otes, most of on accounently corre


that shines uniformly and continually. Scott has fewer fine passages ; but his versification is more permanently correct : he is chiefly to be valued, however, on account of his critical and explanatory notes, most of which are selected with taste from preceding writers, and many of which are able specimens of original criticism. Mr. Samuel Wesley, Rector of Epworth in Lincolnshire, and father of the celebrated John Wesley, published, in 1736, a series of dissertations upon this poem, in Latin, that fill up a folio volume of six hundred pages; evincing more reading than taste, and somewhat more fancy than either—his performance being embellished with what he supposes to be a correct likeness of the patriarch at the age of seventy. Mr. Grey, of Hinton, in Northamptonshire, published, in 1742, an octavo edition of the original text, re. duced to metrical verses upon Bishop Hare's system, and accompanied with Albertus Schultens's Latin rendering, and the more select of his notes; the Latin rendering being in a few places altered, and the notes occasionally amended by original remarks. Bishop Lowth gave, as is well known, a brief, but admirable history of the nature, scope, and peculiar beauties of this poem, in his elegant academical prelections De Sacrâ Poesi Hebræorum, which were afterwards translated into English by Dr. George Gregory. And Dr. Stock, at that time bis..op of Kilala, published in 1805 a new English translation of the whole book, to use his own words, “ metrically arranged according to the Massora," and accompanied by critical and explanatory notes at the foot of the text, and by the authorised English version on the opposite page.

Such may be regarded as a general view of the subject, (a few works being omitted which it is not necessary to notice,) when the translation before us was undertaken. The fair author is well known to our readers from a volume of Fragments in Prose and Verse, which has already been noticed with high approbation in this journal ; and still farther from the very interesting biographical memoirs concerning her, with which those Fragments were introduced; and which prove the short and evanescent life she was permitted to enjoy, to have been equally characterised by moral and intellectual excellencies—that scarcely a moment was suffered to pass unimproved that the extensive, and we may add almost unrivalled, talents entrusted to her, were ardently, as well as incessantly devoted to the best purposes and that she lived more in thirty years than most people do in fourscore. To the account already given of her, we shall take leave to add the following statement from the editor's preface to the work before us, as immediately connected with the subject.

"In her seventeenth year, she acquired some knowledge of the Arabic and Persian languages, when a very fine dictionary and grammar, in the possession of her brother, led her thoughts to oriental literature ;* and in a letter written in the following year, (1794,) she mentions her intention to begin the study of Hebrew In February, 1795, she says. 66 As to Persian all my books are at Bath, so that I shall most probably forget the little I knew, when I saw you last.” These books were never afterwards in her possession ; but it appears, that, in the course of a few months, she had made good use of them, for among her manuscripts was found a large collection of Hebrew words,t compared with the Arabic, or Persian, to shew the resemblance between these languages; with an explanation of the Arabic names of many of the stars, and other observa. tions upon that language. In 1799, she writes to her friend, " If you want to consult the Syriac translation of the New Testament on any particular passage, let me know it. Mr. CLAXTON has a very fine one, printed in Hebrew characters; and the language is so very like the Hebrew, and where it differs from that, so like the Arabic, that I can read it very well.” What facility of comprehension (as it has been before stated) Miss Smith may have brought to her Hebrew studies, from these prior investigations, cannot now be ascertained; but never, at any period of her life, did she derive from any person the smallest assistance in the pursuit of them. She had frequent access to an Hebrew bible, and for several years before her death it was constantly in her possession.

Mr. CLAYTON gave her a little book, which contained maxime and opinions of the Rabbins, and sundry roots of Hebrew words; and his library furnished also a collection of prayers, used in the Jewish synagogue. She had also Bayley's Hebrew Grammar, and when she began to study that language, she had an opportunity of consulting Leigh's Dictionary: These appear to have been all the helps she had, till the year 1801, when she was put in possession of Parkhurst's Lexicon; and during her resia dence at Coniston, where she had access to no other book from which she could derive any assistance, the translation of Job was the employment of her solitary hours, and was finished in November, 1803.

