Page images
PDF
EPUB

as the most decisive answer to the question proposed by him concerning this line in Juvenal:

Et motæ ad lunam trepidabis arundinis umbram. It proves the propriety of the common reading beyond a doubt; it is a case in point, and more conclusive than a thousand arguments from analogy.*

I mention the Hercules Oetæus as a tragedy of Seneca's; though I am not ignorant of the controversy that has been moved by the critics about the authenticity of some of the pieces, which have been handed down to us under the name of that author. This tragedy, in particular, has been proscribed and reprobated in the severest manner by the elder Heinsius: “ Hæc ad Herculem in Oeta," says he, “ quam qui Senecæ ascribunt, judicii sui integritatem non tuentur." And again, “Sermo arguit longe post reliquas scriptam. Multa adiwrina, indigna Seneca utroque, et nihil minus quam Latina, occurrunt.” Dan. Heinsii Animadvers. in Seneca Tragæd.--Heinsianæ earum Editioni adjunct. pp. 550 and 577. Lipsius, however, bas admitted it into the number of those which he ascribes to one of the Senecas; Plerasque ex istis Annæi Senecæ esse fateor--sed Seneca novioris: and his admission of it is approved by Pontanus.

* An excellent critic has this observation concerning the anulogy of language; " A Latin writer would say, In eo prælio multum* sanguinis factum est, [ in that battle a great deal of blood was spill] ; but if from thence any one should now infer that he might write, In eo convivio multum vini factum est, (in that entertainment a great deal of wine wus spili}, he would proceed upon a very wrong supposition; unless he could give an instance of the expression." Markland's Remarks on the Epistles of Cicero to Brutus, &c. p. 85.

I have frequently heard Mr. Pope's Inscription on Shakespeare's Monument in Westminster-Abbey censured, as though the last line were neither good Latin, nor in the true Epitaph stile and taste :

Gulielmo Shakespeare,
Anno post mortem CXXIV.

Amor publicus posuit.

I therefore submit it to the critical reader, whether the following passage from Ovid will, or will not, serve to remove the first part of the objection, and by analogy, to establish the phrase at least of the Inscription:

Tempora sacrata mea sunt velata corona,
Publicus invito quain favor imposuit.

Ep. ex Ponto, lib. iv. Ep. xiv. v. 55.

* This expression seems borrowed from the Greek alja spây, an instance of which we have in Euripides :

Πυλιδης, συνδρων αιμα και ματρος φονο»

Orest. V. 406.

[See J. Lipsii Animadvers. in Tragoedias Senecæ, and Jo. Isac. Pontani de Tragediarum Auctoribus Prolegomenon, annexed to the edition of Seneca's Tragedies, published by Scriverius, cum notis variorum, Leyden, 1620.) Rutgersius, too, seems to acknowledge it for Seneca's, by quoting it, indifferently, with the Hippolytus, and the Troades, which are universally allowed to be of the hand of that author. (See Jani Rutgersii Var. Lect. lib. VI. cap. 17.) Wigan, Oct. 23.

Q.

1772, Oct.

LIII. Critical Remarks on some passages in V. Paterculus and

Petronius.

MR. URBAN, I HAVE always suspected a false reading in a passage of V. Paterculus, near the end of the first book, where that elegant author displays so much judgment in tracing out the reasons why the most eminent writers of Greece and Rome flourished, respectively, in or about the same æru, and so much taste in ascertaining and distinguishing their several merits. The passage I mean is this: "Nam, nisi aspera ac rudia repetas, et inventi laudanda nomine, in Accio circaque eum Romana tragedia est; dulcesque Latini leporis facetie, per Cæcilium, Terentiumque, et Afranium, suppari ætate nituerunt." Vel. Paterc. i. 17.-Now, leporis facetie seems to be a tautology, unworthy the precision of this accurate writer; since each of these terms, I apprehend, separately denotes those* delicate traits of wit, those exquisite strokes of pleasantry and humour'; in a word, all those graces of elegance and politeness of the most refined facetiousness and urbanity, so essential to the comic muse, which the historian meant to intimate had been at length transplanted into the Latin language, and, at one and the same period, nearly, shone out with distinguished lustre in those three Latin poets. Cicero, it is evident, frequently uses the words lepos and facetiæ* as synonymous expressions: “Veruntamen, ut dicis, Antoni, multum in causis persæpe lepore et facetiis, profici vidi.” De Orat. ii. 54. Again, “Quis est igitur, qui non fateatur, hoc lepore, atque his facetiis, non minus refutatum esse Brutum,” &c. Ibid. 55. And, more particularly, “Etenim, cum duo genera sint facetiarum, alterum æquabiliter in omni sermone fusum, alterum peracutum et breve.” Ibid. 54. And, “ Non enim fere quisquam reperietur, præter hunc [Crassum] in utroque genere leporis excellens, et illo, quod in perpetuitate sermonis, et hoc quod in celeritate atque dicto est.”

*“ Jam ut ad lepores, sales, gratias, et venustates veniamus; certum est, fere omnes eas tolli a ridiculo

, quemadmodun ab excessu tollitur virtus. Quare Terentio ac Menandro tribuunt lepores antiqui; sales vero Horatius Plauto concedit, verum inurbanos," · Dan. Heinsii Dissertat Heinsianæ Terent. Comariar. Editioni præfix. p. 22.

Facetum quoque non tantum circa ridicula opinor consistere.--Decorishane magis, et excultæ cujusdam elegantiæ appellationem puto."

Quintile Inst Or. libo ri, cap. 88 * Tur. Quid est? Gna. Facete, lepide, laute, nihil supra. .

Ibid. We see here two distinct species of wit or pleasantry defined, which are denoted, indiscriminately, by the terms facetic and lepos : so that these terms had clearly the samet significa

Ter. Eunuch. Act. iii. Sc. 1. 37.

