Page images
PDF
EPUB

with the most vigilant jealousy. During the residence of Charles of Sweden at Bender, he had so much prejudiced the janissaries in his favour by his liberality, that they openly mutinied against their general, when commanded to storm the Swedish camp, till that daring madman at once alienated their affections, by telling their envoys he would trim their beards, unless they retired from his entrenchments.

1779, Jan.

LXIX. On the word Bleak.

MR. URBAN, IT is but a small matter I am going to mention, but, as it relates to our own language, some, perhaps, may think it of consequence: bleak signifies chill or cold, as when we say a bleak wind, a bleak situation, and so the song,

“ Cold and raw the north did blow,

Bleak in the morning early," &c. and it is generally thought that Black-Heath* is so denominated from the bleakness of that elevated piece of ground; in which case, black is a corruption of bleak. Now, on the other hand, bleak appears to mean black, niger, from the Saxon blac and blæc; for the north west wind, in Perigord, is called, according to Mons. Menaget, vent negre, and indeed this quarter is generally black, and the wind blowing from thence dry, and black, and cold: so that black, and bleak, seem to be the same words; and I know not whether bleak, in the song, may not mean black, as cold is mentioned in the first line; this sense of bleak, however, is not noted in our dictionaries,

Yours, 1780, Jan.

T. Row.

* The case is probably the same with Black-Hamilton, a place well known to gentlemen of the turf.

of Menage, Origine de la Langue Françoise, V. Bis.

LXX. Nine Love at Cards, or other Games, explained. I HAVE often been asked the occasion or original, when at cards, of six love, or nine love, which is as much as to say, as to the sense and meaning of the expression, six to none, or nine to none ; and indeed there is, I apprehend, some difficulty in it, since our dictionaries and glossaries, so far as I am acquainted with them, do not attempt to illustrate it. Thus, in the English part of Boyer's French Dictionary, the phrase is put down and explained, but we are not told how, or by what means, six love comes to signify six to nothing.

Now, Sir, I conceive the expression may have come to us either from Scotland or Holland. Luff in old Scotch is the hand*; so that sir luft will mean sir in hand, or more than the adversary, when he has nothing upon his score. So again, loaf in Dutcht, whence we have our word loof, and to loof, is the weather gage, and in this case six loof will imply six upon the weather gage, or to advantage, as really it is, when the antagonist is nothing. You, and your readers, Mr. Urban, may chuse which of these illustrations you please, at least till a more plausible one shall be offered.

Yours, &c. 1780, July

T. Row.

LXXI. Theobald and Pope.

MR. URBAN, THEOBALD, the professed rival of Pope in the editorship of Shakespeare, and, probably, for this reason the original hero of the Dunciad, by the escape of one unlucky line,

“ None but himself can be his parallel," gave that wicked wit a real advantage over him, and justly exposed himself to the keenest severity of his satire. And yet, indefensible as palpable absurdity, most assuredly is, that just now quoted, might have pleaded the authority of Seneca; in whose “Hercules Furens," we have the following very extraordinary passage:

Glass. to Douglas's Virgil.

+ Sewel's Dutch Dictionary.

quæris Alcidæ parem? Nemo est nisi ipse: bella jam secum gerat. It hence appears, (what has not, I think, been remarked before), that this celebrated line of Theobald, the Ludus jocusque Criticorum*, had, after all, only the secondary merit of being a literal translation.

ÆNEANASENSIS. Hot Wells, Bristol, Nov. 18.

1780, Nov.

LXXII. An Emendation of a Passage in Virgil.

[ocr errors]

MR. URBAN, THOUGH Virgil's style be justly considered as the standard in Latin poesy, and to arraigu him in that respect, would be to arraign one's own judgment,

"nec detrahere ausimHærentem multa capiti cum laude coronam—

Hor.

yet several errors have been rationally presumed to be introduced into his works, through the ignorance or the negligence of the ancient librarians. Some of these have been pointed out by the critics, and some perhaps remain uncorrected even to this day.