• In a letter written in 1805, she says, “ I never read Peters on Job, por any thing about the Hebrew language, except the book of Dr. Ken: picot, which you lent me, and Lowth’s Prælections. Parkhurst has been my only guide, but I fancy he is a very good one."

A few chapters of Genesis, many of the Psalms, and some parts of the Prophets, filled some scattered leaves among her papers, and exhibit proofs of her unwearied application to the study of the holy writings. It may fairly therefore be alledged, that with the aid she experienced from the Grammar and Lexicon of Parkhuist, and without any other direction than what she collected from an accurate investigation of the roots, and then following and considering the connection between them and their deriva. tives ; from making, in short, the Hebrew language explicative of itself; she has extracted from this inexhaustible mine of divide knowledge (for

* «See Fragments, vol. 1. fage 32." t. This collection will, I believe, be printed by the Bishop of St. David's, as a sequel tu his Arabic alphabet.'

such it may be truly called) the rich ore of learning, on which she has to huppily stamped a value by her own exquisite skill and judgment.

Through the whole of her remarks and alterations, she never alludes to, and I am confident, never saw, any other version but that of our Bible; and although in her occasional deviations from it, there is, in many passages, a similarity of construction with that of some or other of our best commentators, there is also a certain disimilarity in the turn of thought, or the mode of expression, which peculiarly marks it to be her own, and removes any suspicion of her having borrowed from them, gr of having been biassed by any pre-conceived opinions.'

Nothing can be more correct than almost the whole of this view of the translation. It proves, in every page, that the writer's entire initiation into Hebrew, and her knowledge of that language, were derived from the very respectable source of Mr. Parkhurst. His train of thinking guides her in every instance; and we believe we may say, that every passage he has incidentally interpreted in the course of his dictionary, is introduced, without an exception, into his pupil's version.

We think highly of the authority under which she studied ; and have no hesitation in adding, that every friend to the sacred writings, and especially to those of the Old Testament, is under essential obligations to an accomplished scholar, who has so peculiarly smoothed, and even charmed the way to a general knowledge of the Hebrew text. And we trust the very considerable success which has accompanied the fair writer before us, may prove an incentive to multitudes of young persons of both sexes to follow so laudable and inviting an example. Yet we should be unjust to the character that belongs to us; we should neither be veracious nor candid ; if we were to add, that such an elementary education could possibly qualify them for becoming critics and ex. positors. In reality, it has not qualified Miss Smith for the task, extraordinarily as she was endowed beyond the ge. neral train of her compeers; and in perusing the version before us, we are perpetually called upon to concede to the opinion of the very respectable editor, that

• It may, and must ever, be deeply regretted, that Miss Smith did not live to render her work more perfect, by such judicious alterations, as a more enlarged enquiry, and maturer deliberation, might have inclined her to make ; and that on a few dubious and difficult passages she had not had the opportunity of consulting the opinions of some of our most learned and able commentators. But if she had no other helps than those which are common to, and lie within the reach of, every Hebrew student, must it not afford matter of triumph as well as of encouragement to him, to find what a proficiency may be made in the sacred language, with the bare assistance of a Grammar and Lexicon ? and that, by the same helps and guidance, if he will take the pains to search the Hebrew Scriptures, he may hope, and without the aid ot Rabbinical interpretations, or even the ac. quirement of other branches of oriental learning, to search them with the greatest profit to himself, if not to unlock their hidden store for the edification of others.

We are also fully persuaded, with Dr. Randolph, thats the following work, to be duly appreciated, onglit to be regarded, not as a commentary on the book of Job, but simply as a religious exercise of the accomplished author to familiarise herself with the Hebrew language, and more fully to acquaint herself with the word of God.

