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ÆSCHYLI SUPPLICES. RECENSUIT, EMENDAVIT, EXPLANAVIT, FREDERICUS A. PALEY, M.A., COLL. DIV. JOH. CANT. CANTABRIGIÆ, TYPIS ACADEMICIS, IMPENSIS J. ET J. J. DEIGHTON, 1844.
Ir may be proper to state the circumstances under which the following remarks are submitted to the reader. The writer of them had for some time contemplated, and had indeed in some measure actually commenced, an edition of the Supplices of Eschylus, when an intimation was made to him through the Cambridge publishers, that Mr. Paley of that university had spent much time and labour in preparing a critical edition of this play for the press, and that the work itself was upon the point of coming out. This information was accompanied by the expression of a hope that it would not, under these circumstances, be considered expedient to bring forward almost at the same time, two editions of a play comparatively so little read, and for which there was not, in any case, likely to be a very extensive demand. This request, urged as it was with much propriety and courtesy on the part of the publishers, was willingly taken into consideration; and not only from the fact of Mr. Paley having had the priority in point of time, but also from a wish not needlessly to interfere with the interests of another, the other edition was, for the present at least, laid aside. Having examined Mr. Paley's work on its subsequent appearance, with a view to ascertain how far the desideratum so long felt respecting the Supplices had been supplied, the writer could not but feel obliged to differ materially from him in the views which he had adopted, with regard, more especially, to the critical emendation of the text; and he trusts he shall stand excused by all, and by none more than by Mr. Paley himself, if he shall offer to the consideration of the reader some few strictures which have occurred to him in the perusal of his work-strictures, of course, which must stand or fall upon their own truth or falsity, and which are offered simply in the hope of further aiding such as would pilot themselves through one, confessedly, of the most corrupt and intricate of the remains of the Grecian tragedy.
This being admitted on all hands to be the case, as regards this play, and amongst others by Mr. Paley himself, who, in the beginning of his preface, speaks of it as "corruptissimam difficillimamque fabulam," we must confess we were rather startled, in the outset, by the somewhat ambitious wording of his title-page, "Recensuit, emendavit, explanavit." The two last expressions, and particularly the second, are surely rather strong ones for any classical scholar, especially a young one, to employ respecting a work which, notwithstanding the sagacity of men like Porson and Elmsley, still appears in many places as a mass of inextricable confusion. The man who should clear from error this accumulation of corruptions, and prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that he had restored in every place what Æschylus actually wrote, would assuredly be davòs evpet̃v káž ἀμηχάνων πόρον. He would indeed be a very prince of critics, a man of superhuman penetration. Nay, we would go far to pay our tribute of homage to the man who should restore, beyond the possibility of well-grounded controversy, even some six or seven passages. Whether Mr. Paley has fulfilled the professions of his title, must be left to others to determine: we purpose to offer below, somewhat in detail, a few remarks on the " emendations" which he has exhibited in his text. We shall pass over many which he has suggested in his notes; for with these we can have no ground of quarrel. If any one chooses to venture his credit largely on such hazardous speculations, he is of course at liberty to do so. Our present object is simply to insist on the impropriety of obtruding them upon us as the genuine language of the author.
Conjectures, it must be remembered, are not emendations. If it were so, critics, like Alexander, must look round for other worlds to conquer. Out of the vast mass of conjectural emendation which modern criticism has offered, even since a more accurate knowledge of the laws of Greek construction and of metre has, for the most part, precluded such suggestions as were formerly offered in profusion by those who were less acquainted with these departments of learning, there is certainly not a thousandth part which any modern scholar, who valued his reputation, would receive into his text. And still less would a prudent editor venture to obtrude there, to any extent, such conjectures of his own as may not, however they may recommend themselves to his own judgment, or be inge
nious in themselves, be likely from their intrinsic merit to win the same amount of respect and consideration from others. We cannot say, however, that this appears to us to be the view which Mr. Paley has taken of this matter.
