in some respects better edited than the original, because it gives the names of the translators, and because he had some better translators to draw upon, especially Rossetti
It can be said fairly of the whole book that it is intrinsically one of the most attractive of a very unattractive class, a book of which the compiler justly says that, in order to render the literary history of the various countries complete, ‘an author of no great note has sometimes been admitted, or a poem which a severer taste would have excluded.’
‘The work is to be regarded,’ he adds, ‘as a collection, rather than as a selection, and in judging any author it must be borne in mind the translations do not always preserve the rhythm and melody of the original, but often resemble soldiers moving forward when the music has ceased and the time is marked only by the tap of the drum.’
It includes, in all, only ten languages, the Celtic
being excluded, as well as the Turkish and Romaic, a thing which would now seem strange.
But the editor's frank explanation of the fact, where he says ‘with these I am not acquainted,’ disarms criticism.
This explanation implies that he was personally acquainted with the six Gothic languages of Northern Europe
—Anglo-Saxon, Icelandish, Danish
, and Dutch
—and the four Latin languages of the South