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litical champions so thoroughly made up, in agreement with each other, upon all questions of civil and social concern, that it was impossible to find between them a single point of difference or of rational and amicable discussion except on literary ground? Or did Mr. Fox, in his comparative silence upon other questions of deep and vital importance to the standing interests of humanity, show a delicate sense of the ratio loci et temporis, and a wish, Atticas-like, to exchange the painful anxieties of public life and a concern for the public weal, then so eminently endangered, for academic ease and learned retirement? Was it that he suspected the prudence of Mr. Wakefield ? was it, in a word, that he wished to hint the advice of a certain old adage to this bold pretender to a universal dictatorship; and tacitly to convey to him the answer of Alexander to the intrusive Stoic, who would fain have entertained him with a long discourse on the art of war? Be this as it may, it will be our business to give our readers some general notion of the several extended philological inquiries contained in this correspondence; and then to collect, froin the occasional topics of a more popular, and, perhaps, more interesting nature, interspersed through the letters, the matter of some concluding observations on the respective characters of the writers.
The correspondence opens with a note from Mr. Fox, dated December 17, 1796, acknowledging the honour done him by Mr. Wakefield, " a person so thoroughly attached to the principles of liberty and humanity," in dedicating to him his new edition of Lucretius, of which he had received the first volume. The receipt of the second, accompanied by the Diatribe on Porson's Hecuba, draws from Mr. Fox certain critical inquiries ; which lead, in letters 3, 4, 5. to an investigation of the use of the final" paragogic by the Greek tragedians, resumed again in letters 26. 28, 29. It would be beyond our present purpose to “ decide where such critics disagree,” as Mr. Wakefield, who contends on one side for its uniform omission, and Mr. Fox, backed by Porson, who inclines on the other to its constant reception. Porson is, indeed, roundly, and with apparent justice, accused of establishing a rule in favour of this paragogic letter, for the sake of differing as widely as possible from Wakefield : an injustice similar to that which it has been said that Sir J. Reynolds exercised towards his cotemporary Wilson, in certain censures passed in his lectures upon a practice to which that classical painter was much addicted. It is certain that Mr. Fox, who quotes with approbation the ingenious argument of Porson on the subject, p. 106. quotes also facts, pp. 83. 105. in direct opposition to it, « of the neglect of which, he rightly obBerves, that he (Porson) ought to be told.” What follows from Mr. Wakefield on this question produces no small shock to every
critic's nerves, and agitates the very centre of philological orthodoxy.--"Owners of MSS.” says Mr. Wakefield in p. 114." have perpetually corrected them, as we see at this day, according to their own fancy; and if Porson, for example, had them all, in time he would put in the y throughout; and these MSS. might go down as vouchers for the practice of antiquity.” The unfortunate dif. ferences between these almost equally unfortunate men is well known. Porson was in the habit of treating his rival with a contempt which the self-sufficiency of Wakefield could ill brook. To bis numerous challenges Porson returned nothing but a baughty silence, and was only once heard to threaten, that if Wakefield continued his attacks he sbould in return “ look into bis Silva Critica.” It will not be an uninteresting quotation from these letters if we give the following retaliatory opinion of Mr. Wakefield, which may
also serve as some clew to the origin of the above mentioned differences.
