Early Theories of Translation
by Flora Ross Amos
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But the English translators had more far-reaching opportunities to profit by the experiences of others. In other countries than England men were engaged in similar labors. The sixteenth century was rich in new Latin versions of the Scriptures. The translations of Erasmus, Beza, Pagninus, Muenster, Etienne, Montanus, and Tremellius had in turn their influence on the English renderings, and Castalio's translation into Ciceronian Latin had at least its share of discussion. There was constant intercourse between those interested in Bible translation in England and on the Continent. English refugees during the persecutions fled across the Channel, and towns such as Worms, Zurich, Antwerp, and Geneva saw the first printing of most of the early English versions of the Scriptures. The Great Bible was set up in Paris. Indeed foreign printers had so large a share in the English Bible that it seemed sometimes advisable to limit their influence. Richard Grafton writes ironically to Cromwell regarding the text of the Bible: "Yea and to make it yet truer than it is, therefore Dutchmen dwelling within this realm go about the printing of it, which can neither speak good English, nor yet write none, and they will be both the printers and correctors thereof";[165] and Coverdale and Grafton imply a similar fear in the case of Regnault, the Frenchman, who has been printing service books, when they ask Cromwell that "henceforth he print no more in the English tongue, unless he have an Englishman that is learned to be his corrector."[166] Moreover, versions of the Scriptures in other languages than English were not unknown in England. In 1530 Henry the Eighth was led to prohibit "the having of holy scripture, translated into the vulgar tongues of English, French, or Dutch."[167] Besides this general familiarity with foreign translations and foreign printers, a more specific indebtedness must be recognized. More's attack on the book "which whoso calleth the New Testament calleth it by a wrong name, except they will call it Tyndale's testament or Luther's testament"[168] is in some degree justified in its reference to German influence. Coverdale acknowledges the aid he has received from "the Dutch interpreters: whom (because to their singular gifts and special diligence in the Bible) I have been the more glad to follow."[169] The preface to the version of 1611 says, "Neither did we think much to consult the translators or commentators, Chaldee, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek, or Latin, no, nor the Spanish, French, Italian, or Dutch."[170] Doubtless a great part of the debt lay in matters of exegesis, but in his familiarity with so great a number of translations into other languages and with the discussion centering around these translations, it is impossible that the English translator should have failed to obtain suggestions, both practical and theoretical, which applied to translation rather than to interpretation. Comments on the general aims and methods of translation, happy turns of expression in French or German which had their equivalents in English idiom, must frequently have illuminated his difficulties. The translators of the Geneva Bible show a just realization of the truth when they speak of "the great opportunity and occasions which God hath presented unto us in this Church, by reason of so many godly and learned men; and such diversities of translations in divers tongues."[171]

Of the general history of Biblical translations, already so frequently and so adequately treated, only the barest outline is here necessary. The various Anglo-Saxon translations and the Wycliffite versions are largely detached from the main line of development. From Tyndale's translations to the Authorized Version of 1611 the line is surprisingly consecutive, though in the matter of theory an early translator occasionally anticipates views which obtain general acceptance only after a long period of experiment and discussion. Roughly speaking, the theory of translation has as its two extremes, the Roman Catholic and the Puritan positions, while the 1611 version, where its preface commits itself, compromises on the points at issue.

As is to be expected, the most definite statements of the problems involved and of their solution are usually found in the comment of those practically engaged in the work of translation. The widely discussed question whether or not the people should have the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue scarcely ever comes down to the difficulties and possibilities of the actual undertaking. More's lengthy attack on Tyndale's New Testament is chiefly concerned with matters of doctrine. Apart from the prefaces to the various issues of the Bible, the most elaborate discussion of technical matters is Fulke's Defence of the Sincere and True Translation of the Holy Scriptures into the English Tongue, a Protestant reply to the claims of the Rhemish translators, published in 1589. Even the more definite comments are bound up with a great mass of controversial or hortatory material, so that it is hard to disentangle the actual contribution which is being made to the theory of translation. Sometimes the translator settled vexed questions by using marginal glosses, a method which might make for accuracy but was liable to become cumbrous and confusing. Like the prefaces, the glosses sometimes contained theological rather than linguistic comment, thus proving a special source of controversy. A proclamation of Henry the Eighth forbids the printing or importation of "any books of divine scripture in the English tongue, with any additions in the margin or any prologue ... except the same be first viewed, examined, and allowed by the king's highness, or such of his majesty's council, or others, as it shall please his grace to assign thereto, but only the plain sentence and text."[172] The version of 1611 admitted only linguistic comment.

Though the Anglo-Saxon renderings of the Scriptures are for the most part isolated from the main body of translations, there are some points of contact. Elizabethan translators frequently cited the example of the earlier period as an argument in favor of having the Bible in the vulgar tongue. Nor were they entirely unfamiliar with the work of these remote predecessors. Foxe, the martyrologist, published in 1571 an edition of the four gospels in Anglo-Saxon under the patronage of Archbishop Parker. Parker's well-known interest in Old English centered particularly around the early versions of the Scriptures. Secretary Cecil sends the Archbishop "a very ancient Bible written in Latin and old English or Saxon," and Parker in reply comments on "the fair antique writing with the Saxon interpretation."[173] Moreover the slight record which survives suggests that the problems which confronted the Anglo-Saxon translator were not unlike those which met the translator of a later period. Aelfric's theory of translation in general is expressed in the Latin prefaces to the Homilies of the Anglo-Saxon Church and the Lives of the Saints. Above all things he desires that his work may be clear and readable. Hence he has a peculiar regard for brevity. The Homilies are rendered "non garrula verbositate"; the Lives of the Saints are abbreviated on the principle that "non semper breuitas sermonem deturpat sed multotiens honestiorem reddit." Clear, idiomatic English is essential even when it demands the sacrifice of verbal accuracy. He presents not word for word but sense for sense, and prefers the "pure and open words of the language of this people," to a more artificial style. His Anglo-Saxon Preface to Genesis implies that he felt the need of greater faithfulness in the case of the Bible: "We dare write no more in English than the Latin has, nor change the orders (endebirdnisse)"; but it goes on to say that it is necessary that Latin idiom adapt itself to English idiom.[174]

Apart from Aelfric's prefaces Anglo-Saxon translators of the Scriptures have left no comment on their methods. One of the versions of the Gospels, however, links itself with later translations by employing as preface three of St. Jerome's prologues, among them the Preface to Eusebius. References to Jerome's and Augustine's theories of translation are frequent throughout the course of Biblical translation but are generally vague. The Preface to Eusebius and the Epistle to Pammachius contain the most complete statements of the principles which guided Jerome. Both emphasize the necessity of giving sense for sense rather than word for word, "except," says the latter, "in the case of the Holy Scriptures where even the order of the words is a mystery." This corresponds closely with Aelfric's theory expressed in the preface to the Lives of the Saints: "Nec potuimus in ista translatione semper verbum ex verbo transferre, sed tamen sensum ex sensu," and his insistence in the Preface to Genesis on a faithfulness which extends even to the endebirdnisse or orders.

The principle "word for word if possible; if not, sense for sense" is common in connection with medieval translations, but is susceptible of very different interpretations, as appears sometimes from its context. Richard Rolle's phrasing of the theory in the preface to his translation of the Psalter is: "I follow the letter as much as I may. And where I find no proper English I follow the wit of the words"; but he also makes the contradictory statement, "In this work I seek no strange English, but lightest and commonest, and such that is most like to the Latin,"[175] a peculiar conception of the translator's obligation to his own tongue! The Prologue to the second recension of the Wycliffite version, commonly attributed to Purvey, emphasizes, under cover of the same apparent theory, the claims of the vernacular. "The best translating," it runs, "is out of Latin into English, to translate after the sentence, and not only after the words, so that the sentence be as open, either opener, in English as in Latin, ... and if the letter may not be sued in the translating, let the sentence be ever whole and open, for the words owe to serve to the intent and sentence."[176] The growing distrust of the Vulgate in some quarters probably accounts in some measure for the translator's attempt to make the meaning if necessary "more true and more open than it is in the Latin." In any case these contrasted theories represent roughly the position of the Roman Catholic and, to some extent, the Anglican party as compared with the more distinctly Protestant attitude throughout the period when the English Bible was taking shape, the former stressing the difficulties of translation and consequently discouraging it, or, when permitting it, insisting on extreme faithfulness to the original; the latter profiting by experiment and criticism and steadily working towards a version which would give due heed not only to the claims of the original but to the genius of the English language.

