Printed Translation into English of the Great Foreign Classics: a Supplement to Text- books of English Literature. By William J. Harris. (Routledge & Sons.)
MR. HARRIS has filled a distinct gap with this useful little volume, which supplies an alphabetical index of authors and English translations. He casts his net wide, and goes much beyond his title. We could not, for instance, apply the title of " classic,' much less "great classic," to the works of the first writer on the list, Edmond About. In the first few pages we find 'Achilles Tatius,' '^Elfric 5 ' '^sop,' 'Alexander,' 'Alfieri,' 'Ancren Riwle, 'Hans Andersen,' and several "Anglo-Saxon" headings. Brief notes are added to a large number of the entries, but we cannot say that many of the scraps of criticism given are of value. We doubt, for instance, if " the comedies of Aristophanes bear a close resemblance to the work of our comic plav- writers to-day.' There is danger in taking such remarks at second hand, and some of those quoted are distinctly feeble, if not incorrect. Under 'Arabian Nights' Entertainment' we find the first English rendering of Galland's version, i.e., the translation of a translation. This is undoubtedly the popular source of the book, but Lane, working from the original, gave much more of it. Two of the best-known stories mentioned in the note following have little Arabic authority, and may have been due to Galland himself.
The account of Balzac is incomplete, excluding, for instance, such important stories as 'La Cousine Bette ' and ' La Mai son du Chat qui Pelote. ' ' Cesar Bittoreau' is an obvious misprint. The volume a" a whole, however, is well printed in view of the mass of names and details it contains. It would have been an advantage to know in each case whether the translation was in prose or verse, also to have the title of the original in brackets. One might easily imagine, for instance, that the two separate titles under ' Apuleius ' and ' Marcus Aurelius ' re- ferred to different books, which is not the case. "Ovidus' should be Ovidius. Longus is called " a Greek sophist " ; and Longinus, whose importance is attested two pages earlier, is not included. We should have been better pleased with the book if it had confined itself to bibliography and not indulged; in snippets of information, apparently for examinees; These short cuts to knowledge, ancient and modern, often lead to pretentious sciolism.
Sir Walter Scott. Tales of a Grandfather: being the History of Scotland from the Earliest Period' to the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Edited, with. Introduction and Notes, by P. Giles. (Cam- bridge, University Press.) William Cobbett. Rural Rides. Selected ani
edited by J. H. Lobban. (Same publishers.)' THESE two books are some of the first volumes in a series of " English Literature for Schools," and both are admirably chosen for their purpose, having a secure reputation with men of letters, but perhaps hardly that circulation among the young, or, indeed, the mature readers of the present incurious generation which they deserve.
Dr. Giles is an admirable Scotch scholar, and adds all that is needed to supplement Scott's delightful narrative in the way of later research.
Cobbett's ' Rural Rides ' are full of verve and good, plain English, and thoroughly auoreciatei by Mr. Lobban in his Introduction. The notes are brief, but sufficient.