“ I have been furnished with many opportunities of observing Por, son, by a near inspection. He has been at my house several times, and once for an entire summer's day. Our intercourse would have been frequent, but for three reasons: 1. His extreme irregularity, and inattention to times and seasons, which did not at all comport with the methodical arrangements of my time and family; 2. His gross addic. tion to that lowest and least excusable of all sensualities, immoderate drinking; and, 3. The uninteresting insipidity of his society; as it is impossible to engage his miod on any topic of mutual inquiry, to procure his opinion on any author or on any passage of an author, or to elicit any conversation of any kind to compensate for the time and attendance of his company. And as for Homer, Virgil, and Horace, I never could hear of the least critical effort on them in his life. He is, in general, devoid of all human affections ; but such as he has are of a misanthropic quality : nor do I think that any man exists, for whom his propensities rise to the lowest pitch of affection and esteem. He much resembles Porteus in Lycophron:
though, I believe, he has satirical verses in his treasury, for Dr. BelJenden, as he calls him, (Parr,) and all his most intimate associates. But, in his knowledge of the Greek tragedies, and Aristophanes; in lis judgment of MSS. and in all that relates to the metrical proprieties of dramatic and lyric versification, with whatever is connected with this species of reading; none of his cotemporaries must pretend to equal him. His grammatical knowledge also, and bis acquaiutance with the ancient lexicographers and etymologists, is most accurate and profound: and his intimacy with Shakspeare, Ben Jonson, and other dramatic writers, is probably unequalled. He is, in short, a most ex
traordinary person in every view, but upamiable; and has been debarred of a comprehensive jotercourse with Greek and Roman authors, by his excesses, which have made those acquirements impossible to him, from the want of that time, which must necessarily be expended in laborious reading, and for which po genius can be made a substitute. No man has ever paid a more voluntary and respectful homage to his talents, at all times, both publicly and privately, in writings and conversation, than myself: and I will be content to forfeit the esteem and affection of all mankind, whenever the least particle of envy and maliguity is found to mingle itself with my opinions. My first reverence is to virtue; my second, ooly to talents and erudition: where both upite, that man is estimable indeed to me, and shall receive the full tribute of honour and affection."
Can we disown the leading strokes of this gloomy portrait ? can we but lament it should belong to one of the first scholars that England or that Europe ever saw?
“Who would not weep if such a man there be,
We should do no favour to our readers by presenting them with another learned and ingenious inquiry into the nature and early use of the digamma. This inquiry, which meets us in letters 8, 9. 11. and some others, is however connected with another of more general interest in the walks of literature, the genuineness of the 24th book of the Iliad, and, strange to say, into the being and identity of the great poet himself. A doubt as to the genuineness of the 24th book of the Iliad had been expressed by Mr. Wakefield in his observations upon that most marvellous of all modern Pyrrhonisms, the famous dissertation of Bryant upon the siege of Troy; and we were not surprised on that occasion that the contagion of scepticism so congenial to our critic's mind, should bave reached and infected bim when in immediate contact and combat with the plague itself. Letter 9. seems to have been written about the same time with his observations on Mr. Bryant; and, perhaps, all things considered, we might have permitted Mr. Wakefield huic uni-succumbere culpæ. The doubt is very ingeniously maintained on his part; though, we must add, also repelled with equal ingenuity and much good sense on the part of Mr. Fox; and we are only sorry that we cannot give both as a fair specimen of the respective critical powers of the writers. We must be satisfied with referring to letters 9. and 11.; and proceed to state the second and more important delinquency of our critical sceptic, which, without preface, we shall give in his own words from letter 9. p. 27-29.