Regarded merely as theory, however, a statement like the one just quoted obviously failed to give adequate recognition to what the original might justly demand, and in that respect justified the fears of those who opposed translation. The high standard of accuracy set by such critics demanded of the translator an increasing consciousness of the difficulties involved and an increasingly clear conception of what things were and were not permissible. Purvey himself contributes to this end by a definite statement of certain changes which may be allowed the English writer.[177] Ablative absolute or participial constructions may be replaced by clauses of various kinds, "and this will, in many places, make the sentence open, where to English it after the word would be dark and doubtful. Also," he continues, "a relative, which, may be resolved into his antecedent with a conjunction copulative, as thus, which runneth, and he runneth. Also when a word is once set in a reason, it may be set forth as oft as it is understood, either as oft as reason and need ask; and this word autem either vero, may stand for forsooth either for but, and thus I use commonly; and sometimes it may stand for and, as old grammarians say. Also when rightful construction is letted by relation, I resolve it openly, thus, where this reason, Dominum formidabunt adversarii ejus, should be Englished thus by the letter, the Lord his adversaries shall dread, I English it thus by resolution, the adversaries of the Lord shall dread him; and so of other reasons that be like." In the later period of Biblical translation, when grammatical information was more accessible, such elementary comment was not likely to be committed to print, but echoes of similar technical difficulties are occasionally heard. Tyndale, speaking of the Hebraisms in the Greek Testament, asks his critics to "consider the Hebrew phrase ... whose preterperfect tense and present tense is both one, and the future tense is the optative mood also, and the future tense is oft the imperative mood in the active voice and in the passive voice. Likewise person for person, number for number, and interrogation for a conditional, and such like is with the Hebrews a common usage."[178] The men concerned in the preparation of the Bishops' Bible discuss the rendering of tenses in the Psalms. At the beginning of the first Psalm the Bishop of Rochester turns "the preterperfect tense into the present tense; because the sense is too harsh in the preterperfect tense," and the Bishop of Ely advises "the translation of the verbs in the Psalms to be used uniformly in one tense."[179]

Purvey's explanations, however, suggest that his mind is occupied, not merely with details, but with a somewhat larger problem. Medieval translators were frequently disturbed by the fact that it was almost impossible to confine an English version to the same number of words as the Latin. When they added to the number, they feared that they were unfaithful to the original. The need for brevity, for avoiding superfluous words, is especially emphasized in connection with the Bible. Conciseness, necessary for accuracy, is also an admirable quality in itself. Aelfric's approval of this characteristic has already been noted. The metrical preface to Rolle's Psalter reads: "This holy man in expounding, he followeth holy doctors, and in all his Englishing right after the Latin taketh course, and makes it compendious, short, good, and profitable." Purvey says, "Men might expound much openlier and shortlier the Bible than the old doctors have expounded it in Latin." Besides approving the avoidance of verbose commentary and exposition, critics and translators are always on their guard against the employment of over many words in translation. Tyndale, in his revision, will "seek to bring to compendiousness that which is now translated at the length."[180] In certain cases, he says, English reproduces the Hebrew original more easily than does the Latin, because in Latin the translator must "seek a compass."[181] Coverdale finds a corresponding difficulty in turning Latin into English: "The figure called Eclipsis divers times used in the scriptures ... though she do garnish the sentence in Latin will not so be admitted in other tongues."[182] The translator of the Geneva New Testament refers to the "Hebrew and Greek phrases, which are strange to render into other tongues, and also short."[183] The preface to the Rhemish Testament accuses the Protestant translators of having in one place put into the text "three words more ... than the Greek word doth signify."[184] Strype says of Cheke in a passage chiefly concerned with Cheke's attempt at translation of the Bible, "He brought in a short and expressive way of writing without long and intricate periods,"[185] a comment which suggests that possibly the appreciation of conciseness embraced sentence structure as well as phrasing. As Tyndale suggests, careful revision made for brevity. In Laurence's scheme for correcting his part of the Bishop's Bible was the heading "words superfluous";[186] the preface to the Authorized Version says, "If anything be halting, or superfluous, or not so agreeable to the original, the same may be corrected, and the truth set in place."[187] As time went on, certain technical means were employed to meet the situation. Coverdale incloses in brackets words not in the Latin text; the Geneva translators put added words in italics; Fulke criticizes the Rhemish translators for neglecting this device;[188] and the matter is finally settled by its employment in the Authorized Version. Fulke, however, irritated by what he considers a superstitious regard for the number of words in the original on the part of the Rhemish translators, puts the whole question on a common-sense basis. He charges his opponents with making "many imperfect sentences ... because you will not seem to add that which in translation is no addition, but a true translation."[189] "For to translate out of one tongue into another," he says in another place, "is a matter of greater difficulty than is commonly taken, I mean exactly to yield as much and no more than the original containeth, when the words and phrases are so different, that few are found which in all points signify the same thing, neither more nor less, in divers tongues."[190] And again, "Must not such particles in translation be always expressed to make the sense plain, which in English without the particle hath no sense or understanding. To translate precisely out of the Hebrew is not to observe the number of words, but the perfect sense and meaning, as the phrase of our tongue will serve to be understood."[191]

For the distinguishing characteristics of the Authorized Version, the beauty of its rhythm, the vigor of its native Saxon vocabulary, there is little to prepare one in the comment of its translators or their predecessors. Apparently the faithful effort to render the original truly resulted in a perfection of style of which the translator himself was largely unconscious. The declaration in the preface to the version of 1611 that "niceness in words was always counted the next step to trifling,"[192] and the general condemnation of Castalio's "lewd translation,"[193] point to a respect for the original which made the translator merely a mouthpiece and the English language merely a medium for a divine utterance. Possibly there is to be found in appreciation of the style of the original Hebrew, Greek, or Latin some hint of what gave the English version its peculiar beauty, though even here it is hard to distinguish the tribute paid to style from that paid to content. The characterization may be only a bit of vague comparison like that in the preface to the Authorized Version, "Hebrew the ancientest, ... Greek the most copious, ... Latin the finest,"[194] or the reference in the preface to the Rhemish New Testament to the Vulgate as the translation "of greatest majesty."[195] The prefaces to the Geneva New Testament and the Geneva Bible combine fairly definite linguistic comment with less obvious references to style: "And because the Hebrew and Greek phrases, which are hard to render in other tongues, and also short, should not be so hard, I have sometimes interpreted them without any whit diminishing the grace of the sense, as our language doth use them";[196] "Now as we have chiefly observed the sense, and labored always to restore it to all integrity, so have we most reverently kept the propriety of the words, considering that the Apostles who spoke and wrote to the Gentiles in the Greek tongue, rather constrained them to the lively phrase of the Hebrew, than enterprised far by mollifying their language to speak as the Gentiles did. And for this and other causes we have in many places reserved the Hebrew phrases, notwithstanding that they may seem somewhat hard in their ears that are not well practised and also delight in the sweet sounding phrases of the holy Scriptures."[197] On the other hand the Rhemish translators defend the retention of these Hebrew phrases on the ground of stylistic beauty: "There is a certain majesty and more signification in these speeches, and therefore both Greek and Latin keep them, although it is no more the Greek or Latin phrase, than it is the English."[198] Of peculiar interest is Tyndale's estimate of the relative possibilities of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and English. Of the Bible he writes: "They will say it cannot be translated into our tongue, it is so rude. It is not so rude as they are false liars. For the Greek tongue agreeth more with the English than with the Latin. And the properties of the Hebrew tongue agreeth a thousand times more with the English than with the Latin. The manner of speaking is both one; so that in a thousand places thou needest not but to translate it into the English word for word; when thou must seek a compass in the Latin, and yet shalt have much work to translate it well-favoredly, so that it have the same grace and sweetness, sense and pure understanding with it in the Latin, and as it hath in the Hebrew."[199] The implication that the English version might possess the "grace and sweetness" of the Hebrew original suggests that Tyndale was not entirely unconscious of the charm which his own work possessed, and which it was to transmit to later renderings.

