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" by Milton."
And from a similar cast of reasoning, in his preface to Horace, he says, - that those emendations of his are for the most part more certain, which are made from conjectures, than those from ancient copies, and manuscripts.
'Twas never my intention to call in question the skill, and abilities of one, whose reputation in learning is so deservedly established: but there was a good piece of advice, (which I cannot so easily pass over, because of universal use to critics,) offered him, when first he made his design known of publishing his Horace; which was, to admit into the context all those better readings, for which he had the authority of ancient manuscripts ; but as to meer conjectural corrections, to place them in his notes. His reply to this advice was, as might be expected, “ No, for then who will re“ gard 'em?”
Our great critic was too well guarded by his learning, to have his own reply turned as a sarcasm against himself; which might fo justly
2. Plura igitur in Horatianis his curis ex conjectura exhibemus, quàm ex codicum fubfidio ; et, nifi me omnia fallunt, plerumque certiora.
3. Of this particular circumstance I was informed by the late learned Mr. Wafs of Aynoe. I will add here a rule of Graevius, in his preface to Cicero's ofices: A priscis libris non recedendum, nisi aut librarii, aut fcioli peccatum fit tam teftatum, ut ab omnibus, qui non caligent in fole, videri polit.
be turned against many dealers in the critical craft, who with little, or no stock in trade, fet
up for correctors, and successors of Aristarchus. There is one part of their cunning, that I cannot help here mentioning, which is, their intruding their own guesses, and reveries into the context, which first meeting the reader's eye, naturally prepoffess his judgment: mean while the author's words are either removed entirely out of the way, or permitted a place in some remote note, loaden with * misrepresentations and abuse, according to the
4. Dr. Bentley's foul play in this respect is most notorious ; who, in order to make way for his emendations, will often drop the only, and true construction : the reader is mistaken if he thinks this done through ignorance. I will inftance in a correction of a passage of Virgil, Aen. IV, 256. which, among many other corrections, I chiefly make choice of, because some have been deceiv'd into an opinion of its superior excellency : and I will give it in his own words, from a note on Horace, Lib. I. od.
Hic primum paribus nitens Cyllenius alis
Materno veniens ab avo Cyllenia proles. “ ubi quam multa merito vituperanda fint vides. Volat, et mox volabat : deinde in continuatis versibus ingratum
great goodness of the most gracious critic; who
“ auribus vosotéheulov, volabat, fecabat : ad quod evitandum “ vetustißimi aliquot codices apud Pierium mutato ordine “ fic versus collocant,
Haud aliter terras inter caelumque volabat
Litus arenosum et Libyae ventosque fecabat. “ Sed nihil omnino proficiunt, aut locum adjuvant : adhuc " enim relinquitur vitium omnium deterrimum, fecabat littus * ventosque. Quid enim eft littus fecare, nifi littus arare " et effodere ? Quid autem hoc ad Mercurium volantem? “ Nullus dubito quin fic fcripferit princeps poëtarum :
Haud aliter, terras inter caelumque, legebat
The first fault he finds is with volabat coming so quick after volat. But this repetition is so far from a fault, that it has a peculiar beauty here ; for 'tis in the application of the fimile; so Milton IV, 189.
Or as a thief, &c.
More inftances might be added from Homer, and Milton, and Virgil. The next fault is the rime volabat, fecabat : If there was any stop after volabat and fecabat, some answer or apology should be made. But there is actually no more jingle in those verses of Virgil, than in these of Milton,
with his dagger of lath on his own stage, like the
IT, 220. This horror will grow mild, this darkness light ;
Far worse to bear
Go then, thou mightiest in thy father's might.
Haud aliter, terras inter coelumque, volabat
Materno veniens ab avo Cyllenia proles.
you, thing was more common than for the best authors, to apply the verb properly to one fubftantive, and improperly often to the other : (see the schol. on Sophocl, Elect. 3. 437. Edit. Steph. p. 101. and Homer Il. . 327.) he could not have abusid that phrase, littus et ventos fecabat, which he misrepresenting cites, littus fecabat ventosque. So that whe- / ther you keep the old pointing, or change it, the Dr. can: not get one jot forward towards an emendation : not tho' you allowed him, which I somewhat question, the propriety of legebat littus, apply'd to Mercury Aying directly from
old Vice, or modern Harlequin, belabours the poor Devil of his own raising.
mount Atlas to the coast of Libya. This whole passage of Virgil, Milton has finely imitated in his 5th book. y. 265. &c. where the Dr. is at his old work, hacking and hewing. Were I to give an instance of Bentley's critical skill, I should not forget that place in the Plutus of Aristophanes, $. 1010. which puzzled the Grecian critics, being an old inveterate evil, juft gloffed over, 'till Bentley probed it to the bottom, and recovered it's pristine beauty. No one did better than the Dr. when he met with a corrupt place; but the mischief was, he would be medling with found places. The emendation is printed in a letter to Kufter, inserted at the end of his edition of Aristophanes : to which I rather refer the reader, than lengthen this note, too long already.
5. The Vice was a droll character in our old plays, accoutred with a long coat, a cap with a pair of ass's ears, and a dagger of lath. Shakespeare alludes to his buffoon appearance in Twelfth Night, Act. IV.
In a trice, like to the old Vice;
In the second part of K. Henry IV. Act. III. Falstaff compares Shallow to Vice's dagger of lath. In Hamlet A& IH, Hamlet calls his uncle, A Vice of Kings : i. e, a ridiculous representation of majefty. These paftages the editors have very rightly expounded. I will now mention some others, which seem to have escaped their notice, the allusions being not quite so obvious.
The INIQUITY was often the Vice in our old Moralities; and is introduced in Ben Johnson's play call'd the