“ What is so well known with respect to every malefactor tied up at Newgate; (most detestable, flagitious practice !*) his birth, parentaye, and education; life, character, and behaviour;' are all utterly unknown of Homer. We are at liberty, therefore, to frame any hypothesis for the solution of the problem concerning his poems, adequate to that effect, without danger of contravening authentic and established history. Now ouengos is an old Greek word for Tupnos: see Hesych. and Lycophr. ver. 422. I take Homerus, then, to have originated in the peculiarity of a certain class of men, (i. e. bliodness,) and not in that of an individual. That bards were usually blind, is not only proba. ble, from the account of Demodocus in the Odyssey, but from the pature of things. The memory of blind men, because of a less distraction of their senses by external objects, is peculiarly tenacious; and such people had po means of obtaining a livelihood but by this occupatiop. ` All this is exemplified in fiddlers, &c. at this day. Now the Trojan war (the first united achievement of the Greeks) would of course become a favourite theme with this class of men, who are known to have been very numerous. Detached portions of this event, such as the exploits of Diomed, of Agamemnon, the Night Expedition, the Death of Hector , his redemption, &c. would be separately composed and sung, as fitted, by their lengths, for the entertainment of a company at one time: and we fiud, in fact, that the parts of these poems are now distinguished, by scholiasts, grammarians, and all such writers, by these names, and not by books. These songs, bearing date demonstrably before the use of alphabetic characters in Greece, and when the dialect of the civilized parts of Asia (Ionia and Æolia) was uniform, could never be traced to their respective authors: and, in reality, we find from Herodotus, the first Greek historian, that no more was known of this Homer, por so much, in his days, (2, 3, 4, or 500 years after the event,) as in our own. These songs of blind men were collected and put together by some skilful men, (at the direction of Pisistratus, or some other person,) and woven, by interpolations, connecting verses, and divers modifications, into a whole. Hence patrict. IIere we see a reason for so many repetitions: as every detached part, to be sung at an entertainment, required a head and tail piece, as necessary for an intelligible whole: and hence we observe a reason for those unaccountable anomalies of measure, and the neglect of the Æolic digamma, from an ignorance of its power in those later times, whether from new insertions, or from alterations in the transmitted pieces, to effect regularity and consecution. This accounts also for the glaring disparity in some of the pieces: for nothing can be more exquisite than what you so justly admire, the interview of Priam and Achilles; and nothing more contemptible than the whole detail of the death of Hector, and reconciliation of Agamemnon and Achilles. You are expecting a noble exhibition of generosity and magnanimity on both sides, and you are put off with a miserable, tedious ditty about Atè.” P. 27.
* What does this mean? Is this merely a poetical license, or is it Mr. Wakefield" political liberty which abhors the cord and the drop, as nature does the vacuun which suspends all her choicest operations?
Not being aware that Mr. Wakefield has announced this amusing conjecture in any of his printed works, we are disposed to claim for him that indulgence which we ever think due to the character of an author, when suffering under the exercise of the very questionable right of posthumous exposure to the eyes of the public. But certainly we must say a more improbable story, we had almost said a keener burlesque upon the framers of hypotheses, has scarcely met our eye among all the extravagancies of learned * speculation.
In letters 19, 20. 28, 29. 31. we find a reference made to a plan which Mr. Wakefield had in contemplation for a new Greek and English Dictionary; and it seems he had a store of 20,000 words, “words good and true," found in no common lexicon, to vindicate his claims on the gratitude of scholars, as a diligent lexicographer.—“One day with another,” says he in p. 123. “ I at least add twenty from my reading, for months together; some original words; the generality compounds.” When we hear after this in p. 179. that the plan of his lexicon was abandoned, we are naturally led to inquire with some curiosity into whose hands the important catalogue of foundling words was consigned, and whether the public are ever to be called to take into its protection these houseless orphans. Perhaps, however, most of these words existing only in very obscure writers, “common” lexicographers have preferred the loss of some personal character for accuracy, to the much greater public inconvenience of overloaded lexicons. The uncommon, and such are generally the inferior, authors are perhaps best treated with annexed glossaries of their uncommon words; and glossaries of that kind might greatly facilitate philological research. An interesting plan is quoted in p. 126. by Mr. Fox, from the French academicians, for a chronological lexicon; or a lexicon giving an account of words in their original and afterwards their adscititious meanings, successively gained from various authors, arranged in chronological order. But a remark of Mr. Wakefield's, in p. 205. on the “ learned and vigorous expressions of Ennius and Lucilius, and the old Roman comedians and tragedians, with a lamentation over their words, as being “ marked inelegant and of suspicious authority in dictionaries,” makes us suspect that pedantry would occasionally have triumphed over scholarship, and thus prevented a judicious selection or exposition of words in a new lexicon; though as etymologists we quite agree with our critic, that the loss of the old Roman poets, from the light which they would have thrown on the formation of the Latin lan