The questions most definitely discussed by those concerned in the translation of the Bible were questions of vocabulary. Primarily most of these discussions centered around points of doctrine and were concerned as largely with the meaning of the word in the original as with its connotation in English. Yet though not in their first intention linguistic, these discussions of necessity had their bearing on the general problems debated by rhetoricians of the day and occasionally resulted in definite comment on English usage, as when, for example, More says: "And in our English tongue this word senior signifieth nothing at all, but is a French word used in English more than half in mockage, when one will call another my lord in scorn." With the exception of Sir John Cheke few of the translators say anything which can be construed as advocacy of the employment of native English words. Of Cheke's attitude there can, of course, be no doubt. His theory is thus described by Strype: "And moreover, in writing any discourse, he would allow no words, but such as were pure English, or of Saxon original; suffering no adoption of any foreign word into the English speech, which he thought was copious enough of itself, without borrowing words of other countries. Thus in his own translations into English, he would not use any but pure English phrase and expression, which indeed made his style here and there a little affected and hard: and forced him to use sometimes odd and uncouth words."[200] His Biblical translation was a conscious attempt at carrying out these ideas. "Upon this account," writes Strype, "Cheke seemed to dislike the English translation of the Bible, because in it there were so many foreign words. Which made him once attempt a new translation of the New Testament, and he completed the gospel of St. Matthew. And made an entrance into St. Mark; wherein all along he labored to use only true Anglo-Saxon words."[201] Since Cheke's translation remained in manuscript till long after the Elizabethan period, its influence was probably not far-reaching, but his uncompromising views must have had their effect on his contemporaries. Taverner's Bible, a less extreme example of the same tendency, seemingly had no influence on later renderings.[202]

Regarding the value of synonyms there is considerable comment, the prevailing tendency of which is not favorable to unnecessary discrimination between pairs of words. This seems to be the attitude of Coverdale in two somewhat confused passages in which he attempts to consider at the same time the signification of the original word, the practice of other translators, and the facts of English usage. Defending diversities of translations, he says, "For that one interpreteth something obscurely in one place, the same translateth another, or else he himself, more manifestly by a more plain vocable of the same meaning in another place."[203] As illustrations Coverdale mentions scribe and lawyer; elders, and father and mother; repentance, penance, and amendment; and continues: "And in this manner have I used in my translation, calling it in one place penance that in another place I call repentance; and that not only because the interpreters have done so before me, but that the adversaries of the truth may see, how that we abhor not this word penance as they untruly report of us, no more than the interpreters of Latin abhor poenitare, when they read rescipiscere." In the preface to the Latin-English Testament of 1535 he says: "And though I seem to be all too scrupulous calling it in one place penance, that in another I call repentance: and gelded that another calleth chaste, this methinks ought not to offend the saying that the holy ghost (I trust) is the author of both our doings ... and therefore I heartily require thee think no more harm in me for calling it in one place penance that in another I call repentance, than I think harm in him that calleth it chaste, which by the nature of this word Eunuchus I call gelded ... And for my part I ensure thee I am indifferent to call it as well with one term as with the other, so long as I know that it is no prejudice nor injury to the meaning of the holy ghost."[204] Fulke in his answer to Gregory Martin shows the same tendency to ignore differences in meaning. Martin says: "Note also that they put the word 'just,' when faith is joined withal, as Rom. i, 'the just shall live by faith,' to signify that justification is by faith. But if works be joined withal and keeping the commandments, as in the place alleged, Luke i, there they say 'righteous' to suppose justification by works." Fulke replies: "This is a marvellous difference, never heard of (I think) in the English tongue before, between 'just' and 'righteous,' 'justice' and 'righteousness.' I am sure there is none of our translators, no, nor any professor of justification by faith only, that esteemeth it the worth of one hair, whether you say in any place of scripture 'just' or 'righteous,' 'justice' or 'righteousness'; and therefore freely have they used sometimes the one word, sometimes the other.... Certain it is that no Englishman knoweth the difference between 'just' and 'righteous,' 'unjust' and 'unrighteous,' saving that 'righteousness' and 'righteous' are the more familiar English words."[205] Martin and Fulke differ in the same way over the use of the words "deeds" and "works." The question whether the same English word should always be used to represent the same word in the original was frequently a matter of discussion. It was probably in the mind of the Archbishop of Ely when he wrote to Archbishop Parker, "And if ye translate bonitas or misericordiam, to use it likewise in all places of the Psalms."[206] The surprising amount of space devoted by the preface to the version of 1611 to explaining the usage followed by the translators gives some idea of the importance attaching to the matter. "We have not tied ourselves," they say, "to an uniformity of phrasing, or to an identity of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done, because they observe, that some learned men somewhere, have been as exact as they could that way. Truly, that we might not vary from the sense of that which we had translated before, if the word signified the same in both places (for there be some words that be not of the same sense everywhere) we were especially careful, and made a conscience, according to our duty. But that we should express the same notion in the same particular word; as for example, if we translate the Hebrew or Greek word once by Purpose, never to call it Intent; if one where Journeying, never Travelling; if one where Think, never Suppose; if one where Pain, never Ache; if one where Joy, never Gladness, etc. Thus to mince the matter, we thought to savor more of curiosity than wisdom.... For is the kingdom of God become words or syllables? why should we be in bondage to them if we may be free, use one precisely when we may use another no less fit, as commodiously?"[207]

It was seldom, however, that the translator felt free to interchange words indiscriminately. Of his treatment of the original Purvey writes: "But in translating of words equivocal, that is, that hath many significations under one letter, may lightly be peril, for Austin saith in the 2nd. book of Christian Teaching, that if equivocal words be not translated into the sense, either understanding, of the author, it is error; as in that place of the Psalm, the feet of them be swift to shed out blood, the Greek word is equivocal to sharp and swift, and he that translated sharp feet erred, and a book that hath sharp feet is false, and must be amended; as that sentence unkind young trees shall not give deep roots oweth to be thus, the plantings of adultery shall not give deep roots.... Therefore a translator hath great need to study well the sentence, both before and after, and look that such equivocal words accord with the sentence."[208] Consideration of the connotation of English words is required of the translators of the Bishops' Bible. "Item that all such words as soundeth in the Old Testament to any offence of lightness or obscenity be expressed with more convenient terms and phrases."[209] Generally, however, it was the theological connotation of words that was at issue, especially the question whether words were to be taken in their ecclesiastical or their profane sense, that is, whether certain words which through long association with the church had come to have a peculiar technical meaning should be represented in English by such words as the church habitually employed, generally words similar in form to the Latin. The question was a large one, and affected other languages than English. Foxe, for example, has difficulty in turning into Latin the controversy between Archbishop Cranmer and Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester. "The English style also stuck with him; which having so many ecclesiastical phrases and manners of speech, no good Latin expressions could be found to answer them."[210] In England trouble arose with the appearance of Tyndale's New Testament. More accused him of mistranslating "three words of great weight,"[211] priests, church, and charity, for which he had substituted seniors, congregation, and love. Robert Ridley, chaplain to the Bishop of London, wrote of Tyndale's version: "By this translation we shall lose all these Christian words, penance, charity, confession, grace, priest, church, which he always calleth a congregation.—Idolatria calleth he worshipping of images."[212] Much longer is the list of words presented to Convocation some years later by the Bishop of Winchester "which he desired for their germane and native meaning and for the majesty of their matter might be retained as far as possible in their own nature or be turned into English speech as closely as possible."[213] It goes so far as to include words like Pontifex, Ancilla, Lites, Egenus, Zizania. This theory was largely put into practice by the translators of the Rhemish New Testament, who say, "We are very precise and religious in following our copy, the old vulgar approved Latin: not only in sense, which we hope we always do, but sometimes in the very words also and phrases,"[214] and give as illustrations of their usage the retention of Corbana, Parasceve, Pasche, Azymes, and similar words. Between the two extreme positions represented by Tyndale on the one hand and the Rhemish translators on the other, is the attitude of Grindal, who thus advises Foxe in the case previously mentioned: "In all these matters, as also in most others, it will be safe to hold a middle course. My judgment is the same with regard to style. For neither is the ecclesiastical style to be fastidiously neglected, as it is by some, especially when the heads of controversies cannot sometimes be perspicuously explained without it, nor, on the other hand, is it to be so superstitiously followed as to prevent us sometimes from sprinkling it with the ornaments of language."[215] The Authorized Version, following its custom, approves the middle course: "We have on the one side avoided the scrupulosity of the Puritans, who leave the old Ecclesiastical words, and betake themselves to other, as when they put washing for Baptism, and Congregation instead of Church: as also on the other side we have shunned the obscurity of the Papists, in their Azimes, Tunike, Rational, Holocausts, Praepuce, Pasche, and a number of such like."[216]