One, and that a gross one, if I am not mistaken, occurs in the 449th line of the first Æneid. But to save the reader, who may be as corpulent and indolent as myself, the fatigue of heaving himself into that unfrequented apartment, his study, for the original, and that I may be better understood, I will lay the whole passage before him:

Lucus in urbe fuit media gratissimus umbra,
Quo primum jactati undis et turbine Pæni.
Effodere loco signum, quod regia Juno
Monstrârat, caput acris equi: nam sic fore bello

Egregiam et facilem victu per sæcula gentem. .
Now the word which appears to me exceptionable in this

* See the “ Art of sinking in Poetry.”

passage, is the conjunction in the last line, which, though a single word, and a small one too, does materially affect the sense of the clause it is part of, but much to its prejudice, in my humble opinion; making it necessary that the four following words should be rendered “eternally renowned,” as most expositors agree.*

But I apprehend it to be unworthy that aceuracy which characterizes Virgil, to convey that idea in terms so equivocal, not to say, ungrammatical; especially as it might have been done with more precision by the alteration of one word, and the inversion of the order of two more, thus, et facilem per sæcula vivere gentem: peither do'l judge it reasonable to imagine, that Virgil

, at the penning of this pas. sage, had the fame of the Carthaginians in contemplation, but that of the Romans; and on this presumption, I read the last line, after the first word, not et, but haud facilem victu per sæcula gentem: and render it, as haud is a more emphatical negative particle than non, very difficult to be subdued, for some centuries of years; and then it relates, by anticipation, a memorable circumstance in the history of the Carthaginian state, viz. “ that its power was great and formidable for some ages, as its wars in Sicily, Spain, and elsewhere, undeniably demonstrate. Particularly that tit, most effort of its power in its wars with the Romans; the first of which lasted twenty-four years, the second eighteen, and the third four years.

Add to this, that the emendation I propose, being admitted, Virgil, (who rarely let slip a fair opportunity of introducing into his poem the shining part of the Roman history) pays

the Romans a very fine compliment; for by representing the Carthaginians as very difficultly subdued, he implicitly extols the power of the Romans, who, before his time, had subdued them.

But this emendation is not supported by any MS. True, as far as I know. Yet, as it renders the passage more consonant to Virgil's probable design, more beautiful, more determinate in its sense, not to say morc classical, its novelty can rationally be no obstacle to its reception. More especially as the ancients, for hand or haut, frequently wrote aut; which might easily be corrupted, first into at, and then into et.

* Aliter lleynius hunc locum interpretatur: Facile, victu, hoc est, quæ babitura, esset victum facilem et expeditum, annonamn afliuenteni ex agrorum ubertate et cultu," VOL. II.

R

In further support of the alteration proposed, I might observe, that the figure, asyndeton, supersedes the necessity of a conjunction in the passage under consideration. But as I am writing to the literati, it would be a needlese labour.

To make the emendation I offer more intelligible, I beg leaye, (though I am prolix, if not tedious, already), to add a paraphrase on a passage it is part of.

Within the city which Elisa made,
lofty grove diffus'd a pleasing shade.
There the Phænicians, as they dug the ground,
A horse's head, by Juno's favour, found:
Nor that unmeaning; the prognostic shew'd
They would be brave, and hard to be subdu'd.

Si quid novisti rectius istis
Candidus imperti: si non, his utere mecum.

Hor.

J. LEWIS. Ludlow, Free-School, Oct. 26, 1780.

P. S. Alluding to the wars between the Carthaginians and Romans, Silius Italicus thus harmoniously and sublimely sings :

Gens Cadmæa super regno certamina movit
Quæsitumque diu qua tandem poneret arce
Terrarum Fortuna caput.

1780, Nov.

LXXIII. Pope's Epitaph on Gay borrowed. Hammond's Elegies.

MR. URBAN,

August, 1781. THE quaintness of the concluding line of Pope's Epitaph on Gay;

That the worthy and the good may say,

Striking their pensive bosoms, here lies GAY," has been deservedly censured; but the thought, whether good or bad, was not his own. Dr. Warton, in The Adventurer, No. 63, supposes that it was copied from an old Latin Elegy on Henry Prince of Wales; but I have no doubt

« PreviousContinue »