Page:The Iliad of Homer (Butler).djvu/9

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The Head Master of one of our foremost public schools told me not long since, that he had been asked what canons he thought it most essential to observe in translating from English into Latin. His answer was, that in the first place the Latin must be idiomatic, in the second it must flow, and in the third it must keep as near as it could to the English from which it was being translated.

I said, "Then you hold that if either the Latin or the English must perforce give place, it is the English that should yield rather than the Latin?"

This, he replied, was his opinion; and surely the very sound canons above given apply to all translation. The genius of the language into which a translation is being made is the first thing to be considered; if the original was readable, the translation must be so also, or however good it may be as a construe, it is not a translation.

It follows that a translation should depart hardly at all from the modes of speech current in the translator's own times, inasmuch as nothing is readable, for long, which affects any other diction than that of the age in which it is written. We know the charm of