In the interval between Tyndale's translation and the appearance of the Authorized Version the two parties shifted their ground rather amusingly. More accuses Tyndale of taking liberties with the prevailing English usage, especially when he substitutes congregation for church, and insists that the people understand by church what they ought to understand. "This is true," he says, "of the usual signification of these words themselves in the English tongue, by the common custom of us English people, that either now do use these words in our language, or that have used before our days. And I say that this common custom and usage of speech is the only thing by which we know the right and proper signification of any word, in so much that if a word were taken out of Latin, French, or Spanish, and were for lack of understanding of the tongue from whence it came, used for another thing in English than it was in the former tongue: then signifieth it in England none other thing than as we use it and understand thereby, whatsoever it signify anywhere else. Then say I now that in England this word congregation did never signify the number of Christian people with a connotation or consideration of their faith or christendom, no more than this word assemble, which hath been taken out of the French, and now is by custom become English, as congregation is out of the Latin."[217] Later he returns to the charge with the words, "And then must he with his translation make us an English vocabulary too."[218] In the later period, however, the positions are reversed. The conservative party, represented by the Rhemish translators, admit that they are employing unfamiliar words, but say that it is a question of faithfulness to originals, and that the new words "will easily grow to be current and familiar,"[219] a contention not without basis when one considers how much acceptance or rejection by the English Bible could affect the status of a word. Moreover the introduction of new words into the Scriptures had its parallel in the efforts being made elsewhere to enrich the language. The Rhemish preface, published in 1582, almost contemporaneously with Lyly's Euphues and Sidney's Arcadia, justifies its practice thus: "And why should we be squamish at new words or phrases in the Scripture, which are necessary: when we do easily admit and follow new words coined in court and in courtly or other secular writings?"[220]

The points at issue received their most thorough consideration in the controversy between Gregory Martin and William Fulke. Martin, one of the translators of the Rhemish Testament, published, in 1582, A Discovery of the Manifold Corruptions of the Holy Scriptures by the Heretics of our Days, a book in which apparently he attacked all the Protestant translations with which he was familiar, including Beza's Latin Testament and even attempting to involve the English translators in the same condemnation with Castalio. Fulke, in his Defence of the Sincere and True Translation of the Holy Scriptures, reprinted Martin's Discovery and replied to it section by section. Both discussions are fragmentary and inconsecutive, but there emerges from them at intervals a clear statement of principles. Fundamentally the positions of the two men are very different. Martin is not concerned with questions of abstract scholarship, but with matters of religious belief. "But because these places concern no controversy," he says, "I say no more."[221] He does not hesitate to place the authority of the Fathers before the results of contemporary scholarship. "For were not he a wise man, that would prefer one Master Humfrey, Master Fulke, Master Whitakers, or some of us poor men, because we have a little smack of the three tongues, before St. Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Augustine, St. Gregory, or St. Thomas, that understood well none but one?"[222] Since his field is thus narrowed, he finds it easy to lay down definite rules for translation. Fulke, on the other hand, believes that translation may be dissociated from matters of belief. "If the translator's purpose were evil, yet so long as the words and sense of the original tongue will bear him, he cannot justly be called a false and heretical translator, albeit he have a false and heretical meaning."[223] He is not willing to accept unsupported authority, even that of the leaders of his own party. "If Luther misliked the Tigurine translation," he says in another attack on the Rhemish version, "it is not sufficient to discredit it, seeing truth, and not the opinion or authority of men is to be followed in such matters,"[224] and again, in the Defence, "The Geneva bibles do not profess to translate out of Beza's Latin, but out of the Hebrew and Greek; and if they agree not always with Beza, what is that to the purpose, if they agree with the truth of the original text?"[225] Throughout the Defence he is on his guard against Martin's attempts to drive him into unqualified acceptance of any set formula of translation.

The crux of the controversy was the treatment of ecclesiastical words. Martin accuses the English translators of interpreting such words in their "etymological" sense, and consulting profane writers, Homer, Pliny, Tully, Virgil,[226] for their meaning, instead of observing the ecclesiastical use, which he calls "the usual taking thereof in all vulgar speech and writing."[227] Fulke admits part of Martin's claim: "We have also answered before that words must not always be translated according to their original and general signification, but according to such signification as by use they are appropried to be taken. We agree also, that words taken by custom of speech into an ecclesiastical meaning are not to be altered into a strange or profane signification."[228] But ecclesiastical authority is not always a safe guide. "How the fathers of the church have used words, it is no rule for translators of the scriptures to follow; who oftentimes used words as the people did take them, and not as they signified in the apostles' time."[229] In difficult cases there is a peculiar advantage in consulting profane writers, "who used the words most indifferently in respect of our controversies of which they were altogether ignorant."[230] Fulke refuses to be reduced to accept entirely either the "common" or the "etymological" interpretation. "A translator that hath regard to interpret for the ignorant people's instruction, may sometimes depart from the etymology or common signification or precise turning of word for word, and that for divers causes."[231] To one principle, however, he will commit himself: the translator must observe common English usage. "We are not lords of the common speech of men," he writes, "for if we were, we would teach them to use their terms more properly; but seeing we cannot change the use of speech, we follow Aristotle's counsel, which is to speak and use words as the common people useth."[232] Consequently ecclesiastical must always give way to popular usage. "Our meaning is not, that if any Greek terms, or words of any other language, have of long time been usurped in our English language, the true meaning of which is unknown at this day to the common people, but that the same terms may be either in translation or exposition set out plainly, to inform the simplicity of the ignorant, by such words as of them are better understood. Also when those terms are abused by custom of speech, to signify some other thing than they were first appointed for, or else to be taken ambiguously for divers things, we ought not to be superstitious in these cases, but to avoid misunderstanding we may use words according to their original signification, as they were taken in such time as they were written by the instruments of the Holy Ghost."[233]

Fulke's support of the claims of the English language is not confined to general statements. Acquaintance with other languages has given him a definite conception of the properties of his own, even in matters of detail. He resents the importation of foreign idiom. "If you ask for the readiest and most proper English of these words, I must answer you, 'an image, a worshipper of images, and worshipping of images,' as we have sometimes translated. The other that you would have, 'idol, idolater, and idolatry,' be rather Greekish than English words; which though they be used by many Englishmen, yet are they not understood of all as the other be."[234] "You ... avoid the names of elders, calling them ancients, and the wise men sages, as though you had rather speak French than English, as we do; like as you translate confide, 'have a good heart,' after the French phrase, rather than you would say as we do, 'be of good comfort.'"[235] Though he admits that English as compared with older languages is defective in vocabulary, he insists that this cannot be remedied by unwarranted coinage of words. "That we have no greater change of words to answer so many of the Hebrew tongue, it is of the riches of that tongue, and the poverty of our mother language, which hath but two words, image and idol, and both of them borrowed of the Latin and Greek: as for other words equivalent, we know not any, and we are loth to make any new words of that signification, except the multitude of Hebrew words of the same sense coming together do sometimes perhaps seem to require it. Therefore as the Greek hath fewer words to express this thing than the Hebrew, so hath the Latin fewer than the Greek, and the English fewest of all, as will appear if you would undertake to give us English words for the thirteen Hebrew words: except you would coin such ridiculous inkhorn terms, as you do in the New Testament, Azymes, prepuce, neophyte, sandale, parasceve, and such like."[236] "When you say 'evangelized,' you do not translate, but feign a new word, which is not understood of mere English ears."[237]

Fulke describes himself as never having been "of counsel with any that translated the scriptures into English,"[238] but his works were regarded with respect, and probably had considerable influence on the version of 1611.[239] Ironically enough, they did much to familiarize the revisers with the Rhemish version and its merits. On the other hand, Fulke's own views had a distinct value. Though on some points he is narrowly conservative, and though some of the words which he condemns have established themselves in the language nevertheless most of his ideas regarding linguistic usage are remarkably sound, and, like those of More, commend themselves to modern opinion.