With such a view of the subject, we are therefore astonished at the injudicious, and even contradictory partiality which could assert, in the very next page, ' If I have no hesitation in saying that, as a translation it fears no comparison, I would also expressly state, that (except with the context of the venerable book from which it was formed) it calls for none. It is not a trial of skill, but the document of an humble and disciplined understanding; an effort of intellect that must always command the admiration of the learned.' And shortly afterwards, in reference to a letter received by him from his friend Dr. Magee,

'I am authorised (says Dr. R.) to produce this version of the book of Job, not as a work that claims indulgence from the youth or sex of the author, which might plead the disadvantages under which it was prosecuted in extenuation of its faults or errors. but as a work of superior excellence, and " conveying,” as my friend expresses himself, “ more of the true character and meaning of the Hebrew, with fewer departures from the idiom of the English, than any other translation whatever that we possess.” As such I do produce it ; and so far as diligent and accurate comparison of this translation, partially or wholly, with almost every other extant, (at least with all I could procure, or read,) may entitle me to make this assertior, I scruple not to pronounce it to be, upon the whole, more clear and satis. factory, more grammatically accu-ate, more closely expressive of the literal meaning, and, though preserving a native lustre of its own, more distinctly reflecting the brightness of its glorious original, than any which have fallen under my observation,

We are now called upon, therefore, and openly challenged, to examine this work in a different point of view ; not as a simple religious exercise of the accomplished author to familiarise herself with the Hebrew language, and an exercise derived from " the bare assistance of a Grammar and a Lesicon ;' but as a prouiuction altogether unrivalled in our own language, according to Dr. Magee, and in every lan. guage, (at least in every language he could procure or read,) according to Dr. Randolph. It is impossible, indeed, not to observe the material difference that exists between the two opinions of these learned friends. We essentially differ from

both of them; but are, at the same time, fully sensible of the greater modesty in the assertion of the former. With respert to English translators,' the true character and meaning of the Hebrew' is, in our opinion, best given by Dr. Stock: but by no means the best English idiom, --in which he has been peculiariy unsuccessful. A gocd English idiom is indeed a peculiar characteri: tic of Miss Smith's version : she writes her native language with great ease and elegance ; though even in this respect there are passages in Tyndal which she would have done wise, had she been acquainted with them, to have copied. But as a whole we are still compelled to prefer, both in truth and elegance of rendering, our established version; and have often been surprised to find that Miss Smith could have thought of deviating from it. With regard to foreign versions, however, we are truly astonished that Dr. Randolph could, for a moment, have for. gotten those of St. Jerom, Castalio, Michaelis, aud: Diodati ; or that, recollecting them, he should have paid, with all the deserved partiality he felt for the memory of his fair friend, the exclusive compliment we have just copied.

We revere the talents and assiduity of Miss Smith, perhaps as highly as, certainly more correctly than, her learned editor does : and we lament, as much as be can possibly lament, that she was so suddenly cut off in the career of wisdom and moral excellence. Yet let us estimate things as they deserve. The work before us is an admirable specimen of what may be accomplished in a litle time, and wi: b few means. But we should be unjust to scholars of deep erudition and acute enquiry, if we were to regard it as a finished production; we should be unjust to the public, if, after having read it carefully, we were to state it to be any thing else than an imperfect exercise, in which the author had not completely settled her English text-in which, also, in a great multitude of instances, instead of being grammatically accurate, she has unaccountably misunderstood the original, -and instead of being closely expressive of the literal meaning' has indulged in a looseness of rendering, that we have never met with in any other version. We have already ob:erved, that her deviations from the general sense of the established text, are for the most part derived from Mr. Parkhurst. These, however, we cannot always approve; and it is far less seldom that we can approve the author's original changes. But it becomes us to support our opinion on each of these points by a few examples.

It is perfectly clear to us and we apprehend it will be sọ to our readers, that Miss Smith had not revised and settled

« ElőzőTovább »