The Iliad of Homer Faithfully Translated Into Unrhymed English Metre

By F. W. NEWMAN. London. 1856.
MR. NEWMAN executed this translation upon the theory that Homer was a “ noble savage ”; that his congener would be found in a “ lively African from the Gold-Coast ”; that his style of language and thought was to the age of Pericles what that of the very oldest ballads is to ours ; that he must be rendered, therefore, in English by a ballad-metre and an antiquated diction. To this capricious and indefensible theory, and to the translation, so far as founded upon it, Mr. Matthew Arnold seems to have given the coup de grace. We come, accordingly, not to criticize, but to bury.
Hic jacet, therefore, what was mortal of Newman’s Homer,—a’work executed upon a theory which no art of performance could redeem, while to that theory it was rather clumsily than skilfully adapted. Yet was it the work of a scholar so thorough, of a writer so able, of a translator so faithful to his original, that no error of theory could wholly vitiate his performance. The pictures of Homer, despite the crudity of his coloring and the spots and daubs with which his rendering was conscientiously sprinkled, he brought out more clearly than any had done before him. His work, therefore, being dead, still lives ; its ashes glow and shine from the urn which contains them. Its ill-fortune was, that it was only antiquarian literature from its birth ; its good-fortune is, that it shall never cease to be cherished as such. Honestas mortem vincit: the high degrees of intellectual sincerity and power conquer even literary damnation.