Between the translators of the Bible and the translators of other works there were few points of contact. Though similar problems confronted both groups, they presented themselves in different guises. The question of increasing the vocabulary, for example, is in the case of biblical translation so complicated by the theological connotation of words as to require a treatment peculiar to itself. Translators of the Bible were scarcely ever translators of secular works and vice versa. The chief link between the two kinds of translation is supplied by the metrical versions of the Psalms. Such verse translations were counted of sufficient importance to engage the efforts of men like Parker and Coverdale, influential in the main course of Bible translation. Men like Thomas Norton, the translator of Calvin's Institutes, Richard Stanyhurst, the translator of Virgil, and others of greater literary fame, Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney, Milton, Bacon, experimented, as time went on, with these metrical renderings. The list even includes the name of King James.[240]

At first there was some idea of creating for such songs a vogue in England like that which the similar productions of Marot had enjoyed at the French court. Translators felt free to choose what George Wither calls "easy and passionate Psalms," and, if they desired, create "elegant-seeming paraphrases ... trimmed ... up with rhetorical illustrations (suitable to their fancies, and the changeable garb of affected language)."[241] The expectations of courtly approbation were, however, largely disappointed, but the metrical Psalms came, in time, to have a wider and more democratic employment. Complete versions of the Psalms in verse came to be regarded as a suitable accompaniment to the Bible, until in the Scottish General Assembly of 1601 the proposition for a new translation of the Bible was accompanied by a parallel proposition for a correction of the Psalms in metre.[242]

Besides this general realization of the practical usefulness of these versions in divine service, there was in some quarters an appreciation of the peculiar literary quality of the Psalms which tended to express itself in new attempts at translation. Arthur Golding, though not himself the author of a metrical version, makes the following comment: "For whereas the other parts of holy writ (whether they be historical, moral, judicial, ceremonial, or prophetical) do commonly set down their treatises in open and plain declaration: this part consisting of them all, wrappeth up things in types and figures, describing them under borrowed personages, and oftentimes winding in matters of prevention, speaking of things to come as if they were past or present, and of things past as if they were in doing, and every man is made a betrayer of the secrets of his own heart. And forasmuch as it consisteth chiefly of prayer and thanksgiving, or (which comprehendeth them both) of invocation, which is a communication with God, and requireth rather an earnest and devout lifting up of the mind than a loud or curious utterance of the voice: there be many imperfect sentences, many broken speeches, and many displaced words: according as the party that prayed, was either prevented with the swiftness of his thoughts, or interrupted with vehemency of joy or grief, or forced to surcease through infirmity, that he might recover more strength and cheerfulness by interminding God's former promises and benefits."[243] George Wither finds that the style of the Psalms demands a verse translation. "The language of the Muses," he declares, "in which the Psalms were originally written, is not so properly expressed in the prose dialect as in verse." "I have used some variety of verse," he explains, "because prayers, praises, lamentations, triumphs, and subjects which are pastoral, heroical, elegiacal, and mixed (all which are found in the Psalms) are not properly expressed in one sort of measure."[244]

Besides such perception of the general poetic quality of the Psalms as is found in Wither's comment, there was some realization that metrical elements were present in various books of Scripture. Jerome, in his Preface to Job, had called attention to this,[245] but the regular translators, whose references to Jerome, though frequent, are somewhat vague, apparently made nothing of the suggestion. Elsewhere, however, there was an attempt to justify the inclusion of translations of the Psalms among other metrical experiments. Googe, defending the having of the Psalms in metre, declares that Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other parts of the Bible "were written by the first authors in perfect and pleasant hexameter verses."[246] Stanyhurst[247] and Fraunce[248] both tried putting the Psalms into English hexameters. There was, however, no accurate knowledge of the Hebrew verse system. The preface to the American Bay Psalm Book, published in 1640,[249] explains that "The psalms are penned in such verses as are suitable to the poetry of the Hebrew language, and not in the common style of such other books of the Old Testament as are not poetical.... Then, as all our English songs (according to the course of our English poetry) do run in metre, so ought David's psalms to be translated into metre, that we may sing the Lord's songs, as in our English tongue so in such verses as are familiar to an English ear, which are commonly metrical." It is not possible to reproduce the Hebrew metres. "As the Lord hath hid from us the Hebrew tunes, lest we should think ourselves bound to imitate them; so also the course and frame (for the most part) of their Hebrew poetry, that we might not think ourselves bound to imitate that, but that every nation without scruple might follow as the grave sort of tunes of their own country, so the graver sort of verses of their own country's poetry." This had already become the common solution of the difficulty, so that even Wither keeps to the kinds of verse used in the old Psalm books in order that the old tunes may be used.

But though the metrical versions of the Psalms often inclined to doggerel, and though they probably had little, if any, influence on the Authorized Version, they made their own claims to accuracy, and even after the appearance of the King James Bible sometimes demanded attention as improved renderings. George Wither, for example, believes that in using verse he is being more faithful to the Hebrew than are the prose translations. "There is," he says, "a poetical emphasis in many places, which requires such an alteration in the grammatical expression, as will seem to make some difference in the judgment of the common reader; whereas it giveth best life to the author's intention; and makes that perspicuous which was made obscure by those mere grammatical interpreters, who were not acquainted with the proprieties and liberties of this kind of writing." His version is, indeed, "so easy to be understood, that some readers have confessed, it hath been instead of a comment unto them in sundry hard places." His rendering is not based merely on existing English versions; he has "the warrant of best Hebrew grammarians, the authority of the Septuagint, and Chaldean paraphrase, the example of the ancient and of the best modern prose translators, together with the general practice and allowance of all orthodox expositors." Like Wither, other translators went back to original sources and made their verse renderings real exercises in translation rather than mere variations on the accepted English text. From this point of view their work had perhaps some value; and though it seems regrettable that practically nothing of permanent literary importance should have resulted from such repeated experiments, they are interesting at least as affording some connection between the sphere of the regular translators and the literary world outside.


[155] Preface to Genesis, in Pollard, Records of the English Bible, p. 94.

[156] Pollard, p. 266.

[157] Ibid., p. 112.

[158] Ibid., p. 187.

[159] Ibid., p. 205.

[160] Coverdale, Prologue to Bible of 1535.

[161] Pollard, p. 196.

[162] Ibid., p. 259.

[163] Ibid., p. 365.

[164] Ibid., p. 360.

[165] Pollard, p. 220.

[166] Ibid., p. 239.

[167] Ibid., p. 163.

[168] Ibid., p. 126.

[169] Ibid., p. 203.

[170] Ibid., p. 371.

[171] Pollard, p. 280.

[172] Pollard, p. 241.

[173] Strype, Life of Parker, London, 1711, p. 536.

[174] For a further account of Aelfric's theories, see Chapter I.

[175] The Psalter translated by Richard Rolle of Hampole, ed. Bramley, Oxford, 1884.

[176] Chapter 15, in Pollard, Fifteenth Century Prose and Verse.

[177] Prologue, Chapter 15.

[178] Prologue to the New Testament, printed in Matthew's Bible, 1551.

[179] Strype, Life of Parker, p. 208.

[180] Pollard, p. 116.

[181] Preface to The Obedience of a Christian Man, in Doctrinal Treatises, Parker Society, 1848, p. 390.

[182] Pollard, p. 211.

[183] Ibid., p. 277.

[184] Ibid., p. 306.

[185] Life of Cheke, p. 212.

[186] Strype, Life of Parker, p. 404.

[187] Pollard, p. 361.

[188] Fulke, Defence, Parker Society, p. 552.

[189] Defence, p. 552.

[190] Ibid., p. 97.

[191] Ibid., p. 408.

[192] Pollard, p. 375.

[193] E.g., Fulke, Defence, p. 163.

[194] Pollard, p. 349.

[195] Ibid., p. 303.

[196] Ibid., p. 277.

[197] Pollard, p. 281.

[198] Ibid., p. 309.

[199] Preface to The Obedience of a Christian Man, Doctrinal Treatises, pp. 148-9.

[200] Life of Cheke, p. 212.

[201] Ibid., p. 212.

[202] An interesting comment of later date than the Authorized Version is found in the preface to William L'Isle's Divers Ancient Monuments of the Saxon Tongue, published in 1638. L'Isle writes: "These monuments of reverend antiquity, I mean the Saxon Bibles, to him that understandingly reads and well considers the time wherein they were written, will in many places convince of affected obscurity some late translations." After criticizing the inkhorn terms of the Rhemish translators, he says, "The Saxon hath words for Trinity, Unity, and all such foreign words as we are now fain to use, because we have forgot better of our own." (In J. L. Moore, Tudor-Stuart Views on the Growth, Status, and Destiny of the English Language.)

[203] Prologue to Bible of 1535.

[204] Pollard, p. 212.

[205] Fulke, pp. 337-8.

[206] Pollard, p. 291.

[207] Ibid., p. 374.

[208] Prologue, Chapter 15.

[209] Pollard, p. 298.

[210] Strype, Life of Grindal, Oxford, 1821, p. 19.

[211] Pollard, p. 127.

[212] Ibid., p. 124.

[213] Pollard, p. 274.

[214] Ibid., p. 305.

[215] Translated in Remains of Archbishop Grindal, Parker Society, 1843, p. 234.

[216] Pollard, pp. 375-6.

[217] More, Confutation of Tyndale, Works, p. 417.

[218] Ibid., p. 427.

