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Page:Os Lusíadas (Camões, tr. Burton, 1880), Volume 1.djvu/12

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viii
The Lusiads.

the best because so quaint; then, Messrs. Mickle, Musgrave, and Mitchell; latterly, Mr. J. J. Aubertin, Mr. Duff, and Mr. Hewitt.

But this translation stands apart from all the rest—as far apart as the Passionspiel of Ober-Ammergau stands apart as a grand dramatic act of devotion from all the other Miracle-plays, now suppressed. This translation is not a literary tour de force done against time or to earn a reputation; it is the result of a daily act of devotion of twenty years from a man of this age who has taken the hero of a former age for his model, his master, as Dante did Virgil; and between whose two fates—Master and Disciple—exists a strange and fatal similarity.

What I tremble for in its publication is, that it is too aesthetic for the British Public, and will not meet with its due meed of appreciation as the commoner translations have done. If a thousand buy it, will a hundred read it, and will ten understand it? I say to myself; but then I brighten at the thought that to those ten it will be the gem of their library.

It stands in poetry where Boito's "Mefistofele" stands in music. He was not appalled by Gounod, nor Spohr, nor Wagner, nor Meyerbeer, and in the opinion of many musicians has distanced them all. The first