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NOTE I. referred to in page 214. EXTRACT from Letters, with which Doctor Parr has
honoured the Reminiscent:-On the high polish of. Virgil's diction—the Character of Archbishop Cranmer-and Polemic Moderation in religious Disputes.
“ AS to your own book, I read the two first. vo“ lumes attentively. I was very much instructed by “ them: I was, in general, pleased with their spirit; “ but, upon one point, you have dropped from your
dignified eminence of liberality. You' have been
pointedly acrimonious, and, in my judgment, have “ been glaringly unjust to the memory of CRANMER. “ It was impossible for me not to contrast your elaborate “ and most peremptory strictures upon him, with the “ conciseness, which you preserved, when you spoke “ of two well-known roman-catholics, who were his “contemporaries * I do not mean to say that Cranmer " was faultless, or quite consistent. I have not seen " the human being, who, under similar circumstances, “ would not sometimes have failed. I do not lay “'much stress upon self-preservation, when Cranmer
was in danger of his life from a capricious tyrant. “ Cranmer ought to have cared little about life “ and death : but in yielding to the tyrant, he was "enabled to carry on that scheme of reformation, “ which perhaps you regret, and in which I triumph.
• Gardiner and Bonner;—the Reminiscent believes that the first, was highly blameable, the second perfectly detestable, if one-half reported of them be true.
“I lately turned to Lingard; and, upon the whole, I “ am much less dissatisfied with him than with your
self, so far as Cranmer is concerned; and I quite
agree with Lingard, that, after Wolsey had lost his " ascendancy over the mind of Harry, his passions
were more violent, and his crimes were more outrageous. Mr. Butler, I read with distrust the mutual
reproaches of romanists and protestants, as they are “ called; and you may be assured that, in conversing " with English divines, I often resist their attacks
upon the church of Rome; even in events, which “ have long ago passed away. There is much to be
forgiven in all parties. And how could it be other“ wise in such a state of things?”
you for sending me the proposed TRANSPOSITION IN VIRGIL*; and I am yet more convinced « of its propriety. It continues the invocations, which
are now strangely interrupted; and it is followed, as" it ought to be, by the preceptive. You are very right in more than a thousand places, takes his matter from “ Greek poets of various ages; and more especially “ from the Homeric poems. He had before him, the
supposing that Virgil carried the Roman language to “ its fullest extent; and that, by going a little farther, " he might have gone too far. That language would “not have supplied him with sufficient variety for “ epic composition, if he had confined himself to the
poetical language formed by his predecessors. Upon “this point, we can judge very well by the fragments " of Ennius, and by the heroics of Catullus ; and yet “ more, by the ornamental parts of Lucretius. Doubt“ less, there are passages, which even the contempora“ ries of Virgil must have found somewhat dissimilar to “ vernacular idiom. The only resource Virgil bad was “ in Grecism. But here, we must distinguish : he, in
* See ante, p. 212;-Two transpositions are there suggested by the Reminiscent. Dr. Parr's observation in this place refers to the first :-In a subsequent letter, he disapproves the second.
poets of the Alexandrian school, and I have had “ occasion to observe to scholars, that, in the struc“ ture and cadence of his verse, he resembles the “ writers of Alexandria, even more than the older “ writers of the Odyssey and Iliad.---True. But pray “ observe, that, while he imitates the thoughts and “ almost words of Greek poets, he does not adopt any Greek idioms : He employs those idioms when,
according to his own taste, he could employ them “well; and I am quite certain that, when the Æneid “ came out, it was considered by his contempora“ ries as a learned poem; and that, according to “their different tastes, the novelty of his Grecising
phraseolgy pleased or displeased. Moreover, he “indulged largely in the hiatus, as did the Greeks.“ The peculiarities, to which I advert, appeared to “ him, and appear to me, beauties. Now and then “ they put a learner upon the stretch. But, the last “ impression is always favourable. He has one pecu“ liar and transcendental excellence. In many of his “ lines, and some even of his shorter sentences, the “ words are plain and familiar; and yet, by the power “ of synthesis, they are graceful to the imagination “ and harmonious to the ear*. With this property of “ the poems, I should connect another of high merit.
You will find it in his transitions from elaborate and “grand language to a more familiar tone. Luckily “ for us, we can compare Virgil with Lucan, Statius, “ Valerius Flaccus, Silius Italicus, and Claudian. Every “one of them, more or less, imitates Virgil: But
they seldom or never imitate him, when he stretches. “his phraseology beyond the common and well-known * Does not Milton often do the same?
"structure of the Latin tongue. Silius Italicus formed “ his very sentences and his rhythm on the model of “ Virgil; but, even in Silius Italicus, we meet not with “ the qualities, which I am now considering.-You are
right in supposing, that Horace does not abound with “ those seeming deviations from Latinity, or the soaring “ above it, which I ascribe to Virgil. I have studied « the Λεξις and Συνθεσις of Horace attentively, and I am “ charmed with them. But you must not forget that * even Horace now and then, deliberately and in con
formity to the licentiousness of lyric poetry, had recourse to Grecism. I give you two instances,
desine mollium Tandem querelarum.
66 Uxor invicti Jovis esse nescis."
Assuredly, Horace felt that his own language was “ far, far, far inferior to the Greek, in the boldness “ and variety of lyric diction; and under that impres“sion he wrote his ode about Pindar, as a writer who « could not be equalled, and talks of the nova verba “ rolling in dythirambics, and the numeri lege soluti.”
« Let us turn to other and weightier matters. The “ lines in Juvenal are most impressive". But no “reader of history; no observer of human events ; no
* The Reminiscent had respectfully asked Doctor Parr whether the noble picture presented by Juvenal, of unshaken constancy under the severest trials, in the celebrated verses,
Ambiguæ si quando vocabere testis,
JUVENAL. could be justly applied to Cranmer?
searcher into the anecdotes of courts will venture “ to deny that they are applicable to men of all ages, “ to ministers, and generals, and kings and ecclesi* astics.--Do me the justice to remember that I an.
ticipated your remark about Cranmer, and stated
explicitly, that, amidst his arduous duties, life and “ death were considerations quite unworthy, and at “ the same time, I contended, that in many of his
compliances, he was guided by another sense of duty in promoting the great cause of the Reforma“tion. Mr. Butler, it is quite impossible for you or “ myself to suppose, that, with such a monarch as “ Henry VIII., and in such a disturbed condition of
things, civil and ecclesiastical, human wisdom and “ human virtue could in all cases have enabled any “ human being to preserve his innocence*. I adopted “ Mr. Lingard's just observation upon the advantage, « which arose from the salubrious influence of Cardinal “ Wolsey over the mind of Henry. But do you
think " it possible that Wolsey did not now and then gain, “ or preserve his ascendancy, by a compliance which, “ pro hac vice, no good man would approve?+ If “ I were to take down my books, I could set in array “ a host of nuncios, legates, prelates and doctors, who, “ in obedience to the pope, and with a view either to “ their own personal advantage, or the interests of " the church of Rome, committed faults and crimes 1. “ He, that knoweth the deceitfulness of the heart, « will treasure up in his memory, and familiarize to
* Did not sir Thomas More preserve his innocence?
+ The Reminiscent thinks Cardinal Wolsey very blameable, and even criminal, in several of his actions, but not always so blameable, or so criminal, as some have represented him.
| This, the Reminiscent has admitted in many parts of his works, particularly in his Historical Memoirs of the English, Irish and Scottish Catholics.