[219] Pollard, p. 307.

[220] Pollard, p. 291.

[221] Defence, p. 42.

[222] Ibid., p. 507.

[223] Defence, p. 210.

[224] Confutation of the Rhemish Testament, New York, 1834, p. 21.

[225] Defence, p. 118.

[226] Ibid., p. 160.

[227] Ibid., p. 217.

[228] Defence, p. 217.

[229] Ibid., p. 162.

[230] Ibid., p. 161.

[231] Ibid., p. 58.

[232] Ibid., p. 267.

[233] Defence, p. 217.

[234] Ibid., p. 179.

[235] Ibid., p. 90.

[236] Defence, p. 206.

[237] Ibid., p. 549.

[238] Ibid., p. 89.

[239] Pollard, Introduction, p. 37.

[240] See Holland, The Psalmists of Britain, London, 1843, for a detailed account of such translations.

[241] Preface to The Psalms of David translated into lyric verse, 1632, reprinted by the Spenser Society, 1881.

[242] Holland, p. 251.

[243] Epistle Dedicatory, to The Psalms with M. John Calvin's Commentaries, 1571.

[244] Op. cit.

[245] See The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, ed. Schaff and Wace, New York, 1893, p. 491.

[246] Holland, Note, p. 89.

[247] Published at the end of his Virgil.

[248] In The Countess of Pembroke's Emanuell, 1591.

[249] Reprinted, New York, 1903.




The Elizabethan period presents translations in astonishing number and variety. As the spirit of the Renaissance began to inspire England, translators responded to its stimulus with an enthusiasm denied to later times. It was work that appealed to persons of varying ranks and of varying degrees of learning. In the early part of the century, according to Nash, "every private scholar, William Turner and who not, began to vaunt their smattering of Latin in English impressions."[250] Thomas Nicholls, the goldsmith, translated Thucydides; Queen Elizabeth translated Boethius. The mention of women in this connection suggests how widely the impulse was diffused. Richard Hyrde says of the translation of Erasmus's Treatise on the Lord's Prayer, made by Margaret Roper, the daughter of Sir Thomas More, "And as for the translation thereof, I dare be bold to say it, that whoso list and well can confer and examine the translation with the original, he shall not fail to find that she hath showed herself not only erudite and elegant in either tongue, but hath also used such wisdom, such discreet and substantial judgment, in expressing lively the Latin, as a man may peradventure miss in many things translated and turned by them that bear the name of right wise and very well learned men."[251] Nicholas Udall writes to Queen Katherine that there are a number of women in England who know Greek and Latin and are "in the holy scriptures and theology so ripe that they are able aptly, cunningly, and with much grace either to endite or translate into the vulgar tongue for the public instruction and edifying of the unlearned multitude."[252]

The greatness of the field was fitted to arouse and sustain the ardor of English translators. In contrast with the number of manuscripts at command in earlier days, the sixteenth century must have seemed endlessly rich in books. Printing was making the Greek and Latin classics newly accessible, and France and Italy, awake before England to the new life, were storing the vernacular with translations and with new creations. Translators might find their tasks difficult enough and they might flag by the way, as Hoby confesses to have done at the end of the third book of The Courtier, but plucking up courage, they went on to the end. Hoby declares, with a vigor that suggests Bunyan's Pilgrim, "I whetted my style and settled myself to take in hand the other three books";[253] Edward Hellowes, after the hesitation which he describes in the Dedication to the 1574 edition of Guevara's Familiar Epistles, "began to call to mind my God, my Prince, my country, and also your worship," and so adequately upheld, went on with his undertaking; Arthur Golding, with a breath of relief, sees his rendering of Ovid's Metamorphoses at last complete.

Through Ovid's work of turned shapes I have with painful pace Passed on, until I had attained the end of all my race. And now I have him made so well acquainted with our tongue, As that he may in English verse as in his own be sung.[254]

Sometimes the toilsomeness of the journey was lightened by companionship. Now and then, especially in the case of religious works, there was collaboration. Luther's Commentary on Galatians was undertaken by "certain godly men," of whom "some began it according to such skill as they had. Others godly affected, not suffering so good a matter in handling to be marred, put to their helping hands for the better framing and furthering of so worthy a work."[255] From Thomas Norton's record of the conditions under which he translated Calvin's Institution of the Christian Religion, it is not difficult to feel the atmosphere of sympathy and encouragement in which he worked. "Therefore in the very beginning of the Queen's Majesty's most blessed reign," he writes, "I translated it out of Latin into English, for the commodity of the Church of Christ, at the special request of my dear friends of worthy memory, Reginald Wolfe and Edward Whitchurch, the one Her Majesty's Printer for the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin tongues, the other her Highness' Printer of the books of Common Prayer. I performed my work in the house of my said friend, Edward Whitchurch, a man well known of upright heart and dealing, an ancient zealous Gospeller, as plain and true a friend as ever I knew living, and as desirous to do anything to common good, specially to the advancement of true religion.... In the doing hereof I did not only trust mine own wit or ability, but examined my whole doing from sentence to sentence throughout the whole book with conference and overlooking of such learned men, as my translation being allowed by their judgment, I did both satisfy mine own conscience that I had done truly, and their approving of it might be a good warrant to the reader that nothing should herein be delivered him but sound, unmingled and uncorrupted doctrine, even in such sort as the author himself had first framed it. All that I wrote, the grave, learned, and virtuous man, M. David Whitehead (whom I name with honorable remembrance) did among others, compare with the Latin, examining every sentence throughout the whole book. Beside all this, I privately required many, and generally all men with whom I ever had any talk of this matter, that if they found anything either not truly translated or not plainly Englished, they would inform me thereof, promising either to satisfy them or to amend it."[256] Norton's next sentence, "Since which time I have not been advertised by any man of anything which they would require to be altered" probably expresses the fate of most of the many requests for criticism that accompany translations, but does not essentially modify the impression he conveys of unusually favorable conditions for such work. One remembers that Tyndale originally anticipated with some confidence a residence in the Bishop of London's house while he translated the Bible. Thomas Wilson, again, says of his translation of some of the orations of Demosthenes that "even in these my small travails both Cambridge and Oxford men have given me their learned advice and in some things have set to their helping hand,"[257] and Florio declares that it is owing to the help and encouragement of "two supporters of knowledge and friendship," Theodore Diodati and Dr. Gwinne, that "upheld and armed" he has "passed the pikes."[258]

The translator was also sustained by a conception of the importance of his work, a conception sometimes exaggerated, but becoming, as the century progressed, clearly and truly defined. Between the lines of the dedication which Henry Parker, Lord Morley, prefixes to his translation of Petrarch's Triumphs,[259] one reads a pathetic story of an appreciation which can hardly have equaled the hopes of the author. He writes of "one of late days that was groom of the chamber with that renowned and valiant prince of high memory, Francis the French king, whose name I have forgotten, that did translate these triumphs to that said king, which he took so thankfully that he gave to him for his pains an hundred crowns, to him and to his heirs of inheritance to enjoy to that value in land forever, and took such pleasure in it that wheresoever he went, among his precious jewels that book always carried with him for his pastime to look upon, and as much esteemed by him as the richest diamond he had." Moved by patriotic emulation, Lord Morley "translated the said book to that most worthy king, our late sovereign lord of perpetual memory, King Henry the Eighth, who as he was a prince above all others most excellent, so took he the work very thankfully, marvelling much that I could do it, and thinking verily I had not done it without help of some other, better knowing in the Italian tongue than I; but when he knew the very truth, that I had translated the work myself, he was more pleased therewith than he was before, and so what his highness did with it is to me unknown."