-est enim leporum Disertus pater, ac facetiarum.

Catull, ad Asinium, v. 8. -tuo lepore Incensus, Licini, facetiisque.

Id. ad Licinium, v. To

* We meet, indeed, with lepos facetiarum in two passages of Cicero; “ Libandus etiam ex omni genere urbanitatis facetiarum quidam lepos, quo, tanquam sale, perspergatur omnis oratio.” De Orator. 1. 34. And, again, in his description of the oratorical talents of Crassus : “ Erat sumina gravitas, erat cum gravitate junctus facetiarum, et urbanitatis oratorius, non scurrilis, lepos.In Brut. 143. In both these places I take facetiæ to be the genus, and depos the species; understanding Cicero to intend, in the first passage, a cera tain grace, an air of politeness and pleasantry, which ought to animate the whole composition; and, in the latter, a certain clelicacy of wil, an elegance of raillery and ridicule, becoming the dignity of the orator, totally different from the coarse jests, the low illiberal humour of the droll and the buffoon. For that lepos signifies sometimes a gracefulness, a gentility, a politeness of manner, is evident likewise from Cicero : “ Festivitate igitur et facetiis, inquam, C. Julius, L. F. et supe. rioribus, et æqualibus suis omnibus præstitit, oratorque fuit minime ille quidem vehemens, sed nemo unquam urbanitate, nemo lepore, nemo suavitate conditior." In Brut. 177. “ Vox, gestus, et omnis actio sinc lepore." Ibid. 238. “ Hujus actio non satis commendabat orationem ; in hac enim satis erat copiæ, in illa autem leporis parum " Ib. 240. “ Omnisque vita lepos, et summa hilaritas, laborumque requies.” Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. xxxi. cap. 7. These instances determine the meaning of lepos fucetiarum; they prove, too, the propriety of this construction of those words, even though we bad not found them ju this form of construction in Cicero. But, I think, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to give an instance of the inyerse construction of them, -leporis facetiæ,-except that suspected reading in Paterculus.

[ocr errors]

tion. Instead of leporis, therefore, in the passage under consideration, I think we ought to read sermonis; and am confirmed in this opinion, by observing, that this is the reading of that learned and judicious critic Rutgersius, in his quotation of the passage on a different occasion: “Quare Velleius Paterculus libro primo Cæcilio ac Terentio, non Plautum, non Nævium, non Licinium, aut quæ etiam cogitare putidum sit, Attilium comitem dat, sed Afranium; dulcesque Latini Sermonis Facetia, inquit, per Cecilium, Terenliumque, et Afranium, suppari ætate floruerunt.” Rutgers. Var. Lect. lib. iv. cap. 19.

The authority of Aulus Gellius, who, in a critique on Plautus, remarks, from Varro, that poet's facetia sermonis, renders this reading still more probable: “ Quasdam etiam alias [comædias] probavit (Varro) adductus stylo atque Facetia Sermonis Plauto congruentis.A. Gell. Noct. Att. iii. 3.

There is an erroneous reading, too, I think, in the following fine passage of Petronius's Poem on the Civil War, which, according to my judgment, spoils half the beauty of it.

« At contra, sedes Erebi, qua rupta dehiscit,
Emergit late Ditis chorus, horrida Erinnys,
Et Bellona minax, facibusque armata Megæra:
Letumque, insidiæque, et lurida mortis imago.

V. 253, 6. The last line is evidently a parody of two passages in Virgil:

circumque atræ formidinis ora, Ireque, insidiæque, dei comitatus, aguntur.

Æneid. xii. 335.

crudelis ubique
Luctus, ubique pavor, et plurima mortis imago.

Ibid. ii. 369.

But the introduction of “the ghastly image of death" [lurida mortis imago), in the end of the line, after “Death himself” [letumque] had been introduced in the beginning of it, is so idle, unmeaning, a repetition, so tame, and so

totally unpoetical, as the fire and force of Petronius, with the great critical abilities he possessed, could never suffer him to admit. I, therefore, make not the least doubt, that, when he adopted one of Virgil's shadowy beings (insidiaque], he adopted also the other (iræque), deeming the latter equally fit to figure in the court of Pluto, as his great master had in the retinue of Mars. Hence, without hesitation, I would

read,

Iræque, insidiæque, et lurida mortis imago. Wigan, Nov. 24. 1772, Nov.

Q.

LIV. Inquiry as to the real Author of the book De Imitatione

Christi.

MR. URBAN, IT has long been matter of controversy, by whom the cele. brated treatise “ De Imitatione Christi,” usually attributed to Thomas à Kempis, was written. As the book, for its intrinsic merit, has been printed more than forty times* in the original Latin, and near sixty times been translated into modern languages, our pains may not be wholly misemployed in inquiring who was really the author of it.

Some of the first editions, it is said, as those of Brescia, in 1485, and Venice, in 1501, ascribe the work to St. Bernard. In an inventory of books, belonging to Monseigneur Compte d'Angouleme, and of Perigord, dated the first of January, 1467, there is mention of the Imitation of St. Bernard, in a very old letter ; a proof it was at that time the general opinion, that this justly admired treatise came from the pen of that venerable personage; but no proof seems to be adyanced for this supposition. St. Bernard was imagined to be the only man capable of such a work at that time. The name of St. Francis, which may be found in the Imitation, B. III. c. xxxviii. § 8, is alone sufficient to refute this error.

But the most probable conjecture, at this distance of time, is, that Jean Gersen, abbot of Verceil, was the true author, and that the book was composed between the years 1231

* See Hari's Amaranth. p. 22. Worthington's Kempis, p. 3. preface. VOL. II.

N

« PreviousContinue »