But we will quote his own words, when speaking of the alternative of retaining the corrupt, but received and more ancient reading, or inserting the probable conjectures of modern critics. "Fac neutra a poeta profecta esse: utrum tandem præstat, quod bonam et facilem fundat sententiam, an quod totius loci rationem penitus pessundet atque conturbet?" We beg to say, that we differ entirely from this mode of settling the case. It is, in effect, by a process of ingenious device, to make the ancient classics readable; and since in scholarship, as in other things, it is vain to expect unanimity of opinion, were they to be edited in this manner, no two editions would bear any similarity to each other. Two conditions, as it seems to us, are generally necessary to the reception of a conjectural reading into the text; the first is, that the old reading should, by the evidence of the sense, or by the acknowledged laws of language or of metre, or of both of these, be indisputably shewn to be wrong; the second, that the proposed reading should carry with it so high a degree of probability, as to render its adoption almost a matter of certainty. We do not say that cases may not occur where the first condition may be dispensed with, and where the elegance of the passage (always, however, an uncertain criterion) may be so increased by a conjecture in itself highly probable, that few editors would hesitate to adopt it. Such, for instance (we quote the first which occurs to our recollection), is that of Porson on Agam. (v.850, ed. Dind.), where for the old reading, πήματος τρέψαι νόσον, which is still explicable, and is, in fact, if we remember rightly, retained by Klausen, Porson's conjecture, πñμ' àñоσтρé‡a vóσov, carries with it such a degree of probability, as to amount almost to a certain evidence of its truth. But, as a general rule, we affirm it to be unsafe to depart from the principles above laid down, and which the practice of the best critics sanctions. When no adequate help can be obtained from MSS. and old edd., it is far better, as a general principle, to retain the old corrupt reading, purified as far as these ancient sources will admit, and to confine the work of conjecture to the notes. We do not say that no conjectures are to be admitted; we do not prescribe that to others
Dabitur licentia sumta
which we have not followed ourselves1. pudenter. It is the abuse only of the privilege which we condemn, and we really think that Mr. Paley has in some measure laid himself open to the charge, when we say that we have reckoned, on a hasty calculation, between eighty and ninety emendations not previously introduced by editors into the text —and this in a play not much exceeding a thousand verses. Of this large number, nearly fifty are conjectures of his own.
And here we cannot but remark, that Mr. Paley, although he thus calls upon us to so considerable an extent to receive his own suggestions as the genuine writing of his author, has omitted to give in his notes a sufficiently complete account of what other sources furnish, or of what others have before put forward in the same department. For in his notes he has not given us more than a meagre selection from those critical data, drawn from the collation of MSS. and older edd., which are most material for forming a correct judgment of the value of an emendation. Few ordinary scholars can be expected to refer to these for themselves; and the readers of an edition professedly critical have a right to expect that they shall find a tolerably distinct account of these variations: such, for instance, as that given by Dindorf in his late annotations on the Greek scenic poets. Mr. Paley's apology is, that he would not increase the size of his book by a " useless mass of matter." We cannot think it useless; such things are pwvävта Ovverotow, and for such readers the critic destines his labours. Still less, however, can we approve his omission of several probable (to say the least) emendations of other critics. It surely argues something like vanity in a writer who introduces without scruple into his text the most arbitrary emendations of his own, to pass sicco pede over those suggestions of others which, whether or not deserving to be admitted into the text (which we by no means contend for), most scholars will regard as, at any rate, not less plausible than Mr. Paley's own alterations.
Lest we should inadvertently be charging others with an offence of which we may have been equally guilty ourselves, we have glanced at our edition of the Eumenides, and there find, introduced in a play of equal length, not a fifth part of the amount of conjectural
emendation which appears in Mr. Paley's book. And, even had it not been so, we should not have scrupled to confess, that further consideration induces us more and more to the opinion that the less the text of classical authors is tampered with the better.
Surely this is to make one's own judgment the standard of what may or may not be probable, and cannot be expected to meet with the assent and approbation of the reader. We of course are not arguing for the practice of recording every emendation, good, bad, and indifferent, which may have been suggested. Such a work would be as inglorious as it would be useless. The critic himself must be responsible for perceiving "quid distent æra lupinis." And if Mr. Paley shall affirm that he has in fact omitted nothing which in his judgment was worthy of being registered, all we can say in that case is, that in several places our judgment must materially differ from his.
We trust Mr. Paley will not be offended if we call his attention briefly in passing to the rather too self-confident manner (it may, very likely, be only manner) in which he occasionally expresses himself when recording his own emendations. This belongs to a school of criticism which we should be sorry to see gaining ground in this country. It is, at any rate, better avoided, and almost always gives an unfavourable impression to the reader. We allude to such expressions as, "certissimam habeo emendationem meam;" "certissime correxi ɛvpɛtaισiv aupais" "equidem nullus dubito quin poetæ verba ad amussim ordinaverim," and not a few others of a similar description. However, we willingly let this pass.
We have only one more observation to make before we proceed to offer a few more detailed remarks on those points in Mr. Paley's work which seem principally to call for animadversion. We mean the very common use which he has made of the English language for the purpose of interpreting the sense of his author, whilst his notes are drawn up professedly, and most properly, in Latin. We by no means say, that when an English expression forms a more exact equivalent to the Greek than any Latin one could do, it may not be used with propriety, and with advantage also, to the English reader; but of the places, upwards of a hundred and fifty, where Mr. Paley has had recourse to English, in order to explain words or passages, the great majority might, we conceive, have been rendered with equal force and advantage in Latin. Why, for instance, should òvorašóμɛvai be rendered abominantes, Ang. spurning, loathing? and so of a great number of places besides. How very awkward reads such a passage as "vulgata verti possunt take in hand sive put in force some expedient," v. 204. This gives at