Hyperbole in estimating the value of the translator's work is not common among Lord Morley's successors, but their very recognition of the secondary importance of translation often resulted in a modest yet dignified insistence on its real value. Richard Eden says that he has labored "not as an author but as a translator, lest I be injurious to any man in ascribing to myself the travail of other."[260] Nicholas Grimald qualifies a translation of Cicero as "my work," and immediately adds, "I call it mine as Plautus and Terence called the comedies theirs which they made out of Greek."[261] Harrington, the translator of Orlando Furioso, says of his work: "I had rather men should see and know that I borrow at all than that I steal any, and I would wish to be called rather one of the worst translators than one of the meaner makers, specially since the Earl of Surrey and Sir Thomas Wiat, that are yet called the first refiners of the English tongue, were both translators out of the Italian. Now for those that count it such a contemptible and trifling matter to translate, I will but say to them as M. Bartholomew Clarke, an excellent learned man and a right good translator, said in a manner of pretty challenge, in his Preface (as I remember) upon the Courtier, which book he translated out of Italian into Latin. 'You,' saith he, 'that think it such a toy, lay aside my book, and take my author in hand, and try a leaf or such a matter, and compare it with mine.'"[262] Philemon Holland, the "translator general" of his time, writes of his art: "As for myself, since it is neither my hap nor hope to attain to such perfection as to bring forth something of mine own which may quit the pains of a reader, and much less to perform any action that might minister matter to a writer, and yet so far bound unto my native country and the blessed state wherein I have lived, as to render an account of my years passed and studies employed, during this long time of peace and tranquillity, wherein (under the most gracious and happy government of a peerless princess, assisted with so prudent, politic, and learned Counsel) all good literature hath had free progress and flourished in no age so much: methought I owed this duty, to leave for my part also (after many others) some small memorial, that might give testimony another day what fruits generally this peaceable age of ours hath produced. Endeavored I have therefore to stand in the third rank, and bestowed those hours which might be spared from the practice of my profession and the necessary cares of life, to satisfy my countrymen now living and to gratify the age ensuing in this kind."[263] To Holland's simple acceptance of his rightful place, it is pleasant to add the lines of the poet Daniel, whose imagination was stirred in true Elizabethan fashion by the larger relations of the translator. Addressing Florio, the interpreter of Montaigne to the English people, he thanks him on behalf of both author and readers for

... his studious care Who both of him and us doth merit much, Having as sumptuously as he is rare Placed him in the best lodging of our speech, And made him now as free as if born here, And as well ours as theirs, who may be proud To have the franchise of his worth allowed. It being the proportion of a happy pen, Not to b'invassal'd to one monarchy, But dwell with all the better world of men Whose spirits are of one community, Whom neither Ocean, Deserts, Rocks, nor Sands Can keep from th' intertraffic of the mind.[264]

In a less exalted strain come suggestions that the translator's work is valuable enough to deserve some tangible recognition. Thomas Fortescue urges his reader to consider the case of workmen like himself, "assuring thyself that none in any sort do better deserve of their country, that none swink or sweat with like pain and anguish, that none in like sort hazard or adventure their credit, that none desire less stipend or salary for their travail, that none in fine are worse in this age recompensed."[265] Nicholas Udall presents detailed reasons why it is to be desired that "some able, worthy, and meet persons for doing such public benefit to the commonweal as translating of good works and writing of chronicles might by some good provision and means have some condign sustentation in the same."[266] "Besides," he argues, "that such a translator travaileth not to his own private commodity, but to the benefit and public use of his country: besides that the thing is such as must so thoroughly occupy and possess the doer, and must have him so attent to apply that same exercise only, that he may not during that season take in hand any other trade of business whereby to purchase his living: besides that the thing cannot be done without bestowing of long time, great watching, much pains, diligent study, no small charges, as well of meat, drink, books, as also of other necessaries, the labor self is of itself a more painful and more tedious thing than for a man to write or prosecute any argument of his own invention. A man hath his own invention ready at his own pleasure without lets or stops, to make such discourse as his argument requireth: but a translator must ... at every other word stay, and suspend both his cogitation and his pen to look upon his author, so that he might in equal time make thrice as much as he can be able to translate."

The belief present in the comment of both Fortescue and Udall that the work of the translator is of peculiar service to the state is expressed in connection with translations of every sort. Richard Taverner declares that he has been incited to put into English part of the Chiliades of Erasmus by "the love I bear to the furtherance and adornment of my native country."[267] William Warde translates The Secrets of Maister Alexis of Piemont in order that "as well Englishmen as Italians, Frenchmen, or Dutchmen may suck knowledge and profit hereof."[268] John Brende, in the Dedication of his History of Quintus Curtius, insists on the importance of historical knowledge, his appreciation of which has made him desire "that we Englishmen might be found as forward in that behalf as other nations, which have brought all worthy histories into their natural language."[269] Patriotic emulation of what has been done in other countries is everywhere present as a motive. Occasionally the Englishman shows that he has studied foreign translations for his own guidance. Adlington, in his preface to his rendering of The Golden Ass of Apuleius, says that he does not follow the original in certain respects, "for so the French and Spanish translators have not done";[270] Hoby says of his translation of The Courtier, "I have endeavored myself to follow the very meaning and words of the author, without being misled by fantasy or leaving out any parcel one or other, whereof I know not how some interpreters of this book into other languages can excuse themselves, and the more they be conferred, the more it will perchance appear."[271] On the whole, however, the comment confines itself to general statements like that of Grimald, who in translating Cicero is endeavoring "to do likewise for my countrymen as Italians, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Dutchmen, and other foreigners have liberally done for theirs."[272] In spite of the remarkable output England lagged behind other countries. Lord Morley complains that the printing of a merry jest is more profitable than the putting forth of such excellent works as those of Petrarch, of which England has "very few or none, which I do lament in my heart, considering that as well in French as in the Italian (in the which both tongues I have some little knowledge) there is no excellent work in the Latin, but that straightway they set it forth in the vulgar."[273] Morley wrote in the early days of the movement for translation, but later translators made similar complaints. Hoby says in the preface to The Courtier: "In this point (I know not by what destiny) Englishmen are most inferior to most of all other nations: for where they set their delight and bend themselves with an honest strife of matching others to turn into their mother tongue not only the witty writings of other languages but also of all philosophers, and all sciences both Greek and Latin, our men ween it sufficient to have a perfect knowledge to no other end but to profit themselves and (as it were) after much pains in breaking up a gap bestow no less to close it up again." To the end of the century translation is encouraged or defended on the ground that it is a public duty. Thomas Danett is urged to translate the History of Philip de Comines by certain gentlemen who think it "a great dishonor to our native land that so worthy a history being extant in all languages almost in Christendom should be suppressed in ours";[274] Chapman writes indignantly of Homer, "And if Italian, French, and Spanish have not made it dainty, nor thought it any presumption to turn him into their languages, but a fit and honorable labor and (in respect of their country's profit and their prince's credit) almost necessary, what curious, proud, and poor shamefastness should let an English muse to traduce him?"[275]

Besides all this, the translator's conception of his audience encouraged and guided his pen. While translations in general could not pretend to the strength and universality of appeal which belonged to the Bible, nevertheless taken in the mass and judged only by the comment associated with them, they suggest a varied public and a surprising contact with the essential interests of mankind. The appeals on title pages and in prefaces to all kinds of people, from ladies and gentlemen of rank to the common and simple sort, not infrequently resemble the calculated praises of the advertiser, but admitting this, there still remains much that implies a simple confidence in the response of friendly readers. Rightly or wrongly, the translator presupposes for himself in many cases an audience far removed from academic preoccupations. Richard Eden, translating from the Spanish Martin Cortes' Arte de Navigar, says, "Now therefore this work of the Art of Navigation being published in our vulgar tongue, you may be assured to have more store of skilful pilots."[276] Golding's translations of Pomponius Mela and Julius Solinus Polyhistor are described as, "Right pleasant and profitable for Gentlemen, Merchants, Mariners, and Travellers."[277] Hellowes, with an excess of rhetoric which takes from his convincingness, presents Guevara's Familiar Epistles as teaching "rules for kings to rule, counselors to counsel, prelates to practise, captains to execute, soldiers to perform, the married to follow, the prosperous to prosecute, and the poor in adversity to be comforted, how to write and talk with all men in all matters at large."[278] Holland's honest simplicity gives greater weight to a similarly sweeping characterization of Pliny's Natural History as "not appropriate to the learned only, but accommodate to the rude peasant of the country; fitted for the painful artisan in town or city; pertinent to the bodily health of man, woman, or child; and in one word suiting with all sorts of people living in a society and commonweal."[279] In the same preface the need for replying to those who oppose translation leads Holland to insist further on the practical applicability of his matter. Alternating his own with his critics' position, he writes: "It is a shame (quoth one) that Livy speaketh English as he doth; Latinists only owe to be acquainted with him: as who should say the soldier were to have recourse to the university for military skill and knowledge, or the scholar to put on arms and pitch a camp. What should Pliny (saith another) be read in English and the mysteries couched in his books divulged; as if the husbandman, the mason, carpenter, goldsmith, lapidary, and engraver, with other artificers, were bound to seek unto great clerks or linguists for instructions in their several arts." Wilson's translation of Demosthenes, again, undertaken, it has been said, with a view to rousing a national resistance against Spain, is described on the title page as "most needful to be read in these dangerous days of all them that love their country's liberty."[280]

