صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

permitted to ask a modest question by the way, why may I not restore an anachronism really made by our author, as well as Mr. Pope take the privilege to fix others upon him, which he never had it in his head to make ; as I may venture to affirin he had not, in the instance of Sir Francis Drake, to which I have spoke in the proper place?

But who shall dare make any words about this free: dom of Mr. Pope's towards Shakspere, if it can be proved, that, in his fits of criticism, he makes no more ceremony with good Homer himself ? To try, then, a criticism of his own advancing : in the eighth book of the Odyssey, where Demodocus sings the episode of the loves of Mars and Venus ; and that, upon their being taken in the net by Vulcan,

-The god of arms
Must pay the penalty for lawless charms;"

Mr. Pope is so kind gravely to inform us, “That Ho. “ mer in this, as in many other places, seems to allude “ to the laws of Athens, where death was the punish“ ment of adultery.” But how is this significant òbservation made out ? Why, who can possibly object any thing to the contrary - -Does not Pausanias relate, that Draco, the lawgiver to the Athenians, granted impur nity to any person that took revenge upon an adulterer? And was it not also the institution of Solon, that if any one took an adulterer in the fact, he might use him as he pleased? These things are very true : and to see what


a good

a good memory, and sound judgment in conjunction, can achieye! though Homer's date is not determined down to a single year, yet it is pretty generally agreed that he lived above three hundred years before Draco and Solon : and that, it seems, has made him seem to allude to the very laws, which these two legislators propounded above three hundred years after. If this inference be not something like an anachronism or prolepsis, I will look once more into my lexicons for the true meaning of the words. It appears to me, that somebody besides Mars and Venus has been caught in a net by this episode : and I could call in other instances, to confirm what treacherous tackle this net work is, if not cautiously handled.

How just, notwithstanding, I have been in detecting the anachronisms of my author, and in defending him for the use of them, our late editor seems to think, they should rather have slept in obscurity : and the having discovered them is sneered at, as a sort of wrong-headed sagacity.

The numerous corrections which I have made of the poet's text in my SHAKSPÈRE Restored, and which the publick have been so kind to think well of, are, in the appendix of Mr. Pope's last edition, slightingly called various reasonings, guesses, &c. He confesses to have inserted as many of them as he judged of any the least advantage to the poet; but says, that the whole amounted to about twenty-five words : and pretends to have annexed a complete list of the rest, which were not worth his embracing. Whoever has read


work appear

of a

my book will, at one glance, see, how in both these points veracity is strained, so an injury might but be done : Malus, ctsi obesse non potest, tamen cogitat.

Another expedient, to make my trifling nature, has been an attempt to depreciate literal criticism. To this end, and to pay a servile compliment to Mr. Pope, an anonymous writer * has, like a Scotch pedlar in wit, unbraced his pack on the subject. But, that his virulence might not seem to be levelled singly at me, he has done me the honour to join Dr. Bentley in the libel. I was in hopes we should have been both abused with smartness of satire at least, though not with solidity of argument; that it might have been worth some reply in defence of the science attacked. But I may fairly say of this author, as Falstaff does of Poins ;--Hang hin, baboon ! kis wit is as thick as Tewksbury mustard; there is no more conceit in him, than is in a MALLET. If it be not prophanation to set the opinion of the divine Longinus against such a scribbler, he tells us expressly, “ That “ to make a judgment upon words (and writings) " is the most consummate fruit of much experience. ή γαρ των λόγων κρίσις πολλής έτι σείρας τελευταίον ituyévnuce. Whenever words are depraved, the sense of course must be corrupted; and thence the reader is betrayed into a false meaning.


* David Mallet, See his poem Of Verbal Criticism, vol, i, of his works, 12mo. 1759.


If the Latin and Greek languages have received the greatest advantages imaginable from the labours of the editors and criticks of the two last ages, by whose aid and assistance the grammarians have been enabled to write infinitely better in that art than even the preceding grammarians, who wrote when those tongues flourished as living languages; I should account it a peculiar happiness, that, by the faint essay I have made in this work, a path might be chalked out for abler hands, by which to derive the same advantages to qur own tongue ; · a tongue, which, though it wants none of the fundamental qualities of an universal language, yet, aš a noble writer, says, lisps and stammers as in its cradle ; and has produced little more towards its polishing than complaints of its barbarity.

Having now run through all those points, which I intended should make any part of this dissertation, and having in my former edition made publick acknowledgments of the assistances lent me, I shall conclude with a brief account of the inethods taken in this.

It was thought proper, in order to reduce the bulk and price of the impression, that the notes, wherever they would admit of it, might be abridged :. for which reason I have curtailed a great quantity of such, in which explanations were too prolix, or authorities in support of an emendation too numerous : and many I have entirely expunged, which were judged rather verbose and declainatory (and so notes merely of ostentation) than necessary or instructive.

The The few literal errors which had escaped notice, for want of revisals, in the former edition, are here reformed; and the pointing of innumerable passages is regulated, with all the accuracy I am capable of.

I shall decline making any farther declaration of the pains I have taken upon my author, because it was my duty, as his editor, to publish him with my best care and judgment; and because I am sensible, all such declarations are construed to be laying a sort of a debt on the publick. As the former edition has been received with much indulgence, I ought to make my acknowledgments to the town for their favourable opinion of it; and I shall always be proud to think that encouragement the best payment I can hope to receive from my poor


[blocks in formation]
« السابقةمتابعة »