He is now at the end of his labours, and ready, after the example of Montesquieu, to cry out with the voyager in Virgil, Italiam! Italian! But whether he is to land on a peaceful shore; whether the men who delight in a wreck, are to rush upon him with hostile pens, which in their hands are pitch-forks; whether his cargo is to be condemned, and he himself to be wounded, maimed, and lacerated; a little time will discover. Such critics will act as their nature prompts them. Should they cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war, it may be said,
hoc hominum, quaeve hunc tam barbara morem
Permittit patria? Hospitio prohibemur arenae;
Bella cient, primaque vetant consistere terra.
This, they may say, is anticipating complaint; but, in the worst that can happen, it is the only complaint this writer will ever make, and the only answer they will ever receive from his pen.
It is from a very different quarter that the translator of Tacitus waits for solid criticism. The men, as Pliny observes, who read with malignity, are not the only judges. Neque enim soli judicant, qui maligne legunt. The scholar will see defects, but he will pronounce with temper: he will know the difficulty, and, in some cases, perhaps the impossibility, of giving in our language the sentiments of Tacitus with the precision and energy of the original; and, upon the whole, he will acknowledge that an attempt to make a considerable addition to English literature, carries with it a plea of some merit. While the French could boast of having many valuable translations of Tacitus, and their most eminent authors were still exerting themselves, with emulation, to improve upon their predecessors, the present writer saw, with regret, that this country had not so much as one translation which could be read, without disgust, by any person acquainted with the idiom and structure of our language. To supply the deficiency has been the ambition of the translator. He persevered with ardour; but, his work being finished, ardour subsides, and doubt and anxiety take their turn. Whatever the event may be, the conscious pleasure of having employed his time in a fair endeavour will remain with him. For the rest, he submits his labours to the public; and, at that tribunal, neither flushed with hope, nor depressed by fear, he is prepared, with due acquiescence, to receive a decision, which, from his own experience on former occasions, he has reason to persuade himself will be founded in truth and candour.
INDEX OF THE NAMES OF PLACES, RIVERS, &c. MENTIONED IN THESE VOLUMES.
ACHAIA, often taken for part of Peloponnesus, but in Tacitus generally for all Greece.
ACTIUM, a promontory of Epirus, now called the Cape of Tigolo, famous for the victory of Augustus over M. Antony.