Naturally enough, however, especially in the case of translations from the Latin and Greek, the academic interest bulks largely in the audience, and sometimes makes an unexpected demand for recognition in the midst of the more practical appeal. Holland's Pliny, for example, addresses itself not only to peasants and artisans but to young students, who "by the light of the English ... shall be able more readily to go away with the dark phrase and obscure constructions of the Latin." Chapman, refusing to be burdened with a popular audience, begins a preface with the insidious compliment, "I suppose you to be no mere reader, since you intend to read Homer."[281] On the other hand, the academic reader, whether student or critic, is, if one accepts the translator's view, very much on the alert, anxious to confer the English version with the original, either that he may improve his own knowledge of the foreign language or that he may pick faults in the new rendering. Wilson attacks the critics as "drones and no bees, lubbers and no learners," but the fault he finds in these "croaking paddocks and manifest overweeners of themselves" is that they are "out of reason curious judges over the travail and painstaking of others" instead of being themselves producers.[282] Apparently there was little fear of the indifference which is more discouraging than hostile criticism, and though, as is to be expected, it is the hostile criticism that is most often reflected in prefaces, there must have been much kindly comment like that of Webbe, who, after discussing the relations of Phaer's Virgil to the Latin, concludes, "There is not one book among the twelve which will not yield you most excellent pleasure in conferring the translation with the copy and marking the gallant grace which our English speech affordeth."[283]

Such encouragements and incentives are enough to awaken the envy of the modern translator. But the sixteenth century had also its peculiar difficulties. The English language was neither so rich in resources nor so carefully standardized as it has become of later times. It was often necessary, indeed, to defend it against the charge that it was not equal to translation. Pettie is driven to reply to those who oppose the use of the vernacular because "they count it barren, they count it barbarous, they count it unworthy to be accounted of."[284] Chapman says in his preface to Achilles' Shield: "Some will convey their imperfections under his Greek shield, and from thence bestow bitter arrows against the traduction, affirming their want of admiration grows from the defect of our language, not able to express the copiousness (coppie) and elegancy of the original." Richard Greenway, who translated the Annals of Tacitus, admits cautiously that his medium is "perchance not so fit to set out a piece drawn with so curious a pencil."[285] One cannot, indeed, help recognizing that as compared with modern English Elizabethan English was weak in resources, limited in vocabulary, and somewhat uncertain in sentence structure. These disadvantages probably account in part for such explanations of the relative difficulty of translation as that of Nicholas Udall in his plea that translators should be suitably recompensed or that of John Brende in his preface to the translation of Quintus Curtius that "in translation a man cannot always use his own vein, but shall be compelled to tread in the author's steps, which is a harder and more difficult thing to do, than to walk his own pace."[286]

Of his difficulties with sentence structure the translator says little, a fact rather surprising to the modern reader, conscious as he is of the awkwardness of the Elizabethan sentence. Now and then, however, he hints at the problems which have arisen in the handling of the Latin period. Udall writes of his translation of Erasmus: "I have in some places been driven to use mine own judgment in rendering the true sense of the book, to speak nothing of a great number of sentences, which by reason of so many members, or parentheses, or digressions as have come in places, are so long that unless they had been somewhat divided, they would have been too hard for an unlearned brain to conceive, much more hard to contain and keep it still."[287] Adlington, the translator of The Golden Ass of Apuleius, says, "I have not so exactly passed through the author as to point every sentence exactly as it is in the Latin."[288] A comment of Foxe on his difficulty in translating contemporary English into Latin suggests that he at least was conscious of the weakness of the English sentence as compared with the Latin. Writing to Peter Martyr of his Latin version of the controversy between Cranmer and Gardiner, he says of the latter: "In his periods, for the most part, he is so profuse, that he seems twice to forget himself, rather than to find his end. The whole phrase hath in effect that structure that consisting for the most part of relatives, it refuses almost all the grace of translation."[289]

Though the question of sentence structure was not given prominence, the problem of rectifying deficiencies in vocabulary touched the translator very nearly. The possibility of augmenting the language was a vital issue in the reign of Elizabeth, but it had a peculiar significance where translation was concerned. Here, if anywhere, the need for a large vocabulary was felt, and in translations many new words first made their appearance. Sir Thomas Elyot early made the connection between translation and the movement for increase in vocabulary. In the Proheme to The Knowledge which maketh a wise man he explains that in The Governor he intended "to augment the English tongue, whereby men should ... interpret out of Greek, Latin, or any other tongue into English."[290] Later in the century Peele praises the translator Harrington,

... well-letter'd and discreet, That hath so purely naturalized Strange words, and made them all free denizens,[291]

and—to go somewhat outside the period—the fourth edition of Bullokar's English Expositor, originally designed to teach "the interpretation of the hardest words used in our language," is recommended on the ground that those who know no language but the mother tongue, but "are yet studiously desirous to read those learned and elegant treatises which from their native original have been rendered English (of which sort, thanks to the company of painful translators we have not a few) have here a volume fit for their purposes, as carefully designed for their assistance."[292]

Whether, however, the translator should be allowed to add to the vocabulary and what methods he should employ were questions by no means easy of settlement. As in Caxton's time, two possible means of acquiring new words were suggested, naturalization of foreign words and revival of words from older English sources. Against the first of these methods there was a good deal of prejudice. Grimald in his preface to his translation of Cicero's De Officiis, protests against the translation that is "uttered with inkhorn terms and not with usual words." Other critics are more specific in their condemnation of non-English words. Puttenham complains that Southern, in translating Ronsard's French rendering of Pindar's hymns and Anacreon's odes, "doth so impudently rob the French poet both of his praise and also of his French terms, that I cannot so much pity him as be angry with him for his injurious dealing, our said maker not being ashamed to use these French words, freddon, egar, suberbous, filanding, celest, calabrois, thebanois and a number of others, which have no manner of conformity with our language either by custom or derivation which may make them tolerable."[293] Richard Willes, in his preface to the 1577 edition of Eden's History of Travel in the West and East Indies, says that though English literature owes a large debt to Eden, still "many of his English words cannot be excused in my opinion for smelling too much of the Latin."[294] The list appended is not so remote from the modern English vocabulary as that which Puttenham supplies. Willes cites "dominators, ponderous, ditionaries, portentous, antiques, despicable, solicitate, obsequious, homicide, imbibed, destructive, prodigious, with other such like, in the stead of lords, weighty, subjects, wonderful, ancient, low, careful, dutiful, man-slaughter, drunken, noisome, monstrous, &c." Yet there were some advocates of the use of foreign words. Florio admits with mock humility that he has employed "some uncouth terms as entraine, conscientious, endear, tarnish, comport, efface, facilitate, amusing, debauching, regret, effort, emotion, and such like," and continues, "If you like them not, take others most commonly set by them to expound them, since they were set to make such likely French words familiar with our English, which may well bear them,"[295] a contention which modern usage supports. Nicholas Udall pronounces judicially in favor of both methods of enriching the language. "Some there be," he says, "which have a mind to renew terms that are now almost worn clean out of use, which I do not disallow, so it be done with judgment. Some others would ampliate and enrich their native tongue with more vocables, which also I commend, if it be aptly and wittily assayed. So that if any other do innovate and bring up to me a word afore not used or not heard, I would not dispraise it: and that I do attempt to bring it into use, another man should not cavil at."[296] George Pettie also defends the use of inkhorn terms. "Though for my part," he says, "I use those words as little as any, yet I know no reason why I should not use them, for it is indeed the ready way to enrich our tongue and make it copious."[297] On the whole, however, it was safer to advocate the formation of words from Anglo-Saxon sources. Golding says of his translation of Philip of Mornay: "Great care hath been taken by forming and deriving of fit names and terms out of the fountains of our own tongue, though not altogether most usual yet always conceivable and easy to be understood; rather than by usurping Latin terms, or by borrowing the words of any foreign language, lest the matters, which in some cases are mystical enough of themselves by reason of their own profoundness, might have been made more obscure to the unlearned by setting them down in terms utterly unknown to them."[298] Holland says in the preface to his translation of Livy: "I framed my pen, not to any affected phrase, but to a mean and popular style. Wherein if I have called again into use some old words, let it be attributed to the love of my country's language." Even in this matter of vocabulary, it will be noted, there was something of the stimulus of patriotism, and the possibility of improving his native tongue must have appealed to the translator's creative power. Phaer, indeed, alleges as one of his motives for translating Virgil "defence of my country's language, which I have heard discommended of many, and esteemed of some to be more than barbarous."[299]

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