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thought of a certain author upon a passage of Virgil's account of the dead, which I made the subject of a late paper. This thought bath taken very
much among men of Tom's pitch and understanding, though universally exploded by all that know how to construe Virgil, or have any relish of antiquity. Not to trouble my reader with it, I found upon the whole that Tom did not believe a future state of rewards and punishments, because Æneas, at his leaving the empire of the dead, passed through the gate of ivory, and not through that of horn. Knowing that Tom had not sense enough to give up an opinion which he had once received, that I might avoid wrangling, I told him, " that Virgil possibly had his oversights as well as another author.” “ Ah! Mr. Bickerstaff,” says he, you would have another opinion of him, if you would read him in Daniel Heinsius's edition. I have perused him myself several times in that edition,” continued he; “ and after the strictest and most malicious examination, could find but two faults in him; one of them is in the Æneids, where there are two commas instead of a parenthesis ; and another in the third Georgic, where you may find a semicolon turned upside down." Perhaps,” said I, “ these were not Virgil's faults, but those of the transcriber.” “ I do not design it,” says Tom, as a reflection on Virgil; on the contrary, I know th all the manuscripts declaim against such a punctuation. Oh! Mr. Bickerstaff,” says he," what would a man give to see one simile of Virgil writ in his own hand!” I asked him which was the simile he meant; but was answered, any simile in Virgil. He then told me all the secret history in the commonwealth of learning; of modern pieces that has the names of ancient authors annexed to them; of all the books that were now writing or printing in the
several parts of Europe; of many amendments which are made, and not yet published; and a thousand other particulars, which I would not have my memory burdened with for a Vatican.
At length, being fully persuaded that I thoroughly admired him, and looked upon him as a prodigy of learning, he took his leave. I know several of Tom's class, who are professed admirers of Tasso, without understanding a word of Italian: and one in particular, that carries a Pastor Fido in his pocket, in which, I am sure, he is acquainted with no other beauty but the clearness of the character.
There is another kind of pedant, who, with all Tom Folio's impertinences, hath greater superstructures and embellishments of Greek and Latin; and is still more insupportable than the other, in the same degree as he is more learned. Of this kind very often are editors, commentators, interpreters, scholiasts, and critics; and, in short, all men of deep learning without common sense. These persons set a greater value on themselves for having found out the meaning of a passage in Greek, than upon the author for having written it; nay, will allow the passage itself not to have any beauty in it, at the same time that they would be considered as the greatest men of the age, for having interpreted it. They will look with contempt on the most beautiful poems that have been composed by any of their contemporaries; but will lock themselves nip in their studies for a twelvemonth together, to correct, pubJish, and expound such trifles of antiquity, as a modern author would be contemned for. Men of the strictest morals, severest lives, and the gravest professions, will write volumes upon an idle sonnet, that is originally in Greek or Latin; give editions of the most immoral authors; and spin out whole pages upon the various readings of a lewd expression. All that can be said in excuse for them is, that their works sufficiently show they have no taste of their authors; and that what they do in this kind, is out of their great learning, and not out of any levity or lasciviousness of temper.
A pedant of this nature is wonderfully well described in six lines of Boileau, with which I shall conclude his character.
Un Pedant enyvré de sa vaine science,
N° 159. SATURDAY, APRIL 15, 1710.
Nilor in adversum ; nec me, qui cætera vincit
Ovid. Met. lib. ii. ver. 72.
I steer against their motions; nor am I
From my own Apartment, April 14. The Wits of this island, for above fifty years past, instead of correcting the vices of the age, have done all they could to inflame them. Marriage has been one of the common topics of ridicule that every stage scribbler hath found his accountin; for whenever there is an occasion for a clap, an impertinent jest upon matrimony is sure to raise it. This hath been attended with very pernicious consequences. Many a country Esquire, upon his setting up for a man of the town, has gone home in the gaiety of his heart, and beat his wife. A kind husband hath been looked upon as a clown, and a good wife as a domestic animal unfit for the company or conversation of the beau monde. In short, separate beds, silent tables, and solitary homes, have been introduced by your men of wit and pleasure of the age.
As I shall always make it my business to slem the torrents of prejudice and vice, I shall take particular care to put an honest father of a family in countenance; and endeavour to remove all the evils out of that state of life, which is either the most happy or most miserable that a man can be placed in. In order to this, let us, if you please, consider the wits and well-bred persons of former times. I have shown in another paper, that Pliny, who was a man of the greatest genius, as well as of the first quality, of his age, did not think it below him to be a kind husband, and to treat his wife as a friend, companion, and counsellor. I shall give the like instance of another, who in all respects was a much greater man than Pliny, and hath writ a whole book of letters to his wife. They are not so full of turns as those translated out of the former author, who writes very much like a nodern; but are full of that beautiful simplicity which is altogether natural, and is the distinguishing character of the best ancient writers. The author I am speaking of, is Cicero; who, in the following passages, which I have taken out of his letters, shows, that he did not think in inconsistent with the politeness of his manners, or the greatness of his wisdom, to stand upon record in his domestic character.
These letters were written at a time when he was banished from his country, by a faction that then prevailed at Rome..
CICERO TO TERENTIA.
1. “ I learn from the letters of my friends, as well as from common report, that you give incredible proofs of virtue and fortitude, and that you are indefatigable in all kinds of good offices. How unhappy a man am I, that a woman of your virtue, constancy, honour, and good nature, should fall into so great distresses upon my account! and that my dear Tulliola should be so much afflicted for the sake of a father, with whom she had once so much reason to be pleased! How can I mention little Cicero, whose first knowledge of things began with the sense of his misery? If all this had happened by the decrees of fate, as you would kindly persuade me, I could have borne it: But, alas! it is all befallen me by my own indiscretion, who thought I was beloved by those that envied me, and did not join with them who sought my friendship.-At present, since my friends bid me hope, I shall take care of my health, that I may enjoy the benefit of your affectionate services. Plancius hopes we may some time or other come together into Italy. If I ever live to see that day; if I ever return to your dear embraces ; in short, if I ever again recover you and myself, I shall think our conjugal piety very well rewarded. As for what you write to me about selling your estate, consider, my dear Terentia, consider, alas! what would be the event of it. If our present fortune continues to oppress us,